Happier than Ever

I think that I am perhaps the happiest that I have ever been, and I tend to be quite happy… I realized this as I was driving about town this week.
I am happy.  I am grateful.  I have kind thoughts.
It feels great.
I like it.
Then I saw this post from a friend on Facebook:

During the times where I’m the most peaceful and grateful, I’m afraid to express how I feel for fear of giving offence to those that might take someone else’s contentedness as a challenge to their own.

I totally get this – I have often felt that I needed to hide my good feelings.  It seems that the more happy a person is, the more some people resent them and their happiness.  I have been on both ends.  Growing up (getting old) has been helpful for me to learn to rejoice in the rejoicing of others… and thereby having a greater measure of joy in my own life.

Jackie’s hospital room had a great view.
It was so strange to not be at OHSU.

I think that I am happier-than-ever now because I am taking the time to consider and recognize my feelings – and I am learning to express them.  Expressing happiness should not bring about unhappiness in others… why does it?  Considering that Good and Evil are real forces in the world… Good – wants us to be happy… Evil – wants us to be miserable.  So which force is it that wants us to downplay our happiness?  Which force wants us to dislike people that are happy?
Jesus Christ is this force of goodness – He wants us to be happy and He shows us the way.  As we follow His way – happiness follows us.  We should not only be grateful, we should express our gratitude it to Him and share it with others… If they are interested in having the same kind of happiness, they will then have an example to follow.  If they are not interested, that is fine, at least they had the choice.  They say that misery loves company.  It seems to be very popular to whine and complain about everything, yet …ugh!
Pollyanna?  No, I would not say that describes me at all.  I have less-than-positive feelings all the time, I just don’t dwell on them.   I am using the wrong term when I say happiness.  I should say JOY to really convey what I am feeling.  I think that emotions are healthy – there is a time to laugh and a time to cry.  I love a good cry.  I have some deep feelings of sadness.  I am currently rather upset by a number of issues… but JOY is also present.  The JOY is deeper than any sadness – especially when this is where I choose to keep my focus.
I am learning this: As I express gratitude and joy, my own words grow and flourish in my heart and my gratitude/joy grow and flourish in my life.
Even as I type, I worry that readers may think I am in some sort of denial, or sugarcoating the truth.  After all, in just the past couple months my children have faced life-threatening cancer and a brain tumor, undergone horrific surgeries, ongoing health challenges, etc.  And I know that this is not the end…
I don’t think I sugarcoat anything.  I am functioning in slow motion.  I am mentally fatigued, totally drained and very little gets done around here.  I mourn for bygone carefree days.  I get to watch the “stress weight” increase daily with life experience telling me that I won’t lose a pound until this has all calmed down.  I am soooo tired.
When people ask how I am doing, I could say, “Blah!” because that is how it feels… but those blah feelings are overshadowed by happiness and gratitude.  Maybe I am (once again) discovering what happiness is really based on and the multitude of life’s gifts to be grateful for.
Last Monday I had one of those really happy days.  I had a list of things I wanted to get done before Jackie’s surgery – but at the last minute I decided that it would be better to play together so I took the kids and went to the beach… well, first we left early to get Jackie’s blood drawn for some of those “ongoing health challenges” – that appointment is in August but they wanted blood before her body underwent the stress of another surgery.  Then we had a 30 minute pre-op appointment for her, luckily this was via a phone call which we took en route to OHSU where Greg had two morning appointments.

Our sand castle ship.
It is bigger than it looks.

We finally left town, enjoyed ice cream at the Tillamook cheese factory and spent a wonderful day at one our favorite beaches, Cape Lookout.  My Northwest kids were happy that it was only 60 degrees and they had a great time – just like when they were all young.  They built a boat, played frisbee, threw seaweed, etc.   I cuddled up in the sand and slept – (not a normal beach activity for me) – and each time I woke up and looked at the children I would smile and think that I was the happiest and most blessed mother ever!  Then I would go back to sleep.
We made a campfire and roasted hot dogs/sausages for dinner.  Then we roasted a variety of marshmallow/s’more/candy combinations.  My favorite was a marshmallow roasted to golden brown – and then shoving a small Reeses peanut butter cup into it.  Let it melt.  Yum – well, actually kind of yucky and sickly sweet, but – yum.  (Did I say something about stress weight?)

Chicken/Apple Sausage
burned over a fire!!

Greg, Jackie, and I sat by the fire, the other three played in the sand.  We all kept at it just as long as we could – not wanting the day to end.  We were home by 10:00.  I was tired, and yet energized to face Tuesday’s surgery.
Speaking of this week’s surgery – We asked the doctor how common her condition is – thinking that perhaps no one else is “talking” either.  No, he assured us that her situation just really doesn’t happen.  So I am going to blame that crazy tumor.  People have been awesome to give her the privacy that she requested, I think that she is feeling a big neglected but is just fine with it.  Jackie is continuing to amaze me.  After her last painful recovery, this is turning out to be a piece of cake.  Her doctor was shocked today when she told him she has only taken ibuprofen since coming home from the hospital.  Even at the hospital she had only one pain pill.  I am intrigued by the regimen of vitamins, amino acids, herbs and even a strange apparatus with wires/light that releases something in her skin to decrease pain that she has been using this past week.  The nurses in the hospital said that this surgeon does this for his patients and they all have great results.  I would look it up – but I am not that intrigued – far too much effort at this stage.  (Have I mentioned mental fatigue?)  She has activity restrictions, but I think that she will be up and about very soon.

Natalie – Sweet 16.
She didn’t want a party – just
to be home and have a
chocolate mud cake.  Yum!

Natalie hit her one month post-op anniversary this week.  She continues to do well.  Last night she was in a pool with her friends to pass off on a swim test for girls camp – apparently she couldn’t resist a little rough housing and that, combined with bumping her head this morning, has left her looking swollen tonight.  She hasn’t been swollen since her first week home, so I will be watching that closely and hope that it is down by morning.  Isn’t it true that most medical situations occur on Friday afternoon?
This blog post goes on and on because I really want to include photos and am too tired to go and get my camera.  Maybe tomorrow.  (Have I mentioned mental fatigue?)  Am I repeating myself?  Did I mention that I have JOY?

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