I have a little card I made stuck to the bottom of the screen of my computer that says: Happiness is what you choose to pay attention to. I stole the quote from someone, maybe Janis Joplin, and apologize if that’s wrong. Anyhow, the idea hit a chord with me and made me wonder if the secret to getting through any situation was to focus on the positive, or at least what you can do in the moment to find contentment, connection or fulfillment if happiness isn’t possible.
Some people seem to have a knack for landing on their feet and succeeding where giving up would be so much easier and understandable. I know a lot of writers who write every day and work diligently toward publication but the illusive book contract remains just out of reach. I know how hard it was to tackle a fifth re-write with no guarantee my agent would think it was ready to submit when I was done. (It was!). Like so many others, the hopes and dreams get shaky at times and I have to find happiness in the process—a well written scene, a character who jumps off the page—and not focus on a “pass” from an editor, or a snide comment from an acquaintance who wonders why I waste so much time when I haven’t sold.
Recently I caught an interview with Martha Stewart on NPR where she talks about her newest book. I’m not her biggest fan, but I can’t help admiring her accomplishments. At one point, she’s asked about a nativity scene in the book (photo above) and her response said a lot about how she approaches life:
"When I was incarcerated at Alderson in West Virginia for a five-month term, they had a ceramics class," she says. "And in the ceramics class was a storage warehouse room where I found all the molds for an entire large nativity scene."
It took her a long time to find molds for all 15 or so characters — Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the wise men, the camels — everybody. And then she saved up to buy enough clay to create each figurine.
"I was able to purchase enough clay with my monthly stipend," she says. "... I didn't get a lot of other things that I would have liked in that five-month period because I bought clay instead. And I molded the entire nativity scene."This interview made me think, if Martha can create a nativity scene with her prison “cigarette money,” what can I accomplish with all the resources available to me? The possibilities feel endless!!
What keeps you going when times are tough and discouraging?