Tag Archives: happiness

Tie-Dye Bandana

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This summer I decided to teach myself the beautiful art of tie-dye!  I went all out buying several white shirts, several white bandanas, and even a cloth tote bag.  I was determined to make the most beautiful tie-dye creations that anyone had ever seen.  Now, let me preface by saying that I am quite OCD, so I wanted this tie-dye project to be absolutely perfect.  That was my first mistake.

The shirts actually turned out pretty good, however, the bandanas and the tote not so much.  Honestly, they looked pretty awful.  Yes, I was upset, but then I remembered that tie-dye isn’t about perfect; it’s about having fun and using color to express yourself.  Once I realized this the bandanas actually started to look halfway decent.  The tote still looked terrible, so I just trashed it! HAHA!  There were several spots on the bandana where I had put too much dye and it caused the colors to run together making either a black or brown muddy smudge.  Other places I didn’t put enough dye and they were very light and there were even some white spots where I had missed putting the dye all together.  I’m the type of person who always tries to see good out of every situation, and I also try to use each of those situations as a learning experience.

The bandana is kind of like my life.  Some spots were lightly covered with dye.  Those times in my life were the easy times.  School was great, my health was great, everything was going well.  Then there were other times, like the dark loaded down spots on the bandana, that were extremely difficult.  Losing my aunt Lisa (who was like a second mother to me) was one of  those times.  Unable to cope I decided to just take a few extra pain pills before the funeral, which eventually led to an even darker place in my life.  Those were the black spots on the bandana.  There was absolutely no light.  No good, and no positive in my life at that point.  However, I sought out help and the white spots on the bandana started to show up again.  I lost 135lbs, had finally beaten my depression (for the most part, and with the help of medication & therapy), had gained victory over my substance abuse, and was genuinely happy with my life.  I was no longer living in a fog, and I can honestly say that I’m extremely pleased with where I am now.  I’ve said before that if I had to go through all that again just to be where I am, I would.  I wouldn’t like it, but I would do it.

How does your bandana look?  Is it mostly dark?  Covered with light spots?  Regardless of how your bandana looks it’s still yours, and you shouldn’t just throw it away.  Life may absolutely bog you down with tough times, but they won’t last forever.  Life may also bless you with wonderful moments.  Sometimes you have to wait out the storm in order to see the rainbow 😉 (As cliché as that is!)

I challenge you to try and look at all the situations in your life as a learning experience.  Good or bad, try to find the “silver lining” and not just focus on the negative.  There’s bound to be some positive moments in there somewhere!

Running On Empty

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A few years ago I was driving home when my car died and I came to a rolling stop in the middle of the road.  Luckily, I was on a down hill slop so I coasted into an empty parking lot.  Not sure what was going on I looked around and then realized it had been several days since I had gotten gas.  Yes, my car had run out of gas.  I was one of “those people” who had allowed their car to run on empty and eventually deplete the required fuel in order to run properly.  I buried my head in my hands in shame and mentally beat myself up for being so stupid.  It was almost 11pm and I had to do something I really dreaded…call my dad.  I sat there for a few more minutes after finally picking up my phone and dialing home.  Dad came to my rescue with a gas can and a stern talking to about not ignoring the gas light.  Dad followed me home and I have never again allowed myself to run out of gas.

Sometimes, in life, we have these moments.  We are literally running on empty and eventually we just stop all together.  We sit, we cry, we beat ourselves up, but eventually we have to pick ourselves up and move forward.  It’s not always an easy thing to do, and we may dread it and even put it off for as long as possible.  However, if we stay where we stop then everything stops.  It’s okay to ask for help, and it’s even okay to let someone take the wheel for a short period, but don’t quit.

I had gotten to the point where I had given up.  I had quit and I didn’t care about continuing on.  After several years of some pretty rough substance abuse, and very severe depression, I had finally realized that I wasn’t going to get better on my own.  I had to ask for help, and I did.  I got the help I needed and I was finally able to move on.  There are still bumps in the road, and you may even run out of gas again later on, but just know that the possibility to move on is always an option.  I still pass gas stations and, out of habit, will check my gas tank indicator to make sure I’m not running on empty.  I know that, just because I fill up, it does mean my car will continue on forever.  I have to check it and stay on top of things to make sure I don’t end up in the same situation as before.  Our lives are the same way.  Don’t give up just because you run out of gas, or hit a bump in the road.  Keep going.  You’re not alone!

