Archive for January, 2009

Joy Journal

On a previous episode of “A Spud’s Journey to Happiness”…….a Joy Journal was mentioned.  (To be read in your best TV announcer voice…..)  In today’s episode we explore said journal….


Did anyone else grow up with this Vacation Bible School song?

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.


Down in my heart.


Down in my heart.

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.  Down in my heart to stay.”

And it goes on from there…..

Anyway…I thought I’d post a slightly edited version of my joy journal/joy list here for y’all to see. 


Well…. because I’m highly self centered and assume y’all are dying of curiosity.

Snort!  Just kidding!  😉

I was talking with a friend about Jim’s challenge to create a joy list and his nudge to get me to committ to a specific number of items I’d put on the list.  When I told my friend (we’ll call her Rachel) I’d said I would committ to 100 items she gasped!

“I was thinking about something closer to seven!” exclaimed Rachel.

“Rachel, we’ve GOT to talk!”  said this potato.

When I started talking to Rachel about what I had on my list she realized she had a whole lot more than seven items she could put on her own joy list.  So somehow sharing my joy list helped her expand her own.

And my hope for posting mine here (other than having a permanent record that won’t be lost when my laptop crashes), is that it might help y’all add to your personal joy list.  Or remember things you’d forgotten about that brought (and bring) you moments of joy.

Enjoy!  🙂

1.      Lola’s!!!

2.      Michael Mina dinner (1st time)

3.      Strip Steak bar food

4.      Restaurant Charlie’s

5.      Cheap pizza & breadstick @ food court (and conversation)

6.      Bouchon

7.      Foie Gras @ Fleur de Lys

8.      Wine flight at NC

9.      Hiking in NC

10.  Monte Cristo lunch & mountain top views NC

11.  Waterfalls in NC

12.  Solo Maine trip/visit

13.  Light house tour in Maine

14.  Lobster on the Maine beach w/Maine friends

15.  Maine with Mr. Spuds

16.  Bar Harbor w/Maine friends—Sunrise at Cadillac Mt.

17.  Ocean hike w/Mr. Spuds (ME)

18.  Popovers & lobster bisque lunch (ME)

19.  Walking across the bar (ME)

20.  Misty lake hike

21.  Singing on the granite cliffs (ME)

22.  Sea gull eating sea urchin next to a puddle (ME)

23.  Duck from NC (quacking in the parking lot)

24.  Working out w/Ellen

25.  Rosendales!!

26.  Spinel @ Bill’s (first purchase)

27.  “Firework” spinel ring

28.  Finally owning the tanzanite

29.  Talking w/Bill & Annabelle

30.  Free trip to Disney J

31.  Lunch at Canada restaurant at EPCOT

32.  Niagara on the Lake (all visits)

33.  Feeding blue jays

34.  HR4US

35.  St. Louis US trip

36.  Chihuly @ St. Louis gardens

37.  Docent-ing @ Columbus Zoo

38.  Penguins!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

39.  St. Louis Zoo (behind the scenes, penguin keepers)

40.  Cincinnati Zoo  (Little Blues)

41.  Newport Aquarium (behind the scenes, penguin keeper)

42.  Baltimore- National Aquarium

43.  Cleveland & Akron zoo tour trip  J

44.  Tiffany, Lalique, etc. exhibit

45.  NOLA w/ US

46.  Vendor “whoring” (Don’t ask!!  LOL!)

47.  Dinner @NOLA Emeril’s restaurant (w/Julia, Roz, etc.)

48.  San Diego SHRM trip

49.  Dinner in San Diego w/Nancy

50.  Solo travels (NOLA, San Diego, Maine, Nashville, Chicago, Pittsburgh)

51.  LCC

52.  Worship w/Kevin King

53.  Worship nights at DCC

54.  Woodmont Hills church

55.  Mr. Spuds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

56.  The Doctor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

57.  Moments of feeling grace

58.  Moments when things (God) “click”

59.  Conversations w/God

60.  Feeling safe, feeling peace

61.  Snow crystals in the air

62.  Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens (just checking!)

