Why I Choose Happiness



I have a simple model of living.  It includes choosing happiness.  I don’t mean the pie in the sky, head in the clouds, ignore everything that is upsetting in the world kind of “happiness”.  I mean genuine, authentic, down to earth happiness.  I mean deep in your heart, body, mind and soul happiness.  Feeling blessed and expressing that blessing through life.

Maybe I need a new word for this quality I challenge myself to bring into my life in every moment of every day.  “Happiness” is so over used and loaded cliche.  It causes an immediate re-action in others as do so many other words that attempt to convey a quality of life or an elusive emotional state.
I guess one translation of this would include how it looks on the surface.  Simple answer, I smile a lot.  Again, I don’t mean that huge cheshire cat grin or a forced fake smile.  Usually, I feel it more as a slight, relaxed inner smile.  Maybe it doesn’t even show on my face at all. I’m not sure.  But you can probably see it in my eyes, which might just look a little softer or curved at the edges.  I feel it most in my heart. A gentle softening and a relaxing that causes everything to just “be” with a little more ease.  Thats my smile.
Happiness for me, translates more as a lack of gripping and attachment, then any one material thing or quality. When I am happy, I am free of what feels like to me, the constriction of toxic emotional states.  That is not to say I don’t feel anger, or sadness, or grief, or resentment, of fear, or anxiety, or rage, or disappointment, or so on and so on. There is often a misunderstanding here, that by choosing NOT to live in these states I mentioned, that it means I am somehow running away or ignoring them or wore yet, shoving them in some emotional closet that I never want to open.
Nothing, I mean Nothing, could be further from my truth.
Happiness embraces all these things.  In happiness, I can still feel my sadness.  With happiness, I can still honor my anger.  Alongside happiness, I can still walk with disappointment.  The difference being, the temporary moods and feelings that pass over me no longer have to rule the moment.  They can offer me their perspective, plead with me to re-act, and still…. I choose happiness.  I say ‘choose’ because at that level, it is a choice.  To go along with the flow of things, I would become consumed in the moment by whatever rages through me.
I guess you could say, I choose to believe that I have a choice.
Whether I am tired, overworked, ignored, sick, stressed, left out, unappreciated, bored or over stimulated….. I can acknowledge those states, I can do something to change them or not, but still I get to choose if I re-act in the moment out of frustration or anchor into happiness. The more I choose happiness, the more I see its benefits in the world around me.  In myself, my children, my family, my neighbors, my friends, my students… and so on and so on.
Oh yes, I could dig and criticize and find many examples where perhaps, just perhaps, ‘happiness’ hasn’t served me or might not serve others.  Where ‘happiness’ seems downright impossible or inappropriate.  But actually, it might just depend on how you define ‘happiness’ after all.   In my fluid definition, sometimes, choosing Sadness IS choosing Happiness.  Because, as I choose to acknowledge my sadness, I surrender to its pull and find myself in happiness again, as I have honored my most sacred need to be fully human. This makes me happy.
So please don’t mis interpret my lack of getting “fired up” and angry over issues as not caring.  And don’t feel that I don’t support your cause, your passion, your work or worse yet… YOU.. if I won’t get agitated alongside you. You won’t find me raising a fist in frustration over the corporate takeover of the world (well, not anymore!!) and I am not going to blame any one group of people for the state of homelessness or any other atrocity we live with (and their are MANY).  Even though I deeply feel these plights and share these concerns about the world, the people and this sacred earth.
Instead, I might write a letter, sign a petition, start a petition, support a non profit, shop locally and use my time and energy towards creating and living the change I want to see in the world… starting with me.  And choosing happiness.  I choose to be happy for all those that long for happiness but can’t get there,  I choose to be happy for those who couldn’t care less about happiness and never will, I choose to be happy for my children and their children, for my grandparents and their grandparents.
In that space of happiness is where I connect and how I see the world actually changing.  In that space of happiness is where I choose to live.
No, not perfectly. No, not always. No, not easily.
I just start with here and now…
 and now….
 and now…..
 and now….and now.

Monday, November 30

The last day of November leads us into the last month of 2015.  On this day, take time to consider how you want to end your year.  Let go of the trials and tribulations from the previous months, let go of disappointments as well as accomplishments, what is here for you right now?  What do you want to create?  How might you want to change or shift things to close 2015?

