Friday, July 23, 2010

A Pessimists Take On Optimism

Jaded. Bitter. Pessimistic. Skeptical. Sarcastic. These are all words that have been used to describe me. I prefer realistic, but the truth of the matter is, I have always been a "half-glass empty" kind of gal. My excuse is the old cliche, lower expectations and you might just be pleasantly surprised. Well, I've learned a lot over the years and matured. While I still have a sarcastic side, I've softened a bit. These days, I'm just glad I have a glass to put something in.
I will give most of the credit to getting married and having children. They have brought me the greatest joy of my life. I will likely embarrass my husband with most of what I say, but the good news is most of the people who would give him a hard time are with him getting drunk in the middle of a cornfield in Wisconsin right now (Country Thunder). But I digress. Tom is what some may consider a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. He's a lover, not a fighter. He is my best friend and the ying to my yang. He and I have created two beautiful children together and he is the best dad a kid could ask for.
My children are incredible. Raising them is the most challenging thing I have done, but every day I learn something new from them and about myself. I have never smiled so much in my entire life.
The bottom line, I have everything to live for right now.
About a year ago, Tom and I were watching a documentary that Michael J. Fox did in conjunction with his book "Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist." He was talking to people who were optimistic through adversity. One of the people had talked about was his wife, actress Tracy Pollan.
It occurred to me that I needed to change my ways. At the time, I was still trying to balance having two kids and hormones, but I was still finding myself caught up in the "harried housewife" role too often. I decided I wanted better for my children. I wanted to be a good role model for them. That was one of the things Michael J. Fox said he admired so much about his wife. I needed to focus on my blessings and how much I have in my life. It was then that Tom and started sharing "Positives" every night before we go to bed. We share at least 3 things that happened during the day that made us smile, laugh or just sit back and reflect on how lucky we truly are. This way, no matter how frustrating the day was between kids, work, money, family, we could end the day on a positive note.
Now that Madelyn is older, we started doing something similar with her and have her tell us her favorite part of her day. She sometimes uses this as a stalling technique by haveing 5 or 6 favorite parts, but you can't fault a kid for having so many favorites! Then Tom and I share our favorites with her. They usually have to do with things we did with her and Colin.

I wanted to create a bracelet that I could wear that would be a constant reminder of my blessings. One day I got a package in the mail with a braided bracelet made of rainbow colored string. It was from a friend of mine whom I had shared my idea about the bracelet with. She found it while in Hawaii and it reminded her of me. Probably one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received.
I will never trade my sarcasm or biting sense of humor. I will never stop being realistic. But, I will try to keep my cool, not get caught up in unimportant matters and keep a level head and at the end of the day always have some "Positives."


  1. Wow, Michelle.... this actually put a huge smile on my face. I'm sooo happy for you and proud to call you a friend. I think for people who have gone through some of the craziest $#!+ early in life, little blessings count for so much more.

  2. Love your blog Michelle. In fact, I read the first paragraph of this post and thought I wrote it! With being laid off last year, I've had time to focus on what is really important to me. Trying to see the positive side of things. I caught the Michael J. Fox documentary that you mention. As you know my dad also suffers from Parkinsons (along with macular degeneration, glacoma, skin cancer ....) and I never hear him say "whoa is me". I may not be able to let everything roll off my back, but I am getting better at it.