What makes you happy?

Enjoy the little thingsSometimes I get stuck in a blah mood.  Particularly toward the end of my monthly cycle, I am tired and just want to curl up by myself and eat chocolate.  I certainly could use some reminders of things that pick me up and delight my soul.

An assignment from the Mama Happiness course I’m taking:

“For 10 minutes today, make a list of things that immediately change your state of being. That spontaneous hug or and “I love you, mommy” from your little one, a move or time with a special friend. Write about things, people and activities of every day life that make you happy.  Keep an eye out for the next time you are brimming with happiness over something delightful or simple and add it to your list.”

Here’s an inspirational post with the lists from 17 writers and creative leaders.

And what makes me happy?

  • Connecting authentically with a friend.
  • Taking photographs of nature.
  • Spending time near water.
  • Singing.  Music.
  • Listening to my daughter’s giggles.
  • Laying in bed and reading.
  • Traveling or planning a trip.
  • Looking through the photo books I’ve made.
  • Looking through craft magazines or creative books.
  • Going out to brunch with my hubby.
  • The hilarious comments that my daughter sometimes makes.  I’m writing them down now.
  • Being recognized as an artist.
  • Pure milk chocolate.
  • Craft supplies.  Organizing all my goodies or buying more.
  • Peaceful quiet and space.

So what makes you happy? Do share!

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Mama happiness

“Happiness is our nature… We have done so much to move away from our natural state that we now need to walk back to that place, slowly and steady, with utter gentleness and compassion.” ~ Aarathi Selvan

A friend told me about this e-course, Happiness is Your Nature: 30 Days to a Joyful Motherhood.  (You’d think she would know about my addiction!)  Anyway, it is a wonderful exploration for mamas who are looking for mindful awareness (Hello?! My middle name!) to live intentionally, overcome guilt and our inner critic, and purposely embracing the happiness that’s always inside.  It’s about really being with our children, embracing what is, and finding joy in their delicious chaos.

Happiness QAs part of a pre-course contemplation, Aarathi asked us to answer these questions in a journal.  What is a blog but an online journal right? I had recently answered a survey with these answers:

Becky survey


When I read that this course is for moms who are seekers, who love to be introspective, who want to “take a chance and leap into a world of inner work to receive honest answers and discover the voice of happiness within them,” who love challenges to open to new perspectives, and for those who truly believe there is more to life than running from one goal to another… I knew it was for me.

My intentions: find the calm in each moment, remember to take care of myself and know I don’t have to do it all, appreciate the now.  I would like to infuse more joy into the time I’m with my daughter because I want to marvel at her instead of be exhausted by her.  I want to allow her to make messes and be loud and crazy (sometimes).  I think I try to contain her because of my own need for quiet.  And I desperately want to be ok with not having everything crossed off my to-do list at the end of the day.

I wonder if one class can do all that???

* * * * *post concentric

You know that feeling of accomplishment you get when you have completed a goal? You feel good… you are happy.  Apparently, we can feel that way all the time! It’s a matter of allowing ourselves to.  

When I feel that, I feel like I’m almost floating, like I am limitless.  It’s when I’ve been truly seen and loved.  That feeling causes me to want to give anything and everything, to do a Gene Kelly routine down the driveway, to smile and hug and lift up everyone else.  I am breathing deep breaths, looking for the good in people, and feeling like I could take on any challenge.

Well, we can choose some of those characteristics and behave as if.  Smile at people, take deep breaths, think positive thoughts.  See what happens.

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One challenge thus far in the course has been to say YES no matter what, two days in a row.  The first day, I really just fought it.  Everything was a struggle for me and I didn’t feel like much of anything.  But the second day… I had fun with it.  I said yes to spending my time playing guitar and doing other fun projects, yes to going with my daughter to paint pottery, yes to pizza for dinner and more silly games, and yes to me going to bed early so I could do it again the next day.  It was awesome.  My favorite part was just enjoying my daughter without being preoccupied with other to-dos.  I think part of my willingness came from a good night’s sleep and from being nicer in how I treat myself.  An excellent lesson!

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For the love of paper

PL logo.49 AMI have always loved notebooks and stationary and sending hand-written cards and notes.   I keep sentimental old letters that mean the world to me.  There is just nothing more fun than popping into a paper shop! Some day I hope to have time to participate in the mail art and post card swaps I keep hearing about too.  And remember when I told you about the magazine, Flow, full of paper goodies? 

I love paper, so it was sort of a no-brainer that I signed up for the e-course, Paper Love, a tactile, creative experience celebrating the personal possibilities of paper.  It’s taught by Rachel Hazell, whose English/Scottish accent when she speaks makes me smile.  (She says “pay-pah,” for example.)  She says, “As you read, please imagine you are sat at my kitchen table with a steaming cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit.” She is just delightful!

So there began our papery adventure!  I have to admit that there is a world of information about it that I had no idea about, and I love delving into unknown worlds. I tried my darndest to get interested in the daily content, but while I enjoyed reading about how paper is made, the art of collage, text, handwriting, books, and stationary, and the history of the postal system and stamps, I just couldn’t get excited about doing any of the assignments.  The amount of information in this course is mind-boggling.  And as you read last week, I don’t have time to spare!

