I’m excited to be a Happiness Crusader, and join over 100 women in spreading the message to Choose Happiness to women around the world. In today’s post I share a story of how I chose happiness in the midst of a “messy time” in my life. Also, I’ll answer a few questions from the inspiring best-selling Publisher, Linda Joy. (What a perfect last name for her mission. Isn’t it?!) Today is the official release of her new book Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul: Choosing Happiness, featuring the soul-inspiring stories of 27 amazing women who share their intimate stories of transformation. Choosing Happiness also includes reflection questions after each story which will empower you to integrate the vital lessons of each woman’s journey into your own life.
For a limited time you can get over 40 transformational gifts with your copy of Choosing Happiness. Grab your copy today> http://bit.ly/Happiness_Book.
At the end of Oct 2013, I started caring for my mom who has Alzheimer’s Disease. She lived part-time with me and part-time with my sister, Lisa. The details leading up to this is a story for another time, but you can read a little of the background story in my previous post, Life Showed Up and Now I’m Back.
Caring for an elderly parent is not easy. Depression and Anxiety are common effects, among other emotional challenges, in care-givers of an elderly relative. Add to that an Alzheimer’s patient. Then add to the mix Mom’s (sudden) upheaval of living with my sister to not having a permanent home at all. Every Alzheimer’s professional will tell you that a stable environment and daily routine are important to Alzheimer’s patients. Due to our unique circumstances, we weren’t able to provide that for her – for 5 months. We started the process of getting her approved for long-term care insurance and finding her a permanent senior living home. But, in the meantime, this is what we were stuck with.
Aside from lack of enough space, I also didn’t have the proper resources for her bathing needs. On top of that, I was learning how to deal with the daily challenges on-the-fly. Thank goodness for resources like The Alzheimer’s Association! There 24/7 support was a value to me.
What do other families do? Is THIS common? What’s a better way of doing this? There MUST be a better way!
Those thoughts were frequent. At the same time, or as soon as I had a minute, I sat back and looked at the bigger picture. I was ABLE to be there for Mom. I had the blessing of spending time with her, and to hear new stories of her childhood and my grandparents. AND, this experience gave me a new opportunity to work on having a closer relationship with my sisters.
Every morning, without fail, I took time to meditate. That was MY TIME... while Mom enjoyed watching her favorite show, Andy Griffith. This afforded me mental and emotional space so that I could see the bigger picture. It gave me time to ponder over what I was learning from it. It also allowed me to reset my intention for the day. I was able to carry that bit of peace with me throughout the day, so it underlined everything else. Above all else, it’s why I was able to keep it together AND still find joy in the little things.
Sure, it got tiring to hear Mom say the exact same thing 50 times in a row like a broken record while I scrambled to think of how I can change the subject. Which never worked anyway, but didn’t stop me from trying. lol At times I thought I would scream if I heard it 1 more time. But oddly, when I heard it again, I never did. I remembered – reminded myself – to step back and look at it as if I’m watching a movie, and I was just playing the part of an actor. Somehow, that always made me laugh.
Other parts of the experience were much more difficult. Mom was close to tears a few times because she didn’t understand where her stuff was, and she missed the feeling of being at home. During those times, I can’t say I was able to smile or that I felt “happy” watching Mom cry. Rather, I felt helpless. Comforting her only went so far. I knew I was doing everything I could, but it didn’t feel like it was enough.
Nevertheless, I didn’t stay down. When the moment passed – and it did, I was once again able to see the positive. I could find the lessons, see the bigger picture, and feel happy again.
See, when I say I “choose happiness”, I define it as a path to happiness. It’s not a 24/7 happy-go-lucky feeling of never getting upset or not empathizing with other people’s pain. Rather, it’s choosing to get back up, find the good, learn the lesson, and figure out how to once again continue to spread the feeling of love and happiness, like through good deeds. Every emotion is still valid under the right circumstances, whether it’s anger, jealousy, sadness, or feeling hurt. Being on the “path of happiness” means recognizing that those emotions are temporary – just a little bump or some pebbles along the way. Happiness – the main path – is the set point – the standard. It’s where I always come back to continue on my journey.
I wasn’t always like this. Once upon a time, I was a very resentful and confused person. As you may have guessed, it was after my stepfamily experience ended. Happiness was not my friend, and attaining it was a mystery. I set out on a mission to be happy again. I knew it was an inside job ’cause I heard that all my life. But I didn’t know how to get there. I didn’t have a roadmap so to speak.
I can’t name a specific pivotal moment where the clouds parted and I was suddenly enlightened. For me, it was a gradual process of changing my perspective, with a few small leaps and bounds. Learning from others who figured it out, and trying things they did, was a big contributing factor. Once I was on this side of the paradigm shift, and I was aware of not only the source of my happiness, but also how to replenish it, I knew I never had to go back. I was finally able to consistently feel peace of mind and heart – happiness.
I made a commitment to myself to never let myself slip back to where I was. I know it’s my choice. No matter what happens in life, I always have 100% control over my perspective. Choosing happiness is a part of it.
I invite you to share how you are choosing happiness in the comments below.
Be sure to check out Linda’s new book, Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul: Choosing Happiness and grab your copy today at http://bit.ly/Happiness_Book to receive the bonus gift bundle worth thousands!