Another month has rolled around and it’s time for my latest Plus 40 Fabulous post! This month’s theme is “What Makes Me Happy”. One of the things about fat activism work is that you’re dealing with SO much bullshit – from the media and government pushing out anti-fat propaganda, general arsehole behaviour from strangers, dealing with the frustration of not being able to find suitable clothes to outfit you for life, medical professionals that treat you like a child and refuse to give you fair health care, and a myriad of other things, that it can be extremely wearing on a fat activist. And because you’re almost always responding to that bullshit, it can also seem like we are all just one dimensional angry fat ladies!
There’s nothing wrong with being angry at injustice, but it’s not the only aspect of me or any other fat activist as a person. Quite the opposite, generally speaking I’m known for my sense of humour, my laugh and for, as a colleague puts it, the look of mischief in my eye.
When you’re dealing with social activism of any kind, you have to be able to find the joy in life easily, or you’re going to burn out very quickly. There has to be someone, and some things, that make you happy, and you have to be able to access them when the activism starts to get you down. It’s all part of self care, which is VITAL for all of us, let alone those of us engaging in activism.
So what makes me happy? Well, it’s a number of things. But first and foremost, for me it’s my friends. I have THE most amazing friends – the local ones, the not so local ones and the ones around the world that I’ve been brought to by my activism and other interests. I’ve never been one for huge groups of friends, preferring the company of one or two people at a time, but the ones I have are so amazing. Whether it’s the very pragmatic duo of future fellow Golden Girls (apparently I’m Sophia) that I have locally who share my love of superhero movies, brunch and conversation over coffee; the quiet but razor sharp friend who I only get to see a few times per year but she always knows when to send me Adventure Time gifs and pictures of her ridiculously spoiled cat, those that I only get to catch up with occasionally who I feel like I’ve only been away from for five minutes, or the multitudes of friends I have made online (some of whom I’ve met in person and others I’ve not met yet) who have always got a kind word, an internet hug or a naked picture of Tom Hiddleston for me, my friends are the real source of joy for me.
Next on the list would have to be my day job. I’m not in a job that brings fame or money, I’m in one that means something to me, I work in public libraries, specifically library technology. I find it constantly challenging and thought provoking, and there is nothing more rewarding than setting foot in a library that is full of happy, excited, engaged customers. Especially children. When I was growing up, the library was sanctuary to me, and I love the thought of being able to give that back to subsequent generations.
Another thing that makes me happy is Lego. I can spend hours on it, just calmly sorting and then building. It is one of those activities that immediately renders me calm. I really love big kits, that I can spend weeks coming back to for an hour or so at a time, watching the build grow and take shape.
And finally, something that always makes me feel so much better and brings me such joy, is the ocean. I am so lucky to live within spitting distance of the ocean (literally, it’s seven houses down) and can head down to the waterfront any time I like. There is nothing like sitting by the ocean with a good book and a coffee, just enjoying the sea breeze as it lowers my blood pressure!
Whatever it is that makes you happy, I hope you take the time to find it and recharge your batteries. Self care is important!