Happy???

Happiness…

 

What is it? Why are so many people searching for it and yet it remains elusive? What is the key to it? I’ve been thinking about these questions lately, not only for how it relates to my own life, but for those around me too.

 

I’ve been searching desperately for happiness since I was a teenager. Back then, I searched in all the wrong areas—some of which I continued with for many years. I searched for it through my friends and their poor choices. I searched for it with my body and the affection of boys. I searched for it high and low and had an intense longing to feel this happy that everyone speaks of. It was nowhere to be found though.

 

I spent the years of my 20’s still searching for happiness as I struggled with so much more than most even know of. While dealing with my abusive husband, while taking care of little ones I had so close together, while crying alone with no friends and no support and hating myself, I continued to desperately seek happiness. I desired it so much that while drowning in the misery of my life circumstances, I sought it out with my physician in the form of an antidepressant, then a different antidepressant, then another one, and then with anti-anxiety meds too. Do you know that antidepressants do not equal happy? Most people realize this, but when I was a desperate young woman clinging to the hope of feeling better, I did not. In my naïve state, I also did not realize that there weren’t any drugs in the world that could fix my life circumstances and the impact they had on my health and well-being.

 

Over time, much of my situation got better. I left the abusive husband, I left the town and bad friends I’d gotten into trouble with immediately after my marriage ended, and I moved back to the safety of my hometown. But guess what? I still wasn’t feeling happy. Don’t worry though, this one is really a happy story (no pun intended) and a breakthrough was in the making…

 

*****

 

Don’t get me wrong, I had moments I felt happy when my life was really hard. My children obviously were something to feel happy about. I would occasionally have friends to talk to too and that made me feel happy. But overall, miserable would be a much more accurate adjective for my life through my 20’s.

 

The breakthrough…

 

A pivotal moment in my life was when I decided to go back to school (for the 3rd time) and…I succeeded! I had tried twice previously and stopped going. The first time I began college, I was already enrolled and waiting to begin when my daughter passed away. I thought that I could still do it, but I was wrong and couldn’t handle it. The second time I went back, I managed to succeed one semester and was onto my second when I finally had the guts to leave my husband. The downfall of that was that my entire life fell apart at first, including my attempt at college. So understandably, I was incredibly scared to try again. I feared failure more than anything for several reasons (other blog posts will happen later to describe those events). Taking the step to get back into college was scary. Two years later when I finished that last class and knew my degree was coming, I was on top of the world! I had endured working full time, a breakup, the daily life of being a mom, and so much more, but I still did it. That coming on the heels of having to get myself out of a very large hole that I’d dug myself into without any support or help from anyone else (again, as I referenced in my very first blog post, there will come a time I’m ready to write about that, but that time is not here yet) made me feel like I was on top of the world. I was starting to make something of myself finally in my late 20’s!

 

Would you like to guess what came about with that success? That’s right—happiness! It was my first step in adulthood that I was truly proud of and could share with everyone. I finally felt like I was worthy in this world. I finally felt like I could contribute to society instead of feeling like I was a problem. For the first time, I finally felt like I was more than a teen mom, more than a screw up, more than just someone for my family to gossip about and look down their noses upon. It was truly joyous for me.

 

After that came more baby steps to being a better person. I continued working, I improved many areas of my life through hard work and dedication, and then came a pivotal moment…I learned that I am more in control of my own emotions, thoughts, and feelings than I could have ever guessed.

 

I have a dear friend that told me one day that I could indeed control my feelings. I was shocked and thought she was maybe being a little self-righteous as she was explaining that it was something she works on with herself. She talked about training one’s thoughts and redirecting oneself when the mind turns to negative thinking. I thought she was crazy. Now…I wonder how many people think I’m crazy when I talk about the same thing—because it works!

 

As my life has changed as time has gone on and I’ve gained some wisdom with age, I’ve also become even more independent and self-sufficient. I’ve worked on controlling the negativity in my head and that’s something I continue to work on daily. When I get weighted down with thoughts that aren’t positive, I remind myself that that’s not where my focus should be. It’s constant redirection. In that focus on positivity, I’ve made much personal growth.

