Archives For happiness

I had a chance to do something today that I’d never previously done in my 36 years on this earth. I visited inner-city poor people in a major U.S. city.

inner city housing

Me. A tall, doughy-skinned, somewhat naive woman who lives in a city where the vast majority of her neighbors look the same.

Me. A person who’s lived in five different places, all located within 15 miles of the other over three decades.

Me. A former spinner on the mouse wheel of corporate America turned advocate for change.

I don’t talk much on this blog about what I do for a profession. And that’s intentional. I learned long ago that it was best for me to separate my work life from my social life.

When my children were babies, I second-guessed my decision to work at all. On those dreadful mornings when one of them would cry out for me as I returned to my car to leave them at daycare, trying not to let them see me cry myself, I hated the idea that I abandoned them. I never wanted them to think their mom valued the almighty dollar over their happiness.

I saw those kinds of parents at the office. They clocked in early, left late, traveled often, and I wondered if they took pride in how many meetings and high-profile events they attended. Were they more concerned about being known by others than being known by their children? Did they justify their actions based on the size of their massive homes and the vastness of their personal toy collection? Did they need to be reminded that none of the credentials trailing behind their names was as important as the letters “M.O.M.” or “D.A.D.” in the eyes of their offspring?

It was during those years when I learned this about myself: No profession, no matter how fulfilling, will ever be more important to me than family.

So you can imagine my relief when, just over a year ago,  I found a company that allowed me to put my family first as well as gave me the opportunity to positively impact other families.

I now work with the poorer population, specifically on trying to improve access to health care and outcomes. What I do is not always considered useful or socially acceptable.

I’ve learned that as a people in general, we like to preach. We like to judge. It’s easier to criticize what’s going wrong (and, believe me, I know a LOT is going wrong in health care) versus build up the right.

I had the chance to shadow a young woman today who is building up the right. Her job is to visit with people who haven’t been to their doctors and ask them why. She goes to their homes, answers questions, schedules appointments, and shows genuine concern.

She’s also completing her last year of studies to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology. A mom of three just like me.

It costs money to send people like her out into communities. Some may wonder why on earth money is spent on reminding people to do something that comes so naturally to so many of us. I mean, come on, visiting a doctor isn’t that hard.

That is, if you have a car like I do. If you have a job that gives you PTO like I do. If you have someone to watch your kids like i do. If you had a mom or dad who introduced you to a pediatrician like mine did. If you speak the same language as the office staff who schedule the appointments. If….if…if…

I learned the power of not making assumptions today. Every person is an individual with individual needs.

helping hand

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” 
― Leo Buscaglia

Created by Heidi Woodard

Blissfully aware

March 3, 2013 — 2 Comments

I started this “series” back in September 2012 with my first entry dedicated to the things that contribute to my happiness. I’m adding my second installment a mere six months later (I had lofty goals of doing this much more frequently than I actually have.)

1. This video. If you only have time to watch one thing today, make it be this video!

2. My 11-year old son who says things like, “What’s up?” as he strolls into the room…like we’re buddies and actually have stuff in common to talk about.

3. My 9-year old son who no longer fits on my lap, but still lets me snuggle with him…when no one’s looking.

4. My 4-year old daughter who has a STRONG opinion of every piece of clothing she owns. And who does crazy sh*t like this on a daily basis.

5. My husband who has been rocking a weight loss challenge at work and is down 30 freaking pounds.

6. The amount of sleep I got this weekend (I was comatose for a good chunk of it).

7. The Saucony running shoes I just ordered online. I plan to wear them in the Lincoln Half Marathon on May 5.

winner shoes

winner shoes

8. Watching Saturday Night Live on the DVR as the rest of my family goes to bed.

OK, your turn. What are you blissfully aware of these days?

Created by Heidi Woodard

Blissfully aware

September 5, 2012 — Leave a comment

It’s good to recognize what makes you happy. Happy people experience lows in life just like everyone else; they just don’t remain in the valleys for too long. To steal a quote from the Brave Girls Club, “Life is absolutely meant to be enjoyed, not just endured.”

We all must endure hardship…such is life. We must also recognize when life is good and soak up every ounce of it.

I am sitting at one of my son’s baseball practices and it’s an absolutely beautiful evening. There’s no time like the present to start a new series about how I am blissfully aware of so much good around and inside of me. So here’s my first installment of what contributes to my happiness:

1. My dog rocks. She’s a crazy ol’ lady whose sole purpose in life is to make me smile.

2. My husband is a good coach and mentor to our boys and their friends. I have known my husband since high school and I remember how much fun it was to watch him play basketball. Now I get to see him transfer his love of the game to his sons.

3. I love to learn. Starting a new job earlier this summer reminded me that I am happiest when I am challenged and introduced to new people and new ideas.

4. As much as I love meeting new people, I value my tried and true friends even more. One of the best perks of every week is getting to sit next to my BFF and pretend we’re legit radio personalities on the Pat&JT Show. Total strangers are actually starting to recognize my voice outside of the studio and that’s awesome.

5. Freaking Panera. I don’t know if there’s a more perfect place on earth.

6. The joy I experience when I feel like I am making a positive impact on others. I hope my actions speak as loudly as my words when it comes to parenting my kids. I hope I always treat people the way they should be treated…not because I am being judged by others, but because I judge myself.

7. The feeling I get after a great workout is second to none. (Well, technically, eating super bad food feels pretty damn amazing too. Not gonna lie.)

8. I love this quote: “Don’t wait for inspiration or passion to find you. Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air, and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.” – Taken from You Are Not Special Commencement by David McCullough Jr. 

OK, your turn. What are you blissfully aware of these days?

I have wanted to write this post for awhile now. I started tossing around ideas awhile back about how to properly articulate what I think about life and the direction it takes us sometimes.

When a child begins to grow and discover their own personal potential, their innate strengths need not be defined. People can naturally see and appreciate them. They come easily and the child feels a sense of happiness anytime they are given the chance to share them with others.

Strengths are as unique to the child as the color of their hair or the tone of their voice. They help form their identity –  their own little island.

As we grow, the sea of possibilities surrounding our own personal islands is endless.

One’s course may start off smoothly, but rougher waters are inevitable. I firmly believe the farther you drift from your own personal identity or island, the more treacherous travel you will likely face and the greater risk you run of feeling lost.

We grab onto life preservers (power, possessions, influence, relationships) to make us feel invincible or to simply stay the course. We set ourselves up to believe we are only measured by how hard we crash into waves and by how great of a distance we travel.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the journey that we forget to look back at our own island. We realize that while life preservers may help move us forward, they don’t guarantee happiness.

My island is not crowded. It is not noisy nor stressful. On it are housed three or four things that come naturally to me and make me feel happy. I refuse to lose sight of them no matter where life takes me.

Have you thought lately about what makes up your island?