Monday, November 24, 2014

Choose happy

I am going to let you in on a little secret: Starting around November 15, I start wishing it would just be New Years Day, already. Sure, I enjoy my time with friends, and I like all the yummy food the holidays offer. Anyone who knows me knows I love Christmas presents (giving and receiving, thankyouverymuch). I get a kick out of some of my holiday decorations, since I'm a sucker for glitter and sparkle.

But damn, if this time of year isn't tough.

Between the extra family stress and the fact that my traditions are...well....non-existent at this point, I'm about done with decking my halls. I just want to eat a little food, watch "It's a Wonderful Life," reflect on a few good memories, and hope for the best as I turn yet another page.

Since I live with depression every day of my life, I know what to do and how to manage. I am thankful to be in a position where I can actually choose to be happy. I wasn't always here; happiness was once nothing more than a fuzzy idea that seemed totally out of reach. So I know just how lucky I am.

I have learned ways to find happiness. When that fails - I have learned how to create happiness. I have learned that, if you're lucky, happiness really is a choice - one you have to make every single day.

But it's still tough - and I know I am not the only one. So if you know someone going through a tough time, here is a good list of things not to say.

If you're going through a rough time, just remember - January is coming. Until then, if you need a smile, let me know. I'm sure I have one or two to spare.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Forever people

Friendship is weird. Think about it - who we meet sometimes seems pretty random. If you're like me, you probably meet new people all the time. Most just pass right by. But every now and then, you meet someone and stop. It's like you both decided, "Hey - I like this one. I think I'll keep it."

Even though it seems random and senseless, I personally think we meet who we meet for very good reasons. Sometimes it takes a really long time to understand. Other times, it's obvious right away. Sometimes, we never really know.

I feel like that's because it's not always about us. They say people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Sometimes the reason isn't ours - we're there to help someone else learn a lesson or get through a difficult time.

The downside of that is the potential to get hurt. I have shed quite a few tears over the hurtful words or actions of others. Sometimes, it just hurts when I lose them from my life.

I used to think those encounters were some sort of proof that I did not deserve happiness. The whole,"why me; what did I do to deserve that?" thing. But over time, I have come to look at these reason/season people as a blessing.

{Stop rolling your eyes. I'm being serious here.}

How wonderful is it to be in such a good place, I am strong enough to bring good into someone else's life? Even if it means a little temporary heartache - what better proof could there be that I am on the right path?

More proof I'm on the right track? In completely random, senseless ways I have met some amazing forever people. People I could call anytime, and I know they'd stop what they were doing to come help. People who, at different times and in different ways, have all helped carry me when I could not carry myself.

If I can bring them half the blessings they bring me, I'd say I'm doing just fine.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Keep it off the playground

Forgiveness is funny. It's one of those things we're taught when we're young - and we learn quickly. Someone hits us on the playground, the teacher makes him apologize, we say "apology accepted," and within five minutes we're back to playing.

It seems so simple. But then the mistakes and offenses get bigger. We deal with more than a sore arm. There's no one to remind anyone to apologize. Eventually, we forget how to forgive.

We start assigning value. Some things deserve an apology, and some don't. Some apologies are worth accepting, while others are not. We think we're hurting the other person by withholding that forgiveness; teaching him a lesson. We have completely forgotten how nice it was to return to the playground without anger or fear.

Forgiveness isn't something you pick and choose. It isn't a weapon or a lesson. A mistake is a mistake, and one hurt feeling is not worse than another. Forgiveness isn't a reward for an apology, or a long-standing friendship, or because someone is your favorite.

A forgiving heart is one that accepts hurt feelings and then lets the anger go. Forgiveness is a tool; a way to release ourselves from negative feelings and allow light back in.

Does that mean you never get angry? Does it mean that you allow yourself to be mistreated? Is a forgiving heart a weak heart? Of course not.

It means that you have the strength to realize that, at any given moment, everyone you meet is doing the best he can with what he's got. Sometimes that best falls short and leaves you on the losing end. Forgiveness means having the power to pick up the pieces, fix what you can, and move forward.

It keeps your heart light, and keeps those hurt feelings off the playground. So the next time someone says he's sorry, you won't be too hurt to say, "OK."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Supposed to be

We are all supposed to be someone.

I'm a woman, so I am supposed to want kids to raise and a house to decorate and a husband to love me.

I'm 40 - so I'm supposed to be sad that I have none of those things. I'm also supposed to feel all washed up.

I'm a "curvy girl" so I'm supposed to desperately try to lose weight (probably so I can attract that missing husband). I'm also supposed to have incredibly low self-esteem, and no self-confidence.

I'm a child of divorce, who is divorced herself, so I'm supposed to be cynical (at best) about love.

I come from a family that leaves - either physically or emotionally. So I am not supposed to trust, or know how to express my feelings. I am supposed to be scared and angry and depressed. I am supposed to react in anger.

I'm an only child, so I am supposed to be completely spoiled, selfish, self centered, and incredibly shy.

I'm sure some of that is true, or at least was true at some point. I certainly struggle with self-esteem and confidence. I am pretty spoiled. I haven't always been great at expressing myself. I'm sure some of those things come and go, depending on my circumstances. Some probably always will.

But those things do not define me. I have learned that every one of us can overcome who we are supposed to be. Things like family and childhood and past experiences do not have the last say in who we are.

In the end, we choose who we will become. It may be a long road, and we might trip and fall along the way - but the path is ours to make.

I am not who I am because of everything I have been through. I am who I am in spite of it.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Take the first step

When I tell people I have faith, they usually give me the, "C'mon, you don't really believe in that, do you?" look.

Well, yeah, I do - or I wouldn't have said so.

But I understand the question mark. For a long, long, long time, I had zero faith. I thought things had to be forced into shape. If it didn't fit, I pushed harder. I thought faith was an excuse to be lazy, and not work for what you want.

Over the last couple of years, I have learned that faith is a lot of trust mixed with a lot of work. Faith means you keep moving towards your goal - while trusting that whatever happens is part of the plan.

You still have dreams and wishes. You still set goals. You still make plans.  You still do all you can to get where you want to be. Keep up your end of the deal.

At some point, you accept that you've done what you can. What remains is out of your control.

Then you keep moving forward, as if you know how things will turn out. That's faith.

What's meant to be will always find its way - but you need to participate.