This past weekend I had the fortune of watching my sister get married it was an amazing weekend, but the week leading up to it started off pretty tough.
I had been working for weeks to get ready for the Tiny House Conference because once I saw my sister walk down that aisle, I was off to Portland. It meant that I had to have almost everything in order before then. I was feeling good, a little stressed, but good. I had nailed my to do list and was even doing some bonus things when I walked to my car…
The window had been smashed in and quite a few things had been stolen. I had hidden my backpack under the seat, but apparently the thief still spotted it. In that bag was $800 of really important things for the conference, my check book, but thank goodness, not my laptop.
I was angry. I was upset. I didn’t have time to deal with this right now. What I had been working so hard for during the past year felt threatened. Not that the Conference was in jeopardy, but the bag stolen symbolized one thing to me: my tools to write, to podcast, to build the movement. I felt like these tools and what I do were cheapened; what cost me $800 of hard earned dollars to do what I loved, was being hocked at a near by thrift store for a few bucks.
This was compounded by the fact that since I was leaving so soon, I might not be able to get the things I needed before I left and once I left, I didn’t know exactly where to have things shipped. Needless to say, emotionally I was in a bad place. A darker place than I’ve been in for a long time.
This angered me even more, because in the end it wasn’t just money, it wasn’t just the tools for what I love doing, it was the worry, the fear, that I would carry that anger into the weekend where I would not be able to fully appreciate and be fully present in the biggest day in the life of someone who I care about. I felt like that was what was robbed from me.
It was then and there that I resolved myself to not let that person who smashed that window take this amazing moment in time from me: seeing my little sister walk down the aisle.
I had no idea how I was going to do it, but I knew I had to figure it out.
I took some time, of which I really didn’t have to take, to think about this. How do I deal with this anger? How do I deal with this fear? How do I deal with having to spend $800 plus few hundred for the car to be fixed?
I remembered a person from my past who once shared the notion of Paradoxical Gratitude, the idea that when something bad happens to you, you look at the positives of what surrounds it. An example would be: if a loved one dies, you focus on the fact that you have living friends and family that are there to support you in your time of need.
I liked the premise of this and it stuck with me over the years, a tool in my tool box to help me be grateful for what I did have. It was time to use that tool.
I thought to myself:
- How amazing it was that I had built a life for myself that I had the money to weather this storm.
- How I patted myself on the back for my ability to roll with the punches and get things done.
- How thankful I was that my mother had time to drive down to the car dealership and we then spent the afternoon together.
- How cool Macy Miller was about me saying I needed to take a few weeks off from the podcast when I shared the files of 5 podcasts and all my podcasting gear had been stolen.
- How fortunate I was in life, how I had a house, a job, a car, friends and family.
These were the thing I repeated to myself over the following days. I had to make a concerted effort to push myself out of that darkness and into a place where I focused on gratitude. It was hard. It is easy to fall into a place of anger when we feel like we have been wronged, but I knew the stakes were too high.
Then came the day of the wedding.
My sister and I are pretty different people: She loves clothes and shopping, I buy multiples of the same shirt and hate every minute of it. I went to a liberal arts school that shunned greek life and had no real sport teams; she went to a bigger school and joined a sorority where she went to all the games with her sorority “sisters”. Despite all our differences, we get along well and I’m proud to call her my sister. She would correct me and say “your favorite sister” a running joke because I only have one. So I was very excited for her because I knew how important this day was for her and thus, it was important to me.
I was standing outside, looking down at grounds where the wedding would happen and was mindfully saying what I was grateful for to myself. The wedding was about to start and then something clicked in me. The focus on gratitude had paid off. I was standing with my brothers, my father, the groom and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect; it was a great day!
The wedding kicked off and I saw my little sister, my favorite sister, get married. She struggled to hold back the tears as she said “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward” and I wasn’t much better.
The night went quickly after that, sitting for dinner, being rushed back out for more photos, going back in for the first dance, and then getting to see so many family and friends. My face hurt from smiling when my head hit the pillow at 3am. A good day…. no, a great day.
So I wanted to share this story to encourage you to live in the moment, to foster gratitude in your life, to making conscious decisions in your life to deal with the anger, the fear, the doubt, the negativity and go to that place of happiness.