Happiness is…

Do you remember that song from Sunday school?  I used to sing it while my dad played the guitar…

Happiness is to be forgiven, livin’ a life that’s worth the livin‘…” (I hope it gets stuck in your head all day. It’s a good one!)

I spent my time once I turned 25 dreading the fact 30 that was looming.  For FIVE years I forgot how old I wasn’t because someday I would be older.
And let’s not even talk about 40. Because it looms ever so close.  Like 17 days away.
Actually, let’s.  Let’s talk about it because I’ve decided I’m ready.
My beautiful friend who has lived more decades than I asked me to remind her of my age.  I said, with ridiculous drama including massive eye-rolling, “I’m gonna be 40 verrry soon.”
“Oooooh!” she said excitedly.  “I loved 40!”

Insert stunned face here.

“What’s to love about 40?” I asked.  My mind was reeling!  Really, in my mind I hear the dirge rise paying homage to the death of youthfulness.  I see folks in black remembering the Alison that used to turn heads and wear dresses above the knee.

Sigh…..


“40,” she said, “was when I finally had a little time to myself to do the things I wanted to do.  My kids were a little older and all of a sudden I wasn’t taking care of little ones.”
It was an epiphany for yours truly.  She was right.  This is the time in my life when I finally quit my job that we needed to pay the bills for all those years so I could realize what I wanted to be when I grew up.
This is the time when I know who Alison is quite a bit more than I did ten or fifteen years ago and I have the confidence that goes along with that.
I now have grown children who don’t need me to dole out bedtimes and supervise chores.
I have dates, heck, I have weekends AWAY with my husband!!  This is the good stuff!

Do not regret growing older.  It is a privilege denied to many.

When I was a kid I was just as uptight as I am now.  I gave myself stomach aches over having too many body parts to wash.  Seriously, I remember during one bath feeling completely overwhelmed that I would either be a dirty, stinky kid or just plain fail my mother by missing, say a belly button or a dirt patch behind an ear.  There were just too many things for a girl to wash!

These days, I think of about 347 things to get done each day while I am drying my hair and brushing my teeth each morning.  I set out at a running start each day ready to do all the things–hoping I don’t fail.  There are short term things like mailing cards and cleaning the kitchen and making phone calls.  The are longer term things like scheduling everyone’s lives for the month and making plans with friends.  There are long term things like, oh, where are we gonna live if the house sells out from underneath us.

So many things for a girl to remember to do!!
And then I remember this thing I heard recently.  I read it in a book I’m trying to have time to finish called One Thousand Things.  Have you read it?  It’s a beautiful book about seeing everything to be grateful for and counting them one by one.
Anyway, the words hit me square in the heart–and the calendar.
The happiest people are the ones who have learned to be present in the moment.

Sooooooo…not the ones making lists…?

Each year, I try to learn new things.  I set out to challenge myself.  Last year, I learned to can.  You know, like your grandma probably did.  Fruits and vegetables.  And broth and fish, and all kinds of neat stuff.  I did a great job, if I do say so myself.

This year, I am looking for my happiness.  The other day, I found it at the beach when no one else was there.  Just the waves and the blue sky and the sunshine, and my God and me.
Yesterday, I found it in three whole minutes of peace and quiet sitting on my front porch step watching the wind blow through the pine forest in my front yard in the evening just before the sun set for the day.
This morning, it was at the moment where I decided to set the lists down and as I brushed my teeth and applied my eyeliner, I worshiped instead of planned.

Because this is what I’ve realized…this is that part where NOW is the happy.
Whatever storm is brewing around me, I either get swept up in the torrent of it, or I sit and look at the blessing of NOW, and choose not to get lost in the details.

Try to be happy in this present moment, and put not off being so to a time to come,–as though that time should be of another make from this which has already come and  is ours. –Thomas Fuller

We put an offer in on another farm.  We’ve been waiting almost two weeks for an answer.  Our house needs to sell for us to get it.  If it doesn’t we are back to square one.  If we don’t get the new farm, and our house does sell, we’re all homeless.  My grandchild will be born in a few months and none of us know where any of us will be living.
This is my present storm.  But you know what? It is not the decider of my happiness. I am loved.  I choose peace.  I am never alone.  My very hairs are counted.  Even the sparrows have beds at night.

See?  I’m learning.
40 is the year of promise.  The promised land must be right around the corner.  As for now, I choose joy in this journey…even if my feet are tired.

Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occur when you’re climbing it. –Andy Rooney

Australia

Australia

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