Where Does Happiness Come From? Updates and More

Soooo….where to start? 

There’s the elephant in the room, the monkey on my back, and host of things that I’m too tired to think up clever metaphorical idioms for. 

I’m going to trash all that for now. Not because it’s not important, but because sometimes we need a little sunshine. 

I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t lost my job and that I’ve been able to work from home during the pandemic. I’ve been busier than ever. I work all day in my home office but I’ve been home for lunch and hugs and all the good and the bad that comes with being around each other in tight spaces. 

I tend to stay busy though even after my day is through. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but one of the things that helps me battle my depression and anxiety is creating. No matter if it’s writing or any number of other tasks—if I’m creating or keeping myself busy, the better equipped I am to stave off and weather the storm from those waves of depression. 

A few months ago—November or December of last year, I found that I just couldn’t bring myself to write and I wasn’t in the positive mindset I needed to be in to podcast, so I started painting again. 

Waaaay back in high school I used to paint and customize figures, I was huge into art and drawing. But I got out of it. Our art teacher told me to quit while I was ahead and just drained my passion for it at the time. 

Years later, I got into Warhammer 40k and spent countless hours painting armies of Space Marines and Eldar no more than a couple inches tall. 

Now, I’m painting custom figures from my favorite toy-line ever—Mythic Legions by the Four Horsemen. I probably would’ve gotten discouraged and given up on it a long time ago if it wasn’t for a friend I met a long the way. He even encouraged me to start taking commissions. 

And that’s when ThunderNerd Customs started. Art by the ever talented Bo Chappell. 

Today marks a week that I’ve been working on updates—aka overhaul of AphoticRealm.com. It was long overdue. It’s going to look great when I’m done with it. 

So there’s work, painting, Aphotic Realm, and I’ve even done some voice over/narration for our local church. (Here’s one if you’d like to check it out.) 

I said all that to say this:

Last night, I decided to take the evening off of everything. I left my desk, came upstairs and had dinner with everyone at the table. I didn’t know I was going to take the night off but something happened at the dinner table.

My youngest and I were playing around. My hand was a pesky spider crawling across the table that she would smash but occasionally, it would leap and tickle her. Squeals and laughter echoed through the house. Even big sister would run in to get attacked then run away. 

Took a break to let the laughter calm down, and the little one catch her breath. Still grinning from ear to ear, twinkle in her eyes, she looked at me and said, “you make me happy dad. You’re funny.”

At that moment, I couldn’t think about work, websites, paint, or writing. I could only hear those giggles replaying in my head. 

As the night went on my heart only continued to melt because she thanked me for eating dinner with her and we talked about how much she likes to sit next to me at my desk while I work and she hopes she could do that again soon. Then my oldest made a birthday card all on her own for my wife. It was the sweetest thing—it made her night to know that mommy was going to love it. 

I realize that maybe I’ve been doing too much? It doesn’t feel that way—at least not always. I need to find a better way to manage myself. My time. I always have this idea where Monday night is this, Tuesday night is that, etc. but it always falls away with the slightest hint at resistance. How do you manage your time? Anyone out there read this far want to share or offer advice?

On a personal note, a lot of my friends and family have asked for updates about Riley after her brain surgery last summer and if she still has headaches. I did want to touch briefly on that. The story I told? The laughter and tickling? Wouldn’t have been able to happen last year before the surgery. 

At first we were pretty discouraged because she was still getting headaches post surgery. Doctors sent us in another round of tests that led back to the same thing—but during that time something changed: she had a major growth spurt. After that, headaches are few and far between. Usually only happens under extreme fatigue. Taking that as a win—but we’ll have to watch her for the rest of her life. It’s fine now but… you get the idea.

One last thing before I go. Today, May 1st, is my wife’s birthday. It’s now been fifteen years ago that we met. I can’t describe all the ways you’ve been a blessing to me ever since you walked into my life. You deserve all the credit for keeping our family together, and functional, and for how well Cadence is doing in school, and so much more! I don’t know where I’d be without you. Thank you for all the things you do for us that go without thanks everyday. 

Happy Birthday! I love you!

Thanks for reading this far if you made it. 


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