defending happiness

 

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“I’d far rather be happy than right any day.”― Douglas Adams

The older you get, the harder it is to say “I’m going to do this just because it makes me happy.” People tend to see ‘because it’ll make me happy’ as an act of selfishness, and they look for other motivations for your actions.

We become cynical and guarded and we think ‘she must be going out with that guy to get back at her ex’ or ‘he’s only doing x to make up for y.’ We see other people’s actions only in relation to how they affect us.

‘Because it’ll make me happy’ starts to feel like a juvenile reason for doing something, and we scramble to back up our decisions with more substantive reasoning.

What a horrible way to live.

True- we shouldn’t just do whatever we want simply because we feel like it, especially when it’s harmful to other people; but why isn’t happiness reason enough to live the life you want?

This sad truth is one of the many reasons that the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young. (I’m looking at you, high school study buddies and college roommates.)

They can remind you not to take life too seriously because they’ll be sure to knock you down a peg when you start acting too mature for your own good. They can bring you back to a time when you were less inhibited by lasting effects and empowered by the sense of invincibility we only feel in our youth.

They can remind you of a different you, the person you were before life became more permanent and decisions became more difficult. The person you were when your dreams were bigger than you realized and everything was uncertain. The person you were when happiness was a good reason to do anything.

It’s true – you’re wiser now, you’ve seen more of life and learned along the way. You have more accomplishments (and more failures) under your belt. But are you using what you’ve learned?

You would think the older you get, the more you would realize that life is short and that happiness is the BEST reason to take action, one of the only reasons that matters.

People look for the meaning of life as if it’s some big mystery. Is it crazy to think we’re here to love each other, make each other happy, and improve each other’s lives? Is it insane to think it could be that simple?

You become an ‘adult’ (supposedly) and you let other things fill your mind. You stoop under the weight of responsibility, of work, of family, of expectations of others. You forget the simple truth that you innately knew when you were young – that love and happiness are the best motivations, the only reasons that really mean anything at all.

Go back, if you can. Spend time with the people who knew you before you ‘knew it all.’ Reminisce. Revisit old dreams. Laugh.

Decide to cut the toxic parts (and people) out of your life, the ones that drag you down and masquerade as necessary evils. Do what you do (WHATEVER you do) because you love it.

And next time someone asks why you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing, I hope your answer is ‘because it makes me happy.’

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mommying

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“The only love that I really believe in is a mother’s love for her children.” ―Karl Lagerfeld

I never really thought about being a mom too much. I also never thought I’d be a young-ish mom; it wasn’t something I saw for myself for a while.

I definitely never thought I’d be a single mom, but life had other plans for me in that area too. (Hey, next potential boyfriend: I come with an adorable bundle of joy sporting some serious baby blues and an ex that I will never be able to totally ex out of my life… you’ve been warned.)

Although I never thought about these things, here I am – so much for five-year plans, huh? But my daughter has made my life so much fuller and more amazing than I thought it would be at 23.

This happy little girl has taught me more in 6 months than I thought possible. You know when your parents used to say “someday when you’re a mom/dad, you’ll understand”? To a certain extent they just wanted you to stop whining; to an even larger extent, they were totally justified.

Being a parent is kind of weird. You have this little person totally dependent on you, expecting you to know what to do in every situation when in reality, you’re learning just as much about the world as they are.

For your entire life, you’re someone’s daughter. You’re someone’s granddaughter, niece, sister, cousin. These are the relationships that define you as you learn and grow. And then, suddenly, you’re something else entirely. You’re mommy.

You’re suddenly pulled in a million different directions, and you’re conflicted in so many different ways. You want to spend the most time possible with your little one, but you also want to have just a minute to yourself. You want to go to work and have a career but you don’t want to leave the house because you just want to watch them grow. You can’t wait to watch her walk and talk but want her to stay exactly this little forever.

The humbling and sometimes overwhelming part is, just when you get ‘the hang of it’ they’ll hit a new milestone and everything will change. With a new ability comes new dangers, new fears. And although there are a lot of wonderful things to share with them, there will be so many things you can’t protect them from.

