Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Happiness Calendar

I have a friend named Genevieve. She is twice as cool as her name if you can believe it. She can make me laugh harder in public than anyone else, and she uses words like "indelicate", and she cannot cartwheel.  And she is superwoman and kind of intimidating sometimes, because she has a book of a hundred and something things she wants to do in college and she sticks to it with the utmost dilligence. I've seen it. All the goals and their descriptions are written in a small book in pencil, and she retraces over them in pen as she completes them, and she has done a lot of stuff, my friends.

Last week we had our breaks at work at the same time and were sitting eating dinner together, and she was telling me about the last year when I was in North Carolina, and it was a rough year for her. And out of the difficulty was spawned a thing called "The Happiness Calendar". (Tell me she's not the most admirable woman in the world. You can't. Such positivism!) All it is is a tiny cheap calendar from Walmart and the rule is that she must write one thing that made her happy that day before she can go to sleep, even if it's really hard to think of anything. She just makes herself pick one.

Such a suggestion struck me like a lightning bolt. I thought, I must have a Happiness Calendar. To be able to look back at an entire huge period of time marked only by the things that made you happy? I need it. I told her I was going to do that. I thought, life is kind of rough, and I am kind of nervous and wandering around trying to figure out exactly what it is I'm doing and how exactly I plan to pay for that and just being lonely and afraid in general. And that's no way to live, but I have a hard time snapping out of it at times. This seemed the perfect solution.

So, needing a new planner, I bought one accompanied by a calendar, and I've been writing on it. And let me tell you, folks, that the majority of my days are still ones of fatigue, and discouragement, and uncertainty, and that balance that you have to find at the beginning of each new semester is not yet achieved. But I am inching slowly closer to the fulcrum, I think, and it has been eye-opening to take that calendar out and write down something that made me happy today. Not because it's hard to choose one, but that the instant I actually stop wallowing and think about it, it's impossible to pick from the streams of small miracles and tender mercies. It helps me to remember the things I love about Logan and why I wanted to come back here. And it helps me to realize that, even in the midst of my loneliness, most of those things that end up on the Calendar are people. Katie who I ran into on the Quad, and Alan who keeps me from falling asleep in the mornings at work, and Scotty who will teach me how to stretch my intensely painful right shoulder blade area, and Dr. McCuskey the professor who changed my life who I saw on the stairs (who looked at me and said, "Why  aren't you in my classes?"), and Erin who will leave me voicemails just to say she misses me. Life is hard, but the point is to surround each other with love and support, and my Happiness Calendar sessions are not only an excellent excercise in humility but a reminder that I'm not alone even if I feel like it.

Genevieve gets a spot tonight, I think. She gave me the way to remember all those things. It's almost like giving me all those things in one. I'm a lucky girl.

Everyone needs this. That is all.

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