I promised myself that 2014 would be an amazing year. I’ve had a difficult couple of years, and coming into 2014 felt exciting because I knew it was a chance for a restart. Sure, things had been hard, but this was 2014. Anything could happen. My default setting is optimism, so I was all in, mentally, for a fabulous year.
Well, 2014 didn’t come in with its fairy godmother wand and swipe away all of my problems like I kind of expected it to. In fact, whoever is the opposite of the fairy godmother seemed to be shoving even more problems into 2014. This was supposed to be my year. The one where I got a breather. The one where things actually happened that I’ve been working so hard for.
So a few weeks ago, in pure pity-party fashion, I started thinking through all the things that I felt like had gone bad this year so far. Rejections on my book, my grandma dying, my flight for her funeral being cancelled, my oldest having his twenty-somethingth surgery, learning he’s in terrible pain, him having to go on four meds that have certain times that can and can’t be given, my youngest having his first surgery complete with eye gel four times a day and multiple follow-up appointments, my husband working so much overtime that we hardly spend time together anymore, then even more rejections on my book, feeling like I’m not accomplishing anything, and that I’m letting people down, and on and on and on.
The more I thought about bad things that had happened, the easier it was to think of more bad things. In a very short amount of time, I was weighed down by how difficult life can be and feeling very alone.
This is how I went in General Conference. I missed all of Saturday due to travel, but when I sat down on Sunday, I heard this advice right at the open: “It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems far out of reach? Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be.” (Dieter F. Uchtdor, Grateful in any Circumstances.)
I pondered on this statement for a while, remembering my very recent (and, to be honest, still-ongoing) pity party. How could I be thankful in my circumstances? Was I focusing on all the wrong things? Had I ignored circumstances I needed to be grateful for in favor of negativity?
I believed it was time for me to reevaluate 2014. So I did, focusing on circumstances to be grateful for versus things in my current situation that cannot be changed. The interesting thing? Most of the things that were so difficult had an opposite side to them that was positive.
So, in 2014, good things that have happened this year: I had a book come out, the airline was able to shuttle me to another airport hours away and get me to my grandma’s funeral before the viewing had ended, I saw many relatives I love and have missed and got to celebrate a wonderful woman’s life, many(many, many) prayers were answered when my oldest son’s surgery revealed a major stomach problem we didn’t know he had, the medicine he’s on is helping tremendously, my youngest son’s surgery went better than expected and we believe he now won’t go blind in his right eye, we’ve paid off our car and my student loan, I went two a writing conference and got two full requests for my new manuscript (plus met some fabulous people), I had the chance to be on staff for the Storymaker conference, which was amazing. Also, my husband has been able to work from home a lot, so we work side-by-side most nights and at least get to be with each other.
Prayers answered. Goals met. Fabulous experiences. And the chance to say goodbye to my grandma.
2014 was sounding a lot better. Kind of magical, even. And nothing had changed except my attitude and perspective.