Puttin’ On My Happy Face–Or Not


Nineteen-year-olds are full of life, ambition and possibilities.

For the most part.

My nineteen-year-old is on her last legs. She’s not wearing her age well, though she looks presentable. Her life is ebbing, and possibilities are the least of her concerns.

This would be concerning if I spoke of a person.

It’s my car.

We’ve never had a car this old. A Ford Contour Sport. Bright red. She’ll turn twenty in a few months, and I have serious doubts that she’ll make it to this banner birthday.

Age has brought quirks. She has a little shimmy thing going that increases with speed. Rather like riding on the hip of a belly dancer. Her left turn signal has gone into overdrive, keeping a quick tempo that is more salsa than waltz. Applying the brakes makes a noise that causes me to worry that something is trapped under the brake pedal. Her air conditioning works only when the temperature is below 80 degrees.

She only has 48,000 miles. My mom drove her. To the grocery store and the bank.

Then let her sit, mostly undriven, for five years before giving her to us. Not using her made her a bear to drive.

Her inactivity created a challenge for our mechanic. It took two years of sitting in his lot for him to find pieces to put her together. Those pieces didn’t work, so she broke down repeatedly.

We’ve had her towed more than the rest of the cars we’ve owned put together.

I can go into a bit of a panic wondering if today is the day she’ll putz and putter to a full-out, end-of-life episode.

She does get me from point A to B. So long as A and B aren’t that far apart.

The point is, she runs. It’s a generous gift. With three adults in the house right now, each needing to go in a different direction, having something I can drive is a gift. I should be grateful.

Fact is, I whine about it too much. Rather than appreciating the value of a car that is fully paid for, I tend to complain about driving something that is hot, stuffy and loud.

I don’t enjoy being inconvenienced.

Gratitude, according to scientific sources, can contribute to a stronger immune system, sounder sleep, experiencing more positive emotions and warmer relationships. Those who practice gratitude regularly are not only pleasant to be around but have a more compassionate, upbeat view of life.

There’s the rub. Practicing gratitude regularly. Making the choice to be grateful and see the hope in a situation. Rather than Downer Dayle I can choose to be Delighted Dayle.

My attitude is my choice. All the scientific rationale doesn’t help if I don’t practice it.

We all choose how we’re appearing to the world. We can impact how others receive us by how we show up.

Knowing I can choose well doesn’t mean I choose well. God knows I struggle with that.

He gives me the strength and power to follow through on what I know is right and good.

He also gets that I don’t always choose what’s right and good.

He still chooses me. Even when I choose poorly.

That is gratitude-worthy reality.






2 responses to “Puttin’ On My Happy Face–Or Not”

  1. Dayle, Thank You for writing this piece! My ATTITUDE IS my CHOICE and if I DO NOT PRACTICE THIS ATTITUDE…[who knows what will show up!!] I WILL CHOOSE GOD – HE CHOOSES me – even when I choose poorly!!! Blessings and Love to YOU BOTH in HIM!


    1. The kicker is making the choice! Knowing I have to rarely moves me to do it the right way. Love you, Lo.


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