Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Pursuit of Happiness

I haven't blogged in a while...again. I enjoy it, so why does it feel like such a task lately? Life got busy. Some things had to go. Blogging shouldn't have been one of them.

With the holidays coming up- and a hectic work schedule with irregular hours- and a pharmacy student husband stressed with finals- and the opening of my new Etsy shop- and the trips to the post office during my lunch break from my real job, blogging was too hard to do at the end of the day. I said I was going to do better. I did better at everything else but blogging. Writing has always been my outlet. Whatever I'm feeling, whatever I can't say, I could always write. That's how it's been since I was four. Really, I started keeping journals then. At least two decades of my life are documented on paper. Most people don't know that and it's not really a great conversation starter, is it? "Hi, I'm Regina. I keep journals about what happens to me as I go about my daily living. What's even more interesting is that I've been doing it consistently since my childhood. What's your name?" Yeah...probably not gonna do that. But, when that little scenerio is put into words- it's goes better and is far more humorous than if I lived through the awkward experience. That's why I always liked to write. One of the many reasons, I guess. It makes me HAPPY.

There's this documentary playing on Netflix now. It's called 'Happy'. I may be watching it right now, actually. Well, hearing it. I like background noise when I write or blog but this one is really distracting a good way.

You should watch it. I swear, I feel more fortunate and happier and it's only 15 minutes into the show.

Life is stressful and difficult and stupid and frustrating and challenging and hectic and...IT'S NOT-

Life is what you make it. If you choose to focus on all the negative things that happen- all the cruelty and tragedy and loss and death and sadness- you're going to be miserable. I've been there before.We all have at one point or another.

The thing I notice when I look back on unhappy times is that I made decisions or formed habits that made me unhappy. I tried to live up to what other people wanted...what they expected me to be. I made that choice. I hated it. You- or, at least- I - didn't realize I was trying to be someone I wasn't back then. I just knew what would please people and expected those things to please me. When they didn't, I felt angry, upset...without adding more negative descriptions, I felt...bad.

I still do it sometimes. I mean, I still find myself trying to live up to someone's- or to society's expectations.  Nobody else defines me. Nobody else enables my happiness. Nobody but me, that is. So, even though I love blogging and writing- I needed a break to do other things. People have said that I'm talented and that they love my blog and my writing...

It felt weird to even type that. Feels like bragging. Too many my's, me's, and I's...but-
It's true. Enough people have encouraged this specific talent that I am inclined- but hesitant to agree.

After all, I've been writing since I was 4. I have plenty of room for improvement, but I've also read books that bored the peediddle out of me. Maybe I should take a break from something else in my life other than blogging. Not that it would be in the interest of others, but that it would make me HAPPY. Maybe my million other side-ventures haven't been what I needed to focus on in the first place.

I do love my little Etsy shop, though. Oh, and I also feel rewarded at my job. Obviously, my pharmacy school husband can't be where I cut back my happiness efforts of responsibility- He's the most important factor of happiness in my life. So...something's gotta go. But, WHAT? I'm still figuring it all out. Maybe nothing needs to go at all. Since happiness is a choice, maybe it's the only one I've got to make.

Today, I let go of my tendency to stress. I had to work but that didn't matter. I decided this morning that I would be happy all day long, no matter what. I drove to Jamestown, Tennessee today. I got there before my scheduled work-related appointments. Even though I felt exhausted from the drive when I got back home this evening, I feel incredibly happy when I look back on today....

Take a look with me. Watch that 'Happy' documentary, too. Stop worrying. Remind me to stop it, too. :) Life is good...

Jamestown, Tennessee. My destination today was marked with this tower.
 I spent my lunch break visiting some local antique shops and sight-seeing the oldest established town in my state.
At Walmart, souvenir shirts sell that read: "Where the heck is Jamestown, anyway?"
I said that same thing when I first found out I had to go here.

I'm glad I did, as it turns out...

  Mark Twain lived here. Just about everything is named after him in Jamestown.
This will sound ignorant, but I didn't know any of that. You might have. You're fantastic.

 That's okay, because I can probably one-up you with a treasure find of a 1917 book by Mr. Samuel L. Clemens, himself.

 I had to scurry through my car for change because the shop didn't accept debit or credit. In a panic, I told the wonderful elderly gentleman that I'd be right back and to please hang onto that book for me until I found some cash in my car. Frantically, I fumbled through more tote bags than any one person should ever own- or keep in their car-
until I found the $6.00 price that was listed just inside the shop. Pushing, rather than pulling the door when a sign had clearly stated proper door-opening technique, I finally managed to re-enter the shop. I held a mixture of quarters, dimes, and more pennies than one should ever feel comfortable exchanging in such a monumental transaction.

