Monday, November 21, 2011

Practical Help for the Hard Days

Using my second language, I tried to explain what was wrong with the air conditioner to the electrician, even though I didn’t even understand the problem in English.

Even as I was posting blogs about giving thanks in the messiness of life, I was living that messiness. And to be honest, I didn’t always want to be grateful.

A week of no AC, and four different electricians/fix-it guys, and $300 spent and a new air conditioner installed in our bedroom and it still didn’t work. We forked over $30 more, used some hand motions to explain the problem, and finally got some cool air. That is, until the electricity went out in our neighborhood for five hours that night and I laid in bed with the still, steamy air keeping me awake with my complaints past midnight.

And that was just one problem. Other hard things poured into the days this week, pushing out any emotional desire to say thanks.

Life seems precarious sometimes in this country where things break and people get sick and danger often seems near. Add two little kids into the mix and the hard days smear themselves all over my calendar.

But in the six years of living here, I’ve seen my way through lots of those hard days. And I have a system for not just surviving them, but, at the most learning and smiling through them, and at the least, not grumbling to everyone who has ears.

1. Take Control of What You Can Take Control Of.

I can’t control when things break or when the kids are sick or when the
electricity goes out. But I can come up with things I can do to make the
situation less stressful.
Like keep a movie on my IPod to enjoy during a
long,dark night. Or cancel productive plans the day after a long night with the
kids. Or have a list of fix-it guys that I can call when something breaks.

2. Laugh When You Can.

Laugh at the kids’ funny way of describing the problem. Laugh at my own way of
explaining electricity in Indonesian. Laugh at my favorite sitcom after a long

3. Remember It’s Just One Day.

Some days, it seems like everything falls apart. But even if I’m neck deep in laundry while my daughter pulls out a year’s worth of receipts from the desk while my son doesn’t make it to the toilet in time, while my gas bottle for my stove runs out halfway through dinner, I tell myself that I only have to get through today’s problems. If I got little sleep the night before, I only have to spend one day until I get another chance to sleep (or maybe not sleep much, depending on the situation).

4. Make Goodness Happen.

Drop everything and make a batch of cookies with the kids. Go visit a neighbor in need—and bring her some of those cookies. Play tag with your kids until you can laugh your way through the mess.

5. Go on a walk.

The combination of exercise and sunshine and time to think or talk (if I’m walking with my husband or a friend) usually give my spirit the lift it needs to take a break from hard things. Somewhere between my front door and the top of the hill with the view of the distance mountains, I remember the big picture. And then I can finally say thanks, and mean it.

photo credit, respres


  1. My mom has apparently printed out your recipes for me. This is good since I may be having to learn to cook from scratch myself eventually. :-)

  2. Stacy--so nice of her! What are your plans right now? Do you have a country or organization in mind? I'm excited for you guys...

  3. Soooo fun to meet you! I love your blog and your words. Your honesty and your grace. I found you via your awesome post at InCourage today! We are in Thailand right now, so I can relate to many of your stories here. Hope to connect more in the future! Keep writing-- you have powerful words to share.
    Laura Parker

  4. Rebecca, found you through your amazing post at InCourage today. Different continents, same struggles. Enjoy your writing and so glad to find you. Blessings!

  5. Thanks so much for reading and for posting! It's so nice to have you ladies in this community of overseas workers. Blessings to you both!


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