It’s the Little Things

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We are in our new home, and working hard to get ourselves settled.  We have worked so hard that Hubby is on bedrest for at least a week!  I am also easing back.  My sweet daughter commented that here we are less than an hour away, and we are useless as babysitters.   In a couple weeks, for her and her husband’s anniversary, we should be ready for duty.  It makes me smile.  I am happy we are close enough to see and interact with the grandkids, before they are completely grown.

Then there are our children, whose help with moving in kept the move affordable, as well as getting our furniture into the house!   Okay, I’ll admit there have been a couple of bounced checks, but that is why we have overdraft protection.   Scheduling  payments electronically is not a skill I have mastered, and with all the disruption of the move there were a few too many dinners out.  I’m glad it was my bank account that took the hit rather than my waistline.  I have my priorities.

The house isn’t pretty, but it is liveable.  The garage is full of boxes waiting for attention.   Taking care of everyday tasks is a relief.   I love my new stove and refrigerator, and I’m happy just cooking at home.  Doing laundry, even at the laundromat, brings normalcy back to my life.

While waiting on the laundry, I was reading the Special Time Edition of The Science of Happiness:  New Discoveries For a More Joyful Life.  One new thing I learned is how to think positively.   Thinking positively isn’t just appreciating the band as the Titanic sinks.   Thinking positively is thinking about happy memories,reliving them in your mind.  It is like a mini vacation, refreshing.

Soon we will have a house warming, and I’ll share pictures of the new house.  Until then, build many happy moments into your daily life.

Happy memories.

Mysterious Disappearances

Things move in my house.  The matches were gone for days.  Pens disappear. I am constantly looking for my rings.  My meat defrosting in the sink disappears.  Muffins bagged on the counter disappear.  Glasses disappear, or at least get tipped over.  Paper isn’t safe.  Tubes, bottles, bottle caps, and hair accessories of all kinds disappear.

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Couldn’t be me Mom, I’m sleeping!

It is as if these things fall into an alternate dimension.  Maybe they fall through a hole in the space-time continuum.  It is a dilemma.  I quiz every living being in the household.  Blue, our gray cat, claims he was outside.  Penny, our little old lady, says she’s been tied up, and what’s with that?  Penny claims it has been days since she’s made any kind of mess at all.  Brutus, the Boston Terror, says he was closed into his crate for the night.  That leaves only one possibility.

“Couldn’t be me Mom, I’m sleeping,” says Shadow.

Even if I’d been watching, I wouldn’t see Shadow do anything wrong.  For one, she is my adorable, affectionate kitty who I claim as a service animal, because she is the one who just makes me so happy when I am sad, keeps me company when I am lonely, and makes me smile even if I get angry.

Of course, even watching her, Shadow is sometimes very difficult to see.  Shadow blends into the shadows, and looks like a hole in the fabric of space-time herself.  Photographic evidence is inconclusive.   Shadow’s dark color absorbs all surrounding light, and her features can be difficult to make out.

For now, I guess I’ll give Shadow the benefit of the doubt.  There is one person I haven’t questioned, and that is Hubby.  Why Hubby would want to put things under the stove and refrigerator, behind the sofa, under the end tables, and give the animals our steaks and muffins from the counter, and knock over all the glasses or onto the floor is a little beyond my comprehension.

What could Hubby be doing with my hair accessories?  It is a mystery.

For Those Days You’re Draggin

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WARNING –  This is not a post about thinking yourself to health and wellness.  Why?  Because I have a lot of trouble with the entire concept of “being as happy as I decide to be,” of “telling the universe what I desire” and attracting it to myself.

I have coped with mood disorders, and meditation did not cure me, nor posting messages on my mirror and refrigerator to encourage positive thinking.  Telling people how much I wanted to be close to family, did not make the job opportunities appear to keep us close to home.  Planning, preparing, and doing the right things did not prevent layoffs, unwanted relocation, illness, and conflict from happening.

No, It was the support of the medical community and wise counselors that pulled me from the clutches of depression.  For months, not days, my miserable slog through life never seemed to end,  as much as I wanted an ending.

