Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dedra's Happiness Project.

When I first started this blog I was looking for a place to express myself. It then turned into a place to showcase my products but I didn't discover its true purpose until I wrote this article: 7 Ways in 7 Days to Knock the Socks Off Your Spouse. 

I tried combining my desire to help improve marriages with my designing/business aspirations and the random  tips and ideas that just pop out of my head. With so much variation and without a clear focus I have lost a lot of interest in blogging. Plus, our life is pretty crazy and I've had the D word. *GASP* Yes folks, I've had severe depression for a little over 5 years (started after the birth of our first). I have had a hard time blogging because I wasn't telling people about my depression. Really only my husband knew and one of my visiting teachers knew. I tried to hide it from everyone else--which made me look like who knows what but I know a lot of people avoided me because they thought I was angry all the time. I was really honestly just trying to put one foot in front of the other and to do so came with a huge grimace on my face.

I recently announced my depression to the world by announcing my plight on the world's largest complaint board: Facebook. It actually was really good to get that burden off my chest--to stop pretending that everything was fine because nothing has been fine.

I know I've mentioned before that I would blog about our circumstances but I always hesitated because everyone always seems to read me wrong but at least now you know about my depression and maybe it will be clearer. I've been learning lately that writing things about my struggles and my feelings helps me to let go of them a little so here goes:

3 years ago this month my husband started to get only half paychecks. Half paychecks were enough to cover   the mortgage, utilities, insurance and our student loans. Nothing more. We had been smart I thought and had a really good food storage and savings. We had just paid cash for a 10 year old (at the time) Ford Expedition, which we named Steve. Looking back we were all set to embark on this rocky journey--not that we wanted it.

We made a plan and figured we could last through June. So I learned how to make everything from scratch from laundry soap to chocolate syrup to bread and granola-- you name it. I scrimped and sewed and made do with what we had. We spent between 10-20 dollars a week on groceries for what was then 4 of us. I bought milk and yogurt, which we learned were 2 things that really helped us survive. We went almost a year without any fresh fruit or vegetables. I learned to shop at yard sales for the things we needed. For our oldest daughters birthday present I took a piece of fabric someone gave to me and sewed tiny pieces together until it turned into a "pillow pet." it was a pink pig and it was ugly but she loved it. I even sold my wedding ring to buy CS3 so I could help bring some money in. It took over a year and a half before anything came of that.

About 6 months into our dilemma I was walking with my daughters to the park when the feeling hit me that we needed to move. I called my husband when we got home (no such luxuries as a cell phone) and he agreed that it felt right. We looked around for a few months to find that we loved a small town south of us and we could actually afford the home prices in our predicament. We assumed we would be receiving full paychecks again soon anyways.

We made it longer than we thought to September and got a full paycheck. Then another in October and November but none in December. In November we put up our house for sale by owner. Realtors became my living nightmare.I was told we couldn't sell it ourselves and we needed their expertise and 6% commission. (What I wouldn't give to see their expression when we actually did sell our house by ourselves!) I figured we would be moving soon so I started packing. I am one of those people who likes to plan and not wait till the last minute.

February we got a tax return that helped us get through some more months.In June or so of 2011 I felt like we needed to go look at houses again. I asked a realtor friend and she wouldn't take us until our house sold. Another realtor acquaintance's name popped into my mind and he immediately set up some appointments. The first house we almost couldn't get into. The key wouldn't work but we managed to get into the garage. I'm pretty sure any other realtor would have stopped trying after the key incident but our realtor was such a good sport and even explored some dangerous areas with the hubby.  That house was such a wreck and don't even get me started about the yard. I walked out of that house thinking "no way!" On the drive home though my husband and I started to talk. Beneath all the filth and clutter and unfinished areas and broken things there was an amazing floorplan that really had everything we wanted. A few things weren't perfect but what house is? He felt it was the right house for us and at that point I was 5 months pregnant and was ready to be done with the whole housing issue. We tried to put in an offer but there were problems on the sellers side so we waited.

I was 8 1/2 months pregnant in the fall of 2011 when we finally sold our house to some awesome investors who let us rent the home from them as I was ready to have the baby any time. Once the house sold we put in an offer for the house we saw during the summer. The baby was born healthy and in January of 2012 the bank accepted our offer. I was so excited and started packing more....not a good idea because it is now January of 2013. I have packed and unpacked various times over the last year. Each time I have gotten rid of more stuff so that is good right? We are still waiting on that house and still renting the home we previously owned at a really high rate. We got 1 full paycheck in 2012. My digital designing  (all thanks to my wedding ring) has finally been generating income and we are still surviving. I now buy fruit and vegetables as a mandatory part of our diet but we are still waiting. The tenants in that house were supposed to be out by the 1st. Then they were given more time (I guess 2 years wasn't enough) and they had till Saturday. Saturday we drove by and they are still there. We are supposed to meet with the realtors tomorrow but who knows. It has been one thing after another.

If just one thing had been eliminated this "trial" would have been so much easier to endure. If my husband had been getting paychecks or if we had been able to move or if my depression hadn't been there or so severe or if our daughter wasn't having psychological problems and phobias.

I'm trying to be good and figure out what I need to learn from all this. #1. don't sell a house by yourself for a year while being pregnant and having 2 little ones messing up the house right before every showing. #2 don't pack your house until you have an official moving date. #3. Don't  expect anything to change in order to be happy. #4. Remember to enjoy the little moments because sometimes that is all you have.

What is the moral of this story? I'm not sure yet. I hope it is something like, "Good things come to those who wait," but its still not over. We have hung on this long. Maybe good things will come. That is obviously why we have held on because we have hope.

I've been reading a lot to try and help with my depression. I have been simply inspired by "The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun" by Gretchen Rubin. I am only 3 chapters in but I am creating my own Happiness Project. I love getting books from the library or borrowing from friends but this is one book you will want to own! 

I hope you will stop by and check out my journey this year as I embark on my own Happiness Project. 

My year is now divided into these sections:

January: Rejuvenate

February: Think Positive
March: Loosen Up
April: Take Time to Love
May: Guiltless Parenting
June: Take it Outside
July: Let the Music Lead
August: Let bygones be bygones
September: Speak nice or better yet don't say anything at all!
October: Be serious about play (I took this title from Gretchen. I haven't read the chapter yet but I know I need it)
November: Uplift Others
December: Wrap it up.

I'm hoping to post more as I learn to advance in these areas over the next year. Go get that book and join me in your own happiness project.



  1. Cool Dedra! Did you read that book too? I love your monthly plans. I've been suffering from pretty severe depression too. Here's what I've learned: let the people around you help. It's hard to swallow the humble pill, believe me, I REALLY know. But there are people around you who would LOVE to help. Let them. That is what i've learned, amen.

    1. My problem isn't really the humble pill. My problem is I asked several people a few years ago for help and they all flat out told me "no!" I couldn't believe it. I don't know if I can ever ask for help again. The rejection is too painful.

      I've tried to make sure if anyone ever asks me for help that no matter how inconvenient it is I say Yes! I'm sorry you've had depression too. It stinks. I love clear days when I'm actually me. It's like the birds sing and the sky is the prettiest blues and my kids are the cutest and life is great. I wish everyone had clear days every day.

  2. i think i'll read that book :) it sounds great.
    we've moved several times over the past couple of years and 2 of the times i was pregnant! yikes. we also moved to really expensive cities, which equates to itty bitty living spaces and outrageously high rent. so it was tough, but in the end we got through it and are better for it. hope everything works out for you soon!!!