Don't take this as an invitation to start throwing me negative comments...

When I was younger, I was often afraid. I was afraid to be honest, because if I opened up the can and let people see that I was real, that I was struggling, someone would come along and stand back with their arms crossed over their chest: You've obviously got more than you can handle there, Rae. Maybe you're not the one for this job.

When I started this blog, it was a step into honesty for me. And while I didn't at first give my blog address to my closest friends, those in my community, it gradually became something that is read by many, many people who know me. All of those people have been vastly supportive of my honesty, even blessed by it, something which had repudiated those old fears. I learned a new lesson: you can share and people will love you even a little bit more, because they know that they are not alone.

So it almost made me laugh, the other day, when I received this comment to this post.
I seriously think that you all are not doing anyone any good by living where you are. Honestly, I believe that you all would be much happier living elsewhere and therefore, be more productive in everything that you are wanting to achieve personally and in realizing your shared goals. You need suffer your existance. . . you and your family could be so much more productive elsewhere. Best of luck in all your endeavors. Stay well.

Wow, right? It was a throwback to those old fears.

I don't know who the commenter is, and to me, it seems that the things that I choose to reveal on this site are not enough information to go on to form an opinion about where on this earth I should live. But the comment really got me thinking.

The thing is, you can go back in my archives (and beware, because there are buggies out there that I really need to fix, leftovers from a previous botched wordpress update that put strange symbols in my sentences) and read about sad things. You can also read about glad things. And the same goes for now: Sad things. Glad things. In fact, I'd say that my battle with Post Partum Depression is milder with Solo than it has been with any of my kids, and that is HUGE. Huge.

So, I wouldn't say that I'm less happy than I've been in other places.

I think that when you do challenging things, you make a trade. You trade one thing for another, and you may trade something like convenience or the public library for color and the rustle of coconut trees. Or deep times with friends over coffee for voices in many languages. But the circumstances that you have found yourself in cannot define who you are.

Everyone has to decide what they will spend their life looking for. I learned a few years back that happiness is a shifty creature. Happiness is not easily found, or when found, is as elusive as a jellyfish. You can't hold onto it. My emotions are all over the place, folks. Blame it on artistic temperament, genes, or maybe I'm just sulky, but I know that I cannot count on feeling a certain way for any length of time. Happiness. It's something that happens to you and then whoops! There it goes.

No, I can't follow after that. My life must take a more intentional path.

My tagline (which will be up again as soon as I get my banner up) is Cultivating Joy. We all have many things that we can cultivate, things that don't happen to us, but that we go out and water everyday, things that wrap their little shoots around their neighbors and need to be staked and cared for and checked for bugs. Like joy. Like love, thankfulness, kindness, honesty, choosing not to be offended, choosing to see the best in others, refraining from ill wishes or gossip.

What I mean is that I wouldn't use the word happy to define my life. Neither would I say that I am more productive when I am happy. I know that I am the most productive when I embrace and fully receive the truth of the unfailing love of God who made me. (Because when I do, I am not telling myself the evil mantra: you're no good, it's your fault, you will fail, and I can shut those voices out and just have fun making stuff and loving people.) I know that the words that define my life are loved, blessed, supported, sure, steady, secure, at peace, content, broken, thankful, hopeful and waiting. There are probably many more.

So then, the question of where we live? There are many things that are hard. Language barriers can be hard, especially when I would like to get to know someone a little bit more, but find that I can't because we can only speak to each other as children do. Dust can be hard, but in a silly way. Like pine needles can be hard. Being away from family and dear friends is very hard. The poverty in India and trying to figure out what to do about it is hard.

But there are things that wow! stun me. Like the Iranian friends who showed up on my porch yesterday, friends we had met in Turkey. Now, here in India, we can have them over for our meditation time and lunch together. Fazeah, the woman, wants to make lunch for us on Saturday. And let me tell you, Persian food is GOOD. So it's beautiful for my stomach, too. Or meeting a friend from San Francisco who owned the restaurant downstairs from us and now happens to be staying in the very same village that we are in. This international community is what we moved here for. As well as our community and our meditation space, which is budding like the lime tree in my yard is budding.

Then there are the kids, growing and learning and so happy and trying my patience. Like they'd be anywhere. They can find Turkey and Israel and India on an unmarked map, as well as Canada and the States, so geography is big on the learning front. And normal things, like knowing the guys at my vegetable stall, or swimming, or the lovely cows everywhere, or the herd of goats which runs through our village twice a day.

And my book, which is coming along. And Chinua's photography of the lovely Banjara people.

I am not only blessed, I am happy. At least, some of the time. So I think we'll stay.