Be Unstoppable Sunshine.
My mama always called me her sunshine, and I find myself calling Henry mine. Henry is blissfully happy and joyful as all children should be, and so am I...as all creative people who refuse to grow up should be, and as was my mama and my grandparents. I follow a great line of happy, optimistic people. I was raised by a barefoot, fun loving woman who truly gave so much joy to the world. She would invite random strangers to our Thanksgiving and Christmas, because she didn't think they should eat alone. She was so gracious and kind, and I have followed in her foot steps as best I can.
I find joy in so very many things. Peace in moments of doubt. Happiness during a vomit storm by my toddler. I could choose to be angry, frustrated, mad...and sometimes I do, but for the most part I try to choose happiness. The alternative isn't as much fun. One day my four-year-old pooped his pants at a Wellness get-together with my friends. I could be annoyed or frustrated or sad. But instead I just comforted him and helped him get cleaned up and into a new outfit (because lets face it, I always have emergency back up clothes for him in my car). I just choose love.
What is the point of being mad all the time. It just takes all the fun out of living. Several times in the last few years I have had encounters with people questioning my joy, people being angry with my friends, attacked by a woman at my church, which brings me to this moment. This need to urge all of us to take a breath and float with grace. This is really just a pile of randomness, some stories of random anger being unleashed upon me, and some ways to survive.
1 See the criticism for what it truly is. I was recently told, every word filled with bitterness and hate, "not everything has to be sunshine and glitter". Why the heck not? I truly couldn't fathom why there couldn't be joy in all things–at least most of the time. Thats when I realized my joy and optimism truly made her angry. My approach to life of just being happy in the face of all the poop that comes at me, made her truly angry. Upon great amounts of consideration I have come to the conclusion that my happiness pointed out her lack of happiness, in turn making her more angry. If that is you, sad and angry and annoyed that your neighbor or friend or family member is happy. Don't. Instead let their blissful-bit-of-sunshine-crazy melt into you. Embrace that light and know that whatever bad is in your life right now, is only temporary. It is only one tiny piece of your much greater story, there is so much to be thankful for. Don't let the bad take away the good.
2 It is okay to be mad. There are times your little people make you feel like a tired, crabby mama. That happens. It is a unavoidable reality. I like to say, Alright everyone needs a break. Then my son and I both have to sit down and take five breaths and sometimes for fun we scream. But we stop whatever we are doing that is making us both nuts, and take a moment to just express the annoyance. Sometimes I walk into the kitchen eat some chocolate in secret and come back. Anything to just take a breath so we can return to communication and find our joy again.
3 Try to find the joy. My son breast-fed for nearly two years, as the NICU told me to do. That meant many middle of the night feedings. Through the desperation and exhaustion and sometimes even tears while I was up alone feeding my baby boy, I made the choice to find joy in it through the pain. These were stolen moments that I got to hold him, comfort him, nourish him and I would never get them back. So instead of finding the joy in the memories someday in the future when I miss it, I decided to find the joy in it now. Right there in the moment. Sure I was still tired and delirious and looked like I fell out of a zombie movie, but that tiny little bundle of cute was all mine and he needed me.
4 Random acts of crazy have nothing to do with you. A friend drove us to the grocery story one afternoon and when she went to park, and I swear she did nothing out of the ordinary, but the woman parked in the spot near us took massive offense and started screaming obsentities at my friend. I looked around for a small child or dog or even spilled bag of groceries...anything to make this woman rampage make sense...but there was nothing. For literally no reason this complete stranger was cussing at my friend in the parking lot of a grocery store. I stared at her like I was in a movie and finally. Smiled and walked away. There was nothing we did, there was nothing that could be done. This woman was just angry. My friend dwelled on the attack for a while and we both just moved on. I can only assume that woman was dealing with something from earlier in the day and displacing it on us. The best we could do was just move on, don't react.
5 Don't let anyone take away your sparkle. Taylor Swift is so right, "People throw rocks at things that shine." No matter the angry, unfair, crazy, mean people that surround you, they can't touch you. They can't take your sparkle, unless you give them that power. This takes years of practice and thoughtful energy, but you can control this. You can remain calm, smile at them, walk away and push all the ridiculousness out of your head and keep going with your beautiful life. You don't need anyone to validate your life. You are already amazing.
6 Child-like view of the world. Many of my friends lovingly describe me as child-like. To them I am just as optimistic and joyful as I was when I was 13 years-old. You know before you've been jaded by love, life, jobs, people, and adulthood. Sure I've been jaded. Sure I have plenty of things I could carry around on my back and be mad at the world for, but why? It only hurts me. I'd rather continue skipping through a field of daisies barefoot while singing loudly.
Never grow up, always see the world through new eyes. Just like your childhood-self. Every spring brings new life, don't take it for-granted.