Category Archives: Happiness

It’s Wednesday and I’m in Love

Hubs and I are in the new house and mostly settled, at long last.

This is me, coming up for air.

This is also me, who has made a self-promise to not overthink the writing of this post.

So.

I am in love with our new house. I’m deeply into the “nesting” stage of this process and I’m enjoying the hell out of it.

I’m going to avoid the temptation to regale you with the saga that was working with our moving company, and the relocation services company that I overpaid to hire them. I say this not only because I’m more dedicated than ever to find and celebrate the good, but this saga began at the end of April and ended, thankfully, at the end of August. And I’m so over it.

Let me just tell you about the “nesting” process I am currently basking in.

It’s reminiscent of 30 odd years ago when I was about to give birth to my first baby. It’s this burst of energy coupled with hopes for the future and it compels me to organize, decorate, and bake.

I’ve been shopping a lot on Wayfair and Etsy, in search of just the right things to craft this joint into our dream home. To get the aesthetic right. It’s fun to get packages most every day; it’s like Christmas for me!

I feel so fricking blessed, lucky, and deep-in-my-bones happy right now.

In the spirit of efficiency with your time and mine, here’s a few pics of the house at the moment. I’m determined to keep things simple these days. Plus, I have zucchini muffins to make using the zucchinis in our garden today.

House number 8

The afternoon of the day we toured what was our eighth (and final) home, I was watching my 8 year old grandson. And the kid was pouncing on my last nerve. I was at my wit’s end, between his shenanigans and the wounds I was still nursing after losing out on house number 7. The least annoying thing the kid did that afternoon, if you can believe it, was to repeat “are we there yet” over and over in a sing-songy voice in the backseat for no less than 15 minutes while I was driving to meet up with Hubs to check out this house.

I actually got to such a frazzled state that day that I barked to Hubs on our way to house number 8 something to the effect of “let’s just go back to Colorado”. A ridiculous thing to say, indeed. But we all say ridiculous things when we are at the end of our mental ropes, right?

The house has deeded access to a lake. It’s own dock. A beautiful flower garden out front that attracts butterflies. A patch of blueberries and strawberries. 3 larger vegetable gardens. Then there’s a small deck, a cozy sun room and beautiful flooring. There’s both an attached and a detached garage (aka man cave/party room). Hubs and I are thrilled that our offer was accepted.

It was just what we were looking for this whole time. Well-priced, easy access to water for pontooning and fishing, not too far away from the in laws and our daughter and grandson. And not a fixer upper (unlike the previous house we bid on).

The current owners of House number 8 offered to sell us much of the furniture. We, of course, were not looking at the furniture when we first saw the house. So, the owners allowed us to come over one night last week to take a look at all they were trying to unload so we could make some decisions.

On the dining room table was a note from them to us. In this note, they congratulated us on our new home and said they think we will love it. They also said they had picked veggies from the garden for us and we could just grab them from the fridge. They signed the note and supplied us with their personal cell phone numbers, stating to give them a call with any questions re: the house.

As Hubs has a green thumb and I’m eager to learn his ways, we were so appreciative that the owners also included a hand-written diagram of the gardens.

Wow, right? So thoughtful and kind. We came home with green beans, zucchini, kale, and cucumbers; as well as a damn good feeling about moving to this house.

I’m so glad we moved here, to “Minnesconsin”, (we are a very short drive to Minnesota, which delights me no end).

Thanks for your well wishes on us finding “the one”, friends.

Good Vibes Playlists

As a melophile, I am an enthusiastic believer in the power of music. It can reach into your soul and capture it, if only for a moment. It can speak to you in a way you can’t put into words. It can set the tone for your day and it can comfort you when the day is done.

Some music has the ability to improve your attitude. Give you a little boost of energy. A little pep in your step. Compel you to do a little jig in your kitchen. Put a smile on your face and leave you humming it’s tune for the rest of the day.

That is what my “Good Vibes” playlist, which I created for myself on Spotify, does for me. When I put it together, I decided to simply go right off the top of my head, thinking of the songs that tickled me and finding them via the search option on Spotify. I told myself to not overthink this playlist, not to judge my choices, especially since it could easily be edited at a later time.

