per·spec·tive [per-spek-tiv]

1 – a way of regarding situations, facts, etc, and judging their relative importance

“Everything’s amazing right now and nobody’s happy.” Louis CK simplifies life and discusses perspective in this clip from his appearance with Conan O’Brien.

“You should count your blessings.” I can hear my dad saying that out loud to me as if he just said it yesterday. When we were kids and we would whine about something, he would always tell my two sisters and I to do just that. The apple obviously doesn’t fall far from the tree.

This week was most definitely not my favorite week of the year. That being said, I was reminded how amazing my life really is when I texted a friend to see how everything was going and she replied that they were all doing okay, but her husband had some lesions on his lungs and they weren’t sure if it was cancer or not. This is a family that has dealt with cancer off and on for years, so hearing that was a real eye opener. Not to say that what I was upset about wasn’t legitimate, but it definitely put things in perspective. I then referred to my Blessings list. I think how this list got started deserves some attention.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011: Switched shifts with someone at work (I was working as a Server at Marlow’s Tavern in Atlanta) so that I would work the following night and would be able to celebrate my friend Liz’s birthday that evening. Before heading out, I sent my resume in for a job in California. I had my heart set on moving to San Diego and finally getting out of the bar business after nine long, albeit overall rewarding, years.

Thursday, May 26, 2011: At work in the evening with horrible storms coming through, I checked my phone at about 8 o’clock and had multiple missed calls and texts from my roommate, neighbor, and landlord, and immediately knew something was wrong. In the back room I made a couple of calls and heard my roommate tell me that “a tree fell on the house. It’s pretty bad. I already talked to the girls and you can stay at their house tonight.” An hour later I was out of work and drove home. As I turned on to my street in the pitch black, my headlights shined on what was the largest tree I had ever seen on the ground, stretched across the middle of the road. “oh. my. God.” I was literally shaking. I got out of the car but at that point it was so dark out, I couldn’t see anything but leaves and branches – couldn’t even see my house. I went to my friend’s house to spend the night and was up all night listening to the thunder roar and wondering what the damage was like in our house, but so thankful that no one was hurt.

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Friday: May 27, 2011: As soon as the sun rose I headed over to the house. It was literally unbelievable. This huge tree had taken out half of our house and was blocking an entire lane of the road. It was about two-three car lengths long at the top. At this point we knew that the house would be unlivable and we would have to make other arrangements. That night I went to work and had a heart-to-heart with my boss about life, what I was going to do with my career, and what decision to make next. I decided not to make any emotional, big decisions. So much for that!

Saturday, May 28, 2011: As I sat at a restaurant in Virginia Highlands with my friend Meg waiting for the crew to remove the tree from our home so that we could finally go inside, I saw on Facebook that my cousin needed a babysitter for her kids in Newport Beach in a few weeks. I knew it was a sign and called her immediately. It was that simple. I just told her I would be there in a few weeks. That night I put my two weeks in. I had no money saved.

Over the next two weeks, I took up residence at my friends Stacey and Sarah’s apartment in their living room and was so grateful for their friendship during that tough time. I spent my days in the heat of summer in my hot house, which had been covered with blue tarp, sorting through my things deciding what was going to stay and what would go with me in my little Elantra across the country. Had a “moving out of the tree house sale”, bid farewell to my INCREDIBLE friends, spent my last two nights on the East coast at the lake with some of my best friends, and headed West alone. I think I learned the words to every Adele & Mumford & Sons song, stopped at every roadside Farmers Market and unique shop, was treated with incredible hospitality by my sister’s friends along the way, and even visited the world’s best preserved meteorite impact site in Arizona! After four days of traveling, I about had a nervous breakdown and began second guessing my decision when I got a call from my current boss offering me the position I had applied for the day before the storm. I was SO THANKFUL.

The next two months were tough. I basically had eight weeks to live off of about $800 and continue to pay my bills. I slept on couches of new friends, the studio apartment owned by my cousin, traveled the coast of California with all of my things in my car (which broke down in San Luis Obispo) and was literally dirt broke by the time I moved in to my new place on August 1 in San Diego. Everyone said they didn’t know how I was able to do it, but other than my financial situation I couldn’t think of one thing negative about it! I was seconds from the beach every day, with incredible people surrounding me, and an appreciative outlook on life. Every single day I felt blessed that I wasn’t in that house when the tree hit it. Reality hit when I started my job, didn’t have any furniture, and barely had two nickels to rub together. I was out of funds. It was then I made my Blessings list. This allowed me to remember to be grateful for what I did have instead of become frustrated over what I didn’t have. Every day, I added to the list any time I stopped and thought of something to be grateful for, and I continue to add to this all the time. I’m pretty sure when my dad said “count your blessings”, he didn’t quite mean it literally, because the list is getting long and it is most definitely not complete.

This list helped me get through those tough times and my new beginning. I also had a list of things that I wanted to eventually add to the Blessings list. Those drove me to commit to my goals and seeing them on paper made them look much more do-able. On the top of the list was my purpose. Everything was tied back to that. To this day, when the going gets tough, much like it did this week, I refer to my list to put everything in perspective. If you sometimes have a difficult time seeing the good in a situation, I encourage you to do something similar.

“You have to trust that somehow the dots will connect in your future. You have to trust in something. Your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path, and that will make all the difference.” Steve Jobs