For Dork Optimists Everywhere

(My fellow dork optimist, Sue Heck)

Here’s where I’ll confess that I wrote this almost a month ago and was just about to post it when something unexpected and quite unpleasant happened to us that on the face of it should have been a simple matter but turned (through no fault of ours) into a grueling and draining situation that really put the sense of hope and optimism I wrote about below to the test.  I was feeling so discouraged and disheartened that it seemed almost disingenuous to write about my sense of hope and optimism when I was feeling quite the opposite.  It’s important to me to write true and honest here, and so far, I have.  And, truth be told, I’m still feeling a bit cranky.  But I realized that maybe the Thirty Days of Grateful Praise exercise I mention might be the very thing to pull me out of my funk.  So here goes…

I really don’t watch much television, but there’s one show about an average, ordinary middle-class family that I love.  It comes on right in the middle of the week (Wednesday nights), is set right in the middle of the U.S.A. (Indiana), and is called (perhaps not surprisingly) “Middle.”

I love it because it’s so real.  Although the lives of the Heck family are often messy and far from perfect, almost always in the end, love and hope prevail. (Not unlike the Blue Ridge Blue Collar family, I guess).  I find all the characters on the show compelling (though I often want to throttle Axl, the arrogant oldest son), but I really, really love Axl’s younger sister, Sue.

It’s an odd thing perhaps for a middle-aged woman to choose as her role model a barely-out-of-middle school teenage girl (who’s just a television character, at that), but I have.  Sue Heck is my role model.

Sue has an enduring (and completely endearing) optimism that remains steadfast no matter how many times life knocks her down.  And life knocks her down a lot.  Although she almost never makes the cut, she continues to try out for everything at school.  Although the “popular” crowd in high school rejects her, she cheerfully continues to be herself.  And although her brother Axl belittles her, too, she continues to love him as he is.  Sure, sometimes she has moments of despair and discouragement, but she always bounces back; she is always steadfastly resilient. (In fact, I think Sue’s picture should be beside the word “resilient” in the dictionary.)

In one episode, when Axl was continuously disparaging of Sue (in the way that older brothers can be), Sue was so persistently sunny and hopeful in the face of it that even Axl finally had to show a grudging admiration.  “You’re like this…dork optimist,” he said to Sue.

Benjamin happened to see that show with us, and afterward, laughing, he said to me, “That’s who you are, Mama…you’re a dork optimist.”

Now I suppose not everyone would be happy to be called a dork optimist, but I was honored.  And I guess it’s true.  The “dork” part, I suppose, applies since that’s the way the world often regards those of us who don’t conform to the norm and insist on being ourselves.  And I’ve always been blessed with the ability to find humor and hope in bleak situations and to find joy in the smallest pleasures.  It doesn’t take much to make me happy.  I was like that as a child, and I’m like that now.  So often, I still find the greatest delight in the very things that others dismiss or overlook.

So, in honor of Sue Heck and dork optimists everywhere, I’m going to do something a little different from my usual long, rambling, occasional posts.  I’m going to write (starting sometime soon) a little post every day for at least thirty days, naming thirty things big or small that I’m thankful for—thirty things that give me joy.  We’ll call it “Thirty Days of Grateful Praise.”  Of course, I don’t expect anyone to comment every day, but I’d be pleased to hear from you during that period about what makes you happy. What delights you—big or small, silly or serious, shallow or deep?  I’d really love to know your simple pleasures, too.

After all, we dork optimists need to stick together, right? 🙂


18 Responses to “For Dork Optimists Everywhere”

  1. Rebecca Says:

    Right on, my fellow dork sister! I don’t watch much t.v., but I will have to check out this show.

  2. Benjamin Says:

    It delights me to be able to go seventy miles per hour at only 2400 RPM in a sensible four-cylinder car. That is efficiency!

    It also delights me to see the patience and sturdiness of ants. As per new anthills popping up in the unlikeliest of places. Sure, they might need a DFR (design for reliability) engineer to tell them not to pick the sidewalk or driveway, but they work hard. It’s good to reach out of our minds and cheer for them some, unless they are eating our fruit.

  3. Betsyfromtennessee Says:

    I try to be an optimist –although I’ve always conformed to life around me… They said of me one time that I’m a great ‘fence sitter’….. I can see things from both sides usually —and that is not always good I guess… BUT–basically I am an optimist (most of the time)…

    You have always been a real optimist in my mind —after reading a lot of your posts… I admire you so much.

