Monday, April 29, 2013

On Cheerfulness

What I remember fondly about middle school is being happy. Wearing yellow sneakers and my favorite yellow shirt that my grandmother made me and being obsessed with yellow and sunshine. That was before everything changed and before I became self-conscious of the fact that the shirt wasn't cool enough because it didn't come from the Limited Too and that some people find happiness obnoxious. Before it really mattered to me what other people thought. And when I look back on my thirteen-year-old self, I want to tell her to never change; don't let anyone ever rain on your parade.

It's taken half of my life to find and embrace that spirit of cheerfulness again. While I struggled to find the words to describe my purpose and my voice, I didn't realize that I was still being held back by the tapes in my head from so long ago that kept that cheerfulness hostage, that made me feel ashamed for being happy. Although I've always tried to maintain outward positivity in spite of a lot of difficult experiences since those middle school days, it took the most amazing mentor to help me realize that cheerfulness is my purpose - a strength that is at the heart of my business, my art, and my way of serving others.

This cheerfulness though…it's not about a fake sense of happiness (and this is the difference between being twenty-six and being thirteen. Maybe wisdom does come with age). I am not under any delusion that every day is the best. day. ever. Some days are not. It's about an intention to share the pieces of a life that feels like it's bursting at the seams and to make memories that are full of joy. It's about bringing out the best in people and validating those things that are outwardly and inwardly beautiful. That validation - let me tell you, it makes you feel free. Like thank god someone appreciates me, just for being myself. It's about celebrating the moments on every best-day-ever so that on the not-so-good days, we have something to keep us going. It tastes like champagne and cupcakes on a dreary, rainy day.

And although it feels to me like a fresh start, this epiphany, it's really not so much more than a honing of my craft. It's making a point to share cheerful images on the blog and give direction to the pictures I make in the future. It's a consistent paradigm for my stories and sharing with a purpose. And it feels like I've finally found my place in this world.

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