3 Jan


img_3936I’ve spent much of my life waiting for something to make me happy. If only ________ (fill in the blank) would happen, I’d be happy. If only I had________, everything would be all right. If only I could do _________I’d be fulfilled forever.


If and when the IF ONLY finally comes to pass (and it does happen occasionally) I’m content for a nanosecond. Then I’m right back to where I was before, hoping and wishing and dreaming of something better.

The other day my husband, René and I were driving somewhere together I must have let out a sigh. He turned to me and said, “You know, Jess—trying to be happy all the time is unrealistic. We may strive to find happiness—we may even have joyful moments here and there, but most of the time, every single one of us is struggling. And it’s okay to be sad. It’s human nature.”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what he said, particularly because it’s frequently an internal battle for me to find constant happiness. Because I have so much to be grateful for, I feel guilty if I’m not blissful.

Of course I blame my parents. During my loosey-goosey 1970’s childhood, their philosophy was to promote an unrealistic idea of constant sweetness and light—no negativity allowed whatsoever. Happiness was a must—even if we had to fake it. All the while my poor, depressed father drank himself into oblivion every night.

Looking back on his short life (he died at 53) I understand now that he was faking it as well. While struggling daily with his ADHD and severe depression, he tamped down his creative side, trading it in for familial responsibility. I’m sure I’ve inherited some of my melancholy from him, although I’ve been lucky enough to also inherit some of his creativity. Even with all of the childhood angst I experienced, I’m grateful to him and my mother for giving me a life of privilege. I’m thankful I’ve been able to pass that good life down to my own children.

My goal for the coming year is to let go of this unrealistic idea that I must be happy all of the time. I’m going to allow myself to feel sad sometimes. Perhaps this will allow me to truly enjoy those moments of happiness that do come my way. And when they appear, I won’t have to fake it. I’ll allow the happiness fill my soul to the brim.

And when it’s full, I’ll let it spill out into the world.

Happy New Year, my dear readers. You indeed make me happy.

I thank you for that.


This is me, not faking it.



9 Responses to “Happy”

  1. Leah January 3, 2019 at 1:15 pm #

    I think this is my favorite entry of yours yet, mama. ❤ And that's including the birthday tribute you wrote about me for my 21st birthday! (Okay maybe that's still my favorite but this is a close second.)

    Love you so much.

    • Allegro non tanto January 3, 2019 at 1:23 pm #

      You, my wonderful daughter make me HAPPY. Thank you for always being so supportive of everything I do. I love you so much.

  2. Bonnie Forman Gerstenfeld January 3, 2019 at 1:30 pm #

    a work of art, poetry, inspirational speaking and honesty all in one. That’s our Jess!Thank you!

  3. Kati Bennett January 3, 2019 at 2:23 pm #

    Thanks (as always) for beautiful words. You add so much to this world through your writing. It’s so good to know we aren’t alone in feeling sad. Love you, Jess.

  4. Claudette January 3, 2019 at 2:41 pm #

    This is so true. I think I blogged about this topic before, the constant positivity was getting me all agitated. Sometimes negative stuff happens, so what. Right? We have to figure out how to cope in not so happy circumstances too.

    • Allegro non tanto January 3, 2019 at 9:54 pm #

      It’s all about being okay with where we are at the moment. Hard to do sometimes, especially with the bombardment of social media which makes it look like everyone is happy all the time! Happy New Year!

  5. debatterman January 6, 2019 at 1:45 pm #

    As you write about ‘letting go’ of what seems an unrealistic goal, a mantra in keeping with my state of being these days is ‘let it go.’ That one word — it — brings a specificity I need to the thought playing like a broken record that keeps me from truly being present to the moment, or even a sadness or anger over something out of my control. Letting ‘it’ go seems to free me from obsessing while acknowledging that what I’m trying to be free of is a part of who I am. And that’s okay — as long as it doesn’t run the show. I love the places of reflection that your posts so often take me to.

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