Tag Archives: happiness

The Heart of the Matter

“There are people in your life who’ve come and gone
They’ve let you down, you know they’ve hurt your pride
You better put those behind ya, baby, ’cause life goes on
You keep carrying that anger, it’ll eat you up inside…”
– lyrics from Heart of the Matter by Don Henley

This past weekend, I sat outside at a local restaurant listening to my sexy husband sing those lyrics up there from the song Heart of the Matter by Don Henley. Listening to him sing, being so proud to be his wife, and glancing at my surroundings, suddenly my memories started getting the best of me.

I started remembering our past with this song.

Photo of drummer, Richard Edmondson, of the band Restless. Photo credit: friend and fan, Jim Maloney

When I first started dating my husband, about five years ago, we had a pretty rocky start.  I don’t think he minds that I tell you this (and I’ve probably referenced it in previous blogs anyway), but when I met Richard he was still in love with someone else.  He was fresh out of a long-term relationship and the cut still stung, so to speak.

Now that I know him so well, I know this about him – when he loves, he loves hard. And a strong love like that doesn’t just go away overnight because a blunt, pushy redhead has entered your life and said it had to.

It took a while. Even longer than he admitted to me.

So, basically, for the first year of our relationship I had to share him with a memory that he couldn’t get past. But see – here’s the thing about those “memories” in a small town: THEY DON’T GO AWAY.

Oh no, those memories are everywhere. You run into Miss Memory at Walmart, at the bank, at get-togethers. And, the thing that used to sting the worst? We’d run into her at his music gigs.

Yep. There I’d sit falling even harder in love with my music man, all the while knowing that the woman who still had a piece of his heart was sitting there watching him too. And boy did I HATE that. Sure, she was innocent in this whole thing – what did she ever do to me?  (Besides existing. And being gorgeous. Grrrrrrr.) But why did she have to be there? I didn’t want her there.

But, ha. Try not wanting to run into someone in a small town. As my bonus dad used to say to me growing up, “You can want in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up fastest.” In other words, want all you want – it’s not going to happen. (Okay, actually, I’m not sure at all what that particular saying means. But when I picture a handful of shit, it kinda makes me not want to hold out my hand at all, you know? Oh, okay. So maybe that is the point…)

Anyway.

Back to the song.

I specifically remember the first time I heard him sing it. Of course, it was a time that she was there. There my boyfriend sat singing “I’m learning to live without you now, but I miss you baby…” and my blood was boiling. I just knew he was thinking of her. (Knowing this man who is now my husband as well as I do, he was not thinking of her – at least not while singing that song. He wasn’t thinking about me either. Or any human for that matter. He was thinking, “dear God, don’t let me forget these words. Are my drums too loud? I think the sound is a little off, I need to push some buttons. Boy, I’d love another beer. Oh crap, what’s the next line? I need to mow the yard…”)

[I interrupt here for the disclaimer that “I need to push some buttons” was my own words. My husband, the sound man extraordinaire would never call them “some buttons.” But you get my drift…]

I’m sure we fought about the song later that night.  We fought about a lot of things back then (all pretty much having to do with the same subject…) In fact, we even broke up once over it. (Well, once officially. We broke up a million times in our heads.)

Basically, life was pretty hard back then. I was the poor little victim of circumstance. And Richard was the poor victim of my tirades about that circumstance. There were many times that we both just thought we weren’t going to make it. And as far as I was concerned, if we didn’t make it – he’d know whose fault it was.

His.

So now that I’ve set the scene for what life used to be like for us, I’m going to switch gears here for a minute. In what will seem like a random and drastic change of subject, I want to tell you about an argument I got into recently with a friend.

[Hang in here with me – I promise there’s a method to my madness and I’ll come back to the other “Melissa is a jealous crazy woman” story in a minute.]

