Better Off Well


My Summer Without Air Conditioning, Or A Lesson In Gratitude

A dear friend of mine recently asked, "How do you do it? How do you remain so upbeat?" She asked because my life has seen some overhaul these past couple years. Faced with transitions and challenges, I still see the "silver lining" most days. She said I should blog about this. It's difficult to write about something as abstract as joy. And I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable in this writer's role, as I haven't gone through the kind of loss some have experienced. But writers tend to write for themselves; if somebody is able to take something from it, we are humbled.

I've been a Bozo the Clown most of my life. And when I say that, I mean like the inflatable kind that you could punch down and it would bounce right back up. Or perhaps I could compare myself to a Weeble. Remember those? They wobble, but they don't fall down.

Or maybe not. I have fallen down. Plenty of times.

This much I know now. In the wisdom of middle-agedry, I understand that what goes down must come back up. We all fall. We all have our down days and personal crises. Those should never be dismissed because emotions are real. But things get better. Sometimes it takes a while. There are times we have to exist from minute to minute to get through a day, but things get better.

I know that while I can't control the circumstances around me, I can control how I think about them. That's comforting in those times I feel most powerless.

One of my secrets is no secret at all. I practice gratitude. I'm grateful for the window I'm sitting in front of as I type. The fresh air is blowing inside on a slight breeze that bends the sheer curtain. It's quiet outside, except for the drone of highway traffic far off in the distance. Soon I'll refill my cup of tea, and will relish in the warmth of the cup.

That's how I managed to get through an entire summer without air conditioning. Imagine that. There are people all over the world who've never seen an air-conditioner, yet here we've become spoiled by the comfort of climate control. It was a hot one, to be sure, but I managed.

Here's how. On those dog days when my pants were panting (ok, that was bad), I paid particular attention to what was going well for me, like...

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Those breezes. They may have been warm, but they still came. Any kind of moving air was much appreciated.

Condensation. Who knew you could be grateful for condensation? But yep. When you practice gratitude, you get to be grateful for whatever you want. Cold water droplets feel great against the back of a warm neck.

Friends. I am grateful for my friends for a whole lot of reasons. This summer I was grateful for those who gave me one of their fans.

Curtains. Okay, so they don't quite fit the picture window, but they did the job keeping the sun out and my apartment cool. So grateful.

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When was the last time you got to walk around in your skivvies? Let me tell you, it's quite the freedom. And it's amazing how your body temperature drops when you're without britches.

Yes, there's the overall picture that I'm grateful for. Always. I have a home. I have a beautiful family, amazing friends, and the best health ever. But it's the little things that keep me smiling. As long as I stay focused on those, I make one heck of a Bozo.

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