I’ve had this sweet little chalkboard image on my computer desktop for years. Choose Happiness. My social media feeds these past couple of weeks have been abuzz with quotes, thoughts, and photos about happiness and how accessible it is. For some reason this outpour wasn’t sitting so well with me… which is very unusual.
Despite my little desktop reminder, I understand that choices like happiness can be a lot more challenging than answering a question like, “Would you like soup or salad?”
I wonder if I’ve ever made it sound like choosing happiness is an easy thing. For many, many people the option of happiness seems like the fine print on their menu. My wish for everyone, myself included, is that happiness can not only be attainable, but magnified.
There might even be a little recklessness in the self-help world that makes positivity seem like it is the gateway to health, love, success, and happiness. Choosing a happier thought seems impossible when the only thoughts available are desperate and hopeless.
I am extremely fortunate to have had a childhood void of tragedy. I am not a child of divorce, abuse, abandonment, poverty, or disease. Aside from a few side orders of heartbreak and going through the tragic loss of two dear friends in their early 30’s, happiness has been a main dish on my menu. I live a very bright life with very little darkness. These blessings are not lost on me.
This blog is a product of my gratitude and definitely a celebration of the life I was given. It is my absolute pleasure to share stories of food, travel, my family, and friends. My weekly words come from a place of wanting to provide a bit of sunshine into what might be a dreary Monday. Thank you for taking the time to welcome my words into your lives each week.
I am building something bigger with these words. I hope to grow them into a book! I aim to reach as many people as I can and make the light in the world expand. There are so many events happening in the world right now that are snuffing out the light and stealing the happiness of the world’s population. The control I have over war, violence, and illness is an infinitesimal percentage. But I have 100% control over how much goodness I contribute.
I had a heart to heart with a friend a few weeks ago and she’s working with a healer who says, “We’re all evolved beings, we just need help remembering.” That sounds pretty deep, right? Borrowing from the Kundalini Master Yogi Bhajan, I have tweaked the healer's theory a bit for my own understanding. I believe that happiness is our birthright, we just need help trying to reclaim it.
Beautiful babies are untouched by possible futures of addiction, depression, lives of pain and disease. We all, on many levels, were those perfect babies. Innocent. Happy. We weren’t manipulated by the world yet. We weren’t made victims of our circumstances yet, we were born unblemished and happy. It is my mission to help get us all closer to that state and reclaim our joy.
What are some things we can do to help us remember and reclaim our happiness? Depending on our circumstances, we have a lot of options: Find a therapist. Join a support group. Call your Mom. Seek out a spiritual teacher and practice. Chant japa. Pray the rosary. Hold a new baby. Take a deep breath. Call a best friend. Volunteer. Play with a puppy. (Shout out to one of my favorite puppies, Nola, and her dads Randle and Jacob!) One of my little secrets to get closer to my happiness is to wear two different colored socks. A small and simple gesture that never fails to bring a smile to someone’s face, especially mine.
What about choices on the dietary menu? Salads always make me feel happy and healthy - because they are full of texture and color - which is a subconscious way to feel more connected to the earth. This is one that I choose all summer long.
Nectarine Chicken Salad with Sweet Mint Dressing
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1 cup chopped seedless cucumber
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 tablespoons green or red scallion, grilled and chopped
3 nectarines, peeled, sliced, and pitted. Grilled and then chopped.
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. To prepare dressing, place mint and sugar in a food processor; process until finely chopped, scraping sides of bowl. Add vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper, and process 30 seconds to combine.
2. To prepare salad, combine chicken, cucumber, pecans, onion, and nectarines in a medium bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss well to coat. Perfect to serve over greens or stuffed into pita bread.
The images of my food were stunningly photographed by Cheryl Stockton of Stockshot Studio.