**It’s so good to be back, friends! My head is still spinning from the start of a hectic school year combined with a tough few weeks for my family, but writing is doing what it always does for me – bringing me peace. You can start reading my latest post here and then finish it over at The Today Show Parenting Blog, where I would REALLY appreciate your vote of approval! Thanks! And, please, start choosing JOY.**
Like a shadowy veil, a dark cloud recently settled over my family, and the air was still, and so it sat there, making itself comfortable despite our cries that it was an unwelcome guest. On one of the darkest days of its visit, we lost a courageous aunt to a short battle with lung cancer, and a few days later, with that cloud still hovering above, we rushed to our beloved grandmother’s bed to hug her one last time, to say farewell. So much sadness. So much loss. So much pain in my heart for my children and my husband and his grieving family.
Now the gloom is lifting, the sky changing from a heavy charcoal to a dusty gray, but the shadow still looms. It hardly seems appropriate to write an essay about happiness. Not now. It just isn’t right.
Or maybe it’s perfect.
Grief is far from easy. It is the opposite of easy, actually, far worse than hard. It drills down deep, to the very core of our humanity, and leaves us with gaping hollow spaces that we cannot fill. It is real and it is heavy and it is slow. But this essay is not about healing after loss because those answers are not mine to give. I wish that I could write that essay, I wish that I could throw that lifeline, but I can’t. I don’t have enough experience. Not yet, and hopefully not for a long while.
So this essay isn’t about dying. And it’s not about healing.
It’s about living.
It’s about how experiencing loss can remind us to reacquaint ourselves with joy. It’s about how loss knocks down walls and puts everything into a new perspective. It’s about how, in an instant, my schedule and my task lists and my obligations, the homework and the sports games and the housekeeping, my urgent emails and my important messages and my top priorities – my entire life – all of it – can immediately screech to a halt with just one desperate phone call. It’s about how loss reminded me of some things that I knew once but forgot, like:
*Life is short. I want mine to be a happy one.
*I allow a lot of things to steal my happiness, and most of them aren’t really that important.
*In the big picture, most things, in general, aren’t really that important.
*We make happiness seem much harder to attain than it probably is.
*The greatest happiness comes from appreciating the simplest joys.
I’ve drawn a few more conclusions from these dark days, too. I want to live a life that overflows with joy because I focus on what matters most. I want to create a home that attracts happiness to our front porch and then invites it in to eat dinner and sit at the table with us. I want to instill an appreciation of the simple things in my children so that they experience peace, even when the air outside is still and dark clouds hang like a heavy curtain at their door.
So here is our starting point, some simple ideas to invite more happiness inside our home, and maybe yours . . .
**I know, I know . . . Stopping in the middle is just mean! But you don’t have to wait. Just click here to finish reading this post on The Today Show Parenting Blog. If you enjoy it, I would be very grateful for your vote! Thank you so, so much!**
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/9198432@N02/6101296095″>smiley face stress ball</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>