{August 2015}

I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.”

Ashleigh Brilliant

I love that quote. It sums up perfectly just how I feel when I’m having what I call an “Australia day.” When my children were young, one of their very favorite stories—that we read until we all could practically recite it without actually seeing the words—was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. A plethora of calamitous mishaps (most are only calamitous if you’re an 8-year-old boy) occur during the course of Alexander’s tremendously rotten day. After having all he can take, Alexander announces that he is moving to Australia.

Alexander’s savvy mom gives him some pretty good advice. Keeping it simple, she succinctly informs him that some days are just like that, even in Australia. It’s a children’s book, so author Judith Viorst had to soften it a little, but in a nutshell, the message is “It happens. Deal with it.” This principle pretty much applies to every uncomfortable experience in life. Sometimes the only way to the other side is just to go through. There are things in life we can’t avoid, and things we can’t deny. We must simply deal.

Hence, my Australia days. We all have them. Some of us face extremely difficult challenges, such as health issues, financial strain, or marital problems that can cause us to feel that even the trivial frustrations of everyday life are just too much. My guess is that in those situations, the Australia days come quite frequently. And then there are times that life-changing obstacles aren’t required—just the everyday “stuff” we all deal with is enough to feel as if we’re in the midst of an avalanche of petty annoyances. Sometimes, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to get back the joy that life sometimes seems to suck right out of me…unless, of course, I move to Australia.

I can’t hide it when I’m having an Australia day. Apparently it emanates on my face like a beacon in the night. It’s not that I’m mad, or upset, or even sad, just preoccupied. But, when I’m in this pensive state, my face defaults to a scowl, known now, thanks to social media, as “b&#^y resting face” (or BRF). Because of my BRF, my family frequently thinks that I’m mad—at them! In fact, the running joke in our house is for someone to ask, “Why is Mom mad?” to which someone else will reply “Because she’s awake!” Then there’s a cacophony of raucous laughter that is only quieted by a very direct scowl in their direction that has nothing to do with BRF.

I think I’ll deal better, and as a result have fewer Australia days, if I work on my BRF. After all, I scare the bejeebies out of myself at times when I pass a reflective surface and see the horrible expression staring back at me. I can’t imagine how I must frighten others. What if I smiled instead? Don’t misunderstand: I know life’s problems can’t be solved with something as simple as a smile. We still have to deal. But I find when I smile, that joyful feeling isn’t so difficult to find after all; and having a joyful heart can make those petty annoyances seem, well, not so annoying. And my guess is that when you focus on the things that bring you happiness in life, an escape to the wilds of Australia doesn’t seem like such a good idea after all.



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