Fall into the positive

Keep it positive. photo: lucas / flickr

The fall season always feels like a new beginning to me. That probably began in grade school when I was lucky enough to buy some new clothes, a binder, pens, and a pair of snappy saddle shoes (don’t laugh) in preparation for the upcoming semester. With each September came the possibility of shedding my previous dork image and reinventing myself into a cooler, more popular version of myself. Although that never worked, at least fall brought hope.

With summertime sins (like that incident involving the sea lion, the lifeguard, and tequila) washed away in the warm, autumn light, people seem to feel a bit more optimistic, at least until October. Sadly, negativity can quickly seep back into your life when you live in a city — even San Francisco — so I decided to utilize a technique my grandmother used to attempt to keep the grump in me at bay.

You see, everything was a positive to my grandmother. And I mean everything. As a child, she lost her hearing when her village was burned down in the Old Country while she was hiding in the closet. Hard to turn that traumatic childhood experience into a positive outlook on life, right? Wrong.

Every day she was alive and living in the United States was a blessing to her. For example, when her kids were frightened by a huge thunderstorm that threatened to demolish their house, she said, “Children, this is good luck — we’re going to be lucky for the entire year!”

Like the late Robin Williams joyfully exclaimed in The World According to Garp after an airplane hit the house he and his wife were about to buy, “Honey, the chances of this happening again are astronomical! It’s pre-disastered!”

So I decided this year I would try on my grandmother’s attitude as soon as I find myself complaining again. Sure, I’m not expecting someone to do something as drastic as torch our neighborhood, but if something upsets me, here’s my plan:

When I am looking for a parking space on Union Street and someone makes a U-turn in the middle of the street to steal it, I will say to myself, “Isn’t that wonderful? Someone else is taking my space, so now I don’t have to spend my money in all of those clothing stores — I am so lucky!”

And if, say, a drone comes flying to my window (because they will be on everybody’s Christmas list this year), instead of hiding under the table in my pilled Holiday Inn Express bathrobe, I will invoke the spirit of Grandma: “How amazing — look how cute you are, little drone! May I get you a cup of coffee, sir or madam?” Maybe I’ll even be discovered by the producers of The Real Housewives of San Francisco!

If there is an earthquake, I will not start saying my prayers and apologizing for my sins (including the time I swiped my nephew’s Fudgey-Wudgey Cupcake while he was busy looking for his Legos). Instead, I will thank God for the much-needed remodel and be happy — if I survive — that I had a chance to live in San Francisco. If I don’t survive, however, I will just be happy that I had a chance to live. How cool is that?

Just the other day, my husband and I were stuck in a two-hour traffic jam on the Bay Bridge, and my initial reaction was to grumble and cuss like a longshoreman. But with the help of my grandma, I turned to my husband and said, “Isn’t this great? Look how much time we get to spend with each other and talk about anything we want without any interruptions, like new curtains or our marriage!” When he just grunted and rolled his eyes, I knew he wasn’t buying into my granny’s upbeat philosophy.

So, in the name of love, my husband and I swore at the gridlock all the way home. Still, inside, the spirit of my grandmother prevailed, and I knew that after this ordeal, the rest of our day would be that much better. In fact,

I was positive!

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Sandy Fertman Ryan has written for numerous national magazines, including 'TEEN, Sassy, and Parade. Although she is currently very positive, she still enjoys an occasional rant. E-mail: [email protected]

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