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**Warning: Adult language ahead!
“The women who I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way, because shit went wrong and they handled it. They handled it in a thousand different ways, on a thousand different days, but they handled it. Those women are my superheroes.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
I think this is the third article that I have written in the last year in the genre of “how to be happy.”
Is it because I am a natural Mary Poppins, who oozes sunshine when I wake up in the morning? No. My life if not perfect—in fact, it is far from perfect.
- Failed marriage? Check!
- Single mother? Check!
- Perpetual life stress? Check!
Shit has gone wrong—in some cases, really wrong. But every morning when I wake up, I fight tooth and nail to quiet the negative voices that would like to overtake me. Instead, I allow myself to be inspired by those who have fought adversity before me and have come through victoriously.
I love women. I think women are amazing creatures. Woman can be sensual, smart, compassionate, funny and wise—all at the same time. I think we’re pretty effin’ unbelievable.
I have had some dark days, when all I could do was have faith—have faith in the fact that, because woman before me had gone on to greatness, I could “overcome” as well.
I grew up in the 80s, and I remember watching Mr. Rogers on a regular basis. For some reason, watching him take his shoes on and off everyday after school was a calming reassurance. There were so many great quotes he said on his program, but one was so powerful that it really stuck with me:
“When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ When we are unsure what to do, we can look around us for helpers.” ~ Fred Rogers
In an effort to be a happy, confident woman—after shit has gone wrong—I decided to look for some women “helpers” that have learned important lessons in how to handle adversity and live a fulfilling, happy life.
Below are some of the incredible lessons these female “helpers” can teach us.
Be drama free.
“Some people come in your life as blessings, some people come into your life as lessons.” ~ Mother Teresa
There are not many things I regret, but this is one—on Christmas Eve 1994, I was in Kolkata, India, and I could have joined Mother Teresa in her Christmas Eve mass. But, I was too jet-lagged to move out of my bed at the hotel. What a mistake that was! I had the chance to lock eyes with a woman who understood what was most important in life. And one thing that she understood is elicited in this quote above—that some people are blessings, and some people are lessons. No, in no way am I attempting to put words in Mother Teresa’s mouth—but, I would venture to say that the people who are in our lives to teach us “lessons” are those who may have brought a bit more drama than we are comfortable with.
As I look back on my life, I see a fairly equal amount of people who have been “blessings” and people who have taught me “lessons.” The one variable that is constant in the people that have taught me lessons is drama. Oh, how I used to entertain drama in my earlier years—hoping the drama would somehow morph itself into something good—but it almost never does. Typically, it just sucks the life out of us. When there is ongoing drama in one’s life, it is difficult (not impossible, but difficult) to find happiness, because the drama takes so much of your energy. It is important to acknowledge the lessons that people bring to our lives, but then also to let them go, if the lessons encompass too much drama.
If you spend more than 25 seconds with me, you will learn that I am huge fan of Elizabeth Gilbert. She has walked through very similar emotion and contemplation, as I have, and she has emerged victoriously. I love to listen to people like Liz, who once doubted themselves, but had enough courage to find their inner strength in the midst of turmoil. In one of her recent Facebook posts, she talked about the importance of being curious. She described how “being passionate” brings too much pressure—but curiosity? We can all handle a bit of curiosity.
“But curiosity, I have found, is always within reach. Passion is a tower of flame, but curiosity is a tiny tap on the shoulder—a little whisper in the ear that says, ‘Hey, that’s kind of interesting.’ Passion is rare; curiosity is everyday. Curiosity is therefore a lot easier to reach at at times than full-on passion—and the stakes are lower, easier to manage. The trick is to just follow your small moments of curiosity. It doesn’t take a massive effort. Just turn your head an inch. Pause for a instant. Respond to what has caught your attention. Look into it a bit. Is there something there for you? A piece of information? For me, a lifetime devoted to creativity is nothing but a scavenger hunt—where each successive clue is another tiny little hit of curiosity. Pick each one up, unfold it, see where it leads you next. Small steps.Keep doing that, and I promise you: The curiosity will eventually lead you to the passion.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
To be a happy woman, even after shit’s gone wrong, we need to be curious women. What is it that causes you to take that second look? What is it that stirs your heart? Whatever it is, give it some thought and attention. That curiosity, when cared for, will further lead you to happiness.
“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” ~ Maya Angelou
Why didn’t someone ever tell me this before? I spent so many years trying to be someone I was not. I’m active, but not athletic. I love to sing, but not perform. I’m charismatic, but shy at the same time. For so long I was trying to fit in the mold of what I thought I was suppose to be—and guess what? It never fucking worked.
It wasn’t til I was 39 (and now I’m 41) that I was able to fully embrace the concept that I was not, in any way, like my mental “ideal,” and that it was okay, In fact, it was more than okay—it’s exactly who I am meant to be. To be happy, we have to be confident in who we are. We are gifted women. The best way to serve other women around us is to be confident in exactly who we are. Then, in the words of Maya Angelou—we can “go out and kick ass.” Insecurity helps no one, so let’s be confident women who believe in ourselves.
Shit goes wrong in all of our lives, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t have to define us.
Let’s look to the “helpers” who have come and gone before us—those who inspire us to be drama free, to be curious and to kick some ass!
Author: Wendy Haley
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/PHOTO VANOVA
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