 

When I went through a break-up a year ago and began to struggle severely financially, I didn’t cry about it, I didn’t take to Facebook to whine about it, and I didn’t expect someone to fix it for me. I went out and got a second job. I worked my tail off to get myself into a better financial state and was able to quit the second job. I felt so good knowing I could depend on myself and take care of my own needs. I felt…you guessed it—happy!

 

I’m not without struggles now. I have normal stress just like anyone else. I deal with financial issues, teenagers, household stress, and hurts. I just choose to put my focus on my blessings. I’ve taught myself (with the help of others) how to be happy.

 

So let me share this; if you’re longing for happiness, it’s not something you will magically find. It’s definitely not something that you can purchase. And it’s not even something you find in someone else. We each hold happy inside of us. It’s each person’s job to pull it out of him or herself, and it starts with deciding…I’m happy.

Healing in a Hat

When I told my boyfriend this morning that I was going to write a blog about my new hat, I literally laughed out loud. It sounds like such a silly thing, but there’s a big reason behind it.

 

Let me backtrack for a second and explain that on Sunday morning, as the skies were blue and the sun was bright and the day was already heating up towards 70 degrees, we were preparing for a day outside in the sunshine. We stopped at good ol’ Walmart for a few necessities; water, sunscreen, a couple pairs of shorts for The Littles, and sun hats were on our list of needs. As we rushed through each department grabbing the items we were in search of, we ended at the sun hats. I personally would rather have my children’s faces shielded from the sun than to continuously slather them in sunblock, but the big deal for me was deciding what to do for myself. My 13 year old picked a mesh cowboy hat that complimented her personal style and I knew would be worn several times over the next few months of sun. The 5 year old picked a sun visor that matched the hat of one of her favorite people in the whole world—my 13 year old, and the 3 year old picked an adorable black traditional sun hat. I looked at the wall of choices that I’ve seen several times over the years when the weather turns warm, and I was secretly nervous.

 

So many times, I’ve walked by that wall and thought there were many cute choices, but I was too afraid to stop and try any on. Why, you ask? Because like many women in today’s times, I struggle with insecurity. This time, I was stopping because it was a true necessity, but I still worried about judgment. Am I too old to try the cute mesh cowboy hats? Are the big floppy brimmed hats too “old” for me in my early 30’s? Is there something in between that would be seen as more appropriate for my age and weight and looks? Would people judge what they see with me wearing one of these choices? Would younger/skinnier/more attractive women giggle to each other if they walked by while I was trying on hats with my kids? I was flustered at the thought of it all.

 

I realize that to many, it would seem silly to be so worried about picking out a hat, but for me, it’s something I’ve always been really self-conscious about. Lately, I’ve had a hard time in general with self-esteem. I seem to have periods of time that I feel confident and attractive, but then I have other periods of time where I feel fat and ashamed and unattractive. I’ve been struggling greatly with the latter these days. This is in part due to the fact I was recently a victim of Internet bullying. To have another human being put me down and shame me for my looks was a little bit of a hard pill to swallow. To have some woman that I don’t even know decide to single me out, taunt me publicly on social media, and then message my boyfriend about it all and put together a side by side picture of her and I pointing out how she’s thin and “more attractive” was more difficult to deal with than I thought it would be. That had a bigger impact that I thought possible. Every picture I’ve put on social media since, I’ve thought of people like her. I’ve wondered who is judging. I’ve wondered who is looking at it and thinking I’m unattractive and unappealing. I’ve wondered if there are those that think to themselves, “Oh, she’s pretty.” My point is, I’ve spent way too much time worrying over these things.

 

Back to standing in front of the wall of hats…my daughter and my boyfriend made it fun for me to try on different ones. I wanted one that was cute, but more than anything, I wanted one that greatly served the purpose I was looking for—to shade my face from the sun I would spend my entire afternoon standing in. As I picked up different styles and colors to try, I relaxed a lot with my fears of other people seeing me. I realized that to anyone walking by, I would look like every other Walmart patron and that most people wouldn’t even notice, let alone care that I was trying out hats. It was in that moment that I took a leap of faith and said to myself, “F’ what anyone thinks,” and I bought the big, floppy billed hat that I knew would be best for blocking the sun.

