Posts Tagged 'the happiness project'

remember to remember…

Maintaining focus has not been an easy thing for me lately. Thoughts seem to leave my head as quickly as they enter. If I manage to get them written down, then I have the challenge of remembering that I wrote them down and then remembering where I wrote it. I’ve gone to a spiral notebook for daily lists… shopping, meal planning and the like. Pinterest has been a blessing and a curse for my current state of mind. I love knowing exactly where I’ve “pinned” something, but my lack of focus means when I go back to find something, I often spend far more time browsing than I ever intended.

I have a plastic folder for all my urgent “to do” items. It’s a hard shelled plastic number, about the size of a large, thin book. Things like bills, coupons and urgent paperwork go in this folder, with a college ruled sheet of paper acting as a cover page that I update as I go. It works pretty well. When something arrives that needs to be addressed, I put it in the folder and add a line to my cover page. Where I get in trouble is when I neglect to look at my folder for several weeks, then realize I have bills waiting to be paid inside.

The focus thing makes blogging tough, too. Ideas pass through my head too quickly – when I sit down at the computer to write them out, my mind goes blank… and I suddenly find myself at Facebook or Pinterest. *face palm*

I have a moment to myself this morning. Ben and C are at her class. I’m waiting at a nearby bookstore, enjoying a few minutes of me time. I got a cup of tea and sat down at a table in the adjacent coffee shop, intending to sit, relax and enjoy. Maybe blog a bit, too. The scene and overall energy of the place, however, was not aligned with my plan. A pair at one table seemed distressed about work. I managed to tune them out. Then, the conversation at table across from me permeated the area. Two women spoke angrily about seemingly every subject that came up – ranging from gossiping about what strangers were wearing to commenting on the appropriateness of others’ excess weight (these ladies were not small by any means). For one woman, everything in life was terrible, awful, with no silver lining. Her friends attempted to throw in sympathetic comments here and there, but those were quickly shot down. I tried to tune it out the conversation, to block the negative energy sitting across from me, but my efforts were futile.

I moved outside, found a sunny spot to sit, bundled up my coat, and took in the morning. Except for the occasional passerby, I was alone. Sometimes you need that reprieve from the world. To shut your brain off and just exist. No responsibilities, no split attention, no where to focus, nothing to remember. It’s a nice break.

I find my most serene moments are those where I’ve found escape from civilization – or at least escape from masses of people. My favorite spot in college was the pier at a nearby beach. My roommate would accompany me sometimes, and we’d stand at the end of the pier, absorbing the enormity of the inky black ocean beneath our feet; feeling humbled by the brief glimpse of our own insignificance in the universe.

In high school, my favorite spot was along the Delta, sitting and listening to the water. I never went by myself, my best friend was always with me, which was welcome company. She was someone I could be myself around without fear of judgment. In nice weather, we’d find a boat ramp or pier to inhabit. In rainy weather, we’d lay in the back of my car, with the hatchback lifted open to allow us to enjoy the sounds of nature while staying dry inside. Ahhh, the simple things in life.

Water seems to be a theme in my search for serenity. What about you? How do you find peace in this crazy world?

A special thanks to all my new readers and commenters. It makes me happy to see you here. :)



Some of you may already know this, but I danced as a kid. Not just ‘listening to the music and dancing along’ dance, but real, professional, twice annual (sometimes more) recitals kind of dance. I guess most girls do this as a kid. For me, though, it was a passion. Tap dance was my favorite – the style I enjoyed the most and continually returned it. It was something I loved. I lived and breathed dance. For seven years, I took professional lessons. From 3 years old until I was 9. Then, when finances got tight and dance class prices got exorbitant, I quit classes and continued to dance on my own at home. I entered talent shows at school with friends, teaching them little tap dance routines, choreographed feet and arm work with my mom’s help. It was fun.

yup, that's me!

