Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Because Gratitude is a Choice

by Kelly

This is not at all the blog post I intended to write this week.  But considering that this month our theme is gratitude, I thought I might share a little about my weekend.  Because it involved finding some gratitude when there wasn't much to be happy about.

I guess I should back up.

You know how they say that it's not 'if' you are going to have computer problems but rather 'when'?  I know this is a topic that has been shared before here on this blog.  I know it has happened to us all...I personally experienced this very thing earlier in the year.  And well, this past weekend my daughter experienced it firsthand.  

It was an accident... as a lot of times these problems are.  I got a call Saturday afternoon, my sweet girl in tears.  She had spilled her soup on her laptop and it had promptly stopped working.  And because life is well...life, it happened at the worst possible time for her - she has four big papers due this week.  Two of which were already written (because my girl, unlike her mother, tends to plan ahead and not let things pile up on her last minute).  But they were saved on her hard drive.

Thankfully my husband and I were in town for the football game, so we were able to be there in person to help our sweet girl in her time of need.  And so Saturday evening we searched the web to see if there was anything we could do to get her computer to work.  A few websites suggested setting a laptop into cat litter as that would help dry out the insides, so Kelsey and I made a mad dash to Target for some Fresh Step and and a plastic storage bin.  We set her laptop in the cat litter overnight.  Sunday morning we tried powering it on.  No luck.

After breakfast, the three of us drove over to Best Buy to visit with the Geek Squad, hoping that they could take a look and somehow get it to power up.  We were paired with Jason, a kind and compassionate Geek Squad rep, who took the time to take the back off and look at the guts of the laptop.  He wasn't optimistic.  And after a couple of minutes, we were faced with our biggest fear.  Kelsey's laptop was irreparably damaged.

At this point there weren't a lot of options.  But nevertheless, Kelsey still had four papers due by Thursday.

Jason offered to look into retrieving the data on her hard drive.  And so with a teeny screwdriver he took the guts apart to remove the slender, metal box...inside of which contained the past three years of my girl's life.  We were relieved to know that her hard drive was recoverable.  And so we bought a flash drive and paid the $100 for the data-retrieval.

Now I know what you're thinking...the thing we didn't want to happen, happened. And now I'm writing a post about gratitude??

Yes.  I am writing a post about gratitude.

The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.  ~ Henry Ward Beecher

As Kelsey and I were driving back to her apartment, she was in tears.  So sorrowful for the accident.  But it was an accident...I know this.  She is an incredibly responsible child who has never caused us any trouble.    This is life. Real life.  S*** happens.  

So sitting there in the passenger seat, consoling my girl, I was trying to process everything. My mind was going a mile a minute.  But then I took a deep breath.  

Yes.  Breathe.  Exhale.

They can retrieve the papers she's already written.  Yes.  Thank you.  Gratitude. OK.  I have my laptop and charger in my bag.  Yes...gratitude.  Kelsey has a Mac, but I have a PC.  But she saves her files PC compatible.  Yes.  Thank you.  She can get her papers turned in on time.  Yes.  Gratitude.

Do you see what just happened here?  

What I didn't want to happen, happened.  But yet...there is still so much to be grateful for.  This is hard gratitude...finding something to be thankful for in the midst of difficulties.  But it's there for those with eyes to see it.

As I sat there next to Kelsey, I told her that this is what we like to call 'teachable moments' in parenthood.  And the lessons to be learned here are many.  Obviously the first being, back up your computer.  Often.  But there is also the lesson in life...because bad things are going to happen.  Even though we take care of things and are proactive, things break.  Computers die.  Tires get holes.  Trees fall.  It's just the way life is.  And then there's also the lesson in having money in savings for things like this.  Sure it's not nearly as fun as new shoes or a new outfit, but it's important to having a little something put aside for when (not if) things need repaired/replaced.

A lesson learned.  Yes.  Gratitude.

So here I am, typing this blog post on my husband's laptop while my daughter is two hours away using mine.  She is getting her homework done and I am able to finish my blog post.  The unfortunate situation went from dire to doable.  

I suppose some might attribute my peace and serenity about this situation to my 'mary sunshine' personality.  And I will tell you that it would not be the first time someone has accused me of this.  

But I beg to differ.  

Because gratitude is a choice.

Even when it's hard.  

I shot this photo Saturday evening.  Kelsey's laptop was nestled in several inches of Fresh Step.  Tripp and I had already talked about possible outcomes involving new computers.  We hadn't yet learned that the miracle that we were praying for wasn't going to happen.  But yet, this light as it fell across our hotel room bed.  Such a blessing.  A reminder to me of this big, messy, wonderful, frustrating life.  And the big picture...a broken computer is not the end of the world.

So as I close out here, I want to first of all encourage, no...IMPLORE you to please go and back up your computer. And then, I would also encourage you to choose gratitude.  Find something to be grateful for...even when it's hard. Because it changes everything.  

And finally, we so love hearing from you.  Would you share with us an example of how the practice of gratitude has changed your life?  I can't think of any better way to celebrate the month of November and this season of thankfulness.

With love and gratitude, 



The theme for November is Gratitude and we have seen some gorgeous images expressing thankfulness. Please continue to share your list of things you are grateful for either here on the blog or on our Facebook page. Also, please share your grateful-themed pictures on our Flickr page, our Flickr phoneography page, or on Instagram with the hashtag #focusingonlife.


Sarah Huizenga said...

