Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Choose Happiness

The four year anniversary of my pulmonary embolism was yesterday. And reflecting back on it and other things in the last two days has really made me think. So as I always do, I write. So here's the thing about me. I choose to be happy. I choose to smile. To enjoy my day to day life. Even the mundane, annoying, stressful things. I try my best to be positive in all situations. Sure I still get crabby and down. My depression is still a very real thing that I am almost in a constant battle with, although most would never know if I didn't choose to speak of it. And it's something I will struggle with my entire life. But I look for the silver linings and try to set the example for others. Even though my positivity actually makes some people mad. But some people are just like that. They thrive on it. They have to point out the bad and talk about your failures. Not to you of course, but to other people. Maybe to make themselves feel better? To excuse their own negativity? I don't know the reasons why. But I do know what I'm going to do about it. I'm going to smile. And I'm going to keep smiling. If my own happiness and positivity makes someone bitter, that's on them. I'm not going to let them steal my joy. I almost lost my life 4 years ago. More importantly, I almost lost the chance to grow old with my husband and watch my children grow up. So I refuse to let negativity rule my life. I will go through life happy and content in all things. Life has given me many reasons to break down and give up. But it's also given me so very many reasons to smile. So when need be, I will be my own cheerleader. I will choose to try and make the best of any situation. And I will live my life with my chin up and head in the clouds. I will dance in the aisle when the quiet gets too loud. I will be silly in serious situations just to make someone smile. Even if that someone is me. When things aren't working right and every thing is going wrong, I will point out whatever good I can find, no matter how insignificant it may seem. I will try and be the light in any situation. I will loudly stand up and right whatever wrong I can. When others are sitting back resting on their laurels, I will be building bridges for us all to use to get to the next step. Life is just too short to be boring or grumpy. And it's definitely too short not to spread happiness. Some may call it being naive or fake or that I'm trying to be liked too much or whatever. But that's okay. If the worst thing someone can say about me is that I am "too happy" then so be it. Because I am a good person and really do want everyone to be as happy as they choose to be too. And if tearing me down is what you need to do to feel higher than I will let you. Because I know my truth. I know that your bitterness will not change the way my loved ones feel about me. And at the end of the day, when I go to asleep, I will say my prayers of thanksgiving for another day with my friends and family and will say an extra prayer that you one day find whatever it is you need to bring fulfillment and happiness to your life. Because that's the difference between me and you. Whereas you would love deep down to see me fall, I would like nothing better than to see you rise! And when you do win at whatever you want in life, I will be one of the first to congratulate you and I promise that nothing will be fake about my smile.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Right and Wrong

When I was a teenager I was told that there was an unforgivable sin. And I became terrified. Because I had already been through and done so much that I was afraid I had committed the sin without even knowing it. I had yelled at God, blamed Him, cursed Him. And I spent years trying to determine what the sin was that was so terrible. And I think I figured it out. And it wasn't what I expected. From my research and from my own personal prayers, I believe that the only unforgivable sin in life is to refuse to see and hear. Because if you think about it, if a man commits a crime, even the most heinous crime against the most innocent of society, by God's grace, he can still be forgiven. Even though our own personal nature tells us that that person doesn't deserve forgiveness. They can receive it. Just as any of us can even though none of us truly deserve forgiveness. But, if a man is told of God's word and still refuses to follow Him, he is lost. There are some of us who are so dedicated to not following Him, that we refuse to even consider  the smallest of possibilities that we are in the wrong. Some of us even believe in a "higher power" but because of whatever reasons, we have decided at some point that it's just not for us. If you ask most people in America if they believe in God, they'll tell you without hesitation that they do. But if you ask them if they follow His teachings, most of us wouldn't be able to tell you what those teachings are. But we're convinced that we are going to Heaven because God is this good, forgiving guy who loves us and we are decent people who don't deserve hell. But we are so very wrong. No matter how good of a person you are, if you don't follow Him, you're lost. 

