Today in Summit, I could not find a parking spot.

Shocking, right?

I was late for book group.  We were trying out Serra, the new Portuguese restaurant that opened at the site of the old Randazzo’s, and with each right and left turn I was getting further and further away from my destination.

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I took a ticket first in the Deforest lot by The Co-Co. I waited. I left. I took a ticket in the Deforest lot by CVS.  I made about three laps and left.

I called a friend in the book group and told her that I was having trouble parking and they shouldn't wait for me to order if anyone was in a hurry. She assured me that they all had plenty of time.

As I drove around, I became more and more frustrated. Really frustrated.

I went down by the post office and the train station. After about a half hour, I called my friend again and told her I was just about to give up.  Okay, I would never really miss book group, but it sounded good.

“In all my 27 years of living in Summit, this was the single worst parking void I have ever faced,” my tirade began.  

She told me to try the Beechwood lot, because someone else who had just arrived late said that she had seen a spot there.

As I headed over, someone was pulling out of their spot in front of Sweet Nothings. Glory Days!

Minutes later, but not before I survived another struggle with the often frustrating Parking app, I entered the restaurant.  

My friends expected me to be grumbling, grumpy, and annoyed.

Instead, I greeted them all upbeat, cheerful, and pleasant. They were shocked.

You see, between the time I parked and the end of my short walk to the restaurant, I had an epiphany: I had nothing to complain about.

I was meeting good friends in the middle of the day for delicious food and lively conversation.  It was a lovely, crisp day in my beautiful town. I had on cute new booties and dang, my hair looked good. 

It would have been easy for me to go off on a rant about the ills of Summit parking, but what would be the point?  By giving myself a quick little gratitude pep talk, I actually elevated my mood to borderline annoying!  

I told my book group how surprised I was that it was so easy to change my mood just by readjusting my attitude.  

I’m certainly not going to get all preachy here and talk about counting your blessings, and remember how fortunate we are compared to so many others around us, and don’t sweat the small stuff. know the drill.

I was never one to pay too much attention to the “gratitude journals” and touchy-feely websites that come across my social media feeds each day.  And I’m not saying that I’m going to go out and start collecting quotes and embroidered pillows -- although “The Struggle Ends when the Gratitude Begins” (Neale Donald Walsh) is a nice one.

But, now that I have this power in my hands, I am going to try to remember to use it, particularly as the holiday craziness, traffic, and frazzled schedules approach.

Here’s another thing to be grateful for:  the food at Serra was great. Go check it out.  But just leave yourself plenty of time to find somewhere to park.

Melanie Wilson teaches women entrepreneurs how to write better through a series of Business Writing Bootcamps. She runs a local chapter of Believe, Inspire, Grow (BIG), a women in business empowerment group, covers the education beat in Summit, NJ for TAPinto Summit and does the marketing for a local professional theatre company. She lives in Summit, NJ and is watching her children slowly leave the nest.  This column will take a look at any and all of the above. You can reach her at Visit