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?

Year of the Dog

Another year has gone by. For those who do not know, I always consider my birthday my new year; I had my new year on Sunday. Every year I make list of “resolutions” to accomplish in the next year.

This year, I decided to use my dog as a source of inspiration. As humans, we forget so much of our natural essence. We worry about trivial things, forget to breathe. We work tirelessly. And that leads to blockages within our energy fields. It causes us to be exhausted-drained of our energy and life force.

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My chihuahua Fox Mulder

I am guilty of that. Very much so.  So this year, I am going to live more like my dog and follow these simple, yet difficult, resolutions:

  1. Live in the moment: I will try my best to be in the moment—even if the moment is uncomfortable or new to me. I am going to learn that whatever moment I happen to be in, is a moment that I am meant to learn from.
  2. Love unconditionally: Probably the hardest lesson of them all. Learning to love unconditionally: even if the person has low vibrations, hurt you, etc. Learning to love and accept that person for who they are….regardless. My dog loves me even when I am in a fierce mood. He loves me even when I am sad. He loves me even if I scold him for doing something he wasn’t supposed to. He loves unconditionally.
  3. Don’t worry. Be happy: My dog is ALWAYS happy. Always. I need to stop worrying over things that I cant control. I will stop worrying over things that I can change. I will just be happy.
  4. Let go: When my dog does something bad, I scold him. He is upset for a few moments and then he is back to being happy. Lesson to be learned: let go. Bad stuff happens. You cant make everyone happy all the time. You will disappoint yourself and others periodically. But……it happens….Let it go and go back to being happy!

Will I be able to do all of these successfully–no, but I can try! I know I will have my “human” moments—but if I keep my dog and his virtues in check, then I think these lessons will be another stepping stone in my growth to be the best person humanly possible. And if I mess up….well….my dog will be there to love me!

The Dark Side of the Moon: When the Light Fades

There is always a light and dark side to everything in life. And for those of us with depression, the dark side tends to be the most prominent. I have battled depression most of my life, with an attempted suicide at age 14 followed by panic attacks later in life and then several shrinks. I finally found a therapist I liked and from 2009-2013 I saw her and a psychiatric Nurse Practitioner during the darkest hours. I am very open about having clinical depression because I have to be the voice for the thousands out there afraid to talk about because they are afraid of being judged. In 2014 I was doing great—so great my social worker decided that she only needed to see me on as needed basis and my NP tapered my meds. I was feeling on top of the world.

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Then, I recently, and abruptly had a life change. Within two weeks, my boyfriend and I were packed up and heading to Arizona. There we were on a Saturday night enjoying some wine and sake listening to some old school tunes in an apartment I lived in for 15 years to suddenly packing boxes on Sunday, renting a U-Haul and driving 2300 miles away from the only place I had called home. It happened so fast I had no time to comprehend what the hell just happened. The whole cliché of having the carpet pulled out from under you—is serious shit.

Here we are in Arizona and the adjustment has been difficult. We went from a major city to a new town. We know no one. Have np physical support system here and are basically fending for ourselves. I have to find a job pronto to make sure we can pay rent which means finding meaningless work to pay the bills.

And what happens but that the dark side appears. I woke up one day in tears. I was crying to the point where I couldn’t stop. My depression had returned. YES—the move was the TRIGGER—but not the reason.

People who don’t have depression don’t understand what it’s like. Imagine that you are just moving along a bright sunny day when suddenly someone throws a pitch black can’t see shit bag over your face and never ever takes it off. It’s like that. A dark cloud that just doesn’t go away. And thoughts-bad thoughts come in your mind. And YOU CAN’T HELP IT. It’s just there.

I have had so many people tell me it’s the move. To give it time. To find joy in the things around me. Believe me…I am trying. We have gone to canyons, creeks, walked, enjoyed the beauty of the place—but my lack of happiness isn’t with where I live…it’s chemically going on in my brain.

