Monthly Archives: October 2013

Makes Your Heart Sing

It’s really easy when I’m stressed to focus on whatever is not making me happy. It becomes a downward spiral, though, when all of my energy is focused on something negative.

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I’m learning how important it is to make sure every day includes something that I really enjoy. Though I love my weekends and plan to do lots of things that I enjoy, I find it’s not enough. I don’t want to wish my life away living only for the weekends. I want to live for every day.

I decided to try a little experiment. I had a really crappy day—you know the kind. I woke up and my neck was tight and sore, my coffee pot broke filled with water, so coffee grounds and water leaked everywhere in my kitchen, my washer died, covering the laundry room in water, then work… I won’t even go on as I’m feeling the stress invade my body just thinking about all of this! I decided to break this cycle and change my mood.

I decided to step away—take a break from the things causing me stress and step out of it, consciously choosing to replace the feeling of stress with something else. Instead, I played some music that I love on my ipod and took one of my dogs for a short walk. I then iced my neck and laid with my eyes closed for a few minutes, drifting away with the music and cooling off.

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It’s amazing what the fifteen-minute break did for me. I decided that it just wasn’t worth being all cranky and instead, decided to focus my energy on the things that I could control instead of what I can’t. What a difference listening to what makes your heart sing can make!

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Connecting the Dots

As I plod through my midlife awakening, I do a lot of thinking about what’s important in my life and my values, most notably about stuff. It used to be so important to have a house, a nice car, and the other trappings of life in America and for a while that was my driving motivation. I loved feeling secure and comfortable, and my way of doing that was by having things.

As I continue growing up I’m learning that’s not where my values truly lie, and that my priorities are very much in another place: connection. I’m learning that it can be connection to an activity, like my volunteering and helping others, and my hiking, connection to a place, the importance to me of my traveling adventures, and most importantly, my connection to people.

I just got back from a magical trip where I spent twelve days in Europe exploring Prague, Chesky Krumlov, Vienna and Budapest. I went with a gal that I met at a wine-tasting tour four years ago in Italy. We’ve kept in touch, are both passionate about traveling, and decided it was time to go for it. We weren’t sure how it would go as we don’t know each other all that well but both had a good feeling and took a chance. I’m so glad we did.

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Towards the end of the trip we added a guy whom I met in the States over the summer at a conference. The trip was absolutely magical, and filled with a sense of connection on so many levels that I haven’t felt in a long time. I shared things that I ordinarily wouldn’t talk about, and listened with a sense of peace. I stepped far outside of my comfort zone.

I opened my heart. Heart_02-05-09 © traffic_analyzer

I laughed, and laughed, and had intelligent conversations and some that I sincerely hope were not recorded [for a chuckle and some extremely disturbing hilarity, check out Herbert the Pervert on the Family Guy. Oh, the things we do late at night!]

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As amazing as the trip was, I came back with a sense of feeling very alone and off-kilter. I’ve loved the independence I have in my life and enjoy being able to do whatever I want without having to check in with someone, and yet I’m back in my real life now feeling a sense of a huge void and that something is missing. It was so nice to share my time with people that I care about and enjoy. I thought I’d really itch being with someone 24×7 and yet I found it to be so much fun with someone that I really connect with.

Given the feelings I’m having now, maybe my independence is one of those values that I need to rethink. I don’t mean completely sacrificing it, but maybe sharing it. How would it feel to have someone to check in with?

Travel Bug

I love to travel. I REALLY love to travel. There’s something magical about disembarking from a plane in a new place that I’ve never been, meeting people from a different culture, speaking a different language.

My happy place.

As you’re reading this, I’m on my latest excursion. I tried to write this last week, but my brain was already in vacation mode so all I could think of was my upcoming trip. So, I decided to share some pictures of my travels.

Can you guess the locations?

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The Number One Way to be Happy

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I’ve had a similar conversation with three people in as many days, which I take as a sign that I need to give the topic some thought. The conversations all circled around the topic of happiness: happiness in the face of a significant tragedy, happiness following numerous personal losses and happiness when life hasn’t turned out as planned. We talked about how to get back to happy following challenging times.

Be happy

This may sound flippant, but I don’t mean for it to be. I believe happiness is a choice. I can choose to dwell in whatever is causing me to be sad or angry, or I can choose to let it go and move on to being happy. It’s powerful to feel that you own it; you have the ability to change how you feel.

Focus on what you have, not what you want

If you stop to think about it, you’ll be amazed by how many things you have to be grateful for; a feeling of gratitude goes a long way towards being happy. Take stock of all of the gifts and blessing in your life, and in no time you’ll have a smile on your face and will forget all about what was making you unhappy in the first place.

Do something

Get out there and do things that feel good to you. Reconnect with friends that you may have let drift, go for a walk on the beach, travel—whatever it is that brings you joy, you should do it. There is no time like the present to bring yourself happiness.

Process your feelings

It’s important to mourn following a significant personal loss, like the loss of a loved one or break-up of a relationship. You’re not expected to just smack your hands together, stand up and move forward without any sadness. Churn through the feelings and grieve your loss, then choose to let it go. Holding onto it doesn’t help, and doesn’t show how important your loss was. You pay homage to your love for that loss when you can smile about them.

Life happens. It’s a matter of how we choose to view things, and to respond to them, and really are telling in our level of happiness. Making a conscious choice to be happy, regardless of what life hands you, can make all the difference.