January 29, 2016

Choose Happy.

woman, eyes closed, smiling

“Twenty-some days.”

Oh mamma. Me again. And I see you, right next to me. And here we sit.

Twenty-some days into the new year, maybe a snow day or two under our belts. Twenty-some days into our promises of less technology and less yelling and more board games and more exercise, and we just cancelled the workout date, handed the kids their tablets and poured a glass of wine à la Matt Belassai and reached passed the celery and found the cheese.

No dairy in Whole 30? Who the hell made that up? Cruel. Also, how was Christmas nearly a month ago? And why did we overhear a mom at drop-off detailing her “Pinterest Valentines” she already made last week?



Twenty-some days into a new year, and it seems life isn’t any different or grander or shinier or “better” in 2016. Twenty-some days and—oh heavens, this sip of wine tastes so freaking delicious. No wine in Whole 30 either? Sadness. We’ve missed this little glass alongside a bowl of pasta.

We miss pasta, too.

Pause. We miss something else. There’s a friend or two we haven’t heard from, and we realize we miss their voice—er, texted words. Great. Communication fail. Check it off on the list of things we will continue to suck at in the new year, best of intentions and all that jazz.



Pause again.

And then.

In this very moment, this moment in which you and I are both wallowing in all of the fails, all of the shoulda-coulda-wouldas, we realize it is exhausting, this wallowing, and we, right-here-and-now, make a conscious decision to turn it off.


Turn off the negativity, the self-bashing, the esteem-crushing words and thoughts we use to beat ourselves down.



Deep breath. Yes, that’s it.

I say to you, “You know, I’ve made it 20-some days establishing some pretty good habits. If I only live once, I want to know a life with cheese and wine!”

And you add, “And if my kid enjoyed crafting I would totally make Pinterest-y Valentines, but he’s not into it and kids only want the candy and who am I to judge the mom who gets into that kind of thing?”

And then I say, “Okay maybe we judge a little, but we aren’t going to beat ourselves up over that either!”

And we laugh.


We then break the rule of no phones during time spent with friends, and we pick them up to send a hello to the ones we are missing. And after they are put away, we realize we have some time to fit in a workout tomorrow.

Planned. Done.


“Why do we keep falling into this cycle of beating ourselves up when we don’t reach the unattainable ideal we set for ourselves on January first?” I ask you.

And then lightbulb.

Maybe this whole New Year is actually less about achieving grandiose goals. Maybe it has nothing to do with striving for some ridiculous idea of perfection. Maybe it’s not about a giant life overhaul, but actually about the little changes here and there.

Maybe it has everything to do with discovering—and rediscovering—the little things that make us happy.

Because those happy things? They aren’t huge. And it’s hard to turn them off when they are always with us—much easier to carry lots of little things. And those things become a part of us that start to show up everywhere. (Like in a bottle of wine. And cheese. And scrolling past the Valentine ideas on Pinterest. And reaching out to friends. And scheduling time for ourselves. And giving ourselves the space to breathe, even if it means our kids go 20 minutes deep into Minecraft.)

And honestly, has happy ever been found in an empty bag of celery and jeans from 2004?

The point is, it starts with this thought, right here.

This moment.

Maybe it just took us 20-some days of wallowing to emerge and come to that realization.

Or maybe it’s the wine.


Author: Kristin Kauffman

Editor: Toby Israel

Image: Octavio Fossatti/Unsplash // Mateus Lunardi Dutra/Flickr


Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Kristin Kauffman