If I have learned any lessons in my life, the one I have really held on to has been this:
You need to be happy in life.
The last four years have certainly cemented this lesson into my brain. Life is too short to settle for something that makes you unhappy. And life is too short, and important, to worry about what others might think about your happiness.
The handful of you who might still read this blog have known me for a while. Heck, this blog was started 11 years ago, and I have been blogging for 14 years. You know I am easily amused, I am very emotional, I love colour and magical whimsical things. It’s almost impossible for me to hide that I am amused by something.
It’s who I am.
I have my dark, negative moments. But in public? Around people? At work? I am bubbles. I joke. I emote. I can be loud, I can be snarky. But I love to make people happy. That makes me happy.
After my trauma thing, I started surrounding myself with colour. My cubicle at work had a space cleared, and christened “My Happy Place”.
The little plushies, and figurines I had in that space were a rainbow of colour and happiness. I needed it. The office itself was all grey, black, and white. Besides my wardrobe and hair, nothing much else was colourful. Everything around me seemed dark. And that was difficult to work with.
I started filling my house with colour. My craft room was created. It’s full of things that make me happy.
For years my favourite colour has been purple. I have always hated the colours orange and yellow. And then I noticed I kept migrating towards things that were bright, and sunshiny. I would pick yellow over another colour when I would pick up an article of clothing. What? But it was a happy feeling that came over me as I looked at all the colours.
When I am not passionate about something, or not happy, I wilt. I fizzle out. And finally, I knew I needed to change something. So I took that scary step and quit my job.
Living a happy life isn’t a life of easy decisions. It’s extremely not easy to quit a stable, secure job and venture off into the unknown. I was certain I was crazy and having some sort of breakdown.
At my current job? Happiness is surround sound. I love what I am doing, where I work, and the people I spend my days with. I love all the new books, and products, and kids things. Someone commented one day, “you really enjoy everything about life, don’t you?” when I was super happy about a kid’s sunhat that we received. (And I wore. And then I bought. Because I am me.)
And it made me think.
Yes. Yes I do enjoy everything about my life. Not that I enjoy everything IN my life. There are frustrations, and there is sadness, and there are many things that are not enjoyable. But I do make sure to enjoy things about my life. I enjoy finding JOY around me. I enjoy joy. I enjoy celebrating what makes me happy.
And this? Even when things are doom and gloom, means that in a little way I always have a piece of sunshine with me because I can find joy in little things. Small things. Big things.
I am enchanted by kid’s novels, and toys, and items.
I am surrounded by love of family, and truly amazing friends.
Spending time with those people makes me so happy I feel like my heart might burst.
I enjoy being in love with my husband. And spending time together making each other laugh. We laugh a lot.
I love to laugh.
I love things that make me laugh.
I enjoy silly things. I enjoy strange things. I enjoy simple things.
I enjoy putting things on my head. That’s been something I’ve done since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Bows, hats, bags, ears, you name it. I like it on my head.
I enjoy sparkly shoes, and sparkly sunglasses. Heck, if it’s got glitter in any way, I will have to own it.
I love watching my animals do silly, and strange things.
It’s not easy to find something to make you happy every day, but I make sure I do. I don’t try, I just leave myself open to it. I am sacrificing things like financial security (in a way), and a full-time job with tons of vacation, so I can be truly 100% happy in a job I chose, instead of a job I was only settling for.
Sometimes you have to change things up, make scary decisions, and hold your breath while you jump into the unknown because you know that you need to be happy. If you’re not happy, then you’re not really going to be living your life. You’re mostly just going to ride along as a passenger. And that’s not the best thing for everyone. When you’re happy, others will be happy around you. It’s contagious.
But it’s not easy. It’s scary. But I think it’s worth every second of fear of the unknown (trust me, years of panic attacks and anxiety have kept me from so many decisions that I would have preferred to have made). I did this. I chose happiness. I chose to live a life that makes ME happy. This from a girl whose parents were convinced would never move out of her bedroom in their house.
I am happy. Being happy can require courage to choose that happiness. Find your courage, find your happiness. Don’t worry if people don’t get it. Many think I am insane to have left the job I left and chose to work in retail. Many think it’s a step backwards, and not an important job like the one I left. Pffft. Jobs are jobs. Why work in one you aren’t enjoying because people think it’s important? No thank you. That’s not for me.
