Happy Things

The first time I heard this quote, my girls were very young. My mom printed it out and framed it for me. It’s been on my desk ever since. It reminds me to take notice of the joys in life, both big and small. To embrace them.

My nephew and his wife had their third baby last week. I visited them in the hospital with my husband and our 21-year-old daughter, Talee. My great niece was two-days-old. She’s healthy, beautiful, perfect. Her cry is sweet. Her tiny hands and feet are precious.Her whole life is ahead of her, waiting for her to discover it.

When I held her, it reminded me of holding my two lovely babies. My husband held her, and I had flashbacks of him with our newborns. Talee held her, and I could easily see her becoming a mom.

Moments that take my breath away. Pure happiness.

Last week, Lulu of The Real Adventures of Becoming Me, nominated me for the Happiness Tag Challenge. Lulu is one of my oldest blogging friends. She’s amazing! Please visit her beautiful blog. I always appreciate her wonderful insight and inspiration. Thank you Lulu!

Five things that make me happy:

  1. Being with my family. I’m so excited because we leave tomorrow on a family vacation. We’re super close, and I’m very grateful for that. My parents live near us, so I see them often. I love to cook for everyone, and sit around the table eating, laughing, and sharing stories.
  2. The Fall. My favorite season is almost here! Cooler weather, boots, scarves, the fireplace on, football games, pumpkin lattes. Yay!
  3. Baking chocolate chip cookies for my husband. This is his favorite dessert, and it makes me happy to make him happy.
  4. Taking long walks in the mountains. It feels great to take a break from my busy life and go for a hike. I take deep breaths and can feel the stress leave my body. Being in nature reminds me to slow down.
  5. Writing. It’s therapeutic to put my thoughts on paper (or on the computer).  I never thought I’d love blogging as much as I do. Sometimes I start a story and it ends up taking a much different turn than I intended. And that’s fun. It gives my mind a chance to wander and to record my feelings.

Five songs that make me happy:

It’s hard to pick just a few. But here are some of my favorites…

  1. “Good to Be Alive” by Andy Grammer
  2. “Halo” by Beyonce
  3. “Freckles” by Natasha Bedingfield
  4. “H.O.L.Y” by Florida Georgia Line
  5. “Feel This Moment” by Pitbull and Christina Aguilera

True happiness needs to be passed on! I nominate the following bloggers (whose writing often brings me much gratitude and joy) to continue the happiness tag by writing about five things that make them happy and five songs that stir happiness in their hearts.

Happiness Tags:

Lori at Lori Greer in Portland

B.G. at Getting Through Anxiety

Tikeetha at A Thomas Point of View

Jen at The Anxiety Chronicles

itsgoodtobecrazysometimes at My Crazy Life

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Just a thought…

Courage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. (Merriam-Webster)

I don’t think of myself as courageous. I’m not very adventurous, and definitely not a dare devil. But courage can be present on many different levels.

It can be jumping out of an airplane, climbing the highest summit, or swimming with sharks. Or fighting for one’s country, saving someone from a raging fire, or going on a mission trip to help the poor.

Courage can also mean:

Getting out of bed each morning, to face a day filled with hardships.

Standing up to a bully.

Fighting to receive the best medical care for your child.

Standing up for yourself.

Speaking out on matters that are important to you.

Leaving.

Staying.

We all have courage. How does this apply to me? How am I courageous? I’m doing my part, however small, to help end the stigma of mental health conditions.

I still don’t think of myself as courageous. I’m simply doing what I think is right and what I believe in. I’m sharing my experiences, in hopes of helping and encouraging others.

I suppose it does take some boldness to speak out, especially on a personal level. I’m in training with the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I’ll be talking to high school students about raising awareness. I’m excited, but nervous. It’s out of my comfort zone.

But I’m attempting it anyway.

Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s the ability to act in the presence of fear.

 

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SMALL STEPS ARE MASSIVE

Please take a few minutes to watch this fabulous video from Lauren Hayley. She was one of the first bloggers I met here on WP. I immediately connected with her, as we both have struggled with anxiety, panic attacks, and agoraphobia. She’s taken time off blogging, but recently posted this inspiring video. She’s proof that small steps do matter!

BY LAUREN HAYLEY

Agoraphobia is undoubtedly one of the most misunderstood anxiety disorders; with many people assuming it simply means ‘being afraid to leave the house’. However, agoraphobia can be better defined as an intense fear of being in a situation where an escape is not easy. For me, this has included using cash machines because of the length of time you’re stuck waiting for your money and can’t leave; it has included being in elevators, cars, trains, cinemas, using pedestrian crossings; not being able to stand still because of the need to keep running; being unable to cross the road because there’s too much traffic, and a million other small and complex things that would take me way too long to list; but equally impacted my life beyond belief. The result of all of these things was what left me housebound. It wasn’t that the outside world was a scary place to…

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Piano Keys

My parents were over for dinner this past weekend. As they were leaving, my dad stopped near our baby grand.

“Do you know that soon I’ll be the same age as there are piano keys?” He paused. “Eighty eight.” He sounded proud. I smiled.

I was impressed he came up with that fact. We’ve had a piano since our girls were young, and I’ve never thought about counting the keys. I guess it’s something I should’ve just known.

