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For A Good Time Call 1-800-Cheryl

Feeling a little down? I’ve got just the fix—give me a call and I’ll see what I can do to lift your spirits — all for free!

I’m not quite sure why, but for some reason I was given a very unique gift — the ability to have a pretty good time no matter how bleak the circumstances — go figure!

I don’t say this to toot my own horn (sorry, a 47-year-old woman should not have the word toot in her vocabulary), but in hopes that you too can embrace my second favorite “f” word — FUN. (The first would be FREE.) Regardless of what your current bank balance, bathroom scale or recent Visa statement might be telling you.

Before I go any further, I just want to clarify that these good times I’m referring to have nothing to do with my ability to glide all over a pole, unless of course there’s a mop attached to it, or whisper “dirty nothings” into a phone, hey, I’ve got eight kids — I can talk dirty to them anytime I need the garbage taken out. 

No, I’m talking about something else entirely different, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you start rolling your eyes or begin cursing at your screen when I tell you what my secret is — are you ready? The reason I can usually have a good time on any given day is that I choose to do so.

Believe me, I used to loathe anybody that would go around preaching such a thing. Happiness is a choice — blah, blah, blah. People like that had to be “on” something I thought.  There was just no way that someone who was stricken with a horrific sickness or had just lost his job was going to walk around floating on air that life was good and they would rise above and make the best of the hand they were dealt with, right? 

Well, without trying to sound too much like Oprah, I’ve personally witnessed those situations above and watched the remarkable unfolding of taking that proverbial lemon that was thrown their way and turning it into the sweetest lemonade they could concoct due to one and only one ingredient — choice.

With the anniversary of the Great Flood of Rhode Island approaching, I got to thinking about some of the cruddy setbacks I’ve faced over the years and wondered if I could’ve handled them any better than I actually did.  It was a mixed bag, but a few examples I recalled were:

The Great Flood of RI on March 31, 2010. I remember it well.  My husband was away on business (never fails when there is a natural disaster or the stomach bug is in the house), and at about 1 a.m. I heard a constant drip, drip, drip noise coming from our family room. 

I hoped I hadn’t forgotten to shut the water off in our newly renovated master bath so as I groggily stepped down from our bedroom, about six inches of icy cold water greeted my very bare feet.  A few steps further I realized what several others in our neighborhood did — we were underwater and it was coming in fast and furious.

About a week and $20,000 later, the last of the water was finally gone, but the damage was great and the insurance wasn’t going to pay a dime because we didn’t have a sump pump. 

Thems the breaks and as frustrating and exhausting as that experience was — I hated the Berber carpet we had in that room and now it was long gone! Even though it took us a year to redo the room I ended up with a new sump pump and new carpeting that I at least like to look at now.

Adoption.  On a more serious note going from mildew and water damage to our oldest child now in search of her birthmother, I can’t tell you how anxious and excited I am for her to be going through this process right now. 

Shocked, are you?  Certainly understandable if you’ve never experienced the heartbreak of infertility and the crazy roller coaster of adoption, but for those who have, you might understand what an important process this is for many of the parties involved in adoption, especially the adopted child and the birth mother. 

I am proud of my daughter and would love for her to have whatever closure or relationship she needs with her birth family at this point.  The search has actually brought us closer and I would much rather be supporting her and enjoying this process rather than boohooing in a corner someplace that I might lose her. 

New puppy.  OK, if you want to know the truth, this is the most challenging of all three examples when it comes to my “choice” to be happy.  Let’s get one fact straight — she is not my puppy, she’s my 18-year-old daughter’s puppy! 

What I was thinking when we gave our blessing for her to bring home a 3-month-old Pomeranian fluff ball when she’s leaving for college next fall is beyond me, but once I made eye contact with Gracie (oh yes, she named her before she even got the OK from us), it was all over.  She’s cute, cuddly, lovingly adorable, but she pees all over the house.

Yesterday I was at my breaking point.  I ran through the kitchen to grab the phone and slid in a pile of Gracie tinkle!  I crashed into the granite island and landed on my hip in a puddle of Gracie delight. 

I’m a veteran of changing eight babies’ diapers for nearly 15 years, but this has nearly broken me!  I cannot lie, it’s not been easy choosing to be happy over a decision I rushed into last month, but the fact that at nearly 48 I can still run through the kitchen faster than a couple of my kids gives me incentive to keep on smiling!

For those of you who know me well, I hope you’ll attest to the fact that I am not one of your Eyeore friends (c’mon, we all have them!) and I’m much more of a Pooh Bear.  For those of you who don’t, anytime you feel like you need a little lift, go ahead and give me a call at 1-800-Cheryl —I promise I won’t put you on hold!

Mariann Millette March 28, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Cheryl, I was so happy to see your article in my email today. I follow your stories and always enjoy them, but this one hit me where I live. I also subscribe to your attitude that being happy is a choice. My husband and I have taught our children that and they are now teaching their children that. I was put to the test almost two years ago when my husband lost his second battle with Cancer. I was able, after a great deal of work to find my "happy" again. I could not lose him and myself too, I often said to those that know and love me. My children need their Mom and my grand children need their Nana: I need my " self" . I found, or I should say a wonderful program at URI call OLLI, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, found me. I am still who I am, a curious person with a lot of living left in me. I have signed up for interesting classes, met people that are eager to still learn even at a mature age. OLLI is for people 50 years and older that are still curious and interested in learning and being active or meeting people . I highly recommend it as a way to embrace being happy and re inventing yourself after a difficult time in your life. Their mottoes are "Your curiosity does not retire" and "Learning for the Joy of it". People can check it out on line at uri.edu/olli. You can make a difference in your own life, but it takes a little work and change Thank you for your words of inspiration. Mariann
Cheryl Butler March 28, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Oh Mariann! Your comments have just made me so happy! Thank you for taking the time to share! I have never heard of OLLI but I'm definitely going to check it out. It's people like you that are a testament that we can prevail and still live fulfilling and happy lives even after a personal tragedy. It certainly isn't the same life, but we owe it to ourselves first and our loved ones to appreciate and enjoy every day--because really, isn't that all we have? Best to you in your happy new life and I hope our paths will cross soon! :)

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