Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Small Victories--A Contest!

Last week over dinner, my husband and I came to a decision. Like many (most?) of us, we've been struggling under the weight of news that just keeps going from bad to worse. Everything seems to be getting more difficult. The bills keep growing. The income keeps shrinking. And we've been spending an increasing amount of time walking around feeling grim and worried, which only interferes with enjoying the good in our lives--and there is still a lot of good. So we decided that we need to find a way to turn this thing around. Oh, not the news. We can't change the economy. We can't stop the war. We can't keep natural disasters from happening or convince those hostile to our way of life to just live and let live. About the only thing we can control is our own attitude. That's the thing we need to turn around. Being worried and unhappy isn't going to improve anything. And maybe, just maybe, being confident and optimistic will. The power of positive thinking, right?

To that end, we have declared 2009 "The Year of Small Victories." We figure, there probably aren't going to be any monumental improvements this year, for us or anyone else. So we're focusing on the little things. And I do mean little. No bills in the mail today? Small victory. Found something you thought you were going to have to replace? Small victory. Come across that extra ball of discontinued yarn you needed to finish the second sleeve? Small victory. See how it works?

In the past week, we've identified and actively appreciated several small victories:

1. The fan for the rear air conditioner in our old SUV has been broken for a long time. Hoping to avoid taking it to the dealer (and paying an expensive repair bill), my husband found the motor hidden in the cargo area and fixed it himself. By whacking it with a rubber mallet. Works fine now. Small victory.

2. My son broke his glasses. Broke may be a bit of an understatement, actually. If you're familiar with the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes," you may remember a story line where Calvin borrows his dad's binoculars and breaks them. When Hobbes asks if they're just a little broken or really broken, Calvin hands him a box of dust. Replace "binoculars" with "glasses" and you've got the idea. The lenses, oddly, were still fine, but the frames were toast. And, naturally, the frames are discontinued and unavailable anywhere in the known universe. Yesterday, however, I located the last remaining pair--at a CostCo half an hour from my house. I raced over and got them, and voila!--new glasses at half the price, no waiting. Small victory.

3. I got the gas and electric bill by email this morning--and nearly had a coronary. It was high. I mean, it's always high, but this was stratospheric. And the weird thing was, most of the cost was gas, which I've barely used in the past month (we've had a crazy heat wave here). After a few minutes with my head between my knees, I got the hyperventilating under control and called the gas company. Maybe there's a gas leak? I suggested. Or a broken meter? Nope. Just a meter mis-read. New bill is on the way. Small victory.

Paying attention to these tiny victories may seem trivial, but it's made a noticeable difference in our mood and attitude. So, in the interests of spreading the joy, I'm having a little contest. Leave me a comment about a recent small victory in your own life, and I'll send one randomly-drawn winner a skein of sock yarn. It's not much, but hey--small victories, right?

32 comments:

Steph B said...

I love this idea! We're facing some pretty big challenges right now, but you are absolutely right about keeping a focus on the positive. So - little victories! My youngest son, who is profoundly dyslexic, has been not only doing his schoolwork (mostly) voluntarily, but has firmly grasped the difference between action and linking verbs. Yay! Normally he fights schoolwork hard and grammar is downright poison....but he's doing it! Actually I think that's a big victory!

Knitman said...

Not trivial at all! I have live this way for many years. I learned to when I was very poor with nowhere to live. I learned to live within the day, sometimes the hour, and to be grateful for what i did have at any given moment.A roof, a settee to sleep on, a meal, my needs got met to have me get thru another day. Now, I still live this way. Just today. It's the only way. Apart from that, we only have now anyway!

Lori said...

Thanks for this idea! My small victory this week came when I broke a chunk of tooth and temporary crown. I thought I would have to find a way to pay for it but it turns out that my company recently added crowns to our coverage so I'll get 80% of it paid by insurance! Small Victory! (big one actually)

Lucette said...

This is a great idea and I try to live it everyday too, so it is nice to connect with others of like mind. My small victory--I got an email today from a dear friend who has just got her first email account. It is a big event for her, she has wanted to be connected but was not confident about the technology. So now I am coach her, slowly, and we will build up her skill levels and confidence. Makes me happy.

staci said...

