Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wednesday's Words for March 4, 2009

It becomes a challenge to unearth good news and hopeful signs these days. The recession we’ve fallen into is eating away at our optimism, and while most of us went into this situation in September with a chin-up, I-can-manage attitude, we also thought that maybe come the spring, things would be looking up.

Hearing the news every night and thinking about the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in the last couple of months makes me want to weep for all those who suddenly find themselves in a hell of a mess. People who have always done everything right are suddenly finding themselves on a slippery slope not of their own making.

It’s particularly devastating for people who have never had to struggle before.

Those of us who’ve endured misfortune in the past, who’ve had to struggle, stretching grocery dollars until they scream in agony, or who’ve had to come up with creative accounting with regard to bill-paying have an easier time, I think. The prospects ahead, for us, aren’t any rosier than they are for most people. We just know we can do it, is all.

So I thought I would scour around for some hopeful signs, some small symbols of spring and dawning hope, that I could share with you.

My daughter suggested I mention the ‘roll-up-the-rim’ contest that our Canadian coffee chain, Tim Horton’s, holds twice a year, spring and fall. I laughed, because when I got my first contest cup on the weekend, the very words out of my mouth were, “the first sign of spring!” The server at the drive-thru laughed, and said a lot of people were saying that. My daughter does have as deep a fondness for this coffee as do I. I don’t indulge mine as often anymore, because caffeine and heart conditions don’t mix. My daughter, who sometimes comments that she has too much blood in her tims stream has already won a couple of free coffees and donuts.

For the most part our snow has melted and that’s a hopeful sign. It is March, which by my reckoning is the last month of our six months of winter, so the end of this dreadful season, at least, is in sight. The last couple of nights have been severely cold here, though—going down to around zero, Fahrenheit.

This coming weekend, we set our clocks ahead one hour to daylight savings time. That’s always been a solid sign of spring. Of course, the event happening earlier on the calendar now lessens the impact of it being spring-related. Just when I was beginning to enjoy coming back in the morning from taking my beloved to work, the rosy hues of dawn kissing the horizon, on Monday it will be dark again.

Another sign of spring is that convention season is upon us. The RT convention this year is in Orlando. I wasn’t going to attend at first, but my beloved insisted I go. He won’t be joining me, so I’m being given the gift of an all-female week. He’ll take a trip to the Caribbean in the fall. Some of his co-workers doubt that his wife will “let” him go south on his own. They don’t know us very well. We prefer to travel together, but have taken separate vacations in the past, and have no problem with the concept.

I’m looking forward to this all-female week with equal parts excitement and trepidation. Excitement because I’ve grown close to some of my fellow authors and I’m looking forward to seeing them again. It’s only been in the last decade that I began to make close female friends. As a result there is much involved in female ritual that seems foreign to me, and hence the trepidation. That’s probably one of the reasons I enjoy reading the J.D. Robb In Death series so much. I really get Eve. Well, except for her aversion to having a ‘spa day’.

Mostly, though, the place to find a sign of hope is in your own heart. Yes, I know it’s hard to put on a smile and foster optimism in the face of such horrible uncertainty. Few things in life are harder to do, and yet few more rewarding than choosing to be cheerful anyway. Maybe you have to find your joy and your pleasure in different places now than you did a year ago. Maybe you have to stay home and read, or watch a DVD instead of going out to dinner and a show. Maybe you have to take walks with your loved one, holding hands, and talking instead of going out on a date to a club.

But you can do that. You can do anything, if you make the decision. The economy may be faltering, but you don’t have to.

Feed the flames of your passion…with a novel by Morgan Ashbury

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