How to Celebrate Hard Times

Sharon ODay, to celebrate, bouquet of flowers

In case you’d rather listen than read, click below:

How to Celebrate Hard Times

Sometimes you just have to celebrate.

Five years.  That’s how long we’ve been worried about the economy.  (Longer, if you had your ear to the ground.)  And since then, just think of what we’ve worried about.

We learned that banks could fail.  Would ours?  And we learned about FDIC … that would be our safety net if our bank did fail.

We watched jobs disappear into thin air.  And unemployment figures stayed stubbornly high as politicians quibbled over what to do about it.  Some of us lost jobs and are reinventing ourselves in businesses.  Others are making do on one income after a spouse was let go.  Meanwhile unemployment benefits keep being extended because the time to re-employment is so long  … if it ends at all.  And more people than ever are counting on food assistance through stamps.

Then we discovered our houses weren’t worth what we thought they were, and the equity that was going to help finance our retirement went “poof!”  In fact, a large percentage of the population learned they owed more than the new, lower value of the house.  The term “being upside down on a mortgage” became part of our vocabulary.  And new jobs included services related to foreclosed homes, such as emptying the owners’ things and cleaning the houses to increase the bank’s chances of getting rid of them through short sales.

When the stock market took a tumble, there went our retirement savings, anything in mutual funds or straight stocks.  Nest eggs were decimated.  And, although the stock market has rebounded brilliantly, in fact to lifetime highs, did we have to cash in part of our stocks to bridge a financial disaster or two?  So there’s less left in there to grow?

Add the fears of hyperinflation … lost value of the U.S. dollar … the potential demise of the Euro … another war somewhere … and are we really going to look like Greece?

Enter the 2010 mid-term elections, and then the presidential elections.  Did any candidate ever talk about the things we had worried about for those years?  Or did they all play loosy-goosy with the facts and never truly commit to any position?

To these concerns, I know you could add a half dozen others that disrupt your sleep, night after night.

Yet, more than anything, what’s been most worrisome has been the uncertainty.

[You can fight most anything if you know it exists.  But fighting uncertainty is like shadow boxing.  And shadow boxing is tiring.]

So, today I think we need to take a break from any of the concerns that remain on your plate.

Together we should celebrate having weathered five years of uncertainty.  Pat yourself on the back for having put food on the table throughout.  For having kept a roof over your heads.  Think back over all the years when you clothed children, paid for educations, made big financial decisions, even put money into a 401(k) or IRA.

Think of all the “closed” months when bills somehow got paid.  And you found money for braces, or for the uniform for your up-and-coming star athlete.  Maybe you even wiggled your bare feet in the sand on an exotic beach somewhere.

The net-net is that we’ve all done the best we could.  Some were dealt better hands than others.  But few were exempt from facing the uncertainty.

So in a moment close your eyes.  Tune out the worries that spin in your brain.  Focus on the fact that you are still here, still moving forward, still with a sense of humor.  See yourself being presented with a huge bouquet of flowers as an award for having applied that financial genius within.

Think of one thing that would bring you pleasure.  It doesn’t have to be expensive.  It may not even be material.  But, whatever it is, give it to yourself.  Relish in it.  Ignore any worries that might be trying to break back in.  Not now.  Not yet.  This is your party.

And you deserve it.

Let us know in the Comments section below what you’ll be gifting yourself.  And then share this article with anyone you can think of who deserves to celebrate today!


Bio: Sharon O’Day lost everything at age 53: her home, her business, everything. But how could that be? She’s an expert in global finance and marketing with an MBA from the Wharton School. She has worked with governments, corporations, and individuals … yes, she was the secret “weapon,” if you will, behind many individuals in high places. Yet she did! Since then, with her finances completely turned around, Sharon has gone on to interview countless women. She’s done extensive research to understand how that could have happened, especially with her strong knowledge of numbers and finance.

The surprising answers are shared in her tell-it-like-it-is posts and articles. Today her mission is to show as many women as possible how to become financially free for the long term, through her coaching programs. She has developed a step-by-step plan to get past all the obstacles that keep women broke and scared … and from reaching the financial peace of mind they so deserve … if they’re willing to do what it takes!

