I’ve had a pretty rough week.  There’s a definite upside to being a teacher- summer’s off.  There’s an equal downside to being a teacher- summer’s off.  The financial strain of not getting paid for a month wore away at me until I broke.  The depression from getting rejected from job after job wore at me until I couldn’t take it anymore.  As my grandmother would say, ‘There’s always something to take the joy out of life.’ Indeed, Grandma.

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This strain all came to a very specific breaking point this week.  You see, I’m the type of person who buries issues, stressors, and problems deep inside, hoping that they’ll go away eventually.  What inevitably happens instead is that they boil beneath the surface until one day the lid can’t stay on anymore and BAM! We’ve got a crying mess on our hands.

This exact scenario played out a few days ago.  Student loan debt was piling up, and lack of paychecks to balance it out was really getting to me.  I had fifty dollars to my name and couldn’t decide which of my hounding creditors to give it to, knowing there would be nothing left for me, and no hope for more money until school starts back up.

I counteracted the stress the only way I know how- by making things.  I made focaccia bread.  I made cookies.  I made beautiful mugs.  I made pasta dough.  I spent two hours sending said pasta dough through my new pasta machine (a wedding gift from some amazing people) and made the most wonderfully delicate, perfectly cut noodles you could imagine.  My husband had spent all day making a chicken stock and I was excited to contribute my slaved over noodles to the dish.  Can you see where this is going?

The noodles were all perfectly laid out on the pasta drying rack, which was moved to the top of the fridge so we’d have more room for meal prep in the kitchen.  I promptly forgot they were up there and opened the door, only to have two hours of pasta pressing labor come crashing down on me.  That was it.  The floodgates opened and a whole world of stress and pain came pouring out.  My sympathetic husband hugged me for a good five minutes before I went upstairs to console myself.

I sat in our bedroom for a good fifteen minutes feeling bad for myself.  It wasn’t about the pasta, that was a just a trigger for the mountain of stress that was crushing me.  As I was sitting there, several things happened.  We live on a very busy corner in the city.  From our open window I could hear our neighbors screaming at each other across the street.  At least I’m not them, I thought.  At least my daughter isn’t telling me she hates me and never wants to see me again. 

Just then a fire truck came screaming down the street.  At least my house isn’t on fire and I’m not losing every possession I own.  Next I heard the distinct clanging and rattling of a man pushing a shopping cart full of cans and bottles.  He stopped at our corner and rooted through the bus stop trash can for more five cent deposits.  At least I don’t have to return other people’s dirty, discarded trash just so I can eat. Then I saw a skinny, starving street cat bolt across the road, barely missed by a screeching vehicle.  At least I’m not struggling every day just to survive.

At least I have a caring husband who’s there to hug me when the pasta falls

At least the eggs for the pasta were free

At least we still have a fridge and pantry full of food, that pasta wasn’t our last hope for survival

At least we have a roof over our heads

No matter what happens, no matter how bad it gets, you always have the ‘at leasts’ in life.  There’s always someone out there who has it worse than you.  Maybe even someone who has no ‘at leasts’ because their life really couldn’t be any worse. That day taught me more than ever, to count my blessings and be grateful for what I do have, because there’s plenty of amazing, wonderful, fantabulous things going on in my life.

Happy, amazing, wonderful, fantabulous trails to you…