Life is 90% attitude and 10% circumstance. I like this saying. I use it on my children when they are giving into their “stinkin’ thinkin”! If it was my quote I would change it a little. Life is 90 percent attitude, coupled with faith, and 10 percent circumstances. We DO have choices on how we react to what life is dishing out!
I am very grateful that I have had some people in my life that have made a powerful impact on me because of their awesome attitudes, especially in the face of adversity! Today I would like to write about 3 of these people.
I met Kay when I was 18 yrs.old. She is a middle-aged German woman who always had a smile on her face and a ready laugh. Young people were attracted to her like a magnet. She was always available to talk to and had good, sound advice for the problems of youth. I was one of those people that was immediately attracted to Kay. I wondered how she managed to stay in a good mood…all the time!
ONE DAY Kay told me her story. She had been married and had 2 lovely daughters. She and her husband lived next door to Kay’s best friend. Life was going along great until one dark day when Kay found out that her husband was cheating on her…with her best friend. Not only was Kay heartbroken, she was incensed!
Kay is a strong German woman…emotionally and physically. You didn’t want to get her enraged! She took out her gun. She went behind some bushes and pointed the gun at her best friend. Kay wasn’t being dramatic. She was cold, dead serious. Fortunately she had one sane moment when she realized where this action would take her. Jail didn’t look too good. So she pointed it at her own head, once again took a second look at what she was doing (she was a Catholic), put the gun down and walked away.
She then began her journey groping her way out of her gloom. She lived on a dairy farm and every day she would go to milk the cows, pain and bitterness shadowing her every step. Through gritted teeth she would murmur bible quotes like, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” or “Rejoice in the Lord always again I say rejoice”! Slowly, slowly, it began to change her frame of mind. The cloud began to lift!
When I met Kay she was a dynamo of joy and strength. She had a love for life that was coupled with compassion because of what she had endured and overcome. Her situation hadn’t changed but she sure had! I lived with Kay and her daughter for about a year. I learned a lot from her. She was a true example to me of overcoming difficult circumstances through prayer and simple steps of changing one’s attitude.
Then there is Jim. Ten years ago Jim was a Harley Davidson guy. His way of life and his habits were quickly destroying him. One day Jim got into a terrible car accident!
He woke up from it and was not able to move his limbs! Jim was now a quadriplegic. He couldn’t move anything below his neck except his right hand – and he could only move that a little.
Now, when you go into Jim’s room it is quiet with no movement. It is usually dimly lit. Jim is laying on his back…and that’s pretty much it. It kind of gives one the feeling of walking into a tomb. Silence…stillness…solitude.
But it doesn’t end there. When Jim starts to talk you begin to see something very much alive! Jim will tell you, with his eyes sparkling, that he is happier now than he has ever been! It’s really quite astounding!
You see, since Jim had his accident, he became a Catholic. Through one of our Legion of Mary members who came to visit him often in the hospital, he converted. He now uses every ounce of his suffering for his wife (who left him after the accident), the conversion of his children and for the many families who have befriended Jim from our parish. He has many of our pictures up on the wall so he can pray for us all! He has a deep and incredible purpose in his life now and he knows his sufferings are like gold in the Eyes of God, if borne properly!
Physically, Jim’s quality of life had changed dramatically but his outlook is incredible. Now He has faith, hope and joy. Interiorly, Jim is a new man! There are people who visit him and walk away shaking their heads because of the irony of it. When I talk to Jim on the phone I get tingles in my spine, realizing what an awesome guy he is! He is an inspiration to all.
The last but certainly not the least person I’d like to talk about today is someone quite close to me – my husband, Vincent. Here’s a man who has an attitude with a Capital A. He told me that he tried to be in a bad mood once, but didn’t like it!
Here’s just a small example.
Our home is unique. It is built with a lot of used material and lumber and rock left over from Vincent’s jobs. It took us five years to get it barely to the point of being livable. It is made up of mostly block and rock and we built it when we had time and money (both of which have a way of not showing up at the same time!) Vincent worked on it after a hard day’s work…..for five long years. The house still had a lot of finishing to do but we finally moved in! Happy Day!!…considering we had been living in a one-bedroom little home with 7 children!
Vincent had finally and painstakingly finished our little Cathedral ceiling. It had sat there with insulation exposed for 3 years. He took some old pickets from a fence, planed them, varnished them and placed them in the ceiling! It was beautiful!
Shortly after, in 2003, we had a fire that could have taken some of our lives! When the firemen arrived they violently swung their axes into that nice cathedral ceiling! We gasped! Oh no! Not the cathedral ceiling…we waited so long for it!
They then began to heap the debris up into a pile when Vincent spotted something! It was his long lost wallet that still contained $500.00. He pulled it out of the mound, grinned and said a one-liner we’ll never forget, “This is my lucky day!” 😛
He always amazes me. It is difficult in this day and age to be the sole bread winner of a family of 13. I’ve seen him go through some pretty terrifying circumstances. When the dust settles or even before it does, he rises smiling, looking at the bright side of things, thanking God for everything He has given him! What an attitude!
When my dear husband is gone, he will certainly be remembered by his undying good attitude! Circumstances do not deter him. He knows he is a Child of God and he relies on his Faith to get him through! What a witness he is!
Did you know that researchers have determined that the average person thinks over 40,000 thoughts each day? Wow! That’s a lot of thoughts scurrying through our minds. If we analyzed these thoughts I wonder if we would discover just how much is negative self-talk. The exciting thing about it is that we CAN change our thoughts and in turn our destiny. How?
“I figure that practice makes perfect! I know people who, though they did not have a natural knack for music, started piano lessons and practiced every day. After 2 or 3 yrs. their fingers moved across the keys easily and their music sounded sweeter each time they played. If you ask them how they do it, they would answer ‘Practice. I have practiced so much that it comes second nature to me.’ Our life is like that. If we practice thoughts of joy and thanksgiving it will become easier and easier to have a good attitude, even in adversity.” – D.Pearl
I am still practicing and learning these things. I will always be a student educating myself in the Book of Life. I’m really thankful for the people in my life that have led the way for me and continue to be a tremendous example of the power of an attitude.