The Happiness Project: Joy

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. I love it but also it majorly stresses me out. I feel so much pressure to make it perfect and to enjoy it. The money aspect always stresses me out and I usually choose to make Christmas gifts late enough that I’m scrambling to finish on time. 

Then there’s the family aspect. I love my family, I really do but they can also be a bit… Much. I’m from a small town in the interior of BC and things are certainly different there than they are here in Vancouver. I get annoyed with small-town life and none of them seem to understand why I love the city so much. I love visiting my family but it’s also exhausting. So many people and so much going on. I always know that I’m thoroughly exhausted by the end of the holiday season, so I wanted to make it a nice and relaxing month with a lot of things that bring me joy. 

My month was filled with Christmas activities. I kicked it all off by decorating my apartment and my rats’ cage with all my decorations. I treated myself to two advent calendars this year. One from Lindt now that I can eat chocolate again, and a tea calendar from David’s tea. We had our annual craft exchange at the caffe I hang out at. I crocheted a friend a blanket for it, and even though I was a little disappointed that I ran out of time and couldn’t make it as long as I wanted it to be, it still turned out pretty well. My girlfriend and I went to Glow, which is a Christmas light display, and even though it was disappointing, it was a lot of fun. She also surprised me with tickets to go see my first Cirque de Soleil show, which was absolutely amazing. I went to my first work Christmas party. It wasn’t for my own work but a friend invited me to go with them and it was great. It helped that the food was free and that there was a lot of wine involved. My friends and I also held our annual bad Netflix Christmas movie and gin night. Another tradition I did this year was Sistermas. Andrea, my self-proclaimed sister, and I spent the last couple of Christmases together but this year since we were both going home to our families, we decided to have it earlier in the month. I stayed over after Gin night and we went for brunch the next morning before doing some Christmas shopping and going back to Andrea’s for cat cuddles and some Christmas movies. The following weekend was the annual Christmas party with the nerds at the caffe. As per usual we all ate too much food, were forced to watch the worst Christmas short film known to mankind (if you feel like being tortured like we were, go check out “Treevenge”, but honestly, don’t do it), and had a super fun white elephant gift exchange. The last Christmas event I did before going home to my hometown was going to the Burnaby Heritage Museum with another friend. I’d never been and it was so much fun to go with her since she used to volunteer there and told me so much information about it. Naturally, I did celebrate Christmas with my family once I got to my home town, but really all my Christmas activities happened while I was still in Vancouver. 

It wasn’t just holiday activities that brought me joy this month. I tried to find joy in all the little things. Self-care was a huge deal for me this month. I made a self-care advent calendar and didn’t follow it every day but followed it as much as I could. I also continued reading a lot and finished out the year with a total of 140 books read in 2019. Along with reading, writing and podcasting were other things that not only brought me joy in December but brought me joy in 2019 in general. Between this blog, my writing for WWEST, and my writing for Sartorial Geek, I published 31 blog posts. I also launched my own podcast with my co-host Andrea, and we published 16 episodes. 

The last thing that brought me a lot of joy this month was Star Wars. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love everything to do with Star Wars, so between the new movie and The Mandalorian (I love you Baby Yoda!) I was in my own nerdy heaven. I have a couple more posts on the go about Star Wars, so I’m not going to say any more about it here, but it certainly brought me a lot of joy.

I ended the month spending New Year’s Eve with my girlfriend and a friend watching movies from our childhood and eating too much junk food. Not the wild party that’s expected, but I preferred this so much more. 2019 was a year full of challenges, but also a lot of joy. Join me next month for “power”.

Self-Care Advent Calendar

This time of year can make it hard to remember to take care of yourself. So in the spirit of the holidays, I have made a self-care advent calendar for December. Feel free to alter any of the activities if you need to, and remember to take care of yourself.

1. Make a list of holiday activities you want to do

2. Make your favourite seasonal clothes easy to find

3. Drink your favourite tea before bed

4. Make a list of things you’re grateful for

5. Turn off your phone for the evening

6. Meditate before bed

7. Have delicious brunch

8. Spend time with friends

9. Do something you love

10. Go for a walk

11. Take half an hour for yourself

12. Go to bed early and read

13. Meet up with a friend for hot chocolate

14. Write about your day

15. Do a holiday activity with someone

16. Do yoga

17. Have a bath

18. Reward yourself with a treat for being awesome

19. Walk or drive around your neighbourhood and look at the lights

20. Eat a good breakfast

21. Read a book by the fireplace

22. Take a long shower

23. Watch a holiday movie

24. Give a gift to someone

Happy holidays!

The Happiness Project: Solo

I’ve never been a person who’s had problems doing things alone. When I lived with my parents I would go to the movies by myself every week. I don’t mind going to eat by myself or go sit in a coffee shop and write. So I thought this month was going to be a breeze. I went into it with a plan. Both my best friend and my girlfriend were going on vacation at the same time and I thought that would be a great opportunity to take myself on some nice dates. I’d go to the movies, out for dinner, stuff along those lines. 

Then November came around… With Christmas coming around, funds are a little low, not to mention time. I’ve been spending a lot of time working on Christmas gifts and all my money on the rest of them. So dates by myself weren’t exactly going to happen. 

Then there was the other factor. For anyone who listens to my podcast, you’ve probably heard my episode on Favourite People. I’m not going to sum it up here (but I recommend you go listen to that episode if you want to learn more). Anyways, Andrea is my favourite person and I was really struggling with the idea of her going away for a week and a half. Everyone else was so excited and happy for her, and I was too, but underlying it all was an overwhelming sense of panic and abandonment. Yes, I’m aware it was only a week and a half. I know most people would think I’m being completely unreasonable, but it was a big deal to me. I was talking to another woman with BPD beforehand and she completely got it. 

Anyways, before Andrea left she made sure to remind me that there are other people who love me and that I should leave the house every once in a while. I like to think I succeeded. I went to my friend’s Caffe one night, went to a show with one friend, out for coffee with one, for lunch with one, and I even hung out with a few friends to watch a movie. And yes, I did end up taking myself out for dinner one night too. I also let someone help me when I was having a really hard day. She came over and really lifted my spirit. It’s hard for me to admit when I need help, so I’m really proud of myself for admitting that. 

I’ve really been working on expanding my support system. Reaching out to more people, taking on a lot more myself. It’s hard but therapy, DBT, and CBT are working wonders.

I thought this month was going to be about me doing things by myself, but it wasn’t at all. It ended up being about doing things without Andrea and also accepting help. The theme of the month may have been solo but even my childhood hero Han Solo needed help sometimes. He had Luke and Leia and I have my friends too. Now, I don’t need validation for doing this. I needed to do it for myself. 

Join me next month for joy. Yes, an appropriate theme for December, I’m aware.