28
Apr

Dear joy

It's been a while for you and I. I think I finally figured out that in my chase to secure happiness, I forgot about our relationship and how important we are to each other. I forgot that you creep in, that you live in a moment, not in an idea, or a lifetime, or in the future. You are right here, you spring up now and again and it is just as much up to me to keep our relationship going, to keep it strong, to keep it fed. I forgot to keep our relationship flourishing and to keep us connected. I forgot how much I need you.

Happiness is what we desire, it's what we tell our kids to be, but I am starting to realize that happiness brings with it a lot of anxiety and a hunt. I am also realizing if you make happiness the ultimate goal that means you are looking for a life void of other feelings. Like feeling blue, down, sad, pained, mournful. All of those emotions are just as important, they allow you to grow, they allow you to move on, the allow you to feel, they allow all of life in. But if all you care about is being happy, you then feel like a failure when life inevitably happens and the other emotions have to come through. I think I always knew that of course, you would feel other things, but overall, you want to lead a happy life. That's what I always believed, you want to lead an overall happy life.

Unfortunately, you will go through days, weeks, months, years of just not being happy. You will go through stretches of things being hard. You will go through stretches of not loving your job, or not being on the same page as your person, or not seeing eye to eye with your kids, or trying to figure things out. If you continue to search and hunt for happiness, you are likely to think you have to just walk away. And sometimes, you do, but sometimes, you have to realize you might be in a season in your life where happiness is more difficult than you though.

But joy, joy can enter at any time. Joy can be found at a funeral when telling a funny story, joy can be found in your darkest hour, joy can be found while folded into yourself. Joy comes and goes, it dances with you. Joy is something you can actually bring into your world. You can surround yourself with reminders of joy. You can do it in the littlest ways. You can find joy in a song, or a quick dance party, you can find it in cleaning up and getting your house decluttered, you can find it by painting something fun, you can find it by going for a walk, petting your dog, you can find it in a smile, you can find it, I promise you that. You can always find it and you can be the joy for others too.

But, here's the funny thing about joy. Even if you're not looking for her, even if you're not ready to let her light shine, she finds you, she can't help it. She won't let you sit and wallow for too long, she finds her way in and she makes your heart lighter, she makes you feel better, even if it's for a moment. Here's the other thing about joy, you do need her so when she pokes her way back in, you have to remember that feeling and you have to remember that you need more reminders of her. You have to remember to welcome her in more, it's too heavy otherwise. You can't carry all the weight forever and ever, you need to lighten the load, and that is her job. She lightens the load and makes you feel like you can take on this minute, this hour, this day.

Dear joy, I am sorry I forgot about you. I'm sorry I neglected you. Thank you for reminding me that you are never far away. Thank you for calling my name and asking me if you can come over to play. I'm so sorry my door was closed for so long. I'm sorry I allowed my darkest hour to take completely over and I'm sorry that I forgot that I have the ability to make room for you. I can give you a call and ask you for a quick cup of coffee because I need you today, I need you and I will allow you in.

13
Jan

I'm getting older too

"I built my life around you".

I have spent years of my childhood and young adult life building a life around proving someone wrong. Standing up for myself, standing up for what I can do, walking through fear, and saying "I can" to myself (even when I knew I was in over my head). It was lonely, it was scary, it was overwhelming, and it consumed my every thought. 

But, it also served me very well. It got me through, it told me I really can do hard things. It allowed me to walk and keep walking through fear and it defined real bravery for me. It showed me what strength really means and it taught me that I can. It reminded me I will never be confident, I will always and forever be afraid of everything, but I still can and will do things. 

I always had you in the back of my mind, I was always trying to prove to you how wrong you were about me, and although I will never shake this feeling, I also know I have to stop trying. The one thing I never wanted was for you to have control over me, my decisions, my life and instead, what I willfully gave you is full control. Because every move was to either hurt you or prove you wrong. And even though it has been almost 20 years of no longer wanting to hurt you, I still set out to prove all I had accomplished without you. I still clung to wanting you to finally see how strong I am, what I can do, what I have built, not because of you, but in spite of. You will never feel that way, I know you won't. You too are trying to protect yourself and your bubble and you need to feel as though I have always needed you and every decision I made on my own led me down the wrong path, not to the life I built.

You have gotten older, you are who you are, who you have always been, and you are trying. Not to change, but trying to be in this world. Not to accept it, not to embrace it, not to let things roll off your back but to be in it. That all by itself is a major accomplishment for you right now. Me, I'm getting older too and I am headed in a different direction this year. One that reminds me that it is time to put this part of me to rest.  And although I can tell myself that I have already done that a long time ago, what I really did was say goodbye to the anger and blame, what I still carried was proving myself. 