I couldn't agree with you more...while the world's problems are large and looming, worrying isn't going to help or make them go away. We've all got to focus on the positives!!!

I just got back from my meeting at school with my 6yr old's speech therapist, teacher and principal~~and he no longer needs speech services, Hurray! Today's victory is a big one. And even better news...the speech teacher hinted that my 8yr old may be receiving the same news at his meeting in May!!!

Have a wonderful day!

sophanne said...

Yesterday on my way to knitnight I got all GREEN lights. Zero Red lights. On Sunday we got the dog for some serious-good exercise. I have a student teacher doing such a good job I can catch up on a few blogs.

I hear you on needing the small victories- I get so depressed around 7:30 newsish time

Renee said...

What a great post! I'm a "the glass is half full" sort of person and appreciate the small victories. My husband and I are both in the floundering manufacturing industry and expenses are continue to rise while our income has been severely slashed. On that note:
My son just got his college acceptance to his first choice and it's actually local so he can spend the next years also living at home while he continues his education> 'Huge' small victory!

Andrea said...

Life is made of small things. Good for you for appreciating them!

I've been quite during the last few months. Nothing like that to clear your view!

Let's live each day as it comes.

5elementknitr said...

What a great idea! I had an excellent recent small victory! I've been desperately searching for three different kinds of yarn that I was barelyjustshy of having enough for 3 different projects.

I put the word out and got one of them from a Raveler for just the cost of 2 of my Stitch Savers and some postage!

I think the way the knitting community helps each other is a big victory for us all!

kate said...

Love the idea of small victories!! And yours are great examples.
So, my small victory for this past week or so? Convincing my friend to lend me her copy of the Omnivore's Dilemma (she lives in another town) as the library wait list is sooooo long and I really didn't want to buy the book. Oh, and also going away this week-end and having the cash saved up to pay my share of everything, so came home owing nothing. Yay me!

leona said...

Small victories are great ways to keep positive. Mine is getting enough of a tax rebate that I can pay half my credit card bill. Very nice to know that scary bill will be smaller next month. :) And I got a little extra that can go into the vacation fund. Double victory!

Erin said...

This is sort of tangential to the idea of small victories, but I thought you'd appreciate it all the same: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7869458.stm

I am hoping my small victory this week will be keeping the leftover skeins from a knitting project I was commissioned to do. (I said all I'd charge was the cost of the yarn, and the recipient even picked up the yarn for me, but since she got extra, I might as well make it into something nice for myself, eh?)

Angelika said...

I love it when you can see things optimistic. You are right, being grumpy and negative doesn't change much and makes you and others misserable. Little things can make us happy too.

Rachel said...

This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately. I have the type of personality where I tend to focus completely on the negative-ignoring not only small, but sometimes even large victories. And I realize that it needs to change for the sake of my sanity and for those around me!

So today seems like a good day to start. Small victory...I've spent weeks trying to deal with some issues on a data set...this morning, the last issue was resolved and I can move on to analysis.

MelissaKnits said...

ok, no yarn for me (my guess is I have enough sock yarn!!) but...I've had three days of peace. Doesn't sound like much, but trust me, it is.

knitzalot said...

I have had a lot of expensive dental work lately and my small victory is that I remembered I have money in my flex account to cover some of it. Not all of it, mind you, but any amount that is in that account is basically money pack into my pocket. Hooray!

trek said...

Sometimes it is not all about the small victories but only about the small victories.

Great job there on the a/c, glasses, and gas bill. And, yeah, I go peek at the meter when the bill makes me hyperventilate. Once (uh huh, just once) the estimated read was so artificially high that I got a new bill issued.

Small vitory of the day: grandma agreed to babysit Friday evening so NG and I can go out to dinner and a friend made a couple of restaurant recommendations.

At Home Mommy Knits said...

Keeping positive is something I think we all forget about. Thanks for the reminder!

My garage door came off the runner and the opener quit working. We were sure the whole thing was going to have to be recalabrated or replaced. My husband managed to get the door back on the runners and when the fix it guy came he only had to readjust the tension on the door and voila the opener worked again. Yay!!

The A.D.D. Knitter said...

