Yay, Happiness!

In a recent comment on one of her posts, Ursula wrote

My dear Jean, please do stop deluding yourself: Happiness is NOT a “practice”. Spiritual or otherwise.

Happiness is a by-product of daily life, a surge, a fleeting moment, a gift. And those fleeting moments can be found in the most mundane and unremarkable tasks. Not least because that which you do on auto pilot gives you freedom to let your spirit roam.

Yes, happiness is a by-product, a gift. And our attitude and how we focus our energy and attention greatly increases the chances for those experiences to spring forth. The practice comes in paying attention, getting to know ourselves deeply, and in the choices we make every day.

Letting our spirits roam? If that isn’t sacred time, I don’t know what is. See Slipping Into Sacred Space and Are You Spending Enough Time Doing Nothing? Happiness is probably not related to spirituality for most people, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t for me. As usual, one size doesn’t fit all. Forget trying to fit everyone into the same mold and celebrate differences, I say. Yay, differences! Yay, happiness!

tammy’s post little bits of happiness is on the same subject. Yay, tammy!


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A Heart-Warming Day

Yesterday was a great day here. First I read Ursula’s friendly comment on my post, then I read tammy’s comment at Montana Moments. Either one was enough to put a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

Montana Moments is a new blog written by Montana — one of my granddogs — with the help of Torben. This particular post was how she and Sammy (aka Sambuca) were outside getting some exercise when Montana thought Sammy might be lost. She couldn’t see him.


But it was all right, he had just been hidden behind some bushes.


Whew! She also wrote that she had been doing so well with her activity monitor that Torben and Kaitlin were going to increase her goal. I wrote some lame comment about how that wasn’t very motivating, just to show I was listening and following her blog. tammy, on the other had, knows how to talk to dogs:

dearest little montana!
you’re such a thoughtful puppy to even worry about sammy.
many puppies are just self centered. only interested in catching their own tails and chewing stuff.
and here you are. searching for your brother. now that is what i call a lady.
and as to your ‘goals of activity’ . . . if i’m understanding it all . . .
be thankful your parents haven’t put you on doggy ritalin!!!
it sounds like they’re letting you work off your energy in a safe way!!! GOOD LUCK!
GOOD GIRL!!!! there. i said it.
if you want to hear it more often . . . just call me. i’m always happy to say it to any puppy! XOXO

Thanks, tammy, for the big grin I wore for the rest of the day.


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Quotes and Cartoons

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal column, Don’t Do It Mr. Romney*, Peggy Noonan wrote

He’d have been a better president than Obama. That’s not nearly enough.

Whether or not she’s right about Romney, that line succinctly expresses her main idea: America needs a lot more from a candidate than just “Vote for me, the other guy is even worse.”

But this post isn’t about politics and America’s need for good leadership. It’s about the power of a good quote or a good cartoon. Some people hate quotes — they think they demonstrate laziness/lack of thinking. I love ones that express ideas simply and go straight to my heart and brain.

What about you?

* This link may only work for subscribers.


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Bless the Internet

A few months ago I phoned an acquaintance that I had known years ago to see how she and her husband were doing. She didn’t answer, and I didn’t leave a message. I knew that she has Caller ID and would phone back if she wanted to.

Then last week I ran into her downtown. She was happy to see me and gave me a hug, but she clearly didn’t want to talk long. She’s mostly housebound now. She’s had daily migraines for almost 20 years, and her husband has had a degenerative disease for longer than that. It led to dementia and the past three years, especially, of her caring for him was hard. He went into assisted living a few months ago, and she’s burned out.

I asked her if her email address was the same and she said yes. I told her I love email and she said, “I do too!” She said it probably sounds crazy, but too much talking triggers her migraines. So we’ve corresponded some.

She says she’s an introvert and is making peace with being almost housebound and getting older (she’s about 10 years younger than I, I think). She’s meditating and praying and has joined an internet meditation program which helps.

I mentioned the world of blogging, but she doesn’t seem interested right now. Who knows if that will change in the future after she recovers from the past few years of care giving? But even if she doesn’t, the internet is still a great resource for her.

Bless the internet. Even more so for those of us who don’t go out much and still like to stay connected.


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Well, it came! I tried just a smidgen straight last night, and it was pretty much as I expected. Yes, I know that’s not a fair test, so I’ll try a bit as a flavoring in spaghetti tonight. Or maybe in some quinoa.

I also offered it on Freecycle:

It just arrived from England. I bought it because I was curious why my Aussie friends like it so much. I’ve put a little in a separate container, and if anyone is interested in the rest you’re more than welcome to it. Think of it as cultural exploration.