63.  Theater!  (Sound of Music- R. Chamberlin)

64.  Phantom

65.  12 Angry Men (R. Thomas, G. Wendt)

66.  Big River (sign language version)

67.  Books……Amazon……Kindle

68.  Life of Pi

69.  Good Reads

70.  Conversations w/Ken regarding books

71.  Unexpected encouragement/positive feedback

72.  Sherlock Holmes

73.  2007 & 2008 SRL

74.  Dr. Who

75.  Wedding & honeymoon & marriage

76.  Finally “getting” algebra (DLU)

77.  Amnesty International (DLU)

78.  Lexus

79.  Sunny & Moe (& Tim’s generosity)

80.  Lunch  (the goldfish)

81.  Bird watching @ home

82.  Bird watching@ the zoo

83.  Polar bear playing @ the zoo

84.  Realizing Clark really did forgive me

85.  Spring—every single year!

86.  Crocus

87.  Gardening

88.  Discovering new plants

89.  Seeing the same plants 1 year later on Paul James’ TV show

90.  Realizing I have a voice

91.  Buying our home

92.  Anonymous giving (giving in general)

93.  Dropping a pant size/losing weight

94.  Mulching!!!

95.  Creating our “found” stone dry creekbed

96.  Hearing what God wants me to hear

97.  Monet paintings in St. Louis…..wow….

98.  Seeing Gus Hansen on my b-day

99.  Being able to help someone

100.  Research

101.    Being recognized (& greeted by name) at Nong’s

102.    Meeting Doris Kerns Goodwin (& being brave)

103.    NOMI dinner w/Kiwi

104.    Meeting Nancy in NOLA

105.    Trip to Indy for pancakes

106.    Trip to Indiana for Steak & Shake w/Mr. Spuds

107.    Safe travels

108.    Watson’s arrival….finally!!!

109.    Meeting Matt & his family

110.    Dayton trip- book signing for Mr. Spuds

111.    Snuggling

112.     ***censored***   J

113.    Writing

114.    Feeding birds- home, Morel’s, Bellagio

115.    Hot tea @ Bellagio poolside on a cool morning & reading

116.    Nature

117.    Learning

118.    Rachel Maddow getting her own show

119.    Zoya’s gift of a necklace

120.    Really great hair cuts

121.    Successful book recommendations to others

122.    Mycroft!

123.    Pure politics/pure government

124.    “a-ha” moments when reading the Bible

125.    Kitty…..even if she did kill a blue jay


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What a week!  I seem to be getting “hit” by a number of the out-of-my-control migraine triggers today.  Lousy weather (I’m guessing there was a change in pressure with the storm the came in and iced everything over), hormones jumping all over the place, stress from driving on ice, and lack of sound sleep.  No wonder my head hurts!  I’m hoping to stave off a true migraine and manage the pounding will-someone-please-close-the-curtains-so-there’s-not-so-much-light headache I have right now.

I’m amazed that January is almost over……and I haven’t been doped up on Immitrex at all!  (That’s rare for a January!)  In fact April was the last time I had to take any.  Well……if I’d remembered to pack them in July I would have taken them….but that’s an entirely different story.  Anyway, the multi-day migraines feel like ancient history.  Yay!  The headaches I’m left with are MUCH more manageable—and seem to be decreasing as well.  J  Happy days!  (Adding that to my joy journal!)

This week started with a pretty intense coaching conversation with Coach Jim.  Hmmmm…. “intense” isn’t exactly the word I’m looking for.  More like “oh my word- I want to yell STOP—but don’t want to stop the conversation—but don’t know if I can translate what’s in my gut into words that make sense—and even if they make sense to me will they make sense to Jim—and if they make sense to him will he hear what I’m trying to say instead of the words I use” type of thing.

Is there a single word for that?  (If there is I’ll bet it’s a German word—along the lines of doppelganger or schadenfreude —one “word” composed of several little words to encapsulate an entire concept.  I love German words like that!!)

But I digress.

So.  Tough conversation with Jim.  At least now I know a little better what Peter (of Biblical fame) felt like when he had the “do you love me” conversation with Jesus.  To paraphrase.. Peter’s conversation went something like this,

Jesus:  Peter do you love me?

