You Say It’s Your Birthday?

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No, YOUR child’s birthday is exactly eleven days away and you have made exactly ZERO plans to celebrate it.
 
This isn’t a call for help with ideas on how to celebrate. Captain Sassypants has had a new idea every week since before Christmas on how she’d like to celebrate, which may in fact be why we have no confirmed plans at this late stage. I’m not sure what’s gone wrong this year, because in previous years, I’ve had this birthday party thing totally wrapped up at this point. I’ve been a master-planner in the celebration department for the six years we’ve celebrated her birthdays, and each one has been a blast, if I do say so myself. Maybe that’s the problem. Perhaps I’m suffering some sort of party-fatigue brought on by my own obsessive need to outdo myself every year to give her a dreamy party she’ll never forget. Only to find out that by the time her next birthday rolls around, it’s me who is reminding her what she did last year and all the other years too. I know she’s just a normal kid, but it broke my heart that I had to remind her how three years ago, we took her to Disney for five days and did the whole “Bippity Boppity Boutique” experience and dinner with Cinderella on her birthday. I mean seriously – don’t the price tags of these things guarantee indelible inscription in their little memory banks?
So this year I’ve sort of given up. We’ve discussed so many different options; originally we were going to do New York City for her birthday weekend, but that fell through for a few reasons. Then we discussed a movie party to see the long-awaited live-action version of “Jungle Book” coming out, but I hate having to wait until the week before to confirm the exact show time. Yeah, I know. There was a brief excitement over laser tag, until we found out that the kids need to be a certain height and weight to comfortably carry the backpacks required. This eliminated about half of her friends who somehow don’t seem to be growing quite as quickly as she is. Each idea had some negative aspect or two that cause their elimination, until now we really aren’t considering very many options and I’m feeling like a play date party at our house just pales compared to the rainbow of bashes we’ve thrown for the past six years. Don’t worry, I’m getting over myself as you read this.
I’m trying new approaches to life this year, and *winging it* has never really been something I’ve embraced in adulthood, so I could simply say that’s what I’m doing now and sound very goal-oriented, right? Except I’d be lying. I’ve simply lost my ambition to create “memorable” kids’ parties that cost a fortune and end up making me painfully aware of how we spoil our kids. We stopped doing birthday parties for my stepson when he was ten and offered instead “experiences” like horseback riding. I tried this approach with Baby Girl this year, despite her only turning eight, and initially she liked the idea, but being the social butterfly that she is, quickly cast suggested experiences aside for group activities with her friends.
Part of me is really ok with my lack of motivation regarding this important milestone, but there is a sliver of hope because I do recognize something needs to be done really soon or I’ll risk utter disappointment from the star of my life. I’d call it a mom-fail, if I believed in such terminology. Instead, I’m going to classify it as a “Mom-exercising-last-minute-creativity-challenge” and get my ass in gear. Tomorrow. Possibly.
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On #InternationalWomensDay – Be You, Because You ARE Strong

Happy International Women’s Day!

You might be surprised to know that history records the first International Women’s Day as far back as 1911! Women have been fighting a loooooonnnnnnnggggg time for equality, and will continue to do so. I hate this fact, but to avoid dwelling on the negative, I will take pleasure in seeing how far we’ve come! Keep up the fantastic work, my sisters!

I’m seeing so many quotes and memes on social media today about women, and I’ve observed many of these quotes and memes focus on the word STRONG. Why is that?

Even my personal favorite: “Strong women: May we know them, may we raise them, may we be them.” urges us that being strong is the ultimate goal. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if this battle-cry is being interpreted the same way across the board.

Naturally, the physical sense of the word is a positive goal. Being physically strong isn’t just about how many pounds you can bench-press, but about being healthy. Everyone wants health for themselves and those they care about, right?

But what about being strong in other ways? How do we define that? And what about the women who don’t exude the “traditional” traits of “strength”? I use quotation marks simply because these words are so open to interpretation.

I worry that International Women’s Day is moving towards a different meaning – a celebration of society’s perceived “best of the best” so to speak. That’s not what it’s about.

