A few months ago I read something to the effect that looking back makes you depressed and looking forward makes you anxious. To be content you have to be in the here and now. This concept really hit home for me. I have put my focus on staying in the present and I have to say I feel so much happier! Now some of this may be due to the settling of the ol’ hormones but really I feel like keeping my attention on today, right now, has been a big difference maker.
I am finding contentment in getting up and seeing what I need and want to do. And then I do it. I don’t worry about tomorrow’s grocery shopping or the school event at the end of the week. Sometimes I make a list for the next day or two to get things out of my head (so I don’t forget about them but it doesn’t mean I have to do them), but overall I have become pretty good at happily being mindfully in the moment.
I would say the most important thing I learned from my “Magical Mindfulness” 21 day on-line retreat (from Kim Strobel) was that we have control of 40% of our happiness. Fifty percent is genetic and only ten percent is external/environment. I can do a few simple things and be forty percent happier! I say that is worth staying in the moment for.
While Kim gave us six things to think about doing I am sticking with three daily items: gratitude, meditation and exercise. And I’ll do a fourth, random acts of kindness, as often as possible.
I have to confess that I was really surprised to learn that I have complete control over forty percent of my happiness. Am I the only one who had no idea about this?
If one can be homesick for a season then I am homesick for autumn. I know it isn’t “officially” here yet but I even miss the anticipation of fall. There is little for me to love about living here in the desert southwest but this is by far the worst time of the year for me. In the next week or so I’ll break out my leaf garlands and pumpkin decorations and do my best to create autumn inside my home.
But I can’t change the triple digit heat outside. I can’t make it really feel like autumn. I can’t create that crisp, fragrant air or conjure up a maple tree with flaming red leaves outside my window. I can’t wear long sleeves. And that makes me sad.
So today I am going to create autumn in my head and heart. This is a spontaneously generated list of all the things I love about autumn:
the low angle of the sun
chocolate chip pumpkin muffins
the sound of the breeze in the trees
hot tea on a cold morning
the smell of apples and cinnamon
meandering in a corn maze
making pies and applesauce
candles flickering in drafts
wearing long sleeves
cold, gray, rainy days
tomato soup and grilled cheese
that special shade of blue the sky is in October
reading a good book under an afghan
Movies set in autumn (like “Step-Mom” and “You’ve Got Mail” and “Hocus Pocus”)
Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday!)
Looking at the list I realize I can actually experience most of these. And I bought two new short sleeve autumn themed shirts from Life is Good so I can wear “autumn” shirts. I have a camping trip planned in October which should give me a taste of cool air, colorful leaves and the joy of evening campfires and hot tea in the morning. Not a perfect solution but better than nothing.
Just a quick post today, we have a few errands to run and then the triple digit heat will send us into the pool!
I am learning to let go of expectations (especially in regards to my son) and so many things are making me happy this week! I am, for a change, living in the moment.
I am enjoying the return of “The Good Witch” in addition to watching “Poirot” and the last few episodes of “A Place to Call Home” (but why is Olivia letting Matthew push her around?).
My son and I have just about finished re-doing his room. We painted a wall, ordered cool outlet covers and light switch plates and put up a spacious wall of cubbies. We took everything out and cleaned the carpet. His new bed is delivered and the under storage is plentiful and works great. Now we just have to clear out the closet.
A few weeks ago I got a call about the Census Bureau job but the training date was only 4 days after my surgery so I didn’t think I could go. They said they would put my name back in the pool for the second wave of hiring and I got a call this week, this time with a training date in August so I said yes!
Thanksgiving in June. I figure if you can have Christmas in July that would translate to Thanksgiving in June. I made turkey tenderloins, cranberry sauce (I always freeze a bag or two of cranberries) and a sweet potato pie that turned out quite tasty. (I tried a new recipe that had maple syrup in it and whipped egg whites to make it light.)
To help add a feeling of cool to the post!
I am a bit of a weather geek and one of my sorrows is how boring the weather tends to be here. Aside from the occasional large monsoon thunderstorm (mostly in August) there isn’t much that happens here weatherwise. But this year we had snow in February and an actual spring!
Typically we are swimming by mid-May on a regular basis and June is hot, dry, cloudless and still. This year we had vast temperature swings, wind and bits of rain, enough with all the pollen to turn our pool green. My husband spent a week trying to clear it up and we finally gave up and called in the pros. Three days later the pool was clear, just in time for the triple digit heat.
We had a thunderstorm one night, very odd this time of year, but exhilarating. And we seem to get clouds and overcast skies for part of each day, very atypical. The forecast is for a late monsoon season this year. I don’t believe it.
My local library branch has bookcases in the front of the library that display new books and recently returned books, staff picks and then some sort of themed display. (Right now it is kid’s books designed to get them to read over the summer.) I love browsing these displays and stumbling on a happy surprise. Last trip I found “The Clockmaker’s Daughter” by Kate Morton. I love books that show different periods in time and at the end find out how everyone connects! Looks like that is Morton’s theme and I am looking forward to reading more of her works.
Realizing that the only way to keep my son off the computer is to get him out of the house in the afternoons. I have several adventures planned for the next two weeks, most involving lunch and a visit to various places. Today we are going to Target to get a few items for his room, the library and finally Trader Joe’s for those tiny ice cream cones.
This seemed like a good week to do a Good Things post. On the hormonal rollercoaster I am in the bumpy, everything irritates me section. So I am going to redirect my thoughts in a positive direction.
We are making decent progress on my son’s room. We are clearing it out, painting a wall (today in fact) and getting some new furniture. The goal is to be done by the end of the month.
