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Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

I’ve been thinking about energy a lot this past week. Mainly because I have none. Or at least very little anyway. I’ve been doing battle with a series of headaches—including some migraines. It’s been frustrating.

For whatever reason migraines have the disconcerting side effect of causing me to feel even worse about myself than I normally do. It sucks. When I’m in the middle of the physical pain my brain is able to recognize that the emotional upheaval is simply a side effect of the migraine, and knows it will pass. Unfortunately that doesn’t help me feel any better. Here’s what my internal conversations sounds like.

Brain: Okay Spudsie. You know this “I’m never gonna make any progress” and “I’m a lousy person” crap is simply a side effect of the migraine pain. You know it will pass eventually and you’ll start to see things more clearly.

Emotions: Yeah. Right. (Side note: My emotions tend to be very sarcastic during migraines. ;-)) I hate this. I’m still one big gooey mess of pent up-ness. This isn’t because of the migraine. This simply is. I’m not any better off than I was a year ago. The migraines still attack and I’m no better at fighting them off. They still slam me to the ground—which is probably where I deserve to be anyway. You’re the logical one—surely you can see that.

Brain: (Deeply sighing) Give it time Spudster. Give it time. The pain will pass and your vision will clear. Just try to focus on drinking water and breathing deeply. Try not to dwell on beating yourself up.

Emotions: Yeah. Right. Try not to dwell on beating myself up. Pffffft. Like that’s gonna happen. What happens to you when someone tells you not to think of an elephant, hmmmmm???? That’s right—all you can think of is an elephant! Let me sulk in my self pity pit for a while. It’s the one thing I’m really good at after all. Oh! And the water thing…..you do realize that drinking THAT much water makes us run to the bathroom every thirty minutes, right? And you know how painful it is to move at all in the middle of a migraine. Can’t we just leave the water alone?

Brain: We’re drinking the water. Period. It helps flush all the lousy stuff out of our system. So just drink it and go take a nap will ya! At least when you are sleeping you can’t beat yourself up.

And so it goes. Yuck. The migraine pain is bad enough, but the emotional toll it takes is far worse. I end up completely drained of any positive energy.

So I’ve been thinking about that positive energy a lot this past week. Wondering where it goes. And what attracts it back my way. And how I’ve become soooooo much more aware of it in the past year. Of sensing it around me. Of feeling it flow through me—or get tied up in knots occasionally. Of feeling it in others.

Last Thanksgiving Mr. Spuds and I vacationed in Las Vegas. Two nights before leaving I slept wrong and knotted up some odd muscles in my neck. I do this occasionally and didn’t think too much of it. Well after a day of not being able to turn my head while on vacation I’d had enough. The Canyon Ranch Spa at the Palazzo (where we stayed) offers a Tension massage that focuses on the head and neck. Perfect! Bright and early the next morning I went down to the spa and made an appointment.

Until then I’d never had a massage in my life. I’m a fairly modest person and blush at the thought of having someone other than my husband see me wearing nothing but a strategically draped sheet. Well evidently pain is a pretty good motivator for me to break out of my comfort zone. While scheduling the massage I was asked if I wanted a male or female therapist. Male, definitely male. No hesitation on my part. These knots are like steel and I need someone with serious upper body strength to work them out. When I mentioned I’d never had a massage before the person scheduling the appointment said, “Oh! I have the perfect therapist for you. Gabriel. He’s wonderful, you’ll love him.” Okay, fine. Whoever. Just fix my neck!

I had no idea.

Gabriel was (and IS) amazing! He made me feel completely at ease. I didn’t feel awkward or uncomfortable or self conscious or anything. Wow! (At one point during the massage he joked about advertising in bus stations about offering massages from “the hands of an angel.” Mr. Spuds loved the play on his name and quipped for the rest of the vacation about how I was “touched by an angel.” Groan. I should probably hope these two never meet! LOL!) While he was working on getting rid of the knots (which were so pronounced I was tempted to name them) he kept talking about how I should come back for a full body massage at some point. That the Tension massage was good for working out specific problems, but the full body massage was sooooo much better.

In fact, he talked about it enough that he really shouldn’t have been surprised when I was his first appointment the very next morning for a full body Canyon Ranch massage. LOL! Turns out he was right. It was awesome! I left feeling completely relaxed and completely energized at the same time. Totally cool!

When we returned to Vegas in April (yes, yes….I know….it’s an amazing food city though….I simply can’t resist!), I went back to visit Gabriel again. This time I scheduled a massage the first morning we were in town. Ahhhhhh…..heaven. What a great way to start a vacation!

About half-way through the trip I felt lousy. We won’t talk about the reason. (Ahem. Any drink with the word “chocolate” in it really can’t be bad right? Even if you have 6 of them, right??? Groan. I’m old enough to know better!) Physically I was fine—no headaches, no stomach problems, no knots. I just felt off-kilter. I wasn’t hungry. I told Mr. Spuds I was going to see if Gabriel had any open appointments that day. Mr. Spuds though I had lost my mind. How on earth is a massage going to help?? I was convinced. My energy felt off—it wasn’t flowing normally. It felt knotted up somewhere inside. And I knew Gabriel could help.

Yay! I was right. When it came time for my appointment I told him how I was feeling and that I wanted to see if he could get me back to normal. Bingo! He knew exactly what to do. He asked a few questions and worked in a slightly different way than he had the last time. It worked! It was as though he pulled the energy from my head into my core and then kept it flowing (unknotted) through my legs and out my feet. Awesome! I left feeling totally relaxed, totally energized, and totally hungry!! (I’ve never claimed to be anything even approaching normal. LOL!)

The rest of the day felt magical. I turned my $20 gambling budget (last of the big spenders eh?) into $150. I had an amazing dinner at Bouchon with Mr. Spuds—and had the BEST mint ice cream I’ve ever had. (It tasted herbal instead of fake-minty. Loved it!!!) I had an incredible time at the Blue Man Group show—and Mr. Spuds got to participate and have the entire audience applaud him—totally cool!

