In honor of International Happiness Day, I decided to text and post on Facebook a picture of a beach scene and ask my friends and family “What makes you happy?” I wanted to see where their minds were and if people would truly answer honestly. The answers I received ranged from food to family and even traveling. I somewhat expected answers such as friends, loved ones and family. Being a foodie, I definitely understood the food response. Not to toot my own horn, but a few people said my homemade muffins and that made me smile.
What I didn’t expect was the number of responses or lack thereof. At first I was a little upset, but then I thought about it, maybe they just don’t know what makes them happy. After all it was only a few months ago that I could truly say I knew what made me happy and that was a difficult task to accomplish. Most of my life I lived life doing what I was told by some authority figure. I was the good southern girl that was raised to never speak unless spoken to. Also, never under any circumstances was I to insert myself into adult conversations. I have always been respectful of my elders and for the most part, I have done what I was told. Don’t get me wrong, I have a bit of a rebellious streak and have acted out in my day. However, my idea of acting out is very tame compared to most. Whoever said “Good girls finish last” was right. I had a voice, but it was stifled most of my life. In fact when it came time for me to use it at work, I had forgotten what it sounded like, unless of course you made me angry. My angry voice went unheard also because nobody is listening when they are too busy running away. Oh, please don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry! It was Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno all over again. Don’t worry friends; I have made great strides in curving that anger and channeling it to a more productive place.
I have had periods in my life where I was unhappy just like everyone else, but one day in 2009 I woke up and was extremely unhappy. No matter what I did, I just could not shake the feeling. It seemed that the universe was against me and anything I did was wrong. This went on day after day, week after week and month after month. I was miserable at work and at home. Something had to suffer and I decided that it would be work. My desire to go to work every day changed drastically and when I was there I wanted to leave. I was absolutely miserable, but I am so much of a private person that I chose to suffer in silence. The misery manifested itself in other ways however. I started to have migraines and my attitude changed. I have never been good at faking anything, but I deserve an academy award for the performance I was able to put on at home. I refused to let my husband see how miserable I really was, especially since it had nothing to do with him. He has always been great, supporting my dreams and showing me love and respect. I knew how much he loved me but somehow something inside was broken.
That was a very bad year and a lot of things went wrong. I realized that I was depressed, but I refused to let it beat me. I made a point to play happy music and I must have watched every comedy movie on the planet. I needed to laugh and smile so I chose to surround myself with things that gave me a temporary reprieve from my sadness. It took a lot of soul searching, but I finally realized that I was the only one who could make me happy. I could not get it from my husband or a job or going back to school. I started reading books and losing myself in the wonderful imagination of the authors’ worlds. I read a book by one of my favorite basketball players, Lisa Leslie. In her book she states that she is successful because she makes goals for herself and she makes a plan on how she is going to get there. One of the main things she said was to be sure to write the goals down. Once they are in writing, it is easier to achieve them. This spoke to me. It was so simple, but yet soo effective. One day I was in a store looking at magazines and saw an interesting one called Law of Attraction. When I flipped through it was full of positive messages and activities and I had to have it. I read some of the articles and one described making a board that has all of my dreams and goals. Hey hadn’t I heard that before in Lisa Leslie’s book? Well what was I waiting for? I also read in the magazine that you bring things to you in the universe. If you are always negative or thinking about bad things, they will happen. Conversely, if you exude positivity it will come to you as well. This was what I instinctively did to rid myself of depression so I was very open to this concept. Now let me tell you, I grew up in a household that was full of negative energy so this was a very hard habit to break. I am still working on it, but I have promised myself that whenever I feel my dark side taking over, I will put positivity out into the world.
I have always had a passion for reading, but as I got older and work became stressful I turned away from it. My book collection is very diverse and I love to give books as gifts. Once I went back to reading, I realized that I was very passionate about books. I got my happy back reading! I realized that this was something that I wanted to do. I had written short stories in college and have always enjoyed English Lit. I have stories in my head that need to be told. In the past when I wrote poetry, I loved the reactions I received from people when I would read it to them. Somehow with all of these things shouting at me, I never thought that I could be a professional writer. I was too afraid to put pen to paper because I was afraid to succeed. I finally realized that the only way I could be happy was to kick that fear in the behind and start writing. The key was not to write for everyone else, but just for myself. Once I did that, confidence came and I decided to start this blog. I actually write to myself with the hopes that someone will read it and I will have an impact on them. One of my goals is to make a living as a writer so I will need to open up and expand my audience. If you are reading this please know that I value your opinions. I appreciate the fact that you took the time to read what I have to say. Also know that you are taking part of in my happiness and I thank you.