Happiness

Want a Lasting Relationship? Take Responsibility for Your Own Happiness

February 15, 2019

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

“The truth is, the way we can show up as our very best and offer the greatest amount of love and support to our partner is to take the complete responsibility for our own happiness, from A to Z. The purpose of a love relationship is not to fill a void, to complete us, or even to be part of the foundation for our happiness. It’s purpose is to help us grow emotionally and spiritually and to enhance an already, full, happy life. This is a key standpoint from which joyful, lasting relationships survive, thrive, and grow.”


Rise

Rise-ing

February 11, 2019

Photo courtesy Andrew Martin via Pixabay 

As I mentioned briefly here, the word of the year that presented itself to me for 2019 is “rise.” And it did present itself—I was minding my own business, going about my normal, everyday life when it popped into my head. And wouldn’t leave.

Some years I’ve had to do exercises or put in time pondering possibilities, but not this year.

Rise scares me a little, as passion did. With its connotation of picking myself up after a fall, rise initially felt like a word that you turn to during hard times. Please, 2019, I beg of you do not to be as emotionally challenging as the end of 2018!

But as I was noodling around with the word, a more gentle, cheerful take appeared: the concept of floating, of lightness, of flying like a balloon.  Rise has an uplifting feel to it, one of upward movement. The sun rises, cream rises to the top, bread and other baked goods rise (becoming tasty and delicious). One “rises to the occasion.”

Rising is gentler than climbing.

To rise, I’ll need to let go of heavy things dragging or holding me down, release attitudes, beliefs, worries, and negativity.

I like it. I have a tendency to be internally dark, heavy, serious, and intense. As light offered me a chance to explore and focus on more happy aspects of living. perhaps rise will offer some of the same benefits. 

I recently came upon this passage in Jon Cohen’s book, Harry's Trees:

“Olive was particularly inspired by dawns like this when she could not see the sun. It gave her strength and comfort to know that it was out there, rising, doing its daily job, unthwarted by clouds, rain or snow. That’s the way she liked to think of herself. Against the impediments and disappointments of life, she was a riser.”

I think I’m a riser, too.

I like a word of the year with some ambiguity to it. It makes for interesting encounters with myself throughout the year. What about you? Do you have a word of the year? If you feel comfortable, please share it and what it means to you in the comments section!

Happiness

Instead of Pursuing Love and Happiness…

February 08, 2019

Photo by Conor Luddy on Unsplash

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
— Rumi

Food for thought: Substitute the word “happiness” for the word “love.” Do you (I) put up barriers against love and happiness? How can we be more open?



Libraries

Libraries I Have Loved

February 04, 2019

Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash 

“What else is a library, but a temple of truth? What other function do books have, the great ones, but to change the reader? Books to comfort. But most of all, books to disturb you forward.”
Harry’s Trees, Jon Cohen

February is Library Lovers’ Month, and today I want to pay tribute to libraries I have loved and sing the praises of an institution that has made my life infinitely better.

The first library I remember is the Pasadena Public Library where I went with my mother and on field trips as a child. Once I remember laughing uncontrollably (but quietly) with my best friend, Julie, when we happened upon the name Wyatt Earp in a book—the name struck us as being hysterically funny. When I wasn’t laughing at names, I was earnestly checking out books from the children’s section, coming home with as many as I could carry.

As an adult working for a magazine for teenagers, I also used the Pasadena library for books to use as references or to fact check articles I was editing. Oh, the days before the Internet!

As a teenager I haunted my public library in Lakewood, spending hours wandering through the books, making discoveries or reading old favorites (Judy Blume, Erle Stanley Gardner, Agatha Christie). My mom and I visited regularly together, but sometimes I’d walk there on my own.  I once tried to get a job at that library, but was so shy I couldn’t manage a coherent follow up to my application. (If I weren’t a writer, I’d work in a library. And I don't rule it out in the future!)

