Saturday, June 18, 2016

It Will Change

A Facebook post from a friend of mine prompted me to write this today. He's had some hardship financially, and wanted to try to enjoy some simpler pleasures this summer: miniature golf, ice cream cones and such. I applaud this, as many, many times, and still to this day, it's the simplest things that have brought me great joy.

Sometimes the comforting scent of April fresh fabric softener, or the scent of pine. Other times, it's been a string of white twinkle lights above my fireplace on a rainy evening. My cat's furry belly, and the sound of his purring. Enjoying a Reese's peanut butter cup after a long day of work. A few moments of bliss reading a favorite novel. An old CD I haven't listened to for years; something from earlier in my life that brings back a sweet little memory. Swinging on my porch swing, listening to the symphony of feathered friends.

I could go on and on, because my family and I have been simple people. We never went on grand vacations and such. A trip to the local amusement parks to play Fascination, or ride a few rides; an overnight stay or two at a cottage near Conneaut Lake Park. We never had tons of money or the financial security that some people seem to enjoy. And it was fine. We had laughter and love, fights and closeness, but we had each other and quality time.

When adversity strikes, and choices are to be made, sometimes we feel as if we'll crumble. There's a setback in our finances or health, and all of a sudden, even the simplest of joys fall by the wayside. We feel as if we'll never recover or get back out of that pit. That our world is on hold, and we have no idea how long before we will even smile again.

There have been major events in my life that threatened to pull me down and keep me there. My mother's battle with mental health issues when I was a young girl. How do you ever recover from that? I became quiet and sullen. I see pictures of myself from that time and I looked like the weight of the world lay on my shoulders. I wondered if I'd ever be happy or carefree like other little girls I knew. I never thought I'd see my mother again.

Or my year-long trial in seventh grade with a group of boys who chose to bully me, calling me names and making fun of me. I trudged home day after day hoping they would find something else to do, or some new victim to harass. I hated myself believing the lie inside my head that said "you're no good, you're stupid, you are what they say you are. You will not make it through this."

Then when scoliosis struck with fear and the unknown of my health as a young teen, I never thought I would be "normal" ever again. I would always feel different, odd, and deformed.

I can say to you, my friend, keep your head up. Find the will to crawl out of your setback, no matter what it takes. I am living proof that time heals all wounds, even things as bad as financial hardship. Years ago I was on food stamps and could barely pay my bills. I had to be thrifty in my spending and living. And you can do it too. It isn't forever, nothing is. I know it feels that way, but adversity always passes. Even if it takes several years of caution, of not being able to afford certain things you feel that you can't live without, in time, the sun will peek out of the gray cloud of depression, and you'll be amazed and so proud of yourself for doing this, for finding a way in the dark.

Oh, and don't you dare put living on hold. You can make a choice--you don't have to sit in a darkened room staring at a blank wall, thinking just how much you messed up, or why did this happen to me, the usual victim mentality. No, you pick your head up, eat a good meal, go for a walk, sing a song, enjoy your health at this moment in time. Talk with people as if nothing is wrong--that you don't have a care in the world. Act "as if" you are absolutely fine. Because the look on our countenance and the words that come out of our mouth are powerful, my friends. Life is for living and that means for each and every one of us.

Trust me: it will change.

I always loved this song and video. It's Billy Joel's "Don't Forget Your Second Wind."

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Long Path Ahead

When the I.T. tech on the other end of the phone said these words last week: "I think you have a bad problem," my heart sank and I wanted to vomit.

Our computer at work had gotten what is known as a ransomware encryption, and someone literally scrambled our data, and was holding it for ransom. After many phone calls and one awesome computer genius, we were back up a few days later, albeit a lot more cautious, and unfortunately at a loss for some of our data and appointments.

I cried, I screamed, I bargained with God. I didn't want this problem, and thought I would go insane if I had to face the mountain of work before us to try and retrieve as much old information as possible, and still run business as usual.

The first day back after a long holiday weekend, and I turned my own computer on and stared at the screen for a full three minutes. I think I was holding my breath, I can't be sure, but if I was, then I may hold a new record. I slowly and cautiously typed an appointment, answered the ringing phone, greeted several patients and began a regular work day at the dental office.

I took time to make a list of all the things that would have been lost. It seemed daunting. Not only did we lose patient daily appointments, but we lost every payment made for one month's time; that meant insurance payments, cash, checks and credit cards. How would I find them?

Luckily I'm an old-fashioned type who still writes most everything down, though it is a lot of extra work. We keep a booklet on the cash entered, every patient that had come in during that time had sticky notes in their charts with insurance information, and I actually had printed sheets that showed every single person that came in through the last four weeks of missing info!

Go ahead, make fun of me for not "getting with the times" and loving electronics and going paperless, but in this instance, it was a blessing for our office that we didn't completely change over yet.

Little by little, I began to crawl out of the hole. Our other front desk girl had her hands full with her own duties, and between us both, we began to see a crack of light in the dark, dark tunnel.

I had pictured myself never smiling again. I had pictured this summer being one long drawn out time at work, never enjoying a moment of it since we had so much to do with this issue. Not only are we about forty percent better right now, but my co-worker and I found time to laugh and giggle. What felt like an impossibility became possible.

Is it going to be perfect? Nope. Because we lost the daily patient appointments for the next month, and every time our door opens, we aren't exactly sure who is going to walk through it. Can we do it though? You bet. We can do it with smiles on our faces, a song in our heart, a good attitude, and God's help.

Have me and my co-worker been praying about this? Yes. For I believe God is concerned about everything in our lives. From what we may see as mundane or trivial, or what may feel insurmountable and hopeless, there's always hope. He does care. No, He isn't going to snap His fingers and take this all away, but with His help, we are able to do what we thought we couldn't. I know I would not be anywhere without Him. When I try to tackle anything, any task on my own without first consulting God, when I plunge straight ahead making my own decisions without seeking His guidance, I am lost. He has given me the peace, the intelligence, the drive to push forward with this mountain before me, this long path ahead, and instead of losing my joy over what I felt was impossible, I now can look with hope to each day bringing something new and unexpected.