So I’ve been having trouble practicing what I preach lately. You know, the whole ‘live life to the fullest’ bit? Yeah, not so much this week. I’m trying…I really am. But all of a sudden today, I woke up out of a trance and realized that I have been just going through the motions. I mean, who can blame me really…but still. It’s not who I want to be. So sad, so sullen. And it’s raining.
I hate rain right now. It means the sun is not shining and I lost that burst of happy energy that it gives me…that warm reminder that my sunshine angel is watching over me. When I say that I woke up out of a trance, I literally mean just that…I was being a human zombie. And when I did wake up, the true weight of my emotions started to sink in. I hurt so badly that I considered for a moment going back to being numb and lifeless. But that is not really living, is it?
Sometimes, living…really living…means feeling EVERYTHING. The good, the bad, and the ugly…yes, that ugly means I let out a scary cry today. I even threw in a scream or two for good dramatic measure. It was the stuff of Lifetime movie legend.
When I was done, I gathered myself together, raced for my car and drove straight to my Favorite Place on Earth #1. People, I am talking about Chick-fil-a. I love that they serve Diet Dr. Pepper with the good ice. The fresh flowers on the tables. The way they say, “My pleasure!” instead of, “You’re welcome!” And of course, the waffle fries. I love Chick-fil-a so much that the only thing that motivated me to cheer at the Washington Wizards/Cleveland Cavs game this past weekend was the opportunity to win a free sandwich if the Cavs missed both free throws in a row. (Didn’t happen- how is that possible?!?)
While I enjoyed my delish grilled chicken sandwich, I got out my Kindle and picked up where I left off in The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In it, the author has an epiphany one rainy day where she realizes that “time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” She sets herself on a mission to test out old sayings/beliefs about happiness as well as experimenting with current research on the topic. I have just started the book, but I absolutely love her quest for living life to the fullest. And she does so in true me fashion with checklists and goal sheets. Each month she focuses on a different ‘resolution’ all while trying to maintain the previous months’ goals. She read books and studies galore on this topic and found that one of the best ways to be more happy is to act happy even if you aren’t really feeling it. Just the sheer act of trying to be happy made people feel better.
As I sat there in my favorite place, I realized that I needed a big dose of acting happy in that moment…even if it meant pretending. On this rainy, dreary day, I needed to focus on the positive and at least give happiness a shot. So, naturally, I headed over to my Favorite Place on Earth #2 which is Target! I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to buy, but retail therapy always makes me feel better. There is something about having a shiny, new purchase in a Target bag that fills me with unrivaled happiness. Shallow, yes. But oh well. Inside the store, I found myself gravitating to all the cheery yellow things. Shoes, handbags, scarfs… I bought the happiest things I could think of. A yellow blanket for the end of our bed, a towel ring to hold a sunny towel set that will soon be mine from World Market, and sunglasses. You betcha, this chick bought sunglasses when it was raining…and I wore them out of the store. Rain drops be gone! It worked…well it didn’t stop raining…but, acting happy actually made me happy. 🙂 I smiled the whole way home.
Lifted by my experience, I have decided to make my own happiness project. Each month I will focus on one word and try to spin that word into creating more happiness for myself…and maybe after a while, my heart will actually match my actions. This month (and May too since I’m halfway through April already) my word is CONTROL. Ok, weird word to pick at first, but let me explain. When my entire world got turned upside down with Callie’s death, absolutely everything felt out of control. I worried and fretted over the things that I couldn’t do one single thing about. I can’t control other people (ahem, jerks that ask if I’m pregnant). I can’t control what God gives me in this life. I can’t control the rainy dismal weather today. The list goes on and on of stuff I can’t control. But there are lots of things I can control. I can eat right and exercise. I can organize spaces in our house that I let fall into a disorganized wreck. I can choose to not go on Facebook if it upsets me. I can focus on the things I have instead of the things I don’t have. See where I’m heading? Life has rained on me lately…actually it has been a downpour. But I have the ability to open the umbrella and protect myself as much as I can from getting drenched. From now on, I am going to try and do my best to only focus on the things I can control.
One thing that has been a continued source of anguish for me is what to do with Callie’s belongings. I dwell on it and torture myself over it. Well, I can’t control what happened to Callie, but I can take small steps to controlling the aftermath. And that’s what we are doing. We ordered bookshelves. Yep, bookshelves. How does that help anything? Well, it gives us a place to put some of the things that reminded us of Callie. Step one.
Next step was cleaning out the blackhole that was our ‘office’. That was a major chore, but we survived. I am too embarrassed to show you pictures of what it looked like before, but I will show you the awesome office cabinet thing we got that now hides all of our files, etc.
Step three was taking the large items like the bouncer, the swing, the stroller, the bassinet, etc. and storing them in the space we cleared out from the office. That’s where we are now.
The next step will be hard. Plastic tubs for Callie’s clothes. Ugh. It makes me cry just thinking of it. But approaching it this way helps me control and make sense of this maze of difficult choices. One step at a time…like a giant connect-the-dot. I’m not sure what the big picture is, but we are getting there one little dot at a time. I’ll fill you in on how I’m doing with my happiness project at the end of May. Care to join me?