Paper Love class logo.16 PM.png

However, I’d like to share some fun resources with you:

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Creating room for possibility

Naomi shirt.PNGSome of you wrote in the comments for Monday’s post that I am living a whirlwind and you don’t know how I do it.  I’ve been feeling that way for a while now too and you are convincing me that it’s totally unnecessary! (I know, I keep writing this same thing and not doing anything about it.)

Yesterday morning, we all overslept because my sweet girl didn’t finally fall asleep until 10pm the night before, not for lack of trying (and I still have to be right there next to her), and the morning was ridiculously hectic.  I have jammed so many things into my calendar that it’s impossible to get things done if I miss a beat.  I’ll spare you the details.  The feeling of rushing all the time, of finding value in every single moment, is just too much pressure!

Self-care has been a focus lately in several of my classes.  We are talking about making sure we prioritize and do things to replenish ourselves.  Well, I must simplify.

  • I will schedule my to-do’s with a max of 3 per day.  There is very little reason I can’t put off that trip to Costco or file papers a different day.  Also, I will break tasks down into manageable chunks.  “Review finance website and set up online budget” is something that is going to take hours, so I will be nice to myself and spread it out.  No rush to get it done just to get it done quickly.  Hopefully just knowing that I already have time set aside for a task will allow me to let it go for now.
  • I thought I was treating myself to something helpful when I asked our housekeeper to come every week rather than every other, but I see now that rushing around to straighten up and reminding others to put their things away, waiting for her to arrive so we can get where we need to go in the morning, having to move around the house to let her do her work… it’s actually stressful for me!
  • I will say “no” more often.  In order to be able to say “yes” to song leading at synagogue or teaching Sunday school, I have to have space in my schedule to do the preparation those things involve.  So I can’t join that book club or take another class.  Sometimes it seems I have time but then I realize I definitely don’t.  I have to proactively create space in my days.
  • I am doing some deep spiritual development over here, which means I also need time to daydream and journal, to stare out the window and get in touch with my inner voice.  I need to ponder what I’m reading, learning, and discovering.  Rushing around leaves zero time for that, so I am really doing myself a disservice by not letting it all sink in.
  • I will list all these classes and figure this out.  Even if something sounds absolutely amazing, I will NOT sign up for more.  (I’m taking a 30 day mama happiness class, so that doesn’t count, ok? I realize this is hypocritical.) I’ve been letting myself slack on some of them too: not doing anything at all with Paper Love or Soul Food (shouldn’t have spent the money, I guess); behind on Art Society; I have a full Evolving Wisdom class in my e-mail inbox I haven’t even started.  Nobody is knocking on my front door to arrest me for slacking, so I guess I should stop beating myself up about it. :) Maybe at another time I will be able to do some other things, but not now.

Do you get the Brave Girls’ daily emails? They are awesome.  Here’s what popped into my inbox just when I needed it:

Brave Girls

OK I’m off to schedule time do some tasks that are hanging over my head: renew a passport, make some store returns, work on my teaching curriculum, and I am going to put fun things in there too like reading a book during the daytime.  Ha!

PLEASE please share how you tame your inner perfectionistic over-doing-it self if you have one! I probably need a support group.

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June reading and learning

Agap being_bf206

Hello friends! You didn’t know it, but I have been away for 7 days and am finally home.  (Thanks to all who left comments on last week’s two pre-scheduled posts! I will respond soon, I promise, and return the visit.)  Ah, home, how I love thee.  We were on a cruise with no access to the online world and I totally shocked myself by realizing how much I love being connected to all my online friends and classes.  This mini world I’ve created for myself keeps me grounded in such a delightful way.

Fill me in on what you’ve been up to lately.  Here’s a quick update on what I’ve been learning and reading over the past month.

Soul ShakersThe most important work I’ve done this past month is because of this mastermind community.  They have been phenomenally loving and supportive, complimented and purchased my artwork, encouraged me to define some boundaries for myself and my space, and helped me see that I need more self-care in my daily life.  I think I see a future blog post idea here, don’t you? Anyway, check out the new Soulful Life Sanctuary that just opened July 1.  It is FABULOUS!

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 1.48.06 PMI began a new year-long photography class, Be Still 52, with one of my favorite people in the world, Kim Klassen.  This one, as I wrote about at length here, is as much about still life photography as much as it is about slowing down and taking care of myself.

Proj Light Year Liv Lane

I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying this year-long journey, Project Light Year with Liv Lane: a soulful journey to your brightest year yet.  In June, we focused on gratitude.  To be grateful, we must be comfortable with giving and receiving goodness, which is pretty hard actually! I learned that the heart of gratitude comes from recognizing that most of the goodness around us comes from outside of ourselves – some one or some thing beyond ourselves – which in effect requires some level of humility.  It was interesting and good stuff this month, as it always is.

VIVA Institute logoI’m taking a class through Viva Institute about opening to my innate intuitive abilities and listening to that “still, small voice within.”  I am slightly nervous about sharing more because there is so much I don’t know yet.  Let me just tell you that I’ve been having fun with it and will tell you more soon.

