Gratitude = Happiness

Chowing on nachos with a good friend of mine, she reminded me that when life gets you down to focus on what makes you happy.  (Thanks Stace).  She pointed out that I have a good job and can pay my bills,  my children are healthy,  I have a supportive family and friends as well as a warm house to come home to.  She’s absolutely right. I know she’s right. I just need that friendly reminder when that pity-party band starts playing in my head – LOL.

Focusing on random aches and pains, complaining about the dysfunction in our world,  stressing over the minor obstacles in my life and pining after what I don’t have, absolutlely brings me down.  Yes, I do need to set goals and make little changes and take action to acheive my dreams, but I need to do so in a positive way.  I need to make time for myself and let myself be me. So I’ve come back to gratitude.  Remembering what I am grateful for and reminding myself that I am enough and I have enough, genuinely leads to happy feelings and drives my blues away.

Beyond those obvious “BIG” things I am truly grateful for (my children, family, friends, health, home  and job), I played back the last few days in my life and found little things that I am grateful for…in no particular order:

  • Giving my cockapoo a shampoo and blow out at the self-serve dog bath with my teenager. He smells great and looks positively fluffy.
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  • Writing with a brand new gel pen. There’s next to nothing more satisfying than writing that first stroke with a new pen:)
  • Stocking up at the olive bar. (Need I say more?)
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  • Listening to the Coffee House channel.  Even though I am musically inept, listening to music while reading a good book lifts me up every time.
  • Eating a yummy waffle sandwich (Again, need I say more?)
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  • Watching an old movie in the dark. Just like a good book, a good movie is good for the soul (happy endings only, please).
  • Playing with a new fun photo editing app.
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  • Dropping my daughter off at her first job (brought back memories for another post).
  • Being reminded by my friends to keep on keeping on.
  • Writing this blog post and hopefully resonanting with other grateful people.

What random things are you grateful for? Please comment below.

The Small Stuff

Scrolling through my Facebook feed the past few weeks and months, I understand completely why  people sign off social media never to return. Today I’m feeling nostolgic for the fun vacation pics, cute pet photos and those first day of school smiles. Lately it seems it’s filled more with stories of devastating natural disasters, political diatribes and name-calling.

I know these conversations are important to have.  The world is full of strife and unfairness. People are mean. People are judgemental and cruel. People want to be right and which means others have to be wrong (but does it really?). Injustice is real.  I’m not immune to that. Pretending these issues don’t exist or abstaining from the conversation does not make them go away.  Life is not a sun-shiney highlight reel.  Yet, people are also compassionate and empathetic. People are generous and kind. People can compromise and right wrongs.  All of this is true.

I am blessed and lucky to live in a country where these converstations can happen. We are free to disrespect and disagree with each other as much as we want. Our military protects our freedom to do just that.  Freedom is what makes America, America. The Bill of Rights guarantees these freedoms.  However, tonight I am tired of reading about people bitching about how others are exercising their freedoms in away that disrespects their freedoms. It’s a Catch 22. It seems we want to exercise freedom and label ourselves the land of the free so long as everyone expresses that freedom the way we want them to.

So tonight I am exercising my freedom to take a break from the heaviness and bleakness  from the contradictions and hypocracies and focus on the small stuff that made me smile today instead.

  1. A foggy sunrise as I took the trash to the curb.
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  2. I hot cup of coffee from the corner gas station (where all the clerks know my name).
  3. A text, an email, a tag, a like and a walk around the block with good friends (far and near).
  4. Creating chalk drawings on the driveway with my girls.20170925_230836663_ios.jpg
  5. Watching my daughter’s face light up as she put together her new clarinet and showed me how she can play a few notes.
  6. Noodle soup. Mmmm.
  7. Throwing popcorn in the air and laughing as my dogs take turns catching it in their mouths.
  8. Piles of folded clean laundry (that I didn’t have to fold!)
  9. Whimiscal clouds scattered across the sky as I drug the empty trash can back to the garage.
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I once read the key to happiness is focusing on what you are thankful for and those simple gifts that make you smile.  Serendipty those little surprises in life are right in front of your eyes if only you open them wide enough to see them. That’s what this blog is all about.

