Say Hello to Joy

Originally Written on : feb 18th, 2016, 11:26 pm

I stick the shovel in the snow bank at the end of the driveway and trudge back toward the house, with a sigh of equal parts relief and exasperation. I just spent 45 minutes shoveling the driveway of a rock hard solid snow bank that is 3 feet high from a snow fall 3 days earlier.

I had put off shoveling the drive because there is no joy in clearing out a 3 foot, heavy, wet snow bank when you are 4 foot 11! If it were not for a 12 noon appointment in town the next day, I’d not even have bothered to shovel, as there is something oddly comforting to me about being literally snowed in- unable to go anywhere. It feels like a snuggle hug from your house.

45 minutes of back breaking, breathtaking ( I have asthma) shoveling at -12 Celsius, and it is not finished yet!

The only reason I know it’s been 45 minutes is because the podcast I’ve had in my ears to make this non joyous mundane task of snow shoveling less so, is over.

The heaviness in my arms and pain in my shoulders from the lifting is making itself known as I walk up to the door- So, I am glad for the hour break that is about to commence.

That break that is about to commence is a nightly habit of Neflix and literal chilling with my husband and daughter… because it is 11 pm and that is when my son goes to bed, every night we spend some time watching some favorite TV shows together.

My glasses are foggy from the drastic temperature change and it is hard to see as I step inside the house and begin to pull off my coat and boots. My fingers are frozen and I fumble with the zipper. But I see 15 is at the computer talking to her friends on fb- smiling at the screen as usual. I remind her it is 11 pm.

My son is immediately in my space asking for food before bed, as usual… But, I don’t feel that typical “mom request resentment” because I have to suddenly pee very badly. Usually I’d have said something like “gimme me a minute man, I’m not even out of my coat yet!”… instead I run toward the washroom.

I rush past my husband asking about a salad or SOMETHING to eat before the tv watching commences- And, as I sit down… it hit me!

This little scene… this. is. our. bustle… our jam.

The busy-ness of being us. A family… alive and well…living. And, in that moment… I felt it. (yes, as I peed! Why IS it that my ah-ha moments always happen in the strangest places?)

That It I speak of was this:

The joy in the ordinary. The joy of us. The joy of THAT moment. That typically “us” interaction.

And so, sitting there peeing I shook my head and lifted my face up toward the ceiling with a silly smile on my face and I said, out loud, with a giggle….”Hello!”

I didn’t plan to do that… I had just witnessed myself do it as much as anyone else had.
I said Hello to Joy.Literally and out loud.

You see, I’ve slowly (yet suddenly and seemingly all at once) come to realize in recent months… what Joy really is.

Joy lives in those little moments between the shit of day to day life. Those moments that make you feel thankful for where you are and what you have- No matter where you’re not and no matter what you do not have.

It is not that I have not ever had joyful moments in all my 41 years, or not noticed Joy until this day. I see Joy everyday.

But, this day was the first day I saw Joy in the moment, and welcomed her into my soul, without an expectation of her staying…

I accepted her for what she is and welcomed her with open arms. I enjoyed Joy’s visit without looking at making her a space in the spare room to stay, only to be disappointed when she refused to.

That is my ah-ha!

It may be naive of me to not have known this until now- But, Joy is not always a constant tenant that sticks around, brings luggage and hangs posters in the spare room making it hers.

She is a short drop in visit in each day of our lives. And… I think, that is the misconception we often live with- That joy should stick around and it is a state of living we must work to achieve.

The truth about Joy

We can invite her to come into any moment of our day… just by paying attention. She’ll show up if we look for her and she arrives almost out of thin air like a magical fairy… but she never stays long. For the busy-ness of life demands more attention than we can give her and when that happens, she’ll quietly slip out of the scene.

She’s not upset, she knows her position… and those moments of doing life are not always when she is best appreciated- so she exits stage left, until we invite her back again for another scene. But… she is always standing there, just off stage, waiting for her next queue.

Understanding this finally… like really getting it, is making a difference in my days since I finally figured this out. And, funny enough- Joy shows up more often!

So, I’ve decided I’m going to say hello out loud every time I feel Joy around, and just enjoy her short little visits, rather than expect she is moving in each time she shows up.