I am happy where I am right now. I am happy with who I am again. I love making other people happy. Happy, happy, happy. Life.
Hey, you know what? It’s the 27th of March today. And, like, I knew it was the 27th of March today because I know I’m working on the 27th, but I didn’t realize it was MARCH 27.
As in traumaversary March 27th. (Warning: not a happy post in that link.)
As in PTSD issues March 27th.
Until I thought of the date and then did a mental double-take when I realized what day it was.
Normally I am hyper-aware of when this date is about to arrive. I have many sleepless nights, nightmares when I DO sleep, random panic attacks, and more leading up to the end of March. It’s been the norm for the past 3 years.
And yet, I really have not thought about this at all. And today, when I realized what day it was… I have had no reaction.
Maybe tonight, now that I am thinking about it (but not obsessively thinking about it!) I might have a nightmare or something. But to be honest, I feel so calm, and NORMAL that I don’t feel like that will happen at all.
Because I removed myself from so much that reminded me of the trauma. I am no longer downtown. I am no longer walking to the office I was walking to when it happened. I am in a job that keeps my brain busy, my body busy, and my mood HAPPY. So, so happy.
The trauma was always in the back of my mind for so long. Even outside of the last week of March. It was always there. I was always looking up. I’m still very cautious about my surroundings, but I’m not thinking about being cautious all the time. I know it’s become part of my every day routine and reactions, but I am not thinking about WHY.
Because this job has healed so much of what was broken within me. This job has brought me back so much joy. And I no longer feel lost. I no longer feel like I don’t know who I am anymore.
I have found myself again, and it’s not all because of working at the bookstore, but that’s been a huge part of the reason. Quitting my job, starting back in retail (books!), was such a terrifying change to make, but the more I think about it, the more I confirm that this was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Because today is March 27, and I am not afraid of it.
Woah. Hey, there internet! How have you been? Long time no speak. Goodness. It wasn’t my intention to vanish into thin air for two full months. Yikes. Unlike the past few blog-lags, this time wasn’t due to any sort of sadness/depression/anxiety. I was away mostly because I am busy all the time, and offline much more than I used to be. (Granted, it doesn’t seem that way if you look at my Instagram feed, but you don’t have to browse the net in order to post photos on it!)
So, what’s new?
My job: still loving every second of it. To the point that I was sad I could not work two days one week because I had a fever with my horrible head cold. As of starting to write this post, I still can’t taste anything. Or breathe through my nose. Ugh. I do love working part-time, though financially full-time is what I need to be doing. I didn’t realize how much I missed shift work. I like having time during different parts of the day to do stuff. I especially love having mornings free to wake up, lounge about, and get stuff done. I have worked on a few events with the Kid’s team at work and those events made me SO happy.
Me: I turned 41 in January. I didn’t even blog about it. WHAT?! But it’s true. I am a little annoyed at myself for not posting something because I know I will eventually look back on my blog to find the post I didn’t write. But… I have cautious optimism about my 40s. I celebrated my birthday at a trampoline park with some of my best friends and their families. That was so much fun! I feel like I have my life together on an upswing. The changes I have made in my life in the last year have been for the better and are making me ME again. And happy. And healthy(er). (Ignoring the cold I got from playing with children. heh) If anything, I now want to do TOO much, I have all this energy that I want to channel into so many things – crafting, exercising, reading, cleaning, working. I need to find a decent balance so I can do all of the things I want to do and still have time to regenerate. I am anxious for the warmer weather so I can open up the windows and sit outside on my deck swing again.
FLOOFS: In February the humans in this house officially became outnumbered by the furry, four-legged creatures who live with us. We were adopted by a cat. It’s a long story, but the short version is: Yoshi loved her, he protected her when she was being sexually assaulted by a feral tom cat, and one day she just followed Yoshi into the house when I let the dogs in. She’s been with us for 3 1/2 weeks now, and she’s wonderful. Welcome, Abigail. We now live in a FLOOFmenagerie.
So, I’m here. I’m happy. I’m busy. And I need to remember to blog more!
This was going to be a Seven Things on a Sunday post, but I have been so out of it with this flu that if I am not working, I am sleeping. So I am starting over with my random thoughts.
