I am a regular listener of Gretchen Rubin's Happier podcast. Each week, Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth share stories and suggestions about the little things we can do to bring more happiness into our outlooks and our lives.
A couple of weeks ago, Gretchen and Elizabeth talked about writing a daily haiku in their "Try this at Home" segment. By writing a daily haiku - a super simple and accessible type of poetry - you can focus your attention on some little segment of your day, bringing a bit of mindful attention and happiness into your life.
This idea resonated with me -- and I decided to give it a try. I've challenged myself to write a daily haiku during the month of June -- and it's been so much fun, I decided to share a few.
(A haiku is a 3-line poem following a specific formula: Line 1 - 5 syllables; Line 2 - 7 syllables; Line 3 - 5 syllables. The lines seldom rhyme.)
Sunrise over lake Coffee steaming in my cup Bird joy all around
Cloudy, grey morning Makes me want to sit and knit While sipping coffee
So fast down the hill Not even pedaling . . . but Uphill coming home
Turns out daily haiku is a really fun exercise! Give it a try and see for yourself.
A while ago, I started listening to Gretchen Rubin's Happier podcast (you can find it here; it's a good one). Each week, she and her sister, Elizabeth, talk about being . . . happier.
(This photo has nothing to do with the podcast or with news . . . but I was out in the garden on Saturday when I found these Japanese anemone seed heads, and I thought they were cool. And . . . being in the garden again definitely made me happier!)
In the podcast 104 (from February 15), Gretchen and Elizabeth talked about dealing with the emotional toll of the news -- which they call a stumbling block to happiness, or something that takes up a lot of real estate in your brain and limits your ability to "find the good" around you.
They gave the following helpful suggestions for dealing with the news:
Limit your news intake to just one time per day. Really, that's enough to keep up with what's happening.
Just read (or watch or listen to) ONE story on a given topic. Then stop. You've got the details; you know what's happening. Taking the same story in from multiple sources just ramps up the drama in your head.
Consider reading the news instead of listening or watching. Written articles are more "information-dense" than news items produced for radio and tv -- which tend to be far more emotion-driven (and, ultimately, emotionally upsetting).
Take action. Take your feelings and make something happen instead. (Even if it's just baking banana bread.) Doing something active provides you with distance . . . from the emotional toll of the news.
They also discussed the conundrum some people feel right now . . . should we even be striving to be happy, given the current state of affairs? Their answer? An unapologetic YES! Because happier people are more resilient people -- and better able to manage tough situations with an active response. Happy people are hopeful people.
My take-aways from the podcast? Stay informed -- but keep your emotional distance!
March came in like a lion . . . but it's (pretty much) going out like a lamb.
I know spring -- and especially early spring (like . . . March) is fickle. But I'm sure ready for the Real Deal to begin!
Here's what's happing for me . . . Right Now.
Watching Well. Nothing on television. Because I've decided to move into a cave until the ugliness of the presidential campaign is behind us. (I do come out to vote.) (And watch movies.)
Reading In my ears: The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (the 4th in this excellent quartet; I'm going to miss this series after I read this one); in print: The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks (good; compelling; but . . . well. Confusing Bible names throw me off.)
Knitting An adorable little toddler pullover for a great-niece-in-law (Tom's brother's son's daughter). I missed making her a baby sweater (because timing) -- so need to hurry and get this toddler sweater off the needles before she grows some more!
Listening to Bruce Hornsby. (We'll be seeing him in concert as part of the Gilmore Piano Festival next month.)
Dreading Taxes. This weekend. They WILL be done. (And that is all I'm gonna say about that.)
Drinking Chocolate milk. Red wine. Whisky. (But not together.)
Planning I'm creating my "Plant Watch List" of things I want for my garden this year. I do this each year -- and it's a great way for me to stay loyal to my garden plan. (Because it's so tempting to just start buying every pretty bloom I see. And especially in the spring, when I'm starved for blooms.)
Looking Forward toRiding my new birthday bike. Something new . . . a bit of a risk . . . but certainly - adventures ahead!
Humming Bennie and the Jets. (Yeah. Still.) (I tried to embed a video, but they're all restricted. You'll have to sing it on your own.) (I'm sure you already are. . . )
Itchingto Do some sewing. A copy of Merchant & Mills new Workbook (long ago pre-ordered) arrived in my mailbox yesterday.
Delighted byTea Drops. My sister sent me a box for my birthday. Tasty. Cool. And they work just the way they say they will!
Organizing I continue chipping away at organizing my digital photos. It's a giant task -- and may never be truly complete. But I'm working at it. (It's made me just put my "real" camera aside for the time being. Because, really. I don't want more photos to organize right now.)
Enjoying Thunderstorms! When they aren't violent, I just love a good thunderstorm.
Celebrating The end of an era and the beginning of something new. ;-)
How about YOU? What's happening for you . . . right now?
I raised Brian to grow up and become . . . himself. To follow his own path. To discover his own life. To leave me. It has always brought me great joy . . . to watch him UNFOLD . . . right before my eyes.
I'm especially happy that Brian and Lauren found each other. The two of them seem just perfect for each other. As a Mom, there is really nothing better than watching your kid . . . grow up and find happiness.
And I am seeing that in Brian now . . . because of Lauren. I am looking forward to seeing the future the two of them create TOGETHER. I'm going to love watching their lives continue to . . . UNFOLD.
Last week, I sent Lauren a note (saying pretty much the same as above) along with a little "token" -- a symbol, I guess, of my passing Brian's childhood into her hands (and heart) . . . for the next phase of his journey.
Mom, if you didn't see me get married, would it break your heart?
I remember swallowing hard, and then quickly typing:
Because . . . I firmly believe that weddings should be whatever the couple wants. Some brides want a storybook wedding with all the bells and whistles. And some don't. Some girls have dreamed of being a bride all their lives. And some haven't. Some couples want to pull out all the stops. And some want to save up for a house.
I think that weddings should be perfect -- for the couple.
(Even when the couple includes my kid!)
Brian and Lauren (now living in Colorado) decided they wanted a "destination elopement" -- private, romantic, meaningful, and picturesque.
This song was pretty "new" when we first met and started going out. Whenever it played, I always thought of US. It was romantic and thoughtful and reflective -- and, even though I knew Stevie wrote it for Lindsey, I always liked to pretend it was MY song.
I took my love and took it down I climbed a mountain and I turned around And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills Till the landslide brought me down
Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love? Can the child within my heart rise above? Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Well, I've been afraid of changing 'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder Even children get older And I'm getting older too
Well, I've been afraid of changing 'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder Even children get older And I'm getting older too Oh, I'm getting older too
Well, Tom. Here we are. All these many years later. This song still resonates with me - only even more so. Happy birthday. I love "getting older, too" . . . with you!
There's a Zen saying I'm particularly fond of . . .
"You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day --- unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour." --- Old Zen adage
I'm in the middle of Crunch Time right now. I just returned from a vacation. My daughter came for a wonderful extended visit. Tom and I had a reunion to attend last week. Work deadlines are exploding everywhere around me. Oh. And I'm planning to head up north for another vacation next week. Yeah. It's Crunch Time.
But over the weekend I remembered the Old Zen adage . . . and applied it to my garden.
I took a break.
I did some weeding. And some deadheading. A little planting, too.
I cleaned off my potting bench and organized everything for the rest of the season.
I harvested Swiss chard from my kitchen gardenfor dinner, and added fresh mint to my iced tea.
I noticed that I felt better.
More upbeat, for sure.
I'm pretty certain that Old Zen adage applies to gardening!
You should get out in your garden for 20 minutes every day - unless you're too busy; then you should garden for an hour!