Perhaps it was
the new game the new speakers the new camera
the boxes the manuals the cords
the plastic the paper the ribbon
the fudge the cookies the cinnamon sugar
the sour cream in the enchiladas
the tres leches
one leche alone wouldn’t do
the coffee the soda the wine
the puzzle on the coffee table
a pair of rat terriers under your skin
27 pieces left and I can’t quit
although I’m done
marinated, roasted and fried
so in this idle between one holiday and the next
I’m ducking out as is my custom
to quietly come undone
because every year is the same and I know it:
happiness is simple
everything we do to find it is complicated.
Posts Tagged ‘Happiness’
December 26th, 2009 - 9 Comments
Perhaps it was
December 22nd, 2009 - 11 Comments
In this week of returns and revelations, I’m leaving sand on your doorstep with a few repeat posts. Enjoy your time!
At the risk of shattering all illusions you might have about how a Buddhist priest is supposed to live, I will tell you that I am vacationing with my extended family on a remote, but not too remote, Pacific island. It is not too remote, considering it is the number one holiday air travel destination for Southern Californians, such Californians including D-list celebrities like the one we think we spied doing calisthenics on the stretch of lawn beside our own.
I find myself here because life, or dharma, provides in all ways visible and invisible. My family is hospitable, you see. We get along. We share. We like one another’s company. For at least a week, that is, when one particularly generous sister has sprung for a seven-day rental of a beachfront home with separate bedrooms, baths and high-speed Internet for all.
I am lucky. I am so terribly lucky, and I’ve done nothing at all to earn it. One night’s stay in a place like this and right away I realize how lucky I am. It takes several more days to realize that I don’t have to do anything to earn it. Don’t have to do anything for merit or reward. Don’t have to use the time wisely. Don’t have to busy myself producing something. Don’t have to crack open the computer and write something. Don’t have to double-back and finish up the project I left undone. Don’t have to hurry; don’t have to crack down. Don’t have to deny; don’t have to forbear. Don’t have to ponder, wish or strategize. Don’t have to be someone else, doing something other than nothing at all.
Every time I take a vacation, I confront the obvious truth in the plain sight of our language. To vacation is to vacate. Vacate my own timeline, my own agenda, my own expectations, my own grind, my own restlessness and deep-rooted exasperation. Renouncing my point of view is true renunciation. I can enjoy the hot tub without a second thought.
When I finally empty my head and open my hands I find my tongue with a native’s ease.
The hula could take longer.
September 22nd, 2009 - 89 Comments
Today I had a: conversation/fight/tantrum/major meltdown.
The fact is, I’m having a tough time with the transition to: going back to work/daycare/no sleep/solids/no nap/the big bed/the twos/the threes/a new sibling/the layoff/the new job/kindergarten/fourth grade.
I’m just so frustrated with: naptime/potty training/bedtime/no time to myself.
I shouted/screamed/slammed the door/broke down/sobbed/made her cry.
I should have: seen it coming/stopped in my tracks/used my words/taken a break/left the room/given myself a timeout.
This is so much harder than: I thought/anyone told me/it was last year.
How can I: learn from my mistakes/do better/raise my child differently?
Kris is one of the founders of Feeleez, which originated tools to teach kids what some folks call emotional intelligence.
Getting along peacefully is what we all want to do. A tool to help our children identify and talk about their feelings helps parents talk about their feelings too. Personally speaking, that has always been a more urgent need in our household, and that’s why I’m so glad to offer you this gift.
Kris was an early adopter of Momma Zen, for which I feel so grateful, and she checked in with me recently to find out how else I was feeling. Frankly, Kris, I’m feeling relieved now that I said all this, and empathize with all the moms who I know are having a rough go of it these days.
I’m giving away a beautifully crafted and packaged Feeleez Empathy Game with 25 matching pairs of Feeleez cards to help you and your children learn to recognize and express feelings in a non-confrontational way. It comes with a guide for several game ideas including memory games and charades. It’s a lovely addition to your home or classroom.
To enter, simply leave a comment telling me how you feel right now, including a way to contact you by blog or email if you win. Seriously, I feel sad when I choose a winner that I can’t contact! The giveaway ends next Monday, Sept. 28. Enter as often as you like whenever the feeling strikes.
August 22nd, 2009 - 15 Comments
I once got a fortune cookie that said that. Not exactly. This guy said it first. I was so impressed that I kept the slip of paper in my wallet for about 20 years. Eventually I cleaned out my wallet, it might please you to know, but you can see how dear these words are to me still. Needless to say, the fortune came true. It is the truest fortune I’ve ever seen. It is the truest fortune there is. It is everyone’s fortune.
What does it mean?
