Sunday, June 14, 2009

Plant Those Cherry Trees!

Well, I knew I was struggling with last week's post. I re-read it and realized that it totally sounded the way you all took it. But I wasn't intending to refer to extra interests really. I was trying to talk about true purpose in life. Things we are meant to do and accomplish in this life. If you are religious, I'm talking about what the Lord wants you to do. So, I'll try to compose a much better post on that topic in the future. And you can all think about it and have some super power comments when it comes. But maybe last week's post was just supposed to be the way it was.

On to this week's topic!

I've been doing really well, as far as the depression goes, for several months now. When we decided to move to our new location, I was really concerned that I was going to face that demon once again. In fact, I was struggling quite a bit to convince myself to believe that it was not inevitable--that I could just adjust to being so far from my friends and family and just settle in happily. But I wasn't sure which side was winning that battle when the moving date arrived.

And then the kids were sick and we were all fighting and completely miserable. And I knew that I was indeed going to face the depression. It lasted all of half a day.

I'm not saying that life has been one bouncing bubble out here, but most days I find myself marveling a bit at how happy I really am here. That's not to say that I don't miss everyone we left behind. But even so, I haven't once wished to move back.

You might think that "marvel" is kind of an odd word for me to use. But it's true. I really am baffled by it. Not that I'm bothered by it. I'm just really surprised.

So, I've been pondering what exactly has made me so happy here, so I could share it here with you. A part of it is that the environment here is a great fit for us. It's very family-friendly and fitness-oriented.

But there is more to it. I think I've finally put a finger on at least a part of it. And that is simply that this is the first time in our married life that I haven't been looking toward the next move. When we were first married, I was looking forward to graduating and then going east for my HH's summer internship. Pretty much as soon as we got there, I was looking forward to going back to the west. Then we got back and I couldn't wait to move back to New England. This time I knew I'd be happy because we were going to buy a house.

Well, we got to New England and buying a house didn't feel right. And we knew we wouldn't stay there long because we were far from all of our family except my parents. So, I began focusing on our next move away from there. I knew I'd be happy whenever we moved. One of my good friends and I had a joke that I was always moving "next year". Because that was the plan for a few years, but each time "next year" finally came the move didn't work out and we'd decide to stay another year.

Now we're here. And my children could potentially go to high school here. Not because it's the best place on the planet, but because we have no plans for moving. It's possible something could go wrong and we could move in a year, but we aren't planning on it. We're planning on staying here for a long time.

So that's where my focus is. I once hear a quote about being prepared to leave any day, but still planting cherry trees. That quote is a little out of context, but it still applies. We had cherry trees in our backyard in the house I grew up in. Those trees had been there longer than we had, I believe, and they were still just starting to bear fruit. They take a LONG TIME to cultivate. The truth is, I doubt any of us can really know where we'll be a year from now--life is just unpredictable. But I do believe that we're happier when we "put our roots down", so to speak.

I'm focusing on all that our new community has to offer and making new friends as we go. When we get caught up in the habit of always looking to the future and saying, "I'll be happy when...", we never seem to find it. That's because it's just that, a habit. If you can't be happy with the fundamentals, nothing new will bring that happiness to you.

That's what hit me after being depressed for half a day after moving here. I realized (with help from the Holy Ghost, as I was sitting in church) that the only thing about my situation that I had control over was my attitude. Being grumpy and angry couldn't help unpack our boxes, enlarge our apartment, make my kids healthy, or anything else. Being happy couldn't help make those things happen either. But it could help us all enjoy the time a lot more.

Does anyone else feel like so many of these posts come back to the same basic principles time and again? That the real way to access abiding joy is to simply choose joy? Interesting.

Anyway, back to the original point. You have to be content with whatever you have, wherever you are in order to live joyfully. Nothing else will accomplish that for you.

Any tips on how to accomplish that? I wish I would have realized that sooner. I could have appreciated beautiful New England a lot more if I had accepted that. Has anyone else experienced this? How do you find contentment even when you're not in your ideal place? How do you live like you're settled in for the long haul, even when you aren't?


Nikki said...

