Tuesday, September 27, 2011

30 in 30--Happy Birthday to me!

For my 30th birthday, I celebrated by having some girlfriends over and making a list of 30 of the things I've accomplished in my 30 years that I've done or am proud of.  Because 30 years didn't just happen to me.  I lived in those 30 years.  So here is my list of 30 in 30:

1. I lived in Sarajevo for a year, and have traveled throughout Germany, England, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Bosnia, Croatia, South Korea and Jamaica.
2. Completed a triathlon and beat my time goal by nearly 20 minutes
3. Back to pre baby/high school weight at 30 yoa
4. Speak Spanish, and have dabbled in Bosnian
5. Loved without holding anything back
6. Married the man I measured all other men against
7. Have been rescued utterly by God--after college, and he's doing it all over again presently
8. I can cook.
9. I am a wine drinker
10. Natural childbirth--amazing accomplishment and amazingly empowering
11. Adria--I had the sweetest most beautiful daughter and am raising her to be an amazing little girl
12. 2 majors and one minor in 3.5 years at Mercer University
13. I have made mistakes in my life, but am learning from them.
14. I am an office supervisor--middle management, baby!
15. I have fallen asleep next to the man that I love on lush green grass under a clear blue sky.
16. I attended midnight Christmas mass led by the pope at the Vatican
17. I am learning about speaking truth to people, whether on mission or at the probation office, as a way of life.
18. Drank wine out of our backpack with my best friend while sitting on the fountain outside the Lourve in Paris.
19. I have gotten away with speaking Spanish w an Italian accent, as speaking the language in Italy.
20. I have been kissed on the beach at midnight by a stranger.
21. I have drank wine on the roof of a tiny building dwarfed by skyscrapers on a purple night in New York City while being watched over by the Statue of Liberty.
22. I can drive a stick shift.
23. I am learning that the closer I walk to God the fewer regrets I have.
24. I was my Chi Omega new member educator and lived in the sorority house.
25. I did not have a bad high school experience, but college kind of made up for it.
26. I know I can always go home.
27. I bought a house, and refinanced it.
28. I missed my flight home from Vegas because I was still gambling.
29. I can support me and my daughter financially.
30. I have hope and remain an optimist.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Happiness is my CHOICE. Happiness IS my choice.

Perhaps I've shared my thoughts on this matter before--I suppose happiness is something that we constantly seek, so it'd be no wonder for it to come up time and again.

I think I've always been an optimist. Not in an unrealistic everything-is-always-sunshine-and-roses kind of way, but in the way that I choose to see the world as half full. Perhaps some of it comes from being the younger sibling. For whatever reason, growing up I wanted to be a people-pleaser and a peace-maker, and so the "well at least..." became a part of my vocabulary. Part of my identity.

I also recall a time when in college, young and in love, I mentioned to my mom that this boyfriend of mine "made me happy". And oh, he did! But her wise response was that while that feeling was wonderful, my happiness was my responsibility. I couldn't depend on another person to provide happiness for me, and if someone could make me happy, well then, they could make me unhappy as well. And somehow along the way, my mother's wisdom has become the voice in my head, and I've heard "happiness is my choice" for some years now. For a while I simply changed the verbage to "I'm happy with you", which satisfactorily seemed to express my exuberance while maintaining personal ownership and responsibility.

Even a few years down the road after that a beautiful, wise, wonderful counselor and friend of mine took it further and shared with a group of us girls specifically, you cannot seek to find your identity in a man, because the woman that needs to always be validated and poured into by a man will SUCK THAT MAN DRY. He simply cannot fill the vast cisterns that are a woman's heart. I suppose that's true enough, because I think especially as women our worth is always in question, and we CONSTANTLY need that question to be answered affirmatively. She suggested that our unchanging worth and value comes because of what God says about us. The most important aspect there being our unchanging worth. This wonderful woman had listened to the loving whispers of God in her ear, telling her she was beautiful, and worth it, and capable and strong, so she knew those things to be true. And in turn she began to help us open our ears to hear that same sweet lover's whisper.

And so it is that I am wired to seek balance. Peace. Contentment. Satisfaction. Happiness. And it's a good thing, because my personal life feels like a shambles around me. If I were depending on someone else, anyone else, to provide my self worth and contentment, I wouldn't have it. Couldn't have it. But that doesn't come from someone else, it comes from me, and it comes from God.

Within, I have recently been in what I felt like was a "fight for my life". Or as much for the life I want. But it has felt recently like the last stronghold of my weaponry in this grand fight has been disarmed. I am depleted. And yet. My happiness is my choice. So I choose that it is also liberating to have given everything and know there is nothing held back.

I also recently came across the account of the Exodus, where God is about to lead the Isrealites through the Red Sea. Moses tells them, "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." And in the very next chapter, after God has done exactly what he had promised, and more than they could have imagined, they announce with exuberance: "The Lord is a Warrior, the Lord is his name!"

So at least I know, at the end of my strength, The Lord will fight for me. At least I know, when I don't feel my value being affirmed in the way I might want, I can rely on what Unchanging God whispers in my ear. And so in that, happiness is my choice.