Because… when I think about it, sitting here writing this- Moments of joy are like standing barefoot in the grass, blowing bubbles for the kids on a warm breeze in the back yard, as the sun sets on a fun filled relaxing summer day.

You reach out to hold a bubble as it floats toward you and you smile as you do. You enjoy the bubbles for what they are- for how long they are there. You enjoy each bubble for its unique glimmer and size…even thought you know in a moment the surface tension will change and the bubble will be gone. Some bubbles last longer than others..but none of them disappoint you.

The bubbles might be temporary, but the feeling they give us is not. No matter how old we are, we don’t ever forget the pleasure of chasing bubbles as a kid. We are able to hold onto that feeling just by thinking about it… whenever we want. Just like when we say hello to Joy in an ordinary moment and we are are able to hold onto that feeling.

Joy is not something I should be chasing and trying to nail down, it should be like enjoying blowing bubble in the summertime in the back yard with the kids.

So today, I’ve concluded that joy is the looking for and collecting of little moments like these, and not an achievement or a state of being we should strive to reach.

The Jaded Optimist is a Canadian Chick choosing happiness over bullshit. She loves bacon, the color green. The smell of her husband when he hugs her, and blowing bubbles in the summer with her kids.

(this article can be shared, linked to, or copied and “guest blogged” on your blog, so long as it contains the article and bio in it’s entirety. Drop me an email to let me know where you share it!)

What if You Just Accepted Your Depression?

Everyone treats depression like it is a bad thing, and something we should fight to fix, or get over.

There is societal shame in admitting that we are held in the arms of depression and it won’t let us go.

But… what if we just accepted our depression. What if we were open about it?

Having lived now with chronic low level depression and dips into deep levels, over the last 10 years- I can tell you that the years it was worst, were the early years of dealing with it when I felt shame and guilt for, and on top of- being tired, and weepy and not wanting to do much.It was worst when I hid it from people and still tried to act like everything was A-OK.

What if depression is our body telling us to slow the fuck down?

What if we just honored our body’s signals and we just slowed down a bit?

Be it due to past deep hurts we need to grieve, or burnout from a stressful life situation… or, brain chemistry we can’t control stuck on low burn in our body…

What if, rather than feeling guilty and trying to keep up- Trying to heavily medicate our depression and our shame and guilt away- We just accepted that we are depressed, and opened up about it and just figured out how to navigate life better while we are depressed?

 

People are all over fat shaming and encourage being “body positive” these days… Well. It’s time to call out depression shaming and encourage some Depression Embracing!

 

 

  • What if, between the crying days, we nurtured ourselves and looked for small tiny ways to have some joy, anyway?
  • What if we chose to drop the guilt and the shame and stopped getting upset with ourselves just because after a relatively good day, we have yet another weepy day? Why do we minimize the importance of the good day, just because we had another bad day?
  • What if we start drinking our morning smoothie, or lemon water from a wine glass every day? Seems small, maybe even silly! But if you feel fancy doing that… why not?
  • What if while taking a bath, we just don’t care if we cry in the tub the whole time?
  • What if… for at least 20 seconds as we laid in the tub while depressed and crying, we noticed that split second of feeling good, and we said hello to it- rather than feel guilty for crying through it, and not feeling that more often?

5 7 things you can do to accept your depression, drop the fucking guilt and feel less shitty day to day.

depressedbuthappy

1. First, realize you are not the only depressed person in the world.

I am not telling you this in a negative way. I want you to know that you are not alone. There are a shit tonne of us out here, depressed just like you are-Living life.

We are buying our groceries, and taking the kids to soccer, and standing in front of you in the bank. We might even be having a good day and be the one laughing with our friend while we eat lunch together. We are a silent club, and no one really knows the other club members…but know that you are not alone.

When we are depressed it can feel like we are drowning in a lonely sea of happy (& fucking judgmental) people who have all the answers. We think this so much that we convince ourselves that everyone we see looking at us, is judging us. But, I can tell you this… at least some of those people are depressed too, and looking at you, thinking the exact same thing you are thinking about them!

So, remind yourself of that, and the anxiety will start to lessen as you realize that depression lies to us to keep us down.

2. “What you need to do is, is just…” “What do you have to be depressed about?” “Don’t you know there are other people who have it much worse than you!” “Just exercise more” “Focus on being happy and you will be!” Sound familiar?

