Ok so this has been way harder than I thought. Last year, January was my dreaming month and it all just seemed to happen. It was about cocooning on my couch with books and movies and my electric fireplace. It was about coffee and reflection, mediation and renewal, and out of that came the guiding lights that identified what made me happy. And naturally, if they made me happy, I wanted more of them--even if they were hard.
This year, January has been full of work. Back to work full time, parenting full-time, Middle moving in with us, Spouse off travelling for work and pleasure, three demanding puppies, trying to eat well and continue my soul work.
The gym has vanished and the last visit with Sista was way too long ago….I feel it slipping away. Bits of me.
That is where Wellness Wednesday came from. The one hour dedicated to me...each week. But how do you try to recreate what came so naturally last year, an hour a week?
Well you find time right? Yes of course you do! Except for some reason, I keep avoiding the looking. Instead, I have used my new bread maker three times in two days; played with my blender, done housework, knitted, undone and reknitted.
Anything to distract myself from this work I know I need to do.
It is frustrating.
So I have decided that more structure is needed and have pulled some guiding questions that resonated with me to nudge me back in the right direction. Happiness.
Crazy to think I would not want to spend more time on bringing more happiness into my life.
Is it the time of year? Is the cocooning just too attractive? Is the pattern of work and home easier to leave on autopilot---routine offering comfort and control?
Thinking, lately, seems to call up my comparison queen---who wears judgement glasses when she looks at everyone. Most days I am either way not ____enough or far more superior at _____ than others. Either way, fear, anger, resentment are so exhausting, I shut them down.
Which means I shut down all emotions. Sigh. Not good.
It feels like someone trying to lower blinders over my eyes and it takes every effort to wave them off as they slip down. But it feels so easy to let them blurr the world and succumb to the humming of grey thought blobs of numbness.
So I offer these up. They have helped me come back to where I wanted to be.
Sometimes we need help.
Sometimes, the right thing to do is not the easiest thing to do.
Try thinking back to when you were a child. When were you happiest? What was going on?
I remember being outside a lot. There was a park near our house and once, someone mentioned they knew a cool place off in the woods. He led a bunch of us through a copse of trees that picketed park, far from the bleacher, swings and baseball diamonds. An overgrown path of trodden earth emerged as our eyes adjusted to the shady coolness. The subtle gurgle of a stream, not evident in the open, echoed against the canopy. We stepped into a whole new world. Upstream, the path opened into a field, a well trod path skirting the plot of wild flowers, grasses and rock that occupied the sunny space.
Over and over, summer after summer, I visited that place....and each time it was a different adventure. Sometimes we built small fires and pretended to be lost in the woods. Sometimes we played hide and seek. Impossible rabbit traps of boxes supported by sticks attached to carrots were baited with great hope....and treasures were burried, only to be hunted and dug up later in proof that life was full of surprises if only we looked. Leaf boats regularly bobbed along the stream in mock races. Squirrels were befriended and magic potions were concocted in acorn hats, from crushed berries and flower petals, rocks formed into secret coded signals, treasure maps were made and new people were brought along in tow to share in this world. Limitless imagination.
At home, I spent countless hours in our front yard maple tree. Just high enough that my mother couldn't see me. Here I was queen of me. Eyes closed, securely snuggled in a forked branch, summer breezes tickled my skin, sunlight filtered through green leaves. Quiet and peace. It was all mine.
Indoor joy included drawing, painting, crafting. I made my sister a train out of cardboard boxes. I dressed my cat in formal wear designed from a discarded, too small blouse. I created. And in the creating I was being the only uniquely me me that will ever be.
Animals made me happy. Babies made me happy. Adventure made me happy. Nature made me happy.
Discovery----unknown---peace---solitude----independence----possibilities----invention---hope---anticipation---my body was strong and alive and my senses vivid in their "now" ness. There was only the now.
Think about one thing in your life right now that you associate feeling happy. It could be your children, your beloved’s brown eyes, or the thought of a favorite movie, book, pet, place to sit—or the feeling of sunshine or sound of thunderstorms.
They are the same---all of them---just look a bit different. And I am different.
I am more practical and responsible and afraid to do some of these things...even if I feel the excitement inside. There is always the voice that says "that is silly!" Sometimes, it is your voice. Sometimes it comes from others.
Spend a few moments drifting from one memory to the next. Notice how your body feels when you recall moment of happiness.
The ones I have now--the moments of happiness feel more profound--but probably because they are more infrequent. They stand out as outside the norm--outlier moments--instead of a way to live. It makes me sad....sad that it is rare. Sad that I deny them or put them on a long list, where they slip further and further down amidst competing priorities--laundry, bills, work, parenting.
I still gush over babies and have recently become the mom of three dogs. I have reconnected with nature through my summer backyard camping and "small world" deck life. These things have brought me incredible joy.
So I also feel grateful for the work I have done that allowed me to reconnect with these parts of me. In truth, I thought you put away "childish things" and goodness knows when you ARE a kid, all you want it to be older so you can shed your perceived confinement to rules not of your own creation....but I think in the process, we may toss away the joyful parts that in retrospect, made being a kid such a blissfully free time of possibilities.
Write about a time when you were happy because you got something you wanted, like a new relationship, a new car, or a great job. Under that, write about another time when you were just as happy even though you didn’t have those things. What was the common feeling in both cases? Write about your state of mind. What was it about you that made you happy in both instances?
I was really happy when I got a convertible! I was young and it was so cool as my first car. I could hardly wait to drive it to school.
When I had my youngest, I stayed home with him for nine months and as finances were tight, we only had one car in our household. Getting groceries or doing anything in the day meant walking. While it was inconvenient at some times, I would not trade having a car for having the joy in my life that that little warm bundle brought.
Common feeling? Accomplishment? Being part of something? Having something special? The car was purchased after a long summer of 11 hour work days. The child was an accomplishment of a long pregnancy. Both were unique to me. Both made me feel proud and both were the beginning of something. Maybe that is it. They were both new beginnings.....
Write down an experience you had this week when you felt happy for no special reason at all. Maybe you were walking home or eating lunch with a friend, and you noticed a quiet elation for simply being alive. This is your unfiltered core happiness shining through. Bring that memory and feeling back into your body with a few deep breaths, feeling it settle in the area of your lower abdomen as a ball of effervescent joy. Write down a description of how this happiness feels inside.
I remember watching the sky. As dusk fell, in one direction the sky was pink purple and the other a yellow green blue. It was a moment to appreciate now. It made me feel appreciative of being alive--full of energy--part of something bigger and connected to the universe.
It's a start...a Work in Progress....