Happiness; it’s complicated
B : you
B : healthy
B : passionate
B : philanthropic
B : positive
I really enjoy this blog because it allows me to talk about stuff that I think about ALL of the time. For me, writing is an outlet for all of the things that I learn on my inquisitive journey. Remember B : means something different for every person. You can have your own B : story, and we hope to hear it one day. For now, it’s our stories that we write.
Here’s a little back story before I get to my point. I have anxiety. In my life there have been times when it’s been very bad. I have no idea what type of anxiety I have. When I was much younger, I was on every medication possible. Stuff for depression, ODD, ADD, anxiety, acne, and more. I’m sure that doctor could call my anxiety something for you. For me, it doesn’t matter (don’t tell my psychology professor that) what it’s called, it’s what it causes that I care about and think about most. Today, I know I live with symptoms but they are just a part of who I am, because they are managed. I found out about 5 years ago, that when I focused on getting healthy, my “anxiety” symptoms became completely manageable and they started to just mix in with every other personality “quirk”. I understand that this is a real disease and sometimes even with a focus on health, there still needs to be intervention (medication, therapy, etc). I’m not writing this to discredit the reality of severe cases. For the general public however, I do believe there are lots of people out there, that are just like me. So I write this for me, and I write it for you.
I remember at my worst points dealing with anxiety, I often felt hopeless, lost, had heart palpitations, severe panic attacks, and I was afraid of EVERYTHING. I mean everything; my pregnant best friend was once stranded over an hour away from home (car troubles) and I almost couldn’t go get her because it was windy out and I was afraid to drive to get her. I still managed life, had a great job in management, and to the outside I seemed ok… for the most part. Even when I was or am at my best, I still have symptoms. I overthink everything, I am constantly worrying about what everyone is thinking and how they feel (group conversations are SOOO overwhelming for me because of this), and I can be down right mean to myself for not being perfect. I still have some phobias, but they are not nearly as strong and I’ve had panic attacks but they hardly happen these days. I think these can be considered “normal” issues in life. Life will never be perfect. It can’t be, what would there be to live for? We live to overcome, to grow, to create, to learn, and to love. Those are challenging things and just the word challenge implies a struggle. What’s on the other side? Accomplishment and joy. The point is, that life is full of chapters. Each of those chapters are filled with joys and struggles; each day is similarly composed. Our bodies work the same as life, in that it isn’t perfect. So that’s what I think about my anxiety symptoms, they are just a part of me, as long as they are being managed with my happiness equation.
Thinking back to when I was at my worst, there were so many stresses in my life. I was in a toxic relationship and there was always tension in my life. Not a single part of me was healthy by the time all of that was said and done. I thought very little of myself, often was fearful of not waking up, and my diet was terrible. Reflecting and growing from that chapter in my life was the best thing I ever did for myself. I got so healthy, and when I say healthy, I don’t just mean eating right. I’m talking about digging down to the core and thinking healthy, eating healthy, feeling healthy… whole mind, body, and soul happiness. I started heading to the gym, and that became my first happy place. Lifestyle changes happen one at a time typically, not all at once. Next, I started eating right. I was very passionate about animal cruelty and so I acted on that and quit eating meat. I started listening to my body and what made it feel good and bad. I didn’t eat the perfect, plant based no chemical diet, but I ate what made me feel good and what went along with my beliefs around food. I would urge you to decide the same if food seems to be a stickler for you. Understanding, what you really believe is bad for you or what food makes you feel bad really helps you make better choices for yourself. Think about it, it’s easier to not do something if you are standing up for something… Did you cut out carbs because you want to get skinny? What if you cut them out because you truly believe that will give you cancer one day (not saying they will, this is just for example)? It would be a lot easier to cut them out right? Anyway, the point is, when you take the thinking out of eating, it makes it a lot easier to make a change that lasts.
