Monthly Archives: December 2012

Day 92 vs 109- Happiness is … a cherry on top

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In order to combat the staggering out-of-dateness of my blog, I shall be writing two happiness tasks per blog. My present day task along side the next task I should be writing about. Eventually I’ll be up-to-date 🙂

tada

Tada!

Celebrate Day 92 – “Find occasions to celebrate your happiness. There is more to celebrate than anniversaries and birthdays.” ~ unknown

Just because someone cared

Saw this in a random parking lot… obviously done just because someone cared

A dressing gown, a birch bark scented candle, a pair of riding socks, pajamas, candy… these are some of the ‘just because’ gifts I have received.

Books, magnets, jewellery, maraschino cherries, an anonymous letter… these are some of the ‘just because’ gifts I have given.

‘Just because’ gifts are given to anyone for no particular reason on no particular day.

I give them when the mood strikes or when I have found something so perfect for someone that it cannot wait for a special occasion to be given.

Try it… just because.

 

Be Alone Day 109 – “It’s better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone – so far.” ~
Marilyn Monroe 

Taken at a triathlon where I competed as a team instead of alone

Taken at a triathlon where I competed as a team instead of alone

I sometimes purposely look the other way or close my eyes because I don’t want to know. When happiness perches precariously on a ledge, even the breeze of  feather floating past can upset the balance.

I change the channel when the ads for impoverished children come on. I look straight ahead when walking past the homeless.

Memories of loved ones lost or family and friends far away can make Christmas less than the postcard picture many of us experience it as. This year I could not look away; I was the feather floating past.

This was not my year to have my children at Christmas. I did not travel to visit family. I spent Christmas alone.

I had been dreading it for weeks but during the impending days I made a choice… a choice to be happy. I believe it is the first time in my life I have successfully achieved this goal of choosing happiness despite the circumstances.

I was lucky – I had people to care that left me a stocking to open Christmas morning. I had calls to wish me Merry Christmas and offers of places to go. I chose x-country skiing through some memories that were hard to face. I planned a visit to the monastery in case I needed a refuge of peace but couldn’t make it in without a 4×4, so I went home and sorted through clothing to donate to the women’s shelter and ate a butter tart given to me by a neighbour I’ve only just met.

It was not an easy day, yet I truly felt grateful. My perception of Christmas changed this year and I’m a happier person for experiencing the loneliness.

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So…it has come to this !

There was an ulterior motive to giving the maraschino cherries that never bore fruit…

Rating:  Celebrate Day (7 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 3 out of 5
  • Twitch – YES!
  • Happy hour –  4 out of 5

Rating:  Be Alone Day (7 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 3 out of 5 (Can’t say I was totally excited about this)
  • Twitch – if a twitch falls in the forest…
  • Happy hour –  4 out of 5 (Survived way better than I’d imagined)

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

Tomorrow: Redo & Blackout.  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 91 vs 108- Happiness is … cultured rubbish

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In order to combat the staggering out-of-dateness of my blog, I shall be writing two happiness tasks per blog. My present day task along side the next task I should be writing about. Eventually I’ll be up-to-date 🙂

tada

tada

Voyeurism Day 91 – “..clear colors have a vital effect on our mental happiness. Modern doctors and psychiatrists are convinced of this! ~ Dorothy Draper

As a child it was a Christmas Eve tradition to drive around town looking for the prettiest light displays. If we were lucky we’d see a perfect cultured tree twinkling in the window, a tantalizing tidbit that made me want to see the rest of this magical house.

As an adult, I’ve had that perfect cultured tree. It really wasn’t as big a thrill as I’d imagined. Granted mine was covered in macaroni ornaments and popcorn strings from my children and most of the decorations were only as high as their little arms could reach, but it turns out that perfect trees aren’t a magical memory making ingredient after all.

