Thursday, October 16, 2008

Say It Ain't So...

by Nicole Seitz

I'm feeling a bit like Joe this morning--Joe the Plumber, Joe Sixpack, and Java Joe, altogether. I'm sitting here, drinking my second cup of coffee, getting the jitters, thinking about the economy and the future of our country, my life, my children's lives. And then I get a hold of myself. I remember the face of a lady I once worked with years ago. We were at a major corporation that was going through a merger. Everyone walked around with these permanently-fixed grimaces on their faces, me included. We said things like "woe is me" and worried incessantly at the unknown. Would we and our jobs--our livelihoods--survive the coming changes?

Then one day, I was in the bathroom of said company, and a woman who worked down the hall heard some of us coworkers bellyaching. She looked us in the eyes and said, "People are acting like they have no faith. Walking around with these sad faces." She was disgusted. She was a believer. And hey, I was a believer. All of a sudden, I was disgusted with myself. I paid closer attention to the look I wore on my face and my attitude after that. And you know what? When the dust settled, I was one of the "lucky ones." Many were let go, but there I sat at my same desk, doing my same job.
Here's where it got interesting. After a while, I left that job. It wasn't what I wanted anymore. I watched people being forced to leave and saw them landing on their feet. That shake-up had left me with an awareness that perhaps there was something different, yes, maybe even better, out there. I eventually left the company, started my own home-based business, which, in turn, allowed me the flexibility to begin writing. My whole life changed, and I would argue, for the better, because of that uncertain time.

All of us were better because of that merger. Some of us had to wait a little longer to find the good part of it, but eventually, we all did. We learned what we are made of. And that is a hard-fought and valuable lesson. Something I take with me to this day. Was it easy coming to that conclusion? Not at all. But why did I let myself go so gray over it?

So this morning, I'm thinking about the volatile stock market and watching our savings deplete and wearing my worried Joe American look, when I remember my old co-worker saying, "where is your faith? You act like you don't have any faith." And you know what? She's still right. I do have faith in these uncertain times. In my experience, God always takes the opportunity to use an existing shake-up to show us what we're made of. To allow us to imagine what-ifs, to plan for the future, to realize things we need to pay more attention to.

Last night my family had stuffed peppers. The night before we ate roasted peppers. Now mind you, everything was delicious and varied, but the peppers were on special. A REAL DEAL! These are the sorts of things I--and every other American--am doing now as a result of these uncertain times. We are watching what we spend. We are looking for things that have real value, lasting value. Yes, we've stopped going out to eat as much, but for some reason, we're attending charity events. The money we're spending needs to go further, not just end in one sitting. A charity event is the meal that keeps on giving. Like my peppers. They lasted a whole two dinners. Think of all the savings! Think of the value.

I wonder sometimes about what other things people are cutting back on. Sometimes, I wonder if they might cut back on buying books. I start getting this worried, drawn look on my face, saying things like, "oh woe is me, people won't buy my books," and then I realize, where is my faith? THINK about the value of a book! It's not something you ingest in one sitting. You savor it for days, maybe weeks. Maybe years. It lets you escape, learn, experience--all from your living room sofa. The value of a book, to me, has never been higher. It's the gift that keeps on giving. For the holidays this year, I'm making a list of books that I think my loved ones will love. I will put some real thought into it. And the gift of a book will keep on giving. Hey, in this economy, it might just make its way back into my hands after said loved ones read it and pass it on. So I better buy books I might like, too. Just in case.

This economy we're in? This election we're heading into? This country's next four years? It's all good. Might not be easy, but I guarantee it will be interesting, and there will be some amazing creativity and innovation to come out of these times--much like my delicious stuffed peppers--much like the books we authors will continue to write. I love our country. Americans will land on their feet. As for me and my house, we will walk around with smiles on our faces, knowing that every valley has a mountain, and our faith is indeed strong enough to carry us through.
Nicole Seitz is a wife and mother of two in the beautiful Charleston, SC area. She is the author of Trouble the Water, a novel about faith and healing, and The Spirit of Sweetgrass, a novel about family and heaven. Her next novel, A Hundred Years of Happiness, will be out in Feb/Mar 2009 and explores the after-effects of war on families and next generations. She writes with a hopeful heart and works hard to find silver linings in every dark cloud.
Nicole is also a published illustrator and paints the covers of her novels. You can visit her website to watch a book trailer for her upcoming novel or see some of her artwork ( Better yet, come to Circa Gallery in Asheboro, NC two days after the election for a talk/art opening, featuring some of Nicole's new works. (Hey, paintings are gifts that keep on giving, too.) Whichever way the election goes, Nicole promises to have a smile on her face :)


Anonymous said...

Your blogs are always so lovely and hopeful.

Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

Awesome article. Thanks!
Beth Fehlbaum, author
Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse
Ch. 1 & Book Trailer are online!