The mysterious polar vortex that swept across the nation this week caught many of us by surprise - and disrupted life as usual. Record-breaking low temperatures, brutal wind, and significant snow accumulation from coast to coast threatened to thwart the best laid plans of starting the new year with a positive outlook and spirit of gratitude.
To fully understand my state of mind, you should know that despite growing up in the Midwest and enjoying a childhood filled with skiing, sledding, and ice skating, a combination of poor circulation and 15 years of living below the Mason-Dixon line has made Old Man Winter my sworn enemy. I thought we had established a truce: I agreed to live outside his coldest, snow-filled haunts, and in return, he would spare me the worst of his fury. It was only fair.
So imagine my surprise when warnings of the impending cold snap were realized both inside and outside my home. Not only was the external temperature a cruel 7 degrees, our 20 year old furnace gave up his long, noble fight, plunging our home into an uncomfortable 50 degree chill. As we watched the temperature on our thermostat fall hour by hour, my disdain for cold temperatures was surpassed only by my concern for the baby. If I couldn't keep myself warm, how on earth could her little body retain its heat?
Old Man Winter delivered a powerful opening blow; the only question remaining is how I would respond. Within a few hours of phone calls, text messages, and a trip to the hardware store, we were able to identify a warm place for the baby to spend the day, arrange for a repairman to come to the house, and procure space heaters to keep two rooms warm at a time. When the repairman arrived, he delivered good news: the heater could be replaced. Unfortunately, it would take another two days.
As we debated next steps, it occurred to me: I could focus on my numb, purple fingers - or the singularly poor timing of our heater's demise - or I could embrace the blessings on clear display. I chose gratitude: for the resources to buy space heaters and replace an aging furnace - for the generosity of friends and colleagues who offered to open their homes - and for the ability to recognize and reflect on such things.
What challenges are you facing this week? How can you choose gratitude?