Early last month, my husband came home with some rather distressing news. Distressing as in lost sleep. Distressing as in lost appetite. And ‘though it may be hard to believe, distressing as in lost sense of humor. Yeah. No kidding. Pun intended.
The news? His company would be undergoing a RIF (reduction in force) before the end of the year.
Suffice it to say, I didn’t handle it very well. Not very well at all. I didn’t throw dishes, or break chairs, or scream obscenities. Instead, I resorted to typical Karen behavior. In times of stress, I become quiet. Really quiet. Bottling up emotions-hardly an effective coping strategy, I know.
While my mouth remained motionless, my mind raced. Will we have to move out of state? Will we have to sell our house? What about health insurance? Can we survive on just my income? Will there be any severance pay? How much of a nest egg do we actually have? How will we pay for our kids’ education? Will this change our plans for retirement? When will we know if it affects us?
And then…I clearly became non compos mentis. (Go ahead. Look it up. I think I used it correctly.)
WHAT ABOUT CHRISTMAS? WHAT ABOUT MASSAGES, MANICURES, AND PEDICURES? WHAT ABOUT MY STITCH FIX BOX? WHAT ABOUT EATING OUT WHEN I’M TOO LAZY TO COOK?
Yada, yada, yada. All sources of happiness. Superficial happiness, but happiness nonetheless. And isn’t that what life was about? Happiness?
After wallowing in self pity for more days than I care to admit, I decided I needed to pull myself together. So, I forced myself to think rationally. I began analyzing the situation.
What if Reed did lose his job? Would it really be devastating?
My initial reaction? Of course it would. How could it not? After all, we had bills to pay each month. We’d need to drastically reduce expenditures.
And then I began to think about what I needed in order to be happy. (Because in all honesty, if mani’s, pedi’s, and Stitch Fix boxes were the only things making me happy, I was living a pretty shallow life.)
So to my list of “What Makes Me Happy” I added:
- lazy Saturday mornings (complete with coffee and/or tea and no showering until after noon)
- time spent with my husband (camping, hiking, boating, biking, and just being together)
- time spent with my kids (trips to Door County, mini-golfing, car rides, going out to eat)
- songs in church (you know, the ones that speak to you, touch your heart, and make you cry)
- snow days (I’m a teacher. No further explanation should be needed.)
- running (especially in the fall)
And as I was jotting down the last two items on my list, it hit me. Why did I enjoy running and writing? Because in all honesty, I can’t say they always bring me happiness. Sometimes I have horrendous runs. Sometimes it’s so cold I can’t feel my toes. Sometimes I am injured and runs are painful. Sometimes I’m tired and I’m just not feeling it.
Sometimes writing can be painful. Sometimes I struggle to think of things to write about. Sometimes the perfect word evades me. Sometimes the subject matter makes me feel more than what I want to be feeling. Sometimes I have to delete large sections of writing because it just doesn’t fit.
Yet…I keep running. And I keep writing. Why? And there it was.
“Being happy” was not the bane of my existence. It wasn’t the overriding goal in my life. It wasn’t what made me tick.
It’s the process. It’s the challenge. In order to grow and change, I need to feel discomfort. Like it or not, life is fraught with challenges. It’s the satisfaction I feel when things come together. Knowing what I am suppose to be doing on this earth, and then doing it gives me purpose. That’s when I feel content. That’s what makes me tick.