The woman who doesn’t run marathons for herself or charity can still be strong simply running after her toddler at the park. Or watching Netflix marathons on TV.

The woman who doesn’t own a financially successful business or have a high-powered career can still be strong owning the responsibility to feed her children by working hard at her minimum-wage job.

That woman who doesn’t prepare kale-qinoa-chia seed-avocado crust-less pie to feed her family can still be strong asking her kids to set the table and put the ketchup and plum sauce out for the frozen chicken fingers with tater-tots her family will devour with enthusiasm.

That woman who never declares loudly “Fuck that shit!” can still be strong when she sobs into her pillow because someone hurt her feelings.

That woman who can’t be Ms. Independent-I-Can-Do-It-All-Myself can still be strong when she asks friends or family for physical or emotional support.

That woman who doesn’t kick that asshole partner’s ass to the curb can still be strong when she stays in a seemingly unsatisfying relationship for complex reasons that nobody but her really understands.

That woman who doesn’t proudly don her swimsuit while ignoring her obesity can still be strong when she avoids pools and the beach.

Nobody defines “STRONG” for everybody.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone who opens their eyes and confronts the challenges of life each day is strong, and even those who open their eyes but then decides to close them, stay in bed and avoid the world are still strong in making the decision to do just that.

If you are human and trying to live your life as best you can – you are strong.

Should women be equal with men? Youbetcha.

Should women stop being human to try to fit into someone else’s definition of “strong”?

I think you know my answer to that question.

Be you. That’s strong enough.

 

40 Thoughts on Celebrating 40 Years Without Cancer

Today, I celebrate my fortieth birthday.

Well, “re-birth day” is probably a more accurate description.

On June 10, 1975, I fell from a swing in my backyard. I was four years old.

The impact when I hit the ground caused an undiagnosed cancerous tumour growing in my left kidney to burst. I still remember the pain and having to run into my house doubled over from it, trying not to cry out because I didn’t want to disturb my sunbathing neighbour who had fallen asleep on her lounge chair.

The E/R doctors told my parents I had probably ruptured my spleen from the fall.

Boy, were they wrong.

When they operated on me, they found a kidney destroyed by cancer cells, and had to remove it immediately. I had been bleeding internally so much that I needed 24 bags of other people’s blood to replace what I had lost. (Thank-you, blood donors.)

“You have a very sick little girl. She will be lucky if she makes it,” was the first thing the doctor told my parents after they had waited three hours wondering why a ruptured spleen was taking so long to fix.

I guess I was lucky, because I did make it. I thrived. I’ve lived a full life which in my mind, is hopefully not even close to being over yet. I’ve got WAY too much living left to do still. I look at this date in my history as my second chance at life. Oh sure, I was too young then to appreciate it. I was too bitter and resentful wondering “Why me?” when I had to undergo the subsequent radiation treatments and chemotherapy to ensure the elimination of any cancer cells that strayed when the tumour erupted. I didn’t understand why I had to endure more pain and another surgery a few months later when scar tissue adhesions caused a bowel obstruction. I didn’t understand why all my hair fell out on my pillow overnight, or why the kids at school teased me for wearing a wig and tried to play keep-away with it one day. I’ve hated losing my fertility and healthy immune system all these years later, and often have felt so resentful for all of the permanent effects of that one day.

I’m not sure I understand it all even now, but I’ve come to accept that the “whys” of life sometimes have no answers and often don’t matter. The events of June 10, 1975 had a profound effect on my body and my character and it has shaped me in more ways than I probably even recognize.

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I’ve learned a few things along this crazy forty-year roller coaster.

