Thursday, 25 December 2014

Word of the Year Wrap-Up 2014 : Happiness

It's been quite a year, this one. 
When you choose a word, as a guiding intention for the year, all sorts of things start to unfold.  

Back on December 31st last year I wrote about my chosen word mantra for 2014, in this blog post on 'Happiness'.  Before that, 'Expressive' was my word for 2013… and through 2012, I worked away quietly but determinedly with 'Brave' guiding me.  

So here we are again… looking back over this year of 'being with Happiness' and how it has taken me has through crossroads and junctions where I got to see up real close all the things that truly bring happiness, and all the things that don't (as is perfectly usual with these 'one little words'!)

I remembered that chanting (and singing) sanskrit mantras, having the sun on my face, slowing the pace of my life right down, and getting my art published in a magazine and 2 paintings selected for an upcoming book by a popular artist (due for release in 2016), can certainly bring on feelings of happiness.  As can practicing Mindfulness, really engaging my senses, body awareness and being fully present for my life.  But first I had to tumble down the well (so to speak).

"Little Buddha" (inspired by the film starring Keanu Reeves) 
Prints of this painting are available here:

And so telling the truth the only way I know how, the mirror side was that I got to find out that there were 'triggers' that could push my nervous system way beyond what it should be handling. After a July full of intense and unexpected pressures, I was diagnosed in early September with PTSD & C-PTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder) with 9 major traumas identified stretching right back to my childhood….and since then I have gone on a bit of an adventure, out of absolute necessity and as a point of some urgency, delving even more deeply into what truly makes me happy.  

I have unexpectedly learnt a great deal on the way about this fascinating and completely misunderstood area ~ unresolved trauma…. which led on to a Mindfulness practice and slowing everything in my life right down, learning new ways of being in the world while I am guided to heal this 'injury' to body, mind and psyche with expert help.

I have also found His Holiness, the Dalai Lama to be a quintessential emissary when it comes to exploring the meaning of happiness and how we can attain it for ourselves.  

"Happiness is not something that comes ready made. It comes from your own actions" he says. 

I fell in love with a delightful story from writer Douglas Preston, who was fortunate enough to spend some time with the Dalai Lama when he visited Santa Fe, New Mexico in the 80's.  At the time, a young waitress in a cafe paused to ask an important question "What is the meaning of Life?" she said, and the Dalai Lama's reply to her was…

"The meaning of Life is happiness. Hard question is not "What is the meaning of Life?" That is easy question to answer!  No, hard question is what make happiness. Money? Big house? Accomplishment, Friends? Or…" (he paused) "Compassion and good heart? This is question all human beings must try to answer: What make true happiness?"

You can read Douglas's whole article over here >    
~ I think it gives a good insight into the character and beautiful nature of this incredible messenger of peace and happiness. 

And so I take with me some valuable realisations and new-found understandings into the next year…. a new year where I just know I will build upon what happiness this time has brought, often from very, very simple things -- like lazy Saturday mornings, cooking breakfast in the kitchen, toast and eggs, the sound of butter scraping over hot toast while tea brews and favourite music fills the room -- or a stick of fragrant incense -- the pleasure of walking and feeling wind or rain on my face, moonlight through the window, or watching a bird pass by high overhead.  Happiness. It's what we put into it. It's what we make it. 

And finally, I cannot overstate what it has meant to me having the closeness and support of my friend, as I have navigated through this challenging year. He was the one who recognised all the signs and helped me get my Doctor to hear me so I could be assessed properly and diagnosed. I was too lost in the woods to be able to see clearly what was happening.

I'm including a couple of useful links about PTSD and C-PTSD for anyone who suspects they may have unresolved trauma that is effecting their life, or is interested in what these conditions entail :

Blessings of beauty and mystery, till next time, 
Catherine Athena xo


  1. Blessings to you Cat...I so feel you...Hugs and love on your journey! Make 2015 a fantastic year!

  2. Thanks Rhonda… 2015, yes indeed, may it be so! Lots of Love to you, C xo


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