A magical moment

A magical Christmas memory… 1/2 way across the world for a surprise visit… but had to stop at the pub first

BUT, these days you can have the complete voyeur experience – wandering through other people’s homes and seeing more than just a tree in the window. Sounds exciting, right? Well, I wouldn’t know because these plans were thwarted by family functions. So while I was busy celebrating birthdays for nephews and other assorted munchkins, I wasn’t on a Christmas tour of professionally designed homes.

Instead of Martha Stewart sugarplum visions I have all these magical moments stuck in my memory… 🙂

Panto Day 107 – “Play the moments, pause the memories, stop the pain, rewind the happiness.” ~ unknown

The Rules:

Ready for the play :) Rubbish!

Ready for the play 🙂 Rubbish!

  1. Cheer for the hero.
  2. Boo at the villain.
  3. Warn the hero when the villain is approaching.
  4. Pick a side and make a case for it.

Sounds like good life rules, doesn’t it?

Pantomime is an English Christmas play tradition for the whole family so I couldn’t resist introducing my children to a piece of their heritage when a Panto came to town last Christmas. This is full on silliness with a side of audience participation.

How silly is it?

It is so silly we went again this year 🙂

Oh no you didn’t…

Oh yes we did…

Oh no you didn’t…

Oh yes we did…

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So…it has come to this !

There is always a fairy in the panto to spread a little magic.

Rating:  Voyeurism Day (6 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 2 out of 5 (Disappointed as I knew I wouldn’t be going on the homes tour)
  • Twitch – wanna see?
  • Happy hour –  4 out of 5 (Can’t beat magical moments)

Rating:  Panto Day (10 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 5 out of 5 (We’ve started a new tradition 🙂
  • Twitch – oh yes it is… oh no it isn’t… oh yes it is!
  • Happy hour –  5 out of 5 (Absolute rubbish!)

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

Tomorrow: Celebrate and Be Alone.  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 90 vs 107- Happiness is … flamingo impersonations

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In order to combat the staggering out-of-dateness of my blog, I shall be writing two happiness tasks per blog. My present day task along side the next task I should be writing about. Eventually I’ll be up-to-date 🙂

tada

tada

Sell Myself Day 90 – “Wealth, like happiness, is never attained when sought after directly. It comes as a by-product of providing a useful service.”
– Henry Ford

Have you ever taken a balance test? Me either; so I made one up. While at a business promotion fair, I administered my test to countless children and a few brave adults. It involved one leg and closed eyes and was complete unscientific fun.

Once again, the task I set aside for happiness (in this case, promoting my business), brought some satisfaction, but it was the by-products that made me smile. My children helping to set up the display table and being actively involved in recruiting participants, networking with fellow business owners,  meeting the people who wanted to stand on one leg with their eyes closed.

It should be noted that children far, far outnumbered the adults in their willingness to try to test and possibly fail or look foolish. Children laugh 150-300 times per day. The average adult? A whopping 4-5 times. Children also tend to cry out loud when they are upset, but I’ll bet this openness to emotions of the moment is healthy.

So fall to the floor laughing or fall flat on your face while trying something new and failing. Either way, you’ll be happier.

My ‘take at your own risk’ balance test:

Eyes open – hold each stance for 15 seconds:

  • one leg
  • one leg & move arms around
  • one leg and get closer to the floor (reach hands down or squat)
  • switch legs
  • other leg & move arms around
  • other leg and get closer to the floor
  • switch back to original leg and CLOSE EYES
  • move arms around
  • get closer to the floor
  • switch legs EYES STILL CLOSED
  • move arms around
  • get closer to the floor

Tada! Laughter or failure or both = happiness in under 3 minutes. Bonus if performed in public.

Skiing Day 107 – “Money doesn’t buy happiness? Well it buys a jet ski. Have you ever seen a sad person on a jet ski? It’s impossible to be sad on a jet ski.” ~ unknown

winter ski fantasies

winter ski fantasies

Every 16 years I try downhill skiing.

