Last night went to my oldest brother’s house and hung out with him and my sister-in-law Vanessa. We had a great conversation.  Vanessa asked me if I was seeing anyone and I told her not yet and that I’m working on myself and told her how I sort of have this thing where I need to continually improve and be the best perfect version of myself before I meet someone.  She talked about how when you meet and fall in love with someone you work together and grow together with your imperfections.   My brother walked into the conversation and sat down on the couch and added to what was said and all three of us talked deeply for a long time and I enjoyed it.  I left a little after 1:00 AM and the truck broke down on the expressway ramp.  A nice guy in a jeep stopped to help and offered me a ride back to my brother’s.  He seemed trustworthy so I rode with him and he told me that he’d had a rough life but that God was good.  I asked him why his life had been rough and he said he was going through a divorce and had lost over 100,000 dollars. He dropped me off and I shook his hand and said thanks.  It was a fun little adventure and I think first hitchhiking experience. My dad came to pick me up around 4 and we towed the car an hour north to my parents’ house.  I was worried I would fall asleep at the wheel and rear-end my dad.  Thankfully I did not.

Right now I’m drinking Chai and feeling a little bit lonely and pathetic.  I spent much of January hibernating, which was fine, but now it’s time to make decisions that I’ve been putting off for too long, and then take the action steps.  Still thinking about last night’s conversation and how I need to challenge some of the thoughts that are holding me back, not just related to dating but in general.

Now it’s a an hour and a half later.  Stopped blogging and had wine and chats with my mom.  Now going to bed.

Yesterday I stayed at home for most of the day.  I read a chapter of American Gods by Neil Gaiman.  I went for a run, did two loads of laundry.  After dinner I went to my grandma’s and we had tea and brownies.  I told her about how my priority for the next 2-3 years is to travel and be young.  I am going by hobbit years, after all, which says that your youth is over at 33.  Really, though, youth never ends when you make it a point to keep having fun and learning and trying new things.  Seriously though, I am still in my young adulthood and that is what I am focused on right now.  I want to do the things now that would be harder to do later.  I want to focus on reclaiming my youth so that my youth is not a complete loss.  I still have time.

When I talk about the losses of my youth I’m talking about everything I missed out on because of being afraid to really live.  When I look at my twenties they seem barren and sad.  Not barren, but the things they are full of are all the wrong things: toxic obsession, doubt, insecurities, confusing and aimless wandering, laziness, failures, needing outside validation.  It’s been hard to move forward because of the fear of being 80, looking back at my twenties and thinking, “yeah, not a fun time.”  It used to break my heart when I’d hear people say how crazy awesome and wild their twenties were, but it doesn’t anymore because I’ve reached a state of acceptance.  Something that helps me is a story I read on the Humans of New York Facebook page a long time ago.  There was a picture of a happy old lady who said that she didn’t really start to live until she was about 32.  I liked her.  That’s the kind of story I can live with.  I will tell people, when they ask about my past, that I didn’t really start to live until I was 30, and that yeah, I took some risks, like living in Spain for a summer and moving to Chicago for a couple of years, but in both places I was agoraphobic, obsessive, guarded, bitter.  But I’m going to be a new person now, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

The show Master of None has been helping me look at my story as more positive and normal, too.  Especially helpful was a scene where Aziz Ansari’s character takes his girlfriend’s grandma out for dinner.  His girlfriend’s grandma has amazing stories and Aziz tells her he has basically no amazing stories yet but he remains hopeful that there is still time.  Also, his girlfriend is 30 and in the final episode announces that she’s moving to another country because there is only a small frame of time left to do something crazy like that.  As for Aziz he decides to move to Italy to take a cooking class and the final scene is of him on a plane.

I’ve also found comfort in looking at the stories of a few of my celebrity heroes.  JK Rowling is one of them.  In an interview she said she wasn’t good at being young and that middle age is “[her] time”.  Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, talks over and over about how her twenties was a shitstorm and look what she did: she made her pain and destruction into something beautiful.  She wrote a beautiful memoir and now she is a role model for millions of women for how to fight for your happiness and take agency over your life. Portia DeRossi spent her twenties hating herself with anorexia and didn’t get treatment until around 30.  Now she appears thriving and happily married.

