Students of happiness agree that certain habits foster feelings of contentment, peace, and joy. These habits include:
Gratitude – I am grateful for the communities I belong to, physical and virtual
Affirmation – I am committed to my goals and dreams
Attitude – I feel empowered by my accomplishments
Activity – Just a little half marathon with a whole bunch of hills
Nurture – A lovely day Saturday with my love, strolling, enjoying the beautiful weather, a few new restaurants, and each other’s company. Sunday, after my race, a wonderful afternoon on the deck in the mild temps, reading, writing, resting, socializing (on social media)
Enrichment – “The future comes one day at a time”
Giving – Several organizations benefit from the proceeds of the race I ran, and, I donated by “Whole Foods bring your reusable grocery sack” nickel to a worthy cause fathering than having it deducted from my bill.
Connection – Spent time with my sweetie and we chatted with folks everywhere we went, on Saturday. Chit chatted a little, Sunday, with other runners and with a grandmother full of curious questions about running races and kids, with her grandson in mind
Simplifying – I made a new pile of clothes to go to charity this week, with intentions of adding a few more pieces from my closet
Ideas come to me at the oddest of times and usually when I am without pen and journal, or while driving and unable to tap my thoughts into Evernote or into a blank Word document on my phone.
I had a wonderful and rare Saturday with my guy, yesterday, and a busy and challenging half-marathon today. Several times, fabulously fantastic ideas came to me for stories to share with you, and, because I was enjoying my day, I did not record them, and, poof, they are, for now, gone.
Tragic, I know. But, there are times when we need to break away from the things we do to enjoy the moment at hand. Those special moments, special days, and special events that come so rarely should be unbastardized by work, or our other, usual tasks. Too often we squander the time we have with the really special people in our lives, or compromise it, by focusing on less important things. How often do you find yourself picking up your phone and addressing some seemingly important notification when you are in conversation with a loved one, a friend, a family member. Our attention is the most beloved thing we can share with those we love, they deserve as much of it as we have to give.
Yes, there are those unavoidable communications and tasks that must be dealt with, but, truly, those should be the exception and not the rule.
That’s my excuse, and I’m not one for excuses. I have no great story for you today, this weekend, but, rest assured, in my afternoon of rest and recuperation, I have jotted down a fair number of ideas I’ll play with for stories tomorrow, or the next day, and perhaps the day after. Today, yesterday, I had much more important things to do.
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What do you wish for? If you knew you could make a wish, and it would come true, what would you wish for?
Do you hold your breath through when driving through tunnels and make a wish?
If you see the first star in the sky in the evening, do you stop and make a wish?
When you see a dandelion gone to seed, do you pick it, blow the seeds into the wind, and make a wish?
Do you pull apart the wishbone and hope for a wish?
Do you make a wish before blowing out your birthday candles?
When a ladybug lands on you, do you make a wish and send her off in flight?
Do you compose a minute long wish at the sight of the same numerals aligned on a digital clock?
Does the rare sight of a shooting star cause you to utter a quick and rare wish?
Do you toss a penny into every wishing well and fountain whilst whispering a wish to yourself?
I recently found out there are other things folks wish upon; a fallen eyelash, or a white horse. I’m sure there are, yet, more. When I think of all the missed wishes with fallen eyelashes! And with white horses! I used to wish for a white horse, then I had two white horses! Oh, the missed opportunity! Daily!
Do you wish? Do you miss opportunities? Or do you even believe in wishes?
Or do you even have a birthday cake with candles, notice tunnels you drive through, white horses, or dandelions. Do you ever look at the night sky long enough to see stars, let alone shooting stars?
Anything is possible, and wishes do come true. Perhaps not directly from wishbones or fallen eyelashes. But a wish is a desire, and with the right frame of mind, work ethic and belief, many of our wishes are totally doable.
Wishes are dreams, desires, seeds for goals. Don’t ignore them, don’t miss a single opportunity to embrace every fallen eyelash, every white horse, every penny in a fountain, every tunnel, every first and falling star! Listen to your wishes, if they are good, and pure, you have the power to make them come true. Follow them, nurture them, and live them.