At the risk of sounding like I’m auditioning for the role of meme-creator, here are some of the more significant ones:

  1. Life is an amazing journey – sometimes it’s amazingly awesome, and other times it’s amazingly shitty, but those shitty times help me to truly appreciate the rest of it.
  2. I don’t have to be a superstar to matter. I used to worry that because I have survived so many trying times in life, I should really be doing something “spectacular” with myself. It’s only recently that I realized I am doing just that – I’m a great mother and stepmom, a good wife, a decent writer, a supportive friend and I love being all of those things. That. Is. Spectacular. Enough.
  3. My body is not something I need to use to impress anyone. I am still working hard to accept the parts of my body that I don’t love, but I’m much better at that acceptance now than I was twenty years ago. Anyone who has a problem with my body can kindly note the sprig of mistletoe hanging over the bootylicious junk in my trunk.
  4. Dying is not the worst thing that can happen to me. I’ve already lived through some stuff that I think might be worse than dying. I don’t want to die, but there is nothing I can do to stop it when the time comes, and I have no control over when that time may be, so worrying about it seems like a gigantic waste of time.
  5. Marriage is hard work. Motherhood is hard work. Friendship is hard work. Life in general is hard work, but DAMN, aren’t the rewards pretty fucking incredible?
  6. When somebody upsets or hurts me, telling them my feelings using “I feel…” statements is my best option to having my feelings actually heard and considered without the other person feeling defensive.
  7. Eating healthy and exercising are important. I suck at both of these, but I’d rather die ten years earlier with my mouth smilingly full of chips and cookies than eat kale and run marathons while wishing I was sitting with a plate of pasta in front of me. I don’t want to rush death because I have so much to stick around for, but balance is really about enjoying what I enjoy without guilt and respecting those I would leave behind if I wasn’t here.
  8. It’s ok to be selfish sometimes. Loving myself and making my own wants or needs a priority isn’t really that selfish. As I get older, the things I think I “have” to do or “should” do are becoming less and less, and that’s ok.
  9. I have what some would call “regrets” but I don’t dwell on them because I’ve yet to encounter a hot tub time machine.
  10. I don’t think forgiving someone means you have to allow them to continue doing whatever you are forgiving them for. Sometimes forgiveness means cutting people out of your life so that your hurt can heal and you can forgive and forget – about them.
  11. There is absolutely NO better sound on this earth than the belly laugh of my daughter. Nothing.
  12. Opinions are not attacks on character. Everyone has them. Sometimes they will be the same as mine, sometimes they won’t, but ones that are different than mine are learning opportunities.
  13. TV is overrated. Reading is underrated.
  14. If my kids get straight A’s, win awards, scholarships, sports trophies, etc. but are total assholes, I have failed at my work. I refuse to fail at that work.
  15. Sometimes natural consequences have a much bigger impact than me shouting or grounding or giving a speech.
  16. I live for the moments when my daughter’s arms curl around my neck and she kisses me and tells me she loves me without me having to chase her or beg her for it.
  17. Some people don’t like me. Sometimes that bothers me. Sometimes I truly don’t give a rat’s ass. Either way, *I* like me and that’s what matters most.
  18. I’ve screwed up some of this parenting business, and I will screw up some more, but I’m still a damned good mother and my kids will be just fine.
  19. Every day has good moments, even if it’s a really bad day.
  20. Every day gives me something, even if it’s just ONE thing, to be grateful for.
  21. I’ve learned to accept that perfection is knowing that something can still be mind-blowing and be imperfect simultaneously. Good enough is still good.
  22. I have been many things in my life and many people have different opinions of me, but I’m not boring. Gossip will never go away, and “You’re welcome!” to those I’ve given something to talk about.
  23. Change is the only way to keep moving forward in life and learning. There is always room for improvement, but not at the cost of dissatisfaction with yourself.
  24. No matter how bad things are, they could always be worse.
  25. My mom was right – I do understand now that I’M a mom.
  26. Nothing feels quite like someone you love caressing the side of your cheek with the palm of his or her hand.
  27. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” isn’t just the title of a book – it’s a recipe for life sanity. I’m not always good at this, but as I get older, I’m realizing how integral this advice is to my mental and physical health.
  28. If you don’t see my worth, that’s YOUR problem, not mine. I have given up trying to prove myself to anyone.
  29. There are all different levels of friendships, and that’s ok. Some friends are for life, some are not. Some have your back when life is kicking your ass, some don’t know what to do or say. I am trying my best to appreciate what each type of friend gives me and give back to them what I can.
  30. Sex is important. It’s not just to pump my ego, like I thought it was 25 years ago. It’s a physical release, but also an emotional connection.
  31. Actions do speak louder than words. I’m learning to listen better.
  32. People rarely change simply because *I* want them to. Change is truly self-motivated, but if you market it properly, some people are much more open to motivating themselves.
  33. Cancer sucks. I lived many years fearing that I would get it again, but now I just worry that all that negative energy will make me sick, so I try to not think about it.
  34. Laughing together with people I care about is my favorite soul food.
  35. I don’t have to stop loving someone simply because I don’t like some of their actions.
  36. Hate is not only a strong word, but a heavy burden to carry. Anger passes, but hate takes up too much time and energy and is rarely worth it.
  37. Animals are an integral part of my family and always will be.
  38. Love is love. There are no different kinds reserved for the “best” skin colour, sexual orientation, religion or gender. All humans are equal in every way. I am sad that this is not yet a universal truth, but I refuse to give up hope that one day it will be.
  39. Family isn’t only about genetics. I love mine. My parents are incredible people who always have my back, no matter what.
  40. Cancer fighters and survivors are amazing people. I was a kid and had no idea what I was dealing with, which makes it so much easier than what those who are fully aware of their situation must deal with. I survived through pure luck, but so many others survive by fighting with everything they’ve got. I bow down to them.

