Christmas Outtakes Part 2

 

I write this having just finished my holiday shopping and wrapping for Santa. White Christmas is on Netflix in the background and I have had my cup of hot cocoa and a few well thought out gifts from friends (Kerry you never cease to amaze me with your creativity, now I have to take up playing cards:)) I am feeling full of the holiday spirit and after driving by my old church from my childhood I am even inspired to attend the candlelight ceremony tomorrow evening. I thought maybe I would see Carri there when I drove by, but maybe she was guiding me in the car to a destination I haven’t been to in 19 years. I am ready for Christmas to arrive, complete with mixed feelings of excitement and loss, cheer and sadness. It is only recently I have really learned that this is true for most folks, the holidays, if you are lucky are a mixture of both, why lucky you ask? Who would want the loss and sadness part? Well simply put, as I heard on a television show of all places:

We never truly bury the dead. We take them with us; it is the price we pay for living.

I like to add to that it is the price we pay for having loved and been loved deeply and honestly. Those people linger in our hearts and minds, our lives and experiences. So to experience some loss, some sadness, means I have been lucky enough to be loved and completely whole with someone else. It is a bitter drink to be sure, but I am grateful I had her while I did, I will continue to drink it every year in her honor no matter how much I dislike the taste. .

This week my goal is to be realistic. Holidays and family can leave us filled with emotions that don’t fit the scene in our heads, or the events we plan may go awry. What I want to do this week and every week is to remember that nothing is perfect and often it is the imperfections that make a moment or a holiday something we will remember and hold dear. There is the Christmas we bought our tree on the 24th and Carri convinced them to give it to us free. The time we opened presents in her closet for reasons I don’t even remember. There is the Christmas I skipped work to go see the Muppet Christmas Carol and I had to hide in the bathroom because people from work were there. And I will always remember the year Carri Worked at Walt Disney World and we got to see James Earl Jones read the Christmas Story to an intimate crowd of about 20. Darth Vader telling the story of a baby in a manager will forever change the way you see Christmas, trust me.

These mishaps and misadventures stick better in my memory than any well planned and perfectly executed moment ever will I suspect. So this year I’d like to let go of the belief and the desire that there is only one way to experience something, only one way to remember it. I might forget my sons sitting with Santa, but I will never forget Vazer grabbing Santa’s hand and trying to walk away with him. It wasn’t planned, it couldn’t have been foreseen, but it was the best moment of that day for me.

We took our yearly picture over the weekend, if you haven’t already check out the previous years outtakes in the previous post (my links aren’t working). This year was better than most and with the exception of our closet Doberman with the damaged and abused brain, we are all at least present in every shot. So even though some of them show a little boy giving evil eye to his Rottie sibling, and one looks like I’m being molested by a Swissy, it was fun and funny this year with little people finally big enough to hit the timer button and dogs finally blocked in with an intricate network of gates that trapped them in the frame. And this  year, unlike some others of recent past, I smiled through the whole darn thing. I hope you do too. Merry Christmas everyone, or happy whatever holiday you call your own during this season. May your days be filled with awesome mistakes and by chance moments that you will remember long after the candy canes fade and the presents have broken.

 

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What I’m Listening to:

What I’m Reading: Matched by Ally Condie, ah more dystopian YA… I think I have a problem. ;)

 

How to be Happy in 19 Fairly Painless Steps

 

I may not have found the holy grail of happiness just yet, but I have managed to eek out a little bliss every now and then in these stressful shark filled waters I call my life. So I have decided to take a look back at the things I have done or tried in my journey thus far. It seemed like a good time to sum up the specific steps I’ve taken so I can take stock, move forward, readdress those things that didn’t take the first time, or reassess why things didn’t work at all.

