Recently, I was inspired by a conversation with Matt Batt (@storyassistant) about his new mantra, “I refuse to participate in this recession!” What a great affirmation!
As we talked about it, I realized I had a unique anchor to help me ride out the current economic storm. In the days that followed, I worked out a short list of lessons I’ve learned as a single parent, and which I hope will inspire you:
1. Regardless of your fears, focus ahead to what you want.
How are you going to spot the opportunities if you’re not looking for them? Trust me: Constant worry is exhausting, accomplishes nothing and wastes time you could spend enjoying family and friends. Like crossing a wide stream, be alert for slippery spots but keep your attention on the grassy, sun-dappled, opposite shore.
2. Celebrate what you have.
Beyond being thankful for what you have, find ways to celebrate it. All of it.
In December, 2007, Oprah Magazine published an amazing story by Peggy Orenstein. It traces not only the impact of the classic book, Mrs. Mike, on the author, but also her journey and ultimate meeting with its authors, Nancy and Benedict Freedman. If you click on that link and read the story, I hope one of your personal take-aways will be a promise to yourself to meet adversity as they have: When life served its ups, they celebrated; when it served the downs, they did the same.
3. To heck with the statistics.
Years ago, I stumbled upon a chart that showed the percentage of single mothers living beyond their means, depending on the number of children. It was a dreadful, depressing report, and I sank into hopelessness for a full two weeks. Then, one night, I had had enough. I looked up at the starry sky and declared an end to letting studies and statistics define my future (I really don’t believe the wiser statisticians ever meant to do that). Believe me or not, from that moment, everything changed. And regardless of ups and downs since then, I’ve held fiercely to my belief in a Statistic of One.
The blows and changes to our economy are scary, disorienting and not yet over. We’ll have opportunities to learn things about ourselves—both individually and collectively, and to create meaning out of the chaos. As much as I still worry over too many little things, I remain an optimist. I have faith in my ability to cope, and reader, I have faith in you. You’re strong, you’re resourceful, your grace and dignity are profound, and whether or not you remember it, you have an amazing sense of humor.
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