 

Looking back now just a day later, I can’t believe that I was really considering sacrificing the safety and comfort of my skin over what people ~might~ think of me. I decided to not care about what other people’s judgments might be. I put that hat on in the parking lot as soon as we left, and I proudly wore it all day long, and guess what? It worked wonderfully and protected my face, ears, and the back of my neck from the sun without the use of sunscreen, and I didn’t catch a single person looking at me funny because of my choice. I’ve decided that I need to take this approach with the rest of my life and all of my insecurities. I refuse to be a victim anymore to the mean people of the world. At the end of the day, while I may not be everyone’s cup of tea physically, that woman that chose to be cruel to me is much more ugly than I could ever be. She’s a special kind of ugly on the inside and no matter what the outside looks like, when you’re that ugly in your heart, you’re ugly everywhere.

 

Oh! And guess what else I did yesterday? I took a picture in my favorite new hat…and I put it on Facebook for the world to see.

“Man, I just love…”

I laid in bed at 11 o’clock last Saturday night and listened to the wind howl outside. I’ve always been soothed by storms and listening to it that night reminded me of an early memory from my childhood.

 

I must have been about 3 years old and I was awake in the early morning before my mom was. It was windy outside and as I sat on the couch with my face in the window, I was trying to figure out how it was that I could hear that wind howling through the house. I remember feeling a twinge of fear at how big the weather was and how small it made me seem. More than fear though, I felt comfort deep in my soul. That feeling has stayed with me even now in my 30’s. There’s something about the chaos of storms that soothes whatever chaos I have going on inside me. To me, storms are a reminder that I’m in control of so little in this world, I’m like a speck of sand in the desert, and that reminder calms me.

 

Lying in bed that night, with the wind in one ear and the soft snoring of my love in the other, I felt total peace in my heart. I felt an overwhelming calm, happiness, and contentedness. So much in my life right now is falling into place. Knowing all the children were cozy, sleeping in their beds, knowing I had no stress to worry about in that moment, being soothed by the wind storm outside, and enjoying that delicious feeling of comfort at the warmth of my sweetheart next to me, I knew I would later sit down to write a blog post about all the happy things going on right now.

 

*****

 

He finally said it. He said those 3 magic words I’ve been waiting almost 5 months to hear from him. As the days have turned into weeks and the weeks have turned into months, I’ve yearned for him to acknowledge love in his heart for me. I was totally head over heels, crazy in love by the time we were a few weeks in, but he was not. His pain was still fresh and his guard was high. This was something I totally understood, but it didn’t make me feel any less anxious for it. As time went on, I would have moments that would stop me in my tracks and I would be so filled with love and think to myself, “Man, I just love him so much.” This made me a little fearful that I was so completely in and yet I was unsure of what was going on in his head. I became fearful that I was going to get my heart broken.

 

You see, I’ve never in my entire life been in a relationship where it just felt so right. He made it so damn easy to fall for him and when I got scared, I started wondering if I was going to have to prepare for the heartache of a lifetime. I was so confused. He wasn’t telling me he loves me, but his actions definitely were. B is more sweet and tender with me than I’ve ever experienced in a romantic relationship in my entire life. The moments he would look lovingly tuck my hair behind my ear, or the way he would caress my skin without thinking while we were watching a movie, or even just the way I would look up and catch him looking at me–all of it screamed love. The only thing that didn’t was his own mouth. I allowed myself to become fearful despite that whole “actions speak louder than words” thing that should have given me reassurance. But let’s face it, anyone who knows me personally and anyone who reads these blogs knows that I am an animal driven by emotion and words. I can’t just feel things, I have to tell people what I feel. Constantly.

