I published a blog post almost 5 years ago in which I wrote about happiness being having something to look forward to.
The reason I’m revisiting this concept now is because it still feels relevant to me. I also believe it could help you.
Here’s a simple exercise I invite you to do right now. Or, if your time is limited today, maybe it’s something you could ponder for a bit and circle back to later.
Take a pen and paper and write down the following question: what am I looking forward to?
I caution you to not overthink this question. Ironic, coming from me, as I have a tendency to overthink things, sometimes to the extreme. Sometimes to the point where I have to pivot in my mind and shake things off. Turn my attention to something completely different or just journal like a madwoman to release the anxiety.
Anyway, the point is to keep it simple. Use the K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Sister-or Sailor, or Son, or Silly-whatever works for you).
Simple like the image that inspired me to write the original post.
“Looking forward” in our minds, I think, releases endorphins and puts us in a frame of mind of excited anticipation. It can help us to get on with it and do what it is we need to do to prepare for the event, whatever it may be. It gets us to look up, towards the future, and not down, where the past is collecting dust.
A crucial part to having something to look forward to, cultivating the positive feelings that it engenders, is planning. It’s taking charge of what we want to do and coming up with a plan to make it happen.
As Dr. Alex Lickerman says in a Psychology Today article I read, “when I’ve looked for the difference between my happy days and my unhappy days, I’ve noticed that the former are frequently filled with thoughts about something I look forward to, while the latter are practically empty of them”.
Think about that for a minute. Can you relate?
Dr. Lickerman further states in this article “anticipatory pleasure is so important to my sense of well-being, in fact, that I now plan my life in such a way that I almost always have something to look forward to”.
As a planner and an optimist, this statement from Dr. Lickerman reflects how I’ve been living my life.
Here’s what I’m looking forward to in this moment: Taking myself out tomorrow for a little shopping in the sweet little town 15 minutes away from me. The temps have gone up, much of the snow has melted, and I feel joyful at the thought of driving the country roads to get there with my music cranked up and finding some treasures to zhuzh up my outdoor (and possibly indoor) space.
Here’s a song to get you motivated, if you need to find something to look forward to in the days ahead. Because “yesterday’s gone”.
In my online search for writing fodder, I learned that today is “National Mom and Pops Business Owners Day”.
Have you ever heard of this before? I’m guessing not. I hadn’t either.
Finding out about this national day made me think of my own “mom and pop”. I know I’ve mentioned in past blog posts that my parents, Bonnie and Babe, were small business owners for many years. A women’s clothing store, to be exact.
Prior to my parents ownership of the business, it had been known as “Kay’s Clothes Bar”, on account of the building’s history of housing, you guessed it, a bar.
The name, of course, was changed once my parents took it over.
How the store became theirs is remarkable.
When my mom, at 42, was gabbing with her girlfriends one day in 1979, one of them posed the question “if you could own your own business, what would it be?” Bonnie responded with “I would own Kay’s Clothes Bar”.
That was on a Thursday.
While out and about on that following Saturday morning, my dad called my mom and asked if she was serious about wanting to have a clothing store, and she said yes, she was indeed. Dad had learned that morning that “Kay’s” was up for sale.
So together they forged ahead with becoming small business owners. Dad was on strike from his job at the mining company at the time, so this venture was a huge leap of faith.
Though Dad had a great mathematical mind, he hadn’t gone to college (neither did Mom). Fortunately that mattered not, because his pragmatism, work ethic, and desire to keep Mom happy worked in concert with his accounting skills to see them through 15 years of being successful small business owners.
One thing that Mom took pride in was her ability to remain current. I think she was a young soul, really, because of her committed interest in staying on top of things. On top of fashion trends, on top of the news of the day, on top of whatever was going on in our little town. She didn’t miss a thing.
She was a social being who was happiest among others. She loved visiting with her customers, creating beautiful displays to “wow” them, and sharing her fashion expertise.
I very much relate to these aspects of Bonnie. So much so that as I sit here writing this post, I’ve been periodically glancing out the window at our “man cave”, (the name will be changing to something that’s not a cliche), thinking up ways to decorate and furnish it as it is to be (at least in part) a fun gathering spot for neighborhood parties and family get-togethers.
Yet lately I’ve started day dreaming about what kind of business I could run in this space. You see, I’m slowly but surely honing in on what it is I’m going to do, work-wise. And there’s so much potential, right here. I could section off a portion of the building for an office for myself to pursue paid creative writing projects or open it up as a non-profit food pantry. Or do something altogether different with this space.
