Beach Happiness

Last year, on a particularly hard day, I spoke on the phone with my friend, Beatrice, about why we were both so depressed. We had many reasons, and this led us to a discussion about the different types of sadness. The list covers a lot of ground, including: hypothetical sadness, death sadness, projecting sadness, jealousy sadness, bittersweet sadness, extreme weather sadness… we ended up listing about 75 types.

 

After half an hour of compiling this list, I forced her to help me come up with the different types of happiness. Surprisingly, we found this extremely difficult. When we challenged ourselves to think of the bad it poured out of us as though we’d been mentally preparing our whole lives for the moment we’d need to recount it. But the good? It was slow to come to mind. Over the course of a few days, with the help of a couple more friends, we eventually had a list consisting of around 50 types of happiness.

 

One of these types is beach happiness. Neither Beatrice nor I thought of it initially, but it rings true for all of my peers and I. When I’m on the beach I just feel… peaceful, I suppose. The sound of the waves replaces the sound of worry in my mind.

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I stand on the beach looking out at the sea and marvel at how tiny I am compared to it all. If my life is so small compared to the world, then the problems in my life amount to nearly nothing. I’m never one to belittle my own suffering or the hefty challenges I face every day, but during certain rare moments I truly believe they aren’t all that important. The beach supplies the majority of these moments.

 

Yesterday was an odd summer day in the middle of February so I flocked to the beach with my friend and her boyfriend. The water was freezing but I almost prefer feeling numb to feeling my normal pain. The smell of the water and the sunscreen smeared on my (pathetically) sensitive skin remind me of summers past, in just the way that bug spray reminds me of hiking trails around my childhood hometown.

 

My mom reminded me that one year I had a birthday party at the beach and that I hated it. I remember the reasons for this being that sand got on my birthday cake and watermelon, that we never had time for the dance party or limbo (I’ve always been quite the planner), and that a boy from my class (who was not invited) saw me in my bathing suit (mortification. I hate you, Speedo.)

 

My mother remembered the reason being that I got salt water in my eye and that at that exact moment the love affair between the sea and I became a tale of regret and disappointment.

 

Safe to say the discord has dissipated, and I have kept a special place in my heart for the beach throughout it all. One of my biggest regrets in life is that I’m forced to miss out on fun – a seemingly harmless substance the majority of young adults seek and occasionally experience. I’m more of an 80-year-old stuck in an 18-year-old’s body type, and I have to “take care of my health”. Which means I often need to miss out on all sorts of experiences because fun has a clear consequence for me – pain. Pain leads to sadness, but mainly, pain leads to more pain. More pain leads to trouble sleeping, which leads to extra fatigue, which leads to extra pain, which leads to even more trouble sleeping… it’s only one of the viscous cycles that people with chronic illnesses need to live with.

 

But just because I have less fun doesn’t mean I have to be less happy. This year I’ve been privy to a few types of happiness that weren’t on my list before: proving myself happiness, spreading joy happiness, professional growth happiness and above all – somehow, it will all be okay happiness.

 

At the very least, that’s how I feel after I go to the beach.

 

Love,

Ella

 

Song Quote:

Take me back to the basics and the simple life, tell me all of the things that make you feel at ease. –Ease, Troye Sivan

 

Have a suggestion to add to my lists? Share in the comments below please!

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It’s a Landmark

Reaching for the light

People everywhere celebrate landmarks in life. Birthdays, anniversaries, new beginnings and so on and so forth.

This week, I’m celebrating the end of the school year. Every student out there will tell you how and why they celebrate finishing the year, and almost all of the reasons will be along the lines of “I worked really hard this year, and I’m happy to get a break”. That’s true for me too, don’t get me wrong. But it’s also something more.

June 20th marked the end of my first school year with Fibromyalgia. It means I survived a whole year of school, whilst suffering from the head aches, the fatigue, the joint pains, and that now it’s over. Everyone is asking me how it feels, do I feel so great that I succeeded, am I overjoyed that the school year is over. To be perfectly honest though, it just kind of feels… blah? Not blah, just that it doesn’t feel like that huge of a deal.

I’m not explaining myself right. I feel happy, and satisfied, and proud (I have the highest GPA of my grade!!!). It’s not that I’m thinking the year wasn’t that bad and therefore it’s no big deal to finish it. It’s not that. I actually had a really, really hard year. I’m elated that despite all of my hardships, I managed to achieve what I set my mind to, which was to not let Fibromyalgia affect my grades.

I think it just hasn’t fully set in yet, that I’ve finished. This is only really my 3rd day of vacation, because of the weekend, which I always have off. Maybe by next week I’ll be feeling it for real.

