1: The Blessing Sheet

1: The Blessing Sheet

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings

The Blessing Sheet

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
~Melody Beattie

The recession hit early in Florida—some newspapers called our state Ground Zero. My husband, Curt, lost his executive job in construction in August of 2007. Somehow we had deluded ourselves that he would make it through the next round of cuts, but when he called me and whispered, “I’m gone,” I knew our dream had ended.

A year later, I couldn’t believe how much our lives had changed. We no longer threw whatever we wanted into the grocery cart. I used coupons to buy toilet paper. New clothes were something I fingered on the sales rack when I convinced myself that window shopping could be fun—but it never was. Getting the mail was the highlight of our day along with watching Jeopardy! at seven and Wheel of Fortune afterward.

“I don’t know how long we can hold out unless one of us makes some money.” My husband tipped his head back and let out another long sigh. I echoed it in my own head. I hadn’t worked outside the home in years. After sending his résumé out for hundreds of jobs with no luck, we decided Curt should open his own business and take whatever work he could find.

“I’ll start sending mine out tomorrow. I’ll get something,” I assured him. But I had already scanned the job postings for positions with my experience. They were as limited as the construction field he left.

“When we get down to $10,000, we’ll put the house on the market.”

“We can’t move back north—there’s nothing for you there anymore.” I was sick of this conversation. Each day hung on us like the weights at the gym we used to attend. I fled the room and hugged my knees to my chest in my bedroom chair. Life was as ugly as the smears on our windows. How much longer could we hold up without eventually hating each other or the world?

I grabbed the phone when it rang beside me and answered on the first ring.

“It’s Kelly. Are you doing alright today? You don’t sound so good.” I smiled as I heard the voice of my best friend from back home. She’d sent card after card hoping to encourage our lagging spirits.

“I keep thinking about what might happen to us.” I shared my fears about foreclosure and bankruptcy and ending up on the streets homeless. Before long I was blubbering into the phone like a newborn baby. “I just want to give up.”

I heard her sharp intake of breath. “Do this. Take a blank sheet of paper and post it on your refrigerator. I want you to write down at least one thing each day that is good. I don’t care if it is as insignificant as you ate three meals—put it down. You need to focus on the positive, because good things are still happening, you just can’t see them now.”

I didn’t understand how a piece of paper would help. I knew Curt wouldn’t write anything down and it would all be on me. “I’ll give it a try,” I promised.

The next day I twirled the pen in my hand as I stood in front of my refrigerator. I’d told Curt about Kelly’s idea and he’d only nodded. But I had to start somewhere. NO BILLS TODAY, I wrote. When I pulled my hand away, I felt an unfamiliar sensation—one I hadn’t felt in a long time—gratitude. I smiled.

The next day, I added two more blessings to my list—we walked for half an hour and my back didn’t hurt. When I got a card in the mail, I posted about it too. Before long, my list filled two pages. But I knew Kelly was onto something the day my husband reminded me to write down some good news.

The other day, six months later, I cleaned off the top of my refrigerator and discovered the blessing sheets I’d tossed there after my husband had found temporary work. Last week he was laid off again. I read through my scribbled list, then reached for a clean sheet of paper. I couldn’t wait to fill the sheets again.

~Terri Tiffany

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