All of those concepts made sense to me before but they have a whole new meaning now. It’s equal parts terrifying and exhilarating, and I think most people muddle through by ignoring the terrifying feeling as much as possible.

I’m only 30% sure I know what I’m doing and 100% lucky to have tons of guidance and help. Despite the uncertainties that arise daily, I am so full of joy and love that I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without her.

I never really thought about being a mom, and now it’s one of the few things I think about. I think about diapers and formula and mashed carrots and cute little princess outfits- but much more often, I think about how I was incredibly and amazingly blessed with something I never thought about before.

Sometimes, when life throws you for a loop, it’s the best thing that ever happens to you. My ‘loop’ turned into the love of my life.

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stardust.

I knew
we two
to be heavenly bodies-
beings of  f.i.r.e.,
posed to inspire
awe,
to offer light
in the night
as stars.

I knew
you
to be the sun
sharing  h.e.a.t.,
making life sweet
for me,
and it burned
when I learned
what you are.

I know
now, the glow
is brightest
just before i.m.p.l.o.s.i.o.n.,
just before      e x p l o s i o n
just before the  [black hole]
destroys its neighbors
and labors
to leave the sky in scars.

addicted. 

Hi, my name is ____
and I’m      addicted
to days gone by.

the high:
memories, photographs
and the laughs
from the past-

I got hooked
on the good times
by living them,

jonesing for the
old days when
we were all just
existing together,

missing the ones
we lost
along the way,

getting through
the withdrawals on
“remember whens”
and “should’ve beens”

wishing [Thursday]
wasn’t the only
throwback
we’re allowed

an open letter to the friends who fade

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“The past beats inside me like a second heart.”  ― John Banville

To the friends who’ve faded:

Neither of us is really to blame for the fact that we lost touch. Time had something to do with it. Distance, life. Everything got in the way, despite FaceTime and iMessage. Although other friendships persisted for each of us, ours didn’t.

You pop up every once in a while on my Facebook feed, on Instagram. I see you went to London and he got a new puppy. She moved in with her boyfriend, and someone else moved farrrrr away. They got engaged, and that other couple we swore would make it crashed… hard.

I sometimes wonder if you’re happy, what your day-to-day life is like now. I used to be part of your day-to-day life. Remember that? The stupid, funny, lazy way we saw each other every day? In class, on the sidewalk, in the cafeteria… that was the norm. I wonder what we would say to each other now. Would you still let me steal your French fries?

How’re your parents? I think about them too.

I could message you or text you and say let’s get together and catch up, but we’re such different people now than we used to be. And what if reconnecting was somehow disappointing? Better to just leave the good memories where they are and avoid the risk of turning our once-friendship into an awkward encounter.

I guess what I really want you to know is that I liked having you in my life, even if you wouldn’t think so now. I’ll remember that nickname you gave me and the way you told off anyone who deserved it. I’ll remember the many cups of coffee we shared and the things we suffered through together.

We all just move forward and farther apart, whether we want to or not. The clock ticks and the time we spent together continues to fade away. Before it’s gone altogether, I just wanted you to know that I still think of you sometimes. I see old pictures of us together and I smile. I’d like you to live your life knowing that in whatever way I knew you, in whatever time, you mattered to me.

People grow, friendships fade- and they should. The friends you have in one phase of your life don’t always transfer to the next, and those friends aren’t always the best for you as you move on. But that doesn’t mean they were unimportant in shaping your life into what it is, into who you are.

I miss you, and the times we laughed together. I’ll always be grateful for those, and for how they got me here.

It truly was nice knowing you- cheers.

the blame game

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One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.”  Sophocles

Don’t blame love.

Love didn’t make you cry, loss did. Being ripped apart from something that meant a lot to you without your consent. Realizing that the things you wanted for the future will not come to pass, even the things you didn’t realize you wanted. The acceptance of living without. That’s what made you cry.

Love didn’t cut you to the bone, cruelty did. Harsh words from someone you held in high regard. The act of dropping you and moving on as if you meant nothing to them. The casual manner in which they continue, pretending that they didn’t just rip through your life like a hurricane. That’s what hurt you to the core.

