My sister Missy was an optimist – a cheerful, ‘look on the bright side’ kind of gal. She was the kind of person who could turn lemons into the best lemonade ever, and she had a way of looking at life as an adventure to be had, even in bad times. I always admired her for that; when I was down in the dumps for one reason or another, she could always lift me up and encourage me. She was our family’s cheerleader, the person who could make anything fun – or at least bearable.
Missy’s motto was Pretend you’re camping. She reasoned that when you’re camping, you make do. If you forget your pillow, you roll up your jacket and use that instead. If you forget utensils, you can cook with a stick and eat with your fingers. Missy applied this logic to her daily life; if things didn’t go right, there was always Plan B: deal with it, and move on. No need to waste time and energy crying over the ‘could have/would have/should have’ scenarios.
I really like that perspective. Life isn’t always fun, and things don’t always go the way we want them to. I’d venture to say that more often than not, life is throwing curve balls at us; our character shows in how we choose to respond. We can duck, or we can adjust our swing. We can focus on being disappointed, or we can focus on the challenge to improve.
Pretend you’re camping! has become our family’s catchphrase for those times when you just have to suck it up and keep going. No time for whining or pity parties – just figure it out. Everyone has obstacles and baggage to carry. Every day has good and bad. People who accept those truths without feeling sorry for themselves are more successful and happy than those who feel defeated with every setback.
My sister fought a ten-year battle with cancer. She underwent multiple surgeries and treatments and suffered through a lot of illness and pain. If anyone was justified in feeling miserable, she was. But to her, life was good, and even the hard parts could be managed with the right attitude. She continued to live her life one day at a time, raising two fine sons, working with special needs children, and volunteering in her church and community. Even in the midst of her own struggles, she was motivating and encouraging the people around her. She didn’t consider herself brave or heroic or inspirational; she was just doing what needed to be done.
Missy’s legacy lives on in that motto. In those words we hear her cheerful confidence and her ability to meet adversity head on; we understand the implication that the bad stuff is just temporary and things will get better. Those words urge us to accept the adventure of another approach; we will surely find that by changing our viewing angle, those mountains become molehills once again.
Don’t get angry or frustrated or bitter because things didn’t go your way – make the most of what you have, keep a smile on your face, and carry on.
Pretend you’re camping!