Monday, January 9, 2017

Things that make me happy

I am not someone who gets depressed during the holidays. I am not excited like I used to be - my kids are older, and don't much care anymore, I don't love the space my decorations take up, 2 months of Christmas music makes me crazy, and I can't be with my entire family at once like I used to. I associate the holidays with my paternal grandparents, who have been gone for almost 12 years, and that makes me a little sad each year. However. I love presents - giving, receiving, wrapping, that feeling when you find the perfect token. I love spending time with the family in the area. I love my quirky decorations, with a mix of homemade, kids' interests from years past (plastic ballet shoe, baseball, airplanes, Magic the Gathering), geeky pop culture (a very heavy Iron Throne ornament, a Yoda tree topper), and stuff from my childhood. I love the kindness and love I tend to feel during that time, and for the most part, it seems to come right back.

So, when I say it has been a very rough past few months, it really has little to do with the holidays. There's some stuff. That's as far as I can go, as it's not entirely my stuff. My stuff is that my reaction to other stuff is truly overemotional, and so my anxiety levels and depressive episodes have been pretty...ugly...lately. In addition to the stuff, and the stuff my brain adds to the stuff, I am trying to finish a management class at work (down to the last project, which is pretty involved,) end of year reviews to complete, general concern about kids and family, and the basic upkeep of family, house, and self to contend with, and I'm a little overwhelmed.

Earlier today, I read an article on Greatist about using a happiness planner, and it made me want to shift my negative gears and write something positive and uplifting about the things that are taking me out of my head, and making me happy, or at least calming me down a bit. Things I'd like to do a little more, things that make me put my phone down and reconnect, to myself, to my surroundings, to my people, and sometimes just to my sense of humor.

1.  Taking time to sit down and read - no phone nearby, no computer calling my name - just my book, maybe a cup of tea, and me. Lately it's taking me a long time to get through books, and I think it's just because I'm easily distracted. I don't feel like me when I'm not burying myself deep within someone else's plotline. Right now I'm reading Before The Fall on my Kindle, and listening to Hungry Heart in the car. I'm enjoying both, but I need some uninterrupted reading time, and soon.
(I finished reading Before the Fall today. Started Faithful by Alice Hoffman.)

2.  Playing games with my kids, and with my family. We play a lot of games at home. When I'm feeling anxious like this, I play a lot of Yahtzee. Funny related story - last week I was feeling particularly bad, and I asked the kids to play Yahtzee. The Boy says to his sister, "Look what you've done. You've broken Mom. She wants to play Yahtzee. She hasn't gone crazy like this since I was, like, seven." His sister replies, "uh uh, do you remember, like 2 years ago? You made her like this then." They then proceeded to argue about who makes me crazier. Newsflash, kids - you both win!
Anyway, I enjoy games, and we've been playing a lot lately. Boggle is my jam, and Uno, SkipBo, and Yahtzee are my go-tos, but I'm game (get it?) to learn anything. I hate Monopoly. Don't even get me started on Monopoly. We play a lot during holiday family get-togethers. Christmas we learned a game that involved cards with the elements of sushi.

3.  Puppies! I was lucky enough to play with 2 puppies this holiday season - my bff came up for a visit and brought her Golden puppy, who is precious, and then I stayed with one of my sisters for a night and got to snuggle with her Aussie Shepherd puppy, who is fluffy and soft, and I wanted to sneak him home in my bag, but she would have noticed, and she is smaller than me, but scrappy. I am actually allergic to dogs, but I took my meds, and kept my inhaler near at all times, and honestly, they are worth the extra phlegm.

4.  Really excellent TV. We have watched or are watching the following excellent shows:
The Man In the High Castle - alternate reality series questioning how the world would be different if the Nazis had won WWII. Really well done, and how excited was I when Stephen Root (one of my favorites) made an appearance?!
Son of Zorn - yes, I mention this often. It makes me laugh, hysterically! Mostly live action, with Zorn and his countrymen animated, it is ridiculous and bizarre, and I love it.
Designated Survivor - I think most people I know have been watching this, so I won't bother with a synopsis. Keeps me on the edge of my seat through each episode. I have to admit, though, I think it would be a fun twist if, the next time someone pisses off the President, he bares his fangs and hisses (I really have a hard time separating Kiefer Sutherland from The Lost Boys.)
The O.A. - bizarre combination of Stranger Things and, I don't know, Alias, maybe? Woman is found jumping off a bridge - turns out she went missing 7 years ago. Mystery and supernatural thriller all thrown together, with some near death experience thrown in.
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency - I read these books when I was a teen, and Douglas Adams was an international treasure. This was quirky and fun, and I really enjoyed it.

There is a lot of cool stuff coming out this year, too - American Gods, Iron Fist, new Star Trek, and of course, Handmaid's Tale. Read this:

5. My people. This is a no-brainer, really, but I have a lot of people I can depend upon to listen, to make me laugh, to be there. I am truly thankful for all of you.

What so many of wish we could do during a rough day at work...