Love didn’t make you second-guess yourself, the belief that you’re not good enough did. The crazy thought that because you weren’t appreciated in one instance you won’t be in any other. The notion that you can’t possibly measure up to expectation. That’s what stole your confidence.

Love didn’t make you gain weight, or lose weight, or cut your hair or binge-drink, uncertainty did. The feeling that your whole world was rocked because something you thought was so sure turned out to be anything but. The idea that the foundation you stood on is capable of crumbling. That’s what put you in a spiral.

Love didn’t let you down. Love didn’t punch you in the stomach. Love didn’t hurt you, or betray you.

Love made you laugh. It made you feel invincible and safe. It made you feel at home. It lifted you up.

Love is all of the best parts of your life. It’s family and friends and the reassurance that someone else out there knows what you’re going through. It’s inside jokes and glasses of wine and funny voicemails and stupid text messages.

If you never loved anything, you might never truly feel the pain of loss. But don’t blame love for your heartbreak- whether it came by way of breakup, death, rejection or fate. Love didn’t hurt you on purpose. Someone or something may have, but it wasn’t love.

When you give up on love you give up on life. You give up the possibility of everything that is worth having, feeling and doing.

So- love without regret or shame. Realize that when your world is turned upside-down, it’s never love’s fault. When you’re happy, recognize all of the love in your life.

Know that whatever else happens, love is what makes it all worth it.

how to lose them

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“I felt wise and cynical as all hell.” -Sylvia Plath

This is how you lose them:

The same way you fall in love: not all at once, but piece by piece.

You don’t lose him the day you break up, but in the days and weeks before. You don’t lose her with what you’ve done, but with what you haven’t.

You lose her when you make a casual remark that cuts her down and you don’t notice in the slightest. You lose him when you start to assume he’ll always be there. When you stop telling her about the little things in your day that make you happy, angry, sad.

You lose him when you start to send those ‘good morning’ texts less and less. You lose her when you stop calling her by that nickname you came up with two years ago.

Suddenly, you’re taking her for granted. You’re showing him slowly but surely, through cancelled plans and unanswered messages, that he’s no longer the priority.

One day you’re listening to the radio and a heartbreak song hits a little too close to home. You finally understand the lyric that never really made sense before. You’re losing her.

One day you’re with him and you realize that he’s no longer excited to be talking to and spending time with you. Another piece falls away.

You’ve lost her when things start to seem forced, when she becomes an obligation. You’ve lost him when you realize you’re sleeping in the same bed but further apart than ever.

You lose her when you fail to tell her what you want, what you need. Where you want to be. You lose him when you stop asking.

You lose them when you don’t try any more, because every relationship, every friendship requires some effort, some maintenance. You lose them when you don’t care enough to make them feel wanted.

Yes, you lose them the exact same way you fell in love with them- you do it day by day, week by week, until you wake up and suddenly wonder when it all started and how you got here.

This is how you keep them:

You say “I love you” every day, and mean it.

inventory.

here I sit,
taking inventory of

THE WALLET:
thirty-six dollars,
a card that gives me license
to drink and to drive
(but not together),
another that gives me credit,
pictures of her,
and tickets to a show
that won’t go on.

THE HEAD:
countless passwords,
a bachelor’s degree-worth
of knowledge I rarely use,
friends’ birthdays,
how to drive a car,
and memories of what
life used to be.

THE HEART:
the most beautiful little girl,
the kind of friends
you only hear about,
a family that dulls others
by comparison-

and a stubborn refusal to give up
on the idea that
love
will always win.

to the ones who stick.

here’s to the ones
who stick:

who trick
the odds and statistics

and decide not to quit-
the ones that know when you hit

gold- in friends, in love, in family-
you don’t just ‘wait and see’

what happens. you choose
not to use

people to your advantage, instead
you commit your head

and heart to being there,
no matter where

you’re needed. you answer the call,
you break down the wall

if you have to. the ones you never doubt-
they’re what life’s about

and they deserve your best, your most.
so here’s a toast:

I raise my glass to the profound-
to the ones who stick around.