The Tried-and-True Do’s and Don’ts of Joy and Happiness (From an Experienced Struggler to You)

7 Tried & True Do's & Don'ts of Joy & Happiness from an Experienced Struggler to You

The following is a dramatization.

***

The alarm goes off. Great, another day. I wake up in pain and slowly stumble into the kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee. It’s literally the only thing that will get me out of bed. But then again, will I even be able to drink it? More often than not, nausea sinks in before I get into my third sip! As I wait for the coffee, I draw the living room curtains shut to drown out the light from the sun; I’d rather sit in the dark. I plop down on the couch my parents bought us as a gift before we left for transplant, which by now is starting to show its wear, and let out a gigantic sigh. Why don’t people make furniture like they used to? Today will be a busy day, like most days. I start to make a list of what I need to do to attempt to get everything done. The list just gets longer and longer – I’m so overwhelmed! The dogs are playing outside and barking endlessly. I knock on the window to try to get them to be quiet. I need to concentrate. Today already feels like a bad day and it hasn’t even started.

***

I wake up in the morning and see the sun shining through my living room window. It always looks so beautiful this time of day. I make my way over to my coffee machine – this is what I look forward to every morning! Soon I will sit with a hot cup of coffee on the couch my parents bought us as a gift before we left for my transplant, one of my cherished treasures, and let the warm sun stream across my face. I can see the trees from my window, and watch the wind rustle their branches. I love where I live! Today will be a busy day, like most days, so, taking a deep breath and inhaling the beautiful aroma of that powerful coffee, I make a list of what I need to do and prepare myself for the day. I hear the dogs barking outside, playing with one another. I chuckle to myself, thinking of them together, two doggie best friends, Molly and Copper. Today will be a good day.

***

The Perception of Joy

In the Society we live in today, people believe Joy and Happiness depends on a strict set of circumstances, a preconceived notion of topics. As proof, consider the following dictionary definitions alone:

Merriam-Webster defines Joy as “the possession of the emotion of well-being, success, good fortune or possessing what one desires.”

The Free Dictionary defines it as “an intense or ecstatic emotion expressing exultant Happiness.

Wow! That’s intense.

When you think of Joy in the context of these definitions, it seems completely out of reach. It’s gives this tiny, three-letter word this giant abstract concept that demands so many specific conditions and checkmarks in life that it almost gives the impression that it can never be achieved. In fact, the definition shows that the pressure to be Happy in society itself is great. This pressure to reach a unidentifiable level of “Happy” can in itself remove it! Have you ever felt pressure from others to be “Happy?” I have.

Checkmarks

Think about it, when in life does a person ever achieve all of those things – well-being, success, and getting everything you want in life? Can that ever really happen to the same person at the same time? If that has in fact happened to you, please email me immediately. I would like to know how you achieved this. (I would also like to know if this actually gave you Joy.)

That being said, I would like to propose a different definition of Joy in my post, an interpretation of the expression that I have found to be more realistic, easier to achieve, and far more satisfying.

My experience has taught me that Joy and Happiness in life doesn’t have to be attributed to achieving some arbitrary and cliché combination of factors of life – especially a list that someone else somewhere out there has made for all of us. Joy can be achieved by a list you make for yourself – in fact, it can be found without completing any arbitrary checkmarks at all!

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Joy and Happiness in life doesn’t have to be attributed to achieving some arbitrary and cliché combination of factors of life – in fact, it can be found without completing any arbitrary checkmarks at all!” quote=”Joy and Happiness in life doesn’t have to be attributed to achieving some arbitrary and cliché combination of factors of life – in fact, it can be found without completing any arbitrary checkmarks at all!” theme=”style2″]

I also believe that if a person is constantly running after this preset list of an unreachable “dream,” this will actually produce the opposite of Joy. Instead of achieving Happiness, most individuals chasing after it will miss all the beautiful moments in life that will actually produce Joy for them. They just keep running and running, searching after “The Thing That Will Make Me Happy,” and once they get there, don’t even realize they are already running after something else. How sad!

With all of this confusion, a lot of us run around trying to find Happiness in life, but really never find it. We may get glimpses of it for fleeting moments, but then suddenly, away it flies, and we are left empty and depressed again.

