WALKING MY WAY INTO HAPPINESS…

I  must say, yesterday was nothing short of divine. The sun was bright and shining, minute puffs of clouds were rolling lazily across the sky, and the breeze carried with it the crisp, clean scent of the coming Fall. Divine, I say. And life felt good – good in the kind of way that makes you want to do nothing but bask in the glory of it, roll in it, and stretch out on it like a good, comfy bed with a plush, down comforter. Yeah, that good.

So I decided to go on a walk, or rather, a long and deliberate stroll, to enjoy this perfect day…

Rivanna Bridge

Mattie-Lu Poo 2

That is a face of happiness!

It’s actually quite amazing how something as simple as a walk can change your whole perspective of the world; anger subsides, stresses melt away, and sadness somehow becomes less prevalent. It’s calming, meditative, and it fortifies the body and soul – like yoga without the awkward angles.

As I was strolling alongside the river, I was contemplating everything and nothing at once, as though my mind encompassed the whole of my thoughts and rather than thinking or feeling each one, it all simply was. I felt at peace and happy for no reason at all – I think that’s the best kind of happiness.

Rivanna River

At this point, I was feeling pretty darn exceptional and was certain that life couldn’t possibly get any better, but as luck would have it, it did…with the quack of a duck.

As my eyes sought out the noise maker, they instead fell upon these little creatures basking in their own happiness:

Turtles 2

Truly, how can that not make you smile from ear to ear? I was now floating on cloud nine.

With the help of a few blissful turtles and a final, brisk walk, I came to realize that it really is the simple things in life that make it all so worthwhile. As Donald Miller said,

It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll…

Indeed. I feel refreshed, invigorated, and while there have been no immaculate answers, there has been an epiphany – to not take life so seriously, to take notice of what is right in front of me, and to appreciate the simple things.

Like walks. And turtles. Smile

HAPPINESS IN THE FORM OF FURBALLS…

Well hello my friends! I hope everyone enjoyed their extended weekend…my husband and I actually extended ours an extra day and had a nice “staycation” full of laziness, beer, and brownies (and probably a few extra pounds…).

Speaking of brownies, I delayed writing a post today thinking that I would be the bearer of most excellent news this afternoon – a new (furry) addition to the family in the name of – yep, you guessed it – Brownie! Unfortunately, upon an early afternoon arrival to the ASPCA with Ms. Mattie-Lu in tow to meet this new little creature that would potentially become her brother, we discovered that our Brownie was adopted just hours before. I’m not quite sure how to feel at this point – sad that our little man wasn’t adopted by us, or thrilled that this adorable little pup found a home! I think Mattie-Lu’s expression sums it up quite nicely…

Mattie-Lu Poo

(where’s my brother?)

Of course, my cat Simon had to put in his two cents as well…

Simon Face

(dreaming of a dog-free home…)

I must say, if you don’t own a pet, it is something that I would highly recommend. Not only are they a constant amusement, they give life that additional dimension, that extra vigor, and bestow such an abundance of love on body and soul that life can’t help but feel blissful, even in the worst of times.

Sure, the little critters can also be a bit troublesome and overly boisterous – I can’t tell you how many pairs of shoes were destroyed, lipsticks eaten, shirts shredded, and hairballs discovered – but it’s been worth it, truly, it has…

In the end, no matter the chaos they may cause or things they may destroy, I can’t imagine life without my furballs. Simply said, they make me smile and frankly, isn’t that what life is all about?

Simon in Basket

(can’t resist a comfy basket!)

Mattie on Couch

(you talkin’ to meee?)

The above picture of Mattie looking guilty on couch actually reminds me of a fun series on Desire to Inspire called “Pets on Furniture.” And, well, there’s not much more to it – animals on furniture, but with just a little more panache….

Oh my goodness! It was so hard to stop at just a few! Adorable animals + exquisite interiors = pure purrfection.

Do you own any animals? If so, do share! Email me your own pictures of “Pets on Furniture” and I will feature my favorites next Wednesday, 9/12. Original content only, please. The winner will receive a little care package put together by yours truly, with a little help of Mattie and Simon, of course.

HAPPY HUMP DAY! LOVE YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF.

I was wracking my brain with what to write about this morning when I came across the blog of Kelley Moore. Her post struck me quite like a bolt of lightning because this is something I struggle with on a daily basis: being myself vs. what I think others want me to be. And oftentimes, I lose. More than I’d like to admit, I’ve lived my life based off of the judgments of others and this induces such a fear inside of me that I simply continue to bury myself within myself.

