Saturday, September 5, 2009

Happy Taking A Break?

Well, the third not so great thing happened. You know how the bad things always pop up in your life in groups of three? My third bad thing was my computer dying, which is why I haven't posted for awhile. Only have library computer time, which now must be used for completing novel #2. It's a drag, but my posts will be irregular until a)I can afford another laptop, b)some kind soul lends me a laptop to use, or c) conmputers start raining down from the sky.

So, until next time I have more than a few moments to post, happy living!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Happy Doing Nothing

It's one of those days when nothing is working out right. E-mails I was expecting haven't showed, I can't get outlook express to recognize my server (or something - I'm not exactly a computer whiz, you know), hence can't send e-mails I need to send, As a matter of fact, it will be a miracle if this post gets published without more glitches. It's one of those days when nothing seems to be working very well. When that happens, I usually do a few things: 1) Like most New Englanders, I blame the weather (very humid today, and promising to be thundery later on, thus affecting all electrical equipment and pastry making). 2) Nothing. That's right. When nothing's working out, I try to do nothing. Or as little as possible. Maybe read and write a little. Get an iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts. Go to a movie. Because when nothing's working out, it's the universe telling us we should slow down. Wait till tomorrow. Maybe the stars are not aligned for our tasks. So we should just wait a little until they are.

So, this week, if you are lucky enough to have a day when nothing is working out, go with that. I know it sounds lazy and it wouldn't be condoned by the Puritans or the Founding Fathers, but believe me, it's okay to sometimes do nothing. Or not much. If you simply have to do something, write about or draw yourself doing nothing. Tomorrow you'll get twice as much accomplished than if you fought today.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Happy Saying "Oh, Well..."

Sometimes we can be beseiged by doubts and anxiety, and in those times, it's important to be able to say "Oh, well," and move on to the next thing. As in "Oh, well, so my 28 year old son wants to come home and live in the basement. It could be worse. I think I'll go plant some bulbs." Or, "Oh, well, I have to count up my change to buy dog food, but everything will work out. Let's go for a walk in the apple orchard!" Because 99 times out of 100, no matter how you worry and fret, things could be worse, and things will somehow work out. It just might take awhile.

So, this weekend, let's practice being zen. Make a list of all your stupid or serious worries. Then burn the paper the worries are written on (safely, or you'll have a bigger worry), all the while breathing deeply and saying "oh, well" on the exhale. Then, take a walk or bake something or putter around in your garden. Then write or draw your burning ritual, and your next move. It will be cathartic, I promise.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy Being Sad

All right. Sometimes it's impossible not to feel sad, because of circumstances that are overwhelming in one's life. Someone close dying. Lack of funds for important things. The troubles of friends. Illness. Sometimes we are just sad. It's inevitable. Notice I avoid the word 'depressed,' which I feel is bandied about all too much in our strange culture. Every other ad on TV, in magazines, etc, is directed to depressed people, and promises that a certain drug will fix it. Nobody is allowed to be sad anymore. It's as if the very word has dropped out of our vocabulary. Everyone says, "I'm depressed," whenever they wake up feeling less than perky. When really, they are just sad. Not that depression isn't real, but it's a clinical condition. I fail to see how 59% of the population can have the same clinical condition. If 59% of the people in the US woke up one day with, say, shingles, wouldn't it seem odd? Wouldn't we question how that happened? Shouldn't we be questioning the docs and the drug companies that subsidize them about how this happened, and is it true, anyway?

Excuse my rant. Jumped the track a little. In any case, it's OK to be sad. I give you permission. I'm sad right now because of various factors, but I know I won't be in the future. Things will get better. I'll be happy, at least a few hours a day. Half a day. For days at a stretch. This is just what happens, and I recognize it now. It's a function of aging, I think, realizing that things do eventually change for the better. And instead of moaning about how nothing's ever going to get better, as I used to do when I was younger, I try to focus on how things can be better. What improvements can I anticipate, and what might I do to push them along. Then I try to do some of those things.

So, if you feel sad, stuck, in a bad place, this week, envision how things can be better. Write/draw yourself happier. Write/draw the good things in your life so you don't forget things like, whoa, you're still breathing! Be grateful for the small things. I'll try, too.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Happy In The Deluge

Today I am officially crabby. The only possible walks to take the dogs on are 1) on a trail that's become a stream 2) through tall, non-mowed grass, walking through which is a little like being flayed with cat o'nine tails, and 3) mosquito and deerfly breeding grounds. We have had exactly 3 sunny days here in New England since May. Every day I wake up to clouds, or downright rain. I was flummoxed as to how to maintain a modicum of happiness, until I bethought myself of the solution: reading books set in the gloom of British summers. The Brits somehow manage to survive similar weather, while their wit downright flourishes.

So, this weekend, if you're looking like a wet week at Blackpool, get to your favorite bookstore or library, equip yourself with a good British novel, and hole up through the rain, thunder and lightning with it and a cup of tea. Some suggestions: The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie, by Alan Bradley, Excellent Women or A Few Green Leaves,by Barbara Pym, anything Christie, ditto Dorothy Sayers. Although it's not a British book, The Shipping News by Annie Proulx has some great stormy, rainy weather, set in Newfoundland as it is. Stephen King's Bag of Bones also has a great, really long storm in it, too. Happy reading (and if you're inspired to write your own gloomy summer mystery, get to it)!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Happy With The Roller Coaster

Mark Twain moved more times than I have, and I'm up to approximately 19 times. He made and lost money at a phenomenal rate. Melville moved around a lot, too, and Hawthorne. Neither were rich, and were at times downright poverty-stricken. As a matter of fact, I can't think of one nineteenth-century American writer who didn't have a roller coaster life, including Edith Wharton, who started out quite wealthy. Even she lost her lovely house in the Berkshires. So, I don't feel so badly about my own ups and downs. I've been trying to think they in fact make for a richer life, and more material.

So, this week, let's meditate on the roller coaster of our lives. Where are you now?Are you at the top, a high point, looking down on the lovely landscape of your life? Or are you in the doldrums, at a low point? Now think of all the twists and turns your life has taken. Can you laugh now at a situation you thought was dire at the time? I bet you can. Can you think of the good times and relish them, remembering? Write it, draw it! Revel in the unique challenges and wonders of your life. And look to the Mary Oliver exhorts us, "What will you do with your one wild and precious life?"

Friday, July 17, 2009

Happy Listening

I often use prompts in writing class involving the use of all our senses. We tend to be so wrapped up in what we see, hence what our characters see, that we forget about describing other sense impressions in our writing. It's the same in our lives. At least I remember mostly what I've seen with my eyes, and the other sense impressions kind of go by the wayside.

But this summer, I've been really noticing the amazing sounds I'm surrounded by. Syrupy, trilling bird sounds that waft into my window at first light, then accompany me throughout the day. In our walks, often through meadows, I'm immersed in the swoop-swoop-swoops, the chipperree-ree-rees of the birds, the whirs and buzzes of the cicadas, the hum of all the many bees lazing around the Black-eyed Susans and Cow Vetch and Queen Anne's Lace now. It's like a new country, paying attention to all the sounds.

Then there are the man-made sounds of summer, the Taiko drummers, the polka bands, the crooners in the parks that have freebie concerts. And what would summer be without thunder?

So, this weekend, pay attention to sound. Go to a freebie concert, take a meadow walk for birdsong, go to the park and listen to the kids screeching like gulls, their feet pounding the packed dirt of playgrounds. Then write it. Draw the thunder, if you dare.