Saturday, January 22, 2022

How to Happy

When I posted my theme for the year [Happy Happy!] three weeks back I had an old friend post this:

Listen, the name of this space is Finding JOY because that is what I work on and practice. It doesn't mean I've got it figured out, it means here is where I explore finding more joy in my life.

But hey, if someone asks for directions and I have even the faintest idea where to head I try and point the way. So after a few weeks of pondering here are my 3 main keys on how to happy... 

First you should know as a youngster I was a pretty happy kid. Sure there was the heartbreak of getting my first bike and not being able to find a license-plate with my name on it like all the other kids had. But even that upset was a reflection of my greatest gift: my name

My mother named me Joy, so it was like a built-in quest. I couldn't be a moody mean girl if I had such a friendly upbeat name. I won't ever know for sure but I think I had no other choice but to try and be at least a little bit happy. 

Now let's be clear, when I turned 8 things did actually become less than ideal when my parents divorced while I was just becoming a preteen. My life was not super-duper for many years, but I still tried to look for the good stuff and things were mostly hunky-dory. Did I love being one of the tallest girls in class? Nope. Did I enjoy having to live in two places? Not quite. Did I relish being the mother-hen to my siblings and having to grow up prematurely fast- no, no I did not! But this takes me to my first nugget on happiness... 

πŸ€”   When I was around 16 I was over at my friend Linda's house when we were complaining about something (I'm gonna guess boy-related) and looking up from eating his lunch her father, a man who had come to the US from Germany after having lived through WWII as a child, slammed his hand down on the table and exclaimed: 
You silly girls, even on your worst day millions would gladly trade places with you. 
Talk about a life lesson from the source of real knowing. He had seen some horrible things when he was our age and it must have been beyond annoying to hear us be so ridiculous. 
So the first place to look for happy is in: Perspective. 
πŸ™   That lesson hit me hard and has stayed with me for over 30 years, but it doesn't mean I don't forget it all the time. So its companion lesson is: Gratitude. Because not only would millions want to be us but they would be truly grateful to have even a small portion of what we've been lucky enough to possess.
And I'm not talking the latest iPhone, I'm talking a toilet. A decade ago I came across a posting for World Toilet Day (Nov. 19th) to raise awareness that even in these modern times 4.2 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water and safe sanitation. Think about that! 

Anytime I'm being bratty or grumpy I remind myself how lucky I am. My friends sometimes get annoyed because I'll often say there is nothing to be upset about if we have running water and a toilet. Mostly I'm joking, but not really. 

When Mr. Klemm said millions would trade places with us, it's actually probably BILLIONS! πŸ’©

πŸ’€   Ok, by now you might be you might be thinking: alright Joy enough with the goodie-goodie aren't we lucky to be living in today's times and have basic creature comforts. I've got some stuff to be really unhappy about!

Well to that I would say: Yay you!! Because if you've got real problems then you've got a real life and are alive to figure those things out. 

See because the other big life lesson I learned is Memento MoriRemember that you die!

This Latin phrase has been used by religions and philosophers over the ages to remind us that life is impermanent and we need to therefore cherish the time we have alive. So if you are having a hard time or suffering in any way I know it's hard but try and remember that we are all lucky to be alive even through the sucky times in life. The alternative is to not be unhappy at all, ever 😬

Again, I don't have it all figured out but when I contemplated what to share with Sheryl this is what came to mind. Several specifics on other life topics popped up as well, so for the next few months I'm going to write a bit about other ways I try and be happy. If you have any topics you'd like me to opine on please send me a comment/note and I'll see if I can include them.

I have hope that 2022 is going to be wonderful and I have perspective, gratitude and death to point me in this direction. Come follow along with Sheryl and me as we explore it even further. Cheers to teenage angst, toilets, time here together and finding the JOY and the Happy  πŸ€—

Saturday, January 1, 2022

THEME 2022

2021 was like learning to drive a stick-shift car: sputters and starts, lurch forward and stops, grinding gears, dies in the middle of road... then some smooth parts, even a nice ride once you get going. But hey watch out because if you weren't paying attention it could get you killed or at least stranded somewhere you didn't want to be   πŸš§    πŸš— πŸ’¨

Let's face it as bad as 2020 was, 2021 was actually even more of a cluster! 

When I was doing my year end summary and Creating 2022, all I could think about is how weird the last two years have been. I mean as you'll recall I had high hopes for the new decade and thought 2020 was going to be amazing. It was alright, in that I was amazed at how crazy things got in our world. 

Then 2021 comes and I'm sure it'll be so much better, how can it not?!

Well let's see, an insurrection, an impeachment, our top olympic athlete has the spins, abortion is once again (read: still) dividing the nation, tornadoes, fires, vaccine deniers, anti-maskers... and did I mention while the world was spinning I was in search of a new home, job and love?