I picked it up again when I first moved to the Sacramento area, about eight years ago. I took an adult evening tap class, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I started in the beginning class, because it had been so long since I’d taken lessons, but the teacher soon asked me to move on the the advanced class, as I progressed quickly in the beginner class. For a while, Thursday nights were my happy place – my sanctuary. Eventually, work got in the way of lessons and once again, dance left my life.

Enter C. Her current schedule includes a “Baby Ballet” class, which we started her in last August. She LOVES it. She practices at home, and tries to direct me to do the same steps as her. Plié, chasse, arabesque… it’s really quite cute. I was never big in to ballet, just a smattering here and there, so it’s awesome to learn some of these steps along with her.

Through C’s ballet class, an interesting opportunity presented itself. Her dance instructor needed another teacher to fill in when she was out. She asked if I’d be interested, offered to train me and pushed me to join her dance group. I was more than intrigued. With C now in preschool a few days a week, I have more time available to pursue work again. Though this isn’t my area of specialty, it is something I really enjoy… or, at least, enjoyed. It peaked my interest. I thought a lot about the opportunity at hand, debating whether it was something I wanted to do.

At the end of the day, I decided to pass on the dance instructor opportunity. It wasn’t steady work by any means, and it would mean a LOT of work both to catch up on my rusty dance skills and to learn how to effectively teach toddlers and preschoolers. A challenge I’m just not sure I’m up to these days. However, the soul-searching that came with this opportunity shed some light on one of my long forgotten sources of happiness – dance. It inspired me to dust off my tap shoes, search out a local class and get back in to it. I’m excited about this one!

Finding Happiness

What makes me happy?

I’ve been pondering this question a lot lately. Is it individual acts and things, or is it the bigger picture? My guess is that a lot of little things add up to the bigger picture, so, in fact, the answer is both.

De-cluttering our house has led me to start examining my life, my person, my self, and see where clean up might help. Are my actions leading me to that fabled place of happiness? Or am I seeking short term fixes that detour my path? I have a feeling it’s a bit of both, and I have a strong desire to explore those things that bring me long term and enduring happiness. Things that keep the ultimate goal in sight and make me a happier person in general.

I’m goal driven. I know this about myself. I’m also ridiculously competitive. I’m not sure if this is something that I do a good job of hiding, or if it’s so obvious that it’s pointless to state. Often, I am fixated on a goal. An end result. Making something. Seeing something come to fruition. Standing back, admiring it, then moving on to the next. The journey isn’t my primary focus, the goal is.

In life, though, this approach doesn’t really work. How’s that saying go? It’s the journey, not the destination. Yes, I lose sight of this all too often. For example, when hiking, I have a destination in mind. I’ll push myself to get there, blinders on, focused on the goal ahead. How much do I miss by taking this approach? What am I giving up by focusing on the target ahead, completely oblivious to the beauty surrounding me in the moment? I know I miss a lot. When I reach the destination, I stick to my schedule. I mentally check each thing my list – reaching the goal, spending the obligatory time taking in the nature around me, snapping photos,consuming lunch/snack/water, starting the trek back.

I enjoy hiking, but I don’t know that it’s for the right reasons. I enjoy being outdoors. I enjoy being away from civilization. But mostly? I enjoy having a goal in mind and seeing it get done. At the end of the day, recalling that we had a plan for the day, and we were successful in setting it in motion.

I don’t think being goal driven is always a bad thing. It pushes me to do things I might otherwise pass up. But I don’t know that it, or things on my lists, bring me happiness. In fact, I’m fairly certain that they don’t. Maybe I can use the goal driven side of me to increase my happiness factor overall. Seeking out things I enjoy, new and old, and setting goals around them to keep them at the forefront of my life. The best of both worlds.

I have a plan for all of this… stay tuned for more.

(tagged – the happiness project)

Mom to "C", wife to Ben. I'm a part-time blogger, cook, organizer, seamstress, house cleaner, taxi, nurse (the mom kind), accountant... I could go on, but really... it's all in the blog. Read away!

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