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Confessions of a Happy Woman

I have written before about the fact that women (over 50) want to be happy. In follow-up I think it would be helpful to give a personal example by sharing my own search for happiness.

I have always been an upbeat person and have been reasonably happy. However, my level of happiness has grown especially after reaching the age of 50. That doesn’t mean that I walk around with a perpetual smile on my face or that I don’t get frustrated and discouraged. Believe me, it happens. In sharing my experience, I am hoping that others will be helped. Just remember. The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.
 
For many years I was in a typical medical practice where I was seeing up to 30 patients in a day. I was juggling my family, husband, house and trying to exercise and eat healthy, but it was almost impossible. I felt like a failure. I could not give enough time to anything or anyone. I was miserable. I knew it was time for a change and I left the clinic I was working for. I enrolled in an online Integrative Medicine fellowship program with Dr. Andrew Weil in Arizona. Our first fellowship week took place in Arizona and was the week surrounding 9/11.
 
Needless to say I could not get back home by flying and ended up renting a car and driving the long road back to Oregon. I had a lot of time to think on that road trip. I realized that it was time to clean up my act. I needed to walk the walk and eat healthy, exercise, and design a practice that worked for my family and me. No more potato chips for lunch. No more popcorn for dinner. No more excuses for not exercising.
 
Since college when I contracted mononucleosis I had always been tired. Miracle of miracles, the first thing that happened with my new program was that my chronic fatigue went away after about three weeks. No more blaming the guy who gave me mono! I found that my clothes were fitting better and I had enough energy to play with my children and think about the practice that I wanted to design.
 
I started my integrative medicine clinic known as Triune. Triune stands for mind, body and spirit, which is what I address with every patient that comes to see me. I work alone and I spend an hour and a half with each new patient. I have a partnership-type relationship with each one of them. I help most, not all, but this is a lot better than the progress I saw when I would spend 10 minutes with each patient. To feed my own spirit I learned to meditateand it has become as automatic for me every day as brushing my teeth. It keeps me grounded.
 
I began to get involved in medical reporting on the television news and now I have a weekly call-in show where I give free medical advice. I write blogs and co-authored a book and I am really enjoying that part of my life. My kids are out of the house in college and working. My husband is happy practicing as a GI doctor. They all have their ups and downs but are doing well overall.
 
Two years ago I was asked to participate in our local Dancing with the Stars contest. I had never done ballroom dancing before. I was paired with a wonderful dancer who taught me Argentine tango. It was amazing. I fell in love with the tango and dance in general. After the contest (we came in third place!) I decided to keep on dancing. I was happy before but dance has kicked it up a zillion notches.
 
I would say that I am happier than I have ever been. I am so grateful for what I have and have found a way to be creative and productive. There are still things that get me down but I don’t stay down. If I ever start to despair I just think of all the good things I have in my life.
 
Many of us have a tendency to look at other people and their families and think that they have it better or easier. Remember, Pleasantville only exists in the movies; we all have troubles. How we deal with those troubles ultimately will determine our ability to find happiness. Have you found yours?