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Center for Enlightened Leadership

The Better It Gets, The Better It Gets—A Simple But Profound Story
By Kathleen Alfiero

  Kathleen Alfiero

Kathleen Alfiero

The translucent red stems of my new eyeglasses lay four inches apart on our snow-covered street. They sparkled brilliantly against the dirty white slush.

I had been frantically driving around our neighborhood looking for my glasses. I was retracing the steps of my morning beach walk with our sweet little pug, Munjoy, when I came upon them.

It was a frigid 2-degree morning, and Munjoy and I couldn’t stop shivering as the wind gusts blew at us on the beach, making every part of both of our bodies frigidly tense. My glasses had felt unbearably cold on my face, so I had taken them off and put them in my parka pocket. When I got home and reached for them, they were gone! I panicked.

Trying to stay positive, I got in my car and drove to the beach to begin my search, telling myself that my glasses were not lost—they would show up. And show up they did! Not on the beach, but on the snowy pavement in the middle of our street, smashed by a passing car. Totalled.

When I was buying my glasses only two weeks earlier, my friend Paulette, the shop owner, asked me, “Do you want to spend the extra money for scratch-resistant lenses?” Absolutely! I was no fool; I didn’t want to have to replace these glasses, so let’s make sure they resist scratches. After all, they’re progressives and already very expensive, so why not pay a little more to protect them?

I thought about the hundreds of dollars my spiffy new glasses had cost as I bent over to pick up what was left of them. It looked as if someone had used a mortar and pestle to grind the lenses into the ugly winter mix of ice, snow, and dirty grit. Feeling overwhelmed, I held the two bright-colored stems in my hand. Like the cold air, the loss of my new glasses took my breath away.

Now, it’s important for you to understand that I have made the conscious intention to pay attention to how I’m feeling and to focus as quickly as I can on ways to feel better when I’m feeling upset about something. Consequently, because I’ve really been working on this intention, I have less and less tolerance for feeling bad. However, on the day of my smashed-to-smithereens-glasses saga, I allowed myself to feel worse and worse.

Momentum is powerful. I was mad! But I wanted to turn my feelings around, so I made a positive move and called my friend Maureen. She always reminds me that everything works out for me (and everyone else too) and that every negative experience we have provides us with an opportunity for clarity about what we really want. If I could make the choice to see this situation in a more hopeful and less serious light, I’ll feel better—and after all, isn’t feeling better my goal? How I get to feeling better doesn’t matter as much as I used to think. Since there are two ends to every stick in the balance of nature, talking with Maureen made me feel eager to find out what the upside of my most recent sucky experience would be.

It turned out that Maureen was on her way to shop at Marden’s in Lewiston. Both Maureen and I frequent Maine’s fun salvage store, where you can buy exquisite silk fabrics for $2.99 a yard, light bulbs for half-of-nothing, and furniture at 75% off retail. Sometimes they carry things that have been through a fire or survived a flood, but most of the time we manage to find some good stuff in great condition.

“I’m going to pull over and wait for you,” Maureen said with love in her tone. “Come with me to Marden’s and we’ll have some fun!”

“I can’t,” I said, still holding onto feeling like crap. “I have too much to do today.”

“I’m in Falmouth getting coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts,” Maureen responded as if she didn’t hear me. “I’ll be waiting here for you.”

I calmed down long enough to realize that there wasn’t anything I had to do that was more important than finding a way to improve my day. As my momentum began to shift, I remembered that I have two other pair of glasses, so I can still see. And…it’s only money, I told myself, and we are fortunate to have the resources for me to reorder my glasses. Even though the cost of replacing them stings, I can have them again.

I remembered too how fortunate I am to have the freedom (and the support of my wonderful husband) to do whatever I want each day. We have been in the middle of a redecorating project in our home, and I could look for lamps or end tables at Marden’s, and potentially save a bunch of money.

Before I drove to meet Maureen, I continued my upward momentum and made two additional calls: one to my dear friend Paulette, who sold me the glasses, and the other to a wonderful man, Todd, who makes my lenses for me. I ordered replacement glasses and lenses from them, and they each offered me discounts! “We’ll take care of you.” Sweet!

I felt great! Things were looking up, as they say when “they” choose to live happily.

Maureen and I spent four hours at Marden’s. They had amazing deals! I bought some furniture for our house at such a low price that the savings from our redecorating budget outweighed the cost of replacing my glasses by a long shot.

I’m especially excited about the new dining room chairs I found. They are made of a unique wood and came from a part of the world that had suffered an earthquake, so a couple of them had a little damage. (It’s Marden’s, I remind you.) The furniture repair guy I took them to, Gary, said enthusiastically, “These are the best-made chairs I’ve ever seen come from Marden’s! Do they have any more?”

Isn’t life wonderful? I am learning how to create it to be so. And my house is turning out beautifully. The editor-in-chief of Downeast Magazine emailed me yesterday; they’d like to feature our house when it’s done.

I received a call today to tell me that my new glasses are in.

The better it gets, the better it gets.

Center for Empowered Leadership ®
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