I was originally going to use the rollercoaster metaphor but I hate every single moment of ever being on one so it does not apply. Because thank goodness 2021 wasn't all bad. The inauguration was uplifting (how awesome was Amanda Gorman?), we're back in the Paris Agreement, vaccines are here, Simone Biles left us even more inspired and we can at least have a semi-nornal life again. Sure some of it was super surreal, like how I found myself cheering on Liz Cheney who of all people is fighting to save democracy
But I digress...

Point being this decade has not begun like I was hoping, so what's an optimist to do? 
Get happy!

2022 is going to be the year of Happy Happy! 

For no other reason than that is why we are here- to find joy in our lives. Even when things were horrible (and they were) there was happy sprinkled in-between: I became a great-aunt when a fav nephew had his daughter this summer; I moved into a beautiful home with lovely neighbors; I landed a job that's a fit; and while I did enjoy some of the research πŸ˜‰ alas I haven't found my person yet-- but my dear friend Katie got engaged to hers

πŸ’ Katie and Matt  

Happy is possible even in chaos, it just takes us making the decision to find it. Yes eyes open and feet in reality but come on there is beauty and humor and love and happiness everywhere! I hope you join me in looking for the happy and being happy along the journey to find yours. Because geez we lived through a fucking pandemic and even if there are bad times ahead (and of course there will be some) if we waste the happy happy of it all we miss Finding JOY!

Friday, December 31, 2021

Creating YOUR Year ... 🎊 πŸ–Œ️

2021 😳 ... amiright?!!

I have much much higher hopes for 2022, but as always I need to map it out to really see and live into it. So join me 😊

Happy Mapping and Cheers to a Happy Happy 22

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Transplanted: Watch Out For Your Raw Roots

Three months have passed and I can now look back with relief but I had a very bad time moving over the 4th of July weekend. I won't bore you with all the details but let's just say it was messy and stressful and cost twice as much and took three days longer than anticipated. 

And when I woke up on July 5th I had a bit of a panic attack wondering how I ended up in a 100-year old farm house living next door to chickens and down the road from horses. 😳

Don't get me wrong, my new place is beautiful and homey and filled with light and charm and I have flower baskets hanging from my front porch and a flag waving in the wind. I now live in a little slice of Americana so idyllic it'll give you a toothache.

So when I was freaking out to my best pal Vickie about how uncharacteristically out of sorts I was she calmly explained to me I was like the plants sitting in my picture window nook. Plants don't like to be moved because they get use to the conditions they are grown in. And they especially don't like to be transplanted. Their roots are raw and they don't always take to their new pot, soil or conditions.

She said, your roots are just tender from all the upheaval and you need to get use to your new environment and you'll be good. I've moved more than a handful of times but I have never had a moving transition as unsettling before so I was upset that I was even upset. But then she used some of my own words back at me (which you know is extra-annoying πŸ™„) and said: so you're not enjoying big unexpected changes during a global pandemic... it clearly must be you!

Ha, ok yes, I guess when you say it like that.  

This is just a little refresher to remind you (and later me, when I re-read) that we are in beyond weird times and since it's been over a year we seem to think any change is no big deal and should be almost normal by now. But trust me, I feel ya.

So if you too are feeling out of sorts and like your mind, body and soul are raw from whatever you're being uprooted from (relationship, job, home, whatever) it's ok. Just try your best to relax, unpack what you can at your own pace and focus on the good things: for me, it's my awesome tub-- but for you it might be more time to yourself after a breakup; getting away from a narcissistic boss after a job loss; or deep appreciation for your health after this scary time.

Because, heck, we're not even yet out of the pandemic, or a year away from a jarring insurrection, or back to a steady normal. So hang in there. Find joy where you can. And when you need any help along the way reach out to a good friend to remind you it'll all be ok when you get rooted in your new reality. If we're lucky - and if you're reading this, you are- we might even grow a little out of all this πŸ’©

Be well πŸ€—πŸ’šπŸŒ»

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Emotional Euphoria: Side-effects May Vary


I'm high! 🩹

I hadn't realized how much of a release it would be to get a vaccine. My emotions are all over the place and I'm writing this to warn you: you too might want to be prepared.

First, when my folks were vaccinated I could feel myself finally exhale: phew! I have so many friends who have lost both of their parents and so to have lost my Mom years ago but still have my Dad and my Bobbie around is such a gift. They've been in Florida this whole time and to have missed so many occasions and not know for sure when it would be safe to be all together was really tough.

Then there have been the other sadnesses that we've just beared. Friends have lost loved ones and I couldn't be with them to mourn in person. Killed me!

