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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chasing Happiness

I was asked by a beautiful and loyal reader to revisit this post.  Happy to honor this request.  I'm always humbled and energized that what I write helps some of you.

Rant warning: This post has been brewing for a bit and is likely to contain frustration, sarcasm, and a healthy dose of disgust.

I've become flat out disgusted with the term, "I'm not happy." What a self serving bunch of crap.  Now, if you happen to be in a situation where you are not able to find enough food for you and your family, or you are being abused, or your hair suddenly catches fire at random each week, I'm sorry.  You have every right not to be happy.  For the rest of you, what a bunch of crap.

Has our culture really become entirely about a quest for our own happiness? Are you naive enough to think that you not being happy in this relationship or situation is really about the other person or the situation? Do you think the next person you encounter will be "the one" that makes the sun shine brighter and the cream cheese on your bagel creamier? Maybe for a little while, until the shiny newness wears off that one and you become 'unhappy' again.

If you're not happy, please take a few steps to the nearest reflective surface and take a long stare at the person staring back at you and consider this to be the source of your unhappiness.  And by they way, who promised you a life of happiness anyway?

Have we all gotten so accustomed to our cushy lifestyles that we have forgotten that most of the privileges we enjoy today came from someone sacrificing and suffering for the greater good?  Let's call my high school classmate, Brad, who's on his way home from Iraq and ask him if he was 'happy' the entire time he was fighting for the freedom of our country.  Do you think your parents were 'happy' throughout your teenage years as they dealt with your shenanigans, eye rolling and body odor? I guarantee that the moment I pushed out both my little gifts from God, I wasn't thinking about how "happy" I was in that moment.

As I look back over my short 44 years, I know the biggest lessons didn't come from those happy moments on the beach with a "marg" in one hand and an US Weekly in the other. My life is being shaped by the moments I've spent in a fetal position on the floor of my closet sobbing in pain and frustration. Those are the moments I've learned to stand up, blow my nose, look in the mirror and face it. I get stronger, I get more understanding. Let's get to work learning how to listen, how to be patient, how to forgive, how to persevere.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go about figuring out how to pay my mortgage, keep my kids out of therapy, and improve my marriage.

If you're still on a single quest for happiness and self satisfaction, please un-follow, de-friend, and delete my email, you're bugging me.

"True happiness is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose." - Helen Keller

P.S.- There are over 700 results in Amazon from my happiness link above.  Go and buy a book on how to get happy and I'll make some money from it and that will make me happy.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Madonna and Whitney - better dead than alive?

I am struck by the irony of this past week's events; Madonna's half time show and Whitney's death.

A week ago today we watched Madonna perform the half time show of the 46th Super Bowl.  I was saddened by the mixed reviews and often harsh criticism during and after the show on all social media and news media networks.

There were comments that she should retire, she embarrassed herself, she moves too slow, she lip synced.  I felt the need to personally go on and comment to the contrary. Not just because of my love of Madonna but for my disappointment in our view of aging and legacy contribution in this world.  The focus on what have you done for me "today" and how do you look "today" is a drive thru culture that destroys us.

A quick reminder that Madonna is 53 years old.  She was born in Michigan and lost her mother at age 5 to cancer.  She rose up to overcome this grief, studied, got good grades and decided to be good at something.  She went on to become the world's top selling recording artist of all time, selling more than 300 million records worldwide.  She won a Golden Globe in acting for her role in Evita. Yes she has acted out her rebellious years and sexual discovery in front of millions. Yet she has also matured into a mother of her own child and those she's taken in as her own through adoption. She's contributed to charities beyond measure including a huge part in Haiti relief.  She's directing films that are important to her like W.E..

Yet the comments from Super Bowl were about lip syncing, her fake British accent and that she's moving kind of slow these days.

I'm sickened by that.

I work hard to be good in this world and work towards achievements that matter. Yet I can't fathom this amount of contribution and success.  We should be cheering from the cheap seats when at 53, Madonna is rocking the house.

Then just a week later, we lose another icon of music, Whitney Houston.

No doubt Whitney has the best voice ever to touch our ears.  A true gift from God. She has also been noted as the most awarded female of all time for music and movies.  No doubt there was talent beyond measure in what was Whitney Houston. 

Yet Whitney fell into an obscure marriage tainted with drug and alcohol abuse that has wasted her time and talent. Now she is dead.  Her daughter is left to find a life without her mother, her security and safety.  A tragedy and a waste.

Yet today on the blogs, the social media and the news we talk of the angel of Whitney Houston and how much we will miss her.  I too will miss her voice.  I am saddened that her gifts from God were not fully realized.

