Mother Nature threw New Jersey a curveball this week in the form of snow (six inches where I live, to be exact). We don’t normally get that much snow here, and when we do, people quickly divide into two groups: those who hate the snow and those who love it.
I’m proudly in the latter group. Sometimes. There is nothing more beautiful than snow falling and evergreens with their boughs bent gracefully under the weight of the white, fluffy stuff. Don’t get me wrong, though: I want the snow to melt immediately once it gets gray and dirty, and I don’t want my ability to drive or walk anywhere to be affected.
And don’t even talk to me about ice. The only way I like ice is in a beverage.
When snow comes to our neck of the woods, there are those who act as if the unthinkable has befallen us. It’s winter in the mid-Atlantic, though, so what should we expect? Snow is a distinct possibility. And this week’s snow got me thinking about things that happen – things that we didn’t necessarily expect or want- and our reactions to them. These things happen all the time, really. They can range anywhere from winning the lottery to catching a cold to losing one’s job to a death in the family to being late for a dentist appointment. Unexpected events run the gamut, in other words. And not to get all preachy, but the way we react to these events can have a strong bearing on our outlook, our attitude, our health, and perhaps most importantly, our loved ones.
A very mundane unexpected thing happened here last Friday. My kids had a snow day. Earlier in the week, I had expected them to have school on Thursday and Friday, but nature decided otherwise. I could have been angry that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish what I needed to do on Friday, but I’ve been down that road before and believe me, we were all the worse for it and the snow day stunk. I took a different approach this time: I told my kids that I needed some time to myself to work and that I would take them sledding later in the afternoon. You know what? It worked and everyone was happy. Frostbite notwithstanding, my kids had a blast sledding.
Here’s another example: last August we went on vacation to California. I was waiting for a very important phone call while we were there and when it didn’t come and then it didn’t come the next day or the next day or the next day, I turned all Mommy-Dearest on everyone and very nearly ruined the vacation while I wallowed in my own misery. I had a headache everyday and I’m sure I gave my family their fair share of headaches, too. I hope I’ll remember that and respond better the next time something doesn’t happen when I want it to.
Here’s another example, and then I’ll be done. I promise. Two weeks ago I was working on my second book when I realized I had some problems that were becoming increasingly difficult to solve. I was getting frustrated, but I am learning to step back a bit when that happens, and that’s what I did. I eventually realized that I needed another character in the story…just like that, problem solved. I could have insisted that no one bother me or that everyone go outdoors so I could think, but instead I’m the one who went for a walk outdoors. Like I said, I’m learning.
So the next time life hands you lemons (or a snowstorm), do what your grandmother always told you to do. Make lemonade. Or go sledding.
Until next week,
P.S. How are you doing on those New Year’s resolutions?