‘Whatever makes you happy, my love.’

They’re simple words, so genuine and heartfelt. Spoken with truth to them they have the power to make you feel as though you’re the only person in the world who matters. Or, perhaps even, the only person in the world at all.

A few weeks back, I made a post titled Tips for coping with anxiety from a Psychiatrist.

One of the tips mentioned in that post, reads as follows:

Think of a memory, one happy memory, and keep that memory at the top of your mind, always. When you think of happy memories, it produces serotonin in your body that can help boost your mood. If you keep one happy memory at top of mind, always, you can use that memory when you’re feeling triggered. Forcing that happy memory on your brain when you’re feeling anxious/stressed can help trick your brain. It’s not going to take away the things in your life causing you stress, but it will help you cope with the stress better.

Because I have been implementing this step into my daily routine, and because my world needs a little more happiness in it each and every day, especially in the past week, I am making the effort to write down my happy memories that I choose to remember in times of stress. Here goes…

Knight likes to buy lottery tickets. I’m not sure if he did prior to meeting me, but, one of the things we talked about on our first date was what each of us would do with the winnings if we ever one the lottery. Ever since I’ve known him, he’s always purchased lottery tickets.

Whenever he goes to the store, he purchases two lottery tickets. One for him and one for me. He turns to me, smiles and tells me to pick wisely.

“What if I chose both?” I ask, specifically trying to be a pain in his ass.

“Then take both,” he laughs. He’s not kidding when he tells me to take both. I know that if I did, he’d let me keep them both.

I’ll give him a ticket back, naturally. I mean… I’m not totally selfish. (I am. But I can be fair, too) And then I continue the discussion explaining to him that if I win, I’m keeping all of the money to myself.

“Whatever makes you happy, my love.” There it is. There’s those words. Genuine. Heartfelt. Thoughtful. Truthful.

“You’re also aware that, if you win, you’re required to share half of your money with me, right?” Chuckling again, he says “I’d expect nothing less”.

It’s the small things, they means so much to me. The fact that when he speaks these words, I know he’s being truthful. The fact that I know he’d never ask a dime of me, if I ever did win the lottery with a ticket he purchased for me. The fact that I’m absolutely certain that if he did win the lottery, he’d want to split it me.

People talk a lot about hypothetical scenarios, and honestly, he and I do a lot as well. I think that our hypotheticals mean more to me though, because there is a layer of truth to them that I don’t get from anyone else I’ve ever known.

I’m not wealthy. I haven’t won… yet. But there’s always a chance. I guess that’s why he purchases them. While I know I like to joke, the truth is, I’d likely give him all of the money if I won on a ticket that he purchased for me.

Thinking back on these moments, it brings great happiness to my mind. It’s my trick to forcing serotonin in my brain when I need it most. It’s my light on the dark days and a means to make me smile, no matter what.

Life after cancer.

Tonight, I am once again reminded why my mother has the biggest heart of anyone that I know.

Tomorrow is her (fingers crossed) last chemotherapy treatment. She’s been talking about it for weeks. And, though it’s been a pretty freaking miserable process for her the past few months, we were very lucky that her cancer was caught early, and that (fingers crossed) she’ll go into complete remission and we’ll never have to deal with cancer again.

Anyways, I digress.

After spending a few hours at Starbucks tonight, with a friend of mine, I returned home to find that my mother had gone to bed even earlier than usual. An hour earlier than normal. When I asked my dad if she was alright (being worried that she’d gone to bed so early) he said that she was tired from all of the baking she’d done.

What?

Oh yeah. My mom, with the help of my dad, baked lemon pie tarts for the staff of the cancer clinic. She plans to give them to all of the staff tomorrow when she goes in for her last treatment.

Atop the container filled with lemon tarts, she’d taped a note. The envelope says ‘Thank You’. Me, being the nosey daughter that I am, had to open it to read the note.

Here’s how it reads.

Thank You.

Thank you to each and every one of you [she names the staff members, doctors and nurses who’ve helped her the past few months] for helping me, for taking me on my worst day, at my lowest moment and making me feel better. Thank you for wiping away my tears, talking away my fears and for treating me as good, if not better, then you would treat your own family members.

It’s because of the incredible kindness of each of you hat I am here, that I have the opportunity for full recovery, that I get to be one of the lucky ones.

Thank you. It’s because of you that I’ve got a second chance. You’ve given me my life back, and I can’t stop thinking about all of the Christmas and Birthday celebrations that I’ll get to be a part of with my children and grandchildren now, thanks to you. Every moment, every celebration, it will matter that much more than it ever did before.

I am eternally grateful for all that you’ve done for me. And, I really hope that you take this a good way when I say that I hope I never have to visit here ever again.

Sincerely,

[Mom’s name]

I most definitely had an ‘I’m not crying, you’re crying’ moment when I read it. I resealed the envelope and taped it back to the container as to not let her know that anyone touched it.

Tomorrow is her final chemotherapy treatment (if all goes according to plan). I’m feeling grateful, and thankful that she now gets to start thinking about life after cancer. I know not everyone gets that lucky. And, from the note I read, it sounds like she’s already begun planning her life after cancer… which in itself makes me extremely happy.

Note to self:

If you’re feeling frightened about what comes, don’t be. Embrace the uncertainty. Allow it to lead you places. Be brave as it challenges you to exercise both your heart and your mind as you create your own path towards happiness; don’t waste time with regret. Spin wildly into your next action. Enjoy the present, each moment, as it comes, because you’ll never get another one quite like it. And if you should ever look up and find yourself lost, simply take a breath and start over. Retrace your steps and go back to the purest place in your heart… where your hope lives. You’ll find your way again

Just keep going.

7 Rules for Life

  1. Make peace with your past so it doesn’t disturb your future.
  2. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  3. The only person in charge of your happiness is you.
  4. Don’t compare your life to anyone else. Comparison is the thief of joy.
  5. Time heals almost everything. Always give it some time.
  6. Stop thinking so much. It’s completely okay to not know all of the answers.
  7. Smile! You don’t own the world’s problems.

Do not let your fire go out.

A lonely, naive, younger version of myself once read a quote in a book that has been turning over in my mind ever since.

“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”

Les Brown

If ever there were motivation to lead a full life, to not question your capabilities and to chase your dreams, this is it. Reading this was just so sad. It’s absolutely true, which I think is why it’s so sad.

So many people don’t go after what they want in life because they’re conditioned to a life of security and conformity. They believe that what they have is all they will ever get. At the same time so many people don’t go after what they want in life because they’re afraid of the uncertain, the unknown and believe that all that could be out there for them is pain.

When I think of all of the reasons to not try – things that aren’t always within someone’s control, I can’t help but think there are so many more reasons to try.

There are days when my anxiety is absolutely debilitating, and I know I am not the only one to feel that way. And there are people in this world who are really suffering horrendous situations that I could not fathom, nor understand. But, they’re still trying. And me, I’m going to keep going. Even when my anxiety is telling me to not get out of bed. I don’t want to be one of those lost souls in the graveyard with the unwritten book. And I don’t want to think about all of the unmet potential laying in graveyards around the world. I want to be known for encouraging my friends and family to go after what they want in life.

So, to follow up one sad but true quote with a powerful and true quote, the moral of this story is:

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.

Ayn Rand