Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I bet I'd get an appointment tomorrow if I was about to jump off a building

Part of getting happy is getting healthy, right? It makes sense - if your body feels crummy then it's going to effect the rest of you.

Case in point, all I want to do right now is sit on the couch and eat cookies. I have little energy to do much else. That's not healthy. I should be working out, eating better, taking supplements and getting the ol' bod checked to make sure there's nothing funny going on in there. So my husband and I started working out... And then we stopped due to his work/travel schedule and various plagues that fell upon this house. But we're going to resume working out again just as soon as we can breath through our noses. Very important that, breathing through ones nose. Especially when one is about to pass out after being on the elliptical for five minutes.

Did I say five? I meant 35. No, 55 minutes. Yeah.

I mentioned before that I didn't want to start taking supplements until I spoke with my doctor since the last thing I want to do is start putting things into my body that may end up getting into my baby through breastmilk. When considering this, it dawned on me that it had been a very long time since I last had a physical. Fantastic! I'll just call my doctor and schedule a physical, have all the moles and bumps checked out, have her listen to my ticker and check my cholesterol, and while I'm there I may as well mention this journey I have started on and see what she thinks. Maybe she has some words of wisdom for me.

So yesterday I called to make the appointment.

First available appointment for a physical? April 23. Three months from now.

The opposition to Universal Healthcare in this country always uses the argument of how long it takes to get an appointment to see a doctor in places like Canada, a country who seems to have a very successful Universal Healthcare system. I wonder how the opposition would react if they were on a three month waiting list to get a freaking physical?

Three months for preventative care. If I was eady to stick my head in the oven, I'm pretty sure my doctor would fit me in to her busy schedule.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

House of cards

The most difficult thing about getting happy is breaking down the facade I've built to convince everyone, including myself, that I've got my shit together. It's almost like I've carefully crafted a support out of a house of cards and placed the weight of my life upon it. Unfortunately, as it goes higher and higher there is more danger of toppling over and with it everything fragile will come crashing down and shatter into a million pieces. I didn't have an emergency plan for this when I started building, but I know it's coming.

Just thinking of it is exhausting.

I've spent so much precious time on this house of cards that I'll never get back. With every I'm fine and every faked or forced smile I've added another Jack of spades or 8 of clubs to the top. I've gotten so good at it I barely need to think about where to place the next flimsy paper rectangle. I'm so high atop it the view from up here skews the reality of what's going on everywhere else. But every day brings another threat to my fragile structure; a strong wind, an errant charm bracelet. It's time to fortify or rebuild.

But which?

How do I tear away everything I've based my life on so far and start over, and if I do what do I build my solid foundation with?

How do I say, Sometimes I am fine and sometimes I am not. Today I am not. Tomorrow I may be but I'm just guessing?

I've got some pretty strong building blocks - a supportive husband, two happy, healthy kids, and friends I can call on when I need them (if I just let myself).

What do you base your happy on?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Change is good

Today I am happy. Today I am hopeful.

Today we usher in change and change is good.

Today I don't want to be cautiously optimistic. I don't want to wonder how one man will reverse years of damage. Today I just want to believe.

Congratulations to our new president. Congratulations to all of us.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Websites that make me happy - Gone to the dogs

Once upon a time, not that long ago...

(Funny, does anyone else hear Bon Jovi? Just me?)

... I managed a doggie daycare for a couple who eventually screwed me out of a job. But that's irrelevant to this story. The important thing is that once I had a job where I was to care for other people's dogs all day long while they went to work. I even left a somewhat lucrative, if totally unfulfilling job at a Fortune 500 company to work there. For 11 hours, five days a week I played with dogs, gave dogs treats, stroked their soft fur, played catch, and sometimes just sat on a rock in the sun while a pack of canines napped around me. I also cleaned up all manners of their waste but that's also irrelevent to this story.

Bottom line, the job rocked.

Okay, sometimes the work was tough. For instance, some dog owners think their dogs are little human beings and should be treated accordingly, which flies in the face of everything I and every other rational human being believes, and disagreements over care would happen. On the weather front, it doesn't matter if it's 2 degrees or 92 degrees outside, the dogs still need to go out to do their business and I've never been a fan of extremes in temperature. And it's really no fun to break up a dog fight only to realize you yourself have been bitten, in that soft spot between the thumb and the pointer fighter no less, and end up at the doctor's for a tetnus shot. Eh, had to update it anyway.

For the most part, however, I loved that job. I would work all day and well into the evening, transitioning from care giver to trainer, and fall into bed exhausted and I loved it. I would come home wreaking and covered in drool and fur and I loved it. I hope to do it again some day.

