In my long-ago teen years, I often slipped into one of those woe-is-me mindsets. The world seemed bleak and the blues became my theme song.
But my upbeat mother would have none of my doom and gloom. She had a never-fail cure for such a melancholy mood.
"Spend some time counting your blessings," she'd say. Then she's add, "We're all much more fortunate than we have any right to be."
It was a lesson I've tried to follow through the years. But, unfortunately, I have to admit that I sometimes fall into that old "poor me" disposition.
That's where I was as I sat at the breakfast table yesterday.
Irritations had been building up for several days and I found myself getting grouchy.
The van's dratted "check engine" light had once again popped up to haunt me, even though the mechanic banished it last week.
And, my ever-present arthritis had come to visit my left hand making it throb, just when I needed all my digits for a current writing project.
The latest bank statement was waiting on my desk. I admit that going over this important document is one of my least favorite chores.
And, though I had just done my weekly shopping, I noticed we'd be running out of milk by the end of the day if I didn't make another run to the store.
Although none of these irritations was serious, I had let them build up in my mind and put me into the doldrums.
Then I opened the morning paper.
There, along with the news, sports and classifieds sections, I found a hefty collection of pages I hadn't expected. It was an extensive register, published by the county, showing the properties across our area with outstanding tax bills.
I was startled to find this newspaper section was 103 pages long. Each page had 6 columns of listings. In total, there were thousands of homes and businesses going up for sale. It was a mute testament to the condition of our local economy.
I sat for a long time looking at the names and addresses, each representing the broken dreams of a family or an entrepreneur.
And, as I sipped my second cup of coffee my mood started changing, I could almost hear Mom's voice saying, "Count your blessings."
Here in our cozy condo we are safe, comfortable and richly blessed. In spite of my earlier grumpy outlook, I knew we actually have everything we need.
We'll pick up some milk next time I go out. And the mechanic can surely take care of that pesky check engine light.
Though my left hand is a bit achy, my right hand is doing fine, at least for now. And, fortunately, if I stop procrastinating, the bank statement won't take long to resolve.
It's so easy for me to get caught up in the little irritations of life and overlook all I've come to take for granted.
My mother is no longer around to tell me to count my blessings, but fortunately God knows just when to send me a reminders on the importance of gratitude. Today's reminder came in the morning paper.