Let me make a wish, now; I wish you would all follow your wishes, and make them come true, just by following them.
As 2014 passes into history later this eve, I, as always, look ahead with hope, joy and a sense of adventure. In the half light of dawn, snuggled in my cozy bed, without the worry of an imminent alarm clock, vague, dreamy thoughts become compelling and from this, much of what I write about is born. And so it was this morning, as I drafted, in my mind, a thank you note I am going to write today.
I received a very unexpected and thoughtful Christmas gift from the man I loved for the past few years, the man I parted ways with a few months ago. I offered, I promised, on our parting, my enduring friendship and respect and hoped for the same in return. A gift, I did not expect, but it confirms, now, for me, the dream of a friendship is real. Today I will write my customary “thank you” note, as I always do, as an expression of gratitude and appreciation. With this particular thank you note, though, will be included a wish for the new year, and, hopefully, for every new year thereafter.
The gift; a fly-fishing reel and a couple of books about fly-fishing.
I’ve never considered myself patient enough to fish, and, in particular, fly fish. During the adventures of our relationship, I was introduced to the sport and found it to be exciting, exhilarating even. Fly fishing requires a great deal of thought, strategy, and action which stimulates the mind, set in a pristine, natural environment, which nurtures the soul. I began to dream of becoming a more accomplished fly fisherperson. The gift made me realize that dreams, though they may change shape and form, unexpectedly, endure. The gift also made me realize that I know many people who dream, but only a few who dare to pursue their dreams. The gift struck me, in this respect, because one of the fundamental differences between the bearer of the gift, and myself, is my commitment to lofty, impractical, dreams and his practical abandonment of anything impractical and unrealistic.
Dreams. As I first began to draft the thank you note in my sleepy mind, I planned to say something like, “May this be the year you realize your dreams”. But, on reflection, from my own experience, I recanted. Realizing our dreams isn’t what a joyful life is about. A joyous life is about pursuing our dreams, joy is in the journey, not the acquisition. So, after some reflection, I’ve decided my thank you note will read something more like this;
“May this new year be the year you begin to follow your dreams. Dreams do not depend on time or money, but on the imagination for conception, on a quiet and open mind for discernment, on a grateful and courageous heart for the pursuit, and on a joyful and adventurous soul for the journey. Dreams are not about possessions or accomplishments, but about the pursuit, the journey, the thrill, the joy, the adventure, and the love we experience, the lessons we learn, and the life we live, along the way. May you never realize your dreams, but instead, relish in every step of your journey in following them.”
I’ll probably continue to tweak the words, here and there, but it is this sentiment that I want to bestow, not just to the bearer of gifts, but to all of you! Happy New Year! May you never realize your dreams!
Have you ever noticed that everyone considers themselves navigational geniuses? Like talking about the weather, the local sports team or the biggest story on the news, people like to share their navigational wizardry. Why? I don’t know. People dictate directions, suggest routes, compare routes and alternate routes. I find this especially tiresome when I am driving in an area I know very well and my passenger insists on a route different than the one I prefer. I also find it a bit tedious when my passenger argues with my navigational gadget of choice, especially when I am trying to hear what my, usually more correct and more direct, navigational device of choice is saying. But worst of all, for whatever reason, is when the navigational wizard is my mother.
Mom and I went to Sacramento today to have lunch with my son and his good friend. My son is moving to Hawaii, with his friend, to go to school, for at least a semester, and if plans fall into place per design, or at least desire, a couple of years. Lunch was great. My day, leading up to lunch, well, you be the judge. It started with a bikini wax. Then an hour and a half car trip with Mom. Then a mammogram. Are we having fun yet?