Peter:  Yes I love you!

Jesus:  Peter do you love me?

Peter:  Yes, of course I love you!

Jesus:  Peter do you love me?

Peter:  Lord, you know I love you!

Now if you’ve never hear the story before that exchange doesn’t make any much sense at all.  I gotta say I agree with you!  In the version of the Bible I grew up reading the word “love” in both Jesus’ and Peter’s quotes was the same.  In the original Greek the word “love” was one word when Jesus used it and a different word when Peter used it.  Jesus was asking if Peter loved him with a total, complete, holding-nothing-back kind of love.  And Peter answered that he loved Jesus with a friendship kind of love.

Well….that’s oversimplifying it.  And to oversimplify it even more….it was like Jesus asking “Peter, do you love me?” and Peter answering, “You know I like you.” 

In the version of the Bible I grew up reading it was a confusing conversation to read.  “What on earth?!  Isn’t Jesus even listening to Peter’s answer?  He said ‘Yes’ so why does Jesus keep asking him the same thing over and over again????  I don’t get it!”

Monday I found myself in the middle of the same type of conversation with Jim.

We were talking about conversations I’d had with people over the past couple of weeks.  I had decided to try and open up about some fairly personal stuff and try to be a more authentic Spudsie.  For whatever reason (and there are a number of them) that doesn’t come easily to me, I have to make an effort.  And it feels as though it’s a fairly risky thing to do.  But if I wanna grow I’ve gotta stretch—despite some discomfort.

The conversations left me somewhat discouraged and I talked to Jim about it.  We talked about what I was hoping for when I started the conversations with other people.  I hoped the people I talked to would listen for understanding—instead of listening to react, or to “solve” my problems.   And since I was talking with people who I trust and truly care about me they (naturally) wanted to offer advice and try to fix what was bugging me.  Which was discouraging to me.

At some point in the conversation Jim asked me, “So what would it feel like if you went into these conversations without the expectation that the person you are talking with should react the way you want them to.”

Ummmm….hold the phone there Jim.  I don’t think I AM going in with the expectation that they SHOULD react in a certain way.  I’m hoping they will.  I’d like for them to.  It would be really, really nice if they did.  But I don’t think they SHOULD.

And that’s the point where the conversation got fuzzy.  LOL!

Jim:  So what would it feel like if you went into these conversations without the expectation that the person you are talking with should react the way you want them to?

Me:  (Really, really long pause)  I don’t have a clue how to answer that.  I don’t think I DO go in thinking they SHOULD react in a specific way.  It would be nice if they did.  If they chose to.  But I don’t assign that “SHOULD” to them.  It’s their choice.

Jim:  You’d like them to listen to understand, correct?

Me:  Yeppers.

Jim:  So what would it be like if you didn’t think they should do that?

Me:  ?!?!  But I don’t think I do think they SHOULD listen for understanding.  I’d like for them to.  I’m not requiring them to.

Jim:  So how would the conversation go differently if you didn’t think they should listen for understanding?

Me:  (tapping the microphone)….hello…..is this thing on??  Jim, I’m trying really hard to listen to what you are saying.  I just don’t think that’s what I’m doing.  Maybe I’m arguing semantics…….I don’t think I hold the belief that someone else SHOULD listen for understanding.  I would like for them to.  It would make the conversation easier for me.  But SHOULDs aren’t something I can put on someone else.  They have to choose how to listen.  I can’t assign a SHOULD to them.  And, truly, not to be argumentative, I don’t feel I go into conversations thinking someone else SHOULD react in a certain way.  It’s totally their choice.  I can’t dictate to them how they SHOULD listen or respond.  I don’t demand that of them.  I don’t start conversations with ‘here’s how you SHOULD treat me’ that sounds totally selfish….”

Jim:  Whoa there potato…..I think you’re right.  It’s semantics.  ‘Should’ is a pretty specific word/has a strong meaning for you.  I think we are saying the same thing—just using different words.  And is it wrong/a bad thing to be selfish?

Me:  Oh yeah, selfish isn’t good.  That’s a problem.  And SHOULD is a really powerful word for me.