Once I felt better physically, it was so much easier for me to start emotionally growing. I reflected on my past, what I did wrong/right/or just did and also on what I couldn’t control; how everything affected me. I Identified what came from it or what I wanted to come from it, and then I moved on. I moved on to doing things that I enjoyed. During these two years of growth, I found out that I LOVE cooking, especially with Frank Sinatra playing in the background and a glass of wine in hand. I also LOVE volunteering. I started helping at a home for women and families getting out of abusive situations. It made me feel good, and feel like I was doing something to help others. It made my heart smile. I LOVE animals so I started fostering, but I have a tipping point of too many because it turns out quiet time and me time was important to me too. This one was HUGE! I don’t think I ever realized I was an introvert. I LOVE people but I need quiet time. I also LOVE decorating and having a tidy and cozy home. It relieves stress for me when my home is decluttered, clean, and the candles create an ambiance. One other big thing that came to me, was my passion for food and wine. Beyond just cooking, I loved trying new wine and food and trying to figure out the flavors. I also really enjoyed trying new restaurants, especially small mom and pop owned ones. The ones with home cooked meals. So much so, that my friend Sara and I took a diners, drive in’s, and dive’s road trip. We drove to Colorado then to California and back. We stopped at so many great food places along the way and got to see a long time friend, Lizzy. It was amazing, and then there was the scenery?? I almost cried every time there was a new landscape. Traveling had to be a part of my life. This trip was a turning point in my life. I could feel my smile beaming planning it, on the trip, and then talking about it afterward. It was a trip of the lifetime, and I shared it with an amazing friend. I came home, and I felt whole. I had truly been practicing being happy everyday by doing all of these things that I love and then finally taking this trip. That was the bow on top of my gift; I had found what happiness looked like for me.
So finally, here we are at the point of this whole story; happiness… What is it? It’s complicated. I know in the past that it’s been a goal I’ve been working toward. When I get there, I’ll be happy but happiness can’t be a goal. I truly believe in setting goals in life but that means you are waiting to get to it at a future point. You deserve happiness now and there is no reason to wait. You can find it in anything if you just look and practice doing what you love and being with those you love. I’ve come to realize that when I focus on the smallest of moments, my big picture becomes something out of a movie. Had I not had those two years to really love me and find me, I never would have been in a good enough place to spark a connection with my now fiancé and father of our amazing son. Trust me, meeting a guy and having a family was always on my goal list. I just don’t think it’s a story you’re supposed to write. Happiness will find you, if you are living it everyday. Don’t get me wrong, there are bumps along the way and not everything turns out how you would expect it to but it will be ok. People often make comments about my need to look on the positive side when they tell me something bad has happened to them, or when something bad happens to me. Sometimes it can be annoying and trust me I try to reel it in when someone just needs to go through their pain. I hope you know, I truly understand the real tragedy that life can deliver us and that there may be extended periods of time where we don’t feel happy and that’s ok. Sometimes, the underlying hope that life will get better is the happiness that you need to survive at the moment. That’s been more than a reality for me in times when my emotions over come me and I feel like my sadness is spiraling out of control. For most experiences, I think believing that we have the power to change that moment into something amazing is the most freeing thing I’ve done for myself. When you think positive, different “happy” chemicals as I like to call them are more abundant in your system, and this is what fends away some of my “quirky” personality traits or you could call it, anxiety symptoms. Whole mind, body, and soul health = positive thoughts, eating, movement and sleep, and really diving in to do things that you love. This is the recipe for happiness in my mind. It’s what worked for me.
B : is my happiness journey and Jenn’s too. It changes with every new chapter; road trips aren’t as easy with a 17 month old but there are new things that fill my heart. It’s all encompassing of the good and bad. It’s full of losing jobs, screaming babies, Thanksgiving gone wrong, body image issues, and more of reality. Our happiness, is how we handle those things. It’s the learning and growth from each of those challenges. It’s also the activities we immerse ourselves in daily. Our happiness story is FULL of our passions! It’s the wine and philanthropy. It’s the creative make up artistry that we get to do, and the bride’s we get to meet. It’s stories of others, and it’s the events we get to plan. Most importantly, our happiness is in our lives and in our families. We hope you can find your happiness too, in each moment. No more goal setting to be happy when…
Don’t wait. Don’t change. Just discover yourself and B : you and happy today.
B : is a verb – B : is whatever you need it to be.
B : you
B : healthy
B : passionate
B : philanthropic
B : positive