old (2008), Uncategorized

joy is a better fertilizer than fear

My last two posts have been of the somber sort, and I realize it may seem as though I’m a depressive kind of gal, perhaps Chicago’s very own Sylvia Plath or Charlotte Perkins Gilman or (God forbid) Emily Dickinson. But that’s so not true! Because even when I’m stuck in the crawlspace, I’m pretty darn happy, as irrational and contradictory as that sounds.

Back in October I went to this women’s meeting in Lakeview. It wasn’t the meeting I’d been looking for (there were more than one at that church that day) and I was 35 minutes late (or, I would have been 20 minutes early for the meeting I wanted), but I stayed because I’d been in the program at least long enough at that point to have heard things such as “you’re only late for your first meeting” and “you’ll find what you need wherever you end up.” That, and mostly I was too embarrassed to stand up and walk out after I realized my mistake. But in the 25 minutes I was there, I heard something that I’d forgotten until RIGHT NOW, when I was wondering how it is I can be miserable and happy at the same time. And I remembered how there was a woman there that day who said that the program had taught her that emotions were wacky things, and it was entirely possible to be antsy while content, happy while sad, frustrated while serene — maybe not all of those things about the same topic (that, uh, WOULD be crazy) but definitely we experience a wide range of feelings about various things going on in our lives, and so while I might be ready to cut my arm off because I’m feeling so out of myself, at the same time I have a large number of things in my life that make me happy, and happy just because.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about something I heard at the Dead caucus this year (paraphrased):

I want to see what happens when I cultivate a life out of joy.

And, yeah, I want to see what happens when I do that, too, because cultivating a life out of anything else (e.g., fear, insecurity, depression, or a million other negative emotions) doesn’t cause much of anything to bloom (except maybe those bushes that produce pricklies).

Today, then, I have a blossoming list of things that are helping me grow my life into something more tolerable than what it’s been for nearly thirty-four years:

  1. Black-with-white-polka-dot rain boots
  2. Hot pink patent leather stilettos
  3. Dancing with Rebel, or watching him dance
  4. Black tights and a black miniskirt
  5. Pellegrino water
  6. Roasted red pepper soup with oyster crackers
  7. Apple turnovers, apple blossoms, and apple slices
  8. Dark roast coffee with raw sugar
  9. Vegan cake from The Grind
  10. Strawberry bubble baths
  11. Back rubs, snuggling, cuddling, spooning
  12. Being grumpy around someone who gets it
  13. Staying up all night to write essays
  14. Live theatre
  15. Oddball revues
  16. Indie movies and music
  17. Diners
  18. Beaded curtains
  19. The color pink
  20. Laughing (esp. with Sax Man)
  21. Going to the spa
  22. The Russian Tea Room
  23. Scavenger hunts
  24. Watching Renegade make a face 100% the same as his dad’s
  25. Makeup brushes, mascara, and face cream
  26. Blue Post-it Notes
  27. Hanging file folders in funky colors
  28. Clearance end caps at Target
  29. Storytelling
  30. Blogging

And that’s just a partial list, less than a month after hearing that whole joy thing. I have high hopes for the future, even if I am in a cynical and not particularly brilliant place right now.


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