Thankfully, I did learn how to reach for happiness.  It wasn’t even a matter of deciding what I want and going for it.  It was so much simpler.  I had to quit trying to figure out what went wrong, and just accept things as they are, and just deal with it, or avoid it, which is often more appropriate with things I can’t change.  Even if I could figure out why things happened as they have, it doesn’t change the current situation.  I just stopped working the puzzles of why and how.  I needed to learn what makes me happy.

Productivity makes me happy. 

So how do I stop working on these puzzles?  First, I write it down, leaving my concerns on the page.  Then, I keep myself busy.  I have found that being productive, in any way, is preferable to ruminating on problems with no solution in sight.  So I clean, cook, organize, walk the dogs, sew, crochet, or write.  The activity doesn’t matter, as long as there is a result that I have done something productive.

Having friends makes me happy.

My social network has broadened, with friends from church, exercise, and work.  I can stave off the blues by having social interactions that I look forward to.  Rather than climbing down into a hole when bad things happen in the world, I can be with others who share my concerns.

Music makes me happy.

When I lost my voice for two months, due to a horrible cough, I realized how much I value music.  Listening to music, yes, but more particularly making music, as in singing.  I have not been in a choir for five years, but it wasn’t until I lost my voice, and thought I might never again sing, that I realized how important singing is to me.  Posted in our old choir room was a quotation, “We don’t sing because we are happy.  We are happy because we sing.”  I have never left a choir practice or performance without a smile on my face.

Moving my body makes me happy.

My exercise class makes me smile.  My water aerobics class got me moving even with bad knees.  Walking and hiking lets me get close up with the natural world around me.  Bicycle riding gives me a rush of speed and brings back the freedom and joy of childhood.  Dancing (and singing) in the shower makes me feel uninhibited and joyful.

Collecting memories makes me happy. 

I have read that travel is the key to happiness, and I believe it.  New places and new experiences offer a break from the routine, and a sense of adventure.  Collecting brochures and planning the trails I want to walk, what I want to see, and what I want to do give me joy in the planning as well as in the doing.  The memories last a lifetime.  Even when things don’t go well, there is still a story to share.

Perhaps you have other ideas to share for how to reach for happiness.  For now, being with Hubby will make me happy.

Who I Admire

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Many people admire those who are famous, or powerful, or rich.  I admire skill.  The skill of artists, architects, writers, photographers, musicians, doctors, lawyers, engineers, statesmen, and craft people of all kinds.  I am sure you can think of someone famous and skilled in each category.  I do admire all of those who are skilled in their field.

More than any of these, I admire most everyday, average people.

The clerk at the grocery store who does a good job.  She is knowledgeable enough to know what is in the store and where it is.  She is quick at checkout, an expert packer, with a smile for everyone.  She does her job quickly and cheerfully, making each person feel like she is there only to take care of you.

The man at church who greets us on Sunday morning with a smile and a hug for all the ladies and a handshake for all the men.  He is as comfortable cleaning off the sidewalk, working in the kitchen, leading a discussion group or Sunday School class, and helping on a service trip.  No one really know how much he does around the church and to help others that cross his path, because he never talks about it.  He just quietly does what needs to be done, and fills in as needed.  He makes everyone feel they are special.

The young woman who gives her all to her job, her children and her family, and makes time for her friends as well.  She gives love to every dog she sees, is kind to all creatures, and is ready to help in any way she can.  She passionately cares about others, and learns all she can about them.  She is love personified.

These people have one thing in common, they are interested in those around them, and are truly loving people.  They bring happiness to others.  This is what I admire most.                                                                                                                                                                 #

 

Now is Sanctuary

It has been a week!  A wonderful, noisy, busy, wild week.  Grandchildren were here.   We sewed, cooked, and played.  Nobody slept enough.  We were just working things out and establishing a routine when the week ended.  Each of the three children had their own sanctuary from separation and homesickness.  My grandson found sanctuary in his electronic devices.  Little sister found sanctuary in drawing and coloring.  Older sister found sanctuary doing the hair of her Americn Girl doll (practice for her own hair).

Oma (me) found sanctuary in being surrounded by people I  love.  Instead of dwelling on the frustrations of life, I focused only on them.  I focused on each moment present with them.

Live fully in the present moment, appreciate the feel of fabrics and surfaces, focus on the people and emotions of the present.  In my experience, living in the present moment is the best way to release stress and anxiety.    Maybe some examples would help illustrate.

