Blessings and the Blues by Sherrie Hansen

In this year’s Christmas letter, I said,  “I am now a published author of two books, Night and Day, and Stormy Weather – a most wonderful happening, squeezed in between daily stresses that do not go away simply because something extraordinary has happened.”

Being published is certainly a dream come true for me. I’ve signed more than 800 copies of Night and Day – To dreams come true,  Sherrie Hansen (with a flourish under my name).

So why is it, when our dreams finally come true… when we finally find the pot of gold at the rainbow… the experience often isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

As a single woman, I was convinced that when I met Mr. Right, all my problems would mysteriously vanish.  I would lose all the weight that I had gained over the years because I had no one to hold me, no one to be with. My financial woes would disappear, my sorrows would simply go away, and my frustrations would evaporate, so wrought with great joy and extraordinary sex my life would be.

As all of you old married couples tried to tell me, being part of a couple comes with its own set of challenges, and that’s not even taking step-children into account!

When the economy is in a down cycle, I console myself with dreams that this or that politician or promise or occurrence or happening will make everything all better again. My troubles will all fly-away, and I’ll be in the money again. Then, everything will be wonderful.

As a yet-to-be published author, I told myself much the same little white lies. Being published was all I needed to make me happy. If I only had the affirmation of knowing my work was worthy of publication, I would be satisfied. All I needed is to hear is that someone likes my book, and then everything would be okay.

Don’t get me wrong – being published is a wonderful feeling. Hearing from readers who like my books and can’t wait to read more is a joyful, unparalleled thing.

So why is it that this year, of all years, I have a royal case of the holiday blues?

Perhaps it is because my back is out, I’m estranged from my 19 year old step-son, and I’m still faced with frustrating circumstances on a near daily basis as I struggle to juggle a time-consuming business, family, friends, husband, church, and now, a blossoming writing career with it’s own set of demands. Perhaps it’s because I’m in my 50’s and my body, both physically and emotionally, is changing, falling apart, failing me.

Perhaps it’s because I’m still deluding myself, thinking that any one occurrence can make me happy.

Perhaps its because I keep forgetting to count my many blessings, name them one by one…   Perhaps it’s because I am a blue belle living in a blue house, when I should be out painting the town pink, or green or yellow or even purple, looking up, seeing rainbows.

The pot of gold may be ever elusive, but the rainbows, ah, the rainbows… the rainbows always keep me looking up.

What about you? Have you ever achieved a goal, then found it less than satisfying? Are you singing the blues this Christmas or swinging from a chandelier as you ring in the New Year? Have you found the secret of happiness? Contentment in any circumstance? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

The author is in, and signing copies of her latest release. Keep looking up!  Sherrie Hansen (with a flourish under my name.)

7 Comments

Filed under books, life, musings, Sherrie Hansen, writing

7 responses to “Blessings and the Blues by Sherrie Hansen

  1. I do “get” what you’re saying. Would it help to know you’re not alone? To me it sounds like you are just describing the human condition in our American culture. We grow up hearing stories and watching movies about what the future should look like. We accept them as “right,” even if the scenarios are most improbable or, at worst, completely contradict reality. Then, when we find ourselves in a situation that’s actually celebratory, we compare it with the “dream scenario” and feel let down. I grew up watching “Father Knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver” and would always compare my family to the TV family. Did I grow out of it? Of course not! These cultural myths have a purpose, I’m sure, because without dreams most people wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Still, I often wish I could just live more in the moment and appreciate the here and now to the fullest extent like my higher brain tells me to.

  2. I, too, grew up watching the Beaver and Father Knows Best. I imagine it did give me a false image of the American Dream. On the other hand, there was something to be said about never seeing Rob and Laura Petrie in the same bed. In prime time today we see soft porn. On Dragnet, in the 1960s, when someone got gunned down we saw no blood; while today, on shows like CSI, we see autopsies in gruesome detail. There is something to be said about the desensitization of America through television—or garbage in, garbage out.