OneLittleWord2014In June, for One Little Word 2014 with Ali Edwards, I checked in with myself and my word.  “Finding ways to cherish myself has been a fun challenge.  I am actively tuning in to my intuition.  I appreciate the FULLNESS of my life.  I am feeling really good.”  You can read it here.

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June books

June books: The Middlesteins: A Novel by Jami Attenberg

I think this novel is supposed to be about emptiness… in our lives and in our stomachs (it’s about a compulsive overeater).  This is about a dysfunctional Jewish family and the relationships within it.  I have to say it’s full of heartache, tragedy, and regret… not an uplifting read, but well-written and a good story.

A Still, Small Voice: A Psychic’s Guide to Awakening Intuition Echo Bodine

OK so you say the word “psychic” and immediately, if you’re like me, the person loses credibility.  This isn’t like that.  This book is amazing… all about intuition and tuning into your gut reaction.  It’s readable, humorous, and very informative.

The Snow Queen: A Novel by Michael Cunningham

I absolutely love the way Michael Cunningham writes.  He subtly moves from one character’s POV to another, rounding out this novel of two brothers and their mid-life searching with heartbreaking truth.  I could practically feel this story and the hopes and dreams of each character.

An Adventurer’s Guide to the Jungles of Time and Space by Mike Dooley of tut.com

Mike Dooley has a way of making me feel inspired and loved… his daily Notes from the Universe are a highlight of my morning e-mails.  This compelling little story reveals the origins of space, time, matter, and miracles. It offers a unique way to assess your place in reality and to begin creating major life changes. Lighthearted yet philosophical, it challenges its readers to re-think the very meaning of life.

Love Life by Rob Lowe

“I want to be seen for all I am, not just what you see on the surface.  But it is up to me to let you in, to give you the keys to know me in that way, and to do the work of connecting beyond what is comfortable and easy.”  

This is so timely as I really ponder how to connect with people authentically. I loved his first autobiography, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, so much that I was looking forward to reading this one as soon as I heard it was coming out.  I now talk about Rob Lowe like I am best friends with him… I feel like he’s so down-to-earth and, well, human.  Did anyone see him visiting with Oprah about this book? Does anyone want to have this book just to be able to stare at the cover all day? Anyway… this memoir holds more stories about work, life, raising his sons, and love and marriage.  Highly recommend.

Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life by Glennon Doyle Melton

I listened to Glennon read this on a car trip and loved her gentle and approachable stories about her life.  I’ve loved her blog, Momastery, because it is simply hilarious.  Glennon writes about relationships, marriage, and raising kids with an overarching message to women: you are not alone.  I literally laughed out loud several times because I identified with her stories so much.Change happens, if it needs to, when we become aware of what we are, not when we try to become what we are not.

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I am also reading an entry a day in The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo.  My favorite passage from June: “For me, finding where I fit in the world feels a lot like spiritual fishing.  The vast, mysterious ocean of experience keeps calling, and whether it is by buckets of question or nets of honesty, I keep hauling up food from the days.  I keep hauling in shells and pearls and seaweed from a common depth that no one can see, and then I spend time cleaning what I’ve found and hearing what it has to say.”  

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What have you been reading lately? And are you on Goodreads? I’d love to connect there.

Everything I’ve Ever Read (I think)

Currently Reading

More monthly book reports

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Soulful home: respecting your limitations

Create Your Life houseArt prints available here.

A friend of mine told me that all the STUFF in her home was starting to crowd her and was causing her to feel stuck, trapped, and overwhelmed.  She has boxes and boxes of wedding gifts still not put away, electronics and cat toys and clothes stuffed into closets and under the beds.  It reminded me of this lovely article on Gentle Living that I read awhile ago about protecting sensitivity and it’s stayed with me.  In it, Liz writes about how we can learn to respect our boundaries.  If certain situations overwhelm you, after you identify them, you can think of ways to help yourself or avoid them altogether. Such a powerful idea!

She writes about the things that overwhelm her and how she deals with them, like avoiding negative friends and not feeling selfish about it, constantly decluttering her home in order to feel more relaxed, or scheduling only a certain number of social outings in one week to avoid feeling frazzled.

“I used to ignore the effect these things had on me. I just tried to deal with them because otherwise it must mean I’m weak, I’m “too sensitive,” I’m being selfish, etc. But no, I’m stronger and happier.  My limitations teach me things, so I respect them, and it makes life feel better everyday and far less overwhelming.”

So I gave some thought to what overwhelms me and what I can proactively do about it.  She writes that “a chaotic environment for a sensitive person is like living a waking nightmare. That chaos could be in the physical aspects of your environment or the mental/emotional energies of those around you.”

I also am constantly decluttering, sorting, purging in my home, and I love knowing that it’s ok! I am learning how to create peaceful environments for myself and my family.  I may never actually be finished organizing and simplifying, and that’s ok.  I’ll just do what makes me feel better in the moment and try to let the rest be.

You can read other Soulful Home prompts here.  Please share in the comments how you are simplifying this month! How are you respecting your own boundaries?

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