Do you all have something akin to a “Good Vibes” playlist to turn to when you need a pick-me-up? If you do, please do this gal a favor and share what’s on yours. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend you invest a bit of time to create one for yourself. You’ll thank me later.

I would be remiss if I didn’t share what’s on my personal “Good Vibes” playlist. I won’t give you the full list, because that would take away from the time I’d rather you spend making your own custom playlist.

Header image courtesy of https://www.quotemaster.org/Happy+Music

Defining The “Good” Life

Blogger Troy Headrick’s recent query, asking others to define what the “good” life is, really got me thinking.

Instead of responding in the comments section of his post, I’ve decided to write about it here on my blog.

If asked this question while I was growing up in middle class northern Minnesota in the 70’s and 80’s, my answer would have been something like this: the “good” life means you have oodles of money at your disposal. It means others envy you, as you sip champagne on your yacht with a perfectly coiffed poodle on your lap. The “good” life means you have connections to powerful people and you live in a luxurious home. Actually, if you’re living the “good” life you have several luxurious homes in multiple locales. You enjoy a globe-trotting existence with not a care in the world. You are unencumbered by any responsibilities.

In other words, the good life was unattainable. A mere fantasy. And, truth be told, pretty damn shallow.

Later in my life, probably somewhere in my 30’s, my definition of the “good” life became sharper, more defined, more personal. I witnessed my parents, after many years of hard work, building a business together even, retire. They were young-ish at the time. Bonnie would have been right about 60, Babe 67-ish. They had the good fortune of living as middle aged adults during a time where the economy was prosperous. They were healthy and possessed strong work ethics and managed their money exceedingly well.

Their retired life consisted of traveling to Europe, purchasing a cabin on a lake, along with a fifth-wheel trailer which they took down to Gulf Shores, Alabama for several months of the year for probably a dozen years or so. They had so much fun. They most certainly were living the “good” life.

Now that I’m in my 50’s and the kids are grown and largely self-sufficient, the “good” life that I envision for me and Hubs is starting to feel within our grasp.

Here’s what it looks like: a nomad-like existence for a year. Selling our town home and hitting the road. Spending time in all 50 states in our camper. As long as there’s wi-fi, as Hubs says, “I can work anywhere”. Without a mortgage to pay, we can surely manage on his salary alone. Then I would be free to explore. Free to express myself creatively. Free to give of my time, energy, and skills to volunteer somewhere.

After that year has concluded, we would travel in Europe for a month or so, then purchase a new home in Colorado. Preferably a solid, well maintained, 50’s era ranch home that needs a little TLC. Make it ours. Maybe I’d find a part time job in another non-profit that could benefit from my years of experience. Or maybe I’d choose to volunteer at a couple different non-profits instead.

If we continue to be smart with our finances, down the road we could buy a plot of land on a small lake with good fishing opportunities. Build our own cabin, complete with a dock, fire pit, and a large deck that overlooks the water. Friends and family would visit on the regular. We’d have a large garden and we’d host lively holiday gatherings. Now, that would be my definition of the final chapter of the “good” life. Fulfilling experiences, eye-opening adventures, and lots of meaningful connections with others.

How about you all? What, specifically, does the term living the “good” life mean for you?

***Header image courtesy of https://zaiderrr.medium.com/the-pleasant-life-vs-the-good-life-808021808469

Looking Forward

This past year, I found myself in a place where, for the first time in my life, I believe I understood what depression feels like. I put full blame for this on the Covid-19 pandemic. It really threw a wrench in my moods and my attitude.

I think it showed in some of my blog posts. Sorry about that.

Sure, I started a new job back in August and that lifted my spirits, infused me with some energy and ambition. But the days became the same it seemed. While for the most part, I liked (and still do like) having a daily routine, I often felt bored. Uninspired. Unmotivated. My interest in things I historically enjoyed doing waxed and waned.

I believe one reason behind this is that I didn’t have anything to really look forward to. No concrete plans. No fun activities on the immediate horizon. Unlike a post I penned back in 2018.

You can all relate, right?

