Bloom.

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.

-Ernest Hemingway

I never thought I would have the life I have now. I thought it was impossible, that I would be denied and deprived of it until the day I was no longer sick. I thought Bloom had been stolen from me. I thought like that up until so recently… and then everything changed.

Except that’s just it. Nothing changed. I changed. Sick and tired of waiting to be better to do what I wanted to do and live the way I wanted to live, I’d finally had enough. I remember telling my friends about this crazy idea I had. I told them where I wanted to move, that I had no idea what I would do, where I would live, or how I would get by, but that I was going to figure it out.

And I did. I turned it from something I thought would never happen, from a crazy idea, to a plan, then to a reality, to the life I have now that I can’t begin to tell you how much I love. I find myself thinking, always during the most humdrum moments, “This is Bloom”. My life was so lacking, and now I have everything I was missing. Minus health, of course.

It’s winter now and my pain is ever-present. The cold has turned my body into fragile marble. I feel like I’m drowning beneath the pain, suffocating because breathing takes too much out of me, freezing because my head can’t think over the sound of the struggle. And still —

I’ve never been as happy as I’ve been these last three months since moving. I’ve never felt this happy for this long. I’ve never been as happy to be buying fresh produce, walking to a train stop or doing my laundry. I’ve never been as happy to be in pain, because unlike in the past, I know the pain isn’t winning.

I’m winning. This is Bloom.

I’ll never forget I thought this life was something I would never have. I have it now, and not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for it. I’m grateful for it and I’m grateful for myself, for trusting my instincts and not letting my lack of hope or my lack of health stop me from daring to live.

To live in spite of it all.

Someone recently asked me how I manage to deal with all the pain, and my answer was simple: “I just really love life.”

That is the truest sentence I know.

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

I live for this feeling, this everglow. -Everglow, Coldplay

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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!

All About Happiness (winning piece)

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All great things come to an end, but sometimes the end is even greater than what was before. Five weeks ago I launched a competition (“Twenty-Five-Hundred”) to give someone else a chance to reach a new audience and feature their thoughts on a new platform, and last week the deadline passed. It is with great pleasure that I announce Paola R. as the winner! Without further ado, the winning entry:

 

Some time ago, I was searching for a quote about happiness. Because for me, being happy, is one of the most important things. I have to admit that I read A LOT of quotes, but none of them really inspired me.

There was one by Henry David Thoreau appearing over and over again and the more I read it, the more I disagreed with it. To the point that I started to hate it deeply.

“Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”

Sorry Thoreau, I don’t think you did a good job with this one.

Why would someone choose to compare happiness with a butterfly? Among ALL the animals, why to choose the one whose life is ephemeral? (Or really, really short, ranging from one week to one year maximum, in the case of some species).

We humans live a lot more than one year and if you tell me that I’m going to get only one year of happiness I start getting depressed and ask myself if life is worth living.

Then when/how do you get to be happy? Apparently, in order to be happy, you also need to be very lucky.   And even so, it’s not sure that you’ll be happy for a long time.

So if I understood properly, you get to be happy for a little while IF:

1) The butterfly sits on your shoulder immediately after it gets to adult stage. That way you have better chances of being happy for longer time.

2) Then you need to be extra lucky and hope to get the butterfly that lives more than one week. (If you get the short living butterfly AND you get it the day it dies, what can I say?! You are screwed!).

And, if you don’t pursue happiness, what should you do? Start a knitting course? Wouldn’t it be better to get a butterfly net and catch as many as you can?

Then let’s say that finally the butterfly sits on your shoulder (AND it’s the long living one AND it sits on your shoulder the same day that it leaves its pupa stage), can you move and be happy or you have to vegetate because there is the chance that it’ll fly away and take YOUR happiness with it?!?

 

 

Paola’s thought process was so easy to follow and expressed the kind of feeling that we all get at times: what’s up with happiness, and why is it so hard to find? My answer to her is this: you are right that Thoreau is wrong. Happiness is not something that comes to you; it is something you search for and ultimately find, though not always in the form you wished for or in plain sight. Seeing the happiness is a skill you can acquire, and I encourage you to practice.

This is the part of the post where I get all mushy. I just wanted to take a minute, as I so often do, to tell you that this blog has been a source of great happiness for me and to thank you all for your part in that. I’ve been contacted, either through the comments section or my email address (sickandsickofit@gmx.com), by so many compassionate and thoughtful people who had kind words to share with me. I find it hard to express how much these kind words mean to me.

This is the part where I ask you for a favor. I want to expand this blog, but I don’t know how. Instead of it only being a place where the conversation takes place between you and me, I want it to be a place where the conversation takes place between you all. All of the advice you give to me, you can give to other people as well. All of the kind words? Other people could use them too. I’ll keep thinking about how to make this happen, but if you have any ideas I would love to hear from you.

 

Be kind,

Ella

 

Song Quote:

Where you invest your love, you invest your life. –Awake My Soul, Mumford & Sons

 

P.s. Thank you so much to all of those who entered the competition, you are all very talented people!

 

About Paola:

I’m Paola, I’m a dreamer, I’m 42 years old and I have five kids. I never realized how much I loved writing until my real life started to suck terribly. I couldn’t leave my life, so I decided to write a story. I posted the chapters on my blog (http://dotedon.wordpress.com). The story became a book and hopefully I will publish it soon. After one year intermission, I started writing again.