21. Searching for the Holy Grail of Happiness

Hmmm. I don’t know what to say or where to begin. John and I just returned from our counseling session and I’m kind of talked out.



Counseling is probably as good a place as any to start. Thank God for therapists. Who knew about all that stuff we carry around and how it messes up our best intentions for straightforward, simple relationships. It is definitely hard work, but I am so glad we are going and going together. It is really helping John and me in so many ways—individually, and as a couple.


So on that note, our counselor recommended to John and me last Wednesday that we should try and go on vacation together now before John starts a new job. What better excuse to take off than to have your therapist prescribe it! We leave this Friday for Sayulita, Mexico. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so spontaneous, just picking up and going somewhere at a minute’s notice with absolutely no plan. (I realize some of you might disagree, given that I’ve picked up and moved across country twice sight unseen with no plan, but this feels different.) John and I both desperately need to shake our funks, recharge and return with a fresh perspective and a blank slate.



I am feeling the need for a complete change in scenery and hoping a week in Mexico will stave off the feeling long enough for it to pass. John and I went to Portland, Oregon this past weekend—my first visit—and I fell in love. I had this profound feeling of having found the place I’ve been searching for. Obviously, this is hard because I have, at the very least, John to consider, not to mention our community and our dream of sharing land. Catherine, someday I would love to hear your thoughts on Portland and Oregon. Maybe it won’t be the answer after all, but the powerful feeling is making me recognize just how ready I am to move on from the Bay Area.


But for now … a reflection on life in the Bay Area.



John and I hit our six week milestone of run/walking five days a week and I rewarded myself with two new pair of running tights. I am in week nine—pretty exciting! The consistency of my workout has tremendously helped me emotionally. I think this is a combination of feeling good about my body and feeling good about the success of my commitment.



I feel positive about myself and my work more days than not, but it still takes a lot of energy to keep it together. I’m continuing to advance multiple balls down the field. I’ve come to realize that skipping around between ideas actually is my creative process and something I should own and relax around rather than fight and berate myself over. Our counselor was talking about creative process one day and said something about all the writers and artists she sees who freak out because they spend so much time staring at a blank wall thinking they won’t ever produce again. I never lack ideas. My problem is the exact opposite, I have too many. That’s when it dawned on me that it isn’t actually a problem, but my process. Now the challenge is to apply this insight and stay relaxed.



I’ve begun interviewing again. I love interviewing people, so earlier this month I randomly approached a store owner who caught my attention and asked if I could interview her—even though I didn’t have a project in mind. In fact, I have no idea if I’ll ever do anything with it, but It felt great and I plan to continue. I want to know how other people feel about work, their relationship to it and their idea of success. Maybe someday I will turn this work into a book—I think it definitely has potential—but for now I am taking away any pressure or goals and doing it for myself because it feels good. By interviewing people I respect, people doing the thing they love, following their heart—whatever you want to call it—I am demystifying a lot of my own hangups around work and success. There are so many messages out there telling us to do what we love, to follow our bliss, and the money will follow. The message implies that once you figure out your passion everything else falls into place—a myth that creates unrealistic expectations. I have begun thinking about how media and cultural messages of success—the typical benchmarks of money and fame—devalue our visions, relationships and hard-earned accomplishments. I want to collect examples that show how many more definitions of success exist beyond the prescribed versions glorified by our culture.


So now, I head to Mexico with the hope that a week away will help me find the Holy Grail to happiness.