“Wow, Dad. It’s hard to believe you’re going to be 88. Can’t wait to celebrate with you in a couple of weeks.”

That night I thought about the keys. Fifty two white and thirty six black. All there for a purpose. Each one is important. If one isn’t working or is out of tune, it changes the song. The keys work together, as a team, to create the perfect harmony. Like people.

I was surprised at how many ways piano keys can relate to our lives.

Some sound prettier than others. Some are loud, low, booming, and powerful. Others are light, tinkly, soft, and happy. On their own, they aren’t complete. But together, they make beautiful music.

Imagine being in a concert hall. The lights go down and the audience is silent. A soft spotlight beams on a pianist, alone on the stage sitting at a grand piano. The music starts slow and soft. Peaceful. It eventually gets louder and more dramatic. Peaking at an emotional level. It seems as if the pianist is unaware of the thousands of people watching. His body moves from side to side, his eyes closed. His head bobs up and down, as he feels the urgency of the melody. The confusion, the anger, the desperation. Toward the end of the song, the pianist relaxes and gently plays the final notes.

The audience erupts into applause. We’re grateful for the experience. We’re thankful the pianist shared his talent with us. We’re hopeful to feel like this again.

There are joyful, lighthearted songs and intense, bitter, and passionate ones. Some are brilliant, while others are not as profound. There are symphonies that make us dance, and others that make us cry.

Just like the days, weeks, months, and years of our lives. 

It amazes me that my dad will be 88-years-old. A piano key to represent each year. Played together, there’s no end to the beautiful music.

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It Could’ve Been So Much Worse

Last night I got home from the grocery store, all set to make chicken fajitas. I wondered why my husband wasn’t home yet. I knew he went to check on our business. Just then my phone rang.

“Jen, I’m going to be late for dinner. There’s been a fire, and it’s going to be awhile.”

WHAT?

I fed the dog and rushed out of the house. I arrived in the parking lot ten minutes later. There were three extra long fire trucks, lights flashing. It was difficult to maneuver in the crowded lot.

At least fifteen firefighters were in our store. The ceiling panels were knocked out and wires hung from the rafters. But nothing looked charred, except for the insulation that came down with the panels.

In the chaos, I couldn’t see my husband. A firefighter told me he was in the back. I needed to go through the shop next door, to stay out of the way. I found him, looking sweaty, dusty, and in disbelief.

“What happened?”

“I came in here to check on things, like I always do. It was fine, so I left. But I forgot my sunglasses, so had to come back. That’s when I smelled smoke. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. I went into the back room, looked up, and saw an orange glow. I called 911 right away.”

Thank God he forgot his sunglasses and had to go back.

We don’t have to be at our business full time. We check on it every day, but at different times. It was a miracle he was there at that moment.

I don’t even want to think about what would’ve happened if he wasn’t. The entire strip mall could’ve been on fire. But because my husband was there, at the right time, it was knocked out quickly. Nothing burned except for ceiling insulation. No one was hurt.

It was a huge mess. The firefighters removed all the ceiling tiles and singed insulation, and dumped it in the back. My husband and I were left with a very dusty, dirty store with the smell of smoke hanging in the air. The cause couldn’t be determined. Possibly electric.

We wiped grime off surfaces and swept the floor as best we could. It was dark. The firefighters had recommended we turn off the power.

We were touched by all the people who stopped by, genuinely concerned about us and our business. We’ve been in the neighborhood for years.

We are so fortunate.

That my husband happened to be there.

For the firefighters.

For our concerned customers, our strip mall neighbors, and people we don’t know, who stopped to talk and offer their condolences.

It’s going to be a hectic day, as we get ready to reopen. Tonight we’re planning to relax. I’ll make those chicken fajitas and watch the convention. Just like we were going to last night.

***

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Just a thought…

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This post is not political. I never discuss politics on my blog. However, I was watching the Republican National Convention last week, and am watching the Democratic National Convention this week. Regardless of party affiliation, I love this quote from Ivanka Trump. Her father gave her this advice years ago.

“If you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big.”

For me, it’s not about building the Roman Colosseum or skyscrapers in New York. It’s about being the best that I can be. Taking the initiative to find ways to be successful. And my goals shouldn’t be limited. I don’t want them to stop at a level where I’m confident I can achieve them. I want to push myself out of my comfort zone. Be adventurous. Aspire for more. Dream bigger. And find a way to reach those dreams.

When things don’t go my way, or don’t fall into place easily — it doesn’t mean I need to forget about my goals and trash them. It means I have to find another way to get there. I remind myself to explore all avenues before claiming I’ve reached a dead-end.

There are times I’ve started to pursue something I think I really want, but come to realize it’s not for me. And that’s okay. My efforts are not a failure or a waste of time.

I consider that successful  — when I find out what’s right for me, and what isn’t.

My husband and I have tried to pass this message on to our daughters. For instance, it’s hard to pick a major in college and stick with it for the rest of your life. It’s okay to change. That happens when we learn and grow. Our paths take all kinds of twists and turns. That’s what makes life interesting.

Whether this relates to a career, a relationship, a new home, or getting fit and healthy, there’s nothing lost in asking questions and taking baby steps to begin pursuing our passions. We have to start somewhere.

Think big and go for it!

 

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