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 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.