Same Day, Different Perception

So I come to my story at the beginning of the article. My two mornings waking up and going to my beautiful Teal couch by the window, my favorite spot! You see, in both illustrations, it is the exact same day – but there is a clear difference. Happiness. Joy. Contentment.

Why the difference? How am I able to have such clear Contentment in one morning and such complete misery in the other?

With all my hardships, people ask me all the time why and how I can maintain Joy, Happiness, and Contentment?

Honestly, sometimes I don’t really know myself. When I was originally asked to do this article as a Guest Post for trulymadlysassy.com, I really had to take a long, hard look at myself to find out. What did I discover?

"Joy is something one should strive for every day." - But, Still Breathing blog

Joy Is A Choice

It really isn’t all that complicated. The concepts are basic and few – but are much harder to actually put into action all the time, especially when things aren’t going exactly as planned.

Let’s just get one thing straight: I do not understand this question →

“With all you’ve gone through, how can you still be Happy?”

I acknowledge that I’ve gone through a lot, and I also appreciate that others take note of my endurance.

But know this:

Contentment and Happiness do not depend on ideal circumstances.

Happiness is a choice.

Joy is something one should strive for every day, not something to wait on.

Contentment is a way of life, a certain way of residing in oneself, not something that depends on your environment, socioeconomic status, health, job, clothes, weight, relationship, or otherwise.

You decide, “Today I will be Happy.” And even if you don’t feel it right away, you work toward it, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.

The next day, again, “Today, I will find something that makes me Joyful.” And the next day and the next and the next.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Contentment is a way of life, a certain way of residing in oneself, not something that depends on your environment, socioeconomic status, health, job, clothes, weight, relationship, or otherwise.” quote=”Contentment is a way of life, a certain way of residing in oneself, not something that depends on your environment, socioeconomic status, health, job, clothes, weight, relationship, or otherwise.” theme=”style2″]

Just like I get up every day and chose to put on clothes, I choose to be Happy. I choose to find Joy. The Bible says, “Clothe yourselves with love.” (Colossians 3:14) So, I make it a habit! Eventually, it becomes second nature.

But just like developing any habit, there are Do’s and Don’ts to help along the way. Here are a few things that help me to find my Joy despite adversity.

Do

Have Hope for the Future

My favorite poet, Emily Dickinson wrote,

Hope” is the thing with feathers – That perches in the soul – And sings the tune without the words – And never stops – at all -“

What a beautiful way to describe Hope!

Hope is the beautiful sense deep inside of both the intense desire to have something happen and the complete absence of doubt that it will someday soon occur.

It is a very powerful emotion!

Having hope helps to create Joy because it controls negative thinking and promotes positivity. Having something to look forward to, even if it is something seemingly small, can make a huge difference in the Contentment you feel.

In addition, just as Dickinson wrote, once you establish your Hope, it is almost impossible for anyone or anything to remove it from you.

So, find your “tune without words” – whatever it may be – and allow it to help you to focus on Happy things.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Hope is the beautiful sense deep inside of both the intense desire to have something happen and the complete absence of doubt that it will someday soon occur.” quote=”Hope is the beautiful sense deep inside of both the intense desire to have something happen and the complete absence of doubt that it will someday soon occur.” theme=”style2″]

"Hope is the beautiful sense deep inside of both the intense desire to have something happen and the complete absence of doubt that it will someday occur." - But, Still Breathing blog

Don’t

Hold onto the Past

Even more so than the having of Hope will give you Joy, holding on to negative things in your past will completely drain your Happiness. Mulling over and over things that have already happened to you and that you can no longer change will only frustrate you and lead to Discontentment. I have learned that Happiness requires acceptance.

I’ve heard it illustrated before that accepting your past experiences is similar to driving a car – if you are constantly keeping your eyes on the rearview mirror, you cannot pay attention to what is ahead of you – and you’ll crash! You have to see behind you to learn and be aware of your surroundings, but the rearview mirror should never be your primary focus. You should always pay more attention to your biggest window – the front windshield – and what is ahead of you!

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Mulling over and over things that have already happened to you and that you can no longer change will only frustrate you and lead to Discontentment. Happiness requires acceptance.” quote=”Mulling over and over things that have already happened to you and that you can no longer change will only frustrate you and lead to Discontentment. Happiness requires acceptance.” theme=”style2″]

Of course, this is not always easy. My life has consisted of many events that have caused severe emotional pain, leading to a diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Talk about being affected by tragic past events!

