#FirstWorldFriday I realize how powerful I am and feel terrible I don’t do more with that

first world problem tears

This is First World Fridays #FWF (check out the first FWF here) where I share the frivolous stuff that I allow to occupy my mind, and I turn it into an expression of gratitude. Please do it the same – in the comments, Facebook, Twitter, privately within yourself. Tag it #FWF (yes, I’m asking you to tag your silent prayers) and let’s start a revolution!

My #FWF: This is the lesson I keep learning over and over and over again: I am always fine. I’m more than fine. I get what I need — and then some, usually.

For example, in last week’s #FWF I belly ached about being so very lonely. No sooner had I hit ‘publish’ than my phone blew up with an invite for breakfast, a friend called out of the blue and invited herself to dinner with my kids and me (love that), Memorial Day picnic plans came together, and I caught up by phone with one of my best friends who lives afar (also: I called my grandma, a long-overdue convo that was my bad for not initiating earlier). In my love life? Harken advice from shortly after my divorce from a single friend: “There is no shortage of men in this town,” she said sternly.

The takeaway: There is more than enough than what I need. I just need to ask for it, and be open to receiving it. Apply this lesson to any facet of my life: Since I can remember I’ve had bouts of terror of professional failure. I nearly always excelled. And when I failed, I landed on my feet in the end. Over the past few years when my life was in utter upheaval and I suffered many, many days of numbing fear that my kids and I would be destitute, my bank account always had enough to cover what we needed — including big stuff like many, many thousands of dollars in divorce lawyer fees, root canals, New York City day care and on and on.

If I were to chronicle all the magical blessings that meet me exactly where I have needed them throughout my life, I would have a memoir (note to self: write your fucking memoir already, Emma).

But still I worry. I am worried because I don’t have the cash to send my kids to really cool summer camps. I worry that my children live in an apartment and don’t have the freedom to run outside in a perfectly manicured lawn and on a solid-oak swing set and skip through a sprinkler in the childhood summer of my parental fantasy, and I don’t have the means to summer (life goal: use “summer” as a verb. In earnest.), in a place where that could happen. I worry because sure, there are all kinds of loved ones happy to get together, but do I always have to initiate the effort? Am I insane to take that personally?

Sharing all of this is an act of gratitude. But it is also an expression of shame. I am ashamed that I know that I have the power to get anything I want. To do amazing, wonderful and big, big things. And instead I spend inordinate sums of worry, fret, doubt and fear of being a total failure. I am wasting resources– time, energy — on negative crap. I am not doing great things even though I know I can.

-The universe is abundant.

-I know the universe is abundant (lots of people don’t).

-My kids are little and won’t remember this summer. Probably, right?

-Gimme a break – my kids’ life is really pretty great compared with lots and lots of kids.

-I’m old enough to appreciate that life is cyclical. Shit is hard. Hard. But then it gets better. I didn’t know that 10 years ago. I thought that any pain was a sign of failure. Recognizing that is a huge, huge paradigm shift. For that, I am grateful.

Now your turn: What have you been fretting over this week? Was it really important? How can you turn those negative thoughts into acts or thoughts of gratitude. Please share in comments!


About #FWF: Each week I will post here about the annoyingly frivolous thing I worried about the previous week. I also vow to devote that energy into an expression of gratitude. Two things are true: Sharing openly that which we are ashamed of (in this case devoting time and energy to silly stuff) frees you from that shame, and gives others the permission to do so. Also: The only way to be happy is to be grateful. So post here, on social media, or privately within your family, circle of friends, or even within yourself your own #FirstWorldFriday. Remember – In one breath purge your silly worries, in a second express gratitude.

Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.

Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

10 thoughts on “#FirstWorldFriday I realize how powerful I am and feel terrible I don’t do more with that

  1. I loved your post today! I agree with you, and I’m going to try to keep the universe’s abundance in mind as well.

    My #fwf gripe: My 11-year old son took my latest New Yorker, and I can’t ask him where it is because he’s at his dad’s and he left his cellphone chez moi.

