Happiness, to me, seems to be elusive and mysterious. Not so much the feeling, but more as to it being a lifestyle. Sure, I will have a feeling of happiness pass through me; taking Yuri fishing for the first time, realizing the progress I made snowboarding this season, laughing with friends – so yeah, I know what it is like to feel happy. What’s been puzzling me, as of late, are the tears. The feelings of depression, loneliness, social anxiety, defeat.. So the times when I am laughing and smiling and feel at peace, am I really happy?

At the end of 2013 I had just finished reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. The year had proved to be pretty rough.. Hospitalized and treated because of a nervous breakdown. I had been separated from my 2 y.o. boy. Moved around to different cities with different family members. No work. Found out who my real friends were.. or weren’t. A couple failed relationships. You get the idea, not too much fun was had. Creating a “Happiness Project” for 2014 sounded like a good idea.

Mid-December I got a call from the local ski hill for a job as a lift operator. It was an opportunity impossible to turn down. The benefits alone seemed like heaven – I was getting the chance to pursue an old passion practically for free, and even get paid to be up there! The job offer gave me incentive to write an outline for my project. If I was going to take the job, for fuck sake, I might as well give it my all.

Or, at least I had the intention to.

Before I began working again I had been spending a lot of my time doing various, kind-of laid back sorts of things. I was with my son all the time. I brought him everywhere with me. I had been single for 3 months and planned on taking a year off from dating. My heart was exhausted. I also occupied time with crafting, skating, and folfing. With the addition of my dream-job for earned-income, my life was beginning to feel hopeful.

January’s project was “to embrace my authentic self”. It started out pretty rocky… I had a lot of self doubt. I was crying all the time. Negative reflections filled my head. I was late to work a couple times. Much much pity party. Fuck. To top my worm-dirt pie off, I had given up on my year-of-single-life pact. Somewhere down the line I had gotten side-tracked and completely forgot about my happy project.

As I look back on the past 4 months I have to pick apart the pieces where I felt success. I feel as if I was a good employee, I know I will be going back next season. Also, I have been avidly searching for a civil medium of respect and appreciation for Yuri(my son)’s father. It continues to show that it is very difficult to let go of my resentment towards him and our past, however, our communication has greatly improved since January. I think the last positive piece I will make note of are the bridges I have burnt. I know that sounds quite dismal, actually, but I mean it with optimism. They have allowed me to reflect on how things really were and has encouraged me to walk a different (in the end, most likely better) path. One door has closed, and two more have opened.

The main thing that repeatedly gets me on the down is my living situation. I share a room with my son (who is now 3) in a household made up of four generations (all with very different ideals of how life should be managed). Although my grandparents are snowbirds and had migrated to warmer weather for most of the winter, I was still stuck butting heads with my mother. My grandparents returned middle of April, and since, I have been searching obsessively for alternative living. I’ve looked at places that would prove to be suitable for just Yuri and me, and with the hopeful prospect of allowing pets. Not a lot to pick from in Helena considering my budget. I have looked into considering possible room-mates. It would slightly help out with costs. It’s pretty hard to find a room-mate having a kid in mind, though. Impossible.

Does it sound like I’m making up excuses? I think I might be. Why haven’t I left behind all the “unbearableness”?

I’m scared that I might screw it all up. I’ve never been one to spend my money wisely… What if something terrible happens? Like the house floods in the spring? Or the landlord ends up being horrible and mean… I don’t know the first thing about what the best energy and heat sources are… I’m pretty damn clueless…

All things considered, after a house showing today, I felt like I just wasn’t good enough. I felt that there would be no chance in me getting the house so what is the point of even applying? I made up my mind and drove to the sports store, Bob Ward’s, with Yuri. I bought a tent and some sleeping bags.

We are camping out this summer!

I just need to buy myself some time. Time to research the best possible and affordable living situation for my son and me. Time to learn to spend my money wisely. Time to find my inner peace. I just want a little bit of time to find some happiness…

I missed a few months of projects. February’s theme was supposed to be about, “Letting it go”. I wanted to focus on bi-parenting with Yuri’s dad, acknowledging feelings, and treasuring memories instead of dwelling. March’s theme was to “Boost my Energy”. Focus on sleep, exercise, diet. Vitality. April’s was “Lighten Up”. Shit happens. Hakuna Matata. Don’t take it personally type of stuff. I didn’t really get a chance to develop on any of these things but I am going to keep them in mind with May’s theme: Pursue a Passion.

I have many things I am passionate about. Music. Arts and crafts.. Extreme sports… My career has never really been something I would say I am passionate about. That was until I started working at the ski hill. I tried college a couple of different times; I started nursing school and then switched to teaching. Neither were for me and the only jobs I have ever had were pretty much dead-end food service jobs. When I started doing something so close to something I love is when I started to really think about my career. I want to be outdoors. This is my calling.

So.. I’m going to camp-out this summer. For the month of June at least. I also have to keep in mind that I start another seasonal job at the end of May. I have until the 1st of June to gather supplies and devise a plan.


A question that keeps popping up in the back of my mind is: how will I do this with Yuri and will it work out?

Everything is just kind of overwhelming and intimidating at them moment. Like I said, though, I made up my mind. For now, a tent will be the nest of our near future, and I will begin this adventure with a full heart. -Ari



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