Going into a job interview?  Put on your best smile, it’s show time.  Instead of borrowing trouble over how you will be judged wanting, spend your time really focusing on your surroundings and the interviewer.  You say you aren’t prepared. That is the past.  Focus on making that connection when you meet.  Focus on the interviewer.  Listen to each comment and question.  Save your analysis for later.

Confronted with a phobia?  Spiders?  Notice the spider’s color, its pattern, how it weaves its web, what may have been snared.  You may become so fascinated that you forget your fear.

The present moment can be your sanctuary, if you banish the mistakes and hurts of the past, and refuse to fret over the future.

(Picture  of the grandchildren playing Fantasia on Xbox.   Included with permission of Mom.)

Feast

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After a lifetime of love. My parents.

I pull your love around me, quiet safety,

Making a feast of beauty for you, my self.

Pulling humor about me, armor of wit,

Loving you always.

 

Safety a shell, a cocoon, to grow within.

Wrapping around protection from a dark world,

Myself youthful sacrificed to our children,

Watching love mature.

 

A plan, a deal unwitting to wait and grow,

Until the day, no longer waiting, I fly.

With thanks and love fufillment flows forth, thankful

It is over, the wait.

Journey from Reality to Fantasy

 

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At Universal Studio, Orlando

Daily Prompt:  Journey

Michelle Zacharias, a Canadian artist living, creating and writing in Japan posted a blog about an artist show by Arthur Huang  titled Memory Walks-Is This the Way I Went?   Huang documents the journey he makes through his day on the canvas of eggs.  Strange.  Interesting.  Why do I even like this?

Many of us document our days with photos, notations on calendars, journals, or blogs.  We document our health concerns with notations of test and doctor appointments.  We document the significant events in our lives with pictures and announcements on little cards saved in boxes.  We post on social media, the big and the small, to save what we think is funny, cute, touching, and outrageous.  Our journey through life is saved in boxes, on shelves, in bits and pieces.

We travel and explore, and document every step.  But sometimes, we just want to escape from our everyday reality.  Lacking cash for a flight to paradise, we still have an easy escape.  A journey into fiction.  We can hop on a train from platform 9 3/4 and go on an adventure where the good guys always win, where friends never let you down, and magic is a part of everyday.  This same magic happens with any good book.  The thrill of adventure, digging for treasure, traveling to far away places, falling in love, and fighting (and winning) the good fight.  All of the world is between the pages of a book (or the pages on your tablet).

If the journey you desire has not been written yet, perhaps you are the one to write it.  Your journey is only limited by your imagination.

May the creative road rise up to meet you.

(Yes I took the picture above.  Need to learn how to create a watermark for my pictures.  So much to learn.)

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Home Sweet Home

I shoveled two inches of snow off my walk the day before we left for our time in paradise.  I came home to spring.

Daffodils, Magnolias, Red-buds, and other flowering tree were all in bloom.  I’ve been home a week, and white petals are falling and drifting like snow, and leaf buds are bursting in green. Winter is behind us.

Vacations give us a break from everyday concerns.  Personal conflicts are left behind, obligations set aside, commitments put on hold when we go on vacation, and we can focus on relaxation, fun, and just enjoying a worry free moment.

But we do have to come back to real life. While I was having fun in the sun, life went on, and those things left unresolved and unfinished were waiting. The demands of jobs and family, navigating though conflict, dealing with traffic, negotiating compromises, and coping  with frustration did not all magically disappear.  Dealing with hundreds of e-mails, getting caught up on social media, finding out just how necessary you are at your job because everything is falling apart without you (or not), cutting the lawn, feeding the pets, laundry, cooking, and catching up on the news, are just a few of the things being home again means.

While we were gone, our friends and family were dealing with difficulties.  We missed the water advisory and boil notices.  People got sick or injured, and some were hospitalized.  Legal items came up for review.  The stuff of life, relationships, and our modern world played out without us, and now we are back, and being swept along with the currents, including coming back to a tiny new granddaughter, Marlie Marie, born on St. Patrick’s day.