Missed a favorite nephew's wedding, lost a job, haven't had a professional haircut, yada, yada- you know! The amazing thing about my missings is that we've ALL had them. No one sailed through this without feeling slightly battered and bruised. At least we all collectively know how beyond bizarre things have been. 

When I received the shot I got in my car to head back home but instead went for a long drive with the windows cracked belting out my new favorite tune πŸš—  πŸ’¨ 🎢🎢🎢

This song from Begin Again has been reverberating in my head for days. And I sang it over and over at the top of lungs and am only now getting the irony.

Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home
from BEGIN AGAIN... get it?!!

I had re-watched it recently after telling a new 🐝 crush about the music and a particular scene I loved. Mark and Keira's characters walk around the city with a splitter and their own headphones plugged in sharing their playlists πŸŽΆπŸŽ§πŸ“±πŸŽ§πŸŽΆ which is a super adorable way to see and hear what lights someone up. 

And that's what we're all about to do again. See everything with new eyes. Get back the freedom to be with others and to be out in the world and begin our lives again.

Not going to lie I had a little upset tummy, which could have been from the shot or just the excitement of now being within sight of seeing my friends again in real life instead of a Zoom screen. To play games with my family. To hug EVERYONE!

Here's what I embraced most during the pause... life is delicate. I mean I keep re-learning this same lesson over and over. Life is short. Things can change in an instant. A couple swipes on your phone can connect you to new possibilities. A vote can restore sanity to a nation. A text checking in on an old friend can make someone feel loved. Delicate. Delicious life!

At some point we will probably need to put back on hard pants, go back into an office, and figure out the path forward. But if you are anything like me, you'll have a moment of gratitude at how lucky we were. How amazing science is. How there is no time to waste in life, even in just enjoying the pause when it's put upon us.

One of my besties has been too busy with a family crisis to do anything but check getting the vaccine off her long to-do-list so she was amused by my happy-high. Some will be: all shot, no chaser. But I reminded her that feeling the buzz of life being lived and taking a moment to breathe is what it's about. Feel it all. 

So, I hope you and those you love are well. I hope you get a shot at/for health. I hope you were scared and sad just enough in this last year to treasure this return to "normal". And I hope when it's time for you to begin again you hug, sing and dance yourself around wherever you go. 

πŸ€—  🀍  😝  🀍  πŸ’ƒπŸ»  🀍 

My current playlist if you want to Begin 2021 with me πŸŽ§πŸŽΆ]

Special hug to πŸ€— Chip

Friday, February 12, 2021

You're Not Alone

During this time I've had less interest in listening to podcasts as I did when I was traveling/commuting into the city so I just got to the episode below that I knew I would need to be in a calm place to listen to. Tim Ferriss' podcast has many great guests and I always learn something from each of them, but this one was about Tim himself. 

If you don't know Tim, he is: an author, investor, business personality, probably most famous originally for the book The 4-Hour Workweek. I've followed him for years and find him to be a good guy ... more of a tech/money/body hack stuff kind than an outwardly touchy-feely emotional sort. 

Because he's been successful at a lot of different things, I was surprised a couple of years ago when he wrote a post about how he was suicidal at one point. I assumed it was a high strung, type-A perfectionist personality thing. But like most things in life, there was a deeper story.

In this episode, he reveals that he had been horribly abused by the son of a babysitter from the ages 2-4. He doesn't go into much detail of the events but you get the idea of the brutality of it.

He is joined in the episode by Debbie Millman who is a well known business/design/podcasting superstar. He asked her to lead the conversation because they are friends in the real world and she had helped him deal with this issue, as she too was abused as a child. 

The interchange between these two is touching and sweet and so loving. But the truth that made me tear up while listening is not that they had both been abused (which of course is horrific) but that these two lovely, talented, beautiful beings both felt alone because of what had happened to them. TO THEM!

Debbie asks at the end of the episode if there is any final thoughts Tim would like the listeners to know and he says that he wants people to know: 

You're not alone. It's never hopeless. There are tools. 
You're never alone.

I've had several friends/loved ones who have been abused, had mental health challenges, substance abuse struggles, etc. It's hard unless you're a trained professional to know how to help someone in deep despair and some folks are just not able or willing to witness someone else's pain. But that's not a reflection on the one looking for comfort. There is always someone who cares. It's just a journey to find people who make you feel safe, heard and able to help begin the healing process. Debbie who has been navigating her journey for decades describes how hard it's been but how worth it is as well.

So if you ever feeling alone in the world, I wanted to leave this little sign here to let you know you're not

Be gentle with yourself, get help from professionals when needed and know even in these crazy times there is hope and.. You're Not Alone. πŸ™

Trauma Resources from this episode can be found HERE.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

When I'm Right, I'm Right! Except... For When I'm Wrong.

One of my favorite things ever is being right about something. I mean I LOVE being right! I have lots of opinions and let's just say when I take a stand I'm right much of the time. 

