Posts Tagged ‘happiness’


I’m trying to get some work done before our family reunion tomorrow (80 people!) but in the meantime, I had to post our new favorite photo of the Cole-meister.  In spite of his diaper rash (thank you to everyone who gave me good remedy ideas on Facebook) he still wakes up happy both in the morning and after his naps.  And even when he is grumpy we can coax a smile or laugh out of him.

This is the essence of Cole: happy.

How would you describe the essence of someone you love in just one word?  Leave a comment by the evening of Sunday, July 26 and I’ll pick a random winner to receive some of my new stamp designs I just got in!  Yum!

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As I wrote this title, my first thought was that I could have left the “Postpartum” part off and this post would still apply.  Whether we are dealing with depression, financial difficulties, physical health issues, problems at work or with family members or anything in between, there are strategies for overcoming our challenges.  I firmly believe this.  We have a part to play in our own happiness and ability to persevere.  This post is all about the nuts and bolts of what I did to get through my postpartum blues.

Project 365 of Gratitude photo: the day I had my doctor's appointment

Project 365 of Gratitude photo: the day I had my doctor's appointment

1.  Get help. I don’t think I can stress this enough and so I put it first.  It’s vital that we understand ourselves enough to recognize when something is wrong and then get the help we need.  So often (as women, especially) we brush our problems under the proverbial rug and “soldier on.”  Although it’s true that we need to do a certain amount of soldiering on in life, we don’t have to do it alone.  I went to the doctor and was firm in my communication with him about how I was really doing.  I also talked to Jason about it often and when we could see that I needed help, we called in our support system – whether that is friends or family or neighbors.  We put key people in the loop so that I was getting help from different areas of my life. – including all of you.  I let you know what was happening and by doing so I was able to not worry about my blog for a while.  That is the power of a support system.

2.  Lower your expectations. Of all the other things I did, this one was probably the most important for me to personally tackle.  I have always been a list-maker and a “get-it-done” girl so the thought that I couldn’t do everything that I was used to doing (let me rephrase that, I couldn’t do ANYTHING I was used to doing) was quite guilt producing.  I hate guilt.  I think it does more harm than good in most situations.  But it was difficult to not feel guilty when all it seemed like I was doing was alternating between taking naps and crying and staring into space.

Once we figured out what was going on I had to immediately lower my expectations of myself.  I tossed my list.  I only did what was vital and tried to get help for the rest.  I realized that many of the things that we think we have to do is in our own mind anyway.  No one cares if I clean off my desk.  No one cares if I start another project.  No one cares if I hire a neighbor girl to weed for me.  We add so many things to our lists that they can overwhelm us.

I decided to have extremely low expectations of myself.  I took care of Coleman and gave myself one thing to do each day such as fold the laundry or clean out the dishwasher or pay the bills.  That’s it.  The rest of the time I spent napping when I needed to and sitting in a chair while Cole played on the floor.  That’s it.  As time passed and I felt strong enough to add something to my day, then I would.  But if not, then I didn’t and gradually that sense of being completely overwhelmed started to fade.

Project 365 of Gratitude: the day I walked farther than the mailbox (talk about low expectations!)

Project 365 of Gratitude: the day I walked farther than the mailbox (talk about low expectations!)

3.  Surround yourself with positives. I found that when I was alone with my own thoughts, I got extremely overwhelmed and discouraged.  Jason kept saying, “You have to stop thinking.”  That’s hard to do so I decided I needed some help with it.  I started turning on positive, uplifting music throughout the house from the time I got up till when I went to bed.  By having something to listen to other than my own thoughts, I did better.  Jason probably got sick of the same things playing all the time but he never complained.  Blocking out the negatives and surrounding ourselves with positives is necessary in normal life so it makes sense that it would be vital when we are feeling less than normal.

4.  Laugh. Jason and I learned early on in our relationship that how quick we are to laugh is directly proportional to how well we work through a challenge.  He helped me to remember this during the most difficult weeks and although we are not daytime television watchers, he would turn on Ellen or something funny in the afternoons to make me laugh.  We were careful about what shows and movies we watched in the evenings as well, making sure that they weren’t depressing or too heavy.  Laughter is a tool.  Give yourself a chance to laugh as often as possible.

5.  Routine. I probably wouldn’t have realized the importance of the need for a routine or schedule before this experience but I recognize it now.  When I hit rock bottom I had my mother-in-law take Cole for a couple of days so I could regroup.  She is wonderful and I’m so grateful that he got to spend that time with his grandparents.  My mom had offered to take him a few days later but I told her no.  What I had realized was that while he was gone I wandered.  I had no purpose that I could face tackling and so I ended up sleeping all day and wandering the house.  I decided that if I could do nothing else, I needed to have Cole home.  His schedule gave me structure.  Maybe I needed to nap when he napped but I still had to get up and feed him and change him and play with him in between.  If I didn’t do anything else, at least I did that.  His schedule kept me on a routine and that provided the framework to my days that I needed to help me move forward.


