“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” ― Epicurus
Welcome to middle class America. Here parents work longer hours having less time for family and for themselves. Often after countless years, they achieve what they desired—the big house, the amazing vacations and all the toys—only to realize the house is empty, the kids are grown and they have missed 20 years of their children’s lives. This was almost my destiny; I was once a business executive fully focused on climbing the corporate ladder. Oddly, it was only when I faced my darkest hours that I was blessed with the gift of being able to put things in perspective. When I remember to use this gift, I am able to live a life of gratitude.
I have a family, and they are all healthy. Thank God. There was a time when this wasn’t the case—a time when the only thing I desired was a healthy family. I was crystal clear on what was of utmost importance to me. As a family, we dodged some major bullets. My prayers were answered. That was many years ago. Time has diminished the memory of those dark days, and when I am not careful, time can also diminish my perspective of what’s truly important and I can find myself caught up in desiring things, like more money (come on, who doesn’t?!), more free time, less weight on my ass, and fewer wrinkles on my face. Oh, and I definitely have been wishing for a new paddleboard (okay, so that’s just in case my husband reads this letter. Hey, don’t judge me, Christmas IS just around the corner ☺). I even have wished for my old job back at times. In that position I was respected; I even won awards! Yet now, I run a business, do hours of homework with my kids, pack lunches, and manage to get two sleepy teenagers out the door in the morning. Is there an award for that? If so, you can add it to my wish list.
While I never want to go back to that time when all I desired was a healthy family, it certainly did provide me with that all-important gift of being able to put things in perspective. During that time, I didn’t care if I burned bridges in my career. I took so many family days that I did in fact burn bridges and was eventually laid off because of it (at the time I didn’t care). I was focused, and when I hoped and prayed it was for one thing: a healthy family. When I finally attained what I thought I might not, I was truly grateful. I still am when I stop and put things in perspective.
Perspective is also useful when I find myself silently crying as I try to zip a pair of jeans that fit me just last fall. I try to keep in mind while sucking in my gut, yanking at that zipper that there are people out there that aren’t worried about the size of their jeans because they are worried simply about where their next meal is coming from. Perspective makes living a life of gratitude easy.
Happy Perspective … oops, I mean Happy Thanksgiving!
Kelly Martinsen, Publisher