My current local library is invaluable to me—even with the Internet at my fingertips, I use books for education, entertainment, inspiration, and research, and I’ve attended free talks and workshops there. I still consider it a miracle that we can borrow books (paper, e-books and audio books), music, magazines, and movies for free. I would go broke if I bought every book I read. Thank you, public library. (Check out “What’s Your Library Worth?” here.) 

In addition to lending books and other media, most public libraries also host educational programs, serve as polling places on Election Day, and provide many more community services. “At the core of public library service is the belief in free access to information—that no one should be denied information because he or she cannot afford the cost of a book, a periodical, a Web site or access to information in any of its various formats,” according to ilovelibraries.org.

The library is one of my happy places, and I want to spend more time there this year. I’ve gotten into the habit of placing holds on books, then just running in and picking them up. On a good day, I’ll spend a few extra minutes in the library bookstore. I miss soaking in the library’s (to me) peaceful-yet-exciting atmosphere. Perhaps I’m due for an afternoon spent wandering the aisles and exploring the shelves—a true simple pleasure.

If you haven’t been to the library recently, why not pay it a visit?

Do you have any favorite memories of libraries?

Everyday adventures

Field Trip Friday--The Enchanting Le Vieux Couvent

February 01, 2019


Early morning at LVC
It’s Friday, and it’s cold, and it’s February—would you like to escape to an enchanted place, even for a few minutes?

Come with me to Le Vieux Couvent!

W-a-a-a-y back in October, I had the privilege of traveling with Laure Ferlita to her workshop at Le Vieux Couvent, following our stay in Paris.

LVC, as we call it, is in the little village of Frayssinet in southwest rural France, about five hours from Paris. As its name suggests, it is an old convent—17th century—converted into a special event and art retreat center. The hosts, Bill and Corinne, were utterly charming, the gourmet food out of this world (I now have a taste for duck), and the whole experience, hands down, one of the most delightful and extraordinary of my life.

Today’s Field Trip Friday will focus only on LVC and the village of Frayssinet. (I’ll save photos of our explorations of the region for future installments.)

After taking the train from Paris, our group met in the courtyard for aperitif (a delightful practice we repeated during our entire stay at various locations around LVC). Corinne welcomed us, and we eventually dispersed to our various rooms. 







An aperitif--there was always wine, too!
In addition to the main building where the kitchen, dining room, salon, and most of the bedrooms were located, there was also a studio and a house just down the road where Laure and I stayed in separate apartments.

I stayed here, at Joel's house, in a separate building
My neighbor
Everywhere you looked there was an enticing path, something blooming, or an “is this real?” scene. Sketching opportunities everywhere!




Kitchen courtyard


Herbs outside the kitchen door


A small selection of art books at a table at the entrance to the studio
The food, oh the food…

Breakfast
Lunch


Picnic lunch
A first course
A cheese course--look at the grape scissors!
We did a little exploring of the area around LVC, and joined the local community one Friday night at the bar that only opens on Friday night. Everyone was welcome—visitors, dogs, babies… 


Village rooftops

And just next door, was a Little Free Library. I didn’t get any closer than this, unfortunately, to see the books on hand.




View from the studio--original convent building on left

The village church
The staff at LVC were also outstanding, including Corrine and Bill’s hard-working son, Joel, whose talents ranged from serving meals to unclogging showers to rebuilding kitchens. And Bill, who acted as host and tour guide—well, there are no words that do justice to him. He was quite a character.

Using LVC as our base, we explored some of the surrounding villages, including St. Cirque La Popie, Castlefranc, and Sarlat, the Chateau de Beynac, and prehistoric caves at Cougnac. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip to the south of France as much as I enjoyed reviewing my photos and memories. I’ll share more of our experiences in future Field Trip Friday posts. 

Laure is planning another workshop at LVC in September 2019—click here for more information. If you want a once-in-a-lifetime art retreat experience, I can’t recommend this experience highly enough.


Look for my travel writing here