Monthly Archives: October 2012

Day 82 – Happiness is … wabi sabi

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“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”
― Guillaume Apollinaire

Is it terrible that when I write out that list of effective happiness tasks and think, “How much more could one person cram into a weekend?”, my first thought is, “If only I’d _______.”

Big cities are an acquired taste

Traveled in good weather to a different city, stayed in a hotel, listened to a J.K. Rowling interview on CBC, attended a writing conference, met up with friends I hadn’t seen for a while, made a new friend, got a chance to write, rest, workout, network, learn, teach, play… and it only cost $80 for the whole happiness overload weekend.

The truth is I enjoyed my weekend fully. It is only in the aftermath that I look back and see where improvements could have been made and isn’t that what we do with any experience? Isn’t that called learning in every other aspect of life?

One could argue I am not appreciating what I have, but on the other hand, by rebuking myself for the ‘if only’ thought, I am not accepting myself for who I am… a visionary ‘anything is possible’ superhuman with an allergy to mediocre.

Sounds so much better than hard to please and never satisfied huh?

It all comes down to wabi sabi… nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect. . My weekend didn’t last, but I loved every moment. My weekend is finished in the sense that it is no longer the weekend, but it is not finished in the sense that I am still learning from it. My weekend wasn’t perfect, but I wasn’t trying to make it perfect; I was trying to ignore the issue of happiness altogether.

And I did. It was a perfect wabi sabi weekend.

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So…it has come to this !

I love wasabi.

Rating:  Do It All day (8 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 5 out of 5 (Very excited about the day… and happy the pre-trip organizing is over)
  • Twitch –  maybe I should try a cucumber wasabi eye mask
  • Happy hour –  5 out of 5 (better than I’d imagined…despite the lack of horse riding)

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

Tomorrow: Write.  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 84 – Happiness is … like a drug

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“I vowed to find happiness…or die trying” ~ Scott Stoll

Drugs: toted as the shortcut to happiness, but if the purpose of life is the journey, if the secret to happiness is enjoying the scenery along the way, why would you want to cut your happiness short?

Alas, ours is not a black and white world, is it, Lance ?

What if we could live happily ever after? What if we are right now on the evolutionary track that allows our descendants to experience life as one magical epiphany after another? What if the raw biological capacity to experience happiness is nothing more than a series of chemical reactions and we discovered a way to engineer ‘happier’ brains? Would you do it? Aren’t we all?

Despite the many spectacularly incompetent routes to a life time of happiness, there is one that works. Why do most of us bypass it?

Because Google maps cannot list the way from point A to point B in 27 simple steps which include jet skiing across the Pacific Ocean, because scientists and gardeners alike cannot manufacture an effective rabbit hole pill that does not involve voluntary amnesia or can satisfy our re-regulating synapses that demand more with each hit, and mostly, because we don’t have enough time.

There are an infinite number of doorways leading into utopia and only one of them will work for you. Life is short; who wants to spend it twisting doorknobs?

Let me ask you this… what else were you planning on doing with your life? Your answer to that might be the first place you’ll want to start looking for your portal because no matter what your answer was,there is your next happiness hit.

Find your own doorway

Because although the secret to happiness is the same for everyone, your interpretation is as unique as you. The secret is you; and  in the grand way of secrets, no-one else can tell you how to follow your heart, find your bliss, enjoy the ride despite the falls, and basically ignore all the locked doors taunting you. Maybe you have to build your own door. What would it look like? What is on the other side? Is it possible that when you walk through that door, you will find yourself in exactly the same place and all that changed was your point of view?

“Life is like a ten speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we’ll never use.” ~ Charles Schultz

Perhaps the only thing limiting us from the same happiness potential of future generations is … ____________. Seriously, what is stopping you?

Happiness is a drug. We are all drug addicts willing to try anything, spend anything, beg, borrow and steal from anyone to get more. Here is my 3 step program:

Step 1 – What would you be doing with your time on earth if you’d already found your doorway?

Step 2 – What is stopping you from doing that now?

Step 3 – Start twisting.

Fall down, laugh, get back up

If you have not yet read, ‘The Apology Lance Armstrong Will Never Give“, do it now.

If you have not yet watched, “Falling Uphill“, do it now.

It will take you about 5 minutes to do both of these things. What else have you got to do?

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So…it has come to this !

“If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on.” ~ Lance Armstrong 

And worrying is like riding a rocking horse…gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere. Or so I’ve ben told.

 Rating:  Random topic day (8 out of 10)
  • Itchy feet – 4 out of 5 (worried I wouldn’t find a good topic)
  • Twitch – it’s not random…it’s there
  • Happy hour –  5 out of 5 (loved it so much I am posting this blog out of order)

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

Tomorrow: Do It All (Day 82).  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 81 – Happiness is … going nuts – OH hazelnuts!

