To borrow a phrase from Jenny Cruise, I have been trying to keep my eye focused on the things that make me happy, lately, instead of giving so much attention to the things that I cannot control, that make me stressed. I have several major projects underway–from remodeling one place (to sell it), to remodeling another place (to move in) while awaiting my brother’s bone marrow transplant (in two weeks!) and being there to support various family members where possible–to writing (threeextremely different projects in progress)… not to mention normal life stress triggers… and I’m having a battle to remember the things that make me happy instead of getting swallowed up in the chaos.
I’m used to chaos. I get bored easily, so it’s probably handy that there’s always something crazy going on, and I think if my life were a really calm sea, I’d go bonkers from the quiet. I have long owned up to the realization that if I had not wanted a crazy life, I wouldn’t have married a man with such a big personality, or agreed to go into construction (talk about crazy making) or thought for one minute about trying to be a professional writer (crazy squared), or a dozen other choices I’ve made. I like a busy life–I feel like I’ve lived several lifetimes in one–both through my books and the many things I’ve had/made the opportunity to do.
That said, it really really helps on those chaotic days to sit down and think about things that make me happy.
This week, for example, I got to hold my youngest g-kid, William, age almost 10 months. He lives in another state and when he saw me for the first time in months, he smiled and came to me and we had a great time playing. I’ll get to see him one more time this week before he goes back home, with some good plans to see him at least twice more this year before he turns one.
I’ll also get to see the oldest g-kid, Angie, who’s going to be five soon and is just a beautiful, happy, whip-smart dynamo. She lives about an hour away, and I love going to get her to let her spend the night here. (When we have Angie, it’s all Angie, all the time. I get absolutely nothing else done, and I can see why so many people love being grandparents.)
More happiness is walking over to the building we’re remodeling in the French Quarter, where we will live (and open a business downstairs). I’ll give more specifics in a month or so when there are enough changes to post photos, but suffice it to say that this is a major change in our lives, one that it so intimidating at times, I am a little bit gobsmacked that we’re able to do it. Or had the nerve to try. This is not a quickie project–we expect construction alone to take us through next summer, and the business opening next fall (if we’re lucky and get everything organized by that point). What makes me happy, though, is just sitting there in the quiet evening with my husband, looking at the changes that have been wrought through the day by the construction crew, and envisioning the next steps. Sometimes we’ll just sit and fall silent, enjoying the adventure. Sometimes we’ll have an epiphany about how to do the next phase a little bit better / more interesting / more innovative — and that is a kick. We’ll both jump up and walk around and point and brainstorm and you’d think we’d just gotten the best Christmas ever. It’s a blast. [A brief aside: I took drafting in high school and my original first choice for a vocation when I went to college was Architecture. I love architecture and design, and if I hadn’t gotten completely stumped by the math–I’m very dyslexic when it comes to math–I can completely grasp the concepts, but I often write down the answer wrong, which is kinda a bad thing when people would like their roofs not to crash down on them–I’d have probably stayed in Architecture or Interior Design through college. I was also writing at that age, and publishing non-fiction, but it never really occurred to me until years later that I could actually become an author of novels and make a living with my fiction. Bizarre concept.]
One other hit of happiness this week–getting fan letters. There are just too many days when I am completely unsure of what I’m doing as a writer. I have three projects in the works, each so different from the other that I know I will confuse people as to what to look for (assuming I ever get finished). But then someone writes something so encouraging, I think, okay, I can do this. And it makes the fear shove aside for a while as I tackle the hard stuff of the next scene. I still have no clue which one will be finished first, but I’m feeling more confident that at least one of them will be finished.
Which makes me happy.
How about you? Name three things, big or small, that made you happy this week. I’ll pick from the commenters and will give away five $10US gift certificates to any bookstore of the winners’ choice (providing I can buy these online and email them to you). Contest ends Saturday at noon, Central time, and will be announced on Sunday. (You’ll have a week to check back and claim your certificate.)