Happiness

Signs of Spring

February 26, 2021


Early yesterday morning I pulled out my planner/calendar and a small stack of embellishments—stickers, washi tape, etc. Snuggled up in my bed, sipping coffee with Luna sleeping next to me, I decorated my month-at-a-glance pages for March and April, choosing inspirational, encouraging words as well as colorful stickers and tape. After that, I decorated my weekly spreads for the month of March. I spent probably 45 minutes to an hour of my precious early morning quiet time matching colors, and looking for words that will gently encourage or inspire.

Why is this significant?

Because I haven’t wanted to do this, or indeed even felt able to, for almost a year. Why bother, when I wasn’t going anywhere except the grocery store or the barn? Even though I still used my daily planner, I didn’t care what it looked like. When the to-dos on my list never varied from the mundane daily “keep us alive” chores week after week, I didn’t have the mental energy to make my pages pretty.

Just like snowdrops and crocus are harbingers of the spring season, my desire to pretty things up in my planner indicates to me that something is stirring in the frozen wasteland of my psyche! Could a spring thaw be coming?!

While I was playing in my planner, flipping through sheets of stickers with inspirational words, matching washi tape to my weekly to-do list, I felt a little current of happiness flowing through me. A gathering of energy, even a flicker of creativity—things that have been sorely lacking lately.

Even though I’m still essentially going no place that isn’t necessary, I feel the slightest tickle of, could that be…hope? That I will—we will—be able to enjoy life a bit more soon. When I’ll be able to write “coffee with ______” on my pages, when the exhortation of “wake up and be awesome” won’t make me want to hide under the covers (my stickers are ambitious).

Even though my pages are still mostly blank, surely they will begin to fill up soon? Maybe with a visit to an outdoor market before it gets too hot? Maybe even with “plan trip to California”? I need to start penciling in things to look forward to!

It’s such a small thing, this desire to decorate my daily calendar. But I hope it’s the start of something positive.

When you’ve been down, what small thing(s) demonstrate to you that you’re feeling better?



 

 

Quotes

The Quiet of Alone

February 19, 2021


“We’re spread so thin there’s nothing left for us. But here’s the thing: Time alone is as essential as breathing.

“Time to check in with ourselves, to sit in the core of who we are and uncover what’s really going on in there. If our cells are repaired while we sleep, then our heart is renewed in the quiet of the alone. And it’s there in the stillness that we truly get to know ourselves, learning how to live with genuine curiosity and desire, rather than need and avoidance.”

—Susannah Conway, This I Know

 

Barbara De Angelis

Love Yourself, Love Others

February 12, 2021

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash


“If you aren’t good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you’ll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren’t even giving to yourself.”

—Barbara De Angelis

On Valentine’s Day—and every day—don’t forget to show yourself some love. So often we don't offer ourselves the same forgiveness, kindness, or encouragement that we offer to others. These things are far more important gifts than chocolates or flowers, lovely as those things are.

 Life has been hard lately. We all deserve a little loving kindness.

 

COVID-19

Friday Favorites + Seven Things Saving My Life Right Now

February 05, 2021

Thing seven

Recently I’ve seen a proliferation of blog posts titled “Things Saving My Life Right Now” (see below for links to a few, and click here to read blogger and author Modern Mrs. Darcy’s description of the origin of the practice). I think we’re all in need of little life saving—sanity saving at the very least. The past year has been hard, hard, hard. So let’s turn our attention to what’s making us happy and try to forget about the negative stuff for a while.

Back in October, I listed a few of my favorite things and asked for some of yours. Here are the Friday Favorites from the Catching Happiness readers who responded to that post:

  • Homemade chicken Parmesan meatballs—Marianne (she gave me the recipe—I can attest to the fact that they are a Happy Little Thing)
  • Practicing and teaching yoga—Terry
  • Watching the old Andy Griffith show with my husband (“Barney never fails to make us laugh”), and walks with the dogs in the fall weather—Debbie

Saving my life right now:

Health. Never has it been more appreciated. As Happy Little Thoughts subscribers know, my husband is recovering from COVID-19. He had a mild case, and while he still has the stray odd symptom, he’s essentially over it. Our son and I never caught the virus—something we are very thankful for.