  • MamaRed

    Oh darlin, this one is sooooooooooo right on track, especially today! It seems if we want to we can find things to worry and obsess about. It doesn’t mean there aren’t things to draw as into the drama (I’m a recovering, or not-so-recovering Drama Queen!) and I’ve realized that I’m here. And taking a next step. And if the asteroid hits tomorrow or the Dow closes at zero, then I’ll deal with it then! Thanks!

    • Everything BUT an asteroid has moved through the economy, MamaRed! Some people profited, but some more got hit pretty badly (including some of my clients). What I see is people beating themselves up beyond what they themselves could have controlled … and then not having the energy to turn things around effectively. But I sure like your attitude!

  • Hi Sharon we should so have coffee on Hollywood beach, send me an email kjcampos at socialmediasass dot com : ) yesterday I went to FT Lauderdale beach and was looking at some awesome beach properties which is what I am hoping to be gifting myself really soon : )

    • Love your priorities, Karla! And it’s “yes” to coffee on Hollywood Beach …

  • I love this! I just decided to gift myself those awesome shoes I was looking at yesterday!

    • Be sure to send us pictures of those shoes when you get them, Martha!

  • Hi Sharon,
    I think that these past couple years of economic upheaval has reset expectations and what is really a bad day. Previously a bad day for many people was being skipped over for a promotion at work, now people are happy to have a job.


    • There HAS been a sort of reality check, hasn’t there, Tom?

  • Alexandra McAllister

    I love this post, Sharon! Yesterday, my room mate’s 2 year old grand daughter came to visit and it was a gift for me. I had been stressed out and seeing her just made me realize how important it was to live in the moment and enjoy the small things! 🙂 That was my gift!

    • Ah, the laughter and sweet smell of a little 2-year-old girl … 😉 Gets the oxytocin going and brings everything back to the present, doesn’t it, Alexandra? What a gift!

  • Sharon, this is a great reminder of so many things. Thank you for sharing this perspective. I have a few dark-chocolate-covered walnuts that I will be gifting myself with as soon as I finish a few tasks! 🙂

    • I could hear the crunch of the dark-chocolate-covered walnuts (yum!) from afar. Hope you savored each one!

  • I think I’m with you Sharon! I did the best I could and I’m glad just our retirement is gone. 😉 So we aren’t going to be wealthy enough to retired at 50.. I love my job now! I just want to scale my business so my husband can retire in a few:)

    • Some great energies came out of this shake-up, Elizabeth, and many have been able to recuperate from the losses. Especially where they got into solid entrepreneurial ventures. I look forward to hearing that your husband has retired!

  • Daniele

    I love your positive perspective about the current state of the economy. These times have definitely smacked me in the face as I have watched my home decrease in value and I have had my share of struggles on the job market working in education. I also like to have a positive outlook and I know things will change:-)

    • Daniele, I have this philosophy that I only get stressed over things I can change. Those I can’t change, I let go of … so I have the energy to be effective elsewhere. We’ve had to let go of some things with this economy, and get creative to make headway elsewhere. Staying positive sure makes it easier!

  • I am gifting myself with a new commercial space for my business…even though the economy could effect my business.. the economy is also making it much easier for me to jump out into the market place right now : D…

  • Aimee

    I learned that nothing replaces a healthy business that serves others. Great companies can weather the storm. I am gifting myself permission to continue to build mine!

    • What a healthy, solid stance, Aimee. Here’s to all the success and growth you envision!

  • I am gifting to myself the right to be myself!!! 2013 is my year! Thanks for this awesome post!

    • And I bet there’s no one you’d rather be, Yvonne! 😉

  • Pat Moon

    I am gifting myself freedom from worry.. I’m going to focus on doing what God has given me the ability to do and I’m going to trust Him with the results.

    • Pat, my cardiologist once said that if he fought God over every case where events were out of his control, he’d be the one with a heart attack. I never forgot that. And I taught myself to let go of what I could not control. It was a major shift in my life!