Yeah!… fuck that shit, right?

Those seemingly happy and judgmental assholes in our lives who are vocal about our depression to us… they are usually telling us this stuff out of ignorant genuine concern. Often it just makes us feel like we are being blamed for our depression, like we are choosing this shitty way of life. But, understand that it’s coming from a good place, even if they sound like a totally heartless bastard.

I can tell you, they do not know just how much of an asshole they sound like. Telling you these things makes them feel better, even if it makes you feel like shit. These people around us usually are feeling helpless too and they don’t know how to help us. Remember this, and cut them some slack, and don’t feel worse for their shitty advice.

If it comes down to it, tell them how their “helpful” advice makes you feel, and tell them to shove it up their ass. Plain and simple.

3. You cannot control depression any more than a person can control getting the flu and puking and shitting all over themselves on the bathroom floor. But, while you are depressed you can do things to make it less hard on you while you are going through it- just like people with the flu do things to make being sick with the flu less difficult.

If we can comfort the flu….we can comfort depression!

Like the flu, you gotta ride the bad days out. Rest more. Back out of the plan with “I’m feeling under the weather today, I just need to rest” It’s not a lie, don’t feel guilty for it.

Take regular naps. If you work shift work, schedule no more than 2 days in a row and rest on the in between days. It takes a lot of energy to do day to day stuff when your brain chemistry is working against you.

4.Do things to bring the depression up to a manageable level.

Cut the sugary crap foods that fast feed your brain short lived energy, and then seek more a short time later.It is a vicious cycle that does NOTHING good for a depressed system. Try going LCHF and supporting your hormones and brain chemistry the best you can. I know it sounds like BS…I would not have believed it myself if i had not seen remarkable improvements in my own depression and Anxiety since I went LCHF 4 years ago. What once kept me on the couch in my housecoat all day staring at the weather network…is now just a mild meh I can manage to talk myself through most of the time. Movement/light exercise, Vit D, Vit B’s and real healthy foods will help lift depression.

See a Doctor and get medication if it is necessary

Don’t feel shame or guilt for needing a medication to get you through the hardest depressions. Even if the medication only lifts you up into the grey from the dark black depressive hole…You are accepting your depression now and you know that medication is not a magic pill- It is not going to cure you. But, it will help you navigate the bad days better, until you can manage them with better coping skills on your own later, and that’s a good thing.

Please know… If you are feeling suicidal… that requires immediate attention and you should not feel shame for needing it!

Unlike the flu like depression- Suicidal thoughts is the “I fell out of the boat, and I’m drowning with a brick tied on my foot, and I need a life jacket and a lifeguard to save me RIGHT NOW” depression. Put the life jacket on!

Suicide.org - Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support

5. Talk to a therapist on an ongoing basis. Not to FIX or cure your depression, but to have a non judgmental person to talk it out with. Get shit off your chest to keep the guilt and shame low during your depression. It’s hard enough to get out of bed everyday with depression. Feeling like a shitty person on top of it is no help.

If you can’t see a therapist, find a support group. Perhaps an in person one your doctor can set up for you, or hey… online even! There are lot of FB groups for depression that are private and you will see that you are not alone, and even find others who understand exactly how you feel.

Bonus tip!

6. Create something every day! Even if you don’t feel like it. Pick up a paintbrush, a pencil, even a crayon. Play a video game, play a musical instrument, color in a coloring book. Do something that gave you joy in the past and just do a little of it everyday. Find one good moment in your day everyday and write it down in a journal.

Don’t think you’re suddenly going to be happy… you’re not. You are distracting the depression for a few minutes and looking to feel that split second of joy- even if that is all you feel. one.split.second.

Say hello to that split second of joy, and be ok with it. like trying to tame a cute chipmunk in your back yard… be patient and feed your joy… eventually, a little at a time, it will show up for longer periods of time.

Extra BONUS

7. Give yourself some credit, will ya?!

You live with depression, and you find ways every day to get the things done that need doing! That is pretty fucking amazing!

So, pamper yourself a little now and again, and feel proud of the fact that you are doing it!

Those happy people who breeze through a day like it’s nothing…. that’s not an accomplishment… it’s just easy breezy shit.

