The other day I ran into an old friend. When I walked into her shop, “her world,” I was lost in my own thoughts, in all of my regrets and disappointments. I felt like the walls were closing in on me, until I gave my friend a hug and really  listened.

Even though things were not happening fast enough for me, although there were circumstances that seemed insurmountable at the time, I realized that these were just temporary setbacks not the sum total of my life experiences.

This friend’s soulmate had passed away several years ago. As I looked around this neighborhood store, I remembered that her dream was to expand her operation and move to this new location  that she would run alongside of her husband. But that day never came, because he died unexpectedly right before the grand opening. She often wondered how it was even possible that a two-time cancer survivor still receiving chemo treatments could survive her husband.

So opening day was bitter-sweet because she never got to share it with him. Now that  her daughter’s job was relocated to Florida, she is truly alone.

“No, not   completely,” she remarked.  “My best friend keeps me going. When I come home tired from standing on my feet all day, she throws all of her toys on my lap as though to say: ‘Play with me. Give me all of the love that you have left.’”

I looked at her ready to share all of the bad news, and then I stopped and just listened. All of my problems could be resolved over time by taking steps every day.

She, on the other hand, couldn’t bring back her best friend and business partner. He was the one who kept the books; now she had to teach herself. She could only fill the void in her life with her dog’s companionship, who loved her unconditionally, happy to spend whatever segment of her day was available.

She said that the women in her bereavement group are miserable, complaining people. “I would rather come home to my dog!”

So if you are feeling down like I was just remember to count your blessings. Many things can be resolved–but not necessarily right away. Put all of that negativity aside and focus on what you are grateful for.

Reach out to someone, perhaps an old friend who shares her story with you, and try to remember that everyone has things that they are dealing with. Try to comfort her; sometimes all she may need is a hug and someone to listen.

And so we always think that our problems are far worse than everyone else’s—until we stop and listen.

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