All About My Hole

My name is Randy Scott Hyde, and I’m a miserable fuck.  Coming from a long line of depressed people, I’ve done a pretty decent job in fighting the happiness fight.  Until two years ago when my grandmother died.  This was no ordinary grandmother.  She was MawMaw Hyde—the Jesus of grandmothers, the savior of mankind, the Saint of Orphans. Having raised me since the age of nine, she was always the central figure in my life—a calming, loving figure in an otherwise brutal childhood.  Her passing meant the end of family for me and left in its place a giant emptiness in the soul, or what I like to call a “soul hole.”

Since then, depression has not only been kicking my ass, it has had me in a 1980s Hulk Hogan vice grip that will kill you if you move.  I stopped taking care of myself, began to avoid people completely, developed a wine problem, and gained 30 pounds (or for perspective, 3 ten-pound babies).  My soul hole was turning into a Florida sinkhole of black hole-ian proportions threatening to swallow my soul, whole.

Sick of having nothing nice to say and tired of hating myself and everyone else, I recently decided to make my grandmother a promise—I will take care of myself in her place.  The question is, though, how does one do that?   (Especially since a bottle of wine a day had been doing it so well.  OK, minus the giant gut, and the constant hangover, and the sluggishness, and the hives.  Yes, there have been hives.)

During one evening’s wine drinking, about to start on bottle number two, I hit pause on whatever mindless Bravo show I was watching and decided to watch inspiring Ted Talks – might as well watch others win at life.  After a few, I started to feel mildly optimistic, but not enough to put the glass and the pepperoni pizza down.  But then I saw Shawn Achor’s piece on happiness.  Commence mind blowing and pizza dropping.  The path to happiness distilled into five daily tasks.

  1. Meditate
  2. Identify 3 new things you’re grateful for
  3. One random act of kindness
  4. Journal about one good thing that happened
  5. Exercise

According to Mr. Achor, doing those 5 things every day would train the mind to see the world differently.  And you’d notice a difference in 21 days.  I love a plan.  Especially when someone else does the planning.  And especially-especially when it doesn’t take money or years.

But depression and carrying around triplets all day can make you lazy, so I need some help in keeping it honest.  If 21 days will turn the black tide of doom, I’ll do Shawn one better.  I’ll give it 30, all Morgan Spurlock style.  And I’ll do it publicly so that I’m accountable to everyone who reads this.

So in honor of my grandmother, I ask you to officially join me on Randy’s quest to fill his soul hole with something other than alcohol, saturated fat, and the “Real Housewives of (insert any city).”

Here are the rules:

  1. For the entire month of September, I will do each of those 5 tasks everyday.
  2. I will write about it every day.
  3. There will be stick figures.
  4. I will not judge the project as working or not working until the end of 30 days at which I will decide whether or not to continue or look for a new way.
  5. I will not give up.

I welcome any thoughts, encouragement, ass kicking, ass kissing, or any other outside contribution on this walk up a steep hill, and I thank you for it. Now let’s go fill this hole!

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91 comments

  1. Lizzi, Considerer (@LRConsiderer)

    VERY cool indeed.

    The gratitude thing really helps. It’s one I used years ago and had cause to return to recently. It’s now spawned a weekend blog hop where people come and list their Ten Things of Thankful (I wanted the extra ‘push’ – three or five was never enough for me to really *get* the exercise, so I’ve foisted that one onwards) and it’s astonishing to watch the attitudes changing.

    I’ve had dips (one recently) and I’m sorry to read that the way you’re feeling seems so familiar to me. I hope this month-long exercise really helps you. I shall be intrigued to see the results. You’ve made a good start already 🙂

  2. Judith Wolf Mandell

    I really hope this works for you…and why shouldn’t it? I admire your courage and determination. “If not now, when?”

  3. Amie Pfeifer

    Randy, you are AMAZING! I am here with you, doing it in quite a similar way. I have been hitting the gym for 3 weeks now, but I have been sorely slacking on the writing component. So, I pledge to you that I will be here to give you encouragement and that I will also write every day – even if it is only a paragraph. Thank you for the inspiration! Love ya, Amie

  4. Sian

    As someone with her own hole-management issues, I’d like to say that I think sharing this with us already counts as one act of kindness. So there — you’re gotten an early start on September.

