Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Life Is Good

Happy New Year!  Can you believe it's already 2013? 

This year was filled with all sorts of awesome things and all kinds of difficult, challenging things, too.  When I sat down to try and write our annual Christmas letter this year, the hard times kept pushing the good things out of the way and the task became overwhelming and emotional for me.  I finally decided not to include a letter this time around.

I'm sure I don't need to point out that the greatest, most challenging and heart-wrenching thing I had to face was the unexpected death of my close friend, Jason.  I've had to cope with the reality that he is no longer here every day since he left us.  And I've learned that the best way for me to deal with it is to remember the best things about him and to allow myself to smile.   

My oldest boy left on his 2 year mission for our church this year.  I don't get to see him again until the summer of 2014 - and although I wouldn't give up what he is learning and doing and becoming in those two years, I am still his mother and I miss him.  Talking to him on the phone Christmas morning was... well, just awesome.  His voice, infused with his typical enthusiasm, brought a smile to my face and set the tone for the rest of the day.

I could go on, but that's not my point.

The reality is, life's not perfect.  Not for anyone.  However, I think that looking for the good and learning to smile through the tough times offers some great opportunities for personal growth.  I love this quote by Jenkins Lloyd Jones:

"Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he's been robbed. Most putts don't drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise.  Life is like an old-time rail journey — delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."

Politics, health, world events, all sorts of things have taken me on an emotional roller coaster this year.  But when my emotions threaten to overtake me, I try to remember the good things that cause me to smile.  Things like Allen the Younger's missionary service and the blessings that come to our family because of this.  ElemenoB's immediate decision to serve a mission in January 2014 after a change in age requirements for missionaries was announced.  Thumbelina's first date.  All-a-Boy getting cast in the school musical.  Cowgirl's ability to reach out to those in need.  Princess' new-found love for skiing.  Hubba's decision to be baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Curly's love for numbers and kindergarten.  Little O's desire to spontaneously dance and sing at any given time.  Baby X's sweet hugs and new words.  Allen's beyond awesome place of employment.  And as for me?  I got to enjoy the ride of it all.  Oh, yeah - I also saw NEWSIES.  In NEW YORK.  Both of which I loved in indescribable ways.  

I'm not one who usually chooses a Word Of The Year or anything like that, but I think this year I am going to make a real effort to find the good in the world, in my community, in my life, in my circumstances.  I want to seek out uplifting and positive things and remember all the reasons I have to be happy.  

Every day I will find reasons to smile and remember that my life is pretty darn good.


Shawna said...

There are times when its easy to get lost in the "depth of despair" and forget just how much joy Jason brought into our lives. I know he would rather we continue on in the spirit of happiness and bringing joy to others, but I really do think that the holidays kicked a lot of us in the teeth this year. As I look back, there were a lot of good things that happened last year, as well as heartache... but as I go forward, I plan to try as much as I can to focus on the good, to try and let the bad parts go, and not let them weigh on me as much as I did this year. So thank you for the song... I'll need to download it, as I had no idea Josh Groban had recorded this tune!

Rachel said...

A kick in the teeth is right! That is how I feel like this past year has gone. There's been a lot of good but sometimes when it is raining and hailing so hard, it is hard to open my eyes and see that I have a rain coat on and am not completely covered..... 2013 was supposed to be different..... in so many ways...... this holiday season for so many reasons has been hard.... an emotional roller coaster that I keep holding on with white knuckles telling myself to be grateful because it could always be worse.

I think my word that I am going to have to continue to keep working on is patience.... and holding onto the larger picture. Trying to feel joy for others when my own heart is hurting..... patience and bigger picture. I can do this! And smile while I'm at it.

Cari said...

All I can say is I have very high hopes for 2013 because 2012 sure did take a toll! Thanks for always having such a positive attitude, Gerb! You are such an example to me. Keep smiling! :)

P.S. Wasn't it so awesome to talk to your missionary! We have some amazing sons don't we? And looks like Cole and Elemeno B will be leaving around the same time this year. Exciting times! :)

Heather Rose-Chase said...

Oh Gerb, I echo your sentiments with my own. This has been an incredibly difficult year for me and for our family and it's only been by actively seeking to see the good and reflect whatever is positive that has kept me from crumbling into a ball of despair or sinking into depression. This has allowed me to see that even in the darkest places there is still beauty to be found and that challenges grow us in ways that easy times never could. Even with all that knowledge, I can't help but pray for 2013 to be a year which brings peace and joy (and lots of health) for us both. Happy New Year and virtual hugs from China!

redtilehouse said...

Love this, Gerb. (hello, Cari!)

~Leslie Smith

A Lark said...

Yes. Ditto. Smile. Take time to enjoy the little things. Cry when you need to. Go to lunch with a friend so you can talk about everything. And if that helps your friend get out of her "cave" once in awhile and think more positively, so much the better. Thanks for your words. (: