Life Topography

“Life is like topography, Hobbes. There are summits of happiness and success, flat stretches of boring routine and valleys of frustration and failure.”  ―    Bill Watterson

Is happiness found only at the summit?  Can we pick up some handfuls of it and put it in a pocket to carry with us down  to the plains of routine, maybe save a few grains for the valleys of frustration and failure?  Happiness itself has such a wide range, from quiet contentment to shrieking laughter, joy so pure it brings tears; it surely has its own topography.

Like a map stretched and pulled to reproduce the highs and lows of the surrounding area in a visitor’s center; what if we created one reflecting our lives?  That 12,000 ft. elevation, what was that moment?  How often do we dip below sea level?  Are there vast plains or does your map look like the alps?  Buttes of contentment; tall places that are wide and flat at the summit.  Rivers carry us from the pinnacles to the passes.  Roiling and boulder filled, cutting narrow walls along the way; broad and flat, muddied colors and shallow channels; sinuous and snaking or arrow straight waterways carry life events and emotions from edge to edge.

Understanding the contours of one’s life can bring insight when the map is overlaid with the topography we would choose.  A little flatter here, not so deep and foreboding there;  imagining forward to the profile of one’s future, can the topography change substantively?  Perhaps carrying those little grains of happiness from the crowns of the mountains of our achievements down to the valleys of our failures will soften the landscape over time, take away some of the sharp edges and deep furrows.

Daylight Savings Time

We are not really saving any daylight, right?  So why this artificial clock changing routine twice a year?  Worse yet, now I have several devices that change automatically and several that do not; the funny thing is even the auto setters can’t seem to agree on the exact time, each has a different minute setting.  I feel like the March Hare racing around trying to set clocks close to the same time as the others.  I imagine in some not too distant future my “smart” home will synchronize all the devices.  Until then I believe it is somewhere between 8:30 and 8:40 AM.  I do go by the earliest by the way.

Yesterday was successful on three fronts:

  • Overcoming fear to use a new tool and carry out a much-needed task – air compressor and tire inflation
  • Hard physical labor, reward – visual sense of accomplishment and physical exhaustion
  • Continuing routines that are healthy – food diary combined with healthful eating and  exercise/meditation

Today I am committing to a creativity day.  I’m bringing a large table up from the garage and will work on a couple of crafts projects and my Activity Box.  I realized that I have collected clippings and such for a variety of activities and then they go in a folder in the file cabinet and are instantly forgotten.  So I decided to decorate a plain file container that is fun and enticing and add these folders today and more I’m sure, as I go along:

  • Hikes
  • Gardening
  • Classes
  • Events

I hope a cheerful looking box sitting out where I can see it will remind me that I have loads of fun right at my fingertips!

Nature note: the Juncos are back!  I mistook their small bobbing black heads with tiny bright yellow beaks furiously bobbing up and down on the ground for butterflies last year when I first spotted them.  They arrive in big flocks and only stay a short while before heading higher into the mountains for the summer; but their sweet peeping and flurry of activity are a joy on an almost spring morning.

Affirmations

I have affirmations that I have rewritten from a prayer that was sent to me years ago.  Even though it is my intent to get it put up in a place where I will see it every morning, up until now it has always become buried in the Papers I Need to do Something With.  So today I will share them here and then find the great website to make your own posters and have it put on something I can hang from the wall of my home office. Daily, I will affirm:

  • I will have peace within
  • I trust that I am exactly where I am meant to be
  • I embrace the infinite possibilities my life contains
  • I will use my gifts of time and talent to help others
  • The love that has been given to me, I will pass on
  • I choose to be content
  • Peace will settle into my bones
  • My soul will have the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love

Today I will especially focus on using my gifts while I am volunteering at the library and I will embrace the infinite possibilities by signing up for a couple of classes that begin this spring.  It is a quiet day and I am choosing to embrace the quiet and feel content.