What helped, especially on those particularly “blah” days, was saying out loud what I am glad about. Sort of like the “Glad Game” I’ve heard about from the “Pollyanna” movie which I have not yet seen (what is wrong with me???!!)

Typically I would spout this out while driving our truck to work. Naturally, doing this was harder some days than others. But once I did it, my spirits lifted. My attitude shifted to one of gratitude. I recognize that sounds cheesy-but it’s the truth, Ruth.

Let me give you an example. As I started backing out of the garage one morning, I said “today I am glad that after work I’m getting a massage. And I had a good night’s sleep last night. And I started a new blog post”. It’s all just simple things, specific to that day. Focusing on what is truly good in the moment and not wishing things were different or thinking that they ought to be.

But now things are really starting to look up for me. For you, too, I think. We’ve got a new administration in the People’s House who is taking this pandemic head-on. Covid-19 cases are starting to plummet. More and more of us are getting vaccinated (for me, as an essential worker, I ought to be getting my first dose by mid-March).

I may be jinxing it, getting ahead of myself…but I think it’s *safe* to begin to think about what there is to look forward to in the near-ish future. You know, those things we couldn’t do because the pandemic kept us home for the most part.

What’s on your list?

Here’s mine:

  • A date with Hubs, the scientist who has been far more informed and conscientious re: Covid-19 than most, to shop at Trader Joe’s in Boulder and have lunch at the nearby Panera.
  • Visiting our favorite local brew pub, Twenty Brew, which I am thankful is still in business. It’s been too long since we’ve been there to try new brews and visit with the owner, Dave, and his charming bartenders.
  • Chatting in person with our church friends at church. Hosting “coffee hour” where I get to share sweet goodies I made in the little kitchen in our townhome the day before.
  • A weekend in Idaho Springs with Hubs. Where we get to soak in the communal hot springs and check out the local cuisine and quirky shops. Maybe we will stay at Ms. Vicki ‘s B&B again.
  • A day trip to Estes Park. Hiking. Taking in the astonishingly beautiful scenery, both on the drive up and while hiking amidst it’s majesty.

Now I know that realistically some of these things will not happen anytime soon. If I’m extraordinarily fortunate, they will all take place before the end of the summer. But if only a portion of them happen, it’s all good.

If this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s to appreciate what is and to keep my expectations reasonable.

Unsung Heroes Of This Pandemic

What or who is helping you get through this pandemic? What or who is giving you comfort, helping you to remain hopeful, giving you purpose?

I am fortunate in that I have several answers to that question. One of them being my sweet boy, Radar.

It occurred to me recently that within this blog I had been sharing more anecdotes about Karl, our kiddo Rabbie’s sassy cat than I was about Radar. It also occurred to me that for many of us, our pets are the unsung heroes of this strange time.

They are always there for us. Always happy to see us. They don’t judge us for being in a cranky mood. They don’t judge us at all. They don’t ask much of us beyond loving them, ensuring they get outside for fresh air and potty breaks, and feeding them.

I wrote this post back in the summer of 2019, right after we adopted Radar. I loved him then but, amazingly enough, I love him even more now.

I love that he’s such a good boy at night. He fits perfectly into the rocking chair Hubs gave me for my 40th birthday, which now sits in the corner of our bedroom. He sleeps there all night long and when he gets up he offers a big yawn, revealing his extraordinarily long tongue and then he thoroughly stretches out his legs.

I love that when I come home after work, he is the first one to greet me. I only just begin to open the door, and there he is with his nose butting up between the door and the door frame in an effort to get to me as fast as he can.

I love how sometimes when he’s cuddled up with me on the couch at night, I can say his name and he cranks his neck to look at me upside down with his pretty brown eyes.

I love knowing that he is by nature a guard dog (at least half German Shepherd we believe). He would protect us if our house were to be broken into. Any intruders would not have a chance.

Keeping an eye out for the bad guys

I love his puppy playfulness. Hubs and I have never had a dog who loves to play with toys so much. Hubs always told me he wanted to have a dog he could take out into a field and throw around a frisbee with. Radar has gotten some solid training for this through jumping up to catch his favorite, super tough green and blue bone in mid-air at home in the early evenings.