And the conversation went on from there.  It probably doesn’t read as confusing as it was in person.  LOL!  And I’m paraphrasing what I remember of it….what I heard….not Jim’s exact words.  So a third party eavesdropping would probably have a completely different understanding of what was said.  Grin!  We worked through it and moved on.  It turns out we were really saying the same thing…..though I don’t know that Jim will ever use the word “should” in a conversation with me without having a flashback!  😉

Oddly enough the thing that has stuck with me about our conversation is the one thing he let go without a comment.  I’m pretty sure he was thinking it…..thinking it loudly enough that I heard it.  (Or maybe I’m reading waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much into nothing…which wouldn’t be a first for me!)  He didn’t say anything about my lightning quick “shelfish is bad” answer.  I think I may have detected the slightest pause while he had the internal debate “do I want to get off subject and talk about this now or just let it go for the moment?” but he didn’t say anything.

And I find myself wondering…..how does Jim define selfish?  Is it different than how I define it?  When he asks, “Is it wrong for Spudsie to be selfish?” does he mean what I hear? 

To me selfish is this.  I do what I want, what I think is good and right for me with NO REGARD for anyone else.  I do what I want regardless of the cost to anyone else.  I do what I want and the rest of the world be damned.  It’s all about me. ME.  ME.  ME.  I don’t care about anyone else but me.  If something I do hurts you—too bad!  Didn’t you hear?  It’s all about me.

And that’s bad.  That’s not good.  That’s…..well…that’s just selfish.  And wrong.

There are a lot of times when I make decisions that are in my own best interest.  There are times when I weigh my options and decide to choose what’s good for me over what might be equally good for someone else.  For example, spending an undisclosed (cough, cough, don’t ask!) amount of money on 3 purses and 2 wallets at the Kate Spade outlet store at Christmas was ALL about me!  Are there other things I could have used the money for?  Yep!  I could have donated it to one of the charities Mr. Spuds and I support.  I could have mailed it to my sister.  I could have spent it on bird food.  I could have donated it in someone’s name to a charity they support.  I could have bought my Happiness coach a Kindle!  (J)  There are a million other things I could have done with the money that would have helped someone else—that would have put their needs/interests in front of my own.  And still I chose to spend it on me! 

To some that may seem selfish.  (Clark Kent-if you are reading I KNOW you are thinking I could have self-lessly spent it on Williams Sonoma stuff for you right?? J LOL!)  To me that wasn’t selfish.  My company did very well in 2008 and gave me a generous year-end bonus.  Mr. Spuds and I sat down and spent time deciding what to give to others, what to save, what to set aside for future unforeseen expenses, and what I could use as “new purse” money.  (Guess which category was my favorite)  It was a deliberate decision—where I weighed what I wanted and what others might need/want.  And I arrived at a balance that was acceptable for me.  I didn’t feel selfish or self centered in that decision.  I felt well balanced.

So the decision to spend the “new purse” money didn’t feel like a selfish one.  It took into account other people.  At the same time it was not a self-less decision.  Clearly I decided my wants ranked higher than the Columbus Zoo’s need for additional money for a Polar Bear exhibit, or for my former church’s need to pay off debt. 

If it wasn’t self-less and wasn’t selfish…..what was it?  How do I define it?

Hmmmmmmm…..I don’t know.  Maybe I need to redefine my words.

Is there a way I can re-define “selfish” to be something different than “it’s all about me I don’t care about you at all”?  Or is there a different word I can use?  Or a different way of looking at the concept?

One of the synonyms for selfish is egocentric—meaning (almost literally) “me at the center.”  And there are times where “me at the center” is how I have to make decisions.  If I made decisions that always had my company at the center I’d never leave the office.  If I made decisions that always have other people at the center I’d never spend the time and effort to work with a Happiness coach to work on growing.  If my decisions NEVER have me at the center I’d say “yes” to everything everyone asked me to do and never have time to keep any of the commitments.

