HAPPY HUMP DAY! HAPPINESS: FROM HIS PERSPECTIVE…

Well hello my friends and my apologies for the brief radio silence! I decided rather spontaneously to take some time for myself this week, clear my head, and reflect on all that I am thankful for. So, with only a vague destination in mind, I went for a drive and now find myself on the beach…VA BEACH 3

Actually, I write this from my hotel room – the weather isn’t fully cooperating with my intentions! But I have a perfect view of the ocean from my balcony and there’s something so incredibly soothing about the crashing waves and the infiniteness of the ocean that I can hardly complain.

VA Beach 1

I’ll be here for a few days, giving myself the break that I think we all need from time to time. And while I will be writing, it will be sporadic at best, so I hope you will forgive the lack of routine this week! With that said, and to give me a little bit of time offline, my sweet husband decided to step in and write a piece on happiness from his perspective (written last night). Before I hand you over, however, I must warn you – it is a long read! But worth it. So without further ado, my husband….

To be honest, when my wife asked me to write a guest post for her, I was hoping it was for a DIY Thursday. A handyman post seemed somewhat more fitting for a Carpenter. The topic of happiness might seem wasted on someone my wife describes as an emotional “robot”. But alas, I think my wife loves making me uncomfortable and I simply can’t say no to that smile. Challenge accepted!

I find myself with three things going tonight. The first is the distraction of election night in America. The second is the challenge of a writing assignment. Finally, I have a cold North American Lager in arms reach, but I’ll get to that later. So it’s basically me, a laptop, Wolf Blitzer and a beer. All in all, a sound recipe for the subject at hand. Sadly though, it is missing one vital element, my wife, who’s fittingly in Virginia Beach with her feet in the cold sand, relaxing her mind and exploring happiness on her own.

So, happiness … where do I begin? Luckily for me, I wasn’t given much instruction. I was, however, mandated a word count. So in the spirit of making my wife happy I’ll distill my many random thoughts down to five simple points: 1) take advantage of the now; 2) remember your foundation; 3) find juxtaposition opportunity; 4) balance just the right amount of selfish; and finally 5) know where your heading and look up occasionally. Thankfully for me there are no right or wrong answers in happiness. So let’s begin.

Take advantage of the now. Admittedly, telling someone to enjoy the moment is rather cliché, but in my defense happiness doesn’t require an advanced degree. It’s not easy to sustain, but it’s simple to achieve. Of course, as often is in life, things tend to get in the way. We all have responsibility and probably more work, chores and to-do items than any of us really wants. We can’t escape it. Life, at times, seems to require it. Our society, culture and way of life is built on hard work, deadlines and productivity. We all need to provide for our families and ultimately our way of life. At times, I know it distracts me from what’s important and prevents me from focusing attention where I should. Sadly, we can’t avoid life. We can’t avoid responsibility. The key is deriving happiness from what we have in front of us. Try not to delay happiness for some distant time. Start small. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Seek out opportunities to laugh. Find moments in your day to cherish. As you walk from the car to the office in the morning, remember it might be the only time you see the sun all day so make sure you notice and appreciate it for a moment. Think about how you can enjoy the challenges in front of you. Don’t find yourself muttering to yourself, “I can’t wait until this (day/month/year) is over” because you’re missing opportunities to find happiness in the things you can’t avoid. Make a benign moment of your day less ordinary. Every day the best part of my day is driving up and seeing my wife’s car parked out front as I approach and knowing she’s on the other side of the front door. This was particularly stark because today that car wasn’t there. Tragic, I know. Ultimately, it all boils down to approach. It’s amazing how much a slight change in point of view can make such a significant impact. To this day I haven’t fully gotten used to the idea of a paid holiday. What a concept! But the beauty of this illusion I’ve built is that no matter how my wife and I choose to spend it, “we’re getting paid to do it!”. Never fails to deliver a smile.