However, I have learned that if you have Hope toward the future, and focus your eye ahead, it harder to look behind you, and easier to accept and learn from your past. I’m much happier since.

Do

Find your Purpose and Create Goals

I have found that a key thing to my Happiness has been finding my purpose in life, my passions, and acting on them.

Once I learned these things about myself, I was able to set goals related to this work. When I reached my goals, they brought me great Joy and satisfaction.

Ask yourself – What do I really want out of life? What truly matters to me? Who truly matters to me? What am I passionate about? Use this self-examination to set some sincere priorities and life goals that center around your purpose and those loves.

(Keep in mind that these do not necessarily have to center around financial gain.)

[click_to_tweet tweet=”ASK YOURSELF: What do I really want out of life? What truly matters to me? Who truly matters to me? What am I passionate about? Use this self-examination to set some sincere priorities and life goals.” quote=”ASK YOURSELF: What do I really want out of life? What truly matters to me? Who truly matters to me? What am I passionate about? Use this self-examination to set some sincere priorities and life goals.” theme=”style2″]

A couple of years ago, I was in a very bad emotional state due to my failing health. I felt helpless and useless – basically like I was just taking up space on Planet Earth, and not helping anyone! I was very deep into frustration and anxiety.

One weekend, I was at a special Bible educational event that helped me to reevaluate my situation.

Using a butterfly with a torn wing as an illustration, I was helped to see that everyone can contribute to helping others, even if we might feel broken or damaged because of our circumstances. It changed my perspective, helped me to see the big picture, re-establish my priorities, and set new goals with my purpose in mind. Guess what? I also found Joy again.

To Set goals for happiness and joy what questions should you ask yourself

Don’t

Take leaps before you crawl!

Goals and purpose are tremendously important to Happiness and Contentment. However, (and this is HUGE), you should never set goals that are outside your means out of over-enthusiasm.

This is a TREMENDOUS temptation for me. I get excited about something, and end up thinking I can do more than I actually can, taking huge leaps – and falling flat on my face.

How disappointing! Instead, it is much better to pace yourself, taking gradual steps, and set attainable goals that you can celebrate as you reach them one by one.

After my transplant, I had some sort of preconceived idea that I was going to jump right out of bed and start climbing mountains. I soon realized that my limitations were far greater than my expectations. When that didn’t happen, my initial reaction was frustration and disappointment in myself.

However, after discussing what I was going through with other patients in my situation, I began taking things on a day to day basis, and setting much smaller goals.

One day, it was reaching a goal with my breathing exercises, another day it was making myself breakfast, and another it was walking to the mailbox.

Being victorious over the small goals gave me more confidence, and the courage to set more challenging steps for myself as time went on. Reaching the goals gradually gave me much Joy!

Do

Be Grateful Every Day

[click_to_tweet tweet=”If you work hard to focus being grateful, rather than all the negative stuff going on in your life, your perspective will shift toward the positive, and your Joy will be guaranteed to increase.” quote=”If you work hard to focus being grateful, rather than all the negative stuff going on in your life, your perspective will shift toward the positive, and your Joy will be guaranteed to increase.” theme=”style2″]

I’m sure you hear this all the time, but seriously, meditating on the things that make you thankful every *single* day will make a difference.

In fact, write it down. Studies have shown that if you put something on paper (or tablet, phone, or screen) in black and white, it makes a stronger connection with your brain, making it more real.

As a suggestion, I have a notification on my phone in Google Keep at 8 PM every night entitled *Be Thankful* so I can keep a list. When it goes off, I type out at least three things from that day that I am appreciative for. Simple, and in plain black&white facts.

The list doesn’t have to be eloquent or grand. Some days, it’s just sunshine, coffee – even soft socks!

The point is that I know that if I work hard to focus on these things, rather than all the negative stuff going on in my life, my perspective will shifts toward the positive, and my Joy will increase.

I mean, how can you be upset when you’re thankful for the fuzziness of cozy socks?

Don’t

Be a Complainer

Some people say that being negative, pessimistic, or judgemental may be “just be how I am.”

Some may blame being a natural bellyacher on their bad past.

