Beyond Survival



Self-actualizing people have the wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy, however stale these experiences may have become to others.
~ Abraham Maslow

Tonight I was driving south on Interstate 85, heading to my ex’s house to pick up my 16yo, whom I will heretofore refer to as “Rock Star,” at the twilight of a long day. I wrote in my journal; I went to the gym; I beaded two bracelets and four pairs of earrings; I edited two chapters of The Wishing Box and added 1382 words to the manuscript. But it was all a leap of faith. During the summer months, I teach very little piano, sales are slow on Etsy, and even though I devote hours and hours to writing, love doing it and get lots of positive reinforcement from blog posts and published articles, I have yet to earn a dime from a word I have written.

In other words, it’s always tough paying the bills in July.

To add insult to injury, a Gwinnett County, Georgia sheriff’s deputy paid me a visit this afternoon. My ex got himself fired from his job in January; apparently unable to find a job, he is petitioning the courts to reduce his child support payments. We have three children together but at this point he pays support only for Rock Star–even though I am making student loan payments for our firstborn, and our middle child, a college student, still lives with me. So now, on top of keeping the household running–never an easy task–I have to figure out how I am going to retain an attorney, knowing full well that the ex is going to get at least a little bit of financial relief.

He asks for this with a clear conscience because he knows I will do whatever it takes so that our children do not go without. And he is correct. But I do not know quite know how I am going to manage. My home loan is underwater; I have credit card debt that I couldn’t pay off with a year’s earnings. The house is in need of repairs; the carpets need cleaning; the piano needs tuning.

The worry exhausts me. It distracts me from my work. It erodes my self-esteem. It robs me of my joy.

It keeps me small.

Anyway, there I was, driving down the road, and all I could see was the gray pavement, the lines on the road, the cars ahead of me, the Atlanta skyline on the horizon. This picture was not without its own urban beauty. But then I looked UP and, oh my goodness, I saw an azure blue sky dotted with puffy white clouds and the sunlight filtering through and it was so freaking beautiful that it literally took my breath away.

And I thought, how many times have I MISSED THIS? Every morning, the sun rises; every night, the sun sets. But I rarely take the time to notice any of it.

In my quest for survival, what else am I missing?

I am more determined than ever to doing whatever it takes to make my dreams come true, to keeping my eyes open to the beauty that surrounds me, to keeping my heart from becoming cynical despite the wolves that circle me, to having an attitude of gratitude for the family and friends who love me.

I am bigger than my circumstances.