Cold Bottled Water

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I love watching “random acts of kindness” videos on YouTube, not only because it gives me ideas of things I can do, but because it actually restores my faith in humanity.  It reminds me that not everyone out there is a murderer, thief, rapist, etc.  When we turn on the news all we generally hear is bad stuff.  It’s so depressing, and I’ve learned that it’s not good for my mental well-being to spend my time watching the news.  I do have a news app on my phone that keeps me updated on the really important stuff, but that’s it.  The only time that I ever watch the news is to see the weather, and I have an app on my phone for that as well 😉

I love good news and random acts of kindness, so I try my best to be that person to actually do the acts of kindness.  If I can help one person, or make someones’ day then it’s definitely worth it!  You never know what someone is going through, and they may be fighting a battle that has them dangling by their final thread.  That person may be planning to go home and end their life, but your one small act of kindness may remind them that it’s not all bad.  There are still some people in the world who care.  So if you are feeling down today, or just haven’t heard it in a while, remember that I love you!  I care that you’re in the world, and if you’re reading my blog right now that means that you are somewhat a part of my life.

I challenge you to be that person who makes a difference in someones’ life.  It doesn’t have to be anything big and drastic.  Maybe just pay for someones’ meal at the drive-thru behind you, or give a few bottles of cold water to a construction crew during the summer.  Buy those packs of thank you cards (the ones that have like 20 in a pack) and write them out to the nurses at your local hospital.  Yes, there will be a lot, but the work they do is incredible and they don’t always get thanked for what they do.  I try my best to smile at people, make people laugh, give to someone in need, and send as many positive vibes to others as I can.  Being kind doesn’t cost a single cent, so why not share it?!  In the words of Ellen DeGeneres, “Be kind to one another!”

Late Introduction

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Hello there, and welcome to my blog (even though I’m a little late on this haha)!  I’m so glad you’ve decided to join me on my journey to finding happiness, and becoming physically and mentally healthier!  Let me tell you a little about myself.

I grew up in a small town in middle Tennessee, I have two sisters, and I’m the glorious middle child!  My parents are both teachers and I graduated from high school in 2008.  I’m a gay Buddhist who loves to learn, and I currently work as a 911 Operator/Emergency dispatcher for two counties.  I attended college for a few years at the University of Memphis before moving back home and changing my major from vocal music performance to psychology.  I now attend part time online/night classes at Motlow State.

I’ve always struggled with depression, but it wasn’t until June 16, 2012 (after a very serious bout of depression and substance abuse) that I finally decided I needed professional help.  I checked myself into a rehab facility at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital for ten days and came out a new person!  Since then I have turned my life around tremendously!  For the first time in a VERY long time I actually enjoy waking up every day, and even wake up early to take in as many minutes as possible during the day.  I cannot tell you how happy I am to be alive and free of all substance that used to bog me down.  I’ve learned to face my problems, learn from them, and help teach others not to make the same mistakes.  I’ve since lost 135lbs, been promoted at work, saved SOOOO much more money, and improved so much compared to the person I was.  Plus I smile…a lot! 🙂

I decided to start a blog not only as a way to journal my thoughts and feelings, but to also help others who may be suffering.  I’ve learned to focus on the good things in life rather than the bad things, but I don’t ignore them completely.  I wake up every day, make my bed, and typically start my day with some yoga, a light breakfast, and some coffee.  I spend this time thinking of things that make me happy, and I also try to center my mind for the day to make sure I get started off on the right foot. My day may consist of many things: working, hiking, camping, swimming, kayaking, walking, dancing, singing, cleaning, etc. but I always do them the best I can, and I make sure I enjoy every minute.  You must be an active participant in your own recovery.  Let me repeat, you MUST BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN YOUR OWN RECOVERY AND MENTAL HEALTH.  You cannot just sit by and expect to get better.  Yes, you may be on medication (as I am; a basic depression pill), but you still have to play a lead role in getting better.  Medication can only do so much, and it’s not a fix.  There are still days when I struggle, but those days just remind me that there is still work that needs to be done.

Now that all that is out of the way, I look forward to having you take this journey with me!  Please, feel free to ask questions, leave comments, and share my blog entries.  I want to help others so if you feel that someone you know could benefit from a post or something I’ve said, I won’t mind a bit for you to share it with them.  We are all brothers and sisters of the same species in this amazing universe that we live in!  I’m here for you! 🙂

Laughing Loudly

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I once read that by making yourself smile and/or laugh you actually lift your mood.  Whether it’s a genuine, real smile or a completely forced one, it doesn’t matter.  Whenever you smile it sends a message to your brain that says, “Hey!  I’m smiling, there must be something good going on.  Let’s party!”  Plus, it often makes you feel a little silly which normally causes you to laugh…at yourself! 🙂

I’m Buddhist and I love watching videos of the Dalai Lama, whether it’s an interview, or just a biography type documentary.  He is always smiling and laughing, and while watching the video I often find myself smiling as well.  His happiness just radiates and it’s incredibly contagious!  Don’t believe me, just click HERE!  You can also click HERE to check out a hilarious video of babies laughing!  There’s just something about watching people laugh that just cracks me up.  It’s also very rewarding to make someone else laugh.  I often tell little corny jokes throughout the day in order to brighten someones day, and it’s so much fun.

