Monday, October 24, 2016

Spiders and stink bugs and flies! Oh my!

 I stepped into our tiny home’s shower, turned on the water, and heard an insistent buzzing. Looking up at the skylight, I realized I was showering with about a dozen flies. Oh well. Unfazed, I continued showering. No matter how many times a day we vacuum the flies from the shower, the windows and the light fixtures, a larger number of flies descends upon us. It’s a bit like the endless armies of advancing orcs in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Although if orcs were lurking in our shower, I would refuse to shower and I would be stinky.

In that case, I might be as stinky as the masses of stink bugs that entered our little home a few weeks ago. My stink bug strategy is to either vacuum them up or pick them up and whisk them outside before they give off their sickly sweet stinky aroma they emit when threatened. I’m not afraid of stinkbugs, but I’m not crazy about their odor. 

When I was a girl sleeping in the upstairs of our farmhouse with my two sisters, I sometimes awoke in the night to the strong aroma of stink bug. I’d turn on the light and discover a stink bug lurking on my covers, and I’d freak out a little. I no longer freak out at the sight or smell of a stink bug. But I still don’t want them in our house.

It’s a good thing I’m not the kind of woman who is afraid of bugs. Before the stink bugs showed up, waves of wasps sought refuge from the cold in our little home. We sucked them up in the vacuum as soon as we discovered them. We also bought two fly swatters and strategically placed them at either end of the house to arm ourselves to battle with the bugs.

We've been invaded by lygus bugs!

Next, we were invaded by lygus bugs, which were unfamiliar to me. Like stink bugs, the small, winged lygus bugs give off an unpleasant smell when disturbed. These plagues of lygus bugs, flies, stink bugs, and wasps sometimes have occurred simultaneously this fall. Several times a day we sucked them up with our efficient canister vacuum or swatted them until the buzzing ceased—at least temporarily.

I'm thankful Aragog hasn't descended from our ceiling.
Illustration from Aragog: Harry Potter Wiki
Our current plague is tiny spiders that descend from the ceiling right in front of our faces. I have met people who are terrified of spiders, but I am not one of them. We recently watched the Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings films. If these tiny spiders were the size of Aragog or Shelob, I’d be alarmed. But they are simply one more annoying creature invading our small living space. When I was a girl, we sometimes discovered black widow spiders crawling in our old farmhouse. Mom trapped them in a jar so we could get a closer look and learn how to identify them. Thankfully, these dinky spiders invading our space are no threat. They are simply seeking refuge from the cold. Nonetheless, they are not welcome here.
Thankfully, I don't have to battle Shelob  as Frodo did!
Illustration from Shelob: The One Wiki to Rule Them All
As I write this in the early morning hours, the living room is dark. An insistent fly is seeking the only light source—my computer screen. He’s buzzing around my head and dive-bombing into my hair. Perhaps it’s time to get out the canister vacuum and begin the battle of the bugs in this new day.

Is living with these annoying insects worth it, you might ask. Yes, it is. Without a doubt. Even faced with plagues of flies, spiders, stink bugs, and wasps, life is very good. I’m waking up to views of fresh snow on the Elkhorn Mountains. At night I watch the stars splattered across the big, big sky. Most of all, I’m sharing my new life with the Mountain Man. We’re hiking, kayaking, dancing, playing music and laughing. Each day brings a new adventure, including battling with bugs.

It could be worse. Aragog could be lurking in the closet, ready to pounce on me. But here's more good news about living tiny: Neither Aragog nor Shelob could squeeze into our tiny closet. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

New chapter: Living tiny with the Mountain Man in Eastern Oregon's high desert

Last week I took a doozy of a leap toward my next chapter. I gave my two-weeks' notice at The Columbian, the newspaper where I've been a reporter for 4 1/2 years. Leaving Vancouver and Clark County is bittersweet. It's been my home for three decades, but it's time to begin again in a new home.

In the past five years, I've gained a reputation as the diva of downsizing. With each move, I've cut my footprint in half: 2,400 square feet to 1,100 square feet to my current 600 square feet. Now I'm doing it again. I'll be living in 323 square feet and will fulfill my dream of living in a tiny house.

I'm moving 300 miles to the high desert of Eastern Oregon. I'll be living in a 34-foot fifth wheel RV with a view of the Elkhorn Mountains (sometimes called Little Alps) to the west, the Wallowa Mountains to the east and a reservoir just below us. It's about 22 miles south of La Grande and 22 miles north of Baker City.

