Thursday, December 6, 2012

Heidi Has a Happy Hippo

Just in case you're wondering, this post has a lot to do with religion.

When I was in fourth grade, I was invited to participate in the program, Oddyssey of the Mind. In our radically eclectic skit, my character was a puzzle peice named "Happy." I thought it was fitting, seeing as my first name is Heidi, and like Stan Lee, I'm a sucker for a good alliteration, especially when it comes to names. "Happy Heidi."

A little while after that, Stephanie drew these little illustrations of animals for each of us. They had adjectives, too. We each had a different animal. Well, mine was a hippo. A happy hippo. I didn't like being associated with a hippo, but I really liked being named "Happy" once again.

I don't have anything especially exciting to report. My life is pretty routine. I go to work, I go home. I go to church, I go get groceries. I look forward to the weekend, and I don't love Mondays.

But, I am happy.

Sometimes, when I kneel beside my bed to pray before I fall asleep, reflecting on my day and my life, I am overcome with a sense of happiness. I am surprised by it. It is not fleeting. It is constant. I am truly, deeply, actually happy. (No matter how much I wish it were different, the only thing I really feel in the morning when I pray is sleepy. Oh well).

I'm not really sure how long I had been deeply unhappy, but I can tell you: I was. I was so busy with college, and dating (I figured it out. Since I was 21, I have had only 10 months of "singleness," 6 of which have been the last half year. That's exhausting, and admittedly, a little unhealthy), that I really wasn't keeping my self in check. And I wasn't happy. To be honest, I wonder if I was ever really happy at college.

The summer was a little strange for me. I felt sad, but I enjoyed it. After all, I have a right to be sad, . Being sad is a part of the human experience, and a blessing. I am thankful for ALL of the blessings that my Heavenly Father allows me to have.

Don't get me wrong. I wasn't wallowing: I've done that before, and it isn't productive. No, this was a productive kind of sad, and sad might be the wrong word for it (maybe contrite? But nobody uses that word anymore). Anyhow, being sad helped me think about my SELF and who I am, and most importantly, what makes me happy. (Leave a comment if you can think of a better word for this. I just can't think of one).

I started reading more again. I used to read quite a lot for pleasure, but at school, I couldn't really choose what I read, because I was reading, reading, reading what the professors assigned me to read. I love the way I grew as a reader and a scholar during school, but there was something missing, too. So, here I was at home, and wanting to read, so I went to the library and brought home a stack of books, all picked by ME. Then I read them. Then I took them back. Then I got a new stack of books. Which I read. It was awesome.

I started painting with watercolors, too. I'm not very good, because I'm a beginner, but I enjoy watercolors. I like to play with the colors, and mixing, and trying to get the shapes and textures on the page the way I imagine. I think of myself as an artist these days. My work with markers and color pencils is, in my opinion, inspired. When I paint or draw, I feel a sense of peace and trainquility.

I re-evaluated my relgion. This, to me, means I re-evaluated my relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. I'm not saying that I re-decided whether or not to have this relationship, but that I decided to change the way I related to Them. I prayed more. I studied the scriptures, my patriarchal blessing, and my journal to re-discover the many tender mercies I am showered with constantly. I changed my journal writing to focus on them, and describe them, so that in the future, when I come to a similar place in life, I will have more material to study.

I worked in the garden. I hope I helped my Mom, working in the house. I made new friends and I made new plans for myself.

Being happy is fantastic. I don't have to be at a party or playing a game to feel it; that's not the same kind of happiness I'm talking about. I don't even need to be dating someone. It's a feeling of deep satisfaction with who I am, and knowing that God is also satisfied with who I am, too.

I have this theory about cycles: everything is a cycle. Life is a cycle. Each day cycles in and out, each week, each year -- and so, too, do our lives, in a way, through a cycle of self examination and self acceptance:

1. First, we lose ourselves, and become a stranger with the person we are.
2. Then, we re-discover ourselves, or discover our new selves for the first time, again.
3. Then we learn to accept and adjust to who we now are.
4. Finally, we change again, becoming a stranger to our selves once more, starting the cycle over again.

I don't think that's deep or profound, but it's beautiful, and I don't have anything deep or profound to say, except that I am happy. I may not be the same little girl with a painted, plywood puzzle peice costume dancing on a stage singing "Happy, happy ha-PPY!" but I still am (or rather, am again finally) "Happy Heidi."