What makes you happy 2.0

Puerto Penasco sunset
Sunset in Mexico in the Gulf of California.

A year ago today I wrote a blog post “What Makes You Happy.” You can read it HERE. You’ll notice a link to one of our favorite bloggers, LA.

In last year’s post, I included a list of things that made me happy. I thought I’d take a look and see if I can add to it this year. This is what I wrote last year.

This morning I was writing my daily morning pages and I wrote a long list of things that make me happy. I woke up feeling a little down, so my brilliant idea was to focus on what brings me joy and incorporate the things on my list in my daily life — or at least weekly. I had quite a list.

A few of the items were:

A trip to the ocean

A good night’s sleep

Working on a project I’m proud of

Spending time with family and friends

Swimming in the nearby lake

Swimming laps at the city pool

Reading a good book

Catching up with friends via the phone

Hiking

What can I add to the list? Here’s What Makes Me Happy 2.0:

Visits from my kids

Inviting friends over for dinner

Cooking

The Desert Botanical Garden

Musical Instrument Museum

Going to Costco with my husband and stocking up

Watching baby quail

Morning walks

Sunsets and sunrises

Reading blogs from my blogging community

Watching Olive the cat play

What makes you happy?

Do you find time to incorporate these treats into your weekly lives?

Olive playing with her catnip mouse.

Be worthy

US Flag
This is the flag a the entrance to our neighborhood. It was donated by one of the residents.

Memorial Weekend I heard the phrase “Be worthy” repeated several times. It was in response to those who have sacrificed for our freedom. That hit a note with me. Am I worthy?

When my son was in eighth grade, his class traveled to Washington D.C. I was lucky to get one of the chaperone spots. I had never been to D.C. and felt so much emotion visiting the War Memorials and the Arlington Cemetery. If you’ve been there, you’ll understand. If you haven’t been there, you should plan a trip.

I wondered. Am I worthy? I try to be a kind person. I help my neighbors and volunteer in the community. I have for decades. I try to be a parent and wife who is supportive and understanding. I have my shortcomings. But have I done anything worthy of someone sacrificing their life for my freedom?

What do you think the phrase “Be worthy” means? How do you try to be worthy?

Is it ok not to go?

swimming pool in Palm Springs
The 50-meter pool in Palm Springs that was one mile from our old house.

I have a reservation to swim in an hour. I don’t feel like going. I swam two days ago and I felt wonderful during and after my swim.

But today I’m weighing the idea that I don’t HAVE to go. If I decide to stay home and read a book in my back yard, I’m not any less of a person. But I’m torn. I feel guilty for not going. I know I should go. I remember I wrote about something similar years ago in a post “I don’t have to, I get to.” It was about appreciating what we have and that we are able to do things.

Every morning I walk, then I either play ping pong or pickleball a few times a week as well as swim. At my age is it okay to slow down and say no thanks, not today? Or should I say “I get to swim today” and just go?

What are your thoughts? What would you do?

An attitude of gratitude

Olive cat
Olive giving me that look before she jumps in my lap.

After my free one-week trial, I decided to join the local YMCA. I made my reservations for a lane for three days this week and I felt obligated to go. It’s a quick drive from home, so even if I’m not feeling it, at least I get there and jump in.

I am sleeping soundly thanks to swimming — and being off prednisone. The combination of the two is amazing.

I’m feeling grateful for many things today:

Warm weather and no wind.

Sitting in the back yard reading my book club selection “The Old Man and the Sea.”

My cat who is strangely affectionate this week.

My husband for playing daily ping pong with me. Yesterday I won three zip.

Being off prednisone and the tinnitus is gone. I’m no longer crawling out of my skin from the medication.

For new friends and I’m grateful for the old ones who have reconnected.

Cooking on our gas range. We got rid of the electric stove top.

Every day I’m amazed by the beauty of nature around me.

Im grateful for my new readers and bloggers who are friends and make up a supportive community.

What are you grateful for today?

Feeling grateful and sad

pug with sad face
Waffles my daughter’s pug.

I’m grateful for the support my daughter is getting on the loss of her friend and teammate. Her distance coach is calling and checking up on her. She was the one who called my daughter to break the news. Then, she got a call from the head coach. He told her that he was there for her if she ever needs to reach out and that he loved her.

I’m grateful for my son, his girlfriend and her family for living so close and being there for her. I also am thankful for Waffles and his unconditional love and affection to my daughter.

I’ve been worried about my daughter because she just moved into an apartment for the first time in her life living alone. She’s extremely sad and my calls with her haven’t helped. Like I said earlier this week in a post, “I don’t know to say.”

Everybody grieves in their own way. My husband said he compartmentalizes everything and brings it out a little bit at a time when he can face it. I’m the opposite and want to dwell and talk and work through the process immediately. I don’t think any way is right or wrong. But we need to have connection with other people for love and support.