And I’ve even had the experience of others telling me that sharing in negative speech is just relaxing!

I find that in today’s society, it seems that sitting around talking about your problems is “the norm,” even to the point of being a hobby.

Of course, there is always an appropriate need to vent and to get things off your chest (I am THE QUEEN of the The Vent!).

But, making complaining and grumbling a regular habit, whether its out loud to others, or just inside yourself, will ultimately take away from your Joy, the Happiness that everyone around you feels, and it will change your overall disposition to one of negativity and sadness.

Being a complainer and an overall negative personality will only make you miserable and will definitely detract from your overall happiness. Who wants that?

There is an ancient Chinese Proverb that says. “Instead of complaining that the rose bush is full of thorns, be happy the thorn bush has roses.”

So train yourself to see the positive, to try to find the humorous side in bad situations, and the good qualities in the people around you. Doing so will help you not only to maintain your Joy, but allow everyone around you to be Happy, too.

Do

Practice Giving

There is a very, very famous Scripture that says, “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving” (Acts 20:35).

Well, guess what? It is famous for a reason. Why? Because it is true and it works. When you focus on people, and not things, you become happy. When you focus on giving, contributing, sharing, not only what you yourself can get out of a situation, becoming generous and not selfish, you will find Joy!

[click_to_tweet tweet=”When you live a life of adversity, the hardships can become all-consuming, and can literally suck the life out of you. Practicing giving, trying your very best to focus on others, will draw the attention of the mind away from yourself and your own problems.” quote=”When you live a life of adversity, the hardships can become all-consuming, and can literally suck the life out of you. Practicing giving, trying your very best to focus on others, will draw the attention of the mind away from yourself and your own problems.” theme=”style2″]

Being chronically ill, having depression or anxiety, having financial problems, being a caregiver for an elderly parent or for a disabled child – any of these situations can easily lead to one being self-consumed with one’s own life and problems.

I know because I was in that situation more than once.

When you live a life of adversity, the hardships can become all-consuming, and can literally suck the life out of you. I realized that if I practice giving, trying my very best to focus on other people, it draws the attention of my mind away from myself and my own problems.

A note I would like to share is this: Giving doesn’t have to be humongous. I’ve never donated a million dollars to a children’s hospital (even though that would be amazing!). It doesn’t even have to be financial. It just has to be from your heart, meaning something both to you and to the recipient. If it comes from a place of love, it will produce Joy.

Do

Be Creative

[click_to_tweet tweet=”You don’t have to be good at art to make it. You just have to be brave enough to try.” quote=”You don’t have to be good at art to make it. You just have to be brave enough to try.” theme=”style2″]

Besides all these things, I have to say that being creative and fitting art into my life (even though I’m not very good at it) gives freedom to many of my emotions, and causes great Happiness. I like to call it “getting the inside out.”

You don’t have to be good at art to make it. You just have to be brave enough to try.

In fact, creativity can come in many forms, it does t have to be inside the conservative box of “art.”

What about cuisine and recipe writing? Baking? Gardening and landscape? Sewing and clothes making? Photography? App creation and video game coding? Learning a new language? Handwriting? Journaling? Observing nature?

What about Blogging? 😉

Finding your hidden creative self and letting him or her out to blossom will help to sort out and express many feelings and emotions – the best of them being Joy and Happiness!

Don’t

Never, Ever Give Up!

Joy seems like the great elusive emotion. Society, the world, even the Dictionary makes it seem like it is out of reach.

But is it?

For a time in my life, I thought perhaps it was slipping out of my grip as well.

My life experiences and the education I have received have taught me that Joy and Happiness are within the reach of all of us.

So never, ever give up!

Instead of being a quality that requires some mundane checklist of milestones, Joy is a daily choice we can make to have.

How wonderful!

So, let’s decide to have it!

Never, ever let a single day go by without experiencing the unique human right of Joy.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”You decide, “Today I will be Happy.” And even if you don’t feel it right away, you work toward it, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. The next day, again, “Today, I will find something that makes me Joyful.” And the next day and the next.” quote=”You decide, “Today I will be Happy.” And even if you don’t feel it right away, you work toward it, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. The next day, again, “Today, I will find something that makes me Joyful.” And the next day and the next.” theme=”style2″]

 

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Download this Free Image on How to Find Joy and Happiness even when everything seems to be going Wrong
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7 Tried 7 True Do's & Don'ts of Joy & Happiness from and Experienced Struggler to You
The Tried and True Do's and Don'ts of Joy and Happiness From and Experienced Stuggler to You

Musings in the Night / Decisions for the Day

Musings in the Night - Decisions in the Day

Boom-boom!

