Snow Day and Buried Treasure

Today was a snow day (ie., work cancelled due to weather).  These days are gifts when you have been overwhelmed with projects and challenges.  They are the kind of gift day a person would pray for. It was the wet sort of heavy snow, where if one were making a snow man one would rejoice, but if one were shoveling, enthusiasm might be significantly tempered.  It was, at least, mild, so the work was not uncomfortable (outside the fatigue and muscle required).

In addition to my walkways, it has been my ritual to shovel my deck, as best as I can, so that it need not bear the weight of an entire winter, and the dogs have space to mingle when they go outside.  For those keeping track, we now have three dogs, and when they get playful together a shoveled deck keeps the indoors just a bit more peaceful.

Now the puppy, who is typically the instigator of all dog play, loves to drag various treasures around the house… blankets, towels, socks, hats, gloves…. if she finds it, it becomes her new toy.  Without fail, she will try to sneak her latest treasure past you on her way out to the deck. Typically she fails, as she is not the slightest bit subtle about hiding whatever it is she is dragging about, but every so often an odd bit of something does make it into the yard.

Today, as I shoveled, I was certain she had done it again.  For some time I have not found the dogs’ antler bones.  I had purchased several, thinking more bones meant less fighting, but it rarely seemed to work that way.  One, in particular, was a favourite – wider and flatter, and for some reason more satisfying on puppy gums.  Then one by one the bones sort of disappeared.  I was pleased to think that I had finally found one again, and thought what a great way this would be to occupy one of the dogs later.  I truly hoped that glimmer of treasure was the wide, flat one.

Without hesitation I plunged my new teal gloves elbow deep in snow, and triumphantly raised my now cold hands to eye level to see which of the antlers I had found.  As I uncurled my fingers I was somewhat taken aback to discover that my pretty little gloves had actually been firmly grasped around a frozen bit of dog poop.

I believe there may be a lesson here.  Perhaps the lesson is not to shovel your deck until spring.  Perhaps it’s that not all buried treasure is worth going after.  Or maybe the lesson is that when you ask G*d to make the day just a little shitty so you can stay home, you might want to clarify that you were talking about the weather.

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Day One. Again.

Happy New Year!  January 1 is the most perfect day for reflection, and if you are so inclined, resolution (though to be honest, any day is fine for either of those things).

In terms of my own reflections on the last year, I can at least say that the happiness project continued, albeit in a far less structured way. It remains a lifetime goal to carve meaning out of existence, to leave the world in a better place than I found it, and to create a peace in mind and personal environment that feels like a contented sigh.  In truth, 2018 exited feeling more like a deflated sigh.  Not exactly the zen I was going for.

So here we are again, on the cusp of another trip around the sun. 365 new days ahead, and I reflect on what I have done, what I hope to do, and what do I need to do to achieve those hopes.

Among the tasks I chart out for myself, to manage everything that needs doing on a daily basis, I have come to the conclusion that I need to carve out the time to write, and doodle, and read, and learn.  How many times have I come to the end of the day, and find that not one single moment was spent in something that fills me, instead of drains me?  I need to carve that time.  How can I bring my best self to what I do and what I might face in a day, if I continually deplete and never fill myself with what my soul needs?  How will that sigh ever be contented, if all that feeds contentment is neglected?

Somewhere in the 24 hours of the next 365 days, I must carve even a little time to feed my mind and spirit.  Every. Single. Day.

This is day one.  Again.


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On Wine, Banana Bread, and Cinderella

Earlier this summer my oldest daughter got engaged.  Also earlier this summer I got a flu that left me sicker than I have ever experienced in my life.  Despite occurring the same weekend, these two things are not related. Except for this…

As I stood in my bathroom, leaning on the vanity, waiting for the next wave of awfulness, my eyes caught the eyes of my reflection in the mirror. As someone who does not spend huge amounts of time looking in a mirror, I was startled by my reflection. How old.  How tired.  I passed my hand through my limp hair, gave the weak and tired eyes reflecting back at me a long, slow blink, and thought those four words that now lay ahead:

Mother. Of. The. Bride.

I was about as far from impressive as one could be at that particular moment in time.  “Oh my how she’s aged!” the imaginary people in my head gasped when I imagined the wedding. And frankly, I couldn’t argue with that. I have aged.  And at that particular moment I felt and looked to be about 100 years old. What I have been pondering, however, is why we tend to present the fact that one has aged in such a negative light.  We do not treat human aging like a fine wine aging — something to be savoured and celebrated. We treat it like the left-over bananas that have gone spotty and you throw in your freezer, but never actually get around to using.  We are surprised by how quickly the bananas have turned from perfect produce to spotty fruit. As soon as those bananas start getting ripe, it is more comfortable to have them out of sight, frozen in time until they are all shrivelled and not good for anything.  We tell ourselves we will get back to them, and it will be beautiful, but let’s be honest… those black bananas hardly ever get used. I openly admit it: There are more black bananas in my freezer at the moment than there are fine wines in my fridge.

wine+bananasThink about the last time you saw someone you hadn’t seen in a while and thought those words: “Oh my, how (s)he’s aged!”  Why don’t we say that with a reverence that recognizes the life, and the struggles, and the learning, and the growth that may very well have come with that?  Why don’t we say it with wonder and awe?

