Friday, February 6, 2015

If You’re Happy and You Know It…

[Blog entry created by Mark Bonnema]

CF changes everything – health, breathing, relationships, hopes, dreams, even your definition of ‘happy.’  Happiness is….  a loaded question with a million different answers. Perhaps that’s why we all pursue after it, as though it is either elusive or always morphing. Either way, it is not something that we can grasp and hold onto, for the tighter we grasp the more elusive it becomes.

The act of dreaming together has always made Ashley and I happy. Dreams of walking hand in hand down a Parisian street, fresh baked aromas pouring out of the patisserie, countless hours of admiration in the Louvre, and delectables around every corner. Or perhaps sharing wishes for the backyard… landscapes, hardscapes, a wood fired oven, and area for lounging and basking in the summer sun. Likewise, dreams of camping bring us happiness. Lazy days, slow cooked meals, cool nights with a fire and s’mores… life is good.

Ashley and I still love to dream. It still makes us happy. But recently, it feels more and more like our dreams may stay need to remain just that - dreams. CF finds a way to interrupt our dreams, reminding us of the realities of life with a chronic and progressive disease. Paris is not where we want to be if Ashley begins coughing up blood, not to mention, the demands of walking miles each day through the Paris streets would utterly exhaust her lungs and body. Camping remains a lovely dream; we are always looking for updates to our baby camper, but we also worry about Ashley acquiring a fungal lung infection from the fungal spores that abound in nature. As for lounging in the sun in the back yard, well, the antibiotics cause Ashley’s skin to be very sensitive and prone to sunburn. We joke that she is “allergic to the sun.” The harder we dream, the harder CF pulls on the reigns.

Fortunately, and I truly believe this, happiness is a state of mind. As the difficult realities of life with CF intrude into our lives, robbing us of being able to realize some of our dreams, we adjust our mindset and find new reasons to be happy.  Elusive and always morphing, as life changes, so do the things that make us happy - a day when breathing comes easy and pain is controlled, an extra boost of energy that allows us to make a full trek through Target, or an evening together by the fireplace curled up with the boys (yes, I mean our dogs). 

Easy for me to say, while I am not the one living with CF. However, seeing Ashley’s steely resolve to live happy (and breathe bravely) each and every day no matter the effects of CF on her body and everyday life is enough to keep me looking on the bright side and seeing opportunities for happiness all around me.

If you are happy and you know it… it’s a choice. Don’t wait for happiness to find you. Don’t wait for all your dreams to be realized. Find reason each and every day to smile, be content, celebrate, and be filled with joy. CF may intrude into our lives and rob us of some of our hopes and dreams, but it can never take away our ability to choose happiness.

If you’re happy and you know it… good choice.

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