Texas has turned me into quite the hiker (which my friend, Dede, *loves* to tease me about. Apparently, I come across as more of a city girl.) How could it not though? Austin and the surrounding areas beg you to explore it. It would be a sin not to. So, I answer the call on the regular. The hill country, the Greenbelt, and all the natural springs provide endless adventures. I have the best God moments on my Texas explorations.
As I was hiking the breathtaking beauty of the Greenbelt I felt something in my heart. Something I hadn’t felt in a while. What was this feeling? … Happiness. Like, real happiness. I felt like myself again, but a better, stronger version.
It felt so strange. Awkward even. It was like running into the guy who disappeared on you without warning. What do you say? Hey there, happiness. Wow. It’s been awhile. How’ve ya been? Good? Good. Me? Eh… I’ve been hanging in there. So, where the *expletive* have you been the last 9 months, huh?
Yeah, like I said, it was an awkward feeling. Yet, I didn’t want the feeling to leave. Ever again.
I’ve heard it said that happiness is a choice. NeedtoBreathe makes me think it’s something you pursue at the expense of potentially hurting someone you love. A lot of people assume they’ll be happy when they reach a certain income level, find someone to marry or achieve a certain number on the scale. I admit, I’ve fallen into that trap myself too.
I’ve always considered myself to me a happy person. Someone who enjoyed their life and made the most of it. In fact, my name means cheerful heart, so I just figured my happy nature was something that came with the name. Honestly though, I never gave it much thought. That is, until I lost my happiness. Or, I thought I did…
As I continued my hike, I started to think I never really lost my happiness. I just think my focus got derailed by two things:
Dwelling on the Past. Moving forward is a constant battle that I lose at some point almost every day. And, when I do, my happiness takes the hit.
Comparison. Man, this one is toxic to the heart. It’s the thoughts of I’m not ______________ enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not thin enough. I’m not pretty enough. I’m not good enough. Bottom line, I’m not enough. If my mother were still alive, she would tell me those are all lies from the pit of hell. I know she’s right, but that doesn’t silence the voices or turn the volume down. You know what does help shut the voices up?
Christ is in me. I am enough.
Thank you, Steven Furtick. That mantra really works.
Since my encounter with happiness, I’ve begun practicing the art of gratitude. Gratitude is the answer to so many of our issues and hang ups. Why? Because it gets our eyes off of ourselves and onto the many reasons we have to be happy. In an effort to get my happy train back on track, I started listing things that take me to my happy place.
My Living Room Wall and My Writing Nook. This wall makes me so happy for many reasons. It makes me remember my dreams to travel. Realize How Good You Really Are was given to me by my mother. Every time I read it, I hear her voice saying it to me and I believe it a little more each time. Of course, there’s a daisy. And there’s even an I dwell in possibility – my life motto.
My writing nook displays my modge podge collages. They inspire me to live a full, authentic life and write about it.
Texas Night Skies
I could never capture a picture that could do it justice. The stars here are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. I’ve never felt more connected to God than when I’m laying in the bed of my truck, staring up at them. I like to think that every star in the sky represents a reason why He loves me.
The Greenbelt. Yes, I’ve gotten lost – even with a map. And, I’m happy to report I have yet to encounter a snake, spider or coyote. *Knock on wood*
My Necklaces. They’re kind of my thing. I rarely take them off because they make me happy. The short necklace has the date my mother passed. It makes me feel close to her. Oh, and my favorite gray infinity scarf deserves an honorable mention.
My Family. Jaxson, Judah and Dallas John have divided my heart into thirds and hold the pieces in their tiny little hands. Knowing how much I love them, I can’t even imagine how much I will love my own kid some day.
The Dance Studio
I went to a dance studio last week to audition dancers for an upcoming project and it literally felt like coming home. Even thought I have been taking class as a student, coming into the room as a choreographer felt incredible. I had all the feels. Now more than ever, I know it’s where I belong.
I crave a life filled with magic in the smallest of things. And, while those magical things bring me happiness, I know authentic happiness is rooted in authentic joy. I’m calling it durable happiness. It’s the joy that sustains me through tragic loss. It lets me smile even though my heart feels broken half the time. It’s my strength no matter what curve ball life throws at me.
Real happiness leaves space for our tears and space for long seasons of not being okay. – Jennifer Dukes Lee
So, yes – even though my encounter with durable happiness was awkward at first, the more time we spent together, the more I realized it had never really left – and more importantly, it was here to stay as long as I let it.