It’s a happy life…

My kitchen table at New Year’s.

Here we sit uon a New Year, with prospects for it to go better than the last, and for once I rang in the new with no celebration other than binge watching a show with my love, toasting with wine and whiskey at midnight and sharing a lovely kiss. No watching the throngs of people mashed into Time’s Square in New York, where I always wonder why they want to be there in the cold, and no party this year, not with even another couple, let alone thirty of my friends.

Because I want to help out my daughter who just had a sweet baby who has days and nights mixed up, all I need to do is show up Covid-free, so we’re being careful, and hold the baby for a while. Graveyard shift, but I will gladly take it. In fact, I revel in telling of my last baby, born at the end of November, and his days and nights were mixed also, and I had to run around with my two older kids besides. When my husband and I wandered over to the neighborhood party on New Year’s Eve, the ladies swooned over my one month old. I just swooned from lack of sleep.

The best view of the creek that has ice on it this year.

I tried to make coherent conversation, but then it struck me. If my friends were sober, they could hold my son for a few hours, and I had brought bottles, so I asked if they would like to hold onto him, and his daddy toted the little guy home much later. I went home well before midnight to…sleep. New Year’s Eve parties do come in handy at times, but tonight the world seems muted, waiting, guarded, yet gathered around the table again. We’re in a state of anticipation and becalmed excitement. And yes, more waiting.

Are you talking more and connecting? I know we played games on our Christmas Day, which we celebrated on Christmas Ever day, because my nurse daughter worked on Christmas Day. The day felt authentic, even though we forgot to read Luke Chapter 2 the way my father always did before opening gifts. I think having an excited toddler, with his new baby sibling along with all my kids being together, with their husband and fiancé too, made for a noisy, happy day filled with more fun and laughter at the joy of being able to spend this precious time together.

Do you see what I see?

Did you feel that way too? As if your holiday meant more, because of all we need to do to be safe, and we don’t have those casual spur-of-the-moment visits, so we find time together to be a gift. No arguing politics (it’s done!), and no arguing about food because we all brought everything we wanted and noshed all day long. And I think as weary as we all are now, it will be so different next year. Well, this year now, because I think we will appreciate the little things that make our lives happier.

Right? From meeting with friends at Starbucks for three hour long chat sessions, to flying out on a crowded plane to see my mom and dad, or greeting people with a hug, seeing smiles again, visiting the theatre finally, going to sporting events, staying in a hotel or that trip to Scotland (fingers crossed, and please God make it so), to seeing my neighbors and standing to talk to them and none of this cursory, “hi” and “cold today” from twenty feet away. And I appreciated the cookies our neighbors brought over and it is something we all look forward to, but I handed out candles to be “safe” when cookies taste better. I should have done cookies, but with the new baby and all. Ah, well, there’s always this year, right?

A wee dram with my Scottish Highland dreams by the fire.

How are you doing? Are you finding bits of happiness peppered through your week? Do you miss your family? Your routines? The sky still looks the same. I look up and realize the stars and moon have no idea what social distancing is. The owls are silent now, but we do hear the neighbor’s dogs and I like that too. The dogs have no idea anything has changed, except we are all home more. I like that cozy feeling of knowing my neighbors are near, my home is warm and we gather nightly in front of the fire.

No, it is not real, we have that at the cabin, but the gas fire draws us in anyway. We grow almost too warm, and I light the candles I bought from London. The one labeled Winter is excellent, but the Highlands candle is eh, so I’ll gift that away. And we talk. Have you discovered the magic of a zoom call? I love them most of the time. My sister organizes it, I press a button and suddenly I’m looking at my brother’s ceiling, my father’s knee and my sister’s table. They are all yelling that they’ll be right there, and then we sit, talk, tell stories and laugh. We talk about our old cars that my day duct taped together. Well, one, but I could see the road underneath as I drove. Dad told me not to look down then! Laughter!!

Getting little gifts in the mail is a treat!

The talking. The connecting as we laugh about the Kentucky Meat Shower that someone brought up, we googled and it’s a thing! I’m going to miss the zoom calls. And the connections made on social media for me this year have been so fun. My friend who lives in Nevada sent me this gift, above, when I mentioned how I love Vegas and want to go back. Maybe the Luxor is in my future. I smile every time I see that. As I hope you smile when you pass by a trinket given to you in friendship. Or by a love. From a child. We still have that.