The difference was night and day. Before, when my energy was tied in knots, I was trying to force enjoyment. “I am determined to enjoy myself. I’m not going to let feeling off-kilter keep me from doing the things I want to do.” I wasn’t wallowing, but I was pushing myself to keep going. Once the energy was flowing again, everything else flowed right along with it. Enjoyment simply happened. Joy was there—I didn’t have to force it or even go looking for it. It lived in me.

All in all it was an experience I hope to never forget. And I hope I can keep the lesson with me. When the energy is flowing, so is everything else. When the energy flows, I’m in flow. I love it when life lessons sneak up on ya!

Anyone who knows me IRL has heard about Gabriel before. I’ve gushed on and on and on and on about what an amazing massage therapist he is. Recently (within the past month) I was given the opportunity to spend two days at a pretty neat spa free of charge. (!!!) I scheduled a couple of different body treatments—a Swedish massage and a Papaya body scrub and treatment. And I found myself wondering how they would compare to what I’d had in Las Vegas. Would they be just as incredible? Would I find myself realizing that while Gabriel was great he wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all of massage therapists? Hmmmmmm….this could be interesting. I couldn’t wait to find out.

After the Swedish massage I told Mr. Spuds, “Okay. Now I know. Gabriel is a ROCK STAR/GOD among massage therapists!!!” The Swedish massage was nice. That’s about all I can say. If it had been my first massage ever I probably wouldn’t ever schedule another one. There wasn’t anything “bad” about it—it simply wasn’t worth what it would have cost.

The Papaya body scrub and treatment included another 50 minute massage—with a different therapist. Ahhhhh….much better than the last therapist. Still no Gabriel, but at least this one managed to work out a couple of my knots.

In case I haven’t been crystal clear with my opinion let me say it plainly. If you ever travel to Las Vegas (and want a massage) call the Canyon Ranch Spaclub at the Palazzo/Venetian and book any appointment you can get with Gabriel! Seriously. He’s that good. Cut your gambling budget, see a cheaper show, skip an expensive meal (and you KNOW he’s got to be good if I suggest skipping awesome food!)…..do whatever you have to do. Just make it happen.

He’s great at making people feel comfortable—and every person at the spa talks about how much they love working with him. He’s great at being able to ask the right questions and move you around in such a way that he can tell what muscles need extra attention—even if you don’t realize it. (He asked if my right hip was bothering me very much. Ummm….no…not really. Then he pressed on one spot. OUCH! Okay…evidently it is bothering me and I hadn’t realized it. LOL!) And he totally gets that energy flows through the body, and that sometimes it gets stuck and needs to be worked out.

I love it when God uses something unexpected and/or unpleasant (like knotted neck muscles that won’t let me move my head) to teach me life lessons and introduce me to really awesome people!! Looking back I am SOOOOOO thankful for sleeping wrong and knotting up those muscles. It’s turned into something awesome!

Now if only there were a way to move Gabriel and his family closer to Ohio…..hmmmmmmm….

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I’m borrowing liberally from Coach Jim’s blog today.  This past week he wrote a GREAT entry about attitude. 

Okay….it’s about waaaaay more than attitude.  In fact it’s probably more about perspective than attitude.  Just bear with me and keep reading.  Hopefully it will become clearer.

First things first.  Here’s a link to Jim’s blog entry. http://www.lifewithhappiness.com/2009/04/nothing-is-good-or-bad/  It’s worth the couple of minutes it will take to read the entire thing.  (And he’s much more concise with his writing than I am.  J) 

Here’s the introduction to his blog.

“…there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Hamlet, Act II Scene 2

This quote from Shakespeare is one of my all-time favorites… and defines a foundational element of my coaching practice and life philosophy.

Events are just events.  Stuff happens.  That’s it.

THEN…we create a story to explain that event.  In our “story” we interpret what happened and make up reasons why it happened, and that story evokes an emotional response from us… and suddenly an event is labeled: good, bad, ugly.  And we feel sadness, optimism, fear, anger, appreciation, frustration, concern, etc

Not from the event, but from our thinking about the event.”

I love that!!!  And it’s soooooooo true!

When I see others “over-reacting” (granted, that’s an assessment on my part…..I think you know what I mean regardless …)it’s super easy for me to see that it’s the story they are telling themselves about the event, rather than the event, that is causing them stress, anxiety, etc.

I mean really, when someone doesn’t use their turn signal (or their “directional” as I often say) it’s not because they intentionally want to cause you to swear at them.  They aren’t doing it to intentionally aggravate you.  I’m nearly positive they aren’t thinking about you at all.  They are simply doing what’s easiest for them.  And ignoring the traffic laws.  Ahem.  How freakin’ hard is it to use a turn signal anyway?!?!

What?  Oh.  Sorry.  I’m off track already.  (Sheepish grin!)

Regardless of my lack of focus, this seems to be the perfect example.

If I’m the passenger in a car and the driver gets upset because someone else didn’t use a turn signal, it’s easy for me to see that the driver is reacting to the story they are telling themselves rather than the actual event.

When I’m driving the car and someone doesn’t use a turn signal, and it causes me to lose 30 seconds of time I’ll never get back…..well….that’s an entirely different story.  Grin!  Or perhaps it’s the exact same story….I’m simply telling it to myself rather than seeing someone else doing it.

It’s challenging to pull back from the story and look at the event for what it is.  And the more emotionally involved in the situation I am the more difficult it is for me to see the possibility of any story other than the one I tell myself.  After all, I am the sun and the universe revolves around me, right?????

No?  Are you sure?  😉

Once I’ve recognized I’m in the middle of reacting to my story rather than the event it’s usually fairly easy to coach myself through, “What other reason(s) might explain this?” type conversations.  And I can calm myself down and remind myself that the world does NOT revolve around me.  I can look at the situation from a different perspective and react in a different manner. 

While it’s seldom easy, I find it do-able in most situations.

Where I really struggle is in recognizing I’m reacting to my story rather than to the situation.  I’m typically so wrapped up in “this is awful, how could anyone do this to me, poor potato, doesn’t anyone ever think about me, why is everyone so mean, why are they trying to ruin my plans…” that I don’t realize it’s my own personal story I’m reacting to.  So I’ve been working on that.  On trying to realize that when I feel like I want to scream at someone it’s very likely because of how I’m interpreting the events—rather than the events themselves.