Because like I said, proving myself to you has served me well. I have felt a determination and grit and truth be told, if I put that down to rest, what else will I let go of and who will I become? I have been afraid to let this last part of us go. As I have watched you age, I realized this is not a game we play together, I am in it alone. You do not realize I am even playing, you are just living. And maybe, just maybe, you too are playing a solo game of she needs me. I do not need to know this, I do not need information on how the game has worked or hindered you. I just need to stop showing up for my part.

I am me because of so much that I have gotten from you. My hard work, determination, grit, sleepless nights, working fingers to the bone, and loving loudly, loving deeply, showing up for those you love, all come from what you taught me. I am also me from what I learned for me. Like to love kindly, to not have those around me be afraid of me, to be open and let them know we are a team and I always have your back, those are things I do better. There are so many things I thank you for, many others I have reminded myself that like all of us, you did the best you could with what you had.

So, not out of spite, anger or resentment, but with love...I am trying to build a different life now. One that is not built around you. One that starts with the foundation which has a mixture of all you have done well mixed in with all I want to do better. This will not be a snap of the fingers, there is always still stuff, I will of course linger too long in the past. I will of course think of a situation that will bring me all back, I will of course be reminded of the anger I held, of the burden I felt I carried, of the times it was just me. But it is time for me to embrace all change, and this is a big part of it. It is time for me to end this hold. I do not need to prove myself to you, I know who I am, what I have, what I still need, and I won't lose sight of that. I am willing to let the resentment go and allow you to think there was a need there, because, in some reality, there was. And more importantly I love you and want what is best for you. That is the meaning of love. I wish nothing but the best of what this world can give you and what you deserve after all you too have sacrificed. 

I am thankful for my life that could have gone in so many different directions. I am thankful for who I found and who I hold close. I am thankful for my foundation that told me I should expect better out of people. I am thankful for our relationship and my understanding of what has transpired. I am thankful that I get to wake up and be with the people I love most. I am thankful for how hard I work and the plans I make. I am thankful that I have goals and I am even thankful that I am still scared because I can relate so well to those that feel too frightened to move. I am thankful for all I have accomplished and even of my years of trying to prove you wrong, even my years full of anger, they have all brought me to a different place. They have all contributed to the final product. I walked through a lot and I found love and joy. I found what I was always looking for, family as I define it. 

"Well, I've been 'fraid of changin'
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I'm gettin' older, too
I'm gettin' older, too"

31
Mar

Five Minute Friday - define

Every Friday we unite for five minutes to write on one word. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on define.
Go.

In the end, how will we be defined?
What will be remembered?
What will be the words people use...
what will be my legacy, my mark
what defines me?

Love
Strength
Fear
Passion

What titles define me?
Mother
Bride
Friend
Runner
Triathlete
Writer

What actions define me?
Feeling the constant weight of the world.
Action, never taking a back seat.
Throwing my arms around my community.

And what makes me...me?

Recently, I had a friend ask me what brings me pure joy in life.
And in one of the saddest moments ever, I could not answer her.
That took my breath away.
How can I not be defined by my joy?
How can I not know my joy?
How can I not make my life about joy?
Because joy, more than happiness, is the whole point.

And now, I start a new journey.
One in which this tired, exhausted, distracted and therefore angry person...
finds joy.

My journey is about defining myself as joyful and moving towards joy.
And that may mean there are times I am unhappy
because to be joyful is to be great and to be great means you walk through darkness to find the light.
I take my first step in the definition of me.
I will leave this world with joy
and allow it to fill my heart
I will have my children tell me that is what they loved most about me
my love of them
my joy of mothering
my joy of life.

Stop.

22
Jan

Joy

All this anger, all this confusion, and for what?
I have spent so many of my years living a life of anger.
One that builds confusion and fog.
One that I, and I alone, carry the burden of.
And why?
For what?
Who does it serve and what is the purpose of anger?
I want for nothing.
I have a life I built, on purpose.
Nothing in my life was by mistake.
I have smart children, who will also want for nothing.
I have a home, one that is all ours, one that we built.
I have love, in almost every corner, and still, there were so many days I sat in this fog of anger and resentment.
So many moments of anger, when things are all too loud.
So many years I have wasted, given up,
to anger.
So many moments that joy is destroyed by me, I held it in my hands, and I let it go.
Because that is what happens when you hold on to angry,
everything is dark and black.
And your world starts to not make sense.

And because I have promised them more,
it is time I start with joy.
Which means I have to be the one to change.
I have to find a way out of the anger I have allowed in.

It is time for joy.

