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Storybook Endings

There's a sign above my bedroom door that says Happily Ever After. I bought it on the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey a couple of years ago. It's perfectly viewable from the whole room and the last thing to read on my way out my door every morning. Just a little reminder that my Happily Ever After is out there.

In the sixth grade, I did a book report on Happily After All by Laura Stevenson. In the book, the characters explain that the phrase "happily after all" is more appropriate to the way things go in life. You never see what happens after the prince and princess ride off into the sunset (except in straight-to-DVD sequels). Since the plot is so fraught with difficulty, the real reason we celebrate at the end is not because they will live happily together forever, but because they are now living happily after all that they've been through.

I try to remember that whenever things are pushing down on me; that this isn't the end. In fact, I'm going to have a LOT of endings.

I had lunch today with this incredible person. Smart, funny, and totally resilient despite an overwhelming obstacle in his life. After hearing his story, I couldn't help but wonder what I would do if faced with the same situation. How would I survive? Could I be as happy, or would I drag others into dealing with my internal conflicts?

It's not always easy to remember the good stuff. It seems so normal, so carefree. If my "today" was a storybook, it couldn't possibly have a happily ever after. Nothing can stop a trial or tribulation from popping up tomorrow, so there's no guarantee of happy then. I could focus on that, or I can look back and say that I'm happily after all.

So what if I didn't finish all the house cleaning I wanted to? The federal government (and therefore my office) is closed tomorrow on account of snow and ice; I can finish it up then. So what if I burned the last batch of cookies tonight - I was hanging out with my roommate and having a fabulous time, and she's worth so much more than those cookies.

The good in my days outweighs the bad 99% of the time, so optimistic me would like to say that it'll be happily ever after. But practical me knows that things will come up, bad stuff can happen, and having everything go right and perfect would be boring and spooky anyway. So I'm reveling in my happily after all today. And rooting for one tomorrow. And a forever full of happily after that.

Love always, ~Heather