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Monthly Archives: January 2009

Grace in Small Things: Part 1 of 365

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I think I was inadvertenly influenced by the Grace in Small Things idea when I wrote my post below… but I loved stumbling on the post that started it all. Love the idea, especially because it is somehow easier to make lists than full sentences when you are exhausted. So…

1. No ice storms in San Diego (drive safely, mom!)

2. The cute old couple at the Italian place that fed me twice today

3. Learning to be ok with speaking my mind, especially at work. So much simpler!

4. Audiobooks (Highly recommended for belly laughs: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, by Bill Bryson)

5. Old friends, the kind you can just pick up with where you left off.

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Goosebumps

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From President Obama’s inaugural address:

“What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.

Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.”

May we take off the partisan labels, the old ideas, and move forward united. Congratulations, America, on choosing hope.

Happiness in Small Bites

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Highlights of the last week or so:

  • Taught myself just enough of a coding language to fix a bad layout on our company website without help
  • Posted a fairly technical blog piece for work that got a “well done” from a respected colleague
  • Had lunch with some extended coworkers (those I don’t see daily) and finally felt like one of the team
  • Pulled off a lovely little dinner gathering and introduced new friends to each other
  • Spent last Sunday afternoon with S.’s killer pancakes, the NYT, and later an afternoon watching kids roll down the hill at the park.
  • Got to know a drive by friend (the ones you see only when your paths happen to cross) better with over lunch
  • Signed my first contract for my writing business
  • Had dinner on the San Diego bay with a breathtaking view of downtown
  • Picked the hard yoga class tonight (firefly pose, anyone?), and jogged to and from class
  • Finished (almost) my taxes (yes, this is  a highlight, because I can spend all of February/March/April gloating)
  • Indulged in the best pizza Little Italy has to offer (love you Mona Lisa... Filippi’s has nothing on you!)
  • Spent most of today getting a bit of a sunburn with S. outside my favorite coffee shop, reading Henry James and watching kids, dogs, and other happy people.

I know this isn’t my usual blog post, but this blog is about happiness, and these are what worked for me. May your next week be as full and joyful.

More than the leftovers…

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I want to apologize, for the dregs that are my recent blog posts, the remainders from amazing days… Life is bringing me more beauty, joy, possibility than I can process and dissect in a single day. In short, however this week has brought a a moment of excitement for Better Way to Say It, a client excited about new projects and newly invigorated by an infusion of creativity. I’m honored. And busy!

Excitement doesn’t equal success, but validation can be hard to claim, and this week brought certainty of the demand for what I’m working toward. May this be a bellwether for the coming year.

counting… the… minutes…

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I haven’t seen my other half in almost a week. By choice. We’re in a self-imposed exile (my idea) because we’ve basically been breathing the same air for about a month, and I thought it would be good for us to think, “I wonder what he/she’s doing right now” without being able to look up and answer the question.

I really do think absence makes the heart grow fonder (which I why I had this stupid idea) but — aha moment! — it’s the end of the absence that’s fun, not the part in the middle. Yes, I had a lovely, lively dinner with the girls here at my house last night, I’m all caught up on sleep and laundry and blogging, had some yoga and a good soak. Still not sure I like my idea.

This post started with a rather abstract discussion of whether fooling your brain for your own good made any sense at all if personal authenticity is one of your main tenets, but I decided it was time to open up a bit. I’m trying, really hard, to throw off the resumé persona and just write, worrying less about the audience and just talking.

PS – Sunday in San Diego it’s supposed to be 74 degrees. When this weekend gets here, I will surely have a song to sing.

Just Breathe

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Yoga was the best part of my day. Except the part where the instructor asked (after class) if this was my first time. I think that was the universe telling me that once a month does not constitute yoga “practice.”

Self-judgement aside, I was once again amazed at how very far I can get away from myself. Yoga (or any extended focus on being “in the moment”) will bring you back so fast, wondering just where you’ve been. Perspective is my daily challenge, keeping my mind on what really matters; realizing that work is just a job, until the point you don’t have one, when it becomes a lifeline.

There is nothing like an hour alone with yourself to bring perspective back. Whether you prefer yoga or just a long walk, spend 20 minutes today just staying, thinking about breathing and your intentions for your day, not making lists or planning dinner. The rewards will surprise you.

With So Much to Celebrate…

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…why are we so glum? I know things are a little unsteady right now, but we’re going to be ok. Really, we will. Pick up a book about more difficult lives (I highly, highly recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns from the author of The Kite Runner) for a little perspective. Any day here in the US, in any walk of life, is better than one in Afghanistan, especially as a woman.

And once you realize that “a bad day” is relative, there are all these joyful side effects to be savored. Take, for instance, the smaller gift exchange this year, at least in my family. There were fewer dollars spent, fewer packages exchanged, but oh, how lovingly those were selected! It was the first Christmas in a while where everyone seemed to search hard for the just-right gift, not the fanciest one. I’ve never felt so loved by thoughtful giving.

And the shift back to family-style gatherings has been wonderful as well. This year we spent New Year’s in, toasting old friends and making new ones, helping light the candles and pour the wine like family. Years past seem to have been more about glitz and glamour and a night on the town. This year felt like a hug instead of applause.

My new weekly potluck dinner parties have been embraced enthusiastically, and I don’t just think it’s because my friends want to save on groceries. It just feels so much more real, more comforting, to smell the food, pass the wine, turn up the music, and just be, without worrying about the check.

Maybe I started weaning myself early, with the big downsize and kicking the habit of stuff, but it just seems like there’s a lot of fuss now, claiming that the uncomfortable is unbearable. I say don’t tempt fate by claiming things are unbearable until you’re really sure.

Finally, my very favorite thing about all this uncertainty is all this uncertainty. I know a half-dozen people (myself included) who are using this time to launch a new venture, one that may serve them better in the future, all following a dream that was hard to leap for before the boat started rocking. Sometimes we need a little push.

My heart aches for those who are truly cold, or hungry this cold season; for the rest of us, may we remember there is much, much to be thankful for.

May your 2009 be fuller still of gratitude, take you in surprising directions, and hold more joy than your arms can wrap around.