We always look for something external to make us happy. The collective “we” meaning all of us, who are always looking at the things we do not have, and contemplating how much better our lives would be if we had it. My life would be better if I made more, weighed less, had better hair. My life would be better if I had a bigger house, owned a house or had fancy clothes. My life will be better when I have those things.
In terms of affluence, my life has been a roller coaster. I never thought we were wealthy growing up, but when I share that we owned horses and a beach cottage (because those were part of my life as a child and seemed normal) some people comment that I was privileged. As an adult now, realizing the expense of those things and how difficult it would be to create that life for my own children, I am prone to agree. To me it was normal and so I thought very little of it. There were certainly those in our world who had more, and I measured our success on the people who had more than we did.
Slowing down to embrace happiness is I think, like any other muscle. Type A personalities like mine are always focused on bigger, better, newer, next! And that makes things happen, I won’t lie; it is the source of my trajectory always and my drive. But while pressing onward to the next thing, how much time am I spending being present of what I have already accomplished? While seeking the greater happiness of my life, what am I not pausing to acknowledge that I should be proud of? Is it arrogant of me to meditate on my blessings?
My son’s have required extra hard work at the beginning of Grade 3. They have been grounded, gone weeks without screen time or gaming consoles to reinforce the priority of their study. They turned C’s and D’s into mostly A’s and B’s in a six-week period. Proof of good parenting? Hahah … I don’t know about that. Proof of a child’s innate love of Xbox? Ding! But in the struggle, and nights of homework and book reports, sitting together and reading, spelling tests and all the hard work… I paused and absorbed it. I was being a mom. I was finally… a mom. And something in my heart bloomed and swelled.
I’ve been cautious about exploring new business opportunities, because if left to my own devices, I will work 7 days per week. There is no balance in that for my life, for my husband, children.. pets or the Zen of our home. It creates money, but it does not create happiness in my life. It creates isolation and illness for me. My business will grow in 2016 in a way that is sustainable and wholesome. I can defer the Audi and trade it for a happy home and happy marriage. I think that’s a hell of bargain. How dare I put anything above this life that I craved for so long? I will not. I earned this… I will enjoy it to the fullest.
I took a cup of coffee onto the back porch and watched all three dogs run through the leaves today, and smiled. Inside the house was my attractive, intelligent, witty and sexy husband. The one who stayed up to 3:00 a.m. last night playing Xbox with me (Gears of War is our next conquest). That is a best friend, in all ways. And I closed my eyes and had a crocodile tear roll down my cheek … because how long did I pray for him? How hard did I pray for this kind of love to come into my life? Two decades.
My son’s fight over who gets to sit beside me, when we watch a movie. And whichever one wins, nestles into my hip with a pillow, and I feel a sigh and a relaxation that is so overwhelming. They love me. They truly love me, and I matter deeply to Logan and Lucas. They trust me. I am doing this right … and I chuckle when every critter seems to want to be on me. Three dogs, a cat (sigh) and two nine-year old identical twins. And Daddy on the other couch winking at me (dream on… you don’t fit on my lap buster!)
I have five new nieces and nephews who are always glad to see me, and who snuggle up to tell me their latest adventures. Okay four… one is 17 and I am not nearly cool enough to be interesting, and I have no fashion sense. But I love her mightily just the same. We have friends who meant the world to us, who are easy company. Sonja and Damon are such as gift to our world; always fun and down to earth. We have Diane and Tyler who we love dearly and suggest (at least once a month) that they immigrate to Texas. We should all really live on the same street.
And I have a new brother in my brother-in-law who (although he can be a wise ass after a couple of whiskeys) is kind, thoughtful and intelligent. A great friend who is always cheering for us (as we cheer for him). I appreciate his temperance and kindness, and he is a creative guy I love talking to, always.
I have loving and protective in-laws. I freak them out sometimes because I really don’t allow anyone to do anything for me (Ms. Independent). But I feel safe and relaxed around them; very loved and grateful to be part of their life. In the periphery are a host of Mexican Aunties, amazing cousins and their kids … the abundance of my Texas family is overwhelming but… I think I am starting to find my place. I feel that shift now… that I belong too. And my sister restored to me? I talked to her for over two hours this weekend and almost killed her… (she hates long Skype cam calls).
Sitting on the porch I have my conversations with God. Perhaps I do not pray the same way that others do; I talk to him like a Father and friend. Is that blasphemy or honesty? The truth is I talk to God several times per day.
“Lord I am grateful for every blessing you have bestowed on my life. My life is full, warm and loving and full of fun and laughter. I have found a place and a space to grow old in happily, and I am not alone anymore. Thank you for walking with me until I was ready to accept these gifts from you. Thank you for seasoning me to be the person who can see them, and appreciate them. Help me stay mindful of the wealth in my life that matters, and continue on the path you have put before me with hard work and diligence. And help me be a better person to the people in my world, to inspire kindness, be humble and more giving to those that need me.”
As soon as I finished, a large flock of sparrows landed on the shed in our yard. The quiet air was filled with song, and I put my hand over my chest. You probably think ‘migration’ right? I didn’t. I whispered “I love you too”.