  1. Identify what is great about you. You might be surprised at how awesome you already are. Make a list to see the awesomeness on paper.
  2. Really make those traits of your life a priority or use them more often to shine. If you take what you do well or the traits about you that rock and you do them more often, of course you are going to find more reasons to smile.
  3. Make a conscious choice about who you are. A choice not driven from history or others labels, but one that is truly you, or the you you would like to become. Make the choice of happiness when you do this. Stop blaming others for your position in life and take charge. Blaming others gives them the power, taking charges puts you in the driver’s seat. I prefer power every day of the week.
  4. Formulate your personal identifiers. These are the attributes you want to live by or be known for. This is your chance to chose who you are going to be. This list doesn’t have to be true at this moment, it is a work in progress. Include your current attributes as well as those you are working towards. Many people find happiness in reaching toward goals. Easier to reach for them if you know what you are reaching for.
  5. Review the people in your life and decide if they help or hinder your progress in either happiness or your intentional identifier goals. They may be friends or family and you may love them dearly, but if they don’t get your new life then they may hold you back from truly succeeding. I’m not saying let them go, I’m saying put them in perspective.
  6. Clean up your financial mess, or at least put it all out on the table and in the open so you can start looking at it. Knowledge is half the battle, the truth really can set you free. This is the path to fixing it.
  7. Take action to implement or move toward an intentional identifier. It isn’t enough to make a list, you have to take action. You have to remind yourself everyday of who you want to be and you have to do something to work toward that goal as often as you can.
  8. Let go of all the negative things that draw you down or hold you back. Whether it is people, things, habitual thoughts, or ruminations on your past, let it all go and start new.
  9. Stop patterns of behavior that do not work for you or bring you closer to your goals and happiness. Stop doing everything that negates who you want to be or what you want to have in life. Just stop it.
  10. Adjust your beliefs to allow your goals to be reached. If a belief is preventing you from reaching a positive lace or a remarkable goal it is time to rethink why you are chosing to believe something tat is clearly holding you back.
  11. Live on the edge and do things that scare you; you might be surprised at what you find or discover about yourself. Often living in the safety zone prevents growth and opportunity to make your life the way you really want it to be. You must be bold to move forward and out of your comfort zone and onto the edge. Those who make history or are fabulously happy are out there on the edge, trust me.
  12. Learn to live in and experience the Now- I I know it sounds new agey. Let go of the past and stop worrying about your future. If you live in the now the past is nothing but a memory and the future will only be brighter if you really truly just live in this moment.
  13. Be better to your partner. Give them what you want and they are likely to reciprocate. If not then have them read this. Remember they have value and possibly are right.
  14. Write your best about me. Avoid titles and roles you play in life and instead focus on the true things about you, See mine for inspiration.
  15. Choose to be healthy. Make one small healthy change every week and be surprised at how it catches on and how good you feel.
  16. Be productive. Do things that create peace or simplicity in your life. Do things that need to be done and can shrink your to do list. Do things that instill a great sense of accomplishment. Do the trivial things that get in the way of your greatness.
  17. Get creative! Do something new and creative everyday. This is to get your brain working and firing neurons it usually doesn’t use. Brush your teeth with your opposite hand, paint a mural, bake cookies, make an obstacle course… just do something new and interesting that is totally for fun or nonsensical. There is a lt of brain up there just going to waste.
  18. Exercise, but use your limited time wisely. Moving everyday can make a huge mood shift. If you don’t have time for a big workout just squeeze in something, anything. It will make your mind feel  happy and your body relaxed. This morning I did 20 min of yoga with a two year old on my back. It wasn’t proper, it wasn’t “correct” but I did feel better and he sure laughed a lot. :)
  19. Stop taking on responsibility for others feelings. You cannot control what they choose to feel or what they choose to believe. If you have not been hurtful or intentionally cruel then their emotions are not your responsibility. You will waste a considerable amount of time in life trying to solve the problems of other people. Usually those people have made the decision to be miserable and their beliefs have less to do with you than their own choices to feel unhappy. It will hurt, it will be hard, but you have to realize at some point in your life, you are only responsible for your own reactions and feelings. Not those of others.
  20. Fake it. Fake everything you want to do or be until you reach your goals. You can get where you are going, it just takes a little bit of creativity and embellishment sometimes.

I have now been on this quest to find a better way of life since July of this year. And the really cool, if surprising bit, is that I really do feel better. I really am seeing a difference in my mood, my outlook, and my life. Just imagine if you had been following the journey and doing it to. What might your life look like now? What changes would you have made? How far could you have come?

For those keeping score, or are simply curious. I have accomplished the following by taking the steps above:

  • I’ve lost 5 pounds without dieting
  • I now fit in my pre pregnancy pants, I’m talking the ones before our first child
  • I’ve cleaned up our finances and we can now pay all our bills with a little left over to fix an ailing truck and toddler
  • I can find things in my organized house
  • I’ve sold or given away much of my clutter
  • I’m nicer to my children and we have a lot more silly times together
  • I’m sleeping better
  • My to do list is remarkably shorter
  • I am reading like a fiend
  • I am halfway through a new fiction book I hope will be the winner winner to getting published and being a true writer
  • I have eaten gluten free with only two breaks ( this was for my son’s Celiac Disease, but I won’t lie and say I don’t think I am healthier or that it didn’t improve my mood)
  • I feel more at peace
  • I feel like I have found part of me I thought was forever gone
  • I can cope with the unknown with less anxiety
  • I no longer have ruminating thoughts about things I can’t control

What I am Reading: Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hall a man buys a ghost off the internet… enough said, if that doesn’t make you curious, nothing will.

What I am listening to: Life is Beautiful by Keb Mo.  Thank you Carri, for giving me his voice.

