the stuff that matters…

I’m not going to sugarcoat it; December has been kicking my…

Chenonceaux donkey

First our ancient washing machine broke…again. This appliance has been on life support for a few years now, but we’re reluctant to purchase something new until we have some idea of what we’ll be doing with the (eventual) kitchen remodel. So the Grumpy Russian Repair Guy™ paid us yet another visit, and hopefully we’ll wring another few months out of our Pleistocene Era Maytag.

Then we noticed some termite poop “litter” in our bedroom. The good news: it seems to be a small and isolated infestation. The bad news: we have to clear everyone out of the house for several hours today while the exterminators do their thang, which we didn’t know until yesterday, so I had to scramble to find some last-minute accommodations for the dogs while we’re at work.

Speaking of the dogs, we had some vet visits earlier in the month. Nothing serious for either, but still requires scheduling, taking time off work…

It seems as though work has been an endless stream of meetings, a few fun and productive, others not so much.

We’re slogging through more bureaucratic hurdles to try to advance the process of residential placement for Jeune Homme.

And yesterday we learned just as our son’s “bus” was due to pick him up that school had been canceled due to an anonymous threat. Wasn’t just us, though; over 700,000 students in Los Angeles were also impacted. Another day, another scramble.

But…these are First World Problems.

I don’t know if you follow Humans of New York on Facebook, but reading their daily posts helps me put everything in perspective. Every day they post one or more photos and stories of individuals which range from sad to uplifting. This page is such a shining example of how the internet can be used for good. The last couple of weeks they’ve been doing a series of posts on some of the Syrian refugees hoping to come to the US, and it’s an eye-opening reminder of how much we often take for granted. These people have often had their families and lives ripped out from underneath them through no fault of their own by war and conflict. No, they’re not the only people in the world this in this position, but it’s a good reminder that “there but for the grace of God go I,” and that the annoyances we deal with on a daily basis would be a blessing to so many people.

So as we go through this and every season, let’s not let those daily aggravations get us down. Let’s remember to be kind to one another, and keep an open mind and generous heart. Let’s try to find ways to make the world a little better, maybe just one person at a time. Because it all counts.

Back on Friday….

Stay in touch

Sign up to be notified of new posts and updates from une femme d’un certain âge.

Affiliate links in posts may generate commissions for See my complete disclosure policy here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Susan, funny that – I turn to your blog for a little escape from my daily hassles, some of which are small and transient and some big and chronic. Good reminder that we all experience problems and setbacks and a daily dose of kindness and positivity from other people helps us cope better. Thank you for your thoughtful, well written and beautifully illustrated posts – they are a pleasure to read.

  2. Thank you for a beautiful post and timely reminder to be grateful for what we have. I’m sorry for your troubles and hope they will be resolved without much more hassle. Best wishes for all the December holidays and for a happy, healthy, joy-filled 2016.

  3. You are an inspiration. I join your many grateful followers in saying “Thanks” for your thoughtful advice and your generosity of spirit. May all be well with you and those whom you love, now and in the coming year.

  4. This is why I attempt to live each day just one day at a time…I can face one day of challenges and try not to focus on the ones which may lie in the future. You are so right that when we take out eyes off our own stuff there is so much going on around us. Thanks for the reminder…sorry so much has hit at one time…and that we live in a new world of immediate school closings. We will all have to learn new ways to cope with those challenges. I am grateful for what I have today and for those who surround me today…I love the choose to focus on those blessings.

  5. Well said, as always. May the sky’s clear and problems float out the window! I do agree, we have to take time to put things in perspective. Along with the good must come the not so good. Loved the movie Inside Out. We need all our feelings of, joy, sadness, fear, anger and disgust. It’s the way we were wired. A very Happy Holidays to you and yours! Love your blog, it’s one of the highlights of my day! Thank you!

  6. Amen sister Find a moment, pour a cup of tea, and look at your trip photos and be briefly transported to Paris etc- then back to the grind refreshed! Such a hectic time but we are so fortunate compared to so many whose greatest wish is simply a safe haven for themselves & their families.

  7. Thanks for the well-timed reminder. It’s a big scary world unless we each do some little thing to make it better. Peace!

  8. Thanks for this article; it is a very good reminder of life’s little curves, I have been reading HONY stories on a daily basis for a few years now, talk about my problems are very insignificant compared to the struggles of the people Brandon introduces us to. Everyday I give thanks for my blessings and pray for those who are less fortunate.
    Your blog tends to lighten the mood, for good balance. Thanks!

  9. I sometimes think how frivolous it is to discuss clothes and what to wear when there is so much suffering going on, but I’m happy to see this post because it shows you (we) are putting things into perspective. It’s a diversion, an entertaining one to be sure, but we must put things into perspective and always be grateful for what we have. Wonderful post.

  10. Thank you for posting this. Sometimes I envy other people and think their lives are much easier than mine, but we all have our “crosses to bear” as my mother used to put it. As in the previous comment, living a day at a time–or a moment at a time–is the best way to live. Another thing my Mom used to say was, “Life by the inch is a cinch; life by the yard is hard.”

  11. It is difficult to deal with these curve balls that life throws but we do need to keep perspective….the first of many Syrian refugees that are coming to Canada have arrived. My friend and former co worker has met one of the families at a concert put on to welcome them and help raise some funds. The family was surrounded by smiles, hands were shaken and when the music stopped my friend watched as the children filed outside to play…smiles were seen on the faces of the young children who were included in games where languages are universal. Kindness and compassion are never out of style.
    Hope too that your woes will be small ones and that this will pass soon.
    Take care Sue.

  12. Hmmm, that last comment of mine got gobbled and may show up incomplete. Want to say how I appreciate the way you make your politics clear, very subtly, and non-divisively. Following the news, above the border, it’s reassuring for me to know, through my social media friends, how many of you are both compassionate and considerably more liberal than we might easily assume. Good luck with the termites and the washing machine!

