Saturday, November 12, 2022

Happy Hugs

I'm a hugger πŸ€—. I think hugging someone you care about is one of the greatest highs there is. I would also throw hand holding and general non-sexual touch into that category as well. 

When I saw this clip with Trevor Noah I got chills because it is so so true and so so avoided as a topic regarding both physical and mental health. Sex is great, but touch is essential to life!

Even before Covid we were a world with too little touch and since then it's part of the reason I think we are still a little crispy and numb. And not just for the reasons Trevor mentions. I think a lot of women are hesitant to give out affection to not lead others on and to protect themselves from creepy behavior that is unwanted and unwelcome. But I know how folks long to be held and connected with so we need to find a way to bring closeness into the way we are with people we can trust and care about. 

There are many men in my life who have shared how lonely and affection starved they are. Of course some women as well, but they often can get their touch from other women even if it is as simple as getting a hug from a friend or the touch from a pedicure. Men are just not as touchy with each other or in their everyday life.

I was in a car accident a few weeks ago and my back, neck and shoulders were sprained and/or twisted and so I've been getting therapeutic massage. The other day while on the table with my masseuse Scott working his magic, all I could think is there would be less war, hate and sadness in the world if people had this kind of touch as part of their lives. And yes a trained professional is not something that we all can (or want to) avail ourselves of regularly, but a hug, a touch, an energy exchange with people we know and care about is.

Earlier in the year I was dating a guy who you might remember as the great kisser, and though our chemistry was tingly one of the things I remember most is when we were sitting on the couch and he picked up my foot and put it on his leg and just held it there while we talked. 
It wasn't sexual it was just he wanted to feel connected while we spoke to each other. Melt!

And trust me if you were on the dating scene you would be startled by how many men list physical touch as their love-language. Or how they desperately crave a partner who will kiss them. Again, I think this is less about the sex and more about the intimacy of being connected to someone. You know I love words but I think touch is probably the thing most needed by men and the one they are most afraid to ask for so it often comes out as being related to sex. 

Recently I reunited with an old male friend and when we hugged it was like we hadn't been apart all that time. Nothing sexual, all emotional. That is what touch can do-- it can reconnect us with each other and even the good vibes in ourselves if we involve an expert like Scott. 

Not the lean, but you get the idea.
My Dad and I have this thing where when we are in the kitchen waiting for something to cook or for my family to get ready to leave for dinner we lean on each other (from the side). I can't remember exactly when it started, for sure by highschool when I got to be almost his height. He can't do this with my sister- she would tip over, or my brother- he would tip him over- so it's our thing. I treasure the feel of his lean and I know it's his way of being affectionate with the daughter who maybe needed it a little more than my siblings.    

So I leave you with this... who would welcome a hug/touch from you today? Who needs to feel your physical presence? Give a hug, get a hug... Happy Happy touch to you πŸ€—     

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Happy Moments

Many years ago while in search of a therapist I ran across a woman who looked almost exactly like this pic of Goldie Hawn, including sitting legs crossed on her couch while she spoke to me. I can't quite remember her name, but I can remember this nugget clearly:
the key to happiness is to notice the little moments of our life
I remember thinking she was lovely and all but that was way too hippy-dippy for me so I moved on.

Well now that I'm older I totally see what she means. We don't remember the hours in our days, we remember the brief moments that made us feel alive and stick with us. One of my first real stick-with-me-moments was the day I was graduating from high school and not for the reasons you might think. It was because I noticed how my forest green gown perfectly matched the venue we graduated at: Ravinia. It felt like we were all one, in this big group of people (friends, family, teachers) I cared about, in this beautiful place 🌲🌳🌲🌳... and that felt emotional and magical.

I have attended many concerts there since and I always make a point of pausing for a moment to feel the audience sing in unison. Yes, I like the performer/s on stage, but it's the unison that gives me chills. People harmonizing together in joy is one of the best things to ever be in the middle of.

Seeing my book on the shelf after a year and half of work to write it- a moment!

When I feel sad or stressed I try and look for little moments of joy and it changes my mood immediately. And it doesn't have to be anything big. The other day I enjoyed a perfectly ripe mango and the moment was wonderful - the color, the smell and the taste- JOY!