What…?

Boom-boom!

I hear it!

A knocking, suddenly.

Loudly.

Waking me in the dark.

I open my eyes, struggling to see against the thick, black air of night around me.

The bleak abruptness of it all is confusing and startling all at once.

I have to strain my mind to remember where I am.

Boom-boom!

Again.

There it is.

I sit up, listening.

My ears – No – my entire body is in tune to my surroundings, endeavoring to solve the mystery of what woke me.

In a rush, my spine tingles with the realization that the noise isn’t a knocking.

Boom-boom!

In fact, it isn’t and external drumming at all.

Thumb-thump?!

Yes, that’s it.

Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump!

It’s an internal declaration of life.

Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump!

The mystery sound is coming from the inside, rather that the reverse.

Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump!

A vital bodily instrument functioning well; letting me know quite efficiently that I’m alive, still here on planet Earth, and another day is about to dawn.

Wow!

What a fabulous sound!

What a wonderful instrument!

"A vital body instruments functioning well; letting me know quite efficiently that I'm alive, still here on planet Earth, and another day is about to dawn."

[click_to_tweet tweet=”A vital bodily instrument functioning well; letting me know quite efficiently that I’m alive, still here on planet Earth, and another day is about to dawn. Wow! What a fabulous sound! What a wonderful instrument!” quote=”A vital bodily instrument functioning well; letting me know quite efficiently that I’m alive, still here on planet Earth, and another day is about to dawn. Wow! What a fabulous sound! What a wonderful instrument!” theme=”style1″]

I lay back down again in the liquid black of dark, allowing the thump-thump-thumps of my obviously very healthy heart to slow and relax with my gentle breathing, as a smile reaches my face.

Swish, in.

Whoosh, out.

Swish, in.

Whoosh, out.

Ah, but this beautiful melody is another very winding and complicated story entirely.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Swish, in. Whoosh, out. Swish, in. Whoosh, out. Ah, but this beautiful melody is another very winding and complicated story entirely.” quote=”Swish, in. Whoosh, out. Swish, in. Whoosh, out. Ah, but this beautiful melody is another very winding and complicated story entirely.” theme=”style1″]

For another time perhaps.

As for now, I have decided –

Today is going to be an awesome day!

"...for now, I have decided - Today is going to be AWESOME day!"

[click_to_tweet tweet=”As for now, I have decided – Today is going to be an awesome day!” quote=”As for now, I have decided – Today is going to be an awesome day!” theme=”style1″]


 

Sunshine Blogger Award

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to bloggers who inspire positivity and creativity in the blogging community.

I started my blog several years ago in an effort to document my journey through transplant. I was resistant to the idea, but my family urged me, knowing that it would provide the creative and emotional outlet I would need to cope. Eventually, though, I realized that my blog and presence on social media was not just giving me a way to get through my own illness, but amazingly and quite shockingly, it was helping others to deal with their own as well. Through my blog, I have been able to help other transplant patients, in various stages along the journey – whether it has been waiting on the list, or dealing with chronic rejection like myself. But, I’ve also been able to meet and speak with other chronically ill patients of all kinds along the way, who although don’t share my diagnoses, share my struggles, and therefore we have a bond. So, my blog has changed from simply being an accounting of events to a story of overcoming the odds, finding joy in spite of negativity, and maintaining determination when it seems as if everyone and everything is telling you to give up. This I have found applies to ALL people, not just the spoonie community.

[clickToTweet tweet=”So, my blog has changed from simply being an accounting of events to a story of overcoming the odds, finding joy in spite of negativity, and maintaining determination when it seems as if everyone and everything is telling you to give up.” quote=”So, my blog has changed from simply being an accounting of events to a story of overcoming the odds, finding joy in spite of negativity, and maintaining determination when it seems as if everyone and everything is telling you to give up.” theme=”style3″]

Through my writing and blogging journey, I have had the opportunity to meet many special people along the way, including Kirsty from That Noise is Mine, who nominated me for this award. Kirsty is an amazing blogging instructor, and I am a part of her Blog Mentor Program. I have learned an incalculable amount of information from her in a very short period of time.

