Friday, 30 July 2010

100 Things That Make Me Happy

Lovely, sweet-scented pink roses -- just one or an armful

I was reading Karen Ruby's blog, "A Meaningful Existence" and saw her list of 100 things that make me happy.  What a wonderful exercise to remind us of things we love, things for which we can be grateful, and things we may be neglecting or need to work on adding to our lives.  So here is my list...please create your own, and then send me a link.  I would love to read everyone's list...

This is also my Pink Saturday post for "How Sweet the Sound", because I've added photos of the things on this list that are pink...a little color amid the words!

A hug from someone I love
Walking on the beach at night
Singing along with a favorite song in the car
Being greeted at the door by my cats and dog
Waking up to a view of trees
Windy days
Having time to sit at a café and read without watching the clock
Working on my art projects

Image from candyland22

Figuring out what's wrong with a line of computer code
Finding a great new mystery writer
A new book from a favorite writer
Listening to live jazz
Getting a REAL letter in the mail
Getting a flower/flowers from someone
Cottage gardens

Learning something new that changes my view of other things
Moments of spiritual connection
Seeing someone I love across a crowded room
Berry season
Houses with tons of natural light
Foggy mornings
The smell of fresh cut grass
Clean sheets

Image from architheque

Handmade quilts on a bed
British comedy
Well-worn wood furniture (primitives)
Old books
Old book stores
Long walks in the city
Long walks in the countryside
Seeing cows in a field
Watching a butterfly flying
Photographing the details on old buildings
Country fairs
Quaint old cottages

Image from Avignon-et-Provence

Quaint new cottages
Curving, hilly roads
Wide roads with lots of green
The first few notes of the overture before a show
Being backstage when the overture starts
Slices of crisp green apple and sharp cheddar cheese
Holding hands
Waking up with the one I love
Rearranging books on a shelf
Cooking without a plan
Cello music
Jazz quartets
Following a fish around while snorkeling and pretending I'm a fish, too
Poetry that does not rhyme
Wearing soft cotton clothes
Laying on the grass and watch the light change through the leaves
Seeing pictures in clouds with my kids
Flying a kite
Seeing old people holding hands
Finding just the right word for something I'm writing
Keeping up on my blog
Waking up after having a good dream
Playing a good game of tennis
Questions that really make me think
Being a mom
Being married to Lance
Petting the soft fur on my puppy's head
Her tongue is pink!  So it counts! 
Going to a football game or baseball game
The smell of spice, pumpkin or autumn-scented candles
Stepping on crunchy leaves
Having a cat on my lap while I read
Having a challenging new assignment at work
Getting rid of things I do not need
Finishing all the laundry and seeing the clean piles
Making a pie with a woven top and seeing it come out of the oven
Finding a good new blog to follow
The feeling of long silk skirts against my skin
Buying pretty shoes
Having a clean, organized purse
Really getting into a prayer-mindfulness
Getting a difficult yoga position right
Seeing the message in a Torah portion (which may not be the one others see!)
Cool evenings
Snuggling under the covers to go to sleep on a chilly night
Putting on socks when my feet are cold

Wearing soft hoodies
Having extra money in the bank at the end of the month
Going out for breakfast
Al fresco dining for any meal
Getting a new lip gloss in a really pretty shade
Candlelit dinners
"Blue time" (twilight)

Going to silly, tacky tourist traps

Fresh air while I sleep
Watching snow fall while cozy indoors
Starting a new journal
Going to the Farm Show & petting all the cows
Walking in Mount Gretna, Pa after dark
Having a my kids and their friends all in the house
Watching a ballet
Daydreaming films scenes or dances while listening to music
Getting "lost" while driving and turning it into an adventure

There is much to be said for knowing what makes us happy...the simple things, the big things, the silly things, the profound things.  Make your list.  Post it somewhere you can see it.  Share it.  Check in with yourself now and again to make sure you're spending the time you need to keep yourself happy.  

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Negotiating through the first year of marriage

I recently saw a video talking about how difficult the first year of marriage can be.  Even if you are madly in love (which we are), committed to a lifetime relationship (which we are), and have a pretty good skill set when it comes to communication (which we do), there are still some speed bumps you have to get over.  Some of the ones that have surprised me include:

Music to fall asleep by.  We both like to have music playing as we drift off to sleep.  Awesome.  Or not!  To some people (me) sleep-inducing music falls into the categories of classic, soft jazz or New Age.  For others (him), it is more along the lines of classic rock.  Hmmm...didn't expect that one!

Meals to eat at restaurants.  We both like to eat out.  Great!  We are both pretty flexible in the choices of which ones.  Even better.  But I love to eat breakfast out.  Feels like it starts the day right.  He's not that into breakfast.  He's more of a dinner out guy.  Given my choice, by supper time, I'd be happy with some cheese and fruit. Who knew?

And then there was the trying to compromise when no compromise was needed....

Decorating the house.  I love decorating. Love picking out paint colours and furniture and art work.  So I assumed (and you know what they say about that word!) that the way my darling's house was decorated was the way he really wanted it.  So I set about trying to figure out how to combine his style with mine.  His minimalist, white walls and wood furniture with my ideas in either post-industrial repurposing or shabby-chic. (OK, so I'm a little eclectic!)

