Monthly Archives: September 2012

Day 77 – Happiness is … giving babies away

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“A happy family is but an earlier heaven.”
– John Bowring

“This is the day we give babies away with a half a pound of tea. If you know any ladies who might like some babies, just send them round to me.

This lullaby saved me. It was the  Dirty Little Secrets of Otherwise Perfect Mums of the late 1800’s. (Ok, so there is the notion that this was sung by sailors to single ladies but I prefer the mum to baby theory.)

Parenting is complete chaos and imperfection, lost tempers and guilty cheats, and loving my kids even when I’d love to give them away. The words to this lullaby taught me that not only was I not alone in the overwhelming cocktail of frustration, exhaustion, and love of being a new mother, but that even a hundred years ago and half way across the world, women living completely different lives felt the same way as me. Motherhood is a universal language.

“I tell my kids I have to go potty but in reality I lock myself in the bathroom so I can sit on the edge of the tub and read a magazine article.” – Anonymous

“My husband has no idea how much television our kids really watch.” – Anonymous

And I thought two kids was a lot of work

Realistic goals are the first step to success so I ‘planned’ a good parenting day that started off with a leisurely breakfast of fruit, pancakes, smiles and jokes after our ten minute wake up meditation session… off to school and work followed by afternoon adventures in the sunshine, a group effort to create an evening meal and then snuggle up couch time to watch an episode of a show… all of this rounded out with a story and a warm mug of milk and hugs.

The day dawned and my son had earned himself no tv or video games by neglecting his chores the day before and I had forgotten about an appointment that would cut into afternoon adventure and the fact that I had to pack for a weekend away which started at 5 am the next day. As the perfect day for good parenting was blown, I decided to change my happiness task.

We had a rushed morning. My son left the house in a huff because I was sticking to my no tv consequence. By the time I got home I had to throw a insto-supper together, pack, make sure the kids were organized for getting themselves to school without me and do laundry. My daughter and I watched tv and my son kept coming into the living room to ask questions about the chore he was supposed to be doing while I pretended not to notice that he was actually watching the show.

His chores got done but I had hours of stuff to do before bed so when I was asked to read a story (it’s a habit we have never got out of since we started it a hundred years ago), I had every right to say, “tonight we will skip it”. And I did.  Today wasn’t officially ‘good parenting’ day anyway.

Then I remembered… a good parent lives with complete chaos and imperfection, lost tempers and guilty cheats, and loves her kids even when she’d love to give them away. I decided I was going to be tired the next day regardless. I decided I wanted to read the story as well. I decided there are days I really don’t have time to read a story. I decided today was not one of them.

I got my daughter out of bed and we snuck into my son’s room to snuggle up for story time. The story sparked a conversation which led to fits of giggles and a perfect mental picture moment.

A few hours later I curled up in bed with a nice cup of tea.

PS Update: If you’d like to know how to incorporate story time into creative fitness for and your child, check out Imaginaction

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So…it has come to this !

“I used to skip over parts of the bedtime story when the kids were younger to speed it up.” – me

Rating:  Good parenting day (8 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 3 out of 5 (I knew it couldn’t be what I had planned)
  • Twitch – my kids have verified its existence
  • Happy hour – 5 out of 5 (self-explanatory)

What the heck does all that mean, you ask? Read Itchy Feet Explained.

Tomorrow: Take a poll.  Use the calendar to view my happiness tasks for each day along with a brief description of the task and why I chose it.

 

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Day 76 – Happiness is … magic waiting to happen

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“Happiness is the harvest of a quiet eye.”~ Austin O’Malley

In the Far East, there is a tree called the Chinese bamboo tree. While most trees grow steadily over a period of years, the Chinese bamboo tree doesn’t break through the ground for the first four years. Then, in the fifth year, an amazing thing happens – the tree begins to grow at an astonishing rate. In fact, in a period of just five weeks, a Chinese bamboo tree can grow to a height of 90 feet.

600 year old tree…English, not Chinese

65 happiness tasks and only 5 months ago, I planted some magic beans. Today I harvested 6 tiny, green cherry tomatoes that now sit on my windowsill in an attempt to ripen.

Holding a seed in your hand is like holding magic. Holding 6 green cherry tomatoes in your hand is like holding an unappetizing snack so I also harvested the grocery store for all the things I didn’t grow this year. Along with a clean kitchen, I also enjoy a stocked fridge.

