Waking Up and Forgetting a Bad Day

“Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.” ~Denis Waitley

Yesterday was a bad day.

My husband and I got really close to buying a car before we walked away—again. This time it was because it was above our budget (with taxes), because the current owners didn't have the title (their bank did), and because our own car broke down on the way to trying to buy the new car (didn’t see that one coming).

I was fine about the ordeal yesterday, seeing the whole thing as one big adventure toward the right car in the end. But this morning I woke up angry and fearful. Angry about the time we’ve invested so far without results and fearful that another almost there deal might fall through again.

After three days negotiating on the last fall-through deal, it felt like the failure of failures and just wanted to stay in bed so I could avoid more of them.

Of course I knew rationally that my feelings didn’t reflect reality, that yesterday’s annoyances are small change in the scheme of things, and that I'm fortunate to be even looking for a (second) car let alone have so many choices for which one to buy.

The real problem was that my feelings weren’t staying within the boundaries of the car-shopping situation. They were infecting how I felt about everything from my business to my past choices, to my body image, to my mental health image.

I was flooded within minutes of being awake, and I didn’t know how I was going to coax my mental strength back from cowering in the corner.

So I did what every procrastinating person does these days: I went on Facebook. And after seeing a bunch of uninteresting stuff, my eye caught on the most courageous thing I’ve seen in a long time: a picture of my five-year-old nephew Caleb leaving home for his very first day of school.

His sweet face (that I’ve watched with curiosity since he was a day old) divulged a tender mix of trepidation, innocence, openness, and five-year-old gumption.

With his brand new hot wheels backpack, Velcro tennis shoes, and big boy haircut, my little nephew was taking on a big unknown world all on his own, without his little sister and brother, mom, dad, or grandparents beside him.

I just stared and smiled and left comments and thanked my sister-in-law for being such a great mom over and over. And under my nose, my own courage wound up at my side looking to see what all the fuss was about. When it did, I felt nudge in my chest that said, “Hey, we should go do something brave today, too.”

I kid you not; this is how it happened. A five-year-old boy, thousands of miles away, made my fears go away, made me get out of bed with a start, made me want to be brave.

The hours have since passed, and I’ve already found two new clients for my business with a third in the works. I’ve coached a current client through a health plateau, and I’ve eaten a whole watermelon (that’s brave, right?).

Caleb’s image, open and eager, has carried me through the day. If he can be brave, I can too, despite whatever happened yesterday or what could happen tomorrow.

I don’t have kids yet, but as I watch my brother and sister-in-law raise their three little ones, I’m starting to understand how this whole circle of life thing works out to be so amazing: Adults raise kids, keeping them safe and healthy, and kids help adults, keeping them soft and open.

So the next time you feel like you just want to hide from yourself, the memory of yesterday’s troubles, and the new day staring you in the face, jump on Facebook!

Just kidding. (Well, not if it means you can see your niece or nephew from thousands of miles away.)

But really, find a five-year-old’s face to read, or better yet, ask that five-year-old what new thing he or she is doing lately. I promise you; it will remind you that you’re still a brave little five-year-old at heart too, and that a difficult yesterday has nothing on how you’re going to meet the big unknown today.

And to Caleb: Thanks, little guy. I owe you one.

Photo by jumpinjimmyjava

About Jacqueline Smith

Jacqueline Smith, MPH is a health educator who solves problems with simple solutions. You can connect with her at:

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