how to be happy: a letter to the future
I am in a curious place where I am happy and everything is good. life seems to be settling down. yesterday I napped, woke up to eat a giant burrito and went back to sleep. it was glorious, if not blog-worthy. tho I did publish many snaps and Facebook posts that were basically burrito close-ups and ‘yum wow.’
so I’ve decided to write about my happiness. because I did not wake up like this. my happiness is a struggle. my happiness is a fight. I’ve had many dark times in Seattle (and NY, and LA, and Spain) and tho the sun is shining I know it will rain again. this post is a love letter to myself, in the future, whenever I’m feeling down.
one thing that has improved my life infinitely is exercise. the exercise that works best for me is biking and yoga because I can go at my own pace. I can walk my bike uphill if I want to. I can spend 30 minutes crying in child pose if I want to. it happens.
I am not a competitive person. I was raised to give up at the first sign of adversity. I was told I would never win. the stress of an entire team relying on me brings paralyzingly pressure. I am not coordinated with a ball. but baby I can bike uphill all day.
and to think just a little over one year ago I was afraid to bike in Seattle!
I moved to Seattle in September 2012. I bought my bike in October, then was like ‘lol hills wut.’ I proceeded to move my bike from apartment to apartment as a clothing rack, an art piece, as something nonfunctional that takes up space.
I moved to north Seattle (first magnolia, then Wedgwood, now interbay) in July 2013. I was a walker for my first almost-year in Seattle because I had too much energy and not enough money for the bus. but in north Seattle things are further spread than they are downtown. so I was like, ‘oh damn! I better get on this bike or else I’ll never get anywhere!’ and so I did. I am best at doing the difficult things in life when I have no other options.
yes I walked my bike uphill sometimes. yes I still do. on Monday I biked to Tukwila and came back along lake Washington. after my dip in the lake I walked my bike up thru madrona, thru the central distract, to the 7 eleven on Madison. (this is a topic for another day but I FUCKING LOVE 7 ELEVEN). I got myself the hugest slurpee for only $2, hopped on my bike and coasted downhill, slurpin.
every day I get faster, and every day I get stronger. when I see a hill I’ve done before I’m like ‘oh yea I’ve done that hill before!’ and when I see a hill I haven’t done I’m like ’emily you have done similar hills!’ biking uphill today makes it easier to bike uphill tomorrow. (also in my head there is a quiet but persistent fear that if I don’t bike uphill today, tomorrow I won’t be able to.)
bike-life metaphors are limitless. walking around, being in the world, seeing people… my theory is that we are all riding invisible bikes on invisible hills. some of us are riding top-of-the-line bikes. some of us are riding fixed gears for some reason. some of us have flat tires. some of us don’t yet know how to shift gears. some of us are going uphill; some of us are going downhill. and no one can tell by looking! we can’t even see ourselves!
struggle is invisible; struggle is real; be kind
beyond biking, my other exercise addiction is yoga. for me they are a perfect team: biking gives me cardio and movement and the opportunity to burn my weird infinite energy; yoga helps me calm down and get into my body, and of course that great
s t r e t c h !
I started yoga in April after breaking up with my boyfriend. all that boyfriend time was suddenly empty and I wanted to use it constructively. yoga for the win! also, biking gets me so right I seriously can barely walk without stretching daily.
sadly, I just had to quit my studio because it will not fit in with my new work schedule. I am now on the hunt for a studio that offers evening classes close to home. I will do youtube yoga if I have to! I will not give up these stretches and twists for anything!
now that I am a yoga nerd I find class philosophies seeping into everyday life. ‘listen to yourself.’ ‘honor your truth.’ ‘it’s your practice.’ I do worry about annoying people by being too hippy dippy positive but for me it’s the only option. because of my experiences with and disposition toward depression, I need to be happy. I try not to ignore problems and to deal with them (in my own way), but I also try to move on and be happy and not dwell.
I want to quote (no attribution but yes I got permission; I went to journalism school ok?!) something a good friend recently wrote on a closed Facebook group for Seattle feminists:
“experiencing assault has boiled down my personality into this thick stupid angry thing and I am now intolerable to be around because all I do is yell at men”
i love you; I believe you; it’s not your fault. your anger is more than justified.
but for me, after years of being mad and sad and drunk, anger does not serve me. anger gives me bad feelings in my body. for me, i try to learn from the shit and embrace the good so tightly.
of course I am not perfect. I was recently threatened at my ex-job by a busser who also works on a boat… somewhere. in Seattle there are boats everywhere! and I love boats! but now when I see a boat I worry he is there and he is going to rape me and kill me and it is mostly not logical except for the fact that he already threatened me once and I have been hurt by men that never even gave me a warning. but fear doesn’t serve me so I focus on my breath and try to calm down and keep moving.
right now I am good and happy but I know me and so:
dear emily. it might be march. it might be raining. something uncool might have just happened at work, or with a family member, a lover, or a friend. honor your feelings (even the negative ones!); don’t rush. it’s your practice. just remember that sometimes you are so incredibly happy. remember that you can bike uphill after years of thinking you couldn’t. remember the feeling of the sun on your back. you will feel it again I promise.