Fog envelops the area with a grey blanket of soft diffused light. Last night's snowfall is slowly melting on the roofs of nearby buildings, outlining the shingles in even lines. There are no Christmas lights, or, in fact, any other lights visible in the dense fog.
Since the arctic winds visited us last week, I have not seen the little hummingbird that usually flies up to visit me every day. Even the chickadees usual presence has been in short supply this week. I did see, however, a heron flying by the condo this week, on it's way to the lake.
Many years ago, when I was diagnosed with depression at that time, it was also suggested that I suffered from depression even as a small child. Looking back, I do believe that's true. As a child, I recall just wanting to be happy. I had no idea that it came from inside, and always thought it was something we pursued, attained briefly with the latest purchase or gift, and then went on to continually pursuing it.
Perception and expectations. Expectations that something or someone else carries the key to our happiness. And, in turn, that we are responsible for making others happy, and when we don't, we have failed.
My goodness, no wonder my marriage failed. No wonder I never enjoyed Christmas. Those are horrible expectations to put on other people. How can anyone or anything live up to that? Quite simply, they can't.
As many have probably realized, nature is my happy place and always has been, although I didn't realize it until much later in life. Walking has always been my favourite activity, and when I look back in time, I realize the unhappiness that pervaded my soul in younger years, was a lack of exposure to and walking in nature.
I always attributed my return to health to the purchase of my horse. Although he was the catalyst, looking at it objectively, I don't think it was so much him, per se, as the fact that in owning him, I rode him through the 1400 acre forest all the time.
I mentioned earlier this month that my daughter and I had a tradition of riding through the park on Christmas morning once her dad was no longer around. It's funny how Christmases become very different as a single parent. I still miss that, riding through the park on Christmas day, but it's a memory I'll cherish forever.
As Christmas approaches tomorrow, spending the first one in my condo, my expectations for Christmas have subsided and my happiness increased tenfold. I'm so very lucky to have been able to renovate this place to exactly what I want. I'm grateful that I live so incredibly close to the park that I adore so that no matter what, I can always get a taste of nature and happiness. I have everything I need, and more.
A few weeks ago, I finally purchased a new full length bathrobe, something I haven't had in years. I've had short ones, but I prefer the full length. Don't ask me why I never bought one, I just didn't. So now I have one, and happiness is having the cat laying stretched out from hip to calves, warming my lap as I sip tea and balance the computer on the arm of my recliner.
Why didn't I know happiness is an inside job? No idea how that got missed in my growing up. The important part is, I know now and know, even when I have the most frustrating and crummiest day ever, I can still choose to be happy.
These days, I have no expectations of other people and definitely not of Christmas. Tomorrow, when I get up, I'll take a walk around the lake, as the snow has made bike riding impossible. I'll revel in the sun that is supposed to shine, although I'll appreciate the rain, if that is the weather du jour.
I'll marvel at the many species of birds that flit in and out of the trees, and hope to see the hummingbirds. I'll look for the heron that is usually wading in the lake early in the morning, near the boardwalk. I'll look up to the leafless trees to see if the two bald eagles will be making their presence visible.
I'll look for the raccoon that usually sneaks back into the briar patch at daybreak. In general, I'll really notice my surroundings and look for patterns, light and shadow. Generally, just really observe and be part of my surroundings. My walks around the lake are always observatory and not taken for granted.
I wish, for everyone this Christmas, that they find something in their lives to be grateful for, and happy about, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Me? I'll enjoy whatever the day brings and grateful that I'm on this side of the grass.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
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