MOVING BACK INTO AN APARTMENT IS NOT THE SAME AS MOVING BACKWARDS

Yes, I realize it has been a long time since I have posted anything on here. To be honest, I’ve been lying low. Flying under the radar. Stuck in a weird place. To be even more honest, I’ve been wallowing in the drudgery of writer’s constipation. The only things rattling around in my head were uninspired to say the least. It was just more of the same old, same old. More of the story that feels like it’s been told a thousand times, and I simply ran out of different ways I could talk about how hard things have been. How much we still struggle with the crazy that comes at us, over and over, and over again. Sometimes, it can be exhausting. I know I am not alone in this. I can’t be the first person in the history of the world who is exhausted by their own story.

Then recently something happened, as it often does in life, and I was motivated once again to put some words down on paper… or at least virtual paper.

So there we were, backed into a corner… again. And facing down the impossible… again. The car was broken beyond repair. Excuse me, I mean the third car that had passed through our hands in the last six months was broken beyond repair… again. The computer I use for work turned in its resignation. The floor was STILL uncovered concrete. The air conditioning was hanging on by a thin thread. The youngest daughter needed braces, and not the cosmetic kind. The older daughter was on her way to college soon… too soon.  And the bills, the bills, and the other bills created a version of not-so-fun phone tag between us and them. It’s not really their fault, but I didn’t even want to give them a name. That would give it all too much reality. I couldn’t face it.

We tried to be strong, to hold our heads up, to keep a positive attitude. But from our perspective, it all looked rather bleak. And since it all went down the week before Christmas, it was especially painful. Depressing almost. My only defense was that we had already purchased our holiday gifts. Take that cruel waterfall of financial strain. In this tiniest of corners… I win! Ha!

But. Then.

There was a break in the clouds. An interruption. A ray of hope. And not just a simple, hey my life just took a different direction and I’ve learned a nice, cute little lesson, kind of interruption. But the kind that requires a total and complete u-turn.

For those of you who read my book, My Movie Memoir Screenplay Novel, (yep, that’s called shameless product placement) you already know how much it meant to us to purchase and move into our first house. It was downright miraculous. Owning our own home was a concept consistently out of our reach. Impossible.

And then the impossible happened and we bought a house.

Then the impossible happened, and we were forced to sell our first home.

I know that the truth of that can sound… uncomfortable… to most people. Really? Sell our home? The place that gave us rest? Our oasis? After all of our multiple moves this was supposed to be the place where we finally got to stay.  Our refuge from the storm. Were we really supposed to give that up just to make some quick cash? Would it even work? And if our house sold, exactly where were we going to go?

An apartment, that’s where.

This might seem like a giant step backwards. I mean, owning a house is the metaphorical American dream. Living in an apartment in my late 40’s with two teenagers is… well… not. Except there are so many good things about it, not least of which are the amenities, and of course the pool. The glorious, glorious pool. Say it with me… ahhhhhh.

So, we didn’t move backwards, not really. We actually moved forward… toward something new. Something different. And ultimately something better. It all, eventually, added up to something good. Even if getting there required the sacrifice of something big. Something important. Something cherished. Something safe.

I suppose that’s the story of our lives. We live in that kind of crazy where the really amazing something good is born out of the really difficult something hard with a large dose of sacrifice on the side. I should be used to it by now, but still it comes as a surprise. In this case, the surprise was a relatively peaceful one. I don’t want to jinx it… but did I just sell my house, move into an apartment, pay off a huge amount of debt, completely change my life and so far (knock on wood) it went okay? Why, yes. Yes, it did.

Crazy.

 

©2016 Betts Keating. All rights reserved.

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Finding Greener Grass on My Side of the Fence

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“If the grass looks greener on the other side… stop staring. Stop comparing. Stop complaining. And start watering the grass you’re standing on.”

I recently saw this quote on Facebook and I thought… how timely. I was just about to upload a blog post about comparison. That’s so coincidental. Or maybe, not so coincidental at all. Perhaps, this is a message my stubborn spirit really needs to get.

