Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Pursuit of Happiness

On a wet and dreary day not too many days ago, I was feeling gloomy and the weather was looking grey. Then a bluebird alit on a branch right outside my window and stayed there for awhile, and I remembered that a blue bird is sometimes a symbol for happiness. I decided to take it as an image and a sign for me, a reminder to notice any small bit of happy in the midst of gloominess.

I only recently stopped to consider the phrase "the pursuit of happiness" and what it could mean. I think I had always dismissed it, because I believe our lives are intended to have much greater meaning than just "happiness," because pursuing happiness itself is not always the right way to find true fulfillment. However, "pursuing happiness" doesn't have to mean being selfish, or pursuing happiness above all else. It could also mean seeking out, appreciating, and enjoying all of the little bits of happiness that come to us in the everyday.

Today, the sky is blue and the ground is white with snow, and I heard some unexpectedly good news yesterday after writing about faith (very interesting timing, don't you think?). Today, it is easier for me to be happy than it is most days, but even today I could be worrying about how this or that will work out, or I could be noticing and appreciating the good things about this day.

It doesn't mean that I will be happy all of the time, as I am sure I will still get sad and disappointed and frustrated sometimes. But I am making a commitment to try every day to find some little thing that makes me smile and to be glad for that thing.

And really, when I think of it that way, the pursuit of happiness could just as well be called the pursuit of gratitude.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

Faith is stubborn. Faith is an insistence upon hope in the absence of any circumstantial reason for it. Faith confesses hope and trust that in the end it will all work out the way it is supposed to, and that the way it is supposed to work out will be good. Faith confesses this hope with words and thoughts and actions even in the face of feeling hopeless.

Feeling hopeless or despairing or trapped pull to inaction and to confessing a belief that it is not worth the trouble to try. Faith answers that it is worth the trouble. Perhaps one would like to wait for a hopeful feeling before trying, but faith insists upon acting on the substance of a hope not felt, yet still believed in.

I believe in good things. I believe in hoping. I believe in trying. I believe in breathing and trusting and finding peace in the conviction of things not seen.

I believe in God. I believe that God is good. I believe that He is and will be working good things in my life whether I see them or not.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Dear me,

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone sometimes speaks without thinking, gets their facts mixed up, writes with typos, eats candy instead of salad, and forgets to read the directions.

You are not special. You are not perfect. You are just like anybody else. Not meaning those statements in a general way necessarily--each of us is special and unique--but meaning that there is no particular reason that you cannot also make mistakes. If you didn't read the recipe and spent three times as long trying to cook something the wrong way, if you routinely fall short of your goals in how to spend your time during the day, if you have been selfish, that is not an earth-shattering piece of news. Yes, you have done some dumb things. But you mustn't let thinking that you are somehow not allowed to make mistakes keep you from admitting your mistakes and trying to fix them. And you certainly mustn't let self-imposed pressure to Do Something to Perfection keep you from doing it at all.

You are not required to be perfect. You are not required to succeed at everything immediately anymore than anyone else is. You are, however, required to try.

So go--chop up some vegetables and cook some noodles. And then practice however long and however well you can manage today, keeping in mind both physical and psychological limitations. And finish that art project that needs to go in the mail tomorrow. And remember that you have a late Christmas present to send someone, so write a letter to go with it. It doesn't need to be ten pages long and terribly witty. It just needs to be a letter, from you, to the recipient.

And if you mess up some of that? Then laugh about it and try again.

the sensible side of my brain

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Yet Another Poetic Interlude

 My heart I try to share through art and sound;
I seek to strengthen skills in hands and brain
So that I may express both joy and pain
Yet still I feel I can't get off the ground--
Some inhibition in me has me bound.
The hours that for this I strive and strain
Are often on my heart and flesh a drain
But after all: expressiveness--not found.
Until, one day the heavens open up
And golden wine is poured into my cup;
An odd analogy, but never mind
The point is that sometimes I truly find
That for which I've struggled years and years
In spite of all the worries and the fears.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


After reading that some people pray for God to give them a word for each new year--which usually does turn out to have some special meaning(s) for them in that year--I barely even asked Him really, wasn't expecting to get a word, but threw a small thought towards Him wondering what His word for me might be. Almost immediately, the word "lucky" popped into my head. Huh? I thought. "Lucky" isn't exactly a Biblical word. I don't believe in luck as such. God, that wasn't seriously You, was it? What word would You like to send me really? And into my head popped "Lucky. Fortunate. Blessed."

Honestly, I hesitate to post this, because I'm not sure whether God really gave me that word for this year, or it is just a game of my brain. If it is God, He seems to be having a sense of humor, sending me a word that I would have trouble taking seriously, and then responding with synonyms to my linguistic, synonym-loving mind.

Either way, I hope. I hope that perhaps God does have in store for me in this coming year something better than I've been expecting. I'm really nervous about some things about where my life could be heading at the moment, and maybe sending me "lucky" really is His way of reassuring me . . . of telling me that just because my discouraged imagination is dreading that everything will go wrong in no way means that any of those things will come to pass.

Because Murphy's Law is not in the Bible.

ps The other side of the coin is, even if my word for 2013 is "lucky," that does not necessarily mean any of the particular things that I might like it to mean. Yet I hope that a meaning may become clear to me as the year progresses, and in the meantime I will take it as permission to hope--or even a prohibition upon despairing.

Beauty and the Beast and Romance

Watching Beauty and the Beast (Disney) for the first time, probably a month or more ago now, was quite interesting. The main observation I have to make is that it wins hands-down over Cinderella and Snow White in the romance category. As in, the handsome prince was actually a person instead of just a pretty face and voice that represents the idea of romance. There was a real story in how the two people fell in love with each other. The love that they had was also proven to not be a selfish love, because the Beast let Belle go for the sake of her happiness even though he expected it to be the ruin of his, and Belle tried bravely to defend the Beast from the fate that others planned for him, speaking up for his character.

Also, Belle was brave and very loving in what she was willing to sacrifice for her father, even before she fell in love with the Beast. She was a reader, a day-dreamer, a little bit different, and she also had some serious backbone, both with the Beast and with Gaston (who was hilarious).

On an unrelated note to my observations about the stories: Pretty dresses that make me want them! This counts for all three movies so far, but perhaps especially this one. (Interestingly, in Cinderella, I liked the dress her little friends made her better than the fairy godmother one. I suppose that's a matter of opinion.)