Christy Writes: On the Creation of the Happy Book

Posted by on Jun 9, 2017 in Christy Writes | 0 comments

Christy Writes: On the Creation of the Happy Book

I haven’t posted here in awhile. Not since January, actually, for a number of reasons, all of them important and none of them important at all. If you know what I mean.

Part of my absence we can chalk up to having so much going on. I can’t stand it when people say they’ve “just been so BUSY” because the truth is, we prioritize things we want to prioritize, and if I am being fully open here, I haven’t made this site a priority. Other things, I have. Like walking with Guy through bladder cancer. Finishing my second year of seminary. Preaching every Sunday. Sleeping. Spending time with friends offline, in the 3-D world. Writing a play. Trying to figure out what is happening to my country. Wondering how I can keep up my dream of changing the world when I’m not sure anymore that the world is all that willing to be changed. It can be depressing, I’ll admit. There are days when I just don’t even want to get out of bed.

But there are always ways, right? To pull yourself up. Sometimes the sad goes deep enough that we need professional help. Other times, all you need is to get a Wild Cherry Pepsi slush and go for a drive with the windows down, blasting Yes and pretending you’re still in high school. Or that could just be me. And that could have been just this afternoon.

But one of my favorite modes of self-care is one I started years ago. I was working at the newspaper back in my hometown, engaged to be married, and full of doubts about basically everything. I was in my early 20s and learning to adult and some days it went great, and other days I dealt with my frustrations like a toddler on a sugar high and no nap.

One evening I came home from work, kicked off my heels, put on my sweats, and as I was walking out of my bedroom, I noticed a little pile of stuff I had been accumulating over the previous few months. Greeting cards from friends, snapshots I had taken and liked, a pressed flower, a ticket stub from an Air Supply concert, a creative ad I had torn out of a magazine. These things had all found their way to me by one means or another, and I saved them, in that little pile, for no other reason than they made me happy.

In a moment of inspiration, I went to the closet and pulled out a photo album I had bought some time earlier. Then I poured myself a glass of wine, put a Yanni CD on the stereo (What? This was the 90s.) and sat down with my photo album and that little pile, and I spent the evening putting my collection into the photo album.

By the time I was finished, the stress of the day was just gone. And it was more than a matter of involving myself in a soothing activity for awhile. This was about finding the happiness inside of me. This was about disconnecting with the outside forces that I was allowing to make me unhappy, and reconnecting with the things that resonated with my spirit, the things that made my soul sing.

I started calling this scrapbook my Happy Book, and I would regularly start a new pile of things to be put into it. And when I’d have a particularly crappy day, I’d go home, pour a glass of wine or make a cup of tea, turn on the stereo, and lose myself in my Happy Book. I’d lose myself in all the happy. If I had a bad day and didn’t have a pile of stuff ready to go, I’d just thumb back through the pages and experience the same calming release, the same sense of reconnection to myself, to what matters to me.

I still have that original Happy Book, although I have since created additional volumes. It’s interesting now to go through them and see how some of my tastes have changed over the years, and how some of them haven’t changed at all. I’m pretty sure I will always love pink peonies, old hat boxes, and New York City. They’re just… me.

To this day, Pepsi slushes and “Owner of a Lonely Heart” notwithstanding, I find there is no better medicine for my sad or exhausted spirit like a walk through the original Happy Book. It’s low tech, it’s mellow, and it’s wonderful. I don’t show it to very many people, because in a way it’s like my diary, a snapshot of my soul, splayed out on the pages in living color. But those who have seen it seem to understand how sacred it is. And I know there are other Happy Books out there now. And that makes me happy too.

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