Some days I’m more successful than others.

Today is a day full of challenges.

My birthday is coming up in a couple of days.  I’ve learned (over the past 15 plus years) to be very specific with Mr. Spuds when letting him know what I’d like to do to celebrate my birthday.  (Remind me to share the bowling alley birthday story at some point.  😉  It’s a classic!)  Some years I don’t really want to do much of anything, some years I want to have a bunch of people over, some years I just want to do odd stuff.

This is an “odd stuff” year.  When talking to Mr. Spuds a few weeks ago about what I wanted to do, I asked if he would consider taking me to Nordstrom’s to shop the Saturday afternoon before my birthday.  He said that sounded like fun.  (And yes, there is a limit to what I can spend.  LOL!)  Cool!  So I’ve been looking forward to this ever since. 

Making plans can often cause more stress for me than I’d like.  I’m a total capital J (MBIT) and a bit of a struggling-to-let-go-of-the-need-to-pretend-I-have-control-of-anything control freak.  What can I say?  It’s where I am and it’s a struggle.  I’ve managed to relax some over the years.  In fact just a few weeks ago someone who’s only known me for a year or so called me “laid back.”  Whoa!  Anyway, making plans can cause stress because I have pictured in my mind exactly how everything will happen, will fall into place, will go according to plan.

And we all know how often things go according to plan.  Never!

Back to shopping.

I’d been looking forward to shopping today for a while.  Good weather or bad didn’t matter.  I’d prefer sunny and warm-ish—but whatever.  It’s indoors so no big deal.  I’d sleep in.  Get up and get ready.  Read a little.  Do the odd chore around the house.  Some point mid afternoon we’d head out.  And maybe grab some dinner on the way back.  Or if it was still too early to eat we could always stop at a book store, right!  (No comments about how many books I already have to read please Jim.  You’re just as addicted as I am!  LOL!  ;-))  Just a laid back kinda day.  One thing to do, not really planned.

I could picture it perfectly in my mind.  Ahhhhh.  What fun!

Being able to picture it perfectly in my mind might have been my first clue that I had “planned” it far more than I was admitting.  Sigh.

Mr. Spuds came home last night and told me about some guys from work who were getting together to celebrate a birthday.  They were getting together Saturday night—it sounded like fun to him.  Did I want to go?  Cool!  Yeah, let’s do it.  They are a great group of people.  We can stop by for a drink or two or dessert.  Yeah.

Okay.  We can go from Nordstrom’s to meet them.  They are getting together around 7PM.

What?  Ummmm….that’s not exactly what I had pictured.  Okay Spudsie….compromise.  It isn’t really that big of a deal.  It’s not like Mr. Spuds is trying to “ruin my plans” for the day.  Deep breath.  Okay.  He’s simply trying to work out the timing of 2 things we both want to do.  Okay.  This can work.  I can adjust the picture in my head.  I can push it back a couple of hours.  Okay.  Adjustment made with relative ease.  The irritation is gone.  This will be fun!

I didn’t sleep well last night and woke up feeling a little under the weather.  With very little energy.

Grrrr…..that’s not how I wanted to feel today! 

Okay Spuds…just go with it.  Relax.  Let Mr. Spuds make the bank-run by himself.  It will be fine.  Stay in bed later.  Take a long shower.  Relax.  Okay.  Adjustment made again.  Still gonna be an awesome day.

Go downstairs.  What?!  Mr. Spuds is still here?  I thought he’d left for the bank a long time ago?  What are you still doing here?  Oh.  You thought I wanted to go with you.  Sorry!  My bad.  I don’t feel well, could you go without me?  Okay.  Back upstairs.

What?!  You still haven’t left?  Now what?  Oh.  You can’t find your keys.  Sigh.  No I haven’t seen them.  Why don’t you take mine?  Okay.  Keep looking.  I’m sure they will turn up.

Hey Spuds…..it’s not like he intentionally misunderstood your desire to go to the bank with him.  And he certainly didn’t lose his keys on purpose.  Okay.  Deep breath.  This doesn’t impact you day at all.  Let it go.  No need to react to you story that the fates are conspiring against you today.  J

Eat lunch.  Read more of “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.”  Listen to the birds.  Watch the squirrels (sorry Maggie Mae….I mean the tree rats!) steal the bird seed.  Ahhhhh….fluffy tailed rodents who think they are birds.  What fun!  I may not feel good, but at least I can enjoy the wildlife.

Mr. Spuds decides he wants to make a major grocery shopping run.  What?  Today?  WHA?!?!  It’s already after lunch.  You’ll never get the shopping done and get back in time to head out shopping when I wanted to.  Just when did you think we’d leave?  HOW LATE?!  I wanted to be out of the house no later than 4PM.  ??!!?!?!

Okay.  Another few minutes of deep breathing.  I can adjust again.  It’s not that big a deal.  Let go of your story Spudsie.  There’s still enough time to get everything done.  We’ll just push it back a little later than you had planned.  No big deal.  An easy adjustment to make right?  Okay.  In fact, you can use the time Mr. Spuds is at the grocery store to write.  You’ll be guaranteed no interruptions.  Yeah.  Way to spin it into a positive Spudsie!!  You go!

What?!  You’re still here?  I thought you left 15 minutes ago.  What?  Seriously?  You can’t find your keys AGAIN?!  Okay.  Okay.  Sorry for the tone.  Did you have them when you came home from the bank?  Yes.  Okay.  Did you have anything else in your hands?  Can we re-trace your steps?  Was the garage door open?

(Perhaps I should mention here….Mr. Spuds losing his keys brings back memories of when our house was broken into.  It happened overnight and we didn’t realize we had been robbed until the next morning when Mr. Spuds was ready to leave for work and couldn’t find his keys.  That was our first sign something was wrong.  I still tend to flash back to that moment when Mr. Spuds says he can’t find his keys.  My story immediately flashes to “We’ve been robbed again!”)

Okay.  We’ll find them later.  Here are mine.

Okay.  I’m sure the keys weren’t stolen Spudsie.  He just mis-placed them.  They will turn up.  Deep breath.  Okay.  Let’s write!

