It was Saturday night; my husband and I had a nice dinner out, and the kids were gone for the night.  As I was lying on the couch in a sushi coma trying not to fall asleep, I realized how exhausted I already was.  No! There were still 34 days until Black Friday, or the official “kick off” to Retail’s holiday season, but for me and my family it had already been well underway.  

In the Retail world, the planning and beginning stages of the holidays start earlier and earlier each year. For more than 16 years we have been dealing with the trials of parenting, trips out of town and other challenges of the season. And each year I try to handle it better.  Each year that my own children grow older makes that task a little easier. Or so I think, because each year something happens and I snap.  It’s usually something stupid and small, but I punish the world by taking to my house for the rest of the holiday season only to emerge when the holidays have safely passed and inventory is underway.  
But I decided that this year was going to be different. I couldn’t take it anymore.  I couldn’t put my happiness into the hands of a big corporate retailer.  It wasn’t fair to me and it’s certainly not fair to my family. I knew I had to be responsible for my own happiness.  I determined that I must change within myself.   I had made the decision to become a happier person, but really, that’s pretty vague.  
I had no real plan, just an idea of who and how I wanted to be.  I was not the Susie Sunshine type, that would never be my personality. But a long time ago, before life got serious, life was fun.  But since we can’t just chuck our lives and responsibilities out the door I determined I had to let the sunshine in. Enter Blacktop.  I was very unsuspecting of anything, the first show I saw. I just remember giggling like a little girl.  Later I realized that the humor was so much to my taste that I found I wanted to take a class.  I didn’t even tell anyone, including my family, that I attended the Level 1: Intro to Improv.  I just snuck off, made my excuses and went.
Flash forward four months:  Since my involvement with Blacktop, improv, comedy and all the people and events that come with it, my path became clearer.  It was so simple. The key to happiness was laughter.   And laughter at Blacktop was easy.  Whether you are giving it, or receiving there is always something happening to make you smile.  Since I had already been working towards changing my overall attitude towards life and eliminating all the negative sources, I figured I might be in the right place. I took paper to pen as all great plans must be written down. Well, if I don’t write it down, chances are I won’t remember.  My plan entailed that from now on, I would only surround myself with positive people, engage in positive activities and remove  myself from negative people and activities.  This going to be step one.  Am I perfect? No, of course not. Just the other day, someone asked me how I was. When I listened to the playback reel in my head, I realized that I sounded terrible.  I was feeling very negative, adjusting to the rigors of “season”.  It was leaking out in in my conversation. Blech!  Who would want to hang around that?  But, I did some volunteer work, watched a great Blacktop show and got a good dose of comedy and laughter.  Exploding Zombie Turtles! Awesome!!  I was nearly on the floor in hysterics each time one of those little buggers blew. Before I knew it, I was back with my old pact of being happy and hanging with positive people.
So I’m warning you holidays, beware! You will not rain on my parade this year!  And while I seek out the positive, while eliminating the negative (step one!), I can’t wait for the journeys ahead.  Yes, I understand, step one will probably never be over as life is a constantly changing force, but’s that’s okay, as it is the journey and not the destination that matters.


Lisa Wildman lives with her husband, two teenage girls, two dogs and a cat in the foothills of Placer County. Lisa enjoys Taekwondo, reading, time with her family, staying active, and most recently improv. Keep up with her adventures in her personal blog.