I'm a huge fan of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. On this day, my eleventh wedding anniversary, their song "Stranger to My Happiness" sums up how I feel. Not Pharrell Williams' "Happy," but "Stranger to My Happiness." Here's why.
I've finally gotten to the point in my life where all the pieces seem to fit together pretty well, and what doesn't fit, I've discarded. Changing jobs was a huge part of this happiness that I haven't felt in a long, long time. I don't wake up dreading going to work, I don't hold my breath until the weekend comes, and I'm not sour and cross with my long-suffering husband, Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB). My stress level is much lower, I sleep better, I feel better. I haven't felt this happy in a long time. I have, in fact, been a stranger to my happiness.
We don't realize that when we're stressed out, we stress out the folks around us. We take them through the same changes we're going through, and they didn't sign up for that. I just assumed that my more-centered, Teflon-spirited better half was immune to what I was feeling. He wasn't. Needless to say, he's happier, too, because I am. If you're stressed out, take a moment to consider how you're affecting the people around you, and take another moment to figure out how you're going to change the situation.
I've also given achievement a hiatus, if not a permanent injunction. After a lot of reflection, I realized I've felt like I'm an underachiever, having not lived up to the expectations I placed on myself and allowed others to place on me because of the opportunities I've had. My dad, in his twilight years, still longs for me to be the trial lawyer he thought he was raising and paying for college and law school for. Friends often say, "I thought you'd be on the bench by now." Old friends are surprised that with my credentials I'm working for the State of California, not even the federal government.
There's more to life than the law brass ring. It took time, reflection, and my career coach, Jennifer Alvey, to help me figure that out. Now, I'm tailoring my career to the life I envision for myself at this stage of my life. I don't want to keep achieving or attempting to achieve career success at the expense of time with my husband, connection with family and friends who have patiently waited for me to mend my neurotic ways, and fun. The things I really enjoy? Gardening, low-cost home redesign (I'm a Home Depot and thrift store junkie!) reading, hanging out with family and friends, listening to music, and writing. Instead of trying to shoehorn those vital, spirit-building activities around my work, I'm doing it the other way around.
So, on this, my eleventh anniversary, I thank BMNB for hanging in with me and sticking it out through the hard times. We've struggled with money, family members' health, clients we wanted to throttle, pets dying, and our own aging. I know there are many struggles ahead, but for right now, I'm just enjoying this state of happiness with him that I've been a stranger to, of my own making, no less.
That said, I want to be a Dapette. Not because I'm trying to add another achievement, but because, as you will tell from the video posted above, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings know how to have a good time. Ms. Jones has survived cancer (hence her bald head), and with an undefeated spirit and a voice that would make James Brown shout from the grave, she rocks her bald head AND their song, "Stranger to My Happiness." I'd love to be one of the Dapettes, the background singers who make the song rise even higher. I'd be happy just to lip-synch with them and dance to the music. More than anything, I want whatever it is that has made Ms. Jones not only a survivor, but a happy fighter. Her music and her spirit remind me so much of my mother.
So, if you're reading, Ms. Jones, Dap Kings and Dapettes, I'm ready to go on the road . . . .
Happy Anniversary, Black Man Not Blogging.