Put on a Happy Face

How happy is the little Stone
by Emily Dickinson
How happy is the little Stone
That rambles in the Road alone,
And doesn’t care about Careers
And Exigencies never fears —
Whose Coat of elemental Brown
A passing Universe put on,
And independent as the Sun
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute Decree
In casual simplicity —
(If there was ever a poem that describes me this is it)

Today I went to a large church social and was doing my best to mingle with the crowd (not my favorite activity).  Eventually I came across a group I had not seen in many months.   As we chatted about our summers and the latest movies one of the girls perked up and said “Rachel, you look happier.  What’s going on?”.

The question caught me a bit off guard.  I wish I knew the answer.  I’ve always felt like a very happy person but I did go through a tough couple of months at the beginning of the year.  It was a lot of bad news in a short amount of time.  Plus, it is always hard for me to put on a happy face when I am not feeling well.  I’m afraid I’ve inherited some of my father’s complete inability to fake an emotion or to be anything less than genuine.  My entire family will tell you that I am a big grump when I’m sick, tired or hungry (so if you see me being crabby check one of the three!).

That said- the strange thing is I didn’t even realize an increase in my happiness had occurred until she pointed it out.   Isn’t that funny?  We can be happy and not really appreciate it or understand it?

I think a big part of my current happy heart is the  aloha spirit that I still have inside me.  I know that sounds cheesy but Hawaii was so good for me.  It made me feel active and alive in a way I have not felt in over 2 years.  With all the exercising and conditioning I never had a moment where I wanted to exclaim “Yes, I’m so much more capable physically than I was before”.  However, in Hawaii that happened again and again with surfing being the ultimate moment of triumph.  If I can surf, I can do anything!

Since returning home I dove immediately back into the fitness rat-race (in a good way) challenging myself with new routines and goals.  It is exhilarating!  In fact, on Saturday I completed my first mile-long swim since high school.  It still took me an hour but its a start.  Like I said, if I can conquer surfing I can conquer anything and that’s SO EXCITING!!!

My health has also been steadily improving since I gave up the various medications in May.   On  Thursday I have a check in with my endocrinologist, but I have a good feeling that the last 6 months of 2011 will be much better than the first.  Its a feeling in my gut that I find difficult to explain but its great.

I know there will still be challenges but Hawaii gave me hope for the future.  If I can be that happy on vacation then I know I can be happier in real life.   HOPE IS AWESOME!

One of the exciting goals I am setting for myself is to compete in an open water swim.  These are marathon type swimming races that are usually 1 mile, 3k and 5k.  There is one on August 13th that I am trying for but if not there’s another at the beginning of October in Vegas.  Can you believe that I can even think of signing up for something like that?  18 months ago you wouldn’t have believed it!

It is perhaps this feeling of accomplishment and balance that is putting a smile on my face- a smile which this girl noticed even before I did.  After the year I’ve had I’m grateful for every smile I get and I certainly don’t take it for granted.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who point out my happiness, so I don’t just let it go by unnoticed!

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