I love Radar’s ears. Sometimes I find them folded back (or I gently fold them back) and I see that sweet black lab in his precious face. Then they will bounce straight back up, revealing his German Shepherd resemblance.

I also love that he’s the kind of dog that everyone loves. Every place we’ve ever taken him he charms all who he meets.

This dog has been such a blessing for me. He reminds me of the importance of playfulness in my day to day routine. He makes me feel appreciated. He comforts me if I’m feeling down. He has increased my general happiness, which has been a huge bonus during this upside down time we are still living in.

He’s my furry, loyal, funny, sweet, smart and loving hero.

Alphabet Soup Challenge: H is For Honesty

I’ve been accused of being honest “to a fault” by various people throughout my life.

Anyone else out there that has experienced this accusation?

Not the “I’m just being honest” type of honest, mind you. You know, that passive aggressive way in which a person tells you that your new haircut makes you look like Joe Dirt.

For me, it’s more of a not-always-thinking-before-I-speak or my facial expression after a comment you just made gave me away. Because I’m just a terrible liar. Lying doesn’t suit me. I can’t do it to save my life.

What’s nice for me, within this little blog, is that it is a space for me to honestly express what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling. In a controlled sort of way, because after all, I am editor-in-chief and in charge of pressing the “publish” button in these parts.

So let me be honest with you all.

I’m honestly happy with my life right now. And I honestly believe that could change at any second. Because, well, life.

So I’m soaking up the goodness.

I started a new job over two weeks ago now. The reason I was hired is because I have experience running a food pantry and the lovely lady who hired me wants to get one up and running in her non-profit.

I honestly love working there. I love that I have autonomy. I love knowing that I am listened to and supported. I love working with people who work hard. I love that there’s a variety of tasks to do each day and that not every day is a carbon copy of the day before.

I also honestly do not want to jinx it. I want to continue working hard and be honest with myself and my boss and co-workers when I’m struggling. I want to be honest in all my communications with everyone involved. I honestly want to succeed.

That’s honestly all I want to say about my current employment right now. And it’s all I honestly needed to say.

The other subject I want to be honest about is my creative writing via this blog. I sincerely love doing this. I have no illusions (perhaps hope though) that I’m going to hit the “big time” some day as a writer.

Honestly, I’m in this blogging thing for fun. To make friends. To brighten someone’s day at least once in a while. To get things off my chest. To connect. To socialize. To learn. To grow. To improve.

Let me use my favorite “Macronym” right now: KISS. The “Keep it specific, sister” version.

An appetizer in list form of what I honestly want to do and/or write about once I’ve finished my “Alphabet Soup Challenge” follows.

  1. Write a letter to someone I admire. Embrace the fandom. Writing about it later may or may not happen. That’s not the point.
  2. Capture in writing a conversation about the state of the world in this moment with the Millenials in my life. That would be my previously-known-as-spawn aka Kid #2 and Kid#1. Now outed as Rabbie and (just for now) the Eldest.
  3. Interview my 6 year old grandson about life as he knows it.
  4. Continue writing posts about all the “Gems”.

So fellow bloggers-what are the specific topics you honestly want to write about in the near future?

52nd Street was one of the first albums I ever bought. This song has always spoken to me.

***Header image courtesy of http://www.flourishtherapy.co.uk/9-reasons-why-honesty-works/

Alphabet Soup Challenge: B is for Because

I’m choosing the word “because” for this post in part because I’m not jazzed about finishing and publishing any of the posts in progress in my draft folders.

Also because I’m feeling relaxed and a bit lazy. Because Sunday is the Sabbath, after all, the one day of the week we are to refrain from work and focus on family/home/emotional well-being. Or for those of us who are not Christians (no judgement here), it’s the one day of the week where you best rest up and chill out so you’re ready for the work week ahead.

Because I am finding great enjoyment in watching “feel-good” movies these days, I’ve got a few to recommend. Ones I’ve seen very recently and ones I haven’t seen in a while but aim to see again soon.

