My home is a relatively modest one. When my kids are home with me it is a tight fit. When they are with their dad, it’s plenty large. It is neither old nor particularly new. It’s not fancy, but it’s nice. It’s… unoffensive. It was definitely not my first choice in location. Or style. I really wanted nothing to do with it at first. From the generic landscaping to the white carpet in the living area, I didn’t think it was my “type” of house. I didn’t even want to look at it based on the neighborhood. I am a Boise girl after all. This house is in Meridian of all places. despite my hesitation to even consider it as an option, the second I walked in, I knew it was my new home. White carpet with 4 kids be damned. This was the house for me.

It proved to be a good decision, as it became safe haven for me and for my kids. An easy place to be. A safe place for us to recoup and recover after the trauma of the divorce we had all just endured. And as I have made it my own over the past four years, I have really grown to love it. I have done a lot to this home to make it my own. But what may perhaps be one of my favorite aspect of our family home is something I had noting to do with. In fact, I didn’t even know it existed until after I bought the house. And once I found out, I truly didn’t even know what it was. My realtor (and cousin) told me it was a great perk, and I just took her word for it.

I am talking about our tankless water heater. For those of you who don’t know. For those of you who grew up with siblings and had to fight for the first shower in the morning. For those of you who are still dealing with kids and spouses using all the hot water, let me explain in layman’s terms… a tankless water heater means you never run out of hot water. Ever. You can take a two-hour, ultra hot, skin cooking shower and never have to worry about the water going cold. You can bathe all four of your children AND your dog, AND your mother-in-law all in the space of an hour, and you will still have hot water for your two-hour power shower. You can fill a giant bathtub up to the brim at whatever temperature you want. No need to choose between being totally submerged but a little cold, or perfectly hot but not totally submerged. The bath is always warm. Maybe you all have this, and it is nothing new. To me it was revolutionary.

A regular water heater has its advantages though. Back when my kids were small, I got 20 minutes in the shower (if I was lucky) before the heat ran out. The water running cold was my cue to hop out and start my day. Wishful thinking was a fool’s errand. I knew the water would only get colder. No point in delaying the inevitable. My tankless water heater on the other hand, allows me to live in oblivion. It allows me to stay in for five more minutes. Or ten. It allows me to avoid starting my day.

Not that my days are terribly hard to face. They are actually usually pretty great. But they are a lot less comfortable than an endless hot shower.

Long hot showers are not the only way that I avoid discomfort in my life. . I seek distraction. Whether it be difficult confrontations I don’t want to face, difficult memories I would rather forget, or difficult tasks I would rather not deal with, I avoid. Don’t get me wrong. I take care of business. I pay my bills. I go to work every day. My kids are dressed and fed. They get to school on time. But I avoid dealing with uncomfortable things at all costs, until the last possible minute. I love my showers, but I hate hair-washing day. As it means I cannot have my earbuds in.

There is always something in my ear. While I am working out. While I am cleaning. While I am driving into work. While I am getting ready for the day. Usually it’s a book or podcast. Sometimes music. And before you give me kudos for trying to better myself with these books and podcasts, you need to know… It isn’t always great content. Sometimes it is. Often it is the emotional equivalent of Twinkies.

I have always viewed myself as an emotionally intelligent person. Someone not afraid of their own feelings, and pretty good about relating to the feelings of those around me. But during the last few years, I have done a pretty good job of burying anything than brings discomfort.

Let me be clear. My issues, my traumas, my feelings are nothing major. They are not special or unique. They are pretty normal. I am fine. My life is good. I am nothing special for having to deal with the hand life has dealt me. All things considered life has treated me well.

There are so many things I want to do though. I want to travel. I want to be well-read. I want to master the guitar. I want to learn Spanish. I want to create beauty in the world. I want to sweep up the leaves on my front porch so my kids don’t trek the leaves in every time they walk through the front door. I want to finish painting my baseboards (a project I started over a year ago). I want to clean out my closets. I want to plant a beautiful garden that I can eat from. I want chickens. I want to deal with my demons and become a better person for it.

But I also want to watch and re-watch episodes of Scrubs and Modern Family. I want to disengage by watching endless Instagram reels. I want to stay in my beautiful bed until the last possible moment every single day. I want zero responsibility. I want to answer to nobody.

And I know that if this were my life, I would be miserable.

Years ago, my sister Summer recommended I read a book called “The Upside of Stress”. It was a great recommendation and a great read. The take-home for me was this. The most stressful and difficult parts of your world are also the things that bring you the most joy and satisfaction. For me, the hardest and most stressful thing is my children. Followed closely by my job. Both of these things are immensely difficult. And immensely joyful.

As a person, I would say my underlying current, my underlying personality is joy. Even during the most traumatic and unhappy times of my life, I have been joyful. Sad, yes. But joyful. Last year I forgot that. I forgot to feel joy. Life was stressful. My job was stressful. My relationships were stressful. I spent 2022 absent of joy. I forgot to feel it. It was miserable. I never want to do that again.

I want to be how my kids were when they were little. How I was a child back in the day. Kids feel joy intrinsically. The world is truly their playground. It is our playground as well if we allow it to be. I want to play. I want to feel the wonder of being a child.

Life is what it is. Much of it, at least for me, cannot be changed. But I can choose how I manage it. I can choose joy. I can be like a child experiencing all of it for the first time. Life is too short not to feel this joy. Not perfect. Not without stress. But happy all the same.

I still have my tankless water heater, so I am going to enjoy the hot shower every single second I can. Then I am going to go to work on my life. I am going to feel all the joy this life has to give me. There is so much to be had.

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