I really struggled with the holidays the first year after our divorce. Truth be told, I still do! There were so many traditions we’d crafted together as a family. So, I set out to create some new ones, for our new life together. And that is when I started this jar, the Gratitude Jar. I journal my gratitude every day. So, this jar isn’t for the gratitude I feel day to day. It’s for those bigger occasions, accomplishments, or milestones! It’s for occasions like, for me, creating this website. That goes into the jar! And the best part, my favorite part…I empty the contents of the jar the following NYE to reminisce about all the beautiful things that happened, all that we’ve accomplished, the milestones achieved throughout the year. I can’t think of a better way to ring in the new year than to celebrate a year full of amazing beauty, growth, and achievement! Cheers!
I saw Collateral Beauty last night. It was one of those movies that really affected me, touched my heart and soul. It was thought provoking, my favorite kind of movie. Collateral means accompanying. So, collateral beauty is literally accompanying beauty. It is that beauty that comes from struggle, from pain, from suffering. It is like the pearl that is formed in the oyster or clam in response to irritation or injury.
With struggle comes change. You evolve and you grow. The beauty is in the becoming. Collateral beauty, to me, is coming out the other side on your own two feet, better, stronger than before. Collateral beauty, to me, is all the good that comes from the struggle! In my life, collateral beauty is the relationship I have with my daughter, the strong bond that we formed from facing her illness together. Collateral beauty is the love I found for myself after my divorce. There is beauty in everything. You just have to look for it! Train your brain to find the good in every situation!
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life,” a favorite quote of mine by J.K.Rowling. Rock bottom. Have you been there? I have! And, believe it or not, in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Leave it to me, a Gemini, Queen of Paradox to be at my all-time low in the middle of one of the most beautiful places on earth. And yet, how perfect! Allow me to digress…
We were one of those home buyers who decided to buy a home in 2006, when houses were at an unaffordable, all time high. We sunk our life savings into our “dream home.” But by 2010, we were financially drained. Our home was worth half of what we owed on it (never mind all the money we’d sunk into if for improvements). So, in 2011 we made the heartbreaking decision to short sale it. I felt like my world was crashing down around me, falling apart. I was, after all, losing everyTHING I’d ever worked so hard for. And, I was quitting, something I’d never done. I felt like a failure. We had failed our children, our family!
Then, our daughter got sick, really sick, and suddenly the house was a side note. Losing the house became a trivial concern. And the hits just kept coming. Our son fell ill, a serious illness as well. We settled into our rental home and the new norm became doctor’s appointments. Medical bills were crushing us. My husband’s modus operandi was to avoid. So, avoid he did. Our home became his hostel. He’d come home only to sleep and shower.
I was teetering on the edge. One soft blow and I would fall into the abyss. So, when one of our precious pets passed, off the edge I went, hurled into the deep, dark hole to rock bottom. I was in Kauai when I received the news about Ringo, our beloved cat. I was in Kauai when I hit rock bottom and I was in Kauai when I decided I was done being the victim. I would not curl up with my demons and have a pity party. No! I was done being pelted by lemons and I was going to make the world’s best and largest lemonade! I was going to take control of my own life! I was going to be HAPPY! So, I began to read. I read and I researched and I experimented! I became a walking, talking, laughing, life enjoying happiness experiment.
The kids and I moved out to start a new life in the summer of 2014. I was single after being with my husband for 30 years (married for 24 years). I’m not going to tell you it was easy. There have been lots of tears. But for every tear there has been twice as much joy.
In my tireless quest for happiness, I found that it’s not something we happen upon by accident or luck! We can’t sit back and wait for it to happen to us. It’s an active choice. We have to decide to be happy and we have to take steps towards achieving it EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Here are the steps I took in making happiness my reality. They’re tried and true. They worked for me and some, if not all, will work for you.
Is this your year for happiness? All you have to do is decide. It’s the perfect time to make a commitment to your own happiness! You’re worth it! You are the potter and your life is your clay. Create something fabulous! Make this the best year yet!
We all have a story to tell, our story, events that made us who we are! For me, getting my story down on paper through journaling has been my catharsis, one of my saving graces on my quest for happiness. Writing my story has had healing powers. It has allowed me to release my inner most thoughts to process and purge. Sharing them with others is my next step. It is my hope that in sharing I can inspire someone to begin their own healing process. If in sharing my story I reach just one person who connects with my story, who needs to hear it, who feels less alone or afraid because I shared…then I’ve done what I set out to do!
Lisa is a teacher, mother, yogi, lover of life, and collector of experiences. Her motto: Life is what you make of it. So, do what you love and enjoy every minute! She’s on a journey of self-discovery and believes it’s important to write and share her story as a way of healing herself and others.