Not so recently anymore, one night, Ted and I watched Expedition Happiness on Netflix. It's a documentary about a young German couple and their big mountain dog's journey across North America in their School Bus RV. They start off in New York, gutting the bus and building it into their little dream home on wheels, then travel across Canada into Alaska, and then all the way south, through the Grand Canyon and into Mexico. It was interesting to see just how much we understood about what they experienced - both the good and the bad...and also the ugly. The movie was overall upbeat, which was nice, but I'm sure they left off some yelling, fighting, and crying melt downs. Regardless, we loved re-living some of our trip through them. They set off in search of happiness... traveling around, being free - you know, that kick-ass day dream, right?!?! However, in the end, constant travel takes a toll on humans and especially on pets. Once their dog got really sick, around month 7 or so, they stopped the trip in Mexico instead of heading into South America. Fortuitously, the dog recovered, but it was a close call.
Back in September of 2018, Ted and I got an RV (granted we bought ours ready to go), and set off to visit family and friends for an undetermined amount of time. We assumed (ASS-U-ME) we would be stopping at each person's home for a night and moving on the next day to the next person - at that rate we might be able to finish the trip in about 6-8 months having been to 50 States and visited 377+ friends....Go ahead, laugh sadistically here if you want...we were SO wrong about that! We saw about 60% of all the people we wanted to and it took us 15 months. Moving every day in an RV is just not realistic if you want to actually enjoy being on the journey. We found our sweet spot moving once a week and throwing a party for people to come to us in most places we stopped. We had freedom, we had each other, no work (well none we got paid for anyway), all play and still....happiness was not constant.
Let's start with defining happiness, this is what the good 'ol interweb shared with me:
Happiness is that feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can't help but smile. ... Happiness is a sense of well-being, joy, or contentment. When people are successful, or safe, or lucky, they feel happiness.
Yeah, I've felt it - have you? It's fleeting though...it doesn't stick around for very long. So is it something we should spend so much time thinking about and chasing after? I have heard the phrase “I just want you to be happy”. But we can’t be happy all the time, can we? I‘ve also been told “happiness is a choice”. Now, for all my miserable people out there “happiness is a choice” will probably piss you off. However, it is possible to hunt the good stuff and you can skew almost any situation to find positivity or meaning. Again: It is possible to hunt the good stuff and you can skew almost any situation to find positivity or meaning.
One thing I know about myself is that when I dance, 90% of the time I’m dancing, I am happy. I enjoy moving my body. Sometimes practice can suck and be hard, but the juice is worth the squeeze for me. I know that with practice I can and will get better. It also happens to be something I’m good at. Rhythm is a blessing. I did not spend enough of my first 40 years dancing but I plan on dancing everyday for the next 40. Yet still, I hesitate. I linger, procrastinating practice and avoiding the hard work...even though I know it will make me happy in the long run. Why is that? I bet it's because of fear. I'm scared to fail and scared to succeed all at the same time. It's almost like I'm sabotaging my happiness...on purpose. Failing is scary but if I don't fail, how will I learn to pick myself back up again and again? If I succeed, what comes with it? Perhaps I spend too much time thinking about the 'what ifs' instead of making things happen right now - at least when it's related to me and dancing (and several other aspects of life to be honest).
I've found that, for me, seeing beauty in nature, reminiscing on our travels and experiences, cuddling with Azlan and Ted, painting, drawing and dancing are all things that bring me joy. With that knowledge, I have been trying to do more and more of these things in between adulting sessions. Too many excuses have passed my lips that avoided these things - I'm sure you know them all: I'm too busy, I'm too tired, I'm in a bad mood, I can't, I don't want to sweat because then I have to wash my hair, I'm lazy, I don't want to clean up the mess I'll make, It's too hot outside, It's too cold outside...the list goes on and on. But that's the thing, excuses are just that - excuses. You have to stop making excuses and set your priorities in stone if you want to move forward.
In the last few months we have received our remaining stored items, settled into our home, got Precious working (she's my Shark cleaning robot), visited with family and friends, thrown a house warming party, gone to several Zumba classes, taught a mini Zumba class, and bought a boat (eeeeek!!!). These are all the good things and we will be trying to do more good things like this to help build our memories. In the end, that's what we'll have left - memories of what we did and what we looked like and who we were. Even if we lose our memory, if we have things to look back on or stories to read - maybe we can jog that memory and get a glimpse of who we once were.
Ted and I have saved a lot of things that bring back memories. For example all 365 letters I wrote to him during one of his deployments, loads of printed photos all the way back to babyhood, journals of our travels and now over a year's worth of blog entries documenting our Glamper trip. We plan on consolidating everything into a book (or a few books) in the future in hopes that one day, many years from now, we can bring happiness into our lives by remembering all the cool experiences we had together.
The only way you will know what makes you happy is to try new things out until you find what you like. By no means do I intend to stop trying new things - who knows....maybe there is something out there for me that I have yet to discover that will blow my mind with happiness. Something I never thought possible perhaps! I won't know until I try though.
So, from the comfort of your own couch if you are able to stay home, please learn, read, research, be grateful for what you do have, don't compare yourself with others, live your best life, be patient, be kind, stop making excuses, do the things that bring you joy (once you know what the are). By no means do I have all my shit together, but I am certainly grateful for what I have and proud of what I have done with my life so far. So, whether you think happiness is possible or not, be present in the moment - focus on what is around you and appreciate the things that are positive in your life. The only guarantee we have in life is death - so enjoy your life while you are still alive to do it (I really need to remember to take my own advice sometimes)!
Everything above this line, I wrote on February 11th. I did not publish it because - well I don't know why!!!! Now it all makes perfect sense. I was supposed to wait until right now - all my people with hope and those that believe in destiny - this is it right here.
We started staying home on 3/16/20. Too late, but maybe, just maybe, if the people of the WORLD can cooperate, inform themselves, and work together, we can minimize the damage.
Look to help the people in the medical field. They are the ones that will get the worst of everything right now. Let's make medical supplies like masks, gloves, gowns ASAP. Work on it, share with people you know. Someone out there has lots of money, someone out there has a factory, some people out there must work, lets link this up so we can help lessen the blow.
Stay tuned as we stumble through these rough times together yet apart. It will pass. This is NOT the end, it's just going to suck for a while.
Daisa, Ted and Azlan