Here is a sappy and idealistic post, as indicated by the title, so prepare yourself for cheesy "believe in yourself" rhetoric if you choose to read on! If you are not interested in my excessively introspective navel gazing, please just skip to the bottom and click on the link for several good laughs and a little bit of perspective!
I was writing a message to a friend from Ohio U a few days ago and I realized how happy I am and how lucky I feel about our lives. I feel like I am exactly where I want to be and where I should be both literally and figuratively in my life. Sometimes life is hard and it is never perfect, but I am content with my attitude and the decisions I have made. No life is without setbacks and obstacles, but I think that the circumstances of your life are not as important as how you view the world and the way you choose to cope with difficulties. I think the challenges we face make us better people and teach us important lessons about ourselves, life, and love.
I truly do believe that you shape your own reality and that true happiness comes from inside you, not from any outside stimulus whether that be a place, a person, or a job. Your experience of the sunset or a joke is where the happiness actually comes from. Your ideas about the world around you influence your perception. Think about the sunset for a minute. To a pair of people sitting outside watching it, one may experience happiness because of the beautiful colors and shared experience of viewing it. The other person may be very sad to view the same sunset because it signifies the end of a wonderful weekend and they have a lot of unfinished business piled up waiting for them at work the next day. The two people are looking at the same sunset, but they are experiencing it differently because of the way they process information in their heads.
For a personal example, it is difficult being so far away from my family (both nuclear and extended) since we have been so close my entire life, especially since I will be going through this pregnancy on the other side of the world from my best support system. The thing is, I would make the same decisions again because I think this is the best thing for us to do. The positive outcome of the 3 year separation from my loved ones is a respect and appreciation for how special, wonderful, and unique my family is, and the knowledge that I will never take them for granted and will cherish them for the rest of my life. When I think of all the wonderful opportunities we have been offered here in Japan, the friends we have made, the way our relationship has grown and matured, and the adventures we have had, I would not have changed a single thing. I am not merely passing time until the baby comes or we get back to the US to start school or careers, I am living my life to the fullest every day and loving the person I am becoming.
Jonathan and I were talking about our ideas about this pregnancy and the things we hoped/hope to do during the 9 months I am with child, and I confessed some interesting things. I have been reading mommy blogs and watching pregnancy shows on the internet, and it is very validating to see that I am not alone in feeling some of the things I feel and worrying about others. For example, I read a blog by a woman 9 months pregnant who runs a vegetarian restaurant in the UK. She had all these ideas about the superfoods she would eat and the way she would exercise and stay active (the previous year she had run a half marathon and planned to continue running), but none of it worked out. She was too sick to eat 99 percent of the food she ate previously, and just the thought of going outside in the heat to run made her nauseous. I totally identified with that! I feel like we try to put healthy, delicious food into our bodies and I had my mom mail me yoga tapes that I could do in all 3 trimesters, but I feel so terrible I cannot eat anything and the thought of doing anything more strenuous than walking to the car to drive to work makes me queasy.
I told Jonathan, (paraphrased) "I am glad that I don't have enough energy (from lack of food and normal pregnancy-related fatigue) to worry about being a bad mom. I just feel like I am doing what I have to in order to survive and that is it." He told me that was ridiculous, I am not a bad mom and it is not my fault that I cannot do some things for the baby that I wanted to. The truth is, I don't feel like a bad mom not because I don't have energy to feel like one, but because I don't waste my energy on negative emotions. I am doing the best that I can and even though it is not ideal, I am proud of myself for being happy and excited about the changes happening in our life. I know I complain about the morning sickness on this blog a lot, but this first hurdle is the hardest thing I have gone through in my life (and it is only the beginning of the journey!). I no longer enjoy something that I always have (food), and I am experiencing a lot of hormonal and physical changes right now that I know will culminate in an epic and probably very painful and exhausting birthing experience. Despite the hardship, Jonathan and I are ecstatic about this child and the amazing new paths our life will take us down in the coming decades.
All that said, the reason I got on to post today is this video. You absolutely have to watch it. It is from the Bloomington Ted Talks, and this guy (Shawn Achor) is funny, engaging, and very interesting. He is a Harvard professor who talks about happiness, human potential, and positive psychology. If you don't have 15 minutes to spare, just watch the first 2 minutes and you will have something to smile about the rest of the day.