“How is it that you’re so happy? You GLOW!???”
Well since I don’t have that “glow” that one might associate with the stereotypical pregnant person, being as I’m not pregnant, my response at the time was simply, “I don’t diet and I love my life.”
After thinking for a while though and asking myself that sad sort of question over and over, I think it is more than that. The puzzling and slightly jealously-toned comment came after a wedding this past weekend where I was with the hubby kicking it up on the dance floor, despite the fact that we were the only ones up there while others were hesitating, waiting for some sort of “the dance floor is now open” announcement or something. We didn’t hesitate for long, we jumped right in. And the person who commented above seemed impressed at our gusto for life. She wanted, needed, an explanation; some sort of secret tip to bring her own life to that level of fun and happy abandon. Since happiness is such a personal thing, I don’t think I would ever have a great answer for her.
I smile. A lot. Especially when I’m in a comfy outfit (check), when I’m with people that make me happy (check) and when I get to dance (double-check!) I’m also a bit of a lover of attention so I am not as shy as I used to be about getting up and dancing like it just don’t matter. There is nothing like taking belly-dance and dancing at recitals and shows for years to up your self confidence and desire for self expression.
But aside from all of that, one of the huge factors in my incredibly high level of happiness: sheer dumb luck. Yes, finding the FA movement and learning to love myself for who I am and what I can do has been a part of my current level of happiness. My newly invigorated set of life-activities list (dancing again, swimming, trumpet practices, Master’s degree classes, part time and full time job and newly renewed interest in attending church and community functions) has also added immeasurably to this joy and gusto for enjoying every moment. But on top of it all is that serendipity, that roll of the dice, that crap-shoot, chancy, luck of the draw part of life that has meant that I am healthy, well enough off (well, at least with the 2nd job now) to enjoy some leisure activities I enjoy and married to an amazing man who shares my interests and loves me deeply. Much of what I appreciate in life right now is due to my own hard work and determination. But the rest is just the frustratingly un-equal shake of luck that has come my way. I am blessed and I know it.
Perhaps it is my own feeling that I am blessed and my self-acceptance and love for life that gives me this happy “glow”. Maybe it is knowing that even though some days may be cruddy; even if the weather gives me a headache or the stress at work makes me want to scream; even when money is tight and everyone I know is sick or worried, there is so much to still be thankful for and appreciate every day. From the health I have most days, to the things my wonderfully round body can accomplish to the love I’ve found, life has found many ways to bless me. I smile and radiate happiness because I am alive, and I know it.
Life isn’t always peachy-keen. Money has been much tighter, love has been on a far rockier path, I’ve done more than my fair-share of self-loathing and dieting and lady-luck has seen fit to spread her fortune to others before me many times before. And yet I still smile, and always have. When I was 5 years old and on the bus to school a much older kid sneeringly asked me, “Why are you always SMILING?!?” Well you know what, I didn’t really have an answer then and I’m not sure I fully understand it now. Even when things are bad, I am one of those people who sees the silver lining; who can look forward to better times and hold that lighter and brighter time as a guard against the darker ones.
Perhaps you’d say I’m just too naive to appreciate the severity of the situation. Maybe I am ignoring reality by focusing on the good in my life, the things I am thankful for, rather than pulling myself into despair by concentrating on the bad. But you know what? Neither of those is true. I can fully appreciate the state of the world today and I can even complain about the bad things that happen to me personally and to the world as a whole. Yet despite it all, I do not hesitate. I dance no matter who is or isn’t watching. I smile for my own pleasure. Not because I have to, but because I can. I am blessed and I am thankful, every day.
What sort of things do you appreciate every day? Is it the sight of a sunny, cloudless sky that makes you feel alive? Does the feel of the wind on your face make you smile? Do those little finger paintings on the fridge make you grin? What small or large blessings has luck passed your way that make life worth living? Has size-acceptance finally given you the permission to love your life as well? Perhaps today, in the gloom of rain and pending snow here where I live, is the perfect day to take a moment and recognize (even if just in your mind) all the reasons that you are thankful to be alive and be who YOU are, just AS you are. You are remarkable; believe it and smile (even if just on the inside for now).
Being thankful doesn’t just happen at the end of November in the guise of a questionably formed holiday (which I still love because mashed potatoes with gravy and family gatherings should be a more regular part of life). It happens everyday we are alive to take another breath. I am alive. I am amazing. I am lucky in so many small ways. And for that, I smile, I glow and I am happy.