And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
Boy, I have to tell you – when I was doing Today’s Moment Of Happiness in 2017, the year that I dealt with breast cancer, I thought it was just the hardest thing ever. But now it’s 2020, I’m only coming up with one Moment per week…but there’s COVID and everything else that’s happening in the world. This is not easy. Not only is it hard to find something to be happy about, my interactions with the world have shrunk. I am home most of the time. Days go by without my driving my car. I was getting out for walks, but attacks by red-winged blackbirds have made me leery of going anyplace where there might be birds. Which is everywhere. Everything I do is online – write, teach, shop, read.
So this is difficult.
This is now July. When COVID hit in March, I thought, Well, this is awful, but it will be over by summer. Yet here we are and it’s not over. July is my birthday month. I will be turning 60 on the 29th. And I truly wanted to celebrate by going to my favorite place on earth, a little house in Waldport, Oregon. But like everyone else, I will just be staying home.
So many things are canceled. Music festivals. County and state fairs. One of my favorite flea markets, held once a month during the summer months, is still going on, but I think I’m too nervous to go to it. Fireworks for the 4th are canceled, except for a few select communities who are still doing them, and they are being flooded with thousands of people who still want to see fireworks despite their own being canceled. This morning, when I signed on to the internet, the first thing I saw was an article saying that Wisconsin’s state health department is begging people to just stay home.
A recent joy in my life has been returning to the gym. I joined Planet Fitness in January, and from my first day until they closed for COVID in March, I only missed three days. Since they reopened over Memorial Day, I’ve returned, but sporadically. I find myself happy while I’m there. And then absolutely paranoid when I get home. Did I touch something? Breathe something? What about that guy three machines over who sniffled? Gyms in other states have started closing again. Today, I thought I’d be going to the gym during the afternoon. But I’m not.
I’m going shopping for a treadmill tomorrow instead. While wearing a mask. And observing social distancing. And looking online first at stock so I have a pretty good idea of what I want.
And then I will just stay home.
Right before I came upstairs here to work on the blog, I said to my daughter Olivia, “I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to write about.”
She said, “Maybe take a break from it for a while?”
But that just filled me with grief. It felt like yet another loss, if I stopped the blog for now. One of the biggest things I learned while writing Today’s Moment every day for a year was that happiness doesn’t always come to you. Sometimes, you have to go looking for it. Sometimes, it’s not a miracle, but it’s a home-grown creation. Made with your own hands. Your own mind. Your own heart.
During this same passage of time 3 years ago, I was in the thick of breast cancer. What’s amazing to me is how the dates are branded in my brain, like my wedding anniversary or my kids’ birthdays. June 20th, flunked mammogram. June 27th, diagnosed with breast cancer. July 25, partial mastectomy. July 31, met with my medical team, all in one room at the same time, to discuss my future. Which was going to be fine. August 28, first day of radiation. September 25, last day of radiation. Every day since, still taking oral chemotherapy, for at least another two years.
All the way throughout, many of my blogs started with, “How am I supposed to find a moment of happiness in the middle of (insert horrific cancer detail here)? And you know what?
I always did it. I always found it.
And now I’m going to do it.
Happiness doesn’t always happen to you. Sometimes you have to go out and find it. What is the use of learning something, and learning it profoundly, if you don’t keep practicing it?
So one by one, I did the following:
Found Edgar, my big fat orange bowling ball of a cat. Hugged him. He purred.
Found Muse, my teeny tiny 5-pound mouse of a cat. Hugged her. She purred.
Found Ursula, my big 50-pound afraid-of-everything pitbull. Hugged her. She slurped my face.
Found my daughter. Hugged her. She hugged me back.
And then I sat down and wrote this. Beaming. Safe in my home. Surrounded by who and what I love.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.
(I gave up on trying to photograph me with the cats. They went into hiding.)