I’m Choosing HAPPY!!!

I was out and about a bit ago and saw someone that I know.  The person said to me, “Oh, you’ve had a hard life.”

The comment hit me a little funny and I didn’t know what to say…I ended up saying, “But I’m happy.”

The comment stuck with me all day long.  I just couldn’t figure out why that stuck with me.  Then it hit me.

I’ve not had a hard life.  I’ve had a great life.

I grew up in southern Minnesota to a farming family.  My Dad milked cows and early on all of my siblings and I learned that if we wanted something, we had to work for it.

We all knew we were loved even though we didn’t have wildly affectionate parents.  We had everything we needed and many of the things that we wanted.  My Dad bought me a horse when I was 14 and to me, that was all I ever wanted.  I had a guitar and guitar lessons.  I was a lucky kid.

By the time I was 16 my parents helped me get a car.  I paid for it but they helped me get a loan and insurance set up.

I went to college…I paid my own way but my parents did things like pay my phone bill or floated me some money for gas.

In their quiet way, they were always supportive.

I was so blessed as my mom came from an abusive family and she did not pass that on to our family.  I will forever be grateful to her for stopping the abusive cycle and not passing that to our family…Living with abuse would have been a challenge.

In college, I met Kramer, my husband.  In my junior year of college, I ended up pregnant.  We had started to talk about getting married in the summer after my senior year so we just moved the date up a year.

We took some unkind comments over the unplanned pregnancy but it was totally worth it.  Today, I have Kelli to show for that pregnancy and my life with her has been great…totally worth the unkind comments.

We went on and had four more kids.  Those kids have gone on and blessed us with 9 grandkids.

Kramer and I got along so good.  I was truly loved by him and in return I loved him.

YES, he died at age 57 from lung cancer…and yes, that’s been a challenge but by no means does that define my life.

Everyone who is reading this and is married or in a committed relationship, will either lose their significant other or be the one that dies.  Yes, it’s sad that Kramer died early, but, I’ve not done anything that you or your significant other won’t have to do.  I’ve simply done it earlier than most.  Death is part of all our lives.

This doesn’t make my life hard…challenging at times, yes.  Not hard.

YES, at 50 I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and at 56 diagnosed with metastasized thyroid cancer to my lungs, but by no means does that define my life.

I just looked up statistics from the National Cancer Association.  39.5% of all people will deal with some form of cancer in their lifetimes.  I am one of many.  I am certainly not special because of it, nor is my life harder than others.

None of those things, for me, defines my life as being hard.  Challenging at times, YES…but not hard.

I’ve always had everything I needed.
I’ve always had the support of family.
There are people in my life who love me.
I’ve had most everything I ever wanted…and if I didn’t get something, I can see it wasn’t a good idea.
I have wonderful kids and grandkids.
I have a house that’s perfect for me.
I don’t have loaming debt.
I have so many things in my life that bring me joy.

I’ve actually had it really good…cancer and all…Kramer’s death and all.  I have a good life.

I really hope all of you can also look at your life and not let the things that happened to you define your life as hard or not hard.  I hope you can see challenges as what they are…things we have to work through.

I have an AMAZING life and I am very happy…sure I miss Kramer.  Sure I miss the days that I didn’t have cancer as my personal little rain cloud hanging over my head but those are moments in my life…not life definers.

I am going to define my own life and I choose HAPPY!!!  I hope you can work through your own personal challenges and find a way to choose happy too!!

55 thoughts on “I’m Choosing HAPPY!!!

  1. June

    Last Friday my sisters husband who has been fighting stage 4 brain cancer since Christmas 2020 was taken to the hospital. The treatments were stopped because they found another tumor that suddenly made him blind in one eye. Friday he lost total sight and collapsed at home. He is in hospital with a port for a chemo drip but has developed a Staph infection. My sister Lori told me “ Tracy said “I have lived a good life.” My son is a youth minister praying for him for healing. And we know each day is a Blessing God grants to us. We’ve been praying for your healing too.

    Reply
    1. Jo Post author

      Oh June, that is a tough one. Many prayers to your family as they work through and support your brother in law.

      Reply
  2. Ann Webb

    That strikes me as an unpleasant comment for someone to make, although I doubt that she meant it to be. You have had challenges, as we all have, but you have faced and conquered them with grace.

    Reply
  3. Linda M White

    Like many others, I live with chronic pain which at times can be very bad. I became disabled from an injury at work. I got fibromyalgia… But like you, I believe happiness is a choice I make every day, and I choose to make it. I don’t look at the negative things as roadblocks, just as challenges. I look for the positive, I count my blessings. It’s all a mindset that I actively cultivate, and yes, I’m happy too!

    Reply
  4. Hedy

    Thank you for a beautiful post. I choose Happy too! Every single day I have a choice and I choose happy each time. Nothing is perfect and never will be. So I decided why not be happy?

