will it be yes, or will it be sorry?

Every telephone ring, every heartbeat stinging
w
hen she thought it was God calling her.
~Paula Cole~

Country Road by Chip ForelliAfter taking a (kinda-sorta) long hiatus from blogging, I’ve spent a bit of time over the past week revisiting my writings from 2009 through the lone entry two spring seasons past.  As in the Year of Our Lord two thousand and twelve.

HALLELUJAH.

Lingering over some of the entries that I felt I did a particularly concise job of expressing myself, I attempted to suss out just why  I haven’t written in so long.   Nearly two years.  As someone who practices acute self-observation on a daily basis, in the re-reading I was keenly aware of the fact that blogging, in fact, gave me an instrument for emotional release.

TWO YEARS IS A LONG TIME TO KEEP THE CONSTANT PING-PONGING IN MY HEAD UNDER WRAP.  IMPLODING IN THREE, TWO …

I am wired to be (very) introspective and muse (ad nauseum), unfortunately, it appears I do not have the stick-to-it-tiveness nor patience to regurgitate more than five hundred words in a sitting nor for, apparently, long periods of time.  It’s a rather discouraging fact that real-life authors are, by contract, required to submit more than an hours worth of work each week, and, well, editors don’t permit you to use pretend words like ‘stick-to-it-tiveness’.

WHATEVER.

Anyhoo.  In reviewing my bloggity ways, I have concluded that the abrupt end of my writings in April 2012 coincides nearly to the second immediately following the moment I gave Ancestry.com my American Express number.  Genealogy research.  Ah-ha.  I actually do have stick-to-it-tiveness.

DEAR IMAGINARY EDITOR, I JUST USED THAT WORD THREE TIMES NOW.  I SHALL TRY HARDER.

What I discovered after hours (days, weeks, months and now two years) invested into digging and documentation of my lineage, is that my research overran blogging because it filled an even deeper yearning within me.  I can say confidently and without a trace of dramatics that ancestry completes me.  And by my very existence, I prove out theirs.

LOOK AT ME GO!

And yet, I think there’s even another layer to my passion.  Being at the point statistically speaking where I’m moving beyond my middle-aged years into the last quarter of my life, I can’t yet see what I will face in the future, however long that time will be.  I can’t perceive joys I will experience nor imagine the sorrows and grief I will suffer.  What health issues I will endure or the end result of the ceaseless, damning process of physically aging.  I don’t know what I don’t know.  This reality has plagued me for a very long time.

LIFE SHOULD REALLY HAVE A COHERENT AGENDA, PEOPLE.

In many of my prior blogs I wrestle with faith.  And trust.  And the burdensome ‘not knowing’.  In ancestry research, I know.  There is tangible evidence of a life journey, beginning, middle and end. Not my  life, but those lives that contributed to the making of me.

There is documentation of what must have been joyous events, weddings, births, business and personal successes detailed in the newspaper archives.  And then there are headstones for babies, men with lifelong debilitating injuries suffered in times of war, orphaned children, young destitute widows and old, lonely widowers.

There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to what befell my ancestors in their lifetimes.  Some made it through life relatively unscathed while others suffered mind-numbing losses and hardship. In the big picture, some lines seemed to prosper on a better-than-average basis, generation after generation after generation.   Other lines seemed to continually get kicked in the head more times than seems equitable.  But.  Despite the tragedies and uncertainty, it appears they coped.  Some better than others, however, they coped nonetheless.

WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT WAS NEXT.

I can say with absolute certainty that each life is inherently unique, but the commonality shared by all is the ambiguity of our existence. Through the journey of genealogy research, with each new bit of evidence I record, each moment of delight or agony, I seem to be getting more and more comfortable with the fact of ‘not knowing’. They didn’t and I won’t either.

Who knew that in the recording of their lives, how it would change mine.

a buoyant life

This year I will celebrate 50 years of life.  How I arrived at this milestone is a bit perplexing simply because my mind refuses to sit and keep company with the fact I’m not 30 any more.  And to know I’ve stretched 20 years beyond what my inner being will acknowledge in a chronological sort of way is a bit, I shall be frank, numbing.

