Friday, October 23, 2009

A Warm Bowl of Soup Makes Me Happy

Photo credit:  StockXchange

It’s cold outside.   A lot colder than it usually is in October. Yesterday I watched it snow on and off throughout the day. I kept going back to the window to watch it.  It would snow for a bit and then the sun would break through the clouds and light up all the tiny blowing flakes and then it would stop for a while, only to start up again later.

A lot of people in my part of the world are feeling hard done by. Our summer was chilly and wet, hardly a summer at all, and now the snow is flying in October. I, on the other hand, am feeling something else. I am feeling lucky.  OK  … yes … it’s cold outside but I am thankful to have a warm house to enjoy.  So many don’t. I have lots of food and really everything I need and a lot more.

The fact that it’s grey and chilly outside just makes me more thankful to be inside enjoying a warm bowl of soup with my littlest one.  It’s going to be a long winter so it’s time to make a choice right at the outset.  Am I going to wish most of the year away, dreaming about summer, or am I going to focus on all the wonderful, joyful experiences happening everyday in my life right now?  I think you know the answer.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Solitude Makes Me Happy

rest and relaxation 

Photo credit:  StockXchange

When I was much younger ( BK) Before Kids, solitude did NOT make me happy.  I had too much of it. Solitude made me feel uneasy and restless. There was too much potential for accomplishing “things”.  All the freedom left me paralyzed and instead I would waste hours watching TV.  The more time I had, the more of a procrastinator I became.

Back then, I could not distinguish between solitude and loneliness. To me, they were one and the same. Now, I know the difference.

Loneliness is the feeling I get when I don’t think people understand me. I can feel lonely in a group of people if there is no connection there or I feel like I just don’t fit in. But solitude, oh solitude is something precious and wonderful. The time I get to truly spend by myself doing the things I enjoy is now so rare that it’s value is immeasurable.

Today I scheduled a vacation day from work.  I have nothing planned. My husband is at work and all the children are at school. There are a few dirty dishes on my counter. Some unpaid bills and paperwork from school are lying haphazardly on my desk.  Today I intend to purposefully ignore the disarray because there is always one more load of laundry that could be done and there is always one more surface which could use some dusting.  If I start taking care of all the little chores, my day, my wonderful day of solitude will be used up.

So instead I will drink coffee, read books and catch up on my favourite blogs. I may write in my journal if I feel so inclined or I may crawl back into bed for a few hours with the autumn sun streaming in my window and nap like a cat in the sunshine.

I’ve learned something else. Solitude can be enjoyed even when I am not alone.  Not everyone has the luxury of taking a day off of work. I understand that and believe me, these “mental health days” are few and far between for me too.  But solitude makes me happy so I have learned how to squeeze solitude into my life.  Here are a few ways I try to enjoy some solitude each and every day:

  • get up before everyone else does with a cup of coffee and a book (this one is near to impossible for me since my eldest son is a light sleeper and loves to get up early).
  • stay up late (this is easier with little kids; teenagers make this difficult because I get tired before they do)
  • With four kids I am continually rushing around to various activities such as hockey and ballet.  I bring a book, my iphone, and a set of earphones with me everywhere I go.  My phone is loaded up with interesting Podcasts so while I wait for them I can just plug in and listen.  I especially love the TED talks because they are so interesting and are uploaded in manageable lengths of about 15-20 minutes.  

I hope you are able to experience some rejuvenating solitude today.  If you have some creative ideas for squeezing solitude into a busy life please let me know.