And that’s no way to live.  Yech.  Clearly I need to choose to put myself at the center of some of my decisions—and I do.  So at times I’m egocentric.  So by definition does that mean at times I’m selfish?  Hmmmm….. “selfish” has such strong negative connotations for me I’m not sure I can redefine it that easily.   “Selfish” still feels like “it’s ALL about me all of the time” when in reality it’s only “ALL” about me when I choose to make decisions all about me.  Deliberately.  Intentionally.  With knowledge (and sometimes with a bit of sadness) that I’m giving up some of my ability to meet the desires of another person.

This is tough for me.

Or…………………… maybe instead of trying to redefine “selfish” I could stop reading so much into half-second pauses Jim has in our conversations.  😉  Hmmmmmm……..that might be easier!

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Evidently I’ve been missed.  Friends from Maine to Nashville to Colorado have been e-mailing, writing, and sending good wishes and encouragement my way recently.  (Who knew Supdsie was a nation-wide phenomenon?!  ;-))   And to a person they’ve all expressed some degree of concern at my blog absence.

First and foremost (does anyone besides me say that anymore???), than you sooooo much for the warm wishes, thoughts, cards (thanks Doctor!), etc.  Hmmmmm….I feel like I’m listening to a thank you card being read at the church where I grew up.  “Mr. Spuds and I would like to thank everyone in the congregation for the prayers, thoughts, cards and meals while we have been going through….”  Wait!  I didn’t get any meals from y’all!  Where are the meals???  LOL!!  Just kidding!  J

Seriously, thank you for your notes.  They are greatly appreciated.

I’m hanging there.  I’m not in the good mental/emotional place I want to me.  But I’m getting there.  And any progress is good!  I’m still working my way out of my funk and haven’t really felt like writing anything.  Haven’t felt like I had anything to say….other than grumbling.  And who wants to read a blog full of whining and complaining?  No one I can think of—with the possible exception of Grumpy, the dwarf. 

So, what’s new in this potato’s life?  Not much.  I’m still working with Coach Jim.  (Hiya Jim!)  I’ve watched a fair number of movies recently…..haven’t really been able to focus on books so I’ve tried to catch up.  I went to see “Doubt” by myself while Mr. Spuds was out of town.  That was probably the wrong movie to watch by myself—I wanted to sit down with people and talk about it as soon as it was over.  What was the symbolism with the light bulb?  How many different layers of doubt were explored?  Was one doubt stronger?  Did doubt “win” in the end?  Is anyone certain of anything?   Sigh.  But instead I went home and watched Dr. Who.  (Not an altogether bad thing!  Though I’m bummed that David Tennant is leaving the role………siiiiiiiiiigh….)

I’m trying to get back to my books.  I certainly have enough of them!  Mycroft is nowhere near full, but has a goodly number of unread books.

What’s that?  Who’s Mycroft?  Oh.  I forgot to mention it.  I’ve named my Kindle.  J  Yes, that does cement my total geek status.  And oddly enough, that’s a source of joy for me.  J

One of the things Coach Jim has me working on is a joy journal.  (Or something like that.  Maybe it’s a joy list?  I don’t remember.  I keep calling it a joy journal.  The alliteration flows much better than joy list.)

Jim has defined joy as, “Intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness; the expression or manifestation of such feeling; a source or an object of pleasure or satisfaction.”  Basically (a gross oversimplification on my part here) joy is happiness on steroids. 

So I’ve spent a good deal of time this past week thinking about things that bring me (or have brought me) joy.  It’s been fun!  There are the “typical” joy laden things you might expect—vacations, a wedding, food, people, bird-watching, etc.  And today I added another item to the list.

“Pure government/pure politics”

Yeah…if my geek status wasn’t secured before it is now.  LOL!

I love what’s happening today.  I have a great sense of joy!  I took today off work to stay home and watch the inauguration.  The peaceful passing of power to a new leader is extraordinary.  It really is!  I’m grinning ear to ear and crying at the same time. 

I love listening to and watching the campaigns.  The debates are awesome!  It’s amazing how so many people who all want “what’s best for America” can have so many different views and opinions on just what is “best” for the country.  And they all believe it so passionately!  You can hear it in their voice tones as they argue on morning talk shows.  You can see it in their facial expressions as they listen to opponents express opposing views.  You can feel it if you are ever in a room with them.  It’s impressive.