45 minutes later I hear the garage door open.

What?!  45 minutes is NOT enough time for a major grocery shopping trip.  Is that Mr. Spuds?  Or did someone else manage to open the garage door and walk into the house.  “Hello?”  “Hello?”

(Evidently 2 instances of Mr. Spuds mis-placing his keys in one day sends my sub-conscious mind to “someone will break into your house again” mode.  Sigh.)

Mr. Spuds?  What are you doing here?  You forgot your list?  Seriously? 

I’m sure the irritation was obvious in my face and in my voice.  I fought to control it but I’m not sure how much good it did. 

As Mr. Spuds left again I found myself really irritated.  My story?  I’m not sure what it was.  Something along the lines of , “Nothing EVER goes the way I want it to.  I can NEVER plan anything without it falling apart.  All I wanted was to be at Nordstrom’s right now.  What is that so flippin hard?!  Doesn’t anyone ever LISTEN to me when I talk?  When I tell them what I want to do?  One afternoon.  That’s all I wanted.  One afternoon!”

Whoa there potato-woman!  Calm the heck down!  That’s a temper tantrum worthy of a two year old!

You know what?  It’s not that important.  Really.  You will still go shopping.  And you’ll meet Mr. Spuds’ co-workers after shopping.  It’s not on the exact time frame you imagined, and you’ve had to re-assure yourself three times that no-one has broken into your house.  And you know what, that’s all okay.  You were able to get some chores around the house completed.  You were able to write for a while.  You were able to take it easy and try to feel better.  You got some reading done.  It’s a beautiful day.  Why the heck are you getting so stressed at a story you are telling yourself that isn’t even accurate?

C’mon potato-woman.  Deep breath.  Change the story.  Quit being irritated.  It’s not even Mr. Spuds that has you irritated.  It’s the thieves who broke into your house that have you on edge.  Why give them so much power?  It’s your own un-communicated expectations that aren’t being met.  No one can read minds.  And plans can always be changed.  Different does NOT mean less.  It simply means different.

Okay.  Letting it go.  No more frustration.  Only happiness.  And optimism.  And joy.  And enthusiasm.  And relaxation.  And peace.  And calm.

Hmmmm….that’s a pretty tasty emotional stew!  J

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Yes.  You read that correctly.  Cricket made me cry.

No, not “a” cricket.  Just Cricket.  Not an insect (are they insects?  Hang on a second I need to Google this.  Ah….they are indeed insects.  Closely related to katydids.  Who knew??)  Not the sport.  Just Cricket.

Cricket is a moniker used by someone who posts on an internet bulletin board on which I frequently lurk.  (RMSJr if you’re reading you’ll know the board and moniker I’m talking about.)  Cricket’s not her real name (No!  Really Spudsie??  LOL!) .  Her frequent posts help balance out my infrequent ones.  Over the years I’ve come to really respect what she has to say and look forward to reading her views on political and social topics.  Her views frequently mirror my own (sorry RMSJr….I know that probably pains you….you love me anyway right?  ;-))  and she’s able to articulate things better than I could.

The main thing that has impressed me about Cricket is her willingness to state her point of view and not care what anyone else thinks.  (Or at least that’s how it seems from my perspective.)  She’ll let everyone know where she stands and engage in dialogue regarding just about any topic regardless of the online insults hurled by “anons” or even known posters.  Her beliefs are her beliefs and she’s not afraid to let anyone know.

That’s sooooo far from where I am.  I suspect my beliefs and views are just as strong and deeply held as Cricket’s.  I tend to keep them to myself.  I recently told a friend of mine that I’m a democrat and she was really surprised.  The circles I tend to “run” in are largely republican—make that vocally republican.  And I’ve learned over the years just to keep quiet on most political topics.  It’s a habit I’m slowly trying to un-learn. 

(Yes, I know.  I’m not really “un-learning” a habit.  I’m changing the way I interact with people.  I’m choosing to speak up.  I’m choosing to be authentically “me”—whoever that is.  It’s just easier—and shorter—to write that I’m un-learning.  Grin!)

So I really admire Cricket for being herself and for being willing to freely state what she believes.

There was a thread started recently about Jim Wallis and the subject of social justice.  It hit a nerve with me when someone called Jim Wallis a Socialist.  While I cannot claim to have read everything written by Jim Wallis, I have read a fair bit of it.  And it seems crystal clear to me that he is NOT a Socialist.  Period.  So I jumped into the thread and gave my opinion.  And somehow Cricket and I ended up posting a few things back and forth to each other. 

Now I’ve “known” of Cricket and actively followed her postings for a while.  But given the infrequent nature of my own posts I’m positive she had never noticed me before.  Since we seemed to share similar views on the topic and had similar experiences from other Christians when discussing the topic I made a bold move.  Well…..bold for me anyway.  LOL!  I posted an e-mail address and invited her to drop me a line to continue the conversation off the board if she’d like.  And she did!!  Cool beans!  J

She sent me an e-mail with some more of her thoughts on social justice, a little of her back ground, a little bit about her views on different stuff, and an invitation to share my own thoughts.  So I did.  I replied with an overly long e-mail (some of you who have received similar e-mails from me can commiserate with Cricket….LOL!) about a little bit of my history and my thoughts on social justice.

Describing what “social justice” means to me is challenging.  I feel very inarticulate.  I feel as though I stumble and fumble my way through it.  It’s something I FEEL rather than THINK.  And goodness knows I have problems identifying emotions and feelings, much less using them to explain a bigger concept.  When I hit “send” and watched my e-mail disappear into cyberspace I wondered if my words made any sense.  Was there anything of worth in them?  How many typos did I have?  LOL!

Evidently it made a lot of sense to Cricket.  She replied with an e-mail today that made me cry.

Good tears.

She shared a few stories from her life, some of her early exposure to the concept of social justice—before she knew what it was called or knew that not everyone viewed it the same way.  She shared some of her frustration with “church people” (my words—not hers) and their frequent opposition to social justice. 

It was really cool learning that about her.

That wasn’t what made me cry. 

What made me cry was what she said about me. 