Approaching the horizon of This Big Event and being soberly cognizant of the alternative to not reaching that pinpoint in time, I’ve decided to make the best of it.  I’m challenging myself to get real happy, real fast.

OR ELSE, LISA.  OR ELSE.

Since buying books makes me very joyful indeed, I’ve combined my love affair with the printed word and surrounded myself with books about (of course) happiness.

In one of my (too many) trips to Barnes & Noble this month and in a particularly blue-slash-surly mood about The Awful, Horrible 50 Dilemma, I was instantly drawn to the cover of ‘One Thousand Gifts’ by the tagline ‘a dare to live fully right where you are.’

They didn’t even have to double-dog dare me.

CHOOSE ME. I WANT TO LIVE FULLY. RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.

One Thousand Gifts chronicles Ann Voskamp’s quest to find joy in her every day life, regardless of her circumstances. Pushing through long, stressful days as a farmer’s wife and homeschooling six small children to extract happiness in all things, in all circumstances.

Ann embarked upon a personal pilgrimage to make a list of 1,000 gifts of seemingly common things that were part and parcel of her daily life.  She believed that if she took a moment to record those things for which she was grateful, but never consciously acknowledged, she would live a fuller, richer, and more deeply connected life.  Being grateful in all things, in all circumstances.  Recognizing and giving thanks for simple things …

Jam piled high on warm, homemade bread
Afternoon sunlight spilling across rough-hewn floors
The aroma of lentil soup bubbling on the stove

Thankful for simple things.

I THINK SHE’S ONTO SOMETHING!?

After reading the first few chapters I fell in love with the Ann’s writing style. Her choice of words and the intricate blending together of her personal discoveries can only be described as a savory meal for the soul.  I found myself reading the page once, then re-reading it for a second helping, imprinting the message to memory, feeling the deep emotion and impact of her insight. I felt peace and a sense of purpose, perhaps even clarity, reading One Thousand Gifts.

I will admit that part of the appeal to me of One Thousand Gifts was how the author wove together her story with descriptions of her daily life. Her authentic life.  A daily journey of living with real things, preparing genuine meals with farm-raised food for her family, the nurturing manner in which she approached motherhood and her role as a wife.

BECAUSE, IN MY WOEFUL INADEQUACY AS A FAST-FOOD FEEDING, NAGGING, PATIENCE-LACKING, AND SOMETIMES SCREAMING-MEEMIE MOM, I SO ADMIRE MOTHERS LIKE HER.

Which brings me to my next book selection, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  While Ann Voskamp is the woman I’d dearly love (with every fiber of my being) to emulate, Gretchen Rubin is more closely aligned with the woman I actually am.

BECAUSE SHE CAN SOMETIMES BE SNARKY, INCONSIDERATE, AND STRIVING FOR GOLD STARS OF APPROVAL FROM PEOPLE.

JUST LIKE ME.

Gretchen was a happily-married writer, mother of two young daughters living in New York City who wanted to find a more deliberate-based level of happiness. Toward that end, her ‘Happiness Project’ consisted of taking a year of her life, compiling a list of ‘resolutions’ for each month that, when successfully completed, would bring her a higher level of life contentment.  Some of her January projects included removing clutter and organizing their apartment which lead to a lower stress level and voila … more happiness.

Her February list, tacked on to her prior month’s goals, included love-directed resolutions, such as less snipping at her ever-tolerant husband Jamie, making a conscious effort to be kinder to people, and quelching her inherent desire to nag.

While One Thousand Gifts, written from a Christian perspective, is enriching to the soul and encourages a paradigm shift of thinking, living more deeply, connecting with, and acknowledging, God’s ever-present hand, The Happiness Project asks you to actually do something a bit more to reach a higher level of nirvana.

Both books, markedly different in their methods and conclusions on the topic of happiness, were excellent reads.  I found peace and a renewed grateful mindset on thankfulness for blessings received after reading One Thousand Gifts.  After reading The Happiness Project, I wanted to immediately sit down and start my own monthly lists of resolutions.

My first resolution in Lisa’s Very Own and Uniquely Personal Happiness Project would to be take the steps in the direction of becoming the woman I truly want do be.  Because, the reality is, I won’t be blessed with another 50 years to figure it out.