Last week my family and some dear friends got together at a lovely winery to surprise my step-mom Bobbie for her 80th. The wine, food and chocolates were fantastic but the moment for me was when I read a poem I had written and I looked up and and she was teary (which is very rare for her). She said as a step-parent you don't always know if you've made a difference in your kids' lives and it meant a lot to hear she had 😊

Music, plants, food, wine, loved ones, a movie, a song lyric, a sunset, a kiss ... there are many things that make me stop in awe of how beautiful life is. So yes, that therapist was right all those years ago-- moments are what make our lives happy. Therefore if we want more happy, we need to stop and breathe in a few more as we live ours.

And if this reminds you of anyone who's helped make a happy moment for you, please share that with them, it'll probably create another one just enjoying the memory of it together.  

Cheers to Bobbie πŸŽ‚ and all the bonus parents that enrich our world, to the therapists that leave us with nuggets, and to the Happy Moments of our lives 🍷 

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Happy Conscience

For those that don't know I at one time had a little thing for Louis CK. I know, I know but gather yourself and let's move on to the insight this brings me to...

We had been chatting about a Happy Mind and one of the keys to that is a clear conscience free of shame, guilt, regret and bad vibes. If we are haunted by things we've done, even if we have lots of happy in our life, this shadow of darkness will follow us.

There is a reason that 12-step programs include steps of inventorying and making amends to people that we've wronged and most religions have some form of atonement for bad acts we've committed. 

Recently an ex texted to say they were sorry about how things didn't work out with us and they hope I will forgive them someday. And it reminded me of Louis CK's big SORRY sign 😏

Sure it's nice to hear someone is sorry but it only counts in my book if they clean up the mess they made along with the words they speak (or in LCK's case, stand in front of). The onus is not on the person that's been wronged to forgive someone if it's just blah, blah, blah to make them feel less guilty. True forgiveness is earned by correcting the behavior, owning what they did, and restitution to make things at a minimum as repaired as possible. 

You're sorry?
What for? 
Where did you own what you did? 
What have you done to clean up your mess? 
And where is the restitution to make up for the damage you wrought?

We all mess up. We all cause pain even when we're not trying to hurt someone; but when we know we did something truly bad we can't just text/statement it away. 

LCK used humor and the fact that some fans didn't care what he did to salve/ignore his guilt. Not good enough. He owes the women he harassed compensation for what he did to them. There were women who suffered career and other real damage from his actions. The 10ft tall sign was bright and flashy alright and I did actually watch his special to see what he had to say- but there was no sorry in his act or actions. 

Again, the human condition is we all have a level of meanness in us, none of us is so saintly that we don't ever do anything wrong. It's hard, painful and sometimes costly to clean up our messes so we mostly don't go there. What a waste because if we cleared our conscience and did the hard part we would have a happy healthy mind, heart and future. 

How important is cleaning up our conscience? Well, it's the second chapter in my book, only the one about love comes before it. Because a festering ick in our life just gets ickier!

Someone once described a clear conscience as being able to walk into any room with your head held high no matter who you might run into and I think that's a pretty good visual. 

The irony is if we summon the strength to own our messes there is a pop of relief, peace and closure that is worth the effort and humility on the other side. 

So if you're regretting something you've done or your conscience is not clear, don't let your pride, stubbornness or fear stop you from getting things handled. Map out what is there for you and don't get overwhelmed, but just do a little step at a time to clean up your karma.

Otherwise, you'll be the one sorry you didn't 😌

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Happy Birthday

Today is my Birthday!! When we went out last weekend my dear friend Vickie asked me a question her husband Bill, also a close friend and talented artist, asks her on her birthday

What have you learned about yourself this year? 

and so I wanted to share what I told her.... 

What struck me is how we are back to almost normal again and I'm not sure that's entirely a good thing. Of course the return to living is truly wonderful but that we have seemingly forgot all that we went through (and lost) is a bit surreal to me. 

Two years ago at this time I was celebrating my birthday on the phone/zoom with my friends and then alone with a cocktail on my deck having a drink to my health; my birthday wish was for the end of the isolation once the vaccine was approved

As you can see by my cheeky post thanking my friends for their bday messages- what I was looking forward to most was hugging and being with people again πŸ€— . And here we are two years later and I think we've forgotten and are taking for granted how great it is to be back out in the world. I know I have.