At the risk of sounding like a total flake here, I believe that while I fancy the notion of operating my own small business, I can’t say definitively that working for someone else is out of the question for me. For the right job, the one in which I can use the skills I possess to help others, I would consider being someone’s employee again.
Of course, that would be the easy choice. Much less risky.
It makes me wonder, what would Bonnie and Babe think?
So, I’ve given myself a project this spring. I’m having a garage sale. Over the last several weeks, I’ve been methodically going through all of our stuff and determining what we no longer need. I’ve been going on Pinterest for ideas on how to put on the best garage sale possible.
I figure this is a good way for me to practice having a small business. It also gives me something to focus on as the time I have to spend watching our grandson lessens.
But back to Bonnie and Babe.
I don’t think I realized until the last few years just how much my parents teamwork and individual contributions as small business owners shaped who I am as an adult. How I think, what I dream about, and how I want to live in community with others.
My hard-working parents had so many adventures together in mid-life on account of being small business owners. Financially, they were successful at it, putting me through college and funding their vacations both inside and outside the U.S.
But perhaps even more importantly, they enjoyed running the store together. They took pride in it. They developed meaningful friendships they may not have otherwise developed. They made a positive impact on our community.
Back when I was going through pictures, just prior to moving back to Wisconsin from Colorado last year, I came upon a treasure. It was a clipping from our hometown newspaper of an article about my parents as they were fixing to close up shop and retire.
Retirement came a few years earlier than they had planned, as a dispute with the owner of the building over the lease had developed. They came to the conclusion that it was time to close up shop as a result.
However, Bonnie and Babe retained their great attitudes, with Bonnie commenting to the reporter in the article “As unfortunate as this is, it’s not a tragedy; no one’s dying, we still have each other”. To which Babe responded “if this is as tough as it gets, we’ve got it made”.
Cheers to all of you small business owners out there on this national day. May your customers be loyal, may you stay the course, and may you flourish!
My take on self-compassion (aka self-care) is that it’s all about being the mother to yourself that you need in the moment.
The moment when you feel exhausted but don’t want to quit working on the current task because you feel you didn’t get enough of it done.
Or the moment when something you planned didn’t pan out the way you intended and you’re disappointed in yourself.
Maybe your mother is still alive and you have a wonderful relationship with her. Maybe you think of her as your best friend. Or maybe that relationship is the opposite of that. Maybe your mother is no longer here, like mine.
Either way, your mother can’t perform self-compassion activities for you. That’s your job. If you do this job well, the rewards are plentiful.
From my perspective, the biggest reward is feeling more relaxed and centered. My head is more clear. Mothering myself combats my anxiety. I’m better able to enjoy the present moment as a result. To be there for the ones I love.
Sometimes my mothering self is who reminds me that I need to get up early tomorrow so I better cease my late night Twitter scrolling and get to bed now so I feel rested when I wake up.
Sometimes my mothering self is who whispers “this too shall pass” and reminds me of all the obstacles I’ve overcome to get to the place I’m at now.
Other times my mothering self fixes a hot cup of peppermint tea and gives me permission to lounge on the couch, looking up at my knotty pine ceiling and just breathing, slow and steady.
In the mornings, my mothering self urges me to not skip doing my stretches and yoga that centers me and reduces my aches and pains.
Sometimes my mothering self takes on the role of cheerleader, giving me pep talks and saving uplifting images like these for me to contemplate.
So, I say to you all: make an effort to mother yourself. You’ll feel so much better for it. And of course, you are more than worth it.
Hubs and I put an offer in on a house. It’s a fixer upper but it’s on a river. Waterfront, baby!
The offer hasn’t been accepted yet, and I’m all kinds of anxious about it. I need to slow my roll. Be patient and not get ahead of myself by imagining how we’re going to fix the place up.
Because for all I know, it won’t end up being “the one”. House-hunting is a strange experience in this life. While I appreciate the fact that Hubs and I have the ability to be homeowners in this country, it requires some serious grit. It’s torturous.
This is why, my friends, you are getting a post about the wonderful distraction of music from me today. I need to focus on something other than this house hunting bullshit. If you’re a regular reading of my ramblings who appreciates music even half as much as me, you might like a break such as this too.
Update: Still 7/18, just much later on. Some other dope offered cash to the seller. I imagine one of those wealthy investors. They must have seen all the potential that we did in that house. Back to it, I guess.