My body is particularly unforgiving in its insistence that I eat healthy food however. For the first time in my adult life, I live somewhere that allows me to drive 2 minutes and have access to all the things I forgot when I went grocery shopping, so when I discovered an empty milk carton in the fridge, instead of decreeing the next day a toast and eggs breakfast day with earl grey tea (earl grey should never be taken with milk), I drove to the store and bought milk. I was giddy at this extravagance and treated my self to some store-bought cookies as well.

Holding cookies and milk in my hands is like, totally irresistible dude! I had two 🙂 And in the middle of the night I had a migraine. Too much ‘bad fat’, chocolate, red wine, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, stress…the list of triggers grows as I age so that I now cannot drink too much alcohol, eat store-bought crap, chocolate or cheese. I must get 8-10 hours of sleep each night, exercise at least once every 3 days, and find ways to stay relaxed.

I always believed that my lifestyle would plant seeds for my children to also be active and turn their nose up at soda. I’ve watered those seeds for many years without a harvest… until this fall. Without warning, my bamboo tree broke ground and both of my children have begun asking for guidance in exercise and reaching fitness goals. Plus, I have 6 tiny green cherry tomatoes.

Buoyed by this success, I plan to grow a lush potted garden on my windowsill from which culinary sensations shall burst, medicinal migraine cures will be discovered, and many teas will be brewed. HERBS!

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So…it has come to this !

All of us have a Bamboo tree somewhere inside us. 

Rating:  Harvest  day (8 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 4 out of 5 (6 tomatoes! I can choose disappointment or excitement at this harvest)
  • Twitch – lab tests done! results pending…
  • Happy hour – 4 out of 5 (one point lost for a migraine)

What the heck does all that mean, you ask? Read Itchy Feet Explained.

Tomorrow: Good parenting.  Use the calendar to view my happiness tasks for each day along with a brief description of the task and why I chose it.

Day 61-Happiness is … imperfect

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“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”~ Albert Camus

ENOUGH!

I had an epiphany today. It’s not the first. Since the meditation retreat I’ve had a few; such a great addition to any day and so unfortunate you cannot plan them.

This one started with a comment about enjoying the company of happy people and it occurred to me… I am a happy person. I really am. But would someone reading this blog believe that?

I started this blog to explore happiness, but in my attempt to improve the happiness that I already had, I’ve focused on eliminating the unhappiness. In the process, I’ve heightened it. Happiness is imperfect.

I’ve deceived myself into thinking no happy moment is good enough because there is still some unhappiness lurking.

No more… I am not perfect, I am not perfectly happy, but I am happy.

My favourite restaurant sign: ‘Choose 2 out of 3…Your food can be fast, cheap or good.  If it’s cheap and good it won’t be fast. If it’s fast and cheap, it won’t be good. If it’s fast and good it won’t be cheap.”

My blog is free (doesn’t get cheaper than that) and I need to get it up-to-date fast, which means what follows is a fairly long, boring recount to catch this blog up to present day. ENJOY 🙂

Meditation retreat

Day 62 – Meditate. Months ago, when I was fresh into the exploration of happiness, I signed up for a summer beginner’s weekend meditation retreat at a Buddhist monastery. In my usual way, I was prepared right until I got lost. Arriving 20 minutes late, heart racing, and as flustered as a city dweller who has never meditated in her life can be, I was greeted calmly by the head monk with a smile. “You’re right on time.” I thought it was a joke, but then I wondered if monks are allowed to joke?

Over the course of the weekend, I discovered they are…but the nuns were funnier.

It was a remarkable place. Rabbits, chipmunks, marmots, all skittered about the woods fearlessly. They would actually stop to watch me sometimes; even the air seemed more serene.

I plan to return. I have started a daily 10 minute meditation each morning. Of anything I have done so far in my quest for happiness, this has by far had the most influence and lasting impact. 10/10

Day 63 – Find God. Seemed a fitting enough task while meditating at a monastery, but it turns out that Buddhists are more concerned with the self. They honour the work of self improvement because a better world starts with better individuals and the only person capable of making you a better person is…you.