I’m sharing these movie recommendations with you today because I care that you are exhausted from our new “normal” of existing amidst a pandemic. Because you deserve moments of time right now of pure enjoyment, because you work hard and have a lot on your plate. Because happy distractions like a good old fashioned “feel good” flick are good for you. They make you laugh, lift your spirits, and improve your outlook (if only for the short term, but these days maybe we ought to take what we can get).

I invite you to grab your favorite beverage and take a couple of minutes to let me tell you about these films.

That Would Be Great (Office Space Bill Lumbergh) meme
Office Space is not on the list–but is high on my list of great comedies

It would so tickle me if you choose to share your comments on these or recommend other “feel good” films that we all should watch ASAP.

In the spirit of keeping things simple this Sunday, I’m going to share this via the numbered list method, with condensed explanations of what the movie is about or why I loved it.

  1. “Kiki’s Delivery Service”: we watched this in honor of Kid #2’s 27th birthday. It includes awesome animation, but more importantly uplifting messages about conquering self-doubt, being courageous, and friendship. It’s a real treat; a film that can be enjoyed by any generation.
  2. “Satisfaction Not Guaranteed”: a heartfelt comedy about taking chances, following your curiosity, and addressing life’s regrets. Stars Aubrey Plaza, who I loved as sarcastic under-achiever “April” in “Parks and Recreation”.
  3. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”: this is very possibly the original “feel good” movie. Audrey Hepburn is ever so charming as “Holly Go-lightly”, making her way and finding love in the big city. If you haven’t ever seen it, I urge you to now. It is delightful and if you are a fan of late 50’s-early 60’s fashion and set design, you will adore it like I did.
  4. “Hector and the Search for Happiness”: this one actually came to me by recommendation of our former pastor. It’s an offbeat, adventurous tale of an uninspired psychiatrists’ search around the world for the meaning of happiness.
  5. “Little Miss Sunshine”: full of quirk, charm, and humor. It’s a fabulously cast (Steve Carrell, Toni Collette, Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear) film that celebrates the weird wonderfulness of family. This is a movie I will happily watch any time.
  6. “Blinded by the Light”: the first movie I watched on a plane. It’s a coming-of-age story set in the 1980’s of a teen of Indian descent living in England who becomes obsessed with the music (really the message) of Bruce Springsteen. There are marvelous musical and dance segments. It was a joy to watch.
  7. “Bathtubs Over Broadway”: a documentary I love with my whole heart which I mentioned here. If you choose to do yourself a favor and watch this, I think, like me, you’ll find it very entertaining, joyful, and inspiring.

I hope you all get a chance soon (if not this very day) to give yourself some love by sitting down with no distractions and watch one of the above films or another one that you hold dear to your heart.

Because it’s Sunday, friends 🙂 In the U.S. anyway-my bad! Those of you living elsewhere, please take some time to refresh and be uplifted with a “feel good” flick on Monday or Saturday or whatever day it happens to be where you are.

Alphabet Soup Challenge: P is for Pets

Karl the cockeyed cat and Radar-ling

They touched noses. Two nights in a row. And I have yet to witness it. Hubs said it is a lightening fast interaction that intimates a handshake.

They have of late been engaging in rowdy chasing shenanigans. It’s not clear who is leading this activity nor does it matter. It’s not for us mere mortals to understand.

They are simultaneously interested in each other and the humans they live with. But there’s an underlying fact: they are in competition with each other.

They both know they are very cute. They both have pretty eyes. That is their secret weapon. They are aware that we believe they are both very cute with pretty eyes. And they use that to their advantage, because at the end of most days, they get a special moment to enjoy treats together on the kitchen floor.

Hubs perspective: he has trained Radar very well. Specifically to “leave it” when eyeing a smaller creature, such as a squirrel or a bunny. Radar’s response is a comprehensive lick of the chops.

They like to eat together. Radar waits patiently next to his bowl of food each morning for Karl to come downstairs. He won’t start eating until his friend is present.

In the evenings, they eat together and when one of them is finished, always leaving a little bit in the bowl, the other saunters over to finish. Neither gets pissy with the other-no possessiveness to speak of. It is beyond cute.

Some of us in this house are of the opinion that there will come a time, sooner rather than later, when these two will be cuddling up and grooming each other. I’m cautiously optimistic about that.