I was very involved and very stressed out by the last theatre performance I took part in. Not only was I an actor in the production, I was also the producer. It was my first time producing, and I had no idea what I was doing. On the night before opening night, things were still not ready – and I pretty much went off. Coming from my place as the producer, but also from my place as an actor and a perfectionist, I threw a fit over things not being ready as they should be. What started as a quiet, yet firm, talk with the director, turned into a frustrated yell fest with anyone who would listen. And one such person who not only listened, but participated, was someone who was a friend of mine. We both let out our frustrations by raising our voices. At one point, she started talking about something that was happening with her personal life and I retorted with, “I don’t care!”

Now, of course, I didn’t mean I don’t care at all. Or that I won’t care ever. What I meant was that I didn’t care at that moment because that’s not what was being discussed. But…as it goes sometimes…what I ‘meant’ doesn’t seem to matter. What I said did.

Cue the “breakup.”

I got deleted on Facebook. I got a gift to her returned to me. Etc.

Someone close to us told me that I hurt her deeply and this was the final straw for her with being involved in our theatre.

*sigh*

Okay. Here’s something that has always infuriated me…people playing the ‘victim.’ I mean, come on, people. If you have any interactions with people ever in your life – you’re going to get disappointed. You’re going to get hurt and you’re going to get mad. We’re all humans – we suck. But to let something someone else does affect you in such a deep way? To make you shut them out – to turn your back on your passions? To give them that much power?

How ridiculous!

Right??

Oh.

Wait a minute…

So. Back to the song.

There I sat this past weekend listening to my husband sing The Heart of the Matter. And though it has been over five years now since the first time I heard him sing it, there I was….still thinking those same old silly thoughts. (And incidentally – she was there listening too.  Yes, the she of our past. Right there in the gorgeous flesh. Small town, remember?  We still find ourselves in the same places at the same times, and probably always will…)

I’ve always been fascinated with the phenomenon that the things that irritate you the most about other people – tend to be things that you do yourself. Have you ever noticed that? It drives my husband nuts when people leave a room and don’t turn off the lights. And what does he do sometimes? Leaves rooms and doesn’t turn off the lights. He doesn’t even realize he does it! Really – think about it sometime. Think about something that really aggravates you that other people do, and then ask yourself honestly if you do it too. You might be surprised.

People playing the victim and making too much out of something has always infuriated me. Using some small thing as leverage to paint yourself in a victim light so that others see you as the “good guy” and the other one as the “bad guy” – when you know that’s not the case – drives me up a nut tree.

And yet…

What have I been doing? Exactly the same thing.

As all of this went through my head sitting there at that restaurant this past weekend, I had a brilliant discovery. I don’t want to be the victim anymore. Everyone in our situation has moved on. They moved on a long time ago. The only one still stuck in the past is myself.

The only person making me the victim…is me.

So, therefore, who would be the only person who could remove that victim cloak? You guessed it.  Also me.

The next time you find yourself the ‘victim’ of a situation, let this blog cross your mind. Ask yourself who really has the power to keep you there.

I’m betting it’s not who you think.

***

“What are all these voices outside love’s open door
Make us throw off our contentment and beg for something more?….
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak, and my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness, forgiveness…”

 

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Laughter

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
– e. e. cummings

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about our dog, Lucy, and a lesson I learned from her one day.  Well, apparently, Lucy hasn’t hung up her teaching hat just yet – she had yet another tutorial for me this week.

lucy3If I didn’t describe Lucy well enough in my last blog, let me give you a few more details.  Lucy is one seriously happy dog.  I mean…seriously.  That girl LOVES everything.  She loves me, she loves my boyfriend Richard, she loves our kids, she loves squirrels, birds, the mailman, the UPS guy, the cats….(ok, that may be pushing it a little – she loves torturing them, does that count?)

But I noticed something else about her the other day that made me smile.  Apparently, Lucy’s happiness isn’t just dependent upon someone or something else being around.  I was walking through the house and just happened to glance out the window and there stood Lucy in the middle of the yard – not looking at anything in particular, not doing anything noteworthy, just standing there – and that tail of hers was just wagging to beat the band.  No one else around, and Lucy was just as happy as she could be.  Just because.

