Bring me down
Can’t nothing bring me down
My level’s too high
Bring me down
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do
That’s my ringtone. It’s from Despicable Me 2 and it absolutely 100% describes how I feel about life in general. I do feel like a room without a roof and I do feel like happiness is the truth and I do know what happiness is to me and it is hands down what I wanna do.
People think I’m crazy they think I’m delusional, they think we are pretending or that we don’t live in reality. But I’m telling you, I really believe with all my heart that every day is awesome. I’ll go so far as to say every week is awesome.
“LIAR!”, you scream. But, from the depths of my soul I can promise you that there’s simply no room for anything but awesomeness in this short life of mine. I simply won’t allow it. How could I with all the blessings I have?
And before you judge, as you always judge (because, as has been established, we all judge), this does not mean our life is perfect, that we don’t have our fair share of strife, that we don’t fight, but more that we choose to be happy over angry or sad or depressed or anxious! I might let a moment suck, but nothing more than a moment, because my struggles, my difficulties, pale in comparison to the shit other people have to deal with.
The fact that our checking account is overdrawn because one of Dan’s clients is late late late in paying him for work completed is small potatoes to the sheer hell a friend of mine is steeped in after the death of her son. The fact that everything is breaking in our RV from the refrigerator to the cabinets to the electrical system doesn’t come close to the pain another friend bears while fighting cancer. All my “problems” are laughable grievances to a friend of a friend who just got the unfathomable news that her baby probably won’t make it out of the womb. Nope, I won’t waste more than a moment on my “inconveniences”, because it could be worse … much much much worse!
And in a day and age in which people are popping pills left and right for every ailment from fatigue to depression, this is a foreign mentality!! Dealing with an annoying neighbor who mows his lawn at 8 am? The prevailing action is to call the cops, start Armegeddon! Dealing with fellow campers whose dogs start barking at 5 am? The logical choice for many would be to give a “what’s for” to the offending camper. But, why? Why sweat the small stuff? Why work yourself into a frenzy over things that in the whole scheme of things don’t matter … at all! Especially when you know there are people in this world who would trade places with you in a heartbeat to have such inconsequential “difficulties”.
When I chose to become a parent, I signed up for crying, temper tantrums, viruses, sleepless nights, stress, fear, pain, and all the other challenges that come along with parenting. But, the rewards are mind-blowing. The uncomparable joy, the pure unconditional love, the fun, the excitement are not lost on me. Who am I to complain about the not-so-great when the great, the indescribable is much more prevalent and has shaped my life in ways I could never have imagined?
I get a lot of slack for this mentality — you know I do!! Some of the most popular blogs are those vehemently chastising all of us who post happy photos and whose statuses are always positive. Why is everyone so annoyed and seemingly put-out by those of us who have a zeal for life? And why does anyone feel the need to air their dirty laundry to thousands of people on facebook.
Do you really want to know that Emmy just threw a temper tantrum because she’s 5 and I did something morally obtuse in the eyes of someone that age? Do you really want pictures that show Cardy throwing up during a bout with some random virus? I don’t get it. I want to see the people I care about happy and smiling, it pains me to hear otherwise. But for the majority of you all out there, it appears it makes you feel better about your own life to hear other people’s crap! That astounds me!! It aint right! There are other ways to feel better about your life than this!
Try this on for size … Why not simply choose to be happy? Choose to spend more time celebrating the good in your life rather than dwelling on the bad?
Whoa, wait, wait, just one second! Choosing to be happy? “Well, sure”, you say, “if I lived such a charmed life, I’d be happy too.” And there you go again, comparing your life to other people’s lives. When you do this, you always find yourself falling short. You’ll never be happy if you are constantly measuring yourself against other people. What you don’t realize is that we all make decisions, and while we can’t control everything that happens to us, we can choose how we react to the situations we find ourselves!
And we are all free to make crazy, life altering decisions that could either screw everything up or shake things up so much that the decision becomes a catalyst for amazing. Dan & I have made a lot of these decisions, some worked out beautifully, others were virtual disasters, but they’ve all shaped our lives and brought us to where we are today!!
