The nurse spoke quietly as she shook me gently to wake me up.
“Ms. Thompson, your hemoglobin levels have gone below seven. We need to give you a blood transfusion.”
It was about 4:00am on a Tuesday morning. There were a number of people coming in and out of the hospital room, taking my temperature and blood pressure while explaining what was about to happen next.
That’s when it really hit me. I was in the hospital, and this was serious. As strong as I try to be, I realized I could no longer handle this one on my own. So I rolled over and fired off an email to my parents asking them to make the trip up to Philly.
Thankfully, they arrived the next day.
First the mountaintop
The year started off so wonderfully.
I was on cloud nine after exploring Shanghai, being a rockstar in the small town of Dagang, and trekking the Great Wall during my trip to China.
And if that wasn’t enough, on the next leg of my journey I fulfilled a dream when I got to teach entrepreneurship at a girls school in rural Kenya.
My epic trip finished with a week traveling through a few cities in India with my girlfriends.
It was a fabulous month.
A month filled with experiences that changed my view of the world, and my role in it.
With a renewed sense of focus after returning home, I set out to work to try and make good things happen.
Then came the poo
I think I was somewhere around mile three when it happened.
It was just after a particularly challenging swim in the Schuylkill River as part of the triathlon I entered myself in. I was exerting a lot of physical and emotional energy to make it through the 25K bike ride.
That’s when the bird pooped on my leg.
I was mortified and disgusted.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t my first encounter with poo that month. Just a few weeks earlier on a lovely June morning, a not so lovely thing happened in my little condo.
A blockage somewhere in the pipes outside my home, caused a back-up of sewage in my home.
Did I mention I was in the bathtub when things began to get ugly? Needless to say I got out of the tub rather quickly. By the time the problem was resolved, about eighty percent of my floors (and everything on it) had been hit with poo.
I spent the next two months living in a hotel.
As everything was getting on the right track with the renovation of my condo, they started to get off track in my body. Turns out the “healthy” food I was eating and my immune system are arch enemies. And since I didn’t know that, I kept trying to make them best buddies.
That resulted in a knock down, drag out brawl on my insides. I was collateral damage. I toughed it out as long as I could, until my digestive system shut down and I could no longer hold down food.
That unfortunate melee landed me in the hospital for ten days and I lost twenty-five pounds (don’t worry, I had a good old time gaining all that weight back). After getting released, I spent the next few weeks with my family in Florida so they could help me recover.
There were plenty of rainbows
Enough not so great things happened in my world last year. But with each of those unpleasant situations, a rainbow showed up. Sometimes multiple rainbows did.
When the bird pooped on my leg, I had on pants. Thank God I was wearing pants!
I was able to brush off the yuck with my water bottle, and continued along to finish the remainder of the triathlon. More importantly, I didn’t let the Schuylkill River or that bird get the best of me. I went on to have an awesome day.
While my condo was unlivable, the hotel I lived in was right smack dab in the middle of Philadelphia with an amazing view. I got to know some wonderful people at the hotel, my condo got renovated, and I got brand new furniture. Sweet!
While I was sick, I felt God’s grace. As a result, I had a whole lot of peace while I was down. I was able to feel the love from so many wonderful people in my life. They all let me know in their own way just how much they cared. At times, I felt the love so strong, it overwhelmed me.
The truth about happy endings
A while back I read some research that showed the happiest people are those that are able to find joy in the little things.
Things like being smiled at by a stranger on the street. Shaving off thirty seconds from your best 5k time. The warmth of the sun’s rays on your skin.
In noticing and appreciating the small miracles that show themselves each day, the happiest people are able to maintain a level of joy that sustains them in between the high highs. It also keeps them sane through the low lows.
The happiest people realize life isn’t about getting to a happy ending.
Because they recognize that happiness isn’t an end goal. Its a state of being.
They realize that happiness is largely independent of their circumstance. Their level of joy isn’t about the mountaintop experiences, or the lack of poo.
The happiest people don’t base their happiness on future events. They don’t sacrifice their present happiness waiting for that dream job. Waiting to get married. Waiting to have kids. Waiting for the kids to get older. Waiting to make more money. Waiting for someone to notice their talent. Waiting for their life to get better.
The happiest people are happy because they choose to be.
They choose to see the multitudes of rainbows. Instead of dwelling on the poo.
And so I’m happy
My worst fears came true last year.
But through it all, I think I may have had my happiest year yet.
Because I realized somewhere along the way (maybe in the middle of one of my meltdowns when everything was falling apart), that I’ve got to find a way to be happy no matter what.
So I started looking for rainbows. And when I looked for them I found them. I was able to easily see that all of my good days, outweighed my bad days.
Yeah, everything may not be exactly the way I want it to be. But there’s still plenty of sunshine.
And when those wonderful, big, amazing things happen in my life, I’ll be happy.
When a woman on the street smiles at me, I’ll be happy.
When things don’t quite work out the way I want them to or when I want them too, I’ve still gotta find a way to be happy.
And the same is true for you.
So be happy about the big things. Be happy about the little things. Be happy about all that’s right in your life.
Poo is gonna come. Rainbows are gonna come. Mountaintops are gonna come.
And you often have no control over when, how, and in what order they arrive.
But you can control how you feel.
That’s the lesson I learned while knee deep in poo, and in between mountaintops.
So I choose to be happy. I choose to get high on rainbows each day.
You have a choice too.
So come on.
Skip the happy endings.
Embrace the rainbows.
And let’s get happy.