Making Decisions That Bring Peace into Your Life
As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m reflecting on what I have to be thankful for, especially when it comes to the series of challenges that I’ve encountered over the last six months. At the time, they seemed insurmountable, yet here I am, relatively unscathed—and for that, I’m thankful.
But it’s more than that; I’m learning how to make decisions that bring peace into my life.
As I write this, I’m sitting on a train, watching crops and telephone poles whoosh by. I’m twenty minutes into a two-hour commute. People are quietly chatting, reading the daily paper, or napping on this early morning train. I am, for all intents and purposes, at peace.
A week ago, however, I had only a fifteen-minute commute to work, but I was barely making ends meet, renting a bedroom in a former crack house in a very, very bad part of town. I had four housemates, all of whom were on a late-night schedule that didn’t complement my 9 to 5. One of them grew pot in the backyard and had acquired nearly 70 chickens and a small, black rooster named Little Man who crowed into the house through a screen door at 5:45 in the AM. Another housemate discovered love with one of his coworkers, but much to my chagrin, they discovered that love in the bedroom next to mine, repeatedly, all night. All of my housemates attended Occupy Oakland on the day they marched down I-880 and shut down the U.S.’s 5th-busiest port; I demurred as I was recuperating from shingles and had to work. (As an aside, I’m preparing to switch my banking to a credit union, but the coinciding of this momentous march with everything else going in my personal life was just too much for me to handle.)
The reason for my untenable living situation? I was unable to afford housing for my family, so my husband (a recent college graduate) took our cat-son and moved into his parents’ house out of town while he looks for work. Thus began four months of living without my little family and making the 2-hour drive each weekend to see them.
At times, I felt hopeless. I wasn’t sure how long this situation would last—4 months was about 3 months longer than my husband and I had planned. But I just passively waited for good news to come my way and kept my head down as I adjusted to my new life. And then a series of fortuitous events occurred which set me down a new path.
First, I must give my coworker credit for laying the groundwork for my renewed focus on consciously making decisions to better my life. She developed a workshop based on a book entitled The Luck Factor. It discusses the traits that “lucky” people have, and one of the things I took away from it was the concept that you make your own luck by taking chances, looking for opportunities around every corner, and believing that you will succeed.
Second, I was presented with an opportunity to relax; i.e., I got shingles. Unable to care for myself, I forced myself to make the drive to my husband so that I could convalesce for a week and a half. As soon as I drove up to the house, I knew I’d made the right decision. Between eating my mother-in-law’s homemade chicken noodle soup, spooning with my overweight cat, and watching Tosh .0 with my husband at 3 AM when I wasn’t feeling well enough to sleep, I realized what I’d given up over the last 4 months. It gave the old cliché, home is where the heart is, a whole new resonance for me.
Before I’d gotten sick, I’d already decided that I wanted to move back in with my husband, but I was dragging my feet, always finding an excuse for why now wasn’t a good time. But after I was a few days into my recovery, I set the move date for the following weekend—I just knew that’s that where I belonged.
Within days of my decision, my husband interviewed for his dream job (we’ll find out if he got the job in the next couple of weeks!). It seemed that once one positive thing happened, it set into motion a series of fortuitous events.
And my new commute? After the very first day of taking the train, I knew I’d made the right decision. Why? Because it felt right. Of course, I’ve been thinking of the possible outcomes if my husband doesn’t land the dream job. But ultimately I’ve come to understand that it would simply mean our dream has been deferred, not lost forever. My husband’s still looking for work, and I’m lucky to have a job, and at the end of the day, we’ve got each other and our big, fat cat. Ah! Peace…