Recently I’ve been praying that God would show me what he wants from me in a very clear way.  In a way that I CANNOT miss or misinterpret.  I’ve been praying that in the context of trying to find a life direction.  (See previous blog entries for more about that.  J)  “Hey God, I’m gonna need some major help.  Could you show me what you want from me, where you want me to go in such an obvious way that I cannot miss it.  In a way that I will feel in my soul that it’s where I can start.  Even if the direction changes along the way, even if you have something different in mind for further down the road, could you simply show me where to start.  Make it resonate in the core of my being.  Make it energize me in a way I’ve forgotten I can be energized.  Please open my eyes, my heart, my mind.”

I trust God will help me as I continue my search.  There hasn’t been handwriting on the wall (yet!) or anything like that—and there may never be exactly what I am praying for.  And that’s okay because I know he’s got my back!  And when the creator of the universe has your back, it’s probably best to just let him do his thing.  He’ll come up with a way of guiding me that will be more impactful, more effective than anything I could imagine.  (You rock God!!)

I think in my prayers he’s heard something else.  Something I didn’t really articulate.  (He’s really good at reading between the lines.)  He’s heard my desire to try to see myself differently.  He’s heard my frustrations at not understanding why people say the good things about me that they occasionally say.  He’s heard me say, “What do they see that I don’t see?  Why can’t I see that in myself?”  And he’s sending people to me to help me see ME more clearly.

And this is where Cricket’s e-mail made me cry.

She started her reply to me by calling me a beautiful soul.  I kid you not.  It caught me completely off guard.  I wasn’t expecting anything remotely like that!  I mean, really, the only thing she knows about me is what she read in one e-mail (albeit a lengthy one…).  That’s it.  One e-mail in which I felt I didn’t express myself very well.  Wow.

And she didn’t stop there.  She went on for three paragraphs to say the most heart-felt things about me.  In one e-mail she was able to see things that I haven’t been able to see in thirty-cough-some years.  Not only did she see them, she told me about them.  She told me about me.  And since I wasn’t expecting it ALL of my defenses were down.  I felt the full impact of it deeply.  It actually resonated with me.  Wow.

As Yoda would say, “Unexpected this is.”

I love it when God answers a prayer I didn’t even realize I prayed!

So today has been a good day.  Cricket made me cry.

And see myself a little differently.

Thanks God!

Thanks Cricket!

Cricket

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What environment best nurtures potatoes?  Specifically this potato.  What does Spudsie need to grow, develop, stretch and be the best potato she can be?

(There’s probably some deep psychological reason I frequently talk about myself in a potato-sense rather than as {insert my real name here}.  Whatever.  It suits my needs at the moment.  It sets me apart from the vast majority of the blog-o-sphere—seriously, who else refers to themselves as a potato???  And it’s a lot of fun!!  It helps me stay light-hearted.  So I’m sticking with it.  J) 

As I’ve been thinking about a general direction for me life, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time thinking about what I want.

All too often (or is that an over-used, trite phrase according to James Kilpatrick?), I find myself thinking about what I don’t want.  I don’t want conflict.  I don’t want to have to wear a suit.  (Ever seen a potato in a suit??  Yeah…go ahead and try to Google that.  I’ll wait……)  I don’t want to take time away from Mr. Spuds.  Etc.

Whenever I’ve found myself thinking those things I’ve tried to stop and turn them around.  Yeah….enough about what I don’t want.  What is it that I do want?  Rephrase it as a positive thing.  I want a peaceful working environment.  I want a casual dress atmosphere.  I want to be able to leave work at the office. 

I’ve talked/written about this a little before in previous posts.  As I’ve continued to think about it I’ve come up with more.  Here are some random thoughts in no particular order.  Over the past couple of weeks they’ve come into a pretty clear focus.

·         I want to be surrounded with people who value integrity.  Who have integrity as a core value.  People I can trust.

·         I want to work with people who truly value diversity.  Cultural, religious, political, social-economic, gender, race, creed, and all the others I’ve momentarily forgotten.  People who want to hear viewpoints other than their own.  An atmosphere where people learn from each other.  Where you are allowed to hold views different from others.  Where you aren’t berated, ridiculed and mocked for your beliefs…..whoops!  There I go again with the negative.  Ahem.  A place where diversity of all types is valued.

·         I want to be respected for who I am and what I can do.  I want to feel that respect daily.  I want to hear it in the way I’m talked to and with.  I want to sense it in the way I’m talked about to others.  I want to know it because my opinion is sought out on matters I may have knowledge about or that may impact me. 

·         I want to feel my value to a company, to people in more than simply monetary ways.  Don’t get me wrong—money is nice!!  I like money!  J  (As do all of the shoe stores I frequent.  And amazon.com.)  If there’s a discrepancy between my value in the form of a paycheck and my value in the form of feedback, praise, and general interactions with TPTB I want my paycheck to be on the short end.  (Less money, more non-monetary currency.)  I want the Todd Fitz exclamation-point currency.   (Mr. Spuds will understand what that means!)

·         I want to spend my time someplace where I can be myself.  (See diversity above.) 

·         I want to work where my integrity is not questioned.  Where I am trusted.  Where it is assumed my intentions are good and honest.  “Hey Spudsie I noticed you did X.  That seems really out of character for you.  Can you tell me what happened?”

·         I want to work someplace that challenges me.  That keeps me on my toes.  That keeps me learning and wanting to learn more.

Casual dress. Work hours.  Commute time.  Power.  Corporate vs. small business.  For profit vs. not-for-profit.  Public vs. private.  None of those things matter nearly as much as the things I just listed.  At the right place, with the right work, in the right atmosphere—the rest of it is negotiable.  Casual dress is cool.  And so are business suits with an awesome pair of pumps!  Work hours?  If I’m totally engrossed in and energized by what I’m doing or who I’m doing it for, I might not even notice the hours.  It’s not the typical “check-list” type items I’m craving.  It’s the more intangible stuff.

They are the things I want.  The things I crave.  The things I deserve.  The things I think will help me grow.

 Growing Potato

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Back to the beginning for the potato.

In the two weeks after my last blog entry I found myself still locked in flight mode when trying to think about possibilities for the future.