 

A couple weeks ago, B and I had a misunderstanding that hurt my feelings. Not because he was mean or intentionally hurtful, but once again, because of my own emotional intensity. I panicked and suddenly was thinking of all the worst case scenarios. I sat at work and wrote out an email to him that explained that I know I’m intense and I know that he cares and I will work on trying to relax a little. Instead of being annoyed with my sensitivity, he reminded me that he’s not going anywhere, that he likes me being me and doesn’t want me to try to change my need to talk about my feelings, and he gave me reassurance in general. He was kind and sweet and once again, made me sit back and think, “Man, I just love him so much.”

 

That conversation helped me to greatly relax. It was the reassurance that I needed to know he may not be proclaiming love to me, but he’s not going anywhere. We’ve had several tender moments since then, a fabulous date day, and two weekends in a row of amazing-ness. The most amazing part though, was waking up early on a Friday morning to get ready for work just like any other normal weekday. There was nothing special about this day, or at least there wasn’t until I got a text from him…

 

“Moonshine Niki…”

 

“Yes?” I asked, and then pretty much held my breath somehow knowing what was coming next.

 

“I love you, I really do.”

 

I sat there staring at my phone dumbfounded at the random revelation. I didn’t know what to say. We’ve had moments in the past where I’ve told him I don’t want him to feel pressured, but I can’t always hold it inside, and I confess my love for him. He always would smile sweetly and wrap me tightly in his arms and kiss me. But suddenly in that moment, I just couldn’t say I love you too. I was at a loss for words (something that is ~extremely~ rare for me) and I just smiled at my phone with what I’m sure was a ridiculous grin. I was filled with joy and happiness. We fell back into our regular texting after that, but I was on an intense high the entire day from it. I told him I’m anxious to be wrapped in his arms and have him look me in the eye and tell me in person. He promised it would happen soon.

 

*****

 

This last weekend was a “Littles Weekend” meaning that B had his children for the weekend. I call them the Littles because my children are teenagers and his are small. It’s a cute, affectionate name for them that distinguishes which kids I’m referring to without claiming “mine” or “yours”.

 

Anyone that has ever had (or even been around) a blended family knows that dating as single parents is not easy. There have been tough moments as far as all of the children go and we never really know what we’re going to get. But every Littles Weekend that happens, we bond more and more and we have fun. This last weekend was no different.

 

On Saturday morning, we did projects and then went to the grocery store to pick up some stuff for lunch. After loading the children and the groceries up to leave, it was in that parking lot as we were getting ready to leave that B randomly leaned in, hugged me, and said “I love you” out of the blue. Nothing else about that moment was romantic. It was just normal, everyday life stuff, and he suddenly made it magical. My heart soared.

 

I spent the weekend on Cloud 9 and was truly happy. There was lots of fun had and I enjoyed the little moments of silliness and laughter. Everything from painting projects, to snuggling a sleepy little one as he wakes up from nap, to just watching the Littles play, I felt full of bliss. I wanted the weekend to continue forever.

 

As we drove home from the kid swap on Sunday, I already was thinking of what we could do on the next Littles Weekend. I now find my heart missing them when they are with their mom. For the first time since B and I started dating, the Littles are on my mind all the time, every day.

 

I sat in my car on my lunch break yesterday and suddenly realized how much I have feelings growing in my heart for those babies. I’ve been guarded with my feelings for them because of the previous uncertainty with B. We’ve always had fun and done projects, they’ve always had stability and consistency with me, and I’ve always been interactive with them, but I’ve worked hard to keep my emotions in check with them. Watching the clouds cross the sky yesterday as I pondered all of the recent changes, I realized that B finally professing love for me subconsciously gave me permission to love his children.

 

In that moment, I thought to myself, “Man, I just love them so much…”

 

Bonded Blessings

Friendship is a powerful thing. It can help with healing the hurt, it can soothe the burn of daily living, and it can lift low spirits. A good friendship between two women is a bond unlike any other, but it wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I truly realized how important female friends are to a woman.

 

When I was growing up, I had a difficult time fitting in socially. That was especially true with other girls. I have always been socially awkward and I tend to say too much too soon and so people tend to think that I’m weird. I have a huge heart though and I’m closely tied to my emotions, so I don’t give it much thought to just say what is on my heart and mind. It’s like my social filter is broken, or it was just never there to begin with.

awkward

Me socially summed up

 

Every great once in a while in my life though, I meet someone amazing that understands me and isn’t weirded out by my awkward non-filter. Every great once in a while I meet someone that I instantly click with and the bond is immediate. Every great once in a while I meet someone that makes me feel okay for just being me. I recently had one of those “every great once in a while’s” happen.

