Collecting moments

There are times when happiness seems like a distant dream.  A foggy memory of something you felt once upon a time.  For me that time was this week.  There were many feelings I had this week and happiness wasn’t one that stayed around for longer than a short glance and wave from across the street.

Throughout this week of anxiety, stress and uncertainty I forced myself to find joy in the moments in time that were meaningful.  When thoughts are honed in on the positives it’s easier to re-frame the overall outlook. Retrospectively throughout the week I have actually amassed quite a collection of lovely moments that brought me joy. In reality no one is happy all the time and it is the special connections we share that can bring us happiness.  Sometimes it can be helpful to take time to remember those moments and fully appreciate them.  Here are some of mine:

  • Getting a text from my spouse to say that he had bought dog food. This was a pleasant surprise which meant I didn’t have to go that evening after work.
  • Hearing a friend regale a story of accidentally seeing her next door neighbours having sex. This is not the first time this has happened and her describing what she saw made me laugh.
  • Getting an avocado pit from a friend to grow into a tree. Now that tree will forever remind me of her and will be connected to us both.
  • Putting on my Lana Del Rey vinyl, pouring a glass of whiskey and just sitting down to enjoy them both.
  • Talking about challenging work changes with friends.  The amazing part about that moment wasn’t the work changes but the knowledge that I am fortunate enough to work with a few people with whom over the years I have forged such strong friendships.

Now that they’ve been written out, it honestly doesn’t seem so bad. Those moments were special to me and I am grateful for all of them. Now feast your eyes on my pit in it’s pre-tree faze.

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Modern life is draining away our happiness

There are countless studies showing that rates of depression have been steadily increasing over the years.  Why is that? When science has brought us such advancements in medicine that we are living longer than ever before and we can access anything we need with the click of a mouse, why are we so unhappy?

we have lost ourselves.

The simplest answer is that with the rapid advancements in technology we have lost ourselves.  Lost our ability to stand in a line for 5 minutes without needing to check our phones. Lost our free time now that schedules are packed to the brim with work and children’s activities. Lost the knowledge and skills to create things for ourselves. Lost our sense of purpose. 

We have replaced family gatherings with the like of a social media picture.  We know everything about everyone but spend little to no time with them. Starting at a young age we pack our children’s time with sports training and music lessons because they must have all the opportunities we didn’t. We check our work e-mail after hours to try and make the following day less stressful. Why are we doing these things?  We tell ourselves we’re more connected than ever before and we’re increasing our opportunity for success. But are we really?

If our modern lives have led us to our own unhappiness, what are we to do about it? There are seemingly endless minute details that we can change which have the potential to increase our happiness a little at a time.

what are we to do about it?

 

Stop reading the news so often.

Let’s face it, most of the news is bad. We don’t sit down to read the news and walk away feeling good about ourselves or our species as a whole.  If there is no value added to your life by reading the news regularly then don’t do it. If you must read the news regularly, balance it out something positive like Good News Network

Get creative.

Studies have shown that people who spend their time doing creative things like knitting, art or journalling reduce their levels of anxiety and increase their moods. If you’re not sure where to start, have a look at your Pinterest boards. Stop pinning and start doing!

Reduce your social media presence.

Social media is a great way to keep in touch with rarely seen friends but it can be exhausting to keep up with. We naturally want to stay up to date with the world and the people we know but the end you will be no worse off for missing that picture of Aunt Josephine’s brunch plate.  You don’t need to quit, just check-in a little less frequently.

Cook and eat mindfully.

In a fast paced world of work and appointments we often consume food that is either pre-prepared or quick to make. We take little enjoyment in the preparation or consumption of food.  Set aside time at least one night per week to enjoy the process of preparing a meal from scratch and maybe even invite someone over to share it with.

Escape.

Who doesn’t love a vacation? It gives us something to look forward to, reduces stress and re-energizes our creativity. If your bank account says that a vacation isn’t in the cards, escape with a good book instead.

Get outside.

Since the 1980’s, forest bathing has been the cornerstone of Japanese healing and preventative medicine.  What exactly is forest bathing? It’s the act of immersing oneself in nature. Head into a forest, take a deep breath and enjoy the sense of calm, lowered blood pressure and increased feelings of wellness that nature can provide. As peaceful as it sounds, finding a forest can be a little tricky for urbanite so adapt by walking to a park or even some balcony gardening.

Talk to strangers.

Do the exact thing that parents teach their children not to do. We tend to go about our business in such a task oriented way that we forget to take a moment to look at the world around us. We don’t hesitate to argue on-line with a stranger about politics but we won’t smile at a someone we pass on the street let alone say hello.  The simple act of a polite conversation might be the most meaningful experience that you can give someone that day.

