Yowza, that was one mammoth flu. Thank you for your patience as my body collapsed into a sad heap of phlegm and bursts of violent coughing. This thing ended up taking about ten days out of my life—just enough time for all the depression and anxiety to return. Now that it’s done with, I’m back on the tasks and the bike training and already feeling better (soulfully and physically).
As the holidays approach (as well as the upcoming 40th birthday, but we’ll save that one for later), I feel the need to cling even harder to this work as I notice the self pity knocking on the door. Hearing people talk about going “home,” imaging these wonderful family reunions full of cheer and warmth as the undeserving orphans shiver outside in the lonely cold. I know that’s not the truth of it, but it’s hard not to fixate on that idealized version of “home.” But with this happiness work, I’m hoping to take it head on this time, and I’m instead trying to focus on all the people I have, the family I’ve made. So my gratitudes for the month of December are dedicated to the people I’ve been lucky enough to find and be loved by. It’s too easy to focus on the things you don’t have, so I’m going to work to focus on things I do. And by golly, it’s a lot, so knock it off depression!
As an example, I’ve started fundraising for the AIDS ride, a necessary component to participate. Not a huge, aggressive pitch, but just mentioning that my fundraising page was up. And in just a few weeks, the love and the donations started pouring in and I’m already up to $1,500. I have a lot to go still, but it reminded me that I have people. I have cheerleaders and supporters at my disposal anytime I need them, and all I have to do is ask. So why can’t I always remember that? My brain needs some major schoolin’.
Speaking of people I love, a friend of mine the other day was telling me about a random act of kindness that she felt she failed at. We talked it through and come to find out she actually did a pretty remarkable job. But I find it curious how much we can beat ourselves up about anything. I mean how can someone trying to be kind suck at it? You’re pretty much succeeding just by attempting it, right? But our types really love hating ourselves, and we’re incredible good at it. Did I do it right, should I have done more, was it bad because it was easy, why am I so stupid and evil? And in talking with my friend, I realized that there are three easy ways to evaluate a successful random act of kindness: 1) did I put someone else’s needs in front of mine; 2) did I engage with someone in order to pull it off; and, 3) did it in some way ease their pain or make them happy. I’ve been using those three questions now that I’m back on the happiness tasks this week, and it’s completely revolutionized my approach to these. When looking through this lens, these are way easier to do and don’t have as much anxiety wrapped around them. They can be simple gestures instead of lavish displays, and I can relieve myself of the self-induced punches to the soul that I’m so fond of doing.
So I’m glad to be back on this happiness horse, and I’m doubly glad to have a holiday plan so Santa Claws and his band of evil elves don’t come in to turn all this merriment and cheer into sinister laughs of doom and decay. I’m going to love the hell out of this holiday whether it likes it or not!