Friday, February 27, 2009

What is a Happiness Project?

In my wanderings over thither and yon in the vast realm of the internet, I keep finding many things and people that inspire me to grow... because I figured out that I've still got plenty of time and a bunch of room to do that. I'm not like a potted plant...root bound.

Today I'm going to focus on one...Gretchen Rubin and her Happiness Project. She's not only fun to read, but inspiring. In fact she's inspired me to get my own Project off the ground.

There are a few things about happiness that I find interesting.

1. I'm the only one that knows me as well as I do, so I'm the only one who knows for sure what
makes me happy.

2. If I'm in a mood where I choose not to be happy, God and all his angels aren't going to change
it. And if I'm not happy...who wants to be around me? Hey, even I don't want to be around
me... but I'm stuck.

3. Happy is a lot more fun than most of the other moods I can think of. And I love to have fun...
so my goal is to become a happy camper and look for all the things I can find to haul along
with me on my camping trip through LIFE.

So the first thing I have to do is start HERE and NOW...which is always a good place to start. I choose to BE happy. That feels goooooooooooooooood. I made a choice. Now I'm on a scavenger hunt to find all the things that make me happy. And the best place to look is right where I'm at. Hey, I've gotta start somewhere.

Well, it all began this morning...when I woke up. That in itself makes me happy because it beats the alternative. I at least have another today to work with. That's why it's a gift...called the present. I'm off to grab a cup of coffee and think about me...and the wonderful things that make me happy in today's present. Hmmmm. Gives me a LOT to think about.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The fun is learning something new...

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
Henry Ford

Hmmm. Maybe that's why I still feel so young. There's not a day goes by that I don't learn something new. I figure as soon as I get to the point where there's nothing else I want to learn, then I'll be a Mister Know-It-All and stop growing...and I can't see that happening. In this lifetime anyhow.

Now my body has different ideas about the 'youth' thingy. I look in the mirror in the morning and there's the unanswered question staring me in the face. Who are you and what happened to John? It's not exactly what I say every day...but the question does pop up now and again.

So am I young? You betcha. I still 'hear the bell' (Polar Express) and I still believe in Santa Clause. The spirit of him, anyhow. And do I like Harry Potter. 'Course I do. I feel like I'm a kid in the fifth term at Hogworts....still a lot to learn.

The whole point is, for me learning and growing are part of what makes me who I am. Of course I want to keep growing. Older...and a little smarter. It's fun.

Monday, February 23, 2009

An incredible blessing...

The other night I had something happen that I can laugh at because it happened to me. At the time I would have numbered somewhere among my 'most embarassing moments.' But looking back, it's yet another reason to count my blessings. This is what happened.

I was taking the baby, aka Cherokee Elvis, out to the backyard to pee and... whatever. It was just as the 11 o'clock news was starting. Carrying him in my arms, I opened the back door to our enclosed porch, stepped on the one step I had to get down and...kawabanga kaboom. I slipped on the ice and fell onto the blacktop on my patookis. My first thought? " God, I hope no one sees me like this." Huh?

Now I knew I had hit my head on the siding because I felt it, my pants are covered with snow, I'm sitting on the ground...and I'm worried about my 'image'? Do you know what the baby was doing while I was sitting there? The little twerp was not paying a bit of attention to me. He was still on the leash, had his leg lifted and was peeing and looking around like he normally does to 'see what he could see.' Not a care in the world. He didn't even glance at me.

I picked myself up, brushed myself off and took him the rest of the way into the yard so he could finish his nightly duties. When I went into the house, I was laughing at what just happened and told Sylvia.

She didn't think it was as funny as I did, because, as she pointed out, I could have gotten hurt...badly. But...but...but...I didn't I tried to protest. Then I felt the burning on my arm and rolled up my sleeve and saw the scratch. It went from wrist to elbow and was bleeding. My first thought was it looked like I was nicked by a Samurai sword and I thought it was funny. Hey...what can I tell you, other than I have a weird sense of humor.