    Me, well, I’ve been a glass seventh-eighths empty sort of guy all my life. I know I have much for which to be thankful: I still have a job that pays fairly well (although I didn’t receive a raise this year) in the worst economic climate since the Great Depression, and I find myself in relatively good health. My novel is due to launch soon after the first of the year. Some people might be ecstatic over the prospect of publication; I’m pleased, but I also know that mere publication, or a successful number of sales, isn’t going to make me happy.

    To me, happiness is a state of mind. It’s not something that comes with success or that money can buy. I watched my mother suffer from Parkinson’s disease for nearly 20 years, which included great bouts of depression. She spent a small fortune over the years, on clothes, jewelry, books, knickknacks for the house, because such spending brought her short-term pleasure, but none of it ever made her happy. Not that one can find happiness in such a situation.

    Happiness is not a destination, nor is it a birthright. Relationships with the people around us can bring us momentary happiness, but they cannot make us happy. Into each life rain falls. Some endure torrential downpours, while others encounter a few drizzles not worthy of even opening an umbrella. Often the person who lives in perpetual monsoon season is happier than the one whose days are sunnier. Go figure.

    I wish I could live more in the moment, too, because truly, that is all any of us are guaranteed. Worrying about tomorrow—will I have a job, will I have good health, love, happiness, will my book be successful?—robs us of the joy of living. Yet we must plan for tomorrow since, as my father used to tell me, “No man plans to fail; yet a man who fails, failed to plan.” Yet there must be balance. The man who plans for retirement, saving every spare dime and refusing to enjoy life along way, often dies before he reaches retirement; while those who live from paycheck to paycheck while saving nothing for the future will one day be a burden to family or society.

    It’s been said that without good health we have nothing; but I think peace of mind is more important, because good health is often predicated on peace of mind, as is happiness.

    You’re not alone, Sherrie, in suffering the Holiday Blues. Hang in there.

    J.

    • I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts, J. You made some great points and I very much appreciate you taking the time to share your observations.

      Here’s to a Good New Year, whether particularly happy or not!

      Sherrie

  3. christinehusom

    I have had experiences similar to you, Sherrie and agree with what Mickey and J added. It’s the old “what if” trap.

    In my late teens and through my twenties I went through several bouts of depression. I read a book, I think it was called, “Overcoming Depression” and the one thing that struck and actually helped me was realizing depression started with feeling sorry for myself. I hadn’t recognized that before, but it made sense.

    I had been in a serious auto crash at 16–skull fracture which I continue to suffer the residual effects 40 years later–married at 19, had 5 babies (1 very sadly died at birth) between the ages of 21 and 27, waitressed evenings when my husband was home to take care of the kids, had no money, lots of stress. And I was (am) prone to depression. It was at that point I looked at the big picture and realized I had to choose to be content and happy. I made a conscious effort to limit the control my feelings had over my life and thoughts.

    I read a little quip recently that said if we all put our problems in piles, we would probably pick our own problems instead of someone elses.

    Of course I have highs and lows, many regrets and unrealized dreams, but mostly I have deep gratitude for the amazing life and blessings, despite chronic pain, financial set backs and the tragic/sad things my children have experienced.

    I also like the expression, “If you find yourself going though hell, keeping walking, because you don’t want to stay there.” That’s for sure!

    • What excellent advice, Chris. Although I would never wish problems on anyone, it is helpful to realize that everyone has them, and that I am not alone in feeling the way I sometimes do. Growing up, and living amongst stoical Scandinavian and German folk who rarely discuss or admit to their inner feelings, it is easy to delude oneself into thinking that you’re the only one who experiences the blues, or yes, even depression. (See, I’m one of them! I can barely write the word.)

      I appreciate your sharing your thoughts and the encouragement you give. Cyber hugs to you and yours and prayers for a new year full of many blessings — amidst both joy and pain.

  4. christinehusom

    Many thanks and same to you!

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