  13. Funny we have had the same experience this month of several appliances going out and having to decide which to replace which to fix and finding the time to meet the repairman, all while getting ready for the holidays and trying to maintain a professional life. But as you say, these are definitely first world problems. I too love Humans of New York and have found it helps to keep perspective.

  14. Humans of New York is a wonderful FaceBook page, and so is Frank Somerville’s page. Frank is an anchor for KTVU in San Francisco who has access to the most thought provoking stories of the human condition. Much like HONY the stories can bring tears of either joy or sorrow, make you laugh out loud or shake your head in dismay. Check it out.
    Hope the skies clear soon!

  15. What a great thought to hold in our minds…that the annoyances we rage at would be blessings to many. Last year our oven bit the dust just before Christmas. Well, actually it caught on fire… the element anyway… just as I was making tourtiere for Christmas Eve. We considered frenetically shopping for a new one just before Christmas. Nah. I didn’t have to cook a turkey because we spent Christmas Day at my sister’s. But cooking for a large family party on Boxing Day was fun. Hubby unearthed the little toaster oven that we keep in our tent trailer.. and we were good. And since I baked everything in advance, except the tourtiere, and simply reheated, meant lots more time for talking and laughing. Least stressful party we have ever had. If something didn’t turn out I blamed it on the toaster oven. No pressure!
    Hope your holidays go a bit more smoothly from here on out!

    1. Your comment reminds me of last Christmas at my house….on Christmas Eve, while trying to bake a pie, we realized that our oven was dead. Big problem for the Christmas Day turkey dinner! We debated our options, and thus discovered that one could, indeed, roast a 16 lb stuffed turkey on the barbecue grill! I was quite thankful that we hadn’t invited a big crowd to Christmas dinner, though….would have been considerably more stressed.

  16. It been a rough time, for awhile. You’re absolutely right about us all being able to make a difference. I do read Humans of NY! A humbling experience. I focus on the positive I find in people and experiences.

  17. When I was expecting son #2 our washing machine got stuck on swish and swished several of my maternity outfits, which were new but budget priced, into a twisted up mess with faded colors. We ordered the part and endured several weeks of a coin laundry, not a small thing with a toddler in the house, until it arrived.

    Not six months later my basement was full of smoke as that same machine gave up the ghost. At that point I vowed – no expensive repairs on appliances that don’t cost thousands of dollars.

    I say, assume you will have a washer in your new kitchen and that it will be a front loader, and that baring lighting quick progress your son will be living with you to contribute his laundry to it, and buy a new washer! Many are more water and energy efficient.

  18. I appreciate your thoughtful posts regarding the everyday and not-so-everyday issues affecting our lives. I agree with many of the other comments, and wanted to add one more thought. I too am fond of downgrading my problems to “first-world problems,” and have come to realize that while yes, they are problems associated with privilege (my housekeeper no-showing, as opposed to finding food for my children), they are also sometimes spectacularly serious problems, which cause great distress, and are thus worthy of time and attention. We can do this without losing sensitivity for the plight of others in difficult or dire situations.

  19. I’ve decided you are my new “Warrior Woman” role model. Thanks for sharing… makes me realize we’ve all got our trials, and it’s not what happens to us, but how we handle it 🙂

  20. So sorry to hear that you,re getting whacked by life from all sides…I’ve had months of this type of stuff myself, but I appreciate your gentle reminder to be grateful in all circumstances. I hope some quiet, enjoyable days are headed your way soon!

  21. When I saw the picture of the donkey, I thought you were going to say he was a rescue…my sister got me to contribute to the care of a rescue donkey with my first name earlier this year. It was a small thing, but it made me feel good to know that little donkey would eat for a month because of me. Humans of New York is the same for me…people who notice the less fortunate and encourage us to notice them. I signed the petition for Aya. I hope that if she can’t come to the U.S. that some of the Canadians who’ve offered to help can do something for her. I hope everything works out for your son, he is very lucky to have you as his advocate.

  22. I have worked in refugee resettlement for 25 years and over the years I have been privileged to visit newly arrived refugees in their homes shortly after arrival in the US. The gratitude they express for being able to give their children a safe place to live and get an education is humbling. They may have lttle in terms of worldy goods, but are frequently the most generous, hardworking people you will ever meet. As with the HONY, their stories of how they became refugees will often break your heart, but their resilience will inspire you and give you a much different perspective on just what constitutes a problem.

  23. I’m sorry that you have been plagued by a confluence of unexpected challenges, particularly at a time when there tends to be no margins of time or energy with which to deal with such challenges. The same kind of confluence, regarding big appliances and significant house and family challenges, has descended upon our family since Thanksgiving. I completely agree with and appreciate your example of putting our challenges into perspective but being attuned to the problems of others. Thank you for another thoughtful and generous post, Leslie P.S. I hope you stick with your old Maytag washer as long as possible. Eight years ago, we gave up on ours (on the advice of a repairperson) after 30 good years with it and replaced it with a very reputable brand which has performed well but is nothing compared to what Maytag washers used to be!

  24. I know how you feel. Why does stuff seem to happen at this time year when one is really busy. My challenges currently seem to be human rather than mechanical. However what ever happens as I get older I say to myself “I have not got time to stress over this” every day is important. At least I am off to France soon for a rest.

  25. That it true and not always easy. We humans seem to worry and get worked up about little things when big things are not in our daily world. Just as much. Strange beings we are.
    Reminding ourselves of people less fortunate is good. Keeps us less grumpy.

  26. Yes, let’s remember, and thank you for reminding us to do so.

    Dear, dear friend you are an inspiration. Until we meet again. . .xox, Tish