A year ago I wrote about the difficulties of Alzheimer’s and how my family was dealing with my great aunt Stephanie’s failing memory. I find myself writing again about my stand-in grandma following the news of her passing this week.Being away from home brought the realization I could not be with my family and say goodbye to Auntie Steph. As such, I was in need of a pick-me-up. I attended a screening for the documentary Happy. This film details the definition across the globe seeking input from all kinds of people – from psychologists and neurologists in the U.S. to 100+ year olds in Okinawa, Japan. The documentary discusses how happy people tend to be more resilient and face challenges more effectively. A quote highlighted in the film sticks with me. Benjamin Franklin said, “The U.S. constitution does not guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.” How can you bring the happy to yourself and others every day?
• Write letters. Auntie Stephie and I were pen pals throughout college. I looked forward to holding the cards she took the time to send me and to this day, I constantly find them in journals and boxes – lovely reminders of an amazing woman.
• Perform random acts of kindness. Why not surprise a fellow coffee drinker by picking up their order? Strive to pay it forward in your every day.
• Tell stories. Auntie Steph was quite the storyteller. She always had a lot to say, especially about her Italian pictured above (but she may have used another, less PC, term to describe the love of her life).
• Write down 5 good things you have going each week. My pal Andi started a blog series where contributors share little doses of joy. Reflecting on the latest and greatest in your life will keep your spirits high and help you overcome the tough situations. To celebrate how Auntie Steph lived each day to its fullest, the obituary requests that bright colors are worn to the wake and funeral. Just as she filled our lives with color, we’ll do her proud with a goodbye that is nothing less.