Love in the Time of Foreclosure

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Being thankful in good times AND in bad

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Stephanie Walker

Stephanie Walker is a blogger/playwright who grew up in the suburbs of Chicago.

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Ever notice how it's so much easier to be thankful during good times than bad?

Of course. That's so obvious it doesn't even need to be asked. Of course it's easier to be thankful when things are going well. But... is it possible to be thankful when they're not? And isn't perhaps more important?

The last year has been hard on most of America. It hasn't been easy. We've been challenged in so many different ways. People have lost their homes, their jobs, loved ones. Nothing is certain anymore. Everything is changing. Long held beliefs have been shattered. It's... well, it's not been easy.

But, we're still thankful, aren't we? Shouldn't we be? Especially now when times are toughest? YES, YES, YES!

It's Thanksgiving week and I'm deeply thankful for so many things in my life. We actually celebrated Thanksgiving early here at the Walker household with four dear friends who flew up from L.A. It was such a wonderful weekend. It's so easy to be thankful for everything right now because things are really looking up for us. We have a beautiful place to live, we have unbelievably supportive family and friends, we made it through the most challenging two years of our marriage more stronger and more in love than ever, we have a new and improved outlook on life, the list goes on...

Times for us are good right now. And it's so easy to be thankful. But it was when times were bad that it was even more important.

Lately people have been asking us, "How the heck did you end up on that island?!" Just a year ago we were deeply entrenched in Los Angeles fighting with every fiber of our being to hold on to the life we had created. So how did we get from there to here? How did we get from that life to this?

There are a couple of answers to that question. One is the nuts and bolts.

-Bob lost his job
-We had no back-up plan
-Couldn't sell the house fast enough
-Economy tanked
-Housing values crashed
-Fell too far behind too fast
-Bank wouldn't modify our mortgage
-New combined salaries fell far short
-Started "Love in the time of foreclosure"
-Came days away from a foreclosure
-Sold the house in a short sale
-Got an offer from a LITTOF reader to live in a house on an island rent-free for two years

And here we are. All of that is true. But it doesn't explain everything. It's the space between that tells the rest of the story. That space was filled with our determination. Our promise to each other to flourish as opposed to flounder. To work as a team and communicate versus hide and blame each other. To become better people and turn the proverbial lemons into lemonade.

And how we managed that was by being thankful.

Being thankful especially when thing were looking most grim. When we were clear that this could very well be the end of us. That we could sink with the house and everything in it. When we felt like total failures and were helpless in the face of insurmountable circumstances... we were thankful.

When times were toughest is when we started actively practicing the art of being thankful. Each night before going to sleep we would try to remember to express at least one thing we were thankful for. On the worst days that one thing might be: "I'm thankful to be alive." Other days, it came easier and we would fall asleep while listing off the things for which we were thankful.

If I was in a depressed mood, Bob would say:

"Name one thing you're thankful for right now."

And I would answer. Sometimes reluctantly. But simply by sharing what I was thankful for I was essentially lifting myself out of my depression. No matter how bad things got, our lives were still filled with blessings. Even on the day we got our notice of default. Or when foreclosure notices were plastered on our garage door. We were always thankful for each other. And so much more...

Thankful for the unconditional love and support of our families and friends
Thankful for our health
Thankful for our resourcefulness.
Thankful for our education and upbringing
Thankful for the opportunity to grow
Thankful for the chance to set our priorities straight
Thankful for the opportunity to learn such important lessons so young

The more we grounded ourselves in the long list of things for which to be thankful, the easier it was to embrace the opportunity in the moment. With so many blessings in our lives, how is it possible to feel like victims? I believe it's not. And that's why we never did.

Today I am thankful for all the same things and more...

I'm thankful for everything I've learned
I'm thankful for having been courageous enough to take a leap of faith
I'm thankful for a wonderful place to live
I'm thankful to the owners of this house for trusting us and giving us such a gift
I'm thankful to have the opportunity to restart my life
I'm thankful for the ability to express myself through writing
I'm thankful for the courage to start this blog
I'm thankful for LITTOF readers and the support you've given me over the last ten months
I'm thankful for the gift and beauty of simplicity

I am honestly thankful for everything we went through in the last year. Because I now know without a shadow of a doubt that what makes me happy (and I'm happier now than I've ever been in my entire life) is love, family, friends, community and the adventure of living.

