Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Happiness Project

Sometimes, I think the world around us fuels cynicism. The news, the radio, and even the daily conversations of people on the side of the street seem to dwell on 'the bad.' And at times, if I'm not careful, I find that it's easy to be negative. To end every day thinking about the one negative thing that happened amidst the twenty positive blessings in that same day. It's especially bad in the wintertime, when the world is cold and the earth seems so quiet and still.

Funks are no fun. And, over time, I've learned they don't add a single ounce of relief to an already shabby day. My father-in-law is a man of few words, but I've learned over the years that the words he does use often make a lot of sense. He reminds me of Clint Eastwood in that way. He says, 'the way I see it, you've got two choices in life. You either deal with whatever comes your way, or, you don't.'

Not only do I need to 'deal,' but I need to do it with a bag full of lemons and a half-full glass of lemonade. Because a glass half empty doesn't sound near as fulfilling as a glass half-full.

In August, on my birthday, I started the Happiness Project. Inspired by a book that sits on my shelf at school, I started journaling about my favorite thing that happened every day before I went to bed. Some days, the event was easy to identify, like Beau and I's trip to Northeast Iowa in the fall, sipping wine and taking pictures of pretty fall leaves, or a cozy night in the theater during a downpour of rain. Other times, I have to search a little deeper, sometimes even for something small, like a great hair day, a yummy supper, or a completed to-do list. What I found during this endeavor was that everyday, there was indeed something that made me think back on and smile about. That even on the worst days, there are lemons. Some are big, plump, and super juicy, others are small, but surprisingly sweet.

So...I am going to make it a point to start documenting some of my weekly favorites on one of my favorite displays...this here blog.
This week, it's pretty easy.
Charly Grace brings this whole new definition of love to my world. I've always loved babies, but getting to hold my own niece takes on a whole new meaning. Beau and I went to see Jordan, Kelli, and Charly yesterday and I could have snuggled with her all day. She is so fun to hold. You can put her in almost any position and she just snuggles up right against you. My favorite is holding her by my shoulder. You can smell her and nuzzle your nose against her soft little perfect head of hair. She's pretty amazing.

I love nights with great friends. In college, we were together all the time. I'd plan my weeks around nights with friends. Now, these nights don't happen near as often, yet they're almost sweeter that way. Last night, Brooke, Mel, and I ventured out into the cold and into the cold Young Arena for a hockey game. We had a blast. It was an unusually entertaining game: lots of goals, lots of rednecks yelling really loud ("Move the puck in the other direction!), dancing, music, and a really good fight. Brooke has officially declared hockey her favorite sport.

Other 'favorites' to add to this list? Beau and I, and Gabe and Gina managed to talk my father-in-law, Ray, aka, my version of Clint Eastwood, out to dinner Friday night. Now, this may seem like nothing to you, but to us, it was a milestone to be remembered. Actually, in the six years I've known Ray, we've ate out at a restaurant one time...Beau's college graduation. And that was at Toads, so I wouldn't even consider that truly 'dining out.' Cloth napkins, no TVs, side salads, the whole works. We stayed in Hampton and ate at Pakodas, a steakhouse in town. The food was good, but the conversation was better.

4.) My new laundry system in the basement. Since becoming a homeowner, I've taken over my mom's system of hanging damp laundry that I don't want dried all the way in every doorway in our house. The system creates an unhappy husband, not to mention, repeated pick-ups of shirts and pants that fall on the floor in a pile if we happen to brush them with our shoulder. So...Beau's Sunday trip to Lowes inspired a new laundry hanging system in, go figure, the laundry room. Sometimes, the simplest changes make for the best results. I actually enjoy doing laundry now!

5.) I'm officially halfway done with the first draft of my MA research paper. 25 pages in, I'm feeling good. I like my topic, I have so much more to say, and the system I have in place for writing is working rather well. By the end of June, I will officially be done with college for a long while.

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