Category Archives: Happiness

A sustainable future doing what makes you happy

Fill The Well With Love

In the past few months, my life has taken some twists and turns. I haven’t had a clear enough mind to sit and write much of anything, but for some reason…I was motivated to begin today.

I suppose I should start with this past October…our rental home lost the ability to provide running water for our family.  The truth is, we had learned to survive without ample running water, for a long time. We knew when we moved in that we had a low yielding well and the simple inconveniences of using paper plates, taking turns showering, buying bottle water and avoiding things like a slip and slide, where worth the sacrifice if it meant I could provide a safe roof over my childrens heads and not have to move them into a new school. Shortly after my divorce, December 2011 my landlord was the only one, who offered to rent to me….a single mom, with no credit, on a limited income, with two young children and two dogs. A home we would make our own, and call our “The Gingerbread House”.

In late October, we ran out of all water. The drought that had overcome the state of Connecticut, along with the underlying issues of having a bad pump and shallow well, had finally taken their tole. As if things couldn’t have gotten worse, a trip to the veterinarian uncovered our family dog had a non treatable illness and within a matter of days, I had to make a very tough choice and put her to sleep. The kids and even my husband recovered from her loss, relatively quickly. I however, struggled more then I had imagined. I had lost part of my purpose as her daily caretaker. With her gone and the water situation still not rectified, plumbers coming and going, doing what was needed to repair the well. I found myself completely helpless.

The only way I stayed sane in those next few days and weeks, was to randomly drive around and look at houses for sale or rent. I found myself a realtor who listened to me, somedays I think he saved me…he listened while I cried about the loss of my dog or not having had a shower. He would listen to me, as I would worry about leaving the home I had called my own, or not being able to afford a larger rental. He showed me compassion, as I would also feel a sense of abandoning the only people who extended me a roof over my head, when I had no other options. I know deep down, it is the right choice to move and that if I overstayed what we had outgrown, I could ultimately do more harm then good. Contaminate the years of good memories, with resentment and tarnish the friendship and relationship I have with my landlord that we cherish.

In the weeks to follow,  I find a sense of peace. The fact that our growing family of four…will only continue to grow and that’s what it is meant to do. I also think,  perhaps the recent trauma has forced me to face my fears, given me the courage to reach out for help when I needed it and to trust in what the future holds for us all.

So, for now I will leave you with this, just like I didn’t know that the average family of four consumes 400 gallons of water a day, while we made do on 80 gallons a day for 6 years. Is just like I didn’t know that when you go threw foreclosure, you may still have outstanding debt. Just like what I do know is, I survived 6 years on 80 gallons a day and I will certainly save again the money, I used to pay off and settle the debt so we can and will buy a home of our own someday:)

My Beautiful Selfie

Have you ever been nominated for one of those, challenges where you have to post pictures, that are intended to show, your confident and beautiful in your photos?

I share, being confident and comfortable in a picture certainly doesn’t mean you feel that way about yourself. “A picture speaks a thousand words”, but from my experience, it’s not about how someone looks, rather how they are feeling in that moment. I have been blessed with being able to capture the beauty of a moment and share that in a selfie. I also share, that doesn’t mean I feel beautiful all the time.

I think it’s fair to say, you don’t find me alone in a lot of pictures. I often use my selfie stick as a shield, when I find myself in an overwhelming situation, or trying to capture a moment that might make me uncomfortable. I have often used the selfie stick to leave enough space, between me and the camera, to hide my flaws. For me, sharing all the people that surround me or have brought me a true moment of joy, is real and far more gratifying, then seeing myself alone and exuding beauty, when I am not genuinely feeling that way.

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Sometimes I wake up and I have a hard time looking at my body. If it wasn’t for that selfie, I may have believed what I saw, in that mirror, aging skin and an overweight figure. Somedays, rather then applaud myself for having found the strength to grow muscles, I shame myself because, my jeans no longer fit my runners physique.

