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.

My roommates are extremely talented. They always make shit, and I tell them how impressed I am by how they can just make things from scratch. Like, Kaitlin makes these beautiful paintings. And it all starts with a blank canvas and multiple colors of paint. Scott makes these beautiful dresses and it all starts with a sheet of fabric. It’s amazing! Well today, I experienced the art of creation:
I MADE MASHED POTATOES!!! From scratch! I started with a bunch of potatoes, and I ended with garlic mashed potatoes!!! I’m extremely proud of myself. I get kinda self-deprecating, and I tell myself and others that I’m really clumsy and I can’t make things. Or I say things like… “Well, I make a MEAN piece of toast.” Well, after today I have to toss that out the fuckin’ window. CUZ I MADE SOMETHING. AND IT WAS FUCKIN’ YUMMY.

I read this article on Facebook today that both Grace and Matt Cooke posted. It was about how to use social media. ( )And there was a part that said something like, “Think about what you’re putting out there. Ask yourself if what you’re putting out there is gonna hurt someone’s feelings.” Well, you definitely don’t want to overthink everything, but it is important. Sometimes, when I want to feel good, I just post something really ego-boosting on Twitter. Which… is fine, as long as I’m not doing it to tear down someone else. That hatefulness… it’s not attractive. And I can be Team James with being Anti Team (insert name of random TwatMuffin). See, like that, that wasn’t necessary.

The article also talks about being true to yourself and knowing your intentions. Are you posting something to hurt someone else?  Are you posting it because you’re looking for validation? Or is it something that really moved you that you think other people would really be affected by? Are you trying to be benevolent or malevolent? This is something I can focus more on, being a more authentic James. Speak from my heart, not from my ego. I can be Team James by being the True James. And I think I can be more honest with myself about my intentions, when I’m doing something to thrash at someone else. And this entails asking for help when I need it, instead of pretending I’m OK.

And that brings me to where I woke up today. I have been struggling on and off for a couple of weeks. And today, I woke up with a fresh attitude. And I told Katie, “You know what, I’m over it. I’m over (what was bothering me).” And she said, “Well, you don’t have to be over it. It’s OK to not be over it.” Yeah. Yeah. That really hit me in a good place. Cuz I told myself that I don’t need to be “over it” to be happy. Everything isn’t perfect. I don’t always feel 100%. But that’s ok. And it was a really vital step for me, today, to tell myself that despite all these imperfections, I could still choose to be happy. I’m not over it. I still get mad. Furious. I still get sad. But I’m not waiting to be “over it” in order to let myself be happy. I can be a hot ass mess and happy at the same time. And the happiness comes from accepting myself as a partial wreck but loving myself regardless… and finding those beautiful moments despite the lingering wreckage.

Today I chose optimism. I want to be grateful every day. I want to wake up and be happy to be alive every day. I want to be grateful for that first breath in the morning, that first sip of water in the morning, the ray of sunshine hitting me in the face while I try to sleep.

But being honest with myself is the best part. Cuz I’ve stopped fighting myself and my feelings, and I’ve said it out loud. “I’m not over it.” I don’t have to pretend to be something I’m not. Yeah, it’s Day 237 and I’m not 100% OK. But I’m better. Way better. But I’ve still ways to go. And that’s OK. I’m giving myself permission to not be ok. But I will choose to keep living. I refuse to be inhibited by the fear of falling apart.

No more games; just James.

“I won’t fall apart again. I’m not falling apart.”
~”Not Falling Apart” by Maroon 5

And you know what, James? If you do fall apart, I’ll still love you. I give you permission to fall apart. You’ve reassembled yourself before; you know where the parts go. I’ll be patient. I promise.

James (is still scared)


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