Whilst just cleaning my teeth before bed, I had an idea for a blog post that would be great but require using my laptop as it was quite long. At the same time, I knew I was too tired to do it justice. My head said “Write it!”; my heart said “Go to sleep”. At the moment my head was about to win out, I managed to squirt mouthwash all over my right shoulder. Clumsiness = sure sign of being too tired to do anything. So I’ve listened to what my body’s telling me and will leave the planned post to another day. I will sleep instead. If only all head/heart dilemmas were so simple.

Observations over the last few days

~ Dislike: feeling tired, ridiculously irrational and hormonal with a horrendous case of PMT.

~ Like: meeting up with Clare from over at Pass the Pattern.  She cooked me a lovely dinner (and a very indulgent chocolate fudge cake dessert!), then we decorated her Christmas tree.  Perhaps a little bit early, but who cares?!  It was great fun. 

~ Like number two: this afternoon I’m off to steward at a Christmas tree festival.  I’m not exactly sure what this will involve (can’t imagine that there will be rioting hoards to control) but am sure that it will be a pleasant way to spend a few hours.  Then homewards to set up for tomorrow’s Christmas fayre at my meeting.

~ Like number three: Christmas!  I know it isn’t even December yet but I’m already feeling very festive and looking forward to the season of goodwill and gladtidings.  It’s a good job, seeing as I’ve been beseiged by Christmas activities already.  And I’m loving them.

My happiness project

Over the last few days, I’ve devoured most of Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. I’m absolutely loving it and am almost tempted to re-read as soon as I’ve finished, this time with pen in hand so that I can highlight and annotate the text.  I’d read a few blog posts reviewing this book and now completely understand the dilemma they all expressed about what quotations to use, as so much of it is insightful and inspiring.  I’ll go with the passage that made me laugh out loud on the train on Tuesday night.  It doesn’t express the core tenets of the book as much as articulate a certain character trait that I share with the author and probably many other people: “I’m suspicious of buying things with very specific uses – suit bags, hand cream, hair conditioner, rain boots, Kleenex (why not just use toilet paper to blow your nose?).”

I laughted heartily at this because I thought I was possibly the only person in the world who can’t understand why anyone would buy a box of tissues when there is loo roll in existence.  However, the passage also made me reflect upon my own idiosyncracies, as whilst I object to tissues, I wouldn’t dream of not buying hand cream.  Idiosyncracies are at the heart of The Happiness Project, with Rubin highlighting in pretty much every chapter how important it is to figure out what specific things make you happy and be true to oneself.  What does it for one person may leave another cold.  Thinking about this has already made me happier, without really trying, as I’ve been more conscious about doing the things that make me tick.  For example, on the bus earlier, I actually moved seats from one where the window was dirty to one where I could easily see outside as I know that being able to watch the world go by whilst on public transport makes me happy. 

Rubin has inspired me to develop a happiness project of my own too and provides a guide on how to do so.  I feel such guidance is timely for me, illustrating the Buddhist adage “When the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear” – oft quoted in the book.  Even before thinking seriously about this, though, I’ve been encouraged to try out some of the activities that Rubin herself undertook during her year-long experiment.  One of them in September was “master a new technology”.  I often feel like a dunce in this respect (I ended up emailing a friend the other day for advice about my new Twitter acount), so it seemed an apt challenge for me to take up.  My choice?  Figure out how to include hyperlinks in blog posts, so that people can just click on a word to go to the relevant webpage rather than having to insert the whole url.  Like tagging, which I have recently go to grips with, this is something that I’ve wondered about pretty much since I started blogging over two years ago.  And guess what?  It’s really easy.  I looked in Tumblr’s help section, read the explanation and then did it for the link to The Happiness Project book.  There, see!  Done it again!  I can now report that this mastering of a new technology has indeed made me feel very happy indeed.  Result.

Three likes from earlier this morning:

~ At the weekend, I went on an amazing singing workshop in Worcester (hope to post more about this soon).  During the free time on Saturday afternoon, I stopped by the town’s gallery just as a new exhibition entitled “Laura Knight in the Open Air” was opening.  It contained lots of beautiful pictures, many of which are very different to the wartime images often associated with Knight.  Unfortunately there wasn’t a postcard of my favourite painting of two women sitting on some rocks, but this one was a close second.  It was lovely to wake up this morning & see it adding a bit of colour to my bedside table.

~ Noticed that my toothbrush etc are colour co-ordinated.  It honestly wasn’t planned that way but have to admit I love it!

~ My favourite brooch is my mother-of-pearl Palestinian peace dove.  I was really drawn to wearing it this morning in light of all the trouble that has again flared up in that region.  It seems almost facetious to say that in light of how serious events there are.  The fighting makes me feel so sad and so useless, and it is pretty lame that putting a brooch on is the only response that I can think of.  However, wearing it feels like an act of prayer – not wishing for a particular outcome, simply being mindful and thinking about all the lives caught up in the conflict.  This item is therefore perhaps less of a “like” and more a hope for the future.