From this I ask you all to do me a favor. If there is anything about me and my contribution that you find compelling, please don't wait until I'm dead to blog, Facebook and Tweet about it.

I am saddened by a culture that cannot celebrate what is, but instead comes with criticism and judgement. A culture that will then rally around a tragedy like Whitney's.

My heart mourns for Whitney's family, but I also mourn that we couldn't celebrate all that Madonna is and has achieved.

It's not lost on me that Michael Jackson was a pedophile and a freak in most articles leading up to his death.  Upon his death he was the Pop Icon of all time.  He may have needed that kind of support while he was alive, don't you think?

I challenge you to wake up today and celebrate with love and rays of light for all that you and your family and friends are in this life. Celebrate it while it is here, please don't wait until it's dead and gone. Of course live people can still disappoint you and make mistakes so they are still at risk of deserving our love and admiration.  Isn't that really what happens? When they are dead they can no longer disappoint you or make mistakes so it's easier to rally around then and their contribution.  Dead people don't appreciate your compliments nearly as much as the live ones.  Go compliment a live person today, in honor of Madonna and Whitney.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Reflections on Dude's First Thirteen

Fourteen years ago today I woke for the first time as a mother.  I had given birth to a beautiful baby boy the day before.  All of the hustle and bustle of labor and delivery and first time visits behind us, we settled in to our new life together.

I stared in his big blue eyes thinking..... I have no experience with caring for a baby, I didn't even babysit as a teenager.  Yet, there was something instinctual that seemed to take over and I was sure there was plenty of love to make it all work out. My thoughts bounced from things like, "I can't really believe they let people like me take their babies home without more training." Seriously, I don't think I'd ever changed a diaper before this.  And those first few diapers were no practice runs. (pardon the pun)  To serious thoughts and a deep love and longing that said there was no one that would ever get between me and this child.  It truly felt like instinct, powered by God's love of course.

My long time friend and colleague visited the first day and said, "You know, we've been talking at the office and we're not sure about this."  She then looked at me holding my newborn baby and said, "Are you sure you know how to do this?"  I was certain there was a betting poll going around the office with an over and under on how bad I'd screw this thing up.  Maybe they're still watching and wagering.  Some days I do too.

Oprah has her little section on "What I Know For Sure"  Well, Miss O, here's something I know for sure and you don't.

There is absolutely nothing more life changing than having your first child.  You can have 18 more after that and it will not be the same change in perspective, actions, & relationships..... no comparison.

A week after Dude was born I was going stir crazy and needed to get out of the house. I needed Target!  I had to call another colleague who had just had a baby and ask her how to put that baby seat into my big red cart! I didn't even know how to do Target as a mother! Big changes people, big changes. Like Marie Osmond says, "after 3 it's just another baked potato in the oven for dinner".

Enough of the female icon drama quotes.  This is supposed to be about Dude's birthday.

Dude's real name is Cameron Fleetwood Hession.  He turned 14 yesterday.  His middle name is my maiden name. (Cool ass name, huh? Especially when Fleetwood Mac was rockin' the charts when I was in junior high. Yes, MY nickname was Mac for all of 7th grade. *sigh*)  As an only child, this was the best I could do at passing the family name down a little further on the chain.  At the time someone said, "What a great lawyer name."  Which is probably why we started calling him Dude as a toddler.  We're not really the lawyer types.  Other than the couple of times we've had to hire and pay them.  But that's also for another post.

We did start calling him Dude as a toddler.  He'd be scrambling away from me in the checkout line at the grocery and I'd shout, "Dude, get back over here." The stares from the little old ladies were a scream.  I'm sure they were thinking, "she doesn't look all that redneck, why did she name her sweet little blue eyed boy Dude?"  And why is she wearing a suit?  She must be going to court for those drug possession charges.

My little Dude is growing long and lean and funny and talented.  His empathy for others is astounding as a teenage boy.  I'm proud of his courage and his thoughtfulness and his willingness to let me "experiment" with this parenting thing.  I still look in his big blue eyes sometimes and remind myself that I really don't know what I'm doing but I'm leaning on those God given instincts and filling in with some great apologies.  He responds with amazing forgiveness.  Except for yesterday when he told his friend, in my presence, that I got so mad the other day I threw a spatula.  I'm going to chalk that up  to ADHD impulse of forgetting the difference of what is public domain and what should be like Vegas and what happens in our kitchen stays in our kitchen. I have no concerns that it was a malicious grudge and judgement of my parenting.

So today after the hoopla of paintball, cookie cakes, grandparents, and hours of video games with other stinky boys, I'm settling in to another year as Dude's mom.  Happy and excited about his future.

Since I'm on a role with my famous women quotes in this post, I'll end with .........

Dude....... you is smart, you is kind, you is important.