Today is a day for setting that intention, prayer or request in motion.  Looking gently….gently forward, see the rest of 2015 unfolding exactly how you would vision it.  Don’t focus so much on the physical details (though this may play into it!)  focus instead on your inner feeling, your inner state.  How do you want to show up in your life, your family and your community for the month of December?  Keep it simple and keep it focussed.  Find a way to remind yourself of this every day this coming month.

For today, take your first step in creating the life you most desire…. set your intention .

Word of the day:  intention

Song of the day:  put one foot in front of the other


Friday, November 27 – Sunday November 29

Begin today outside, with a deep sigh. A sigh of release.  An acknowledgement:”Phew!” Follow up with a broad smile.  Eyes lifted upward, look at the clear blue sky above you.  The clouds drifting lazily overhead.  Now close your eyes and sigh again.  A big exhale, releasing a sound as you breathe out.  Complete it with another smile.  Shift your eyes to the earth. To the fallen leaves carpeting the ground: their color, their scent, their pattern.  Close your eyes again and take a big breath in and release.  Ahhhhhhhhh.  Opening your mouth to let the air out.  Smile.  Now look straight ahead. Scan the horizon.  To the left, the right, behind you and in front of you again.  Which direction will you head today?  Which path calls you?  Notice the openings available to you.

Close your eyes. Breathe.  Release.  Open your eyes. Smile.

Look ALL around you, above, below, everywhere.  Take it all in using your eyes.  As you close your eyes, feel all that you gathered visually coming into awareness inside you.

Breathe.  Release.  Open your eyes.  Smile.

Repeat this often, throughout the weekend.  Take it all in and then let it go.  Find your direction. Clear your path.  Pay attention through your eyes.

Word of the day:  Vision

Action of the day:  Open your eyes and Smile

Song of the day:  Open Your Eyes


Thursday, November 26

Gratitude. Today, allow the light of thankfulness to shine. To reveal to you your luck, your fortune, your abundance, your joy. In whatever forms it shows up in in your life here and now.  See clearly through this sense of gratitude, every person, situation, moment, in your life today and beyond. Letting go of anger, frustration, judgement, comparison, shaming, blaming… of the past and the present and the future.  For at least a moment of prayer today, see everything with gratitude.  Appreciate all that is.  You don’t have to stay in that place forever, just visit it honestly, whole heartedly for a few moments and see what it reveals for you.  Perhaps it is exceedingly difficult?  Perhaps surprisingly easy?  You won’t know until you try.  And I mean, really give it your best!

If all people everywhere take a true, pure, honest and committed moment of clear thankfulness today, what then might be possible?

Breathe into this space of gratitude.  It is your true home.

word of the day:  Gratitude

action of the day:  Grace

Song of the day:  Cherokee Morning Song

Wednesday, November 25

There’s always more to a story.

I offer you this unedited piece of my day yesterday.  An odd little story.  Not as a warning, or for fear, or even to feel good or be concerned.  But to notice the places in you the story lights up to say “here…. Look here”.   In every story there are a thousand messages, a thousand answers.  Probably more.  What is here for you, in this story? Beyond the trigger places lie the truest “morals”.  May you find your gem within these words.

En route to the country side, to the farm; Our sanctuary in the mountains. Just the kids and I for some well deserved connection after a busy weekend.  As part of our routine we drive through a small country town where my favorite coffee shop is to “fuel up” with some breakfast and gas for the car.  At the gas station, our first stop, my son insists on getting out to help pump the gas. He wants to remove the gas pump from the car, hang it up and screw on the gas cap as he always does.  I hesitate for a moment, but he insists so I let him join me.  As he is struggling to get the gas pump out, the gas pump unexpectedly comes flying out of the gas tank spewing gas like an out of control garden hose everywhere. Most notably, right in my sons face and eyes.

We are both doused heavily in gasoline. He screams wildly. I grab the hose and tell him to close his eyes and get away.  All of this is instantaneous, split second reaction.  He squints his eyes shut and backs off. The hose is still spewing so I throw it down, grab him, and run into the convenience store looking for the bathroom. Turning on the sink I pick him up and, face up, put his whole head under the faucet running water over his face and eyes. He relaxes. His face no longer contorted in an expression of contraction. I ask him to open his eyes. He squints and starts to cry.

“They hurt”he cries, “I can’t open them”.

“Ok” I manage, “keep them closed.” And I guide him out of the bathroom.

