Saturday, September 10, 2011

Grateful for those things that challenge me.

Well, after yesterday's watershed, I thought I'd better take some time today to reflect on those things that challenge me and find ways to be grateful for them.

Challenges are, essentially, opportunities for gratitude. It's easy to be grateful for all the good that crosses my path in life, and acknowledging those good things is very good. The more positives you acknowledge in your life, the more positively you are bound to view your life.
There are always challenges though and the trick is to try and view those challenges in a positive light, as well, so they don't continuously draw your eye from the other positive stuff in your life and cause you to only notice the things that make life a trial.

Having a melancholy temperament as I do, it doesn't come naturally to me to view challenges as positive - it is something I need to work at and remind myself of over time. So, here goes:

Being legally blind, living with ADHD, hypoglycaemia, anxiety, depression and agoraphobia. All these things feed off each other, but at the same time, they spur me on. I am fortunate enough to be aware of these conditions and have been taught many ways to counteract them (some I implement daily, such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, and some I'm far too lax about, such as a consistent, healthy eating habit). All are a reason for me to prove myself capable. All are a reason to not be a victim (though sometimes those self-pitying thoughts creep in - I try to stay on top of them and be aware of them and counteract them).

These conditions force me not to be complacent. They force me to take action, to plan ahead, to monitor myself and to be aware.

Not being able to drive, and having no choice about that. I'm not a person who takes not having a choice in my stride. I'm the kind of person who believes there is always a choice. Sadly the choice is not always to do or not do. Sometimes it's how I choose to deal with not having the choice the to do or not do. Throughout most of my childhood and adolescence I looked forward to finding a partner who would have a car and solve my problem, of not being able to get a licence, for me.

As it turned out, I married someone who didn't have a licence. Not because he couldn't get one but because he chose not to have one. Many years ago before we had children, this wasn't a problem. It was nice to have someone else who could relate to a complete reliance on public transport.

Then the kids came along and slowly but surely public transport reliance became more and more of a burden. As the years passed I became more and more unhappy that my partner of choice chose not to get a licence. This caused a lot of arguments. For the past two and half years he's been taking lessons in order to get a licence, but so far he hasn't got one yet. This gets me down, it really does, there is so much we don't do because we don't have our own transport that can cut across much of the time-consuming public transport routes.

On the other hand, there is a sort of self-assurance that comes from being able to navigate the complex network of public transport in our city. Our children all know how public transport works and if any of them suddenly found themselves stranded, I'm very confident they would be able to navigate their way home (I'm not including Ari in this scenario, but certainly Erik, Lukas and even Bryn).

We don't take having a car for granted. We don't believe you can't live without a car, as most of society does. We know you can live without a car because we do it. We know that means sacrificing convenience, but we have learned to live without this particular convenience, and I believe that builds character (hey, I'm looking for the good in this situation, okay).

Having to rely on public transport teaches us to plan ahead, to be compassionate about a variety of people in society because we have to get up close and personal with them, to not feel entitled to our own private transport, to become lateral thinkers and innovators (you try going on a picnic across town with four children and everything a picnic requires in such a way that you can carry it all yourself and fit on public transport without losing anything or any one). Being reliant on public transport is character building because it is a challenge!

Living on a low income. Compared to most of the world's population our household income puts us in the top 3% of global income. We are financially better off than 97% of the world population. In our own country, we're in the lowest third of the income brackets, and having four children puts us lower still (dividing $45K between six people means less per person that between 3 or 4 people). According to calculations I read about early this year or late last year, we are indeed among the poor in our society. Financially we struggle to make ends meet, and if it were not for the Grumpy Old Man's mother, we would not make ends meet at all, and might even be homeless (we pay rent and bills first, and food last, and every second fortnight she buys our food).

Just recently I spent our tax money on some luxuries and these were important in that they hold hope for a better future, but some of them were frivolous and even just stupid and I regret not being more forward thinking. At the time I spent the money, I believed we would soon be financially stable, and I threw caution to the wind more so than I usually do. Things didn't turn out the way I had believed and hoped they would, and now I feel a lot of shame and responsibility over our current situation.

That said, you live and you learn, and being financially challenged I have learned a lot! I have learned not to take anything for granted. I have learned I don't need a lot of the things I used to think I needed. I've learned that I can survive - with a little help - on very little income, it's not necessarily fun, but it can be done. I also know it is temporary and that we are lucky because it isn't a life sentence for us, it is just a difficult period we must get through.

So, I am grateful to the various challenges in my life because they make me stop and think about what is really important to me and to assess my own contribution to my happiness through the choices I make about how to perceive my life. I am grateful that I have enough support from family and friends to know we can get through this and that life won't always be this difficult. I am grateful for the times that haven't felt this hard because they are the warm little lights that remind me to keep my chin up and keep moving forward.

I am grateful I recognise there is choice, not always the choice to do or not do, but always the choice to perceive something as negative or positive.

I choose to perceive the positive and I choose to keep reminding myself to perceive the positive when I start to slide into the quicksand that is negative thinking.

I'm linking up with A Day in the Life of Us for I'm Grateful For...


Yr Ham said...

You are wonderful and I love you! :)


permanent amanda said...

This really is a wonderful post as it reminds us that we do have so much we should be grateful for, including the lessons that we are learning from our difficulties or challenges. I think I need to sit down and take a good hard look at myself and the lessons i could be learning if I chose to face my challenges instead of let myself fall in a heap.

Thank you xx

Unknown said...

I love that you think outside of your society and still are grateful for all you have.

You are a treasure, and very, very wise.

Thanks ever so much for linking up today and sharing some very heartwarming reasons to be thankful. xx

Sif Dal said...

Thank you everyone (mum, I'll call you tomorrow <3)

Amanda, I really find that I need to find things to be grateful for to stop me thinking - I really find this helps!

Kymmie, thank you for hosting today's 'I'm grateful for...' - being able to join this linky today gave me something to turn my thoughts to - I'm going to go through and comment on other posts tomorrow (I'm a day behind with my commenting at the moment). Look forward to reading all those inspiring posts!

Daniel Meyer said...

Versatile Blogger Award - You've Been Nominated!

Good Job!