I actually was getting ready to push meeting Vickie until next weekend because I was feeling tired Sunday morning and then I remembered how two years ago I would have done anything to be able to be out to lunch with a friend. 

Bad dates, family obligations, long check out lines-- pick a gripe we have now and boy would I have loved to have been doing any of them that summer. 

So much has changed since around that time. New home, new job, have had some great dates (and kisses) and gotten settled into my blondness. All in the last two years. 

Lucky me, I got to spend time with my sister at the art museum and strolling around Long Grove with Vickie last weekend and some more plans in the upcoming days... so my birthday this year has been fantastic!! But what has made it even happier is remembering how precious it was to have all that alone time so that I now treasure even more the time I get to be with those I love (or even like a lot πŸ˜‰).

So Happy Happy Birthday to ME!! And here's hoping this reminder is a little gift to you that each year is to be celebrated and to be out in the world and healthy is the greatest of joys! 

Cheers to You, Me and all there is yet to be 🍷🍸🍹

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Happy Sadness

Since we started last post talking about a happy mind I figured I'd share my other big revelation from taking Landmark coursework. To set the scene it's the Advanced Course weekend and that Friday night they give you this big buildup that we'll end the night doing an exercise they guarantee tens of thousands of people have done and NO ONE has ever not disappeared whatever they are suffering about. They ask us to write down the one thing we have the most suffering about and that is what we will focus on in the exercise. Now you already know this was a super shitty year for me so I had lots to choose from but I decided I would focus on this relationship I couldn't get over that I was sad sad sad about. 

I will respect the process and not give it away, other than to say once you and your partner dissolve your suffering you are free to leave for the night. Cut to me, and my partner had already an hour before resolved her suffering and so they put me with different partner. Another hour or so passes and I'm still not only deep in the suffering but have a throbbing headache because I was crying so hard and had worked up so much (sorry for this visual) snot that I had gone through almost an entire box of kleenex and still could not resolve it. I'm now the sole sufferer left and they have no idea what to do with me. Did I mention in the thousands and thousands over decades and decades they had been doing this no one to my instructors' knowledge had ever not resolved their suffering?

Well I know I'm gifted and all, but this was not what I wanted to be a champion at... 😫

So after some whispers in the corner they share that I would need to go home and they would have to help me again in the morning since it was late and they weren't sure what to do with me.

On the drive home I'm now suffering about how great and overwhelming my suffering is! 

Well as often happens with my unresolved issues, I awake at 3am with the answer:
Suffering is when we try to stop our sadness from being fully felt. 

I got this image of a box on a shelf and that we suffer when we try not to be sad about something ever again instead of putting it on a shelf and then taking it down and being sad whenever we needed to be sad. Suffering is resisting our sadness. Suffering is trying to numb our pain instead of feeling it. 

It wasn't that I was never going to sad about something ever again, but that I didn't need to carry it with me. I could actually put it down and not drag it around like an anchor.

What a revelation and relief! Life has sadness and sometimes it feels good to be with it and get a good cry in and feel the loss. And then we can put it back where it belongs and not lead with it and not sprinkle it on our current happy life. I now don't avoid being sad, I feel what I'm feeling and sometimes I cry out, and even wallow in, how much I miss Chris and Ted or wish my Nonne was here to make tortellini with.

To love deeply leaves scars but they are better than never having had the experience. I can actually be happy when I get to be sad because I know it means someone and something was that important to me. Love is sometimes going to be sad and that's OK. Be happy we have the capacity to know and feel it at all.

When I went back the next morning I was greeted with concern and kindness and then relief that I had figured out how to release my own suffering. I hope to save you the suffering you might be doing about your own suffering now that you see how happy we can be to be sad sometimes. Keep your sadness as long as it takes, and as close as you need to. But I offer up that it doesn't need you to keep it with you. 

No one you love would want you to suffer in their absence (whether because of death or circumstance), it would not be their wish to be the source of your pain. You know they would want you to live a happy life in their honor not in your darkness. Not to mention, if your suffering isn't about love but about trauma that was done to you, be clear... nothing that was done to you is worth stealing your present and future joy. Feel your sadness, and then take a deep long breath, add a loud sigh if called for, and then release it until you're ready to be with it again. And if it is still deep inside and clinging to you, please get help to put it in its proper place and free yourself of that burden.  