Just be.

We feel compelled to be doing something at all times. If there’s a silence in the conversation we need to fill it, if we’re alone at a table we check our phones.  Learning to give ourselves permission to do nothing be can be challenging.  Put on some music and watch the flames in a fireplace or light a candle and enjoy a hot bath. Be alone with your thoughts and appreciate yourself. Just be.

Find yourself

Despite the effects of our hectic pace of life and instant access to everything,  there are choices we can make everyday that can increase our own happiness. Find peace in disconnecting. Find time to do the things that you enjoy. Find the opportunity to create and learn new skills. Find yourself.

We bring you a connection to the modern world

Photo credit: Bizarro Comics

Can organization bring happiness?

Back in 2005 I met a girl at work named Lisa.  She was only a couple of years older than me but she seemed to really have her shit together. We both owned our own homes and had the same job but she was doing it while being single and with a car. When I started spending more time with her I noticed that she was very meticulous about her money and kept track of everything. I started to track my money as well. I bought a small dollar store book and used a ruler and black pen (blue pens are bullshit) to darken every single line. I had that booked laid out exactly how I wanted and wrote down to the penny everything I spent in separate categories with handmade colour coded tabs. I started to look forward to the end of the month when I would make my final tallies and an overall monthly report. A report to myself. And then, oh the joy when I got to complete my year end summaries! I had found happiness and pleasure in an incredibly mundane task. Some people believed it was a little excessive but I rather enjoyed the whole process. After two years or so the book ran out and I haven’t kept track of my spending since.

logically it makes sense in the pursuit of happiness to remember the things that used to make you happy, and do those things.

Although I don’t think I can necessarily link my current level of happiness to a lack of financial planning, logically it makes sense in the pursuit of happiness to remember the things that used to make you happy, and do those things. And so in my ongoing search for a happier me, I’ve decided to track my finances again. Apparently people don’t use paper anymore for such things. Believe me I tried to find one and was incredibly disappointed. For now I have moved to generation next and found an excel template to use.  It’s not perfect but it will do. I can’t itemize everything but I have at least gotten some fairly detailed categories.  In addition to the obvious ones like mortgage and phone, my own personal touches include champagne, hair salon, plants and books. Technically discretionary spending, but to me those are all rather essential. I might discover at year’s end that it is more financially viable to simply purchase my own vineyard and bottle my own champagne.

I think I may have just found my life’s calling!  Seriously. I’m going to be a champagne farmer. I can taste the bubbly happiness already.

 

Guess Who’s back? Back again.

How quickly two years goes by when you’re caught up doing adult things like working, laundry and falling into the dark bottomless pit of modern day life. All this time I’ve believed that my 2014 and 2015 posts had been deleted from the world forever but I have just learned that I was wrong. The internet is forever. All my crazy lows and personal thoughts, right there were I left them laid out in black and white inside those clear cat tubes. I won’t delete them, but I’m choosing to ignore them and just let them go and live in those cat tubes forever. One thing that I have learned these last couple of years is how to let go.  Of friendships that weren’t meant to last, of thoughts that were unhealthy, and now, of black and white pieces of my past floating in cyberspace.

On the soon to be eve of a New Year I have realized that I’m going to be 40. Although I can’t say I’ve ever felt particularly like an adult there’s something about 40 that screams adulthood.  WRINKLES!  WEIGHT GAIN! RETIREMENT PLANNING! GRUNTING EVERY TIME YOU GET OUT OF A CHAIR! This can’t be 40. This can’t be my 40.

Apparently I have 294 more days until I will turn 40.  I don’t like math so I won’t do the calculations but I believe that online counter is wrong. Surely I must have more time left than that. I intend to spend that time focused on my happiness, health and personal projects (yet to be determined). I want to be excited about life and have stories to tell.

I think 294 might be right. Oh God.

 

 

October 6, 2015: wish someone would die

When I put the title like that it makes me recoil a bit at my cruel insensitivity but the more I think about it, the less badly I feel for it.

My grandmother had been in the ER since last night when all us family were called in because we were told this was it. We drove through the night and arrived here at 3am. In the last 28 hours I have slept for half an hour. My grandmother had another stroke, and a seizure and has been unconscious ever since. We removed her from life support about 3 or 4 hours ago and now she’s comfortable on dilaudid. Before last night she had been unhappy. She felt like it was her time to go and she misses my grandfather. She never wanted this. She made it clear she didn’t want machines keeping her alive. She’s just sleeping now. A gross sounding uncomfortable sleep and I just want it to be over for her. Over for everyone. What a horrible thing it is to just wait for someone to die. To sit beside them and hope that they would just die already. 

