*Are you happy at the moment?
Yes, I am happy.
Life’s moments can be sad and depressing, but I know there is an upside, too.
Whenever I feel low, I know that a high will be coming. How would we know happy if we didn’t experience sad? Different sides of the same coin. Flip from the sad to the happy side. Choose happy.
“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
*If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?
Be all you can be.
I was raised in the 1940’s and 1950’s where girls bought the idea that a woman is nothing without her man. A good woman stands behind her man, meets him each evening at the door, refreshed, well dressed and well coifed with his favorite drink in her hand. The kids have been bathed and fed. Their toys picked up and the carpet freshly vacuumed. After all, he has had a hard day. A woman’s job is to relieve his stress. Please, dear 16 year-old self, don’t buy into that image. Use your brain as well as your vagina. Do not go to college to find a man and get your MRS degree. Go to college and major in your interest. What is it you want to do, not what is expected of you? Make yourself a priority in your life and in doing so, you will make valuable contributions in your private and as well as community/public life. Be all you can be.
*What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?
That life is fragile.
I have always known about the fragility of life, but this past year I GOT IT. On a sunny January afternoon in Hawaii, my first cousin ran someone over in a crosswalk. Her SUV was no match for a slight 69 year-old lady. My cousin was not speeding, drinking, taking any medications, on her cell phone, or listening to her radio. She was looking for a street sign on the next street. She ran over a lady with her front and back tires. Both my cousin and the victim were in the health field. Both ladies were single with no children.
Both ladies were caregivers. Both worked for the state of Hawaii. Both victims: one suicidal and one dead on a bright sunny day this past January.
Be alert. Be aware. Be present in all you do. Life is fragile and the responsibility of all of us.
*What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?
Completing my second book: Exposing the Naked Lady?
My mother was arrested over 33 times mainly for parading around town naked.
When I completed my memoir: How Do You Grab a Naked Lady? questions were left unanswered. What was mother’s childhood like? Did something happen to her as a child to fuel her bi-polar disease? My book will be a novel based on a true story. It reminds me of a quote from Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: “But it’s the truth even if it didn’t happen.”
*What’s your secret to happiness?
Knowing that life is a mind game.
Our thoughts control our feelings. So it is a constant endeavor to change our thoughts to keep us from destructive behavior or consciousness. We are a sum of our thoughts.
*What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?
Keeping a balance.
When I am physically tired, I do something mental. And, when I am mentally exhausted, I do something physical. It is important to exercise both the brain and the body.
*What’s your biggest regret?
Marrying for the wrong reasons.
The first husband was a professional man who was going to provide me with the white picket fence. The American Dream life my dad believed. Can’t go wrong with a man who has DR. in front of his name. He will provide for me and the children. WRONG. The second husband was fun and athletic. The opposite of the first. For the first time I would have fun in my life. WRONG.
Both men drank too much and were abusive. The environment in our home was not healthy for our children. First I stayed because of the children, and then I left because of the children. Both husbands needed me. Can’t get along without me, etc… “I’ll kill you if you leave me.” It became a drain to be needed. Need is not love.
*What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?
How to cope.
Life is full of changes and challenges. But, the most important lesson for raising children is to handle what life gives you and move on. The Japanese have a saying for this: Nanakorobi yaoki. When you fall seven times, get up eight, or when life knocks you down, get up. Keep trying.
*What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?
Eliminate added sugar in my diet. I know that sugar is bad for my body. I know that sugar is an addictive substance because it affects our neurological receptors in the brain by producing opium-like effects.
It is crap that could make me obese and bring on type 2 diabetes. Who needs it?
Daughter, don’t tempt me with chocolate chip cookies that you baked. Fresh from the oven. Oh the aroma! Found the cure: I will picture an ugly spider in each one. No, don’t take a bite, because you will get a piece of spider in your mouth. UGH! Hairy legs…
*Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?
Writing my award-winning memoir: How Do You Grab a Naked Lady?
For over 50 years I knew I was going to write my mother’s story. I kept a bankers box full of notes, letters and documents. Thirty years ago I audio taped mother for hours:
“Mother, tell me your story.” And, she did. For hours. I also audio taped my brother, grandma, uncles and aunts. A shoe box full of tapes.
At 69 years old, I wrote my first draft. Within two years, my memoir was published. I have received many reviews. Been on local television and radio. Also national radio. I know it is a movie, and with the interest/options I have received from Hollywood, others agree with my assessment.
*When were you happiest?
Completing the book I was always threatening to write for over 50 years!
When my book was completed and published two years ago, I walked on air. I did it! Number one item on my bucket list. And, my memoir had some wonderful surprises for me: I grew to love and admire my mother in a deeper way. I thought she chose to be mentally ill. What a great ruse. Absolved of all responsibility. And, to behave in any outrageous way you felt like at the moment. But, then I realized she was a victim of the times, which was difficult to process because mother said one volunteers to be a victim.
Victim = Volunteer. A Kirkus review of How Do You Grab a Naked Lady? said it best: Interestingly, the book also serves as a record of mental health treatments and the development of patient rights as the century progressed.
Before my memoir, mother was crazy and I was perfect. After the memoir, I learned that the line can be unclear and I have accepted my mother as intelligent, beautiful, wise and perfect in so many ways. And I have accepted my crazy self.
*What ten words best describe you?
The ten words that best describe me: loving, forgiving, passionate, healthy, intelligent, inquiring, growing, moral, philosophical, and accepting.
Sharon was raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. Sharon has four children, nine grandchildren and one great grandson. She spends her time with family and friends, her book club, jazzercise, ukulele, tai chi. As a guest speaker at Rotary Clubs, Business clubs, book clubs, radio and television, she is helping to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Her award-winning memoir, How Do You Grab a Naked Lady? about her life with her bi-polar, schizophrenic mother is receiving 5 stars on book sites and ravishing reviews; the story could be the basis for a major motion picture and given the options and calls received, apparently others agree with that assessment. Follow Sharon on Twitter @HicksNakedLady and check out her Facebook page too.