Bluebird is the second of Ariel Gore's books I've read. She was the one who convinced me that I wanted to be a famous writer via How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead. Bluebird takes a totally different route by exploring what happiness to a woman really means. In the book, she poses seven questions which I've decided to try to answer. I'm not sure why. Just an exercise in futility or self-exploration? I guess so, but I haven't thought about what truly makes me happy in a while now - here are my answers. What would your answers be?
1. How heavily do you weigh your own happiness when making life decisions?
- Before I had Sarah I guess I did things to make me happy, but that was something that had to happen gradually - my family used a lot of guilt to manipulate each other into doing things the others wanted, and as much as I love my grandmother, she was very good at guilting me. After therapy, when I moved beyond some of that, I still find that I have to give myself an ego boost from time to time to remind myself that what I want does matter - that it's okay for me to smile, be not-so-serious all the time, find value in playing. Sarah has taught me that. For now, I find that I put her first, but with the knowledge that if I get too miserable, she'll be unhappy too - so I have to find time to take care of myself.
- More money in my bank account, not living way out here in the country, but rather, being back in my little house that I picked out 5 years ago. This will happen in a few months, but it would certainly be great now. Also, I'd be happier if my husband had a job. His seemingly endless unemployment is making all of us stressed out and irritable. It's hard to have hope sometimes. One other thing that would really pump me up is if this blog totally took off! Or if I achieved my dream of publishing a book.
- I shouldn't have to think so hard about this one. Maybe it was helping my grandmother shell peas when I was very little and mostly in her way - maybe it was the first time I saw Sarah open her eyes, maybe it was my grandmother making ice cream out of freshly fallen snow? Maybe it was the moment I realized that my college education would be completely paid for? Maybe it was getting married to the man I love in Jamaica? Maybe it was getting my Master's degree or moving into my new home? Or maybe it was riding back from Six Flags one summer with all my cousins in the back of my daddy's truck exhausted, happy, and singing at the tops of our voices, "Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog" - hard question!
- I didn't know my mother when she was my age, but considering the life path she chose, I'd say I'm happier, despite all the things that contribute to my daily angst. Today, even though we are attempting to have some semblance of a relationship, she admits she's miserable. I'm much more in control of my life path than she ever was.
- Yesterday was Easter. Even though I'd rather have jumped in the car for a day-trip to the beach, I sucked it up and went to church with my family partly because of, you guessed it, guilt - and partly because Sarah wanted to participate in the big Easter Egg Hunt. But afterward, the best moment of the day came when she was running around the yard with her pretty dress and shoes on blowing bubbles in the wind. She was so happy - and her sheer innocent happiness has always been able to project itself right into my heart.
- I'm not sure. I was definitely inspired three years ago when I hammered out a manuscript in a little over a month, but that inspiration was borne out of utter despair, so I'm not sure that counts. Lately I've been inspired while reading books and articles on life, how to write, issues our country is facing, and even while writing my blog. Sometimes my co-workers in the ER inspire me - the way they hunker down and push through the sometimes impossible situations that can happen where we work.
- Absolutely. I listened to my heart when I chose to quit Student Affairs and do what I'd learned to love in the ER. It was a big deal to move to Maryland just to survive, prove something to myself. It was an even bigger deal to figure out a way to honor the way my life's passion had changed by being true to what I needed to do rather than what seemed logical at the time. You can make a career out of anything, almost anywhere, but happiness isn't sold on every doorstep. Most people didn't understand me moving back to Georgia - but I'm definitely better off for having done just that.