Dreams

Summer Rerun--Someday Isle

July 30, 2018

Now and then I dip into the Catching Happiness archives and share a post from the past. I hope you enjoy this one, from 2010. 


Have you ever been to Someday Isle? Maybe you find yourself taking up residence now and then—I know I do. Someday Isle is a wonderful place—there is always enough time and enough money to do just what you want to do. On Someday Isle my desires are just as important as everyone else’s. I can follow a dream and not worry about what that will mean for anyone else. (I don’t have to do laundry on Someday Isle, either.)

I visit Someday Isle every time I say, “Someday, I’ll…”

“Someday, I’ll” can keep you going when things are tough, give you hope for the future. There can be many excellent reasons why you’ll do whatever-it-is “someday.” There really are times when personal responsibilities and lack of time or money will keep you from your dreams. But not always. The trick is knowing when “someday, I’ll…” is a cop-out and when it’s legit. Usually, what’s stopping me is an issue with time or money, but occasionally it’s fear or guilt.

That’s right: sometimes actually getting what you want brings up some negative emotions. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Greece for two weeks. I have always wanted to visit Greece, my husband said to go for it, and we had the money to afford the group fare. I had a traveling companion, my mother-in-law, who had brought the trip to my attention in the first place. I hesitated—I hadn’t traveled overseas in years, I didn’t know anyone else in the group besides my mother-in-law, I would have to renew my passport, and figure out what to pack and make plans for keeping things running on the home front while I was gone. I felt guilty about spending that much money just on myself. Life had given me a beautiful gift, and I was afraid to take it. Thankfully, I didn’t let any of my apprehensions get the better of me. I went and I had the time of my life. I think about that trip often and the good feelings remain with me to this day. 

Of course, that doesn’t’ mean the words “someday, I’ll” don’t still frequently come out of my mouth. I have a file folder labeled “Someday” filled with clippings of things I want to do or experience…“someday.” There are also plenty of things I want to do with my horse “someday” and there’s that book I want to write “someday….” Well, you get the picture.

What are some of your “someday, I’ll”s? Do you really have to wait for someday? If so, what can you do right now to bring someday closer?

Someday Isle?

C.S. Lewis

Do You "Like" Happiness?

July 27, 2018


I *Heart* Happiness
“I begin to suspect that the world is divided not only into the happy and the unhappy, but into those who like happiness and those who, odd as it seems, really don’t.”
— C.S. Lewis

Absent in the Spring

Rereading Absent in the Spring (Agatha Christie writing as Mary Westmacott)

July 23, 2018


 

One of the things I like most about traveling is the complete break from the usual routine. I almost always come back from a trip refreshed and ready to make changes in my life…whether or not those changes actually take place. Sometimes it takes leaving home to see myself more clearly.

All that sounds pretty good—having time to oneself to re-center, finding solitude to think and evaluate one’s life.

It can also be a little bit frightening.

At least in the hands of Agatha Christie, writing as Mary Westmacott, in Absent in the Spring. I reread this book over the weekend, and it was as thought-provoking as I remembered it. (And no bodies in the library...this is a different kind of frightening.)

Absent was one of Christie’s favorite books. She completed it in three days straight, and wrote in her autobiography that it was “one book that has satisfied me completely…. It was the picture of a woman with a complete image of herself, of what she was, but about which she was completely mistaken…. What brought about this revelation would be the fact that for the first time in her life she was alone—completely alone—for four or five days.”

In the book, self-satisfied, middle-aged Englishwoman Joan Scudamore finds herself stranded at a rest house in the desert on her way home from visiting her daughter in Iraq. There are no other travelers for company, she runs out of things to read, uses up her writing paper, and has no sewing or handiwork to occupy her. She’s left with nothing to do but think and remember. At first, this makes her uneasy:

“The truth was, she reflected, that she had always led such a full and occupied life. So much interest in it. It was a civilized life. And if you had all that balance and proportion in your life, it certainly left you rather at a loss when you were faced with the barren uselessness of doing nothing at all. The more useful and cultured a woman you were, the more difficult it made it.”

And then downright frightened, as her thoughts take her places she’d rather not go.

“There was nothing to be afraid of in being alone—nothing at all.”
 
Eventually, she comes to see herself as she really is, not as she’s told herself she is all her life.

“She had got to know, once and for all, just what kind of a woman Joan Scudamore was….”

The title comes from a line in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 98, “From you have I been absent in the spring.”  One of Joan’s realizations is that even though she really loves her husband, she’s been “absent” from him in the ways that really matter.

When Joan returns to England, will she keep her hard-won self-knowledge and make changes? Or will she return to her old ways? I won’t spoil the end for you—you’ll have to read it for yourself.

Absent in the Spring was written in the 1940s, but anyone whose life is overfull with commitments, social media, and general busy-ness might recognize in themselves the tendency to fill up time with doing in order to avoid uncomfortable thinking.

At fewer than 200 pages, Absent in the Spring is a quick and compelling read. Check it out, and let me know what you think!

A Book That Takes Its Time

The Best Route to Happiness

July 20, 2018


“Happiness is primarily about cultivating your inner life, instead of trying to influence your external life…. Even if you can control most things, controlling everything is impossible. So the best route to happiness is not trying to control your surroundings, but to control what is happening inside you. If you can control your feelings, your emotions, and your desires, you can be happy. It’s not what happens that makes you unhappy—it’s your reaction to what happens.”
—Frederic Lenoir, “Be Aware of the Good Things Around You,” A Book That Takes Its Time

Growth

Rules of Adulthood Revisited

July 16, 2018


Way back in 2010, when I first read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, I seized on the concept of Rules of Adulthood. At that time, mine included:
  • There is time enough
  • Live joyfully
  • Be Kathy
  • Put on your big girl panties and deal with it
  • Pause before you say no
  • It is what it is
  • Rise to the occasion
  • I am enough
  • Slow down—faster isn’t better
  • Progress, not perfection
  • Help is everywhere
  • What would I do if I wasn’t scared?