A vicious cycle.

Pinned Image

(via Pinterest)

I once surrounded myself with fake niceties and cosmopolitans, short dresses and high heels and somehow, lots and lots of money, just to get one leg further up the totem pole. I wasn’t successful by any means, but I wanted to seem successful, because that’s what really matters, right…? I mean, I rubbed shoulders with Jennifer Lopez, I laughed with Patch Adams, I shook the hand of Jane Goodall, and I have Ben Stein’s number in my phone. Isn’t that what counts…?

(Yup, that’s me)

When I moved from the city, away from the movers and shakers, and into a domesticated, country lifestyle, I felt….lost. Who do I perform for now? But I also felt a sense of ease that I hadn’t felt for a long, long time. Finally, I could breathe. Finally I could be myself.

But who was I?

This is a question that I continue to juggle. A part of me still longs for the excitement and glamour of the rock star life, but the bigger part of me wants simplicity. I suppose I am simply trying to find myself between the mediocre and melodramatic, who I want to be and who I think I should be.

As Kelley so aptly stated (original source unknown)…

image

I will be 31 in less that a month, and at this point I’m not where I thought I’d be. And frankly, this scares the shit out of me. I thought I’d be more successful, I thought I’d be better traveled, I thought I’d be throwing interesting dinner parties for interesting people, and I thought I’d be a mother that could do it all. In my head, it’s all worked out: I should be flourishing, I should be an affluent business owner, and people should notice my success. In reality, my shoulda, woulda, couldas are only bringing me down, down, down.

What I am very, very slowly coming to realize is that life is so much more enjoyable when living it for yourself. Not for who you were, or for what others think you should be, or even for who you think you should be, but for who you are at this very moment. Learn from the past and look forward to the future, but live in the present, be true to yourself, and love yourself for it. Yes, love your authentic self, even if that authentic self is currently a floundering and lost soul!

I think Anne Lamott said it best in her 2003 Berkley graduation commencement address:

…here I am sort of bragging about being a dropout, and unemployable, and secretly making a pitch for you to follow your creative dreams, when what they [your parents] want is for you to do well in your field, make them look good, and maybe also make a tiny fortune.

But that is not your problem. Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.

So go out and seek my dear readers!

HAPPY HUMP DAY! WHERE HAPPINESS BEGINS (CONTINUED)

(BEWARE: THIS IS A LONG POST!) As promised in my previous Happy Hump Day! post, I spent a good chunk of the day yesterday and throughout the week pondering Ms. Kipfer’s suggested list of questions in order to find what it is that drives me. What is my passion? How do I find it? And what exactly do I want to do with it once it is found?

Unfortunately, spending the week pondering and answering a few questions is not going to miraculously produce that misplaced passion, but it does offer enough insight that makes a few contemplative hours all worthwhile…

1.  List 5 things that you want. List 5 things that you’re good at. Do you know the difference?

I realize that sometimes what I want and what I am good at are (sadly!) not one and the same. I was easily able to come up with a list of things that I wanted – it was more difficult to narrow it down to only 5!

  • Start my own business
  • Renovate/design a fixer-upper farm house
  • Become a published writing in a well-respected magazine or newspaper
  • Start a fundraising non-profit organization
  • Be an extrovert, less shy, more outgoing

Now, coming up with 5 things that I’m actually good at was incredibly challenging. As mentioned, I’m my own worst critic, and while I think I’m “ok” at many things, I find that there is very little that I am actually good at. After much hemming and hawing, this is the list that I’ve come up with:

  • events planning / organizing / hosting
  • styling and arranging tchotchkes!
  • writing – but only if it’s something I feel passionately about
  • being considerate (sometimes too much so!) of the feelings of others
  • picking up new skills (when forced to)

Yep, a pretty sparse list, eh? Perhaps this is something I should work on….

2.  What interest, passion, and/or desire are you most afraid to admit to yourself and others?

Well, if I knew exactly what my passions and desires were, I don’t think I’d be too terribly afraid to admit them! And unfortunately, if it’s something I’m afraid of admitting even to myself, a single question probably isn’t going to produce that Aha! moment. But, if I were forced to answer I’d say this:

I once thought that I would eventually want to be a stay-at-home mother. I’d have a short career in my 20’s, have a couple of little ones in my 30’s, and then devote myself entirely to my children. I do want to devote myself to my children, of course, but I now realize that this is not what I want to do entirely. I also want a career; a long, fulfilling career, and I want to be able to successfully balance this career with motherhood. So I suppose my desire would be to become a modern day superwoman!

