It was nice to have more of a normal evening at home last night. No drama, just friendship and fun.
As I was buying the ingredients for yet another Instant Pot dinner, I decided to liven up the Austin house with some flowers. It made Anita really happy to see that I bought some ranunculus (also known as buttercups), which are some of her favorites.
Anyway, our friend Chriztine came to visit, and she cooked that Instant Pot dinner, which was a really interesting version of beef stroganoff that is made with boursin cheese spread for the cheesy part. We served it over zucchini spirals, and it was delish!
After that, Anita and I just chilled. Chilling is good. I’ll try to come up with something more exciting once I get back to the Hermits’ Rest!
I think the James Taylor concert I went to gave me strange vibes. I got home a bit late, thanks to having to retrieve my tiny purse from a locker (only clear bags at concerts!), so that probably helped.
So I dreamed that my husband, Lee, and I were going to a conference or something (I always dream about conferences) and we were going to join our friend, Jennifer Swan, there.
When we arrived, we startled her on the balcony of the hotel room, in the embrace of a man. We were surprised to see it wasn’t her husband, but a larger fellow with an interesting cheesy skin tone.
They both looked at us guiltily. We can’t help ourselves. It just happened!
Lee and I just looked at each other and went along with it. “Just call me Don,” said Jen’s new beau.
The dream proceeded along with “Don” being funny, generous, and gracious. “All that other stuff is just an act,” he confided over a glass of wine.
Later, we each slept in separate beds, with Don serving coffee in the morning. Jen kept giggling happily. I kept saying, “He’s so nice!”As we stepped outside into the morning, I had a question for Don. Then I spotted a perturbed looking man in a dark suit.
That’s it! Where have all the Secret Service people been? “Hee hee, I ditch them all the time!” the Current President of the USA said.
Strange dream. This is the second or third time I’ve dreamed of that fellow being a perfectly nice guy. What is my mind trying to tell me? Don’t analyze this dream!
No matter what your political beliefs are, this has to make you chuckle.
A couple of things lead me to today’s post. First, the combination of Valentine’s Day and the Parkland shooting combine in a weird way to remind all of us to treasure our loved ones, tell them and show them how much we care, and to help out our friends facing mental health challenges (and thereby keep our schools, workplaces, and gathering spots safe).
Second, there have been some big ole challenges (not blog-eligible) in my personal circle lately, so I have had to be the one to reach out for support while also giving it. I’ve talked to friends from far away (this means YOU friends and family in Michigan and North Carolina) and near. Yesterday, after spilling my guts in a blog post that I didn’t actually post, I found myself repeatedly telling a small group of friends, ranging from young adults to people my age that I loved them. My heart was so full from the support we were giving each other.
And that’s a key to happiness, friends, at least according to Gretchen Rubin, of the Happiness Project: having close relationships. Here’s what she said in her online newsletter yesterday:
Appreciation for important relationships is important for all bonds, not just romance. We need close, long-term relationships of all kinds. We need to be able to confide, and we need to belong. In fact, people who claim to have at least five friends with whom they can discuss important problems are 60% more likely to describe themselves as “very happy.”
Gretchen Rubin – click to subscribe to her newsletter
My close circle of friends in Austin includes people from my church, who I rarely see anymore, friends I’ve met through my kids, work friends, wise counselors, and neighbors. In Cameron I have our little “community” out in Walker’s Creek by the ranch. And online I have a couple of close communities who support each other. They are all important to me. Even when I’m not saying anything, I’m thinking about so many people and sending good thoughts their way (like many of you would do in your prayers).
I need to say it more, like I’ve been doing this week. Knowing you all are there helps keep me going, no matter what. You have my back. I have yours.
Everybody: use today as an excuse to tell your support network how much they mean to you. Pick a few to say something specific to. That’s my plan for today. And days to come.
Let’s tell people we care about how much we do care! Every day.
I’ve seen bluebonnets on the side of MoPac this week. I heard they are way early. But flowers are supposed to make me happier, not worry about global warming.
So. Hooray for the camellia blossoms I saw last weekend that reminded me of home and my mom. She hybridized them. She had so many issues, messed up so much, but she was my mom and loved me.
The Hoya plant reminds me of the year I contract worked at 3M. Nobody really talked to me in my department, but I got to have lunch with my friends Bill and Scott sometimes. And that plant bloomed and bloomed. It’s still going.
There’s stuff going on in my family, stuff going on with friends, stuff and more stuff. Ah, but even grocery store flowers remind me that we retreat and rebloom in cycles. Good times will come and the flowers will bloom again.
Hug a friend. I’ll try to write something more profound or fascinating next time.
The past few days, I’ve been fixated on what all of us human beings have in common. I guess a lot of this has been because I’ve been reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book on the Congo, The Poisonwood Bible, for the neighborhood book club. I’ve also been learning about life in the 1930s for members of the Navajo Nation in New Mexico in the book, Spider Woman, by Gladys A. Reichard (it’s a memoir that just got reprinted). On top of that, the PBS television show Finding Your Roots has focused on family life of slaves in the US, families dealing with wars in Asia, and other times of difficulty and stress for people. I have learned a lot from the photos and documents they show.
