Due to a recent breakup, I find myself faced with brief moments of sadness once or twice a day. I’ve noticed that it happens especially before I go to sleep and after I wake. Lucky for me, evenings and mornings are my most productive times of the day! Actually, it’s not even true sadness. It’s more of a bittersweet reminder that I have been given the opportunity to work on myself, by myself, for myself. Rather than succumbing to sadness and heartbreak, I make myself go do something that makes me happy. I absolutely know that I have a choice on how I deal with my emotions and that is amazing! I can choose happiness AND truly feel happy.
When I was dealing with depression and anxiety, there was no choice. No matter how much I wanted to be happy, it simply wasn’t an option for me. The darkness can be so overwhelming and so pervasive that there is no way to find that light switch for yourself. I suppose that’s why it becomes easy to cling to those rare, special people who somehow manage to shine their light into your darkness.
I am so grateful to have the ability to choose again. I guess that’s why I haven’t wasted my time dwelling on the past and the things I cannot change. I can only change myself and that is exactly what I have been doing, one day at a time. Don’t get me wrong, I also believe it’s healthy to let yourself feel sadness. I am just choosing to limit it to my time driving to whatever activity I planned for myself. The drive back is usually just full of exercise-induced euphoria …and singing! I also think that having experienced the lowest lows has made me a more compassionate, more loving, and ultimately more joyful person.
Each day I become a little stronger, a lot happier, and that much closer to the best version of myself. My friends are starting to notice and it means the world to me that they never forgot who I am, even if I did for a while. They tell me how I seem like the person they met - how visibly happy I am again and how my positive energy is infectious. It’s nice to have the love, support, and affirmation from others: “I am so happy for you!” “I love you!” and “I’m so proud of you!”
I am re-learning how to be happy for myself, to love myself, and to be proud of myself. I’ve been learning to celebrate every small victory and every forward step towards optimum health and happiness. Mondays are my days off and I went on my first real hike in over two years! (By real I mean at least moderately strenuous and 5+ miles.) By myself!
Ira Spring Trail and Mason Lake
6.5 miles round trip, 2420′ elevation gain, highest point 4230′.
I felt really out of shape on the way up. I managed to average about 23min/mi while having to take multiple water breaks to lower my heart rate. It didn’t help that I got a late start on a 90+ degree day. I remembered how I used to run such trails and now I can only walk. I used to think 3 miles was nothing and now it’s like even a mile never ends!
But then I finally reached Mason Lake. Alpine lakes are my absolute favorite places to eat. I changed into my sandals and found my lunch spot at the shore where I could keep my feet in the cool water. Then I savored each bite of my simple food and I could appreciate the nourishment. I felt I had not only earned the food, but the moment of tranquility. I even waded around the water like a little kid and almost fell! I love that I can still have fun and laugh by myself even at 27 years of age.
The way back down was much easier. I felt energized and had an extra bounce to my steps. I never stopped and kept a brisk pace with a moderate heart rate. I skipped, I ran, I took in all the sights, and I let my hair loose when there were gusts of wind. I felt like Pocahontas. I even saw beauty in a few butterflies before remembering how terrifying they are!
By the time I returned to my car, I felt accomplished. I felt proud. I felt strong. I felt connected. And I felt absolutely beautiful. I cannot put into words how much I love mountains.
I recently re-read The Giver by Lois Lowry, one of my favorite childhood books:
“Although he had through the memories learned about the pain of loss and loneliness, now he gained, too, an understanding of solitude and its joy.”
This. Yes. Absolutely.