The end, or the beginning of everything
I can’t believe this is my last entry for the Everyday Matters program. When I think back to that warm (too warm) day in June when I found out I’d be a participant, I had no idea where this program would take me. I’ve come so far, but I know I have much more to go—in fact, it’s going to be a lifelong journey.
I attended the National MS Society’s national conference in Dallas, TX, November 7-9, and got the chance to see Jim, Sallie, Connie, and Brenda. It was evident we’ve all changed since July. We presented our journeys to attendees, and it was hard to not cry when we heard about the struggles and breakthroughs everyone had had.
What am I doing now? Since July, I’ve gotten a new job with a better commute so I’m not so tired. I also removed myself from an environment that was increasingly dysfunctional—and was having a negative impact on my mental and physical health. The evidence it was a move for the better was a week after starting at my new job, my father remarked to me that I seemed very relaxed. And I was. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off. I have free time again—and I don’t have to elbow anyone for a train seat.
I’m also continuing on the fitness / health journey. It’s a long one, full of metaphorical potholes and pitfalls and setbacks. But I’m chugging along, trying to figure out the ways I tick the best.
I’m also using the arsenal of tools I collected from Shawn’s book. This morning, I awoke cranky (not unusual) and feeling disengaged and discouraged (which was unusual). So while getting ready, I supersized my three gratitudes by naming as many as I could in the time it took to wash my hair. Do you know that I felt immensely better? Little instances like this that make me realize how powerful these happiness tools are. It’s not that using these strategies implies I live a fairytale life free of cares and worries. It means I can pull myself out of ruts, that I can reconnect with myself and others in meaningful ways, that I can rebuild during difficult times, and that I can still feel empowered even when negative voices tell me I have no power. I’m even finding them helpful as I deal with the symptoms of depression.
In this half a year, I’ve met some amazing people who have shown me what perseverance and determination can accomplish. I’ve also realized how much work I have to do in my own life to live the way I want to. I was pretty low in July and could barely see the light shining down the shaft of the hole I felt I’d fallen into. Now I feel like I’ve climbed out of the hole, brushed myself off, and am ready to tackle those problematic mountains that have existed for years. I’m not saying that you read Shawn’s book and instantly you’re happy. I’m also not saying that it doesn’t take hard work, lots of tears and struggle, and support from those closest to you. What I am saying is that these strategies can make a difference. Start small—smaller than you think is necessary. Go slow. Reward yourself for the small victories. Don’t punish yourself for the setbacks. Reassess where you are over time. You will see a difference. Even the smallest differences can lead to the biggest changes.