The first time I tried it I hit a bus. The bus was parked and, of the two of us, I’m fairly certain I was more embarrassed.

The second time I tried it, I fell in love. Don’t get me wrong… I still believe winter is a complete waste of summer but if you can’t beat ’em… well you know. I hit the slopes, (literally), three times last year and even did my first accidental black run.

It was deep snow and moguls and every turn involved lifting one ski higher than my head while waving my arms and eventually falling on my face. (Tried my balance test yet?) I cried at one point because I thought I might actually die and laughed hysterically when I started aiming for small trees like they were buses.

This year I have decided 16 years is too long to wait for that kind of fun. Unfortunately, my day for skiing got postponed and so I Biebered this happiness task.

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So…it has come to this !

“The problem with winter sports is that – follow me closely here – they generally take place in winter.”  ~ Dave Barry

Rating:  Sell Myself Day (6 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 3 out of 5 (I’m shy)
  • Twitch – I could sell tickets for the freak show
  • Happy hour –  3 out of 5 (Marketing is not my favourite thing)

Rating:  Skiing Day (7 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 5 out of 5 (Ticket was prepaid, friends were lined up, I was excited)
  • Twitch – if I could only discover a cure…
  • Happy hour –  2 out of 5 (Thoroughly disappointed it didn’t work out)

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

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

Related Articles:

Day 89 vs 106- Happiness is … discovering time travel

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In order to combat the staggering out-of-dateness of my blog, I shall be writing two happiness tasks per blog. My present day task along side the next task I should be writing about. Eventually I’ll be up-to-date 🙂

tada

tada

Reading Day 89 – “Reading is bliss… Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” ~ Nora Ephron

The problem with reading a good book is that you read – and don’t do dishes… you read – and forget to pick up the kids from school… you read – and neglect work.

The problem with reading a bad book is that you end up not reading – and doing dishes… not reading – and becoming an unpaid chauffeur… not reading – and working.

It’s a classic catch 22. Long stretches without reading more than a magazine article or a facebook status enables more time for productivity but reduces the will to live. Reading books adds meaning to life but reduces the time available for facebook. A girl just can’t win!

In an attempt to have it all, I decided to read books in stolen moments. Reading texts at traffic lights is apparently illegal so I can only assume books are off limits as well. However, keeping a good book next to my cell phone means no more 2 year old magazines at the doctor’s office, no more boredom while waiting outside the school for the right child to appear, no more watching the pot for the water to boil.

time warp

time warp

While waiting at my daughter’s physiotherapists office (sans book) and reading 2 year old magazine headlines, I saw a shelf  that said, “free books’. I saw “The Time Travellers Wife’. I started reading.

It’s a good book; good enough that dinner keeps getting burned while I’m not watching the pot. That’s ok though because the kids hardly ever get home in time for dinner now that they have to walk…

Discover Day 106 – “The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star.” ~ Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

If necessity is the mother of invention, avoidance is the mother of discovery.

Habit and routine happen. Habit and routine are comfortable. Change is uncomfortable so we avoid it. The only reason we change a habit or routine is if something causes them to become more uncomfortable than change. Because above all, people avoid feeling uncomfortable.

Avoiding people I didn’t want to see caused me to duck into a store I’ve never been into before. It turned out to be a hippyish coffee shop. Ironically I’ve been avoiding coffee shops in an attempt to not see certain people. But this was a coffee shop I felt sure the people I was avoiding would not frequent. So I stayed.

I discovered a great place for quiche. I discovered I do not like cinnamon on my chai latte. I discovered a shelf full of free books to read and a cozy couch hidden in the back. I discovered private curtained rooms with picnic table benches and mismatched cushions for tucked away chitchats with friends.

I discovered I’m uncomfortable with avoiding certain people but changing that habit isn’t necessary yet. In the meantime, I’m quite happy with the discovery of my new hideout 🙂

one of my favourite hideouts

one of my favourite hideouts

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So…it has come to this !