I told Richard about it later and said, “I want to be just like Lucy. I want to be so happy that I wag my tail even when nobody’s looking, don’t you?”

He laughed and agreed, the subject was dropped, and we went on about our business.  Situation forgotten.

Until a few days later.  I was driving along in my car listening to the audio books that I always listen to when I’m traveling anywhere, and I realized that I wasn’t retaining much of what I was hearing.  I was just stressed and distracted and not in the mood to try to follow along with a book.  So, I ejected the audio book CD and started looking for something else to pop in, when I came across a CD that my ex-husband bought me the other day.  Yes, you read that right – my ex-husband bought me a CD.  Ok, it was a $1 CD that he saw at Goodwill, but still.  It was nice of him to think of me. What was the CD, you ask?  New Kids on the Block’s greatest hits.  Yup.  He remembered that I used to be an NKOTB freak (their last known fan actually – I have a tendency to hold on a little too long), and he thought I’d like it.  Up to this point, I hadn’t listened to it yet, but I just decided to go ahead and throw it in the player and see what they sounded like after all these years.  And boy, was I glad I did.  I was immediately transformed back to the late 80s/early 90s and I still remembered just about every word to every song.  Before long, I was signing at the top of my lungs like nobody’s business – and with a goofy smile on my face to boot.

That’s when I noticed the car that had pulled up beside me at the red light.

And what did I do?  *sigh*  I turned the music down, wiped the smile off my face, and sat staring straight ahead until the light changed.

Now, what the heck did I do that for?

Isn’t that dumb?  What’s wrong with wagging my tail when I thought no one was looking, you know?  I was just so darn afraid of how I looked to someone else.  Why are people like that?  It’s just plain silly.  I don’t even think I gave it much thought at the time – I think it was just instinct to pull it together and look like a decent, non-crazy, non-NKOTB fan girl and make myself ‘presentable’ once I knew I had an audience.

I so need to stop that.

I’m like that with pictures too.  I am the queen of “Wait – don’t take the picture yet, I’m not ready.”  Or, “Ew, that one looks like crap, let’s take another one.”  My family just loooooves that too, let me tell ya.  And my boyfriend Richard and I couldn’t be more different when it comes to that kind of thing.  He is crazy about the candid photos – the ones that no one knew were coming or that we weren’t exactly ‘ready’ for.  Me?  I think I look like a doofus.  Especially the pictures where I’m laughing.

laughter2See this picture?  For some dumb reason, I never posted this picture on Facebook or had it framed.  I wasn’t “ready” when the picture was taken.  Instead, I posted the version where we were standing up straight, both looking at the camera, smiling, with just one arm around each other.  I even have it framed and sitting on my bookshelf at home.  But this one?  This one was just sitting on my phone as one of the ‘mess ups.’  I ask myself now, “What the heck were you thinking, woman!?”  I mean, look at that picture.  My daughter is all snuggled up to me and I’m laughing.  I think I had told her to stand closer just before the picture was snapped, so she bear hugged me being silly.

Good grief, Me.  Get it together.  *These* are the memories you want to hold on to.

laughter3Or, how about this one?  We were trying to take a ‘selfie’ just before we had gotten all dressed up to go to the theatre together.  It took about 30 shots before we finally got the ‘right’ one – you know, the one where we’re both smiling sweetly and looking straight the camera.  This funny, goofy one where I was laughing so hard my eyes disappeared was never posted.  This shows so much more of our personalities than the one that I did deem ‘post-able.’ Kelly being silly, me laughing like a dork – this is ‘us.’

But I was just so afraid of it not looking ‘right.’  Not looking good enough.  Not being posed and ‘perfect.’

Silly, silly me.

So, today, I ask you this – are you like me?  Do you make sure the picture looks ‘just right’ before you take it?  Do you hold back on laughing so that you don’t like an open-mouthed hyena?  Do you stifle your happiness so that you look decent and presentable to strangers that don’t even matter?  Do you only publicly post the pictures where you’re smiling perfectly and everything is in order?

