Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 16, 2012

When good days go bad

By JAMIE PARSELL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Burn breakfast. Shut your hand in the door. Run a red light. Forget lunch on the kitchen table. All of these are perfect scenarios for the start of a bad day. In my case, it started on Tuesday morning with a phone call. Things went spiraling downhill from there. My contact lens kept irritating my left eye. The weather turned nasty, with snow and icy winds.  

I could have found a million things wrong with my morning. I felt like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh except my dark cloud was full of snow instead of rain.

The day didn’t get much better after lunch.

I left the office for a press conference about a drug bust in Tazewell. But I drove past my destination. Once I arrived, I had to follow law enforcement to a second location. I winced at the parking situation. I felt like a 16-year-old parking my mom’s Oldsmobile at the old West Virginia State Police building in Princeton. I said a short prayer before I parked the jeep and walked to the small gathering standing outside the residence.

Snow started to fall faster. It covered my red coat and even fell on my eye lashes. It would have been a picturesque scene, if not for the bright yellow police tape stretched across the yard. I started taking notes. My note taking is eccentric. I don’t write in a solid line, but make patterns with arrows and circles. An old college professor commented on my notes in class one day. He said the creative patterns create a visually-stimulating process, therefore becoming more memorable for the mind than linear notes. However, my notes that day were anything but memorable. The snow made the notepad wet. It was hard to write on wet paper. Not to mention, the ink pen started to fade in the middle of the conference. I felt the panic rising in my chest until an officer with the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office held out an extra pen. I tried to give it back after the conference, but he said to keep it for the next time. I assume he meant the next snow shower in Tazewell. The gift was like an early Christmas present. Crisis solved and I headed back to the office, ready for the end of the workday. But not before I stepped in a mixture of water and gas at the gas station.

I ended the day with a piece of well-deserved chocolate. Who hasn’t had a bad day? You know, the type of day that makes you want to cover your head with blankets or watch movies and eat cookies all day. But more importantly, how do you handle a bad day? I called my mom to cry, whine and employ her sympathy. She listened for a minute and said, “Don’t let it steal your joy.” Well, that was fun. I wanted a pity party, but I got something to think about instead. We have two choices when it comes to bad days. We can allow inconveniences and disappointments to overshadow the day or we can move forward with determination to think smarter, act quicker and move forward — with a joyful heart. There is more than one word for joy. The Merriam-Webster thesaurus lists the following words: gladness, bliss, the warm fuzzies and my favorite — blessedness.

Bad days are not meant to destroy, but to motivate and build strong character. It is a reminder to slow down, rest and be patient. Along with our reactions, our attitudes, are sometimes more memorable than the actual events. I find it difficult to “shake things off” or just “forget about them.” I tend to carry things like John Bunyan’s Christian in “Pilgrim’s Progress.” It weighs on my mind, both emotionally and even, physically.

I won’t forget my bad day anytime soon. However I can concentrate on the moments undisturbed by the day. Such as the joy of taking homemade dinner to a grieving friend, the kindness of a stranger in the grocery store and finally, a mom who gives sound advice, a warm house and my Christmas tree. I am blessed more than I deserve, even on bad days. Joy, from faith in a new morning, rolls away the burden of a bad day.

Jamie Parsell is the lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at jparsell@bdtonline.com or follow on Twitter at BDTParsell.