Surely you know. You’re smart and clever. Perhaps too smart and clever. Cleverness works, for a time. You can look “serviceable” up in the dictionary. You can figure some stuff out. You can get better at certain things. You can acquire knowledge and skills. You can work harder and longer. Figure out Twitter. Get a leg up on the next thing. You can do more, be better liked, with a bigger reputation. You can set a goal and maybe even reach it. And then another. And another.
But is it ever sufficient?
As long as you are in the realm of cleverness, it is not sufficient. By that I mean, as long as you are in the realm of judging yourself and your life as being one way or the other (good/no good, full/empty, success/fail, made/not made) it is not sufficient. How do you know? Because you will still feel insufficient. You will still feel as though there is something more, better, greater and more fulfilling for you to get. At the same time, it will seem as though there are a few charmed folks on the other side of the scale who already “got” it. But I promise you, whatever it looks like they “got,” they didn’t “get” nearly enough.
You can acquire many things through cleverness, but sufficiency is not one of them.
That being said, cleverness is serviceable for something truly wonderful and life altering. Cleverness will bring you to the last gasp of cleverness; to the end of judgment, greed and envy; to the brink of chronic dissatisfaction and despair. It will bring you to the starting point for sufficiency. A chance to be content with things as they are, the fortune you already possess, the potential for deep and radiating joy, and a life that goes far beyond anything you can engineer.
How do I know? It brought you here.
July 2nd, 2009 - 20 Comments
Summer’s thirst has stirred this saying to mind, and I find it squirts me right in the eye.
What’s wrong with a lemon being a lemon, I wonder, and lemonade standing alone? Each is perfect as it is, with its own time and purpose. The refrain points out again just how much we value one thing over another: choosing the sweet over the sour, concocting a so-called positive out of the perceived negative, manufacturing candy to camouflage life’s authentic and irreplaceable flavor. Candy only gets you so far, and so does conventional wisdom like this.
When life gives you lemons, let the lemons be. Sour has a sweetness all its own, and a season, like all seasons, that doesn’t last.
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June 15th, 2009 - 5 Comments
We’re suddenly steeped in happy talk. Research and theories, projects and workshops, books and blogs on nothing but happiness and how to find it. Happiness is a new industry. I guess every industry is a happiness industry, and all pursuits are pursuits of happiness.
The other day I googled “ways to be happy” and the articles on just the first page of results enumerated 129 ways to be happy. If someone had the free time to look up and do those things you’d think they’d be plenty happy already. Yet even with all the advice, a lot of us say we are less happy. That really ticks me off.
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February 13th, 2009 - 6 Comments
It’s that time of the month. No, I don’t mean that time of the month. It’s the time of the month when the savings statements come. I hate to even get them, let alone bring them in from the mailbox, and when I do, I toss them aside hoping they will get lost, which is what we all probably do in these times, that is if we still have these times.
Eventually I compel myself to open them. I actually put it on my to-do list, “3. Open envelopes” and then one day, like today, I open them.
It’s a good practice, really, for facing life as it is. It’s just not a practice that I would pay this much money for.
So opening up the envelope where a certain bank tells me that I spent $50,000 of my IRA last year learning to face life as it is, out comes a glossy newsletter bearing the headline, “Five Reasons to Stay Calm During Turbulent Times.”
I don’t buy their reasons anymore, just like to don’t buy anything anymore, but there really are Five Reasons to Stay Calm During Turbulent Times, and this is what they are:
1. You don’t need a college fund. Your kids won’t even want to go to college. Because there won’t even be colleges. There won’t even be jobs. There will just be the Facebook 25 Things About Me meme. And everyone will be famous.
2. You don’t need to eat. It’s not good for you. Researchers have proven that a starvation diet is the best and only way to extend your lifespan, and the time to start is now, so you can look forward to being hungry forever.
4. You can’t take it with you. You can’t even go anywhere. Don’t believe those ads for low airfares. Click on them and you’ll find out it still costs $600 for a round-trip ticket to a place you don’t even want to go. Like your in-laws. So just stay put and start starving and be happy.
5. You don’t even have a time of the month anymore. What turbulence?
November 25th, 2008 - 10 Comments
We cut out our weekly personal training. Giving ourselves a swift kick in the butt.
We cut out our support of the conservation voter’s league. A cruel end after a tireless fight.
We cut out our daughter’s studio art class. Until the paint dries on the ugly mess we’re in.
We cut out our online subscription to the Wall Street Journal. We’ve long since stopped gagging on it, but wouldn’t you know they were double charging us?!
I was overruled in my attempt to cut out satellite TV. Some channels never change.
We quietly removed the Obama-Biden valedictory sign from our front yard. To usher in a bold and brave new day in this bountiful country we love and share.
Happy day after.
Happy every day after.
