I have friends coming to visit this weekend. Like most people, I try to ensure that my house is relatively clean when guests visit. I vacuum up the dog hair, make sure there are fresh towels in the bathroom, and generally straighten things up.
But if you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know I moved in the summer, and I live in an old log house. It was built in the early 1800s, with dark, squared timber logs, single pane windows and a small addition that has virtually no insulation. I heat with wood, though I’ve got an oil furnace too, so it means the air is dry, often dusty (okay, always dusty) and the house is cool. Well, cold. Quite cold.
As I sat looking out the kitchen window this morning – the one with two cracks in it, covered in plastic to try to keep the heat in – I felt a bit low. I was wearing my lined flannel pants and a down vest, looking at the mis-matched drawers and badly
varathaned floor. Above me, the lack of light fixtures made the bare light bulbs look ugly and harsh. The boots and shoes that spill out from the kitchen door clutter the floor and get in the way when I want to go in or out.
Kind of Beverly Hillbilly chic without the chic.
I could feel myself wondering how I ended up living in such a ramshackle, run down place, and I was starting to feel sorry for myself.
I hate that. It’s not like me.
Thankfully, I was distracted by the birds. Well, birds and a red squirrel. You see, when you look out that window, through the plastic and past those cracks, you see my bird feeders. This morning, three cardinals (two male, one female), a few red breasted
nuthatches, a white breasted nuthatch, 10 goldfinches and countless chickadees were feasting on the seeds. A red squirrel was on the ground, while the snow was dancing all around. As I looked out, I remembered that if I stood in my living room (which by then was warm because the wood stove insert had heated it up), I could see the string of Christmas lights I’d put up the other night, ringing the room like sparkles of light. My living room was made for Christmas, with the warm logs, a stone fireplace, pine floors painted a deep, rich burgundy red and just the right distance between the couch and the chairs to be cozy.
Jamie Gruman, Associate Professor of Organizational Behaviour at the University of Guelph, writes about psychological capital. He explains that people are familiar with intellectual capital, which is what we know; and social capital, which is who we know. Psychological capital is who we are and who we are becoming, and is made up of four personal resources: hope, optimism, confidence and resilience. It is evident to me that though my intellectual capital may need work, my stores of social capital and my psychological capital are overflowing. In fact, my capacity for hope, optimism, confidence and resilience seems to grow daily, even though I have a space heater blowing on my feet in my office!
I recognize that life is short, fragile and precious. I know that, despite the Senate insanities and bizarre mayoral behaviours, and despite the fact that some of my loved ones live so far away, I’m living in peace, with a roof over my head that doesn’t leak, incredible children, friends that I love and cherish, and birds outside my window.
Hope, optimism, confidence and resilience. My wish for all of us in the new year. Oh, and warm slippers and more flannel lined pants!