Now back to the point of this post: which is A) introducing you all to a unique and talented artist, B) musing about the earworms in my head, and C) sharing song related anecdotes.
The one musical group on a loop in my head since this summer began is ABBA. It’s probably on account of us having the 70’s channel on Sirius XM on regular rotation while we are tooling around Wisconsin in the Tacoma.
Something I realized listening to the 70’s channel and regular old radio this summer is just how many simply gorgeous songs came from that era and beyond. Like “Suddenly” by Billy Ocean, “Sail On” by the Commodores, and “Oh Girl” by the “Chi-Lites”. Just sweet, lovely songs that get forgotten over time.
In other music-in-my-head news, the song “I Just Haven’t Met You Yet” by that corny crooner (“cornoner”?) Michael Buble, is a major earworm for me these days.
Clearly, this song is in reference to our house-hunting journey. Maybe the song will get out of my head once we actually close on the home we purchase here in beautiful northwest Wisconsin.
There is a fantastic radio station, The Current, which is owned by MPR and based out of the Twin Cities. Hubs and I had sort of forgotten about this station when we were still in Colorado, despite being able to stream it. We were listening to it in our camper the other night and a song came on that really caught my attention. It’s by an artist I don’t think I’d ever heard of: Orville Peck.
Of course I had to google him out of curiosity and learned he is an artist like “Sia”, as he keeps his face covered when in public . I think it’s sort of odd, but yet cool. The mystery of it intrigues me, though his voice intrigues me much more.
I think the song “Unconditional (Look Out Kid)” by Arcade Fire is awesome. It feels to me like a love song from Gen X to Millenials and Gen Z. I would love to be in the audience at one of their concerts, singing along with the “Do do do do do do do do do do do” part. They are playing in Minneapolist this fall, so maybe I’ll get that chance.
Our daughter and grandson recently moved to a nearby town where the writer of Daughter’s “go to” Karaoke song grew up. I love “coincidences” like that, don’t you? Below is a video of that song.
The biggest item on our wish list, besides a place to live that isn’t mobile, is a pontoon. I’m not much of a country music fan (especially the newer stuff), but sometimes there’s just a song that I love despite myself. We all have those, right?
Please tell me: what are yours?Or how about your current playlist and/or earworm in your head these days?
In years past I have ushered in the new year with gusto. With great big plans, ideas, intentions. Not so much this year.
That said, I do remain an optimist. I don’t foresee that ever changing. However, after 2020, I’m a little wiser. More cautious. More realistic. More measured in how I approach things.
So I’m not going to tell you all about the 4 things I intendam determined to do wish to have the time to master in 2021. I’m keeping that to myself for the moment.
I’m going into this year with my head on straight. As if I’m walking into a dark room I am unfamiliar with. Keeping my wits about me. Taking careful, slow, steps. Lowering my expectations to prevent disappointment. Using all of my senses to navigate this new year.
The one thing I am going to be intentionally focusing on now that the new year is upon us: doing my best each and every day (from the book “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, which I wrote about here but not about this particular agreement, but whatever).
I think it’s worthwhile, as one who is taking the agreement of “doing your best” seriously, to ponder what that looks like. What does it mean for me personally?
One of my most inexcusable faults is that I am rarely on time for anything. I consistently fall into this weird mind trap, when I’m getting ready to go somewhere, of believing that I have time to do just one more thing before I hit the road. And I’m wrong about that 99% of the time. So I’m ‘fessing up. I know it pisses some people off when I waltz in 5 (or more) minutes late. It calls negative attention to myself and I need to Cut.It.Out. I’ve started focusing on getting places on time for real in the last couple of weeks. I think thus far I’ve made it on time about 25% more frequently than before. Give or take.
There are other areas in my life, well really all areas in my life, where I must do my best each day. Like putting in my best effort at work. Not putting any tasks off until “tomorrow” that I have the time and energy to do today. Listening to others when they speak and not hesitating to ask for clarification to ensure I understood what they meant.
Thing is, doing my best each day is within my control. And if I can look back on my day and agree with myself that I did my best, regardless of my mood, if I felt rested, or if I was tested-well, then I won’t have any regrets. And peace will reign within me.
Her name is Stephanie Himango and this is, ironically, the second time I’ve written about her in my life.
Stephanie and I both grew up in the small town of Two Harbors, Minnesota. She was two years below me in school. For that reason and the fact that she was sporty and I was most certainly not, we did not have any real interaction with each other. As far as I can remember anyway (this was like 35 years ago, folks).