And to watch today the way everyone comes together to pass power from one leader to the next, with no malice, with no (obvious) bitterness, with no hatred…..it’s a joyous occasion.  It’s one of the most incredible things about our nation.  There may be words used as weapons during campaigns, but in the end they all recognize what an impossible job it is to be President of the United States. 

I just love this stuff!  It’s not the fighting, it’s not the arguments, it’s not the “who can talk the loudest to be heard at the expense of anyone else with an idea.”  It’s pure government.  It’s altruistic. 

Yes, yes.  They all have egos beyond belief.  I get that.  But that makes it even more impressive to me.  They have to work to overcome those egos, or at least learn to set them aside.  Being President comes at a huge cost.  One most of us would not be willing to pay.  Or at least I wouldn’t.  How they manage to keep a hold of any sense of self in that role is beyond my understanding.  So many people talking in your ear—either telling you what they think you want to hear, or trying to find some way to get you to decide things the way they want them decided.  How do you discern truth?  How do you keep hold of your core values, your core self under such unbelievable pressure?

The mind boggles.

Days like today bring out the best in our government and in our politicians. 

And that brings me great joy.

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This potato’s feeling a little down right now.  December is always a…..well….let’s just say it’s always a challenging month for me.  Work turns into craziness—even more than normal!  J  And everyone and their brother want to get together for the holidays.  It seems as though there is no “down” time for Spudsie to catch her breath.

I had been hoping this past December would be better.  I’ve been practicing living rather than existing for several months right?  So that should help.  Right?

Based on my noticeable absence from my blog (and from much of life) it seems this December wasn’t much different.  And that’s discouraging to me.

I’ve been off work since noon on December 24th and still feel like I can’t catch my breath.  Christmas eve church service.  Christmas Day.  Post Christmas shopping.  (Totally fun!!!)  Christmas with the in-laws.  Having our 10 year old nephew with us briefly.  A couple of days to catch up on housework and learning how to use the Wii Fit (which is really cool!).  New Year’s eve.  New Year’s day.  Phew!

And now I’m off to Cleveland.  Yup.  Mr. Spuds and I are driving a couple of hours for a belated New Year’s dinner at Lola’s.  Yum!!!  It’s well worth the drive.  I’m drooling just thinking about it.  And tomorrow visiting the Cleveland Art museum.  So it feels like it’s still a busy weekend.  And next week Mr. Spuds will be out of town for a family member’s surgery.  And then he will be traveling to Phoenix for work.  I’m not sure when things will get back to “normal.”

Good stuff is happening.  And I still have an overall sense of discouragement.  I’ve got a few things outside of my control working against me—cold and grey weather, hormones, limited hours in the day.  I feel like I don’t have the energy to do much of anything.  I’ve been able to spend 30-60 minutes every day working out with the Wii Fit program.  But that’s about it.  I haven’t been able to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard ;-)), I haven’t had the focus to read, I haven’t found the energy to organize the stuff that needs organized around the house.  I just feel blah.

Not the way I wanted to start the year.

Does anyone else feel “blah” and unfocused?  I look at my goals and they seem unreachable.  I feel as though I’ve spent months learning how to make different, deliberate choices in my life but still haven’t changed how I feel about myself at all.  I battle to make different choices and have success.  Yet it doesn’t feel real.  Where’s the victory?  Where’s the celebration?  Where’s the sense of accomplishment?  Why do I feel like I want to curl up in a ball and sit in a dark corner?

I don’t like feeling this way.  It is what it is I suppose.  And will pass soon enough.  I’ll find some way to make some small choice.  And hopefully that will lead to being able to make bigger choices.  And hopefully eventually that will lead to me getting back on track.  Hopefully I’ll eventually get back to a more energized, forward-moving Spudsie.

In all honesty though, right now I’d much rather just sit here and do nothing. 

And that’s really not the person (or potato) I want to be.

So what do y’all do to get yourself back on track?  What works for motivating you to re-join life?  To run back into battle?  To choose happiness?

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