Tuesday, June 17, 2014

100 Days of Happy

Back in the winter of this year, a friend contacted me about starting a project called: 100 Days of Happiness. The idea was to post one picture a day on social media of something, anything, that made us happy that day.

Being pretty into social media, I did not think that this would be difficult for me. But as noted previously in this blog, winter was rough this year. We had many snow days, even in March (we began on the project on March 1) and there were many days in the early Spring which consisted of me going to work, coming home, working out, cooking dinner, and watching Netflix.

So, sometimes, my days of happy looked like this:

 catching up with shows on Demand in my snuggie, checking off my to-do list, grabbing coffee with a friend, or fixing a nice dinner for myself.

But even those days ended up being still some of my favorite moments. The project forced me to look at the little things in my day that could bring about some moment of happiness.

The project began on March 1, like I said, and actually ended on my FAVORITE feast as you all know, Pentecost!!

 Happiness Day 1- March 1- haircut with Missi :)
Happiness Day 100- June 8- celebration of 100 happy days with my old roomie who started the idea for the project

I couldn't believe that the project ended on my very favorite feast day that has meant so much to me in the past. But then again, I could believe it, because God would do something like that :)

At our 100 day celebration, my friend and I reflected on how the project had indeed produced much positivity and happiness for us. Both of us had started the project feeling somewhat negative about our lives for whatever reasons, and ended the project having reaped many happy moments for which we were grateful.

For me, I know that our minds and our relationship with God work together. Faith and Reason. There is no denying that psychologically if we are in a good place, we are going to bring about positive things. You can call that energy or the universe or whatever, but I also believe being mentally and spiritually healthy keeps us more open to God's work in our lives.

So for that reason alone, I'm not surprised that my 100 days ended on the day when the Holy Spirit is given to us to help us to go out and do what we are called to do. I have always been energized and renewed by that mission of Pentecost, and this year's feast was another unique way of looking at that call.

Today also marks one month since Dan has passed into eternal life. Amid those 100 happy days, were days of some of the most intense sadness that I've experienced but also days of so much beauty.

I was recalling to my spiritual director yesterday that my friend Dan just embodied the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Love soooooo well. And I struggle for whatever reason with them at times. My spiritual director noted that we all have these virtues given to us at Baptism and it is not a matter of receiving an increase of them, but rather a realization of their presence in our lives. Dan had an intense realization of these, especially in the last years of his life as he was suffering. And I am still just in awe that in such intense suffering that these virtues COULD be more realized by someone. That is the power and mystery of the Paschal Mystery: suffering producing beauty and good.

One of the things that can keep us from realizing these virtues fully in our lives is an inability to forgive or let go of grudges. This week's readings have been about an evil man named Ahab who through Elijah and God's grace finds the truth about God. And God forgives him.

The Gospel passage for today is particularly convicting and always has been for me:

"Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”- Matt 5: 43-48

Not that I think that I have many enemies or so many people who are difficult to love, but I do like a challenge. And I am convicted that Christ says in not so many words that essentially loving people who are easy for you to love and who love you is kind of sub-par. Loving those who are difficult to love- that is the call and the challenge.

This message is good for me to hear as I have taken on a more administrative role at the school this semester :) I never realized that managing the students could be the easy part of my job!

I feel like I've only skimmed the surface of the importance of witnessing the life and loss of Dan, of the realization of the theological virtues, and of the intensity of these 100 days of happiness as it coincides with the call at Pentecost. Hopefully, I will have time to reflect this week as SUMMER BEGINS and perhaps I will also be moved to reflect more as I journey through some beautiful parts of the world on my Eastern European tour the next two weeks!! We are going to Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich, Berlin, Prague, and Krakow- a week from today!!!

Just some pics to get me geared up for the trip!

Man, I love summer. Happiness indeed. Last summer was a little rough as I was learning how to balance all my new-found free time in my own apartment outside of grad school. This summer is going to be well balanced: some awesome travel plans (and then some nannying to afford said awesome travel plans :)

Have a peaceful, blessed summer everyone. See you when I get back!! ;)