Well...Tween Thing is growing like a weed, her legs just keep getting longer and longer. Earlier this week she begged me to take her clothes shopping--I looked in my purse and realized that I had forgotten to give her an Abercrombie gift card at Christmas time, so I used it to buy her two pairs of jeans on sale. And writing this I am remembering that I forgot to give the girls a Wii game that we'd set aside as well, so Happy Valentine's Day:)!!

janet said...

I finally got my $50 rebate check from Verizon. Originally the check was returned to sender for some odd reason. Then I got a letter in the mail saying that if I wanted my money I had to have the letter notarized, but I didn't want to pay $10, so I let it go to unclaimed money and waited. Yesterday after only 18 months of waiting I got my money.

caroline said...

I've got some dire stuff going on but won't focus on that because you've got a GREAT idea going! so I was facing a large expense and a four day cross-country drive each way to get to my hometown. the old car I had there wasn't working, the transmission wouldn't shift. So flying wasn't an option. In that town a car is necessary and there's no money to rent one there. On a long shot I had the car towed to my old mechanic. Surprise! no problem with the transmission. Fuel line was inexpensively fixed. so no cross-country trip with attendant expense and wear and tear on myself and my present car. whew. small victory! thanks for shifting the focus!

diane said...

Excellent idea! At times in my life where many people have thought things were most awfule for me, I have been filled with enough grace to be deeply grateful for what I HAD, not what I didn't. In spite of feeling like I could never give them enough, they are all gainfully employed and wonderful people to boot! I count that as years worth of small victories! Thanks again for putting this out there - maybe we can pass along a smile too!

kmkat said...

Excellent idea! Life is really, almost entirely made up of small moments. Recognize the good ones and you have changed your life. I walked up and down the icy hill that is our driveway without falling several times yesterday = small victory.

Kim said...

So so true. We have no control over most things, but we can change our attitude. Small victory: crazy stressful day at work (but it's good to have this job) and a co-worker friend gave me a beautiful skein of yarn as a thank you for having helped her turn the heel on her first sock. It made my day much brighter. Small victory number 2: heard loud noise, thought it was hot water eater exploding but it was a 3.3 earthquake (and you know I live in NJ. Still neeed to replace hot water heater soon, but at least it didn't blow up.

quiltyknitwit said...

I always like to count my blessings. My small victory was finding my new son-in-law's partially eaten chocolate energy bar in the washing machine after a load, and I was grateful it didn't go into the dryer and melt all over the clean laundry! I would have had to wash the whole load over again, plus thoroughly clean the dryer...

Knit and Purl Mama said...

My small victory this week is a nice refund. I had no idea that I was paying insurance on 2 houses, as my insurance company never took my old house off my policy. Had I never had a conversation with my mother, I would never have realized that I was paying double what she was paying for a house that is a little smaller than hers, as well as not worth as much as hers. Small victory, large refund :)

Sharon said...

This is awesome. Thank you for being a voice of reason and helping shift our attention from the daily barrage of bleak news.

My small victory today is that at the beginning of the year, I tried to generate more business by sending a mailer to my LYS customers offering them a discount if they ordered a certain dollar amount from me during January and February. I wasn't sure if it would work; the good news is that it did. I've been busy with orders ever since and have enough work for at least another month. Right now I'm happy to be able to stay in business!

Michelle said...

What a wonderful idea! I'm finding that just reading everyone's responses is so mood-elevating, that it is a small victory right there!
I'd like to share mine:
My youngest child, who has autism, looked me in the eye today and said "I love you" without prompting. Wonderful victory!!

And....there was just enough leftover yarn from my Fiddlehead Mittens (Ravelry)that I was able to squeeeeeeze out a second pair for a gift! Excellent Victory!

Have a lovely day!

Lisa said...

These are excellent victories - it sounds like you saved yourself a lot of money!

CraftyLzrd said...

Excellent idea! :) My small victory is potty training the puppy! LOL Also today I was able to sit and eat my breakfast without her trying to steal it out of my mouth! She's learning!

Life's a Stitch said...

I finally started organizing the two bedrooms that had turned into storage areas. Started is the key word. A small victory, indeed.

Strickmuse said...

This is a such a great idea. we really have to make the best of this situation.
Thanks for sharing
Susanne