Happy, like anything else it takes practice to be good at it.

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Sheryl and Chloe, Cincinnati Girl Noticed

“If you think this world as a place intended simply for your happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad” C.S. Lewis

I don’t know if your like me, but I’ve spent most of my life trying to figure out happy. I mean generally, yes I am, but deep down in the gut of things I search, I dissect and I yearn for the true meaning of that word. I could spend hours and pages listing the likes of what has made me unhappy in my life, but have trouble finding just a few sentences to describe the real “happy’ I think I deserve.

“Deserve”, I love that word. I tend to throw it around quite often. I deserve, and I most definitely deserve happy. Happy should be sitting on a silver platter waiting for me each day to pick it up and carry it around with me. I think because of my struggles, my obstacles and the hurt and pain I’ve endured I should be given happy as a gift, wrapped in pretty paper and tied neatly with a bow. But is that a backwards way of thinking? To think that my happiness should be measured by the things that have made me unhappy? Happiness is there, it always has been, and yes it is a gift, but its not so much I deserve it, as its mine to have anytime I want it, as much as I can handle of it.  It’s just going to take some practice. Maybe because once I have it I’m not quite sure what to do with it, how to handle it, nurture it, make it grow.

You can’t just think about being happy, you have to live being happy. Habits are replaced with habits.  All the stuff you do to yourself that makes you unhappy, makes you feel bad about yourself, weather it be negative self talk, overeating, not making it to the gym today, not enough time with your loved ones, relationships that don’t serve you, over working, saying yes, when you wanted to say no, too much time staring at your phone, tv or whatever other source you use to blur out life. Those things can only be replaced by other habits. Good ones. They’re not hard to figure out, they just seem hard to stick to, to nail down and say, “Today I make me happy”. It’s easier just to fall back onto the old bad habit. We’re comfortable there. It snuggles us like a warm blanket. Good lord, throw off the blanket and go live your life! Easier said than done? Yes I know, I want to go crawl back under the blanket at the end of the day as well.

The reality is I am given the gift every day to correct old behaviors, learn new ways to happiness. There may always be times where things feel so heavy, so impossible, so unfair and that I feel I have no control over what is happening. But can I learn to make it through those times looking back and knowing I’m stronger, wiser and maybe even a better person because of them? Can I be grateful for every moment? I mean every single one? Because they all hold lessons, they all hold opportunities for growth, for correction, for change. Do I appreciate all the little things? Things I take for granted like the sun shining, and the slow steady breathing of my dog pressed next to me as I type this?

Happiness is mine, it’s yours. It’s deliberate and a choice. In the messy, piercing ache of now happiness is possible, its always present waiting for us to take hold of it. Why did I select the photo above for this post?  You can see the joy in this photograph, you can see the now. Stop right where you are, look inside yourself and choose now, choose happy. There you go, see that, you just practiced. Now let’s get good at it.

In her words…

Quetcy was 17 when I featured her as the Troy, NY Girl Noticed. Her bravery and resilience does not go unnoticed. She owns her story and continues to push through. She has allowed herself to be vulnerable in telling her story.

With her permission I share this with you in her words.

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“The Story of Me” by Quetcy Jacobs
Everyone has a story, some stories are good and some are bad but through all the stories there are meaningful messages to them all. I hope to share my story with you all and I hope to inspire all of you who read this.

It all began a little before birth, I was born premature to a mother who was addicted to all sorts of illegal substances and she did things that weren’t healthy for her or the babies that she was carrying; or even those around her. She was an unstable individual. Let’s just say my journey into this world wasn’t easy. If any of you were to look at me, physically I would appear average, if any of you were to look at me, mentally I would appear average. You wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking at someone what there life story was. This is why I am sharing mine with all of you. I don’t really remember much from birth so I am going to skip a few years…

My birth mother was unable to care for me in the proper way, and because of this I was given to my paternal aunt. From the moment that decision was made, I remained in the custody of my aunt for a few years. Those years weren’t the best years of my life.

There were some days that were good but there were some days that were bad. As a child, I was physically and mentally abused. As far as education went, my aunt and uncle, whom I called “mom and dad” rarely took me to school. I didn’t really have friends, I didn’t even know how to make friends. I lacked so many skills that are important to a child’s development. On the days that I didn’t go to school I remember being very sad. School was like an escape for me. An escape from the chaos and havoc in my life. I felt like I was living a different life while I was at school.
I was always kept inside, isolated from the outside world. Due to the instability of my environment, living with my paternal aunt and uncle, I was removed and put into foster care.
My years in foster care were from ages 7 till about the age of 10. I bounced around from foster home to foster home. I wasn’t an angel. I was at times a misbehaved little child. I was very rambunctious. I was afraid to let anyone in. Afraid, that someone would hurt me. My life didn’t really get better until I was about 10 years old. On my tenth birthday my then fabulous social worker, took me to the park where I was going to meet my foster parents that were soon going to be my adoptive parents. That visit to the park was one of the best visits. I remember playing scrabble with my soon to be foster parents and laughing. It was then that I knew my life would completely change…. for the better!

I am very happy with the life that I have now. Two moms and a family that I can call my own is the greatest thing that I could ever ask for. My parents are the light of my life, they are my whole world. They inspire me to reach for the stars and strive to be the best that I can be. Both of my parents believe that education is very important so I made it a point to make education a huge part of my life. I managed to graduate at the top of my class and I even received the only scholarship that there was from my principal as well as getting a music recipient award from my music teacher.

“Flash Forward”
Fast forward to the year 2016-17
I am 18 years old about to be 19. I am an active member in the LGBT community. I am happy to be in a community that accepts individuals for who they are, flaws and all. Back then being gay, wasn’t the easiest thing for anyone; but things have changed quite a bit, especially when the Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage. This was a huge positive turning point for many.

Knowing that you no longer have to hide is one of the greatest things in the whole wide world! I love life, even though life is hard I manage to find the good in every situation no matter how big or how small. When my skies are grey, I use the one gift that God gave me. My voice. I sing whenever I can. I sing in the car, in my room, and in public. I just recently sang at my parents wedding. I am still so happy that my parents were able to get married.

Over all, life is rough but with love and God on your side everything will be okay. I leave you with this: “ We may not have it all together, but together we have it all”

I just want to thank Lori Pratico for giving me the opportunity to write in her blog and share my life experiences with those around me. I hope that you all find my story inspiring and leave knowing that you are not alone!

If you would like to share your story, email girlnoticed@gmail.com