If You’re Not Doing What You Love, You’re Probably Just Like Everyone Else.

Can I just talk for a second?

I see a lot of headlines (mostly ad headlines) telling me to stop what I’m doing, drop everything, and start doing what I love! Because if I would just stop for a minute and think about it, I would realize that there’s absolutely nothing between me and my dreams! Just do it! Forget your fears, and leap!

follow_your_dreams____by_cryingsoulgirl-d5cpoep

Here’s the thing. I am 100% in favor of following your passions and pursuing your dreams. And I think everybody should be happy. I also think a lot of us (myself included) need to do some spring cleaning in our lives, and get rid of the stuff, ideas, and obligations that are holding us back from becoming who we want to become.

But you can’t be thrilled all the time. It’s not an option. We’re human beings—we need a wide range of emotions in order to maintain stability, and that includes some negative ones. It even includes the boring ones. You can go pursue your dreams all day if you want, but eventually you’re going to have to find a place to take a dump. Eventually, you’re going to have to wash the dishes. Whether or not you love them, it is illegal to just ignore your taxes.

paperwork

And those are just the “taking care of me” ones. Now plug in the “relationships” part of the equation. My marriage brings me a lot of happiness. But that means that sometimes I have to take care of a sick husband. It means putting up with him when he’s hungry. It means admitting when I’m wrong (which might be more difficult than putting up with him when he’s hungry.) My son brings me a lot of happiness, too—but he’s in diapers. And they don’t change themselves.

I would love to just drop everything and go pursue my crazy dream… except I don’t really have a set-out “crazy dream.” When I envision happiness, it’s usually a motorcycle, a long highway, and a really hot sun overhead. But somehow, I would have to pay for the gas—and the motorcycle—and even motorcycle riding gets boring after 16 waking hours. Most people don’t have one specific passion that surpasses everything else. That’s the advertisers talking. (Hint: the “one passion” they want you to have is the thing they’re selling.)

bike-ride

I literally had a dream like this.

And here’s the thing: even once you find something that makes you happy—even if you’re the sort who can do the same thing for years, and it will still make you happy, and it will never get boring—eventually, somebody’s going to die. Someone you know will die. And it will be sad. And it isn’t healthy to expect to be happy while you’re sad.

Society screams at us that we’re supposed to be happy. I agree (but without the screaming.) There’s a scripture in the Book of Mormon that specifically states, “Men are that they might have joy.” It doesn’t get much more explicit than that: God wants us to be happy. We usually want that for ourselves. But there’s a difference between being a happy person and feeling happy all the time. That’s where the advertisers are lying; no product will make you happy all the time. No job change will solve all your problems. No relationship will make all the bad days disappear.

We aren’t supposed to be manically happy. We’re supposed to find a way to become happy people. That means doing some things that you don’t like (like the dishes I’m avoiding at this very moment.) And a lot of the time, it means working through the hard stuff to get to the good stuff (like the clean kitchen.)

being-miserable

This doesn’t mean that being miserable is a good thing. If something makes you miserable, you need to do something about it. It’s probably not necessary. You can get a new job. You can communicate better with your spouse. You can get a nanny for one or two days a week. Even the most unavoidable of problems can still be addressed; I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (which basically means I find winter really, really depressing.) So every year around February, Ethan takes me down to the Arizona border for a couple days to get some sun. If you’re an unhappy person generally, change something. Start looking for the positive things you have. Start eliminating or changing the negative things.

I was lugging my infant son around shortly after he was born, trying to get into the bookstore to talk to my husband. I walked around the mini-van and pulled out the baby carrier, then the diaper bag, then my purse, then realized I didn’t have enough arms, so I put down a few bags to adjust…

And then it hit me. I was that mom. The mom I had always made fun of. And I nearly cried. But then I realized something else: I’m only going twenty feet into a bookstore. I don’t need the diaper bag. Or my whole purse. Or the infant carrier. In fact, all I really needed was my wallet and the baby. So I got the kid out of the car seat, got my wallet out, and carried him on my hip while I wandered through a bookstore. Then I took him through the Asian market, just for kicks and giggles.

And then he blew out a diaper and peed the floor at the Asian market.

But you know what? The diaper bag was still just around the corner. We survived. And more than that, I started parenting differently, because I had realized I didn’t need all that baggage.

I’ve been out of shape for years, and I finally just started working out. Lo and behold, my depression, anxiety, and PMS have become easier to manage. Oh, and also, I’m in better shape. I’m not thrilled with my body yet. I’m still not a joy to behold during my period. But it’s better, and I’m happier. You can’t expect instant solutions, but you can expect improvements. That’s what I think we should all be working toward.

You shouldn’t be miserable. But you’re going to experience some serious discomfort in life, and you need to be okay with that. Learn from it. Grow from it. And use it to learn about yourself. Don’t drop everything and do something that makes you happy. Do things that shape yourself into a happier person. ♦

The Book Title Generator

Sometimes marriage gets in the way of sleep.

I mean there’s sex, sure, but I’m talking more about the slumber party effect. I sleep next to my best friend. He gets me. He gets my sense of humor. He says hilarious things right as I’m about to fall asleep.

And then there are those nights when he finds the world’s greatest website at 1 in the morning, and we end up staying awake laughing until tears come out of our eyes at things that probably won’t still be funny in the morning.

…So anyway, I have no idea why I felt the need to say all of that. It’s not like that has anything to do with the Book Title Generator we may or may not have found in the wee hours of the morning.

