Happy Tools

I’m happy most of the time. In fact, I’m so cheerful that occasionally it irritates people! I have normal emotional ups and downs but after thinking about it, I realized that I’m happy about 85% of the time. I have been really, really unhappy before though. In fact, I spent a year in clinical depression. Depression so painful that I didn’t want to breathe anymore. It was awful. So I work really hard NOT to go back there.

My favorite tool to keep me on the happy side of life is to count my blessings. I try to find at least five: I have love in my life, I have a place to live, I’m healthy, I’m doing something I really like and My kids still say, “I love you mom!” When I’m having a really rough day my list looks more like this: I’m breathing……I have gas in my car…….UMmmmmm….I have coffee…. squirrels are cute… I like the blue sky…. But at least I can still find five things!

My next best tool is to move (sometimes drag) my mind into the present moment. If I am busy worrying about something then I am NOT present. I’m really in the future making up stories about what “might” happen and then making myself sick over it. If I’m thinking about something in the past I’m not present in this moment either. When I finally bring myself to this moment I can see that everything is fine. I’m ok. Life is good and I don’t have anything to complain about.

Another tool that I use is exercise. I am a yoga instructor so I practice some kind of yoga daily. Yoga helps me get in touch with my body and my mind. It helps me “burn away the crazy” and also produces ‘Happy” endorphins in my brain! I also like to hike, ride my bike, swim or paddleboard. Any kind of exercise is helpful!

An often used tool is to talk to others about what is bothering me. It can be a professional counselor or a really good friend. But it needs to be someone I can be brutally honest with. Someone who will just listen and not judge. This person/or group of people can take some time and trial and error to find! Unburdening myself in this way takes a ton of weight off of my soul and raises my happiness level by leaps and bounds.

Hugs or hand holding is a great way to boost my happiness level. Humans are made to be in connection and communion with others. Being able to hug someone – tight, or walk around holding hands is an essential part of how we are made. If you’re not with a partner right now, go get a massage. Appropriate touch through massage can be a very worthwhile thing in your life. It is especially helpful for senior citizens who have lost their partner in life.

Going outside is probably one of the most underutilized ways to boost your happiness level! Our bodies need the vitamin D that the sun gives our skin. At least 20 minutes a day outside is recommended. I lived in Seattle for most of my life and there is not enough sunshine there but being outdoors at least gave me fresh air, green moss under my feet, huge pine trees to smell and ocean views. The sound of the waves can be a great meditation tool!

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So, if you’re feeling a little out of sorts please try one (or all) of these Happy Tools! Life is good. It’s difficult sometimes but it’s worth it. Every day.

From My Heart to Yours!

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Never Satisfied

A few weeks ago my guy and I were paddling around the harbor in Ventura, California and I saw this boat. Isn’t it great?

The name put a little catch in my heart because It immediately reminded me of my Ex Husband. He told me during our divorce that he felt I would never be satisfied. He pointed out that I was always changing the furniture, repainting the walls, replanting the flower beds and even wanted to build an addition onto our house. He said he felt like he would never be able to make me happy because no matter what he did I always wanted more. Maybe he was right.

What looked like “Never Satisfied” to him was my attempt to make everything look perfect on the outside when everything was falling apart on the inside. I didn’t want people to see how unhappy I was in my marriage.  I didn’t want anyone to know how much I struggled as a mom. And there was no way I could admit that I was lonely. From the outside I had it all – a husband who worked to support me, two kids, a dog, a white picket fence – the whole nine yards. So I put on a mask and pretended to be happy.

And then everything started to fall apart. I put on a ton of weight. I fell into a howlingly bad depression, cried every day and said often that I didn’t want to breathe anymore. My kids suffered and my friends didn’t know how to help. My EX (bless his heart) did everything he could to help me make it through the worst days including working from home while I lay on the floor by his feet crying. It was bad folks. I didn’t know how I was going to make it up off that floor – EVER.

I had stuff to figure out – BIG STUFF. And that stuff was deep. Why do I feel so alone? Why can’t I fix my marriage? Why can’t I be happy? Do I still want to be married? How do I do unmarried – because I’ve never done that before? What about the kids? My whole identity was at stake. It was quite literally a rebirthing. And it was painful!

But I needed those days of fierce pain and loneliness so that I could find myself and so that I could figure out who I was going to be. I had to slog through all the hurt and frustration to figure out that I had the power and strength  to change my life. I could be my own unique self and I could survive and find happiness on my own! But BOY was it scary!

That was four years ago and some days are still scary. I’m still figuring things out, learning and growing. And you know what, he was right. I am Never Satisfied. I can’t be satisfied with less than. I will only accept the love I deserve.  I will never be Satisfied  leaving things half done or half said. I will keep pushing the limits until I am who I want to be, until my children know exactly how much I love them and hopefully the world becomes a little bit better. I am a warrior for love. I am a truth teller, sword wielding hero of my own life. A woman in a constant state of learning who still has a lot to accomplish!

