Tag: fear

The Difference Between Optimism and Gratefulness

….and how being grateful might not save the world but it could save your sanity.

Christmas is difficult sometimes.

I don’t mean some Christmases are difficult and some are not. Every Christmas season there are moments that are difficult. Sometimes those moments are subtle and fast like a cold whisper-kiss across the cheek. Moments like the one where you want to add that one extra thing to the list for the kids and realize you can’t because you didn’t get a paycheck this week because you got a stipend check last week for training and training isn’t work so you don’t get anything on payday. Yes, that whole thought happens in a minute and it gets processed as a heartbeat of disappointment and it passes.

While my example is financial, I am sure manymanymany other people have similar moments of frustration. Maybe they are centered around family, maybe they are centered around friends, maybe they are centered around something personal. My point with the example above is not that I am poor, my point is that we all experience moments that are jarring to our personal version of Holiday Spirit™ happens to be.

I think of an optimistic person as not having those dark moments. They are somehow able to circumvent that moment of pain in between seeing something and feeling the disappointment. It could be nature, it could be nurture, it could be both, it could be neither. At this point I’ve come to believe optimism is an inborn trait. Those of us who were not born with it can come close with (I feel close to optimistic. Your mileage may vary, of course.) by cultivating a grateful heart. The way I define a grateful heart is stopping to notice the good moments and not letting them roll off into the pile of meaningless things that happened during the day.

For example, I received an email today that said (in part) “Your kids are lucky to have you and [Mr. Brickie].  They will go far with that type of love in their background.” (I’m not lying. Someone actually said this to me. I have the email. I HAVE PROOF.)

When I read that, my heart felt fuller almost immediately and a few overwhelmed tears might have spilled out. I took a moment to just be in that moment where I was amazed someone would think that about me, about my kids, even about my grumpy-butt husband. I spent another moment being thankful that person took time out of her busy day to share that positive thought with me. That is a priceless moment that keeps me warm against the moments of darkness and pessimism that come and go throughout not only the Christmas season but the whole year.

I keep those moments, those words you have been kind enough to give me in conversations, in messages, in emails. I keep them in my mind and in my heart on a little shelf and take them down when I’m feeling shaken and scared, angry and not good enough.

Cultivating gratefulness is not just about seeing the moment when the moment happens and having the feeling in that moment. It is keeping those moments on a shelf in your heart to combat the other moments that can bring you down. An arsenal of weapons where the ammunition is beauty, love, a kind word, or even the memory of a hug.

Weapons that can destroy the darkness. Hold back the pain. Create a dam of positive emotion that can be unleashed when it is most needed.

Warmth to combat the cold.

A Desperate Cry For Help


Asking for help is the scariest thing I have ever done.

At this point (the point where you have to ask for help because you’re between a rock and hard place) you go back to sixth grade in your mind and wonder if you had just studied a little harder for that spelling bee and gone to nationals, would your life be that much different?

I love my family. They’re my people and I couldn’t have hand picked a better group. But I still wonder at 2am if I’m really the best person for them. If my husband had found a better second wife would he be happier? Was he just blinded by depression and the grief of losing his first wife and now he’s stuck with me forever and this is all my fault?

Did I fail my family? Should I have told my husband he should stay depressed and not change to a blue collar job that makes him happy? Should I have crushed his dreams to stay in a house made of brick and cement? Is a house more important than a man’s self worth?

I don’t think so, but then I put up a cry for help online and you don’t know from there, do you? You cry and you throw up and you want people to love you enough to give a dollar, you hope they can spare more but you don’t know what someone’s life is like beyond the screen no matter how many nice pictures they post. You do the mental math of if this many people or that many people  just gave one dollar how you would be able to stop being scared all the time. You could stop waking up in the middle of the night screaming because you had another nightmare where your children starved to death. You could feel safe for the first time in so long.