Here's the very best part of my new life: the Mountain Man and I finally will be together. Every day! I'm giddy thinking about our future together and the many adventures awaiting us. We can be kayaking on the reservoir in minutes. Hiking, backpacking and fishing are close by in the Elkhorns. Skiing at Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort is only 45 minutes away. We'll go Western swing dancing, camping in the tipi and playing music around the campfire. How fortunate that we found each other after age 50!

Two weeks ago, I emptied my storage unit, had a yard sale and took yet another a carload of stuff to the Goodwill. Now everything I own fits into my little apartment, my sweet home at the edge of the woods. It's crunch time. I'm editing my belongings one more time and getting rid of stuff that's no longer essential.

I'll find work in either La Grande or Baker after I arrive. I can supplement my income with freelance writing gigs and consulting contracts. I've reinvented my career before. I can do it again. I've started a book marketing business and worked for a Random House imprint, created and hosted events for an independent bookstore and became a newspaper reporter at age 52.

The hardest part is leaving my young adult children. But I'll be back to visit them, other family and friends. My roots are deep here.

Here is what will remain the same in my life. I will always be a Mighty Woman. I will keep paddling my own canoe. I am not afraid to try new things. I will continue writing stories. I am excited to start a new life with the Mountain Man, my best friend. Who knows what adventures and opportunities await just around the bend in the river?

This morning, I walked along a trail at the edge of the woods, picked blackberries for my breakfast and expressed gratitude for my sweet time in this home. I've been serenaded by owls and coyotes and have broken bread with my dear housemates, Michael and Kathleen, many times. Even after a series of unfortunate events, I've been incredibly fortunate.

Three weeks from today, I'll step into my new life. I'll gaze at the breathtaking mountains and high desert while holding the hand of the man I love. Who knew life could be this sweet?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

When life gives you lemons...

Usually when life gives me lemons, I make lemonade. I'm generally an optimistic glass-half-full kind of woman.

This week I've had my share of lemons, but I didn't have the fortitude to make lemonade. Instead, I puckered at the sourness.

I'm glad today is over. I'm relieved that tomorrow is Friday. One more day of work--and the possibility of more lemons. 

Every morning for several weeks I've been waking up with a stiff, painful left wrist and hand. I've developed arthritis as a result of breaking my wrists in a four-wheeler accident last fall. Stiffness and pain are my new normal. Guess I'd better learn to deal with that recurring lemon.

After soothing my wrist with heat, I drove to work. As I was walking across the street to enter our building, a car barreled up the street, and instead of slowing down when she saw me, the driver just kept going and narrowly missed hitting me. Apparently, I'd irked her. She screeched to a halt, rolled down her window, shouted obscenities and shook her fist at me.

At work I received a voicemail from a confused woman who asked me about an unspecified story published on an uncertain date. When I returned her call, she went on and on about this story (which it turns out, I didn't write). I asked her when the story was published. She said, "I can't get to it right now. I'm on the toilet." Ew! Why did she answer her phone when she was on the toilet? I said I'd call back later and hung up.

Every afternoon at work lately, I've developed a serious headache. It's tough to write stories under deadline pressure when my head is throbbing and my eyeballs feel as if they'll pop out of the sockets. One night this week, I had to cover an evening event and had a short timeline to write a story for the next day's newspaper. My head throbbed so badly I thought I'd throw up. Somehow, I finished my story, moved it into edit, and went to lie down on the couch in the women's lounge while my editor read my story.

My headache has returned today. No painkiller seems to work. But I'm tucked into bed and am applying heat to my stiff wrist.

Thankfully, tomorrow is a new day. I'll try harder to make lemonade from the lemons. I'll write in my gratitude journal and look for the silver lining. 

But sometimes, when life is sour, you just have to pucker.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Passing confidence and joy on to my daughter

Yesterday, my talented, amazing daughter, Katie, and I celebrated her 27th birthday by trying SUP--stand-up paddle boarding. I'm all about giving her an empowering experience to celebrate her special day rather than buying a trinket that would soon be forgotten. She'd mentioned she wanted to try SUP. I was happy to provide this adventure.

In the past few years, I've arranged several mother-daughter adventures that bond us together. These experiences have made us stronger, more confident women, too. And we always have fun!

One Mother's Day a couple of years ago, I took Katie to an archery range and taught her to shoot a bow. She's become a very good shot.

