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Olivia Newport broken eggAck. I just had new author photos taken. I haven’t seen them yet even in the raw, but I am putting a lot of faith in the photographer’s Photoshop skills for the final product. When they’re ready, I’ll have to let you see at least one of them. After all, that was the point. (And really, the photographer did a great job of putting me at ease.)

Like a lot of people (admit it, yes, you!) I’ve never been fond of being photographed. One of the reasons is that I feel style-impaired. I’ve been working from home for almost nine years, so I don’t even really have a proper work wardrobe any more. I don’t go out that much, and never to any place swanky. I can’t tie a scarf attractively to save my life. Even my church is a fairly casual place. So when I need to spiff up a bit for posterity, I get nervous. Like I said, style-impaired.

Years ago, the highest level person in the women’s ministry work of my denomination visited the church I was attending. Her great admission to the group of women hanging on her every word was that she was craft-impaired. People make jokes about how quickly they can kill plants, so I guess they are garden-impaired. We’ve all walked into someone else’s beautifully appointed home and immediately felt decorator-impaired about our own. Since I am on the short side, I could also claim to be height-impaired. My feet have hurt for 25 years, so I’m sometimes movement-impaired. Being completely unathletic, I am sports-impaired. I’ll never have as much money as some people I know or sell as many books as I dream of, so perhaps I am success-impaired. While I can put together a basic meal, I stress about feeding people outside of my family because I feel cooking-impaired.

I don’t mean to make light of true impairments, conditions that interfere with independent living and making healthy choices about the future. At the same time, I don’t want to define happiness or satisfaction in terms of the lack of any impairments, or the lack of something we think we must have. Rather, the question I pose is this: How can we perceive our lives as richer because of the resources we have available right now that we look right past? Here’s my list of resources for impaired-living.

1. Acceptance. We’re all different. I for one am glad for this because it points to the wonder of the individual. Embrace your differences, rather than making false comparisons that cause you to feel that you come up short against someone else’s gifts.

2. Grace. Whatever you feel impaired about today, give yourself a break! You don’t have to be perfect at everything—or anything.

3. Gratitude. Attitude is everything. The next time you look around and find yourself wishing for different circumstances or gifts, stop. Take a deep breath. Practice being grateful for what brings joy to your life just the way it is.

4. Resourcefulness. I once heard a speaker say that if the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it’s time to start watering where you are. If your life is not what you wish it were, no one says you have to roll over and play dead. You can’t control everything, but what changes are within your power to make?

5. Community. You are not alone. Self-supporting individuality is a big lie, it turns out. We need each other. Too many people feel alone with their problems when the truth is that if they dared to talk to just one person about what things are really like, the load would lighten. Who listens to you? Who needs you to listen?

• Now it’s your turn. What resource would you add to this list for making your life richer and deeper?

 

 

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