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“Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination” ~ Mark Twain

Nuts, oh hazelnuts…uh…Cadbury’s takes ’em and they cover them in chocolate!” It loses some of it’s punch without the catchy tune in your head – (if the link doesn’t take you there, plug ‘Cadbury’s whole nut’ into You Tube and enjoy) – but I, for one, (my brother for two, I’m sure), will never forget.

By silent consent as children, certain words became taboo as uttering the word ‘nuts’ caused a loud outbreak of impromptu advertising from our dad. I did wonder sometimes if he was on commission. Our friends just thought he was nuts… DOH!

There is no denying that good advertising sticks with you so today I did something I have been contemplating for years and turned my car into a mobile billboard. Some people may think I’m nuts, but if it works, I may break into song.

Inserting shameless plug here…
$10/mnth for unlimited online classes 🙂

 

www.heartbeatsfitness.com

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So…it has come to this !

Ironically,  my first car was a large yellow boat of a vehicle that I dubbed ‘The Yellow Submarine’…and I’m allergic to chocolate. (That was a joke. If you didn’t get it then you obviously didn’t watch the Cadbury’s clip:)

Rating:  Advertising  day (8 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 4 out of 5 (Was a little hesitant still…it’s a level of commitment akin to a tattoo)
  • Twitch – can I make money from a twitch?
  • Happy hour –  4 out of 5 (I like it…but now I have to drive without speeding or cutting people off…not that I ever did…)

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

Tomorrow: Do It All.  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 80 – Happiness is … an illuminated swan

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There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.” ~ Buddha

Three women, one book, and I have a plane to catch. Sounds like a set up for a bad joke.

Killing time before a flight in an airport bookshop, my mum, my grandmother and I stumbled on the Name Book. It describes your personality in detail based on the idea that certain sound waves (your name) being directed at you over time, will bring forward some character traits and suppress others. It also tells you your animal totem. My grandmother was a dove. I was a swan. My mother said, “Don’t look me up… I’ll be a chicken.”

I laughed. “Of course you won’t be a chicken, mum. They would never list an animal totem that didn’t make you want to buy the book.”

We didn’t buy the book.

Fast forward to present day… two boats, one harbour, and I need to get to other side. Sounds like a bad chicken joke.

The first year I went on the fitness retreat, we had to wait hours before boarding the ferry and so we browsed a crowded row of tent shops for treasures; a gypsy fair of artists, food vendors, and Wild Woman.

I’m not a believer of astrology; I prefer fact checking belated horoscopes rather than map reading them ahead of time, but Wild Woman had a tantalizing display and a unique set of tarot cards.

“Pick one randomly,” she said. “It will tell you where you are in life, it will tell you the colours that you need to surround yourself with in order to harmonize your current place in the universe, it will recommend the scents that will enhance your experience of the place you are in.” Scents, btw, that she conveniently sells along with jewelry in matching colours. A cleverly designed ploy, I thought, as I lifted a card from the basket.

Never bought the cards but I did get a survival kit

2 years later I am wistfully looking over at the Wild Woman tent in dismay that I will not be able to pick a card and be enlightened with my current universe status. Both times I have visited, I’ve skeptically pulled a card from the basket and been faced with an accurate and eloquent report on my emotional state and current situation in life. Last year I was ‘Illumination.’ I noted the scents and colours I’m supposed to surround myself with because while I’m not sure it helps, I am sure it can’t hurt.

This year, as walk on passengers to the ferry, we were separated from the vendor displays. I considered jumping the fence and making a run for the basket, but chickened out. So I missed the Wild Woman boat this year; crossed the harbour and got to the other side though.

Which brings me back to the bad joke…”Of course you won’t be a chicken, mum.”

I was right. She was a toad.

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So…it has come to this !

The Name Book has been on my bookshelf for years now and on at least one gift giving occasion each year, my mother has gracefully received a toady item of some sort. 

Rating:  New Age  day (7 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 5 out of 5 (a weekend of exercise and good food puts anyone in a good mood)
  • Twitch – twitching in the graceful way of swans
  • Happy hour – 2 out of 5 (was really disappointed not to play my annual tarot game)

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

Tomorrow: Advertising.  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 79 – Happiness is … never giving up

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“The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is.” ~ Erasmus

Today was supposed to be a day of learning; learning more about fitness, nutrition, & health. I went to the classes, lectures & workshops and I listened, refreshed & discovered …but that’s not what I learned.

Three years ago, on the day I knew my marriage was over, I was walking through a store and terrified of life when a man approached me to say, “I just wanted you to know how radiant you look.” Then he walked off, not looking back, and I never saw him again. He was older and didn’t strike me as a pervert. He seemed genuine and I felt … taller, glowing, confident.

Sometimes happiness feels like its on the other side of the fence…

8 months ago, on the day I knew my feelings for someone were not reciprocated, I was eating cheesecake  with a girlfriend in a restaurant when the waitress came over to tell us that a gentleman had asked to buy ‘the beautiful ladies’ a drink. He left cash and the restaurant before we knew about his gesture. He seemed to have no ulterior motive and we felt… special, decadent, glamorous.