  5. Julie Phelps

    High fives to you! I will be right there, along with many others, cheering you on.
    I never before knew of Shawn Achor, so thank you for sharing. Oddly enough, I found my own Happy by doing basically those five things. I discussed it in a very recent blog and heard privately from some long-time friends that they were now going on a similar mission. I will happily pass along your blog link so they can be further encouraged by YOU!
    And so sorry you lost your MawMaw Hyde. She’s probably around somewhere feeling proud of new commitment.

  6. Amber Gary

    Ok I not only am crying but laughing while reading this! I will right here by you on this journey and I know mawmaw is right here with you every step of the way! You are an amazing person Randy and you can do it!! Love you!!

    • Teresa Allen

      randy you have such a gift with your writing in your words mama Aunt Jenny to me would be so proud and I feel the same way you do I miss her so much she was heart and soul to me but we gotta get through it and we will see her on the other side in heaven no doubt I am always here if you need to chat take care of that kid of mine he doesn’t call me but I guess he’s busy we are the people we are today because it is and Jenny I love you bunches Randy take care teresa

  7. Lisa Stone

    Very inspiring and I can’t wait to follow you in your journey. I read once a long time ago that you can retrain your brain to be positive. Always find the positive in any situation and tell yourself (out loud) that it is going to be a great day and that will be a good start!

  8. Parissa Ebrahimzadeh

    Beautifully written!! I am here with you to read and share in the journey (not to mention hold you accountable!!) I look forward to the words and stick figures. 🙂 WHAT GREAT STICK FIGURES!!! 🙂 Love this!!

  9. Kevin McCord

    Very cool. I just started meditating too. You have inspired me man. I am gonna talk to my wife tonight and go ont hie trip with you, er, at least concurrently with you. Game on.

  10. Linda Antonioli

    depression grabbed me around the neck and shook hard after my youngest sister died suddenly from her congenital heart condition. our family works now to protect endangered sea turtles in her name. there are still dark days since, hell, that’s life, but doing a little good in the world honors Lisa and helps us to direct our grief in a way that would make her proud. i think those random acts of kindness you speak about will give you some mileage. “happy” can be an elusive friend as we age, but “content” has been knocking at my door. go forth, good luck, let your grandma inspire strength within you!

    • randyscotthyde

      Linda, you know I love your guts. Really appreciate your comment. If anyone understands, it’s you. This blog is my sea turtle. Any raod signs you can provide are incredibly appreciated. And I think content is a might large trophy — good for you!

  11. Cindy del Valle

    Just when I think I might be alone in my feelings, you pop up with something that inspires me to not only cheer you along, but participate as well. I love an inspiration and you!

  12. Kathy Whitecotton

    I didn’t know your Maw Maw, and I don’t know you. Somehow, though, I can hear her voice and yours. Thank you for sharing your journey. I’ll be listening and following. Namaste.

  13. Wayne Bowerman

    Dude! This story is familiar to me. Insert Russian Stouts or Porter in place of the wine and fruit loops in place of pizza (gross I know but I have a major sweet tooth when I’m depressed). Three years ago a close friend of mine from seminary drank himself to death. Shortly there after a long period of joblessness followed for me (hard being a bleeding heart liberal pastor in the Bible Belt). So naturally I started trying to “process” my rapidly expanding pile of rejection letters, working as a cashier for minimum wage and my friends death with the same dead end methods as him. I now have fat quintuplets, which is rather depressing because about 5 years ago I had a good run with happiness, lost a lot of weight and now her I am. My head doc has been trying to get me to meditate daily for about 6 months and I’ve done it twice. I used journal regularly (things I was grateful for and my laments) but I have hardly journaled at all over the last two years even though I have taught a class on the positive spiritual and psychological benefits to journaling. Oy vey, I too have become a miserable fuck.

    Sorry for going on and on. But I am going to join you in this experiment. I will check in regularly to see how you’re doing. Thanks for your honesty and sharing this experience and for being an inspiration!

  14. Susie Dalton

    Taking care of yourself is a beautiful thing, Randy. What an awesome way to keep yourself moving forward. I’m honored to be a part of your month of Randy-lovin’. xo

  15. Rufus Gerrard-Wright

    Hi Randy,

    I’m Matty’s friend from Warwick University. I’m sorry we’ve never met. Terrific writing, inspiring stuff. Look forward to following your September. Yours will be the first blog I’ve ever followed. G’luck. Ruf x

  16. Shannon

    I will attest that these things do work! I do 4 of these things regularly and it keeps me pretty content. Meditation and I are not friends yet, but maybe this will inspire me to give it a shot. Everyone DESERVES to be happy, so as my 9 year old says “you totally got this”.

