Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Happiness is...

"Clownin' Around"

Hi everyone!

Y'all will be happy to know that today's word is "happiness" :-). The above picture is from a program I did last summer - we were talking about ways to feel refreshed and renewed about your work. A clown nose always helps, right??

I've been seeing articles recently about how happiness is a choice - something I've always told my workshop participants (and a few others, LOL!). I once saw a little notepad in a gift shop that said, "Whoever said money can't buy happiness is shopping in the wrong place!" While it made me smile, it also made me think about how many times we DO think money will buy happiness. Or maybe we think being with the right person - or having the right degree - or living in the right neighborhood - or having the right job...will bring happiness. All too often, if that's what we think, we will soon be sorely disappointed.

Happiness comes from within, of course. It must. If we depend on others for our happiness, it's really too much pressure to put on anyone. If we depend on money or things, the "shine" usually wears off pretty quickly, doesn't it?

This morning, I read an article about a couple who built their dream "cabin." It ended up being 10,929 square feet (!!!) on hundreds of acres. Nice cabin :-). But throughout the article, they kept protesting that it wasn't about the size (but the size kept coming into the conversation), it was about the quality. Hmmm, I think you can have quality in a little less than 10,929 square feet. At one point they admitted that, just like they did in their smaller home, they still "live" in basically 3 rooms - the kitchen, great room, and bedroom. Wow. Kind of says a lot about what brings happiness, doesn't it? I picked up another magazine just a few minutes later and read about a couple who lived in 128 square feet. WHOA! Talk about extremes!

Maybe what I'm saying is that often, a "happy medium" (get it? "happy" medium??) is all we need. My home is not 128 sq. ft. tiny and it's nowhere near huge. That makes me happy. It's big enough to operate my business from and still hold a husband, a BIG dog, and a little cat - and we're all happy. But I know I would feel absolutely claustrophobic in 128 square feet (not to mention having to go to the gym to shower - yikes). And I would be strained to the limit trying to care for 10,929 square feet - of course, I'd probably be paying someone to do all that "care"...but just thinking about trying to manage all the logistics makes me tired!

And what I've slowly come to understand is making me happier these days is my decision to simplify. I say "slowly" because dropping everything to "clean house" would not make me happy. I need to do something so significant at my own pace. I like the idea of de-cluttering, but throwing away just to lighten the load isn't the answer for me. I need to give it some thought. What brings me pleasure? What do I need to do my work well? How much storage do we really need - and why?? How much is too much of anything?

The question becomes then...what makes you happy? REALLY happy? Isn't it great to know there are no right or wrong answers to that question? It's all about you. The secret is that you need to know yourself well enough to come up with an answer. Do you?

Let me know what makes you happy!


Monday, February 10, 2014

Disappointment - yikes!

Hi everyone,

Well, I've held off posting for a week or so because the word that kept coming to mind was...disappointment! I'm not sure why that is stuck on replay in my mind, but since it is, I thought maybe someone reading this needs a little encouragement.

The thing is, we all go through disappointments - yearly, monthly, weekly, daily...sometimes hourly!! It's how we handle those disappointments that will affect how we feel physically and emotionally.

For example, the cool fence you see in the picture is the one I mentioned last spring. I love how it looks, but was totally disappointed about the lack of customer service from the landscaper. One of the $10 plants (luckily not a camellia!) died shortly after planting. I suggested a small credit to my credit card so that the landscaper wouldn't have to drive all the way here to replace one small plant, which was on the end anyway. He assured me twice, in writing, that he would come and replace it. Alas, that never happened and I had to get rather stern about at least getting a copy of the lifetime warranty for the fence. The result? I simply won't use that landscaper anymore, nor would I refer him if asked about the fence.

That's a pretty simple disappointment, isn't it? It took several hours of my time to finally get it out of the way, but overall, nothing to get too uptight about. Just a disappointing experience with a service provider. Those kinds of things happen often enough that I knew to just dismiss it when it was over.

But what about when it's a disappointment about your health? Some of you know that my husband had tongue cancer 7 years ago (key word...HAD!) and he has suffered ramifications of the radiation several times since then. The most recent incident involves his jaw totally locking for some odd reason. A month into this stressful situation, he is finally able to get his mouth open about 3/8", but still can't eat his beloved scrambled eggs in the morning. He is, once again, on a totally liquid diet. Huge disappointment. Most days he has a good attitude about it, but some days, it's just too much, ya know?? Yeah, I bet some of you DO know because maybe you've gone through something health-wise that is just as disappointing - or worse. 

And speaking of health issues, my blog posts apparently caught the eye of an attorney's office a few weeks ago. I got what appeared to be a heartfelt email from a woman about how it would be so kind of me to post about raising awareness for mesothelioma. Indeed, I have no doubt that awareness is something that would help those affected. Something just didn't feel right, though. When I researched the information from her signature line, it appeared as if it was a thinly veiled way of soliciting clients for an attorney she must work for. ARGH. I am sometimes so disappointed by the human race. When I tried to get a straight answer, I got a very obvious one - she quit responding to my emails, which told me all I needed to know. Again, not a big deal...just... disappointing.

Last week, I was reading evaluations for one of my workshops and one person's comment was quite negative. Even though the overwhelming majority (all other participants, as a matter of fact!) were very complimentary about how helpful the program was for them, that one comment left me feeling...guess what ...disappointed in myself! I wondered what I could have done to reach that one person, when in reality, I should have looked at what I did right to reach all the others so that I could repeat whatever that was ;-). Although I always take evaluations to heart, I got over that one pretty quickly. There wasn't any constructive feedback to help me improve, and since others thought it was great, I had to let it go.

And having just worked on the paperwork to take to the accountant for tax season, I'm reminded that disappointment can certainly come in the form of monetary issues, can't it? I had a good year last year, as did my husband...but neither of us had quite as good a year as the year before. Disappointing? Yes. But oh, we are so blessed. We have our home, our cars, our general health, our four-legged critters to keep us company, food in the pantry, heat or air at the touch of a thermostat, and work we both love. How can disappointment linger when there is so much to be grateful for?? We know the peaks and valleys of being self-employed and we recognize when things are going very well along those lines, as they are for both of us.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, we will all face disappointments coming from a myriad of directions. How do we handle them? How should we handle them? That's different for each of us, isn't it? But one thing I'm fairly certain of is that we each need to make sure those disappointments aren't dragging us down and stealing our joy day after day after day. 

Recognize them? Yes. Deal with them? Sure, the best we can. Then take a deep breath and move on, because life is going to move on anyway, whether you are moving forward with purpose or mired down in the muck of disappointments. 

Find things to focus on that bring you pleasure and nurture your soul - and that take your mind off the disappointment, at least for a time. Flowers, animals, your kids, friends, a beautiful breeze, a good book, a sweet-scented candle, a warm blanket, a piece of rich chocolate ...whatever it is that brings you pleasure...be sure you find a little of that every single day. And be in the moment when you find it, so that - if you need to - you can recall that pleasure to help you deal with whatever life throws your way.

And if I can help chase your disappointment away, just drop me a line. Or if you've found a way that really works for you and might work for others, let me know that, too!