Our family is now officially entering Week 16 of unemployment. Hunky Hubby (HH) has exerted a heroic effort securing temporary work along the way. But the last three weeks have been a particular struggle as the already slow flow of available Temp jobs first turned into a trickle, and then dried up altogether. “Employment” seems to be a rare island oasis in an otherwise vast and endless desert.
According to the pollsters and statisticians, we aren’t alone. Our family is just one of thousands who have fallen victim to the ‘job drought’ – aka, “economic downturn”.
So, what is one to do in this situation? The title of this post offers one popular choice. The phrase “Basket Case” is a strange colloquialism which – according to one website - originated during World War I when soldiers who ended up with quad amputations would have to be carried around in baskets the rest of their lives (a horrifying prospect). What is interesting to note from reading the history is that the FEAR of becoming a basket case was much greater than the actual reality. In modern America, the term “basket case” tends to identify someone who is figuratively ‘falling to pieces’ due to an upsetting or traumatic experience.
I believe America is currently experiencing an outbreak of what I’m dubbing ‘Basket-Case Syndrome’.
There appears to be four stages to this malady.
1. Holding the Pieces Together
2. Falling to pieces
3. Putting the pieces back together again
4. Having all the pieces, but living with a CONSTANT FEAR of losing them.
Perhaps Stage 4 is the worst! But, all equate to one enormous ball of stress.
There are plenty of ‘lost appendages’ and ‘broken parts’ to justify the stress. The economy is failing, banks are failing, loans are failing, families are failing. Unemployment and forclosure is skyrocketing while morale is plummeting. Looming above it all is a seemingly endless War, combined with a chaotic Presidential election….
It’s no wonder the Nation’s economic, physical, mental, spiritual, and moral health is at death’s door.
True story: I went to get a manicure yesterday, justifying that it would be well worth the extra expense to escape for an hour of peace and relaxation. Ha! What was I thinking? I ended up listening to an hour of intense political debate between three outspoken women getting their weekly pedicures!
However, (please don’t stop reading yet) There is a light at the end of this post. Today I came across a talk by one of my favorite women who offered a different and refreshing perspective, along with the remedy for ‘Basket Case Syndrome’.
Bonnie D. Parkin, Former President of the Latter-day Saint General Women’s Relief Society from 2002-2007
“Let me share a sweet story with you. A family was going through a difficult time. It was hard for them not to focus on their challenges. The mother wrote: “Our world had completely crumpled, so we turned to Heavenly Father for guidance. Almost immediately we realized that we were surrounded by goodness and were being cheered on from every side. We began as a family to express our gratitude to each other as well as to the Lord daily. A close friend pointed out to me that our family’s ‘blessing basket’ was overflowing. From that conversation came a sort of game, which my children and I grew to love. Before family prayer each night we would talk about how our day had gone and then share with each other all of the many blessings that had been added to our ‘blessing basket.’ The more we expressed gratitude, the more there was to be grateful for. We felt the love of the Lord in a significant way as opportunities for growth presented themselves.” (Excerpts from “Gratitude: A Path To Happiness” Ensign June 2007)
Did you catch what the elusive ‘cure’ for ‘Basket-Case Syndrome’ is?
It’s in short supply these days. But fortunately, each of us have the power to internally generate more. Sister Parkin even offers a fun ‘How-To’ tip for gathering Gratitude.
Here are some things I would add to my “Blessings Basket” today – in no particular order:
1. The grass in front of our home is completely dead.
The sprinkler system broke, of course, the day before HH got his “departure ticket”. Fixing the sprinklers suddenly was no longer a high priority. In fact, it received NO priority. However, I can definitely add this to the basket and find gratitude, oddly enough!
a. We are saving wear and tear on our new lawn mower!
b. HH is happy to relinquish one more weekly chore.
c. We are doing our part to conserve oil in this time of crises.
d. There is a bit of perverse pleasure annoying the neighbors by no longer attempting to “keep up appearances”.
e. I hear that grass tends to be pretty forgiving for neglect and thus am confident that next year our yard will be the new BH&G poster child (well, ok, maybe not - but at least it wont be dead).
2. I am grateful for our home. Wow! We are just so blessed to have one!
3. I am grateful for food. We were blessed to have a little storage in our basement. Then, when that got low, we were blessed for the tender mercies of the church. The Bishop’s storehouse, and the LDS Church Welfare program is brilliant. Words cannot express my gratitude for the help that is in place for families who go through a rough patch. Whether it is a need for food, clothing, employment, or other services - there are people just a phone call away waiting and eager to give assistance. One Sunday each month is designated as a church-wide ‘fast day’. Members go without two consecutive meals and then make a donation to the Fast Offering fund. This one simple act of faith is able to provide amazing services in time of need - not only to members of our own church, but to the entire world. (To any of you who paid fast offerings this month, thank you for feeding my family.)
4. I am grateful for the blessing of health! All four of us have managed to remain healthy through this ordeal so far. HH has had the stamina needed for the temporary work, job searching, and the interview process. I have had the stamina that I need to get up and go to work each day, and the the girls are making a great start on the new school year. They have been blessed with good friends and good teachers.
5. I am grateful for the City Bus. What a blessing!
a. I’ve saved over $300 a month in gas money
b. I’ve made some nice new friends and have interesting experiences!
c. I get to read anything I like for two uninterrupted hours a day!
d. I get more exercise thanks to the two mile hike between the bus stop and my home. (I think my pants might be a little looser…a big slam dunk in the basket!)
6. I am grateful for the blessing of my family, my friends, my neighbors (even the cranky ones, because it is nice to look past the withered tundra and gaze at lush green landscapes).
7. I am grateful for my dog Joey. Blissfully unaware of “economic downturn”s, Joey reminds me that the greatest joy in life is a little scratch between the ears and a good game of fetch (which, by-the-way happens to be much more fast and furious on dead lawn!).
I won’t bore you with the rest of my blessings list. The addage holds true that the more blessings we count, the more come into our mind…and pretty soon our “basket runneth over”, so-to-speak!
What will you be adding to your “Blessing Basket”?