Happy Seventh Birthday To My Heart and Soul

12947_212396985184_849055_n[1]Today is my daughter’s seventh birthday.

Last year I wrote her this letter on my blog at YummyMummyClub.ca:

I’m saying goodbye to five.

The age of five, that is.

My Baby Girl is turning six this week, and reminds me every time I call her “Baby Girl” that she is NOT a baby, so PLEASE don’t call her that in public!

I don’t remember being six, and I’ve tried pretty hard. So, I decided instead to write my daughter a letter so that if she forgets what six was like, she can refer back to this:

Dear Darling (your sanctioned pet-name for me to use in public),

I wanted to bestow on you some kind of wisdom about how *I* felt about being six, and who I was at that age, but I guess at this stage of my life, mommy’s memory bank has purged some of the clutter to make room for other, more important stuff—like everything I can stuff in there about you.

So, I’m writing this letter to you to preserve forever who you are right now, as you turn six years old. I hope one day we can read this together, laughing and smiling as we remember what an incredible little girl you were and know from what I say here that you were always destined to become the amazing woman you will be then.

At six, my darling daughter, you still see the magic in the world—hold that tight for as long as you can. Keep asking all of your questions and continue finding the universe so full of wonder.

At six, you still love me the most-est and think that I am totally awesome . . . most of the time. Hold that tight for as long as you can also, ok? 

At six, you don’t know of the awful things that can and do happen in our world—I pray every night that you never learn of them.

At six, you are so full of confidence. You are the star of your own universe—and mine—and have no inner bully to contend with. I desperately hope that never changes.

At six, you are learning to read, and doing a damned fine job of it, especially when your father and I back off and let your fierce little determination force you to sound out your words independently. 

At six, you show very little interest in dolls of any sort. My inner Feminist is doing jumping-jacks. You prefer instead to savour your hour-per-day of iPad time playing Minecraft, or building towers with your blocks, or putting together train sets—but always doing all of this in some sort of costume that is usually a mash-up of lion-sporting-costume jewellery and a hula skirt.

At six, you still adore your big brother, but have discovered that he doesn’t always want to play children’s games with you anymore, because he is now a teenager. You have adapted by gaining his attention with pest-like shenanigans. I love your persistence and your ingenuity, despite the headaches the subsequent bickering with him causes me.

At six, you still don’t know what day it is or what time it is, and don’t really care. I know sometimes this frustrates me, but soon enough you will join the rest of the world in their obsession with time and its value, so for now I try to chillax a little and not let time control me so much either. 

At six, you are becoming funny, and I love it. Not toddler cutesy-pie kind of funny, but genuinely witty and intelligent funny. This thrills me almost as much as your spectacular reading does. 

