Tuesday, December 27, 2016

It's All About Perspective

On Christmas Day my friend Patti stopped by our house later in the afternoon as some family members were leaving. Patti's family lives out of state and as she went to visit them over Thanksgiving weekend, she had decided to spend Christmas here. At my mother's urging, I told her she was welcome to spend the day with us which she appreciated, so after visiting another friend's house earlier in the day she swung by.

Patti and I have been friends for several months now but there were still some things about her family and upbringing that I didn't know about; I knew she was from Western Pennsylvania and grew up near Punxsutawney, where the infamous groundhog festival is held every year. What I didn't know is that her late father worked in the nearby coal mines for most of his life and that her nephew has the same job. 

She brought my mother a beautiful holiday-themed bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine, and one thing she commented on more than once was the size of our house and how beautiful it was.

Now, my mother and I live in a four-bedroom split level that my parents actually built using home plans from Better Homes and Gardens in the late '50s/early '60s. So I guess you could say it's a mid-century modern home, even though it's not decorated that way throughout most of it and isn't quite as Mad Men-esque as other houses built during the same period. It also needs a lot of work which thankfully goes unseen -- I wouldn't be surprised if some day, when my siblings and I have to put it on the market, that it must be listed in "as in" condition. 

And while my mother and I consider it to be a decent-sized home and she did raise my siblings and me comfortably under its roof, it's definitely not as big as most of the houses in my town. Not even close. And there are many days when my mother laments about something going wrong or that needs repairs. 

However, to my friend Patti...it was a palace. 

You see, sometimes it's all about perspective, and perspective can help us feel more grateful and appreciative when we think we don't have things so great and may be lacking in our lives. I've lived in the house my whole life and sometimes take it, and our neighborhood, for granted. My mother wants nothing more than to win the lottery and either fix it up properly or move out of it. But to someone that grew up in a more working class area, our house is something really special. 

I also really admire Patti's resilience; she moved to my state because she was with a coast guard guy at the time, and that didn't work out. Last year she ended a 9-year marriage because her husband was an alcoholic. But she has to be the least bitter person I've ever known. She tried online dating earlier this year and didn't have any luck with it, but says she is still optimistic that there is someone that exists for her. 

It kind of reminds me of a well-known saying by Dr. Wayne Dyer: "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." It's a good lesson to be reminded of, especially when we don't think we somehow have enough. 

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