Didn’t Bill and Ted use a phone box for time travel…

Rating:  Reading Day (7 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 3 out of 5 (serious concerns about being sucked into a good book and losing time)
  • Twitch – Read all about it!
  • Happy hour –  4 out of 5 (I love a good book)

Rating:  Discovery Day (6 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 2 out of 5 (the pressure of trying to discover something daunted me)
  • Twitch – if I could only discover a cure…
  • Happy hour –  4 out of 5 (I like the old coffee shop better but braving something new on my own made me happy)

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

Tomorrow: Sell Myself & Ski.  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 88 vs 105- Happiness is … shopping in heaven

Standard

In order to combat the staggering out-of-dateness of my blog, I shall be writing two happiness tasks per blog. My present day task along side the next task I should be writing about. Eventually I’ll be up-to-date 🙂

Tada!

Tada!

Window Shopping Day 88 – “Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.  ~Bo Derek

My teenage daughter has been teaching me patience… and a few other things…

A vintage used clothing store is where I learned my teenage daughter  has great taste.

A new age store with fortune tellers waiting to pounce in the doorway is where I learned she wants to create her own future.

An eclectic brick-a-brack is where I learned she makes me laugh.

Stop ,listen and donate to the street artists… my teenage daughter is compassionate.

A coffee shop break is where I learned she can turn heads.

An antique store is where I discovered she knows how to learn from the past.

Window shopping with my teenage daughter is when I learned we are still great friends.

Have Faith Day 105 – “Optimist: person who travels on nothing from nowhere to happiness.” ~ Mark Twain

It did cross my mind that the end of the world would simplify my Christmas shopping, but when Australia made it to the 22nd I decided not to eat a whole cheesecake and spend my savings on a Boooosailboat. I did have a paper bag handy to put over my head just in case.

Technically the world should have ended 7 months ago as the Mayans did not take leap year into account (apparently), so in a leap of faith I went ahead and bought Christmas presents. It did make me rethink the whole concept of ‘live like there’s no tomorrow’, but in the end I decided it’s all fine and dandy until there is a tomorrow and you don’t know your port from your starboard.

With resolution season coming up, however, I have decided there are some bucket list items that need attention. Sign language. Playing the piano. Australia may have to wait but a different ocean shore and a polar bear swim doesn’t. Next apocalypse I’m definitely getting a sailboat.

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So…it has come to this !

Just like Goldman Sachs, I love the Muppets. 

Rating:  Window shopping Day (9 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 4 out of 5
  • Twitch – sticks with me like it was bought and paid for
  • Happy hour –  5 out of 5

Rating:  Have faith Day (7 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 3 out of 5 (last minute Christmas shopping is not on my list of fun
  • Twitch – would the twitch end if the world ended?
  • Happy hour –  4 out of 5 (excited about my sailboat)

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

Tomorrow: Read & Discover.  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 87 – Happiness is … a 5am wake up call

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“Whoever has tasted the breath of morning knows that the most invigorating and most delightful hours of then day are commonly spent in bed; though it is the evident intention of nature that we should enjoy and profit by them.”” – Robert Southey

One of the most romantic moments of my life was a gentle nudging and a whispered coaxing on a summer morning… “if we hurry we can get to the top of the hill and watch the sunrise.”

Leaving the warm sheets did not make me happy. Catching the sunrise on the other hand was bliss.

Early bird gets the worm

Early bird gets the worm

I think the air is different at 5am. Any veteran early bird will agree that getting up early sucks; it’s the being up early that is magical.

It’s the muted sounds of a fresh snowfall no matter the time of year…  it’s the calm air of the world stopping for a moment so you can breathe… it’s the unique smugness that comes with being energized for the day at 7am while others are just starting a tango with their snooze button.

Study after study reveals that people who get up early are happier.