Thank you, Kirsty.

Here are the rules for the award:

Thank blogger(s) who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.

Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.

Nominate new bloggers to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.

List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Here are Kirsty’s questions for me:

Summer or winter?

This might be toughie for me. I love the clothes that you wear in winter: cardigans, scarves, mittens, thick, fluffy socks. But, I hate being cold. I mean – I truly, madly, deeply hate being cold.

Summer, on the other hand, involves a lot less clothing, which has always been daunting for me because I like to cover up. However, on the bright side, there are hats, which I love. In SETX, it is also blazing hot and 100% humidity. I hate being hot. I mean I truly, madly, deeply hate being hot.

Summer, for me however, has a lot of nostalgic memories going for it.

I have fond memories of spending time with friends from my congregation in the back rurals volunteer teaching the Scriptures. We would leave out early in the morning while it was still cool and spend all day talking with people, taking a picnic lunch and eating by the lake.

There were many times that my friends and I would get in their car with the windows rolled down and drive out to some creek, or river or backwoods access to one of the lakes to go swimming and sunbathing, dragging along a giant cooler filled with soda and snacks, coming home later that evening burnt to a crisp.

And there was always at least one trip to the beach.

Yeah, I think I would trade all my cardigans for that. Definitely – summer.

What is your favorite song and why?

Lemon Parade by Tonic

I heard this song for the first time when I was in high school. High school was a particularly challenging time in my life, as you can imagine for the sick girl, the fat girl, the religious girl, the smart girl – I was literally the butt of every single joke of every single person in the school. Trust me, eating lunch in the bathroom stalls my freshman year is not something that I am proud of…

As a teenager, you are trying to figure out who you are in general. But, I hadn’t yet found my voice, the preferred way to stand up for myself – which in a year or two I discovered was with my words.

When I heard this song, it’s words resonated with me. I wanted someone to see me in that way; I wanted to see myself in that way. Secretly, I hoped that in the future I could look back on that time in my life and remember it as a building block, not a stumbling block.

It was also during a time where I started to branch out and discover what music I truly liked myself, not just what my parents or friends enjoyed.

It is a song that I still love to this day. Whenever I hear it, I just feel good.

What does your perfect day look like?

  • Blue skies
  • Sunshine
  • 75°
  • light breeze
  • the lake
  • Leland & Copper
  • Peace & Quiet
  • A book & a hammock

What advice would you give to your 10-year-old self?

Age 10 was not a good year. At that age, my health really began to fail very seriously. I had a very hard time at school, I had a very hard time at home, I spent the vast majority of time in the hospital.

It was the following year that I remained homebound and wasn’t even able to go to public school because I spent so much time in the hospital. I had many medical tests that were scary and painful, I had many surgical procedures, I had to take a lot of medications that had many side effects. It was something that a 10-year-old child should never have to face. It was hard.

So thinking about the advice that I would give myself at that age, with all of that craziness going on– –-

Miriam, none of this is your fault.

And –

Tell someone how you feel. Don’t keep it pushed down inside.

What makes you smile?

 

My husband’s pun jokes. He has a pun for any and every situation. They are hilarious. Even if I’ve heard them a hundred times, I still think they are funny (even if on the outside I’m rolling my eyes). I can be in the foulest of moods, and one of his play on words will bring me back every time.

You may not know it, Dear, but “the dairy air has it.”

Would you rather visit your past self or future self and why?

When I think of visiting my future self, the only thing that comes to mind is “spoilers.” So that’s pretty much a no-go for me.

On the other hand, thinking about visiting my younger, past-self has some appeal.

My little past-self was a bit lost at times, took a long time to find her voice, was a huge people-pleaser, and was way too preoccupied with what other people thought.

If I could go back and give her some advice based on the wisdom I have now, not telling her what was going to happen her future (as I said spoilers) but just letting her know how to adjust her thinking and personality in order to keep her from some of her tragic decisions and pain, I think I would do that.