I think I might be on to something.

 

 

Does Happily Ever After Even Exist?

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Just call me the “Crazy Dog Lady” in training…

Ahhh the fairytale romance……

“And they lived happily ever after.”
The End.

These magical words have always made me feel warm inside. True love conquers all.  The happy ending. Oh, how I love the happy ending. As a consumer of chick flicks and trashy romance novels galore (and author of the same – but not too trashy), I’ve always been drawn to the fantasy of that”perfect” love and the happily ever after. I subscribe to the notion of why pay to watch a sad ending or invest my time in reading a novel that ends in despair. There is enough of that in real life. I want to escape into a feel-good world. The idea that somewhere in the universe that perfect love exists gives me hope. However, the realist (cynic) in me knows real life is much harder than that. Relationships take work. People change. Humans are imperfect. Life is NOT a romance novel.  Fiction is NOT fact. I get that. I really do. So, that’s why I’m embarrassed to write that deep down I secretly hope it could be real. Now that I find myself a single woman, I dream the love story could be mine. It’s exciting to think somewhere out there my soulmate is looking for me and swoon, we’d fall in love and it wouldn’t be hard.  If only….

Navigating the dating world, let alone actually finding someone compatible, and nurturing that relationship beyond the initial butterflies is not easy. As a single mother with a full-time job in a middle-aged body, I know this beyond a doubt – more than ever before. I’ve tried online dating, but that is a part-time job in and of itself. Crafting the perfect profile that’s intriguing, but still true to me, finding the photos that make me look young and fun, writing  flirty messages and going on disappointing first dates. I can see that he viewed my profile, but he never responded to my message. What’s wrong with me? He’s online, but takes 10 minutes to give me a two-word response.  Swipe left or right? This feels so shallow.  Should I initiate a text or wait for him to text me? Should I offer to pay or let him? It goes on and on ad nauseum.

Dating should be fun right? Instead I find it makes me feel worse than being on my own. Online dating especially makes me feel “less than” when I know I am “more than” enough. I’m naturally a glass-half full person that finds the silver lining in a situation. I’m trusting and try to see the best in people. But online dating has left me feeling jaded and disenchanted. Do I really need to know my profile is “not popular?” or that the guy I messaged didn’t find me attractive enough to respond to me? Did I say the wrong thing? Was I too aggressive or too passive?

On the flip side, it doesn’t make me feel good to ignore messages or tell a perfectly nice man that I like him, but don’t want to date him?  I feel cheap messaging multiple men at the same time, not to mention going on dates with more than one person. I break into a cold sweat just thinking about it. And that’s just a cup of coffee… Then there’s sex.  On the first date? After three dates? When I’m in love? Isn’t there some in between? My intellect says it’s okay for two consenting adults to connect physically, but my overthinking mind and fragile heart holds me back.  I want to be that laid back woman, but in the end I’m that uptight girl.

I vacillate between wanting to find that special someone, a companion to share my life with and giving up on that fantasy all together. I don’t want to rush into a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship. My friends tell me God will put the right man in my path, when the time is right, when I least expect it. Could he wear a sign around his neck, so I know it’s him? I don’t want to be like the person on top of a roof as the flood waters rise, turning away the boat and the helicopter that God sends to the rescue and end up dying in the flood wondering why God didn’t save me.  If God sends a boat my way, I want to jump in. On the other hand, maybe I’m destined to be a crazy dog lady (I hate cats so I can’t be a crazy cat lady).  In the end, I am confident that I am happier in my “aloneness” than I ever was or could be in the wrong relationship.

But still that “what if….” whispers in my ear. Take a risk. Be vulnerable. Life’s a journey…

780 words later I’m no closer to an answer.

Can anyone else relate?