I thought I had made a pretty good start with answering “How do I want to feel?”  Yet it didn’t really go anywhere after that.  I kept looking at my questions, thinking about them when they weren’t physically in front of me, and hitting a wall.

Coach Jim has helped me form the habit of trying to think of things as hitting a speed bump instead of hitting a wall.  It’s a really helpful visual!  Much more positive and manageable than a wall.  At least with speed bumps you know if you back up far enough and get enough momentum behind you you’ll be able to move forward over them.  With walls?  Not so much.

I kept trying to think of the screeching halt of forward movement as a speed bump.  I really did!  I gotta confess…..if it was a speed bump it was the world’s largest one.  Grin!  I couldn’t get over it.  I couldn’t find a way around it.  I couldn’t even see over it.  Very frustrating.

And I was NOT looking forward to the next conversation with Jim.  The ONE thing I want to be working on, the ONE thing I’m trying to focus on, the ONE thing I keep coming back to…..it keeps shoving me back.  I end up shutting down.  Getting stuck.  Not being able to pull back and see the picture from a different perspective.

So while I wasn’t looking forward to the conversation because I really, REALLY don’t enjoy admitting I haven’t been able to do something that on the surface seems to be really, REALLY simple…..at the same time I found myself really, REALLY looking forward to the conversation because I knew Jim would be able to help guide me through it.

I’d sent him an agenda prior to our conversation with three different items on it.  One of them was “general life direction.”  Jim asked, “So Spudsie, what topic do you want to start with today?”

“Well Jim, the one I don’t want to talk about is the one I think we should start with.  General life direction.  I keep hitting a wall.”

Am I the only one who does this?  I would rather have talked about ANYTHING other than my struggles (and self assessed failures) at thinking about my future.  Weather.  Sports.  Gardening.  Reading.  (Okay….that’s not a fair one.  I’d rather talk about books and reading with anyone anytime! LOL!) Even recipes for green bean casserole would have been preferable!  Yet “general life direction” is the topic I chose to talk about.  I figured if I was fighting it so much it was probably the one thing I needed to talk about.  (And really….who wants to exchange green bean casserole recipes anyway?!)

I told Jim I was stuck.  And he asked me a few questions to try and figure out exactly what I meant by “stuck.”  And he tried a different approach for getting me to talk about my thoughts for the future. 

WHAM!

No, not the 1980’s music group.  (Wake me up before you go-go…..opps….sorry…I distracted myself!)

That was the sound of a potato hitting a wall.  So maybe it was more of a SQUISH than a WHAM?

Okay.  Jim’s done this before.  He tried another approach.  Okay.  This one seems to be working better.

SQUISH!

Hmmmmm.  Okay.  We got a little further with that one.  How about…..

SQUISH!  SQUISH!

Wow!  Who knew potatoes could bounce when they hit a wall????  That was impressive Spudsie!

(GRIN!)

Yeah.  Several different approaches.  Same results.  Shut down of any flow.  Of any momentum.

So Jim took a step back.  And asked more questions.  Hmmmm…..Spudsie doesn’t typically have problems talking about the past, so let’s ask her a history question about this topic.

“What’s the first time you remember having this reaction to thinking about the future?”

A-ha!  (Hey!  Another 1980’s music group!  It must be a theme tonight…)  This question I have an answer to .  My paperweight story!  I turned into a puddle of crying, starchy goop whenever I looked at my “what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” paperweight.  That’s when I knew I needed help.

So we talked about that for a little while.  And then Jim asked, “So have you ever tried writing an answer to that question?”

Silence.

Ummmmmmmm.  Gee.  Now I feel silly!  No I haven’t .  Sheesh…why didn’t I think of that?!  Writing has been the one place I seem to find answers while working with Jim.  (Well…..besides in the actual conversations of course!)  I start to write something and some odd neural connections start connecting in different and new ways.  Things aren’t as overwhelming.  They aren’t as scary.  They aren’t as difficult when I write about them.

And the paperweight question was the start of all of that.  And since it doesn’t scare me anymore, why not try to write out an answer?!  Jim!  You’re a genius!!  (That’s said in all seriousness by the way.)

So here’s an attempt to start to answer that question.

“What would I attempt to do if I knew I could not fail?”

Number one.  Write a story/book.  Fiction.  I even know the general time period and a general theme-ish type thing I’m drawn to.  World War II and just after WWII era Germany.  Somehow tied in to Holocaust survivors. 

I would LOVE to do the research for this.  Research is something that really energizes me.  And there is so much raw emotion surrounding this subject that it helps me realize that emotions are a good thing—not something to be frightened of.  They can be something that strengthens you.  That carry you though the unbelievable horrors of war.   Of life.

A year ago I would NEVER have thought of this.  I scoffed at creativity.  Oh!  Not in other people.  I really admired it (and still do admire it) in others!  It was simply something I thought I didn’t possess.  And while creativity may not be something I feel I possess large quantities of, I definitely see sparks of it in myself.  My brain has had to come up with some really creative ways of dealing with some pretty lousy stuff to get me through to this point.  Now I want to see if I can redirect some of that ability in other directions.

Number two.  I would do something with animals.  Oh heck….who am I kidding?!  If I knew I could not fail I’d do something with birds—specifically penguins.  I’m serious!!  I love those crazy little flightless waterfowl!  When I volunteered as a docent at our local zoo I would watch them for hours at a time.  And at the end of my 3 hour “shift” I’d always have half a dozen stories to share with the zookeepers or with Mr. Spuds.  “Oh!  You wouldn’t believe Watson today!  And Tressel’s still refusing to eat—even when her dad dropped the whole fish right on her feet.  She just ignored it and kept begging for food!”

The more I watch the birds from my bedroom window the more I realize that birds are birds are birds.  The sparrows do so many of the same things the penguins did.  (Well no kidding Spudster!  They are both BIRDS!! J) It’s really cool to watch them and be able to understand why they are doing what they are doing.  Hmmmm…that probably doesn’t make much sense.  You’ll just have to trust me!

I know this one isn’t really specific.  I’m not sure exactly what I would do—I just know I’d find SOMETHING (other than being a zookeeper) penguin related.  Maybe lead tours to take other “penguin freaks” like me to visit them in their natural environments?  That’d be super cool!