And how true this is for us in every day life as well. When we set our hearts on something we know is wrong but do it anyways. Even when taking God out of the equation, which is never a good idea, when we know that what we are doing or what we are contemplating is morally wrong, and we do it anyways, we are without hope. We convince ourselves we'll be fine. We put our own happiness ahead of what is right. We're told from society that life is too short to be anything but happy. That it's healthy to put ourselves first. But God didn't promise us happiness. He has specifically told us not to put ourselves first. He has told us time and again to show His love to others. And we can't do that by only taking care of our own wants and needs. He promised us forgiveness. He promised us an eternity with Him. This world and our life here, is temporary. It very well could be the saddest, most horrible life anyone's ever gone through. But He has promised us that it will be worth it. We will all face tragedies and heartbreak. Some of us will face things too terrible to even speak of. But He will redeem that pain. He will make it right. If we follow Him. If we make the decision to do so. It's not easy. It's almost never easy to do what it right. It can sometimes be the hardest thing we've ever done, but it will be worth it. But we have to acknowledge the truth. We not only have to hear His words but we have to follow Him. It's one of the saddest things in the world to me when I see a loved one who is hurting and running hand in hand with anger and fear and they don't even know it. They think they are fine and that if they just keep going, they'll be happy. But in reality they are in denial and heading down the darkest path they can possibly go down.
And I am helpless to stop them.
All I can do is pray. 
And love them. 
As He so desperately does.
As He asks me to do.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Best In People

Seeing the best in people. It's a wonderful trait. To see what makes even the worst of us, good. In any little way. To see that small glimmer of greatness in even the darkest of souls. It's a trait that many should strive to have. Because there is something good in all of us. It's just that sometimes, it takes a very special person to see it. 

And while I do think that I have this trait to a certain extent, I know I have the opposite. I see the bad. Because just like we all have goodness in us, we all have some not so nice things too. And I am usually very good at seeing these dark spots. Even sometimes when the person doesn't even know they have them. My gut doesn't lie. Maybe it's because I saw so much dark so early in life? Maybe because I'm so familiar with my own ugliness? Whatever the reason, I'm glad I have this ability. Sometimes it's not a great feeling to almost immediately sense someones worst quality. Or to everyday see the blemish in the heart of someone you love. But still, I'm grateful. Because, I see you. I see your dirt. Your ugliness. 

I. See. You. All of you. The good and the bad. And you know what? I love you anyways. Because I choose to love you. I might not always like you but I promise to always love you. We don't have to be perfect to be a good person. We all have secrets we'd never want the world to see. We all have something about us that we want to stay hidden away forever. And that's okay. As long as we are striving to be better. As long as we don't ever give into that darkness. As long as we keep striving for the light! But in the meantime, I love you. All of you. Even if you can't love yourself right now. Even if I don't love myself right now. I love you. In all of your light. And in all of your dark. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Encounter

