I recognized a few happy moments yesterday – a tidy kitchen, my granddaughter laughing at her brother, and transplanting ferns with my grandson. The unhappy moments are quite bold, blocking my path, forcing me to notice them, and then stick like glue, while the happy ones wait quietly to be noticed and slip away easily. I tend to see most unhappy moments as monumental; ridiculous for something so common. I shouldn’t let them bother me so much. I also have a habit of talking about many of my unhappy moments, which gets them out and usually over, but not quick enough to prevent them from negatively impacting my day. I rarely mention the happy ones. Maybe because they’re smaller, there’s more of them, and I don’t consider them significant. But they are. There must have been millions of people out there searching for happiness yesterday and I was able to find some. I believe at least one happy moment happens every day to everyone, but are passed over because they go by unseen. I’ve decided to be on the lookout for all the small but amazing happy moments throughout my day, and not be one of the millions still looking.
I’ve thought a lot about happiness lately, why I’m not happy, and what would make me happy. Why is usually because I’m missing something, but regarding what would make me happy, I don’t have a clue. I’ve considered what my life might be like if I made more money, had a full-time accounting job, was fully retired, had another man in my life, or had great hair and a toned body, but not one of these would make me happy. “Happiness isn’t about getting what you want all the time. It’s about loving what you have and being grateful for it.” I’m not sure who said it, but I’m thankful they did. The second statement is the clue I’ve been looking for. Love what I have and be grateful for it and I have lots, like my own home, my two children and their spouses, grandchildren, a few great friends that really care about me, the best wine in the world, time to pursue my hobbies, not getting up at 5:30am, trips to Alaska, and enough money to get what I need plus some extras. I need to stop thinking if only, and start believing what I have is enough.
Today I’m facing another battle; failure to believe the positive life lessons I’ve discovered to be true. I’m sad about my life, I’m discouraged with who I am, I’m questioning if what I’m doing with my life is fulfilling enough. I know better because of all the blog posts I’ve written that give me great insight about where I’ve landed. I do the yeah buts, but instead of those positive counter measures sinking in, I just dismiss them and move on to the next negative emotion or thought. It’s like being stuck in a whirlpool, spiraling down further and further, being aware a lifeline exists but not reaching out and grasping it. Getting stuck is always a result of something happening, but I’ve yet to notice how I get unstuck. If being aware or thinking positive thoughts aren’t solutions, what is? Is it an action? Stop what I’m doing, physically and mentally, and do something fun outside, or call someone and find some laughter, or buy myself a present because I’m so awesome? If it was physically possible, I’d give myself a kick in the pants. I could give myself a good scolding but I just remembered, I’m not listening.
Why is it harder to be neat than messy? Time? Why is it harder to eat healthy than junk food? Taste and pleasure? Why is it harder to stay than leave? Effort? Why is it harder to exercise than sit and watch TV? Inspiration? Why are relationships so hard? Different expectations? I’m trying to picture a world without any hard things in it; where everything that needed to be faced, accomplish, learned, or decided was easy. There would be no such thing as keep trying, failure, competition, or ulcers, and sameness would abound. The many ways to conquer hard is one of the main reasons we are all so different. Not being able to defeat hard doesn’t necessarily mean weakness; it means my limited natural ability needs help, therefore I need to work on my endurance and determination. Just like a battle, I must decide how to face it; to retreat and postpone, face it again and again, or give up and let it defeat me. My husband’s death is the hardest thing I’ve ever faced. This hard seems determined to win, therefore I’m choosing to face it again and again, because I won’t let hard win this battle.
I was asked an interesting question recently – can you help my widowed mother-in-law find a man. Interesting because I haven’t found one yet. I can’t seem to grasp the concept of falling in love again. Did I forget how it’s done or did I already get all I needed? Maybe my definition of romantic love has changed. At 19, I liked and then fell in love with the man I saw before me, not the man he really was. That love was strong enough, to keep us together long enough, to get past many things that tear half of all marriages apart. I realized quickly he was a person worth loving even though sometimes I didn’t like him. The discovery that he wasn’t so likable took a while since love was the greater emotion and it was easy to misconstrue sex as love and therefore cover a multitude of sins. I would define love now as an unconditional acceptance of the whole person, with no need to like them or overwhelming determination to change them. No longer looking for falling head over heels in love but rather, seeing in the eyes of another, that I’m the one worth loving.