 

Do you ever meet someone and within minutes, you just know deep down that you and that person were just destined to meet? You know, when you talk and there’s an instant connection? It’s so very rare for me (and for most people I think), and it’s only happened a few times in my life ever.

 

*   *   *

 

I got laid off a couple of months ago from a job that I loved. It felt like the world was ending for me. How was I ever going to find something that was just as good with Monday through Friday business hours with only a year and a half of recent office experience? I live in a small area where jobs like that are fought over by even those with much experience. I was terrified that I’d have to go back to working in retail, and worse yet, have to go back to working two jobs just to make ends meet. I hated the environment where I worked, but I loved my job, and my family had become accustomed to my cushy, steady work schedule. I was determined to find something similar and so I only applied for new jobs that were in similar fields. It took 4 weeks to even get called for an interview. I was so nervous for many reasons. I sat in that group interview silently praying that they would love me and think I was the best person for the job. The company seemed great and while I would have to travel to get to work every day and the pay was lower than my last position, I just knew in my heart that it was “the one” for me. A day later, I was called and offered the position. I was ecstatic. My long, hard month of being unemployed was finally over. While my heart still stung from the loss of the job I loved, I was so happy and recognized my blessing of the new job. But I didn’t realize yet just how much I was blessed until my second day.

 

“K” was gone the day I started my new position. I began my training with the lady that was retiring and that I would be eventually taking over for. In the office, there are two older women, a male boss, myself, and K in her late 20’s. I was nervous because at my last job, I worked with all men. Would I be able to relate to other women in the office? Would I have a difficult time getting along with another younger woman? Would my social awkwardness shine through?

 

On day 2, my trainer was gone and I got to meet K and get some training with her. We talked on a personal level pretty much immediately. We had a lot in common and it took a total of 10 minutes for me to decide that I already was going to get along fabulously with her and that we would work great together. She told me a little about herself and everything she said, I could relate to. I felt weird for admiring her already and then really hoped I wouldn’t say anything stupid or do anything to make her wonder why I’m so odd. It’s not like when you meet someone you can just immediately be like, “I love your natural beauty and how your good heart shines through your smile and I love your laugh and the way you don’t seem to care what anyone thinks about you.” So I sat there largely silent at first and secretly texted my boyfriend and told him I’d met this amazing woman and that she is going to become my “work bestie” before she knows it.

 

A few days in and I could tell I wasn’t alone in feeling the connection between us. After a couple days we started to talk more on a personal level whenever the office was empty. That quickly led to talking outside of work. Within a week, I was then telling my boyfriend that K and I were going to become best friends, even if she doesn’t know it yet.

 

In just a few weeks, I’ve gained not just a job and not just a friend, but a best friend. The bond is tight and the laughs are many. I love that I already feel like I can talk to her about anything and she will listen and lack in judgment. I would do the same for her. Finding real people anymore is so difficult and I truly see how blessed I am for finding the friend in her. The loss of a job turned into one of the greatest blessings I’ve recently received. I’m happy at my new job and totally in friend love with K. I couldn’t ask for more.

She Kicks A Little Ass, Even If Crying While Doing So

*Repost from old blog site*

Being such a tender soul is my biggest strength, my biggest weakness, and my biggest flaw—all in one. It makes me extremely empathetic. It makes me the kind of person that would give the shirt off my back to someone more in need of it. It makes me cry for other’s pain, share in other’s joy, and understand others’ frustration. Unfortunately, it also makes me easy to use, to be taken advantage of, and to be hurt. I hand the entire world the keys to my heart as my giant heart is always on my sleeve. I care deeply, hurt richly, and love intensely. I’m one of the few. I’m set apart. Being unique is supposed to be a good thing, but it’s painful. I long for others to truly understand me. I long to be loved like I love others. I long to be cherished for being this kind of person.