Delicious Indulgence

The ability to jump on a creative moment or thought as it arises is something I am so grateful for at this time in my life.  Without the demands of job, family or chores, I can take advantage of those moments of inspiration.  Yesterday as I was cleaning up after a full day of “loose ends” and the image of a photograph of a friend kept coming to mind.  Before I knew it the words of an original children’s story began to form.  In the twenty minutes that I had I quickly dashed to the computer and began typing furiously.  Six hundred words later, I was off to a good start, capturing the tone and pace of the story.  I envision the illustrations as paintings of the photos that inspired the story.  I have never even considered writing a children’s story, but after years of reading them aloud and encouraging the young readers in my family to love books, it seemed like completing a loving circle.

Today will be more loose ends, and organizing my writing projects to pair with my books of the moment.  In the area of paying it forward I left a comment for a poster on Gretchen Rubin’s Facebook page on her concerns about downsizing to a smaller living space.  I related my better than best experience of moving to my “Hobbit House” and the joy of being surrounded by only my most favorite things.  I hope it encourages her to make this change a chance to weed out the extraneous and surround herself with her treasures.

It is a clear and therefore cold early March morning in the beautiful Bitterroot, I will also be mindful to spend some part of the day outdoors to soak up the beauty and tranqility in the place I am privlidged to find myself.

Loose Ends

I realized last night that in my enthusiasm to do new things, and find my happiness in everything, I have started more projects than I have the time to devote to them.  Today I will wrap up a few loose ends to allow myself more time to devote to the things that truly make me happy – happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy. Today will be a day of less fun tasks that will lead to greater happiness in the long run.

  • Finish vacuuming the rest of the house with my new vacuüm – that means the baseboard, the window sills, everything!
  • File or throw away every computer related CD & instructions – just do it!
  • Create order for my books in progress – too many
  • If I stumble upon something that I can wrap up in fifteen minutes or less I will do it now.

 I know that spring in western Montana is a little of this and a little of that but it may be on its way!  Last night we had rain, such a soothing sound that I slept with my window open enough to hear it.  This morning there was a dusting of snow but the sun is out and it has melted in the sunny spots already.  Another beautiful day in the neighborhood!

On mindfulness, I bought a little notebook to track all of my food and beverage consumption, which I will decorate to make the un-fun a little more so.  I need to pay more attention to what goes in my mouth, and knowing I have to commit it in writing may slow me down some.  I found an acronym from someone  who had been in rehab; I think it is  a healthy tool to use to bring oneself back to mindfulness in the present.  Ask myself:

  • H – Hungry?
  • A – Angry?
  • L – Lonely?
  • T – Tired?

And then use a mindfulness technique to become fully present while sitting quietly with eyes closed:

  • S – sense – what do I feel in my body? Cold, eyes tired, back hurts, blister…
  • I – image – what do I see with my eyes closed?
  • F – feeling – what emotions am I feeling right now?
  • T – thinking – what am I thinking?

By the time I go through HALT and SIFT I may have lost the urge to mindlessly graze – one can hope!  Time to start my terrific Tuesday – I can hardly wait to see how much I can finish today.

Grabbing Joy

Sunday I planned to spend the day shopping, one of my less favorite activities.  But we had our first day of the year of temperatures in the 50’s and it seemed too fine a day to spend in a car or a big box store.  Instead I enjoyed my morning coffee watching the sunrise and the day warm as the birds made their presence known, sounding as joyous as I felt.  I was able to wander around the property looking to see what the melting snow had uncovered and feeling the soil soften under my feet.

Just before dusk as I was heading in I heard a rustle in the grass and turned to find the biggest flock of wild turkeys I had seen so far.  My best estimate, counting turkeys on the move being what it is, was at least sixty.  Although they are a less attractive bird from a distance, up close their feathers are iridescent and catch the sun as they scurry along.  Another sight I would have missed.

Seeking out moments of joy, even if it means a change of plans to soak up an unexpected opportunity can not only offer the immediate pleasure, but a happiness boost (now that is something they need to offer at Jamba Juice!), every time that I  recall the experience.  Just now thinking about turning around to see the flock come trooping out of the trees makes me smile.

Today I will turn my mindfulness to finding a sight or sound I can savor, even as I am shopping for the mundane.