The bottom line of this story is that I experienced another incredible blessing in my life. At 71 years old, taking that kind of a fall I could certainly have gotten hurt... bigtime. I laughed because I didn't...but it was only for the grace of God that I didn't.

As I take time and reflect on all the time 'things the could have been worse'... but weren't I realize that maybe...just maybe I should appreciate all the wonderful blessings I have every day and not take anything for granted.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Living...and learning

I have been trying to find out who said, "Live like it's your last day on earth and learn like you will live forever." Can anyone help me out on that one?

I like it. If today were me 'last day', what would I choose? Happiness would be my first choice. Of course I would like my last day to be a happy I should want it to be unhappy? Duh. But that is only the choice that I can make because I'm the only one who knows for sure what makes me happy.

I think a lot of times that I've lost the power to be happy because I've looked for something or someone outside myself to make me happy. When 'it or they' don't come through with the goods as I expected...then I walk around with a puss on my face and am disappointed. Of course, like 'it or they' let me down.

Now this is the way I'm figuring it out. If, when I wake up in the morning and decide before my tootsies hit the floor, that I'm going to be happy...hey, I've got battle half won. Now I start looking for all the things I already have that 'float my cork'. And guess what. I keep finding more and more things that do the job. Now the ball's in my court. I have the power to find happiness and I'm no longer dependant. Of course, the it/they thing can make me happier, but now I'm 'seeking and finding' all the good stuff in today.

Yep, that's the way I want to spend the rest of my todays. Happy as I can day at a time.
And learning what I need to day at a time. I use the elephant analogy. Life is like eating an elephant. It looks big and scary when you look at the whole thing. But if you take it 'one bite' at a day at a's not.

If I seem to be happy and having's because I am. It's what I choose that does the trick.
Now everyone...and everything is 'off the hook.'

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Recipe for turning a 'crappy' day into a 'crappie' day... have not reached another 'cooking show' with oodles and oodles of fun recipes. This is my idea of how to handle what's on my plate for today.

First...let me digress for a moment. Or maybe two moments. I have found from growing up in Cleveland, Ohio beside the beautiful Lake Erie and Cuyahoga River (before it became so polluted that it caught on fire) that crappy/crappie...although they sound the same have two separate meanings. They also have something in common. Unless handled properly...they both stink.

Crappie is the name of a fish that looks like this. Here goes....I'm pulling out my magic wand and am going to produce a picture of one and insert it right here. Whooosh. (A picture's worth a thousand words 'they' tell me).


Hmmm, my whooooosh didn't work this time...I'll have to work on it. LOL In the meantime, take my word for it. A crappie is a 'fish'. I've had crappy days and crappie meals in my time. This is the way I handle both. First of all, I'm not overly fond of crappie any more than I am of crappy days. So, if I add the right seasoning the fish will taste less crappie. What about the crappy days? I season those with as much humor I can find in my magic cupboard of spices...and the days, although not completely better are more tolerable. It's the seasoning that I use to get me over the rough spots. That's what works for me.

Do you have a secret ingredient?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

To be or not to be, that is the question.

Do you like the way Shakespeare writes? I'm going to have to fess up to that one. I don't. I had problems reading his works when I was in high school...and now more that 50 years later, still the same problem. It's just too much work to translate English into English.
I admire those that can. I consider myself to be 'well-read' but after trying to tackle his 'stuff' my image as an intellectual goes...poof...right out the window.
Yet...some of his short quotes stick with me. Like the one from Hamlet...
"To BE or not to BE, that is the question." I really like that one...because I can play with it.
To be or not to be...what? Now, the word BE means in the present. Not 'was'...not 'will be'...but what is happening NOW.
It reflects the choices I make every day. And let's face it...the only time I can make any sort of a choice is in the PRESENT. There's another quote that just popped into my noggin that I had to check out. "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Todays is a gift. That's why it's called the PRESENT"...hah, by Eleanor Roosevelt, no less.
Now the way my scatterbrain works is to connect the two. Now that I AM in the present...what am I going to do with my gift? That's what I love about the gives me a whole stadium full of choices and a lot of room to think. My first choice of the day? To be happy...and so now I can go on my way looking for all the things that make me feel that way. Of course I may find a few other things along the way...but I've learned that the more I look for the happy things, the more I find. As the Bible says, "Seek and ye shall find." It's working more and more for me.
So...I'm off (like that is a little known fact) in search of the 'happiness stuff'.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Comedy/Tragedy ring...