As a senior at our long ago demolished high school that sat atop a hill, I was co-editor of the school newspaper. That extra-curricular sparked a passion in me for creating something out of nothing. A passion for written communication. One of my pieces then was about Homecoming. And in that piece I reported that Stephanie, as a sophomore, was in the Homecoming Court. I came upon that long forgotten factoid about a month ago when I was searching through a box of memorabilia, hoping to find pictures of Christmases past.
The reason I mention any of this at all is because in the summer of 2020 she accepted my friend request on Facebook. I had been made aware through mutual friends that over the years that Stephanie had made quite a name for herself career-wise. That she had a long career in the news industry, even winning a couple of Emmys as a writer and producer. She is also a published author.
Shortly after we became Facebook friends, Stephanie announced on social media that she was beginning her first ever podcast, entitled “Another Door Opens with Stephanie Himango”.
Stephanie promoted her podcast as being one in which she would interview a wide array of people from varying backgrounds to share their stories of overcoming life’s struggles and what, and as she says in each episode, “if anything”, the phrase “Another Door Opens” means to them personally. As if anyone she would interview would actually say that phrase means nothing to them! But that little qualifier exemplifies to me the genuine respect she has for her interviewees. She does not make any assumptions about them. She asks interesting questions and her enjoyment of asking them comes across through her voice as real and true.
So, as you can clearly see, I subscribed to Stephanie’s podcast. Stephanie interviewed everyone from a man who works as a sketch artist at SCOTUS to a veterinarian who treats pets of those experiencing homelessness to a woman who owns and runs her family’s pumpkin farm and much more. After listening to all of the episodes via Spotify (as of last week), I can tell you I’ve learned so much. I’ve been inspired. I’ve laughed. My eyes have been opened up about all the good stuff that people are out there doing with their lives. Kind of like David Byrne from the Talking Heads, who I wrote about here. Listening to Stephanie’s podcast brightened my days in the bananas year that was 2020.
Thanks for that, Stephanie. You are a Gem and I look forward to listening and learning from your podcast in the New Year. Maybe someday if we happen to be in our sweet little hometown (which in my opinion is home to lots of other interesting and inspiring people-maybe it’s something about that perfectly ice cold tap wonder we drank, courtesy of Lake Superior) at the same time, we will bump into each other. That’d be cool.
I encourage all of you reading this to check out “Another Door Opens with Stephanie Himango” and listen, learn and gain inspiration along with me.
I knew back in February of this godforsaken year when I watched David Byrne and his crew perform on SNL that I wanted more of it.
It wasn’t until I saw another blogger posting about it then read the Esquire interview with Byrne and Spike Lee and realized they collaborated to bring Byrne’s Broadway show “American Utopia” show to the masses via HBO, that I was able to actually get more of it.
I watched it at home with Rabbie and I was enthralled. I hope you all have the good sense to watch it yourselves. I’m not going to even attempt to explain what it was all about, mainly because I know I’d miss something important.
But I will say this: David Byrne’s “American Utopia” is weird. In the very best of ways. There’s of course the music, which is so jubilant. There is the oddly intriguing interpretive dance. There are the wonderfully talented, multi-cultural musicians and dancers backing it all up. There is much food for thought. It’s cerebral. But it’s not so cerebral that it’d be over anyone’s heads if that makes sense. Ultimately, it’s a celebration of humanity and community.
This phenomenally cool show along with the uplifting and worthy-of-your-time website David heads up, is part of what makes him a “Gem” to me. A national fucking treasure.
Within the website, https://reasonstobecheerful.world/, you will find well-written, thoughtful, fascinating, and inspiring articles. It’s essentially the good news we all need these days. I’ve known of this website for probably a year now, but hadn’t kept up with it. I allowed myself to instead pay attention to Facebook, Twitter, MSNBC, and NPR to keep current on things. That is going to change, as I’m re-committing myself to reading an article or two daily on this website.
Because of David Byrne, I’m also doubling down on focusing on the positive. The good stuff that will expand my understanding of things and leave me feeling more hopeful. While by nature I am an optimist, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a bit of work to maintain that optimistic outlook, especially with the plethora of bad news and bad attitudes lurking in every corner of the internet and in the news.
I think we need more people in the world like David Byrne. The people who think outside the box. The intelligently quirky ones. The question askers. The forward thinking folks who have a sense of genuine curiousity about the world and the people who inhabit it. The creative problem solvers who generously share their talents and insights to make the world a better place for all of us.
