Life can be a real eye-opener, but it’s the difficult things that test our resolve. Sure, we have all had those kinds of days where we want to run away from it all. Pack our little red wagon full of our possessions, but we may only get as far as the front yard, because we cannot cross the street. One of my favorite writers, Erma Bombeck, wrote, “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.” I rather find the humor in things, then dwell on the hurt. Marjorie Pay Hinckley said, “. . . the only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache." Me, too. Sometimes it's hard to find the silver-lining in the clouds of doubt.
Sister Hinckley also said, "Don't dwell on your failures, but think of your successes. Have joy in your home. Have joy in your children. Have joy in your husband. Be grateful for the journey." Sadness and disappointment are part of our life, but not LIFE itself, while our challenges can and should be seen as growth experiences. It was part of Heavenly Father's plan for us to experience happiness and joy, too. Psalm 118:24 reads, "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. I hope to find reasons to rejoice everyday and to be glad in it. Sometimes, finding joy in life is as simple as appreciating the little things: Early in his career, cartoonist, Charles Schultz wrote a book titled Happiness is a Warm Puppy. I thought I would add some of my own happiness-isms. . .
- Happiness is a warm towel fresh out of the dryer.
- Happiness is a purring kitten on my lap.
- Happiness is sloppy-wet doggie kisses.
- Happiness is a good report card, a good grade, a “good job”, or a pat on the back.
- Happiness is proud momma (or poppa, grandma, or grandpa) moments. I have had several proud momma moments this year.
- Happiness is staring at the stars or watching a sunrise or sunset.
- Happiness is watching snow fall.
- Happiness is the boys cleaning the bathroom or doing the dishes without me having to ask them.
- Happiness is even through there are times I could kill my offspring, I am grateful we have to opportunity to be a forever family.
- Happiness is "Oh, the joy this sentence gives, I know that my Redeemer lives."
- Last, but certainly not least, happiness is feeling the Savior’s love.
What we often forget is happiness doesn't come by receiving something, but rather recognizing and appreciating what we do have. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin told us in a 2008 General Conference talk, “The way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life.” Trust me, when I say I have had a lot of adversity and challenges in my life, including lots of medical, financial, and personal issues. My parents have often said, “If anything is going to happen to one of our daughters, it’s going to be Anne.”
Which leads me into the second theme, “Come What May and Love It.”
When I was in high school, I wanted to be an actor. Oh, how I wanted to act. I desired it so much – I could almost taste it. I wanted to hear the applause and take the bows. Therefore, I auditioned for every play my high school put on. (We were a large high school, who produced several shows a year). Every time I saw the cast list posted outside the drama department door, my heart broke a little bit more when I saw my name not on that list. Of course, my drama teacher, give me encouraging words about how I just was not right for the role, or how she really needed me as a stagehand or assistant director or stage manager, so I would suck up my tears and be backstage. However, I had a never-give-up attitude and continued to tryout again and again. The hardest experience was the final show of my senior year. This particular play we were taking on tour. I wanted so very badly to be in this show and thought I had a wonderful audition, but again, I was disappointed when I was not picked and I cried tears of frustration. If I had not already paid for my travel – I might have just not gone. That would have showed them, I had thought.
Nevertheless, I had a good experience being a roadie and had a great time seeing the sites in Chicago and Washington, D.C. and attending the International Thespian Conference in Muncie, Indiana. After coming back from an amazing trip, I started my freshman year at college, and was cast in the very first show I auditioned for. It was a bit role in the play A Christmas Carol, but I had a great time working with the fantastic cast and a very talented director (who also adapted the play) and up and coming Broadway actor (Patrick Page), but I soon discovered stage lights dreams was not want I wanted after all – nope, I liked being backstage. Moreover, although I performed in a few children theatre shows and musicals in college – I was backstage more than onstage and LOVED it! Even though my goals and dreams changed, I realized acting was still an important skill to understand if I wanted to direct or write, so I kept some of my dreams alive by graduating with a Master’s of Arts degree in Theatre, and I continue to direct and write today.
Finally, when I was in college, I had planned to spend a year at BYU - Hawaii, I turned in my application on time, but was not accepted, because the letter of recommendation from my bishop arrived a day late. I experienced the gamut of emotions, and found myself back at Western Oregon State College registering for classes and looking for a job to help pay for books and tuition. I applied for a job at a local movie theater where I met the projectionist, whom years later I married. When one door opens, another one opens.
I’m going finish by quoting Elder Wirthlin again. He said, “. . . every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don’t sing and bells don’t ring. Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result.” Finally, because I am involved in the dramatics, I have to conclude by saying, “Enjoy life; this is not a dress rehearsal.”