The ring that I wear on my right pinky finger draws occasional coments from people because it is unusual. The background is an elongated oval and it has two masks on it. The top one is comedy with the upturned mouth :) and the other tragedy with the :( ...sourpuss expression.

Back in my casino dealer days I used to have a collection of rings that I used to change when I changed my watches. Hey, ...a guy who's stuck in a uniform has to change his 'outfit' somehow.
:) . The were different and while I was dealing up the cards occasionally they would start a conversation. The one that I'm talking has now become symbolic.

At one time many moons ago, I spent four or five seasons volunteering at the Reno Little Theater.
The Greeks used comedy/tragedy mask to depict drama...and it's cool to have it on a ring. My ring seems to jump out at people who are interested in the theater. Wallah...a conversation begins.

It also represents 'life' to me. That's the way it happens. The contrast. Not all good...not all bad.
But a blend of both. Laughter and pain...on a background of each of our lives. And since I'm not the eternal masochist, who loves pain...I try to add a little smile to my life every day...when appropriate. No...I don't laugh at funerals.

take time to laugh and's what gets us over the rough spots

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Playing with the ...dictionary??

Ever since my mama taught me the ABC's, I've found them to be one of my favorite toys to play with. Then came reading. If D O G were turned around it would spell G O D. That was my first profound thought that I remember.

Somewhere along the line, and I'm clueless as to when, I realized that all the words in the English language were made up of only 26 letters. And they could all be found in the dictionary. Hmmm.

The parents of an inquisitive only child find ways of keeping the little guy occupied while they were doing the adult things necessary in life. As soon as I learned to read, they bought me my first dictionary. If I caught them at a 'bad time' when they couldn't stop to answer the endless 'what does that mean'...they resorted to saying, "Look it up". Soon I found out that it was easier to do that then to put my book down and go chasing around to find someone to tell me. I've be doing that ever since. The fun part is , I only have to look up words that I'm interested in.

From there I moved into writing. By using the same 26 letters and my imagination I can use them to create anything I choose. At this stage in life, it's the funnest thing I can imagine doing and although I'm not an expert 'builder' of stories...yet, I'm working on it. And the dictionary is one of my favorite tools to play with.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Why doesn't he learn English?

Our baby...Cherokee by name is one smart cookie. He has been easy to train since the day we brought him home eight years ago.

The day after he arrived in our home he learned not to 'go' in the house. We take him out on a leash and he does his business in the yard. He sits by the door and in his cute little way announces that he has to take a walk.

That is a mixed blessing. It's great when the weather is good, but not so hot when it's snowing out. I tried before the first winter came to paper train him to go on the back porch. But the pooch has a mind of his own. His answer was to look at me like I'd lost my marbles...and head for the door. Nuh, uh. He wasn't havening any of it. So outside it is...rain or shine, but NEVER in the house.

I've tried to teach him to be bilingual. I sat him on my lap and told him to say 'meow'. He looked at my, again like I was nuts and said...nothing. After a few language lessons I made progress. No he can get close. He'll sit there and go, 'mmmmrrrrrrrrreeeeeeooooooooowwww'. Close, but not cigar.

One thing he does that at times that is a little unnerving, is bark at the neighbors as they come in to go to the second and third floor. Picture this. It's quiet. All of a sudden there is an earthshattering noise that sounds like Rottweiler...but it comes from next to me. My first instinct is to run to the shopping list and cross Ex Lax off the paper. I just wish he wouldn't do that.

Then my own question was answered. He doesn't learn English because he's a dog. Barking is his way of communicating...someone is coming. I have to admit though, for a small dog with a large voice, he is a good watchdog...and maybe one day if we should ever have a visit from a burglar, he'll have the same effect on them. They'll never know what lies on the other side of the door.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Baby it's cooooold outside.

