Life doesn’t happen to us. It reveals our true spirit.
During one of Amy’s recent yoga classes, she closed with this quote: “Life doesn’t happen to us. It reveals our true spirit.” I was instantly touched by the quote because it reminded me of my mom—the eternal optimist—who inspires me to write this journal.
My childhood in Riesel (a small farming community outside of Waco) was at times challenging. But being raised by an eternal optimist meant times rarely seemed grim. When I was in the first grade my mom divorced my dad. At the time, my father was an alcoholic. Thankfully, the day my mom moved me and my sister out was the same day my dad divinely quit drinking—cold turkey. He has been alcohol free ever since—another journal for another day.
It was too late to reconcile as mounds of damage had already been done. My mother was no longer in love with my father and knew she had to get me and my sister out of our negative environment so she moved us into an apartment in a nearby town. My sister and I were able to stay in the same school so life barely changed. If anything, life got better!! We thought nothing of it.
Everything seemed normal with the exception of our father not living with us. Within a year, my mom began dating and my dad became reacquainted with a college sweetheart. Dad married my stepmother, Brenda, and they’ve been married ever since. We became a very civil divorced family who attended the same church and even sat in the same pew together. Can you can imagine how strange this might have looked?!? We thought nothing of it.
It wasn’t too long before we moved back to Riesel. Our new home was old and with no central air or heat. The three of us shared one bedroom and changed our habits to suit the season. In the winter, Mom would get up extra early (4:30 a.m.) to light space heaters for us. And when the water heater ran out of butane, she’d boil huge pots of water on the stove for our baths. We thought nothing of it.
During the school year Mom always prepared and delivered our breakfast to us on the couch. There the three of us would eat, put on our makeup together and talk about EVERYTHING! Mom would iron our clothes for the day and see to it that our lunches were made. By 7:30 a.m., we all looked like a million bucks and headed out the door. We thought nothing of it.
I could go on and on with more stories about the eternal optimist, but what I love and appreciate the most about my mom is her spirit. She protected and nurtured us. Only later in life did my sister and I learn the truth about the hardships she endured.
The apartment she had moved us to was government subsidized housing. We thought nothing of it because there was no more fighting, and we found fun in climbing the stairs and meeting the new neighbors.
The clothes she gave us were mostly hand-me-downs or painstakingly handmade. We thought nothing of it because we loved going to Wal-mart to look for patterns and material so we could have a new Easter, Christmas, or banquet dresses. Mom even made my sister’s Jr. Prom dress which was ALL RED SEQUINS!!!
The times we ran out of butane were because she sometimes couldn’t pay the bill. We thought nothing of it because she boiled water on the stove for us. And the school cafeteria food was awful, but we thought nothing of it because Mom always made our lunches to spare us.
We were financially poor. But thanks to Mom’s faith and eternal optimistic spirit, we were spiritually rich. Throughout the many struggles she endured, we never saw her cry or heard her complain. She reinforced the importance of faith, family, health and humor. She stayed focused on making the best of every situation and after every game, event or activity we participated in, even if we lost by fifty points, she was always the first to greet us with her BIG smile and optimistic attitude. She always told us how great we did and never what we should or could have done to win.
Financially, life is better for us all now, but we wouldn’t trade our poor upbringing for any amount of money in the world. We are grateful and very often reminisce and laugh.
Difficult and challenging times are always inevitable in life. What’s critical and is the difference maker is our optimistic attitudes, as our spirit will most likely determine the outcome of our situations. Mom has proven this to me time and time again. But don’t just take my word for it; a 2008 Duke University study showed that cardiac patients who were pessimistic about their recovery we’re twice as likely to die early as those who were optimistic.
As you go about your week and even life, I encourage you to confront all situations with an optimistic spirit. The truth is that life is going to happen with some good and some bad mixed together. The question is: will you have an unshakable faith and spirit that radiates so brightly that you’ll flourish even through the most challenging situations? I’m optimistic you will!
Point To Ponder:
How do you typically react to situations that don’t go your way?
Confront all situations with an optimistic spirit. Have an unshakable faith and spirit that radiates so brightly that you’ll flourish even when the outlook appears grim.