The baseboard project is a success! Every day my son and I spend about 5 minutes with a container of wipes and pick a section of baseboards to clean. We are also doing door frames and light switches and doors. Should be done in about two weeks I think.
I started pumpkin plants from seeds and they are growing like crazy. I always feel this need to grow my own pumpkin for Halloween. I accomplished this once in Montana. I should have waited until July to start them but I didn’t really think they would grow well.
Will this flower soon be a pumpkin?
We started on our sketchbooks for the Brooklyn Sketchbook Project, what fun!
As I wrote about in this Good Things list I have done a lot of traveling. Being in the military can do that for you. But I still have a few places to go and things I want to do:
Hot air balloon ride
Visit those last two states on my list: North Dakota and Mississippi
Explore the Florida Keys
Vacation on Mackinac Island, Michigan
Take a ship across the Atlantic and explore the Lake District in England. I want to visit the places of Beatrix Potter, Agatha Christie and Jane Austen. (Susan Branch’s book “A Fine Romance”, that is what I want!)
I am pretty hopeful about the first four. (I was planning to go to Mackinac Island fall of 2001 but 9/11 changed my plans.) Not as confident about the last one. I have a hard time picturing myself driving on the wrong side of the road and navigating all around England on tiny cart tracks. Maybe I could do a tour of some sort?
It feels good to still have dreams of adventure and to know that my traveling days aren’t behind me, yet. When they are I will have some glorious memories to keep me company.
Our spring break trip to Santa fe was pretty low key. In truth we slept a lot. My son was in a growth spurt, spouse had a cold and I was my normal hormonally unstable self. We went to bed early and got up late most days. Halfway through the trip I realized I was okay with a trip that involved a lot of resting, especially since I had been to Santa Fe before. I thought about all the traveling and wonderful adventures I have had in the past and how it would make a great “Good Things” travel edition list. And then I decided it really need a few photos and it was so hard to narrow down so it is also like a Photo Friday post. So here we go:
I have been to 48 of our 50 states. Only North Dakota and Mississippi left.
Countries: Canada, South Korea, Oman, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, England, Egypt and of course the United States. ( I decided not to count airports in Ireland, Spain and Japan.)
I have eaten lobster and blueberry pie in Maine, she-crab soup in Baltimore, deep dish pizza in Chicago and steaks cooked over an open wood fire in the south of France.
I have been white water rafting, sky diving and zip lining.
I drove the entire Going-to-the-Sun Road through Glacier National Park one fourth of July weekend. In a convertible with the top down and the heat on no less.
I have seen Mt. Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Yosemite National Park and “Old Faithful” erupt at Yellowstone.
Let’s not forget the sequoias and giant redwood trees in California
I’ve dipped a toe in the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Lake Ontario.
I have been to professional baseball, football, basketball and hockey games and a few Nascar races.
I have been to a Broadway show in NYC (Rent).
I have ridden the Polar Express to the “North Pole”.
I have strolled through the Tate Modern in London, the Georgia O’Keefe museum in Santa Fe, the recreated home of Zane Grey and the CM Russell museum in Great Falls.
I have ridden the rides at Disney Land, Disney World, Worlds of Fun (Kansas City) and Hershey Park.
I spent Christmas in England one year.
I’ve ridden Amtrak from Chicago to Tucson.
I have been to the DMZ (de-militarized zone) between North and South Korea (Panmunjom) and even into some of the tunnels dug during the war. (Those guys were short!)
I have seen the pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt.
I have been to the site of the western most battle of the Civil War, Picacho Peak, AZ.
This list is not all inclusive, more of a highlights reel. I still have a few places I want to visit and things I want to do. But I will save that for another post.
This week’s prompt from Carrot Ranch immediately made me think of a campfire. My favorite time of year to go camping is in the fall. I suppose this is rather a riff on a “Good Things” post. I closed my eyes and imagined my family sitting around a campfire up at Aspen Campground on the Mogollon Rim. (Alas, the photo is actually from a spring trip to the Grand Canyon, the best I could do.)
Autumn Camping Joys
Achingly blue skies
Trees full of red and yellow leaves
Crunching leaves underfoot
Legs pleasantly aching after a long hike
Sizzling hot dogs over the fire
Laughter as yet another marshmallow bursts into flame
Smoke scented air drifting up
Hands stretched toward the warmth
Ghosts stories making you glance over your shoulder
One of the great things about having a child has been getting to read so many children’s books. Old favorites and new authors have all been enjoyable. One of my new favs is Cynthia Rylant. I love all her series but especially ‘Henry and Mudge’ and ‘Mr. Putter and Tabby’. (I say new but we started reading her books 8 years ago, so by new I mean not of my childhood.)
In the past I have tried both gratitude lists and joy lists but neither quite defined what I was trying to capture. And then I read “Mr. Putter and Tabby Write the Book” and I had my epiphany. Not to spoil the plot but Mr. Putter is having a hard time writing a book and instead writes a list of “Good Things”.
I am stealing this idea because I love it. So thank you to Ms. Rylant and Mr. Putter 😊.
Good Things ☘
chamomile flowers from Trader Joe’s 🌼
working in my sketchbook (see pics below)
the sound of an owl hooting in the distance ( I also like it when I hear trains or church bells) 🚂
learning how to add emoji’s 🌵
signing up for an on-line photography class that starts in April 📸
reading “Match Making for Beginners” by Maddie Dawson and having a great line stuck in my head: “Whatever happens, love that.” 📘
chocolate covered strawberry ice cream from Tillamook 🍨
cloud shadows on mountains (makes me smile every time!) ☁️
lace curtains moving in the breeze
I am thinking this will become a semi-regular feature, like Photo Friday. We’ll see.