Happiness Blooms From Within

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Last night, before the sun went down, I watched as six robins flew freely about, singing and flocking their feathers in stray water puddles. I always love to experience the sight of robins after winter. There’s something magical about a change of the season. Spring is nearly here, and soon a mamma robin will be nesting right under my balcony from the same nest left year after year.

Today is my day off, and as I wait to see those robins again, I sip my coffee slower, not gulping it down to the last drop and jumping for the second cup. It wasn’t too long ago that I had stopped drinking coffee all together (a whole twelve days). Now I limit myself two to four ounces daily. It’s just enough to satisfy my craving, but not so much as to cause acid reflux or anxiety. It kinda sucks to get older and have to deal with acid reflux. After the new year something clicked in me and I decided to start making changes. A ton of changes. Call it my new years resolutions times two!

For awhile now I’ve been a mostly all organic grocery consumer, and very particular about what goes in my household as far as toxins go. But I guess this new year has challenged me more so. It became so that I was changing everything. I mean EVERYTHING! I got rid of our microwave and bought a new toaster oven. It’s actually amazing! I used my 40% off at Kohls to purchase a KitchenAid brand. I got rid of the last of our aluminum pots and pans and bought a really nice pair of All-Clad D5 Set of 2 French Skillets 9 Inch & 11 Inch which I bought at Williams-Sonoma, but amazon has them on sale often as well. Now my kitchen is stocked with Le Creuset and All-Clad cookware, and I completely love it! If you want to know more about this cookware checkout “A lesson on cookware” to see why I love these brands.

My changes didn’t stop there…

After my mom went through breast cancer treatment, I learned about wire-free bras so of course I changed out all my bras, too. Even all my candles are now only beeswax, though I’m craving to get some really good smelling soy candles. I found myself doing so much research about what’s healthy and what’s not. It was almost overwhelming. Henry said it’s just a phase I was going through after seeing my mom go through what she had and I believe that. It was hard, and maybe this is a way I cope. But, of course, my changes didn’t stop there…

I decided to make a dreadful doctor appointment to remove a mole on my back. No one wants to do this, ever. But it was here when I realized something. Right here, when I was cooking my oatmeal on the stove instead of the microwave, having Henry change my bandage on my back from where the mole was, and trying hard to overcome the sluggish feeling I was having after quitting coffee. I had realized that it was too much and I was frustrated because I couldn’t recognize my lifestyle anymore. I was trying hard, yet again, to be and do everything perfect. And that is a scary thing.

A huge part of me is glad that I made those changes though, because I learned a lot. I learned that I can overcome it. I learned that I can set limits on my coffee consumption. I learned that it’s okay to not be perfect. I learned that it’s a good thing to do things we are afraid to do, like make those doctor appointments and just go through with it. Because now I can be excited for our vacation to Florida and Door County to wear any bikini I want and not have to hide the mole on my back. Now, I can cook real food and reheat it without a microwave.

My decision to embrace these changes led me to a little spring inspiration. I took a shopping trip to the Jo-Ann store and picked up a copy of The Magnolia Journal (the only magazine where I’ve actually read all of it). I went with Henry’s mom and found a magnificent spider plant. My favorite houseplant for many reasons-one being a great air purifier. But while I was shopping I found a beautiful quote, “Happiness blooms from within.” Yes, it sure does. Happiness can be found by changing things in life, sure. But, don’t change too much, because we are who we are. Try changing things that would make your life better. And just remember, not all change is bad. Sometimes that change can bring new happiness into your life.

 

 

Forgiveness and Letting Go…

Forgiveness. The final fork-in-the-road decision where one must choose between love and hate. It’s when we can’t go forward, backwards, or up, until we choose left or right. Do we choose to forgive and let go of the hurt and sadness that’s consumed us? Or, do we choose to hold onto it, and never forgive? It is ultimately one of the biggest decisions we have in life, and if we choose wrong, it could haunt in the shadows and burden daily.

I was always one that held onto things for a while, until eventually the emotion came out with tears and I forgave. My mom thought it weird that I’d be crying over something from months before, rather than crying that very day the hurt first hit my chest. Call it strength, or call it weakness. Either way, I was able to let go of it, to truly deal with a life situation.

I truly feel my life is blessed, and that God has only given me challenges He knows I can take. That being said, it wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies growing up. With my parents at a constant disagreement, or rather a lack of understanding for each other, inevitably it led to their divorce. If I could say one thing about divorce if in any way to help educate others, it is this- divorce scars more than just the two that sign the parting papers. It hurts the children involved as well- they are losing half of their lives too.

It’s a very weird reality to live in. All of a sudden, Christmas is no longer the same white Christmas tree dressed in garland of red. Instead, it’s driving here and driving there. It’s a constant back and forth and I’ve felt like a yo-yo being played at the hand of divorce. I have moved on from my parents’ divorce. Both my parents have as well and are in new marriages. But, divorce really doesn’t go away, ever. I feel it’s a long battle on that road to forgiveness. No, I don’t want to start a “parent trap,” but I do miss that white Christmas tree.

Forgiveness is letting go so that we can move on with our own lives and not be pushed around by that word lurking in the shadows. For me, my word is divorce. To forgive my parents so that I can move on with my own life, trusting that someday I will have a successful marriage.

I can only hope that everyone else is able to move on faster towards forgiveness, sooner than later and choose love over hate every time. If forgiveness is something you just can’t do, then at least think about it. Come up with all sides of the situation and truly understand it. Work daily on trying to let go. You may not forget whatever the hurt is, but you will find a way to forgive so that you can live on. Find something important to you like for me it is writing, and find a healthy way to exercise forgiveness. Because one day, it will all blow away with the wind, leaving the shadows, and taking the heavy weight with. Forgiveness is freedom. And we have to work on it every day.