Yes, bad things happen. But so thankful you were able to retrieve her data, so she can turn in those papers. Many times all you have to do is turn on the news, and you will see that you have a lot to be grateful for. I don't do a very good job at it, but I am working on it.

heyjudephotography said...

Sorry about Kelsey's laptop, but so glad you are able to realize that there are so many things to be grateful for. When we look at the "big picture" it really does put things into perspective, doesn't it?

Dotti said...

One of the biggest lessons my husband taught our daughter was 'problem solving'. Okay. You've got a problem, what are the options. Make a decision and do it. It's a life lesson that has served her well. This is a life lesson Kelsey will learn now ... and that in itself is something to be thankful for. Oddly enough, we were just having 'Offsite Backup Discussion #99' yesterday on FB among the collaborators here at FOL. Yes - Back. It. Up. Yes. Be. Grateful. Thanks, Kelly, for TWO great reminders this morning. :-D

Jeanne said...

Great example of gratitude under duress, and yes, it is always a wonderful thing to HAVE OPTIONS. In the work I do, so many people dont even have a single option... often not even a car to go see what happened. What is gone, is just gone... and these incidents can be life changing when you have no options at all! Thank goodness for you and your daughter.... all is well which ends well!

Katie said...

our daughter spilled nail polish remover on her laptop's keyboard last year, and just felt sick about it. she's the same as kelsy about being responsible so we weren't upset with her. my husband tried every trick in the book to save her computer, but to no avail so we wound up buying her a windows "surface" and now my husband plays with it whenever meg is home. ; ) there really is SO much to be thankful for, not just in november, but every other minute of the year. great post, kelly.

susan said...

Kelly…the fact that you (and your husband) were able to guide your daughter gracefully through this, be there for her when she needed you…and also practice gratitude…well, bravo! You are to be commended for being the parents you are.

With that said…this morning I am grateful that there are loving parents like you and your husband raising our youth today. xo's ~ susan

CarolHart said...

Oh Kelly, you and I are on the same page my friend! My post tomorrow sends the same message, but in a different vein. I'm so sorry your daughter had to experience such a stressful event. One of our business partners had a similar incident with his laptop. As his young son jumped up on his lap, he tipped over the cup of coffee that was sitting near the computer. Data was retrievable but a new laptop had to be purchased. S***t does indeed happen!

terriporter said...

Oh, we've all been there with the computer failures, both with our own and our children's. When my son was in law school all the way across the country, his computer died on him and he was freaking out long distance to us, trying to figure it out. When my computer crashed last year and it looked like everything was lost, I had to remind myself that there were so many worse things that people were dealing with and mine was small potatoes. Like Dotti said about life lessons, sometimes it takes having these things happen and having to figure them out to make us realize how much we really have to be grateful for. And we both learned a valuable lesson -- your computer IS going to fail, but if you have everything backed up, it won't be such a huge problem. You can bet both my son and I are now religious backer-uppers!

Deanna said...

Oh yes, I have been there with a crashed computer, no spilled soup, but nevertheless a computer that just decided it had had enough. And like you, the geek squad was able to retrieve the "stuff" so nothing major was lost. Yes, gratefulness is always a work in progress, at those moments when you fear all is lost, there are always many other reasons to be grateful. And then again, maybe it would have added to the annuls of excuses that professors have heard...."I don't have my paper because I spilled soup on my laptop." goes right along with "the dog ate my homework."

Carol said...

It is so much a choice. working in medicine I daily see nice people who have had something catastrophic just dumped on their heads. It's amazing to see the human range of reactions to things. I have met peple with minor problems who completely freak out, and people with major problems who remain generous, kind and optimistic. I don't know what makes the difference - but attitude and gratitude are definitely at the forefront. I only hope I could live up to those I admire in the same place. I'm a big believer in practicing now and continually. It's good for your soul!

Kim Stevens said...

Yes absolutely gratitude is a choice and the alternative stinks really! We can choose to see the blessings that come out of chaos or be miserable. Today as I take my son to the Children's hospital there will be all kinds of kinds of thankfulness and gratitude for the people who continue to do what they do there with a smile on their face, but it's also a reminder every time we are there how blessed we are to not be in some of the other situations we see. So glad you got the computer issue all worked out!! One suggestion, we have our kids when doing homework assignments like that - do it in google docs so you can retrieve it from any computer. At least I hope they are still doing that!

AFishGirl said...

I read this earlier and now came back and read it again. Thank you, Kelly. That title is a keeper. Thank you.

Unknown said...

This is amazing -- my husband posted a quote today from one of Luther's works he's translating, and the context is "On why tragedy and misery should move us to gratitude, as our eyes are opened to the remaining blessings around us." I, too, believe gratitude is a choice (and like you, Kelly, I have had my moments of hearing people say it's just my personality). I've been very aware of this choice this year as I go through breast cancer treatment. It's not fun, but I'm grateful that there IS a treatment. I could list all of the things I'm grateful for as I go through this journey, but the point is that, when we count our blessings, we feel blessed, and I believe God blesses us even more in return. Like in photography, the 'art' of counting our blessings opens our eyes to see ordinary things in a different way....

Linda said...

Oh yes! Sometimes it is so hard to see something good when in the middle of something bad! Your post is a good reminder to look for the good! Wouldn't it be nice if everyone would do that? (and they would make a "Lifeproof" case for our laptops! lol!)

Ashling said...

I don't know you...maybe you're a Mary Sunshine person, which would be fine, but to me, you are just someone with an incredible, inspirational life attitude. Your daughter isn't the only one benefitting from the teachable moment.

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