I’m now considering writing a series of short stories, just to justify any of these titles. And in case you’re interested, here are a few of the possible book titles we still thought were funny after we got some sleep:

  • Minnesota Sexy
  • Murder for Charity
  • Chicken Walls
  • The Heat of the Gringo
  • Born Pregnant
  • Demon Shorts
  • Remains of the Groom
  • The Gods of Angela
  • Time for a Rake
  • The Annotated Raiders
  • Town of Holes
  • Apache Special
  • The Holiday Cats
  • The Smell of the Road
  • Bamboo and Betrayal
  • Cook the Saint
  • Starlight and Doom
  • Leather Net
  • Savage Shopping
  • Warlock and Einstein
  • The Bikini Cousins
  • Turtle Joseph
  • Wife Square
  • Tarzan the Roof
  • Magical Chloe
  • Explosive Range
  • Panama Forgiveness
  • Hatchet Logic
  • The Clown in the Faith
  • Hidden Food
  • Enduring Wyoming
  • The Unquiet Apples
  • The Dedicated Gorilla
  • Gay Breath
  • The Hollow Carla
  • Harriet and the Barbarian
  • Swan Tendencies
  • Hunk of the World
  • Arabian Stuff
  • Nelson’s Mouth
  • Twilight Babies
  • Boomerang Violence

Just a few. English teachers: you have just found your creative writing exercises for the year. You’re welcome. ♦

Tips for Jerks: “Perhaps You’re Right”

My husband jokes that the most important bit of marriage advice his father gave him was the three words, “Perhaps you’re right.” Just admitting that possibility often prevents a fight from escalating, because even though it doesn’t mean you agree with the other person, it means you recognize the possibility that they’re on to something.

Admitting that someone might be right – even if you acknowledge that you think they’re wrong – implies that you’re humble enough to know you sometimes make mistakes. Saying something like “I might be wrong” or “you might be right” makes you less threatening and less arrogant. It also gently reminds you, as you say it, that you might be wrong. Your spouse or sibling or friend might be right. It requires you to question whether you’re making sense, instead of just assuming you’re right because you’re always right.

Saying “perhaps you’re right” means you’ll consider the other person’s perspective, but doesn’t require you to cave in and agree with everything they’re saying. ♦

Acronym Battle

The other day, my neighbor sent me a text about an NDA. I didn’t known what that meant. Naturally, instead of looking it up, my husband and I stayed up until midnight, coming up with all the options we knew NDA didn’t stand for.

National Defense Administration: probably not, at least not in the context of getting a new job. I hope. I don’t think I’m working for the NDA.

Never Die Alone: good advice. Probably not what he meant.

Nine Doilied Abuelas: I just pictured an army of elderly Chileans pushing food and life wisdom on me.

Non-Dairy Asparagus.

New Die-hard Action.

Novel, Dangeresque Activity.

Nervendings Don’t Accumulate.

Norman – Dust Around!

Nirvana Does Acid.

Nickelodeon’s Dust Allergy.

Non-Denominational Atheists.

We used to drive Ethan’s roommates insane doing this for hours. We still do this for hours. I’ll spare you the full list – I don’t remember it all anyway. ♦

The Best and Worst of Luck

Ethan was at work today, trying to contact a customer over the phone. Instead of Cheryl or Darryl or Shari, he got an automated voice saying, “Thank you for calling __._ fm radio! You’re caller number 15! Stay on the line and we’ll get your information for your caribbean cruise!”

Thinking it was a hoax, Ethan hung up and tried the number again. The line was busy. Tried again. Busy. Tried later. Busy again.

Suddenly, Ethan wondered if he had just accidentally won – and lost – a caribbean vacation for two. In only seconds.

Good thing I don’t like open water. ♦

Paying Debts by Cleaning Up

Friday morning, the baby destroyed his crib.

I woke up to hear the baby crying, and staggered into the nursery. Experienced parents will know the feeling: I walked into the room and my nostrils were assaulted by the smell of the world’s most horrible diaper. The smell was so strong, I knew instantly that the problem was not contained. The entire crib was a biohazard.

Okay, the entire crib wasn’t a biohazard. Just one half of it. And all of Jonathan’s body. And all of his clothing.

I didn’t even try to change the diaper; I just stripped myself, stripped him and wiped up some of the damage, and then turned on the shower. John was fascinated with the running water, and he was cute enough I let him live.

“You owe me,” I said to Ethan after I had fed the baby, changed his sheets, and put him back to bed for a nap.

Sunday afternoon, I was taking a nap and woke up to see Ethan holding a fluffy green towel with our baby in it. John looked quite happy and comfortable, with his hair spiked into a little faux-hawk. I could hear the washing machine running in the other room.

“Now we’re even,” said Ethan, and went to get the baby dressed. ♥

Hamazon

Isn’t it odd the things that keep you up at night? Some nights we stay up worrying about the next day, or regretting the last. Some nights, we find ourselves designing a newer, better elevator in our heads. And some nights, we try to one-up our spouse by finding the worst possible thing to order online.

I don’t remember who found it first – so I don’t know who gets the points – but I’d just like to let you all know that you can buy hams on Amazon.

Not ham. Not like, a package of ham lunchmeat. Hams. Like, whole hams. You can order a spiral-sliced, hickory-smoked, honey-baked ham on Amazon.com. Whole thing. Ding-dong. “Honey, the ham’s here!”

There’s a part of me that’s really glad I don’t have the kind of money that would allow me to use this information irresponsibly. I could just send hams to random addresses, with a note that says, “Enjoy the holiday!” Like, in the middle of September. I wonder if I could order it to be delivered via drone. Remote-controlled Christmas ham.

This is probably why God hasn’t granted me riches. I wouldn’t use them properly. ♦