On the archery range for Mother's Day

We've gone hiking in the Columbia River Gorge multiple times. 
Kate hiking in the Columbia River Gorge

Last summer we rode a zip line at a family reunion. 
Kate ready to ride a zip line last summer.

Yesterday I was not surprised that Katie was a natural on the stand-up paddling board. With her years of dance experience and the muscles she's developed as a baker for Salt & Straw, she stood up with ease. When I was still summoning the nerve to try standing up, she was already paddling with confidence. That made me smile. 

A couple of years ago, I'd tried SUP twice, and it was easy. Then I was strong and balanced easily on the wide board. My dragon boating and kayaking instincts took over. I didn't have any fear. I was the Mighty Woman who reinvented myself at age 50 and went on one fearless adventure after another. Along the way, as I changed and grew, I modeled strength, courage and resilience for my daughter.

But yesterday on the paddle board, it was different. I was different. Although Katie and her boyfriend, Keegan stood up effortlessly and paddled along the lake, I still was kneeling on my board. I had to dig deep within myself to find the courage to stand up. 

It was the first time I'd tried SUP since crushing both my wrists 10 months ago. I knew I've lost strength and agility. I was prepared for that. But what I hadn't realized until I climbed onto the board is that I've also lost my Dragon Diva dose of confidence. My fearlessness. Preparing to stand up, I moved from kneeling on the board to crouching with my feet placed so they were perfectly balanced. At that point, the old me would have stood up and started paddling. But I couldn't. Irrational fear gripped me. Instead, I had to give myself my go-to pep talk: "You're a Mighty Woman. You're the woman with the dragon tattoo. You can do this!"

After breathing deeply to calm myself, I tried to stand up, but the board wobbled and I quickly knelt back down. I tried again, and again. At one point, I stood, started paddling, but lost my balance and fell hard on my my hands--and therefore, my wrists. That scared me. I have permanent titanium plates in both wrists. My surgeon said it would take quite a force to damage my wrists again. But falling so hard on my wrists made me even more tentative. When I finally stood up, my legs felt like Jell-o. The paddling part was easy. The balancing part? Not as easy. But I did it!

After I stood up and was paddling, I looked over at my daughter. She'd fallen off her board into the lake. Immediately she climbed back on and stood up again. Just like that! I smiled at my beautiful, courageous daughter, who has climbed some pretty tough mountains the past couple of years. She's a survivor, that daughter of mine. Just like her mama. With the sun shining on the lake, she paddled with a strong stroke--and grinned. Standing on wobbly legs, I paddled strong strokes too. We are Mighty Women, after all.
Kate and me after stand-up paddle boarding on Lacamas Lake.
 I didn't take any  photos of her paddle boarding because 
I was busy trying to stand up on my own board.
This weekend I gave my daughter another gift: my purple bike named Joy. I bought the sturdy, fat-tired Schwinn at a neighborhood estate sale years ago. I named my bike Joy because at the time, I hungered for joy in my life. Together, Joy and I explored the neighborhood and the Columbia River waterfront. Riding Joy gave me the courage to face the unhappiness in my life and to reach toward the hope of a joyful future. I've certainly found a joyful life. But I hadn't ridden Joy much in the past couple of years because my life was so full with dragon boating, kayaking, hiking, learning to swing dance and having many other adventures.

Last week when Katie mentioned that she'd like a bike with a basket to ride to the grocery store and around the neighborhood, I replied: "I'll give you Joy!"

"Really? I've always loved Joy!" she beamed.

When we unloaded the bike at Katie's house, I told her: "I am giving you Joy. Remember that Joy now lives in your house. You can ride her around the neighborhood whenever you need a dose of Joy."

Passing the torch of Joy to my daughter felt so right.Now she will be filled with joy and confidence, too--and ready for her next adventure.

My purple bike named Joy on a ride to the Columbia River.

Passing Joy, my purple garage-sale bike, on to my daughter.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Surviving a tough week: Work layoffs and hanging up my dragon boat paddle

The Mighty Women paddle a dragon boat!
This week, I had to hang up my paddle. 
Have you ever had a week that knocks the wind out of you? Last week, the daily newspaper where I work announced it was laying off 10 percent of the staff. Although I was not laid off, that news sent me reeling.

Here's why: It opened wounds from five years ago when I was newly divorced and was laid off. I had to sell my house in the lowest housing market in decades. In weeks, I emptied a four-bedroom house and gave away much of my possessions.