Now for the record, I am not talking about celebrating aging just by virtue of getting older. Most anyone can do that just by waking up on enough different mornings. I am talking about our collective society’s way of judging surface, rather than content.  For many, those furrowed brows and strands of gray are trophies of survival and insight.

Take the time to look deeper.

Savour the banana bread.

And, while Cinderella and her prince *did* live happily ever after, the point, gentlemen, is that they lived.” ~~ Grand Dame in Ever After


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  • Today my daughter got a job.
  • Today, in all likelihood, I failed a test for a really good job.

Both of those events are things for which I am very grateful.  Yes, even the miserable test performance.

To date, my life has been an accidental path.  Each incident and opportunity, has lead me to where I needed to be for the next incident or opportunity.  In every case, even the things that do not seem to be blessings at the time, have brought with them lessons that have served me well in some other capacity, or taken me to a road I might not have travelled otherwise.  Sometimes not getting the “dream” job actually spares you a nightmare.  You just have to trust that the road leads where it needs to go.

  • Today our cat also ate the strawberry seedlings I had lovingly tended for my mother but not yet gifted to her for Mother’s Day.

I’m still searching for the silver lining in that one.

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Elephants and Pickers

First, let’s just mention the elephant in the room… I have been remiss at blogging. For a project in part meant to help me re-find my voice, that seems kind of a big thing. Writing was to be a fundamental part of my happiness project. And I need to do better.

One of the challenges of a happiness project where you are not inherently unhappy is that it is terribly easy to slip back to the comfort of old patterns… of whiling away hours on end on meaningless things. It is comfortable, but ultimately zaps your energy.

I don’t know if they exist in other places, but in my little corner of the world we have what I will call “Pickers,” for lack of a better word. Actually “Recycling Repurposer” is probably more accurate, but my brain calls them “Pickers” so we will go with that. Anyway, these are people who know exactly when recycling days are, and they go from property to property retrieving items that are actually refundable, neatly tying up the blue bags, and moving on. Some have shopping carts, and some do not. Often, when I think about how far recycling depots are on foot, and how loaded some of these carts can be, I marvel at the amount of work these people do for such little return. A bottle will get you five cents. You would need to collect 400 just to make $20, and lug them all the way to a depot, in whatever elements Mother Nature saw fit to provide. That’s a tough way to make money.

Yesterday, I needed to pick up my daughter after a ballet show rehearsal. This particular part of town is where panhandler and theatre patron cross paths regularly, each numb to the other’s challenges.  As I sat in my parked car, texting my daughter where to find me, an old woman with a large blue bag of refundable bottles slowly walked to the retaining wall where I was parked and sat a moment. I watched as she reached in her small purse, and pulled out another blue bag and laid it on her lap. Then she reached into her purse again, and pulled out a rosary. As I watched her work the strand through her fingers, I was aware that the Picker was actually the picked.  Whether she was praying for a better circumstance, or with gratitude for the pickings beside her, she had still eclipsed my humanity. She was neither panhandler, nor theatre patron. She was a woman who was finding her way with unwavering faith. Despite the fact that she had at no point asked for it, we gathered up the loose car change and gave it to her. It was only $5. The equivalent of 100 bottles.

I am humbled.  I am reminded of the importance of gratitude.  And I am more conscious of how comfort is not something to take for granted. In many ways, I feel I have been given a gift… a wake up call to not fritter away all that time and energy on mindlessness.

So I am here again, with renewed efforts. And if you will stay tuned, I do promise to blog my progress.

The elephant has left the building.

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How Do You Eat an Elephant?

How Do You Eat an Elephant?  I repeat that question to myself ALL the time…

Boss has another project for me when the to do list is already daunting?  Me: How do you eat an elephant?

Bills seem insurmountable?  Me: How do you eat an elephant?

The day seem so overwhelming it puts the worst Monday to shame? Me: How do you eat an elephant?

The answer to “How do you eat an elephant?” is, of course, “one bite at a time.”

Asking  myself that question keeps me focused on the fact that baby steps can make a big difference. It helps me keep trying.  It keeps me just a tiny bit saner when I might otherwise throw up my hands, give up, and weep in defeat.

Today, in what is the snowiest snow day we have had yet this winter, I decided to start a very big project that I have toyed with doing for a very long time.  You may recall from a previous post that I very much enjoy doodling as a way to relax. Today, I started my biggest doodle project to date.  Today I started to zentange….

