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An Empty Chair and The Discipline of Hope

When one door closes you have to have faith that one more will open. (And don't forget to put a welcome sign out for hope.)

It seems that something has been floating in my head for a while now. This something is Hope.

I have come to the realization lately that it takes way more discipline to know Hope, than to think negatively, especially during the worst of times. Just when you think you can't do it anymore — dealing with kids fighting, worrying about money issues, job worries or that end of the night (sigh) when you go to bed and think, quite simply, this sucks.

So how do you go from 0 to 100 with all this positivity stuff when your life resembles a crumbled up Ritz cracker?


I said to a friend the other day, one of the hardest things I have to deal with during crazy times in my life, is simply hanging on to the belief that things are (really are) going to get better. That simple phrase holds so much power yet takes will power to believe, especially when the chips are down.

It's has been an emotional few months for me. Getting used to looking at an empty bedroom hasn't been easy since my son left for his freshman year in college.

With this change, come little flickers of what it was like to scale down my family during my divorce six years ago. Right before dinner, I remember looking at the kitchen table each night seeing that empty chair — just staring at me. It literally made my stomach flip flop as it held constant reminders of the uncertain times ahead.

I hated that feeling. I hated what it signified and I was worried sick that I would never feel good sitting down for a meal at home with my two kids again.

But, I did thanks to Hope.

However, that feeling crept up on me again as this milestone snuck its way into our house signifying the launch of child number one. All the while, I had that same empty chair staring at me. Here I go again thinking, "How do I fill that space again in my house and my heart?"

Once again, enters Hope.

Yet, this time was different — as I came to understand. My son was off to college (good thing) and I had my awesome daughter at home with me (good thing) for the next few years before her own launch. As I took inventory of the last 18 years of my life, two kids later, many new twists and turns but a laundry list of so much to be grateful about, I realized how thankful (and doubly blessed) I was — which gave me Hope.

So, I acknowledged this transition as more like a hangover from days' past. Once I realized that, things turned around and my friend Hope was front and center.

You can't be lazy to be hopeful; it's as simple as that. When you feel your life taking a detour, you're either in or you're out with how you view your situation.

It's your choice.

It's about getting out of your own way, putting your boxing gloves on and making a decision to choose to have Hope while firmly placing both feet on the ground to continue to look (as well as move) forward. When I do this, I have the Hope, discipline and faith to know, really know, that everything will be okay.

And if that doesn't fill that empty chair, nothing will.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Debbie Vaiti O'Hern October 17, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Thank you . That was really wonderful..
Anthony Mercadante October 22, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Patricia,It sounds like your plate has been full for quite some time.There is an old saying "if you got your health,you've got it all"I know that's not very comforting when the children leave the nest,and to put it bluntly life just out and out sucks,I use to box and I had a trainer that looked just like Micky from the movie Rocky.He use to tell me that every day is going to be a fight kid get use to it,there was alot of truth in that statement.Not to compare but I think I've got you beat as far as the sucking part...still every day I thank God for giving me a family to love,a roof over my head and food on the table.Sometimes it's the small things that count,remember the first words your babies said,or the first time they walked across the floor....it helps me get through the day,or I try to help a perfect stranger for no other reason than it's what I think we're suppose to do,besides it feels good. Well enough of my chamering I hope I've helped in some small way,God Bless and take care
Patricia Phelan Clapp October 23, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Debbie - Thank you for your kind words! Isn't it crazy to think that we now have high schoolers (and for me - a college kid)? Seems like yesterday we were on the sidelines cheering at RFH! ;-)
Patricia Phelan Clapp October 23, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Hi Anthony - Thank you for your comment! I agree - focus on the moments and the memories. Great words to live by.


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