The man working at the cash register is completely unhelpful. Doesn’t seem the least bit interested. As though if I asked him for help he would stoically instruct me to the end of the line to wait my turn behind the people buying gum and cigarettes.  But a customer, in fact at the very end of the line, leaps forward with concern.  A middle aged man verging on elderly with an armful of convenience store snacks, drops his loot and rushes to my side.

“What do you need?” He asks with one pointed focus.

“Is there an urgent care facility near here?” I focus with him, thankful.

“Yes,  just down the street.  Get your son in the car and I will follow you out and show you.”

I do what he says.  He is so sure and concerned.

He directs me to a certain exit out of the gas station and tells me where to go, motioning in a direction and waving his hands. He repeats the directions at least 3 times to make sure I got it.

“It’s so close, you can see it from here.” He reassures.

“Thank you”  And I really mean it.

I drive to the stop sign he pointed to and make the right hand turn he indicated. There is nothing there.  I try again, circling back.  I think maybe he didn’t know his right from left, so I try both sides of the street.

Meanwhile, my son is crying passionately in the backseat with a wad of paper towels over his eyes.  “Don’t worry” I comfort “I ll find this place soon”.   Between sobs he says “I am not sad mommy!  I am just making myself cry to clean out my eyes!” And he resumes his full on crying.  I am starting to think we might not need this urgent care place after all.

I take a deep breath and I pull the car over to an empty parking lot and punch in the words “urgent care” into my GPS.  The place shows up right away.  According to the GPS .2 mile away.  I happily listen to the talking box as it directs me in a completely different direction, but now I have an actual address and a talking box so I feel secure.  I show up at the address, and there is nothing there.   I circle around a few times, look on both sides of the street just to be sure… nothing.

I stop the car, my head spinning from all the circling I have been doing. I need to stay still and focus for a moment.   I start to relax more.

“How are you.” I ask my son, who I notice has stopped crying.

“I am fine.”  He says clearly.

“Can you open your eyes now?”

“Yes.  And they don’t hurt”.

I finally exhale fully.  The urgency of the situation releasing its grip on me.

“Great! I need a cup of coffee” I announce.

And we drive across the street to my favorite coffee shop.

Clear. Ground. Fill.  I know this routine.

At the coffee shop, I am ordering food for the kids and my much needed cup o Joe, when the owner comes flying into the room with obvious concern on her face.

“Is there a gas leak somewhere?”   She asks her employees in a panic.

I jump in…”oh sorry, that’s us.”

And I briefly tell her what happened.  She gets down to look at my son and offers him a free cookie and a drink.  This makes him smile.

Then she says “you know, there’s an urgent care facility literally right down the street.   It’s brand new and really really good.”   And she proceeds to give me directions to get there. This is verging on ridiculous.  The old Abbot & Costello “who’s on first” skit comes racing into mind.

“Thanks,” I offer.  “I think we are going to the thrift store next to get out of these clothes!”  Everyone laughs.

At the thrift store, my son and I change out of our gas soaked clothing and into some new warm, dry clothes instead. We head to the counter with our old clothes in the cart and our thrifted finds on us, tags dangling everywhere.  The lady at the counter asks “what’s that smell?” as we approach the cash register and so I re tell our story as I am pulling tags off clothing and handling them to her. She double plastic bags our old clothes, and by now the whole line behind us has heard what happened and is offering bits of advice on how to get gasoline out of clothes (just throw them all away!  offers one elderly woman.) what to do when we get home, etc.

“Wow, thats a wild story” They all seem to say together.  “Your son sure will always remember it!”

They smile and laugh with the wisdom of age.  They all are grandmothers and I so appreciate their calm, reflective and light hearted presence.  We share in the laughter together. The lady at the counter doesn’t charge me for half he clothes I take.  We all leave cleaner, brighter and lighter.

Back to our car, we finally…finally head to the farm to spend our day together as originally planned. It turns out to be a beautiful, crisp autumn day and we pick kale, lettuce and broccoli from the fields. We find lots of amber chunks in the dirt around the sluice.  I put them in my pockets. We hang out with the turkeys and compliment them on their fine plumage. We play, and run, and swing and enjoy the fresh air. We see the first glimpses of the nearly full moon hazy in the sky and HUGE.

No one stops us because we smell like gasoline.

I treat the kids to whatever they want.  I let them get candy.  And buy trinkets.  And play their radio station on the car ride home.