For example, I would tell her that that jumpsuit that she picked out at Goodwill in sixth grade that she thought was awesome and wore to school was still awesome even though everybody made fun of her. She should’ve just kept on wearing it. Those kids didn’t have any style! She was ahead of her time.

What is your go-to meal?

I love to cook and bake. That is really where I am in my element and where I am joyful, content, happy, passionate. So, choosing a go-to meal is really hard for me.

When I think of a go-to meal, I think of something that you can make quickly and easily, and that I could make especially on a night where I’m very tired and not feeling well, but is still nutritious and feeling and gives you that, “Man I’m glad I ate that” feeling and not that “Lord I wish I had not eaten that” regret.

With that said, I would say that the meal we love to make and to eat is soup.

Yes, with all that buildup – it’s soup. But, think about it! You can put anything in soup!

My family has a recipe from way back for potato soup from Germany. All the women in my family have a different version of it, but it’s basically the same thing. It’s my ultimate comfort food. Creamy potato goodness! It’s so easy to make and cheap and wonderful.

You can also just throw all the vegetables you have in your fridge and some bone broth and have a beautiful soup.

Or you have noodles and some sesame oil and some vegetables and some miso and you have a great Asian soup!

See? I could go one and on… So there you have it – my great and wonderful and exciting go-to meal is soup.

What is the best piece of blogging advice you have received?

Stop over editing.

I was the newspaper editor in high school three years in a row, yearbook editor for two years.

I was an English and education major in college.

Editing comes second nature to me.

But, blogging is not journalism, and it is not formal writing. When people read a blog, they want to read what is raw, true, and real.

My tendency to edit and analyze my posts over and over again made my writing lose my authenticity sincerity. When I received the advice to let that go, and just write, edit simply, and post, it was not only freeing for me as a writer, but benefited my blog overall.

Are you happy?

Wow! A loaded question, indeed.

Happiness to me is an emotion that comes and goes. You’re happy when you buy a new dress, you’re happy on a sunny day walking your dog, you’re happy when you steal a glance across the room with your spouse. But, I believe in life these days, happiness is not something that can exist 24/7. It can be sought and achieved, but just as quickly lost due to unforeseen changes and problems.

Actually, I just wrote a guest blog post about how I find joy here, if you’re interested (shameless plug!).

What I am is content. Contentment a totally different animal. Contentment and joy are long-term emotions, unlike happiness, which I believe can be fleeting.

I am content with my life – who I am as a person right now, what I have achieved so far in my life, with my family, with my friends. I know and understand what is important versus which is not, and able to prioritize those things accordingly. And because of what I have been through in my life, I am able to find joy in even the tiniest things around me every day. Happiness, Joy, Contentment. Call it what you like, yeah – I’ve got it.

What is your favorite quote?

Being a major word-nerd and a constant reader, this is an impossible choice to make.

Can we just call it a draw?

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

I think if you know anything about me, your knee-jerk reaction would be to say that my biggest challenge would have been the recovery from my transplant or one of my other major surgeries. But, I have to say that while those things have been extremely difficult, the physical is something that I have grown used to having to overcome, and is therefore not always at the top of my list.

My biggest challenge is my own self-doubt and self-criticism. That little tiny voice inside my head that is relentlessly badgering me, trying to talk me out of things, tearing me down, and wearing me out. I’ve been working for years to overcome this challenge, and I’ve gained some ground, but it’s still something I struggle with every day.

So now it’s my turn! Yay!

My nominees are as follows:

1. Monica Laipple at Invisible Not Broken

2. Robert Joyce at a30minutelife

3. Tina Russell at Simply Shine

4. Kirsty McAllister at Truly Madly Sassy

5. Adriel Maldanado at Adriel’s Life

6. Anitra Jackson at Chronicles of a Momtessorian

 

And (drum roll please…) Here are your questions:

1. Why did you start blogging?

2. What did you want to be when you grew up?

3. If you were an animal, which animal would you be, and why?

4. Who inspired you to write, and what did they say?

5. What’s your biggest regret (and if you could go back and change it, what would you do differently?)

6. What is your proudest achievement so far?

7. What’s the best thing you’ve EVER eaten?

8. What was the moment you realized you were really an adult?

9. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?

