Happiness in the midst of struggle

Have you ever come across a person in life that just knocks you back a few steps? Not literally, that would be quite unfortunate, but figuratively. Until just a few short months ago I had not had this happen to me. I have not met a person that amazes me the way this person does now. We will call her Optimus Prime or OP for short.

OP showed up randomly. I had known her for many years. We graduated from the same high school. To be honest, I didn’t really like her that much back then. I found her arrogant and quite frankly, just a bit snotty. Haha. But the old saying “people never change” could not be further from the truth with OP. The girl I knew back then is no where near the woman that I know now.

The woman I have had the please of getting to know has really grown to be a beautiful and strong woman. She is one of my biggest motivators, challengers, and she is the person that inspires me daily. I say my biggest challengers because despite her struggles she kills me in our step challenges on fitbit every single week. I do not think there has been a single week where I have won, and if I did you can guarantee it was because she forgot her watch. Haha.

OP has Multiple Sclerosis . If you aren’t familiar please read up on it. I really had no clue what it was until hearing OP’s diagnosis and story. I will not go into great detail as it is not my story to share, but if you know anyone who has ever been diagnosed with MS, ask them! I am sure they would be more than willing to tell you!

I was brought into OP’s life again by chance and at first I was weary at first. I did not know how far she had come. I had followed her for some time on social media but lets be real, you never truly know someone through their social media. You only see what they allow you to see. So in the beginning it was a bit awkward. We weren’t sure if we should share or keep to ourselves. With time those walls came tumbling down. I got to see the woman she had grown into and how she was fighting her disease head on. Did I mention she kicks my ass on fitbit weekly?

Just recently she started going through a relapse. I could tell it was starting to bother her but she kept on smiling. She kept moving on with her life, dealing with one symptom after the next. Had you just met her, you would not have even seen it because she marched right through it with such grace.

She is a mother to an awesome little boy, to whom I stole the nickname from. She is a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. MS does not define her nor does it stop her from living life to her maximum potential. She does not let it bring her down or make her unhappy. She fights through it. Even on her darkest days she is still one of the happiest, most humble people I have ever met. She has taught me that there is more to life than just your struggles. That your struggles do not define who you are.

Over the last few months I have gotten to watch her. I have watched her struggle with her MS and even without, but the one thing I have noticed is that she always finds a reason to smile. She doesn’t let the weight of her diagnosis stop her from living the most meaningful life she can. She challenges me daily to do the same whether that be through fitbit or telling me I’m being a big baby. She encourages me to look at the positives and not dwell in the negative. To look forward to each day.

You can choose to let your struggles drag you down or you can find your happiness in the midst of them. The choice is yours.

 

 

 

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Has Bitterness Taken Over?

I’ve spent much of my life being bitter for one reason or another. I grew up with drug addicted parents and grandparents. My mother had me at 14 and my grandmother raised me. My father has never played a huge role in my life. None of this is new to me. At the age of 25 its pretty much all I’ve known. Even now I do not have a picture perfect life.

On Christmas I didn’t realize just HOW bitter I was until my mother showed up. She had worked Christmas day and was already angry. She came in complaining about EVERYTHING, I am not exaggerating. I cut the turkey to soon, the potatoes were to lumpy, the sweet potatoes weren’t good, I forgot to stuff the turkey, and “why did you cook it all so early?” (dinner was to be done at 3 and it was. Everyone else was late). If she could get upset about it, she did.  I got so angry with her so I went to my daughters room to nurse her and cried as I  prayed that she not know the bitterness that was in my mothers heart. That she be joyous and happy. And then it dawned on me…. Here I was praying she not be like my mother but often times I have said to myself “man I sound like my mother”. I cried harder. I am just as bitter as she is, but for what reason? Because my life did not go as planned? Because I hit a few rough patches?

So for the last few days I have been doing research, studying, making myself aware of the physical and emotional toll being bitter takes on your body. Did you know bitterness can make you physically sick? Well it can. And then I was trying to think of ways that I could let go of some of my bitterness and learn to “forget”. One of the common traits of a bitter person is that they replay things over and over in their head. I do this frequently. So I came up with a list of things I can do to help. Its small,  but even in a few days my husband has noticed a difference. He said “thank you for being patient with me and not getting upset about the little stuff”. Here is my list of 4 things you can do to work through your bitterness.

 

  1. Start by evaluating yourself and your surroundings. Are you putting off a happy vibe? Do you constantly talk about everything that is wrong with your life? STOP IT! Complaining is a huge deal for me. I tend to nit pick and complain about everything. “You stirred my coffee the wrong way? How dare you! You should be able to read my mind and KNOW just how I like it! ” Complaining hurts not only you but everyone around you.
  2. Let it go for good. Did someone upset you? Are you replaying that moment in your head over and over? Let it go, and let it go for good! Show them kindness and move on. You cannot change another’s actions but you can change your reaction.
  3. Laugh with your child/ren and family. Find things that make you happy and enjoy them often! For me it is making my kids smile. There is nothing more I love on this earth than to hear their laughs.
  4. Remove the negative people. Bitterness breeds bitterness and it spreads like the plague. Surround yourself with positive and happy people, it is sure to brighten your mood and your life!

Now I know these things are not easy. You cannot choose your family but you can limit your exposure. First, change your mind and your attitude, then change your atmosphere. I cannot tell you it is an easy journey. I cannot tell you exactly how to go about doing these things, what I can tell you is that the benefits are astounding! Start the new year with a new attitude. Let go of your bitterness and make a better life for yourself and those you are around. If I can do it, so can you!

 

Much Love,

SHM