Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Art of Joy Through Happiness

The Art of Joy through Happiness
This week has already been a very difficult week for me.  One of my beloved cats, Buttons, had a stroke and passed away on Tuesday.  It was heartbreaking to witness, but I’m so happy that I was able to be with him and get him to the vet so he didn’t have to go through it alone.  Unfortunately my daughter attends school in Pittsburgh and I had to tell her what happened over the phone.  It was devastating not being able to hold and hug her through her grief; and I am SO thankful that her wonderful boyfriend was there with her at the time to help her.  We are both healing as well as we can, as are Buttons’ two surviving brothers, Fatboy and Carley. They seem sad, and continue to search for him in his old hiding places; however they are adjusting well.  They continue to eat, drink and use the box as they should, which was a huge concern for me.  When I’m a bit more clear headed, I’ll be writing about grieving the loss of a family pet – just not quite yet. 

I am so very blessed to have a wonderful family and the MOST amazing friends to help me through this.  I have been given hugs both virtually and physically and been comforted in ways I never thought possible.   It’s been a difficult experience, but I’m getting through it the best I can. 

With all that being said, I bring you my topic of the day.  The art of joy through happiness. Happiness is an elusive thing for me at times.. I know I don’t act like it is.  Most people who know me personally would say “but you’re always so upbeat and optimistic”.  I try to be both of those things, but there are many times that the feelings don’t reach down as far as they should.  There’s a great many reasons for it, and I won’t get into them; that’s not what this is about.   Some of my greatest joys in life come when I make other people happy; I gain my joy through their happiness.   It’s not the greatest recipe for personal happiness, but it’s the best I have at the moment and it seems to work well enough for me.  Someday I’ll figure out the rest, but for now, I focus on what I can. 

Today was an excellent example of this, as I met a wonderful little girl named Desiree at the hospital.  I was sitting in the dialysis center with my plug and play machine hooked up to my arm, going through a list of things I needed to get done today.   Finish writing a method for work, get team meeting notes published, dig out the recipe for dinner tonight, go shopping, etc.  I was engrossed in my own little world, distracted by the day-to-day BS that I go through (and a surprise blessing I’ve experienced recently) and I noticed this stunning little girl (found out during our talk that she is currently 7 – going on about 32) walk in all by herself, sit down and get ready for her treatment.   I knew right away she’s a Warrior... someone who has been through it all and prefers to do it herself.     I asked her about her glittery tennis shoes which started a WHOLE conversation about clothes and shoes and accessories.  Her mind was an endless encyclopedia of knowledge of fashion designers, color coordination, and accessorizing; it was rather enlightening. 

Of course, as a fellow Warrior, I saw what those beautiful brown eyes were hiding – a sadness that only comes with knowing your reality is different than everyone else’s.   Not many people recognize this; and those who do are usually Warriors themselves or know us all too well on a personal scale and can pull the truth out of us. I’ll be honest, there aren’t very many people I can’t fool with my dazzling smile and outgoing personality.  Only a few select have seen me without that Warrior Mask.   I couldn’t help wonder what she was going to miss with her friends today after her treatment, when she would most likely be laying in bed trying to recover.  Of course, I didn’t ask, but I did come up with a way I thought might help her feel better. 

Most kids, especially the “sick” ones (we talked about that term in the last blog, remember?) have a hard time connecting with adults … let’s face it, we can be intimidating, mean, demanding, and most of the ones the sick kids deal with are Doctors.  So, to be able to be a kid with an adult is a great treat.  I do my best to interact with the kids I see…we get to giggle together, watch movies, sing Disney songs, swap urine samples; whatever we can think of to be silly and pass the time in an awful place like Chemo rooms, Dialysis centers, and hospital waiting rooms.   As I was finishing up my dialysis and she was waiting for her needles and meds, I asked her a VERY important question.

“Alright Dissy” yes, that’s what I was calling her, made her giggle every time.  “I have a HUGE problem and you’re the ONLY one that can fix it “

“What’s wrong? “

“I don’t know which band aid to put over my port.  I usually use a gauze wrap, but there is NO way that’s gonna go with my zebra stripped shirt.  And I wouldn’t want to embarrass you by walking out of here looking like the next person to be arrested by the fashion police.” 

We started laughing so hard we nearly disturbed the other patients (old people can be “so” boring) and she asked how she could help.

“Well” of course I got all serious at this point; this was, after all, a very serious task.  “I need you to hit the Med Supply chest and pick out the perfect band-aid for my arm.” 
That did it -  that “sadness” that I saw before was just gone.  She light up like fireworks over the beach, thrilled that I’d ask her to pick out my band-aid.   Let’s face it, adults are always “boring” and never ask kids for such a thing.   Her response with that brilliant smile was a bit skeptical “What if I pick the wrong one?”

“The wrong one?  Not possible, if it makes you happy then it’s the perfect one.”  

She beamed and walked over to the Med Chest to go through the boxes.  It took quite a while, and she was humming and smiling the whole time.  Just to see her forget about herself and her ordeal for a few minutes was worth whatever she brought back.

She finally returned with the biggest smile on her face, and a giggle that made my soul sing.  “I couldn’t decide between the Avengers, The Transformers and the Monkey.  They had My Preppy Ponies (her term, not mine) but those are lame”. 

I laughed so hard as she crawled up in my lap and held onto my bandaid.  She refused to show it to me until I was done with dialysis and even told the tech they had to wait until I was done to start hers. “This is VERY important” she said, and they smiled, nodded and walked away.  Sometimes you gotta take control of a bad situation to make it better every way you can. 

My Doctor arrived shortly after that, asked us what trouble we were up to, and disconnected all my wires and needles, and such.  She started to reach into her pocket and Dissy immediately piped up.  “NO .. I have her bandage already”

She pulled out a Curious George band-aid and lovingly put it over my port, making sure it had a “good enough seal so you can shower and not get your port wet… the Doctor’s don’t like that”. 
Once she was done, she meandered back to her chair and waited for the techs to arrive.  She was getting prepped for her treatment when I was leaving, but I couldn’t get away without a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek.  “Thank you, Trinity.  You made me smile and made me forget I was sick for a while”.

THAT brought joy to me that I haven’t had in a while.  Knowing that I have the potential and ability to make other people happy – to be the driving force behind their Inspiration to live happier.   Not to mention,  the ability to make someone forget why they are sitting in a treatment room and give them something much more fun to focus on makes all the difference in the world to me.

So, I offer you this personal challenge today.  Although you may not be sick (I hope you are not, honestly) and might not be sitting in the same setting… find someone in your life that needs a shot of happiness.  Reach inside yourself and find that thing to make them smile and forget about their troubles for a moment.  Do it not for the satisfaction you’ll feel, but for the happiness you will bring them.  In that happiness, my dear reader, you will find your joy.  

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