I have struggled with my weight since I was a teenager. I often compare myself to Oprah, having been between a size 0-20. The problem with that, somewhere along the way…my mind got confused about the body it was in.

So, I thank my selfie…for being the reminder I need sometimes, of how beautiful the women in front of the mirror has become.

IMG_0444I ask myself everyday…what is it, that I am doing to feel beautiful, so I can go out and share that, with the world. I share the answer was finding gratitude for my life and living it with passion and purpose, that’s when my attitude changed ,along with what I saw in the mirror. This today, is what transcends, when I share my beautiful selfie.

My Little Miracle

The most important thing I have learned, on my journey to share 365 days of joy. Happy people, find good in the world. I had to resolve myself, to see the glass as half full and become an eternal optimist.“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Helen Keller

I look for the good, in every single person and when a person disappoints…I show empathy. “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” Margaret Mead.

I had to be clear about my purpose and set a realistic goal. I don’t know anyone who has ever achieved 365 days of joy, in 30 days. What was I thinking?  This was not going to be a short term goal, or instant gratification. Finding daily joy, in a world that often seems full of sadness and negativity. Was I setting myself up for failure or was I strong enough, to believe…I might, actually like the person I would become and find some hope in humanity. The worst case scenario, I fell victim to my own “get happy” scam. I couldn’t get any unhappier, so I had nothing to lose. Truth: nothing worth achieving is ever easy!

How?  Im just a simple mom, who’s not so simple minded. I think outside the box and get back to basics, they write text books on that stuff. I knew nothing about achieving daily gratitude. Somedays all I want to do, is pull the covers back over my head and go back to sleep. Everything for a reason…yup, the RT button on twitter. I had resolved this issue and relatively quickly. You know the old saying, “it takes a village”, well that stands true for a life filled with 365 days of joy. I realized, the daily joy I was achieving, was being inspired by the people I was surrounding myself with. Perhaps, it was an article I read, a program I watched or just a picture quote that someone was inspired to share. Ahh gotta love the “re-tweet” button, within a moment you have inspired the masses and what was once a ripple is now a tidal wave of sheer joy!

 

 

Each one of those simple moments, that lifted my spirit and brought me the simplest form of gratitude, a “smile”, propelled me to keep going and made me feel alive. What I did next, was share my gratitude. I didn’t silently keep it to myself, I shared my joyful selfie, far and wide. I thanked all those people who had brought me joy and began to establish genuine and real friendships.

What started out as, one small town girl, desperately chasing her happiness…has evolved into a great big world, sharing triumphant joy. I am not very good with math, 6,337 followers and more then 10,000 mentions of the #365daysofjoy I would say, we are making a difference. You can call it whatever you want, I believe, it’s a little miracle and a testament to the strength and character of humanity. I am “living” proof, that sharing my enthusiasm for life has made me a much happier person and who’s also inspired others to feel the same. Letting the fear go and believing in your happiness is worth working hard for, yes…every… single… day! I am grateful to have the courage and the strength to keep on sharing and thank you, for giving me 365 reasons to believe in miracles.

Unimaginable Joy

I’ve had my innocence stolen as a child, been abused for my strength to fight for my dignity and been stripped of my integrity out of shame, for another’s misfortunate understanding of who I am.

I have prevailed…a runner, who has shed the pounds that once masked my pain, found strength in my legs that have carried me throughout the process and an awakening to my human spirit that is a beautiful gift for all of humanity to see.

When I traded in my anger for compassion and learned it takes patience to appreciate the process, I freed myself from the pain that left me motionless. The miracle of a once unimaginable joy, came in a daily message that I share with every survivor…be accountable, your happiness is the greatest gift you can give to yourself.

When I run my third half marathon, on March 20, 2016…I will remind myself, it’s simply putting one foot in front of the other and every step in this race, is part of my journey. A race, I will slow down long enough to appreciate and a memory that I will cherish. Each step will be triumphant and I will be grateful that I had the tenacity and strength to endure the process that has led me up to this finish line.

