Tag Archives: happiness

An Open Letter to Happiness

Dear Happiness,

I used to think of you as a rabbit.

You would appear just a few feet away, nose twitching, ears up. Always at least one eye on me. It was always cool to see you appear, but as soon as I would try to touch you, to feel your fur, you would dart off. Zig-zagging away. Your fluff of a tail waving goodbye.

RabbitEven when I would stumble onto a moment, unplanned, unexpected. You would be gone in a flash. I could never get close enough to catch you. To hold you in my arms. Feel your breathing, or smell your untamed spirit. You were too quick for me, even in my prime.

I know better now. I know that you, Happiness, are not a rabbit.

I know now that I was chasing other people’s expectations. The rabbits are social definitions of you. Rabbits that I can never catch. I’ll never have enough, or be enough, to catch them. It is still cool to see them in my yard. They still appear, nose twitching, eyes looking at me as if to say, “You can catch me this time! Really, you can.”

It’s hard not to give into the urge to chase them. To finally know how their fur feels, to feel that sense of pride after capturing one. But, I am so glad I finally saw you, Happiness.

I’ve heard the best place to hide is in plain sight. Happiness, you did that well. I remember when I discovered you were there, right by the front door. I laughed out loud because you were there every time I chased a rabbit. The day I figured it out, you were a pair of black Nike running shoes. I was headed out to take a walk to deal with the tension in my soul. And there you were, my shoes.

I see you, Happiness, all the time. You are my dress shoes I wear as a teacher, or when I go on a fancy date with my wife. You are the grass stained, worn out shoes in the garage I use to mow in. Once I figured it out, I knew you were there all the time. You were my football cleats. My track shoes. You were the shoes I bought when I started playing slow-pitch softball. You were there on my first day of kindergarten; nice clean shoes for the first day of school.

red shoesI only wish that I figured it out sooner. Even so, thank you Happiness, for being there every day. I understand that you are not a moment to be captured. You are the moments I live. Even in the rough spots, you are there. I found you in the ditch after my first car accident. I wore you as I boarded that Greyhound bus leaving my biological family behind. I was wearing a pair of Nike IDs when my second son was rushed out of the delivery room. I understand that you are there in everything I do, rain or shine.

I may never catch a rabbit, but I know I’ll have a great pair of shoes on when I run. Or even better, I’ll wear them as I sit on the front porch with my family watching the rabbits play.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Family, Life

Our Story Part II

It is late Sunday evening, and I don’t know when you might read this, but let me share a few highlights of the week. The following moments are parts of other people’s stories and mine.

My oldest son is in Baltimore for National FBLA competing in Public Speaking.

A coworker headed home for a family wedding as her marriage is in the process of ending.

My other son spent time in Indiana on a basketball trip with his high school team. They visited the Milan 1954 Hoosiers MuseumHoosiers gym, Butler University, and played a basketball game against a school also named Adams Central.

I spent a morning working in my new classroom (more on that later).

I attended the funeral for the son of a colleague.

Two of my daughters were in their first play, 101 Dalmatians Jr.

An instructor shared that her daughter moved into her home with her four kids because the daughter’s marriage was ending.

I finished an excellent graphic novel, I am Alfonso Jones. I highly recommend this graphic novel.

Finished making the third movie of the trapped trilogy.

We attended a wedding for my niece. They dated for over four years.

Our Story

This past week was filled with stories: heartbreak, new beginnings, happiness, and history. It is incredible to think about all the stories being written right at this moment. Some filled with joy, while others are experiencing pain and heartache. Someone right now is trying to fight off doubt and fear, while at the same time a couple is welcoming a new child into the world.

A great story is not without pain or without love. I don’t know what words you are writing right now for your story. But I do know that your story is important, that the words are yours and they need to be written by you. There will always be plot twists that surprise us, but remember, you get to write the next scene… write from your heart.

2 Comments

Filed under Family, Life

Strength of Joy

I’ve been working through a deep life concept, but I will get to that in a minute. Let me share some anecdotes that connect to the idea first.

IMG_5667First my youngest daughter. She is a year and a half. She is at that stage where life is simply awesome. She is learning to use the stairs, learning to talk, learning to blow kisses. She will stop eating to stand in her seat and dance. Her brothers are teaching her how to fist bump. Life is filled with everyday joy for her. At graduation this weekend a mother of one of the seniors reinforced that idea when she stopped me to say how wonderful it was to watch my daughter dance during the graduation. There is a moment in the ceremony when the seniors give roses to their parents. This year the song was “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake. The mother then said, “She could all teach us what it means to be joyful.”

As many of you know I am at a major crossroads in my life. And things are not going well regarding what next year will bring for me. I let that stress get to me a couple of days ago when I lost my cool in front of my kids. I can’t even remember why now. But as I read stories to my middle girls and asked them what their favorite things were from the day, I was brought back to the concept I had been thinking of…

JoyStrength

I’m not talking about feeling happiness. I’m talking about a deep appreciation of the blessings we have in our lives.

Happiness is eating brownies. Joy is making the brownies for someone else and enjoying their smiles as they eat. (Of course we have a brownie, too. We can feel joy and be happy at the same time.)

Negative feelings can over shadow our lives. It takes strength to combat feelings of fear, doubt, and disappointment. That strength comes from Joy. It takes courage to see the beauty of our lives, a child’s smile or the stars shining, when we feel like our world is falling apart. The catch is that when we pay attention to those things that bring us joy that leads us to feel the strength to battle through the tough times. It is a cycle, a positive cycle that builds us up.

Joy doesn’t remove a bad situation. It gives us the strength to get through it with a loving and confident heart. To stand up and dance even if it is dinnertime.

1 Comment

Filed under Family, Life