Remember your foundation. Sometimes we, as a society, have a tendency to devalue something once we have it. Or perhaps to take it for granted. Obviously, we aren’t all there, but for those fortunate enough to have the means to provide, a roof over their heads, sufficient food on the table and family/friends nearby have a rock solid foundation for happiness. These aren’t the only elements of happiness, of course, but from time to time it’s always good to reflect back on these elements. Remind yourself of what’s important. Don’t lose sight of them amid the noise of life. It’s somewhat tragic that the biggest deterrents to happiness are sometimes the things that matter the least. Often it’s not until catastrophe strikes that we realize it. I sometimes need to remind myself that no matter what I’m doing, as long as I’m doing it with my wife, it’s instantly better. That goes for painting the side of the house, cleaning the kitchen or traveling across the world. I can mix the variables but I only need the one constant. With that said, life is short. Life is hard. As much as my wife sometimes wants it to be, life cannot be 100% happiness. Some things are unavoidable and some things are frankly not enjoyable no matter how much you spin it in your mind. And in these times, just remember to keep it in perspective and know that these moments have a purpose as well. This leads directly to my next point.

Find juxtaposition opportunity. At times there are few things greater than doing nothing at all. But usually it is best after a long period of hard work, stress or exertion. If we spent all our days doing nothing, we would be bored and probably unhappy. A juxtaposition, in this context, are those moments of contrast in our lives. These carefully placed juxtapositions are perfect triggers for happiness. I know after a long, painful month at work there is nothing greater than traveling to somewhere with better weather, nicer scenery and sitting out with a beer, a crossword puzzle and momentarily not a care. In fact, this applies to most times where I just take a moment, breathe deeply and appreciate the world around me. It’s amazing how little it takes for me to just look up and marvel. A cold beer sometimes helps too. Our lives are filled with comparisons. It’s likely an evolutionary adaptation to quickly form (mostly) accurate conclusions based on prior experience. It makes sense because that’s how we’re wired. However, we also have a tendency to form habits, some good and some bad. But we often find a comfort zone and nestle into a routine. These routines quickly become boring, predictable and on a long enough timeline suck the life out of us. Some take a different route home today. Drive down a neighborhood block you haven’t before. Make your own now moments and enjoy them. Happiness is not complicated. It can, however, take on many forms and to be frank has varying degrees. It’s important to remember to appreciate it as it comes, regardless of the manner. Extreme elation loses its meaning if it happens every five minutes. I can tell you one of the happiest moments of my life was the day I got married. I’m sure there will be other similar events down the road, such as a child birth but all days can’t be like that. For most of life you just need to take the good with the bad. Appreciate the good and never lose sight of the fact that the bad is good because it makes the good better.

Balance just the right amount of selfish. I suspect I might get some flak for this one. Remember though, in an emergency, when the oxygen masks deploy … secure your own mask before assisting others. This is not meant to be selfish, but rather, if you are only giving and never taking time for yourself you run the risk of losing sight of your own happiness. Luckily for us humans, happiness tends to be contagious. Chances are if you can find a way to improve your own state-of-mind it will pay dividends to those around you. The bottom line is don’t lose focus of your own sanity.

Look up and find direction. We’ve already established we’re busy. We are continually distracted by our instantaneous, digital world. Instant Tweets are in and email is too slow because typing more than 128 characters and thinking about something for more than 12 and a half seconds is inconvenient. We don’t have time to wait for the microwave, much less worry about our next moment. Too often we get caught up in the things directly in front of our nose. That immediate thing somehow becomes elevated in our minds. It needs immediate attention; often at the detriment of something else, more important. In a sense one might wonder if this goes against the thought in the first bullet. Still strive to enjoy each step along the way, but still know where you’re headed. Make sure you’re on a rewarding and fulfilling path. Don’t wander aimlessly from text message to text message, deadline to deadline or bill to bill. The moments of happiness are great, but ultimately lasting happiness is tied to long-term fulfillment. Be that in a marriage, a job or a lifetime journey. Know where you’re headed. Have a purpose, a destination. Don’t be consumed by it, still enjoy those moments. Depending on your goals, sometimes it’s important to break them up into milestones. Challenging goals can be the most rewarding, but even if you fall short, make sure there are achievements along the way. Remember to enjoy the journey and enjoy each step along the way. We’re all headed to the same destination, so make sure the trip is filled with happiness.

