19 February 2014

happy, happy. joy, joy.

Marianne Williamson said, "Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are." And someone in a Sunday School class once told me that happiness describes a state of being entirely based on chance and circumstance.

So, I've spent much of my life since then -- knowing happiness would come and go -- in desperate pursuit of lasting joy. And gratefully, I've experienced untold joy. I know that I know that I know that I live a rich life, and I am blessed. I love and I am loved. And most of the time I can see it, smell it, taste it and hear it.

But the thing is, joy doesn't always feel good. And recently, I haven't felt well.

Something shifted in me, at the end of last October. I could feel sadness setting in. It was subtle and low-grade, but difficult to miss. So I called on joy and practiced gratitude, yet the sadness remained. And I got older and went to the spa and celebrated holidays and spent time with family, with friends and with myself, yet the sadness remained. And I shifted my attitude and got outdoors and I danced and I prayed and I indulged, and still the sadness remained.

I'm learning to accept the summits and valleys of the good life, and I don't feel the fear I once felt in the dark, but I began this year a little sadder, a little sicker and a little more scared than I have been in years. And the things that once brought me great joy in the past weren't working in the present.

So the timing of the family trip I planned on a whim in December couldn't have been more perfect come January. We spent the end of last month and good chunk of change at the happiest place on earth.

It's for the kids -- I thought. 

Paul and I were investing in lifelong childhood memories, I proposed. But, on this side of the wonderful world of Disney, I can see that I too bought into the magic hook, line and sinker. I loved (LOVED) it, and here I am plugging Disneyland(?!). Just as much, if not more than my kiddos, I felt giddy and glad and warmth and sunshine in each step. I laid off and laid back, and I had a fabulous time.

"This is the best day of our lives," Paul and I decided and declared before we left our hotel for our first of two days at Disneyland; it may very well have been. The more we said it, the more we believed it. I felt something I haven't felt in a while, but I realize now that I desperately needed: happy.

Two-and-a-half weeks have passed since we returned from California, and I feel different.

Today, I'm reminded of three words I read from this chair in the first few days of this year. Buried beneath a blanket, with a sore throat and a bruised spirit, I read that we need both. It didn't hit me back then like it's hitting me now: Joy matters -- of course -- but happiness does too. While they are two entirely different entities, they are equally important. Contrary to what I think I've believed, I need both. 

While we were in California, I let loose, skipped around and allowed myself to feel happy even though I knew it would end. And it did. The kids and I felt especially sad our last day in California when we walked right past Disneyland, but didn't go inside. The Seahawks won the Superbowl the day after we returned, and I felt more happiness... but then came Monday.

I'm sitting in my same old chair, our beloved fish has died and Mickey Mouse is nowhere in sight. I've been upset with Paul for two days, I haven't danced in weeks and it's rained -- poured -- the last three days. Nevertheless, I definitely feel differently since we've been back.

It's joy. It's back.

I passed on yoga this morning and ran instead. I made myself breakfast, scrubbed my feet and painted my toenails red. I'm writing, and I feel joy. I think the momentary, fleeting, commercial, marketing genius and fabulous pleasure of allowing myself to feel happy has had a lot to do with it.

This is new for me, and I'm not sure what to make of it except to say that I feel good. I'm recognizing how good things really are, and it's making my day.

04 February 2014

same love?

Today, the sun is shining over Seattle. 

The last few weeks have been magical for our city, for our state and for us. 

I'm In, the signs about town declare, and I am. I've caught the Spirit, and I too am giddy and smiling. It's been fun to watch blue and green clad strangers hi-five in groceries stores, to see flags flying all over the city and to witness community in action. As I've learned more and seen more, I've joined the ranks of the 12th man! I too cheered, shouted, shimmied, threw my hands up, hugged and high-fived in the company of strangers Sunday night as the Seahawks claimed victory in Superbowl XLVIII. I felt tickled and proud and glad to be a part of it all. 

Russell, Percy, Marshawn and a bunch of other guys I hadn't heard of until a couple months ago aren't the only hometown heroes who have commanded the global spotlight and my attention of late. There's Ben too. With ties not only to Seattle but to our Island, I've also had my eye on Macklemore. When all was said and done the Sunday before last, I searched the web to see how he fared at the Grammy's. To my surprise, I even did a little fist pump when I discovered that he captured a few awards. 