Because I was unemployed, the only apartment I could afford had homeless people scavenging in the garbage bin right outside my door at all hours. I didn't feel safe. I had a hard time sleeping. My life had turned upside down. Overnight, my status changed from secure, middle-class soccer mom to unemployed woman living on the edge.

Five years later, I'm a different woman. I'm stronger--and not not just physically stronger. After having endured hard things, I've learned that I'm emotionally, mentally and spiritually stronger too. I am grateful for the hardships because they have molded me into the woman I am today.

But that doesn't mean I'm requesting an encore in hardship. When the news of layoffs came last week, they dredged up those past hardships and the panic--of feeling that I couldn't control what was happening in my life. I started thinking about what would happen if I were laid off too. I don't have a house to lose anymore. That's already happened.

I do have a wonderful place I call "home." For more than two years, I have been housemates with my retired minister and his wife. I pay below-market rent for their mother-in-law suite, which has the perks of a view of the woods, a hot tub, and fresh raspberries, blueberries and strawberries just steps outside my door. I've also forged a friendship with this long-married couple. It's been good for me to witness a healthy, long-time marriage. If I were laid off, I likely wouldn't lose my home. I wouldn't be homeless. That was a relief, yet I still worried about the "what ifs."

As much as I'd like to avoid further hardship, life has a way of flinging it our way. Last week, I also had to come to grips with this hard fact: It's time to hang up my dragon boat paddle. It's been nine months since I crushed both wrists in my four-wheeler accident. After surgery and months of physical therapy, this spring I returned to the Mighty Women's dragon boat and paddled with my team. I even paddled during the races in Tacoma. That homecoming was sweet.

But paddling a dragon boat takes a lot of strength, not to mention arm range of motion and wrist mobility. After every paddling practice, my left wrist was in pain. I have to listen to my body and give up the sport--and the team that changed my life. So I reluctantly told the news to Jeanie, my coach who has pushed me, molded me into a Mighty Woman.

In the meantime, I'm continuing to work on my physical therapy on my own. I am determined to get more range of motion, more mobility, more strength. I may not be able to paddle a dragon boat, but I'm confident that soon I'll be able to leisurely paddle a kayak on flat water. I can strap on my backpack and take a hike. I have already done a little swing dancing--another activity that requires lots of arm movement. And while wearing my buckskin skirt, I beat my drum around a campfire while surrounded by friends. My transformation from soccer mom to hippie chick is complete.

My transformation from middle-class soccer mom to hippie chick is complete!
Yesterday, after a week of panic, I reminded myself of this truth: The only thing in life I can control is my attitude. If further layoffs come, let them come. I can handle it. After all, I am the woman with the dragon tattoo. I am confident I will always be a Mighty Woman.

I'm the woman with the dragon tattoo!
I can handle anything.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Had my storage unit been burgled? Would that be devastating--or a blessing?

I was working 45 minutes from home when I received a voicemail from the manager of my storage unit asking me to call her.

"This can't be good," I thought..

She had bad news: "During our inspection, we found your lock wasn't on properly. The door wasn't really locked."

"Did you open the door and see if my storage unit is empty?" I asked.

"No. We don't do that. You need to come as soon as possible and check your unit to see if anything is missing."

Mostly, my storage unit held remnants of my old life--the one where I was a married soccer mom raising two kids, hosting holiday meals, and maintaining a big house. In the past five years, I've sifted through the shards of my previous life and have let go of lots of stuff. But I still owned more stuff than can fit into my 600-square-foot apartment, so I paid for storage.

On my drive toward my storage unit, I considered its contents:
  • Hostessing supplies I'll likely never need again: platters, candles and candlesticks, and tablecloths for a family-size table I no longer own. 
  • Boxes of Christmas decorations. Due to space limitations, I have an artificial tabletop tree and use a small portion of my ornaments.
  • Yard tools: I may never have a yard again. 
  • Kitchenware that doesn't fit into my compact kitchen. 
  • Camping gear: I still use some of this stuff.
  • My son's Star Wars action figures. He says he doesn't want them, but I can't let them go. Am I holding onto his childhood?

  • My Luggable Loo--a porta-potty I bought when I lived for three months without a bathroom, heat, or running water. I'll keep her. She could be useful for car camping at primitive sites when my only option is squatting behind a sagebrush on a dark night while worrying that a rattlesnake might bite me in the rear.