So, the polls are closing and my quota has long been eclipsed. As you’ve probably guessed already, I may not be the best at following instructions. But hey, surprisingly, I’m having fun with the journey. The best part of happiness is that it’s individual. My wife has read hundreds of self-help books on happiness or related topics. She’s probably cringing a little right now as she reads my unreferenced stream of consciousness and possibly shaking her head slightly at my drivel. But the source doesn’t matter and that’s sort of the beauty of it. We’re all similar creatures on some level, and the basics are fundamental. I don’t have to tell you about happiness because when it happens you can feel it. And chances are you already have. Simply rinse and repeat. But don’t stop exploring the world around you, reaching outside your comfort zone and seeking new juxtapositions. Where risks are high, rewards are high. Simply stated, happiness is derived from your perception of the world, so choose your temporary state of mind wisely. It’s a fleeting moment we try to recapture as often as possible. The less than 2,000 words of this blog aren’t going to change your life. But if you’re at all like me, and I think you are, then sometimes you need to be reminded of a few simply things. We all know the drill and we’ve probably spouted similar words of wisdom to others. Every once in a while, stop and remember to take your own advice. So, to you and to my lovely wife: look forward, follow your dreams, remember what’s important, enjoy the moment and occasionally pass out a reminder to the rest of us. Some of us need it. I know I do.

30 THINGS TO DO BEFORE I TURN 31: AN UPDATE

Well, I’ve been avoiding it for the last week, but I think now is the time to give you an update on my 30 Things to do Before I Turn 31 post:

  • Take an introductory photography class.well, I haven’t yet taken it, but I’ve signed up for one, does that count…??
  • Take a basic Photoshop class.just finishing up!

Shoot Fly Shoot

  • Recruit 15 more followers to my blog…I love you, I love you, I love you!
  • Transform my hideous entertainment unit into something I can stand a little more! – The knobs have been ordered at least! Hope to start next week after husband disconnects and moves the TV for me (hint, hint honey…).
  • (Finally) Make a stagecoach curtain for the guest room window (which I will definitely blog about later). – yeah, epic fail. For some reason, I’m scared to death of sewing! But I’ll get there….one day.
  • Start a daily journal.Woo hoo!
  • Establish a consistent gym routine – and stick to it! – another epic fail, no excuses.
  • Regularly wake up earlier in order to make and enjoy a healthy breakfast with my husband. – well, it doesn’t help that the husband seems to have stopped eating breakfast (tsk, tsk Man!).
  • Sell 2 more furniture pieces. – now that my shop is up and running…SOON (I hope – any takers?)!.

  • Reopen my Etsy shop.can I get a woo woo?!! I still have dozens of items to add though. Coming soon!
  • Find and purchase a new rug for my office!Done! But not the one I originally had in mind. Instead, I purchased this one from West Elm. My office is currently a horrific mess, but once I have things cleaned up and organized, pictures will ensue!
  • Find an unwavering confidence in myself… hmm, perhaps a resolution for the New Year?
  • Refinished the recent flea market bread boards I recently purchased. – such a simple thing to do and I haven’t finished! I have sanded them down, I just have to stain them appropriately. Coming soon!
  • Host an end of summer soiree. – how about a Welcome to Fall soiree? I managed to book myself every single weekend in September, but October will be the month!
  • Go golfing with my new golf clubs!I can’t say I golfed well, but I did it!
  • Finish the wall galleries in my living and dining rooms. – 3 more frames to fill…(and I know, I also need to straighten all the frames!)

Living Room Wall Gallery 2

  • Clean out my closet.perhaps my soiree should also consist of a clothing swap??
  • Host a book club.I haven’t hosted yet, but it’s booked for October 16th! We are reading The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton:

The Forgotten Garden

  • Read at least one of the dozen books I have on raising chickens (next Spring, fingers crossed!).yep, and I still want them. Four of them. Badly.
  • Tell my husband that I love him at least once a day.ok, he may disagree, and perhaps I forgot a day or two, but it’s the thought that counts! I managed pretty darn well, thankyouverymuch.
  • Begin drafting a business plan for my non-profit idea… epic fail. I very badly want to start a non-profit, and I think I have a pretty darn good idea, but I may have bitten off a little more than I can chew with this one. Frankly, I need to get the rest of my shit straight before delving into extracurricular activities!
  • Register for a race (running).as of today, actually. Running a 5k. Not a long or hard run, but for an excellent cause: Shelter for Help in Emergency (www.shelterforhelpinemergency.org). And honey, if you’re reading this…I registered you as well Smile

