Happiness

People keep asking me what my secret is to finding a way to be happy with everything that has gone on this past year. There really is no secret. Many times I have found that happiness is a choice. It would’ve been very easy to decide to not be happy and sulk in sorrow but where would that have gotten me? I am a firm believer in the energy we put out into the universe is what we attract as well.  Remember happiness is a feeling that comes from within, you won’t find it in anything or anyone else. Here are some quotes that have always been my happy inspiration.

“Life is about balance. The good and the bad. The highs and the lows. The thing that everyone should realize is that the key to happiness is being happy by yourself and for yourself. Happiness comes from within. You have the power to change your own mindset so that all the negative, horrible thoughts that try to invade your psyche are replaced with happy, positive, wonderful, thoughts.” -Ellen DeGeneres

“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” -Unknown

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every moment with love, grace, and gratitude.” -Dennis Waitley

And these two, my personal favorites…

“It’s all in the eyes, I was once told. A smile is not genuine, unless the eyes smile too, and words mean nothing unless the eyes speak them too.” -Unknown

“Happiness comes from within and is found in the present moment by making peace with the past and looking forward to the future.” -Doe Zantamata

Yes, our eyes are the windows to our soul and speak the true words that we don’t always say. I do have my days for sure and I know my eyes always give it away (even my eye color changes with my moods) but for the most part I try to make sure that happy is what they convey.

Another First

Many firsts have happened since Mark left. This past week was no different. All three children started school. The oldest had his first day of high school, the middle had her first day of middle school, and the baby… well, I hope third grade is ready for her. Last year there were two of us getting everyone ready to go back to school and this year was the first time I did it solo.

All the paper work with emergency contacts and parental information had to be filled out. So many times I read, “Both parent signatures needed.” It still stings to write the word deceased where father is located but that is our reality. There are new parents to meet who don’t know our story. I’ve learned to master the art of the obligatory head bob to the side with a “thank you but don’t feel bad, we’re doing okay,” when they find out Mark has died.

I used to break down whenever I had to face the fact that Mark is never coming back. This single parent thing is truly there is no one there to call or ask about opinions on how to handle situations with the children. I am alone. There are people to help, but it is not the same as the person who is half the reason the children are in this world. This week proved something else, I could do it alone without any breakdowns or tears.

I was able to get through the school supply lists, uniforms, schedules, and logistics of three children at three different schools. The mounds of back to school forms got done. All three children had their things ready to go in the morning and everyone was out the door on time, even after taking first day of school photos by the front door as our yearly tradition. I sat at my desk at work once everything was said and done and finally exhaled a sigh of relief.

More moments of dreaded firsts were over. Almost a year of bitter firsts are done. So many of them I thought would break me, but they didn’t. Now, I get ready to turn 40 next month. There is a whole new perspective to this particular birthday. I am excited to kiss 39 goodbye and proud of the woman that welcomes 40. I look at life and seize every moment to live and find gratitude for even the littlest of things. Though when you think about it, there are no little things or little moments for they all contribute to the big picture. I am extremely grateful for God has given me the strength, courage, love, and support to get through life’s lowest of lows. It is true when they say that tough times don’t last but tough people do. As I sit here tonight and type this I look back on all those moments that felt like they would destroy my heart and my soul and think, “The devil whispered in my ear, ‘You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.’ Today I whispered in the devil’s ear, ‘I am the storm.” So whatever the future holds, I’m ready for you.

Rest, I’ll Be Okay

Today is a day away from August 1st. This means that September is near. The end of that month will be one year of life without you. One year since I held your hand for the last time and kissed you goodbye. I sat on the plane today and loved being in the clouds. I felt like I was one step closer to heaven, one step closer to you. There are still so many questions without answers. Most of them start with “why?” The others are just questions that only you can answer.

I have been feeling you a lot lately. Maybe it’s because we went on our first soccer trip without you. I laughed so hard when I found out we’d be in Rancho Cucamonga because you always wanted to go there since the name made you laugh. Maybe the decision for a tournament near there was partially your doing. Maybe it’s the fact that our oldest and only son is about to start high school, our first girl about to start middle school, and our baby… well, as she enters 3rd grade she is getting ready to test for 4th at our alma mater.

