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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  • Shanon Lacy

    Jacqueline- Once again, Tiny Buddha comes in with the message I need to hear. Today, instead of splashing negativity around myself and everything associated with my life, I will dive into doing something brave. Even if it’s small. Thanks. But, instead of checking Facebook, I’ll just keep checking Tiny Buddha. 🙂


    It’s so hard to put aside the stumbles of the past and take the next (healthy) step forward at times. When you wake up already ruminating, it doesn’t bode well for the day. However, it’s all about perspective. We’re given a new day to start fresh and start over, to try and be brave once again. Easier said than done, most certainly, but getting outside of our heads–and sometimes online–is usually a good place to start 😉 Great post and what I needed to hear!

  • Kathy

    This is just perfect! Awesome insight from the simplest picture. I’ve always believed that God sends me the message or picture that I need to hear or see. It’s almost similar to your experience with your nephew’s pic. I love this. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Irving Podolsky

    I loved this story Jacqueline, because I too watch five year old’s as they face the world with excited enthusiasm. Being five is an age where “start ups” are just getting a sense of purpose, but without pondering uncertainty

    Well…the little ones I watch don’t.

    The children I find in my universe are incredibly blessed with parents who protect them and shield them against fear. Yesterday I passed a flock of little girls hopping out of a dance class with mothers waiting outside. It was the cutest thing! I was having a stressed day too, and that fleeting moment of observing pure joy did, in fact, fill my car with well being. A minute later, the bliss had evaporated.

    Why? Why do I have a tendency to dwell in the negative?

    As I read your loving words, I can’t help flashing to pictures I’ve seen of suffering children all around the world, including little ones within my own country, and my city, and neighborhoods just two miles away.

    Gang violence is that close, yet it doesn’t touch me. I keep forgetting that in a very real way, I’m still five years old focusing on only what I want to see.

    And while doing that I take my fortunate circumstances for granted, which leaves me the space to worry about trivialities.

    Yes, I’m concerned about where my next job is coming from (I work free lance), but I’m never hungry, I have a beautiful home, a great marriage, we’re still healthy and the cat’s still alive. (Nope, no kids, so no college debt.)

    So why am I not waking up happy everyday?

    I’m glad I read your post, Jacqueline. Thank you for reminding me of it all…


  • Hahaha … jump on Facebook! 🙂

    But, yes, find something that will get your mind off of your self-pity and problems and realize that everything is perspective. So many little things can shake us out of a sour mindset.

    Little children. Unpolluted minds that are out there to discover the world and create, play, and challenge. Those little minds that haven’t yet been told they can’t. They haven’t yet started to believe in limitations. Caleb was the perfect inspiration Jacqueline. We might think that was a small thing but children are perfect motivators if we will only see it.

    Great story to share! Okay, I’m off to facebook … 😉

  • Pieter

    Thanks for a great story!

  • Thanks Pieter 🙂

  • Ha! I must say 90% of the time FB is not great for my mindset, but this time it worked out 🙂 You’re right: children don’t start thinking they can’t until adults tell them so. Now if we adults can tell each other not to believe in limitations, then we’re on to something. Especially if we can give that message to those closest to us.

  • Part of it is we’re bombarded with messages that try to convince us that we shouldn’t be happy…without the new [insert blank], [insert blank]. I live in a one-bedroom apt. with my husband but come from a “large house” kind of culture. Sometimes I think, “gee shouldn’t we be farther along than still living in a one-bedroom apt at this age?” But today, a good friend, who was talking about her own one-bedroom apt. said to me, “We live like most of the world is living” and my whole view changed just like that. Suddenly I felt like it was a good thing not to be taking up more space than we really need. Anyway, I’m a really solitude-inclined person but I am SO VERY grateful for the people I do come across everyday, who says things in a way that hits me anew. Thanks for writing, Irv.

  • Thank you…for spreading positivity to me and others who you haven’t even met.

  • And I bet you say things that make other people say, “That’s what I needed to hear!” too :))

  • Good call 🙂