It seems I’m always challenging people to do something that makes their lives just a little bit happier so here you go:  I challenge you to find something to laugh about or smile about every day, preferably several times during the day.  Try smiling at someone in order to pass that smile onto them, which will inevitably move onto someone else.  You never know what someone is going through, and maybe they need a smile.  They are incredible gifts that are free to give so feel free to give as many away as possible!  You will definitely make someones day just a little bit better.

Yoga in the Woods

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There are few things that I enjoy more than being in the woods. Out in nature, the wind on my face, the smell of plants filling my lungs, the feel and sound of limbs and leaves crunching under my feet. It gives me such peace and truly makes me feel one with the universe. I feel such happiness and even writing about it now slows my heart rate and reminds me to take a deep breath. However, I’ve recently discovered something even better than just walking in the woods…yoga in the woods. I’ve never really been a big yoga person, but lately I’ve been doing much more of it.

About two months ago I injured myself pretty badly while working out so I was forced to cease almost all physical activity for almost four weeks. I started physical therapy at that point and the first thing they had me do was stretch. It hurt, a lot, but I knew I had to do it in order to wake up the muscles that I had not been using and begin the healing process. During this course of bodily torture I realized that the stretching exercises (most of which were your basic, and even some complex, yoga moves) actually calmed my nerves, made me less anxious, relieved pain, steadied my breathing, chased away some of the depression I had been feeling, and helped to elevate my over all attitude. For this reason I began making my appointments for the morning time because it always seemed to make the rest of my day go much smoother after I had completed my physical therapy. As my physical therapy continued I started to incorporate my stretches into my morning routine at home. I’m not really sure why, as I don’t know the science behind it, and it may be mostly a mind trick, but it has really made a difference. During this process I had noticed that my depression was slowly creeping back in and I knew I had to do something. I was sitting a home last week, and as I’ve finally gotten to the point that I can walk without too much of a limp, and I can put my full weight on my foot and back, I decided to go for a hike. As I slowly and carefully walked through the woods my mind began to slip back into that comfortable and welcome place of peace and stillness. I stopped, put down my backpack, closed my eyes, and breathed. Deeply. It was incredible. Being back in the place I love after almost two months of being confined to the house and my work, truly brightened my day and calmed my entire body. I started to stretch, not even realizing I was doing it, and before I knew it I was doing yoga. Right there in the woods. I took off my shoes and my bare feet gently meshed with the ground and leaves. My muscles welcomed the stretches and my lungs were grateful for the fresh air.  I think I did this for about 30 minutes, although I had honestly lost track of time probably five minutes in so I’m not really sure. When I finished my hike and made it back to the house my mind was in a state that it had not been in a long time…complete ecstasy. I was somewhat emotional, happy, energetic, peaceful, calm, and there was not a single thing that could’ve ruined my day. 

I’ve only done this twice so far, but I will definitely continue. It just goes to show that happiness can be found in the most basic of places. I didn’t spend a single dollar, I didn’t travel to some foreign country. I was simply there, about a mile from my home, in the woods with my bare feet on the ground. That is where I found happiness. That is where I began to breathe again.

Doing Nothing

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I love doing nothing and I love to hike.  I try my best to do it on a regular basis because it’s one of those things that literally rejuvenates my soul.  There’s something about getting out in nature and just being with the beautiful world around you to make you feel connected to the earth.  I often joke when people ask what I enjoy doing on my days off from work because my reply is sometimes, “Absolutely nothing.”  It’s not that I have a boring life, nor am I lazy, but I generally find it refreshing to do nothing…and to do it as much as possible.

My take on doing nothing means to stop what you generally do and just enjoy the emptiness that surrounds you.  My place to do that is in the woods.  The morning of my hike I wake up, enjoy a cup of coffee, load my supplies in my Subaru and take off.  If the weather is nice then I roll down the windows and blast some music.  When I arrive at my destination I unload my pack and make my way to the trail.  This is the point where I will pause at the head of the trail, turn my cell phone on airplane mode (because I still use my camera so I don’t turn my phone off) and take a deep breath.  It’s quiet.  The birds are chirping, the breeze is blowing in my face, the sun is warm on my skin and I stand there doing absolutely nothing.  I live for this moment.  I bask in it.  I listen.  I breathe.  I live.