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I think that’s hardest thing about depression–people think it’s an external thing that can be “fixed”–when it’s a chemical thing that can’t be fixed just “adjusted”….and I appreciate everyone’s helping…. but depression can’t be fixed with a walk or giving my move time…if it were…I would be walking all day every day and loving every bit of Flagstaff. It’s hard for people who don’t have a clinical diagnosis to understand that depression is not always due to outside circumstances. I appreciate everyone’s kindness and offerings of advice during times like this, but want I everyone to understand that it’s not going to “fix” what’s happening inside my head. I can’t just flip a switch and “be happy”—nor can I flip a switch and decide that all the chemical mishaps in my brain will fix themselves.

Being supportive is awesome. Being able to just be there—and listen—is even more awesome.

Turn The Light On

Living with depression is hard. And well, people don’t get it. I cant tell you how many times I have heard people say, “why are you depressed? you have a job, a good man, money?” Trying to explain to them that the depression is not due to “outside” things but more inside things is nearly impossible. So I don’t talk about it much to friends and family, unless I know they really truly understand.

My depression seemed to be under control. Now it feels like I am crawling up the rabbit hole once again. Its obvious my medication is no longer working. Which makes me feel more depressed-if only because my primary care provider has recommended I see a psychiatric nurse since she can no longer help me. So, cry, sleep (when my anxiety is not feeding my insomnia), eat little are pretty much my days now until I get put on something new and start all over. Of course, in public, at work, I have my happy face on. But as soon as I get in the car—I start crying. I smile through a thousand tears. I smile through unexplained sadness and pain. Its hard, knowing you have everything you could need in life, but your brain decides to make you feel sad and miserable just because. While I am a non-traditionalist wild woman, sometimes…I wish my brain would be normal. I wish I could wake up and not feel like doom and gloom. 

 

So why am I writing this post—when most of my other posts are about happiness, joy, spirituality and self love? Because the light cant always be on.

I am an intuitive empath. I have helped so many people with my gift. And I am also a healer via movement and dance. But, sometimes even my light switch gets turned off and I am left standing in the dark. And that’s not always an easy thing to accept. I know I am not a failure. And I know this illness is not my fault—–but when I feel this low, its hard to believe that I am anything else. In my heart I know this is not true–in my head its a fact. 

I think being a spiritual person with depression and anxiety is very difficult. We are truly wounded healers. We have to experience both sides–oddly enough–so we can help others. Even when I feel crappy, I like helping others. I struggle with feeling that connection to The Universe–but find when I am down its nearly impossible to see anything but the darkness.  And that hurts. 

Healers cant always have the light switch on. Sometimes our dimmers get turned down and then we switch into darkness. Temporary of course. But we cant always be “on,” despite our deepest desire to be so.

The Importance of Being Important

I am by no means a relationship expert. The past year has been a roller coaster for me-ending with a divorce and then *finally* finding my perfect partner. While I am not a relationship expert, I have learned three important lessons over the course of my “relationships.”

  1. Be important-I know that sounds impractical, especially in the beginning of a relationship, when you are both devoted to one another. However as time goes by-and the honey moon phase diminishes-always make sure that you are important to your partner. By this, I don’t mean by putting yourself up on a pedestal and demand attention. I just mean, don’t be someone’s second. If you are in a serious long term relationship, you have to make sure that your partner respects you enough to make you his/her number one. Especially if you are married. You should never have to play second fiddle to anyone or anything. And being important/wanted and number one means that your partner is open emotionally to you, respects you enough to tell you when things are changing, and  be open to evolving with you-rather than against you.
  2. Don’t look for your “type” – We spend most of our dating lives looking for someone who is our physical type-limiting our view of who is out there for us. I would only date guys with dark hair and eyes. Low and behold, my perfect partner ended up being the complete opposite. If you limit the distance of your net-you will never find the right catch.
  3. Loneliness is an illusion-So many of us feel we need to be in a relationship to fill a void -so we won’t be lonely.  Hand holding is nice-but shouldn’t be an excuse for putting your heart out there. If you are in relationship just because you are feeling a lone, you will find eventually that you are slowly losing yourself and your own independence. We all have stuff to work out-but you have to love yourself, honor yourself and respect yourself before you dive into a relationship. You can be in a relationship and still be alone-and that is a terrible feeling. So make sure that you are the best *you* even if you still have some things to work on. A good partner will help you work on you by being supportive and progressing with you.