  • What a great gift…that freedom to celebrate having come this far! Pointing out that “we’ve all done the best we could” is powerful…because we have! Wonderful post, Sharon!

    • We all need a pat on the back every so often, Sherie, and it’s so easy to focus on what HASN’T yet been achieved … instead of what HAS!

  • Betty Nelson

    Women of the world need women like you to off this wonderful inspiration of one who actually did it!! Thank you!

    • Betty, so nice to hear from you! I hope you shared this with anyone who could use a bit of inspiration right about now … 😉

  • Kathy Robinson

    Living in Australia we weren’t hit by the GFC as much. It’s sobering to read what has been happening to real people, not just some faceless statistic in a news report.

    • Behind every statistic, Kathy, is a life. Yet we’re so bombarded with facts and figures that it’s easy to take them in the “aggregate” and not as individuals. Many have had the rug pulled out from under them, because they never imagined that “x” or “y” could happen to them …

  • lorrie

    I’ve been thinking about this subject lately and why it is that Bob and I are basically the same people financially speaking, that we were 5 years ago. It is because we are simple people who live within our means. In the boom times we lived simply and in the hard times we have not experienced a diminished lifestyle. This is our way of celebrating, by being true to our values and our value.

    • Lorrie, that simplicity is one of the secrets of peace of mind. As I rebuilt my life, and money started flowing, I did not return to earlier habits. So I too skated through the downturns. Love that you get to celebrate that peace of mind every day!

  • Excellent post Sharon! It is so important to celebrate the actual journey and not get *stuck* along the way. Too often, we worry about all of the things that *could* go wrong rather than embracing what is and what can be done.

    • Moira, as you know, there is a fine line between being aware of what could happen (and being prepared) and allowing all the eventualities to paralyze us. It’s Shakespeare’s “A coward dies a thousand deaths …” 😉

  • Lorii Abela

    Thanks for the
    reminder that there is light in cases of uncertainty. I will definitely
    ignore any worries that’s trying to kick in 🙂

  • Thanks for another brilliant post..

  • Barbara Billig

    I know so many people who didn’t make it through these 5 years – they lost it all. Most of these people had spent every dime they made and had a great time partying and traveling. They said they would always work so why save. Fox news today said 44% of the population of the US does not have a safety net of 3 months expenses put away for a rainy day – and we all know that it always rains. Thanks to you for helping and counseling people about their financial health. There is a great need out there.

    • Barbara, some continue on the same path, having learned nothing. Others have truly opened their eyes. Some of those are my best clients! 😉

  • Thanks for the inspiring post! It’s so true… As a business owner, I’ve seen how rough these times are for our clients and for my fellow business owners. It’s important for people to remember that some of those who were hurt the most in this downturn were hard-working small business owners.

    • Lynn, after Hurricane Andrew (Miami’s Katrina in 1992), when I finally broke down in tears from the devastation was when I realized that behind every blown-out storefront was an owner, a business, a family and many lives. All torn apart. This crisis has been a less-obvious version of the same …

  • Lisa Frederiksen

    What an uplifting post, Sharon! It’s so important we celebrate the good along the way and give ourselves credit for all that we do that is right. Thanks!

    • Lisa, it’s so easy to focus on everything that’s gone wrong … or isn’t going right … that I think a little celebration for the big … and little … wins is important!

  • Sharon, your words on this subject hit home, as I am sure it did for many. As a reward for surviving the past five+ years I will give my worries to the universe and not think about them again.

    • Staying on top of the things we CAN control is part of our personal responsibility as you know, Meryl. As for the things we can’t control? The universe is a good place to park them!

  • Marylfloyd

    Sharon, we were one of the many families reduced to a single income putting a lot more pressure on my husband while trying to get our daughter through college. I’m starting my own business but not making any income yet. I’ve allowed myself to feel guilty that I’m not earning any money after so many decades of doing so. Today I’m giving up the guilt; that’s my gift to me. Thanks.