Also helpful to me has been Mary Oliver.  Mary Oliver is a lesbian poet who dealt with loss by finding solace and healing in nature.  She is also very whimsical and even though she is about 80 she has a child’s spirit.  It wouldn’t be a shock to find out she still climbs trees.  A theme of her poetry is that life is a mystery and full of unanswered questions.  Last spring in Chicago I would walk a half mile to the beach to read her poetry.  I’d sit on the rocks with my knees pulled up against my chest and listen to the waves crash on them while reflecting on the idea that maybe it’s okay to not have all of the answers.  Also, life is a disaster but also filled with magic.  You can rise above the disaster with whimsy and love and noticing the miracles that are all around you no matter where you are.  This is a quote of hers I copied to help set my intentions for the rest of my life:

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”

 

I haven’t checked in for awhile, so I am going to review what I have been up to.

I have been working full time on my happiness.  A couple of weeks ago I felt so great that I wondered if I was going crazy.   I felt more connected to everything, less worried about the future, like I was tapping into the invisible energies and my consciousness had shifted and reality was different.  Then PMS hit a few days ago and I sort of fell back to Earth, but I do believe that the changes I’m making will create lasting peace and that I can fall in love with life again.  I’ve been focused on accepting the past, ignoring society, having faith that things will work out and not worrying about the future, being creative even if it’s just ten minutes of ukulele strumming or mindless coloring, making small changes in routine to excite dormant neuropathways.  Also living in the present and practicing gratitude.

Also, CREATING happiness instead of passively drifting along waiting for it to come to me, which is what I’ve spent most of my life doing.

I’ve given up relying on my own methods for happiness which included ineffective things like making lists of things that will make me happy and then failing to do those things and getting deeply disappointed with myself.  Instead I’m taking a different route by focusing on things science says to do.   One study said that happiness is 48% genetic and that the rest is like 5% what happens to us and 45% the choices we make.  So, I think I will always struggle with melancholia because of genes but I am going to do as best I can by making different choices. It was either the same study or a different study that said the biggest factor of happiness is the quality of our relationships.  So, I’ve been taking small steps toward improving my life in that area too.  I’ve also been mindful of my thought processes.  When an extreme emotion like despair or panic rolls through me I observe my thoughts and look for distortions.

Sipping mint tea in bed right now.  This morning re-read Zadie Smith’s essay Joy and experienced joy or maybe delight later when playing the new ukulele. Practiced  many songs including the ukulele anthem, the adventure time theme song, i’m yours and somewhere over the rainbow. Lindsay and Mike came over for a little while around dinnertime and it was a nice distraction.  We sat around the kitchen table with my mom and shared memories and laughed.  Went to my older sister Desiree’s on Saturday and we did yoga and watched My Girl 2 with the kids.  Went to my brother Brian’s Tuesday and played Heads up with them.  Last night colored in bed with a hot water bottle resting on my chest. It was very sensory rich and zen-like.  Tomorrow morning meeting a friend at the Riverstop for coffee.  All week have been watching Youtube videos about happiness to reinforce positive mindset for the new year.

 

Sunday Ryan invited me to play board games at Mike’s in Grand Rapids.  We played Exploding Cats and Love Letters and drank Angry Balls.  Mike connected me with his roommate Al, who leads a Grand Rapids sketch comedy group.  They need another female and I might join.  Saturday I watched my twin nieces.  We (mostly I lol) made fruit salad and had a popcorn and movie night.  At one point I had to break up a pillow fight that got too crazy.  Christmas morning was spent with my parents, Lindsay and Mike (my little sister and her boyfriend).  We opened gifts and had a big breakfast.  My parents got me a ukelele and an assortment of smaller gifts, my favorite being a mug with a pencil engraved on it.  After breakfast we went to my Grandma Knoll’s for more family time.  We exchanged gifts, ate, talked, laughed and watched Jaws and Love Actually.  On Christmas Eve Lindsay, Mike and I exchanged gifts.  What’s funny is we hadn’t planned on it but both bought gifts for each other anyway.  What’s funnier is we got each other the same thing – coloring books with colored pencils.  They also gave me a lewd but supportive cup from Spencer’s that says “I Love Vagina” on it. Teehee.  After presents we played zombie dice with my parents which was followed by everyone drinking beer and coloring with Christmas music in the background.

 

 

 

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