During my hike I allow my eyes to wander, I allow my ears to explore and I permit every smell (the good and the bad) to invade my nostrils and remind me of what nature has to offer.  My body is operating on a basic level doing nothing, but the few things it takes to survive.  I’m breathing, walking, looking, smelling and feeling.  That’s pretty much it.  There is no cell phone to distract me, no TV to cloud my brain and eyes with countless pointless advertisements for things I don’t need and there is nothing to keep me from enjoying every single second.  Generally I dislike the rain, but hiking is the rain makes me feel so alive.  The water running down my face, being exposed to every drop.  It’s breathtaking.

I challenge you to do nothing.  Literally, do nothing at some point this week.  Just sit back, relax and enjoy the quiet and emptiness around you.  You’ll be amazed at how happy doing nothing can make you!

Crazy Dancing

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There are many things I do on a regular basis if I’m feeling down.  Random dancing is one of those things.  And by random I mean crank the music up and just go to town!  I know I’m doing it correctly if I start laughing at myself.  I spin, I jump, I throw in some dance moves that even Michael Jackson wouldn’t attempt and I just have fun.  Plus, it ends up being a nice little workout.

Some people would ask why I do this.  It’s silly, yes, but it makes me happy.  For just a moment I’m able to have fun and be a kid again.  I am able to laugh and forget that I have bills to pay, deadlines coming up and tests to study for.  It’s the small things, like random dancing, that remind me that it’s okay to act crazy and to have fun while doing it.  As adults we spend our lives doing grownup stuff and it often wears us down.  When I go hiking, traveling, dancing, etc. I am able to get away from all of that.  Those things rebuild by spirit and mend my soul.

I work as a 911 Operator for two different counties.  Full time day shift at one and part-time night shift at the other so there are some weeks when I am just exhausted.  I come home after a long, stressful 12 hour shift and all I want to do is sleep, however, I still make time for crazy dancing and other things that bring me happiness.  People who suffer from depression often get into the rut of feeling down, lonely or tired so we forget about the things that once made us happy.  All this does is start the downward spiral that eventually ends with us curled into a fetal position under our covers crying like a baby for no apparent reason.  I’ve said it before and will say it again, in order to defeat depression you must become a daily active participant in your recovery.  Yes, we may be tired at the end of the day, but a 10 minute walk isn’t going to hurt.

I’d like to challenge everyone who reads this (whether or not you suffer from depression) to take at least two days this week and do something you enjoy.  I don’t care if it’s petting your dog on the couch or going white water rafting.  Do something that brings you joy and makes you smile.  And if you can’t think of anything, do some crazy dancing!  You’ll be amazed at how it might just raise your spirits 😉

My Search for Happiness

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How does one define happiness?  Is it something we can see, smell, hear, touch, give away, steal, find or maybe even create?  Why is it that happiness for one person is not the same happiness for someone else?  Is true happiness only available in the form of a pill or can real happiness be found within ourselves?  Buddhist monks, for centuries, have probably been some of the happiest people in the world, yet they have remarkable little material belongings.  They don’t need “things” to bring about happiness, so how do they do it?

I have suffered from depression for years which eventually led me down a scary and rocky path of drug addiction, unsafe sex, alcoholism and a very well needed stay in a psychiatric hospital and rehab facility.  Since then I have focused on eastern medicine, and hopefully finding happiness without using a pill at some point.  Going on hikes, traveling, watching the sunset, walking barefoot through dew-covered grass early in the morning, dancing in the rain, cooking, kayaking, skinny dipping, learning to laugh, playing with puppies…you know, all that stuff that is supposed to make people happy.  Those are the things that I focus on now.  Even now, there are still days when I have to pry myself out of the bed, but I know that it’s the healthiest thing for me to do.  I refuse to allow even one day to pass without allowing myself to fully enjoy every moment.  Yes, there will be bad days, but I know that a storm doesn’t last forever!  The thing with battling depression is that you must be an active participant in your recovery.  You must pursue happiness and some days you have to use every bit of strength  you have to make yourself do at least one thing to make you happy.

It’s not an easy journey, but so far it’s been a fun one!  Since June 16th 2012 I have overcome by addiction to prescription medication, beat the urge to abuse alcohol, lost 135lbs and have now become a much healthier person…physically, mentally and spiritually!  I want to prove to people that it’s possible to be truly happy in an age when most people are incredibly miserable.

I invite you to take this journey with me!  I won’t post every day and there will be times when I may even bore you to death,  but I promise to share my story and to share my expeditions with anyone who will listen!  I’ve started blogs before in the past and told myself I would post at least three times a week, yet I always fail to do so then I just give up all together.  This time will be different, for I won’t actually set a goal, but will simply write when I can.

So here I go on my search for happiness…join me?? 🙂