There is a peace that comes from being surrounded by other peaceful beings, animals who have no doubt where they stand in the pecking order. There is a top dog (or dogs), some in the middle, and then lastly, but no less importantly to the order of things, the ones at the bottom. And as long as everyone knows their place things run relatively smooth. I was happy in that pecking order. Maybe because I was the top dog in charge. The top bitch, if you will.

This is all a really long way of saying: I really like this guy's Flickr page. He owns a dog daycare. He takes pretty pictures. He has part of the life I want. And one day, I will. Oh yes, I will. This bitch will be on top again.

Make sure to watch the videos, you won't be disappointed. Unless you're not a pet lover. And if that's the case maybe you should just go away right now because sometimes when I'm displeased, I bite.

(found via Dooce)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Simple Pleasures - First in a series

I read somewhere recently that there are pleasures to be found almost anywhere we look, we just need to open our eyes and notice them. So today I took my camera and searched for things in my home that pleased me. And while it took me some time to come up with three things, my hope is that as this project goes on finding happiness in the seemingly mundane will come easier.

These pictures were taken on this bitterly cold day in January. The sky is that robin's egg blue color that you only see in winter. The light coming through the windows is helping to elevate my mood today, I only wish I could capture it better. This is what I saw:

A freshly made bed with a prayer shawl knitted for me by my mother-in-law and the ladies of her church just before my mom died. The sheets are just a shade or two lighter than the sky outside.

My favorite pair of comfy socks.

Orange and white chocolate chip cookies I made on Monday that are so insanely tasty I'm amazed there are any left.

Two minor indulgences: A vanilla iced coffee and a magazine of recipes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

This is me

Just so you have some frame of reference, this is me today:

Don't I look like I want to punch you in the face? Or maybe just claw you with that dry tree branch I call a hand.

Actually, that was me last week. You don't want to see what I look like today, it's not pretty. I may or may not have showered today but that's for me to know and you to ignore.

Anyway. I've looked long and hard at that picture, I even went back and forth as to whether I was going to post it because, frankly, I don't really like myself in pictures. Probably because I still think of myself as being 23, which I am so far away from. Okay, not so far away from, I'm only thirty*cough*something, but I swear I was just 23 yesterday. I don't know where that girl went but I'd like to have a long talk with her about sunscreen.

When I see a picture of myself these days I'm amazed at how much I'm beginning to look like my mom. Don't get me wrong this is not a bad thing, but I didn't grow up looking like my mom. And yet, here I am - I'm my mom. For most that wouldn't be so bad, just an inevitability of life, but my mom has been gone five years next month.

Gone. I really need to stop mincing words. She died almost five years ago of colon cancer. She was only 52 years old.

The point I was getting at is it's really disconcerting to look in the mirror and see a dead woman, the one person on earth you would give almost anything to see again if only for ten minutes. The person who heavily influenced the woman you have grown into. The mother you spent most of your life trying to impress and now when you finally have something that would truly knock her socks off - two beautiful babies, two incredibly clever girls - she's not around to see what you've created. It also doesn't do much to inspire happiness, instead it's a constant reminder of what's missing from my life.

Well, that was a downer, wasn't it?

I don't really feel like getting into the other reasons I don't like pictures of myself because, oh my gawd, that's going to take a lot of soul searching before I share that crap with the internet. My reasons for posting that picture are fairly shallow: I'd like something to compare to when I finish this year. Will I still look so gloomy? Will I dare try to wear something other than gray? Will I finally get the nerve to be a redhead? I don't want to get too ambitious too soon, though. Maybe I'll just start by wearing something that doesn't have a turtleneck.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

One foot in front of the other

Aw, you guys.

Thanks for the support, both here and by email. It means a lot to know I'm not talking to myself - more than I already do on a daily basis anyway.

The problem with trying to find my happiness is... Uh, where do I start looking? Behind the couch? Nope, just some baby toys and dog hair. Does happiness go the way of lost socks? Do I need a map to find it?

(And don't you love how I keep saying "Lost my happy" instead of just coming out and saying "I'm depressed"? It's like being an addict. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem but if you don't admit to a problem then THERE IS NO PROBLEM. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Today.)

Someone recommended B6. I've read recently a bit about B6 and I think I'll try that and see how it goes. I just need to confirm as a breastfeeding mother that these supplements are safe to take.

Also, Seasonal Affective Disorder (or, SAD. Isn't that adorable?) kicks my ass every year. I should get one of those special lights, like someone else recommended. Maybe two lights. Maybe twenty.

My husband and I started working out last night. Getting healthier helps beat back depression. But do you know what beats back exercise? Pie. On a positive note, the pie is now gone so we don't have that excuse to not work out. Can we have a moment of silence for the pie, though? It was damn good pie.

I'm up for other suggestions to try. Suggest anything that doesn't require a prescription and is still healthy for me and my family and I'll try it. If there's a book to read, I'll read it. If there's a particular work out, I'll do it. It will hurt, but I'll do it. I'll curse the whole time, but I'll do it. I've got to do something, no matter how painful it is (and take the word "painful" with a grain of salt because I'm a wussbag), because it has to be better than the alternative.

