40 Things That Make Me Happy

These days it is so easy to get overwhelmed, tired, cranky. It seems everytime I turn around there is bad news or someone trying to rain on someone else’s parade.  I noticed that the past few weeks my usual optimism had taken a vacation and I was bottoming out.  I made the conscious decision to stop focusing on the negative and frustrating and work on gratitude and positive thoughts.  Then, while helping a friend, I sprained my ankle.  Now, I’m not known for my grace, but really?  After everything this year and now a sprained ankle (and no health insurance and a stick shift car) on my week at home.  Moped for a day and then realized that wasn’t helping so I decided to make a list of things that make me happy/laugh/smile.  After 5 minutes, I ended up with 40 items.  I’m posting them here so anytime I start going down cranky street, all I have to do is call up the website and see these.  What about you?  What makes you happy/smile/laugh?  Post in comments if  you’d like.

Fall in the Black Hills with Neko

  1. Dinner with D (especially when we make it together)
  2. Slow mornings
  3. Reading in front of the fire with a cup of hot tea
  4. Good cup of coffee
  5. Dessert
  6. Winter sunshine
  7. Summer rain
  8. The first tomato off the vine
  9. Skypeing with my sisters
  10. Playing with my nieces and nephews
  11. Going somewhere new
  12. Buffy or Firefly
  13. Water
  14. Wine and chocolate
  15. Backpacking
  16. Museums
  17. Libraries
  18. Baking
  19. Feeding people
  20. Musicals
  21. Cashmere and Merino Wool
  22. Fall leaves in New England
  23. New England apples
  24. The Oatmeal
  25. Douglas Adams
  26. Vanilla Ice Cream
  27. Potlucks with friends
  28. Visiting with family
  29. Clam Chowder
  30. The seashore
  31. Getting dressed up
  32. Beers at a pub with live music
  33. Classical concerts
  34. They Might be Giants
  35. Butternut Squash Ravioli
  36. Neko cuddling in bed in the morning
  37. Watching D think when he doesn’t know I’m watching
  38. Phone calls with Ms. B
  39. Big Bang Theory
  40. Packages in the mail

Illness and your soul’s work

Today I write as I recover from the flu or something similar that has forced me to slow down.  I often find myself getting physically ill about the same time I most need to be in control.  For example, this week I have: finished moving out of my apartment, scheduled work from home due to year-end closing insanity, a lot of reading and writing for school (and need to start working on the term paper), a house to clean and organize, thank you notes to finish, lots of gardening chores, and so on.  I don’t have time to be sick, or do I?  Do our bodies and minds know when we are pushing ourselves too much and therefore force us to shut down and concentrate on what is important?  Maybe so, maybe not, but the last 24 hours of sleep and intense focus on what I need to do to feel better is helping me regain focus on my goals and wants.

I subscribe to Lissa Rankin’s blog and today she had a blog post entitled: Are You Doing Your Soul’s Work.  It struck a couple of cords with me and so I took some time to do the exercises:  (A)  What are 5 things you’d like to do before kicking the bucket:  (1) Eat at French Laundry, (2) New Zealand extended backpacking trip, (3) Permaculture design course, (4) extended Maine coast vacation with family, (5) cooking classes in France or Italy.  (B)  What does I long to experience in this life?  to express in this life? Love, acceptance, nurturing. (C) What one actionable thing can I do this week to help experience and express ?  Breathe through the anger, frustration, sickness.  Act from a place of love, not fear.

What does this exercise have to do with anything?  Maybe nothing for you, for me, it jolts me into another set of questions, ones that I can’t answer:  Is it worth pushing and working so hard you make yourself ill, if you’re working toward something you believe in?  Is there anything wrong with wanting to do the best you can and not accept mediocrity, even if it is at the cost of your well-being?  Is it okay to have a life where you strive until you physically and mentally give out from exhaustion, take a couple days to recuperate, and keep going?  Does this type of cycle inherently make you stronger or weaker?  What do you think?

Tired….but things are looking up!

It has been weeks since the Fire and the wedding and I know I am due for multiple blog posts and information about… well, everything. Suffices to say a lot of changes have been happening behind the scenes. It will take some time for me to both process and figure out how best to take everything smooshing together in my brain and turn it into something I can write about. So, in the meantime I’m going to try to start posting about… well whatever comes to mind. I’m still not disciplined enough for regular posts but maybe that’s coming too.

I spoke of changes; two that have happened are graduate school and part time work.  I started graduate school and now am maintaining a blog for one of my classes (LOL): http://indiancreekbunkhouse.wordpress.com/.  Just to keep things confusing, I gave it the same name as this, although it’s called “Connecting out in the Hills” and will be focused mainly on school assignments and how rural communities continue to communicate and maintain relationships in the electronic age.  I am also now only working every other week at my NPS job (still a lot of hours but only away from home every other week).  The fires did damage the ranch and I want to be able to be available to rebuild and do what I can to help.  It’s hard to do anything from 160 miles away.  Luckily, I have supervisors and family who are working with me on both ends to make this work for everyone.  The upside on this is that I get to spend a lot more time in the place I love learning how to run a ranch and having energy jump into projects.  The downside is less actual income and having to give up health insurance (I know this is going to illicit a lot of responses and it is a blog post that I will write about in the future).  It’s the right decision for now, allowing me to continue to do the work I love with my NPS family and friends AND the work I need to learn with my extended family and friends on the ranch.

To conclude this post, here’s what’s happening right now.  There’s a fire east of us that D has gone to help a neighbor with.  Hopefully it’s small and with just a little help can be put out or controlled.  Another reminder that winter is still a ways off and that we still need rain.  It’s really easy these days to get depressed and overwhelmed and tired.  I want to share one place I go to find inspiration and hope:  http://www.ted.com/talks .  One of my favorites is Nancy Etcoff’s The surprising science of happiness .  Check it out!