Thursday, July 8, 2010

July Happiness Project-SPIRIT: Under The Tuscan Sun

This is part of my continuing quest to find a way to make my everyday world more joyful. This month’s Happiness Project word is SPIRIT. Now I don’t know what that word actually means to everyone, but I give it a twofold meaning here. I think that what we are trying to accomplish is that we search for our inner spirit and that we learn to grab that spirit for joy. Our inner spirit can be something as simple as reading a good book, or learning a new recipe or quite frankly just counting our blessing. To many of you I know that spirit has a religious connotation and there is joy in reading the Bible and doing God’s work.

When I look to find my inner spirit, I need to examine just where it comes from. Do I recognize my journey and how it has shaped my life? I know it may sound silly but one of my favorite movies of all time is Under the Tuscan Sun. It is not because of the landscape, or some of the rather cute Italian actors that are part of the film. It is because it is about a woman who searches for who she is and what she is able to become. I personally liked the train analogy in the movie (No, not Freudian train analogy, minds out of the naughty room please). Here it tells of why the Italians built a train track in the Alps when no train could reach there. It was because they knew one day such a train would exist, and it would need a track. The movie goes on to discuss how we would not be who we are without the turns of our train track and that we can and are better for our life experiences.

I think this is what spirit is all about. We accept our lives for what it is and learn from it. We take what we have been given and we do something with it. We embrace who we have become and decide that we will provide ourselves and others a future. We basically make lemons out of lemonade.

It also doesn’t matter how you channel your spirit as long as you do. Whether you write blogs, give free advocacy advice, start a ministry, or a support group it is part of your spirit. Whether you take what you have been handed and decide to revamp a career, as so many of the coaches that collegeman has had over the past two years have done, it is spirit. It is knowing that as we grow and as we accept what life holds for us, we change and it is our responsibility to make it a positive change. No one is going to do it for you. No one is going to hold you by the hand and say now come along little lady/gent, it’s time for you to get a move on. No one can do that for you but you.

I know, hubby tried for years to get me to sit down and figure out what would make me happy. He would periodically sit with me for hours, even days, and discuss what interests me and how I would go about changing my life. In fact it got to such a point that he would start to call it our “every 6 month talk.” It wasn’t his fault that nothing ever appealed to me. It wasn’t his fault that I couldn’t motivate myself to try something new or figure out how to channel what I was feeling. Heck therapists who were helping me deal with the boy’s issues couldn’t’ even do that. It was and will always be up to me to channel my spirit and find a way to access those train tracks where no one was ever able to go before.

Think about it. What is your spirit? How do you want to access it so that you are happy? I think the first part for me was understanding that I was entitled to be happy and that everything is not about the children and the hubby. Sometimes I need time for me and for me alone. My spirit needed nurturing too. I think that is why I could never figure out what I really wanted to do. I never allowed myself the belief that I was really important body and soul. I was always afraid that any amount of time I spent on me meant I might miss an opportunity to help the boys. I gave up everything that had previously been important to me outside of the boys’ sphere. I gave up everything that was important to me, outside of supporting hubby in his career. I even had to justify exercising as a form of stress relief so I could deal better with the boys’ issues. I didn’t even allow myself the desire to want to feel and look better for me.

I have changed today. I have grabbed that inner spirit and I am back doing what I have always liked to do. I always loved to write. I always loved to help people. I always love politics and religion and making a sheer nuisance out of myself to some people. I admit it, on some political blogs; I do cause trouble, just because I find what they are saying so annoying. (Can’t help myself. It is part of my inner spirit too. Never said I was an angel.) In fact, I just wrote a comment on an etiquette blog, were the writer lamented the olden days where children were seen and not heard. Who knows, I might be banned from there now too. (No swear words, just a discussion about the art of conversation and the out datedness of Dr. Spock.)

I think for many of us, we never want to look back and say, what if, when it comes to our children and our marriages. So we put ourselves so far into the background that we fade away. We forget that our spirit needs to be nurtured too. It is not just a matter of paying attention to your physical needs either. Your spiritual needs have to be satisfied in order for you, to be whole. What I also learned is that without a whole person being there to help your children and be a helpmate to your spouse, no one can become everything that they were meant to me.

My grandmother (RIP) didn’t realize that she could nurture her spirit until she was in her 80s and my grandfather had passed away. We used to joke that she finally came into her own. But thank God that she eventually did. I waited until I was almost 50 to figure it out. While I have always been involved with the school commuity for the boys and helped out when they needed me. But again only as a way of saying thank you for all that the school had done for my children, nothing I did was done for me. In truth, it has only been a little over a year  that I have invested time and energy into my own spirit and soul. Don’t do that. Don’t wait. Don’t give up all that you are. Don't give up all your own dreams. It helps no one, least of all you.

Until next time,