How a Negative Year Lead to a Positive Life

Isn’t it strange? The yin and yang of life? Often we find out what really matters when we are the most down and out. When the things that you think matter aren’t there anymore. Such is life and I’m not special.

I don’t live an extravagant life. I live a normal life. A normal happy life. I am a mother of three and have been happily married for 15 years. Our family owns our own business. My husband is a General Contractor in Northern, VA. All of my children are healthy and we have a dog. Normal, happy, suburban life.

A few years ago, the economy tanked and my husband was having an extremely hard time with the business. The housing market was hit hard. To make a long story short, we had to short sale the home that my family had been living in for over a decade. We just couldn’t afford to make the high mortgage payments and our bank wasn’t willing to work with us. We had never missed a mortgage payment in those ten years! I won’t go into the gory details, but I will say it wasn’t fair, it was corrupt and very traumatic. We only had a few months to vacate our beautiful home. To say it was devastating is an understatement. Where were we going to go? I had to try and keep normalcy in place for my children and my husband and I had to power through this situation. We had to keep moving forward. What choice did we have?

At the same time, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I can’t explain the pain of watching a parent perish. It was one of the most excruciating things I have ever gone through.

It made me realize the importance of NOW. Be here now. What a beautiful lesson. Audrey!! Live in the moment. Live right now. For all of the ups and downs, be here now.

Of course, why not throw in our beloved dog of 13 years, Duke, passing away at the same time, because that was just the cherry on top. Come on life, one more kick. Do not pass go.

So—now I am LOW. Beyond, low. This scenario is too hard! We have to build up a business, find a new home, mourn, be a parent, be a wife, —oh my god, MONEY! Too much, I say! I wanted to run away.

After a few tough months, my default began to be “You have to be positive.You have to stay positive.” HOW? WHY? I just wanted to hide. But somewhere deep inside, I had this inner voice telling me to start looking for the silver lining in things. ANYTHING! Try…REALLY TRY to see the bright light. I will tell you right now, it was HARD, but it was the only thing I had control of at the time. My attitude and my thoughts. It was not my natural default. However, I promised myself everyday I would find something to be positive about.

I feel lucky because beautiful kind souls are in my life, and I was able to see the simple acts of kindness that they would provide me. I truly believe beautiful kind souls are in everyone’s life. You know why? Because they should be YOU and ME and ALL OF US. Some days being kind comes easy. Some days we have to work at it.

Some examples of kindness from my beautiful souls were: watching my kids make me cookies (that really happened), taking me out to coffee, complimenting me on my strength, or even just being there while I just cried and cried and cried.

After this experience, I felt compelled to a spread a message. A message that says it really doesn’t take much to be an amazing influence on someone’s mood and daily experience. You don’t have to be Oprah or Ellen or the President of the United States. Be YOU. Hold the door, say hello, buy a stranger coffee. These kind gestures resonate more than you will ever know. You are KINDER than you think you are. And your kindness travels far.

Happy Orange Project was inspired by random acts of kindness provided to me in a difficult time in my life. Let’s not save them just for the difficult times. Let’s share them 365 days a year. I want to inspire everyone that we all have it in us to be thoughtful and kind—even just a little, on the good days and on the bad days.