Number three.  I would eat, drink and sleep books.  Again, I’m serious.  I love to read.  Love, love, love, LOVE IT!!!  What I’m missing now is someone to share that with.  Mr. Spuds is allergic to books.  Or at least that’s what he claims!  😉  He will read one or two books if he’s having a really good year.  Me?  I’ll read one or two a weekend! 

I’ve found a couple of outlets for my “You will not BELIEVE how amazing this book is!” thoughts.  But it’s not enough.  I haven’t found anyone locally who wants to read some of the same books at the same time and talk about them.  Sigh.  It’s frustrating to have all of these thoughts in my head and no “easy” way to see if anyone else agrees. 

So maybe I could start writing more “formal” reviews.  (As if any writing I do is “formal”!  LOL)  Or start trying to find a book club, or form a book club, or I dunno…..just do something to get more conversations going about books.  Goodreads is awesome!  And The Next Best Book Club within Goodreads is an awesome group for sharing book thoughts!  I still find myself struggling to communicate all of the thoughts I have about a book in a few paragraphs.  I find myself wanting to stop in the middle of a chapter and have a face to face conversation or a phone conversation with someone, ANYONE…….  “Hey in chapter 23 when Tom Builder went into that cathedral for the first time did it make you think of…..”  (Ahem.  Jim… just in case you missed that, it was a reference to “Pillars of the Earth.”  😉 No pressure or anything!)

Where was I?  Oh yeah…giving my coach grief because he hasn’t read “Pillars” yet.

What?  That’s not what I was talking about?  Are you sure???  J

Anyway, I’d do something talking about amazing books.  And amazing authors.  And discovering new ones.  And the classics.

Number four.  God.  I’d devote my life to God……………… and become a nun.  Although since I’m not Catholic that’s probably going to be a problem.

Okay.  The nun part won’t work obviously.  But whatever I do with my life it has to be something that can help bring glory to God.  To help me share with people how amazing God is and all of the amazing things he’s done in my life.  And is doing in my life.

I suppose this really should be number one…but I’m writing stream-of-conscious-ly and not in order of importance.  God’s definitely got to be an integral part of whatever I do.  And whatever I do needs to help bring me closer to him—to help me learn more about him.

So number four doesn’t really answer the paperweight question.  And that’s okay.  Because whatever answer I give God will be at the center of it.

Number five.  Food and traveling.  I’d do something involving eating food and traveling.

I could be the female version of Anthony Bourdain!  Without the past heroin habit.  Or the cooking skills.  Or the running-your-own-business skills.  Or the publishing connections.

Sigh.  Okay.  So I’m probably not gonna be the next Tony Bourdain am I?  LOL!  J

He does inspire me though.  I love that the voice in his books is the same as his voice in the TV show “No Reservations.”  When I read his books I can hear him talking.  I love that!  I’m not reading a lecture, I’m reading a conversation.  Even Mr. Spuds read a collection of his writings and enjoyed them.  So that’s saying something about his talent as a writer!

If I knew I could not fail (or go broke trying!) I’d develop my palate.  I’d learn to distinguish more flavors.  I’d be the judge on “Iron Chef” who articulates exactly why they love the fresh flavor of the mint in the dish rather than the judge who simply exclaims “This is amazing!!!!”  (BTW, thanks for that example Jim.  It’s really stuck with me!)  With each chef-prepared meal I eat I think I learn a little more about flavors and how they work together.  And it’s really fun!!

And traveling to new place is a blast!  Of course by the time Mr. Spuds and I actually visit them they aren’t really “new” to me…..I’ve researched them to bits and typically have a folder full of possible places to visit, to dine, to explore.  (That’s my capital J-ness coming through loud and clear!)

Number six.  Helping people.  Again, that’s not overly specific is it?  There are sooooo many people in the world hurting, searching, looking, in need and in want of help.  I just want to do something to make their lives easier.  To help them find peace.  To find calm.  To find motivation.  To give them hope. 

As much as I love animals (and trust me on this, I LOVE animals) if given the choice of contributing to a charity that helps animals or a charity that helps people—I chose the charity that helps people every time. 

So maybe I could take my administrative/organizational type skills and use them in an environment that helps people.  A non-profit organization with a mission that inspires me. 

The thought of that energizes me less than the other things I’ve written about—yet it would be better than what I’m doing now.  Hmmmmm…..it’s far more practical and far less energizing.

Number seven.  I’d pick winning lottery numbers.

What?????  Oh come on……it answers the question perfectly!  If I knew I could not fail I’d buy lottery tickets with the winning numbers before they were selected.  Wouldn’t you??

Number eight.  I’d talk for a living.  Yeah….I know ……the potato who communicates with her friends through e-mail rather than the phone or in person wants to talk for a living.

Scoff all you want.  I really enjoy talking to groups of people (or individuals) about topics I’m passionate about.  Back to the docent days…..I loved talking to the zoo visitors about the penguins.  It really energized me to give my 30 second “These are Humboldt penguins and here are a few amazing facts you may not know about them” spiel.  And then to talk one on one with guests who had more question?  It totally fired me up!!

Wow.

A year ago I was in a puddle just looking at the question.  What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

And now I have eight (okay…..technically seven since picking lottery numbers doesn’t really count) different answers!  Wow.  Wow.  Really.  WOW!

So now where do I go?

As always……to be continued.  (That one’s for you Bob!)

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I’m playing hooky from work right now.  Shhhhhhh….don’t tell anyone!!  😉

Although…if I stop to think about it…..it’s not really a secret.  After all, work will notice I’m not at work because…..well…because I’m not there.  And I told my team I was leaving after lunch.  So I guess it’s not really a secret or anything…..hmmmmm….. 

Still.  It feels more free-ing to say I’m playing hooky. So let’s just keep this between us, okay?  J

Why am I home from work?  Why did I abandon my co-workers today?  I’m soooo glad you asked.

I had another coaching call with Coach Jim last night.  And (once again) it’s thrown me for a loop.  (You’d think I’d be used to that by now wouldn’t ya?!?  LOL!)  And I wasn’t really focusing on work today while I was at the office.  I wasn’t really being productive at all.  My mind kept wandering.  So I made a deal with myself—focus and be productive until lunch time and then leave and come home and write.