If I have ever helped you, listened to you, or made you laugh, please help me. Even when I’ve only had a few dollars I have almost always been able to donate a dollar to a friend or stranger in need. I give a dollar because everyone would rather have one dollar toward their need than no dollars. I do not judge a dollar. A dollar is an Internet hug from far away saying, “Hey girl, I feel your pain. You are not alone.”

This is a one-time 30 day fundraising campaign. I don’t think I could go through the stress of this again. I’m riddled with doubt and I’m sure everyone hates me (I am also sure that everyone does not hate me and know I’m overreacting but going back and forth between the dark feelings and the logic is exhausting.)

The donation button will be removed at the end of the campaign and I will either cry tears of joy and thanks or I will slink back to my corner of the Internet to lick my wounds and rebuild my heart.

[Edited to add: Tears of joy happened multiple times during the course of the fundraiser and it was absolutely a success.]


Unexpected | Thankful Thursday


I saw this side by side video on Facebook yesterday. It was something about how a rich kid gets ready for school vs. a poor kid. I found it on YouTube if you want to watch it.

While I know you’ve heard me go on about how I love my friends and family and I have the things money can’t buy today I was reminded in a very unexpected way that on the big bell curve of poverty I am rich.

So today, in a very real way, I am thankful for being rich.

This isn’t about love. This isn’t about how great my family is. (Even though they are.) This is about honest-to-goodness worldly goods and that damn hierarchy of needs. Seriously, check out just some of the stuff I’ve got:

  • I have clean drinking water.
  • I have fresh food, fruit, and vegetables in addition to other food.
  • Some of my food gets kept in a refrigerator.
  • I have a roof over my head.
  • I have shoes.
  • My daughters have thrift store clothing that’s Tommy Hilfiger and GAP.
  • One of my girls got a cavity filled at a high quality, much beloved dentist last week.
  • After my kids’ shoes wear down they get new pairs.
  • My glasses are the correct prescription.
  • Mr. Brickie goes to his job in new work boots.
  • I have a hundred dollar emergency fund. (WooHoo! I’m on my way to 1k!)
  • I have an iPhone, a desktop computer, a Kindle, a laptop, and an XBox.
  • I have Internet access in my house.
  • I live in a town with a fully stocked library.
  • I have underwear.

It doesn’t matter if some of those were gifts and some are on credit cards and some were bought by us. They’re the things we have. Things that are part of our everyday lives. I will make pasta salad tonight thanks to the government and the tax dollars you, me, and everyone else pays in. (Did you know just last week

Really, I’m not being crazy. I’m not even comparing myself to a third-world country (which I could do but feels a little “put them down to bring me up”) but here, in my country, there are homeless people without shoes and children without clean drinking water. There are children (and adults) who go hungry. Sure I may have had to put some of my food safety concerns on the shelf, but I would much rather make an intellectual sacrifice than watch my children suffer and become unable to learn because of chronic headaches due to near-constant gnawing hunger.

My perspective on being rich is not  something I’m doing to make myself feel better.

It’s a reminder that I am, in fact, doing so well compared to so many and that to deny or ignore that in order to cry into my coffee would be horrible.

It doesn’t take away my fear, but it puts it in perspective.

I just tried to do a Google search for links to maybe some hunger stats or the headaches kids get that keep them from learning in case you wanted to know more. I remember reading the article but I don’t remember where. It was a legit news source though, I almost always remember when my source for hard hitting news is TMZ or something that should never be admitted much less shared.

That also brings me to why I am afraid to do the things that would increase readership to this blog. I feel like the way we are now I’m inviting some people over to my house every day for a little brunch and talking. We have coffee and laugh and nod sagely and all have a good time. If I start doing things to bring traffic then suddenly it’s you, me, and the guy who wants to tell me I’m a wack-a-doo in the comments section.

A concern for another day, surely.

Today’s agenda is to clean the kitchen (again because it’s never ending), make BBQ chicken sandwiches and pasta salad for dinner, and maybe clean the bathroom. Before all that happens, however, it’s going to be time to get the kids out of bed and out the door to school.