Vacation gives a break from the everyday, and is a time of rest and rejuvenation.  The trick of life is not to run away and escape our problems, but to seek out the rest and rejuvenation offered to us each day.  Comfortable routine provides a framework for keeping us on track and getting things accomplished.  The lesson of vacation is to take time to enjoy the peace and promise in a sunrise, and time to enjoy the beauty of the season, new life, and moments of love.  Give yourself a pat on the back when you accomplish a goal, take pride in accomplishing something difficult.  You can’t know everything, do everything, be perfect, so be forgiving of your own failings and those of others.  Stop trying to control every outcome.

Make time for yourself.   Breath.  Enjoy the magnificence of our world and the life around us.  Laugh, love, forgive.  Be at peace and bring that peace to all things.  And when it gets to much…take a little vacation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Just be Happy”

My Mom

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Ardelia “Dee” Schapiro

If happiness and sadness go together like day and night, then I am nearing dawn on this second anniversary of my mother’s death.  My Mom, Ardelia “Dee” Schapiro,  was the most kind and loving person I have known.  Mom attracted others with her magnetic kindness.  She greeted people with a hug that enveloped you and made you feel like you belonged.  Mom was the shining beacon of life, showing me the way to go.  At her funeral I said Mom was my home.

Without Mom,  I take joy in the flowers I have planted in her honor, and all I have learned from her.  I still wake up in the middle of the night at that time she always needed help, and I use that time to think of her and all the love she showed me.  I cherish each memory, even the ones that others might consider less than happy.  Mom knew me as well as any person can know another, and she was my teacher and guide.

Being loving did not mean Mom would let misbehavior slide.  Mom did not have to yell to let you know of her displeasure, and her displeasure stung.  If you were threatening, rude, unkind, or vulgar, she let you know and you had a choice to apologize and do better, or to go someplace else.   If you did not treat someone she loved respectfully Mom didn’t care if it was my three-year old son, who she escorted to the door asking him to leave for not treating her daughter properly, or a muscle-bound group of large tough looking motor cycle riders, who received a sever tongue lashing for being rude to my Dad.

As a depression era child, Mom dropped out of high school to take care of younger brothers and sisters, and keep the house so both of her parents could work for the basic necessities.    She got her GED in her thirties.   Mom was observant, fair, non-judgmental, and the smartest person I have known about people and life.   There was always room at the kitchen table for anyone who needed to talk about a problem.  Those who came to my Mom were not only family, but our friends, neighbors, and others who found comfort in her kindness, and wisdom in her words.

Others I have talked to about grief tell me the second year is the hardest, and that is true in my experience.  The first year I was very focused on following Mom’s last wish for me to “just be happy.”  I found my feelings could still be hurt, and the expectations of others still left pain when I failed to meet them.  How can I just be happy when I miss my Mom?   Being hurt, or sad can not take away the happiness of having the honor of being raised and loved by my Mom.

Fortunately I carry so much of her wisdom and love within me, where it can never be lost, but I have it available to share.

How Much Money Do You Need?

They have a lot of strange ideas in Seattle, Washington.  Dan Price, founder of Gravity Payments, promises to raise the minimum wage of all his employees to $70,000.

This is a time our country is fighting the raising of the minimum wage, and reports of a growing gap between the top 1 percent of wage earners and the lowest wage earners, as well as concerns about the increasing struggles to maintain the quality of life among the middle class.  The American dream is under siege and Price takes the action making all his employees middle class.  What is Price thinking?  This is his profit!  He did this because he read an article on Money and Happiness!?

Many people may think they would do this if they had the money, but honestly, would we?  Making a profit is the big goal.  Amassing large amounts of money for private jets, our own private island, hobnobbing with celebrities is the dream of wealth.  To the victor go the spoils!

Price must believe all of those people in his company contribute to his success.  Rather than thinking of these people as replaceable cogs as they move on to greener pastures to better their lives, while he lines his pockets using up the next poor person at low wages, he believes his employees are vital to the success of his business, and he is concerned with their happiness.  Happiness isn’t just something they have to find for themselves out of work, but happiness is something he can and will help them achieve by paying his employees generously.

While money can’t buy happiness, it can relieve the insecurity and anxiety of juggling your finances to cover the normal life expenses, from a car breaking down, or an unexpected health emergency.  Less insecurity and anxiety, the more you can focus on happiness.

I guess Price feels very secure, and I would like to thank him for sharing. Maybe he will get others to think about just how much they really need.

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