Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hallmarks of Happiness

Lately I have been extremely happy. I feel guilty admitting that when I know so many people who are struggling right now. But why am I so happy? I had to ask myself the same thing because I had no idea. There really has been no change in my situation—no dramatic shift in my circumstances. I still have three children, live in the same house, and am married to the same guy— essentially the same routine I have had for the last three years. So I did what I do best:

I made a list of what makes me happy.

(Yes, my husband makes fun of my love of listing. Rightfully so. It’s chronic.)

I speed-wrote 30 things. The list came surprisingly fast—I was done within 5 minutes—but the most surprising thing was the list was full of things I had never considered before because they seemed so minor. They weren’t things I think of as “happy” at first, but rather peaceful things that bring me contentment. So I began researching what others considered happiness. Turns out quite a few people consider the quiet day-to-day joys as true happiness. My discovery wasn’t so ground breaking after all! But to me, the best part was finding out my particular list was generally things I could enjoy any time I wished.

And in case you are curious, I’ll throw my heart out here…

A sampling:
  • The smell of spruce, lavender, or vanilla
  • Planning a new adventure—whether in real life or in a book I want to write
  • Snuggling with the toddler
  • Making lists!
  • Talking to my mom
  • Listening to the music for the mood I’m in
  • Truly listening to my children’s laughter
  • Planting something in good, dark soil
  • Stretching—I love it more than the exercise!
  • Me, a kayak, and a calm water for silently watching wildlife
  • Making things with my own hands
  • An organized closet
  • Eating a slow dinner as a family
  • Acoustic guitar music
  • Looking at a wall full of books
  • Freshly-laundered sheets
  • Writing first drafts
  • Sitting at an outdoor bistro
  • Walking a dog
  • Taking a warm shower/bubble bath
You get the idea….

Notice most of my hallmarks of happiness were not only everyday things but came from homey comforts. I didn’t appreciate that home is such a source of joy before!* Just recognizing this has given me even more happiness in my life and helped me to be grateful for those small moments of beauty I overlook everyday. (Especially at home, because I used to not be a big home-body.)

Q4U: If you wrote a five minute list of 30 things that made you happy, what would be on it?

* SIDE NOTE: After I wrote my list, I began researching happiness and came across the amazing Gretchin Rubin and her blog. And just in time too! Because she has a book coming out next week which records her project to create more Happiness at Home. I can’t wait to read it. Check it out if you are interested!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Return to Joyful Blogging

I began blogging back in January of 2008. It was back when my little son had miraculously pulled through health problems at birth and everything about a “normal” life as a mom felt rosy. I was happy to be alive and healthy. And I was happy my children were alive and healthy. Nothing could be sweeter than a mundane schedule that did not involve a hospital.

I was also getting back to writing after weeks and weeks of bed rest. It felt good. It felt like a brave new world where words were perfect without the scrutiny of trying to get published. Just the simple action of writing a novel and a blog with doe-eyed naïveté was exciting. I felt like I was true to myself and to my friends that read my blog.

Now life has become really busy and my posts fewer and fewer. I stress about my online absences but they can’t be helped. I stress that each post has to be something dramatic—a masterpiece worthy of my reader’s time. Somehow the pressure has made me feel not much like me anymore. The self-imposed strain has sucked dry the joy I used to have in blogging. Months have gone by and this will be my first post since (gasp!) February. I miss it. I miss you, my friends. And fortunately Wednesday nights have opened up so I can fill that missing. My posts will only be once a week—probably very short—but I am determined not to pressure myself anymore about the quality or quantity of the content here. Now that the joy is back, I set some ground rules for myself so I don’t lose it again.

  1. The number of followers does not matter. I’m sorry if it’s a pain that I deleted my follower box, but I can’t look at it anymore. I don’t want the number to matter to me. I still, however, want to visit your websites and follow you. Please leave me a comment and I’ll be sure to drop by your cyber house. Also, there is no pressure to subscribe, but I put it there in case anyone really feels the need.
  2. I have many interests and I’m hoping to post about all of them here, not just writing. (I can only blog about the writing part of my life so long before I run out of unique things to say….)
  3. I have to meet my writing quota first. For writers, writing a book should always take precedence over writing a blog post. At least it has to for me because I am a slow writer.
  4. Be me. All posts will be honest and authentic. What you see is what you get. For good or ill….

Basically it just feels sooooooo good to be back. I’m happy to be able to reach out again. Because that is what true blogging feels like to me—opening up my heart and hugging the universe. I love my blogging friends. I look forward to making new friends. Blogging has brought me many wonderful friends already and I am ecstatic to reconnect.

To celebrate a return to blogging, I’m giving away books. SIGNED, new books!
            Robin Brande’s Fat Cat
            Adam Rex’s Cold Cereal
            Amy Fellner Dominy‘s OyMG

All you have to do is leave me a note telling me what you have been up to the last 7 months I’ve been absent and which book you would prefer.

(And in case you wondered what I have been doing the last few months: I took a Master Gardener certification class, revised the novel that has been turning my hair grey(er), did a bit of volunteer work, and landscaped my yard. So all good, happy stuff! Yay!)

Thanks for coming back!!!