Grade My Selfie

If you looked at my report cards after kindergarten you would see a mediocre or below average student at best. You would read…”Rachel does not always do her best, she requires additional reminders to complete her work.” “Rachel needs to grow up.”” Rachel enjoys school, but needs to work on being more responsible and a better lister.” I was told, I didn’t work hard enough to meet my full potential.

From school to school I would go and that’s what the emphasis always was, Rachel isn’t applying herself and that made me not just lazy, but a failure.  I was defined by my education and the grades I wasn’t achieving.  The reality is, when your a kid and your only job is, as full time student and you can’t make the grade, your a failure. I will say today, that also made me preconditioned to fail as an adult. In defense of the educators at the time, we didn’t have the extened knowledge we do today about mental illness, mood disorders and learning disabilities and I would like to think that the lack of empathy, was just based on sheer ignorance and I am glad that we are continuing to make strides in raising awareness for the mentally ill and disabled. Perhaps we should not be labeling our kids, “special”.  Everyone is special in their own individual ways and let’s start redefining what makes a person successful. I think we need to show caution, when putting so much focus on the grades. Not just for the student who isn’t making the grade, but for the ones that are and rating their own sense of self worth on those grades.

I will say that I am far from mediocre and far from perfect. I am always a work in progress. I started paying it forward to myself, for the sake of my own kids, by getting back to basics.  A few years ago, after finally receiving my own diagnose of ADHD along with some mood disorder traits, causing depression and anxiety later in my adult life.  I finally decided to make myself accoutable to my own happiness, by sharing a simple moment each day, that I am triumphant…#365daysofjoy I choose to focus on the character of each individual. I honor those who have the ability to inspire me, to smile or laugh. The, “american dream”, should be for everyone to have an equal opportunity to find joy and while we can’t change the past, we can certainly learn from it. For me, educating a difference, means empowering my children, to do what they are passionate about. I believe, if they find that…it will sustain itself.

 

Simply Not A Simple Minded Mom

When my children entered middle school I started to feel lost…My role as a full time mom changed. I was no longer needed in the same capacity as I was when they were younger.  In elementary school parents are welcomed and I was good at being a parent volunteer. I looked forward to dressing up for career day or dropping off a special birthday lunch. Over the holidays, I got excited about the annual visit to see Santa and coordinate their outfits for the hundreds of cards I would mail.  Needless to say, we have outgrown Santa’s lap and the school doesn’t allow drop ins to deliver cupcakes to the class. I no longer had a daily purpose, for which I felt valued.

My journey to share 365 days of joy, starts with being a mother first. I had to find a way to stay connected to my children, who are now old enough to spend a responsible amount of time, online. So, as a way for me to stay connected and to protect them, I decided to join them. I created an Instagram account, under my twitter handle @ctgirlonthego and just started sharing messages of joy everyday. #MondayMotivation #TerrificTuesday #WackyWednesday #ThorwbackThursday aka TBT, #FunFriday #SuperSaturday and #SundaySelfies which all became part of a daily routine.

Today I share, I no longer need to use all those daily hashtags, because over the course of the past three years…it’s become, one single hashtag #365DaysofJoy that both my children follow. Times may change, but with hard work, consistency and passion for what you love, your purpose will always bring you a lifetime of happiness and self worth.

Celebrating Life

Lets begin with…in the past, not that many years ago, I actually wouldn’t celebrate my birthday. I would cringe with the mention of it. No cake, no presents, if my children even mentioned it, I would tell them it just made mommy feel old. The truth was, the idea of anyone celebrating my life felt superficial, when I myself felt so unworthy of my own life.

No more…because, I have found joy in all the simple moments that have added up to a lot of gratitude and appreciation for my life and just that alone, “the present”, is a gift and we should celebrate that.