That's a very intense question. I've actually been thinking about this lately. Last week I was listening to a lecture about Psalm 1. And one thing that the guy said that stuck with me was that it is important to find satisfaction in God alone. I've been thinking about that a lot this past week. Like what that means and how that applies to my life. I don't know if I have a come to a conclusion yet, but it has shifted my priorities and focus.

Becky said...

I remember buying our first house and starting to fix it all up the way we wanted, planning on living there forever. Then we moved. I figured that would be a temporary move so didn't put a lot of effort into the house. Just about the time I realized what I was doing, and started making the house "ours" it was time to move again.

I learned that life and moving and getting settled in new places is like getting in a pool. If you get in inch-by-inch it takes a long time to get all wet. If you jump in, you're wet instantly. Yes, it's cold and uncomfortable, but just for a couple of minutes. I watched my two sons go swimming this way the other day. One was having a great time immediately; the other was cold and uncomfortable for quite a while before he started having fun.

Here are some things I've learned for "jumping in quickly" in a new area (and they're not necessarily easy!): start attending church and school and introduce yourselves to others, volunteer to be on committees and help in other ways, invite your new neighbors over, enjoy exploring together as a family, don't be afraid to ask for help or recommendations, look for the good in what seems different to you, and just smile at others.

Melissa said...

This was a great post. Since I am currently in the throes of depression, I'm having a hard time answering your questions.
I have found that I am happier when I 'choose' to be, though the big D has a habit of not allowing that to last very long--and I'm sure these pregnancy hormones aren't helping much.
Right now, I am simply looking forward to the time when I can have my babies and get back to my medication so I can even out again. In the meantime, I will try to be positive!
I appreciate the post a lot!

Linsey said...

We have lived in our home for almost 3 years. For a while we only thought about moving. We were constantly looking for a new home, thinking that the ward, neighborhood, friends would be much better. When I had my second baby I fell into the dark hole of depression. We didn't have any friends in our ward or neighborhood so my husband and I decided that if we moved I would instantly be better because we would somehow get friends! Well, finally, we came to the realization that WE were the ones that needed to change, not our location. Just like Becky said in her comment, we needed to get out into our ward and community. Since we have done that we LOVE where we are living and couldn't ask for a better place! It's amazing how changing your tune can turn things around!

Christy said...

Sometimes I think it helps to just accept the fact that where you're at isn't permanant and you've got to live it up while you can.

For example, when I was in college, instead of thinking about how long it was going to take to graduate, I focused on doing all the things I "could only do in college". And it was so fun!

I struggle with this issue too. A lot. I hate feeling like I'm in limbo. But I think that just admitting that it's temporary helps a lot.

Cheryl said...

Nikki-If you feel comfortable doing so, I'd love it if you'd share what you come up with when you finally do determine how that applies to life.

Becky-You should write a book. I'm constantly being inspired by you here and on your blog.

Melissa-I'm so sorry! I wish we could come visit and I would cook you dinner. And give you a big hug. And I'm sure our kiddos would give us plenty of reasons to smile.

Lins-Good for you for figuring it out while you're still there! I'm so glad you guys are happy!

Christy-Ever since I met you, I've been amazed at all the fun things you initiate. I especially enjoyed the one I got to be a part of!

All-HH says the background is "cute, but hard to read." Do you all agree? Any time you don't like something about the blog, please let me know!

Belkycita said...

Last time I saw a counselor for depression we really worked on that. She told me that I needed to stop and think and write down all the things I like about "now" after I brought her the list she made little branch's from every entry and I was to focus on those for a week and then find more little branches.
I love the principle of living in the moment, in my theater class we are told to do just that and as we do it our true emotions come to life.
It is just plain beautiful.

Kristen said...

I really agree with your post. It is no fun to always say -things will be better when we get to this point. Sometimes we miss out on the fun things in life when we are always looking forward to something else. I try to enjoy life and what it brings now because it most likely will change in the future.

Cheryl said...

Belky--I love that idea! Thank you so much for sharing it.

Kristen--That's a great point to just enjoy the now since it will probably change--sometimes even the things we don't want to change!