This has been a bad bad week. It all began on Saturday afternoon, when my 30-year-old refrigerator went on the total fritz — a fact which I discovered only when rushing to put away a week’s worth of newly purchased groceries, only two hours before a big party! Let me tell you, it almost broke my heart to have to toss out that smoked salmon…

And things did not much improve, as the days rolled on. My week was jam-packed with all sorts of frustrating foolishness at work, and mysterious computer glitches, and a cheque that should have been in the mail but never arrived. Everyone seemed to want me to do something, and I didn’t have time for anything. By Wednesday it got so I threw my hands in the air whenever the telephone rang — What fresh hell is this?!

And then this morning, scrambling to meet a deadline (the project having been delayed by an unexpected guest last evening, when I had planned on working late!), I looked out my home-office window to see a swarm of my beloved honey bees all ready to take off for a new and distant home… so abandon email, and into the coveralls and veil, and out into the blazing sun to climb a tree with a cardboard box on my head…

In the face of adversity, my mother always looked to the example of that pillar of strong American womanhood, the late Eleanor Roosevelt. But I say (though not out loud, and not to my mother), that’s all very well for her… How hard is it to be strong, when things go wrong, if you live in a palace like the White House and have someone else to clean the toilets?

I look for a hero (or heroine, if you will) who starts out her life with larger hurdles than any I might be able to moan about! Nancy Burpee, for example.

She is not exactly a celebrity, but her name may be familiar — Nancy Burpee’s that top-knotch paralympic swimmer who set world records in 50- and 100-yard freestyle at the trials, only to be disqualified from the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens on a procedural technicality.

World-class athletes don’t get to be world-class athletes by giving up easily, of course, and even less so when they start out with a disability. Burpee just got on the phone and lined up the pro bono help of lawyers Simmons Jannace & Stagg to prove that the Australian referee who disqualified Burpee was biased in favour of an Australian competitor.

No trip to Athens, though: in the end, an independent arbitrator ruled against Burpee, and the United States Olympic Committee did not name her to the Paralympic Team. So, did she give up her dreams? Not likely! She’ll be competing in the World Championships this coming year…

And where will I be, the next time that things in my life seem to keep going wrong?

Cruising the Geeks to Go forums, looking for DIY advice to get my recalcitrant PC back in order… taking delivery of a new fridge and working overtime to pay for it… and saying to myself, Jen, you whiney crybaby cow! There are a heap of people in this world who would give their left arm to have your life!

And I hope I can find the Eleanor Roosevelt kind of grace to just suck it up, when things go wrong — and to muddle on as usual, drawing strength from the examples of less fortunate people who don’t give up trying at the first disappointment or frustration, and those who fight alongside them to help them win their dreams.

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