18 November 2008


My dear friend Lu is truly super woman.   She is a law student, a fiancée, and a mother to the most adorable almost-one-year-old you'll ever see.  Not to mention the 10,000 extracurriculars she's involved in, and her adorable apartment, andandand.  She is every woman.  However, even Lu has those days where everything seems like a struggle just to keep treading the water.  She often tells me that the TLC show John & Kate Plus 8 is her "perspective show" for those days when she's at her wits end and feels terrible.  I could be worse, she could have 8 children under 6, right?!?!

Yesterday, I had a perspective day.  I experienced a series of events which reminded me that I am the luckiest person in the world, simply because I have a heated apartment, friends I can talk to about anything, and I will never truly go hungry.  No, this is not one of those self-righteous rants about being grateful for what you have (although you should...).  It's merely a reflection on my day, and perhaps even a call to take a moment for gratitude & reflection on how truly, deeply lucky we blog-readers/writers are.  

I woke up yesterday morning in a not-so-pleasant mood, largely because it was cold, I didn't have time to make coffee (SIN!), I couldn't get the pilot light on my oven lit, and I'm coming down with a cold.  While I spent 20 minutes fiddling with the pilot, I started obsessing about the impending finals, the fact that my dog hates me, missing my family, etc.  By 10 a.m., I had worked myself into a tizzy of worry & stress.  By 2 p.m., my entire viewpoint changed. 

Yesterday at work, we mediated the most heartbreaking case ever.  EVER.  Our client is a very young woman who has spent most of her life living in a refugee camp, so badly beaten that she still bears physical scars, and her parents are still overseas in the camp.  She is here in a foreign city, completely alone, trying to raise her children on virtually no income, and going through a horrible divorce.  There are so many more awful details to this case that I can't discuss, but believe you me, it was devastating.  Today was the only day I've ever cried at work.  In front of my boss.  And she was crying, too.

Lesson learned:  Whenever I miss my family, I need to stop and realize they are an hour away.  One hour.  That's it.  I can call them, I can drive to see them, and I do it often (in fact, I met my mom for dinner last night).  In fact, I have a home to go to, and it's lovely and warm and full of very happy memories.  I don't know what it's like to be forced out of the country I've always known & shoved in a crowded camp.  I don't know what it's like to never be able to go back home.  I have never known hunger and my parents won't ever let me, even if I'm too old to be turning to them.  If I need help, my parents are able to feed me, clothe me, and make sure my heat stays turned on and my dog has food.  They are always, ALWAYS there for me & support me with very few questions asked.  I don't even know the true meaning of homesick or alone.  

At dinner, my mom and I had a conversation about happy topics:  domestic violence and poverty.  We discussed the sad, hard truth that several of my clients go back to their abusive spouses because of financial reasons.  Without delving into the discussion at length, let me just say that we talked at length about the topic, and by the end of dinner, I was just whispering "thank you, God, thank you God..."

Lesson learned:  I am beyond lucky because I've never had to make a choice between someone who might hurt me and being warm and/or having a full belly.  Enough said.

After dinner with mama, I was doing my nightly routine of FBing/stalking, when a good friend from high school sent me a message--her grandmother has terminal cancer and they are stopping treatment.  My friend is dearly close to her grandmother, who is a wondering, spunky woman that doesn't quite realize that she's 85.  Naturally, my friend is floored.  I hardy knew what to say, because how do you tell someone it's going to be ok when you know that (at least for awhile) it's not?

Lesson learned:  I may still be mourning my own perfect, irreplaceable grandmother, but at least I'm through the worst.  She's not suffering at all now.  She passed so peaceably, we couldn't have wished more for her.  The initial "noooooooooooo" has worn off, and I'm (slowly) moving through my grief.  I'm still sad every single day, but I'm beginning to think of her and laugh more and cry less.  I have my mom and my sister to share stories with.  Most of all, I had her for 93 wonderful years.  She was the perfect, and I do mean perfect, grandmother.  I was lucky to have her.

So that's my perspective-check.  I've got it pretty damn good, folks.  When I think of all the things I DO have, it makes it much easier to forget about the things I "don't" have (those new J.Crew patent pumps, the yellow sweater from Anthropologie, etc.).  They just seem incredibly unimportant.  

What gives you perspective? 


LucieLu said...

Well you already wrote about what gives me perspective on parenting! Like you said, if I ever feel overwhelmed by parenting one child (sometimes three) I just flip on J & K + 8 and I am all like "Man. I can SO do this."

As far as perspective on the rest of life. . . I don't have to look much further than our family to realize how lucky I have it. SLB is the only one of 150 grandkids to go to college - when we visit his fam it is clear that the opportunity to have an education and move up in the world makes a big, big difference in your life. We are very, very lucky.

And no matter how broke we are my son is healthy and happy - nothing else really matters.

Jess said...

I don't have anything quite as extreme in my life to give me perspective, but reading articles about people going to extreme measures to pay their bills, and seeing unhappy marriages all around me... that helps remind me of how lucky I am.

Mandy said...

There are many different things that help me put things in persepective -- sometimes its talking with a friend, sometimes its a news story, sometimes its a blog post....

(BlogSecret was amazing! I hope next time you can participate too!)

The Odd Duck said...

Thanks for making me want to cry and feel like a selfish little shit Katie. Gosh.

My perspective...to look back at my life last year and realize just how far I have come.

Lauren said...

My job gives me perspective. Every day, I go to court and see people with REAL problems--addictions, HUGE financial problems, abuse. Helps knock me down a peg or two when I'm thinking, "Oh, my life sucks, I can't afford to do this or that" or "I hate being in law school". Yeah, I'm broke, but I have a roof, electricity, and food. And yeah, law school sucks, but I'm lucky to be there.

legaleagle2009 said...

I am a little late on this but...what gave me perspective today was the Make A Wish Requestathon they are doing on the radio station I listen to...these poor children and their parents try so hard to keep things normal when they are far from it. Makes me feel glad that, no matter what, I am happy, healthy and lucky to be where I am...I love things that give us perspective! I loved your post!