A Dose of Happy
My best friend's 17 year old daughter just got her first car recently. I somehow got talked into going to Jefferson, TX with her. This girl, who I'll call Jenny, and I worked together in the same restaurant last summer, and actually get along rather well. We both enjoy the same anime cartoon, and find the same things amusing, and we both have a serious weakness for cuppity cakes. Now she is, in many ways, an old soul and a pretty cool chic to sit and talk to. So really, it wasn't any kind of torture to go spend time with this kid just so her mom could have some peace of mind knowing that an an adult was around if something went wrong with the car or whatever.
We went to Jefferson, TX, which is this little historic town that used to be a major shipping hub in the plantation days, but is now a tourist trap with antique shops and ghost tours and such, along with the occasional four day long biker ralley. Jenny and I wandered into some of the cuter stores and looked at funny teeshirts and weird pocketbooks with pounds and pounds of fake gems pasted on them and looked at all of the historic architecture, and train cars, and such, and had a great time.
As we were wondering around, we wandered into the local drug store. I had never been in there before, and Jenny thought the place was cool. The first thing I noticed was the old timey soda shop inside this drug store. It was OLD, and it brought back memories of my dad taking me to the local drugstore in the town where I grew up and having lunch or ice cream at the soda shop counter there.
It was a powerful wave of childhood memories, and for a moment I wasn't my 44 year old self. For just one moment, I was a little platinum-haired kid, and I think I actually looked around for my daddy.
Now, rather than make me sad that my daddy died when I was only 14, these memories made me feel so connected to the daddy I lost so long ago. I actually felt the joy of a child as I walked up to the counter and started to read my ice cream options on the wall.
I sometimes think that, as adults, we get so caught up in all of the busy-ness of our lives that we forget that kids are onto something. Kids don't forget to laugh and play and enjoy the moment. Kids don't forget to live life.
I think I'll have to ask my friend if I can borrow Jenny again sometime soon so that we can go back to that drugstore with its soda shop counter and sit down a moment and enjoy life.
Recently, Sunshine and I went to the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex to visit a friend of ours. Normally, when we go visit our friend, we stay at our friend's house. This time, when we texted our friend that we were getting near, he texted back an address and told us to meet him there. We got there, and it was a hotel. See, our friend's house was on the market, staged and ready for an open house early the next morning and he didn't want us to have to feel rushed to leave or anything so he put us up in a hotel.
Now, our friend is one of those "go big or go home" kind of people. Well, maybe "live life out loud" or "live life at high speed" or something would be more like it, but whatever--the point is, our friend believes in living life to the fullest. And because he knows that we live in a tiny house on wheels an RV, he couldn't just get us a hotel room. He had to go and get us a suite, with a living room, a bedroom, and a bathroom that on its own was bigger than our whole living room and kitchen and dining area combined. The living room and bedroom each had one entire wall made up of windows overlooking the city to the south, and to a city girl like me, the view was stunning.
Sunshine, our dog Mollie, and our friend took off to do whatever it is they do when they hang out--probably fossil hunting or some other grand adventure. I went shopping, as my ass has grown too big for my pants my pants have shrunken too small for my backside and there are just so many good stores in the DFW metroplex.
I got done shopping (in a surprisingly short amount of time) and returned to the hotel. After taking my purchases out of their bags and packing them in my luggage, I surveyed the living room area of our suite. There was this cute little armchair right in front of the window, but it was facing the wrong way, so I turned it around and plopped my ass down facing that wall of windows, and I watched the world go by from my perch on the eighth floor of this hotel.
There has always been something so soothing to me about watching the world from high up in a building in the middle of a large city. Maybe it's because I can watch the city go by without being affected by the hustle and bustle and mad rush and overwhelming NOISE of it all. Maybe it's because I grew up in a large city and somehow wound up in a swamp and miss the hell out of city life. Maybe it's a little of both with some unknown factors thrown in for good measure.
Whatever the reason, I sat there in that room and watched the world go by out that window and listened to the sound of the air whooshing through the vents of the air-conditioning system and the faint sound of the water in the fountain eight stories below me splashing on the concrete.