I got up early today because the hour between when Mr. Brickie needs to get up (I set my alarm as his backup alarm) and when I need to get up is always plagued by the snooze button for him multiple times and then him coming in to kiss me goodbye at quarter till 6 and then just when I fall back to sleep my alarm goes off. So, today, I decided I would just get up at 5am with him. Maybe being up this early will yield better long-term blogging results. It’s certainly easier to write with no kid noises or husband noises. I know I need to get back to exercising in the morning and I’m going to see if maybe I can get both in during that hour and a half all to myself.

Right now, though, if I had to decide I would prioritize writing. I think it is important to make sure I”m not just recording the numbers and the increases we experience on this personal financial journey, but also the stress and the fear that will one day be a memory of the constant passengers during this part of the journey.

I feel better today than I did yesterday and the day before, so I think I’m coming out of all that mess. It felt like a thousand birds were flying into a thousand windows in my brain. But here on the other side of that it looks like Mr. Brickie will work a full week, which will make reaching our emergency fund goal a much faster process.

Have a great day and feel free to check out other posts from the Axis of Ineptitude blogging challenge.


Foreclosure, Reality, and Emotional Pain


I knew we had an appointment in Chancery court on July 11th. I knew we did.

Sort of.

We’ve had previous appointments with the court and they always sent us something in the mail. Mr. Brickie, after the last court date, said, “I’ll just show up at the date they say to. Just in case.”

I am the one who told him to wait for the papers to come in the mail.

I am the one who flicked the first domino and chose this path.

I am the only one to blame.

Chancery court is so far behind in cases (I said) and you shouldn’t have to take a day off work (a day you’re working overtime, I said) to go to a court date that might not even be yours (I said) and get sent home with no pay for the day and no information (the way they do, I said) even if I want just one. more. stay. before they decide forevermore they are going to sell our home at auction (because one more stay would have guaranteed one more full school year, I said) because they have been so good about informing us of our next court date (I cooed into his ear before we slept at night) and he believed me.

I am so rarely wrong, you see. I do my research and I find out the facts and I don’t share untested theories as fact and I don’t rely on “I hope so” and “It’s probably okay” so he had no reason not to believe me.

Really, everyone believes me. I’m a very believable person. I’m right with astonishing accuracy because I hate being wrong. I do not accept mistakes as a natural outcome of the law of numbers. I am better than that (I said) and we will persevere and get through this (I said).

I was mistaken.

I was not just a little bit mistaken. I did not tell my husband to take an umbrella with him on a sunny day. I was mistaken about something wicked important. Our house (which is no longer our house) that I have the papers stating and have to tell Mr. Brickie about when he gets home from work today (his last day as a 40% apprentice.)

The Reality of the Situation

According to the first lawyer we ever talked to (the lovely, young lawyer who paled and stuttered when I asked, “Out of everyone you’ve ever talked to, has it ever been a wise financial decision to fight for the home?”) who told us our time frame from this moment or, rather, the moment from July 11th when the clock (the foreclosure auction sheriff-at-the-front-door clock) starts ticking like something out of only the largest, scariest MC Escher painting.  We have – about – nine months from July 11th to get out of our home. We might have a little extra time but the real clock – the big  TIME TO START OVER Y’ALL clock is now ticking for real and we are no longer living in a state of flux. Or, as I liked to call it, “Our state of grace.”

In nine months(ish) we are going to give birth to a new life. I have a feeling it’s going to physically hurt less than childbirth and emotionally tear my brain in half. Maybe I’m overreacting and it will be an easy move. We’ve been decluttering for a year here and there and plans are in place for what will come with and what will go in storage and lists are made. So the focus of the blog will change slightly and we’ll be talking about getting ready to move.

Same family stories, just stories about a family transitioning to a new place, probably a new school system, and all the things surrounding the move and the finances getting us there.

Even when you prepare for all outcomes (and yes, I mean all outcomes, you should see my charts) it doesn’t make getting hit in the gut any less breathtaking. You can know in your head you’re making the best possible financial decision and feel with every feel in you that you’ve lost this round of the game of life.

My breath is taken.