Instacart (no affiliation). They delivered our groceries during quarantine, and it made me feel like royalty. “Just leave the bags on the front porch, my good woman” (spoken in a British accent). 

Reading. My reading year has gotten off to a booming start (I guess quarantine isn’t all bad)—I read 12 books in January!  In case I haven’t mentioned it lately, Reading Is My Favorite. One of my recent favorite reads is Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. I grew to have a real affection for Eleanor. 

The Great Pottery Throw Down. My husband and I finished watching The Great British Baking Show a few weeks (months? who can keep track) ago, and just stumbled onto this show last week. I knew nothing at all about making pottery, but now I’m tossing around terms like slip and raku like I know what I’m talking about. And I’ve gained a huge amount of respect for potters in general.

Broadway musical soundtracks. I so much miss going to the musicals at the Straz Center in Tampa. It’s a poor substitute, but I’ve been listening to soundtracks in my car and while I work in my office. I own a few (Hamilton, Hairspray, Wicked), and am borrowing others from the library (Mean Girls, Into the Woods, Dear Evan Hansen). Singing along is optional but recommended.

Yoga practice. The aforementioned Terry is a yoga teacher with an online yoga membership program. I’ve been practicing with her two times a week most weeks, and my body feels the better for it. I get a lot of “help” when I’m on the mat—both Luna and Prudy are very interested when I sit or lie down on the floor. Luna especially likes to drop her toys on me while I’m down there.

Luna ready for yoga class

Tank. If I hadn’t had the barn and my horse to be with over the past year, I wonder just how crazy I would be by now. Staying away during quarantine was tough. I know most people probably don’t want a horse of their own, but maybe there is some other truly absorbing hobby or pastime you could pursue that would help you forget your worries and responsibilities for a while. It really is life saving…or at least sanity saving.

I think it’s interesting to see all the different things people feel are saving their lives. If you’re nosy like me, here’s a small selection of additional life-saving posts:

The Tiny Domestic Tasks That Are Saving My Life Right Now

Five Things That Are Saving My Life Right Now

7 Things That Are Saving My Life Right Now

What’s Saving My Life Right Now?


Now it’s your turn—what’s saving your life right now?

2021

The Strength of a Word

January 29, 2021

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash


I’ve been trying to cling to some vestiges of normalcy in these far from normal times, so as I’ve done for the past few years, I’ve chosen a word of the year to be a sort of one-word guidance system. I say I chose it, but really, it chose me, because this word is not one I would normally gravitate to.

The word is dare.

Dare strikes me as a bossy word—at first glance, it sounds like a word that is going to make me do a whole lot of things I don’t want to do, as in “I dare you to…” After the exhausting slog of 2020, I’m skeptical of my ability to live up to a word like dare. However, one of my online friends called it, more charitably, a strong word. OK, we’ll go with that. Maybe I can draw strength from it as well as be pushed by it?

I’m willing to take on dare because after some thought and exploration (and consulting a thesaurus and dictionary, thanks to a friend’s suggestion). I’m choosing to focus on the meanings of to take heart, try one’s hand, venture, to have sufficient courage to try. Dare is also associated with imaginative or vivacious boldness. I kind of like the sound of that.

Also, for the first time, I created an acronym to correspond with the word’s letters (hat tip to another friend for this idea). Here it is:

D: Dream (because dreaming starts everything)

A: Act (dreams won’t become reality without action)

R: Recharge (after taking action, I’ll need to recharge)

E: Evaluate (evaluate the result of my action to see what comes next)

Where will dare take me? I don’t know yet, but I have some projects in the works that I might not have decided to tackle without the support of such a strong word.

If 2020 taught me anything, it’s that I shouldn’t put off things I want to do—there’s no guarantee the future will be anything resembling the past. It’s up to me to figure out what I really want to do/be/have, and try to make those things happen. No one is going to do it for me.

Have you chosen a word of the year for 2021? I dare you!


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