Do what makes you happy

I was listening to the radio this morning on my way to drop my daughter Tia off at work. The radio dj’s were talking about adult coloring books. They talked about how adult coloring books are big sellers on Amazon and basically how the coloring books are taking the world by storm. They even announced the local library was having adult coloring night this evening. People want to go back to the simpler things in today’s fast paced digital age. Coloring seems to have relaxing effects on the body and puts you in that zen meditative state. I still have yet to buy an adult coloring book. I have several children’s coloring books lying around. And yes, coloring with my kids makes me happy.

It got me thinking.

I thought about my australian friend Kylie. Her words echoed in my thoughts.

“Masha, you do what you like” she said in her australian accent.

It was 2010 and I was scared to go swimming in the pool because it was too early and no one else was swimming. It was February in California, but to me, an Albertan from Canada it was a nice summer day.

She gently nudged me to go and do what I want in life. In this case, swim in a pool outside our oakland apartment. I decided to go sit in the hot tub instead. You see, I was doing what made me happy.

I went to California for one month to study acting. I left the job I had become comfortable working in for 11 years as a social worker. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I was drained, cranky and emotional.  I thought about what made me happy before I began social work. And I remembered, I wanted to be an actress and I wanted to write. I saved up the money, and for one month I left my seven daughters and my husband to follow my dreams to learn how to act in los Angeles. Yes.

I mentally prepared for it. I prepared for all the possible outcomes and yes even the naysayers, I didn’t care. I had read the book ‘I dare you’ by Joyce Meyer. I read ‘The Secret’. I said affirmations. I smudged and I said prayers. I quit smoking. And then I went. I choose to go to a very prominent and famous acting studio. I had an amazing time. I loved all my teachers, even the ones that were hard on me.

And yes I met three naysayers. They were some of my teachers. Two were men and one a woman. One man who upon class introductions immediately said “Don’t you belong at home?” I asked him if he had kids and he did then I said “Don’t you?” I told him he was entitled to his opinion but in the end it was my life. Wow. where did this empowered woman come from? This teacher taught me my biggest teaching but that is for another time. In short he taught me how to ‘bring it’. I hold him in my thoughts dearly.

My other teacher – a female lets name her Thelma, was especially cruel to me. She made it her mission to belittle me in class and taunt me. Several of my fellow class mates were quite upset at the things she said to me in class. I think I did more consoling to them than myself! Never the less, I kept my focus. That was all I could do. Sometimes in life some people will just not like us for whatever reason. To this day Thelma has been one of my biggest teachers because she represented a fear I had. I got over this fear in L.A. and because of that I am stronger.

The other teacher (let’s call him Andy) questioned my decision. His wife was a stay at home mother and as he said ‘she belonged with the baby.’ And from what he was saying, she belonged to him and the baby for the rest of her life.

“Gave up her career for the family.” he said.

Now I had a two year old at home myself. And I wondered about his wife. Yes, I have dabbled in martyrdom and trust me, it doesn’t last! Been there and done that. Check! He couldn’t understand how I could leave my children for so long. I told him this was the longest I ever left my children so it was new to me as well but not permanent. It was 2010 after all. And in the big scheme of things, a blink. I explained to him that I had alot of family support back home via my husband and extended family.

Let’s look at the back story here.

I had made sacrifices for my family as well. This man told me they had to pay $100,000 to have a baby. I could see why this issue was so near and dear to him and his wife. I told him I make babies easily and it costs me nothing. I think we both fascinated each other. We became friends and I shed some light on womans roles. I mean just because I have children doesn’t mean I stop everything to tend to my family (and I do, trust me on this) but a housewife and mother can dream and follow her dreams-especially if her husband is loving and supportive. Because women matter too. I think it apt to say women make the world go round. And isn’t that something every parent wants to teach their child, to be  happy in life? I’d say so.

I love being a mother and a wife. It was something I was born to do. Having said that, I was also born to enjoy life and be happy. It’s important that my kids see me happy. I’m alive and while I’m here I’m going to have fun! One day the girls will be all grown up and they will leave the nest. Then what? so you see, it’s vital that I lay the ground work now. I plan on living a long full life God willing.

I had the time of my life in L.A. I learned not just about acting but about myself. I had low self esteem before I left and sometimes it’s something I struggle with (along with social anxiety.) In L.A. I learned how to look people in the eye and raise my head. I learned how to communicate through this amazing studio! How can I ever thank the teachers enough?

I came home to my loving family better than when I left. Healthier, happier. And guess what? My family reaps the benefit of that to this day.

I have taken several acting classes since then. I studied in Neil Schell’s year long actor core training and learned even more about the art and craft of acting. Neil is a great friend and mentor. I have attended several writing workshops and classes taught by Eunice Scarfe another friend and mentor! And I’m in a writing group.

My daughters are watching me.

And when they watch me, I want them to see a mother who is fearless to go after what she wants. I want them to see momma hustle for something that she loves and not to see their mother miserable,tired, unhappy and unappreciated (which I was in my old job). My great achievements are my children. They are watching their mom go after what she believes in and I think that’s the best teaching I can give them.

Do what makes you happy.

If that means you color in an adult coloring book-do it! Maybe you wanted to go to California or Paris to study cooking. If you can do it, go for it!  I strongly believe that is what makes the world a better place. People who follow their passions. Be the change that you want to see. In my case that meant I had to be a doer not just a dreamer. I had to be the dream, live the dream. I have an agent, and I’m writing novels and screenplays. I’m still a mom loving her family, putting my kids to bed and making supper. That to me is success.

So give yourself Permission to be happy and do what makes you happy today and forever more. No one is standing in judgement and even if they do, in grand scheme of things it’s your life that is going to be impacted by your decisions.

So now when my daughter’s question their decisions I say to them in Kylie’s australian accent,

“You do what you like”.






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