image

  • Get a haircut – and learn how to wear my hair more naturally. – ummm, epic fail. For both. Last time I got my haircut at a well-loved Charlottesville salon, my poor hair was mutilated. I’m scared.
  • Clean my car. – yep. still dirty.
  • Recruit 1 guest blogger for blog…it will be posted soon, my friends, soon!
  • (With help of husband) Build a console table for behind sofa. – we’re actually not quite sure how we want to build it just yet…it’s all about compromise, right?
  • Call dentist to schedule removal of wisdom teeth. – Definitely a fail. I mean, all I have to do is pick up the phone! But the thought is terrifying. I’m fine getting my teeth cleaned, but when they are removed…hell to the no!
  • Learn how to cook 2 more go-to, quick and delicious meals.All I can say is….YUM!
  • Find and paint 3 sample paint colors in kitchen (orange!).samples have been painted, but not a single one is orange (all samples are Benjamin Moore: Silver Sage, Soft Fern, and Nimbus). Which one do you like? It’s really quite amazing how different each one looks depending on the lighting and time of day.

imageimageimage

  • Take pictures of my home (after my photography & Photoshop classes…) and (finally…) upload them onto “My Home” blog page. – to procrastinate just a little more….I do need to finish my photography class first!

Of course, I’m well aware and quite self-conscience of the fact that I did not complete my list, but it did offer me the motivation to DO and to move closer toward a creativity that I feel swimming just beneath my skin…and sometimes, that’s all you really need. I am still determined to complete every single item on this list, of course. What’s leftover is all the simple stuff anyhow (other than that darn stagecoach curtain. Argh!) – update #2 coming soon!

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!

30 THINGS TO DO BEFORE I TURN 31…

Today is exactly 30 days before my 31st birthday and for the first time in my life, I actually feel a bit anxious about it. Oddly, while most of my friends dreaded turning 30, I reveled in it. So why would turning 31 be any different?

Let’s just say that somehow, I thought I’d be further along now than I was at 30. Frankly, I have no idea what this entirely means, but it’s a thought I continue to have.  I suppose I have a sort of “Life List” floating about in my head that I mentally check off as life goes on. And lately, I feel like I’ve checked off so little!

So, in honor of my upcoming 31st – and perhaps to ease a little anxiety (or possibly create more…), I’m going to create a 30 Things to do Before I Turn 31 list:

  • Take an introductory photography class.
  • Take a basic Photoshop class.

Shoot Fly Shoot

  • Recruit 15 more followers to my blog…
  • Transform my hideous entertainment unit into something I can stand a little more!
  • (Finally) Make a stagecoach curtain for the guest room window (which I will definitely blog about later).

  • Start a daily journal.
  • Establish a consistent gym routine – and stick to it!
  • Regularly wake up earlier in order to make and enjoy a healthy breakfast with my husband.
  • Sell 2 more furniture pieces.
  • Reopen my Etsy shop.
  • Find and purchase a new rug for my office!

Souk Rug

  • Find an unwavering confidence in myself…
  • Refinished the recent flea market bread boards I recently purchased.
  • Host an end of summer soiree.
  • Go golfing with my new golf clubs!
  • Finish the wall galleries in my living and dining rooms.
  • Clean out my closet.
  • Host a book club.
  • Read at least one of the dozen books I have on raising chickens (next Spring, fingers crossed!).
  • Tell my husband that I love him at least once a day.
  • Begin drafting a business plan for my non-profit idea…
  • Register for a race (running).
  • Get a haircut – and learn how to wear my hair more naturally.

  • Clean my car.
  • Recruit 1 guest blogger for blog…
  • (With help of husband) Build a console table for behind sofa.
  • Call dentist to schedule removal of wisdom teeth Sad smile
  • Learn how to cook 2 more go-to, quick and delicious meals.
  • Find and paint 3 sample paint colors in kitchen (orange!).

Sherbet Orange + White

  • Take pictures of my home (after my photography & Photoshop classes…) and (finally…) upload them onto “My Home” blog page.

While much of this list is simply a to-do list, I actually do feel inspired and hope to knock this list out of the ballpark over the next month. I’ll be sure to keep you updated!