Gratitude. Appreciation. Giving thanks. No matter what words you use, it all means the same thing. Happy. We’re supposed to be happy. Grateful for friends, family, happy to just be alive… whether we like it or not.
Maybe we’re not supposed to be happy. Maybe gratitude… has nothing to do with joy. Maybe being grateful means recognizing what you have for what it is. Appreciating small victories. Admiring the struggle it takes simply to be human.
Maybe we’re thankful for the familiar things we know. And maybe we’re thankful for the things we’ll never know.
At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing… is reason enough to celebrate.
– Grey’s Anatomy
It’s been an interesting journey over the last 5 months since beginning the #100happydays journey when I launched this site and now that I look forward to beginning a new, physical and emotional chapter in my life, I wanted to take the opportunity to look back and see how I felt about the challenge.
In all honesty, it was difficult. I’ve struggled a lot over the recent months with my depression and dark thoughts and in those times when they were all consuming I couldn’t actively feel grateful for anything even though I was exceptionally appreciative of my own room and bed to try and relax. Sometimes it became being grateful for the smallest of things. The warmth of the sun on my face. Having dinner cooked for me. Watching a movie in peace. The sound of nature on a walk.
And I suppose that is what the challenge was really about. It wasn’t about cultivating ‘perfect’ moments you ‘just happen to capture’ on social media, it was about learning to be truly grateful at the core of its meaning. To really appreciate your friendships when you need them the most. The sound and feel of nature when life becomes overwhelming. It’s not about the material things but the things we nearly always take for granted.
When I was struggling there was nothing like going for a walk hearing the calls of many different birds as the trees rustled, the sun shone on my face and the river trickled by. When I could barely cope with the day, there was nothing like going to bed early to fall asleep with movie in the background offering solace. When I couldn’t bare my thoughts any longer, there was nothing like sharing them with a friend to discover they were going through bad times themselves. Those were the experiences I was grateful for.
I started this project in May when I launched this website and though there have been some big and small experiences to be grateful for, here is what I have been most grateful for:
It has helped me in ways I didn’t expect. It gave me a direction; something to work on every day when I had some time. It became my therapy when I was lost in my thoughts and depression and so desperate to try and write my emotions. It made me feel accepted when I received amazing emails and messages from readers and friends celebrating the website and Facebook page and gave me a reason to keep going with it despite often doubting if there really was a point to it.
My weekends in Melbourne allowed me to spend my time, not being a tourist, but cultivating good friendships I had and turning them into great ones. My time in Melbourne wasn’t about seeing the sites but listening to friends hopes and dreams over dinners and chocolate milkshakes; memories a tourist trip could never have offered me. I also reached out to friends online and back home a lot which felt so good to keep the connectivity going and being there for each other.
I’ve had a lot of free time to enjoy what I wanted to and there was nothing like going for long walks in the warmth, reading books and articles about topics that interested me or just watching a movie that took my fancy. Yes that free time also allowed my dark thoughts to take over quite often but on the whole I’m very grateful for it because it’s given me the time to discover more of what I love.
That may sound like a strange thing to be grateful for but since the very first moment my specialist gave me the all-clear to return to Australia I have felt as though I have been receiving signs that going ‘home’ to Sydney was exactly what was going to happen even if I greatly doubted it at times. From finding (and getting) my rural job within days to getting job interviews in Sydney before I’ve even arrived, it’s felt as though the Universe has been on my side even if I haven’t always been able to see it and appreciate it.
A double-edged sword to be grateful for. Whilst getting seriously ill took me on a one-way plane ride home, I am grateful that my condition was correctly diagnosed, discovered when it was mild and that my body responded so well to the initial treatment of steroids. Though I have no immune system left I’m grateful it was discovered when it was even if I hate the idea of having an incurable condition.
There have been a great many things I have been grateful for over the recent months but those are the biggest and most rewarding. Those are the memories I will take with me as I move back to Sydney and try and get closure on one of the most painful experiences and times in my life. I need to be in control of my time there. To enjoy the city for everything it has to offer which I felt unable to enjoy last time.
And so, the final and most important thing I feel grateful for is going ‘home’ to Sydney. To spend time with friends I felt too depressed to speak to last time. To get a good job now that I have the contacts instead of wondering if I could afford to buy meat until payday. To enjoy the city as a whole and have the adventure I never got to the last time.
I don’t know what the future holds and I’m scared that the past will repeat itself both in terms of finance and my health but I have to go back and I’m extremely grateful I now have the opportunity to do that. Not seven months ago I spent my final days in Sydney watching the sun set at North Bondi feeling sick, unable to eat and inconsolable that I was being forced to leave just as I had fallen in love with it. I genuinely never thought I would see the world again never mind Bondi and so to get a second chance feels so very special; it feels right.
This has been my #100happydays project and I’ve been grateful.