    • As long as what you’re doing can truly be monetized, and it’s a matter of time and effort (which you’re making), and if you’ve both agreed that it’s the path you should take … where’s the guilt? 😉

  • Being in Canada, and not employed by the auto sector, we actually made it through fairly easily. But since I’m always up for a party, here’s to everyone who faced the uncertainty and made it through to the other side!

    • Happy to join your celebration, Lena. No need to have suffered in order to merit a party or two … 😉

  • Susan Schiller

    Yes, “have a party and celebrate” – it moves in the direct opposite action of worrying! It changes the atmosphere – yes!

    And today we are looking at a stock market bubble that we know will pop soon…but there’s nothing we can do to stop it – but we can choose whether to worry or not, and we can change the atmosphere by having a celebration. Yes – we did make it – we’ve made it!

    Remembering the past in this way helps to plant seeds of victory into our future, so I’m all for this exercise – count me in! Great article, Sharon!!!!

    • Beside, Sue, think of how much we’ve learned as a population (well, those who are paying attention) re the economy, how things work, what’s viable and what’s now dangerous … and especially that there are whole segments that are being manipulated that we can no longer trust. In this case, knowledge IS power. 😉

  • Well we are still here and that is something to celebrate! Going through hard financial times can impact so many areas of our lives, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t still enjoy the life we have. Thank you Sharon for always being able to find the positive in a negative world!

    • Carolyn, as a teen some told me I looked a little like Hayley Mills … and she played Pollyanna, didn’t she? 😉 Actually, it’s that I’ve been through enough to know that, since we WILL survive, we need to keep things in perspective. Doom and gloom helps no one.

  • jennyshain

    Good summary. But the best part was how you use the mindset, at the end! ‘Focus on the fact that you are still here, still moving forward, still with a sense of humor.’ Love that imagination & putting it to good use. I can’t wait to see what everyone “gives” themselves 🙂 Mindset & vision is THE KEY!

    • When things get tough, Jenny, we tend to cut back on the little things that bring us joy, many of which cost so little. And by depriving ourselves, we have less energy to overcome whatever is being thrown at us. I figured we just needed a reminder … 😉

  • Oh Sharon! I love how you bring common sensibility to us in a way the encourages us to rethink our circumstances. I am in the middle of career transition, and it’s certainly no fun. Unemployment rocks your world, and shakes this up violently. I network with several job seekers, and the story is the same – it’s taking longer then it used to find comparable work and more and more people are venturing into unchartered territory that forces them to dream bigger dreams – it’s a good thing I guess, but it’s so unnerving. I am on the journey myself. There is no certainty in this life, but one thing I know .. my God is faithful to lead me, love me, and guide me. I may have lost the job, but I have not lost my hope – so grateful 😉 Thanks for this post! 😉

    • We end up having to redefine what “normal” is, Marvia. At least for as long as we’re in the limbo where we haven’t yet found the solution to whatever has shaken us up. We all know finding replacement jobs is taking longer than it used to … and that doesn’t make it easier. But every bit of joy is critical (I used to go out and count the flowers that were in bloom in my hodgepodge little garden after I had to scale back dramatically). Keep counting the positive things that happen each day. I know it sounds like Pollyanna, but counting the negative ones brings us nothing. One day at a time. And you’ll make it, more grateful than ever.

      • Ahhh yes, and it’s not Pollyanna sounding, but a good way to stay grounded and focused on the good rather than allowing the negative to overshadow the hope within. thanks 😉

  • Gertraud Walters

    We lost everything when I was 58 and my husband 57. That was in 2008. Most of my grey hair stems from that period. We’re not out of the woods, but I am forever grateful to God that we did not lose our mind over all this. My children went through the same, once they had their own homes now we’re all living together in one big heavily mortgaged home. I believe we’ve learned out of this what we had to learn. But we always encouraged each other and appreciated how we were coping with the situation. No point looking back because I am moving forward, no regrets, knowing that greater times are ahead. The Best is Yet to Come. Read the Book of Job and start planning your Party 🙂

  • Jessica Stone

    What a great article to encourage the positive of these uncertain times – it’s my trust that God will bring me through that I’ve relied on for years that still keeps me going every day. He meets us where we are! He is faithful. Thanks for the encouragement!