Tuesday, November 04, 2014

365 of 30: My Happiness Project, Day 1

So I turned 30 on November 2nd.


Some women freak out. So far, two days into my thirtieth year, I feel fine about it all. Some women look back and count all the things they haven't accomplished by their thirties and it sends them into some level of depression that only hitting the 'big three-oh' can do... But here's my take on it: I can look back at ANY age and list all the things I wish I would have done by then. Being 30 doesn't suddenly make me sad about missed opportunities that I wasn't sad about when I was 29. Or even 29 and a half.

I try not to regret things in my life, but rather move forward with a greater sense of what I'd like to achieve and how I want to raise my kids. I'd like to think that I've learned even from the things I DIDN'T do in my younger years.

I guess I just think there's enough to be sad about in this life; turning 30 just shouldn't make that list.

BUT, turning 30 did get me thinking. Thinking about the 'good ol' days' when my biggest worry was how to do my hair for school each morning and whether or not that cute boy in my history class liked me. Thinking about learning how to drive, becoming an aunt for the first time, going rollerblading with my best friend every weekend. Things were very simple when I was half my age, and I suppose I'll still be able to say that when I'm 40 and 50 and so on.

Things get complicated as you grow up. Shit gets real.

When I was young, I was just perpetually depressed. I was so down on myself. I NEVER stopped comparing myself to girls who were skinnier, prettier, or more popular. I used to cut myself just to feel some sort of release. I was a little self-destructive but too scared of being in trouble to really get into anything too terrible. But I easily could have been swept away in a bad crowd and ended up God-knows-where doing God-knows-what. For whatever reason, I straightened myself out and came out of my teenage years intact.

And I look back at my so-called 'problems' from back then and just shake my head at my former self.

After getting London's diagnosis, I learned a few things about real heartbreak and real self-doubt. I realized that the sadness I went through as a teen had more to do with me being a selfish, naive teen than it did with actually having something to be sad about. It was just regular teenage stuff. And I think I could have easily turned London's diagnosis around and made it about me and how hard I had it in life but I try very hard not to do that. Well, actually no, I don't try very hard not to do that; I just don't feel that way so there's very little trying involved.

My life doesn't suck. We all have our struggles, and there truly is always someone who has it worse than you. If we all lined up according to how bad we have it, and we got the very end of the line, to the person with the most difficulties, we'd probably discover that even THAT person could look at someone else's problems and honestly think "I'm glad I don't have to deal with that...". We don't all react to stress the same way, so one person's minor setback could be another person's greatest obstacle.

At 30 years old, I feel like I'm pretty happy. But happiness is sometimes something you have to work for. In fact, I think work plays a bag part. I've learned a lot of things, and continue to learn, about staying happy in a world where it's all too easy to drown in your sorrows.

I don't hold all of life's secrets, but I have been asked before how I don't let something like London's disabilities get me down (too much). So here's what I know:
*Giving to others really does bring joy into your life.
*Slowing down and enjoying the moment you're in NOW is difficult in this crazy busy rush-rush-rush hurry-up-and-wait world, but it's important.
*Let go of juvenile tendencies like lying. Seriously, do adults still need to lie??
*Have some freakin' integrity. Just have some.
*Stop being a different person based on whose company you're in. Just be you, all the time, everywhere.
*Try not to compare yourself to everyone else, and instead try to be better than the person you were yesterday.
*Stop pointing out every single flaw about your body. Stop making fat jokes about yourself.
*Work hard first and ask for help second.
*Accept help when it's offered.

I could go on, I'm sure, but those are just a few of the things I have tried my best to do over the past eight or ten years. I still struggle with any number of those things at any given time, but I'm trying.

That's where my 365 of 30 idea came from. Looking back over my last thirty years and realizing how far I've come makes me just want to continue that trend of self-improvement and general happiness.

So every day this year I'm going to do something to spread some happiness. It might be something to make me happy, it might be something to make one of my kids happy or the husband, or maybe it's something to brighten the day of a complete stranger. It could be something like giving a gift or it could be as simple as taking the time to play a game with Kannon instead of telling him I'm busy. Maybe it's getting my house nice and clean, maybe it's sending an old-fashioned letter to someone... There are a billion things we can do to feel good about ourselves, and we have to start somewhere. We always have something to give and we can always help in some way.

So I'll share what I did  yesterday, my first day into this...
We had already had a big birthday party to celebrate London's and Kannon's birthdays. We did it early so that we could do something outside while it was still warm. It was fun and full of kids. But yesterday, on Kannon's actual birthday, he asked for a cake. My first inclination was to tell him 'no' because it's not like we were having a party. But then I thought, why not?? It's just a cake, I had the money, and it was a simple thing. So I let him pick out a cake at the bakery, we put candles on it, and I sang to him in our basement while we watched The Three Amigos. And guess what... he was SO happy! He turned to me, with chocolate smeared all over his perfect little baby face and said, "Thanks for the birthday mom!"

Thanks for the birthday. Not "thanks for the cake", but "thanks for the birthday". I know what he meant by it, but what my emotional mommy side got out of it was, "thanks for giving me life"

All because of a cake.

Total spent on Happy: about $24

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