    Reply
  5. Kate

    Well spoken, Jo. You are very strong and have made wise decisions, especially to choose “happy.” You were very fortunate to have Kramer and his love – you and he were blessed with your beautiful children and now the grandchildren. When you were describing your childhood, it reminded me of mine. I, too, was reared on dairy farm, was very loved, had all I needed and then some.

    Reply
  6. Rita in Iowa

    Jo what a beautiful way to sum up life, we are our own keeper and choose to be happy or not.
    Your life has been challenged at times but you have a positive outlook and keep on trucking.

    I love that you shared this with us and put life in general in perspective. I too grew up on a farm with 10 siblings. I remember that Saturdays were wash days and was a all day affair. Cooking meals was time consuming as it was usually meat, potatoes, and several side dishes. Doing the dishes was the pits. One would get the job of cleaning off the table, someone washing dishes, and someone drying and putting them away. Summers were busy with gardening and canning. We had heifers, pigs and sheep for meat. And dairy cows for milk.
    Was it easy, no, but the rewards was the wealth of information to work together and create our own fun.
    By the way I was number 7 as my dad would say and there is a twenty year spread from the oldest to the youngest.
    Before I retired I was a Paraeducator for 16 years working with kiddos with Special Needs in the Middle School.

    Reply
  7. Janice Tobe

    Jo.. you are an amazing woman and such an inspiration to me and I suspect tons and tons of others who follow your life.

    Reply
  8. Linnea

    Bravo Jo!!! Sad how some allow difficulties to define themselves. I choose Joy and the Lord Jesus is the Source of mine.

    Reply
  9. Elle

    Humans are fascinating creatures and ‘judgments’ like this are making this from their own seat. Unlikely this person has experienced death of an immediate family member nor serious illness.

    I think those of us who’ve lost immediate family young (I was 33 when Dad died and I believe you were even younger when your Mom died), have a more “life is a Blessing” outlook on life….each and every day. When I was losing Mom 14y after Dad she said “Don’t be angry about what you can’t do, be grateful for what you CAN do”. Such wise words that can be applied to everything in life. (I buried 4 immediate family members between 33 and 47yo).

    You are an extraordinary example of being grateful. Your kids and grands are so Blessed to have you and your example in their lives.

    I love that you talk with ease about Kramer and Jody and your Mom. They are important to you and alive in your heart.

    Bless you and big hugs to you ‘Happy Jo’. :-)

    Reply
  10. Cindy P

    You are incredible and a real inspiration to all of us!! Thank you we need to hear your thoughts ! Things are better when shared with friends!

    Reply
  11. Kim from TN

    I love your view on your past and present life….its a positive outlook and I admire the strength it takes some days to choose Happy and to not get stuck in sadness or regret. Life is short, choose Happy.

    Reply
  12. Sheila

    I love your attitude! When I get down, God usually shows me someone that makes me thankful for my life and my “problems”.

    Reply
  13. Karen

    You have such a wonderful positive attitude! You are an inspiration to us all! Thank you for sharing and getting us all to think more about what we say to others and how we portray ourselves to others. Being happy with where we are in life and what we have makes perfect sense and it’s much healthier mentally & physically for us. Please keep on blogging!

    Reply
  14. Joyce

    Wonderful post, Jo. In my kitchen, I have a sign that says, “Make your own happiness!” It’s a daily reminder that we are responsible for our own happiness and it’s a choice we make. My little 3 1/2 year-old granddaughter will often take my hand and say, “Come on, Grandma, let’s make some happiness.” I hope she always has that attitude–if so, she’ll have a happy life.

    Reply
    1. RuthW in MD

      Joyce, “Make Your Own Happiness!” is a wonderful idea – one that I would cross stitch in a minute!! I have been looking at all the pictures of cross stitching on the blogs and this is the FIRST one I have seen that I immediately Wanted to do!! Thank you Very Much!

      Reply
  15. Christine

    Ah, some people just don’t have a filter on their mouths. To me, it sounds like you’ve had a blessed life with so much love. Sure, some times of sorrow, but how can you have joy without the sorrow? Love your writing, quilting and attitude.

    Reply
  16. Tina H

    Jo,

    You always seem to come across as positive. Some people need to think a little longer before they open their mouths.

    Reply
  17. Tama

    Celebrating you, Jo. And a big wow. A (needed) lift up in perspective. Thank you so very much. Looking forward to tomorrow with your message in mind.

    Reply
  18. Rosalie

    Well said. Some things we get to choose and some we don’t but we are in control of our attitudes and words. And your words and attitude are inspiring. Thank you.

    Reply
  19. Kathy Barry

    Wonderful post. Very encouraging. Good on you for having this outlook on your life. You have helped me to see my own life in a new and positive way. I can honestly say that all your statements about your life apply to me too. I had a different upbringing, I didn’t grow up on a farm, for example, and life has had it’s challenges, but as you say, they are things to work through, they don’t have to define who you are. I too can look back on things I didn’t get and can see that they would not have been the best thing for me. Most of all, I have a deeply held faith in God and know that He always works for my good in this life. For that I am eternally grateful. There is a level of choice in pretty well anything in life, and you have helped me to decide to choose happy as well. Thank you so much, and May God bless you in your life, as He has so much already.