I feel helpless that I can’t give my daughter hope. She told me that everything is miserable and she has no hope that anything will ever change. I know she’s hurting and I pray that after she attends her friend’s funeral in a few days that she will find some comfort among his family and friends who love him.

I can’t wait to see her next week to tell her in person that I love her and give her a big hug.

How can you give someone hope? Is there anything more painful to a parent than seeing their children hurting?

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Thanksgiving gratitude for family and friends

Santa Barbara sunset
Sunset on Thanksgiving Eve in Santa Barbara several years ago.

I wrote this post about my Thanksgiving several years ago without our kids. Unfortunately, we hardly ever see the children on Thanksgiving anymore. But we do have plans to be together for a week over Christmas. Here’s what I wrote on my first kidless Thanksgiving:

Our first Thanksgiving without our kids. I’m thankful they are with dear friends and their families since they weren’t able to make the trek home this year. Instead of moping around the house feeling sorry about my empty nest, we’re celebrating with our close friends. It was 30 years to the day that I first met them (my husband met the husband through work) and we spent Thanksgiving weekend sailing with them in Santa Barbara.

Here’s to friends and family and creating memories together.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Waffles the Ute Pug says Happy Thanksgiving!
My daughter’s team sent out a Thanksgiving message with her pup. The sports marketing team adored him.

Who are you sharing your Thanksgiving with? What traditions do you share with friends and family?

Gratitude has health benefits

Sunset in the Arizona desert.

I started an evening gratitude journal, which includes an exercise known as “Three Blessings.” Every evening, I write three things I’m thankful for that happened during the day. They may be little things, like something beautiful I saw on a walk, or bigger like a new writing job referral. Then after each, I explain why the moment happened. It’s an exercise I learned about from a book called “Flourish” by Martin E.P. Seligman. In his book, Seligman said that this exercise has been proven to be just as effective as taking anti-depressants in fighting depression! I find it as a nice way to get grounded after a busy day and reflect on everything that is going well.

Unfortunately I’m not consistent with the gratitude journal. I’ll start it up for several weeks, and it goes by the wayside.

I didn’t realize how many benefits being grateful brings to your life until I read “Gratitude yields health and social benefits” by Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman in the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

Here’s what they had to say in an article published in December 2018. Even though it’s dated, it has some good stuff in it.

Positive emotions such as gratitude open our minds.

With Thanksgiving having passed, we may want a jump start on our New Year’s resolutions. Research shows such a long list of health and social benefits that families might want to focus on cultivating an attitude of gratitude all year long.

Researchers at Northeastern University found that grateful people are more likely to be patient and make wiser decisions.

Gratitude also makes us more likely to take better care of ourselves. In one psychology journal, a study showed that a grateful attitude correlated to a greater willingness to eat healthier foods, exercise more and go to the doctor. Some research even shows that being appreciative boosts willpower.

Counting our blessings before bedtime can also translate to better sleep. One researcher said it may help soothe the nervous system. Not only can gratitude improve our quality of sleep, it can also help us fall asleep faster and sleep longer.

The health benefits of gratitude can’t be overstated. It’s been shown to decrease physical pain, reduce symptoms associated with depression, decrease blood pressure and boost energy levels. In fact, simply cultivating a lifestyle of gratitude can add an average of seven years to your lifespan.

Being grateful also makes us more resilient, less envious, more optimistic, kinder and more social. It’s no wonder that the more grateful a person is, the more likely the person is to have strong social connections, healthier marriages, larger friendship circles and improved networking skills.

Not only does gratitude have the power to transform our health, our social lives and our careers, it can transform our personalities. Research shows that gratitude contributes to a wide range of positive character traits. It makes us humble and it makes us more generous. Together, these traits combat entitlement and self-centeredness. Grateful people are more willing and able to focus on others and can therefore contribute more broadly to their communities.

We the parents have both the opportunity and the obligation to raise children who will have a positive and transformative effect on the future. As we focus on grooming an attitude of gratitude in our kids, we are not only improving their own quality of life but we are helping to change the world one child at a time.

I do believe it’s our duty as parents to instill gratitude as a trait our kids should embrace. One way is to start a gratitude journal. Another tip is to ask your children to name three things they’re grateful for. In the book I’m reading called “Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance” by Julia Cameron, has exercises to list 10 things you cherish. Another day there I was asked to write 10 things I’m thankful for. It’s not a bad thing to do. Reading about the benefits of gratitude makes me want to be more consistent with my journaling.

As parents, I think we need to let our kids and family know how much they mean to us. How grateful we are to have them in our lives.

What are you most grateful for in your life? I’m grateful for my family, friends and the pets and beauty surrounding me. I’m grateful for my new blogging friends.