I think we will have a good deal more in the new year, and I hope you fill your eyes with the beauty of a sky filled with stars or the soft sound of snow gently falling, muting the sounds, filling us up. We can still use these next months well, before things get back to a new normal. We can read that novel, the good one about the Crawdads. We can talk face to face or on the phone. We can gather people together in our hearts, keep them in our thoughts and always our prayers. We still have some time before the reset button is pushed, so let’s use it for good.

We’re at the cabin, so its toasty warm here.

Use these winter months to be you. Sweatpants, messy hair, enjoying your cup of tea or your warming soup on a chilly day. Read, write, because people will want to know what it was like in the pandemic of 2020/2021. Walk outside. Sing inside. Light the fire, or a candle. Tell someone how beautiful they are, and then go back to playing your guitar, baking those cookies, and laughing at the year that was. We can certainly smile knowing this year is going to be a good year, because of all we have learned.

I’m wishing you a wondrous New Year filled with all the happiness your heart can hold.

Until next time…

Deanna

If we only knew…

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Isn’t this candle wonderful? For us, I mean. Since we’re on a happiness journey, it’s fun to  find little treasures to grace our days. I decided to give this sweet candle away. There really is such a thing as too much of a good thing, which, in my case, means I am candled out. But the message is perfect. Be happy today. I think the “be” is particularly poignant, since someone close to me is hurting and I’m not feeling the “be” right now.

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Let me explain. Someone I love dearly was completely blindsided by the love of their life (thus far) telling them they were no longer loved or at least, not loved as much. I feel their pain. It’s hard to sit on the sidelines and watch someone you love swim through the deep end of murky, unknown waters. Rejection is never fun, but going through a tough time helps us learn more about ourselves. And we discover resilience. Eventually, moments of sunlight give way to days of sun washed happiness. We find our way.

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I’ve always wondered about (and envied) the people who find love the first time they dip their toes in the dating waters. They stay together, marry, and still stay together. They didn’t muck through the mud of rejection. Are they as happy as I am, since I loved a few people on my way to the guy I really fell for. And married. Has your heart been burned? Frozen on a frigid night? Have you thought happiness would never run through your veins again? That the laughter spilling from your soul was quenched? And you thought it would last forever?

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The person I gave this sweet candle to just wandered in from several months of realizing the one she thought she was settling down with, meant she was settling for a lot of bad. (I didn’t know until right before their break-up.) She can light that candle tonight and smile with true happiness again. It’s back, but it seemed as though night claimed her heart forever. Have you been there, ever?  I wonder if there isn’t something necessary about the process. About feeling sad, left out and alone. Finding our way through tough times just might lead us to a much better place; a place filled with a sense of happiness and contentment. And peace.

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Our souls are fragile. To be in love feels heady, warm and wonderful. To have loved over many, many years is bottled happiness. I would “be” happy today if it weren’t for one close to me being rocked to the core. Because I know what that feels like. Actually, add in a summer’s worth of girls on the side, and that’s what I faced. Long ago, when I wore the body of a college girl, tanned from a summer of sun, I eagerly returned to college to find a cheat where I once knew a kind, sweet boy. You too? Huh. And if not that, maybe you’ve felt the sting of rejection at the hands of friends. Maybe your family. Where is the happiness in those days? I’ll tell you.

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Time. It heals. The love of others sustained me, too. Roommates, determined to see my smile, made me laugh. In spite of the cold center in my heart. Frost had touched it, and I never thought it would feel warmth again. But it did. Oh please, know your breaking heart, for whatever reason is going to come out whole, will feel love, will thaw and seem light as the air on a warm and breezy May evening. I’ve been there myself, and I’ve walked that road with each of my children now too.

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Be happy today? Did you also receive a handful or a heartful of sadness today? Hang on through this ride, because you will find your way to blissed out, singing at the top of your lungs in the shower kind of day soon. You’ll weather the storm. Even if someone just told you they don’t love you…anymore. Or as much. Or that they found another love. Or someone told you how wrong you are, when you meant well. Are you wandering through waves of misunderstanding? Are you being shunned? Does it feel like that?

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I so want you to find your happiness today. Be happy. Tonight too. But if you only want to huddle under a blanket and eat Oreo’s until midnight, go ahead. I think chocolate is a part of a well-balanced diet. Because I know this…

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You will have days and nights where you will feel drunk with happiness. Love you enough to find kind hearts to surround you and make you laugh in spite of yourself. Take those runs. Walks. Do jazzercise like my 77 year old dad. Then find a small treat and bring it home. One red rose. A sweet tea (I had two today! with less sugar, yesss!). A dance party in the kitchen while listening to great music that you have to sing with. Even if your nose is stuffy from crying. Because you will find your way back to happy.