I’ve sent my sleep deprived family off to my grandmothers house in the country at least an hour and a half away from the hospital to get some sleep. They are all much older than me and need to rest. I hope that she dies while they’re gone. I’d like for me to be the only one to have to see it. Even if it’s not peaceful, I will tell them it was to make them feel okay. 

I’m tired and the bubbling sound of the sterile water bag moisturizing the oxygen sounds like a fish tank. I’m going to put my feet up on these horrible vinyl chairs and pretend it’s a fish tank. Maybe she can hear it and thinks it’s a fish tank. That would be nice. 

September 25, 2015: sex thoughts

This post is not about my thoughts on sex, this post is about the thoughts that come into my head while having sex. Unfortunately for me my brain is overactive all of the time. This is why I have difficulty sleeping and paying attention during long meetings. It is also a factor in why I have a hard time reaching organ.Thanks anxiety! You’re the best!  Well, here are tonight’s highlights:

  1. He’s doing this because he feels guilty about not knowing me well enough to buy the right snacks.
  2. I could crush his skull with my thighs right now. He’d probably stop though so I better not.
  3. I could box his head with my feet like one of those small hanging punching bags. Hehe.
  4. I should have shaved my legs this morning. 
  5. I shouldn’t have had that lemonade before bed. My stomach is making sloshing noises. Shit it’s loud. He doesn’t seem to care. 
  6. Do I have to fart? Maybe the sloshing will mask the sound if one sneaks out.
  7. He doesn’t know I have a melatonin under my tongue. I hope we’re not having sex for so long that I start to fall asleep.
  8. Must block his tongue from my mouth, he might get some melatonin on him and fall asleep. That’s stupid and impossible.
  9. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on a bed, it’s always going to make noise during sex.
  10. It feels like his penis is poking through my stomach. 
  11. Where is my t-shirt? I don’t want to get cum on the carpet. Again.
  12. Fluffy carpets are so ugly but they feel so much nicer.
  13. I should write about this in my blog. *process of recapping and embedding all the above thoughts into my memory begins.
  14. It’s cold in here, we’re going to have to turn the heat on soon.
  15. I’m sloshing again.
  16. (*hair pulling) that’s good.
  17. I’m having a hard time thinking of anything else now. I must really like that since it’s all I can focus on.

And there we have it, the summarized version of what it’s like having sex with anxiety. It’s much like the live version of the show Herman’s Head without the comedy writers and fantastic 90’s theme song. 

  

September 18, 2015: Meet an astronaut 

Last night I spent two hours listening to an astronaut tell stories of his experiences, tell jokes, sing songs and show the photos he had taken from the international space station. He is one of those natural story tellers that keeps you ccaptivated from start to finish. I can’t remember the last time I was so interested in hearing another person speak.  Part of the speech included a bit about focusing on the now, disconnecting and experiencing life away from social media. I couldn’t help but appreciate that small moment in time when I sat in the exact same venue with the exact same friend as I did 25 years earlier as an elementary schooler hearing another astronaut speak. I was grateful in that moment that I’ve had a friend for that long who is still a part of my life. That’s pretty amazing. 

I learned an incredible amount of information last night. Here are a few highlights:

  • Astronauts wear diapers (made by Johnson and Johnson that have little blue and pink rockets on them) on take off and landing
  • Sputnik means “little voyager” in Russian 
  • Astronauts suffer from osteoporosis as a result of entering space but it reverses itself over time back on earth. Medical science is trying to study how it reverses itself.
  • When an astronaut returns to earth they can’t stand up right away because their heart is unaccustomed and unable to pump blood from their feet to their heart
  • Right after entering orbit an astronaut is likely to vomit. The barf bags have towels attached to them because the vomit bounces off the bottom of the bag and splashes you back in the face. The towels are so you can wipe off your face.
  • There is a guitar that stays on the international space station because it is known that the arts are essential to maintaining positive mental health in a time of isolation
  • The likelihood of death taking off in a spaceship is 1 in 38

Great stuff right? Now throw in some jokes and inspirational pictures and you’ve got yourself a great two hours. Afterwards I met him ever so briefly to sign a book of photography that I will give my father for Christmas. I’m convinced that he jogs. He has done so much with his life and contributes so much to many organizations that I know he jogs. I hate joggers. They’re out there in all sorts of shitty weather at ungodly hours making everyone feel shitty about their life choices. I get it. You jog. You’re better than me. Fuck you joggers.