Is Being Happy a Choice?

Some would say categorically not. They have a disease, it’s a part of their makeup (genetic or otherwise) and they have no control over it.

Others might argue that yes, how we feel is our choice. We have a mind of our own and we can control it (using various methods).

It is also often debated whether depressive thoughts are addictive, in the same way that substances like alcohol, or behaviours like gambling are addictive. And when we are not using these substances or behaviours we feel out of control largely because in a (self-destructive) way the familiarity gives us an element of comfort. In a similar vein, it is often noted that women (and men for that matter) in unhealthy relationships are mimicking those they had with their parents in childhood. It might not be healthy, but it is familiar.

So, if using by these theories, we fight the urge to believe that we have no control over our minds and we fight the urge to fall back into the dark, warm but comfortable well of depression, ( Read my post on Depression – A Multi-Pronged Attack ) can we overcome it?

My view, for what it’s worth, is yes. But it’s no walk in the park.

It’s curious how whilst I was cycling through France last summer, I had never been so happy or so at peace. Perhaps it was something to do with … the daily exercise (ok it was a brutal 60 – 90 kms a day); being in the sunshine (yup, it hit 41 degrees); a challenge each and every moment (wait til the book comes out, then you’ll understand); social interaction (albeit mostly in a different language apart from on meeting one couple who when I exclaimed how delighted I was that they were English, they replied, “Nah! We’re from Birmingham.” Right; No alcohol, but gallons of water and my weight in croissants; No toxic people to be around and no social media …. And so on and so forth.

Yes, all those things that we’re supposed to do daily to help ourselves (granted, perhaps not in quite such an extreme form), nevertheless, whilst I’m not suggesting that anyone heads off for a 1200 km cycle ride, it’s funny how happy one can be with just a bicycle a tent and the winding road ahead.

So what do you think? Depending of course on the severity of the anxiety or depression, do you believe we actually have a choice to be happy?

Katie xx

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”Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”

(The last book by Dr Seuss)

To travel and to explore surely encourages one’s mind to expand and to stretch out the personal boundaries of one’s self. I’d like to think so.

It has been several weeks since I moved to New York and I fear I have neglected any writing both on WordPress but also on the book. So after a metaphorical whipping I am back on the sofa tap, tapping my fingers and urging the grey matter to shake off the cobwebs. Ah, but I sit here and there is such a view, so I simply gaze and gaze.

We are high up in a building where light floods in through floor to ceiling windows giving views to the west and north. The Hudson River is a constant moving body of water with boats and cruise ships travelling up and down. Beyond the river, cars and trucks can be seen in miniature over in New Jersey and below, people rush around doing their daily business; all busy, all with purpose. Fire trucks and ambulances scream their sirens every few minutes; horns are blaring, there is shouting, laughing, arguing. A glimpse of the green trees of Central Park gives a little respite to the hard angular surroundings. The buildings, the glass, the steel, the concrete, the brick; the beautiful, the ugly, the noise, the chaos. And I gaze and gaze ….

I explore daily and osmosis is forcing an absorption of the sights, sounds and smells. It is inescapable and dirty, exhausting and so very noisy. But it is also exhilarating and liberating. Anonymity is freeing and here nobody pays any attention. Anything goes.

So I shall continue to explore and absorb, but will now find a little balance in my day and write and tell you all about it (if you can bear it!). The book also is toddling along but now with renewed vigour and the desire to find the light at the end of the tunnel. But in the meantime, the river is an absolute mill pond today and there are three small sailing boats barely moving across the water and the sun is just catching their sails in the light …

Katie xx

Boom!

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A week in New York has slightly blown my mind.  

Since arriving back home, I’ve spend the last 12 hours alternating between walking like a zombie and lying on the sofa mopping my fevered brow.  Actually there is nothing fevered about my brow in the least but I was hoping to portray an image of a broken woman.  A broken woman with jet lag who would be the grateful recipient of peeled grapes being fed to her by her doting husband.  I’ll admit this scenario is unlikely, however I can categorically say that I am pooped, knackered and done in.

