Saturday, February 4, 2012

Avoiding Pity Parties 101

Happiness is.........
I love Saturdays-adore them as a matter of fact. Saturday is the one day a week I can sleep late, which for me is 7:30. Usually I spend it piddlin' around the house cooking, cleaning, reading, relaxing, facebooking, and pinteresting. (Probably not an actual word). Doing things I enjoy. I look forward to this day all week and through the trials, stresses, exhaustion, and exasperation each weekday brings, I know I can make it because of Saturdays.

So, you know it's going to be a rough day when the family cat awakens you at 6:25 AM on Saturday morning using the rug beside your bed as a litter box. Yep. What a way to start the day. (In Thomas the cat's defense, he is used to me letting him out at 5:00 when I get up during the week. Plus, he is getting older and things sometimes don't work as well with age.) As I clean the mess and walk through the house, which is still dark because it is raining and as I mentioned 6:25 AM. I glare at my messy house. Kitchen counter tops and table are stacked with clutter, books, backpacks, and papers from the busy week. Both sides of kitchen sink are filled with supper dishes from last night that I was too tired (and sick) to clean and put away. (Insert mumbling here.) The living room, bedrooms, and bathrooms are in disarray as well, with laundry piled up. (Add muttering of not so nice words here.)  Assessments to grade are spilling out of my school bag. And my throat feels like I have swallowed a handful of tacks. (Insert eyeroll and deep sigh here.) And it's raining. And it's 6:25 AM. On a Saturday. Full-out pity party is about to begin.

Then I can hear my Grandma Bryant's words in my head-"There is always someone that will trade troubles with you." This is not a tragedy. Annoyances-yes. Catastrophy-no. So I put on some coffee, select a starting point and snap out of feeling sorry for myself. The kitchen is a mess because we had food- a warm, filling meal for supper. Many people went to bed last night hungry. The laundry is piled because I am blessed with a family and good clothes to wear and a washing machine/dryer that will clean them for me. Some do not have this luxury. The papers to grade are there because I have a job that I love (most of the time) and students who are learning (most of the time). My family who contributed to the mess are healthy, happy, and resting comfortably in warm, dry beds. I immediately feel so humbled and guilty that I stop what I am doing and thank God for the outpouring of goodness and joy He has so richly blessed me with. Pity party go away! Don't come back another day.

I guess we all fall into this pattern of focusing on the problems in our lives and losing sight of the joy. What are some ways we can avoid this so our lives can be full and happy ones? Simple things. I have written an earlier post similar to this one a few months ago, but evidently I need to be reminded and refreshed on this topic.
Happiness is.....surrounding yourself with people and things that bring you joy, make you laugh, and remind you of happy times. Here are a few things that are pity-repellents for me, and I'd love to hear what yours are.

1. Things that remind you of those you love: My house is filled with snapshots and photographs of my family. I have too many sitting around and I am reminded of this when I dust. But I love seeing them in every room, the smiles, special moments. A picture is worth a thousand words, but the feelings and emotions tied to them are unmeasurable. Pictured below are some of my favorites. They help me feel close to my daddy on days that I miss him so much I ache, and yet remind me to be thankful of the years we had together and the wonderful memories I will always treasure. These snapshots remind me how blessed I am to still have such a great mom and 2 beautiful girls that decorate my life. (I have a pretty terrific husband as well that I will mention later.)

2. Things to do with Family/those you love: This strategy doesn't have to be an expensive one, although I do love a girls' day out. One weekly, FREE event that the girls and I look forward to each Friday is wedding night on TLC. We love lounging in our pjs and watching "Say Yes to the Dress" and "Four Weddings". After a long week of school, busy activities, and bickering with each other, it is a good way to relax and enjoy each others' company. Some nights I look over at Micah who is usually snuggled up with one of her beloved stuffed animals and my pre-teen Hannah and picture myself shopping for their wedding gowns. Sometimes it's all I can do to hold back tears. Usually one of them will make a snide comment about one of the brides and I snap out of it. Another event that makes me happy is the monthly "Faux Bunco" sessions with my friends. We call it "faux" bunco because we don't actually play the game anymore. We decided that the game was getting in the way of what we most enjoyed: sitting around laughing like fools, telling stories that we've heard before but get funnier with time, eating some good soul food, while watching Grey's Anatomy, American Idol, etc, depending on what night it is.

3. Things that make you happy: I know we shouldn't rely on things to make us happy, but we are human after all, and I think it is okay to enjoy some "things" in life, as long as we don't get too wrapped up in them. For example, I look forward to getting Southern Living Magazine in the mail each month. Weather permitting I usually sit in my backyard swing and lazily turn the pages as the girls play outside. During colder months I curl up in my "Archie Bunker" chair with a cup of coffee and select recipes I want to try, although they never look like they do in the magazine.Other "things" that make me happy is reality tv. I am not ashamed to admit that I am a HUGE Real Housewife of any city shown on Bravo. I dvr each episode and laugh and cry with these funny, dysfunctional, absurdly rich women I know I could be good friends with. Phaedra from Atlanta, Caroline from New Jersey, and Lisa from Beverly Hills are my reality BFFs.

4. Things that make you laugh: All of the items previously mentioned involve laughter at some level. In addition to those, I love to read funny posts on facebook, read Far Side comics and surround my self with people who bring a chuckle. The phrase "Live, Laugh, Love" has been very much overused, but it is so true. You're not really living, if you're not laughing. My husband, Michael makes me laugh. Although we bicker and argue at times, he is a hoot to be around. In a crowd he will have the entire group in tears. I know that life with 3 strong-willed argumentative females isn't always fun for him, we do appreciate his dry humor. Here are some hilarious Ballard family photos that aren't framed and sitting on end tables or shelves in my home, but are classics, non the less. I don't know whose expression is the funniest in this photo. It may be a tie.

Hopefully, you have laughed, at least a little bit after reading this post and the pity parties will be few and far between :)