Or are you like Lucy?  Do you express your joy, no matter the circumstances…laugh until you cry when you see the ones you love…stay so happy that you wag your tail even when you’re alone?  And for Heaven’s sakes, not stop just because someone is looking?

Well, here’s my advice.  Be like Lucy.

We only get one go-around, you know?   Just one.  Don’t waste it.  Wag your tail, people.  Just wag it.

Life sure is a heck of a lot better that way.

Thanks for yet another lesson learned, Lucy dear.

laughter1
 

2014

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
– Edith Lovejoy Pierce

I sit here overwhelmed with the feeling of joy and happiness that this first day of the New Year has brought me.

kiddos1I rang in the New Year with a group of friends that I am blessed and privileged to have come to know in the past few years.  We have shared a stage together, and now, we share our homes and our lives.  Our children have become friends, which warms my heart to no end.  In fact, after ringing in the New Year, we brought a group of them home with us for a sleepover.  As I type this, four teenagers are playing outside in the vast backyard of our new home (after promptly informing me, mind you, that my breakfast was awesome because they had to eat ‘healthy stuff’ at their homes.  Heh.  Oops.)  I finally live in a community where I actually know people well enough for our kids to have sleepovers together.  This may not sound like that big of a deal, but to a roaming nomad Army brat such as myself, finding a place that feels like ‘home’ is no small feat.  I have found it.

I also woke up to this email this morning:

email

My heart is full as I realize that something I wrote touched a heart in Saudia Arabia.  Saudia Arabia!  This world just isn’t as small as we think it is, is it?  Months ago, I sat with a cat curled on my lap and the man I love made a comment about it.  And now, because I took the time to turn that into written word, it has touched a heart across the world.

Wow.

Really.  That’s all I know to say about that.  Just…wow.

Tomorrow, I will head in to a wonderful good-paying job that I worked hard to work my way up to.  I will then leave work, and I will come home to a man who loves me with all of his heart, and I’ll know that just by looking at his adorable little dimpled face and seeing that smile that lights it up when I get home.  I’ll also know it by watching him chop wood to bring in to build a fire in our wood stove.  I’ll know it by watching him tinker with my car to make sure everything is in working condition.  singing1I’ll know it each time he picks up a guitar and asks me to sing with him, and making me feel like I’m good enough to do it.  I’ll know it by accepting the glass of wine he hands me after a long, stressful day, or by sitting down to the wonderful meal that he has cooked for me.  I’ll know it by feeling his hand reach out across the table and slip into mine and squeeze it before we begin to eat.  I’ll know it by the kiss he plants on my forehead before we slip off to sleep in our big, warm bed.  I’ll know it because…well.  I’ll just know it.  Because I pay attention.  Because I look for it.  Because I believe it.

I am a blessed, happy, healthy woman.  And I intend to spend 2014 continuing to see and appreciate those blessings that surround me, and will try my best to not take a single moment of this precious life for granted.

Won’t you join me?

Happy New Year, my friends.

***

“Write on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Attention

Warning.  Snark Alert.

Oh yeah, this one is going to be a little snarky.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you are aware that most of my writing is on the ‘upbeat’ side.  There’s usually a lesson learned or a happy ending and so forth.  I try not to make it too cheesy, but I like to put a positive spin on life’s little ‘events.’  It’s how I get through them.  And I hope that maybe it might help some of my readers see their own situations with a new positive light.  Hey, it could happen.  No point floating through the world only seeing the bad, right?  Might as well make lemonade and whatnot.

But sometimes….

Sigh.

Sometimes things just piss me off.  And I’m not so sure there’s going to be a positive spin to put on it.  So, brace yourself.

Now, I fully understand that my writings and the things I share aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.  And that’s cool.  Whatev.  I’m not writing for you.  I’m writing for the ones who do want to read it.  (And I’m writing for myself – unloading some of this stuff in my brain to make room for other important things.)  So, basically, if you don’t like my stuff, that’s fine.  My blog and my Facebook posts are not required reading on some syllabus.  Move along.  It’s that simple.