I wish all too often that I could shut off my heart. I wish that I did not get so easily wrapped up in others. I wish that I didn’t automatically feel so much for others that I click with because I end up with a broken heart way more often than I should allow myself to. Whether it is friendship, a romantic interest, and even family, I get let down by the teeter-totter effect of emotion. I don’t want to be affected this much. I don’t want to be pained over others that don’t even let me cross their minds. I am so sick and freaking tired of crying over the impact of others’ actions and the hold they have on me.

Where do I go from here? I’m on the precipice of change. Once again, it is a big, life changing moment upon me. And what do I do about it? In private, I cry and grieve over all that I cannot control. Hot tears well up and spill. But as weak as I feel with tenderness, I also know that I get up each day and take on the world because I am strong. I may hurt inside, but I put a smile back on my face, I feel renewed hope and strength, and each and every single day of my life, I kick a little ass. I may not be able to fix how much my heart cares or how others treat me or accept me, but one thing I know is that I absolutely can control that I will not be broken by the world. I will not be bitter. I Will. Not. Be. Defeated.

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5 Random Facts about Moonshine Niki

*Repost from old blog site*

1.     I cannot write at home without being barefoot. I don’t know why that is, but as soon as I sit down, if I still have shoes or socks on, I immediately strip them off to write. I’ve been doing that longer than I’ve ever noticed it was a thing for me.

2.     I’m socially awkward and weird. I overthink stuff way too much and while I’m smart, I’m not quick witted in conversation. I tend to feel out of place in big social settings. But on the flip side of that coin, I tend to do really well with one on one conversation and connection. Because I’m such a bare my heart and soul kinda woman, I find it easy to connect with others that are also open.

3.     I’m a highly sensitive person (that’s a for real thing, look it up). I get overstimulated easily, especially from noise. I get upset with repetitive sound, people talking loudly over others, the TV being too loud, or overlapping noise (the music, plus the sound of people talking, plus the noise of the air conditioning, plus the phone ringing, etc.). I also startle extremely easily, and sometimes, to the point of crying or feeling pain in my chest. I am affected by smells much more so than others. But I’m also easily in tune with how others feel or how to make others feel better. I sure could go without many of these though. I’m definitely not the kind of person you want to jump out from behind and yell boo. I’ll cry and you would feel bad. Hahaha

4.     I love the outdoors. The feel of the sunshine on my skin makes me happy. I feel a deep connection to the outdoors. I get much peace just from noticing the sky’s beauty, whether it’s during the day and I’m looking at the clouds, whether it’s nighttime and I’m checking out the moon and stars, or the sun is rising or setting. Just noticing the skies beauty makes me feel at peace deep in my soul. I especially love being anywhere where there is wildlife or water. It’s very much a part of who I am.

5.     I love music. It’s a constant in my life. Whether I’m doing dishes, showering, working, driving, etc. I’m always listening to music. It speaks to me. When I’m upset, I relate to music. When I’m happy, I relate to music. I love to cook dinner with the music loud and dance around the kitchen with my kiddos. We take turns bringing up songs on Youtube and use it as bonding time. My kids will ask me, “Mama, can we have a Youtube night?” I love it. I would be lost without music.

Just A Poem

*Repost from old blog site*

I have written poems for men who don’t even deserve to cross my mind.
I’ve loved friends in ways that they never deserved to be cared for.
I’ve cried hot tears for people that hurt me without giving a second thought.
And I’ve given pieces of myself away to those that had no idea I craved more.

I’ve skinned my knees and picked myself back up.
I’ve stumbled and even fallen, but recovered on my own strength.
I’ve felt stupid and foolish but I have still smiled,
And to hide my hurts, I’ve sometimes gone to great lengths.

Not many deserve my love and loyalty.
In fact, I’d say it’s just a small few.
But for even those that don’t deserve it,
Love, support, encouragement, and even just friendly smiles,
I always continue to do.

It’s truly the way I’m built by the hand of God.
A tender soul is putting it mildly.
I may seem weak, or foolish, or even daft to some,
But I just believe I’ve simply been created to give and love purely and wildly.