    • randyscotthyde

      Thanks, Shannon. It’s good to know that someone’s tried some of these with some success. I’m not too afraid of the sitting exercises, it’s the ones that require action that I’m scared of. Which probably means the meditation one will end up being the hardest. It’s always the way, right?

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  18. johnnyzorro

    First day was shaky…but I accomplished everything. Think I need to be a little easier on myself at first. Plus, do you think pushing a manual lawn mower through foot tall grass for an hour constitutes as exercise?

    • Julie Phelps

      Any type of physical activity can probably be classified as exercise – as opposed to remaining sedentary. But in order to “train” yourself into the ritual of it all – the habit – remember that you need to know when to say when. Push yourself, yes, but don’t overdo to the extent that you hurt yourself. Have a goal or desired level of activity and work toward it, understanding that you need to feel your way toward that goal rather than arrive at it in one session.
      Otherwise your brain will rebel and will try to halt your progress. Brains work hard to get their way with you.

      If you are not accustomed to much exercise at all, simple walking will build up your endurance as well as begin to reveal results. See how far you can walk the first time, then next time try to increase that distance by just a bit more, like 1/2 block more, or 5 minutes more. That is what I had to do after each of several foot surgeries. I used a pedometer to keep track of the steps, rather than miles, at first. When things began to hurt I would note how many steps I’d gone and head back home. By the time I’d get home I’d have to elevate and ice the sore foot. But next trip out the door (either later same day or else following day) I would go just a bit further. And so on.
      One of my best motivators was listening to an audio book on the iPod. After I got back more strength and endurance I could encourage myself to go on longer than I otherwise would’ve by wanting to listen to just a bit more of the story I was engrossed in. “Just to end of the chapter” I would say to myself.

      Walking seems so simple, and it is. But it does wondrous things for your overall conditioning.
      Just a thought.
      Walk on!

    • randyscotthyde

      Well done, John! And, yes, I think anything where you’re not flat on your ass in front of the television counts as exercise (at least in the beginning). So you mow on with your bad self!

  19. Jennifer Maerz

    Randy, I love that you’re turning your personal project into another kick ass piece of writing (and humor). This is awesome, and I support all these efforts completely.

  20. Margene

    I’m following your plan and find the routine tough to begin, too — even though I am a Happy person! Just wanted to mention that a random act of kindness can be as simple as stopping to talk with a homeless person…or maybe even smiling at someone you usually wouldn’t notice. Nothing is worse than being invisible. Since you miss Mammaw so much, smile at an elderly person, help a Chinese lady with all her bags step off the Muni…doesn’t have to be big. The truth is that most of us do these little things all the time. Being aware causes some kind of mojo (comes back to you in aces). We’re all lovin’ your blog…and you.

  21. Carol Harlig

    Randy, I just started reading your “Journey toward Happiness”, signed up to follow you, and now can’t wait to read each upcoming entry as you embark on this great adventure! You most definitely are filling the hole in your soul, replacing the wine, gluttony and self-pity with things that are meaningful and bring joy to your life. In case you didn’t already know it, you’re an incredibly gifted writer and I’m so glad my friend, Sandra Sallin, mentioned you on Facebook.

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  23. Jake

    What a way to honor your beloved Grandmother. I know these actions work but I have yet to implement them all in such a focused manner. Individually, they are very powerful as I use at least some of these things all of the time as a method of stability and grounding. I’m very confident you will succeed – you’ll have no choice if you stick to this plan. 🙂

  24. Carolina

    This is so cool, you’re my hero. I will start my own little journey today after reading this blog. Not sure I will manage the 5 tasks but I’m already onto meditation and exercise.

    As a side comment, why are depressive, pessimistic people the wittiest, most sarcatically hilarious people in the world? Your introduction text made me laugh out loud. Surely our negativity can’t be all negative!

  25. jboy

    An amazing blog Randy, except for maybe the non-office friendly post title which may have sparked questions from some of my colleagues as to why I was reading about someone’s hole during my lunch break!!. After watching Shawn Achor’s TED talk and then finding the link to this, I am committed to following in your footsteps and making the change to be happy.

  26. Marsha

    The positive psychology movement has definitely helped me with life changes, and I’m speaking of almost 70 years of living with anxiety. I am not a sloth, but have been a whirling dervish to distract from anxiety. My work is to slow down and smell the roses along the way. I am one to prove this mindset works, if you do the exercises faithfully. Your life will shift, unfurl in marvellous ways. Shawn’s book is one I love to read over and over.
    Have fun.
    Marsha

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