    Glad you found a great show which you can relate to…. Keep these posts a-coming!!!!

    Hugs to YOU,

  4. Sharon Says:

    Oh Beth, I love this!! I’ll try my best to respond every day with a praise of my own.

    What delights me……….the simple act of lacing up my hiking boots and heading out on a trail, the sound of water, my husband’s voice when he calls to say, “I’m headed home!”, a new blog follower, a new comment, sunrise…….get the idea?? Yeah, I’m a “dork” optimist – doesn’t take much at all to delight me. And that, in itself, is DELIGHTFUL!

  5. Kay G. Says:

    LIke you, Sue Heck is so much like me, it is scary!
    What delights me? Today, I received an email from one of my blogging friends in England and one from Germany…I was delighted!
    And the thought of seeing something from you for each day for the next 30 days, that delights me very much!

    Another Dorky Optimist,

  6. Sweetflutterbys3 Says:

    I’ve never heard of that show but dorkiness is definitely part of our family so I’ll have to check it out. And a very belated Happy Anniversary to you and Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man! What a special time you had together 🙂

  7. afitme Says:

    I’ve never heard of this show, but will have to look for it. I think optimism is over-rated, myself, but I hope that you do manage to post for 30 days. I think you might like the habit.

    As for what delights me? Watching a deer with its fawn. Seeing my husband light up when our nephew comes over. Getting the words write in a story or blog. A good song.

    Generally it is the simple things. But you already know that, Beth. Take care of yourself. – CountryDew from Blue Country Magic

  8. Darla Says:

    Dork optimists unite! Would love to connect with you for 30 days in a row — that thought delights me. What else delights me? Rainfall in the desert, my cat reaching up to me to be held, the dog kissing my face while I’m doing yoga, homemade chai tea …

  9. Sweet Virginia Breeze Says:

    I’m not familiar with that show, but I am definitely an optimist. What delights me … all living creatures, all of nature, and life itself.

  10. Bonnie Jacobs Says:

    What delights me is looking forward to thirty days of YOU, thirty days you’ll write something here on your blog. WOW, thirty days of Beth! I’m delighted to read this today! Another thought — maybe you’ll lose count and post for 31 days or even 32. A delightful prospect!

  11. Vucki Lane Says:

    Dork optimist — that’s me! The smallest things can make me happy — just now it’s daylilies…

  12. Chris Says:

    I’m proud to be a dork optimist also. I’m thankful when I open the mail and find a post from you. 🙂

  13. Plowing Through Life (Martha) Says:

    Hahahah…I love this! Well, you are certainly not alone. I fit right in there as a dork optimist 🙂 It’s the simple things in life, Beth, as you well know, that bring a smile to the face of people like us.

  14. Bikbik & Roro Says:

    O Beth, how lovely! Dork optimism — even plain optimism! — is such a beautiful thing; surely those among us who have truly mastered it — who rise above, and aren’t controlled by their circumstances — are to be envied and emulated. How wonderful to endure, to remain steadfast, to rejoice and be glad in each and every day of our lives!

    I have so much to be thankful for — I can barely list them all in my prayers every day! My kids, my loving family, the roof over our heads, good food, clean water, peace, safety and security. Then there’s the way Kip (the dog) cocks her head and looks at me or jumps all over us in delight (that’s dork living-in-the-momentism for you!). Or the way Ming the cat lies flat on his back. Salads, books, the smell of rain.. and big hugs like this one for you 🙂

  15. Rider Says:

    You’re no dork, Ms. Blue. I realize, of course, your writing that you’re one is in good fun. And fun is always appreciated.

    But a loving, intelligent, and gifted person like you is no dork. Not in my dictionary, anyway.

  16. Ana Says:

    Being a dork optimist is a compliment in my book, just like being called a nerd 🙂 I have to check the show.

  17. eemilla Says:

    I hope things are improving with the situation. I like the idea of counting one’s blessings, and I try to do so as it helps keep my pessism at bay. Today I’m grateful to find two posts from you in my reader.

  18. Clara Melvin Says:

    Hi Beth. I’m now catching up with your thirty days of praise. How delightful! We have so much to be thankful for. That’s the first thing I do every morning. I say “Thank You Lord for waking me up again.” I thought of you when I made a post on my blog the other day. Go look!

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