2012 is a new year for me. I mean, a REALLY new year. At least, that’s the plan.
My last couple of years have been… kind of rough.

In the last two years I–

— found out my husband was abusing our daughter (side effects include court dates, jail time for husband, social services camping out in our living room, more court dates, extensive therapy for everyone involved, husband closing all bank accounts and taking all the money, even more court dates, and divorce proceedings. Not to mention, of course, trauma to our daughter and entire family.)
–had to put my cat to sleep
–discovered I was so anemic I was dying
–found out my dog had cancer

–watched my house fall apart around me (the garage door actually fell off! Good news- the car was not in the garage at the time because of the overwhelming smell of the dead mouse from somewhere behind the moving boxes)
–had a hysterectomy
–got divorced
–moved across the country from suburbia to Mayberry
–listed my house as a short sale
–acquired 12 chickens

It was a busy two years. And a little stressful.

In the midst of all this, people kept asking how I was remaining so upbeat.

(Ok, actually, here’s the oddest question people would ask: How do you keep going?
My thought: Is there an alternative? I mean, other than suicide, which is a behavior I don’t generally approve of. Because if you know a way to stop the insanity from happening, please point me toward it! Good heavens! Do you think I chose all this? But I digress.)
Sometimes when they ask why I’m cheerful, I wonder if they are delusional. Sometimes I sit down and cry. And sometimes I think, “Huh. That’s a good question.”

And the answer is…

Sometimes I’m not upbeat. Sometimes the simple truth is Life Is Pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something. (Man in Black, The Princess Bride) But sometimes, despite everything crashing down around me, I have been able to smile.
A funny thing about going through hard times is that you start to notice more of the hard things other people are going through around you. I honestly never knew there were so many divorced women in the world. Or people with cancer. Or financial difficulties. Or… you name it.
One day I pulled up to a stoplight and a woman in a mini-van pulled up beside me. I looked over at her and was shocked at what I saw. Another human being! Another member of the human race! And simply by virtue of her being alive, I knew for certain she was going through hard things. I wanted to roll down my window and shout, “It’s going to be all right! You can do it! Just hang in there! We can make it though this together!” Then the light turned green and she pulled away. I hope she’s winning in whatever arena she’s fighting. Whoever she is.
I think the Man in Black was right. Life is pain. In fact, I believe it’s supposed to be hard. (more on this later.) But it is also supposed to be full of joy.
And that’s where this blog comes in.
One of the things that helps me the most when I get feeling like every possible thing is going wrong, is to count my blessings. I know. It sounds so 5-years-old. But hey! I was 5 once, and it wasn’t too bad. I could go for snicker-doodle cookies and someone reading me bedtime stories again.
At the end of the day, when I kneel down to say my prayers (yes- I’m Christian, and yes, I pray), I make myself list– out loud– 10 good things that happened that day. In order from morning to night. And some days, I start out thinking, “There weren’t ten good things today. This was a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad day!”
But then I remember…
–There was a little bit of my favorite cereal left this morning that I had for breakfast.
–My kids made it onto the bus even though we got up late.
–I had time to blow dry my hair.
–The refrigerator repair man was able to fix the fridge.
–Gas prices went down 2 cents.
–I remembered to get cat food while I was at the store.
–My daughter is excited about the book she’s reading.
–My son said “Thank you for fixing dinner.”
–I found the lens cap to my camera in the wash.
–My kids did the dinner dishes without fighting.
And voila! Suddenly I wonder, Why did I think this was a bad day? Heck! This day was awesome! I thank Heavenly Father for my amazing blessings and climb into bed happy.
Note: What I don’t let myself do: Count things I’m not actually happy about. If it pops into my head and I feel a grumble of unhappiness inside, it doesn’t count. No matter how “happy” it might look on paper or sound to someone else. I know if I’m happy. And I’m the one counting.
So this blog is for me and for you. I get to count happy things, write about what inspires me, and shout out to that lady in the mini-van, “We can do it!” And maybe, somewhere in here, you’ll find ideas that will make you happy too.
Feel free to post comments about how these ideas work- or don’t work- for you. About what you do to be happy when life get rough. And anything else that tickles your fancy. Want to post a guest piece about something that inspires you or makes you smile? Drop me a note! Because almost anything– from sledding, to running through sprinklers, to navigating life, is more fun when we do it together.