    My gratitudes:
    –My son likes to read the New Yorker, even if it is just the cartoons at this point.
    –My mom buys me an annual subscription to the New Yorker.
    –I have happy family memories of reading New Yorker cartoons when I was 11, when my family lived in Geneva during my dad’s sabbatical and we traveled around Europe by train.
    –I’m priveleged enough to be able to read to and with my kids.
    –My kids love to read!
    –I have the weekend “off,” since my kids are with their dad. :-)
    –I found my New Yorker. It was under my son’s bed.

    1. LOL. Eve, you should, indeed, be grateful that your son likes to read the New Yorker. He must be a intelligent, and intellectual. I read the cartoons myself some as a kid, usually in a doctor’s waiting room.

      Emma, when I was a kid we rarely did camps or Summer camps. I don’t think I’m twisted in life because of the lack…..although perhaps my replies reveal otherwise. :)

      Hmmmm. I’m getting “168 linear feet” of Kwik Kerb put around my house this week. It took 5 different attempts to get the installers here due to weather. I was a little stressed about getting it installed. It’s concrete, and they are starting the install as the Sun is setting. Now I’m fretting a little that some kid is going to sneak up tonight and pencil in the “f-bomb” in several places before daylight. I may be up all night on the porch.

      My gratitude:

      – I can afford Kwik Kerb around my house
      – That we finally got some rain in spite of the delays
      – And that thanks to my own occasional perusal of The New Yorker in my youth, I can read naughty words scrawled in concrete.

      1. Dearth, never heard o Kwick Kerb but glad it’s bringing you joy. Get out there with the hairdryer to ensure it dries before f-bombs set in?

        1. Thankfully, no f-bombs were dropped before it dried.

          I had to put mulch in the flowerbed Sunday, so I pre-warned the neighborhood with signs in my yard stating “Shirtless Male Doing Yard Work on Sunday”, so they’d know to keep their curtains drawn, or avoid my house all day. I can’t have women’s hearts going all “pitter-pat” or a female drive into a wreck having an orgasm at the sight of my hot, glistening male form. ;)

    2. Eve – I read your comment first thing yesterday morning in my pajamas in the kitchen and cracked up laughing. Thanks for that xxxoo

  2. I had to chime in, even though it’s like 2 weeks later, when I read

    I am wasting resources– time, energy — on negative crap. I am not doing great things even though I know I can

    I think you are doing great things.
    Your blog is one of the most courageous, supportive, funny, enlightening, comforting, compassionate *things* out there – in real world. And by writing it, maintaining it, tending to this creation of yours – you are doing great things and helping people.

    I know sometimes it feels like what we’re doing – is not enough, and that we could do more.
    But, with that “could” would also come sacrifices and more time/energy spend that maybe we are not in a position to give at this time.
    And it TOO – will change.

    Yes on the memoir. I’d read it. :)

  3. Also, I think we NEED negative crap.
    We can’t do without it.

    We cannot see light, where there is no dark and cannot see good, where there is no bad.
    It’s just the way life works.

    And I think it’s important not to condemn feeling crappy, and spending time on “negative crap” – but to notice it, embrace it, figure out why it is here (because it is here for a reason/and a good one for that) and maybe do something about it or maybe not – maybe just feel it through.

    Like you’re said or one of the (apparently comentors is not a word (commentators?)) people commenting on the blog – said “we are not robot-parents” … we are not robots. we are not programmed to be and feel happy-happy 100% of the time. So I don’t think the negative crap is a waste of time/energy. I think it has its purpose and goal and without it – we would be robots – without ability to laugh at the scribbled f-bomb on our freshly cemented (by hot shirtless men) driveways.

    1. HA- thanks for the giggle and insight. Yes, I hope to create a place where we can share our negative crap, own it, then move on to bigger things.

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