For some, they grasp so tight in a panic that they will never feel anything like it again, that they smother it. I was one of those people for a long long time. I had it all. A successful husband, smart great kids with pretty smiles, a nice home and new cars, all of the American dream pieces were in place including the white picket fence and the blue skies. But it wasn’t what I really felt.
For the last year I tried to figure out what happiness was going to mean to me. I needed to make some changes, do something more with my life, and then if time allowed, I was going to get back to writing.
There was a point where writing was more of a chore, a hassle that I started to dread instead of go to in a place of peace. My husband once called me an “Angry Writer” and for some reason it stuck. I looked over some of my favorite pieces that I’d written and they were flame fueled and passionate. I wrote in anger, I wrote in grief, I even wrote in sickness. But I rarely wrote when I was happy.
I needed to make some changes that were not about what I was wearing, who I was having lunch with, or any of the other petty crap things that I had gotten used to doing. I needed to start stripping away some of my walls and layers of bullshit and get back down to a human place. Honestly, the woman I had become for a while wasn’t who I wanted to be and I knew that.
When my husband came to me and asked my thoughts about moving to the west coast, I dug down my manicured toes and grabbed on tight to my world. I secretly tried to be the good wife and told him I would support whatever he needed to do, but really was hoping it would never happen. I didn’t want to give up on the life we had built together, the relationships and the community ties we had tended to for so long. I was just getting to a point where I didn’t feel so lost and powerless in our community, and instead I had friends and a schedule of things to do. Something in me wasn’t happy with just sitting on the sidelines. I wanted to do more.
A few months later everything we owned had been packed up and moved for us. Like it or not, change was happening and I could either wrap myself around my old ways or let go and try to make something better out of what I was given. I have a chance to leave the past in the dust and move forward.
Now 2 years later I am so happy with all that has changed in my life both inside and out. I am thinner, healthier and so much happier. I found that every day is more of an adventure into happiness and change than I ever thought possible. I let go of trying to fit in to what I thought everyone expected of me. I no longer belong to the popular club, my yearly dues are now spent on planting vertical gardens and growing our food right from the seeds.
I don’t need to meet the girls for lunches while the kids are at school and talk crap about my husband and people in the town, now I occasionally meet a friend for a cup of tea before grabbing some coffee grounds for my garden. We talk about what we love, about what makes us happy, and most importantly about how we love the lives we are making for ourselves. I walk away feeling so good about my life, my community, and the efforts I make to be someone I actually like. I don’t miss the gossip and drama that flourished in conversations.
I live in a very simple community where sharing what you have with others is part of your day-to-day life. If you find a buy one get one free sale, you get what you need and give the rest. It’s life changing.
I look around now and see the beauty in simple things, enjoy the laughter of my neighbors as they walk with their children down the street to play with other kids. There are fewer over scheduled children and more random meet-ups and time to enjoy them.
In my free time I actually got out of my comfort zone and I helped create a free-economy system in my town where people can get what they need and share what they have. I volunteer to clean up the community, organize meals for new mothers, the elderly, and even a funeral. I found a way to use my creativity to bring people together. In no time at all, I made friends… real ones.
I have people over to my house now, sit in the floor and play with puppies and babies. I laugh freely. Sure, bad days happen. And I have learned that I am okay with that because they are chances to get to really enjoy how happy I am every other day. No, the world isn’t a perfect place and it never will be. But it is up to us to create the kind of community we want to be in instead of complaining about the one we are stuck with.
Happiness was something that I thought I understood but wasn't always sure of how to live a happy life when life was imperfect and hard. But now I know it’s something that I have, and I am learning to accept.