When something big goes wrong, it’s easy to forget all of the little things going right. I have wasted so much of Lottie’s first year focused on all of the ways I have felt unhappy despite having every reason to celebrate. Postpartum depression is cruel like that. With so much anxiety clouding my brain, I let the happy moments slip by unnoticed.
Now that my brain is finally balancing and the fog is drifting away, I find myself having to stop and recognize the moments when I feel good. To stop and remember that this is what happy feels like. I see patterns now that I didn’t see before, can spot triggers for my depression that I never used to know were there.
I notice how my mood is linked to my diet and whether or not I made a point to eat that day. When I am tempted to piddle in bed on my iPad while Lottie naps, I remember how quickly I fall into the trap of sleeping, and I sit up and work at my computer instead. I keep lists in my head of all the little things that pull me under the waves of depression. Funny how easy it is to ignore the habits that might pull me back out.
Today, I am setting out to make a new list–ten things that make me happy–so that the next time my depression tugs at me, I’ll remember how to stay afloat. I hope these thoughts might inspire you to notice your own daily moments of happiness.
I am happy when…
…I share meals with my daughter.
Feeding time used to feel like a chore. Careful spoonful after careful spoonful, with only a third of it going in Lottie’s mouth and no real indication that she found any of it to be satisfying. Now that Lottie has grown more independent (and has more teeth), we can enjoy meal time together. I’ve honestly come to love my lunch with Lottie. She doesn’t want anything special–just a little of what Mama’s having, please. Her face lights up when she discovers something new, and she lives for sneaking bites to her puppies.
So much of motherhood is watching and guiding and protecting and diaper changing. During meal time, we can simply be.
…I feel close to God.
I have always been a believer, but after my miscarriages, I fell pretty far from grace. I found it next to impossible to sit in church without crying. And while I never blamed God for taking my babies, I just couldn’t bare to be told God had a plan for me when I didn’t for one second believe that God planned for my babies to die. That didn’t sound like God to me.
I have only recently begun finding my way back to Faith (I credit She Reads Truth for that), and am once again attending church, and for the first time ever, Bible journaling. Even though some weeks the “obligation” of church can feel like a chore, I always feel lighter afterwards. Hymns are my favorite form of praise, and something about singing in congregation just makes me feel surrounded in grace.
Now, I end my day with Bible study. Finding new ways to understand my Father helps me to understand my own struggle on higher levels and almost always leaves me in peace.
…my critters love on me.
Okay, so, this isn’t actually a picture of my dog. It’s my folk’s dog. But none of my puppies sit still long enough to be picturesque.
For those who don’t know, my house practically doubles as a zoo. At one point in time, we had seven gerbils, four cats, three dogs, and a hawk (my husband’s a licensed falconer–trust me, hawks are not pets). These days we’re down to two dogs and two cats, and they all love to snuggle. Most evenings you can find me reading in bed with a dog on either side of me, one cat on my chest and the other at my toes. It’s hard to not be happy when you’re basically drowning in snuggles.
…I experience natural beauty.
I grew up on an acreage, with prairie reserve in my front yard and woods in the back. Fireflies in the gloaming, sunlight reflecting off ice-covered boughs, these are the images that painted my childhood. I will never forget a high school choir trip to NYC when my father and I stood listening to a tour guide in Central Park tell us that this perfectly designed park was far more beautiful than any nature-made one could ever hope to be. Dad and I raised our brows at each other. We knew better.
When I make a point to experience nature, whether that be fishing at sunset or simply stopping to stare at the stars, it is impossible not to be swept up in the great grandeur that surrounds us. Little moments of awe to remind us of life’s beauty.
…I feel accomplished.
I don’t really mean graduating here, although that did make me pretty happy. But seriously, I spend so much of my day sitting on my butt just watching my daughter that when I actually get to check something off my to-do list, I get really excited. Getting the dishes done is a big deal. Washing AND drying the laundry in the same day? BIG DEAL.
Don’t underestimate the power of a job well done. I make daily lists in my bullet journal just so I can have the satisfaction of crossing items off. Sometimes I’ll even write down items I’ve already accomplished just to make me feel better. What can I say? I like easy wins.
…I taste good food.
One of the first things my husband and I bonded over was a love of good food. More often than not our TV is turned to Food Network, and some of our earliest dates involved Chopped-style battles (I totally rocked the meatball challenge). While both enjoy a night out at a fun restaurant, honestly we have just as much fun cooking together. Nick takes meats, I tackle the veg, and all the while we’re tasting each other’s dishes and critiquing as we go. I live for good food, friends. And for us, a home cooked meal is just that.
…I capture a perfect moment.
I have recently begun experimenting with my husband’s old DSLR camera, and I can’t even begin to explain to you how excited I get when I capture that perfect moment. Like, seriously, do you know how many shots it took me to capture that face? It’s not like Lottie spends an awful lot of time sitting still…
There’s something thrilling about standing behind a lens. Goodness knows I love a good story, and mamas, that’s 1000 words of story happening right there.
…I have my partner by my side.
My husband works a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Seven days a week a lot. So when we get to do things together, that’s a blessing. Most days “together” means a trip to Walmart or a walk around the block. But they’re still my favorite moments.
…I connect with family.
About four years ago, my husband and I moved way away from my family. I mean, for most people it’s probably not THAT far away, but for me, if you’re not in day trip distance, you’re too far. I am a homebody at heart, and I continually feel desperate for more time with my family. I love watching Lottie play with them and seeing their relationships grow. Every chance I get, I am on the road headed for home.
…I spend time outdoors.
I don’t know what the deal is with fresh air, but I swear it’s magic. No matter how bad my day may seem, a little time outdoors seems to flip the switch. Even Lottie can feel the change. As an infant, she would hit her evening “screaming hour” around 8pm every night. But the moment we stepped outside, her screaming would stop. Just like magic. Now that fall is drawing to a close and winter is setting in, I know my daily time outdoors is growing shorter and shorter. But even on the most bitter days, I’m not above bundling tight if it means a few minutes of peace in the great outdoors.
What are your happy moments? Leave a note in the comments below!
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