I did (and did not do) a number of things during this "Year of Dani." They were, for the most part, seemingly small "no brainer" things to me, really - basic life skills that I had just forgotten to do in my pursuit of "greatness". I moved, to a neighbourhood less bustling than Gastown, where I could sleep, and read, and go for walks on tree lined streets. I started cooking at home and taking my lunch to work. I didn't audition for shows I didn't want to be in (sounds easy, is actually hard, when you are desperately afraid of being forgotten). I said no to volunteer opportunities I was presented with if they didn't make my heart sing. I stayed at home and read books - real books, from the library, with pages, rather then e-books on my Kobo.
I went for walks, and sometimes I ran. I gardened on my little balcony. I didn't shop when I was sad or lonely (because shoes make you less lonely!), I wrote it down in my journal, or admitted to someone that I was sad and received a flood of support in return. I went to yoga, but not obsessively, as I have in the past. I meditated. I napped. And I made one gigantic life decision: I changed jobs, leaving a job I loved and was completely emotionally invested in, to one with a shorter commute and a less frenetic workday pace, where I became responsible for a smaller portfolio of work, that I could leave on my desk at the end of the day rather than carrying home in my heart.
These lifestyle changes have been accompanied by really hard work in terms of changing my attitude. In smothering my negative inner voices, in actively choosing a different way to be, every day. In choosing not to be critical of myself, in taking one day at a time, in choosing love over negativity. In convincing myself I am entitled to be happy, even without the perfect career, the perfect body, the perfect wardrobe, the perfect house, husband, baby. It's a conversation I have to have with myself every day. That I am wonderful as I am. That every day is wonderful exactly as it unfolds. That I am exactly who I am meant to be, and exactly where I am meant to be. I write these words to myself on post-its at work, that only I can see. I set my alarm on my phone for random times of the day, so that when the alarm goes off, I repeat these loving thoughts to myself. I say them out loud to friends, who respond with resounding celebration when I say "I deserve to be happy."
Now, as we head into the last months of the year, it feels like all of the very tiny incremental changes that I have been making over the year are crystallizing into one great gigantic big ball of happiness. It's actually kind of magical. Work is going well and I am valued for my contributions. I saved enough money to buy my first home, a quiet place on a street lined with trees that looks out onto the Fraser River, which will be mine in November. I've lost enough weight (20 lbs, give or take) that I notice, even if no one else does. I'm singing as much as I want, with the people I want, when I want. I sleep well. It's work, absolutely, but the weird thing is, when you put in the work, things feel...effortless. I can't explain that paradox, but I understand it now.
The other day, my mom said to me, "It's like you've said, 'Oh, sod it. I am going to try happy.'" And it's true - in trying to be happy, I've made myself happy. It is so much work, every single day, but I'm happy. Imperfect, sometimes frustrated, sometimes lonely - but happy. I'm choosing happy. I can't wait to see what miracles unfold as we head into the close of this Year of Dani.
|Imperfect, unremarkable, happy me, at this very minute.|