  • The only furniture left in my storage unit: Two Shaker chairs and a 1930s floor lamp.
  • My wedding dress, handmade by my sister, Becky and my friend, Reenie in 1983. I am divorced. My daughter doesn't want the dress. Why have I kept it?
  • Four area rugs that once graced oak floors in our circa-1921 house. I likely won't live in a big house with wood floors again.
  • Hundreds of family photos--loose photos, in albums, and in frames. I no longer have space to display many photos. When I've sorted through these photos from my old life, I cry. It's painful to face the failure of my marriage. I do plan to make photo albums for my kids and even my ex-husband, but I've avoided it. 
  • The rest of my storage unit is what my Swedish Grandma Lydia would call "stuff and junk."
At first, when I had to quickly empty my house, I gave away truckloads of belongings.When I moved, I rented an enormous 20 x 10 storage unit. 

But now, 4 1/2 years later, there's not much stuff left. I rent a 10 x 10 storage unit that's about two-thirds full. I was planning to get rid of more stuff and get a smaller storage unit last fall, but then I broke both wrists in an ATV accident--and I couldn't hold a hairbrush or zip my pants, let alone move boxes. My accident sidelined my plans to continue winnowing my stuff down to the essential.

Recently, my storage rental had increased. I calculate I've spent about $5,500 on storage rental since my divorce. Holy cow! What a waste of money! I'm living on an income that's far less than what I made at my previous job. I pick up pennies I find on the street, yet I've been throwing away money on storage. 

By now, I was pulling into the storage facility. Had my unit been burglarized? What if all my stuff had been stolen? What if when I lift the door and look inside, I find it empty? Would that be a tragedy--or a blessing?

Why was I holding onto stuff for a life I no longer lived? At that moment, I realized what was really essential: the photos of my kids growing up.

A few minutes later, I unlocked the padlock, lifted the door, and held my breath. I let out a sigh.

The good news: No thief had stolen my stuff. I still had all those photos of my kids. That's the essential nugget I'd keep.

The bad news: I still had to get rid of lots of stuff.

After facing the possibility of losing everything, I realized most of it was chaff I could release to the wind. For the first time, I felt all this stuff no longer owned me. Time to lighten the load in my canoe and paddle forward to the next adventure.

Paddles up!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Back on the dragon boat: The return of the Mighty Woman!

The Mighty Women on the Willamette River.
I'm in the back of the boat, port (left) side  and waving my paddle
with my bench partner, Joan Sanford, who encouraged me with every stroke.

This morning, I became a Mighty Woman again.

Seven months after crushing both my wrists in an ATV accident, I climbed back into a dragon boat with my team mates and paddled the Willamette River on a sunny Saturday morning. It felt glorious. Empowering. The river sparkled. I am quite sure I was glowing. And it felt as if I'd come full circle.

The last time I paddled a dragon boat was a Thursday night, Sept. 3. That night our paddling practice seemed magical. It happened to be the night of the Oregon Symphony's annual Waterfront Concert at Tom McCall Waterfront Park overlooking the Willamette River. So as Coach Jeanie Zinn led us through grueling race starts to prepare for races just a week away, we were serenaded by the symphony playing Mozart and Bach and had an audience of almost 20,000 spectators.

After our practice, I had lingered at the park so I could enjoy a free classical concert under the stars. Gripping my paddle, I ordered a slice of pizza from a vendor and struck up a conversation with a couple visiting from Australia. They asked many questions about dragon boating. I told them the sport had changed my life--and that I was a Mighty Woman. I saw the way they looked at me--as if I was a strong, adventurous woman. It was a night I'll always remember.

Less than 48 hours later, I was flying over an ATV's handlebars, somersaulting through the air and slamming to the ground. I recall gingerly sitting up and noticing the ATV had crashed just a foot from my body. And then I felt pain. That's also a day I'll never forget.

In the days, weeks and months that followed my accident, I did not feel strong, adventurous, or mighty. With both arms in casts and unable to do much of anything for myself, I felt people looking at me, sizing up my broken body, and feeling pity for me. But with grit and the help of many family members, friends, and medical professionals, I healed.

A few days ago, I went to my last physical therapy appointment. Carol, my therapist, had cheered me on for months. I had brought my paddle to my last session so that she could see the movement of my body when I held my paddle. She hugged me.

"I release you from therapy," she said. "But keep doing your exercises on your own. And please be careful in the dragon boat. Don't push yourself. If it hurts, stop."

When I told my newsroom colleagues I was going to try dragon boating again, many looked concerned. "Be careful," several people told me. "Don't push yourself."