Tomorrow I'm going to wake up bright and early, because I have to not because I want to, and find something that makes me happy no matter how simple that might be. Baby steps. No matter how unhappy or even content a person is, you should always find something, one thing, that makes you smile.

Tomorrow I will find something out of the ordinary that makes me smile. That's all I can do.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Come on, get happy

2008 kind of sucked, didn't it?

Recession, war, huge financial bailouts for everyone but those who really needed a bailout, rising food prices, obscenely high oil prices, dropping housing values, record-high job losses... It's enough to make even the blue bird of happiness reach for the Zoloft.

Not everything was bad about 2008; We elected a new president and with him comes a new sense of hope for many worldwide. On a personal level I had a baby, our second. Now our family is complete - Two parents, two kids, two dogs, one cat (we really should get her a friend, everyone deserves a friend). We bought a new home... in the middle of this country's biggest recession in decades. Probably not a great move in retrospect, but we're pleased with our decision even if our wallets are a lot lighter and our stress level is a lot heavier. Those closest to me are healthy, physically speaking, and it's been over a year since anyone close to me died. My husband is gainfully employed; we have food on our table and clothes on our backs. So in spite of everything outside my four walls, I should be happy. Right?

Yeah, not so much.

Somewhere along the line I seem to have lost my happy. I swear it was just here a minute ago, I just can't seem to find it. I've searched high and low... Okay, that's a lie. I haven't searched all that hard. 2008 is what I consider to be my "Blue Year". Not much in the way of finding happiness, more waiting for happiness to find me. Much too busy deeply sighing, staring off into space and weeping over Save the Animals commercials. Maybe I didn't lose my happy after all. Maybe it needs a better GPS.

If I'm being honest with myself - And I should, you catch more happy with truths than with lies. Or something like that - I've always had a hard time holding on to my happiness. To me true happiness is a slippery sucker. Holding onto a truly blissful moment is akin to being a one-armed man in an greased pig catching contest.

Okay, bad analogy.

What I'm trying to say is, I've had my ups and downs for some time now. Years. Possibly decades.

Should I seek help? Yeah, probably. Should I be taking antidepressants? I don’t know. Maybe. But here's the rub - I don't want to. Take the drugs, that is. It's not that I'm against pharmaceuticals. I'm usually the first person to suggest to friends or family that if they're depressed they should take some drugs, man. The legal, prescribed kind, of course. Wouldn't want to mess with the Fuzz while depressed and hopped up on heroin. That would be bad and sort of counter intuitive. I just don't want to go that route just yet.


Well, 1) I'm lazy. Just the idea of having to call the doctor, make an appointment, drive to the appointment, tell the doctor just how sad I am and have her look at me like Tell me one I haven't heard before, then drive back home to pick up my perscription... You're getting the idea right? To you, this doesn't seem all that bad. To me, it's a nightmare. And 2) I don't feel like messing around with antidepressants, finding which one works for me and at which dose. Not to mention the possible side effects, like decreased sex drive (I'd link to the recent news reports of that lovely side effect but again, Lazy.).

I. Just. Don't. Want. To. Deal.

This leads me to the purpose of this blog.


There has to be a better way, other options to try, and I'd like to try those first. When and if the time comes that I do indeed need to see my doctor and be put on Zoloft, Wellbutrin, or any of the other cast of mood altering characters I will pull myself up by the proverbial boot straps and call my doctor for a prescription. Until that day comes, however, I am going to try everything I can to get myself out of this funk. I'm going to try to change my life, my approach to everyday trials, and maybe try an all natural cure or two.

"Better living without the aid of pharmaceuticals" - That will be my motto for the next year or so.

This is not a resolution, not a New Year's one at any rate. Those are always doomed to fail. I mean, look at me. It's how many days after the New Year and I'm just posting this now? If this was a New Year's resolution it would have been over before it began.

Changing my life is not going to be easy. I'm 36 years old and I'm pretty set in my ways. This should be interesting.

Before I begin, I need to stress a few things. First and again, I don’t condemn the use of antidepressants or anyone who chooses to use them. Second, I know there are other websites out there dedicated to finding happiness. And those websites, for all the good information that is held there, leave me feeling like I’m being preached to. I don’t want to be preached to. This blog is about one person trying to find their happiness in any way she can. If you glean some inspiration from this, great. If you think it’s horseshit, that’s okay too. Que sera sera.

(See? Doris Day, she seemed happy. I don’t know if that’s true or not, if she really was happy, but she went on to create a foundation to help save animals and things like that make me happy. So there.)

And lastly… Well, actually there isn’t anything else. Let’s begin this experiment.

Let’s get happy.