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October 21, 2013

Lisa Madras: I’m not quite living ‘the life’ yet, but I’m happy to try

NEW CASTLE — What stands between you and happiness?

In order to answer this question, I think you first have to define what, exactly, happiness means to you. It's not usually a simple answer, once you really thinking about it.

What does happiness mean to me? I guess it means that my kids and I are healthy, that we're living a life we enjoy, and that we maintain a moral center of goodness of integrity.

It sounds simple, but there's a lot of factors that go into it. I don't have my health right now, but that's just a waiting game, and so I patiently (for the most part) wait.  

I do my best to be good and kind, but I'm human, and I fail at that from time to time. I'm not aiming to be perfect, just better every day.

And I do enjoy my life, but I know it could be much, much better. So what's standing in between me and a better life? Well, until a few months ago, you could say that I was standing in between me and a better life. (Don't try to picture it in your head ... it will just make your brain explode.)

Somewhere along the line, I got the idea that if I waited long enough that happiness would find me. That things would somehow play out the way I "deserved," or things would just somehow fall into place.

Um, really? Looking back, I wonder if I had a traumatic brain injury that I don't remember because I had, well, a traumatic brain injury. In hindsight, that's about the most egocentric (and dare I say stupid?) notion that I've been guilty of believing. I don't like to admit that I've been dumb, but there's no denying this one.

I tell my friends all the time that they — and they alone — control their lives. Finally, thank God, I told myself.

It was laziness mostly, that kept me so firmly attached to my mediocre life. I had excuse upon excuse to absolve myself of any responsibility for the mess my life had become. And truly, it actually wasn't my fault that it had become such a mess. But it was my fault for letting it stay that way for so long.

And so finally I untethered the excuses, and let go of the fear, and did something completely against my cautious nature: I jumped. And what I jumped into was a swirling, maddening vortex of uncertainty and insecurity and hard work and long hours and sacrifices and humility.

I knew that I was going to spend years like this. I knew that I would either succeed or fail. Mostly, what I knew was that I had to at least try, or  that I would hate myself for the rest of my life for not doing so. If I do fail, I'll try something else, I suppose, because I'm certainly not going back to what I left.

Now, luckily, all that stands between me and happiness is a little hard work, some unflagging determination, and a heck of a lot of coffee.

 

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