Somehow I don’t quite think that those are the reasons. Lots of people have been sensing you near. I smile because even now you’re still on the go and not resting. I can hear you say, “I have eternity to rest, there is still work to be done.” What is it? Then it donned on me. Is it me? For some reason you had the most amazing moments with each of our children the summer before you passed. You and I kept putting our date nights last because we thought we had all the time in the world. We had no idea how wrong we were. Even during that week of what I now call “blessed borrowed time” we still talked about what we were going to do later still not realizing that later was never promised to us. It’s never promised to anyone.

You always did everything you could to take care of me. When I had a migraine, you’d get everyone settled so I could rest. You constantly pushed me out of my comfort zone because you knew I could do whatever it was I would question my ability on. You taught me what a true partnership marriage is and what it is like to wake up next to that person that made you just smile for being them and loving me just for being myself. All of that was taken so suddenly. I sit here as a deluge of tears fall down my face and wonder if this is why you still can’t rest. You know the children are fine and taken care of but you still worry about me.

Love, I’m okay. Yes, I question my every parenting move and many times ask myself what you would do. Yes, I pray to once again share that partnership with someone but know that in time it’ll happen. I still have a hard time accepting that in God’s timing it will happen since I still question him with why? I’m learning to accept it and just remember reading that, “There’s nothing more beautiful than a person whose heart has been broken but still believes in love. When that person opens their heart to you, they are braver than any person you will ever meet.” Mark, you give me that bravery every day to go out and try. You taught me to be resilient, to get up every time life knocks you down. What we had is the reason I’ve never stopped believing in love and knowing it could happen again, but I’m in no rush. I know you selflessly are guiding me to that person when the time is right because love knows no boundaries but love, rest. I’ll be okay.

This is Not Your Practice Life

This year has been trying to say the least. I have doubted myself more in this past year than I have in my entire existence. In the process I have found courage. Learning to face fears head on has taken me to new realizations about myself, and about life.

I sometimes sit there and meditate by putting my hand on my chest. Try it. What do you feel? It’s your heartbeat. It’s telling you no matter what has happened in your life up until now, it’s still beating. You are still living. Nearly a year ago I would’ve told you a part of me died that would never return. I couldn’t have been more wrong. That heartbeat that I feel, that’s purpose. Our purpose is to go out there and live the best life possible. I have started to go out and do things that make me face those fears I had in the past. Do I fail sometimes? Sure, but I try again and keep on going. Then there are those moments where you find success and that amazing feeling called living. Had I not tried, I would’ve never known.

We are only given one try on this planet in this lifetime. This is not your practice life. The one way we ensure failure is to never try. So take a deep breath let go of those fears and doubts and just give it your all. In the process you learn what it feels like to truly live. In the process you find happiness, love, and reasons for living. In the process you find the you that you were always meant to be.

The Thing About Starting Over

When you come out of a loss you sometimes expect life to pick up right where it left off. Wrong. The thing about starting over is that it is exactly that… starting over! In many aspects you go back to square one. Sometimes you even have to find that square! You realize that it’s not truly a continuation of life but more of a rediscovery.

From children to work to friends to rediscovering like to love, the road is paved with happiness and sadness mixed with tears from both. The cement that is created allows you to walk that path. The thing about cement is that you have to wait for it to dry…

You don’t give up because you learn to live a life of no regrets and sometimes the biggest regrets are the chances we never take. So you hope and pray that God give you the patience, strength, and courage to make it through those moments for a chance at happiness once again. Yes, sweet baby Jesus!

It’s Been 18 Years

18 years ago. That was such a lifetime ago it seems. That was also the last time I ever dated. Now I will say this will not be something I write about often. In fact, this may be the only time I write about dating. There are probably some people questioning whether or not it’s too soon to date. The reality is, there are no rules to time. When your heart is ready to go out try again, you know you’re ready. I knew I was ready when the rest of my life and the kids’ lives had fallen into place and I felt like I was missing something. Adult conversation and companionship was that. Dating filled that void and has been one of those journeys filled with eye opening moments.

I have mad respect for every person out there trying to start again. It’s not easy at all. Months ago I started going out with friends. Sometimes that would lead to dates or at least conversations with guys we’d meet while out. Then there’s the Woodwork! Yup, that not so magical place where random people pop out of no where once they realize you’re going out again. Where do you even begin?

