*Are you happy at the moment?
Happiness is a choice I make every day, so yes. I am happy at the moment. I pursue happiness always, even in small ways, not just the really big ways. Sometimes happiness really is a simple matter. We can choose to let go of a grief, of negativity, of fear. It’s liberating!
*If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?
Measure your beauty by your own standards. Be happy with yourself based on how you feel, not what the mirror is showing you.
Close your eyes, how do you feel?
Base your image on that feeling and adjust from there. Do you FEEL good? How can you feel better?
*What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?
People will be jealous and hurtful way past high school. I would have hoped that we would have grown out of being mean and learned what really matters, that we would have learned to set a better example for our children. As women, we should support each other more, not tear each other down. Stay as kind but as firm as you can but above all stay on course. I am learning that isn’t true of everyone. This last year I’ve gone back to school, I’ve quit smoking, started a blog, and I’ve gotten engaged to an amazing man, all the while, people have harshly criticized me, I’ve lost friends. I have stayed on course. I remain focused, and I’ve tried to act like a lady about it and set an example for my daughter.
*What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?
I’d like to finish my book. I started to write a book about everything we had been through when my husband was injured and eventually died from wounds he received in Afghanistan. It was an unbelievable journey filled with tears, fear, hope, healing, and some really crazy and unbelievably humorous situations. So many people have asked us the story, have asked me how we got through it, so I’m trying to share it. I’d like to finish the book and edit it. Editing is the hardest part of writing because I’m far too critical.
*What’s your secret to happiness?
It is in everyone’s innate nature to want to be happy; no one wakes up thinking “I am going to TRY to have the worst day possible!” I remember that when I get off track. If I have a bad day, if I get angry, I try to recalibrate and get back on track. I change my thoughts to grateful ones. There is always something to be grateful about. If I am too distracted, I keep scented lotion in my purse, scents distract me, so I stop, smell “the roses”, and begin to think about what I’m grateful for, or start texting my friends and family and telling them how much I love them. Love and gratitude are the secrets to everything.
*What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?
Meditating. Remembering to be kind. Everyone has a story, a reason to be a jerk; it’s not an excuse, it’s not permission to act one, but we all suffer, we are all human.
*What’s your biggest regret?
I really don’t know, every choice I’ve made has led me to right here and I’ve learned so much because of everything. I always thought I had regretted not finishing my college degree right out of high school, but would I be here? Maybe not. When my husband died, so many people asked me how I would survive and I kept thinking that we had no regrets. We traveled Europe, we did so many things that he wanted to do, he followed his dreams and I gladly supported those. I tried to keep a little bit of my own identity through all of that so I would never resent him for the priorities we chose. We were kind to each to each other, keeping in mind, kindness is relative when you are married to someone and they know what you look like in the morning, they know what you smell like! We tried. When he died, we had no regrets. I like to live my life very much the same way, I always have. The fear of death isn’t a new concept for me. My mortality is something I have always lived with. I was born with a life threatening illness. I grew up in hospitals. Always knowing how temporary we are keeps you grounded.
*What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?
Bend like the willow. Be flexible. Life is ever changing and we need to adapt to life’s changes to survive. The firm and mighty oak might snap when the wind blows, but the willow bends and sways with the wind.
*What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?
I would love to be that person that loves to be healthy! I want to be a non-smoking, heath food loving, gym rat! Everyday is a struggle to convince myself I am non smoking, salad eating, granola loving, “I will at least take a walk and pretend it was a work out,” person.
*Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?
My courage. I have been bullied, scared, abused, like many people my negative ego gets the best of me, I’ve spent time alone, I’ve been deathly ill, widowed, loved again; Each one of these things is a cause for courage. Each time I have been daring enough to face my fears, and be brave anyway.
*When were you happiest?
I am happiest right now. Our lives are a journey, we travel though it and go down so many roads. I’ve been truly blessed and have been able to do so many wonderful things. I’ve loved all of my jobs. I’ve met some amazing people. I’ve had wonderful experiences! We should never go backwards. If we are to truly enjoy our lives we have to be happy in the now, grateful for what we have had, grateful for what we will receive, but always happiest in the now. It’s all we really have.
*What ten words best describe you?
Human, grateful, pensive, humorous, open-minded, audacious, courageous, assertive, dry, intelligent