Awards make me very happy. Last week I received this one from Elizabeth...
and I've been working on this post ever since, off and on. Sad to say it's taken me a while to come up with ten things that make me happy because of how I define it, i. e. as a general state. A lot of things give me pleasure and enjoyment but either I'm happy or not. And I am in general. But I do feel things deeply. I sometimes feel the feelings of others deeply. I can get lost in their emotions and mistake them for my own. And with the events this past week in Haiti, Massachusetts, the Supreme Court all against a backdrop of cold, constant and gloomy rain, these are some of the things I've been turning to lately in order to stay grounded and, in general, happy:
I don't know why I procrastinate some days. Artistic doubt maybe, which does serve a useful purpose. It keeps me from becoming complacent. But if I'm not careful this doubt becomes a runaway train robbing me of creative enjoyment. But whenever I'm working it feels completely right.
I grew up in a family that thought judgement, shame and blame were the most useful tricks in the toolbox of life. So maybe it's no surprise that I end up with a few friendships that, at times, mirror this old dynamic. And how I react without making things worse has been part of my growing up process.
Never throw anyone away, Audey Hepburn once wrote. Well...sounds nice, but some people I really can do without, their absence a gift that just keeps on giving. The trick is discerning who I should let go off (i.e. happily drop) and who is worth the work. Because we all go through difficult times.
So last week I met with a certain friend, and another I haven't seen in a while, for coffee and dinner. I enjoyed it but I also found myself afraid to touch certain topics, things I would not have hesitated to bring up before. Oh well. Trust must be rebuilt one step at a time. And if we don't become as close as we once were, then at least I can be glad of the fact that I did what Audrey Hepburn would do, I didn't throw her away.
Facebook is awesome. Since signing up I've reconnected with a lot of people I'd lost touch with over the years, grade school friends, people I used to work with and so on. The thing with grade school friends, though, is that it is impossible not to see the ghost of their little former selves superimposed over the adults they've become. Or to not hear their childish voices when they update their status. Strange too, not like I feel free enough to invite them, or myself, over for coffee. Still...in a childhood that was both happy and horrible (thanks to dear old dad), they made up a big chunk of the happy part. I'll always be grateful to them for that.
4. Artistic connections.
Writing and painting can be very isolating activities. And I love being around people. So I've joined as many writing and painting groups as I can. On line, there's Chiustream of course, whenever I want. Some drawing/painting groups that meet once a month. Every other week, there's the writing group that meets in a cute Noe Valley cafe for all day writing marathons. Then, once a week, I meet with a writer friend also for the sole purpose of writing. These groups not only keep me company but they also keep me motivated. Don't wanna sit there staring into space or watching The Office online when everyone else is typing/drawing/painting away.
5. Gifts/free things.
Of course I love Christmas and birthday gifts. But getting gifts during post gift giving season for no reason in particular? Like these side dishes Beecher's Handmade Cheese sent me...
last week for no other reason than having mentioned them in one of my Seattle posts! Wow, the power of the written word. Does this officially make me part of the media? When they contacted me I assumed they'd send me trial size versions, quarter cup servings just enough to make me want more. Not these enough for three meal sized boxes all including their amazing cheddar (am guessing it's cheddar though they simply refer to it as handmade). Christmas in January for an artist on a budget. Wonderful.
6. All the hot chocolate I want and/or a dessert every day.
Right now I have a bag of chocolate pieces in the fridge. And in the freezer, some frozen cookie dough, Toll House and Trader Joe's. And, after too many samplings of both, I have to say T.J.'s all natural chocolate chip cookie dough really is way better. (Think this'll get me some free T.J. cookie dough?). Thank goodness, because if I didn't, I'd have to brave the cold to go on a special dessert finding expedition.
Shopping, goofing around with my nieces and nephews, running in the rain and splashing through all the puddles, dodgeball. I don't let myself play enough. Sunday I chose working with my writing group over a muddy, freezing game of dodgeball. I was glad to get some work done but afterwards I thought, gosh, I should have played dodgeball! So I made up for my uberseriousness with a few hours of bargain treasure shopping.
8. Live music/dancing/poetry and/or literary readings.
I went to this Rabbie Burns thing at the Edinburgh Castle on Saturday night because it sounded too good to miss (men in kilts, poetry, free food). It wasn't, unfortunately (too much ranting about current events which I was trying not to think about, not enough poetry) and if that's what haggis tastes like (very, very bland, though the haggis ceremony was pretty cool), not sure if I'll try it again. But I'm glad I went anyway.
9. Sleep. And 10. Having worked out
Because having had a good night's sleep or having worked out (in between or despite the rain), especially in the morning when I don't have to spend the rest of the day dreading a work out, ah, that's the best.
Now to pay it forward. The ten blogs I nominate for this award are:
7. Yes No Maybe
10. Brightened Boy
and (I just have to sneak one more in)...
11. American Fool