At six, you are a messier eater now than you were as a baby. I have no explanation of why this is, but I have begun to buy stock in the various stain-remover companies. Sometimes your mucky face warms my heart and is super cute and I will kiss it no matter what goo is covering it. I’m sorry that at other times it frustrates me, but I know you will eventually (hopefully) become more tidy. You have no fear of getting dirty when you play, either, as your appearance demonstrates every day when I pick you up from school. Despite my grumblings, I’m actually proud that you are not prissy, like your mama.

At six, you are such an incredible dancer. Your love of moving your body to the beat shines through in your talent and the gigantic grin puffing those delicious cheeks every time you bounce off the sofa to bust a move around the room. 

At six, you still get really torqued up when you make mistakes, which simultaneously worries me and makes me ashamed because I know exactly where you learned to be a perfectionist. You don’t need to be perfect, my darling, you already are, even with your faults and mistakes. Go easy on yourself—this is what being human is all about. I hope that lesson comes sooner and easier for you than it has for me. 

At six, you are beginning to choose outfits that don’t make my eyeballs whine, and thankfully you finally understand that halter tops are inappropriate attire in January. 

At six, you are still learning that doing the opposite of what mommy or daddy asks does not mean you are in control. Conversely, mommy and daddy are also learning that control is not always necessary for good parenting. 

At six, you think that “pretty” means sparkles, fancy dresses, shoes, and a bow in your hair. I know you are so intuitive and observant that you will soon absorb the fact that beautiful is only partially about what you look like on the outside. I want you to continue knowing how gorgeous you truly are—inside and out.

At six, you are loud, but you come by it honestly—from your father. I have no idea where you get your shouty-ness from, but I love you even when my inner ears are numb.

At six, you are just starting to think about the hardships of your life prior to adoption, and the hardships that adoption may bring you later in life. As much as I wish I could, there is nothing I can do to stop the inevitable moments of sadness and anger that you will experience as you grow older and reflect on the circumstances of your life that brought you into mine. I promise to be here for you if you want to talk about it, or simply hold your hand, huggle you if you need to cry, and support you through any journey you need to take—emotionally or otherwise—to find peace with your adoption legacy. 

At six, you are a miracle, a spark, a gift. 

My heart expands with each of your birthdays. 

Happy Birthday my darling Baby Girl.  I hope you have your best year ever.

This year, I feel like that’s a hard one to top, frankly. Yet, I’m going to try.

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My Baby Girl (yes, we reached a compromise that I could still call her that in private and online, just not in front of her friends),

You are now seven years old. While many of the things I wrote about you on your sixth birthday are still the same – your wit, your charm, your amazing reading skills, your messy eating, your beauty, your dance abilities – some things have changed.

You have experienced hardships this past year that I had hoped you would never know, yet you have shown your brave resilience in your triumph over these hardships. Thank you for putting your trust in me to guide you through and for helping me get through them with you.

You have also become aware of some of the horrors of our world – you have learned what guns can do, what murder means, and sadly, experienced your first taste of overt racism. My heart aches for the wounds these lessons have inflicted on your sweet and tender heart, while at the same time loves you even more for refusing to let these painful events shadow your brilliant sparkling light.

You have become even more adamant about standing up for yourself, which I applaud, even when you are standing up to me and making me silently wish you weren’t always so strong and independent!

You have learned about the birds and the bees this year. Oh, I know some parents will be shocked by that, but inquisitive, bright children who grow up hearing the words “birth mother” will obviously want to know what “birth” means sooner rather than later, and that explanation just leads to more and more questions. Thank you for being so mature about the discussion and I only hope you continue to trust me with all your questions about sex and relationships.

Your love of crafts, doing artwork and creating inventions astounds me. The creativity that flows from you is something I wish I had outside of my play with words, but I guess we all have creativity in us somewhere and I adore how you express yours.

Your conversations about adoption and your birth mother are becoming exactly what many of the books I’ve read predicted they would. I understand your very deep need to fantasize her perfection and your reunion with her. I don’t feel jealousy during these chats, only heartache for you and how heavy your burden must be.