While Hubs were on our Great American Road Trip (3,300 miles over 2 weeks), kiddo said Karl missed us. He didn’t eat for the first 24 hours after we left and when we came home he expressed his disgust with our temporary abandonment by sneaking into the shower and peeing all over the shower curtain. Cats are so weird.

Radar spent the better part of the 72 hours of our time at my sister and her husband’s place in far northern Minnesota bonding with his new best friend, Sis’s dog Dingo (a rescue pup just like Radar).

Here they are (bear in mind this is the first time I’ve uploaded video onto YouTube and embedded it in a blog post. I’m learning!)

Alphabet Soup Challenge: V is for Vacation

Hubs and I are on one right now. A great American summer road trip, complete with camper and dog. Traveling Northeast to visit family, biological and otherwise, in both Wisconsin and Minnesota.

I am so grateful to be doing this. After missing out on our Florida vacation back in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and starting a brand new project at work, I really needed a distraction from reality.

And I’m so relaxed. Like itdoesntmatterifwedonthavesuppertill8pm and noalarmsareset relaxed. Like any vacation ought to be.

We set out on our journey on the 4th. Getting onto the entrance of I-25, Hubs turned on the “Road Trip Radio” channel on Sirius XM. At the beginning of “Saturday in the Park” by Chicago (first band we saw live as a couple back in the spring of 1989).

We smiled at each other, taking it as a good omen.

Radar is still a puppy. He panted, tongue hanging out of his mouth, while scurrying from window to window in the backseat. If I only had a dollar for each time we had to gently push him to the backseat. Dude doesn’t want to miss anything. He did settle after a bit, for intermittent spurts of time. The best thing is he didn’t puke. He’s been known to do that on the shorter car rides he’s taken thus far in his life.

Upon arriving to our first KOA in Rapid City, South Dakota and cracking open a semi cold beer (the camper fridge wasn’t fully chilled yet), I mused that I had little recollection of the last few 4th of July’s. I suppose that’s not unusual for older couples like us, ones who are done raising kids.

I added that it seemed this particular 4th of July was going to be a memorable one.

After having a very simple supper and walking around a bit (95 degrees in the shade is why I say a bit) with Radar, we got back in the camper and turned on the t.v. Something I really dig when Hubs and I are on vacation is watching t.v. Now don’t get me wrong; we don’t become total couch potatoes during our vacations. But it’s special in a weird way: we don’t have Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu in our camper (or in a motel when we stay there), like we do at home. We don’t have our “go to’s” or shows we dvr’d. We are at the mercy of whatever channels are available at the campground we are staying at.

That means we watch completely different things than we do at home. And we have fun with it. On the 4th, after clicking through the 8 (?) channels available, we came upon a channel featuring the 60th birthday celebration of a true American icon-Willie Nelson. It was taped probably 25 years ago and to my delight, featured interviews and performances of other icons that where there to celebrate Willie. Ray Charles. B.B. King. Johnny Cash. All no longer with us.

One of my favorite parts was hearing B.B. King talking about how much he loved Willie. Like a true fan. He said that “Always on my Mind” was his very favorite song. B.B. and Bonnie Raitt later jammed together, singing a blues tune I don’t think I ever heard before. It was spectacular. If you can find this show out there on whatever platform you have, I urge you to watch it. Assuming you love music. But, who doesn’t?

The cherry on the top of this 4th of July was the fireworks. I had zero expectations, beyond the anxiety I believed Radar was going to express about them. And we were at a campground, a place we have never been on the 4th of July. Didn’t even know or take the time to find out if they were happening there or if we would see them from wherever they might be shooting them off.

But around 9 something p.m. we started hearing them. Fortunately, Radar was tuckered out from all the excitement and we had the sound of the a/c buffering it. So I went outside to check it out. Wow!! They were lighting up the sky in all directions. People were milling about in small groups, no one too close to each other, looking up at the sheer beauty of the colors and patterns popping up in the sky. I slowly moved in a circle, cell phone in hand, anticipating where the next brilliant display was coming from, attempting to capture it. It was magical and made me feel hopeful for the future.