Time has healed most of my wounds but sometimes when I need a good cry I'm happy that I loved a few deeply enough to be worthy of my tears. 

I hope you take the time to feel your sad tears as well and they bring you some relief. And when you're ready, that they dry and you can get back to a Happy Happy life. 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Happy Mind

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and also the month that in 2002 began the worst summer of my life. I call it the Summer of Discombobulation because within two months time: my Nonne died; my college sweetheart Chris was found dead; I left the company that I had spent my whole career at; and it was my sister's big out of town wedding extravaganza (which was happy and wonderful but was hard to be up and peppy for when it felt like my whole world was crumbling down around me). 

Oh, and did I mention I was still recovering from a breakup. Ya, it suuuucked!!!!

I was so so sad and had white-knuckled it through until that Fall when I hit a breaking point and needed to do something. So I attended a weekend workshop: Landmark Forum. And, hated it! Well I hated the first day, then got food poisoning the second day (from a local lunch spot, not their fault)... but then on the third day it all came together and I've never been the same since. There has been plenty written about Landmark so let me be clear, yes it is a little cult-y in that you get pretty high on the transformation you undergo and then they want you to tell everyone you know about it; but no, it's not a cult. I can't be sure if this is what they actually meant to teach us but this is what I got out of it...

The key to understanding life is that we suffer because we're meaning-making-machines that take our past experiences and interpret what's happening now through those old tainted lens.  So when X happens we project our past onto the situation and tell ourselves a story (Y) about what's happening as a way to understand its meaning which we then believe is the whole and real truth when it's simply just our version of what we choose to believe.

It seems like a simple concept but until it really clicks in your head you would swear both the past wounds you're carrying around with you and what you're currently thinking are true. Once you break free of the collapse of these two distinct things you see the world much differently. Only way I could explain it is that I felt like Pinocchio once his strings had been cut: I'm free!!

This was truly a profound experience for me but as liberating as it was it also made me nauseated at how messy my emotions had been and how sick I was of so much of my life. Which lead me to begin sketching out all the things that were bugging me and not the way I wanted them to be. That lead me to creating a mind map of my life which after I got engrossed in working on eventually morphed into Me Mapping.

I realized the goal of my life was to be as happy and joyfully grateful as I could be 😊

I don't always achieve it, but even when bad things have happened in the last 20 years I've never felt as sad as I was that summer. And it is because I know the story I tell myself isn't the end of it. I can interpret whatever is happening in a more empowering way.

Now my discombobulation was situational and I did the work of reading a lot, attending that program and seeing a great therapist, so had the ability to dig my way out my funk. But my beloved Chris had mental health issues that he couldn't reason his way out of. He had been diagnosed with bipolar manic-depression in his early 20's and even though he was a super smart guy he ended up dying from the stubbornness of not taking his medication. It is the saddest thing ever to know someone you love would be here today if they only could have accepted help. 

Chris was an athlete, an engineer that contributed to several important projects, a loving brother and the greatest first-love a girl could have. He was brilliant, funny, giving, could dance all night and would rub my feet after my waitressing shifts which was so dreamy. My family loved him and I miss him all the time especially when I see a gadget he would have marveled at and wanted to take apart and improve. He was the sweetest most decent person when he was well but even geniuses need help when they're not in their right mind. 

I shared at the start of this How to Happy series that I use perspective, gratitude and remembering death as my happiness pillars. But the only way to use your mind to get to those thoughts is if it's healthy. I know for certain Chris wouldn't have purposely left this world (or me and those he loved) but mental illness is deadly. So take this as a reminder to invest some energy into your mental health and wellbeing, map things out if you don't know where to start, and please, please get help if you need it. Someone will miss you if you're not here. And you deserve to be as joyful as possible while you are.

May we all be mentally well and Happy Happy in our journey through life! 

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Happy Body

When I was in my 20's and working for Sony I was up in Minnesota for an event I was hosting and was having an annoying morning. It was super early, it was raining, I had stopped to get bagels to bring to the staff and so I was tired, my feet were wet, my hands full and no one was answering the front door. I was crabby!

