Act the way you want to feel

I have a photograph of my late grandmother, Florence Drennan, on the wall facing where I sit and write.
The photo was taken in 1929. Grandma is 14 years old and one of eight young girls in wool cloche-style hats trying to be still for the photographer. Some of them are laughing.
My Grandmother has an ear-to-ear closed mouth grin and looks ready to bust a gut at something funny that must have been circulating among them that day so long ago.
I found the photograph among my Grandmother’s things after she died at the age of 91 in 2006. It’s my all-time favorite photo.
It resonates a “carpe diem” lesson for me. The fresh young faces whisper to me the message about not wasting time waiting around for the right moment to do something that makes me happy. I am reminded to live out loud and that I deserve to be happy.
I think we all deserve to be happy.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about happiness, having recently been introduced to someone who among other attributes just finished reading “The Happiness Project.”
On Page 23 there is a Buddhist quote, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
I’ve had the same book sitting yet unread on my bookshelf since I bought it shortly after it was published in 2009. I started reading it yesterday.
A counselor I saw in late January while I was on the bleeding edge of a personal tragedy told me outright that I deserved to be happy. At that moment when all was dark and cheerless, I really didn’t appreciate the happiness warrant for my life but I soon discovered that he was right and that he was talking about the attitude I take to my life table of contents.
“No deposit, no return.”
I believe in and I love myself. I think I’ve done a very good job of coming back to a full albeit new life, while honoring the one I had to leave behind on that brutally cold winter’s day.
I’ve worked very, very hard to do that because I believe I deserve to be happy.
Some people have said to me, “That was fast.”
I try not to let the comment hurt my heart because I know the archaic reaction is usually based on the old and rusty rule of socially acceptable time frames born in another century. But it hurts anyway.
None of us really has any business making a comment like that to someone who has been through the grief grinder. This much I know is true.
It’s very easy to sit in yesterday. There’s no challenge in doing that. The tape reel is recorded and burned and doesn’t mind replaying for us as many times as we would like to sit in on it.
And for all my self-care work there are still times when the past would have me sucked into its movie where I am welcome to mope until everyone else thinks it’s time for me to move forward and direct my own play.
Moving forward through the intersections of life is risky. Look both ways and go.
It is my belief that grief, no matter the source, is not meant to be overcome.
I don’t think we are supposed to conquer grief, but—to paraphrase the poet Rumi, to treat it honorably because someday somewhere somehow it may be clearing you out for new delight.
The balance is tedious, constant work. Sometimes I do it well, sometimes I do appallingly, but I will never stop striving for everyday happiness again.
Life is windy and as my new friend reminded me, “You can’t change the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” Thank you.
I may be a child of the wind to my dying day, but I’ve got a big sailboat and her name is “Bring It On.”

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