choosing happiness

Tonight I find myself alone downstairs humming to old lyrics that take me way way back to a time when all I cared about was myself, my schoolwork ( writings) and my music. I used to listen to some pretty damn good music, but somewhere in the five years and cagillion cds got buried beneath all the other single-Janine pictures, momentos, etc and replaced with all sorts of irritating kid music.

While I was in Arizona, Tim cleaned the basement and unearthed some of our old jams. It was all I could do not to play my beloved cds instantly. I waited for the right moment, like right now, when I found myself all alone completely lost in one of my favorite hobbies--writing.  Good music is my drug of choice during these blah gray days. It makes me want to get up and stay up in the morning. It gets me through the dishes. It inspires my otherwise drab thoughts. And it makes me smile when I least expect it. Example: On Friday I found myself in a terribly long line at the DMV and after wasting too many precious minutes away listening to foul and illiterate language while waiting to receive my number, I was turned away and denied a number because I brought the wrong utility bill. Rather than yell at the man that had already received his fair share of unwarranted screams, I smiled and walked out the door. As soon as I turned on my car, I searched through my playlists and found my favorite Guster song and turned the volume dial as loud as my ears could take and sang quite obscenely at the top of my lungs. I felt better almost instantly.

But I digress...I sat down to write my feelings about motherhood as of late but now feel those thoughts would feel quite awkward in this post. So I shall write about something else so deeply personal to me. Why? I guess this music is just bringing it out of me. Does music do that to you?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my struggles with what I called the winter blues. The gray skies seemed to be affecting every aspect of my life and I felt so low when I wrote that post. I was as low as I had been in a long time. I was dealing with relationship issues (to be clear...not with Tim), an extreme lack of motivation, some real physical pain, and the reality that the goals I made for myself remained basically untouched. It was all I could do not to scream every minute of every day and I didn't like myself at all. I all. And I generally like myself so I knew I was heading down the wrong path.

One afternoon I sat down in the single ray of sunshine flooding my front room and decided I would not give up on myself. I had two options:  happiness vs. unhappiness. I would not succumb to the later so I devised a plan with some unexpected help from a dear friend (oh how I love you Ashley). I wrote my plan down on a yellow piece of construction paper because a. yellow is the happiest color I could think of and b. we don't own any normal white paper (kids, ya know?). This is what I wrote:

Q: Is it possible for me to be really happy with my life?
A: Yes, I hope so.

Steps to finding happiness: 
1. Identify problem areas
2. Come up with a plan to let go of woes or at least make them lighter (I had to be real with myself...I knew some things I was dealing with wouldn't go away with a snap of my finger)
3. Tackle two issues a week
4. Keep a detailed record of things that work/don't work
5. Start a gratitude journal
6. Take really deep breaths when anxiety begins to take control.
7. Exercise hard and be one with my body
8. Try and say sorry where appropriate
9. Smile
10. Be patient with myself and others

Like I said, it's been two weeks since I wrote those notes. That day I unloaded all of my burdens on a dark blue piece of paper because it basically displayed all my inward feelings, and you know felt so good to write all the things bothering me down. I was completely candid with myself. I knew no one else would see the paper so I let out everything I normally guard and found myself breathing lighter at the end of the activity.

I can't speak for men since well, I lack all of their logic and genitalia but I feel like I understand a good chunk of women, especially women around my same age dealing with similar situations. Being a woman is hard. We literally carry so much weight on our shoulders and I am talking babies, diaper bags, grocery sacks, backpacks, briefcases, etc. We are expected to be and do so much while keeping a smile on our faces. For the most part, I think we succeed. We should pat ourselves on the back more often...really we should. We don't do it enough. But then there are the moments when we yell at our spouse/child/coworker/stranger, cry about literal spilled milk, drop a bag or two of groceries, fail to calm that colicky baby or needy friend, silently ache because of fertility issues, struggle with our physical appearance or feel so lonely we can't see straight,  and well, those moments humble us in sometimes the most painful of ways.

Oh will be my life lesson. How I wish I could accomplish everything on my own! I so often think I can, but you constantly remind me how fragile I really am and how much I need someone greater and smarter to guide my life. While in Arizona I found myself alone A parents graciously watched my babies for me so I could go out and see old friends. But I also found some time to also just be with myself. I would stop the car on the side of a side road, turn off the engine, soak in the Arizona heat and say a prayer. Sometimes it was a prayer of pleas and other times it was a prayer of gratitude.

No matter where I find myself on this lifelong journey and no matter how hard I am on myself, I must admit that I know God is right beside me. He...and Tim...and my girls...and my family are always on my side. They may not understand why I do what I do, but they love me and cheer me on (Tim is a dang cute cheerleader). I feel loved. Their love buoys me up and out of any funk I find myself in. I know this wintery blues phase is a nasty one, but it is only a phase. It will pass. It is already passing. I am resigned on the fact that things in my life are changing. I am changing. Some things cannot go back to the way they once were. Some of my relationships are thriving while others are dissolving. I'm okay with it. Some of my goals needed a reality check and are now more achievable. Some of my flaws are natural and just need to be worked out with time.

I am giving myself that time. I wish all women would give themselves a little more time and a little more love. Know that you are loved here. You are understood here. Spring is coming. Winter is ending. If you have been struggling with what you need to do to get your life ready for some real sunshine because you can't hide from's coming.

I'd love to hear from you. Please email me @ ahandfulofpeanuts{at}gmail{dot}com if anything I wrote about resounded with you or if you have experienced something similar recently. Hear

I also wanted to write a particular thank you to a fellow blogger who recently said you felt my blog was the most honest/vulnerable. I had no idea you were still following me Bonnie. Thank you so much. Really...thank you. Bonnie and I took a few classes together at BYU and I have loved reading her blog over the past year. You can find her here: Life of Bon. I think you'd enjoy her.

1 comment :

  1. Love these thoughts Janine. You express them so beautifully and I really do admire how you can lay it all out there. You inspire me to be more honest in my writing.


"Be kind and considerate with your criticism... It's just as hard to write a bad book as it is to write a good book." Malcolm Cowley