Ending 2010 – Me, A Year, and Learning Grace (Hopefully)

28 Dec

So, personally, 2010 hasn’t been super nice to me….and it’s also been amazing to me.

I’m still struggling to find a bill-paying-job. I did lose basically the rest of my belongings in the flood last spring while I was away. I’m living almost for free in one of my BFFs 1/2 in-law attic, which is nice but charity feeling is hard even if he says he wouldn’t rent it to anyone else.

On the other hand, I signed with Lauren MacLeod at Strothman Agency – That’s a HUGE hurrah! I got a holiday job that paid the bills for 3 months so far. And let’s not forget my lovely 5 months working for Boss Cowboy out in New Mexico…. beyond the bills, there’s book ideas for at least a decade if I decide to write for adults. I have 3 books completed and 2 more coming right behind them (okay, one is 1/2 done and one is in my head 🙂 ) – I have AMAZING friends.

MG Buehrlen and I started a cafepress store (Romance Yardsale) with all kinds of great writer stuff which, which helped send me to RWA Nationals – that was wonderful.

And I finished my year of Grace.

Wait? What? What year of Grace?

Well, at the beginning of this year I was desperately struggling with getting frustrated with people because of this recession. I’m past the 3 year mark without  a job in my field, searching constantly, and working little seasonal jobs or minimum wage jobs just to make ends almost meet. I’ve watched friends lose their homes 26 years into paying a 30 year mortgage because both lost their jobs and then one got cancer. I’ve watched a family have to split up — he took the boys to his parents, she took the girl to her parents — because neither set of grandparents could take all of them in. The stories go on. People who want work, will do any type of work, will do any work given to them… people who never say things like “Retail is below me.”

I have 3 degrees. Retail is not below me. Homelessness I could prevent is below me.

And then, one day, I’m sitting at a friend’s house and listening to this guy who knows that 2 people at the table have lost their homes and three have lost their jobs talking about how annoyed he is to be forced to take a paid vacation day once a quarter so the company can do a shut down each time…. saving over 150 jobs. His point: they’re “screwing him” because his job “wasn’t on the line.”

I almost threw something at him. I don’t mean that figuratively. I’m afraid my hand had actually started to reach for my glass before I even noticed. I was so mad. I was enraged. My place financially is bad, but this lovely man we’ll call John sitting next to me, had been in and out of jobs in his field for 6 years. He’d lost his home of 21 years. He’d lost his car and drove a donated one. He was at a place I couldn’t think about. I can’t imagine paying for your house for 21 years and then having to very quickly sell it for less than it was worth or lose it to the bank…not because of bad decisions or lack of research, but because you just can’t afford to keep it no matter how hard you worked.

John put his glass down and gave the complainer his full attention and with more compassion than I’ve seen in a long time he said, “I’m so sorry you’re going through that.”

And he meant it.

It was a huge wake up call for me. I needed to learn that people don’t understand the type of lose a huge amount of the country is going through. About 3/5ths of my friends have not had their job endangered or lost. And I’d say about 80% of them haven’t changed their spending habits even a little. They honestly don’t understand. And so, to this man, his 4 forced (paid) vaction days was as horrible to him as anything he could think of — even sitting across from John who he knew had recently lost his home.

Instead of getting mad, I needed to learn to be more like John. To have compassion for things that in my world are mosquitos instead of sharks. Once I started focusing on the financial topics (and yes, I still sometimes get really frustrated or roll my eyes. I’m not perfect.) I started realizing there’s a lot of places in my personal world where I needed to extend Grace.

And then, I needed to start letting hurts go to extend Grace.

It’s been quite a year. It’s a been a *hard* year. I still have to remind myself all the time. Retail has been a great place to practice this. People are 100% self-focused even while their shopping for holiday gifts for others (I know, when you think of  it like that, it doesn’t make a ton of sense) and so, you have to smile and nod. You have to give them a little emotional breathing room. You have to give them Grace as they yell or push or demean.

Not only is it a kindness to others, but Grace (like Forgiveness) makes you happier, lighter — eventuntually. I’ll admit. It was so hard at first. I had little arguements in my head about why I needed to let someone think they way they think, or say the things they say. But, I’m not the boss of them. I can only let people live their life without letting it effect mine. But, this year of Grace pushed at me… forcing me to move beyond the “without letting it effect mine” — that’s not enough with Grace. It isn’t about allowing it’s about accepting.

Even though 2010 was the year to learn (or maybe relearn?) Grace, I have a feeling it’s something I’ll chase after for the rest of my lift. Like anything, those skills can get rusty.

But, if at the end of  my life there’s nothing else you can say about me, I’d love to hear it once: That girl has mad Grace skillz.

I’ll keep working on it.

11 Responses to “Ending 2010 – Me, A Year, and Learning Grace (Hopefully)”

  1. mg December 28, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    I already think you have mad Grace skillz. So it’s yours to lose! 🙂

  2. briaq December 28, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    Oh thank you… Next up: A Gentle Spirit … I’ve been failing at this one for years… *sigh*

  3. Tawna Fenske December 28, 2010 at 6:59 pm #

    This was a beautiful post. Thank you for writing it.

    And ((hugs)) that 2011 will be YOUR YEAR!


  4. briaq December 28, 2010 at 7:09 pm #

    Thanks! I’ve already made me and 2011 matching BFF bracelets 😉

  5. mg December 28, 2010 at 7:10 pm #

    LOL I need to do that! I keep shaking my finger at 2011 and saying things like, “You better be good!”

  6. Tracey Neithercott December 28, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

    This was an amazing post. And much needed, for me. I’ve been dealing with horrible health issues and I find I’m completely out of compassion when it comes to others’ aches and pains. I should take a page out of your book and extend grace even if I think their migraine is minor compared to my pain. Nice wakeup call just before 2011 resolution time.

    I hope 2011 is much kinder to you than 2010 was.

  7. briaq December 28, 2010 at 8:56 pm #

    I saw the picture of your feet!!! It looks HOT. It is really hard to imagine a sliding scale, isn’t it? I know from following you how strong you are… I think for strong people, it’s sometimes harder. Sometimes I have to fight the urge to yell “Everyone, just suck it up!!!!” and then I remember how many people can yell that at me LOL

    Feel better soon!

  8. Penelope December 28, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    What a wonderful, inspiring post. Sometimes the biggest lessons–the ones that make us who we are–are learned in the darkest hours.

  9. briaq December 28, 2010 at 9:08 pm #

    I really needed the kick in the butt. My friend John’s out look on life and everything is so lovely. All the time!

  10. Amanda Hoving December 31, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    What a lovely post…we could all do with a little (or a lot) more grace.

    All the best to you in 2011!

  11. briaq January 2, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    Thank you so much Amanda!

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