    Reply
  20. Pat Anderson

    What a great post, Jo! You are so right…we all have challenges in life and they do not define us. I do believe that how we handle these challenges makes all the difference. You’re doing such a great job with your kids and grandkids and they will have such a legacy from you and from Kramer! I’ve been praying for your cancer to disappear!

    Reply
  21. Sharon in CA

    I think you have an awesome life,that’s why I love reading about you and your family.i love that you choose HAPPY! You have a great family and everyone can feel the love just reading your blog.iI look forward to it everyday. Thanks

    Reply
  22. Beryl in Owatonna

    Each day is a choice. With the Lord’s help we make good choices and sometimes not. Your wonderful family is a reflection of your choices.

    Thank you for sharing. You are a special lady. You are in my prayers.

    Reply
  23. Katy

    My the person you met today acknowledge what you have said yourself how hard life can me. (See your November blog writing.) Happy and hard are not synonyms. People try to be kind and understanding and are written about in length when taken the wrong way. Sad.

    Reply
    1. Jo Post author

      Hi Katy. I think you may have missed what I was trying to say and that’s okay. It was probably the way I wrote as it was hard to write.
      I was trying to say, we all come by challenges. Mine aren’t particularly unique or particularly more hard than anyone else’s. I wanted to say in spite of my personal challenges, I’m choosing to be happy and still feel incredibly blessed. I know this person was trying to be kind. Initially, I took it as awkward-especially my own response. I’m an introspective person, you’ve probably guessed that by now. All day I thought about the interchange, not in a mean way, but in a way of examining myself. What should I have said? Was my life hard? Was I happy? I’m actually very thankful for the interchange. It made me reaffirm that yes, I’m choosing happy. I’m sorry if the post seemed like I was anything more than introspective.

      Reply
  24. Judy Laquidara

    Such a great post and a great testimony! Most all of us could let circumstances and hardships define us and bring us down but you’re a great example of “rolling with the punches” or “blooming where you’re planted”. I know you’re an example to so many who deal with the loss of a spouse or a serious medical issue. I’ve told you before how I admire your family. There aren’t many families with five kids who can say all five kids are amazing and I think yours are. The way they care for you is just beyond amazing.

    Thank you for sharing those thoughts.

    Reply
  25. Samantha M

    I hear you, Jo! I’ve had people say to me “You haven’t had a good life, have you?” Actually, yes I have! Ok, things have happened which aren’t good, but also things have happened which are great! I’m going to focus on the great! :-)

    Reply
  26. Donna

    I think all of us have something to deal with as life goes on. To choose happy and know that one is blessed is the best way to go. As you can see, all of us admire you and are blessed by you and what you say and do for us.
    Love and prayers

    Reply
  27. Judith Fairchild

    I had to learn to choose happy. 1st I had to learn to be content in the state of life I was in. On the way home from work one day it was earning on one side of the car on the other there was sunshine an mini rainbows from the spray of the cars. I realized then we can choose to be content or miserable. Since then I have learned to be happy regardless of the loss of loved ones, jobs, or dear friends. Prayers has helped me through it all. Jo thank you for choosing happy

    Reply
  28. Valerie

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. Happiness is a choice, even when things are bleak. My husband died suddenly in November (traffic accident). I am still grateful for his presence in my life. Even though I get “the sads”, I celebrate all the good in my life. I wake up with “Today is the day the Lord has made, Rejoice and be thankful.” Being thankful is the key to happiness and peace. And I am very thankful for your blog and your presence in my life. God Bless.

    Reply
    1. Jo Post author

      Valerie. I have a stitched piece that says “Today is the day the Lord has made, Rejoice and be glad in it.” It is a favorite of mine!!

      Reply
  29. Miss Daisy

    Jo you are an inspiration and one of a kind , not one in a million but one of a kind. Thank you !

    Reply
  30. pauline glynn

    i loved your life story!! all that has been my life so far as lucky and Happy!! yes i have challenges but happy. thanks joe for the way you wrote your life history.

    Reply
  31. Holly in Two Harbors

    Thank you for your thought provoking and inspirational post. As Miss Daisy said, you really are one of a kind. It’s reassuring to know there is someone like you out in the world.

    Reply
  32. Ginny A

    Your outlook on life is inspiring and so faith-filled. I have been, more than once, made more aware of the good in life and to appreciate it more from reading your blog every day.

    Reply
  33. Susan from Michigan

    You have an excellent attitude. You have a lot of insight and explain things well. You are helping me to look on the bright side which is the thankful side!

    Reply
  34. Lisa B

    Well said Jo. Every life has some joy and pleasure along with the pain and drama. That’s what makes it life and living.

    Reply
  35. NJ

    You are a strong woman with a wonderful attitude. This sign hangs in my bathroom where I see it every morning. ( It would be awesome in cross stitch )
    Bitter ….or Better
    Gloomy …..or Glorious
    Cope …..or Mope
    Joyful …..or Mournful

    Reply

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