…my downstairs bathroom…

This is the before:

This is the during:


This is the after (so far):

It still needs a lot of work, as I imagine it with two walls pretty much totally doodled, but “one bite at a time!”  It also needs really nice mirror at some point.

So, today I worked on both a creative project and a space project simultaneously, and I am feeling pretty accomplished. And it is the kind of project I can keep adding to, so it will just keep on giving.

Tomorrow’s project is undoubtedly shoveling all the snow left after the blizzard.  And it’s going to be a really big elephant.


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Happiness Project Check In

January may be the greatest time to start resolutions in terms of a new calendar, but in terms of work deadlines, kid’s exams, and budget challenges, it really ranks up there with probably the worst times to make significant change.  But the beauty of this particular New Year’s project is that forgiving yourself can help your happiness. And each and every day is a fresh start.

I have continued to research happiness, and I am quite enjoying that part of this endeavour. The books I have spent the most time with so far are You are a Badass, which is quite enjoyable for the anecdotes alone, even without the happiness advice (which there is plenty), and The Happiness Project which I am enjoying less, as her journey of self discovery seems to have less relevance to my own life.  One thing I have noticed in that particular book is that at least three ah-ha moments for the author have happened at a party, and I am only half way through the book. That may actually have relevance as my lack of party invitations could account for my lack of ah-ha moments.

Now, even though I haven’t reported in much lately, and I am fully aware that better efforts need to be made in actively engaging in pursuits of happiness, I will say that a number of small things really seem to contribute to my overall wellbeing:

  • First is affirmations. If I remember to write a sentence or two each morning with statements about how the day will be amazing, and life is unfolding as it should, this just seems to frame my entire day.
  • Another is my space. Little things, like getting something repaired, or even clearing off a surface, contribute enormously to how I am feeling. It is clear to me that I need to spend considerable energy on this to bring my cluttered little abode to a more zen-like retreat.
  • Doodling is my meditation. And I need to do more of that.

I hope you will stay tuned as I keep plugging away at my happiness roadmap. Now that January is almost out of the way, I hope to have far more time to explore ideas, and tell you what I’ve been up to. Party of one…


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I Made You Something

Doodling helps me get my zen on. I made this for you.


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My Happiness Roadmap

I have been reading a LOT of materials on happiness and have come to a couple of conclusions:

  • A monthly focus (eg., work on money in January, relationships in February, etc.) will not work for me. I have too many things I want to get moving on, and I just don’t want to wait until later in the year to work on them.
  • Specific rigid resolutions (eg., I will stop eating sugar or I will never wear sweatpants, to name two impossibilities) felt less growth inducing than a more goal-oriented approach. Instead I am going to work on 11 broad categories throughout the year, with very general growth goals, and a few potential ways I might approach those goals.
  • If this approach does not work, I will revise it and start over. It does not need to be January 1st to start anew!
  • I am open to suggestions for achieving these broad goals!

So here it is.  My general road map for 2017:


(The image should bring up a pdf of the file)

I am honestly really enjoying all that I am learning about happiness, and I am really looking forward to making this an amazing year.

I leave you with one of my favorite affirmations so far:


(You can find the source here)


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Framing the Day

I have this ritual when I go to my main job (I have two employers).  My walk from my car to my office building takes a couple of minutes, and I spend that time calling to mind many of the significant things I am thankful for – my job, the safe drive to work, the mittens on my hands, the lunch in my bag… whatever comes to mind. Some days, if I arrive in the parking lot as the same time as someone else I know, and we begin walking together, I only get a couple of things in before a conversation begins, but that time walking in to work is almost always spent on gratitude. I have been doing this for years.

Since the beginning of January (yes, I realize we are only on day 5), I have also been ending each evening by writing down at least three things I am grateful for, and at least one affirmation.  One of my goals in my happiness project is to live with more gratitude and with a conscious awareness for the many blessings in my life.  The affirmations part is new, but my thinking was that this would not only amp up the theories of attracting positive energy, but might help my sometimes sketchy confidence levels.

Last night, however, it occurred to me that the end of the day may not be the place for affirmations.  To truly explore the power of affirmations, I should probably begin the day by writing “I am growing toward my purpose!” or “I am wonderful the way I am” or “I will create beautiful things” or whatever.  Let it sink in. Let it fuel some energy in me.

So this morning, I woke up, fed all the critters, did the dishes I should have done the night before, made a cup of coffee, and then sat down and wrote: “Today we are going to have an amazing day!”


And I felt it.  Some little part of my subconscious got excited about it. Energy. Right there. I began to believe that it would, in fact, be an amazing day.

As the day winds to a close, I can say with certainty that today didn’t suck, and the shift in my outlook was more dramatic than I thought (which I suppose is kind of amazing).  So today two new rules of the project were born:

  • Write gratitude at night, and an affirmation in the morning. And,
  • Always do the dishes the night before. That part kind of needlessly took energy and focus from the morning that could have been better spent.

I hope YOU too have an amazing day.

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