Last week, November 3rd, I turned 44 years old. I was grateful for my life and as hard as that life may be sometimes, or as sad as we may feel sometimes, I found joy in the day. I know that everything I have had to go threw even the things that pain me, are meant to be. As I get older, I can fully appreciate the women I am, the women I was and the women I will be someday. I move forward, knowing…I will not just continue to grow old, but stronger, kinder and wiser. I share that you, “my friends” and family have continued to give me the greatest gift, by holding me accountable to be brave and have the courage to continue to believe that, I am worthy of a good life. You have helped me to see that, I can and do make a difference. I matter and without me in this world, it might be a little more boring, probably a lot less complicated, certainly quieter, but not nearly as joyful!

I wish I could share the hundreds of birthday wishes I received on that special day and not just from my own loving family, the birthday wishes from friends both near, far and some from those I’ve yet to meet. This year, I celebrated a new tradition and I thank you, for giving me a reason to believe their are genuinely kind people everywhere, that care about me. I go to bed leaving my phone on and allow the sound of my notifications bar, to wake me with a smile, forcing me to start my day with gratitude. With each and every beeping, buzzing birthday wish, I fill my heart full of joy and gratitude for the kindness that exists all around me.  I thank you, for reminding me…when I open my eyes to see joy around me, hope for a bright future will continue to pour into all of our hearts.

Thank you, for being kind and making the time, to show me that you care about another birthday. I appreciate all the simple moments, you continue to share…they have added up to a whole lot of gratitude. I wish you always #365DaysofJoy

xo

 

Run for Joy

Living 365 days of joy, means being grateful for the simple moments and memories we make inspiring one another, that we are worth even running the greatest distances for. I am grateful today, for a healthy body and mind that’s at ease, when I am putting one foot in front of the other and taking forward steps to a bright future.

A little over a year, September of 2014, a few months before I was to marry the same man that I had married for the first time thirteen years earlier and sixty pounds heavier. My anxiety was overwhelming me with fear and insecurity. I had to find a way to make the time for myself, not to fall apart or get lost in the sadness of my past mistakes or let my depression take a hold of my emotional well being. I had to find a way, to fight my mental health issues, with a healthy and affordable course of action.

I was online seeking inspiration and encouragement when I stumbled across a Facebook community, “OutRun The Odds”. I was captivated by the joy and spirit of these outrunners, a community that passionately shared joy an enthusiasm for running and being part of a mission to find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis. This group inspired me, to do what I had never done before…put one foot in front of the other and believe I was worth running for.

I am happy to share on October of 2014, a month after my husband and I remarried, we completed our first 5k, in honor of my husbands late father.  Since that date…my body has carried me all over the state, running numerous 5k’s a 10k, completing two triathlons and two half marathons. I have built friendships, that will last a lifetime and created memories that carry me threw, on the darkest of days.

I have been able to connect with runners all over the world, threw various running groups and the positive spirit of the runner, is simply contagious. It’s not how fast we go, but that we do go and that we believe we are worth running for. Running for me has become a great way, not to just stay physically fit but has forced me to make time for myself and that has made me a happier women, wife and mother and I am eternally grateful for that. Today, I share I am proud to call myself a runner and look forward to running my third half marathon in NYC this coming March.

 

 

If it’s to be…

“One of our favorite activities as a family is watching old home movies.”

Photos and Videography….the first time around I was so rushed and anxious to get to the party, I didn’t stop to take the time to get photos you can look back at for years to come. I was so anxious I didn’t remember the vows I spoke or the moment we shared that special kiss. At the end of the day, the camera doesn’t lie and whether you want staged pictures or candid moments the person or people you hire need to have an open and often unspoken communication with you at all times. If your not committed to the moment, no photographer or film crew can photoshop you in it.

A New Beginning

Allen Kee: A proud father who is passionate about his work as an advertising and editorial photographer. Allen took time from his busy schedule working primarily for ESPN to photograph our simple family on our special day. 