I've always wondered how I'd react if I were to ever come face to face with him. We live within 30 minutes of each other. It's a small community. I know it's bound to happen eventually. In the last decade or so I've gone over every possibility. Scenarios where I leave him crying in a ball of shame. Where I slap him. When I do worse than slap him... Where I just run away. Where I let him know that I am not afraid of him and that even though he tried, he didn't break me. Where I tell him that I have forgiven him... Scenario after scenario of all the ways I would handle it. And in one breath, one brief moment, I realized that all of those possibilities were wrong. The second I looked up from picking out a new mascara and saw the man at the end of the aisle, I froze. In that split second a thousand thoughts went through my head. I knew almost instantly it wasn't really him but that he just looked strikingly similar. But although my mind knew it, my body didn't and refused to believe the truth. My breath caught instantly and I broke out in a cold sweat while my eyes filled with tears. All in less time than it took for the man to glance away. The first thoughts I can remember clearly thinking were that my kids were safe at home and that Nick was right in the other aisle and wouldn't let anything happen to me. Then the shame set in. Shame that I had froze. Shame that I didn't think of protecting myself on my own but that I wanted my husband there to save me. Shame that I reacted like I was a scared little 4 year old girl again wanting to run from the bogeyman but knowing that there was no where she could hide. After what seemed like minutes but really only took seconds, the man walked away and I closed my eyes and tried to collect myself. Tried to remember how to breathe. How to pray. How to do anything else but cry. So I stayed there. In the makeup aisle.  On one knee with my eyes closed. Looking like an absolute lunatic no doubt. But eventually I stood up and walked away to find Nick waiting on me who was thinking I was just taking a long time playing with make up as I usually do. I smiled at him and we continued shopping. I have no idea what we spoke about for the next 30 minutes or so but I know I was trying desperately to keep it together. And that Nick questioned me multiple times if I was okay. And finally after leaving the store and after safely locking ourselves in the truck, I told him what had happened. And just while telling him, I teared up again and my entire body broke out in goose bumps. Even though I knew that it wasn't even really him! Again, my body refused to believe I was out of danger. I find it so hard to accept that something that happened so long ago, can still physically and mentally hurt me. But it does. And probably always will. Through all the counseling and tears, I've learned that it's okay that it still hurts. That it's normal to still be scared. But sometimes, I really hate it. And him. I hate what he took from me. What he did. The pain and fear and self loathing that was given to me at such a young age. I do, I really hate him sometimes. Which I don't want to do. I don't want him to have that much power over me still. I don't want to have a panic attack in the middle of the grocery store. I don't want to be constantly on guard. I don't want the nightmares that torture me. It's not fair. It's not fair my husband has to worry because I haven't spoken more than a few words in days and he knows there's nothing he can do. Or that I'm short with my children because my mind is in a panic. It's just not fair. And most of the time, I'm okay. But sometimes, when my guard is down, I have to face the ugliness again. And those around me who love me do too. And I guess, that's okay. I have to remember that I am loved and that others don't mind sharing my burden. That Nick will gladly take every cold shoulder and silent day if it means I cry even one less tear. That my kids will love me no matter what, even if I yell at them to clean their room instead of just telling them they need to clean up. I still hate that I sometimes crack. And I will one day learn to embrace those cracks and be grateful for everything they've taught me. Just maybe not today...and you know what?
That's okay too.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

9/11; 15 Years

15 years ago I was helping take care of a sweet older lady named Helen. I arrived a little early for my day shift to find Helen and one of her other caretakers in tears watching the television. It took me a moment to understand what I was seeing. No sooner had I sat down and started tearing up myself, we watched the second plane fly into the second tower. I remember vividly the small scream that escaped from Helen followed by heavy sobbing. I and the other caretaker sat there in stunned silence. We all three knew then that this was not just a tragedy but an actual attack.  For myself, it was the first time I'd really ever thought about an attack on our own soil. For Helen, it was a grisly reminder of her younger days listening to the news about Pearl Harbor being attacked. We as Americans have a sense of safety that few other countries in the world have. We feel a certain invincibility because we've heard our entire lives that we are the greatest country in the world. So when something happens it's a very rude awakening. And we ban together. We fly our flags high and unite as one. Now, 15 years later we are back to not only feeling that sense of invincibility but now we have this strange cockiness. We haven't just lowered our flags, we are burning them. We've divided over issues that while they are very much real, are not what defines us. Instead of working together to overcome our problems like we did so strongly after 9/11, we point fingers and fight between ourselves. We blame the other person and refuse to even attempt to see the others viewpoint. We have a problem and instead of working together to fix it, we expect the other person to give in to our demands. We have to stop. We have to remember that we are all neighbors. That we are blessed to be in a country that while has its faults and still needs a lot of work, is still one of the greatest in the world. Our problems exist. They are real. But what we are doing now is not how the problems are going to be fixed. Until we start working together, we are just going to create more problems. We should never forget who we are. The lives that have been lost and sacrificed so that we have the right to disagree. And above all, we must remember that every day is a gift. That tomorrow isn't promised. So we should say I love you often. Hug your kids every chance you get. Call your grandma. Kiss your spouse. Because we are all just one breath away from never having that chance again in this world.