Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunny Side of the Street

I like to think of myself as a fairly happy and optimistic person. There are days when it's hard, but for the most part, I think I pull it off. And I nearly always feel it.

That does not mean inanely happy all the time. I think a person could go (or be) crazy if that were the case. But I believe being an optimist is getting the bad news and making the best of it, trying to see the blessing behind the bummer.

Some days it seems that not many people are optimistic about life, which is why when you run into a true optimist, it's like a breath of fresh air.

This week, I've counted two such people in my circle of friends and family.

First, my brother John.

He has got it going on, this guy. He's a career military man (with a few years' detours into being a stock broker and selling pharmaceuticals) and very good at what he does. He also has a thirst for learning that is above any I've ever seen. He already has advanced degrees in several areas, is going for a PhD and applied to War College. There are other ventures in his life as well, as he has an inventive mind and he's forever looking for that better mousetrap.

Last week, he got the word. He is going to Kuwait - for a year, and must be in-country in November. For now, his life in the States will come to a grinding halt. Or will it? He's got his computer, and he can still do some work on his degree. He can keep tabs on all the other irons in his fires (and has reliable people here to help with the hands-on bits). His salary while in Kuwait can go straight into the bank and not be touched the entire time he is gone. His house is lived in by other members of our family so that will be taken care of.

I finally got to talk to him last night and relayed my concern about his assignment, whereupon, in the most cheerful voice, he told me the above. I am not to worry, things will be just fine.

Wow. And I think I look on the bright side?

The other optimist is my friend J.

I absolutely adore her. Even when she is being the most serious and stressed, there's a little quirk to her mouth that says a smile could break out at any second. She is the heart and soul of her department at work, and approaches every task with an enthusiasm that I envy. She makes me want to be a better employee and a better person. I love spending time with her because I feel like I get so much out of it. She is the sole support of her little family (husband and toddler son) and they own a small, unpretentious house.

That small, unpretentious house is going to cost her some big bucks. When Fay came through back in August, the inflow water pipe apparently broke. They noticed that the water pressure was low, but after a storm such as Fay, that's not an unusual occurrence. The soggy yard (after Fay dried up) made the problem more apparent. After shelling out big bucks to fix the problem, another problem came to light - roots had invaded the sewer pipes leading OUT of the house, causing things to back up. Again, the plumber was called. He said the fix would cost 4-5 thousand dollars - OUCH! Because they don't have that kind of dough hanging around, J decided to take matters into her own hands and came up with a temporary fix that can be done as needed until such a time as they can afford the permanent repair. The topper, however, came Friday, in the form of the utility bill. Over $1000 for a month. That water leak was much worse than feared. Where they usually use between 50 and 65 units per month, this bill had over 3400 water units - all from that broken pipe.

J jokingly said that she needed to decide which body parts she could sell to pay her bill. Knowing her, she will exhaust every avenue possible before forking over that dough, but says that if she can charge it, she can spread it out over some time AND get the bonus points on her card! It's somewhat dire, this bill situation, but she's still smiling and my admiration for her spirit has climbed to new heights.

I took her out for lunch today - just to get away from the office and have a little girl-talk time.

The woman amazes me just as much as my brother does. And I count myself lucky to have these two true optimists in my life. I learn a lot from them.


Anonymous said...

I hope that J has called the water co. to ask for help. Sometimes they will work with you and they don't HAVE TO charge late fees.

John will be fine. Maybe Bo will join him there when he finishes mechanics training in Dec.

lisaschaos said...

It would be great to have more optimists in my life, my hubs is a total pessimist!

nikki said...

The water company should be able to work with her and set up a payment plan.

I need to remember to be more optimistic. It's hard some days.

margaret (the misanthrope) said...

I also tend towards the pessimistic. My husband is an optimist. I'm trying to learn...really I am...:-) Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

karisma said...

I think we really have to look on the bright side of things or we would all go nuts!

Sandcastle Momma said...

Your brother and friend truly sound inspirational! It's wonderful to watch someone make lemonade from lemons and those people make us believe anything is possible. I'm going to think of them this week as I focus on the positive things in my life.
Thank you SO much for your kind words. I feel so much better today and I know it will all work out.

BeeDancer said...

I try to stay positive, but some days the demons just get the best of me...Faced with J's problems I'm not sure what I'd do... Good thoughts to her, and to your brother...

Mrs. Really Long Name said...

Thank you to your brother for his service.

Kuwait is a wonderful place.

May god bless him and you too. Being a family member of a military person is hard too.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear friend- thank you, both for lunch and the beautiful blog. I think I may get a little weepy now. I have the goodiest smile on my face right now- people are going to wonder what I am up to :)