"Here ya go, Sir. Sorry that took a while. See, I couldn't go to the ATM like you suggested because my card got de-magnetized when I put a magnet in my purse."

"Oh,'s okay, ma'am."

"No, I mean, I know it sounds really weird but...

(Here's when I know I'm going to make things even more awkward...when I start to explain myself and my obscure behavior)

"...I work at a foster care agency in Nashville and we are trying to broaden our recruitment efforts so we got these magnets with our information and we've all been taking them with us to put out in places so that people know kids need homes."

"It's only $6.00 ya got here, ma'am. I'm real sorry-like but it's gotter' be $6.57 'cause we gotta pay the vendors, too, that sell here."

"Oh...uh, I see...Well, I understand. I'm just sorry that I put a magnet in my purse and messed up my debit card even though you don't take debit cards, because if it worked- I could've just gone to that bank ATM like you said earlier and save you all this trouble."

"Nah, it's okay. Dontcha' worry 'bout that, now, lil' missy. Happens to us all."

Except it doesn't. I didn't tell the wonderful shopkeeper that, though. He was the nicest and sweetest man in the world and my narrative captions are only intended to capture his wisdom and country-Southern accent that I more than likely reciprocated, unknowingly. I felt embarrassed and debated on whether or not to leave the shop, never to return. I took one glance at my find and I could not. I looked at the old man's face and saw that he felt bad for me and his empathetic expression for my embarasment was just...too much, my friends.  Back to the car I went. I needed 57 more cents.

I have no idea how it happened, but I managed to locate enough change in my all-too-lived-in-car to buy this silly book that I now slightly resent.

Marching up to the glass-front window, I marked the shop's front door "PULL" and followed instructions accordingly this time. 

The old, gentle soul of the sweetest shopkeeper ever had kept his promise. My Mark Twain 1917 edition had been guarded by the most harmless and loyal stranger I'd ever met. He took a few bites of a sandwich and apologized for his 'rudeness' as I approached the counter.

"I'm sorry, ma'am. Don't mean to be rude at all but the misses' just dropped this off and it's a bit past my lunchtime."

"No, Sir...please, eat your sandwich and I'd like to look around more anyway. There's so much in this shop that it'll take me some time to see it all. I promise that this time I have enough change to pay for my book. Thank you for being so patient with me."

"Ma'am... 'twasn't a thang. I been there b'fore. Only, it was worse. I was at a restaurant and forgot my wallet one time. The lil' waitress asked me to pay an' I reached in my pocket and realized I'd left it in my car- just like you did with yer money. Don't worry about it at all and I'm sorry we don't take debit. If you'd had a check, we coulda' done that, but it's just not allowed is all."

If I were 100 years older, that man would have been in trouble.  Not because he was my type. My husband is completely my type. That shop owner was just an older version of him, that's all...and had a much more pronounced Southern accent.

I paid...finally. In change.

I shook the gentleman's hand before I left. I don't know what prompted me to do that but he seemed thrilled to ablige.

I grabbed my new Twain-y treasure and headed joyfully back to my car- this time, not to search for dimes.

Once inside my trusty little Altima, I inspected my new/old book and noticed something appaling...Not about the book.

My button-down, casual shirt had been worn today. When I travel, I dress comfortably. Today, my decision betrayed me.

While looking my book over as I sat in my car, I noticed something in my flip-down mirror that catapoulted my previous feelings of embarrassment. My middle button was completely un-done.


This unhinged button just so happened to be located smack-dab in the middle of my breasts, leaving the most revealing cleavage view that the public eye in Jamestown has seen in quite some time.

I still admire the old man in the shop. What other man do you know who could carry on a normal conversation while your lady parts are partially exposed without your knowledge? NONE, I tell you. That man is a saint.

Still, I wish he'd said something. Maybe when I thought he was showing empathy for my embarrassment about change, he really had a better reason for feeling sorry for me.

So, that's my story today. More things happened. Work-related and confedential things that I can't tell in near an entertaining way as my book-finding tale are not blog-worthy.

My today story may not be worth writing down, either. I can't tell it in a way that wouldn't bore most people.


My happiness project was acheived today.

My embarrassment was worth it.




Merrily home, went Regina today...enjoying a beautiful sunset...and a new book...

More importantly, enjoying happiness.

"I'm on the pursuit of happiness and I know- that everything that shines ain't always gonna be gold..."


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