It’s turned in to that kind of day.

Song for today: this made me smile https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yL7VP4-kP4

Tuesday, November 24

Step back. Way back today.  Look from above. From high above.  Imagine the Eagle, the Hawk. Flying higher, you see more of the whole picture.  Broader perspective gives you more space. Space to breathe, to accept, to understand, to acknowledge all that is.  From this larger perspective, it is hard to finger point, to blame, to accuse.  All things start to seem neutral.  If you look at a single tree from from right above it, you see That tree.  You notice its individual aspects. What kind of tree it is, who inhabits it, the health of its branches.  As you travel higher in the sky you see the trees around it too, noticing it is part of a forest.  Even higher and the forest becomes one, a single mass of green.  Higher still and it connects to other forests, to masses of green. Until, far enough away, the green becomes indiscernible, as the colors of our planet earth form one large mass together.

How far away can you see things from?  Current issues, misunderstandings, difficulties in your personal life today nd recently, can benefit from this perspective.  Coming deeper into our expression of wholeness and connectedness.

Become the Eagle.  Look from above.

Word of the day:  Distance



Monday, November 23

Today, and this week ahead, connection is highlighted.  Through family, friends, gatherings, celebrations, loved ones, communities.  Consider today, the depths of interconnectedness and all the implications therein.

Its a profoundly humbling experience to understand that each action, each thought, each word, each deed… affects those around us tremendously.  As we look closely at connection, to form a clearer ability to connect, we look too at those places that might scare us.  The unintentional harm we may cause ourselves and others through unconscious living.  There are so many levels to this awareness, to this perspective… from the physical to the emotional to the energetic.  We have a tendency to look at one at a time, to single them out.  This may be necessary to allow us the ability to access the information we need, but at some point, integration becomes critical.

Today, can you allow yourself the full perspective of interconnectedness?  Can you look at your own life, body, family, choices with self love and compassion to see the places you may not be recognizing as affecting others or yourself?  Can you accept the places you have not yet illuminated with light of your awakened self , and with your acceptance, look deeply?  Can you forgive?

In beginning the process of clearing these spaces, we come into fuller and fuller expressions of our true, loving, divine, compassionate, connected self.

Word of the day:  connection

Practice of the day:  Self Love

Song of the day:





Friday, November 20 – Sunday, November 22

This weekend calls us to find the calm within the storm, the center within the whirlwind.  So much is happening, so much is “up”, so many themes.  Old patterns revisited.  But with more choices.  More options to find a different path.  To walk in a new way through this difficult landscape.

Can you see the options open to you?

Take time to just look, observe and notice all the potential choices at your fingertips.  Maybe write them down even.  Thinking way outside the box to avoid the feeling of being trapped.  If you get stuck in the trapped place, then fear and panic are triggered.  Instead, use your resources, your tools, your friends, your community, your knowing, your teachers…. find your way out.

Word of the day:  choice

Poem of the day:

Caged Bird


A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Maya Angelou, “Caged Bird” from Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? Copyright © 1983 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 19

Feeling Foggy Today?  Get your breath and body moving, feel the wind across your face, feel your hair swinging.  Skip, Run, Jump, Swim, Trampoline, Swing, Bike, Spin…. move!  Playfully, joyfully, exuberantly….move!  Laugh loud.  Smile Big.  Try something new today.  Who says that slide at the playground is only for your child?  Get on it!    Its been a heavy few weeks, and its time to shake it off.  Allowing the space for the weekend to enter with clarity and lightness.  Resist the urge to lay under the covers all day.  Have a dance party instead!  Once you get everything flowing, your energy will return and you will feel refreshed.

Word of the day:  Move!

Song of the day: I like to Move it (ok, so the video is soon 90’s, just dance!)

Wednesday, November 18

Today, mess around.

Life is messy.  Conversations are messy.  Houses are messy.  Resolution is messy.  Social Media is messy. Art is messy.  I could go on and on.

What makes us think a nice list and a well laid plan will circumvent the mess?  The messiness is part of the process of life. Today, celebrate it all around you.  For a moment, or moments, just enjoy the mess. Messiness can lead to brilliance, creativity and true outside the box thinking.  What are you willing to mess around with today?  What doors, pathways, leaps, changes and  outcomes might open up for you if you let go of the need to control and accept the messiness of it all?

Word of the day:  Messy

Song of the day:  Lady Be Good…. messing around in the parlor