Just the other day, I was reading a woman who's new way of life I admire say...
I want to make memories, not to do lists.
I want to feel the squeeze of my kids' arms around me, not the pressure I build out of stress.

The pressure I build, this part stuck with me.
I build up my own frustrations...
in my head, in my mind, in my life.
I create my own stress,
I am in charge of the to dos.
I am in charge of me and me alone.

And so, I begin my path to joy.
Joy in my heart. The kind that I feel all over my body.
I want to be joyful again.

It is time for joy.

Because an angry mom has a scowl, and her words are like ice.
Her body so tense
everything aches.
And as she tries to raise tiny humans to be good people,
as she tries to teach soft and love
she is not leading by example.
She is not their role model,
she is not their rock.

And it is time for joy.

Joy has the opposite effect.
Joy allows you to feel giddy
and everything instantly becomes light and bright.
Joy brings warmth.

So, this chip,
the one I carry,
the one I nurse,
the one I am raising and nurturing,
the one I spend so much of my time taking care of
it is time to put you to rest.
It is time I discard you.
You no longer have a place in my life.

Because it is time for joy.

This, is my life.
This is what my life looks and feels like and truth be told,
I wouldn't have it any other way.
Because it is the one I created,
for me
for them
for all of us.
This, is us.
All wrapped up into one.

And it is time I bring joy back into this life.

And my crazy attention to detail and organization can and should be used for good,
not the evil I have allowed.

It is time for joy.

Not just for me
but my god, for them too.
The little ones that look to me for how I am going to respond.
The ones that look to me for what they need to feel and react this moment.
The ones that are learning from me on what love looks like
how we treat others
what love sounds like
what joy and greatness need to be
how love always comes first.

It is time they feel my joy.

30
Oct

To be happy and great

As I raise two tiny humans and let them go into this world.
As I prepare you for school and friendships and relationships.
As I think about the day that you leave for college and all the worry I will have wondering how it is all going.
As I let go, I want you to know some things...
Not just tomorrow, not just when you are big, but starting right now.

Any story you feel is not a part of your book, is not your ending,
you change course, you write another page, and you get back to your story.
The one you are meant to write, the one you have control over.

Any situation you feel isn't right, doesn't fit into who you are and what you know to be good,
you use your voice to say no
use it to speak up for yourself and others,
and you walk away.

At any point in time, you are allowed to find your light and leave darkness behind.
At any point, you can and should redefine and take notice of who you are, who you are spending your time with, and where you are in this world.
At any point, you can change your mind, and something you thought once sounded like a good idea, might not anymore.
At any point, your life can and probably will change, but that doesn't mean you are changing your core, that means you are just changing direction.

Now, do not confuse this with when things get hard, or boring, or ordinary, you walk away.
Because that is not the same thing.
The goal, the vision, is happiness.
The overall feeling of your life, should be happy and you should be giving that joy out so it lights others' darkness.
However, the goal is also greatness and as I just heard last week from someone giving a speech to new college grads,
sometimes, to be great, means you are unhappy.
Sometimes, to accomplish greatness, you have to walk through unhappy times, moments, days.
See, your day to day, your week to week, your minute to minute, cannot always be happy.
It's just not possible.
It's not.
Because to work and work hard for something, can be at times really hard, really scary, really worrisome and none of that equals happy.
Even in your relationships, the troubles you go through, means there will be times you are struggling
to find your joy and your happy.
And in order to really appreciate the glorious light and love on the other side, you have to sometimes go through that dark
and make it to the other side,
together.
Because all of that is the roller-coaster of every relationship.
All of that is what you do to stay and work on what is right.

So no, I don't think it's always wise for you to always walk away,
I won't always agree when I feel you gave up,
too quickly or too easily.
But for you, you know you.
You know you better than I do which is hard for me to admit
but you do.
And you will know right there in your gut, when this isn't your story to tell, when you aren't in love with who you are in this story,
and when it is your story to keep writing, even when the writing is getting hard.
When the words are struggling to come, but you know you have to keep trying to find them.