And, living in an RV has broadened our horizons, shattered our expectations for the future and given us a sense of freedom we couldn’t understand if we weren’t living such an alternative lifestyle! There’s something out there for you too! There’s a dream waiting to be realized, there’s an adventure waiting to be had and a bucket list item waiting to be crossed off! Don’t imprison yourself with mental handicaps, don’t poison your brain with all the reasons you can’t do something. That’s what losers do. Winners envision success and then make that success a reality. You are either you worst influence or your best motivator. You make that choice. Life doesn’t have to happen to you, you can make life happen!
But, don’t be fooled, it’s not a walk in the park, we work crazy hard to make this work. Dan wakes up at 4 in the morning almost everyday to knock out as much work as possible before we all rise and start the day. And then he typically works in the evening as we are all falling asleep. Being a husband and father is what defines him, so in between we play … hard.
Too often economic pursuits limit the time families spend together. For us, living a life where we are together all day every day being involved and doing things we all find fun takes precedence over everything else and we sacrifice financial rewards to make sure it happens!! What this means is that our kids don’t have all the latest electronic gadgets, they don’t get a car handed to them when they turn 16, they don’t have piles of crap taking up residence in a bedroom and we aren’t driving around in a brand new luxury RV. Experiences over possessions … it’s quite the message, it’s quite the lesson.
What the kids get in return is our attention, our involvement and a relationship with their siblings that is exceptional in its depth! Instead of spending 7 hours per day in school and giving all their best hours to friends and teachers they are giving those hours to their family, the most important people in their lives, ensuring that they are forging a relationship that will span the years! Instead of, “Remember when we went to Idaho with John and his family,” our kids will have memories of trips and experiences with us and their brothers and sisters, as well as with friends made along the way. The gift of us and of travel is our legacy to our children …
What do Dan and I get for what may be perceived, by the money grubbing folks in mainstream society, as sacrifice or perhaps even selfishness? Time. Dan is the love of my life, he is my true one and only soul mate, to wake up next to him each morning, to spend every day with him by my side and to fall asleep in his arms, that’s a blessing I don’t want to squander. We love each other like crazy, in every way — both physically and mentally. He is the air I breathe, my life began when I met him (no joke, no drama, it’s truth) without him, I’d be mediocre. We are great together, we complement each other, making the other better. To trade my days as they are now for financial gain would be unthinkable …
And so, we count ourselves as incredibly blessed. Blessed for the upbringing we both had that taught us God’s love and mercy. Blessed for the decisions we’ve made, both good and bad, that have brought us to this place of wonder in our lives. Blessed for the confidence we have to make difficult decisions and run with them despite having no clue how things will turn out. And blessed for our love of spontaneity which allows us to do crazy things without all the pieces being in place. Blessed to have found each other, blessed to have a mentality that focuses on making the ordinary extraordinary, blessed to have built such a strong, faith minded, fun family, blessed to have health … good Lord the list goes on and on and on and on. I literally feel blessed to see the sun each morning or the rain or the snow. I feel blessed for life and all the good and bad that comes with it.
This mentality to rise above adversity has taught our kids self-reliance, increased their confidence in themselves and has molded them into fearless, strong leaders! It’s why they can climb a tree 50’ up, it’s why they can kayak whitewater, it’s why they can scale a cliff wall and why they can descend into an unknown cave.
And it’s why I can let them go when they come of an age where they want to spread their wings and test the waters as an independent individual. I know they aren’t going far and they aren’t going forever, though it can sure seem that way sometimes, and if I let it, fear can creep in. But this fear is baseless and so I hold nothing but optimism in my heart, optimism and hope that they will carve out a life worth living, a life worthy of the inevitable smiles on their faces. Hope that they will find someone to share this amazing and exciting life with, someone who will be at their side guiding them closer to God and closer to eternal life.
Don’t squander this gift of life! You only get one shot, make it good, make it memorable, make it worth something!!