Ta-da!  So here I am.  Grin!

So what’s thrown me for a loop this time?  (Or perhaps I’m simply in a perpetual loop???  Or am I just loopy??  LOL!)

Without saying too much (and Heaven forbid I say “too” much on a fairly anonymous blog!) I’m trying to have conversations with Jim that help me explore what direction I want to take my life.  Or what direction I want my life to take me.  Or “what I want to do when I grow up.” 

That seems simple enough, right?  Nothing too complex.  Yeah…right!! 

I’ve wanted to start this conversation for a year and have intentionally set it aside.  Partially because there was other stuff I wanted to start working on first, and partially because it sends me into a total and complete “flight” mode the minute I start thinking about it.

Sigh.

(Some of you may have heard this story before.  Please bear with me.  I’ll try to keep it short.)

What initially sent me looking for help from Jim was (in part) my reaction to the paperweight on my desk.  (Hey!  I’ve never claimed to be anything close to “normal” so this really shouldn’t surprise anyone too much!  ;-))   The weight bears the question, “what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

I purchased the weight thinking it would help motivate and encourage me to take a fresh look at what I wanted to do with my life.  Where I wanted to go.  The possibilities that might be right in front of me.  Instead I slumped into a puddle of teary-eyed goop (starchy goop at that!) whenever I stopped to read it and think about it.

I simply had no clue how to answer the question.  Didn’t even know how to start thinking about how to answer the question.  “What would I do?  I have no flippin’ clue!”  I couldn’t come up with a single thing.

While I’m no longer in that emotionally locked place, I still struggle with the concept.  With the question.

(By the way, my non-serious answer to the question now is, “Go to Vegas and play Craps for a living baby!”  LOL!  Hey…at least I can give a non-serious answer.  That’s some type of progress right?  J)

I thought I’d moved along enough to be ready to at least start the conversation.  And now I’m not so sure.  

We’re starting off with the most basic of questions.  Approaching it with no expectations.  No known outcomes.  No “I need to see X,Y and Z or it won’t be right” type of thinking.  Nothing’s off the table.  (Although I’m evidently too old to be Miss America.  Pfffffffffffff!  ;-))   And I’m still tied in knots.

Jim helped me come up with a list of questions to think about.  Or more accurately I came up with 4 questions and Jim supplied the rest.  Sigh.  I struggle to wrap my brain around how to even start any of this!  I have a hard time coming up with questions without feeling a panic-filled need to immediately answer them.  Ugh.

The questions I’m supposed to be pondering are along the lines of:  What do you want to do?  What energizes you?  What skills do you want to use?  What brings you joy?  (Hey!  I have a list of 125 plus things that bring me joy!!)  What kind of people do you want to work with?  Do you want to serve?

Basic questions right?  Nothing too complex.  No wrong answers.  No expectations.  Simply questions.

And still I find myself hyperventilating and feeling sick to my stomach.

Really Spudsie.  This isn’t that difficult.  They are just questions.  It’s not like I’m expected to give answers on par with the Oracle at Delphi.  Come on Spuds.  Relax.

Deep breath.

Another deep breath.

I’m supposed to be brainstorming answers.  And/or additional questions.  Anything and everything that comes to mind.  Toss it all out on the table.

And instead of doing that I find myself curled in a ball underneath my desk, thinking maybe what I’m doing with my life now isn’t so bad after all.  Really.  It’s not bad.  I’ve made it this far right?  I can keep grinding out day after day…hour after hour….literally minute after minute, right? 

Grrrrrrrr.

But that’s not what I want to do.  I want to do something different.  Something more.  Something that brings at least moments of joy and satisfaction and fulfillment into my life—instead of only and always draining them away.

So I need to do this.  I want to do this.  I choose to do this.  I choose to try and think about these questions.

I’m just not sure how.

“What do I want to do?”  Well…gee….if I knew that I wouldn’t be in this complete “flight” mode would I?!  I don’t have a clue!

Okay Spuds.  That’s not overly helpful.  What else do ya have?

“What do I want to do?”  Something that brings at least moments of joy, satisfaction and fulfillment into my life.  There.  Is that better?

Okay.  Better.  What else?

“What do I want to do?”  ANYTHING other than have this conversation!  Sorry.  (Sheepish grin)  I know…that’s not helpful.  Okay. 

(Minutes ticking by…)

“What do I want to do?”  I want to re-phrase the question.  I want to change it up a little.  How about…..

“How do you want to feel?”  Bear with me.  This isn’t a cop-out.  I think I can start here and move forward a little easier.  Maybe.

“How do you want to feel?”  I want to feel excited to start each day.  (Or at least the majority of them!  LOL!)  I want to feel like Jack London, er…Martin Eden in “Martin Eden” by Jack London.  Martin begrudged his body every hour of sleep he had to “give in” to.  Martin wanted to live every moment, every instant, every second to its fullest.  Sleep deprived him of activity, of action of movement, of progress, of experiences.  He wanted all of it to the fullest and resented the time he had to give up for his body to recharge.

Yeah….that’s what I want!  I want to run at the start of each day on the balls of my feet…not wanting to lose a second!  (Which is far different from the counting of seconds left until I can leave that I find myself doing now.)

When Mr. Spuds asks me, “So Spudsie how was your day?” I want to have excitement in my voice when I say, “Oh!  You wouldn’t believe what happened today!”  Even if it’s just telling him stories of the hours I spent on cleaning the shower floor and how sparkling white it now is, I want to have that energy because what I’m doing is fulfilling, is uplifting, is overall worth it!

So, “how do I want to feel?”  I want to feel energized and excited, looking at every day as a series of amazing opportunities and adventures.  (Again, even if those “adventures” are as simple as cleaning!) 

Okay.  That’s pretty cool.  At least I have some idea of how I want to feel. 

Now I suppose I need to turn my attention to what energizes me. 

Hmmmm…….I’m beginning to think this is gonna take awhile…..stay tuned.

To be continued.

J

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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.

Where?

Down in my heart.

Where?

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. 

Why?

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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