Turns out Yoshi’s unconditional love has conditions. Well, at least one condition. Yoshi does not like when I cough. Not at all. The entire time I have been sick (since Dec. 27 and counting), Yoshi has stayed as far away from me as he can. He sleeps in another room at night. He doesn’t make eye contact. He hides when I cough. He does NOT like when I make face noises. It’s been rather lonely at night, as I am used to him using me as a pillow while he sleeps. It’s also sort of depressing because he won’t snuggle with me anymore. I hope this stupid flu goes away soon. I miss my floofy shadow.
Also, Yoshi cries when you groom him. Especially the closer you get to his bottom. Just try and brush those pantaloons on him and he’ll yelp and whine like you’re abusing him. He’s pretty, but my goodness is he the biggest baby of a dog we have ever had. And this includes Jinx who was so sensitive to everything that if you swore, or raised your voice, he’d slink away upstairs and hide.
Yoshi turned 5 on January 1st. My New Year’s BABY bearDog.
I have an immense love for English muffins. I don’t know why they make me so happy, but they do. They are delicious and I am thankful that someone thought to create such a wonderous food product.
It is an amazing feeling to be excited about reading once more. It’s been way too long. I’ve already finished 8 books so far this month alone. I’m on a reading binge. I see books people are buying at work and I am desperate to read them ALL. I have books taken out of the library, and I just partook of a sale at work and bought five more books on the weekend. I am going through these babies like hotcakes. Mmmm. Hotcakes.
My second-to-last course in the Ryerson Publishing program (I have been slowly making my way though) starts on Monday. It’s Publicity for Book Publishers. I am excited about this course because my original dream goal from this diploma was to work in publicity for children’s books. Though I am rethinking this now only because I have realized just how much I love selling books to people. I could work for one publisher and publicize their children’s lit to the world (which, would be amazing. And I know which Publishing house I want to work in if that ever becomes a reality), but ultimately, I think I want to stick to bookstores when it comes to working with books. I can recommend and sell so many wonderful titles, and not stick to one publishing house all the time. I have a lot to think about. Meanwhile, I am simply going to continue to love every freaking second of my job and sharing my love of books with other people. (I’m a huge pusher of Canadian authors in the kid’s lit genre. So I’m happily tossing books from authors whom I adore at customers. GO CANADA!)
I can’t believe my time in the Publishing program is almost over. It was – at the time – the scariest decision I made to go back to school after 17 years and see if I could change career paths. I didn’t mean for the diploma to take so long to finish (5 years, yo), but life, and trauma, and more life, happened and made this a slow process. Even though my original goal has changed, I knew I wanted to finish the program and register to graduate from it because it’s been quite the ride. After this winter’s course, I have one 6-week course left. And then…done. I’m sort of bewildered by this. I didn’t think I could do this, and I was worried I’d have to give it up because of those little set-backs. Though I took one year off, so I am going to be finishing this a year later than I thought I would. I am proud of myself for having been able to stick to it through everything that happened.
I am finally getting my voice back since losing it December 27. You have no idea how horrible it has been for me to not be able to SING for the past 2 weeks. No singing in the shower! No singing in the car! No singing around the house! And feeling way guilty about not being able to approach customers at work and ask if they need help. Gah! I am, like, the original Chatty Cathy! Not having a voice is hard. And this has been one doozy of a flu. I am actually thankful that I am working part time right now because I can SLEEP as much as I need to and my shifts have been shorter so it’s a nice way to get me out of the house, but still. I want this to be over. No more coughing! No more sleeping all day! MORE voice!
And I suppose that’s it for now. Blogging more is something I want to do this year. Since I’ll have slightly more free time than I did while working full-time, I am hoping it’s something I will be able to continue to do!
The Rest of Us Just Live Here
by Patrick Ness
What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?
What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.
Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.
Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions. (goodreads.com)
I am going to try my best to blog about the books I read this year. I miss writing about books. My course last semester on Editing for Children and Teen books, and my being back at the bookstore has made me excited for reading once more. I might not write about every book I read (and here’s hoping I read MANY in 2017!) but I want to write about those that I enjoyed.
