So, the saying goes, “It’s all a matter of perspective.” Cliché? Yes, but…. It’s true, really.

As I was sitting here thinking about what to write, I had a small epiphany. I could be making myself miserable for countless reasons, but all I really need to do is look at my struggles in a different way and magically they are no longer an issue. I’m usually a pessimist (or a realist, actually, is what I like to call myself), so this is a bit of a stretch for me. But as I was sitting there thinking about my current dilemmas, I realized I don’t have to be so worried or angst-y. With a quick twist or shift of focus, my problems can become motivation, inspiration, and steps toward growth. I know, this sounds cheesy. I’m not usually so flowery and sanguine. Honestly, though. Here—let me show you.

1) Paleo Problems. We’re having a party! This statement is not usually associated with “struggling,” but for me, in my current situation, that’s exactly what it is—a struggle.

If it was a Paleo party, I wouldn’t be worried. We’d have chips and dip, only the chips would be sweet potato chips made from scratch with organic and fresh ingredients and the dip would be flavorful and fresh, made with quality, healthful ingredients. We could have sweets, too! I could make pudding from cocoa powder and avocado (sounds nasty, but it’s awesome), or Paleo Apple Pie (made with an almond flour crust, organic apples, honey, and spices)! We could even have dark chocolate (86% cocoa) covered strawberries and champagne! We could serve turkey burgers on fresh beds of lettuce, bangers and mash (andouille sausage and cauliflower mash, of course) with grilled peppers, onion, and mushrooms, or even make our favorite grilled, buffalo style chicken wings with a side of celery and ranch! I mean, come on! I could even serve gluten-free alcoholic beverages like wine and hard ciders! A little tequila never hurt anyone on the Paleo route, either! Heck, this is shaping up to be a really great time!

But the truth of the matter is Jacob and I will be the only Paleo people at this party. We will be surrounded by non-Paleo, gluten-infested food and drink all day; chips, cheetos, pretzels, crackers and cheese, dips made with sour cream and cream cheese, fried chicken, coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni, baked beans, hard liquors, malt beverages, and beers. The shame of it all is that I never want these types of food on a normal day. I don’t even think about them. I do not crave them at all, but seeing them and being in close proximity to them all day is a different story. It’s hard.  What I need is a swift kick-in-the-butt and a little shift in perspective.

Now, this party will serve as motivation and inspiration to be Paleo-prepared at all times! How, you ask? Well, I will have all my favorite, delicious, Paleo food and drink on hand and ready to go, of course. I will be armed with fresh fruit, veggies, and proteins. I will have an arsenal of Paleo-friendly beverages to use at my disposal! My Paleo shield will be so strong that the evil gluten army won’t stand a chance to infiltrate my defenses. And at the end of the night, I will know I stuck to my guns and came out victorious!

Twist the perspective a little further and it feels almost ridiculous (and a little offensive) to ever be stressed out about a party. A day of feasting and laughing, spent with loved ones, should never be taken for granted. Some people in this world never get a chance to do any of those things (that most of us do on a weekly basis). Shame on me for turning something cheery into a struggle or a test of will-power!

2) My current job is not what I thought I’d be doing at this point in my life. I know many people don’t often find themselves working at their dream job, so what’s the big deal?

The big deal is that I’ve spent years working toward this goal. I’ve done everything I was supposed to do. I took all of the classes, made a great GPA, aced all of the required tests, completed my student teaching with flying colors, and then nothing. Absolutely nothing. And two years later, still nothing. That’s a little disheartening. I guess working as a substitute is better than nothing, per se, but it’s not quite what I signed up for…. Now let’s try that perspective shift.

Substitute teaching allows me to make connections, meet teachers and administrators, and possible future employers. I get to interact with students on a daily basis in an actual classroom (if I get an assignment). In some instances, I actually get to teach lessons. Yes, they may not be my own lessons in my own classroom, but I am still getting some practice! My classroom management skills also get a workout every time I sub. That’s actually the best part because managing a classroom is half the battle.

I could go even further—a bit more twist on the perspective, if you will. Substitutes do not have to grade papers all night when they get home. They don’t have to spend hours entering grades, making calls to parents, and creating lesson plans during their own personal time. Heck, sometimes they only have to work a few days in a week! That doesn’t sound too horrible!

3) Living back at home at age 30 is not ideal.

I’m sure you can image why this particular scenario is no picnic (for me or for my parents). I love my parents dearly, but the laws of nature come into play here. Baby birds have to leave the nest at some point. I did that. I left the nest. And now I’m back. I lived on my own with Jacob for 4 ½ years. Before that I lived on and off campus at Eastern Illinois University. During all that time, I was getting accustomed to living on my own, while my parents were finally getting to experience an empty nest. They missed me, I’m sure, but they were used to going about their daily lives in a new way that did not include me. Now, my brother and I are both back at home—with our significant others! That’s a lot of adults living in one space! Oh, yes, there is enough room, but there’s also a lot of butting heads.

Let’s shift that perspective. There’s a bright-side in there somewhere (for me, at least…. my parents, however, not so much)!

I know my mom and dad love me unconditionally. I have the kind of parents that will be there for me when the walls are crumbling down. They will do whatever it takes to make it work. And they do. Jacob and I try to help out with money when we can, but my parents don’t even ask for rent. This allows Jacob and I to save money for the future (well, we try). So, while it’s not ideal, it works for now.

See?!?! Changing my perspective can allow me to view all of the positive aspects in my life, instead of focusing on the negative. I’ll admit it’s not very me. But, it’s worth a shot. Even though I’m pretty sure life has handed me one-too-many lemons lately, I’m going to try my hand at making some lemonade (well, Paleo lemonade). No promises, though. If you see me complaining during a post or two from now, don’t say I didn’t warn you!


About Nicole

I have my BA in English Education and am a lover of the arts. I’m part of a small, but fiercely devoted (and annoyingly close) family– and wouldn’t change that for the world. I'm lucky in love with the love of my life and am a step-mom to his two beautiful girls. I’m also a Paleolithic eater, a lover of all things organic, whole, and natural.

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