Thursday, December 31, 2015

Gratitude for the win in 2015

2015 is going on record as one of my happiest years yet.

I don't know if I can call this an accomplishment, but it's certainly a milestone. Milestone? It's something.

Let's look at some of the things that made it great, shall we?

1. It's the first full year of my adulthood that I've spent properly medicated.

I think my medication contributes fairly significantly to my body's new choice to hold onto extra weight, but other than that, it's perfecto.

I am the most even keel I have been in all my adult years. Which is something I wished for for a long time. I used to hope for a mate who would help me feel even keel. While my mate does certainly help me feel calm and peaceful, I also feel that way independent of him.

Celexa and Abilify, we salute you.

My Halloween costume this year: Joy from "Inside Out"

2. I'm finally traveling.

For as much time as I spent hoping for steady emotions, I have spent about an equal amount being jealous of others' travels.

I used to hide people from my Facebook news feed who were any of the following: overly happy, in love, or in Europe.

It was a simple system, and it helped maintain my envy to a degree, but I'm fairly close to abolishing it.

In 2015, I saw: San Francisco, Des Moines, Milwaukee, San Diego, Kansas City, Denver, Buffalo, Monterey, Maui, Tucson, and Niagara Falls.

Pardon my French, but that's a damn good bit of traveling.

I have finally put aside my belief that I couldn't go anywhere, ever, due to money, fear, or this idea that in order to travel, the circumstances must first be perfect. Furthermore, I have traded in my feeling that I have to be in Europe or someplace else overseas for my vacation to feel significant. That is far out the window. I don't care if I'm two hours outside of LA. If I'm sleeping on the couch of someone I love, that's now enough for me.

(Also, as a side note, I've started going to more concerts. This goes along with my new attitude of "just do it" -- want to see someone in concert? Have the money? Get a ticket! Done. Enjoy.)

3. I fell in love.

This handsome mug has made my days of 2015 pretty great.

4. I got myself a living pal.

I thought I loved living alone. And it's true, I did.

But I never thought living with another would bring me so much joy.

And I never thought that I wouldn't miss life on my own.

I'm accepting that I'm more extroverted than I once did. Or I'm becoming less selfish with my "need" to be completely alone for X number of hours each day. Maybe both.

While I probably lean pretty heavily toward the extrovert category of life, I'm a pretty 50/50 girl; I need lots of time to recharge, and I need to be around people to keep my spirits up. It's kind of amazing, actually, how I begin to droop after a certain amount of time being simply alone. It's like the need for food or water; I just need people. We all do, but that's another chat for another time.

Anyway, I've discovered that more so than strictly needing time alone, it turns out I just need time to do my own thing, and it doesn't matter if people are nearby. In fact, I kind of enjoy it when someone is around.

I once saw Tom Hanks be asked in an interview what his favorite sound is, and he answered immediately with this: "The sound of family in the next room."

I've never forgotten that, and almost got goosebumps typing it just now.

I grew up with a large, (loud) family, so I think that the presence of other life around me is something I inherently expect. I also grew up retreating to my own quarters relatively often, to, on my own, read or craft or watch TV -- much the same activities I do now for a meditative reboot.

2015 was a time that I realized, loud and clear: I no longer mind if someone else is in the same room during these activities. In six months of living with Abby, I have only very seldom felt the desire to be truly away from her, and even then the desire is usually not that strong. It was more often out of not wanting to do much talking at the moment, or needing to quietly rest.

So. Roommate, good. I like it...err, her.

Plus, we have, like, tons of fun together.

5. I had visitors.

This coming February will be the third time running that my beautiful college gal pal, Laura, has come westward ho to visit me. I can't believe I'm so fortunate to have a grown up tradition that allows me to spend time with someone I love to pieces, in various regions. Together, we have explored San Francisco, LA, Vegas, and Disneyland. In two quick months, we'll be sailing the ocean blue together, with our boos and her parents, to see Catalina Island and Mexico.

Other notable visitors to Cali this year were: bestie Michelle, Tommy in town for work, my surrogate dad, Tim, and, for a whole Thanksgiving week, my parents!

For a long while, I thought no one would come to see me out here on the west coast, and my heart just bursts with happiness when another guest crosses the threshold to my mismatched (but full of blankies and pillows) home. For those considering a future visit, door's always open, folks. Seriously, would love to have you.

6. I sat my butt down and got some writing done (and some of it was published).

My writing plan is simple, but (apparently) effective.

Every three days, I get a Google calendar reminder in my inbox: "write."

I don't rigidly hold myself to writing exactly every three days, but I can't delete the reminder email until I do what it tells me to.