I keep seeing families and communities that manage to do well, in spite of the many challenges life throws at them, and also how they sometimes break down. I kept wondering, what do all of us need to have a “good” life?
For my real estate blog, I wrote up some of my thoughts as they relate to what we do to create homes for people, not just houses. I came up with what, to me, are the minimum requirements for a good life.
Just having food and a roof over your head is not enough, to me. You need a community around you, so that you can give and receive love and friendship. You need to feel like you have a purpose in life, which is what I mean by fulfilling work. I don’t even know that pay is important, if you can meet your needs otherwise, but life is pretty hollow without the ability to do something that makes you feel like a part of the big picture.
And freedom from fear is the clencher for me. So many people live where they feel unsafe. You can’t be happy if you are worried about war, physical/mental cruelty, prejudices, or environnmental dangers. Every human deserves to feel safe.
I’ve seen (and read about in my books) many people who don’t have much by way of possessions, money, or property, but they are happy because they life surrouded by a safe communty, have enough to eat, and are contributing to the greater good. That’s all I really want, too.
What other things would you add to a list of basic needs for a happy life? I’d be interested. Certainly there are a LOT more things that would add to happiness, like health care, education…and?
A number of years ago, I quit writing in my blogs (I had one on knitting and one on traveling in our RV). I basically quit reading them, too. I found, at the time, that all my blogging friends had moved to Facebook and were posting updates there, or in Instagram.
Why did I blog before?
Throughout my life I’ve enjoyed keeping journals. Writing my thoughts down helps me process. When I found blogs in 2005, I was thrilled to be able to journal without writing by hand, and at first kept a private blog (which I think my spouse still does, but who knows; it’s private!).
Then, I discovered many cool people on email lists (another love of my past) blogging about knitting, sharing their work, sharing their patterns, and interacting with each other. It was so great to share photos and instructions, as well as what was going on in our lives.
On a rainy day in which I suffered from dizziness and headaches and general ickiness, I was glad to have my canine buddies to warm and cheer me.
(Although Harvey tried to eat Big Alfred’s breakfast and now has an owie.)
To occupy themselves during the rain, Alfred and Carlton played at least a half hour. It looks fierce but was actually very gentle. They kept sticking their heads in each other’s mouths and gnawing at legs.
Much of the day both Carlton and Vlassic sat in my lap. Carlton is incredibly gentle when he jumps up. I often don’t even notice. The other dogs are like flying mallets.
I did go outside to take some plant photos, accompanied by the guys. Then sun had broken through the clouds and everything was clean and shiny. The arroyo was flowing, which makes for happy dogs and even made me feel a bit better.
I’ve been musing about how I feel fearless lately and thinking about the things that helped me get that way. Most of them are just normal things, but done intentionally (like walking). Another thing that’s made a huge difference for me is doing yoga regularly.
Now, I’m not one of those super-flexible yoginis that they show in ads. In fact, when I was taking my one ill-fated year of ballet lessons, I overheard the woman tell my mother that I was the least limber child she’d ever seen. That did not inspire me to dance greatness. Plus, when I tried gymnastics, I never could complete a backward roll. Still haven’t, for that matter.
BUT, there are two things about yoga that have built my confidence in my body and buoyed my soul.
It’s not a competition
When you do yoga with real people with their varied abilities and issues, it quickly becomes apparent that comparing yourself with others in your class or the teacher is a waste of time. The mental part is as important as the physical part, and by gosh everyone can practice making their mind still and concentrating on their breath. Who cares if their hands don’t touch the floor when they bend over?
Many years ago, my friend Sensei Larry took a look at how many committees at the church we were members of, and he said, “Wow, you’re really a joiner, aren’t you?” I was quite indignant. I am NOT a joiner. I’m a hermit, dang it! I hate joining things. Ugh! Groups! People! Conflict!
I started laughing to myself today when out of the blue, I volunteered to run for the Board of the homeowner association where we live in Austin. The Board pretty much tells the 30+ homes in our little development what they can and cannot do. They meet monthly. They have committees. They are mostly “good old boys” (not exclusively). Why on earth…
…I’ll tell you why. I care. Wow, make me stop caring.
But wait, there’s more
As I type this, I’m in a Board meeting of another organization. Why? Because I care about my connections and friends. And they asked. So, other people: don’t ask me to join anything!
I’m happy to say I’m the new editor of Continuum, the publication for Friends of La Leche League, a group of people who have been or are currently members or associates of local La Leche League breastfeeding support groups. It’s going online and they asked. And wow, I love working with smart and interesting women.
So, yeah, I’m a joiner. But I’m also an organizer and a person who loves collaborative work. So hey, former LLL friends of mine! Consider helping out with this project! Nothing would be a lot of work! We could get the old gang together and create a useful and entertaining online publication relevant to all of us, whatever parenting stage we’re at. Contact me on the Facebook, please.
Now I think I’m full. No more joining for a while, which I’m sure will make good ole Sensei Larry happy. Remember: I’m FULL. No more volunteering.