I texted my coach and told her I planned to join the team on the boat Saturday morning, but I was concerned that I may not have the strength to hold onto my paddle to keep up with the team. She was excited I was coming back to the boat.

"Just do your best. Paddle ten strokes and rest ten strokes," she advised me.

I met my friend, Patty for dinner and told her the good news that I'd had my last therapy appointment. That first week after my accident when I needed so much help, Patty had been my caregiver. During the four months I couldn't drive, she drove me to countless doctor appointments and cheered me on.

When I told her I was going to try paddling the next morning, she again cheered me on: "Go, Mighty Woman!"

I smiled. And I hoped I'd have the range of motion and strength to paddle again. I really missed being a Mighty Woman.

Last night I was so excited that I placed my paddle and life jacket by my front door. This morning I awoke early. Too excited to stay in bed any longer, I ate breakfast and dressed quickly in my paddling clothes.

Before I left for practice, I texted the Mountain Man: "Excited but nervous about getting on dragon boat."

Knowing how competitive I am, he texted back: "You can do this. Just go as far as you think you should. Don't let competition or peer pressure make you go too far."

When I arrived at the waterfront, I was greeted with cheers, hugs, and smiles from my team mates. We did our warm-up exercises, then walked down to the dock, and climbed into the boat.

Coach Jeanie placed me on bench ten, the rear bench, with Joan, who also is recovering from an injury and surgery. Both Jeanie and Joan encouraged me to pay attention to what my body was telling me.

Would it hurt? Would I injure myself? Would I fail miserably and have to give up dragon boat paddling and the camaraderie of the Mighty Women? I hoped not. That thought has hounded me all these months as I've been doing physical therapy and recovering.

My first stroke was tentative--and wimpy. At first, I did paddle ten strokes, rest ten, and then paddle ten more. But toward the end of practice, as we raced from under the Marquam Bridge and back to the dock, I paddled with each stroke with every ounce of strength I had left. I did it!

The sun was shining as we pulled up to the dock. I was sitting on starboard side, so grabbed the dock while Shane, our tiller, secured our boat. The dock was busy with activity. Many paddlers from other teams were finding their way to their dragon boats.

A man holding the hand of a very tiny preschool girl walked slowly past us. I looked at them, smiled, and said: "You should come paddle with us sometime. We're the Mighty Women!"

The little girl smiled shyly at me. I grinned back.

The morning was golden. I am a Mighty Woman again. And I'm still smiling.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Starting the new year with an attitude of gratitude

Once my arms heal, I'll be back on the trail!
I love early January when we start a new year  brimming with possibilities. I'm starting 2016 with an attitude of gratitude, despite the hardships I've faced in the past five years:
  • I got divorced at age 50
  • I was laid off at work during the Recession when jobs were scarce and was unemployed for some months
  • I had to sell my house in the worst real estate market in decades
  • I quickly downsized from 2,400 to 600 square feet--and gave away most of my possessions
  • I moved five times in two years because rentals are so expensive
  • I lived for three months in a backyard shed with no heat, water or toilet (because I needed to save money for car repairs)
  • I broke both wrists in an ATV accident, needed two surgeries, missed three months of work and incurred lots of medical bills
Some people might shake their heads and ask me: "Are you crazy? How can you be grateful after so many hard things?

My answer is: "How can I be anything but grateful? Isn't gratitude a better response than being depressed, angry, and wallowing in despair and misery?"

The biggest lesson I've learned through hardship is that the only thing I can control is my attitude. I can either brush myself off and be grateful, or I can become a sour, unhappy person. I choose gratitude and joy.

I have myriad reasons to be grateful. Among them:
  • I reinvented myself at age 50. I joined a dragon boat team and found the joyful, adventurous woman inside of me. 
  • At age 52 I started a new career as a newspaper reporter. I enjoy my work, and I've become a much better writer.
  • I lost 40 pounds and have kept it off for four years. Once I get my last cast removed, I'll lose another 30 pounds.
  • For more than two years, I've rented the 600 square-foot mother-in-law suite in the home of dear friends. At last, I am home. 
  • After giving away so many possessions, I'm content with my lifestyle of simplicity and finding joy in simple pleasures.
  • After living without heat, water, a kitchen--and especially a bathroom--I am grateful that on this snowy day, I don't have to walk outside 37 steps to the facilities.
  • After my ATV accident, I am grateful for life itself. I am alive and planning great adventures in the coming year.
When hard things come your way--and they come to us all eventually--will you wallow in despair or will you adopt an attitude of gratitude? It's your choice.