And in this world that is trying to make us feel guilty for not being 100% happy with every second of every day
but is also so demanding with perfection and doing everything with all you have
and also wants hard workers with dual income families and perfect parenting and volunteers that have nothing but time and clean homes and dinner together and traditions and quality time and just all of our time
well, it can go to hell.
Because you are allowed to tell it to go to hell.
And tell it, you have to be a little unhappy for a little while so you can work towards your dream
or relationships have ups downs and most awful the steady hum of an engine in which you have to work to find love and commitment and affection again
or life is daunting and exhausting and so tonight, while in my sweats, I am going to cry until I feel better.
And I am going to let those dishes pile up and order take out.
And am going to tell them to put their homework aside for tonight
and we are going to just watch TV.
Yeah, that's what I need tonight world, because perfectly happy doesn't exist.
But you are also allowed to tell someone that isn't loving you enough, I deserve better.
And you are allowed to never feel guilty about loving yourself and taking care of yourself
because dammit putting that mask on yourself first is the best way so let's stop pretending it's not.
And you are allowed to tell the world, I have to live through this time of have tos, to get to me.
And you are allowed to breakdown and mourn a loss
of a job
or a person
or a feeling
or of who you once were and are not anymore
or of children aging.

You are allowed to be happy
you need to make sure happy is the goal
but you need to match it with being great
and I can't imagine anything less than greatness from you.

10
Jan

Simple life

Busy.
Distracted.
Annoyed.
Striving.
Determined.
Frustrated.
Intense.
On the verge.
Angry.
Harsh face.
Harsh words.
No smile.
I fear that's how you will remember me.
I fear that's all I will leave with you,
all you will take away from our time together.
Instead of remembering our hugs,
our warmth
our snuggles
our time together in which we really really get it right.

Houser70

And so, I will start slowly.
To develop, create and lead a more simple life.

IMG_4897

One in which I let the rain come pouring down and in.
One in which I realize there are and will continue to be bad times, bad days,
but that's okay.
I will allow them to come pouring in too.
Because there is another side.
An end.
And sometimes you have to truly and completely feel the bad to realize how good this little life is.

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I will not live my life for another day.
I will slowly become present.
I will slowly stop regretting the past.
I will slowly stop worrying about the future.
I will slowly lead a simple life.

Houser081

This will be enough, this simple life will be enough.
The best is not yet to come.
The best is now.
No more waiting for the chaos to stop.
No more waiting for things to be different.
No more wishing time, this time, this day/week/month away.
No more wishing my life away.
I will slowly lead a simple life.
Houser68

It's when I slow down when I really start living.
It's when I remember to smile, remember the important moments.
It's when moments happen.
It's when this happens...

Because what point is there in wondering what will become
of me
of life
of careers
of family.
Why hang my head in fear, confusion, worry, always worry.
There are and will continue to be bad times, and that's okay.
Time is short, but that's okay.
My time is now.
Houser38color

And so, I will start.
I will start slow and accept my personal challenges.
I will realize I cannot change all at once.
I will hush the confusion and the loud.
I will hush the worry and want.
I will calm the storm and quiet the concern.
And I will slowly lead a simple life.

20150705_154639

I will slow down, I will breathe you in, because you are always enough.
I will show you simple, and the joys all around us, and end each day with love, because that is enough.
I will look at the starry night and it will be enough.
I will breathe in the air on a family walk, and listen to what you find, what you have to say,
because you are always enough.
I will not abandon you, I will be there, present with you, and I will be enough.
We will sing as we head out the door in the morning, it won't have to be a rush, and it will be enough.
I will put my phone away for dinner, it will be just us, and the quiet will bring about conversation.
I will look at you when we are talking.
Because your stories are important. And I will treat them as such because you are enough.
And one day, I hope you realize, I am always here to listen.
We will read together as many times a week as possible, it will be our time, our thing, and it will be enough.
I will list three favorite parts of my day, every day to you both.
I will explain in detail why they were my favorite, why they were enough for me today.
Together, we will create a gratitude journal, we will add to it daily, we will read it together when we need a reminder of love and how fortunate we are, and it will be enough for our hearts.
I will leave you a love note in your lunch or for when you wake up and I am not there.
A note to tell you that today, this morning, now, I am with you now and I really love you, you are enough.
I will find ways to say yes instead of no.
I will stop saying stop.
I will let you climb and move and move and move.
Because you need movement, because you need to find out what your own boundaries are.
Because you need to figure out what is enough for you.
We will continue our do overs and we will start the moment over when we need to. Everyone deserves a second chance.
I will have you set the agenda, what do you want to do right now? Your choice, you decide, I am all yours
and I will be enough.
I will play with you, I will have time for you, I am enough for you.
When I put you to sleep, I will thank you for finding me. You are always more than enough.
I will go on runs with you, we will build your endurance, help you to listen to your body to slow down and find your pace. You will come to realize how important it is to take care of your body, how good it feels to be good to you, because we are enough.
Dates, talking dates, dates about our future, dates with our kids, we will all start dating each other.
Because when life is simple,
when it is calm,
peaceful
joyous
clean
happy and content for what I have, not what I am striving for,
I am enough for you
you are enough for me.

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This will be enough, this simple life will be enough.

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