At seven, I am seeing glimpses of what you will be like as a teen. Sometimes I am a little frightened, I will admit, but I also see a girl who takes my words about self-respect and self-control very seriously, so I trust you will keep those words in your memory when we are apart.

Just recently I let you attend a birthday party without me present. I don’t think you know how hard that was for me, but I am trying to accept that as you grow older, I will need to let go more and more. I want so badly to protect you from anything and anyone that could harm you, but I also know that taking that job too seriously can also cause you harm. I want you to have the freedom to experience the world in your own way, without me always standing in front of you with my sword drawn and shield thrust forward. You are so intelligent and brave, I know you can do things without me and be just fine.

Happy birthday, my darling Baby Girl, my Captain Sassypants, my sun, my moon and my stars. I love you to infinity and back, infinity times. xoxo

Photo: Christine Cousins Photography

Photo: Christine Cousins Photography

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My Child’s Thoughts on Menopause

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Yesterday, I was rushing around to get out the door by a certain time and as is usually the case when you’re stressed and time-challenged, the process made my body temperature increase. I removed the sweater I was wearing and said to Captain Sassypants: “Phew! I’m getting hot and sweaty!”

Her response?

“I hate to say this, mommy, but maybe you’re getting the HOT SHOTS.”

I knew immediately she meant “hot flashes” but tried to contain my laughter because I wanted to know if she knew what she was talking about. I asked her “What are the hot shots?”

“Actually, you probably won’t get them, because you know it’s when a woman has made a baby in her womb and the baby has come out and then when the woman gets older, she gets the hot shots? Well, you’re old enough to get them, right? But you haven’t made a baby in your womb, so you probably don’t need to worry about it!”

I like her thinking. Yes, I DO deserve an exemption from menopause because I wasn’t able to make a baby in my womb!

Who do I speak to about arranging this?

I Like Big Jokes, and I Cannot Lie

There sure are a LOT of songs on the radio these days that aren’t really suitable for children, aren’t there? One day I’m going to write a post on all of the child-inappropriate pop songs that I’ve had to explain to Baby Girl, but for today, I’m going to only discuss the gem by Sir Mix-A-Lot called “Baby Got Back.”

Love it or hate it, for those of us like myself who have got some serious junk in the trunk, the opening line of “I LIKE BIG BUTTS, and I cannot lie!” has become a bit of an ego-boosting anthem. It has always put a smile on my face, even though the rest of the lyrics are sexually gross, objectifying and misogynistic.

So it was rather ironic when today, driving in the car, this particular song came on and I instinctively turned it up and crowed out the opening lyrics in my shouty-singy voice.

I immediately realized the folly of this action. With Baby Girl listening intently in the back seat, I was prepared for questions along the lines of “Why does he like big butts, mommy?” and “What does he mean by that?” which are the usual awkward queries I have to field as a result of banishing kid-diddys when she was only two.

Instead, I got a treat – an unexpected peek at her emerging brilliant and subtly sarcastic humour:

Does the guy singing this song know you, mommy?

The layers of humour buried in that statement made me proud, despite the fact that she was basically telling me I have a fat ass.

There was an intentionality to her humour that signalled her growing awareness of the world at large and how to make fun of it.

Sometimes her comments strike me in the worst possible way. Like the time she told me my bum makes a wave every time she touches it. THAT was unintentionally ego-crushing.

Or like the time she was splashing around in the bath and I had disrobed to grab a quick shower simultaneously. She sized up my nekked carcass and matter-of-factly stated “You look nice with your clothes ON, mommy.”

Not “nicer.” Just “nice” – because “nicer” would have been an obvious insult.

I may not like my butt being the butt of so many of her jokes, but I do know she is quickly learning what makes me laugh.

And I love it.

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Happy, Happy, Happy

A few months ago, I began to keep an online Happiness Jar. The idea came from one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert, who often shares her fans’ pictures on her Facebook fan page of crafty DIY Happiness Jars containing their daily writings about what made them happy.