You may believe the wee hours have morning breath worse than a robin fresh fron the worm fields, but facts are facts.

Dr Joerg Huber of Roehampton University says, “There are morning people and evening people, and morning people tend to be healthier and happier as well as having lower body mass indices.”

Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project” claims that her resolution to get up earlier boosted her happiness.

On this day my wake up call was as romantic as a worm belch, but, none-the-less, I struggled unhappily out of the sheets at 5am for a 6am boot camp class. Just like starting a workout, I never want to do it until I’m done. Then I wonder why everyone doesn’t do it… and I breath in some magic as the world turns its face gently toward the sun with the promise of potential that only early morning can provide.

IMG_0236

 Why is it so hard to start something we know will result in happiness?

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So…it has come to this !

The early worm gets eaten. True, but at least he died happy 🙂

Rating:  Get Up Early Day (8 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 3 out of 5 (seemed like a great idea when I went to bed)
  • Twitch – it is not calm and still like the morning air
  • Happy hour –  5 out of 5 (I admit it…I’m a morning person)

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

Tomorrow: Shop.  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 86 – Happiness is … like King Kong, but cuter

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“Don’t waste a minute being unhappy. If one window closes – run to the next window- or break down a door.” – unknown

I didn’t know doors had a preference but it made me smile…like King Kong, but cuter.

Johari’s Window – a simple model for improving self-awareness. Created by two guys named Joe and Harry. Joe + Harry = Johari.

Excuse me while I take a tangent detour… BHAG*, (pronounced BEE-hag), or Big Hairy Audacious Goal. (Gold star if have you followed the path my brain took to reach this detour.)

I enjoy acronyms in general, and while this one initially annoyed me because a ‘b’ and an ‘h’ should not be put together like that in the English language, I love the word ‘audacious’ and I double love the intention of the thing.

snoopy

BHAG’s – Big Hairy Audacious Goals – like King Kong, but cuter

Not only do you have a goal – that’s a pretty cool thing in itself – but you have a BIG goal. Because if you’re going to have a goal, you might as well make it a big one. And if you have a big goal, it will no doubt be audacious when you achieve it – not just awesome or merely amazing – frickin’ AUDACIOUS. But let’s be honest – the doing of it is no doubt going to get HAIRY – do it anyway.

So there it is… a perfectly summed up zip file of life. Just hearing the phrase makes me want to have one (a life and a bhag), makes me romanticize the tear spilling, knee scraping, OMG stop the world I want to get off journey, makes me start the list of thank you’s for the acceptance speech I will give when I’m as shiny as a survivor jury member, makes me want to fling the glasses from my face & rip the buttons from my shirt to reveal the Superwoman lurking under the normal human being facade…

…and fly out a window or break down a door to battle my obstacles. Aaaand we’re back –

Johari’s window provides 56 adjectives and asks you to pick 5 or 6 that describe you. You then ask your friends to do the same. The results highlight the qualities you hide from the world, the ones that you wear like a badge of honour, and the ones you are blind to but others see. So far, some of my Johari window blind spots are bold, brave and powerful – like Superwoman?

Life is a BHAG. Suit up.

My avatar alter ego

My bold, brave and powerful avatar alter ego… like King Kong, but cuter.

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So…it has come to this !

STPC – Friends and I have come up with a few things this acronym could stand for in relation to personal training. What can you come up with?

*BHAG, like Johari’s window, was also created by two guys – Jim and Jerry. Joe and Harry created the window thing. Three J names and a rhyme…must mean absolutely nothing.

Rating:  Johari Window Day (8 out of 10)

  • Itchy feet – 4 out of 5 (love these silly analysis things)
  • Twitch – the twitch is in the arena…everyone can see it
  • Happy hour –  4 out of 5 (had to do the Johari as an add on to the day as I was too busy enjoying the company of the people who think I’m bold, brave* and powerful  – *being told I was brave made me cry , but in a cute way 🙂

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

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