It was today.
A really beautiful fall day.
And in fact, if you peeked through the curtains of my home you’d think that I had it pretty much together. In fact, again, if you saw it you’d think that I’d really gotten my life on track. The couch that I’ve complained about for years on the blog has been replaced. There’s a new rug, curtains, throw pillows and an adorable chair. From Target too, I might add.
You’d see me. Now with clothes from Banana Republic and airline stubs from traveling the world. You’d see planners signed and homework on the counter. A counter that’s clean and floors that are swept.
But you wouldn’t see me.
You might not see that behind this surface of having it all together I was in fact – broken.
More broken then I think I’d ever like to let on.
I covered it with busy and instagrams and I’m great and thank you very much and fun top ten lists and Starbucks Caramel Macchiatos.
But it was the facade. The surface.
Until one day I realized that I wasn’t waking up happy anymore.
How could that be since this was the year of me finding happy? The dichotomy didn’t escape me. It seemed the more determined I was to find happy the more elusive it became. Chores that were just chores now became a way for me to escape from the fact that deep down I was hurting. Simply stated. I was sad.
And chasing happy didn’t do anything except magnify the hole that had festered in my soul.
Busy tried to fill it. Laughing and humor too. Project Runway on Lifetime helped as well. But, time would tick forward and in the moments that I wasn’t busy I found bitterness and sadness and angst and worry and wonder about the future percolating into the normal that I was living.
What is this thing called life?
I’d wonder while I sat at the table. I’d wonder how I could be stuck in this place of losing happy while I watched friends deal with horrible things – death of children, sickness and marriages failing. I felt selfish. Like I couldn’t keep it all together. So I added pressure to the already crushing load of expectations and goals and keep it togethers that I had placed on my weary self.
And then I became frustrated because that very thing I wanted couldn’t be found.
Today I’m quitting.
I’m quitting chasing happy and instead I’m understanding the idea that I am whole.
And part of being whole means that I give myself grace for me. It means that there might be times in life where the tears fill my eyes and I don’t have to apologize for them. It means that I start standing up and fighting for me – my heart. I’ve pushed it on the back burner my entire life because of fear. Of fear of being alone, being forgotten and not being enough.
We just do that, don’t we?
But the time has come. The time has come for me to let me be me. And to embrace the wholeness that being ourselves means. It means not fighting emotions and learning to love the idiosyncrasies that make me, well me.
Those are the things that cannot be changed or morphed or manipulated by society’s expectations. They are the things that we celebrate about others but cut ourselves short with.
The way I blush over silly things. The fact that I love sappy epic music. The giddy excitement I feel every time I fly. The way my eyes tear up reading messages sent to me by all of you. The way I like to merchandise my garage sales. My need for a clean island. The fact that sometimes at night when the kids are sleeping I will peek in on them and tears will tumble from my eyes.
My family deserves me to be whole. My friends do as well.
In fact, I deserve it too.
So instead of lists and projects and more places where it feels like I’m failing I’m going to instead decide that today I have done well. I’m going to be intentional. Kinder. Thinking a moment more before I respond. And understanding that all those emotions that I shove to the corner maybe are telling me something.
Life is short.
I may be only 40 years old, but that could be half of my years. And in that first chunk of years I spent so many of them thinking that there was something wrong with me and thinking if only I was better or this or that and forgetting to see the beauty and worth in just being me.
I want you to see that too.
I know you will read articles after articles giving formulas to find happy. I know that you have so many pressures on you that sometimes you don’t know what is right or wrong or what you should say yes or no to. I know that many of you too have lives that are just a shadow of what you thought life would be. I know that there are some of you who always wanted to be a mom and now that you are here are wondering why you’re not happier. And then you use that to define your own motherhood worth.
Well, let me tell you this – you, the you right now might not need fixing.
I know, so counter culture. But it’s true. We could spend our whole lives trying to fix ourselves and become better and thinking that if we just did more and in that process we could be missing out on living, happiness and finding the content in life that is right under our noses. I realized that today when I was driving home from Target. Three years ago I couldn’t afford anything at Target – I’d write about angst over having $32 in my checking account. Today I spent $204 there and found myself just as angst ridden in the car. So money, well money has helped, but the loss of happy and the content was deeper.
So I made myself smile.
And, friends, I tell you this with tears in my eyes, it was hard. It was hard because I had become so accustomed in thinking more more more more and seeing the tough stuff that seeing the rolling countryside and dried corn and blue skies was lost. Until I smiled.
That’s my challenge to you.
Maybe smiling won’t make you snap out of it.
But, there is something in smiling that makes one realize damn I am thankful for today.
I’m thankful for my house and food in the back. For school pictures. For kids that fight – yes fight – because that means they are alive and healthy. For friends that don’t give up on me. Oh my word, that. Especially that because, friends, I have been a bear. And not a cute one, I’m talking a grumpy angry grizzly.
And I’m not fighting the whole me. Fighting what I thought was wrong spiraled me into thinking that I couldn’t measure up and I missed seeing where I was awesome. It’s about time to see that.
It’s about time for that in my life.
It’s about time for that in this Finding Joy Community as well.
We have so much living to do. So much life to give. So much.
Thanks for walking this stretch with me.
You have no idea how much that means to me too.
So smile. Even if you don’t know why. Because chances are then you’ll start to see just how much you have in your life that is worth smiling for.