“Happy New Year!” I said to a member of our writing community. “How are things? How are you doing?” I asked, knowing she is primary caretaker for several of her family members.
“Okay,” she said, “though nothing has really changed. I drive them to doctors’ appointments and keep track of questions and answers. Healthcare can be baffling, let alone my family. Sometimes the only thing I can do is just keep showing up. That’s what I tell myself: ‘Keep showing up.’”
I nodded. “I call it ‘stay in the story,’ which is hard when things don’t go the way I want them to. Sometimes it’s hard to find the optimism.”
We both nodded.
My readers know I struggle with optimism. Though upbeat in my professional life, I often fall short personally. Little mishaps can send me spiraling into pessimism, my default.
Last year’s mishaps paled compared to the challenges. Keith and I attended several funerals and stayed close to the lonely, the sick or disabled, and their caretakers. As family, neighborhood, and church responsibilities increased, I often needed to draw upon my 2019 resolution: Steadfast.
At year-end, I wondered what my one resolution would be for 2020. Advent messages of hope, faith, joy, and peace offered an answer. Optimism. Not Candide’s rose-colored glasses or Pollyanna’s blind optimism but something worthy of sowing.
Yesterday afternoon, I raked last year’s leaves out of ditches and beds—a on-going, steadfast process for forest-dwellers—and planted one-hundred narcissus bulbs in the hillside at the foot of our property. Scrambling up the steep slope, I thought about how sowing optimism isn’t always easy, especially when flowers don’t bloom according to plan. That’s when I need models of optimism in scripture, prayer, and community—a model like this, which happened last fall.
“How are you doing?” I asked a member of our faith community. She’d lost her son in an accident. Not having experienced this kind of loss myself, I had no idea what she might be feeling.
“Okay,” she said. “We’re grieving, of course. But his death gives us an opportunity to witness to our faith.”
We both nodded, I because I had just witnessed something worthy of sowing. That’s the story I want to stay in. And if nothing else during challenging times, I’ll keep showing up.
Optimism, my 2020 resolution.
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Mine seems to be generosity. (Last year turned out to be humbleness.)
Isn’t it interesting, the guiding messages we receive?
Carole, your thoughts about “optimism” have me thinking about my own journey into 2020. I am still thinking and praying about what word or words to single out. My 2019 was focused on faith, family, and health. Thank you for sharing this post. God’s peace!
I would love to know your word or words, if you choose to share what comes to you in prayer. -C.D.
Carole, I appreciate your encouragement. I am looking to emphasize growth in my faith for 2020. I am going to place a phrase to remind me of God’s efforts to reshape and challenge me . . . “Sharpen my focus.”
Sometimes the best thing we can do is to “keep showing up”. Nothing says “optimism” like planting bulbs.