I don’t feel particularly well today, so I decided to meditate on the things that make me happy instead of giving into the “Woe is me” feeling that is currently gnawing at my emotional edges.
I have two small and insane dogs. They make me crazy (even crazier than I am naturally). They don’t obey. They make messes. They are loud and sometimes truly psychotic I think. But they are the best friends I could imagine. They love me uncontrollably and want to be with me as much as possible. The simple act of physical touch is so reassuring. Petting animals has been proven to lower blood pressure and reduce stress. Whoever did that study didn’t meet my animals, but I get the point. I need them. I need them because they need me. I need them to motivate my ability to simply “be” when I’m low. I need to be motivated to walk them, feed them, take care of them. They are a lifeline. They are a reason to get out of bed. And they make me happy. I get so much joy from these animals, I could never repay them. (They say I can, though, in salami and other meats.)
I have tremendous friends. My best friends have been there for me through thick and thin, sometimes traveling across the country just to be with me in troubling or eventful times. I am forever indebted to these women. In a very real sense they have kept me alive for many, many years. When I think about them I tear up because they have done so much for me and I am so grateful to have people that I can say anything to and fear no negative repercussions–I’ll only receive support and understanding. Soul sisters. Summer sisters. Actual sister. Thank you.
Learning makes me happy. My family likes to say that I am a collector of “Fun Facts.” I am. I like to absorb information, of all specialties. For instance, did you know that eating off of a blue plate will make food taste saltier? If you need to reduce your sodium that’s a great way to start. The Magna Carta was signed in 1215 after a gaggle of barons cornered the king and forced him to agree to their terms. Maybe Trump should read about that. The tiniest mammal is a fruit bat that is barely the size of a quarter. Ketamin is being used to treat depression and may one day serve as a paravaccine to prevent depression and PTSD entirely. We might be living in the final age of mental illness epidemics. This is why I keep going back to school. I love to know stuff. And now I want to know stuff so that I can help people. Maybe my fun facts will entertain along the way.
I’ve been playing video games since the Nintendo system was released. The first ones I remember getting into were Mario Bros. and Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers. My little sister and I would play them two-player, which amounted to endless hours of semi-competitive, mostly cooperative fun. Nintendo systems remain big in my life. I’ve been playing a Yoshi game and Super Mario 3D World on my WiiU when I need to detox from reality. I played MUDs (Multi User Dungeons), text-based games, when I was a teenager. In college I swapped to playing MMORPGs like World of Warcraft. It was a great way to burn free time and also to meet people and make friends. Some of my closest friends of the last 10 years have come from online video gaming. In fact, that’s where I found Husband. Some people see shame in gaming, but I see no problem with it if it’s balanced with the rest of your life, and for people who have trouble getting out of the house it’s a great way to be social. When I’m depressed sometimes it’s the only social life I’m able to have. These days, I play Overwatch in my spare time and have a ton of fun doing it. (Girl gamer, main supports, surprised?)
I married a great, funny, intelligent guy. That makes me happy.
My family is super supportive. They are all open-minded and trustworthy. I feel able to be who I really am with them, even if it’s not the most comfortable all the time. They put up with me, they support me when I’m down, they help keep my afloat when I’m just coasting along, and they cheer for me when I’m doing well. I know that everyone is not as lucky as I am in this regard, and so I’m so grateful for the family I have. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. And I am grateful for the family that I married in to. They are some of the nicest people on the planet and I couldn’t have gotten luckier.
I am happy that my major health issues have resolved and I can go about my life without serious impediment. I had undiagnosed Lyme disease when I was in college and got extremely sick. I had fevers all the time, I was constantly catching infections and viruses. It was miserable. I went through a full year of treatments with anti-malarials, anti-virals, antibiotics, injections, infusions, supplements, you name it. Eventually I got better. Having gone through that, however, I have a perspective of how lucky I am to go days, weeks, months without a fever, to have the energy to move every day, the ability to bend my limbs without pain, to climb stairs without wanting to die. It’s amazing what we can take for granted.
Reading makes me happy. I love to hear someone’s voice in my head and gain a new perspective from what they have to say. I’m a particular fan of memoirs and autobiographies. There’s something so touching about hearing someone’s story from the inside. That’s probably what inspires me to write the way that I do.
I’ve become a big fan of television, but I think it’s linked to my love of stories. My favorite series tell great stories, usually comically. For instance, I think Portlandia is one of the best shows on TV, Bojack Horseman looks at the world through a dark, comic filter that is incredibly poignant, You’re The Worst is an absurdist tale of reality that portrays depression and PTSD better than almost any other show I’ve seen, Modern Family is the funniest show on television and thus invaluable to the American psyche, and John Oliver has the best political perspective of anyone in the news cycle. TV can be a cheap medium and there is a lot of bad TV, but with the advent of new networks, streaming, better cameras, and broader audiences, this art form has grown and matured into something truly inspiring. When you look for great stories you can find them in shows like Girls, Baskets, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, even Gray’s Anatomy.
I enjoy meditating. I enjoy drawing. I love to color, when my back allows it. There are lots of physical activities that I used to do that made me happy, like cycling and paddle-boarding, and I hope to get back to them but it’s still painful to do some strenuous stuff. Also the thought of falling off of a bike is terrifying to me, having already broken my neck and back once.
Writing makes me happy. I’ve always been a writer. I found a journal that I had when I was in grade school, full of nonsense. I remember fiercely wanting to write something in it but not knowing what to write. It wasn’t until I was about 11 that I really started to dig in to journaling. I filled notebooks with my thoughts and drawings. I have a row of them in my curio cabinet. It’s a focused way of talking to myself. The page (or the screen) listens and talks back to me, very differently than were I to just sit and think about something. Words can be put down, rewritten, edited, shifted, morphed, erased, added. And in so doing my thoughts are edited and made sense of, shifted, morphed.
Blogging makes me happy because you, dear people, make me happy, and I hope that in some small way, I’ve made you happy too.