 

For the love of Cats

Today I woke early. Small, hungry meows bellowed from my almost two-year old tortoiseshell cat. Her mouth filled with saliva, anticipating the high quality canned cat food that I buy her. She licked her lips then my arm in hopes I’d wake that instant to feed her. She purred loudly, but waited patiently. Me waking up was the only way she’d feed her hungry tummy.

I rubbed my eyes and pet her soft fur, then watched as she raced down the stairs. She had won.

It’s a privilege to feed your pet, not just a responsibility. But today was different feeding my sweet ball of fur named Katniss.

Once I set her Nature’s Variety Instinct, salmon-flavored wet food in a raised glass dish near her water and dry food dish, I noticed another beautiful creature outside. I’ve seen her before, but never have I seen her out and about this early in the morning. Usually she roams about at night.

She was a mirror image of my Katniss. A young “tortie,” wild and free lurking by the trees. She seemed so calm. When she was a kitten, I tried to catch this kitty and her orange tabby companion. I wish I would have tried harder back then to catch her because now she is much bigger, and perhaps more wild.

Before winter we found one of her brothers. A small gray kitten hidden inside a car. It meowed for his orange tabby cat mother, but we never saw her around for days. We knew there were kittens in the yard under a drain, but nobody could ever get to them. We’d all just leave food and water for them and their mother. How this little kitten got a few yards away, I’ll never know.

We cleaned that little gray kitten up. Got him some food, water, and toys. He loved catnip and began to trust human hands. He went to a loving home…success! We were able to save that kitten, but how do you capture a young, adult stray…I mean feral kitty? And does she even want to be captured? So, I thought. What can I do. What’s the one thing both stray, feral, and pet cats love, and that us humans can provide for them? Food. I raced outside like the crazy cat lady I am, carrying a can of food with me.

She saw me and I had her attention. Such a beautiful cat. I opened the can, the noise keeping her from running off. The noise that makes Katniss run from any room in the house to the kitchen. I set it on the ground and walked back inside. I watched from the window both my Katniss inside and her mirror image outside. Different places, yet both the same. Torties, but also cats. I then realized a bigger picture.

You don’t need to necessarily “capture” this beauty, but rather like everything and everyone you encounter, leave them in a better condition then when you first saw them. If I can feed this outdoor kitty, who may not have eaten anything in awhile, then that is pure joy in itself. You cannot change everything. You can’t fix everything. You just have to look at the bright side and be kind. Offer your kindness to everyone and every living thing. Don’t turn your cheek on stray cats, or even feral cats. I learned my lesson with feral cats the hard way, but at least I showed my kindness and can prove it with my three inch scar. But this outdoor kitty, I’d term a stray, a community kitty.

Neighbors I’ve talked to have tried also to capture these kitties before, to spay and neuter them, and find them homes, but none have had success, at least not on her. Last year it was the orange tabby, this one’s mother. And now with spring coming, it’s only a matter of time before this tortie has babies. You may be asking, how do I know this tortie is a female? Fun fact, most tortie cats ARE female, very rarely are there male torties. Genetics.

If only we could control this. Are we suppose to control this? I think yes. Some if not all of this is our human fault. People drop cats off all the time to different places. Barns are a different story, but a large apartment community? I suppose we are in the country, technically, with a barn and field surrounding our apartment lot.

This is a problem that i wish could be fixed overnight, but sadly it cannot. I cannot run out there and magically pick up that beautiful, plump tortie. Some realities we just have to face. But if that cat is in my viewing area, I will always go out and feed her. And now just as I was about to finish this story, there is the orange kitty companion, strutting down the sidewalk as if it’s another normal day. Oh, how to fix this. Until then, don’t turn the other way. You never know who or what may need your help, and you never know what kind of joy they may bring you. For the love of cats, show kindness to those in need, but accept what we cannot change. Never give up on trying. It’s called compassion, and it makes us human.

Happiness Is Free

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I think at some point, in all of our lives, we start asking the question why. Why am I working at this job? Why am I here? And why can’t I? Just over a month ago I quit my first job after college. There are some things that simple won’t keep me at a workplace, and this was one of those things.

I’d wanted to quite the entire year I was there. Not because of the job itself, but rather because of two individuals. (Props to you two that got promoted on lies and scandal). I however, have moved on and along with moving on, I’ve learned a little bit more about myself, and I am proud.

It takes a strong individual to constantly try to be perfect in the eyes of others. What I’ve learned is this. It takes an even stronger individual to accept imperfection if it means doing the right thing. This was the case with my job. But lets forget about that now.

A month of summer has had a rejuvenating spell on me. Everyone has to work to make money. Money buys things, and therefore makes us happy. Can we be happy without money, or less than what we’re used to? Or for that matter, can we be happy with less-than-perfect lives?

Can money really buy happiness or is it free?

Some of the happiest people I know don’t have a lot of money. Others that do, seem so uptight and worried all the time about having enough. Where does the line have to be drawn?

When a hummingbird migrates North after spring when all the flowers are in bloom, do you think they worry about having enough money to travel with? Or do they fly carelessly, needing only the earth to survive? What makes us anymore special than that of animals or birds? A brain?

Why are so many things just so not important? If life is short, than why not live it happily? Why not do what you love and in the process make money? If living happily can mean imperfection, too, then sign me up because I’ve heard from a little birdie that happiness is free.