Being on holiday in a city is very different to spending a week flat-hunting and trying to understand how ‘the city that never sleeps’ actually works. One is swept into a false sense of security by the fact that the language is, by and large, the same.  Do not be fooled! Trying to understand the rights, wrongs and the pitfalls of a chaotic, manic city where everything is different is not easy.

Attitudes are different, tone is different and requests often come across as orders. Networking is key and the phrase ‘The Land of Opportunity” holds strong. Tipping compared to Blighty is a very different system and costs. Ultimately, living in New York compared to London is expensive. Very.

We’ve been introduced to some good people and thankfully have several friends already living there which no doubt will ease the transition. But at the end of the day, the transition has to be made by us.

As a note to self, I have to remember not to say ‘golly’ or ‘gosh’ too often and whilst saying ‘poppycock’ amused me, it raised a few eyebrows. It’s just such a glorious word …

Am I excited? Hugely! This is such an adventure … This is The Land of Opportunity where anything can happen! Who knows, maybe I’ll come back in a few years time with bright white teeth and the most enormous pair of knockers. How thrilling! I jokingly mentioned this to The Colonel and he went a little pale – Oh poppycock, golly and gosh! If he doesn’t know when I’m joking, then I’m doomed in America …

Katie xx

As ever, all tips and advice will be gratefully received 🤓🤓

She’s Dead …

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Betty is dead.

Betty was my black dog, my little cackling demon, the ogre clutching on to my back. Haven’t we all had a little of her from time to time?

The majority of us have suffered from moments of depression, anxiety or a combination of both. I had my fair share, yet whether mine was worse or not than anyone else’s, who am I to say? I had moments of feeling blue, but then don’t we all? Perhaps that’s all it ever was, just a little bit of blue.

Like all the evil bullies of this world, in the end Betty found me to be a rather repellent host and has consequently moved on.

The sun is shining, the world is a happy, if complicated place and I can see Betty and the bullies for what they truly are. Having used every resource available to me, (see my post Depression – A Multi-Pronged Attack ) I can confirm that this slightly unhinged woman has indeed killed Betty and moved on.

“Ha! Don’t you get so cocky!” I hear someone say with a smirk. Perhaps they’re right; but in truth I don’t want to be around that person. I only surround myself with positive people who like me want to live in peace, love and optimism. Yes, I have to be careful and keep an eye on myself, but that’s what we all do anyway.

Life is for living. But most importantly, life is for living in the light and not the darkness.

Katie x

The Great British Madness!

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The British Post Office is a fairly depressingly dire place. But we need it. I think.

The queue at my local Post Office always reaches the door, and yet of the six tills, only two are only ever manned. There is usually someone else wandering around in the background but they never appear to be doing very much apart from talking to the teller whom you have just waited twenty minutes for. Hence, irritation starts to rise with ferocity as you feel you have deserved and want to claim the tellers undivided attention for just a few minutes. You have stood beside the birthday card stands, the array of stationery and the plastic toys for sale for too long. And yet, if you stand for long enough, you start believing that you actually need some paperclips with coloured unicorns attached to them.

Then, uproar. A man comes in, bypasses the entire queue and heads straight to a momentarily empty till. The wretched teller is ignorant of his blatant lack of adherence to the British queuing system. The line of waiting men, women, grumpy children, angry old women and a random dog begin by hissing amongst each other. The young lady beside in front of me sucks through her teeth and says quietly, “Excuse me?” in disbelief at this. I however am clearly feeling hormonal.

“Excuse me! Are you not aware of this queue?” What should have been uttered as a polite question comes out as an overly loud bellow of indignation.

All eyes on me.

Man looks horrified and scuttles amid apologies to the end of the queue.

I am mortified.

“Oh God,” I whisper to my lady friend, “Now I feel like such a cow.”

“Nah!” She says. “We’re all with you.” And as I look around, I am being given nods and smiles of approval, apart from the rather sheepish man.