Doing that same stuff they do everyday, and doing it while depressed makes you a pretty-fucking- awesome person!

So… I’ll ask you again.

What if you just accepted your depression?!

Hmmm, What.IF!

depressed and awesome
The Jaded Optimist is a Canadian living with chronic depression, accepting it and choosing happiness anyway for the last 10 years. You can read more on her blog www.alifeungrained.ca

(this article can be shared, linked to, or copied and “guest blogged” on your blog, so long as it contains the article and bio in it’s entirety and links to here. Drop me an email to let me know where you share it!)

I am a Jaded Optimist

I can be happy
I can be loved
Even thought I am jaded.

Learning To Thrive, instead of just Surviving

This place is me at my most ME.

I’m tired of compartmentalizing myself to not offend people- On social media, in my neighborhood, with the local art community, around certain family.

This is me… the real me…

I say fuck often.  I’m totally ok with that, in fact I LIKE it.

FUCK,frick,frack and variations of it are my favorite words! And, fuck you if you are offended. I’m not looking for your approval.

I’ve lived this life for 42 years and I have SURVIVED some serious.fucking.shit.

So, yeah… I’m jaded.

But I have a heart of gold (that often gets me hurt). I’m not bragging, it hurts.  My husband tells me it is my greatest trait, and my worst. I see the good in people before I see the bad- I give more chances than maybe I should be willing to give.

But, I have also been given more chances that maybe… I should not have been given- like in love, with my husband of almost 19 years.

I often wonder who would I be today if he had not given me a 2nd, 3rd, 4th…infinite second chances?!

So, I give them too- Because…  I’m an optimist.

Sometimes it gets me walked on… which makes me a little more jaded again… but, I’m not bitter.

Ok, maybe sometimes I can be bitter. Can’t we all? It sucks to be shit on.

But, I can be happy… even when things are going to shit!

Depression is a liar,
Anxiety is an asshole
& Shame is a shithead

I AM happy, because I chose it- over and over again, between the shit storms of life.

I cultivate joy in my life daily.

I dance, I sing, I laugh…everyday.

I bitch and complain and get it off my chest- Then I go back to choosing happy.

BTW, did you know you CAN be happy even if you are a complainer… in fact-it is kind of essential to being happy!!

Ask Brene Brown! She has 14 years of research data backing that up! I read her books to find out how to find joy in life… only to find out I was already doing that stuff that cultivates joy and happiness, and not giving it the value it deserved. Simply because I thought happy people don’t bitch as much as I do- As often as I do!! Turns out… they do! huh!

I am not a jump for literal joy kinda person…

People who are literal, jump for joy, happy dancing kinda people make me uncomfortable when they are doing it around me. I think it is great THEY do that! I love WATCHING them… but me… nope. nuh un… I don’t do that!

When you are always told to stop crying or you’ll be given something to cry about, as a kid- You learn to hide your sad and your mad.

When you are told you are not being “ladylike” by twirling in joy in your new frilly dress- Or told you are being “too girly” by a person with baggage who wants you to not be too noticeable to potential abusers lurking around every corner in her imagination… you shun the color pink, and sparkly butterfly stickers on your grade 7 english binder.

When everyone comments on how you talk too much,  and always have an antidote or story to share for a situation, since as young as you can remember- You start shutting up.

You don’t get excited openly over much, and you act indifferent- About everything.

You don’t skip anymore, or laugh too loud. Or do imaginary gymnastics routines on your lawn at 11 years old. You learn to shut up, blend in, and not have an open opinion.

Isn’t that shitty!!!?

You live those rules for so long, that now it feels kinda scary and weird, stupid and silly to squee over cute shoes, or even like wearing dresses, never mind feeling sexy in them for fear of being judged.

You live those rules for so long, that even at 41, it feels awkward to make a post on FB about the  gel pens you REALLY wanted- that your husband bought you on amazon as a surprise- even though your inner self really really wants to just jump about like a 12 year old.

When you are taught to shut down joy- when you shut that feeling down deep inside you…  it slowly chokes your soul until it is a crying, depressed, anxiety ridden- tiny little jade green rock in the pit of your stomach, or lump in your throat.

Fuck That Shit!