But someone criticized me pretty harshly the other day.  They remarked that not everyone wants to read about my frilly, unimportant love life and that there are bigger things going on in the world.  And most notably – that I should stop all of these “cries for attention” with my Facebook and blog posts.

Alrighty then.

Let me tell you a little something.

I’m not stupid.  I don’t hide my head in the sand and refuse to see the events of the world around me.  You think I don’t know that bad things are happening in the world?  You think I don’t know that there are children starving in other countries?  You think I don’t know that our own country is being ripped apart by differing views on gay rights, abortion stances, lingering racism, etc.  You think I’m an idiot?  Well, I’m not.  I have a newspaper.  I have the internet.  I have a brain.

But you know what makes me different from you?

I purposely and actively choose to pay attention to the things that make me happy.

“Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.”
– Jose  Ortega y Gasset

Yes, those things make me sad.  Yes, I care.  Yes, I wish there was something I could do about it.  But there’s not.  Yes, it sucks that Paula Deen was/is racist.  Yes, it sucks that that signifies that there are still racial issues in this country.  But my choosing not to jump on the bandwagon of criticism and shunning her does not make me uncaring.  And it most definitely does not make me a racist.  I just understand what I can and cannot change.  One woman being an ass is not something that I have time and energy to devote to right now.  Who knows what was said and done by her?  And frankly, why should we care?  Really.  Why?  Is it a shock to you that someone in this world is racist?  Well, it shouldn’t be.  A lot of people are.  A lot of people also hate gay people and think they shouldn’t be afforded the same rights as the rest of us.  A lot of people still think women shouldn’t be in affluent positions.  A lot of people are jerks.  This shouldn’t be a newsflash.

So, no.  My blog is not centered around Paula Deen or racism or third world countries.  You’re right.  It’s not.  It’s about the things that I have in my world on a regular basis.  It’s about the battles I choose and not about the ones I don’t.

And yes, maybe I do write for “attention.”  I mean, is that really a shocker?  I’m a writer, for God’s sake.  We write to be read.  I’m also an actor.  Hello?  An actor looking for attention?  SHOCKING!  It’s who I freakin’ am.  And besides, I’m not doing anything any different than anyone else who ever posts a Facebook status.  We all just want to be heard.  Regardless of the topic.  Regardless of whether it’s uber important current issues, or whether it’s the cutesy happy events of everyday life.  If you don’t want to hear about my everyday happy life, then move along.

And hey, just for good measure, let me just wrap this up with a little lovey dovey picture of me and Richard.

changeblog

Awwwww.  Ain’t it sweet?  We’re so in love.

Oh and hey.  Here.  Look at this picture of a cute little puppy.

puppy

How’s that?

For my regular readers, I apologize for the sarcasm.  I hope you’ll be back.  This is just a temporary vent.  It happens.

But to my criticizer?

Thanks for the attention. 😉

But hey, on a serious note: I truly hope you can find happiness in your life so that you can stop focusing on the things that make you miserable.  I used to be just like you.  It’s a sad, sad place to be.  When you want to enact change, focusing on the negative is not going to work.  Broadcasting the negative is not going to work.  Screaming at the people who disagree with you is not going to work.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

You want things to change, something to disappear, something to go way?  Stop feeding it.  Stop spreading it.

If you have an unwelcomed dinner guest, stop setting a place for them at your table.

It’s that simple.  (Believe me – I’ve had to learn that lesson myself lately.)

You alone cannot change how someone else thinks – you can’t change the whole world with one mean-spirited Facebook post.  But you can change your world.  Choose what you concentrate on.  Choose where you put your energies.

Choose happiness.

I’m not saying one person can’t eventually change the world.  Maybe they can.  But I’m certain that they should probably start with changing their own world first.

***

“A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes.  It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.”
– Wade Boggs