When I was a child, I remember going on a road trip with my parents and staring out the car window at the stars. I closed my eyes and made a deal with God…”If there is a God, I want to see a shooting star when I open my eyes.” I waited about 2 seconds (to give God a chance) and then popped my eyes open. I did not imagine the shooting star. It was definitely there. What, if anything, that means I am still deciding but that experience was the closest I’ve come to finding God. 7/10

Day 64 – Book Review. Love to read. My 15 year old daughter makes the best recommendations but following the

Cover of "Life of Pi"

Cover of Life of Pi

hype of media and local chitter, I bought ’50 Shades of Grey’. I still can’t figure out what the big deal is. Yes, I get that the woman has a talent but the book was like a porn…  badly acted/written in between scenes that everyone puts up with to get to the ‘good stuff’.

Around the same time, I also read ‘Life of Pi’. Loved the layers of that book. I felt that most of the first part of the book could have been edited out without affecting the story much…until I got to the end and realized how subtly and perfectly the author had brought the story full circle. I can’t say more without a spoiler alert and more ink in my pen. 8/10

Day 65 – Save a life. I put this off for years because of my own discomfort at the idea. It still bothers me a great deal but in the end, it isn’t about me. I became an organ donor. 6/10

Day 66 – Bucket List. I added to and updated my bucket list. Sometimes I feel like there’s a hole in my bucket… 6/10

Day 67 – Clean kitchen. I like a clean kitchen, but I love walking into a clean kitchen first thing in the morning. Waking to dirty dishes starts my day off wrong instantly. The first thing I see is work needing to be done and I instantly feel tired. On the night I had specifically set aside to give myself that early morning simple smile, I was late home from work and wondering if it was really worth the effort. It wasn’t… but without prodding or poking of any kind, my daughter had already done it. It hasn’t happened before or since, but it happened 🙂 9/10

Clean kitchens make better tasting food

Day 68 – Review. What am I getting out of this project, if anything? Is it helping? Think I’ve covered that in the last couple of blogs… 7/10

Day 69 – People Watch. Ohmagosh, one of my all time favourite activities ever. People are weird. I like to invent their lives, to imagine where they are going next, or just try to sort out why someone would sunscreen themselves in a pattern. People are weird. 7/10

Day 70 – Foam Roller. Hamstring injury + foam roller = pain. Tight IT band + foam roller = more pain. It’s like the Buckley’s slogan “Tastes awful and it works.” The foam roller slogan should be “Awful pain and it works.” I’ve also been to physio. All this to allow me to run farther than 10km. When I finish the IronMan, I’ll be sure to thank the foam roller people in my speech. 6/10

Day 71 – Victory Log. A Beiber Day…I didn’t do it!

Day 72 – Sing in the Car. Be grateful this isn’t a podcast. The louder the radio, the better I get. As a happiness task I rank this one highly. 8/10

Day 73 – Purge. I cannot believe the amount of garbage I was living with. Moving forces you to consider the value of each object before you put effort into packing, moving, and unpacking it. I purged! Simplifying does feel good. I still have an internet stick for sale… 7/10

Day 74 – Sleep Under the Stars. Space is big. I mean really big. I wish I had more space and time to write about this night and perhaps I will embellish in future blogs. Me, my kids, some sleeping bags and loads of bug spray. The 5am rain storm made it completely unforgettable. 9/10

Day 75 – Say goodbye. We moved. We said good bye to a community, a home, a school, a way of life. And because things like to happen all at once we said goodbye to some beloveds. RIP Sir Gallahad and Snoopy. For me there were other goodbyes as well because apparently I still need to build more character. 6/10

Thanks for reading. We appreciate your business and look forward to seeing you again soon 🙂

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So…it has come to this !

“Goodbye is just a hello waiting to happen”... Maybe that is my quote

Rating: Catch Up  day (8 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 4 out of 5 (very excited to have happiness tasks and a reason to write again)
  • Twitch – grrr…forgot to go get those lab tests again
  • Happy hour – 4 out of 5 (had to stay up late to get it done, but still worth it)

What the heck does all that mean, you ask? Read Itchy Feet Explained.

Tomorrow: Harvest.  Use the calendar to view my happiness tasks for each day along with a brief description of the task and why I chose it.

Day 61-Happiness is … a never ending circle

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“How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being.”

“A man can be happy with any woman, as long as he does not love her.”

