I don’t know why but I woke up this morning with the overwhelming urge to be super productive in the same way many people wake up on January 1st believing they are going to take on the world and start anew. I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, and I’ve never felt that “fresh” feeling in the dead of winter the way I do around this time of year. Maybe being Canadian, we’re just happy to still feel our fingers on January 1st, never mind anything else. I guess I’ve always associated Labour Day with the end of summer and the start of the school year as a time to buckle down and get cracking. It also helps that long after I graduated university, the anniversary of Medievalists.net is September 15th. We started it all 6 years ago this month. Unbelievable. I think PK and I both felt rather industrious back then sitting in an empty classroom at U of T figuring out a way to do something we loved and make a little money on the side. Who knew 6 years, and 5 sites later it would be a full time job? One can always dream but this has turned out to be amazing. I also moved to England almost a year ago – on September 19th, it will be one year. That blows my mind. Time flies. I’ve had so many momentous things happen at this time of year that I can’t ignore it and pretend to go along with the crowd and force that feeling every January 1st. So I won’t anymore. It’s official, September 1st is the start of my “New Year”.
Anyhow…life hasn’t been kind to me the past year – sure, it’s had it’s good moments, like my move here to England, but it’s had some really difficult times as well…my uncle’s death, Shawn’s death, losing my job after my boss went bankrupt, and the adjustment period that I tried so hard to skip but washed over me like a tidal wave anyway. You can’t avoid it – the adjustment of leaving everything behind, being away from your family and friends and the horrible loneliness – you have to let it happen and just ride it out or you’ll drown emotionally. After I gave in to the initial unhappiness, anger and sadness, it lessened and I could move through it. Fighting the emotional baggage just made it bigger than it was and it felt like I was swimming against the current and getting nowhere.
It’s the same with death and job loss. They say the four biggest stressors in life are: moving, divorce, death and job loss. I can check three of those off the list in less than one year. I lost my main source of income but managed to recover with the sites and a part time job. I’m making less, but I’m emotionally happier and feel right in my bones.
Shawn’s death hit me hardest after I flew back to England. Why not my uncle’s you ask? My uncle was taken before his time but he wasn’t 38, and I didn’t grow up with him in the same way as I did Shawn. When adults die, it’s still incredibly sad, but it’s not an outrage or shock in the same way as when someone dies young. I manage just fine but Shawn crosses my mind every.single.day. Be it a song, or a smell or something that catches my eye and reminds me of him, it happens daily. I’m just good at compartmentalising it. I’ve been to one too many funerals in my time but I have to say, for me, personally, Shawn’s was the hardest thing I’ve had to go through in my life. I will grieve him until my last breath. You don’t lose someone you’ve known and loved like family for 30 years and wake up one day and just ‘get over it’. It’s a process.
Now, almost a year later, I’m being a bit kinder, and easier on myself. I am my own worst enemy and I hold myself to a much higher standard than I do other people. Moving to another country – even if that country speaks your native language is incredibly difficult, brave and crazy all wrapped into one. I have a lot to say on that topic but that is a post I will save for my anniversary day. Suffice it to say, it’s not easy. I had insane expectations of where I’d be in life in England by now and none of them were realistic.
What is realistic is something my dad (a.k.a. MY HERO) always says to me: “Don’t worry, be happy”. Cheesy, right? He used to say it to wind me up, and he also said it to get the message across to enjoy life everyday and not allow things that you can’t control to ruin it for you. He always thinks his conversations in the car with me went in one ear and out the other – I get it…I’d roll my eyes and combined with the bored look on my face as I stared out the window, it could definitely give the impression that self-betterment wasn’t on my “to-do” list. It’s always on my dad’s list everyday. It’s like breathing for him. He wakes up and thinks how he can better his life and the lives of those he loves. My mom, brother and I always laughed at him because he has more self-help books on the shelves than Dr. Phil and 90% are ‘Happy this…’ and ‘Happy that…’ ‘How to be happy…’ etc…you get the picture. I’d come home and he’d be on the couch after work reading some sort of book about improving himself, or making himself happy. It was ridiculous and got to be a running joke in our family. However, that said, as much as we tease him, he’s a very happy guy. He’s genuinely content with himself and the world around him and very little rattles him. He never gives other people, or things out of his control, the power to ruin his day.
Well, I guess some part of me was listening on those drives, and when I woke up this morning, I felt like I needed to tackle that particular to-do list in my life and get out of my rut. I came across this #100HappyDays thing recently on Facebook over and over again. I thought to myself, ‘Great, more fad bullshit’, but curiosity got the best of me and I looked it up online. It immediately reminded me of my dad. I figured, why not, what’s 100 days of capturing one positive in life? I can do this. My dad does it everyday, 365 days of the year, maybe, just maybe, there is something to this happy stuff he’s been spouting all this time. So, I think I’m finally ready to give happy a try; for my dad, and for myself 🙂
Today’s happy moment was nothing especially spectacular, I just really enjoyed finding a new local coffee shop. I LOVE coffee. Good coffee. I’m a coffee junkie. This place was a cute little independent spot with amazing coffee called Lavish Habit. I was seriously happy so I snapped a picture after I had downed my cup. That is day 1 of my 99 more days to go 🙂