10. If money were no object, where would you choose to travel?

11. Salty or sweet?

 

Blogging and being a *Writer* have been such blessings to me. Being able to help others in this avenue has been a really wonderful experience as well. Meeting other bloggers and writers through this journey has been an unexpected but fantastic bonus! I feel honored to be nominated for the Sunshine Bloggers Award and very privileged to pass on the nomination to these amazing fellow Writers.

I cannot wait to see all the new nominees responses!

Feelin’ Like The Hulk – a Raw Post

Rage. Anger. Madness.

You won’t like me when I’m angry.

Have you ever been so mad that you can literally feel the your heart pounding the blood through every tiny blood vessel in your body? Your skin tingling from the intensity of it? Your face hot from trying to hold it in?

It’s both a powerful and disgusting feeling.

I hate it.

Have you ever been so mad that you can literally feel the your heart pounding the blood through every tiny blood vessel in your body? Your skin tingling from the intensity of it? Your face hot from trying to hold it in?

Before my transplant, I didn’t typically get mad easily. After transplant, everything is different. Now, someone can have bad breath around me, and I suddenly feel like I want to rip their face off! I’ve heard this from many other patients. I don’t know if it’s the drugs, the hormone changes, recipient antibodies fighting mine, or what.

I wish I knew.

I absolutely hate being mad.

I hate being angry for any reason, but I especially hate it when I’m mad at another person. When you’re mad at someone, it makes you feel helpless, disconnected, isolated. It makes me feel like less of a person.

I know some people say that all emotions are useful, and I know those people reading this would probably argue that anger is useful, too. I guess it has won me some arguments with customer service reps on occasion. So there’s that…

But overall I see no use for my unacquitted episodes of rage other than my embarrassment and the need for increased arrhythmia medications.

And so I sit here in the car, trying to swallow this hot, tingling, bold emotion down through my chest into my stomach so it doesn’t emerge into the open. The last thing I need is another outburst in public – a bold, embarrassing tirade; hands flailing, and words flying – an angry regret notch to add to my humiliating belt.

Besides, green isn’t really my color, anyway.

Waiting For Spring – Turning a Setback into a Comeback

After the cold and dead and brown of winter, it’s so relieving to see the earliest green of springtime.  That first time you feel the warmth of the spring sun, and experience the temperatures rise above fifty degrees, your heart somehow begins to warm, too. You know the icy days are over! You’ve been looking forward to this for months and now it’s finally here – bare branches replaced with blooming petals, icy streets with shaded lanes, and your parka put away for your favorite jersey dress.

 

Spring is a special season because in many respects it represents new beginnings, start-overs, and a putting away of the old to start again with something fresh. For the most part, during the icy winter, we’re all hoping for the beauty and the warmth of spring. So, in that respect, spring also represents hope and a bright future.

Winter can be experienced in many ways, not just in physical ice and cold. During my lifetime, I feel have experienced more winters than only the 33 seasons of snow. Sometimes, when I think back over the course of my life, it feels like I must have experienced 1,716 winters – times of my life where everything felt cold and dead and brown – a setback, a flare-up, a rare, devastating diagnosis. It felt like I would be freezing forever – stuck in cold, bleak seasons of my life for eternity.

But you know what? I never was. Just like in real life, seasons change. The flare-up stopped. The setback was overcome. The diagnosis was processed and a plan was formed.

And then suddenly out of the ice and snow – a blade of grass emerged. Spring! A warming. A thawing. The sunshine came out and I was able to see past my pain and my loss, jump over the newest hurdle, and move on.

But, what do we all do when we’re stuck in the snow during an overly long winter? We look forward to spring. We dream about all the things that we’re going to do when it warms up. We plan. We longingly scroll online for Capri pants and tank tops and wide-brimmed hats. We chose the resort for the long-awaited spring break vacation. And while we’re stuck in our houses, the wind gusting outside, looking forward to all those beautiful things, we gain enough hopeful expectation to make it through another blustery season.

So, what is the point? When you’re stuck in YOUR winter, look forward to YOUR spring.  

Plan for the future.

Focus on others to get outside yourself.

Practice giving; its always a win-win.

Get creative – because why not finger paint?

Have fun within your limitations.

Keep dreaming.

Spring is coming, y’all! Have you bought your hat?

(This post was originally commissioned by Graphic Organic as a special guest post. To see it please go here.)