I painted these words to the left of my front door in our tiny apartment on the corner of 25th and E St NE, DC. I was duking it out with postpartum depression. I had had a miscarriage, fallen deep into depression, then got pregnant 3 months later and fought anxiety and angst each day during my pregnancy.
Delivering my daughter was an absolute gorgeous experience. It was perfect in every sense… orgasmic even! I didn’t think it was possible to experience childbirth in such a glorious way. But my husband and I did.
And then, only a week later, the depression crept back in taking me further into the abyss.
I sat on my couch breastfeeding this hungry little baby round the clock! I thought I was going to lose my mind. But I was determined to be of sound mind, full of heart and strong body so I could care for this sweet girl, her brothers and her dad. I needed a reminder. I wanted to have something that would make me feel safe and happy every time I sat on that couch to feed my baby. I would look up, force a smile and speak, Be Happy, Right Here, Right Now.
Now this has become one of my mantras in life. The smiles come naturally and effortlessly (most days). The understanding comes clear. We do need reminders to be happy in the NOW. Like anything else, it takes practice and patience for this type of peace to take root. Happiness is a skill.
To build your Happiness muscle, try incorporating these 4 habits into your life;
Gratitude – Give Thanks for the things that make your life so good.
Focus on the Good – Happiness is an emotion. Grow that emotion with a little Positive Outlooking.
Set Goals – Give yourself something wonderful to look forward to and give that vision energy by actively working toward it.
Be Generous – Maybe some Random Act of Kindness each day will bring a smile to not just others. But it just might bring a silly smile to your face that can last all day through.
Yesterday’s session was wonderful. One of the ladies who joined us shared some powerful stuff about her journey through life.
Her story opened with the Magic she experienced when she first moved to Asheville. But later, a life-threatening accident led to several broken bones and a stroke before the age of 30. It left her with pain in her legs and arms and took her language. But it did not break her spirit. She talked to me of how she is finding strength as she regains her independence. She shared that dance and movement is a big part of her personal therapy and that is why she joined VEDA Studios.
Now as you all know, I read stories told by generations from Africa, North America and sometimes Ireland or China. I just opened the book and read the first story that jumped out at me. Our story yesterday was The Quarrel Between Earth and Sky. It was about Vulture and how he went to the Sky to plead for rain so the people’s crops would flourish and they would return to health. Vulture was successful in getting Sky to feel for the people and gave him a message of rain wrapped up in coco-yam leaves to return to the people with.
Vulture accidentally tore it open with his talons and the rain poured out. But there was more rain that poured down. He decided he didn’t need to return with the message and flew toward a fire he saw off in the distance. This fire was started by a man who had made a sacrifice in hopes Sky would take pity and send rain. Vulture warmed himself by the fire and fed on the leftovers of the sacrificed animal.
I am so blessed to have heard both stories as they shed some light on some of my own challenges.We all have a story full of struggles, tragedy, and fears. But we have each other to share with, to learn from, to be comforted by.
This week’s LilaDance! session was a reminder that we all have our painful stories. But they make way for our new story full of beauty, growth and magic.
The last two Fridays, I have had small classes of families with BIG heart. You just can’t replace those opportunities that allow getting to know people on a more intimate level. We flapped our wings and hand-danced like my grandmother taught me (though I am lousy at leading). It was really special.
Mama J says, “[My] favorite part, animal time! And bird time. And the song with the rain.”
Thank you to those Mamas, Babas and Aunties that came out to join me.
And just in case you are wondering what the “song with the rain” is, it is what we end with each journey. Want to learn it so you can sing with us next time you come out? Ask and you shall receive, SUNSHINE.