 

Keep your heart open, your soul free and that perfect mate will appear. Mine did.

To A Great Friend

I lost a very dear and sweet friend today. Her name was Kaala. She was a snake. Not just any snake. She was an extension of my soul. Kaala blessed me the day she was given to me. She had this presence about her. I know people believe that snakes don’t have feelings. That they cant reciprocate human love and affection. I can tell you, they are wrong. Kaala’s energy was warm, loving, tender and wise. She was my spirit partner. We danced together. Worked together. Healed together.

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She would sleep with me sometimes. Curl up in a ball next to me under the covers, and stay there till morning when I would have to put her back in the tank to go to work. She had this pure loving energy. Our souls were entwined. She awoke in me a Divine power that only few will ever experience in their lifetimes. She was my spirit animal. My totem. My spiritual teacher.

When we performed together, there was a connection that was so deep that people always thought I had choreographed my numbers with her. We could read each others moves-know what the other was thinking. We adopted this sort of psychic connection. She loved people. After every show, when people wanted to take pictures with her she would remain calm for hours, be held by strangers and have her photo taken over and over. Its funny to think how many people out there have a photo with her and will never realize just how special she was. She loved the company of people. We went every where together. Performed at concerts, night clubs, parties, in million dollar mansions, at someone’s wedding, birthday parties, holiday events, and she even got her chance to shine in a music video! We were at our best when we did our “Snake Tango.” She had this magnetic way about her. She graced my business cards, website, and even became part of my logo for my show, “Kalliopes Karavan.” Its her around my neck for this very blog. We did a lot of fun things together. And all this from a snake! Now that she is gone, people have been sharing memories. She was that much of a presence. Strong and powerful.

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When I would teach workshops on Serpentine Mythology, she was always there.  When I would teach workshops on moving past phobias, on the power of serpentine energy as a catalyst for healing, she was there. She was by my side. A serpentine version of a human teacher. She touched so many lives. She made people change their ideas about what they thought about snakes. In fact, she was the first snake some people ever held. I remember we did a workshop together, and a woman in the room had such bad memories about snakes. I had her hold Kaala, and through tears, this woman was able to openly discuss a traumatic life event she had as a child where snakes were prominent. She was able to let go of the pain and move forward. All because this beautiful creature allowed her to heal. Just by this woman holding Kaala, she was able to have closure on her past and begin the healing process.

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I know it sounds strange, but she had a humanistic quality about her. I have had many animals in my life, but she was special. I have never had such a deep bonding connection with an animal as much as I had it with her. I cant think of a time when I was with out her. Now I find myself experiencing just that. I literally feel like a piece of my soul went with her to the Summerlands. I cant believe she is gone from this earth. Its hard thinking of performing without her. Its hard imagining what it will be like in the summer, when I sit in my garden in the sun and have her slithering on me. It will be difficult to imagine healing work without her physically here.

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I believe in souls and life after death. I have seen people cross over. Can hear and see spirit. I know she is safe. Even now as I type this, I can see and feel her spirit and energy around me. In a strange way, she has become a part of my essence. A mingling of spirit and earthly body. But knowing that doesn’t make the grief any easier. It doesn’t take away the pain my heart feels. Nothing in my life will ever be the same, especially dancing. She gave to me what no human has yet to do. She became purely one with me–completely a part of me-mind, body and soul. I never doubted her, never lost trust in her, never felt angry with her. I never felt abandoned with her, never felt sadness or fear. I only felt one hundred percent pure Divine love. I felt such a healing warmth from her. I felt such a deep connection with her, that even in death, I know she is with me. 

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Some connections never cease to exist. Even when the physical body is no longer here. Rest in peace my beautiful friend. Guide me and protect me. Continue your teachings through your soul and know that you are forever a part of me.

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