Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Six Things that Make Me Happy
My blogger friend Lisa tagged me to write about six things that make me happy. What a wonderful topic to write on! I am, and I hope it usually shows in my blog posts, a pretty happy person generally. I am definitely an optimist, glass-half-full person. I know I've done my share of moaning and complaining over slow race times, but when it comes to life in general, I admit to wearing the rose-colored glasses.
Partly it comes down to my deep-seated belief that things are going to work out okay in the end. I've always lived by the motto, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (a verse from Hebrews* in the New Testament). Certainly that can be interpreted religiously, as it was originally intended, but I think it also has a more universal meaning that anyone can embrace. If you can believe in something without demanding evidence, if you can have faith without strings, you will probably be a happier, more peaceful person.
So here they are, six things—out of many—that make me happy.
1) Myself, my life, and the person I am today
At the risk of sounding completely narcissistic—and perhaps I am—I have to begin with me. At the age of 43 I am almost completely contented with the woman I am—runner, wannabe yogini, writer, lawyer, daughter, sister, girlfriend, friend. Looking back at past eras in my life, high school, college, law school, there were always highs and lows and even though I had a lot of fun, and remember those days fondly, there was plenty of unhappiness along with the good times. I'm not saying I don't have my moody moments even now, but overall I just really like the person I am today and the life I lead. I may complain (frequently) about wanting to lose ten (or twenty) pounds, but even so, when I look into the mirror I like what I see. Not just the body and face and hair and clothes, but also the spirit and soul that I hope others can see as easily as they see the body, face, hair and clothes.
2) Gardens, plants, and flowers (and nurseries)
A GARDEN is a lovesome thing, God wot! Not my words, but the first line of a poem by Thomas Edward Brown. Lovesome just means lovely. And although I've sadly neglected my own garden to spend more time running and going to races over the summer, lovely gardens still bring joy to my heart. Butchart Gardens, the Arboretum at Legion Park, all the gardens I've visited in England, Christianson's Nursery dressed for the holidays, a late spray of roses on my Graham Stuart Thomas rosebush, bringing a splash of gold to my autumnal garden.
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving my mother and I went up to Christianson's for their holiday tea, which they hold every year in an old schoolhouse that they moved onto the property. After enjoying our little sandwiches and scones, we took a walk through the nursery before we left. Every time I go up to Christianson's it is more delightful than before. Some of their buildings are reconstructed from pieces of other old businesses, like the counters and fixtures from Tillinghast Seed Company, or the conservatory-like greenhouse walls from an old nursery in Seattle. Every space is crammed with beautiful plants and accessories, and white lights twinkle everywhere. When we walked into one propagation house, I was so overcome by the loveliness, that I said, quite sincerely, that I wished I could move in and live right there with the plants. That being an unlikely prospect, I will instead return to purchase and plant some (semi) hardy begonias, a charming evergreen plant that is almost like a shrub (picture at left).
Books have always been a great joy to me, and, I admit, something of an addiction as well. I can't walk through a bookstore without buying something, and I have a very intimate relationship with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I admit I've betrayed my loyalty to independent bookstores thanks to the vast quantity and cheap prices of books offered by Amazon and B&N. But I'll buy from the small bookstores too. And used book stores like Half Price Books and Powell's in Portland. Really, I'm just a book slut, extremely promiscuous with my affections. And yes, even at this very moment I am surrounded by piles of books, some read and others not yet read, some of which I don't even remember buying and am at slight risk of repurchasing, should I see them in another store and once again find them appealing and interesting.
I would guess that many voracious readers, like me, harbor a deep desire to write as well. As a child I always wanted to be a writer, to write books that would be published. These days I'm not so sure that fiction writing is in the cards for me. I kind of suspect that years of working in law may have drained any creativity out of me that still remained after seven years of post-secondary education (college and law school).
But even as I let go of the dream of writing a great (or at least publishable) novel, I have embraced the hugely satisfying genre of non-fiction commentary and memoir-style writing, otherwise known as blogging. (Perhaps you've heard of it?) I first dipped my toes into the blog-arena with my England travel blog, Travelling the One-Track Road. I spent hours during my 2007 trip writing about our travel adventures and the places we visited, lavishly illustrated with photos and filled with supplemental research conveniently found on the internet. My audience was friends and relatives back home (as well as in Norway).
After I came home, though, it proved difficult to continue writing about travelling in England (not surprisingly), and I started writing a little bit about races I was doing. Eventually that turned into this running blog. And because I can't help myself, I write not only about running, but anything that catches my fancy. Including travel in England. (Although I'm firing up the One-Track Road when I go to Bath for the half marathon in March.)
Writing makes me very happy. I write for the pure pleasure of doing so, and satisfaction of having a way to express myself and memorialize my thoughts, as well as important events in my life. I will admit, though, it is pretty nice knowing that there are at least a few people who read what I write. I know some of them well, thanks to their regular comments (and many thanks to all of you). And it is an even bigger thrill to get a comment from someone I haven't heard from before!
Yes, I'll admit it, running makes me happy. I'm not always (hardly ever) happy to get out of bed at 6:00 in the morning to go do it, but after the kinks work out of my legs and my body loosens up, running does bring me joy and satisfaction. I have never, ever finished a run and wished that I hadn't gone running. Fast or slow, I am invariably pumped up and cheery by the time I slow to a walk. And if that final walk is accompanied by a latte from Starbucks, so much the better. (See, I managed to squeeze in an extra "happy thing"; Starbucks lattes do make me quite happy, as well as caffeinated!)
6) My boyfriend RR
Okay, I know it's cheesy and predictable (though not as predictable as running), but he does make me happier than I could have imagined possible. His affection, appreciation, and attention makes each day a little brighter (am I corny or what?). I do feel very lucky to have someone so very special in my life. (And he just edged out Barack Obama on my Happy List!)
There are so many other things I could include—for example, my cats, various favorite foods, music, travelling in England—if I thought about it I could come up with a whole laundry list, in the style of "Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens." I do have a lot of favorite things. But I think the ones I listed here really are the tops of what makes my life the satisfying, joyous experience it usually is. And I hope they all remain part of my life for a long, long time.
**Am I not supposed to include running? Oh well.