What IS Happiness?

I have struggled with this question for most of my adult life. What does it really mean to be happy? Is anyone truly happy? Or are we just content? Is happiness a permanent state of mind or is it something that happens in little spurts?

I am not unhappy but I am also not happy. I know that makes zero sense. I am happy right now with my life; however, I am always looking for that “something more.” Maybe it’s just my personality– but I find that things and places get old for me fast.

 I am always looking for the next big adventure, meeting new people, stardownloadting a new hobby and of course, being a life long learner. And all while I am chasing this idea of happiness- I am also craving stability and normalcy. I am seeking happiness in just being content with myself and my life. 

I often find myself jealous of people who seem content in their lives. Married, with a family in a little home and jobs they love. What is that like? But then I have to question– are they really happy?

What defines happiness?

Money? Love? A home? A job? Marriage? or is happiness something much more? Do we trick ourselves into believing that happiness are all the things we are supposed to have and want in life? Or is happiness just something we occasionally experience? Is true happiness deeper or spiritual? 

And is anyone really happy?

The Wheel Turned

We made it a year. A whole year in Flagstaff. A year ago today, I left behind the only life I ever knew. My home for 33 years. My friends, my job, my troupe, my dance career. We packed up everything in 2 weeks and were on the road to our new home in Arizona. We had no furniture and whatever belongings fit into our small U-Haul. We had no idea what are our apartment looked like or our neighborhood. Everything happened so fast.

And it was no an easy road. People always say, “I just want to move somewhere and start over.” Its nice to say but harder than people think. The first 6 months were hell. I was depressed beyond reason. I already have clinical depression, but adding the move on top of everything — it was like a dark fog enveloping me. At one point it was so bad I ended up in the E.R. I felt lost.

I recently read in a book that you can visit places-stay in a hotel-move to a new home-and it will feel empty. It feels empty until your energy is mingled with the new place. It took a year for my  energy to mingle.

And here I am. A year later. And I love my new life. We both have great jobs, friends, and an amazing life.

 

Wounded Warriors & False Prophets

**WARNING** contains explicit language!

I have been holding off writing this post for sometime because I know it will probably piss some people off.

I am writing this after I read an article of a man who wanted to do yoga on plane. He was trying to meditate and do yoga in the back of the plane, instead of sitting in his seat.  When his wife and flight attendants told him to go back to his seat, he went ape shit and eventually got arrested and escorted off the plane. So meditation and yoga which are supposed to keep you calm and centered, somehow brings the FBI on the plane to arrest your ass? Which brings me to the point of this blog post.

I have met and witnessed WAY to many “wannabe” crunchy granola folk–you know the kind I am talking about…..The kind that always talks about connecting to the earth, touching souls, realizing their genuine nature and spreading love to everyone around…..But some of these folks are pretty fucking angry people! On more than one occasion I have met these types….yoga teachers, spiritual advisers, healers…who while preaching peace and love, have a double sided personality that does not fit into the mold of their practice.

I have met people who think they are “gurus” and “prophets”–spreading some false sense of love and peace to their community while harboring some pretty nasty anger issues that periodically come out when they don’t get their way. The people who pretend they are community based spiritual people trying to make the world a better place, but getting pissed off at everything and everybody when they are not in their faux-environment. And I have mentioned money? Yeah. The “I am so gifted that I will give you advise on how to be like me if you pay me; even though I am supposed to be your friend and should help you out for free.”……..What the fuck????

I consider myself a very spiritual person. I am very dedicated to my spiritual path and have been so since I was 13 years old.  And while I am spiritual I keep my feet grounded to the earth. This in turn makes me sometimes I little blunt in my words, a little tough, and a little bit like a spiritual Amazonian woman. There is something that I have learned along the way and its not always something that people on a spiritual path want to discuss.

You cant be spiritual if you cant handle your own shit.

What does that mean? It means you cant talk about loving yourself, others, your community if you are not able to handle your anger, your sadness, your fears, your loss. A false pretense is not genuine. Pretending to be a earthbound spiritual light for the world to envy while on the flip side being a dick, is not good in the practice of spirituality. Building and hiding behind fake walls of peace, love, purity and community because its easier to be that person. Rather than actually being in both your own personal world (being grounded) and the world you have created is not genuine. It is indeed fake.

The most genuine oleo I meet in this crunchy happy peace loving community are the wounded warriors. The spiritual people who have been through some pretty hard shit – stay grounded in reality– but realize that there is so much more beauty in life. The ones that can walk through the darkness blindfolded and naked-and enter the light with pure grace. They are usually the ones who are outspoken, fearless and don’t feel the need to hide behind pretty sounding words to give the air that they are enlightened beings. Spiritual people keeping it real.

Now that’s genuine.

Breaking The Silent Darkness

As most of you know, I am very open about my anxiety and depression. I don’t feel a need to hide the fact that I am on medication nor that I have days when the darkness is so thick I feel like I am going to suffocate. Yet, with all that said, I still struggle to tell certain people. Especially employers and co-workers.

I have major anxiety. Sometimes its so crippling I cant even leave the house. Yes, its much better controlled now. I have been in regular therapy since 2009 to teach myself new ways to think and break recycled thoughts; and medication have made it much easier to deal…but it doesn’t completely take it away. The thing that is hard for people to understand is that I do not always have a trigger. Sometimes, I just wake up feeling anxious—like the floor is going to fall out from underneath me. But I do have triggers.

