On Friday morning I went for a run (as I've been trying to do most mornings before I head off to work) and as I was daydreaming about something, most likely with a silly smile on my face, I found myself hitting the sidewalk, knee first. I fell quite a bit in Cross Country in high school, one race I was in first (this was very early in the race, mind you), and I tripped over a root, watched almost all of the rest of the girls pass me, and emerged from the woods covered in dirt and discouraged in the middle of the pack.
I guess I bring it up because I feel like every time I've fallen in the past, or any day that it has rained, or any time an obstacle presents itself, I use it as a pass to give up. I was about 16 minutes into my 20 required minutes and as I stood up (glaring at the cars that passed just in case they saw me fall, they needed to know I was super tough, obviously), I thought I'd just walk back to our apartment, which was less than a quarter mile from the spot I'd fallen.
Instead, after a few steps where my pride was the only things really hurting, I started running again, with blood slowly trickling down my knee, until the 20 minutes came up on my (newly re-batteried) running watch. Choices like that end up being very symbolic, huge actions for me. That's the moment I knew I'd run the next opportunity without letting the aches and defeat get in the way. My hand looked a little like I'd been attacked by a cheese grater but it's already healing pretty well. My knee is a scabbed mess, and I had to keep it covered for 2 days lest gross out my engagement couple and an entire wedding full of people this weekend, but I feel pretty good about it.
Garrett called my knee a nice war wound, and I argued back that it's a pretty sissy war wound, but I've got several others on my knees to keep them company.
Ever since I decided to change, most especially since starting the Challenge, reading the Happiness Project (I'm on chapter 9), and MTH, it isn't as if my problems vanished or like I all of the sudden have good luck and only wonderful things are happening. The difference is that I'm letting the good overshadow (or I suppose it should be outshine) the bad.
Recently during a wedding reception the memory card slot on my back-up body that my assistant was using at the time stopped accepting memory cards and I had a little freak-out, then shrugged and was happy that it was a pretty low-stress wedding that it happened at. Okay, I didn't just shrug. But there was nothing else to be done. I worried and worried over what I would do while the camera was being repaired and eventually settled on the obvious choice of renting a back-up body. I also figured out that the shutter was wayyyy over the number of clicks they are meant to last (223,000 vs. the 150,000 expected life) so I am lucky that I can have the shutter replaced simultaneously and pay a lot less than the 2 repairs and rentals would've been (plus the freak out of a shutter going out during a wedding).
The great thing about the camera stress is that I'd started a journal of things I'm grateful for (recommended by The Happiness Project) and the only thing about the camera that made the list was making the safe choice to rent a back-up instead of hoping I could borrow one or that mine would make it back in time. The good things make the bad things less damaging. I'm not journaling the bad things. When you think back to childhood, most people remember the good times. They aren't all good times, and I'm sure not everyone is fond of their childhood memories. But the things that your parents would choose to photograph, the birthday parties and Christmases and milestones and pets, those are good things.
My most recent realizations are that I really just want to be happy. To live a life I am daily satisfied with, which on most days will mean a run first thing in the morning followed by hard day's work (focused!), a good meal and time at home with Garrett, and being surrounded by things and people who make me feel good. There will be days filled with trips to fun places and weddings with gorgeous couples and really great dinners that I dress up for, too, but I think the happy core is in the everyday. Making time for the things and people that you are doing all this work for anyway. Making money so that you can spend it on vacations with your family one day is less important than being there with them now. For me, at least.
This isn't perfect either, there are times when I will work a lot and come home late and be stressed and not give as much attention to home as I could, and if I spent all my time at home I wouldn't be the best me either. But all of these self improvements are getting me somewhere. I can make room for the things I love and others can be bettered by them. I used to feel like I needed to prove that I was really really smart to everyone, that was the only worth I gave myself, having been set apart in a negative way early on for making good grades in school. That complex continued maybe especially upon going to NCSSM and realizing I was far less smart than most of the student body. I was pursuing archaeology, I was to be an academic, I needed to impress everyone. Photography didn't have the same barrier for entry. Anyone with a DSLR could be a photographer. Nothing about the title of photographer proved that I was a genius. I needed to be a genius. I wanted to read really impressive books even though I didn't have the time or interest in most of them. I wanted to know what was going on politically just so I could speak up during really boring dinner conversations (no offense to the people who are not bored by them, I do place value on knowing what's going on in the world and efforts to change things).
Now, I'm realizing that if I am happy, if I show myself as a happy, positive person, who doesn't act spitefully or jealously, who can fault me. Will someone say "that happy person is too stupid to be unhappy" or "she's naive and foolish to be happy despite all of the bad in the world"? Quite possibly, I've thought those things before (out of jealousy, mind you), but isn't that happy contentedness what most of us are actually lusting after? I want to be the ray of sunshine that tans the world. Ha. I want to encourage people. I want to kill the jealousy, the comparisons, the envy of wealth and lucky breaks and people who are trying harder than me. I want to try harder. No excuses, this is for me. If I become the best person I can, if I act with grace and poise and vigor and joy, I can't hate myself anymore and I can't hate anyone else. I can help others by helping myself. I can be happy for people if I'm also satisfied with what I've done.
That feels good.