What I failed to get, was that what was in his house was NOT his style.  In fact, it was a complete disinterest in style!  The walls were white not because he favoured an airy brightness.  It was because they came that way! And the wood furniture?  Mostly leftovers from post-college days.  It still worked, so it was left alone.

So my pouring over design magazines to try and identify a compromise style?  All for naught!  (Well, maybe not, since I got some great ideas -- mostly post-industrial repurposing or shabby-chic, but hey, they were ideas!) Anyhow, turns out that he is pretty much okay with anything along as:

a) He fits on the furniture (he's 6'5")
b) It's not too lacy or too pink

You know, after watching that video, I was worried.  Now, 3 months into that dreaded first year, I'm encouraged.  It seems to be working pretty darn well :-)

Do you have any first year surprises to share?  I would love to hear them!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

The rest of the story...

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about what I've learned from my friends of many faiths. But I forgot to add something very important to that post...I never said what I've learned from my own religion.

Why the omission? Maybe because to me, the answers are obvious. They are a part of my very being. And maybe, just a little, it's because my focus is almost always on healing the separations and bridging the gaps that drive us apart on the basis of religion. Or maybe it's a fear that my words will come across as "We have this and you don't" -- and that's not what I believe.

Whatever the reason, I am happy to be where I am, and better-late-than-never, here is the rest of the story...

From being a Jew, and from my Jewish friends and family, I've learned:

Don't pay attention to the numbers or the odds. No matter how unlikely it may seem, or how the odds are stacked against you, if it really matters, anything is possible.

Asking questions matters. Anyone can accept a creed on blind faith or because someone in authority says it's so. But the real test is when you can take it all apart, and look at it 10 ways and still find that the core holds solid. And it's not only okay to ask questions, it's part of the plan.

The small stuff counts. Forget the common wisdom about not sweating the small stuff, because those details make ALL the difference. How you treat someone begging on the street, how you deal with receiving too much change at the drive-through window, or how you look at a rainbow or the food on your plate or the doorway of your house all come together to shape the big picture. Unless you pay attention to the tiny pieces of the mosaic, the big picture will never come together.

Even the big external practices can change without destroying what counts in the heart and soul. Ironically, the big things often matter less than the little ones. We lost the Temples, and all the practice and ritual that was centered there, and kept on going. We lost our collective home, and wandered the world, and kept on going. We lost our freedom, but kept the faith. We were imprisoned and killed by the millions, but kept on marrying and raising families, as a symbol of hope. We changed the role of women and radically rewrote the words we use to address G-d, and yet stayed the course where it really mattered.

Ethics matter. The more I study and learn, the more I see the teaching is less about ritual than it is about ethics. So mouthing the right words or showing up at the right time isn't nearly as important as caring for the earth and other people and being an example of good and upright behavior.

There are things beyond what we can see, write down, or categorize. There is, without a doubt, so much out there/in here/all around/in us/ that we cannot even conceive of. And that there is a reason G-d gave the Torah outdoors, because in nature we can see/feel things that can never happen in a closed room or a book.

And a new lesson... Something truly beyond words and beyond comprehension happens under the Chuppah. It's not just getting married...there is more happening there. And that opens up worlds of possibilities.

I know many of you have received these same lessons from your faith, from your family. I do not doubt that for one nano-second. But I wanted to share the lessons I've learned from my path -- and THAT is the rest of the story.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Wednesday Morning Music

I've decided to start a new feature in my blog, and I'm calling it Wednesday Morning Music.

Each Wednesday, I will be someplace in the early morning, and I'll share the experience with my readers, jotting down the sounds and sometimes the sights, on whatever paper is handy.

I'm doing this for two reasons. First, it is an exercise in mindfulness for me. These entries will force me to pay attention to the sounds and sensations around me, rather than focusing on the day ahead or my worries. Second, it's a way of bringing my blog-world friends into my world at least one morning a week.

So here is Wednesday Morning Music #1...

Thursday, 1 July 2010

My senses are on overload!

I wrote the other day about the water and stone. This morning, I woke up at 5 a.m. with my mind filled with thoughts about light.

From what I can remember, I dreamed about light...all kinds of light...and my experiences with light.

I remembered the play of light in the mountains as the sun set, coloring the snow in varying shades of pink, purple and blue. And the mysterious glow that remained on the snow, even after the sun had vanished, as though the light itself had seeped into the earth and was radiating outward in the darkness.

I remembered mornings spent on the beach as the light crept up on the horizon, first with a gentle glance, then in brilliant rays that seemed to reach up from beyond the water and far into the sky.

I remembered the warm glow of lamps and candles on a winter's night in my farmhouse in Pennsylvania.

I awoke feeling as though I had traveled all night through lights and memories of light. I sat in the predawn darkness and meditated on the idea of light...light as energy, light as illumination (physical and spiritual), light as inspiration, light as a beacon or guide in the darkness. I thought about light that fills a space and light that remains in one spot, all the more brilliant for the darkness that surrounds it.

And then on the drive to work, I noticed that in the rear view mirror, over the ocean, there were dark grey clouds, through which a few beams pierced. But in front of me, over the Everglades, there was pale blue sky and bright diffuse light. Two simultaneous views of light from one car.

I am amazed.