A couple of weeks ago, on the day I knew I was not strong enough to stay but goodbye was ripping me apart, I was rushing down the street when a man stopped me to tell me I was stunning. He also walked away without a backward glance.

And a few weeks ago when I was on an annual trip with my fitness friends and feeling the sting of being single against my will, I learned that there must be something about that state of vulnerability, suppressed emotion, and disappointment that makes me incredibly attractive!

4 women, of varying ages and levels of acquaintance, made a point of letting me know how much I had changed in the last few years, how I seemed much more out-going, friendly and, ironically enough, happier. They shared some of their life and I learned that all of them had found happiness, peace, &  freedom despite tragedy, failures, & mistakes.

Perhaps it isn’t the sadness that people are seeing when I feel like I’m faking it with the world. Perhaps it is the fact that I’m trying despite it all. Perhaps what makes strangers spontaneously share their admiration is the same thing that makes people cheer for the athlete who falls but still crosses the finish line. Perhaps when I think I’m oozing despair, what is really coming through is the unwillingness to give in to it… strength, determination, life.

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So…it has come to this !

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.” ~ Agatha Christie

Rating:  Learning  day (7 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 3 out of 5 (had a little trepidation about the day)
  • Twitch – I learned the test results showed there are no deficiencies.
  • Happy hour – 4 out of 5 (it sucks knowing life sucks, but it’s cool to know how amazing people are)

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

Tomorrow: New Age.  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 78 – Happiness is … matching tops and bottoms

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“Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story.”- Tolstoy

All expense paid retreat… 2 days, 3 nights… coastal views and newly built accommodations… beautifully prepared meals… complimentary welcome wine… professional fitness instruction… I love my job

This is a yearly YMCA instructor ‘retreat’ that I attend along with hundreds of other Y volunteers and while we did get to stay in newly built bunk houses which were a huge step up from the old cabins, I still think ‘retreat’ is a misleading term for the ‘put us through our paces non-stop boot camps (aka training) that we love to hate. 🙂

They say happiness makes for a boring story… a chartered bus with a driver that looked like a cross between Einstein and a Hells angel mobster and ran a red light less than 5 minutes before reaching our destination is much more entertaining than carpooling and stopping at Lulu Lemon along the way… greasy burgers and wilted caesar salad on a fitness retreat is much more interesting than mouth-watering meals… sharing sleeping quarters with a bat & out house facilities is far more noteworthy than bathrooms with heated floors.

Each year this annual training weekend has its story making moments and it’s happily boring moments, but for me, the highlight this year was the great underwear debate.

Men boxer underwear

Men boxer underwear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A 4 hour bus ride followed by lugging sleeping bag and luggage to walk a on ferry ‘cruise’ can lack a certain element of fun, so I decided to create my own. I surveyed my traveling partners (over 25 women and one lucky man), about happiness. This is what I learned…

Question 1 – What activity do you do to make yourself happy?

The results of this question might be skewed as I was polling a group of fitness instructors, but the overwhelming answer was… exercise! At least that is the PG version I’m posting 🙂

Question 2 – What is a happy smell?

Most unique answer… a combination of perfume & coffee. Most specific answer… freshly rained on cedar. Most common answers… vanilla, baking or sea air.

Question 3 – What is a happy colour?

Lime green was mentioned a lot as were various names for pink or purple.

Question 4 – What is a happy word?

This one caused trouble but ‘freedom’ was the word that stuck out.

Question 5 – Where is a happy place?

Overwhelmingly happiness is found at home or by the water. If you’re lucky enough to have a home on the water, I guess you are set!

Is anyone still reading or are you stuck at the underwear… 🙂 I’m sure you’re thinking, “That’s all dandy but where does an underwear debate come into it?” The truth is I can’t remember how it became a part of the survey but by the time our bus got to the ferry terminal, we had all heard more than we needed to about our underwear secrets.

The sixth unintended and unedited question to the happiness survey …”Do you wear underwear when you work out?”

Unfortunately there is a strict code to these ‘retreats’ that what happens on the bus, stays on the bus, so I am unable to share most of the results. However, when I polled our driver, he responded, “I don’t workout.” I feel I can share that answer 🙂

I will also divulge that my one and only OCD tendency is that my bra and underwear must match no matter what and at all costs. This plays a role in my decision to wear underwear or not when working out and became quite a happy little debate.

What about you… care to share…?

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So…it has come to this !

I don’t have OCD… I have CDO. It’s like OCD but all the letters are in alphabetical order…as they should be.

Rating:  Survey day (10 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 5 out of 5 (I love the opportunity and the camaraderie of this retreat)
  • Twitch – survey says…yes
  • Happy hour – 5 out of 5 (despite the bus toilet, I still give this day a 5)

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

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