I sat there in that silence and watched the world go by and felt such a deep peace.
That may not sound like much out of the ordinary to some of you, but to an addict like me, to sit alone and just watch the world out a window and enjoy the silence--well, that's a miracle.
There were many years where I couldn't be alone. There were many years when I couldn't stand silence. There were many years where I always had somewhere to go and something to do and somebody to be.
I was able to sit there in that chair and watch the world go by and be content with just sitting still. I was happy to know that, unlike all of those people in all of those cars rushing by below me--I had nowhere to be, no pressures, no deadlines, no expectations to meet. I had only to sit and reflect in the silence.
I was able to sit there in the silence, with nothing to distract me from myself, and not want to crawl out of my skin.
If you've read my stories about my addiction, failed marriages, prison time, and all of the other horrors that go along with addiction, then you know what a miracle it is for me to be able to sit in silence and watch the world go by. If you have read my stories, then you know what a miracle it is for me to sit high up in a hotel and watch humanity pass by without worrying that life is passing me by.
So my dose of happy this Monday is being able to enjoy the silence, to be comfortable in my own skin. I hope each and every one of you can find a few moments this week to enjoy some silence, and just be.
I once had this guy friend who was as obsessed as I am with shoes (and clothes, but we're talking about shoes today). He was smokin' hot, too, but that is an issue for another post or my sponsor or something. Anyway, back to my friend who loved shoes. When his birthday rolled around, I gave him the most perfect birthday card I have ever seen (except it was probably created with woman in mind and he was most decidedly a man). It said something to the effect of "the feeling of wearing new shoes while you're on your way to buy new shoes" was what I wished for him on his birthday. He totally got it and he loved it.
At the time, I thought I got it. And I suppose, given what I knew at the time, I did get it to some extent. New shoes make me happy. In the pants. Wearing new shoes on my way to buy more new shoes? Is kind of a shoe-junkie's idea of nirvana. It was a card that wished great happiness on my friend. We all deserve to experience great joy, right, but birthdays should be even more joyous.
However, recently I gained some new insight into the idea of "the feeling of wearing new shoes on your way to buy new shoes." I've been having ankle problems after a mild injury, and had been buying some new shoes with flat-ish heels. Those who know me know how devastating this was to my psyche.
However, I wound up with several bad-ass pairs of boots, so I was ok with it because boots generally convey a certain attitude that says "get outta my way or these boots are gonna walk all over you," and who doesn't like feeling like queen of the universe every now and then?
I also had broken out an old, much loved pair of oxfords that I wore to death last summer while working on my feet all day. Those oxfords saved my feet last summer, and they looked far worse for it. The soft leather was gouged up in several places, and I asked my Sunshine if I could have a new pair of flat heeled shoes.
Being the bright and shining Sunshine that he is, my Sunshine handed me his card and told me to order some. I went to my go-to site for online shopping (same site that blessed me with the oxfords I wore to death) and found a beautiful pair of loafers on sale. I ordered away and waited with anticipation for them to arrive from Italy.
I'm glad my boss was away on vacation when those shoes arrived. I'm also glad that all of her hotel guests were out doing other things off the property. I'm pretty sure the noises I made when I opened that box would have rivaled the noises Meg Ryan made in that infamous scene from "When Harry Met Sally." These loafers are made of the softest leather I have ever had the pleasure of touching, and I have touched some fine leathers in my life. Hell, I have tissue-thin leather leggings that feel oh-so-good on my legs that didn't feel this soft and buttery to the touch, but I digress...
Those loafers were made of some seriously soft leather. Even the soles were made of quality leather. They were beautiful, too. I couldn't wait to get these shoes on my feet.
When I got home and actually got those shoes on my feet, I almost cried. Not only were these shoes beautiful to look at, but these shoes felt better than any other shoe I have ever put on in my life (and I've put on many a pair of good shoes in my life). Even after I wore them all day to run errands, my feet did not hurt.