I like starting off the year with a book that makes me happy. And I like starting the year by reading – and finishing – a book. Makes me feel all accomplished (and is a lovely way to relax!)
The Rest of Us Just Live Here is an interesting sort of book. I discovered it while showing a customer something else at work. It was on the staff pick wall and something about it hooked me. I bought it before the store closed that day because I knew I NEEDED to read it on my day off the next day. In fact, I started it New Year’s Eve, but I am pretty much dead from this flu so I didn’t manage to finish it before I needed to go to bed.
I am writing about this story because I keep thinking about it. First of all, my instinct that I needed to read this book was spot on. I devoured it. I liked it a lot. But parts also bothered me. See, the book is sort of a weird mix of YA urban fantasy and a contemporary issues (mental illness) novel. The story is about those kids who aren’t the chosen ones. The bystanders in a story about Chosen One Teens who battle and save the world from apocalypses. There is very little reference to those Chosen Ones (called “indie kids” in this book) though. The story, to me, was more about teens who had regular issues just trying to cope with life.
Mike, for instance, the protagonist has OCD, and his older sister is recovering from an eating disorder. Their father is an alcoholic and more-or-less checked out of life and family, but still living with them because their over-achieving, running for political office, mother doesn’t want to ruin the perfect family vibe. There’s a very poignant scene between Mike and his therapist towards the end of the book that made anxiety/OCD/mental illness very real, and raw. I loved the way the author describes the struggle with accepting medication to help calm anxiety and see it as a failure to be ok on your own. There are comparisons between medical and “accepted” illnesses (like diabetes, or cancer) and those not being seen as failure.
So as a story about teens dealing with Real Life things, and mental illness awareness, this was a rather good book.
Where the book lacks, in my opinion, is within the idea of it being about the kids who aren’t the paranormal saviours. Sure each chapter starts off with a paragraph about what’s going on with the Indie kids (who all have those fancy, weird names that characters in paranormal novels tend to have. I was rather amused by the five or so kids who had the name Finn. That does seem to be a popular name in those types of books. I always refer to those strange names as Soap Opera Names.) but once that little summarized Indie Kids storyline is over, it’s back to Mike and his gang of friends. His best friend, Jasper, happens to be one quarter God of cats (long story), but refuses to be an Indie kid. Other than that, and the occasional news of the death of one of the Indie kids (as they fight the impending apocalypse that we don’t really know anything about), and the random explosion of an auditorium, and the school – we don’t really have much bystander reaction to whatever else is going on that’s paranormal and/or The End of The World. I’d have liked a little more interaction between the indies and the normal kids who just want their school to not blow up before graduation.
The other part of the story that stuck out to me was Mike’s interaction with the new guy, Nathan. Mike takes an instant dislike to Nathan as he only transferred to the school six weeks before graduation and seems awfully suspicious. Much of Mike’s dislike for Nathan has to do with jealousy as the girl he’s mooned over since the dawn of time, Henna (Finnish, not an Indie Kid name!), has feelings for Nathan. But from Mike’s point of view, Nathan does seem suspicious, and could possibly be the reason for whatever battle the Chosen One kids are battling. Mike is a pretty unreliable narrator at this point and I did have to keep guessing what Nathan’s deal was. Turns out I was off by a long shot, and even though Mike’s friends are annoyed with him for always suspecting the new guy who has suddenly joined their group, I have to say I’m Team Mike on this. In a small town, where all these strange paranormal things keep happening, a new person who smoothly sails in at the same time everything (“everything” they claim is going on, of which we don’t really know about) is going on, can be a rather suspicious deal. I get where Mike’s paranoia comes from 100%. I don’t think his friends were very fair to him about his reaction because it made sense to me.
I love that my instinct about this book was on point. As a novel about mental illness and dealing with teenage issues, I think this story stood out to me. I wish the actual part about how the normal kids just want to get on with their lives and not have to worry about all the paranormal apocalyptic stuff going on was a little more present in the story though. It was certainly a very interesting way to tell a paranormal story in a short, summarized paragraph per chapter, but I wish there could have been more obvious signs that stuff was happening around the normal kids.
I am content with the first book I have read in 2017. It made me feel. It made me think. It was enjoyable to read. And I have a feeling that my bookstore job might bankrupt me. 😉