What I am watching: Before you poo poo me… I am a HUGE Star Wars fan (see first edition original movie poster in my house or my son being practically named after Darth Vader), but I am also a huge believer in raising amazing little men. I hope when asked who they liked best they will choose wisely. Food for thought. Honestly though, at 8 years old I chose Chewbacca.

Inspirations from the ether: I clearly didn’t utilize my baby’s sleep time well enough. Must see photos. Seriously,  no really, click it!

Now moment of the week: A potty trained two year old who did it all by himself one day and  hasn’t looked back. Bonus moment, finding out from his special doctor that he only has 6 more months of leg braces! 1 regular doctor visit down! Three more to go!

 

Confessions of a Habitual Overthinker

I’m going to make a confession today. I’m not perfect. Whew! That felt good. Apparently, some people are under the misconception that I am, or that I should be, or that this blog professes to be the solution for finding perfection. I’m happy to report these are all false rumors generated by individuals who are either insecure and intimidated by my goal of being happy (what the hell, who are you people?) or it is a misconception driven by the belief that I think there is a perfection or only one right way to live. On the contrary, what this entire blog is really about, at it’s core, is that there are MANY ways to live and that as long as you are living intentionally, as opposed to unthinking being shoved along on a path by culture and society, then you are doing the right thing and living the best life for you. I am not sitting in judgment of others, I am merely trying to start a movement or a dialog about finding happiness.

By its very nature intentional living allows for and accepts just about any path or preference of life short of harming others. So I am stymied that anyone who has read my words might feel judged or overwhelmed at them. How hard is it to just live your life, your way? And why does it make people feel insecure or judged when others attempt to do this or suggest they might try it? Why is overall life satisfaction and happiness such a negative thing or a bad word in our day to day lives? Is it really that hard to live your life without worrying what others think and feel? Apparently, yes.

I do not believe there is a perfect life, or one path that we are all destined to go down or that will provide all people with the happiness they crave or the life they deserve. Many people would not be happy in my life or with my choices, and I would be equally unhappy in theirs. However, this does not mean that one of us is right and the other is wrong. Even those folks who follow the status quo blindly are not necessarily wrong; if they are happy and content with the results that the status quo has provided, then it was the right path for them. If they are unhappy and unfulfilled with the result, then I would argue it is time for intentional living.

My desire and project to find happiness by embarking on a new goal each week is not one I take lightly, it is not just a whim, a random quest, or just thoughts in a blog. I am determined to create the life I want by using the best tool I have at my disposal, my brain. I am convinced that if I make the effort, do the research, and apply myself that I can reach a Zen like place where I am happy and content. I’m not talking about a mythical fairy land with Unicorns and leprechauns- I get that life is hard and there will always be moments of craptastic events outside my control- but I also know that if the rest of my life is in balance those moments will be easier to overcome and their impact less devastating.

This week it has been difficult for me to find the energy to write to the blog. Knowing that my determination to find happiness has inadvertently resulted in the loss of friendships is a hard pill to swallow. It has left me rethinking my goals and my method for getting there. It has left me to wonder if the power of words was just not the right venue for expressing my journey or the bumpy road ahead. Was it possible that words could unintentionally  hurt those I care about? The realization I have come to is that while my journey and my words might hurt others, it is only because they are not ready for this kind of path in their own lives not because I intended to hurt them or cause harm. They are not prepared to look at why they are unfulfilled. they are not ready to search and work for their own happiness. Instead they feel insecure, trapped, and overwhelmed and reading my words feels like a slap in the face and a confirmation that everything they thought was lacking in their life really is. For this I am sorry. I am sorry I have made anyone feel like less, when the goal was to inspire everyone to feel like more, that they deserve more.

The important thing I was reminded of, as I contemplated all of this this week, was that I can’t make all of the people happy, all of the time. And more importantly, to find my own happiness I have to learn to be okay with that instead of feeling responsible for their unhappiness. So this weeks goal has been to identify when I should feel responsible and when I shouldn’t, because apparently I struggle with that and I think it leads to a lot of unhappiness that is easily avoidable.

Are there thing you feel badly about that aren’t really your fault? Do you take responsibility for others feelings and reactions? Have you found any solutions to stopping this behavior? I would love to hear from you and I would love for you to share this blog with others. Thanks.

What I’m reading: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion If you like Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory, then you will love this book.

What I’m listening to: Wake Me Up by Avicii

What I’m watching: Shake

SHAKE from Variable on Vimeo.

Now moment of the week: Picking Pumpkins with little boys who say they are “cute”. In love.

Inspirations from the ether:

Wow, I have never felt less productive or more motivated to live the moments I do get very very intentionally. Must watch.