Starting on Monday, September 6, 2010 (at 4:00 in the morning, so technically Sunday, September 5), I started taking a picture of something that made me happy every day. My Project Happiness 365 started as a proactive act on my part to ward off deep depression. It was spurred by heartbreak as an effort to pull myself out of the wreckage, but now it's fueled by gratitude and a desire to find the beauty in everyday, "mundane" life. This is my honest, vulnerable journey from Hot Mess to Winning. I hope this helps. Oh, and if you're in pain, good; that means you put your whole heart into something. And if you think it won't ever get better, I promise it will. Here's my proof.

No Gameplan

I have no gameplan for this blog. So I just thought I’d see what comes to mind first. But I told Marlaine I’d blog today, and therefore I must.

Surface: I’m currently in Berea, Ohio visiting Jill. I’m having a blast, but if you asked me, “What do you guys do?”… I would be hardpressed to find an answer. We enjoy each others company. We write rap songs about True Blood, we dress up in trash bags, we dress up as Gaga, we cook without proper tools. We have fun. And while we cook without any spatula, we don’t freak about how upsetting it is to be without a spatula,  but instead we rip up a box of Velveeta and improvise. There are no worries here. And we don’t spend much money. It’s great. I come home on Tuesday on another day of bus rides lasting from 7:00 AM until about 7:00 PM. Wee.

Deeper: When I spent last summer in Platteville with Jill we taught each other a lot. I learned how to really love a friend. I learned how to have fun without spending money. I learned how to be myself and love myself. I learned how to not stifle. But more than anything I learned a way of living I really enjoyed. And ever since then I have been trying to regain the attitude I had that summer. Jill taught me how to be grateful, and maybe I taught her that as well. But this is what I learned last summer:

Put things in perspective. For example, discovering we have no spatula in the middle of cooking pancakes. Gr. Frustrating. But let’s put it in perspective. On a stress scale from 1 to 10, 1 being the least stressful and 10 being the most stressful. Where would I put that? I would say 1. I mean, what if my house burned down? That would be like… 7 maybe. Because a house is full of things. I still have my friends and my family. (Granted my house has never burned down. I’m sure it’s extremely stressful but honestly it’s not the apocalypse). And for me, the spatula thing turned out to be really funny. We used some torn-up cardboard from a Velveeta box and it was truly a ghetto and unforgettable experience. I laughed my rump off. TADA! Presto Change-o stressful situation becomes hilarious. This is something I need to keep sight of this next year when I’m feeling down… which is inevitable.

Gratefulness. I’ve had a lot of things happen to me. Just like you. Or you or you or you. But I have to, again, put it all in perspective. When I don’t get the role I want, BOO THAT SUCKS. But I have a beautiful beautiful niece who just the other day looked me in the eye and said, “I love you.” Wow. Who cares about roles? Who cares about spatulas, stupid fights, rude strangers, whatever. And she didn’t have to say that to me. I didn’t want my sister to have a baby at all. I’ll admit I thought abortion would be the smarter choice. But I am so grateful my sister is stubborn as a mule, because Ava Bella is one of the most beautiful things that have ever been introduced into my life. And the first time I held her, you KNOW I apologized. I held her, and she was shorter than my forearm. I whispered to her, “I’m sorry.” She was like a month old but I think she understood. I think she’s forgiven me.

Everything happens for a reason. My sister was born stubborn so she would have Ava when many people very close to her told her it was a bad idea. I was supposed to work at Heartland last summer so I could meet Jill. I was supposed to fall off my bike the first time, so I would be wearing my helmet the second time. All my past failed relationships were supposed to fail so I could have the amazing relationships I have now. If I hadn’t met Jill, I wouldn’t have learned to let my guard down. Because we spent every day together. She was straight with me, so I was straight(ish) with her. She is an extremely sensitive person, and she taught me to be comfortable with that side of myself. I would go through all my friends and say why I’m supposed to be friends with you, but I know you know. I know you do.

Like yourself. Know yourself. I journaled almost every day last summer, because I wanted to know everything about myself. When I was feeling down I would journal about how I got to that dark place, and then I would tell myself the things I needed to hear to pull myself out. If I felt especially emotional one day I would journal about the reason why. I took time to take care of me, and I think it really paid off. Because my friends can help me only to a certain extent, but they can’t hear my inner monologue tear me apart. When I’m eating ice cream, and I see a shirtless guy walk buy with a 9 billion pack abs, my friends don’t hear my inner monologue taunt me. So I have to tell myself what I need to hear. Which is too personal for the internet.

Be yourself. I have spent too much time being small and meek, because I don’t want to be noticed. This has turned out to be detrimental… since I’m 6’3″ and currently pursuing a career on the stage. Have you ever tried to hide a six-foot-three-inches tall person before? You’ll fail… unless you cut me up into pieces. Which I don’t recommend. And why would I want to be invisible? Who would cast someone who wants to be invisible? So next time I walk down the street and 3 by Britney comes on my iPod and I feel like dancing… why not? When I see someone unafraid to dance in the street all alone (Caity Kuehn), I am envious. People might say, “Oooooh my gaaaaaaaah, hhhhwat a freeeee-yuk.” But they’re jealous. They are. Who would dislike someone unafraid to be themselves? A JEALOUS PERSON, THAT’S WHO!

Ok. I know my blog is always the same. I know it’s probably repetitive. But for me, confidence, happiness, whatever, it’s never a done deal. And I have come to terms with the fact that my self-esteem will be a lifelong battle. People in the “biz” will be telling me I’m not good enough while I tell myself the same thing. So I need repetition. And I bet I’m not alone.

I cry when I imagine living without you. You have changed my life. I love you to death. Never change.

JAMES
(This one cost me a few tears)

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