Further likes and dislikes…

Here are a few more likes and dislikes that have come to me in the last day or so…

Likes

~ Feeling better again. Almost.  Hooray!

~ Labelling all these “likes and dislikes” posts so I can find them easily.  Think I have now mastered the tagging malarkey.

~ Finally finishing a craft project that seems to have taken an eternity.  The intended recipient was in danger of no longer needing a baby blanket… Well, perhaps I’m exaggerating a little.

~ Finally being able to start a new craft project, having now finished previous one.  My little work bag is full with a different pair of needles and different wools, all ready in anticipation.

~ Saving more money on my car insurance renewal than the premium actually cost.  Totally chuffed with that.

Dislike

~ Saving more money on my car insurance renewal than the premium actually cost me, then transferring the saving straight to my ISA, without it even crossing my mind that I could spend that money on something else.  I am too bloody sensible sometimes and that makes me a bit cross.

New things #1 – #4

Some weeks ago, I started writing in a new notepad that I had grandly labelled “Projects & Plans”.  Separate to my journal, this pad was to be dedicated to recording ideas and then, where necessary, developing them.  I had the notion that channelling all such thoughts into one place would create a focus and a forum for expansive and positive thinking, ie that I would come to associate the pad with “good ideas” and thus short-cut to creativity once I opened its pages.  So far, so good.  Pages include everything from good ideas that had come to me during one particularly contented Quaker meeting to a list of those who I buy Christmas presents for.  There are also brainstorms of things that I want or need to do by the end of the year, outlines for little projects I’m trying to develop and, one of my favourites, a page focusing on all the things that I am already looking forward to in 2013 (@lifethroughanamateurlens, if you’re reading this, your wedding is one of them!). 

Another page in “Projects & Plans” has the rather hopeful title “Trying new places”.  One of the spurs to begin the whole pad was the feeling that I had become stuck in a bit of a rut and that my life had become a bit, well,stale.  Trying new places, having new experiences, is tried-and-tested women’s magazine advice for breaking out of such feelings.  I was determined to give this a go, although I probably should have picked the broader phrase “Trying new things” as that more aptly captures my aim.  First item on the list: visit the botanical gardens with my friend Beth.  This was a classic case of being more conscious about one’s behaviour creating a change in behaviour.  I’d wanted to go for ages but just never quite got round to it.  The simple thought “I want to try new things” instinctively led to the thought “Let’s go to the botanical gardens!”, and we had a lovely relaxing afteroon, eating ice-cream and drinking hot chocolate in the autumn sunshine whilst being serenaded by a jazz band.

Last night, I entered items #2 and #3 on the "Trying new places/things" list.  Having to spoken to Beth again, I’m off to a charity darts night next week with her and some other friends.  I’ve never watched darts live before and I can’t honestly say it was top of my dream list in the way the botanical gardens was, but it sounds hilarious and definitely fits the criteria of novelty.  #3 is having a private tai chai lesson.  I’ve fancied having a go at this bodywork practice for a while but haven’t had the opportunity, so when I saw it advertised as an optional extra during a spa weekend that I’m going to in January, I jumped at the chance.  I booked it yesterday evening, along with two different massages (not new experiences, although enjoyable nonetheless).

And what is the #4 of the title?  Quite simply I am going to tag this post “new things”, so that I can easily refer back to it when I get more new experiences to reflect upon.  Having moaned several times in the past about not being able to find old posts, and not knowing how to tag, I decided to seize the moment and do something about it.  Here we go.  Best part is, once it’s done I’m off to add “tag blog posts” to the list in my great Projects & Plans pad.

More likes and a dislike

Trying to get back into the habit (see previous post) with a quick reflection on likes, with one dislike to kick it off:

Dislike ~ still feeling ill after twelve days!  I’M GETTING BORED NOW!  You know it’s bad when you find your own illness story dull.  I have labryinthitis.  That’s all I’m prepared to say about it as the whole thing is becoming tedious.  Most tedious is the stiffness in my neck and shoulders that seems to be the result of the weird positions I’m sleeping in because of the dizziness.

Likes ~

Chippy tea.  Yom yom yom.

Having a very long chat with a very old, very dear friend.

That brief moment where you realise it’s dusk so pop a lamp on and everything – inside and out – takes on a beautiful golden glow

Ordering a new selp help type book off Amazon.  It’s called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Happiness-Project-Aristotle-Generally/dp/006158326X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352839038&sr=8-1 – don’t worry, not an affiliated link, I won’t make any money from the sale if you buy it!).  I did resist the quickest delivery option, though.  Very restrained!