I went to the Topanga Film Festival this morning to see the documentary Happy and I started thinking about happiness, the concept, the reality and the possibilities. I have been following The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin for about a year now and enjoy the daily quotes and reflections, but I wondered, how can I spread happiness, encourage happiness and find areas in my life to insert happiness?
Encouraging signs are popping up everywhere, for example, my husband was given the book Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert awhile ago and it was mentioned in the movie today, and this quote that showed up today on Facebook from Weight Watchers:
“Life has no remote. You have to get up and change it yourself!”
So I know what I can do to make myself happy:
incorporate a healthy lifestyle into my daily life,
allow creativity to be a priority
spend time with my family
connect with my close friends
practice kindness and tolerance
Now I want to expand by giving more happiness:
sharing what I have to give
helping worthy causes
creating more happiness in my home
creating more happiness in my classroom
It is a commitment, but also a choice, to surround oneself with happiness. It is a road I am choosing to walk.
I started day one of a two-day writer’s workshop today, entitled Discovering Our Muse. What a treat! I got to spend the entire day at UCLA, with 12 other devoted writers and a wonderful teacher to guide us through writing exercises designed to get the creative juices flowing. If I had any doubts about the timing of starting a writing program, today confirmed that now is the time. Today I felt like me and I felt connected to the DNA that apparently established this deep desire to write. I am still not quite sure about my eventual writing genre, but the desire to write is so overpowering that I am sure this is my path. Today I discovered that I am more fearful of not writing, than I am about making the commitment to write. Here is my answer to the writing prompt: “Sometimes I’m afraid of becoming someone…”
Sometimes I’m afraid of becoming someone who never really learns from her mistakes. My life has been a series of roller coaster rides up and down a journey of life in L.A. The highs consisting of fantastic travel experiences, meals out at various restaurants, homes filled with “things” I thought I had to have, and weekends chilling on the California Riviera and the lows directly below with everything magically disappearing as if it never was.
Usually when one repeatedly rides a roller coaster, or drives through a winding canyon, the curves and bumps become predictable and one builds up immunity to the queasy feeling, the butterflies in the stomach and the wretched nausea implied in the words, “I told you so,” or “here we go again.” That hasn’t been the case for me because the temporary view from the top is so engaging that my blinders go up and I have a hard time anticipating the inevitable fall.
Lately, my fear of repeating patterns is becoming stronger than my desire to bask in that heavenly glow. My mid-life is bringing certain things into focus, such as the rapid approach of qualifying for an AARP membership, senior discounts at the movies and those early bird specials. In my foolish youth, I was immortal and invincible. My life’s tools consisted of a giant eraser and a bottle of whiteout, that accompanied me on my travels down my life-path conveniently wiping out major blunders. In my young adulthood, I became the expert role player; able to emulate those I aspired to be by simply accumulating the trappings of their seemingly perfect life. That didn’t work. Now, I have come to an understanding that who I really am, is who I am meant to be and that the only way to alleviate the fear of failure is to accept the possibility that my path might venture around a corner and I will have to muster up that blind faith that will allow me to take the necessary chances and make the changes needed to reach my goal.
Sometimes I’m afraid of becoming someone who never really learns from her mistakes, so with that in mind, I am developing a plan, a learning curve, to teach myself how to become a learner. I am organizing a real-life class to teach myself how to move forward without taking two steps back each time. I am reinventing, reflecting and rediscovering the important elements in my life and working out a way to invite myself to partake in these real moments and make them my future.
Well, so much time has passed and I have very little in the way of an excuse for my lack of writing. It is true I had the cold from hell for 2 weeks, and yes I was finishing up the last couple of weeks of Six Weeks in a Cast, but it seems that I have been spending a lot of time doing everything but writing. I have been reading many blogs written by others, finding old and new friends on Facebook, keeping up with my book club reading, attending social events and getting much-needed sleep. As Gretchen Rubin dictates in The Happiness Project, it is time to Aim Higher. I take that as a challenge, and being the Type A person that I am, I must have a continuous challenge, meaning there must always be something new to entice me.
I am getting my walking legs back and have joined a couple of women at my school in the Couch to 5k program, starting today. It is actually a great motivator and the best part is that there is an iPhone App. for the program. Basically you just select the music from your iPod to insert into the program, select the day and week of the program, i.e. today I was on Week 1, Day 1 and the program tells you what to do. I love it! It says, “Warm Up. Brisk walking” and then the timer counts down from 5 minutes. This continues through walking and running intervals and then a cool-down. The music plays in between voice commands. I actually RAN! That in itself is amazing. I did my workout, hit a few of the strength training machines and came home to eat my healthy dinner, take my Melaleuca vitamins and drink my water. Life is good.
Time to hop back on the treadmill.
The Wellness Company I now represent!
I made this butterfly cake to celebrate Hope's wonderful journey described in her book The Possibility of Everything.
Last night I spent the evening surrounded by some of my favorite women in the comfortable, serene atmosphere of my friend Sue’s home. We had delicious potluck (somehow with this group there is always the right combination of food) and conversation followed by a great talk and description of her journey by Hope Edelman. Her book: The Possibility of Everything is a fascinating story of trust, alternative viewpoints and hope. Hope writes in a most compelling way, and I felt involved in her story on many levels. First of all, as a mother, I felt compassion for her struggles with her daughter and her commitment to help her daughter come out on the other side. Secondly, I related to her role as a mother/wife/writer who has temporarily lost her sense of self. Thirdly, her struggles with her relationship felt all too familiar, balancing time and the energy it takes to support modern lifestyles. Hope inspired me to write more and to find out what my story will be.
Gretchen Rubin and Me at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena
Monday night I had another literary adventure attending the book signing of Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena. First of all, as my friend Danielle and I entered the store, audible gasps could be heard from us as we took in the amazing variety of wonderful things, books, cards, gifts and more books. And, it’s two stories of wonderfulness! We made our way upstairs in the elevator and enjoyed listening to Gretchen describe her realization of her need to create more happiness in her life. Reading both her blog and her book has motivated me to appreciate more, create what I need and to focus on happiness. We waited for the line to go down and got her signature in our books. I even managed to have her write a note to my sister-who was unable to attend. Spreading the happiness.
As we were leaving, we noticed that Friday night, Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame will be talking about and signing her new book, Commitment. We got two books and two tickets and are looking forward to another night of book talk.
I want to be surrounded and embraced by books, words, new thoughts, random punctuation, other worlds and unforseen experiences. And through some serendipity, I am. My next task is to visualize myself as the writer, the creator and eventually the person giving the book talk. Everything is possible with a commitment to happiness.