OPTIMISM. I don’t know how young I was when I first started using the word, not in a verbal way but as part of my everyday life. A product of a broken home, not that my parents didn’t try to get along, it was just one of those things where bouts with alcohol rehabilitation was not exactly the answer and being the oldest of three siblings put quite a bit of responsibility on my shoulders which I did not always handle well. In fact, I’d say more often than not I did what you might expect of a male teenager with little direction – I fled knowing there was a better and brighter way of doing things somewhere else. Is that the definition of optimism?

It was for me at the time and I’ve continued to carry optimism and all of its attributes with me wherever my travels led me. I find myself on the west coast, kind of the end of the road really, in a comfortable little home with just enough yard to make attractive enough for the walkers in the neighborhood to take notice, to use in the evening before the valley winds roll in and force you inside and a nice enough place for the bulldog to walk around with her big chest and say – this is where I live, like it or leave it they did me good. Do our pets adopt our traits like that? I’m sure they do, but instead of starting off the blog with a misdirected tangent I’ll try to stay on course and try to illustrate what I mean by being optimistic.

My wife and I , our two growing daughters and our beloved LuLu are in this together. We work with each other, we laugh with each other, we cry (though seldom) with each other and we rejoice with each other. We have been through a lot in these past two decades; a devastating house fire, a neighborhood that collapsed around us mentally, a hurricane that tossed a sizeable tree through our bedroom, the loss of my dad, the loss of Bonnie’s mom, the internal pride that kicks in and tells your boss exactly what you’re feeling that late afternoon leading to the end of a career in the Carolinas that carried with it sleepless nights and an elevated blood pressure, heavy doses of alcohol on a daily basis to ride out that storm and finally the hope my phone call to the west coast would get answered and acted upon. to restart things out here and a family that followed without question and then the challenges of breast cancer. Is that optimism?

This morning I sit outside in a newly created front yard garden, with my feet propped up, a cup of delicious coffee waiting for the sun to rise above the garage and spill out onto my face while I listen to the river behind me and nary another sound for miles. The blue jays we’ve been feeding for the past eight months or so will begin squawking for pieces of bread and the traffic out on Highway 101 will undoubtedly increase in volume as this Memorial Day weekend continues to unfold, yet I find myself completely at ease with where I’ve landed and I don’t think it could have been done without placing some stock in my optimism.

I always thought you had to be an optimist to be a fan of any New England sports team; after all, that is what runs our lives, right? If that’s the case I imagine there’s a ton of optimism in places like Cleveland, Los Angeles, Detroit, St. Louis, Seattle, Houston, etc. Didn’t take me long to get off on a sporting tangent, did it? If you believe you’re an optimist – let it be known – share it, become infectious with it because there’s plenty of folks out there, your neighbors for example that just might need a dose of it, even if it is nothing more than stopping them for a morning chit-chat and spreading the good word.

So here we are nearing 10:AM in the morning and while my coffee cools and the sound of a dog leash in the park across the street begins to start the day … do yourself a favor and start looking on the brighter side of things. It will do yourself and those around you more good than harm. Not a bad way to start your day I say.

That’s my definition of optimism and I guess it doesn’t hurt to know the Boston Bruins have finally landed in the Stanley Cup finals with their 1-0 victory on Friday evening. I was optimistic they would, and have been for a long, long time. But you already knew that.