Count Your Blessings

By June Headley-Greenlaw

This blog may start out dark but stick with me.  I see so many people allowing negativity to consume them.  However, I’ve also been blessed to witness people going through devastating times and maintaining positivity throughout.  I wanted to use this blog to encourage readers to seriously consider their circumstances and what alternatives could be. pooh quote

Do you have a child that has never and will never be able to walk or talk or feed themselves or give you a hug?  I am blessed not to have encountered this in my life, but I have a cousin that has experienced this for 22 years with her son.  She could have chosen to put him into a long-term care facility, but she did not.  Her son is front and center in her life daily and she still finds ways to enjoy life and smile.  She inspires me!

Do you have cancer or are you watching someone in your family suffer from this devastating disease?  I am blessed to have avoided this diagnosis, but I have known many people fighting through this challenge.  Some lost their battle and others are still in the fight.  I have learned so much from the people facing this struggle as well as the people that have cared for them.  They have all inspired me!

Are you homeless or jobless or worried about where your next meal will come from?  I am blessed not to be in these situations, but I have met people that have been in all of them.  When I taught U101 at the University, I used to do a group community service day with all my students each semester.  We would visit places like the Salvation Army where homeless people could stay for a night or get a hot meal.  We did projects like painting rooms, serving food, etc.  We would always end our day with someone who was dependent on those services telling us their story.  Those people inspired me!

My point in mentioning all of these things is to ask you to think about all of these people and their situations as you go through your daily life.  Try not to allow yourself to get mired in negativity, but instead, tell yourself that there are many people going through much tougher times, and count your blessings.

quote 1I hope that most people who know me would say I’m a pretty positive person.  I tell myself I’m only limited by my willingness to work toward what I want or need in life and I play that on loop in my head always.  I take responsibility for my actions, and I understand that I am where I am each day only because of the choices I have made.  Well, that’s mostly the case.  There was never a chance of me playing professional basketball at 5 feet nothing!  I pray daily for those less fortunate and I thank God for all that He has given me.

I have found that a positive attitude can carry you through anything.  It may not make the outcome of your challenge what you hoped, but it may keep you from sinking into the doldrums of depression.  Give it a try.  Remember, your track record for getting through tough times is 100% so far.

First World problems

By Jeanne Reynolds

Don’t you hate when people whine and moan about their lot in life, with apparently no perspective on what the rest of the world is dealing with and what’s really important?

I do, too. Even when — maybe especially when — it’s me doing the whining and moaning.

Florence flooding 2I just finished sending a long email to several family members with all the details about travel and accommodations for an upcoming reunion at the beach. As in North Myrtle Beach. And even as I explained all the wrinkles and complications that have come up because of Sister Florence, I knew there are tens of thousands of my fellow Carolinians (South and North) dealing with far, far worse problems post-storm. Instead of focusing on how inconvenient — and in one case, impossible — it’s going to be to get everyone where they’re supposed to be, when they’re supposed to be there, I should be turning my thoughts and prayers on those folks whose homes and hopes have been washed away. I mean, I’m talking about a vacation trip, for goodness sake.

Here’s another example: As I write this, I’m sitting high and dry in my lovely marsh-front home near Beaufort (which thankfully was spared a full-frontal assault this time). Two good friends have just left after we enjoyed four great days together playing in a golf tournament. I followed a good round yesterday with an incredibly miserable one today and lost a match I could easily have won, which has left me well down in the dumps. And I have to seriously scold myself to remember how blessed I am to even be in this situation, in such a beautiful place, NOT dealing with storm damage and with the physical ability, financial resources and job flexibility to do this in the first place.

In fact, most of my so-called troubles in life are what you’d call First World problems. People in Third World countries struggle to get enough to eat and clean water to drink. Meanwhile I worry if my pants are getting too tight (too much to eat) and gnash my teeth over a malfunctioning irrigation system (plenty of water to spare). I have a mountain of laundry to do (well, really just a pretty small hillock) — while I sit in the air conditioning and push a few buttons so a machine can do all the work. I’m rehabbing a hip injury that’s kept me from running for the past month (if you’re a runner, you know this is BIG) — but I have health insurance plus a healthy enough bank account to get the treatment I need. And so far, my pants do still fit.

I know I’m not alone in this. Many (maybe even most?) of us do dwell on our own problems to the exclusion of others around us. It’s easy to lose perspective and forget these are gnats, not elephants, in my life.Florence flooding

I don’t know what the answer is, but one thing that couldn’t hurt is doing more volunteer work and making more donations to organizations trying to help some of those without enough to eat or drink, or whose homes are gone. I have to change my focus to change my perspective.

I’ll still have problems, First World or otherwise. But maybe, just maybe, they won’t matter quite as much.