This is a special day for me. To be able to contribute my thoughts to Rosa’s community of readers is a privilege I do not take lightly. Rosa is one of my favorite bloggers, not only for her keen insight into the human mind, but for her unselfish friendship. Rosa helps me feel bigger and better than I really am.
When I received the invitation to write something for this month’s Ho’ohana, it struck me that this was a great opportunity to be myself. I don’t often get to do that, since the blog I write for has an alter-ego named Jane. I normally write from Jane’s point of view, on the subject of marketing to women online. Jane, named after those old 20th century kids, Dick and Jane, likes to get provocative at times, and tries to be humorous, while helping the readers learn something about how women shop online. Jane is a part of me, Yvonne, but she isn’t who I am.
Rosa’s invitation made me stop and think about who I really am. The challenge to write about learning gave me pause, because I believe that learning is such a vital part of every day life. I believe that people learn something new every day, regardless of intent. I believe that having the skill to recognize what you’ve learned today, is an indication of success. If we can look at the word ‘success’ first, and determine what it means to us — because success is a concept that is different for everyone — then, we, as human beings, can come to some conclusions about the value of success, and how our day-to-day learning contributes to the successful outcome of our lives.
My life has been an up and down roller coaster. I joke about the soap opera quality of my life. But, it’s not really a joke. I’ve been through the ringer a few times — and, I’ve been told that such things would have crippled a lesser person.
That doesn’t seem right to me. To me, there are no lesser persons. Everyone on this planet is of value, and though some may have a hard time playing the cards Fate has dealt them — that doesn’t mean they are less than the person standing next to them.
Myself, I found strength through reading. Books were my closest companions as a child. I lost myself in the fictional worlds of Anne of Green Gables, and The Telltale Heart, and romance novels. I read science fiction and dreamed of worlds far away from the one I lived in. I read historical novels and marveled at the power of intellect to beat down violence. I read magazines full of short stories and dog books with less than happy endings. I read and read and read, and I knew — though it wasn’t apparent in the house I lived in — that there was a better world out there.
It took me a very long time to discover where I fit into that world. I knew what I wanted (sort of), but didn’t know how to get it. Along the way, I picked up some interesting thoughts. I learned some valuable lessons and I slowly came to realize that — I could have what I wanted. It was there for the taking — I needed only reach out and take it.
Naturally, there was (is) a price to pay. It’s so true that there is no free lunch, despite the scam artists who continue to trick people into believing there is. What I learned was that having what I wanted didn’t involve $$. It didn’t involve time. It didn’t even involve education. It involved a change of mind. A reinvention of myself. In order to have what I wanted, I had to give myself permission to be happy.
That may seem so natural to some people. Be happy, your Mom and Dad tell you. Bobby McFerrin sang, Don’t worry, Be happy, not that long ago. My favorite US president, Abraham Lincoln, once said, "A person will be about as happy as he or she decides to be."
It wasn’t until I made up my mind to STOP being unhappy, though, that I could, finally, turn my energy to being happy. To accomplishing all the things that come with being happy; having a family, having a home, building a business, working to help others achieve goals; until I could make peace with myself, none of those things could happen.
And so, here I am. Still trying to be the happy person I deserve to be. Still struggling because there are decades of unhappiness to forget — and not forget, since much of what I am today came from those decades of darkness. Today, I stand before audiences and talk about writing, or blogging, or marketing to women online, and I think about why all those eager faces are turned to me — it’s because I am the person I have always wanted to be. Someone with knowledge — and compassion; someone with education — still eager to learn; someone with a youthful heart — despite the years on her birth certificate. I remind myself that I deserve to talk to these people, to have a business helping people write and publish books, because it’s what makes me happy.
In the end, I deserve to be happy. That’s what I’ve learned. And continue to learn. It’s what I try to help others recognize, that — "Happiness is like a crystal, fair, exquisite, and clear, broken in a million pieces, shattered, scattered, far and near. And Lo! along life’s pathway, some shining fragments fall. But there are so many pieces, no one ever finds them all." (written by Pricilla Leonard)
When all is said and done, I have learned to appreciate this saying, written by an anonymous hand, "Happiness is found along the way — not at the end of the road."
Postcript by Rosa: Our Guest Author today is Yvonne DiVita, best known to most of us as Jane, author of Lip-Sticking, where she delights in sharing her insights with us on marketing to women online. You will always find your link to Yvonne – and Jane! in the right column Ho‘ohana Online Community Listing.