October 8th, 2008 - 20 Comments
Could be a metaphor for our economic collapse, and it is, but it’s not.
By my bleary reckoning, it might have been 4 a.m. when Georgia got out of bed, walked across the darkness, said “I don’t feel well,” and threw up on the white wool carpet in my sister’s tony new townhouse.
It was a stunning flood of Mexican beans and rice and milk, a regurgitation that transfixed a mother into the gripping awareness that the day to come wouldn’t be going her way. At 9 a.m. my daughter and I would be boarding an airplane for a flight from Houston to LA. This was a new one for me: traveling with a five-year-old through the turbulence of stomach flu.
She spit up at steady intervals, giving my lame hope of a less paralyzing diagnosis no time to coagulate. It was the crowning blow to what had been a triumphant return to my old hometown.
I’d been hired to do two days of media training for the wealth management division of a regional bank. Damn I’m good! I’d brought Georgia along to visit old friends and family. I can do it all! On the eve of leaving, we’d gone out for a Houston twofer: Tex-Mex and margaritas. Life is sweet, with salt on the rim!
I was satisfied that I still had it. (The business thing.) I’d figured it out. (The mommy thing.) I was a sassy smartass at the top of my game.
Two hours later, I hunched over the wheel of my rental car heading up the interstate, one eye on the rear view mirror watching Georgia double over into a plastic Target shopping bag. My baby would have to fly 2,000 miles with her face in that bag. What else could I do? I’d never done this. I’d never been in this bind. I knew nothing. For all my bravura, the smug congratulation of the night before, we were starting all over again. Day 1.
About then I realized: It’s always Day 1, you dummy.
I begged and consoled, consoled and begged. “If you make it home I’ll buy you a Barbie Smart House,” I said, kissing her sweaty neck, shielding her convulsions in the window seat.
This was a mommy Hail Mary. The Barbie Happy Family Smart House was an $80 obscenity, just the latest in an onslaught of overpriced molded plastic monstrosities that possessed my daughter, still immersed in her all-Barbie, all-day play stage. I’d refused it a dozen times over. Drawn a line in the sand. But now I reached for it like a miracle cure.
It worked. By the time we made it home, she was sipping Sprite and bubbling with nothing but anticipation. I was so grateful and proud and humbled. It had become the happiest day of our lives.
I’ve wised up so I’m not running the Chicago Marathon this Sunday. My former running partner and I are staging a marathon of another kind, a garage sale. No, it won’t be worth it, but this time the Smart House is going.
It’s Day 1 all over again. The happiest day of our lives.
And what’s this? See if you’re a quack happy winner of our latest giveaway here.
October 4th, 2008 - 26 Comments
There is no other way to explain what she saw. You’ll have to go there and trust your own eyes.
July 17th, 2008 - 11 Comments
July 6th, 2008 - 11 Comments
Since I could use a fist bump right about now, I’m going to announce that my running partner and I ran ten miles today. Ten miles, albeit the old lady way. We have managed to train away some of the huffing, puffing, cramps and crying that had me convinced at an earlier, cynical age three months ago that I would never run ten miles let alone one.
Running has become just about the one thing in my life that is satisfying my expectations, expectations being the kind of oversized load that triggers a 20-car, fog-bound pile-up around the next blind curve. Still, as a pastime, hitting the pavement provides me with a wide avenue of observations about myself and the world around me.
My regular route has me crossing a busy intersection during morning commute, an intersection with eight timed signals for through-traffic and turns. The consternation is palpable at this spot as the engines belch and fume about the interruption in their all-important progress. The traffic experts have been here. The science is on display. In place of the benign illuminated hand that once invited walkers to venture forth – We come in peace! – the crossing light now pairs a hunched stalker with a flashing countdown of seconds remaining before the defenseless few are smacked back to where they came from.
Can you believe it? In this hurry-up world, they even want the pedestrians to tailgate! In these last, poisoned days of our planet, they want the people on foot, the innocents who are truly doing no harm, to get out of the way already!
Now it may just be the peculiarity of the hour and the carbon monoxide, or the pulsing love croons of serial seducer John Mayer in my iPod (I’d run anywhere he told me to), but when I see the flashing countdown of seconds left to me in this crossing, when I see this laughably unjust incrimination, it makes me smile. I find myself trotting across the intersection with a grin on my face. I make it my wholehearted practice to smile at the gauntlet of grim drivers I pass. I peer through their tinted shields into their dead faces. I want to make contact, you see. I want them to respond. I want them to see the first, and perhaps, the last happy person they will see today. I want them to be happy too.
I know, I know. We all think we’re going somewhere. But on these mornings, in a sudden gush of giddy bliss, I bet I’m the only one who realizes how free and easy it feels to be going nowhere. Fast.