The pursuit of happiness

When I was looking for happiness and fulfillment outside of myself, I was unhappy. I couldn’t find real, deep, lasting joy in other people (husbands), my children, friends, or religion. This all began to change about a decade ago, when I started going to Alanon, in an attempt to save my marriage. A couple of years later I began discovering a different spiritual path which included meditation. Learning to explore the inner world rather than focusing on outer people, circumstances, and events changed everything.

The question came to me via the writing course I’m taking; what is missing from my life right now?  Hmm. Most of the time I don’t think anything is missing except for having an infinite passive source of money so I could quit working a job entirely.  I’d like to just explore my own interests and help people be well. I don’t want stuff. Stuff requires too much attention.  I have enough to live a good life.

A connected question: Do you feel like you are simply destined not to have some of the things you may want out of life?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!
We create our reality — but if you don’t realize or believe this is true, you won’t actively create. I can look back on my life, and now see that I was a participant in making it the way it was – and some of it wasn’t so great, but I learned from it.

Only other thing, and it’s not really missing because I’m working on it, is more friendships When you move to a new area, it takes time to find your tribe. I joined the UU church here, but hadn’t been a member that long when the pandemic showed up. We’ve just opened up again, I’m working on being more involved in some of the smaller groups. I’ve signed up for a couple of meetups, and, I have returned to work. I need people in my life.

I haven’t always felt connected to people and life, but of late I am more aware that sometimes my energy is open, and other times I seem to close myself off. And that it is ok.

I may have felt more connected to people, particularly other mothers, when I was having babies, was a La Leche League Leader, involved in the old church. But those are old interests. I was busy with children and trying to figure out life.

Another question: Do I hold the same values I was taught as a child? Another hmmm. Some of the values I was taught as I child are the same – although when I think about it, I don’t really feel that I was “taught” values. My parents’ life was the example to me of what I thought life looked like, or should look like – Husband went to work, provided a good living. Wife stayed home, took care of kids, shopped and cooked, sewed and pursued her own interests. Great camping vacations. Basically, be honest, work hard, take time off, retire early with lots of money. I started out my adult life with all that in mind, but found that my husband was not like my father at all. Turns out, I’m not like my mother in many ways either. So yeah – be honest, work hard — but I eventually divorced twice, went to work, and definitely will not “retire young with lots of money”!

I used to believe that each person has a path they have to find – a “right” path. Now I know that is hogwash!

We can be unhappy with our life and want something different, especially when we don’t feel fulfilled in any way. It doesn’t mean it is “wrong”, but it probably means it is time for a change.

Tourist trap – daily prompt

I went on fabulous camping vacations as a child. At least, they seemed pretty great to me. Now I look back on them and think about all the work my parents did on those trips. We went primitive camping in a 1963 Chrysler station wagon with a canoe on top and pulling a Uhaul. Two adults and four kids driving cross country – we went to Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, to name a few places. I remember that sometimes we kids would want to go to an “attraction” that we saw advertised on a billboard, and my father would start ranting that it was a Tourist Trap and a waste of time and money.

I’ve never been to Disneyland or Disneyworld, probably two of the biggest tourist traps in the country. I did take some of my kids to more minor attractions, the biggest one I remember was the Hershey Chocolate Factory but we avoided the amusement park. I much prefer nature. As an adult I’ve been to a resort one time and it was a good time, but for future travels I plan to rent rustic places and have more adventure for less money.

No tourist traps for me, please!

Hot Belly Diet

Daily prompt: Re-springing Your Step

Tell us about the last experience you had that left you feeling fresh, energized, and rejuvenated. What was it that had such a positive effect on you?

Last October my boyfriend and I went on the Hot Belly Diet. We both wanted to detox, clear our minds, lose a few pounds. I don’t think I would have done as well if he hadn’t been doing it with me, but together we stuck to it. It is an Ayurvedic approach to detoxing, making lifestyle changes, and I felt so good after the first week and for about a month afterward. I continued eating in the recommended way for about a month and a half, then the holidays came along, and, well, I got off track.

Although it is not advertised as such, it is basically dairy and gluten free, and almost vegetarian. You start the day with warm lemon water, drink a “daily drink” all day ( a detoxifying herbal tea), eat your largest meal at noon, and have no snacks. It sounds hard but I was surprisingly not hungry. I did have a few cheats – drank coffee a couple of times, had a glass of wine when we traveled and went out with friends, but it didn’t seem to set me back.

Wow, writing about it makes me want to go there again. The great thing about it, at least in my experience, is that it is easy to start up again.

Pen in hand

Daily prompt Pens and Pencils 

When was the last time you wrote something substantive — a letter, a story, a journal entry, etc. — by hand? Could you ever imagine returning to a pre-keyboard era?

I used to keep handwritten journals. I’ve thrown most of them away, because I don’t want anyone to read them even when I’m dead. I keep an online journal now.

Last summer I wrote longhand in a notebook for a couple of months, morning pages, and one day when I was writing I was so inspired that I started this blog! I kept it up for a bit, but went back to penzu because it is completely private. Sometimes I will write in a notebook but it is rare.

Certainly I can imagine returning to a pre – keyboard era. I think it would be harder for younger people who can barely remember those days. It would be strange though, and probably seem very tedious.

I like typing on the computer. It is easier to edit, change, save, and I process just as easily both ways. I am very happy to have this technology, just wish I could navigate WordPress more easily!

My sister and I

Daily prompt – Agree to Disagree

Immediately I thought of my sister. Ellen is two years older than me, and we love each other dearly. We’ve had many parallelisms (is that a word?) in our lives, but in so many ways we are different, and so there are a few things that we just don’t talk about.

We both married at 19, the first time, and without expecting it, we both had more than the usual amount of children – she had 5, and I, 7.  They are all grown now, but we did have our differences in raising them. I homeschooled, hers were public schooled. I was pretty bossy back then, tried to convince her to do things my way quite often. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have been so pushy. Each of our children have become awesome unique individuals, in spite of and because of their mothers.

We both divorced our children’s fathers after long marriages – mine 23 years, hers 29. We both married again, me within months, she took a little longer.  We both divorced after much drama, difficulty, and grief, around the same time. No arguments there.

She met Todd right after her divorce, and married him a year later,.  I dated a bit before I met Robert, my boyfriend, and there is no talk of marriage at this point. We are blissfully cohabitating, something that I never would have dreamed of doing in my younger days.

The biggest things we don’t talk about, just silently agree to disagree about, are religion and politics.  She goes to church every week, and is a conservative Republican. I quit going to church two years ago (although I have strong spiritual beliefs), and although I don’t affiliate with a political party, definitely have made a strong left shift in my voting.

She lives in Arkansas, I am in Texas. She has her own business, Ellen’s Airbrush. I work in a hospital and have only just begun to pursue artistic endeavors. My sister inspires me,  but I am glad we live 400 miles apart. We have lovely short visits, and know we are there for each other.

Sara and Ellen 2014