An Optimist or A Pessimist?

There are certain things that happen in our lives that make us understand more about ourselves, such as, are we really an optimist or a pessimist?  I can say that during most of my life, I was a “glass half full” kind of person, even despite many hardships.  I’ve had people approach me and ask why I was always smiling and if I were ever sad or depressed.  I don’t think they meant it to sound derogatory, but it did because I have definitely had my fair share of crap handed to me.  However, I will say that I usually find the silver lining in even the worst of circumstances.  That is probably one of the best things about me… aside from my obvious wit and charm, that is!  ;)

You see, I believe in fate and that nothing happens by chance.  Everything happens for a reason.  We just don’t always know what those reasons are.  I also believe that if you do what you love, then other aspects of your life will follow and things fall into place.  Yes, that sounds magical and no, I do not live in a Fairyland.  However, in some odd way, I believe these things.  Of course what you “love” has to be something that is good, not evil or hurtful.

Anyhow, I’m at another crossroad where things that happened are making me re-evaluate my beliefs.

The last time this occurred, it was when I quit my corporate job to help kids.  I worked in Marketing for large Fortune 500 companies for a number of years (8?  10?  I lost count.)  During that time, I always volunteered to help children — I was a Big Sister for a few years, I volunteered every Saturday in Pediatrics at a hospital for over a year, I was a guest teacher for a couple classes.  I loved being around kids so much that I eventually quit my job as Category Manager at Frito-Lay and became a public school teacher in San Francisco.  (The school had mostly economically-challenged children, which I liked because I wanted to make the most impact.)  I sold my car, and started walking everywhere or taking the bus.  I went from making a great salary to not making enough to pay my rent.  I had to supplement my living expenses with my savings.  But, I tell you… I was happy!  I loved making a difference in people’s lives.  I truly felt that every day, I was doing something good.  Sometimes great.  I felt good about myself and my life was good.  (Has anyone watched or read, “The Secret”?  My beliefs are similar to what is discussed there.)  Anyhow, things just fell into place.  I never worried about finances, and everything always just seemed to work out.

Then one day, while I was into my second year of teaching, I sustained a work injury!  Some kids surprised me by jumping on my back while we were on a field trip, and that resulted in me being unable to move my neck, arms, and shoulders.  I couldn’t lift my arms to feed myself or to pull a shirt over my head!  I ended up in ER with several herniated discs.  Not good, right?!!  (I still deal with pain and physical limitations due to this injury even now, years later.)

Then a month later, I got laid off due to budget cuts.

I must note that the kids were just playing and being loving.  They meant no harm to me, and I have never never never had ill-feelings towards them for doing this!  There were 3 of them, and they wanted to surprise me with a hug from behind, so they jumped on my back while I was seated.  Since I believe that there are no accidents, then why was I injured while doing something that I love?  And why was I also laid off from doing something that helped others?  During the times I laid in bed that first year, unable to get up or even roll over from a disc flare-up, I think about these questions.

So I’m here again…

I’m doing what I love:  I’ve started my own business that blends 2 of my favorite passions, children and photography!  So last Saturday, while on a photoshoot, some *&#@ breaks into my car and steals my photoshoot bag.  Not my camera bag, which was empty since I took my cameras with me; but the bag I bring to all my photoshoots.  It contained my work binder with notes, client contracts, photos, directions/maps.  Okay, it had EVERYTHING.  I referenced that binder every day.  Gone.  Wallet – gone.  Keys (other than the key to that car) – gone.  Photos of my kids – gone.  iPhone – gone.  GPS – gone.  Basically, it was my everything bag… and the thieves knew it (or guessed it).  They smashed in my window and grabbed the bag out of my trunk.  (It is a wagon, so you can access the trunk without opening the door.)  And in case you’re wondering, the trunk was covered and there was nothing in view inside the car.

This is the photoshoot I was on while someone was bashing my car window…

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The cop said it looks like this was done by professional thieves who sit in their car at busy locations to look for their next victim.  They make a living from doing this, he says.  They most likely watched me pull in to the parking lot and saw me get out of my car with my cameras, so they assumed I had something ‘good’ in my bag when I put it in my trunk.

What was astonishing to me is that this happened in the middle of the day with people around!  I have an alarm system that must’ve gone off.  And smashing that window had to have made a lot of noise!  The cop said no one reported anything.  This was very strange to me.  How could no one have seen or heard anything?

Here’s my 3-year old car (just a baby).  I call him “Jake”.  Look at poor Jake!

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Anyhow, I digress.  I needn’t explain what a pain in my derriere this has been for me.  I don’t want to bore you.  However, what it has done is re-posed the question as to if I’m an optimist or a pessimist.  I will admit, I was Debbie Downer for awhile after this break in.  “Why me?”  “Why my car?”  The whole bit!  I drove home slowly on the freeway for an hour and a half with one window missing, glass in the back seat and the trunk, uneven air pressure on my ear drums from the one window open, and fog in my head.

Once I got home, I was scrambling to cancel all my credit cards and get a new driver’s license and new house keys.  I was itemizing all that was stolen for the police officer, and getting depressed about each one.   I thought, “Alas.  I am really a pessimist.  I can’t shake this.”  I also had to go out of town that week.  Just imagine going to the airport and traveling without a photo id or credit cards!

I swear — the rest of the day was a blur.  I hadn’t eaten all day, was stressed out of my mind, and was doing 100 things simultaneously that all the thoughts seemed to be running into each other.  And then…

My 3.5 year old daughter, who was quietly drawing next to me and didn’t bother me while I was calling all the card companies, gave me something.  She said she drew this for me to cheer me up after someone stole things from my car.  (In case you can’t read a 3-year old’s handwriting, this says:  I love mom.  The heart is love.  And that’s a rainbow.)

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How darling is that?  I looked at Mia’s face and saw sincerity in her eyes and felt the kindness in her heart.  I was then reminded of all the wonderful things I should be thankful for:  my family.  And was reminded of how things could’ve been much worse.  So aside from money, time, and convenience lost, I need to keep things in perspective.

This act of larceny reminded me of how much I have in my life and how grateful I am for all of these things.  I don’t know if I can call myself an Optimist, but I do try to see the silver lining in everything.  I still think crap can happen to good people, but I think there is always something we can take away from it or learn from it that can make us stronger, better, wiser, or happier.  :)

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5 Comments

  1. What a sweet picture! Reminds me of Maya. She used todraw a rainbow over her head as hair and it looked exactly this! Glad you are finding inspiration and joy despite what happened. Good for you!

    Xoxoxo

  2. What I forgot to mention was that this location (Chrissy Fields) where my car got broken into IS THE SAME PLACE where I was on a school field trip many years ago and got injured by the kids! Now what is that telling me?!!

  3. hopefully our photo shoot was a high point of the day. Honest, the kids did have more fun than they look in the photo!!

  4. Elaine – I actually like this photo of the kids. I’m probably weird that way, but I don’t always like photos of people smiling and definitely not when everyone’s looking at me. I like images that tell a story or reveal an emotion. I think the girls’ expressions are so interesting here. I also think their coats and hats are incredibly cute and colorful, and they worked out wonderfully for the shoot. And the backdrop is so clear (no fog) that it almost looks like it’s a studio shot and that’s a picture backdrop!

    Your photoshoot and meeting you and your family were DEFINITELY the highlight of that day for me! I had fun during our shoot, and it was a perfect morning…well, a little cold and windy, but other than that, a perfect morning. :)

  5. Myra Yatco

    Annie! Thanks for sharing…The photos are STUNNING!! And I’m so sorry to hear the specific details of the break in! I truly believe that you’re an optimist ti the CORE!!!