Like I said, lunch was fantastic! And for me, by this point, well deserved. We went to one of our favorite places. To clarify; my kids and I love this place, Mom is a newbie. Cafeteria 15L in Midtown Sacramento. Their specialty, and the reason we selected this place for lunch today, chicken and waffles. I love chicken and waffles. My mom loves chicken and waffles. My son loves all the leftover chicken and waffles I’ve given him but has not actually ever ordered chicken and waffles for himself. So, that was the plan. Chicken and waffles all the way around. They even had a chicken and waffles face contest! Post your best “chicken and waffle” face and you could win FREE chicken and waffles for a whole year! I was so geared up for chicken and waffles! So, imagine our disappointment when we were told chicken and waffles weren’t served for lunch. They are served for breakfast, brunch on the weekends and dinner. Not lunch.
We scrambled quickly and all came up with alternate orders. Mom had fish and chips, my son had the pasta special, his friend the Cafeteria burger and I had an heirloom tomato and melon salad. And a side of sweet potato fries as an impulsive, mid lunch addition. Everyone’s meals were devoured and enjoyed. Cafeteria 15L is all about comfort food done with style. The atmosphere is comfortable and the design is noteworthy. It is quite fun to sit and really look at the lighting, the fixtures, the selections for décor. One phrase painted on the wall spurred a lively discussion about the generational preferences for the use of ellipses, for example … I’m a fan. My kids are not. Base on that discussion, I am plaguing my son with texts laced with ellipses, just to be a brat …
My daughter is an English major … she hates ellipses, too … wish she could’ve been here today.
The dessert menu arrived. We didn’t really need it; dessert. Or the menu. For on the back of all the wait staffs’ shirts was a picture of the featured dessert and it was so over the top you just had to order it so you could take a picture of it and post it on Instagram to prove to everyone you know that you are “that cray cray”. Bacon waffle sundae. A waffle, vanilla ice cream, bacon, maple syrup and caramel sauce. Double decker. We ordered one with four spoons and somehow managed to clean the plate.
After lunch, we dropped the boys off at my son’s house and headed back towards Napa. If I had a dollar for every mile I have traveled between Napa and Sacramento over the last thirty some years, I’d be a very wealthy woman. I have completely worn out a 1966 Mustang, a 1992 Ford Bronco and three Honda Accords. I’m working on a Civic now. To say I am fairly well acquainted with the traffic patterns is a bit of an understatement. True, there can be daily anomalies, but there are also the daily patterns. Leaving town at 3:30 PM on a Friday afternoon, I really expected to hit quite a bit of traffic in a few key spots on the way home. Mom, in her navigational wizard’s hat, had some crazy alternate route in mind that would have taken a two-hour detour to even begin. I bit my tongue, clenched my jaw, wrapped my fingers tightly around the steering wheel and stayed my course. She fell asleep and we made it home without nary a slow down. It was miraculous! Both the absence of traffic and the sleeping wizard.
With my son’s move to Hawaii, he will not be needing a car. We are car people. My dad loved cars, my son’s dad loved cars (in his own neglectful way), I love cars, every boy I dated in high school and college loved cars, my mom loves cars, the man I love loves cars, my daughter loves cars, my son in law loves cars, our dogs all loved cars. My son loves cars, too. Any car he owns he will practically, if not literally, disassemble and reassemble the whole thing, cleaning each and every part and restoring it to its original condition. He uses only factory parts and fluids and does all his own maintenance and detailing. Tonight, he sold his car and is, for the first time since his sixteenth year, without a car. It was not nearly as traumatic as I thought it might be, I really thought it may be more like the amputation of a limb than a business transaction, but the whole deal went down and the car is presently being driven to Houston, Texas to a fellow Acura Legend fan. Per the Facebook account of the trek, so far they have only received one speeding ticket for 95 miles per hour.
