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Monday, April 11, 2011

the "happy thoughts" game

When I was 12 it was very vogue to be a huge fan of Anne of Green Gables. We would read the books, dream of visiting Prince Edward Island, I will even admit to acting out a scene or two and memorizing the entire “Highwayman” poem that Anne recites at a poetry reading (I still know every word).

With this came my vision of romance, I wanted to marry someone “tall, dark and melancholy” as Anne and Diana say to each other. I remember talking about this ideal with my sisters and mom one day, giggling and sighing, I was maybe 14 years old, and my mother gently said to me “Tall and dark, sure, but you might want to avoid the melancholy.” And suddenly, in a moment of teenage clarity, I said “Why, because I am too melancholy?” Ha ha. Oh. Right. You aren’t teasing. Wow, I AM melancholy a lot, aren’t I?

Thus, the lifelong struggle of a moody person began, in full recognition at least. (Although, I do prefer to think of it as spirited or passionate…)

when you are four there is nothing a lollipop can't cure...
One of the hardest lessons in being a content mother is that it starts with being a content person. And this, as we all know, can be hard. And we forget about how important it is, especially as a person with melancholy tendencies, and especially as a mom with a kid of a similar disposition (who is, as I type, having a complete meltdown about not being able to locate his wooden sword).

This is made all the worse when life seems to be spitting at you…when you have a 1) hard conversation with a friend 2) argument with dada 3) disappointing house search 4) unfulfilling personal goal week (like not writing) or 5) all of the above in the space of three days. In this it becomes very hard to be content. And your kids feel that. And that sucks.

Somedays, on days like these, it comes to a point of playing mind games with yourself to prevent the spiral into the “deep dark”. Back when I was a working girl I used to tell clients, describe to me the ideal scenario for your organization. It was amazing how difficult this was for some people. We are trained to think in the “do-able” the “obtainable,” not in the remarkable, nor the extraordinary. This is doubly true as moms. We are trained to think “survive,” rather than “thrive.” But, as the Captain on Wall-E says, “I don’t WANT to survive. I WANT TO LIVE.”

So, on these days - and I am doing this for myself as I type today - I try to do the “happy thoughts” game. (BY THE WAY, the sword has been located, please feel free to breathe a sigh of relief…)

This is how the game goes: (and yes, you can tease me about this post, gently¸ but I figure if it works for me it can work for other people too.)

(Start small…)

Baby girl napped early today, she is going to go to sleep early and easily tonight!

Then I will get some writing done tonight!

And tomorrow when I read my work aloud for our final class, everyone will LOVE it!

And this weekend we will look at houses, while the children happily nap in the car (okay, that might be stretching it) …

And we will find one we totally love…

(And now our happy thoughts are getting bolder.)

And our landlord will release us from our lease…

And we will move into our new house by June!

And dada will get a promotion the next month!

And our house will be right next to a great park and I will spend my summer days getting totally tan and fit chasing the kids around the playground and lying by the lake…

And I will spend my summer nights working on writing…

(And now our happy thoughts progress into the downright exceptional)

And in August I will get a book offer…

And then we will win the lottery, buy a goat farm, take a European cruise, and go to Disneyland…

And then in mid-September I will have the EASIEST LABOR EVER IN THE HISTORY OF WOMANKIND and give birth to the world’s MOST peaceful baby.

And my body will snap back into place like some celebrity and I will go on book tour with my shiny bright family and baby the third strapped to my chest.

And we will all live happily ever after, in a goat farm castle, the end.

See, wasn’t that fun? I feel better already. Your turn.


  1. i should do this, seeing how i am cut from the same melancholy, tall girl johnson cloth. mmm....let's see...
    we would find a new apartment in modesto, which will be cheaper than our apartment is now.
    all of the stores i am visiting tomorrow will love my portfolio and want to stock all of my clothes.
    i will get into uc davis and sfu this spring and get scholarships.
    husband will find out if we are going active or not and all future deployments will go quickly and smoothly.
    hope you have an amazing week sister.

  2. In the spirit of Anne of Green Gables, tomorrow you can play this all again because tomorrow is brand new with no mistakes in it.

  3. I love how you dream, Sara! 'tis wonderful!

  4. How very "The Secret" of you. The universe is one big catalog and you just put in your request. Can't hurt, momma! Love it!

  5. It made me feel better just listening to you:) keep up the happy thoughts!

  6. This is a very interesting perspective, bc I lean toward the happy instead of the melancholy, but I'm a champion worrier. So I can see what I want in all its shiny perfect glory, but the totality of it, the largeness of it scares the bejeebers out of me. It just looks so huge and unobtainable that I'm frozen in place, and, you know, I'm kinda happy anyway, so why not be safe and stay right where I am? So I usually have to work backwards and break things down into baby steps until I find something that's un-scary enough for me to try. Maybe I'm just a big chicken.

    However, I love the giant snowball of happiness you're rolling along, complete with Goat Farm Castle! You might need a few extra swords. ;-)

  7. Honestly I don't know anymore how to be happy and content all the time. Being pregnant really digs into the whole contentment thing since I'm tired -seriously cranky. Blogging makes me happy so I get everything off my chest and talking to other moms who are as crazy as I am.

  8. bekah - sounds good but THINK BIGGER! (its more fun that way too)
    grandma - love you too :)
    jayme - is that one of those oprah recommended books? i keep hearing about it...anyway, sure yes, positive thinking cant hurt right ;)
    tammy - for sure, a good thing.
    tracy - definitely will need some knights :) and i see what you are saying. the leap into the new can be SO HARD.
    lynne - sorry your pregnancy has been hard on you! being tired is SO HARD and yes, writing definitely helps me too. hope you feel better soon!!


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