Happiness

Mine.

Unofficial titles I’ve had at work over the years. Levity Lady, Head of the Fun Committee, Social Activity Coordinator.

I like spending some of my work hours planning social outings, celebrations, and bringing humor to the office.

Some other words to describe my impulse to want to make people feel happier – encourager, coach, mentor, supervisor, friend, writer.

Whisperer of beautiful things.

As I work and I process and I heal my childhood wounds of the confusion of complex emotions, I realize just how many of my coping mechanisms involve trying to fix other’s happiness levels.  It comes out at work and it comes out in my family and I am wondering if it’s coming out here too.

I wrote this post at the end of 2016 about how hard it can be to encourage others. How challenging it is to look for the light. How lots of people prefer to yank us out of our seats and into the stinky mud on the ground. There is always more mud on the ground.

Because I feel for people, deeply, and I have trouble not dragging my empathetic toes into the circles of others. Because I care. And I want you to see the light. All of the glorious light that exists when we lift our chins.

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A beautiful friend boldly told me to start saying, firmly in my brain, “that is NOT mine.”

That grief, that conflict with your co-worker, that gut wrenching diagnosis. The government shut down, the fight with your mother, that unemployment and dashed dreams. All NOT mine.

It’s a new tool for survival. A safety shield for the ever-feeling heart.

Anne Lamott wisely says,

” there is almost nothing outside of you that will help in any kind of lasting way, unless you’re waiting for an organ. You can’t buy, achieve or date serenity and peace of mind. This is the most horrible truth, and I so resent it. But it’s an inside job, and we can’t arrange peace or lasting improvement for the people we love most in the world. They have to find their own ways, their own answers. You can’t run alongside your grown children with sunscreen and ChapStick on their hero’s journey. You have to release them. It’s disrespectful not to. And if it’s someone else’s problem, you probably don’t have the answer, anyway. Our help is usually not very helpful. Our help is often toxic. And help is the sunny side of control. Stop helping so much. Don’t get your help and goodness all over everybody.”

This quote got me thinking. Is that what I’m trying to do here? Acting out my need to save others by sharing what’s good. Sure, I hope my words cause epiphanies in your lives and spark you to think about small, simple blessings that dance through your days.

But I’m not sure it works, and that shouldn’t be the point.

The beautiful, beautiful point, is I do this work for me. I look for the beautiful to make me feel sane. And if it works for you too, my gosh, let’s cheers with some bubbles. I don’t want to be toxic, I want to be balm. I don’t want to be controlling, I want to be free.

And looking for the beautiful helps me, me, me, my, MINE to do that. That process of healing, of unhooking from other’s drama, of allowing me to stand on my chair, chin up, arms open and up, tears streaming down my cheeks.

I also read this funny article about writing on Medium today. Poet James Avramenko writes about what he’s learned from writing a poem every day for the last six years. I love this nugget of truth that he shares,

  • The ones you like often get no play, the ones you think suck often explode

My most visited post on this blog is about the tv show Friends. I’ve poured out my heart and talked about grief, and shared bravely about MY own stuff. And the light hearted post about my obsession with Friends is most frequently read. The deep stuff gets glossed over and often ignored. I thought last week’s post was awesome. No comments. Crickets. Doubts. Temptations to press delete.

As an artist, that’s frustrating. But James is right. We don’t get it, we just write. We don’t know what’s going to stick and we can’t anticipate the impact. Maybe there is none.

So for this year, I’m changing my intention for the blog. I don’t want to get my help all over you. I want to help myself. Help myself heal, love this magnificent, magical world, build gratitude, dream bigger, and experience new things. I’m going to write about it.

If you feel it’s beautiful, consider sharing. As James also says, “Once it’s in the world, it’s out of your hands.”

Thanks for joining me.

 

 

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“Yes Please”

I’m reading a book right now, not surprising I know. “Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness”, by Ariel Gore. It is about happiness. Perhaps a sociological examination into the way women experience happiness, are expected to exude it, and some of the things that hinder the concept’s accessibility. A critical look into a newer phenomenon of positive psychology.

I find it interesting really, that this book caught my eye at this time of the year. I suppose I haven’t found as much time as I’d like to read this year with a wedding to plan, and a full time job, and family and friends. The library, though, has always been one of my safe places. Rows upon rows of that wonderfully beautiful book scent. The tactile experience of flipping pages with a thumb nail in an almost silent space. I love how the carpet absorbs all of our noises, gently reminding us that this place of learning is sacred.  For whatever reason, digging around in the sociology section of our local library, I was drawn to this one.

blue birdI’ve been reading it in small doses, and this week have almost reached the end. In one segment, Gore asks colleagues and friends if they are happier now than they were at this time last year. I read the question, and was blown into a tornado of pondering space. After my brain calmed down a little bit, I was able to say yes. First a whisper, then perhaps a little louder to myself. Then a yes with a resounding fist pump. I am in such a better place than I was last year at this time, and right now I am going to sink into that feeling with immense gratitude.

No, things are not perfect, and I know situations change. Fear calls us into the what ifs and the over protective planning mode all the time. But overall, 2014 has been a year of joyful anticipation, and details and family and love and for that I am so wonderfully grateful.  Time progressing is beautiful, and looking back and being able to say, “look how far we have come” is an immense privilege. There is beauty in asking reflective questions, and taking time to be proud of progress.

Sunday, I spent all day reading and writing in my journal. What a lazy one I was, especially in light of the hovering reminder that Christmas is just a few days away. Still shopping to be done, certainly, but that is what days off like today are for. (Did I just admit that I still have shopping to do 2 days before Christmas? This is so unlike me!) I love a good book, like I mentioned before, and I adore the opportunity to indulge a full afternoon dedicated to one page turner. This week’s was, “Yes Please” by Amy Poehler. I did not really know what to expect when I got her book at the library. The neon lights caught my attention, sure, and the title. Sometimes, though, books by comedians are challenging to me – the humor lost in my too quickly read pace. If I slow down to read things out loud I do better, but I read so quickly I sometimes miss the joke.

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Let me tell you, Amy does not disappoint. Her reflections on her career and life mixed in with immensely funny segments brought such comfort to me this weekend. I cried a little. You aren’t supposed to admit that you cry when reading a comedian’s book. Really though, she touched on so many things that I can relate to right now – about standing up for yourself, about looking for opportunities, about not tying your identity to any one part of your life. As we all know, things change (dammit) and she encouraged me to continue to surf the waves.

I was strongly reminded that there are perfectly acceptable times to say no – for self preservation, for boundaries, for protection in a world that does not quite look out for you in all the ways you would hope. Gently encouraged, though, too, that there are more opportunities to stand up for what you need, to seek new adventures and trust the universe with a polite, “Yes Please”.  These are some things I would like to say “Yes Please” to for the coming year ahead:

  • Time with my husband – continuing to figure out this thing called being married………………………. Yes Please
  • A little bit of fun adventure …………………….. Yes Please
  • Not worrying about money …………………. Yes Please
  • Opportunities to continue to develop in work ……………. Yes Please
  • Chances to have fun…………………… Yes Please
  • Vanilla lattes……………. Yes Please
  • Books …………. Yes Please
  • Chances for gratitude ………….. Yes Please
  • The trust that happiness abounds ………… Yes Please

Are you happier now than you were at this time last year? What do you want to say “Yes Please” for?