Plus, I was always happier when he was around.  Who wouldn’t be?  My mother-in-law said, “Maybe she needs him as much as he needs her right now.”  I believe that to be true.  I needed his touch.  I needed his squeals and laughs and growls.  When I looked into those soul-searching eyes of his I felt like he was saying, “It’s ok Mom.  It will all be ok.”

And it was.

Perhaps that is the best strategy of all.  Remembering that it will be ok. We may have to work at it and it might take a while but it will be ok.  I am grateful for this experience.  I always believed that postpartum depression was real but I never understood its impact until now.  I am grateful we caught it quickly and acted early.  I know that it is the reason why I was doing fabulously just six weeks later instead of still muddling through for months on end.

But I’m still using my strategies.  I have a to-do list now but it’s not very long and when I start to feel overwhelmed I pull back and take a break.  I still surround myself with positives and laughter but now I can generate that laughter on my own again.  I still get help and keep my support system updated on what I need so that I am not alone.  And most importantly, I have yet another thing to add to my list of experiences so that when others go through the same thing, I know what they are talking about.  I am better for this understanding.

Thanks for your encouragement.  For those of you going through challenges of your own – have hope.  Have faith.  You can do this and know that you have a friend in your corner cheering you on.

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This month we have been talking about hope in our Big Picture Scrapbooking workshop “A Life Well Crafted – Great Expectations.”  Registration closes tomorrow – click here to join us and here if you want to sign up for next month’s workshop called “The Comfort of Color.”  Since you can still squeeze in to this month’s, then I thought you might like to get one of the quotes that we sent out during Week 2 of the workshop.  It comes from the audio portion of the class and is a quote from Jason himself:


We truly believe that the first step to being happy and successful is just having a little hope that it’s actually possible to do so.  In this time of uncertainty and distress, we can and should have hope.  We can be happy in spite of the turmoil around us.  We can live richly in spite of unemployment.  We can find success in spite of dire news reports.  All it takes is a little hope in our hearts.

When we choose to approach each day (and sometimes we have to remind ourselves to do so as often as moment by moment) with just a little hope that we can be happy, our chances for achieving that happiness increases dramatically.

Now, we all know that Jason hasn’t really done a scientific study that has helped him arrive at this particular percentage that he quotes.  In fact, the running joke in our family is that Jason likes to speak in percentages on a regular basis with no actual statistics to back up his findings at all.   You can often find him saying things like, “I would say that there is a 65% chance that I will make it to my appointment on time.”  Or even”There is a 40% chance that Cole’s diaper is poopy.”  Huh?  What’s with the percentages, Jason?   Maybe he has an app on his iPhone that converts real life into statistics for him – who knows.

But what I do know is this – hope does matter.  And waking up each day, approaching each moment with a little hope really is the key to being successful, happy and living the kind of life we want to live – no matter what our circumstances might be.

So I’m sticking with Jason on this percentage of his.  In fact, I might even up it a little bit and say that hope could actually be as much as 95% or 97% of our success.  How’s that for scientific facts!

Hope.  It matters.  And after the last 7 days of living with a raging flu – I am going to say that I even have a little hope today that it might be on it’s way out of here.  58% chance, as a matter of fact.  I’ll keep you posted on how the stats are changing as the week progresses….

Happy Download Day!

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I am a strong believer in the power of personal choice when it comes to how we respond to life’s ups and downs, twists and turns, and peaks and valleys.  I know that times are tough for many of you out there right now.  I don’t have to look far in our own neighborhood to see the effects of the economy.  We feel the pinch in our lives as well.  And if that isn’t enough, many people have challenges with health issues, relationship problems, self-esteem struggles, natural disasters, and anything else imaginable (as well as much that is beyond imagination) to deal with.

But through it all, no matter what your individual challenge is, we each have a choice.  We get to decide how we are going to respond to our circumstances – those of our own making as well as those out of our control.  Yes, things are hard right now for many people.  Yes, it might be discouraging or scary or overwhelming.

So take a moment to pause.  You may not like what you are dealing with but you have to go through it anyway.   How are you responding to your circumstances?  Can you change the choice you are making in how you deal with things you are facing?

True, there are definitely people who struggle with chronic depression and I know it’s hard to overcome that.  But if you can, remember what Jason would say:

Happy or sad I’ll still be in a wheelchair, I still won’t be able to walk…so I might as well enjoy the ride.

This week’s download is a quote that our lucky Big Picture Scrapbooking students got to have a few months back and now I want to share it with you.

Give happiness a try.  In spite of everything – make the choice to be happy.  Choose not to complain.  Look at the positive instead of the negative.  Be grateful.

You just might be surprised at how your life changes when you do.


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