Since moving to New England, winter has come to mean several things to me. One of them's time to put away the shorts and sandals and haul out the boots and long underwear...just in case.

Why do I wear shorts at my age? Sylvia says that I have good legs...for a guy. ' If 'ya got it, flaunt it' I always say. And besides...they're comfortable. Long underwear on the other hand is also comfortable...once they're on. But trying to get into the puppies isn't. I have big feet, long legs and takes a lot of grunting to get them on. Today is another 'long-underwear day, the same as yesterday. But I'm a quick learner. Guess what I'm wearing.

Yesterday began the same as the morning. It was a work day at my day job. Because I'm not about to turn into a mountain goat and take the shortcut...up and down get there by walking, I take the long way around via two buses. The tricky part is making connections. If I miss the one downtown then I have to walk the rest of the way. Even with my long legs, it still takes 20 minutes...but on flat streets.

Guess what happened yesterday. Yep, I missed the bus. Now it's cold and icy out. I had just been to the doctor as a follow-up to my eye surgery. One of the admonitions he gave me was, "Stay off the ice." And I'm good at following directions...sometime. So I decided to hit the other way and go into the little store by the bus stop. I noticed people there holding cups of coffee. I can never be accused of being a coffee connoisseur. The only criteria I have is that it's doesn't even have to be hot.

That's when I made a wonderful discovery. Vanilla coffee...because I had no choice. That's all that was left. But I loved it, it was hot and I waited for the bus with a new experience. Today is another work day. Maybe I'll miss connections again. Mebbe. Long underwear, hot Vanilla coffee and a good attitude on a cold day. How good can life get?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mr. Patience I'm...Not!

There was I time in my life, when I thought that patience was my strong suit. Not any more. Now that I'm journeying into the self-discovery thingy I find that that 'suit' has a lot of wrinkles. Some of the things that I AM patient with does take the patience of a Saint but I'm afeard my halo has a wee but of tarnish on it, too. The conclusion I've drawn on that idea is that I'm not it took a rocket scientist to figure that out.

For the most part, learning for me is fun. But if it comes to learning something that I don't find interesting or fun or useful, my patience takes a nose dive off the cliff and I lose it. As I see it, since I'm living in a fast paced universe and as long as I'm here, why not have as much fun as I can with my free time. 'Cause having fun takes no patience at all.

Rosalind Russell's line about 'life being a banquet'...from the movie Auntie Mame, got me to thinking. She's right. A lot of my twenty-four hours is taken up by doing the necessary things in life, why not make as much of that time as I can... fun. Hey, it's worth a shot...and fun doesn't require a lot of patience. So now I've got a whole new game to play...The Game of Life, 2009 edition. I'm cheating a bit though. I'm playing it with a partner called A New Attitude. It's much more fun... and requires a lot less patience to play it. It's worth a shot.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Happiness Project

One of the most fun projects I can think of that makes me happy is called Looking Stuff Up. I'm a guy who finds more questions in the answers I get than most. I'm curious about...everything. Been that way since I was old enough to ask questions. Then when I find something cool...or I think is cool, I like to share it. That hasn't changed either.

Time for sharing. The Happiness Project is the name of a book by author, Gretchen Rubin. Last week while going through my email I found one refering to the name in the subject line. Sometimes my 'mouse' seems to have a mind of it's own and I find myself in places that range from...oh, well to WOW. Gretchen's blog was a 5 star WOW. I loved it.

At the risk of sounding like some sort of an informed critic...which I'm not, I'll tell you what I found. The blog is a year's collection of information that the author based her book on. Plus personal insights and tips on being happy. If I were into baking...which I'm not, I would liken it to a well-stocked pantry of cookware and ingredients to bake any kind of happiness cake that one could want. And the links were easy to navigate. And the daily blog is an ongoing adventure that I enjoy.

If the blog is that good I can only imagine how great the book will be. I can't wait.