I don't miss the house. Because, I guess, it was never about the house. The house now represents an old model for happiness. My new model has nothing to do with anything material. And for that, I'm thankful.

What about you? Do you practice the art of being thankful? What about during hard times? And for what are you most thankful?

Happy Thanksgiving!

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12 Comments

carlbauer24 said:

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Teaching job is the most stable job actually. You can also become a teacher with a degree in teaching. Find more at http://bit.ly/4EghYx

Blicious said:

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Just yesterday I was having a moment of sadness and frustration due to our current economic situation (my husband is out of a job). But after reading this I understand that we should be grateful for having the support of our families & friends, for being healthy, that I have a stable job and that we don't have a mortgage to pay or kids to support (yet). Thank you for helping me put things into perspective!

Stephanie Walker said:

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You are so welcome. Thank you for taking a moment to comment. And best wishes for you and your family!

raecatgarden said:

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Bravo to the both of you. I had a similar experience seven years ago. However, my husband and I were not able to weather the storm, of job loss, debt and impending foreclosure. I learned the hard way. But amazingly enough, the experience did change me in a good way. My husband left me for another, we had to sell our home in a short sale, I walked away from my home of 7 years, my garden,my life.I moved into a church rectory and worked for a reduced rent as the sextant of the church and grounds. I also landed 'my dream job' as a horticulturist for a high end landscape firm. I took care of beautiful estate gardens, surrounded by beauty. I began again, newly single, going back to work ful-time, filing bankruptsy, and trying to raise two young children. It was really difficult, but i began to practise being truly thankful for all the blessings in my life. And bit,by bit, like a garden waking up in the spring after a long winter, i rebuilt.

Now my life is so very different. I am remarried, financially secure, from my own hard work, and enjoying all that life has to offer.
This year my new husband lost his job and as he began to panic, and get depressed and overwhelmed, I was able to hold this relationship together. We focused on our blessings. Practised being thankful every day and lo and behold a new door opened for us.
Now we work together as caretakers for a large estate. We enjoy each other every day and our commute is 5 minutes and we take our dogs to work. Thankful everyday.

Stephanie Walker said:

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Wow, your story is really remarkable. Thanks for sharing it! It's certainly inspiring.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Blicious said:

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I'm so glad to read your story and learn that good things came into your life after many struggles, and that you found a job you like and are good at (as the writer of this blog), not everybody is that lucky.

Today I got home and in a bad mood but kept repeting in my mind all the things to be thankful for. Then my husband showed me some letters and pictures from when we started dating (it just happened that my M-I-L was cleaning his old room)and it made me realized all that we have been through and we have stayed together, another thing to be thankful for!

Oh!! And after reading you comment sitting in my office, I'm totally envious of your job!!

lacritika said:

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I am listening to an interview with you and your husband on The Story, and I have been compelled to make a comment. Because on the one hand, you have a great story, and I relate to so many of the things you describe, but I just need to say that if losing your home is the worst thing you ever go through, you should count yourself incredibly lucky.

bluepacifica said:

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Lacritika: At the moment something like this happens, it is the worst thing that can happen in your life. It is hindsight that causes an incident to take on a different perspective, perhaps a more realistic perspective. That being said, having your health is the most important thing for us all. But, what Stephanie and Bob had gone through was probably the most traumatic moment in their lives.

Joe the Cop said:

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Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for the inspiration today.

Stephanie Walker said:

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Hey, Joe! Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Kayte said:

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A little late to this particular post, but wanted to say how much I agree with the sentiment. I hit a low point last spring when my joblessness led me to move back in with my parents at the age of 31, newly single and all. Much to my surprise this has turned out to be ideal. I'm reconnecting with family and old friends, and most importantly have been given the gift of time - time to figure out what I REALLY want next, and how to get it. I know my next step will be the right one, and that someday my bills WILL be paid off, and there is a peace in that. I'm thankful for it - as I am for your marvelous blog. Thanks for sharing your story.

Stephanie Walker said:

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Kayte,

To me you are not late to this post at all, but right on time. Seriously your comment arrived that the perfect moment for me. Bob and I happen to be having a hard time this week in our new surroundings- cold weather, frozen pipes, missing family and friends, etc.

Thank you for commenting and for reconnecting me to the sentiments in this post. I wrote it, I believe it and sometimes I need to be reminded. Today is one of those days.

Thank you, thank you!
-Steph

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