Funny how two little words on the side of a boat can get you thinking….huh?

How about you? Are you Never Satisfied?

 

 

What Does Freedom Mean to You?

It’s that time of year again! Everyone is getting ready for the big party on the 4th! Stocking up on ice and beer, planning a BBQ and time with friends and don’t forget the fireworks! Celebrating freedom is big in America!

Freedom comes in many shapes and sizes. Teenagers relish the freedom that driving a car brings. For stay-at-home moms freedom is 15 minutes alone in the bathroom without a small child banging on the door! For people who sail, it’s pulling up anchor and heading wherever the wind takes you!

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For me freedom means travel. In only 8 weeks my guy and I head off on a journey across the United States! We will be free to drive, camp and sail wherever we choose! I visualize us waving our hands out the windows cheering, “We’re FREE!!!!” as we drive down the interstate with Bruce Springsteen blaring on the speakers, and huge grins glued to our faces!

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In addition to the freedom that our truck, tent and trimaran will provide over the course of the next few months, there is another level of freedom that I strive for.  Freedom that can only come from within. As a yogi I practice Aparigraha (freedom from attachments).

Freedom from attachment means freedom from things. I like having fewer possessions because that means less work for me! It also makes it easier for me to travel! No plants to water! No house/pet sitter. The Yoga Sutras explain that “Excessive attachment is based on the assumption that it (the possession) will contribute to everlasting happiness.” ( YS 2.7) So instead of buying stuff I prefer to have experiences.  It’s experience that makes life rich.

It’s not always easy though. I like to buy books, new clothes and shoes – oh how I like shoes. But I’m trying to have less so I go to the library or borrow books from a friend so I can return them. I try to be happy with the clothes I have. I’ve even been downsizing to prepare for our trip! It’s amazing how few clothes I actually wear during the course of a week! And when I’m tempted to buy shoes I try to remind myself what I already have. Although I did still buy those Doc Martins last year. I said I was practicing after all!

So as we celebrate on the 4th of July,  in addition to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness I wish for you freedom to look around you and see how much stuff you have collected. Freedom to decide if all that stuff makes you happy or not? And the ability to look within and ask yourself, “What does freedom really mean to me?”

I also invite you to connect with us on here on this blog or also on Facebook  at the Trimaran Journal or Yoga Gypsies as we make our journey across the US. It’s going to be an awesome adventure and we’d love to share it with you!

I wish you all a happy and safe holiday and I hope that you will always Live Simply, Breathe Deeply and Travel Lightly!

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5 Keys to an Amazingly Happy Life!

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1. Play Every Day!  Don’t ever give up playing. As we age we tend give up the things we used to do when we were younger. Things like Riding a bicycle, play in the woods, rollerskating or skateboarding.Did you used to  jump in mud puddles, go sailing or color in a coloring book? How about singing at the top of your lungs to your favorite song? Whatever play means to you – find some time for yourself to play every day and you will make your life more enjoyable!

2. Decide to Live now! I meet so many people who are unhappy and they put off the things that they really want to do for some time later for various reasons. Well, what if later never comes? Life is Short. Live it Now. If you want to move to a new town, move. If you want to change jobs – do it! Start planning that trip you’ve always wanted to take!  Start putting money away and planning your wardrobe. You CAN do it. Silence that little negative voice in your head that says  you can’t or shouldn’t. Start moving forward toward your goal. It IS attainable. Your life is what you decide to make of it!

3. Get Yoga in your life. Yoga is for EVERYONE!  And yes, I mean EVERYONE! (All Caps intended) If you can breathe you can do yoga. Be brave. Find a classroom and see how it goes. I have been blessed to have students from ages 96 on down to toddlers (ok the toddlers were really along for the ride but you get my meaning). I have had students in wheelchairs, with spinal fusions, hip and knee replacements, fibromialgia, arthritis, migraines and sciatic pain. I have taught people who are thin, heavy, skinny, tall and short. EVERYONE says they are not flexible. You are not alone – we all have body issues so there really is no reason NOT to get on a mat so stop trying to give me your excuses!

4. Believe in Yourself!  I wish you could see how awesome you are! You have a light within you that is just longing to shine out to the universe! Each of us is a unique expression that will only happen once. You are enough just the way you are. You don’t need to be smarter, thinner, more flexible, richer or younger.  Don’t let anyone tell you what you should be. Listen to your heart. Your heart will never steer you wrong. Each of us has a unique special purpose here on earth. Find out what yours is – share yourself with the world. Shine your light – shine it bright because only YOU can bring it like you can!

5. Don’t do it alone! Find a circle of support where ever you are. We are all in this together! Find people who really care about you and who want you to be happy and healthy. Find a group where you have a connection and create community. A place where you can talk and folks like to hear about your plans and goals. Where they encourage you, lift you up and help you feel like you belong. Where they see your beauty, your specialness, your ability and fierceness!  We are all here on this great ride called life  let’s be kind to each other- let’s make it a blast!