I am no longer a 20 something without many cares in the world. Dating at nearly 40 brings with it some amount of baggage. Really anyone dating at this point in their life has some amount baggage. I felt like I should start all conversations with anyone asking me out, “So here’s the deal. I am a widow. I have 3 kids and a crazy schedule. You date me, you get my squad too.” If they didn’t turn and bolt, well then maybe a date was possible.

There are some moments where I just can’t get over the lines people use. In my head all I can think of is, “Does that really work for anyone? Because if it does, you should go to her… now.” There are friends who offer to try and set me up. Even when I say no, some sneak a “oh hey funny to run into you here by the way this is my friend.” Oh no! There were moments all I could think of is that my friends needed a much better vetting process. After some initial conversation, “Sweet baby Jesus get me outta here,” kept running through my head. My poker face needed work, so did my plan on how to date in this day at my age.

Going for coffee could be good and all but if the conversation wasn’t going well you can’t drink that fast and be gone, you’d burn yourself. Yup, mom brain didn’t want anything to go to waste, including my time. So in my head I calculated any potential date plan. If you really weren’t sure but worth a try, go out for cold beverages. If it doesn’t go well, drink it fast and out the door. If the outlook was a little better, hot beverages and/or appetizers because it still wasn’t as long as a full meal. Then there was lunch or dinner, well you had to really give off good vibes for that to be a first date. Sounds crazy I know, but it works. Yes, I’ve gone out to dinner a few times so I know there is someone who has made it past all of the above. Yes, only one person at a time too. I didn’t realize that now dating more than one person at a time is the norm unless you both agree to only see each other. Last time I dated, you only dated one person at a time and if it didn’t work then you move on to someone else. I barely have time for one let alone more than one. Yup, sweet baby Jesus!

Once you find “one” and a date night is set, how the heck do you get ready? I mentioned that is has been like forever since I’ve dated right? My confidence levels also needed work. I’d be getting ready and looking in the mirror to channel my inner Beyonce, music and all. The problem is as soon as I leave the house, nerves take over. Thank God for radio in the car, Beyonce is back! In the past few months there have been some heart aches, some laughs, and yes… some butterflies. Those are the moments that make me know I’m still alive. People always said when a good one comes along it will almost be as if Mark sent them. I will admit that I ask Mark for signs and to guide me to who I’m meant to go out with. Beppu, you’re doing good, thank you. This whole dating thing may not be easy but when you find those moments that make your heart skip a beat and just smile long after the date is over, you know it’s worth it. So here’s to the dating journey and venturing out of the snow globe.

Time

What do you see?

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I see time. Others may see a diamond watch. I read, “Some women want the diamond watch, others value the time.” So incredibly true and not just for women but for everyone. It’s truly about perspective. Maybe it’s maturity or it’s life experiences that make me value time more. To me, the diamonds represent the material things in life. Each of those have a value placed on them. Then there is time. Time is a truly priceless gift.

If you think back on memories, is it the material possessions that make you smile or is it the person linked to them? In my happiest of moments, they are all about the people, not the things. Why? People can invoke emotions that stay with us long after beauty and material things go away. The time people invest into our lives is time they never get back themselves. When we ourselves truly value others, we make time for them as well. We each have a set amount of time and can never get more of it. Each of us is given 24 hours in a day and who we choose to spend it with and what we choose to do with it says so much. So the time we give to and get from others is the greatest gift ever.

Looking back to some of those memories, there was nothing fancy involved. It was merely the company I was with. I have smiled more walking on the beach with friends or chilling at a park than I did when I actually got diamond earrings. Now that’s not to say that I wasn’t grateful, but even I will tell you I don’t remember the details of the earrings as much as I remember those walks. Lesson learned, time is the greatest treasure we have in this life. Time is guaranteed to no one. One more thought I read, ” Time decides who you meet in life, your heart decides who you want in your life, and your behavior decides who stays in your life.” More often than not, we always wish we had more time than more things. As our children grow, we wish for them to stay younger for just a little longer. When a loved one dies, we wish for even just one more day. We wish for more time with those dear to us so use your time wisely. Make memories with people that make you smile. Be with those that treasure your time as much as you do their’s and live a life with no regrets. The time we spend with others makes us richer than any diamonds ever could.

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