For now, I’ve been trying to get the most out of days without school. I have reorganized and labeled our spice drawer, I have buffed up my iTunes library, I have read, I have watched TV, I have gone to get frozen yogurt, I have painted, I have sketched, I have gone to art class, I have shopped (online), I have exercised, I have gone to the beach, I have… Have I mentioned I’ve only been on vacation since Thursday?

Keeping busy, I know how to do that.

I really want to make the best of this summer. I have so little free time during the year, now is when I get to engage in all the projects I don’t usually have time for.

I’m going to tell you a story now.

It is custom, where I live, to go to the beach on the last day of school. So, the entire middle and high school population of the extended area flock to the beach, to “celebrate”. Ultimately, each person gets an inch by inch square of sand, and an ankle in the water. T’is enjoyable. My friends discovered that a certain area of a certain beach, that is farther away, is less crowded, and you can rent chairs to sit on (though because my friends are the way they are, they usually put their bags on them and lay on the floor to tan. I really don’t get it). It means we needed to take two busses and a cab to get there.

We went to the same place last year, and it was no fun. This year, because these girls have the gift of people-speaking, we agreed to go to the same place. This time, though, something nice happened. We arrived in two groups, and the other group had arrived before mine. When we walked to “our spot”, one of the girls looked up and said, “Ella, I got you a chair, I thought it might be easier for you to sit that way”. I swear I almost burst out crying. It only just took a year for this girl to acknowledge that I have a physical disability, and that she should be nice about it. Most of me was just really happy that she was nice, but a part of me was upset that it took her this long. Of course, there was a rotation of who was sitting on the chair, because I wanted to be in the water (not lying on the sand tanning). But I think that’s what made my afternoon, that the girl who laughed when I told her about my condition was finally finding kindness, deep, deep down inside her. I feel like it’s a personal accomplishment.

FIN.

Incredible story, right? I know.

I smell summer in the air. I like summer fashion, summer hair dos, summer time tables, summer freedom. Waking up to a blue sky is uplifting, and I’m feeling like I can accomplish things. I don’t know what exactly, but what’s important is that I feel like I can.

Wishing you all a beautiful, happy, accomplishment-full summer,

Ella

Song Quote:

Where does the time all go forever? It hides in your eyes, in a picture, in another place’s sky. -More Than Letters, Benjamin Francis Leftwich

Birthday Ramblings – 16

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The dog my parents and I met on our walk along the beach, in honor of my birthday

This Friday, I turned sixteen. An age of promise, opportunities, excitement and adventure. I would really love to believe, with my whole heart, that my year will be like that. The only problem is, I’m afraid it won’t.

I’m scared, I’ll admit it. Being sick is scary, even if I try to ignore it. It could be a lot worse, but it’s bad right now too. When people asked me how old I was turning, and I told them sixteen, each and every asker got this dreamy look in their eyes and told me what a great age sixteen is, how I’m going to have so much fun, how great it will be. Each and every one. I smiled, and nodded. I hope so, I thought to myself.

I miss out on a lot of things kids my age are experiencing, and most of the time I’m okay with that. Maybe I’m even better off without those experiences. But with all of the talk of what a great year I’m supposed to have, I just want to be a normal teenager. One who isn’t quite as limited as I am.

My mom told me that on her seventeenth birthday, she suddenly got very sad that she was no longer sixteen. She said she didn’t really understand it then, and she doesn’t now either. I assume I have no say in the matter, but that’s not what I want to be feeling next year, that I wasted being sixteen. What do I mean about that?

I think I mean, along the lines of what I’ve been thinking these past few weeks, that I don’t want to waste my time on earth being sad or upset. I want to try to get as much out of life as I possibly can, leading as free and happy a lifestyle as I can. I want to explore my abilities, learn about the world around me and enjoy absolutely every relationship I have, be it with family, friends, animals, or inanimate objects. As my friend wrote in my birthday card, “Be JOYOUS! Life, life. Life. Life, life, life, Wooh!”. She’s awesome.

Altogether it was a very nice birthday, compared to my past few (for example, my entire class throwing a surprise party on the day of my birthday for another girl whose birthday was a week away… so nobody could come to mine. Kids are mean). Laid back, pleasant, and quiet, it was along the lines of what I’m up to at the moment.

Back to my main point, which was, I do believe, that I want to enjoy being sixteen. Yeah. I do. That’s basically it. I’ll talk more about fears and joy another time, even though I feel like that’s all I talk about. But, hey, if that’s whats on my mind…. right?

Just smile and nod,

Ella

Song quote:

I’ve come to know that memories were the best things you ever had… steady as the stars in the woods. -Old Pine, Ben Howard

 

P.s. Yay for over a hundred followers! Thank you everyone! It means so much to me to know that people out there are reading what I’m writing, and that maybe, just maybe, it means something to them. So, thank you.