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I have to admit my heart still hurts tonight. Writing about finding happiness doesn’t mean I feel super happy every moment of the day. But this will pass. Happy days will be here again. By the time May runs into me, I hope to be taking pics of sun laced days where being happy isn’t something to aspire to. I’ll just fall into it, languidly. I hope you will too. We’ll look out for each other along the way. So try to be happy today. Be happy today. Find it. It’s out there, waiting for you. I promise.

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Until next time…

 

 

Midnight singing with sunny blues skies…

Waking up before dawn, I witnessed frost covering every twig, leaf and blade of silvery grass. I didn’t have time to take a picture, since I was rushing around trying to get too many December errands done, but I thought about the frost all day. It is beautiful, and we can only find it in the quiet season, this time of rest. And yes, you’re probably laughing at the irony of it, that at the very time the earth slows down and offers up time for us to not plant, not weed, not water the grass, we might be up to our ears in busyness.    And if that’s true, know that it’s just a season in life and one day you’ll have the time to look up at a December sky and see the palest baby blue you’ll ever know.

 

And while those days of herding little ones through the wonders of Christmas are gone for me, I don’t mind. I’m happiest seeing what’s just ahead of me and enjoying life as it hits me. Can you settle into your days? Enjoy where you are? If you’re working crazy overtime, walk outside and enjoy the sun, even for a minute. If the only time you can break away for a breath of fresh air is at night, then do it. Yoga at sunrise? Sure. A stolen glance at the evening stars? Take it! When I had little ones, and then they turned into teens (no one told me about babies changing into hormonal teenagers!), I had a super secret stash of dark chocolate in my closet. When I needed a boost of serotonin, I would hide in my closet and unwrap a delicious chocolate or three, and that would hold me steady for the next five minutes. Until I could get my hands on a cup of hot Starbucks.

When I lived in Wisconsin, the only time I could get out for a walk or a run was after sunset. Long after. And for a season, we lived in a subdivision that had one street, going in a circle. One circle? One mile. I would bundle up and begin the first mile around in the very dark that only a place without streetlights brings. This place was out in the country, away from city lights, and one half of the circle had houses decorated merrily that dared the dark to dwindle their glitter and shine. But the other half of the circle? No one decorated for the holidays, except for one house that had a limp ornament hanging halfway off the tree, and it tinkled one Christmas carol, over and over.  Every mile I ran meant a pass past the tree with the somewhat dissonant music chiming away in the dark, with only me to bear witness. I got chills from it. And not the “oh it’s twenty below and I’m freezing here” kind of chills.

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Ever since then, I decided to bring color and shine and glitter into each December.  I smile when I see Christmas everywhere in my house, and up and down my street. We all throw on our lights each night and dare the cold to snatch away the same happiness we felt when silky June evenings whispered to us.

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See that cute sign I picked up for a song? Anything that glitters has my rapt attention. Wonder. This is the time for wonder. Wonder felt when a neighbor gives us a plate of Christmas cookies she labored over late at night. Wonder at the excitement of children waiting for Christmas Eve to finally show her face. Or the kind of wonder that wraps you up this time of year, remembering holidays long past. The warmth of family. Traditions carried forward. Wonder at the trees casting hauntingly beautiful shadows across snow. Across brown leaves that we reveled in a mere month ago.

My first year out of college found me working in a major city a long way from home, and at the last minute I decided to fly home, on Christmas Eve, as soon as I could scoot out of the office. I desperately wanted to make it back in time for Midnight Mass, because I knew my mom would be singing, and I wanted to be there in the warmth of that night. But a busted engine on a plane in Detroit kept me stranded until almost ten o’clock. I went to join other weary souls at the bar in the terminal, and while I sipped a festive drink, I started my own singing of the carols right there. I might have been missing the church choir in all their regal splendor, but we all piped up and joined in and shared Christmas Eve together. When I straggled into church a bit past midnight, my mother spied me tiptoeing in and when we finally hugged, I noticed her tears. We were together. I was home! Wonder of wonders, that plane took me to Syracuse in time for Christmas.

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I hope this finds you somewhere warm and happy. Even cold, as long as you are happy. But I’m learning about happiness and her secrets. Somedays you have to make your own kind of happiness. It might mean sneaking into your favorite stash of candy or a drive-through hot chocolate with extra whip, or it could be hanging out another strand of lights. Find the wonder and you’ll find a good measure of happiness there too.

Have a beautiful week sweet friend.