I’m no Martha Stewart, but I have my hands on my laptop for many hours a day, and I thought perhaps using my blog’s Facebook page would be a good way to start conversations with people about happiness. I’d share what I was happy about each day and invite others to do the same and perhaps create a small positive energy movement.

Initially, it was a great conversation – people were responding every day and sharing their pieces of happiness, just like I had hoped. Then that slowly died off, and every time I posted MY Happiness Jar entry, you could hear the crickets chirping away. Nobody even “liked” what I was saying.

This started to bother me a little. Then a lot. I felt like I was failing at spreading a positive message. I started to worry that I was “annoying” people and that nobody gave a rats. So I stopped sharing my daily Happiness Jar entries for a while.

Until the proverbial lightning bolt hit me.

The purpose of MY Happiness Jar was not to make anyone else happy.

It was about preserving MY bits of happiness. It was about MY desire to have a higher awareness of the positive parts of MY life.

It was about having a place to go to look back on the happy things in MY life if I ever needed some inspiration in a dark time.

It was NOT about anyone else.

So I started again.

Sometimes people share, more often they don’t. The crickets still chirp on a regular basis, but I have stopped giving a shit. Especially because when I re-started posting my daily Happiness Jar entries, I wrote a brief version of the above and had some pretty incredible comments – people telling me that MY Happiness Jar entries often inspired them, even if they never responded to my posts with their own statements of happiness.

So I am learning to refocus.

There are days when it’s damn hard to think of ONE happy thing, trust me.

Like today.

Today, I could tell you about how I’ve had a barking cough for 6 days now that obviously has decided to never leave. I could tell you how that cough combined with the stress of having to whip DD in and out of 4 costume changes with a 2-song time limitation twice yesterday and once Friday night have attacked my neck and shoulder with clenched muscles to give me muscle spasms that made sleep almost impossible despite my exhaustion last night. I could tell you how my 14 year old cat decided to poop on my bathroom floor because I wouldn’t get up at 3am to feed him. I could tell you about the laundry I did last Monday that’s still folded in a basket upstairs waiting to be put away because I was also at a conference for 2 days last week and have had no time to do anything resembling housework.

I could tell you a whole bunch of other crap that makes me weepy, crabby and a little bit stabby.

But happiness is a CHOICE.

I want to be happy. These negative things are all a part of life – every life – not just mine. Without them, I’d have no benchmark to compare the good stuff to. Yes, life has some unhappy moments, situations, times, but even on our darkest days, there is always at least one little thing that was good – the taste of a delicious dessert, the smile on a child’s face, the friend calling to see how you are doing.

I could dwell on all of the rotten stuff I listed, OR – I could tell you about all the people who told my daughter what a fantastic dancer she is at her recitals yesterday.  I could tell you about how every time she stepped out on that stage – 4 times per show for 3 shows now – my eyes filled with love bubbles that I had to breathe deeply to contain, or risk falling apart with the absolute love and pride I felt. The pure bliss of fulfillment, remembering how only a few years ago, I had convinced myself I’d never be a mom watching my child live out his or her passions. I could tell you how Huzbo, with his six left feet, actually agreed to dress himself up with neon colours and get up on that stage with other dads to shake his groove thing in the “Dancing Dads” part of the dance school’s annual recital, and how it made both of our kids laugh out loud with pleasure. I could tell you about how a beautiful, sweet compliment on Facebook from my best friend put a gigantic smile on my face last night when I was so worn out.

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My Happiness Jar can be half-empty, or half-full. It’s all a matter of perspective. I am the only gatekeeper of what goes into my mind and affects me.

Sometimes it’s hard to choose half-full, I completely agree. It’s human nature for many – myself included – to be pessimistic or negative. It’s often easier to let your inner bully crawl into your sacred mind space and take away your joy.

Optimism and happiness sometimes require work. Sometimes that work is extra-hard due to illness, and professional or medicinal help is needed – that’s ok, too. Whatever works – nobody should ever be faulted for choosing happiness and doing whatever it takes to get there.

So today, I choose happiness.

 

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln

 

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