3.  What would you do if you knew that you could not fail?

Well, there are a dozen or more things I would do if I knew I absolutely wouldn’t fail! But I decided to stay relevant in my answer: I would host a huge, national, fundraising event for my own non-profit organization (going back to what I want…). I would enlist established artists – painters, photographers, designers, etc. – have them each create a piece relevant to the cause, and I would then auction these pieces at a silent auction. In attendance would be celebrities, diplomats, and enormously successful entrepreneurs, and in the end, I would raise awareness and an absurd amount of money for an exceptional cause.

4. What would you do if money was not a concern in your life?

While not entirely relevant, I suppose I would travel for a few months, for entirely selfish reasons, then volunteer in either a small African village or at Gombe (Tanzania) Research Park for another few months, and then finally settle into a fixer upper farmhouse, spending my time renovating my home and transforming the surrounding land into an organic farm.

5. Who do you know who’s doing something that you would like to do?

Sarah Richardson from HGTV. She’s got the farmhouse and she’s got the style!

6. What’s stopping you from moving forward with exploring your passion?

Well, in the case of the fixer-upper – money! Other than that, I’d say fear of failure, of being judged, and not quite knowing what I’m fully passionate about and committing to the “wrong” thing. But isn’t that everyone’s fear?

7. What drives you, and what gives you satisfaction?

Simple – making others happy; seeing people delighted with the finished product.

8. What would you regret not having done if your life was ending?

Not living life to its fullest, which I am currently 100% NOT. I think that is the biggest realization I have gotten out of all of this. I see all the things that I want, and realize that I’ve done very little to actually get there. My fears have completely rendered my body motionless – paralysis by analysis – and I’ve just gotta get myself moving! Perhaps something to discuss further next Wednesday…

So, now that I have completely put my dreams and aspirations, fears and insecurities out there for the world to see…what are some of yours? Have you taken the time to ponder about and answer any of the above questions, and if so, what did you discover?

HAPPY HUMP DAY! THIS IS WHERE HAPPINESS BEGINS…

As I mentioned in my first and second posts, I sometimes struggle to find happiness in daily life – I think many people do. So I’ve decided to create a series called “Happy Hump Day!” Each Wednesday, I will write about my pursuit for happiness; not an artificial idea of happiness, but the art of actually being happy, and discovering this happiness in the every day.

I hope you will follow me in this series as I research and interview those that consider themselves happy, form navigational guidelines to make myself happy, and hopefully, help you find your own happiness along the way…

To begin:

I am well aware that I am my own worst enemy. Frankly, I have always felt a bit lost and without a solid purpose – and I’m pretty sure this has been my biggest obstacle toward finding bliss. Ok, perhaps not complete bliss, but pretty darn close! I’m a firm believer that purpose and passion (P & P) go hand-in-hand and without these things, happiness can’t persist. Maybe I’m wrong in this assumption, and maybe this is why I struggle with finding happiness to begin with, but until I discover otherwise, it is this purpose and passion (or lack thereof) that drives my life. And presently, I’m simply driving down empty roads without a destination in sight.

So how does one going about finding one’s P & P? According to “52 Tips to Happiness and Productivity” on www.zenhabits.net, finding passion is an indispensable and imperative aspect of happiness. Or, as Barbara Ann Kipfer states in Field Guide to Happiness for Women, “finding your passion means connecting your head with your heart, engaging yourself that feels in a big, bold, spiritual way.” She suggests a list of questions to ask yourself “if you have yet to identify your passions:”

· List 5 things that you want. List 5 things that you’re good at. Do you know the difference?

· What interest, passion, and/or desire are you most afraid to admitting to yourself and others?

· What would you do if you knew that you could not fail?

· What would you do if money was not a concern in your life?

· Who do you know who’s doing something that you would like to do?

· What’s stopping you from moving forward with exploring your passion?

· What drives you, and what gives you satisfaction?

· What would you regret not having done if your life was ending?

Yikes! These are all demanding and thoughtful questions that I can’t answer lightly. With that said, I am going to take the week to ponder, and will have my answers for your viewing pleasure come the next series post. In the meantime, I would love to hear your own answers to some or all of these questions. What is your passion and are you living it?