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  • Susie Csorsz Brown

Two positives instead of a negative

Sister, there are people who went to sleep all over the world last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. Sister, those who expected to rise did not, their beds became their cooling boards, and their blankets became their winding sheets. And those dead folks would give anything, anything at all for just five minutes of this weather or ten minutes of that plowing that person was grumbling about. So you watch yourself about complaining, Sister. What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain. ~ Maya Angelou

I really don’t want to complain. I try not to; I’d really rather do something when I find a situation or circumstance I am not happy about. There is very little we cannot change, especially with enough motivation, enough energy and enough persistence. All three of those things are motivators for others, too, and soon our one-person movement gains more support and movement.

Generally, I think of myself as a glass-half-full sort of a person who can make do with most circumstances. This might be why every single place we’ve lived, I’ve been able to find a happy place, a happy group of people I enjoy, and a happy pattern to my day. There are days when I feel myself griping a little too much or falling into a negative pattern; on those days, when I finally hear what is coming out of my mouth, I take a deliberate step back and try to think about something - anything - about my circumstance that I DO like. Deliberately changing my frame of mind, intentionally focusing on a positive aspect of my situation and mindfully noting my attitude is helpful for me to change my frame of mind.

We’ve been packing for what feels like months (not really, but ... it is a dreary part of this lifestyle, this frequent relocation). We generally do a decent job with getting rid of things we don’t use at regular intervals throughout the time in one country, so we don’t have a huge amount to get rid of all at once at the end, but still... it all adds up. So, there’s that, and then begins the organization for the pack-out. We could, of course, leave everything to the packers, but it is a much faster process if you do things ahead of time like roll up carpets, get pictures and paintings all together and put the things that are not to be packed (or packed in a different shipment) in one room or cupboard. So ... it’s been a process. So when pack-out was in full swing and one of my boys came up to me to say that all of his clothes were now in boxes, and he hadn’t had the chance (in the DAYS leading up to the herd of packers descending on the house) to get his clothes out. He had nothing to wear. He was visibly upset, clearly embarrassed, and it would do me no good at all to yell. Instead, I helped him to think about how fast our packers were, and how amazingly quickly our house was disappearing into the boxes. Indeed, he said, still a little miserable. What could we do to fix our problem? He suggested we find the packers who did the boys’ room, and we asked him to please help us to find the box with their clothes and then we could fix the problem. We used the same line of reasoning with the packer: complementing them on their unbelievable speed, and asked if he could possibly spare a minute to help us find the box so my son could find a few pairs of shorts and his sweatshirt.

Problem was solved in less than 10 minutes. It could have been awful, and it could have involved a lot of yelling. His solution to ‘just buy new clothes at the airport’ was obviously not a possibility with the state of the airports just now, but he figured out a way to solve the problem in a positive way. I couldn’t have been more proud. (Besides, the rate at which he is growing, if we were to allow his beloved sweatshirt to be packed, he will definitely not be fitting into it when we get our stuff again months from now.)

Another example: I feel as though girls - especially in middle school - have a much greater likelihood to hate on one another than to be 'real' friends. They very often are pushed to try substances and or be in uncomfortable situations than would be boys of the same age. Similarly, they are often motivated to try unhealthful diets in order to lose a few pounds and 'stay skinny' just as their bodies are entering and moving through puberty. All of these actions are bad for their health: their physical well-being, sure, but also their mental and emotional well-being as well. To be clear, I am raising three boys, but I remember full well what middle school was like. I know things have changed a lot but also stayed very much the same. In light of all of this, I was motivated to try to make a difference to the middle school girls at my boys' school by offering to run an after school running and health group for girls. We spent part of the time talking about real health and life topics like eating well, what real friends act like, peer pressure, study skills and more. We spent the other part of the time running and learning different physical moves that build strength and endurance, keeping bodies fit and strong. I feel like the program was a winner: giving girls solid health-related information, a circle of trust wherein they could talk about what they wanted to, and the opportunity to develop fitness-related skills even if they may not ever be the winning track or soccer star. I am trying to make a positive difference in the lives of girls because what I wouldn't have given to have the same sort of chance to experience this in middle school!

My friends, let’s not sit and complain about things we don’t like. Let’s not sit and do nothing. Instead let’s do something about it, let’s bring about change, or let’s change how we think about it. It's a matter of making a positive difference, right? That's always a good thing.

My friends, let’s not sit and complain about things we don’t like. Let’s not sit and do nothing. Instead let’s do something about it, let’s bring about change, or let’s change how we think about it. It's a matter of making a positive difference, right? That's always a good thing.

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