Now, that's saying something. I have freakishly high arches and now I have the ankle problems. For something to make my feet feel that good even after hours of running around town and running through multiple stores was amazing to me.
It made me realize how right my Sunshine actually is when he says that your feet have to be happy for you to be happy.
My feet didn't hurt at all for the first time in months.
When the physical body is comfortable, it makes it much easier for the emotional body to be comfortable. When the physical body is comfortable, it opens the door wide for the spiritual body to experience joy.
So, today, on this Monday, I would like to say that I wish you "the feeling of wearing new shoes on your way to buy new shoes," but I can't. I have to take it a little further and wish you the feeling of wearing beautiful AND comfortable new shoes on you way to buy beautiful AND comfortable new shoes. Because you deserve to have physical comfort and spiritual joy.
We had a meteorological anomaly occur here in Texas a couple of weeks ago. We had some arctic air from Canada push south and give us 77 degree (Fahrenheit) high temperatures in July. Now, up until then, I had never considered myself a fan of arctic air from Canada. Polar vortex, anyone? However, here in the swamps of East Texas, July generally brings with it highs in the upper 90s (Fahrenheit), and when you add in our humidity, that's pretty rough.
Of course, the upper 90s are nothing compared to what we've been gifted with in August and September here these last few years. Remember Tropical Storm Lee, that left most of Texas burning? Yeah, minus the fires, that kind of drought and heat is our normal August and September. So I generally don't complain about the upper 90s in July, because as hot as that is, it ain't nothing to a Texan.
So when we got that arctic Canadian air a couple of weeks ago, I got all happy. In the pants. I did the happy dance. My happy dance scared the neighbors, so I had to come inside and dance with my dog. Thank heaven she is used to me, and just wagged her tail because she knew that a treat would be forthcoming after I was dizzy from dancing with her.
Then the arctic air retreated back to Canada where it belongs, and we went back to business as usual. Until I saw something weird on twitter. One of the weather geeks I follow tweeted a picture of a map of the USA that showed east Texas in a blue blob next week. While 86F may not seem that cool to a lot of people, here in the swamps of East Texas, a forecast of 86F on August 1? Does not happen.
Except it just did. And it has me shopping for puppy treats so I can get my dog to do the happy dance with me.
This has been a long time coming.
Months - if not years - of untreated depression, followed by years of depression treated with therapy. Then an all-too-brief period of remission before a slip back into depression that happened both slowly and all at once, so I didn't even realize it at first.
It was different this time. I looked okay on the outside to all but those closest to me. I wasn't having a breakdown every day or pulling the car over on the drive to my friends' house to cry or to throw up. I was going to work.
But this time, I was tired of trying.
I put all that effort into getting better through sheer will, and it didn't stick. I was frustrated. And though I absolutely didn't want to kill myself, I needed everything to stop. I needed to be done.
I didn't let on how relieved I was when my therapist suggested we re-visit the idea of medication.
It took a few weeks, of course. The transition wasn't that bad. An acute breakdown caused by stress at work, which was unpleasant but okay because I'd dealt with that intense depression attack before. Then a slide back into the all-pervading guilt. But then one day I woke up feeling happy.
A fluke, I thought.
Then it happened again.
I'm on day four now, and I feel like I can function. I don't feel stressed, I don't feel guilty about absolutely everything.
Some things didn't change. My coworker still drives me insane. My friends can be boring. My dog needs too much attention. But these things don't drive me to the brink of giving up. They feel like standard downs of life, to balance out the standard ups I've been re-experiencing.
I love the ups.
I almost feel like I don't deserve this, but I know that undeserving feeling will go away as the medication continues to work. It feels strange to be able to sit here on a long weekend, doing nothing, enjoying the cloudy, wet weather. It feels strange to enjoy doing nothing, for that matter. It feels almost too good for me to see a cute guy at church and decide to go talk to him. Do normal people enjoy life this much? I'd forgotten.
It's a simple enjoyment, but it feels right.
I don't want to go back to the way it was before.
What, The Band, has made you happy recently?
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