I was able to experience an amazing event this past week. My son and his wife came from Alaska, bringing both my children and their families into my life at the same time. We were together; a rare event because of the significant physical distance between our everyday lives. We shared just about every meal, and an incredible amount of time experiencing the beauty of the Adirondacks, something we all enjoy. We laughed and cried as we shared memories of past times spent together as a family. It astonished me every time I looked around my table at the faces of all of the people that mean the most to me. It was a precious week, but before I knew it, they were heading back to Alaska. My grandson described their departure perfectly: “It’s sad when two guys leave. I have a heart bleed.” As the tears flowed, my grandson told me not to cry; that we would be going to visit them soon. It’s true, there’s always something to miss. The trick is to soak up enough of who I’ll miss while we’re together, in order to sustain me until I see them again to soak up some more.
I only loved two guys in my life. The feeling wasn’t mutual for the first and I married the second. It’s hard for me to imagine, but I can’t say for sure there won’t be another. Both times, the love I felt started as physical attraction. My husband was not only handsome, he was sweet, sensitive, and simple. Simple in the sense of not complicated; he didn’t need much to be happy. My older sister and I met him, shortly after moving to upstate New York, and he was instantly attracted to her. They both played the guitar and sang and they had that 70’s hippy thing going on. When she left home and joined the army a couple of months later, I knew she didn’t share his feelings and that left hope for me. We were married a year later and shared a love that lasted almost 37 years.
- American Bittern / Love
- An American Bittern stands in the marsh.
- He stretches his neck and gulps like a frog.
- He’s hoping she will hear and see how worthy a mate he would be.
- How can she tell one from another?
- Maybe it’s his technique or maybe she just knows.
Chicken and biscuits is one of my favorite meals and for breakfast, sausage, biscuits and gravy is a real treat. The best part of both of these dishes is the gravy; that little added extra that makes the meal special. I can eat chicken and sausage without gravy and often do, but to add a wow factor, I need to have the gravy. The word gravy brings to my mind, Thanksgiving; a homemade special dinner with all the extras. There’s nothing like the aromas of turkey roasting, homemade rolls, and pies. Gravy goes on the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and turkey, and in the shepherd’s pie the next day. Life should have its share of gravy too; the extras that make life special. For me it’s things like our Utah National Parks tour; Minto Flats Alaska, float plane, northern pike fishing trip; a hot springs, beer, and music festival; watching the whales from a cabin on an island off the coast of Alaska; 10 days touring Newfoundland; a meal with all my children at the table. For me, adding gravy to a meal or life turns it into something extraordinary; to a meal occasionally, but to life whenever possible. The recipes are posted on my recipe page.
How does someone know when it’s time to leave? When my job with a small CPA firm was going nowhere, the charm of the bed and breakfast had worn off, and our youngest was heading off to college, we decided it was time to leave. There was nothing we left behind so moving wasn’t hard. After my husband died and I was living by myself with no family nearby, I decided it was time to leave. It was harder this time because I was leaving a well-paying job and close friends behind. I could have used the money but trusted I would getting along just fine without it and I hoped I would keep some of my friends. This left no reasons to stay, which is the answer to knowing when it’s time to leave. I thought about leaving my husband many times, but I stayed, even though staying was hard. He was the reason I thought about leaving and yet he was the reason I chose not to. I still had reasons to stay; I loved him and he was my best friend. Deciding to leave or stay is hard, but leaving with reasons to stay is even harder.
As I look at my granddaughter sleeping in her crib, I’m reminded she can be smiling one moment and screaming the next. It’s all about her comfort; everyone else exists only to meet her needs. But someday she’ll probably be a mom and then, without really thinking too hard about it, she’ll spend lots of time meeting the needs of her family and putting hers just about last. MOM – mother on a mission. Not a mission that needs daily planning or tracking of results. Rather a mission that needs to be accomplished out of necessity, requiring quite a bit of time. It’s a mission to accomplish, hopefully with some help, all the things that need to get done to feed, nurture, clothe, clean, transport, and protect her kids. I did all of these things for me, before I had kids, with quite a bit of things I wanted to do thrown in. Adding a couple of kids doesn’t add new tasks, just more of the same, with less time for things I want to do. My kids didn’t get all my time because they needed to learn it’s not all about them, and I’m more than just a mom.