Just as I'm about to get mad, I see someone coming to let me in. And as I look up at this early hour I can't quite compute what I'm seeing but it was a young guy with no hands opening the door. He had nothing from the elbows down and so he's bending down to open the lock and then stands back and greets me with a huge smile.

I was startled. And then confused. How had he just done that with no fingers and so fast? 

My feet dried, the bagels were enjoyed and then later in the morning this guy came over and started asking me questions about our new pro-sumer camera and I marveled at how charming and smart and totally unselfconscious he was. He knew his stuff, knew himself and was not letting his missings make his morning anything but sunny. Wet shoes and sore arms had almost ruined my morning, what a spoiled brat!

Ever since, whenever I've had a bad-body-day it never fails that I almost immediately see someone with a real challenge that snaps me back to the reality of how amazing my body is. 

Like I talked about a few post back: millions of people would gladly trade places with us. 

From an early age I'd always been one of the tallest kids in my grade and it made me feel like a giant. Luckily my parents were both tall and would talk about how great it was to be tall, so even though I had no sports desire/talent, I knew there were people out there that valued tallness. But even so, I wished I was shorter so I fit in more with my friends and had more options in boys who would ask me to dance.

Before I digress into the shortage of tall guys to date (pun intended 😜), the point is we always want what we think is "better". But we have simply been brainwashed into judging one kind of body as better than another and ours no matter how healthy and wonderful it is, is not as beautiful as it should be. Well, that's ridiculous! 

Trust me, I don't love the aging process and the middle-age spread and I myself am currently at the fluffiest I have ever been. But, fuck-it... we are alive! We lived through a pandemic- so yay us!! I joked to a friend of mine that as much as I hate it, this metabolism is what kept my people alive during the great-potato-famine so I should be grateful for these genes πŸ₯” πŸ€

Ok, but seriously... I often get asked about my confidence and here is the key: 
Focus on what is great about you!
If you do that you will have a much happier life. And here is what I mean: no one is perfect so focus your attentions on what you think is beautiful about you and others will begin to see, if nothing else, your glow of self love. For example, I have beautiful eyes. When I was a kid I wanted dark brown eyes like my Mom or light blue eyes like my Dad, so I was super bummed to have hazel eyes. That was until one day I got something stuck in my eye and while looking in a mirror I realized I had both brown and blue in my eyes. And also flecks of gold! 

I'm no supermodel but I have sparkly eyes and when someone looks at me that's one of the first things they compliment. So now you go...

What's something beautiful about you? 

If you don't see a dozen things, I suggest you ask a friend, or me, and I will list them for you. Because like everything in our lives if you look for what's not great you'll find it, but if you look for the JOY you'll find that

Another thing I wanted when I was younger was tan skin even though I am super pasty. Well now I know better, so I no longer bake in the sun covered in baby-oil, but instead hydrate, moisturize, get enough sleep and appreciate how soft and feminine my skin is. 

There is ALWAYS going to be prettier, fitter, smarter... pick a category ... people to compare ourselves with. So why do that? Instead, be grateful for whatever you have. If you want to change something, heck ya go for it! But love yourself while you're working on yourself too. And besides, we are all attracted to different forms of beauty. I happen to like bald men, some short guys love tall women... the cankles you hate are going to turn someone else on πŸ˜‰

Picasso made his art stand out for just focusing in on what he thought was interesting in the essence of person. You got a crooked nose, rock it! Weird ears, I hear ya! Big booty, shake it! You are a masterpiece and so love your body and focus solely on how gorgeous you are and I promise you will be even that much more beautiful, Happy Happy and JOYful 😍

Friday, February 18, 2022

Happy Dating [Part 2]: SEX

🚨Warning: Do not read this post if you don't want to know about my sexlife 😜

I'm great in bed!

