A few months ago, the following questions were posed to me: “What do you do for yourself? What do you have in your life that makes you You? What makes you happy?” And you know how I responded? I started crying. I couldn’t think of a single thing that was truly mine and was really just for me, that made me truly happy. Not that there is anything wrong with being a wife and a mama but those don’t feel like elements of my life that are really mine. Those are my relationships with others, and they are my heart, of course, but if you took those off the table (please, don’t take them off the table!), what was left for me?
It was not a high point, my friends. “Ummmmm, books? I like to read?” I answered between tissue swipes at my eyes and nose. But even that was a question. Was that enough? Did that really make me Me and make me happy?
Sort of. I do love to read and always have. As an elementary student, I read my tail off, working every summer to make sure I was one of the (if not the) top readers in my town’s Summer Reading Program. In college, whenever I was home on Christmas break or Summer vacation, I read voraciously….taking in all the novels I could to give my mind some play between semesters. I went to grad school for English-flipping-lit, people, so yes, books are me, but as I got older and babies started entering my world, I let my bookish self go a bit. I still read plenty of parenting books, but if you’ve been reading along long enough, you might remember how that went. This year I made a conscious effort, a resolution of sorts, to start reading again, and with a month in 2013 to go, I’d say I’ve done pretty well (you can view my running list of titles read here just don’t judge me for not editing it). So while I can still say without a doubt, reading and books are a part of me, they don’t always give me that greater sense of self or peace. If anything, they give me a place to escape and a reason to stay up late (which I clearly don’t need!). So I had to start looking for other things.
I tried walking. But this is Nebraska and it’s November. It is cold and the sun goes down early and a daily walk just wasn’t happening for me. Rather, I wasn’t choosing to make it happen because great as it is to get out and walk (I do like it), it wasn’t feeding my soul. It was making me long to run and that just wasn’t serving me either based on my history with my back and all.
As you probably know if you’ve been reading along lately, I was lucky and the next thing I tried, yoga, was my Golden Ticket. I somehow managed to find something that made me feel strong and whole and humble and calm and peaceful and (ta-da!) HAPPY. And the whole thing surprises me still because I’m not new to yoga. But with my re-commitment to it, it is new. And so am I.
Every time I’m on the mat I learn something. Something about life or myself or this journey or what-have-you. I learn. I feel alive. I FEEL. Because of this, I am able to get through the crazy and long-arse days with three littles in the house and I don’t greet my husband every evening with a laundry list of what went wrong that day (like I used to). Because of this, I am able to look at myself in the mirror and smile. I can see the strength in my muscles building rather than nit-picking my post-baby body and appreciate the glow in my eyes instead of staring at the oh-geez-I’m-in-my-30s-lines-and-grays that have started to appear. Because of this, I am starting to know myself and I have to say, it feels both crazy to have taken this long to get here and amazing to already be on my way. Now, when someone asks, “What makes you You?” I have an answer that really is Me and I am so, so grateful.
On Friday, I read a post over on one of my faves, Momastery about how what our kids really want is for us to be happy. Instead of dissolving in tears like I did a few months ago, I beamed as I read, knowing that I am doing something for me, something that makes me glow and I know my kids feel that. Not that that makes me better than other moms or parents or whatever. Please, do not think I am trying in this post to take my happy place and shove it in your face. I’m not. I’m just thinking about what makes us who we are and I wonder, what makes you You? What are you doing that feeds you? That makes you feel? I was lucky and found my answer in three tries. But what if others are still looking? What if this question makes you want to cry?
If you have something that makes you shine, will you share? Either in the comments here or on the Facebook thread? Maybe someone who is looking for some peace, some happy, will read over those ideas and find something new to try. Or, like in my case, something old to try again. I think it would be awesome for us to share ideas and know more about what makes each other happy. So please, if you feel so inclined, play along!
I’ll throw a suggestion out first: music. Get up and dance to get your happy on! Need a new song? Watch/listen to “Happy” from Pharrell Williams. It’s my new fave.