Unity. Yes, there is strength in unity!

Although, having come from Scotland, had this happened in Glasgow where everyone calls a spade a spade, this would never have started. Well, it might have, but there would have been a full-blown punch-up, the police would have arrived, someone, probably me would have been tasered, ending with all and sundry having a good glass of whiskey and a three hour discussion.

Oh I do love a bit of human interaction. So good for the soul.

Katie x

What makes you really cross?

If Music be the Food of Love …

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Disappearing into the bowels of the earth, otherwise known as the underground system of London, the sound of a violin rose up to meet me. A young man was playing the tune from A Fiddler on the Roof, “If I were a Rich Man”.

Oh, if only I could have joined him with some fabulous Russia dancing!

oh how I wanted to don my dancing shoes and join this marvellous man with his enthusiastic fiddling on his fiddle!

Oh how I wanted to leap beside him with gay abandon!

(Nb. Slight yawn, but for those wanting to be politically or otherwise correct, please note that I am using gay in the old fashioned sense … I have no desire to make comparisons of dancing abilities between people of varying sexual orientations – I’m exhausted, should have used a different word in the first place).

As he played faster and faster I was swept up in the excitement of the moment and the exhilarating music, so promptly tipped the meagre contents of my purse into his violin case. He grinned widely at me and added a slight dip of his chin to acknowledge my paltry collection of two and five pence pieces. He also got two safety pins and a book of Royal Mail stamps, but I managed to retrieve those.

With my heart singing, I continued on my journey with his music becoming fainter, but with my walk infinitely lighter and bouncier. I write this despite the unhappy truth that even if I wanted to risk the disapproving looks of fellow travellers who would assume that I was most probably a complete loon, I strongly suspect that once crouched down in my Russian dancing stance ready to fling my legs from under me, I would never have been able to stand up again without the help of some small hydraulic apparatus.

So, if you’re needing a little boost today, turn on the radio, do a little jig, sing, or even join a fiddler and try a Russian dance.

Katie x

Does jolly music make you want to dance with gay abandon?

Courage Mon Brave!

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Once upon a time I was a secretary. I could sit politely with my legs crossed prettily at the ankle and take the minutes of a meeting in shorthand. Sometimes I would even be able to read it back and type it up, mostly however, I’d wail pitifully as I struggled to make out even the names of the people who had attended the meeting. I tried once just making it up, but when the minutes were distributed later to the apparent attendees, it caused much confusion for everyone, especially those who weren’t there.

Oh I tried. I tried to be organised, but my filing systems were less of a system and more of a random putting things, frankly, anywhere. My desk was an extension of my in-tray, papers spilling over until the floor also was used as a workable space. Making mistakes whilst booking hotels and hire cars for my various bosses over the years resulted in many an irate repercussion. Apparently CEOs don’t appreciate sharing twin rooms even if there is a saving in cost, and admittedly I hadn’t thought through how five directors and their luggage could fit into something the size of a Smart car.

Oh the anguish! And I had more jobs than most people have changed their socks, trying desperately to find something, somewhere that I was even marginally good at, least of all enjoyed. How I tried … and yet, that funny little phrase about trying to fit a square peg into a round hole springs to mind.

And now, now I loathe paperwork probably even more than ever before but thankfully I manage to bribe The Colonel to do some of the more arduous tasks on my behalf … well, ok, for me.

My point in all of this, is that I’ve noticed of late that several of my friends here are having a change of direction in their careers and jobs, or at least pondering hard over it. And for that I heartily commend you! Don’t make my mistake, doing a job because it’s what you think you should be doing, because it’s what is expected. I can’t bear little whipper-snappers with no life experience telling me how to have a goal, make a plan, commit and do it, but this old bird has got more experience under her belt in this area, than there are bedbugs in a dodgy hotel room.

Do what makes you happy … and then tell us all about it!

Katie xx

What is your job? Do you love it or like it? Does it just pay the bills or do you bounce out of bed in the morning to get to it?