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And one of those triggers is driving. I hate driving. I didn’t get my license until I was 21 because I hate the idea of getting in a car and driving. To this day I still struggle to drive on highways. I avoid it as much as I can. That coupled with social anxiety makes it worse. My dog helps with that…he is a good icebreaker. But I cant take my dog everywhere. So the idea of driving to a place I do not know AND seeing people I do not know…causes a panic attacks like an erupting volcano!

Hearing myself think these thoughts I often think I must sound like the most pathetic creature on the face of the earth. I am 34 and afraid to drive? I am 34 and cant even leave the town I live in? I had to, tell my boss this after she asked me to drive two and half hours to a town in a state that I just moved in. I was panicked. I told her I couldn’t because, truthfully, we have one car and I pick up my partner from work…..so a 5 hour drive plus time at the other office would make it impossible to circumnavigate schedules. But, I really wanted to  tell her the immediate truth….I have anxiety—and driving alone for 5 hours to a place I don’t even know—that triggered anxiety which triggered panic attacks. That weekend I tried really hard to tell myself how irrational I was being…But my brain didn’t care what I thought–it was on a loop of fight or flight. I even tried to get up enough courage to drive 45 minutes to a neighboring town that I have been before—and I started to go but then I got a wave of panic and had to turn around. Its paralyzing. Anxiety is paralyzing. Naturally this triggered even more “oh my Gods what if’s….” and my brain got my body so worked up I couldn’t leave the house the rest of the day.

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Finally I decided I needed to be truthful with my boss. She knew about my depression…and some of my anxiety…but not all of it. So I wrote her an email and explained what I feel, what my anxiety is like…and how I feel stupid I felt even having to admit these things. I was horrified of what the response maybe. I thought for sure, I was going to get in trouble–that she would think it was just an excuse or a cop out.

But no. It was the complete opposite. She completely understood. And even admitted that she has anxiety issues! I felt a huge weight come off me! It felt good! And I wasn’t judged….(so take that brain!). I had a new found respect for my boss after that to. She understood what I was going through….and that made a huge difference!

Sometimes, with depression, anxiety, or anything other mental illness…..you are so afraid that you will be judged by others–or that they will think you are just making up excuses. But in truth, despite how scary or nerve wracking–its best to lay out the cards. Tell it like it is and regardless, always hold your head up. Sometimes when you think you are alone—you really are not!

Let’s Get P.C. on MENTAL ILLNESS!

When is society going to start getting politically correct when it comes to mental illness? When are words like “crazy,” “nutter,” “looney ” going to become just as offensive and disgusting to use as the words nigger and fag? When someone utters those words everyone stops and stares–it defines that persons way of thinking. But when someone refers to a person with a mental illness as a “looney” no one even bats and eye. As a friend said, “its much more acceptable to be an alcoholic than mentally ill.”

We have a friend who is a paranoid schizophrenic. He refuses to get real help, even though several people have talked to him about it. And yes, sometimes he is a bit much. He has rants and conspiracies–talks to otherworldly beings etc. (and as a Shamanic practitioner–I do not doubt that he does!). His reality–what he sees — is not our definition of reality. His reality is defined by his illness. The schizophrenic mind does not agree with reality. It is a psychosis. And, he cant help that. He is a good person with a good heart who is very intelligent. He cant help having a mental illness. No one knows what deck of cards they are going to be handed when they are born into this life.

Yes his behavior can be erratic and yes you do have to constantly redirect him during conversation. But he is not a bad person. He recently has been kicked out of a cafe for his rants, and has had altercations with other folks. In the past, he has had the shit kicked out him from police and people in society who don’t understand the simple fact he is sick. I am not saying that he should get away with every little thing–and that his behavior is always justified. But he is ill. His angry outbursts are not out of malicious intent; he can not help what is brain does. Outbursts and angry rants are par for the course. Its part of the illness which is schizophrenia. And like cancer or any other physical illness, schizophrenia varies from person to person.

What upsets me, is the reaction people have about him. Not compassion. Not empathy. But utter disgusting hypocrisy and hateful words. For example  (and these are direct quotes):

” I can read a loon as soon as they open their mouth to speak.”

Ask the alien race hes hangin with…they might be able to shed some light on the dysfunction.”

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“Loon”—“dysfunction.” Would you say this about a person with cancer? Parkinsons? Would you tell them they are full of shit? Would you call them names? Absolutely not–because its WRONG.

And yet, when it comes to mental illness…people say whatever they want about the person because they think, “well,  they are just crazy.” And that is why society can be a disgusting hypocritical beast. Its not OK to use racist or bigoted words, but it is OK to use hateful mean words to someone with a mental diagnosis? How is this acceptable? And people who find it funny, should be ashamed of themselves. No matter how a person is reacting with mental illness–no aspect of it is funny. No one makes fun of mentally disabled people–Asbergers, Mental Retardation, Down Syndrome….because they can SEE the disability. Well guess what–mental illness is no different!

I cant tell you how many times I have been called “crazy,” “emotional,” “full of shit,” “faking it.”—And you know..that used to really hurt me. It hurt because no one understood the battle I deal with every single day of my life. When I am a happy person and and yet my brain is full of despair and anxiety. Now, I get pissed off. And I get pissed off when people in my tribe are called these things because society thinks its okay.

Its about time that society start getting PC about mental illness. People should think about their words before they open their mouth about someone who is mumbling to themselves on the bus, or crying all the time, or fearful of going out to go shopping because their brain is on constant fight or flight–or any of the other mental illnesses out there that appear to be “crazy” to society.