I actually got a response:

Hi. I tried some almost 25 years ago and wouldn’t mind seeing if my tastes have changed. Thanks!

How cool is that? I don’t have to worry about wasting most of the jar.

It’s a fun adventure from the comfort of my own apartment. Yes, I know it’s silly, but we do laugh a lot around here. We’re way too old to be too serious.


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I Wish Them Luck!

According to a Washington Post article, Why Chipotle’s pork problem is a bad sign for its future, the restaurant chain Chipolte’s Mexican Grill has stopped serving pork items in about a third of its restaurants — one of its major suppliers wasn’t treating its pigs in a humane way. I was only vaguely aware of the chain, but it warms my heart that they are trying to serve “food with integrity” and that customers are willing to pay more for this attitude.

The article says the chain will have more problems like this as they expand their operations, because it will be harder to find suppliers that can meet their standards, but I wish them luck. Who knows? Maybe suppliers will take note.

On a similar note, I’m pleased our new local supermarket offers organic, free range chicken. I have mixed feelings that I can no longer buy my favorite organic dry milk. It has suddenly disappeared from the internet, and when I wrote to the company they said they can’t keep up with the demand for their products, so they dropped this one. If I used enough dry milk I could get it in 50-pound packages — way too large for me. I told them I was happy for them, even if it wasn’t good news for me.

So, as usual, the world is always changing, and not always for the worst.


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A Great, Non-Sunny Day

It was a light-snowy, no sun day, so Andy took advantage of the weather to burn some slash.




Down here in the apartment it was a cozy, contemplative day. I’ve been pondering one of my favorite quotes:

It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look. To affect the quality of the day—that is the highest of arts.
—-Henry David Thoreau

That’s what “Happiness as a spiritual practice” is about, of course. So then the questions become: What is an art, and what is a spiritual practice? Can something be both at the same time?

I do love being retired and not having to spend most of my time on practical matters!

Do you have any unpractical hobbies?


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Habemus ….

“Habemus a front page,” Gérard Biard, one of the paper’s top editors, said with a smile, emerging from the staff’s makeshift newsroom and deploying the phrase used to announce a new pope. To find the right image, he said: “We asked ourselves: ‘What do we want to say? What should we say? And in what way?’ About the subject, unfortunately, we had no doubt.”
Charlie Hebdo’s New Issue Has Muhammad on the Cover, New York Times

For some reason I was touched by the use of the term “habemus”, it’s Latin for “we have”, and it’s most famous use is in the phrase “Habemus Papam!”, “We have a pope!” For me the editor’s use of the word is a powerful way of saying the magazine won’t be intimidated by fanatics, because something too important, too universal, too sacred is at stake.

The cover, (click here to see), shows Mohammad crying, holding a sign saying Je suis Charlie (I am Charlie). Above him are the words “All is forgiven.”

The staff members aren’t sure what the future holds, but this edition will be in the kiosks Wednesday, the usual distribution day, and they do indeed have a cover.


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Curiosity and Learning

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
— T.H. White, The Once and Future King

Does that quote resonate with you at all? It does me. I laughed out loud at White’s descriptions, and when life doesn’t go as I would like it to, I try to get curious rather than frustrated. I figure if I have to go through the experience, I might as well get/learn something from it. As I’ve said before, my motto is

Stay curious and open to life. No matter what happens keep learning and growing. Find what you love to do and find a way to share it with others.

I’ll spare you the details of my various phone calls to tech support this weekend. The ultimate answer was the update of the software doesn’t work the way it should, and there’s no going back. One rep said the software people are working on it, another one said I’ll just have to see if they ever update it again.

I could have dropped the matter early, but I was curious and I learned a lot, so I don’t begrudge the time. Not everyone’s cup of tea, I cheerfully admit!

My brain is my favorite toy.

My brain is my favorite toy.


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An Interesting Problem

From the article In Africa, a Decline in New Ebola Cases Complicates Vaccine Development in Friday’s New York Times:

As authorities and drug companies hurriedly prepare to begin testing Ebola vaccines in West Africa, they are starting to contemplate a new challenge: whether an ebbing of the outbreak could make it more difficult to determine if the experimental vaccines are effective.

“For this reason, it’s very urgent that we get into the field very quickly to do these clinical trials, because if there are very, very, very few cases of Ebola, as I’m sure you understand, it’s going to be difficult to test whether the vaccines work or not,” Dr. Helen Rees, an adviser to the World Health Organization, said during a news conference on Friday at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva.

Apparently the new treatment centers and safer burial practices have helped a lot. Ebola could come surging back, of course, but the news is encouraging.


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