I dated one young man after high school who had an amazing car, a 1940’s era Plymouth Coupe, in black, with a personalized license plate that said, simply, “A Shadow”. His father did hot rod and motorcycle customization, including chopping and channeling. Beautiful work. After a few years, about twenty speeding tickets, threatening and menacing letters from the DMV, and endless expense trying to keep an old car running and street legal, the car was sold. An ad was placed in the local paper that said, simply, “A Shadow has been sold.” I wondered if my son would somehow want to communicate to the world, the world who knows him by his car, especially, that the deed had been done. An ad in a newspaper worked well in the 1980’s. In 2013, it was a Facebook post. In both cases, the letting go of something valued, cherished and even a part of one’s identity, while sad, was, and is, the beginning of a new era. Sometimes we have to let go of something, even something we can’t imagine not keeping, not having, in order to take the next, important steps in life. This is, actually, part of life. Those willing to sever those ties that may be holding us back, or preventing us from growing, moving, leaving, changing, are the ones who will evolve according to their dreams, the goals and their passion. Sometimes we have to let go of one dream to grasp the next.
Day one back in my world. Ugh. Too early. Not enough sleep. Too long of a day that went an hour longer than it should have. For the sake of customer service. It’s what I do.
I didn’t even go outside except to toss my empty beer bottles into the recycle bin.
I did share my pictures and videos from my last four weeks with my mom, and I realize what a crazy, magical, wild, full and unusual life I have crafted for myself. For that I am grateful, and for that I also wish for change.
I have a good life. I am so grateful for my job, my home, my family, my friends, and not particularly in that order. Vacation gives us the opportunity to vacate our daily lives, to, hopefully, gain a different perspective on the world, to rest, to relax and to rejuvenate. My vacation provided me with all of that, and more.
I’m in a phase right now. I believe our lives go through phases, this seems logical, there is the phase, of course, for growing up, then different phases for each of us as our lives progress, for me, the college phase, the career phase, the marriage and family phase, the “I have teenagers” phase, the empty nest phase and, now, the “what’s the next phase?” phase. Never content to sit back and just ride anything out, I am chasing down the bull I need to take by the horns. With many little efforts, many tiny attempts to move things in a vague direction, I have only managed to see the bull I want to conquer run off, yonder, over the next hill. I never lose sight of him, he just keeps eluding my attempts to grab him by the horns and wrestle him to the ground. Do you ever feel like that? You have some specific goals in mind, and have made some cursory efforts in moving toward them, yet they seem elusive. Ever distant. Ever “some day”. I’m not satisfied by that. I know exactly what I want for several different areas of my life and I’m just sitting on the fence watching that damn bull graze in the distance.
Well, now, I’ve pulled my boots on, my chaps are strapped tight, my hat straightened, I’m wearing my best Clint Eastwood squint and I am taking the first bold, determined strides towards the bull. As the bull seeks to elude me, or perhaps turns to charge at me, I will adjust my path as necessary. But I know what I want and I am not going to keep saying “some day”. Nor should you.
Your life is just that, your life. It is up to you to decide what it should be and then make a plan to make it happen. No one else should, or will, do that for you. If you have a dream for your life, you deserve to live that dream, not to just wish for it. Are you just treading water, keeping your head afloat, while your dreams pass by with every wave? Get on that board and ride those waves. Life is meant to be fulfilling, not just wishful, and eventually regretful.
Is it that we are fearful of our dreams, whether they will be all in reality that they are in our dreams? They will likely be different, they may be better than we ever imagined, or not, but by moving towards them we will, at the very least, not be stuck where we are now. Treading water. We will have learned something, gained some experiences, and possibly everything in our wildest dreams, or maybe some new dreams. Dreams, in life, are related to the phases in life we pass through, they, too are subject to change. The dreams we had for our lives as a child are likely very different than the dreams we have at whatever phase of adulthood we’re in now. And, the dreams I had in early adulthood, some even having been realized and cherished, are now, very different. I have new dreams, different dreams, and, a couple of the same dreams, though refined. Just because one dream doesn’t amount to all we expected it to be at some point in life doesn’t mean we should abandon all of our other dreams. Or worse yet, give up dreaming. As the phases of our lives change, as our dreams change shape and direction, so too must our energy, our focus, our goals and our efforts in realizing those dreams.
I don’t know if you need this pep talk right now, but I do. Time to be bold because time waits for no one. Here, bull! Here, bull!