Sunday, May 14, 2017

Would you like to feel good?

 I like to feel good.

 Everyone I meet –– RVers, servers in restaurants, the educators at the schools where I speak and many others, like the young man in Algodones, Mexico and the bartender in Napa Valley, California –– they all want to feel good, too.

The problem, according to statistics from a Harris poll posted in the Huffington Post, determined that only 1 in 3 Americans consider themselves “very happy.”

No surprise. 
Happiness requires struggle.

Thirty-five years ago, if someone asked me if I were "very happy," I would not have placed myself in the that category.  The happiness which I experience  today was not only out of my reach, but also impossible to imagine.

 I struggled through a divorce. I dealt with the discovery that my daughter was addicted to drugs. How could anyone be happy during such difficulties?
After the divorce,  I lived in my dog grooming shop, taking  baths in the dog wash tub and sleeping  by the light of the neon signs  of the shopping center. I lived a personal version of Jim Croce’s The Car Wash Blues. –you could say II was walking in soggy old shoes and singing “The Dog Wash Blues.”

 Spiritually, emotionally and financially bankrupt.

  The dream of writing books and traveling across country in a motor home with a cat, doing living a life I loved –– was not even a glimmer in my eye. I didn’t like cats and I had never written a book.  Thirty-five years ago  I believed my life would be what it always had been ––a life of enduring and “getting by.”
So what changed?
Those exact negative events changed me.

 I wanted to check out ––quit the rat race. The idea of suicide became alluring. I would do it with pills. But how many does it take? I didn’t know. It was not a question I could ask. There was no  Google back then.
 Failing at suicide, would have been impossible to bear –– the ultimate failure.

Fear of failure saved my life.

  People changed me.
No, not what you’re thinking. No kind individual rescued me. No caring  person took me under their wing and nurtured me back to mental health. 
Instead, I choose door number two. I stepped up to the plate.
The abusive husband whom I was divorcing and the drug addicted daughter who had sent me on my spiraling journey of depression –– it was they who became the catalysts for my survival.
I stepped up to the challenge, but not out of courage. Motivated by the fear of failing at suicide, I slinked into a 12 step program and set out on a path of self- discovery.

The wonderful quality of my life, which I enjoy today, was not determined by positive experiences. I became stronger  dealing with each  negative event and experience,  which came along  –  the  death of my husband,  being estranged from my daughter for so long that  I assumed her dead, and the death of my sister.

 Sometimes crawling, and other times scratching and fighting, I pushed through these events. Through the process, I  not only survived, but thrived.

So what do you want?  
What do you want enough to struggle for? 
To start up a business? 
To lose thirty pounds?  
To travel?  
To save money?

All of these goals require risk, sacrifice, and uprooting yourself from a comfortable, safe lifestyle. And, they require passion.

Do you want what you want enough?
What fears and disapproval are you willing to face?
Are you willing to suffer what  life will throw at you on your journey?

Twelve years ago after my husband passed away, I became a solo RVer. Five years later I became an author. This year I graduated to the status of living full-time in my Winnebago motor home,  I call The Big Story while   towing my Smart Car, The Short Story.
I travel the country, presenting seminars on how to flourish as a person  chasing whatever dream or  in which you have a passion.

Achievements, goals, to be happy, all have a price.  To be successful at anything requires dedication hard work, and the risk of criticism, rejection and even failure. To become an author I face all of these challenges as well as fear and doubt on a daily basis.

Traveling  the country requires driving  away from my comfort zone. I must push past my fears of being alone. My journeys   take me away from those I love, but in contrast,  opens up so many experiences and opportunities, which are priceless.

The prices I have paid in my life?  Forging through a bankruptcy, the deaths of parents, a husband, a sister, and worst of all, a granddaughter. too young to die.

 I’ve had to walk away from those I’ve loved. All of these things brought me to where I am today. They have made me an expert on how to live what life deals has dealt me.
Today I live in the “very happy’ category. I believe  in myself.
I trust  that everything I still ache for, I will find on the road ahead –– if I don’t look back. The way is not always easy.

I   am following my passions.
I am doing what I love …. because  I want it  bad enough.

And that is priceless!!


  1. Great article I got my dose of optimism. Thank you. Kate

  2. It is always interesting to me to find aha moment, when people shake themselves off and find their agency, when they stop languishing, show-up for self-care and monitor their responses to events outside of their control. Often it is a process, as you describe. Was it one of your stories, about the Marine suffering PTSD who now goes around and counsels other marines to get help by offering them a straw to "suck it up" but he takes to time to ask questions, how they would recommend others to fix a similar problem (counseling, small goals) and march to their own tune. Hoorah

  3. Very uplifting read, Judy.