Friday, February 15, 2013


When I was young(er), I used to think happiness was like bubbles.  Pretty to look at, but never meant to last.  Floating around any which way the wind would blow, popping when you tried to catch and hold it.  I would see people who could catch bubbles on their wand and hold them for long periods of time.  I thought this was a neat trick, but exactly that, a trick.

I never understood that happiness had depth, and roots.  I guess because I, myself, lacked depth and roots.  This all changed when I became pregnant with Abacus.  Suddenly I was having the first growth spurt of my life.  Physically, spiritually, emotionally.  My journey toward understanding true happiness began with Abacus.

Happiness became a seed.  Requiring light, love, the right conditions, happiness  continues to multiply.  But when neglected and forgotten, like a seedling, happiness will crumble and decay.  

Sometimes, life can become stressful.  We can forget about our imperative, to feed and maintain our happiness, and then growth becomes stagnant.  Generally, life will cycle naturally, to maintain a certain balance.  We have moments of forgetting, and moments of remembering.  Sometimes, however, life will spiral.  Up, or down, or up and down in quick succession.

In these moments of spiraling upward, we may think ourselves happier than we have ever been.  But euphoria is not happiness.  Happiness requires growth.  In our moments of spiraling downward, we may think happiness has died forever.  It is here in this seemingly dark and lifeless place that we learn what real happiness is. 

Today, I am happier than I have ever been in my entire life.  This is because I have been working harder than I ever have to not only grow, but to maintain happiness.  I am proud of what I have accomplished, and enthusiastic about my future, despite all the storm clouds looming just on the horizon.

I love what I've become.  I hate that so many people got hurt in the process, myself included.  But I can see very clearly where I'm going now.  And it's the most beautiful place I've ever seen.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Lately I have been hearing/seeing a lot of people complain about being oversaturated with bad news from the media.  With so many new outlets for news media to bombard you with their 160 characters of tragic happenings locally and around the world, and links to the more in-depth stories (complete with graphic photos and heart-wrenching videos), it's a wonder any of us stay sane.  How do we combat all this tragedy in our psyches?  Do we become detached, stop feeling?  Do we decide to hide from it?  Do we just become depressed and cynical?  Doesn't anything good ever happen anymore?  Or, if you are REALLY bombarded with bad news....DOESN'T ANYTHING GOOD EVER HAPPEN ANYMORE??!!??

Well, here are some ideas I have about combating this oversaturation of negativity.

1.  Seek out the bad, instead of letting it follow you around all day.  Filter your news updates or unsubscribe from some feeds that are particularly heavy on the bad news or constant updating.  Set aside time each day (or however often) to catch-up on the news stories instead of sitting at lunch or picking-up your kids and being instantly notified there was just another shooting or fire or bombing or natural disaster.  

2.  Keep perspective.  Remember that something being newsworthy means that it is extraordinary.  We are constantly surrounded by GOODNESS.  That is why bad things are newsworthy.  Families, children, friends, work, community, religion or spirituality if you have it.  It is the good things that occur every day that are commonplace.  People being good and serving their families, communities and countries.  People being kind to one another and helping each other.  It's not newsworthy because it happens all day, every day.  It is when being good becomes extraordinary, and therefore newsworthy, that we have reason to panic.

3.  Remember what comes next.  When bad news is reported in the little info bites and updates, remember that good will follow it.  Remember it audibly if you have children who are also being affected by this news.  "Oh this is terrible, there was a fire and abc was destroyed.  It is so great the fire department responded quickly and were able to put out the fire and save xyz.  It's horrible this happened but remember how the community pulled together and helped _____ when they had a fire?"  Like Mr. Rogers' wise mother said to him, look for the helpers.

4.  Seek out the good, and feel free to let it follow you around all day.  Add a comedian or someone who inspires you to your feeds so you also get some levity and positivity in your social media intake.  Schedule some email reminders to yourself of funny things your children have said, happy thoughts or pictures.  Get with a group of friends and arrange to share a joke or uplifting picture or inspirational quote each day.  If you get a little group of seven friends, you can each take the time to send one text or email on one regular assigned day.

5.  Take action.  This is especially valuable when you have young children.  I live in South Philly.  We hear of new shootings routinely.  When there is a shooting in my neighborhood, I might talk with the children about it.  Then we talk about what we can do.  What we can do to be safe, and what we can do to help.  Even if it's just writing a letter or card.  "We don't know you personally but we are neighbors.  We heard from the news about your son/daughter and wanted to let you know how the story touched us.  We are so sorry for your loss.  We will keep you in our hearts and thoughts as you go through this difficult time."  I don't do it every single time, because I don't want the children to become overwhelmed.  But I want them to begin to have an understanding that tragedies happen in our world, and the best thing we can do to change that is create more goodness.  Of course, more impactful and larger scale things can always be done.  But when you start small, it's amazing how quickly the goodness grows.

In summary, do more things to make you feel good.  If all the bad news is making you feel bad, take a break from it!