Lately, I have been feeling left out. Like everyone around me is part of some huge green grass conspiracy, but I did not receive the memo. Everywhere I turn, I keep hearing these stories, these amazing stories, about someone’s magnificent overflow of blessings. These blessings are always perfectly timed and inevitably beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Everything always seems to work out exactly right, for them. Ugh. Don’t get me wrong, I have some of these stories to tell too. It’s just that mine always seem to turn out differently… like a blessing with a twist.

It’s not their fault. I enjoy hearing of their good fortune. Well, sometimes. Sometimes, all of that happiness is painful. On my side of the fence, it can be hard to enjoy someone else’s green grass when my grass is so disappointingly brown.

In my heart of hearts, I want to rejoice for them. Deep down, in the places in me that are good, I want to be happy for someone else’s good fortune. Even when it hurts. Even when I’m over here, on the other side, stuck in my pool of wallowing self-pity. I don’t want to jump into this pool, and yet I do, every time. Every. Single. Time. It can be addictive.

I texted a friend so I could confess my struggle. For me, the simple act of admitting my faults often turns something unwieldy into something manageable. I had hope her words of wisdom would help me move on from my funk.

She said, “You need to remember that you live in abundance.”

Hmmmm… not what I was expecting. Certainly not what I imagined. This? This is abundance?

a·bun·dance
əˈbəndəns/noun
1 a very large quantity of something.

A very large quantity of something? A very large quantity of what exactly? What am I missing?

Abundance is a strange word for someone like me. I’ve never been motivated by a need for abundance, material or otherwise. I like things simple. I like things uncomplicated. When my life exploded, it became anything but simple. Now, it’s… complicated. So complicated that I struggle with how to survive the day-to-day management of these large, complicated issues. And, unfortunately, these daily challenges distract me from embracing my own definition of abundance.

So what do I do?

I’m not sure. Especially since, at the moment, I keep noticing all the things I don’t have, and I keep overlooking all the things that I do. The truth is, I have a long list of things to be grateful for. Too many to count really. I should be better at recognizing them.

Some days, it’s not as simple as a “change of perspective,” although I’m sure that would help. Some days, it takes more effort than that. Some days, you just have to hang on with all of your strength and wait for the emotional ramifications of your current circumstances to pass. Sometimes, it passes quickly. Sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes, it takes turning truth into a mantra that you repeat over and over, and over and over again, until your brain and your heart can settle into a place of peace. That’s what I end up doing more often than I would like. I chant the truth until I brainwash my emotions into compliance. Sigh.

Of course, I’m allowed to feel angry. I’m also allowed to feel sad. I’m allowed a right to my pain. More importantly, I deserve to process my pain at my own pace and within my own abilities. God knows, after what I’ve been through, I’ve almost earned it. Almost.

But, like second-hand smoke, as soon as I pass those emotions on to those around me in a negative way, I have crossed the line. I’m allowed the right to my feelings, but I’m not allowed to let my feelings motivate me to pass judgement on those around me. Even when that judgement comes from a place of pain, and not necessarily from a need for greener grass.

That’s why, even when it hurts, I will rejoice for someone else’s happiness. I hope they would do the same for me. Because, comparison not only brings about self-pity, it really does steal joy. And, I don’t want to volunteer anything to be stolen from me. At least, not if I can help it.

So go ahead and brag about your good fortune. Show off your green grass. You should feel free to shout your happiness from the rooftops, regardless of my issues. I certainly don’t want to miss out on your greatest moments, just because I was stuck in a painful place.

Someday, I hope to be better equipped to deal with this issue. Someday, I hope to do a better job recognizing my own abundance and keep the negativity of little miss judgey-pants away from yours. It’s worth it. If I can let go of my storm clouds, even for a moment, your sunshine will eventually chase away my rain.

Although, if I really think about it, the rain is what made the grass green in the first place. So, maybe we could work on this together. Maybe, you could make a little space for my rain while I make more room for your sunshine. That way, when your sunshine shines, I’m ready to rejoice in it, with you.

©2016 Betts Keating. All rights reserved.

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Read more of Betts Keating’s story in her memoir, My Movie Memoir Screenplay Novel, available for purchase at amazon.com.

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