There’s been a lot of figurative water under the bridge since then, including my turning 50—howisthatevenpossible? Now that I’m, ahem, so mature, I've been toying with the idea of revising my Rules of Adulthood for my new stage of life (midlife-no-kids-at-home-but-not-quite-retired).

One of the issues I commonly deal with now is worry about the future. As I get older, I see my parents and in-laws aging and coping with various physical and emotional challenges. I worry about losing my husband. About becoming ill myself. After Scout’s death hit me hard, I worry about losing Tank, Prudy, and Luna, knowing that there's no guarantee they will live the long life Scout did.

Milestones keep coming, but they’re not fun ones like college, marriage, and starting a family. More like colonoscopies, bereavement, and loss of physical vitality!

Wait, where was I?

Oh, yes, Rules of Adulthood. To combat these worries, I some additions to my original Rules of Adulthood:

  • Everything is figure-out-able (courtesy of Marie Forleo). Instead of stressing about what might (or might not) be ahead, believe that I’ll be able to figure it all out when the time comes.
  • Life is not a competition.
  • Be easy with yourself. After all these years, trust that you are a good and decent person, even when you make mistakes. (See next rule.)
  • Everyone is doing the best they can--including you.
  • Quality, not perfection. Perfection is unattainable, but you’re almost always able to live and work with quality.
  • See the funny side. Because laughing is better than crying. Usually.
  • Don’t immediately label things that happen to you as “good” or “bad”

It’s good to review the way we think from time to time. As we age, ideally we’re becoming wiser, kinder people. As we experience more, we learn to see other peoples’ points of view. Maybe we soften, maybe we grow stronger. Life is a work in progress, and though change is sometimes scary and hard, sometimes it’s just what we need.

Do you have Rules of Adulthood you live by? Please share in the comments!



Feelings

Looking Wider Than What Hurts

July 13, 2018

Photo by Slava Bowman on Unsplash

“In actuality, misery is a moment of suffering allowed to become everything. So, when feeling miserable, we must look wider than what hurts. When feeling a splinter, we must, while trying to remove it, remember there is a body that is not splinter, and a spirit that is not splinter, and a world that is not splinter.”
—Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening 

Appreciation

What I Learned From a Daily Vacation

July 09, 2018


Last week, while I participated in Laura Vanderkam’s Daily Vacation Challenge, I:

  • Did a crossword puzzle
  • Spent time with Tank
  • Read a book
  • Watched a movie without doing anything else at the same time

What I learned surprised me:

I already do these things, with the exception of the movie, every week. It seems I’m good at scheduling simple pleasures, but not so good at savoring them while they’re occurring. Which means I’m not so good at remembering that I’ve indulged in a simple pleasure. I rush through even pleasurable things to get to the next thing, which leaves me feeling stressed and grumpy. I’m still fighting the busy fight.

I don’t properly appreciate the many lovely things in my life. I don’t fully savor them, or reflect on them later.

I’m embarrassed by how much I complain about my perceived challenges and how ungrateful I’ve been. I hope—no, I plan—to change this. I started 2018 with a gratitude practice—writing down three things I was grateful for every day. I stopped doing that a couple of months ago, and I’m going to pick it up again. (I’ve been having some issues with depression again, and I wonder if this would help? Couldn’t hurt.)

I didn’t expect to learn these things about myself—but I’m glad I did. This coming week, a non-vacation week, I’ll still indulge in some of my favorite simple pleasures, and I’m keeping a time log, so I’ll have a place to record those daily breaks. My goal is to slow down enough to actually appreciate them while they’re happening. I’ll dust off my gratitude journal and bite my tongue when I start to complain. 

Did you participate in the Daily Vacation Challenge? What were your favorite mini-breaks? Did you learn any unexpected lessons? Please share in the comments below! 

Growth

Work, Play, Be Joyful

July 06, 2018

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

“Summer is a period of luxurious growth. To be in harmony with the atmosphere of summer, awaken early in the morning and reach to the sun for nourishment to flourish as the gardens do. Work, play, travel, be joyful, and grow into selfless service. The bounty of the outside world enters and enlivens us.”
—Paul Pitchford



Daily Vacation

The Daily Vacation

July 02, 2018

Photo by Mohamed Ajufaan on Unsplash

My husband is taking some time off work this week, so I’ll be doing the same. (That means I’m going to try to accomplish in two days what it usually takes me five days to do—wish me luck!) Also, as luck would have it, starting today I’m joining Laura Vanderkam’s Daily Vacation Challenge. The idea of the Daily Vacation is something she learned about while researching her new book, Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, which I’ve requested from the library but haven’t read yet.

The Daily Vacation is simply planning 15 minutes of doing something you know you’ll enjoy each day. Laura writes: “Each day for one week, you anticipate your daily vacation. You try to slow down during it, and really notice all your senses. You think of how you might describe this pleasure to someone. Afterwards, you make a note of it somewhere, to help cement the memory.  Then you look forward to your next vacation.”

I’m in! I’ll be sharing my daily vacations on Instagram (follow me here if you don’t already)—and maybe I’ll do a round-up of how it went next Monday, if it seems appropriate. You can share your daily vacations with Laura by commenting on her blog post linked above, or by tagging her or using #offtheclock on social media. I’m sure she’d love to hear what you you’re up to!

And so would I—what simple pleasures will you enjoy this week?


Look for my travel writing here