“Know your own happiness” Jane Austen


Fred welcoming me home with a cute pose

I recently went to the Adirondacks for three days with my siblings and our 87-year-old mother. I can’t remember the last time that we were together without anyone else (spouses, children, or animals) around, and I think that most of us felt at least a little apprehension about what it would be like. Half way through the weekend, I found myself exhausted. The home that we had rented was perfect; a grand old place with a large cozy living room, lovely fireplace, spacious porch, and great location on a lake. The setting couldn’t have been better but it wasn’t the outside stuff that mattered…it hardly ever is.

Even though I grew up with these people, I realized that I didn’t know them now. We’ve all developed comfort zones with the people in our immediate lives, and these unique ways of communicating don’t extend themselves to people who we don’t spend a lot of time with. A couple of times, I said things in what I considered to be a normal, straight forward, manner, and they were taken as offensive. Although my siblings and I have the bond of love, the little daily routines and nuances of life (that are accepted and naturally become a part of relationships with time) were not there, so at times it felt oddly “formal and stiff”. On the one hand there was a feeling of utter familiarity and on the other was a feeling of needing to explain myself, watch what I said, and not step on toes.

Returning home on Sunday night, I went to bed at 6p.m. and slept until 7 a.m. the next morning. I was so happy to be back with Jack and the animals and I knew that my siblings felt the same way about going back to their homes and lives.

In the final scenes of the movie, Home the Holidays, after the craziness of the gathering, each member of the family (who all seemed equally nuts in their own unique way) joyfully returns home to their families and the lives that they’ve created apart from their family of origin. It is one of my favorite movie scenes. It seems to say, “It’s OK to create the life that speaks to you as an individual. You do not need (nor will you probably ever get) the approval of others to be yourself and to love what you love, so just do it… and let everyone else do it too.”



One of my favorite quotes, "Know your own happiness" Jane Austen

One of my favorite quotes is,  “Know your own happiness” by Jane Austen  (this little painting is for sale on MY ARTWORK PAGE

16 thoughts on ““Know your own happiness” Jane Austen

  1. So wonderful to get a post from “our Mary.” Feels like this is just the right time to be “mulling” this over. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Chanukah are approaching. Time for all of us to do a little Inner preparation for the holidays.

    • Oh, it feels good to be writing too, Mary and to be back with my community! I have the very wonderful task of taking care of my grandson today (and he is napping right now so I am catching up on other things). Much love to you

  2. Such a well timed message! My father will be buried in Arlington next week. (He died in May and we already had his funeral) I am apprehensive of the service, since Arlington is such an emotional place, but I am also stressed thinking of being with all my siblings after. Thanks for giving me the freedom to KNOW it is ok to be different. 🙂

    • Thank you for this comment, Anna. I am so grateful that this post was a helpful one, and will be holding you in my heart during the next few weeks. Loving thoughts to you, Mary

  3. Oh my goodness Mary, you have hit the proverbial nail on the head. It is so true about the day to day nuances not being there in interacting with your relatives, no matter how close. It is a sad but true fact that I am closer to my friends than to my sister who I only see once or twice a year. I am learning as time goes on that I am not at all unusual in this. There are those of my friends who are very involved with family and I sometimes envy them their closeness. But I also have truly wonderful friends who I can share life with, and they are my adopted family. Thanks so much for expressing these thoughts!

    • Thank you for writing and sharing your family experiences as well. It seems like many of us have these feelings but feel like we shouldn’t (that somehow we’re doing “it” wrong). For many of us, being different was not OK. I’ve finally learned that it is!

  4. Mary- What a sigh of recognition towards my own feelings about my family. After reading your post, I am feeling so much less confusion and stress about being my own person , and accepting the lives my siblings have created for themselves, however distant from them it makes me feel. My own home is within myself to return to, to nourish, to be thankful for.

    This beautiful post comes at a particularly poignant time of my life: my mother living in her final days, the last of the golden leaves clinging to the branches, the feeling that winter in all it’s stark beauty is coming to the mountains. All is well with the home that is our heart if we , as the quote you so beautifully illustrated (in words and painting) says: know ( accept, appreciate, believe in) our own happiness.

    • I really love it that this post brings clarity to you, Bobbie. Just knowing that is deeply gratifying. Please know that you will be in my heart and thoughts during this huge time of transition in your life. A warm hug to you across the miles, Mary

  5. My younger son got married this past weekend; we so dearly love his new bride. The blending of two families is never an instant or easy thing, and I found tiny pockets of space during the hectic days just to breathe and be by myself. Being true to oneself, setting limits and boundaries is something that we deserve to honor, – keeping us more authentic to ourself and to all those ‘Others’ who are our friends and families. Thank you for this post Mary and for all the insightful comments. Bobbie, sending you a hug over the miles as this particular season in your life unfolds. Blessings to yoy.

    • I just read your comment, Susan and so now at least 2 warm hugs are surrounding Bobbie (and I’m sure many more!). Thank you for your beautiful heart, Love, Mary

  6. Mary, your insights, as always, are wonderful. I wonder that we can ever go back to what we were within families. We all had roles to play. Did your mother enjoy this trip as well; did she have any sense of tension between her children? You’re right when you say we change but those whom we grew up with did not live through these changes. I also wonder if being straight forward for a woman is an asset in the eyes of some males. I’ve recently seen the film, The Judge, which I found very well acted and an interesting story. It is all about family and an excellent movie…not lighthearted by any means, but a very real depiction of family life.
    Sandy P in Canada

  7. so timely a post, Mary, thank you. I feel that I could have written this as this is my experience too. so many changes in my immediate life. I love you and find you to often be my mirror if I choose to see. I also love reading all the comments from each of you

  8. Definitely a timely post for me too! My sister just hosted a family party for my father’s and niece’s birthdays, and it had a few awkward moments. I try not to worry about what everyone thinks, it won’t make a positive difference anyway!

  9. Dear Mary, I read your posts often, but have never responded before. But, this time I want you to know how relevant your post was to me when I read it on Tuesday morning, the day after we laid our precious Dad to rest at age 94. For about 20 years, since my Mom passed, my brother and sister, who are older than me, have not communicated to each other, due to a minor spat; hence, I have been the “middle (wo)man”, relaying information and opinions between them. As my Dad aged, the need for me to act in this role became more often and more intense. My Dad told me numerous times that he wished the two of them would get along, but it never occurred and he knows that I tried my best to make it happen. Since I did this for my Dad, I am now relieved of this role and can move on, no longer needing to feel like I’m “in the middle”, yet still able to keep the relationships I have with each of them. Over the past few years, my Dad so wanted to be with Mom. Last Spring, he said to me that he didn’t want to be in pain when he died. I told him that we wouldn’t let that happen and that some day he would “just peacefully fly away to Mom.” Two days before he died, I opened the curtains in his room and said, “Dad, can you see the blue sky? Can you see it?” At this point, he hadn’t been able to speak clearly, but as he looked toward the window, he clearly and excitedly said, “I’m coming!!!” My sister and I were with him when he passed. It was an amazing experience. I felt so much joy for him as he “flew away to Mom”. As I told him often, he was “a good dad”! And, now, once again, I can feel the LOVE between my Dad and Mom. Peace!

      • Bev, what a timely post for you. Families can be complicated but then life is complicated at times too. You have done a wonderful job in balancing the family issues and still care for your dad until the end. Thank you for sharing this with the group.

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