Let me leave you with what is probably my favorite Talking Heads tune.
Okay, so here’s the deal: I am anxious as hell right now about what the outcome will be of the Presidential election happening in approximately 48 hours from now.
It’s good that I’ve been busier at work lately, having increased my hours. It was good for my soul to participate in a “Trunk or Treat” event (where everyone wore masks and gloves) yesterday afternoon. Seeing all the kiddos in their costumes really lifted my spirits. Distractions for me right now are a blessing.
Today I am determined to remain positive and share something positive with you all. Maybe it’ll give you some hope for our collective future as it did for me.
I caught this story on the news earlier this week about a 14 year old Indian American girl from Frisco, Texas who just won 3M’s “America’s Top Young Scientist” prize for discovering a key for a possible treatment for Covid-19.
Now, I don’t know what you were doing at 14, but I know I was not winning any contests based on my intelligence. The only “contest” I was trying to win at that time was “girl all the boys want to date”.
This brilliant young woman’s name is Anika Chebrolu and I think she is amazing. She gives me hope for the future. Her parents must be so very proud.
It astounds me that at 14, she has such a massive intellect and she is so well-spoken. So composed and mature beyond her years. She is an example of the kind of “Gem” that we ought to pay attention to and support.
I read a few articles about her and this is the one I found most informative. I’m certain this “Gem” is going places in the scientific world!
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.
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.
“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.
“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”.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
August 17th would have been my friend Jerilyn’s 60th birthday. She passed, suddenly and unexpectedly, in Wisconsin, shortly after Hubs and I moved to Colorado, 4 years ago.
She left behind her husband of 25+ years, 2 young adult sons.
I was reminded of her birthday when I checked Facebook that day. Some may feel it’s morbid to keep someone’s Facebook page alive after they have passed, but I don’t. It warmed my heart to see all the comments from the many folks who loved her.
I think we should all strive to touch people’s lives in a way that they can’t help but honor them in some way on the anniversary of their births after they are gone. Like I saw with the feed on Jerilyn’s Facebook page the other night.
Jerilyn was a creative, intelligent, witty, kind, spiritual, playful, ambitious, loving, charasmatic, and strong woman. She was a force of nature who lit up a room. I will never forget her. I was so appreciative of her supportive words when Hubs and I were struggling with the challenges our teenagers presented us with. She was a great sounding board for us, especially because she had taken the time to know us and to know and love our kids.
Jerilyn was one of those people with the rare ability to question one’s thinking in a loving and respectful manner. I think that was due to her great sense of curiosity.
She and her husband Brad were the most dynamic of duos. They were the people at the party who you sought out to converse with. The couple who knew how to laugh together, work together, and play together.
One of my fondest memories of the two of them was at an outdoor concert. That weekend we were celebrating our wedding anniversary and I seem to recall theirs was coming up soon as well. When the 80’s cover band played George Michael’s “Freedom” the four of us laughed and danced like we were the only ones at the party. I think if Heaven is real, she’d be dancing on the clouds with George Michael to this song. Along with David Bowie, of course.
The woman had fabulous taste in music. She loved many of the artists that I did (and still do), like Elle King, Alicia Keys, and the aforementioned British gents.
Jerilyn was the Director of Christian Education at our church during our kids middle school and high school years. She loved each of those kids and they loved her. She listened to them without judgement. She mentored them and guided them. She was a talented planner of things such as youth mission trips. She had terrific communication skills with both the adult chaperones and the kids, so everyone understood what was expected of them.
Jerilyn was a very talented artist, on top of her many gifts. As a person who essentially has two thumbs when it comes to creating tangible pieces of art, I admired/envied this about her. She did a lot of tapestry art. Beautiful works made with colorful pieces of different textured cloth and other materials that could be hung prominently on a wall.
I had this vision in my head that I would commission her to create a work of art using the well-worn but still beautiful hand-made quilt made by Hubs’ then-boss’ wife as a wedding gift. I know she would have done a spectacular job with it. I kick myself for not jumping on that idea while I had the chance.
I took this picture at a gift shop in Minnesota a couple of years ago because it reminded me of her. I thought it was amazing that there was another “Jerilyn” who created beautiful pieces of art using cloth. I think our Jerilyn would have gotten a kick out of this too.
There’s so much more I could say about this truly awesome human being. She was a treasure and my life is better because she was in it. For that I am so thankful.