A unit of writing can be any of the following: writing a blog post, working on a freelance piece, writing an essay, editing something for a friend, or writing or editing a chunk of my book.

Once I've done one of those things, I can delete the email.

Here I sit on December 31st, and while I have two emails nagging me to return a library DVD and pay off my Target credit card, there are no flashing "writes" among them. I count this a (huge) win. While before I was willy nilly about when I would write, today I can confidently say I do it regularly.

And as some of you know, I started a book. I have 20,000 of an aimed for 50,000 words written. And a plan in place to finish up Draft One by the end of January.

It feels good to do what Anne Lamott calls "butt in chair." Like, real good.

7. I learned to embrace gratitude.

I came across a quote today. OK, fine, it was a quote meant to be cross stitched, and I found it while I was prowling the Internet for more stitch projects that I don't need, but give me a round of applause for at least not purchasing it...yet.

It says this: "Gratitude turns what we have into enough."

I love that.

Up there with my jealousy of others' world travels was, for a long time, a lot of thinking in my head that I didn't have enough.

I felt I had enough material things, but not enough vacations, experiences, times with friends that met up to sitcom standards. Not enough boyfriend. Not enough happy.

I feel, nearly daily, that my cup runneth over, Y'all.

I feel regularly spoiled, with unexpected material gifts from family and friends, as well as with laughs, contentment in my job and with my finances, happiness with my living situation. The nicest boyfriend, who calls me Baby, which I love.

When I'm having an off day, I've picked up the habit of making a gratitude list, or as I sometimes like to call it, counting my sacks of sugar. I count small things like this:
  • I'm not groggy today. One cup of coffee is cutting it.
  • I wanted to make paper penguins, and a coworker randomly gave me black paper -- what fortune!
  • I am still enjoying Celine's Let's Talk About Love album, 12 years after receiving it. Because, well, Celine.
  • The office is ordering us pizza today, and we'll be singing karaoke while we eat! Yesssssss.
  • I'm not sad, but looking forward to spending this New Year's Eve night with my kitty, quietly at home.

So, I'm more grateful in general, and I'm training myself to redirect my mind from pessimism to counting my blessings. Which sounds corny and like something your kitschy aunt might do, but it's more helpful than you might think (the research even says so).

8. I (sort of) learned to speak up.

I know what you're thinking: Bailey? Chatty Cathy? Trouble speaking up?


But yes.

I'm still working on this one a lot, but I'm learning, on some (still relatively timid) level, to let people know when I'm unhappy with their actions. And I'm realizing that being angry or resentful or privately annoyed is like having your panties in a bunch -- not comfortable and not worth it.

9. I kept busy, but also kicked my feet up -- a lot.

When I'm not stitching with the cat at my feet, my feet are hitting the pavement. Sometimes I wear myself out, I tell ya.

Having a boyfriend has almost doubled my social life, too, since he is an active party-attender himself and often invites me along.

I find that it's helpful to my happiness to remind myself that I am lucky to have some time now when I can enjoy my mate and my many friends, and I don't have kids to worry about.

Meanwhile, as your loving therapist will tell you, it's all about the balance. I take lots of time to stitch, drink a beer, watch a movie, talk to Abby, read, tidy my environment to make it more peaceful. It may seem selfish, but I believe it makes us live longer when we take some time to boost our spirits. (On the other side of this token, I've found that I love to shower people with gifts, so there's a lot to be said for outward giving and one's happiness).

So get yo'self out the house, yo, but make sure you spend some time in it, too.

10. And finally, I found a new church.

Not, like, a new religion. But I found a new physical church in my neck of the woods.

I was extremely lucky to be invited to a church my very first weekend in LA three years ago, one that had one of the best preachers I have ever been privy to hear. His messages were enough to buoy me for a while, and then I started to feel lonely and lost in the huge population there.

Joining a small group helped a bit, and starting to greet once a month helped me make some new friends (not so much with the people I was greeting, but with the people who I was greeting with), but eventually I got tired of the commute across town to get there and continually meeting the same people who didn't remember me from the crowd. I sometimes wanted to shout, honestly, "I've met you three times and you don't remember my name or face?!"

When Abby and I moved in together, I noticed a church nearby our new place and decided to give it a try. Not only do I really like the pastor and his messages and genuine way of speaking and interacting with the congregation, but it has got to be one of the most welcoming churches I've ever encountered.

While my previous church served a purpose in my life and continues to be a great ministry to so many in this city, I find that what I need right now is something with a smaller community. And I found one, and I love, love, love it.

So grateful. So happy. Hoping and praying for the same for the rest of you in 2016.

It's been a great year, and I can't thank you all enough, again, for continuing to visit this blog. It means so much.

The Daily Bailey

No comments:

Post a Comment