Not bragging but I just know my strengths: bad at dating, great at sex πŸ˜‰

This is a continuation from the last post because with dating comes sex and I think we should talk about it. I believe there are two keys to being great in bed:

I do not do casual sex. Like Sally, I am all mushy and oxytocin'd* up after a good session and so I don't do that unless I feel comfortable and connected with someone. Here are the top things I do to feel safe when dating/sexing:

Keep My Number Private
If you're on the apps the goal is to get off the apps... but DO NOT give anyone your number until after the first date and you know you want to go on a second. Just say: 
I don't give out my number until after our first date for my own safety and privacy.
There are a couple reasons for this: the main one is to avoid scammers that want your data/info but the other is that they'll Google you and know all about you before they even meet you. I had a guy tell me that he had looked me up and I was what he was looking for because he had seen a lot about me online. He did give me his info after he told me that and he was not a creepy stalker, but I want them to meet me first before they think they know me. If they push you, it's a 🚩

Meet in the Middle
For the first few dates I always ask to meet in the middle of where we both live. Main reason is I don't want them knowing where I live nor even put on the table that they might be coming back home with me. Also, I want to keep my favorite local places to myself until I know I wouldn't mind seeing them there if things didn't work out.

How They Breakup
Before you start things with anyone it's good to know how things might end. One for your safety but also for your mental health. Did they have a mutual parting with the last few people they dated; did someone end up crushed; are all their exes crazy? How they've done it in the past is how things will likely end with you. Are they mature, communicative, kind, sane or are they a manipulative asshole? You're going to get naked with them, it's OK to ask, and if they're a jerk about it don't give them that honor! 

You must use condoms. Don't care if they say they do not have STIs or were recently tested. People lie. Lie about what they have and who they are doing. I've had friends who have caught everything from herpes to HIV to ended up pregnant- so use protection. And this is also a good way to tell if they respect their body and yours too. No condom, no sex.

Is there even the hint of violence in how they treat you, how they talk to you if they don't get their way, how they refer to their exes or anyone else in their life? 
If so, RUN!! Your safety is the most important thing ever. You can't take a chance on this and you can't change anyone, so RUN! They are not your person: Period.

Worse Case
You're going to want to feel safe and good about sleeping with someone, but what if things don't go well? Will you regret being with them? Don't sleep with anyone you'll be devastated to have walk away after because unfortunately some will.

Start with You
The key to good sex with someone else is to start with good sex with yourself. I have great sex with my partner because I know what turns me on and how to get myself off. I love it when I'm being sexual with someone because I'm there to not only participate in their pleasure but help them help me get to where we both want to be... if you know what I mean, and I know that you do 😁  

Nooky List
We're not kids anymore and so as middle-aged people it's a bit ridiculous to be paradise-by-the-dashboard-light-ing it with sex. I don't need to get them to promise to love me in the mooorrrrning and make me their wife... I simply don't want to jump right into bed before I know and really like them. Yet, I also get it's confusing to know what is respectful when things start getting hot and heavy. And I for sure do not enjoy Wonder Woman-ing it and having to bing-bing-bing ward off advances. So my solution, and hold the judgement until you try it, is to map it out. Now come on, I mean you really should have seen this one coming- ha! Once sex comes up, I think it's a good idea to sketch out on a napkin or in iNotes what will work for you.
A NOOKy List is used to spell out what you find the No's and the Ok's of fooling around. Get it... Nooky!! πŸ˜‚

As far as how long to wait and what'll work for you, I have no idea. I've tried to use Matchmaker Maria's 12-date Rule. Her philosophy is that you're all hormone'd up and not thinking rationally the first several dates so if you want a real connection with someone you should wait until you know if you're truly a match and 12-dates is a good number to get beyond chemistry and into compatibility.
And there is no saying you can't, if you feel safe and connected, change your mind and go for it sooner. Just keep in mind how they make you feel. I once had a guy say he respected my boundaries, even if he tries to test them. Uhm, you don't test someone's boundaries if they told you directly what they are, that's the very definition of not respecting them. Clearly, should have been my 🚩

Once you decide you're ready: go for it and have fun! Sex is a natural, thrilling, wonderful way to connect with another human being. It's a special gift but not one to be hidden away or shamed about or put up on a shelf because we're no longer 20-yr-old hotties. Once you find someone you feel safe with get your sexy on and have a Happy Happy time! 

Life is short~ date, sex & if you don't find your love, keep doing it until you do ❤️

*The love/bonding hormone that leads to feeling all loved up.