I believe happiness is about keeping priorities in check. It is the result of purposefully spending energy in a way that balances relationships, family, work and simple pleasures. It is about savoring the good times and riding through challenging moments; staying positive and having a vision. All of this is a delicate dance. Let’s just say my equilibrium was feeling off, so I took immediate action and had a hunker down weekend to sort it out. In case you are wondering, these are the critical steps to starting a proper hunker down weekend:
1) Immediately disconnect cellphone
2) Throw on most comfy sweats
3) Pour French-press coffee
4) Prepare for therapeutic movie cry
With steps one through four out of the way, I drew the shades for a long retreat into my “woman cave” (um, also known as “my entire house”) and turned on Jerry Maguire. As I settled into the movie, I thought more about the controversial line “…you complete me”. In my teens, I loved this romantic notion. In my twenties, I grew more feminist and hated the idea of reliance. Now, in my living room, I recognized that I had come full-circle and grown. First, I believe we are each responsible for our own happiness and that to give big in this world, we first have to take care of ourselves. Second, my definition of love has matured quite a bit since Jerry Macguire came out back in 1996. But in my state of imbalance, I had to let down a wall that had grown pretty high post-heartbreak and acknowledge a truth:
Aha Moment: I am not complete without love. It is ok to want someone to complete me; this does not make me weak or “less than” in loves absence. But for me, love is a need, as basic as safety and shelter, and I won’t do without!
Energized by my morning, I threw on my swimsuit and straw sunhat and headed up to one of the three salt water pools at my apartment complex (OC living has its perks). Out in the sunshine, I thought about the changes I have made over the last year. I thought about putting on an XXL backpack and bravely traveling the world alone. I remembered packing up my life in LA and moving fifty miles south, setting up a new home and finding a new job. Change comes slow and it is easy to get impatient with progress. In that moment, I smiled and acknowledged my own tremendous personal progress. I was tanned and feeling glass half full, so logically I went and bought a great bottle of wine to open over dinner!
I had started the day feeling like a snowball rolling down a hill – controlled by inertia, going way too fast and exhausting myself in the process. After a morning hunkered down, I felt much more at peace. So I decided to keep slowing my roll and hold a “mid-year check in” over dinner. As I chopped and cooked, I settled on the notion that the second half of 2016 is about simply being myself at thirty-five, taking steps each day towards my goals and most of all, relaxing into the knowledge that this is enough. I wrote down a couple personal long-term goals and tacked them up on my fridge, a reminder to keep me accountable and guide my actions day-to-day. Next, I watched Susan Miller’s forecast for Astrology Forecast for August 2016 and circled notably good dates on my calendar. Finally, I made a happiness plan for the rest of my summer.
I know one path to happiness is to do less and relax, so August is dedicated to these simple pleasures. This is what I came up with:
Take extra time everyday to love my dog! My 13-year old Shih-Tzu is so amazing and will not be here forever. From the moment she comes up to my bed tail-wagging in the morning to the moment we say goodnight, I am going to enjoy this little ball of joy in my life every moment this month!
“All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.” -Samuel Butler
Start each day right and implement a morning ritual. Enjoy a great cup of coffee, read The Skimm and most important, take a few minutes to smile and be grateful for everything in my life!
“A daily ritual is a way of saying I’m voting for myself. I’m taking care of myself” -Mariel Hemingway
I absolutely love taking baths! Since August is my month of simple pleasures, I am heading out to stock up on bath salts, lotion and essential oils. I am going to make a point to take a relaxing bath twice a week, but the more, the merrier!
“There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them” -Sylvia Plath
And that’s it! I will let you know how it goes! Until then, I highly recommend a hunker down hour, day or weekend for a half year reflection. As best said by Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”