"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." - Abraham Lincoln
this is true, you know. at least, in most circumstances it's true. someone said something to me yesterday that i found interesting. "heidi, you always have the most amazing life, i'm so jealous." later in the day, someone said something similar "are you really always as content and happy as you seem?"
the fact is, my life isn't any more or less amazing than i make it. each of us lives a story. in our stories there are events, people, experiences that affect the next chapter's direction. each chapter may have peaks and valleys. valleys sometimes seem much longer to travel through than the breathtaking peaks.
of course i'm not "always content and happy." spend a day listening to stories of child abuse and see how happy you feel. i'm not going to make a list of the things i struggle with, but suffice it to say that my story has valleys, too. long ones. sometimes they've been deep and hard to navigate. i've fallen and been injured in these valleys. i've made errors of judgment, experienced losses, heartache, headaches, illness, sadness. just like everyone else.
our stories are unique to us & some are more tragic or more adventurous than others, but all of them share some balance of the good and bad in different quantities.
someone else recently described me as a "glass half-fuller." sure. i do prefer to try and find some possibility where there seems to be none. i look for options and solutions when it seems useless. sometimes i find them, sometimes i have to acknowledge the glass is actually empty.
my rambling, inarticulate point in this post is this: i know that i have power over how i feel at any given moment. when i said goodbye to my grandfather for the last time in October, i felt horrific pain. seeing in his eyes that he knew it was our last goodbye literally broke my heart in two. that day nobody saw me trying to find the good in his illness or his impending death. i cried, i sobbed, almost all the way back to california. in that moment i chose to let myself feel pain and sadness...loss is part of the story after all. feeling these things and getting through grief will likely help me in the long run.
when i hear from doctors that i may not ever have children of my own, i'm not always clear-headed enough to find the positive & walk out of the office with a cheerful smile right away. in these situations i choose to let myself wonder about options, and allow myself to experience feelings of inadequacy as a woman, pain of losing the opportunity to bear children, disappointment in how my husband or family might feel about this. but to allow myself to wallow in that place for too long would likely not be helpful in the long run. after a day or two i have to choose to see it from a different angle. there are options. adoption, foster care, being a great auntie, or i can choose to appreciate for what it's worth the childfree lifestyle. it is not the end of the world. the story will continue.
in those moments i DO choose to look at what's going well. i have a solid, rewarding career. my husband and i have established a healthy and happy marriage. i have a wonderful family and good friends. my basic needs are met. i'm healthy, overall. i've been lucky enough to travel around the US and europe. some days are better than others.
i think what i've learned to do is to appreciate at least one thing every day. a nice strong cup of hot coffee or a few minutes in the sun. a kind word or two from a friend or a phone call from family. my favorite dinner or a flower from my husband. playing a game or watching a movie or getting lost in a good book. planning a vacation, laughing at a joke or even something as simple as a new pair of shoes or some new art supplies. nothing out of the ordinary here, really. just life. the little chapters that make up the big novel.
the bottom line is, at any given moment i'm about as happy as i make up my mind to be. just like lincoln so wisely observed.