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happiness is here

Happiness is as a butterfly which,

when pursued, is always beyond our grasp,

but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

I have never been a big fan of butterflies. Not sure why. Obviously, they are gorgeous little critters. Full of color and charisma. Maybe it is that they make me think of Mariah Carey. Or a style of little girls' clothes which I don't like. Maybe because they strike me as quintessentially feminine and delicate. Symbolic of something I don't necessarily want to be.

I don't know.

Reading Hawthorne's words above, I both understand my aversion and feel it fading. Butterflies are all fluttering and fragile wings. They don't settle predictably. Or sit for long. They startle.

They fly away.

But maybe this is why they are so beautiful? Because they swoop and soar and elude our grasp? Because they dodge our pursuits? Because they approach softly and swiftly when we least expect it?

Enough with the insect talk.

I am happy.

The butterfly has alighted, friends. And I just realized this yesterday. While I was racing Toddler home from her science class at the children's museum. I carried her on my side. She alternated between kissing my cheek and jabbering on and on about her surroundings. She pointed to a Tiffany ad on a bus stop. An ad that portrayed a collection of key jewelry. She pointed to a golden key and said, "Mommy that key is shaped like Mickey Mouse." It was. I kissed her. "It also looks like a bubble wand!" I kissed her again. We kept racing.

Every few blocks, I checked my phone. Published blog comments here and there. Bits and pieces of a fascinating conversation I started with a simple story. On our block, Toddler pointed to a brown van and said, "Mommy, that car is brown like chocolate milk!" Indeed it was. I turned the key at home and was serenaded by Baby. She was snug in her high chair eating mac & cheese. She saw me and her blue eyes lit up. "Mommy!" she crooned.

When the groceries that Nanny and Baby picked arrived, the three of us girls broke into an impromptu "grocery dance," a jig that involved simultaneous stomping and giggling. And then we played until Daddy came home. And when he did, I kissed him hello and goodbye. And raced out to a PA meeting at Preschool. And an hour later, I was back home to kiss Toddler goodnight, to read her a silly little book about cats, and sing her our song. An original Husband and I composed when she was months old. And then Husband and I ate dinner together. And we talked. About easy things. And harder things.

We talked about our girls. Our home. Our life. Our hopes. Our fears. Our worries. Our future. And my book.

He asked me something. Something no one else has asked.

"Have you allowed yourself to think about the possibility that you might be a bestseller?"

This question reminded me of one he asked me a few years ago: Have you allowed yourself to think about the possibility that your novel might be published?

I looked at him. My man. Blues eyes fixed on mine. And I answered much as I did years ago.

"No. I mean, yes. I mean, not really," I said. "It doesn't matter."

My words were not the portrait of eloquence. There was no polish. But they were raw. Real. Rough. Mine.

It doesn't matter. In so many ways, it doesn't matter what happens with Life After Yes. What matters is that I am here in my own life after yes.

What matters is Here. Not There. Not some glittering destination. Not some heralded list.

Here.

What matters is Now. Not six days from now. Not six years from now. Not six books from now.

Now.

What matters is that the butterfly has landed. After many years of pursuit, I am sitting quietly. At my desk. In my family. In my words. In my dreams. In my life. In my Here. In my Now. And she is there. On my shoulder. Perching precariously. Powder soft wings quaking gently, uncertainly, with promise.

And she won't be there forever. I know this. If I turn to look, to get a better glimpse, to study her shape, she might fly away.

And so. I sit here. Acutely aware of her presence. Deeply thankful for her visit.

However long it lasts.

[This post was inspired by the Happiness topic of Momalom's Five for Ten writing challenge. Click over to read what I am sure will be a wonderful and thought-provoking collection of happiness musings.]

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  • Do you agree that if we try too hard to chase happiness - or to define it - happiness will elude us?
  • Do you agree that happiness finds us in our quiet moments when we are at peace with ourselves and our lives? When we are not looking?
  • Are you happy?
  • Do you like butterflies?

Okay, I lied a tiny bit. Of course I care what happens to my literary baby. I think that if she's well-received and well-purchased, that lovely little butterfly of happiness might hang out a bit longer. Thanks to your pre-orders, Life After Yes climbed from #68,000ish to as high as #14,000ish on Amazon in one day! Yay! Keep up the good work, guys! Ready, set, click... Come on. All the cool kids are doing it :)

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