Choose Joy

loveandliveToday would be my husband’s 56th birthday and I miss him so very much. I had a long talk with one of my oldest and dearest friends this morning. She reminded me of Alexandra Stoddard, to whom she had introduced me via a gift of her book “The Shared Wisdom of Mothers and Daughters, The Timelessness of Simple Truths.” Stoddard writes about the quest for personal happiness. “Now, as scientists have begun to discover the benefits of living a happy life, Alexandra provides practical ways to live happily every day, based on ancient Greek philosophy. Her teacher Aristotle taught Stoddard that the aim and purpose of life is happiness. When we are true to ourselves, we can fly above stress and conflict, contented and confident that we are on the right path toward greater inner peace and lasting happiness.” 

As I spoke about Marc, my friend reminded me of Stoddard’s philosophy and complimented me on living it. I have chosen joy over pain in the last 3 1/2 years since his passing. Spending every possible minute with my adult children is key. Also meeting new friends to attend movies, kayak, sail, travel, discuss books and go to dinner, coffee, lectures, museums, and play bridge with has been critical to my recovery from my husband’s loss. Though it was not my first, having lost my father at a tender age, it was equally painful.

I decided after about six months that behaviorism was going to be my salvation.  And it has been — I act as though I’m happy and, magically, it happens. You, too, can put this into practice. My biggest joy was finding MacDuff, my new best friend. He’s a Westie who shares my daily life. And when one of those inescapably tough days arrives, he’s there for me.

Yesterday, I was attending the funeral of a long-time friend and somehow Duffy knew. I was almost late because of needing to stay with him while he was ill. Finally, his stomach settled down and I went. Seeing the hearse parked in front of the church brought memories flooding back in. As my daughter and I shared tissues, I was reminded of doing the same thing at Marc’s funeral. My friend’s three daughters read heartfelt poems they had written to their dad, mentioning seeing him again some day. And the eldest wrote a flawless, deeply moving tribute to him. It was impossible not to cry. These young ladies will need to find their own ways of coping. I wish them all the very best.

So life goes on and I believe that each of us must enjoy whatever time we have left. Alexandra Stoddard sums up her plan thus:

Trust the

Perhaps easier said than done, but surely worth a try.

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