I just spent a good amount of time reviewing my old blog posts. It was a pretty intense trip.
I'm really grateful to my past self (he's a guy I usually hate for making bad decisions, but in this case he turned out to be a decent fellow). I'm grateful to him for being consistent with posting and for being pretty honest.
It's helped me realize that, while I've still got a lot of growing to do and goals to achieve, I've made pretty decent progress in my happiness levels. This year was my best of recent years in dealing with the winter season slump. I barely noticed the short days and we're already starting the downhill slope to having longer days again.
Losing my job in early 2013 and becoming a freelancer has been stressful, and going back to school has also been a stress, having more kids has been a stress, but somehow I'm dealing with all of it better. I've even had less sicknesses this year.
What this tells me is that my happiness is, at the core, uncoupled from my circumstances/situation. If that weren't the case, I'd be ultra-unhappy right now. :-P
I'm not sure WHY I've been doing better this year. My hunch is that I've been humbled quite a bit... to the point where I've had to re-evaluate where I am and what direction I really want to be heading, and what's really important TO ME in my life. Making steps to work toward "my element," even though still early and only small steps, is more fulfilling.
Being forced to rein in my finances and operate "lean" has actually given me a greater sense of "control" over my future. I have much more detailed/specific plans for future "fat" days. I have a lot of hope and confidence that those better days are on their way.
One major shift in THEME of my posts from back then and now, is I was more focused on my FEELINGS when I was depressed in the past, the last year I've been super focused on what I'm DOING. My posts are perhaps less poignant, but I'm feeling better personally.
One thing I miss from my older posts are the old friends (it seems like the last 2-3 years have been transitional for EVERYONE). Some specific people that used to comment/read my stuff that haven't for a while: @deadspread83 @Luis @i-smel @mindchamber @poxpower @kenney @vicariouse @manly-chicken @cyberdevil @frozenfire @ricepirate @jouste @psychogoldfish @johnnyutah @thatcomposerguy @lilg @jacksmack @renaenae @starogre @sumidiotdude @tyler-glaiel @prettymuchbryce @hyptosis
Life is cyclical/sinusoidal (cycles through time). A series of expanding and contracting. We usually hate the contracting periods, but they do serve a purpose.
These times are the Rocky training montages in our lives... where Rocky builds his strength for his future successes. The irony of those movies is that, in real life, there is no soundtrack and the moments are not cross-faded into a neat 5-minute segment building anticipation and hope. They're actually pretty scary, uncertain, and overwhelming.
There was a good TED talk about "grit" (the "key" to success) that I watched recently, and it mentions that one of the best ways to increase your "grit" is to believe that failure is recoverable and non-permanent.
My favorite part of all the Rocky training montages is in Rocky 1 when the loneliness and difficulty of what he's doing is emphasized instead of all the "getting stronger" ridiculous rippling abs and biceps (and dancing in the ocean in short shorts):
His alarm goes off at an ungodly hour (4 am) and he drags himself out of bed ALONE. The DJ on the alarm radio says it's 28 degrees F outside (-2 Centigrade). He has a moment when he sits there on the edge of his bed and shivers... no doubt considering just covering up and going back to sleep. He musters some will power and gets up to go to the fridge (the light from the fridge is painful and he tiredly winces). He disgustingly slurps down 5 raw eggs, he does it fast to get it over with and the juice dribbles from the sides of his mouth onto his sweatshirt. The radio DJ playing in the background plays a prank on some poor lady who chews him out for calling at such an early hour.
He stumbles out the door and it is BITTERLY cold in Philadelphia. Sad, subtle music plays (NOT "Gonna Fly Now"). NO ONE is on the streets cheering him on as shown in an ultra long shot of Rocky's alleyway/street that is completely dark and lifeless with one solitary figure (Rocky) slowly chugging off into the distance.
Downtown, the only person outside is the early-morning newspaper delivery truck driver. Rocky arrives at the famous Philadelphia Museum of Art steps (no one trailing behind him), but every step is a STRUGGLE. You hear only the sad background music and Rocky's extremely labored breathing as he just can't keep running anymore and slows to a cramping limp. He's doubled over at the top of the steps, clutching his cramped side. He snatches a glance out over the city as he turns and hobbles back down the steps. The sun is rising.
BTW, have you seen the documentary about the Rocky franchise? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tEbIMbKk_c