Now part of the reason for this is because I like reading about an array of various topics and I've studied a good deal of self-help and had loads of therapy so I've honed my senses and understanding of human behavior. And because I also don't like to be wrong, I usually only spout off about things I feel like I know; otherwise I tend to be inquisitive of why someone is saying something or I look it up. That's the only way to play fair. If you like it when you're right (and don't deny it you like it too! πŸ˜‰) you have to admit when other people are right and you are wrrrrong. 

So as I've been pacing myself and spending a good deal of sparkle time in the beginning of the year, I was hoping I was right again that Trump would finish his grift for money ($500M+) objecting to the election results and then reluctantly concede, take a bow on getting the vaccine out and would start his next bid for attention on some cable station. But I was WRONG!

Last week's insurrection was a disgusting display of mob behavior but even more upsetting was that every American, including our legislators and his advisors, didn't immediately get Trump to leave office. Nixon's acts were dishonorable but to foment violence against his own VP and elected officials and our very elections as they were being certified is next level bullshit!

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Of course not every person who voted for Trump is a nut or should be lumped in with those terrorist that stormed the Capitol, not even all the MAGAs that attended the earlier rally. But anyone who is not currently speaking up against Trump's big lie is now responsible for anything else that comes in the days ahead.  

Listen, I know it is heartbreaking to have a person you looked up to come out from behind the curtain and not be who he sold the public he was. Myself, I was wrong about Charlie Rose- who I admired and watched for decades. I talked about him all the time and would have vowed he was a decent man. Another one that hurt was that I was wrong regarding my adoration for Louis CK... sure this one was a bit more obvious- my bad! But nonetheless when it was clear I was wrong I said it. Not just to my friends but here where I touted my love in the first place. I tried to clean up my mess, mitigate my wrongness.  

The only way to halt this nationwide divide and destruction and protect our country in the next few days, weeks and years is to speak the truth and undo whatever damage we've done.

If you quietly, privately voted Trump I guess just do better next time researching your choice (his lies and damage were clearly visible) but for the rest--- anyone who publicly spouted off about Trump needs to with same volume, vigor and verve speak out on how: he is lying about the election being stolen; that he was wrong to rile up a crowd then send them after Congress/VP; and that he was derelict in duty to not get National Guard in to help them immediately. Then state he is now unfit for office. 

The ratio of regret needs to be equal to the denial and harm caused by those who stood by party over country; was OK with tax-cuts and judges while ignoring kids in cages and the lies and dishonor he brought to the office; and thought owning your annoying lib relatives and ex-friends was worth siding with racists, a pussy-grabber and the incompetents Trump surrounded himself with who would not speak truth to nor for him.   

When The Daily Show can summarize the buildup of this looming destruction in a few minutes it's hard to say no-one saw this coming πŸ˜’ 

Our fellow-citizens, the world and for goodness sake our children are watching this. Own what we've contributed to this mess and let's get America back to where we are arguing about the proper corporate tax rate and school funding not about tearing down our democracy. We are better than this! 

I am right about the United States of America πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ 
... for our Founder's, let alone our sake, don't prove me wrong 🀨

Friday, January 1, 2021

THEME 2021


Both my sister and I have no biological children but our lives are filled with kids we adore which is how I came upon this year's theme. Years ago I was visiting her when she had some of her nieces/nephews over and when one started to throw a fit she in a very displeased manner (ala Tom Hanks': there's no crying in baseball) said: there is no whining at Auntie Julie's houseAnd this kid looked at her and stopped his tantrum immediately. 

Since I can't pull off her tone with the same matter-of-factness she can I had to come up with my own re-direct. And since I also believe it is healthy to let everyone express themselves no matter their feelings I like to say: 

You can be sad or in a bad mood but you can't fling it at others. So sweetie, why don't you go take a minute and get a few fresh breaths outside or read in your room or pet the dog and take some time to sparkle yourself up and then come back as your wonderful self. 

Sparkle Time is when we take time to rejuvenate ourselves when we are not at our best. It is the ME time to do whatever we need to make our interactions with others more productive and loving and true to who we are. 

Let's face it none of us were at our best in 2020. Even the super heroic nurses, doctors, teachers and essential workers -not to mention parents- were exhausted and numb and not giving off sparkly vibes at all times. 

So I am taking whatever portion of 2021 it will take to get back to myself and be ready to be in the world at my best. Besides, I anticipate 2022 is going to be roaring and I want to be ready. πŸ˜œ

Sleep, inspiring project work, nutrition, reading, movement to strengthen my body, mind and soul. Whatever it takes to get my spark back. 

Afterall, Sparking Joy is what we want in our lives 🌟

Cheers to 2021 🍸 🎊 and whatever makes you *Sparkle* with JOY! 😊