(Imagine me there, not on the bench, up in the tree with a notebook and a pen.)

After Christmas, my mother-in-law told me about a book she was going to read called the Happiness Project. The title instantly grabbed me. It sounded noble, at least, and very familiar. When I was at the library yesterday, I picked up a copy. I knew I should make time for it when I read a sentence on page three:

"I had a brief vision of myself living for a month on a picturesque, windswept island, where each day I would gather seashells, read Aristotle, and write in an elegant parchment journal. Nope, I admitted, that's not going to happen. I need to find a way to do it here and now."

My good friend, Angie Jeppsen, once told me that she'd decided that life was happening right now, and she wasn't going to wish it away waiting for her husband to be done with school (that's a big thing when waiting to be out of school, that somehow "real life" will magically appear). I love her for all of her little insights like that. That one stuck with me. After moving to Chicago and back to Oklahoma without a deep sense of satisfaction, I kept telling myself that life is happening now. It's not what's going to be after this and that are accomplished, this is it. Every day, every breath I take. This is my life, and I don't feel like I'm making the most of it. The author, Gretchen Rubin talked about having much to be happy about, but "I still suffered bouts of melancholy, insecurity, listlessness, and free-floating guilt."

This woman has been inside my head - I would think that if I didn't have the faintest idea of how interconnected we all are. She's inside my head just as I am inside yours and you are inside mine. When we moved over the summer, I dove into books. It's the only thing I knew to do. I started with Sue Monk Kidd's Dance of the Dissident Daughter. I have taken my sweet time with it, staying at a part until I feel I'm ready to move on. I can't really put into words what I've been going through in the last few months. It's been a combination of dreaming, grieving, loving, hating, hoping, all things in the last quote from the paragraph above, always thinking, trying to recapture what I've lost or let go of myself, and so many more things.

I think it's crazy, really, the things we give up along the way for whatever reason, most often times contrived because we think we're making it easier on someone else, that we're being who they want or need. It's so sad when you take a survey of what was lost and what was gained. The losses mount quickly, though often unnoticed. "Don't live your life based on other peoples' expectations for you."

I've read books on writing because I feel like that's something that's missing. It's part of who I am. It's what I did at the kitchen table as a child - writing the visions of birds taking flight. But I also have to make peace with certain things: I am a mother of small children, and it is so difficult/impossible to have enough free time to sit and think, uninterrupted, or to be awake when I know I need to be asleep. I need to become a better manager of my time. Let me be clear, motherhood is not a detractor from who I am, it is my life, and the saddest thing would be to wish for this sweet time with my girls to hurry because I feel like I can't recapture something. That's one of the pearls I've added to my strand in these last few months, that I am becoming such a better version of myself because of my girls.

I'm trying to bring it all together. Page four states is perfectly:

"It was time to expect more of myself. Yet as I thought about happiness, I kept running up against paradoxes. I wanted to change myself but accept myself. I wanted to take myself less seriously - and also more seriously. I wanted to use my time well, but I also wanted to wander, to play, to read at whim. I wanted to think about myself so I could forget myself. I was always on the edge of agitation; I wanted to let go of envy and anxiety about the future, yet keep my energy and ambition."

I know that my own happiness is wrapped up in a continual exploration of my spirituality. I have a desire to know the Divine, the divinity within myself. I am a woman full of passion, love for life and learning, full of love, period. I want to make these truths about me come to the surface. I don't want to be timid about being myself. This journey has been so valuable, and I'm nowhere near the end.

I'm going to make it a point to look at the moon each night, again. That's important.


  1. Hello. You wrote a very article, and I enjoyed the reading very much. First of all, thank you very much for sharing your experience.
    "Don't live your life based on other peoples' expectations for you." The meaning of this sentence is very profound. However it is very hard to achieve, because as you said, we are full of guilts and people around us give us pressure. Without giving up our responsibilities, we can touch the happiness close to our hands.
    Thanks again. Looking forward to read your articles again. Have a nice day.
    Rougemer from France.

  2. Me again: I wanted to say, you wrote a very good article. Sorry for the mistake.

  3. I'm loving the book. I've read January and February but have hesitated getting too far along in March. I'd like to let it gel a little.

    I'm glad you are reading it too.



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