From there, I traveled along the rabbit trail also known as the internet in search of photos and more details of Macklemore's wins. Nothing prepared me for what I found next. Designer dresses made way for wedding dresses, and there, in a full-color spread stood Madonna in a white pant suit, holding onto Macklemore, Ryan Lewis... and a cane. What?!

On to You Tube.

Incredulously, I watched Macklemore shout lyrics to that old familiar song, Mary Lambert croon its chorus and dozens of couples fill the aisles... to exchange wedding vows... with teary-eyed celebrities looking on... at the Grammys... with Queen Latifah officiating. 


I'm not sure this star-studded spectacle had its intended effect on me. Unlike the standing, well-dressed, applauding witnesses of this super-ceremony, I sat in pajamas hovered over my computer screen with my mouth ajar wondering, "What is happening right now? Who ARE these people?!?"

In those few minutes, I reconsidered and re-examined my allegiance to Seattle's Own and my affection for this song. I felt embarrassed, and I hated every second of what I was witnessing. I had an overwhelming urge to change my clothes... no, to vomit and wash out my mouth... no, to slam my computer shut and boycott the Grammy's forever... no, to blog... 

YES, to blog! 

Since that night, we have been to Disneyland and back, the Seahawks have won their first Superbowl and thirty-something couples have laid side-by-side reflecting on the sacred vows they exchanged last week... at the Grammys... with Queen Latifah officiating. My nausea has since subsided, but that overwhelming urge remains. So, hear I am.

The Same Love. 

The Same? Somewhere along the way, I think we've missed the point. I can't help but to think back to an exchange I had with my children recently. 

"Is that Ray Lewis?" my child asks as a panel of commentators discuss the highlights of that night's football game.

"No," I respond. Paul and I exchange glances (time to get off this Island, I think to myself). 

"But, he is the same color as Ray Lewis," one child says, "And as you," the other chimes in.  

"Yeah maybe, but just because two people have the same skin color, that doesn't make them the same." I explain. "You know that."

We all know that.

For one, I can hardly think of two persons who have the SAME skin color. For that matter, I can't think of two persons I'd call the same. But in our quest for equality and equal rights, I keep hearing this: We are one. We are equal. We are the same. But, when I think about it -- not even for that long -- I think not. Black, white, rich, poor, conservative, liberal, gay, straight -- we are not the same. A kindergartner could tell you this, but I think it bears repeating, nonetheless. WE. ARE. NOT. THE. SAME. And we certainly don't love the same.

Yes, God loves all his children, but he does not love his children with the same love because they are different. I love my children differently because they are different. They may look similar, but if you were to spend a minute with each of them, you would agree that these kids are not the same. How could my love for them be? 

Or what about Paul? This man has been my companion for 18 years. Our love is not the same love it was 18 years ago, or the day we exchanged our wedding vows, or the day we became parents. My love today for the same man is not the same love I had for him yesterday. His love for me is not the same either. We are two partners in a relationship who bring different strengths, weaknesses, values, perspectives, backgrounds, insights and yes, even different races, cultures, socioeconomic statuses, genders and religions to the table. All things are not equal in our marriage, because we are not the same. And I think herein lies the power and beauty of this marriage.

Paul proposed to me under a bridge. Nine months later, we committed our lives to one another in an outdoor courtyard. We didn't opt for a church, for Disneyland, for a football stadium or for Reverend Latifah that day. This doesn't make us better or worse; It makes us us.

I can't speak to what the producers and performers were thinking on that Grammy stage nine days ago or to the love between the persons who were married that night. I can tell you, however, that their love and my love are not the same love either. Because regardless of their politics, genders, skin colors or sexual orientations, we are not the same.

Over the last few weeks, as I've walked this city's streets, I've witnessed love. I've seen persons of every type -- some dressed in blue and green and others dressed in blue and orange -- in solidarity. In love. I was a thousand miles from here just a few days ago, and I felt happy (more on this soon) and joyful and a different kind of love for the people I love. I saw all sorts of people in love. Still buzzing off of the excitement of these last few days, sitting in my car with my computer, I feel love. For my husband, for my kids, for our fish, for my parents, for my siblings, for my friends, for my neighbor, for myself, for the team which I've known for most of my life alongside a team with which I've only just become acquainted, I feel love. And as you might suspect, not even one of these loves is the same love. THIS, I believe is the point.