Way back, when I was a PR girl, I had to do a PR girl training with a fancy corporate media consultant (who was brilliant, if not a little sinister). The consultant kept telling us all when faced with a difficult question don't answer. Instead, find the gift.
You see, there are gifts in every question and in every bad situation. Someone asks you why did $1 million go to Africa instead of Haiti. You say, "We are so excited and filled with hope at the generosity of our donors who raised $1 million." The gift is the ability to talk about the good stuff--to share the light, instead of admitting any darkness.
I think about this concept daily and use it on my children non-stop. When Lily is disappointed a friend cannot come over, I tell her: "Find the gift. Now you have time to do an art project." It is sort of like looking on the bright side or seeing your glass as half full.
Finding gifts in bad situations is a beautiful practice in gratitude. We've all heard it when our house is a pit and we are considering torching the place: "Be grateful you have a home to clean." But finding the real gift is much deeper than making cleaning fun or cheering up a 5 year old.
Finding the real gift is a bit of a game of connect the dots crossed with the Kevin Bacon game crossed with slightly over thinking it all. Gifts come from good and bad life experiences, equally.
Start with a a major life change — the birth of a child, the death of a grandparent, a new roommate, a new pet, a new job or an illness. Anything. And then think it through. . .
For example (it is long, so bear with me). . .
- Lily had a brain tumor.
- Then I joined a playgroup. In the playgroup was a wonderful woman named Dana.
- Dana's husband's cousin was a sweet little boy who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Dana referred me to her cousin-in-law and I found Catherine--another mother, who like me, was on the front lines in the fight for her child's life.
- Then through a Facebook post on Catherine's wall I found Dina, another cancer mama.
- Now I have Catherine and Dina; Lily has Owen and Drew. Two people who know that my post-tramautic, crazy late night tumor researching, cancer-hating and maniac behavior is normal. Two women who are by my side and in my heart at all times. And we don't even know each others favorite colors. . We all have each other — and someday when our children are all grown up and we are all hanging at the retirement home pool sipping cocktails, Catherine, Dina and I, well we will have each other and our friendship.
That is the gift. So when someone asks me, "Gosh, that brain tumor thing must have sucked, right?" My answer, "The brain tumor was an amazing opportunity to find gifts and friendship."
So, I challenge you to find those gifts. Lift up those rocks, dig deep, connect the dots and find the treasures in it all.
Trish Adkins is a South Jersey mom. This post is adapted from blog, Yoke.