IT'S NOT ABOUT THE CHASE

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Submitted Date 11/13/2019
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Sometimes I can sleep until the sun cuts through the blinds, and I have to decide to confront the day or bury my head further under the pillow. Sometimes I find the strength to climb out of bed, and then I stub my toe on the dresser, snap a button on my favorite shirt, spend 3 and a half minutes looking for my shoes when I have 4 minutes to leave the house. Then the shoes are under the table you glanced at three 3 times, at the wrong angle. A bunch of tiny little signs telling me I'm right,—today is not going to be my day. Some days are different. I wake alert and adaptive to the day's obstacles. I am confronted with a problem, I improvise a solution without missing a beat. Life is finally playing a song I know how to dance to.

I am not always happy, I am known to swing into a slump during the fall. I feel run down and exhausted. My emotions toggle between bored, restlessness, and guilt. The season changes and with it, my mood. Most of the time I feel very thankful for my life. I have a ton to appreciate. I remind myself where I have been, and use that experience to fuel my gratitude. I still have a month or two where all I can think, is "I am not where I wanted to be." I know I can pick myself up and put myself back together, I'm not where I want to be but I am continuously taking steps toward those goals. Those steps are all I can focus on. I just need the fall season to organize and reflect. I always feel better, but I've met a lot of people who don't.

Some people feel awful all the time. On a quest for happiness. The joy of the present is lost on some of us. I've found happiness isn't something to be sought after. Happiness lives inside. Happiness is soil. If you treat your soil, plants grow. Improper soil that isn't taken care of won't grow anything. People love chasing the high that is associated with being happy, but that feeling always fades. Wagering a new job, a new romance, a new house, or some other change will make them happy. Change is exciting, but it can't erase the disconnection within yourself. Take charge of yourself and your life. Treat your soil, plant your seed, and happiness will grow.

Amidst my childhood, happiness was my superpower. I used it to deter attention away from me, and navigate. I learned early on that I can't control anyone but myself. I developed a vision of who I wanted to be, and I pretended to be that person. I held onto those visions because they became my instincts. I was happy, but I was also surrounded by problems that chained me to the ground. I insisted that my life would be happy, and worked for that reality. I had every reason to miserable, but when I was young I don't remember feeling miserable. I think I was focused on my happiness and learning how to find it.

I found happiness in dance. I found happiness in writing. I found happiness in poetry, and language. I found happiness in the way the carpet fibers scratched my feet. During the walks to school before the sunrise, or when I sang in the shower, I found moments in my day where I could escape. Minutes of pure bliss, where I wasn't worried about what other people thought, or suffocated with self-doubt. Now I find I'm most unhappy when I haven't taken the time to care for myself. I don't sing in the shower like I used to. I am no longer a student and the walks before the sunrise have disappeared. I am still happy because I sing in the kitchen while I make dinner. I take walks during the sunset and thank my feet for every step. I look up at the sky and I am still filled with hope and wonder. I take time to water the soil inside of me so that I can grow. The point is to do more for yourself, so when things go wrong you have an escape plan. A way to reset your mind, and strategize next moves.

I have always thought being alone was important. I think there is so much to learn about yourself when you have no one at all. The only person you have to impress is you. If you can make yourself laugh, then you won't ever be bored. If you can fulfill yourself you won't expect a partner to take responsibility. People have needs, and everyone should know how to fulfill their specific needs all by themselves without the help of another. The more you can do independently the better prepared you'll be when life goes sideways.

I use the fall season to pick on myself, analyze the missteps and calculate the smarter ones that will enhance my mental health. I like to think it's healthy, and not a cruel and punishing scrutinization. I evaluate my role as a parent, as a partner, as a writer, and ultimately as a person. I think how can I be a better wife? How have I helped my partner grow? When was the last time I said "thank you" to my child or partner? Relationships are often breeding grounds for resentment, and I actively work to keep my relationships healthy by taking a grievance and flipping it around. Communication works wonders if you do it right. I think about the friends I don't talk to as much and begin to think I'm boring. I could be boring but friendships are mutual. When was the last time I called them? I think about my looks and reflect on a time where nothing jiggled. Then I think if I don't want to jiggle I could manage my diet and exercise. There is always something to do for yourself. After I cover all my grievances I make note of the year's highlights.

I am thankful for my general health. I am thankful for my family. I made one, and we are mostly adorable 75% of the time. I am thankful for my house. I am thankful to have a partner that encourages me to write and loves me in all of my seasons. I am thankful for leaving toxic relationships, and believing I deserved better. When I think of where I want to go, or the person I am to become as I grow and mature, I have to be grateful for what I already have. I keep thinking, I want another baby, or I don't want to live here forever. I want more from life, but I don't know what that means for me. There is room for plenty to go wrong. I want to make sure I am not wishing for something that I don't fully understand. I want to know what I have and cherish it because, things change. Life changes and things out of our control derail our path. I want to know that when life hits me head-on that I can turn to myself and pick up the pieces. Ask yourself those questions.

The new year is approaching and I don't typically make resolutions, however, I do take notes of what I want from this next year. I don't base it on expectations. I try not to focus on material things. I try to make it about personal growth. This next year I am going to focus on being the best parent to my one child. I was fortunate to have one baby. The pregnancy was a dream and the birth was a nightmare, but I have no idea how a second baby would change the dynamic of my family. I am not deciding I don't want another child, I am simply tweaking my perspective. I want to appreciate the child I do have and make sure I celebrate them instead of spending my time wondering what I am missing out on. I am going to write. I have goals for this career, and if I keep picking my work apart and blaming myself for not being where I want to be creatively or financially, those actions will only further prohibit my growth. I am going to continue to grow as long as I keep writing, and quit comparing my career to someone else's. I will be the partner I want. A relationship is about give and take. I am going to hold myself accountable for giving, and much as I receive. If I think I need more from my partner I will make sure I am doing more for my partner. Positivity breeds positivity. When you focus on you, life falls into place. It is never selfish to make sure that you are thriving. It is selfish to expect someone else to be responsible for your growth.

Title Photo by Noelle Otto from Pexels

Ashley Aker

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