Allen had come into my husbands small auto detail business only a couple months prior to our wedding to have his car detailed.  My husband came home and said, “I met this great guy today and he is an awesome photographer.”

I immediately started checking out Allen’s work always thinking outside the box, I discovered this amazingly talented photographer working in the fast paced world of sports and falling in love with his still and loving photos of his daughter.  I knew he was exactly the type of photographer I was looking for. We needed empathy for family and the patience for my high energy and he had already established a genuine connection with my husband it all made sense. I asked my husband to do only one thing and that was to call Allen and ask him to photograph our wedding and he did. Allen said it was his honor,  he had found inspiration in our strength as a couple taking the non- traditional route in life getting re-married to each other. We not only had a true professional but now a friend who’s life we touched and that clearly advocates for human kindness. I encourage you to check out more of his work and I am honor to share we have been able to continue to work together: http://www.allenkeephoto.com/

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Chip Dizard:  A passionate teacher, father and husband. His videography speaks for itself in the work he produces.  I met Chip online threw a Facebook club called “Never Settle Club”, hosted by Mario Armstrong.

Chip and I made a connection via social media, sharing our passion to find a sustainable future doing what we are passionate about in life. He took the time to get to know me, reading my story about finding 365 Days of Joy. I found myself inspired by Chip’s dedication as a teacher and the work he does with his students. Throughout the course of the club online Chip shared his wedding videography and my decision to hire him had already been made.

When Chip came all the way up to our small town, he got to know my family. He spent time passing the baseball in the backyard with my husband and son. He spent time teaching my daughter how to use the camera’s connecting with her as he would with his own children and students. The crew he brought with him, were professional and acclimated themselves with the area we lived, scouting out arial views that would encompass all the things we love about the town we live. I cry tears of joy each time I see just the trailer that he completed of our wedding day. You can see more of his work at:  http://chipdizardweddings.com/

I know these are major expenses and for us we consider them is an investment in our future. I often say, when I look back at my photos it reminds me of the love I have for my husband and my family, by the expressions on our faces.  I have absolutely no regrets in investing in quality people my photographer and videographer. I consider them my friends for life…

No Greater Gift

I am one of the many members of “St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church” and have been for over twenty years.  I have now officially been married twice here, to the same man. Baptized two beautiful babies and celebrated while my husband and our two children had their first communion at your alter. What I want to say is that none of this would have been possible without you, “the people”, of this church and I am grateful.

Many of you probably don’t know this about our family, but while we celebrated all these wonderful moments in our church lives our home life and first marriage to each other had fallen apart.  Two years ago, after our first marriage ended in a divorce my husband and I thought we lost everything…and we found ourselves at the doors of this church.  I would like to think, God answered our call but I know his hands were stretched far wider.

I know church is a place where all should feel welcome and sometimes that’s not very easy. A church is still a business that has salaries and bills to pay and at the time, leaning on these doors was a far stretch for even my own faith to reach, but I can tell you today it was worth it. It’s important to know where your consistent charitable donations are being spent and what your selfless time and dedication keeping these doors open means. You are changing the lives of people when they are in need and I share that you are making a difference.

After two years of hard work, support and counseling the “Episcopal Church Diocese” of Connecticut, gave my husband and I their blessing to re-marry and we did on September 13, 2014, here at this church.  This parish the staff and its administration opened its arms and embraced my family in a time of need. The music director played “No Greater Gift” while empowering our children to find their voice. The church administrative officer, not only helped me put together a program that celebrated my life, but include the lives of all people who celebrate joy in forgiveness and believe in the covenant of marriage. The alter guild gave me strength as I anxiously walked toward the alter. To the Reverend Steve Domienik…we are eternally grateful for your leadership, counseling and continued faith in a God which has empowered me to share how great it is to believe he exists.

Lastly and most importantly to my church family, you have given me the opportunity to share how wonderful this church is with so many people and to teach our children having faith can make a difference, in the lives of others.