"Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like
and celebrating it for everything that it is."
It seems hard to believe that we started our "happy days" journey 1,000 days ago. For those keeping track, that's more than two and a half years, and it's a safe bet to say that lots has changed since we started.
|Day 1 - Our first official happy days photo.|
|Day 4 - She's always the star of our happy days.|
We have to give credit to our friend, Stephanie Carls, for introducing us to the idea of #100happydays. She had done it on Facebook, and we decided to give it a try. The premise is quite simple. Just look for something that makes you happy every day for 100 days in a row. It had been a particularly trying time for us, and we thought it might help give us a new outlook on life.
The first picture we posted was a photo of the two of us snuggling on the couch, and we both posted the same photo to start. After that, most of our photos included Grace, because she seems to make us happy most of the time.
|Day 23 - Playing with my favorite princess at our house.|
|Day 145 - Grace was the flowergirl at my cousin Rachel's wedding.|
Grace was about two and a half when we started our happy days campaign, and although we were well involved with physical therapy several times a week, she had not yet been diagnosed with INAD. It seems like we've learned a lot since then.
And though the premise is simple, some days it was tough to find something that made us happy. But that's also the beauty of the concept. It doesn't necessarily mean that you have to have 100 happy days in a row, you just have to find happy moments in those days. Even on days where we felt defeated, we always stop and find a moment in the day that made us happy.
|Day 190 - Kisses at the preschool Thanksgiving program.|
|Day 193 - Working hard during physical therapy.|
Very quickly, our 100 days was up, and since it was something we had become accustomed to, Kyle and I decided we would keep up the project on our own, and adopted the hastag #foreverhappydays. We also wrote a blog when we hit the 500 day mark, and just this weekend, we hit day 1,000.
Although it was something Kyle and I noticed, we were a little surprised to see that others were excited for us to reach this milestone too. Kyle's sister asked if we were going to do anything special to celebrate, and his aunt posted on my Facebook wall how excited she was. Even a friend at church stopped to tell us how much our happy days photos have blessed her.
|Day 343 - Family game night at home.|
|Day 451 - Our Dorothy in the Old Settlers Kiddie Parade.|
|Day 492 - Grace loves to be the leader at preschool.|
But the more we talked about it, the more we realized that we didn't want to do something big or special to commemorate the 1,000 day milestone. Because #foreverhappydays is about finding happiness in all the little moments. We know that all the days aren't happy, and that life is often hard and unfair. But finding happiness starts small. It starts with letting go of what you expected your life to be, and finding happiness in the life you live each and every day.
I wake up every single morning wishing that Grace would run into my bedroom, jump on the bed and wake me up with a big kiss. And I'd even welcome that at 5 a.m.! Yes, that would make me happy. But the reality of our life is that at this point, that's not a possibility. So, instead of hugs and "I love yous," I find happiness in Grace's smile, and the way that she appreciates the little things in life. Things like her favorite books, Minnie Mouse and all kinds of music. But most of all, Grace is happy when those she loves look at her and smile. I love to tell her about my day at work or things that I liked when I was her age. And even though she can't answer, I always ask about her day. She responds with a smile, and I know that she's found happy moments in her day too.
|Day 533: No caption needed . . .|
|Day 641 - Daddy's favorite ride at Walt Disney World.|
|Day 669 - Train ride at the St. Louis Zoo.|
|Day 810: Pure happiness.|
In the end, we decided to make a video for Facebook, thanking everyone who has joined our Grace-Filled Journey and continues to watch for our #foreverhappydays photos each and every day. We ended it with a quote that Kyle's sister sent me after Grace was diagnosed with INAD. "When life gives you 100 reasons to cry, show it you have 1,000 reasons to smile."
There are some days that my tears are bigger than my smile, but #foreverhappydays reminds me to find that something that makes me happy. Most of the time, it's Kyle and Grace and the time we get to spend together. And through all our challenges, I feel blessed to call them my family.
|Day 906: Sonogram pictures of her new little sister.|
|Day 943: Crazy Christmas shirts!|
|Day 996: There's ALWAYS a reason to smile each and every day!|
Over the past 1,000 days, we've learned to cherish the time that we have together and keep looking for those moments that make us happy. It's not always easy, but it's definitely always worth it.