I love stuff and people, and places- LIKE, A LOT!
But I am a quiet lover.

I like dancing in the rain, and the smell of the pavement right after it stops- and eating raspberries right off the bush.

I love watching ants, and picking daisies, and I totally dig deep inspirational quotes on art or pretty pictures (Fuck you if you think they are lame.)

I love clean sheets and hot showers, and when my husband’s bum touches mine under the sheets- when we are back to back, half asleep in the darkness of the night.  mmmmmm that.is.bliss!

I love flowery stationary and empty pretty journals, and pens that write nice, and old book stores where I can sniff a old book’s crack when I open it up.

I have favourite trees in the county that I live, and I cried the day one of mine fell from a lightning storm. I stopped the car and got out. I stood where that tree was now laying on the ground and said goodbye and thanked it for it’s beauty. Then I took some of the bark home with me and put it on my fireplace mantle.

I think naked winter trees in the dusk against a dark blue winter sky are beautiful, sexy even. It is one of the best parts of winter for me.

I talk to the moon.   I love lady bugs, and I take home a rock from the beach every time I’m there.

I look up at the stars… every night. Sappy songs on the radio make me cry and I love that kind of crying.

I love colorful art and circles in abstracts, and the color green in most every shade.( not baby shit green though)

I love watching big puffy clouds in the clear blue sky on a hot summer day while I float in the lake. A moment of zen

I talk to the bumble bees who pollinate the blossoms on the cherry tree in my back yard in the spring.

I love to create, for the sake of creating. I love zen tangles and watercolor and acrylic and I need to art shit to fill my heart and feel centered in life, even if it sucks. Even if no one else loves it… If I go to long without arting, I get cranky.

I love playing the guitar and singing for people. it makes me happy. It makes me even happier when it makes them happy.

But…. not many people know this stuff about me… because I am a quiet lover of things, and I do/have done most of these things when I am alone.

I’m trying to say FUCK THAT SHIT to this, and be more openly joyful about stuff and things. Sigh… it IS a process.

In the last 2 years Iève gotten better with this..but it is an ongoing journey.

It should not be an act of bravery to show your soul to the world!

I try to live my life with a Buddhist mindset ( dogma free)… but I’m human and I’m pretty sure I’ll be back again to learn more shit in my next life. yeah i have a potty mouth at time. I do know how to rein it in when needed, I am not a total redneck.

This ain’t my first rodeo… and it won’t be my last.

But, while I’m here in this life, I’m striving to learn lessons in this one too-The things that keep showing up in this life, and I have yet to learn the lesson.

So, I am documenting it here. For me, with far too many …’s and run on sentences.  (Hey, I have adhd and dyslexia, and everyone always told me I could not be a writer! Well, Fuck THAT shit! I’m doing it anyway.)

But also…as well as for myself…  I’m sharing this for some people I care about. So, If you gather anything from this as well…  that would bring me joy.

To the women

…Who’s beauty I see behind the jadedness… your want of joy, and happiness, and the struggles to have it that I recognize…
My love… that happiness you seek, it is not a destination. It is a journey!

I finally figured out at LEAST that much!

So, I have decided to share that stuff, and my heart and thoughts here as I learn other stuff… to be brave and bare my soul- Even at the risk of criticism from close minded critics, of which I am not unfamiliar.

Along with whatever comes bubbling up from my heart, I’ll share other’s motivational shit I like, and my art, and maybe my silly haiku, even. Because I HAVE to!

My heart demands it, and my soul needs the healing.

If that resonates with you… I’d love if you came along this walk with me.

If it doesn’t… that’s totally ok!

Do what you want for YOU!!!

THAT- is the point, Dear Jaded One!

You are not on this earth this go round- to worry about what other people think of you.

Fuck THAT shit. Be YOU. Focus on the people who love you no matter what.

NO

MATTER

WHAT

“If they love me or hate me… it’s none of my concern.”

Just say it… out loud, or just in your head… until your heart hears it too.

Choose Happiness!

I’m choosing happiness.
I’m choosing me.
I’m choosing joy

Because, to be remarkably wholehearted, with unbridled enthusiasm in this cynical world, is what it takes to live in happiness.

Fuck that cynical shit!

Be the Amazing that you are!

~The Jaded Optimist