A couple of days ago I visited the beach city where I used to live about 18 years ago. I saw an incredible amount of changes. I wanted to walk on the beach and put my feet in the cold ocean. I drove and drove but there was not a parking spot to be found. Even my secret parking spots were forever gone and just a memory of a less crowded time. I pulled a U-turn and slowly drove through the unfamiliar looking streets. The news on my radio came on and they announced that unemployment in California was up to 12% now. I felt my usual guilt as I continued to drive around. I have been looking for a job for quite sometime now. While I do feel blessed that I did receive the extension for my unemployment benefits, I wondered how soon I will find my so called dream job. But any job most certainly would be a dream. . . I remember to count my blessings. Counting blessings is good for my attitude. I have so many things to be grateful for. First I remind myself that 12% unemployment means 88% of the people DO have a job and soon I will be one of them. I felt hope. I became grateful for my car (even when I can’t seem to find a place to park). I am grateful that my son is a healthy and happy man (even when phone calls are too short for this mom). I am grateful for my roof over my head (even when there is a power outage).
There are so many things I want to do. I want to check into a hotel, order room service and stay till I finish writing my book. I want to adopt a new cat. I want to walk across the beautiful pedestrian bridge in Omaha, Nebraska once more, stop half way and look straight down at the Missouri River, like I used to do when I lived there and needed a place to stop and think a minute. Be still. Feel all the feelings. Be clear. . . . As I drove, I did not realize I had been on auto pilot as I made a left turn and started to drive down my old street. I stopped in amazement as I pulled in front of my old duplex that I had rented years ago. It looked pretty good. The sweetness of sea air and healthy loving memories filled my soul to the brim and then over flowed. Like all single parents, I had many challenges in every area, but, I never wavered from living a life with integrity and hard work while my son watched and learned. I remembered how hard I worked at trying to be the best person I could be – all the while never drinking again and trying my best to stay away from self-defeating behavior. I noticed a huge shady tree, it was so large that it reached above the second story of the duplex. As I got out of my car and leaned against it, I was mindful of moving day into the one bedroom unit down stairs. I gave my son the bedroom and I artistically set up my bed in the living room – it was the right thing to do – a boy needs to know he can have privacy. When my son and I walked out to the tiny back patio, we found an old soiled broken wooden pot laying on its side, the dirt had spilled out and a dead skinny small twig-like plant with a couple of dead leaves was sticking out of the loose dirt. I asked my then almost 4 years old son to help me sweep up the dirt (he chose to use his hands) as I started to drag the dead mess to the big trash cans. My son Tyler was of course enjoying the messy and dirty play time as he pushed and I pulled the awkward pot along side of the house. Tyler noticed another dirt area that was prepared and waiting for new healthy plants. He and I both looked at our odd dying twig plant and now the roots had been exposed and some of them appeared as if they were white thick and strong. “I’ll be – it isn’t quite dead after all.” I looked at it as nothing more than a form of entertainment and education for my son and I quickly transplanted it. Tyler was thrilled and he said he looked forward to watching it grow. He was incredibly hopeful and positive. I was thinking to myself it would never make it. But there I was, 22 years later standing in the street looking straight up. Who knew? I was in awe. And quite frankly, I was pleased with myself. So symbolic of my years and years of hard work. Lonely long nights. Working so hard to become a better and better person. Mistake after mistake, but still growing some how. But victory does not come with out sacrifice. I still have to get out of my comfort zone before I can grow as a person. I am proud of myself today because I did all of the endless uncomfortable hard work. I went “with out” before I could even begin to grow up. . . I looked straight up at “my tree” until my neck started to hurt. Standing in the shade of the tree I planted covered me with comfort, serenity and love of self. It was hope and tolerance that made that almost dead Rubber Tree plant grow. Tyler had kept an eye on our frail plant every day and we gently watered it, wrapped the weak twig branches with green tape to reinforce them and we always spoke kindly to it as we walked by as we nursed it back to health. We didn’t even know just what kind of tree it was when it was so close to death. I did not know what it would grow into, if anything, yet, I remained hopeful.
As I stood in the street in front of my old duplex, I also realized that 12% negative also means 88% hope. Webster’s New American Dictionary’s definition of hope says: to desire with expectation of fulfillment. Standing in the shade of something I planted is a beautiful feeling. Never giving up before the journey is completed. I do have moments where I have lost hope – and it is not my best place to be. Not my best self. I do hope though, that I can be loving, patient and tolerant to my loved ones and people I speak to as they do their best fighting to find and live an honerable, happy and comfortable life. I am blessed I didn’t give up before my own miracles. My growth was slow. It still is. I must remember to allow others to grow in their own time and their own way. I want to be loving and kind when a friend is struggeling and steps on my toes. If I am not kind, I feel upset with myself. I am not perfect – but I remain hopeful – for myself and other people I care for.