The thing about my optimism is that it doesn’t feel like something over which I have any control. I can’t help myself from continuing to look on the bright side and actually believe that better things are just over there on the horizon.

A lot of people appreciate this sunny demeanor of mine. When my friends are down, I tend to help them see what’s good. Or even if I can’t do that, my own enthusiasm for life tends to rub off enough to make them feel better, at least for a little while.

The problem with optimism, which I’ve noticed more in recent months, is the disappointment. With one step forward and two steps back, as we all often take through our lives, if I wasn’t so excited about the next step forward, those backwards steps wouldn’t come as such a blow. Every time.

I worry. I believe in my family. I’m proud of my husband. I’m working hard to try to get ahead. Things are relatively stable. But it’s a delicate balance. And when unanticipated expenses like thyroid tests and root canals come up, it feels like the wind has been knocked out of me. When there are no jobs and fewer prospects for my hard-working man, I feel so helpless. When I’m not sure in which direction my future lies, it feels like too much to take in all at once.

Times like these, this disappointed optimist finds a little bit of drive in her heart. I’m trying small things. To try and control what can be controlled. I’m finally making some headway in cleaning the house, the office room that’s been a disaster since we moved in. I’m hoping for some more odd jobs, some overnight hours at the store. I’m even wondering how we’d fare as accidental landlords, but I have no intention of being hasty about such a move.

I want to keep believing that James will land a position doing something other than managing a video store soon. But I also want to believe that even if he remains in the retail business for long haul, we can still have the life of our dreams. Will we have to work harder? Sure. But it’s not impossible.

And there it is. Call it drive. Call it optimism. I think they’re related. Because I can’t keep hoping without doing. Without taking responsibility for my life and getting us all to the place we’re meant to be. Wherever that is.


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