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Posts tagged ‘Melody Beattie’

It’s never too late to be happy

“Claiming our own lives creates fulfillment and joy. We don’t need to be controlled. We don’t deserve to be repressed or stifled. We don’t have to let anyone convince us that we do. We can trust ourselves. We know what we need, we know what we yearn for — we long to be set free.” Melody Beattie

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I started my walkabout 3 months ago with a powerful, but somewhat vague yearning to be free. I wasn’t really sure what freedom would look and feel like.  I feared I might just be running away. The ensuing months have convinced me of this one thing:

My walkabout is a proactive act of claiming my life for myself, which is resulting in a slow shedding of my own freedom-repressing patterns. Here’s one that is on its way out:

Striving for happiness.

Most of my life I have striven for one thing or another — hoping to finally be happy. But no matter what I achieved, there was always more striving and more plans for being happy in the future.

A friend called  the other day to ask me how I was. I answered “happy.” What a surprise!

But there it was.

I was happy.

I had arrived and didn’t know it.

There wasn’t really anything more I needed to do, be, or acquire to be happy.

Happy didn’t look like I thought it would either. I didn’t  have the conventional trappings of happy – a lot of money, a large house, a new car, (or  thousands of Facebook fans.) Happy obviously didn’t mean I wouldn’t have problems, worries, fears, or aches and pains (I still do.).

The difference is that anything else I do now or in the future isn’t going to make me any happier than I am now.

There is only doing what I am doing — and then doing the next thing.

I just finished reading the novel “Breaking out of Bedlam”, by Leslie Larson. The main character is an unhappy elderly woman named Cora. Her family puts her in assisted living because she has become a danger to herself. She loses everything familiar and her world comes crashing down.

BOOBpbkHer granddaughter gives her a blank journal. Cora considers it useless at first, but in her misery, she decides to do something she has never done before – she begins to write, and what she writes about is her own true story. Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of her journal:

“I’ve got a plan. I’m going to write down everything I ever wanted to say. I’m not holding back and I don’t give a damn what anybody thinks. Most people don’t tell the truth about their lives, including me. I’ve done things I’m not proud of. I lied to keep myself alive because life is hard and there’s things you got to do. But now I got nothing to lose. I’m going to tell the truth, once and for all.”

By the end of the book Cora has filled three blank journals, starts living a full (and rather lively) life in the assisted living home, and transforms herself. She claims her life, gives it a voice through writing and “breaks out of bedlam”, in her own way, to freedom. I won’t reveal the details, but the story has a happy ending!

It might have been nice to have allowed myself to be happy sooner, but even a moment of truly taking in happiness is a gift beyond all others. I have a friend who often says, “I can die happy now.” That’s what I feel too.

And Cora’s story is a reminder that  claiming our lives and giving it a voice — at any age and in any circumstances — can be transforming and freeing.

And that it is never too late to be happy.

White noise and the winters of life

I’ve had a lot of what I call “white noise” in my head the last couple of days — random thoughts and incessant low level chatter.  After the clarity following my death-defying drive up Hell’s Canyon, this feels dull and unproductive.

Clearly, there is nothing like a brush with death to force all the pieces into place.

This morning I woke up remembering a quote by Melody Beattie from her book, Journey to the Heart. I don’t have the book with me, but I believe it goes something like this:  “There is never a time when nothing is happening.”

Conversely — Something is always happening.

After my divorce there was a long slow time when it appeared nothing was happening for me. I showed up for life — but just barely. My job was mindless and uninspiring. Nothing deeply stirred or interested me. I tried therapy, but I had nothing to say. I walked with my eyes to the ground, avoiding the stimulation of contact with other people.

One of my few friends told me it was a “winter of my life” and that, although on the surface I felt cold and dead, there was surely slow movement occurring deep within me. She said to keep putting one foot in front of the other and have faith.

She assured me that spring always comes.

And she was right.

One day while walking from my car to the post office, I heard a sound overhead and looked up to see a small shiny silver plane flying against a deep blue sky. I realized that it was a beautiful day. I felt something– not quite yet joy — but an appreciation of something visually striking. I remember it so clearly, even now — where I was, the time of day, what I was doing, and what I was wearing. It was the first glimmer of spring after a very long winter.

I feel joy and have moments of clarity all the time now.

So today I ask  myself, “What’s the hurry?”

My new version of “keep putting one foot in front of the other” has become an enthusiastic “BE! LIVE! DO!”

So when the white noise buzzes in my head, I will remind myself that there is never a time when nothing is happening.

And that is really something.

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