– Oscar Wilde

I was supposed to go to a wedding reception. It was going to be a family reunion of sorts. It was next on the happiness task list before I fell off my emotional cliff.I had a trip planned and in the grand way of plans it all fell apart. As did some other aspects of my life. But that’s the past…

Fast forward 2 months and I’m at my  high school reunion… (where past catches future and we pray the fashions haven’t come full circle yet.)

Nothing is a bigger deterrent to happiness than people ‘in love’ when you are unwillingly out of the club. And yet, chatting with a school chum who was fresh into the throes lightened me. He couldn’t stop talking about her … and smiling. His energy was infectious, though it made me wonder when I was last the cause of such happiness, or would be again…

We lunched the next day and discussed the proposal plan (which, by the time of this writing, I assume has been executed), and whether he should bring the ring to Paris or buy it there. Yes… much to the astonishment of the entire impromptu planning committee,  he had to ask if Paris was the right place to pop the question.

Now I’ve never been proposed to (how I managed to get married without a proposal is a story for another day), but I would imagine that if you’re in love and wanting to get married then Paris is a decent enough spot for memory making. I voted yes.

Another highlight of the reunion was seeing my English teacher, a woman who inspired me to be a better horse woman and a better writer. Her comment that I was her favourite writer brought mountains of guilt toppling down from the carefully crafted stack of ignored brain bugs I’d been collecting… “You should be writing, you should be blogging, you should be happier.”

So the blog that should have happened next (instead of no blogging at all) was a wedding and family reunion. Coming full circle with a reunion and a wedding seems only fitting… and if the ring fits…

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So…it has come to this !

No matter how much you care for someone, trying to convince them to love you back will never make you happy; it takes two smiles to make a full circle.

Rating: Go to a wedding day (7 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 3 out of 5 (Was fairly excited for my high school reunion…not sure why exactly)
  • Twitch – I do! (still have it)
  • Happy hour – 4 out of 5 (reunion was ok, but witnessing full circle love smiles was happiness)

What the heck does all that mean, you ask? Read Itchy Feet Explained.

Tomorrow: Catch Up Day.  Use the calendar to view my happiness tasks for each day along with a brief description of the task and why I chose it.

Day 60-Happiness is … goodbye

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Everything will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end.” -John Lennon

Fall down, laugh, get back up

Have you ever stood at the edge of your emotional cliff and wanted to jump?
Teetering on the edge of falling in love but afraid of getting hurt…slipping on the sludge of hatred and fighting to stay upright…staring into the darkness of depression and welcoming the nothingness…dabbling your toes at the shore of happiness – just your toes-because immersing yourself completely would make things too painful when the happiness dries up.
And it will. Everything ends. Every hello is a postponement of the inevitable goodbye. Every single thing that starts will end.
For the things in life I view as negative, this is a great thing. For the positive things, I instantly start trying to think of ways to delay the ending. I can’t. I have limited control over the quality of the experience and perhaps even the timing of the end, but resisting the fact that it will end only diminishes the joy of now.
The flip side of knowing that everything ends is knowing that there is always something new beginning. Perhaps a positive thing ends and marks the start of a negative thing. This is not ideal, but if I know it is going to end, I can face it. And when a new positive starts I can enjoy and appreciate it more while it lasts because I know there is an expiration date. I don’t know the exact date so each moment has to be precious.
The worst criticism I ever faced was, “You never finish anything you start.” Perhaps there is a part of me trying to take back control over when the ending happens so I speed it up, but finishing and ending are different things.
While endings are guaranteed, expected even, finishing is not. Finishing is completion; running something through to its natural end point. Ending something when it is finished is satisfying. Ending something before it is finished leads to regret and unhappiness.
This blog will end one day… when it is finished. I may not be perfect, I may fall, but I will finish.
Hello 🙂
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So…it has come to this !

If every hello is a goodbye waiting to happen, then every goodbye is a hello that’s just around the corner.

Rating: Restarting day ( 5 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 2 out of 5 (excited to finish this happiness mission; concerned about the time investment)
  • Twitch – Hello twitch
  • Happy hour – 3 out of 5 (Writing is harder when you’re out of practice)

What the heck does all that mean, you ask? Read Itchy Feet Explained.

Tomorrow: Wedding day….  Use the calendar to view my happiness tasks for each day along with a brief description of the task and why I chose it.