Contentment: I’m on a Boat

This past weekend we went on a boat ride with friends and swimming in a small lake near our home. The sun was setting, the light reflecting off of the water, the green trees in full bloom dancing in a gentle breeze as the heat of the day warmed our skin the cool of the water refreshed us. It was such a phenomenal gift to be in the water with my children, surrounded by dear friends, and just so happy. I fully indulged in the effervescent beauty of now. The honor and generosity that is bestowed up on us daily if we only look around to enjoy it. 

I even exercised Brenee Brown’s teachings and instead of stealing my own joy and envisioning some horrible outcome. I imagined and thought to myself, what if this day is perfect. What if we all have the best time of our lives, we laugh, eat well, drink, and have fun and then go home to get a good night’s rest. And that is exactly what happened.

The following morning my little angels slept in and I spent a few quiet moments with my partner before the day began. It was wonderful. The clouds were brilliant and stunning in their whiteness and elegance, floating above us in intricate and alluring patterns like lace in the breeze. I am still savoring the joy of yesterday. The quality time with friends; the peace, laughter, and serenity we shared. The joy of engaging with our friends and our children. The pleasure of laughing to the sky and filling my cup up with love, connection, contentment, and community. 

I am reminded that how we choose to spend our time is important – making the choice to live wholeheartedly, truly engaging with the people and places that surround me is an active decision. I make feeling those feelings, and doing those things my priority. And I work hard not to be weighed down by small or petty disappointments. I am grateful for all that I have choose to focus on that, not on what I don’t have or what has yet to come my way. We all have this option, the power to choose to focus on joy and gratitude and happiness exists for all of us. Rather than keeping score or records of what opportunities we have missed out on, we can choose to seek out new ways to bring ourselves joy. To explore new options for fun or things we might like to try. What a phenomenal gift this power of choice is for each of us. I hope you’re choosing joy too!

How are you choosing to be present in your own life? What gifts are you giving yourself today, this week, this month? How do you make a point not to steal your own joy and celebrate life in the moment?

Moving Forward

Right now we are house hunting – and really, who isn’t? So many of us purchased our homes with a certain lifestyle in mind, basically, “we’ll be here on holidays and weekend mornings.” The rush of our lives precluded us from ever settling or coming to rest in our residences. Now that our society is shifting away from activities outside of our homes and closer to our front doors we are all scuttling around like hermit crabs, quick to switch to the larger shell that gives us room to grow. 

We all want spaces to work, live, and play outdoors. A few weeks ago Saturday Night Live did an entire bit equating Zillow searching to pornography – and they’re not wrong. Looking at other people’s properties, even if they are just dream houses, still inspires us. The idea of a different life in another home, a little more elbow room to share each other’s company is all very exciting. Our homes are becoming not only where we live and rest, but also where we work, where our children study, and our animals monitor the comings and goings of the Prime truck.

The hunt for somewhere to belong is not just practical it is leading to some existential questions as well. Where are our people? Where do we belong? Our extended families are located here – but where does our nuclear family fit? These are big questions and it is such a relief to not be the only ones having these difficult conversations. Talking with friends who are going through the same challenges has left me feeling supported and like we are not the only ones searching, not just for a home but for our community and our place in a new world. With an opportunity now to live and work anywhere it begs the question – who are we and where are our people?

As we all come out from our shells and (vaccinated) go back out into the world, where we call home is meaningful. Our homes connect us to those places we value, those people who have helped us get through this year, and we realize not only the value of close friends, family, support networks, but also of supporting our local businesses and those community resources that have sustained us through this pandemic. 

We know much more about the disease now, and we know who we can and cannot depend upon in our lives. The people who stepped up, who reached out, and who helped sustain us will be our friends for life. And finding a home surrounded by a larger community that feels like home, that supports us, grounds us, and gives us room to dream of who we will be next is our good fortune. 

As we continue looking I wonder what have you found most valuable in your home? What fixes have brought you comfort and joy? What updates are you looking to make? Or if you’re looking, what is most important for your next home to have?

Gratitude in 2021 – Technology

Let’s talk about gratitude. I am a firm believer in Positive Psychology research and the many proven benefits to practicing gratitude each day. I begin my days with three things I’m grateful for just to get ready for the day. Let’s do them here, I’m grateful to be able to write and share my ideas, I’m grateful you’re reading my words, and grateful that we are both lucky enough to exist in this time and space together. Aren’t we lucky? 

The thing is that I feel lucky every day and I wanted to share with you some of the things that make me feel fortunate and blessed. Now, I started this post with the idea that I would talk about all of the things that bring me joy but as I’ve written I’ve found that I could write a book on that so let’s start with one area, technology.

Marco Polo – I have reconnected with old friends and family, spending time with “my people,” in a way I haven’t done since adolescence – though with more healthy boundaries and mutual respect. Where before my time was consumed with acquaintances and those people I only saw in passing, now my time with friends is intentional. I am finding real connection with people who inspire me and nourish my spirit. This video app has made possible the rekindling of relationships that spark innovation and bring me back in touch with my deepest and truest values. It is a gift.

Zoom – I come from a large extended family and in early 2020 we circled the wagons via Zoom. Every person who had something to share brought their gifts and talents to the table. We learned how to make mask filters to replicate N-95 masks with shammy cloths. A cousin who had a pattern, made masks and shipped them across the county. We compared notes on travel and safety guidelines with those in the airline industry. We discussed medical protocols and infection rates with those in the medical field. Through this network we know what is happening on college campuses across the country, in hospitals, airports, on the roads, and in our schools, and libraries. We discuss impacts on employment for government and private business. We have rebuilt bridges and family bonds as never before. We still meet every Sunday at 2pm and I am truly grateful.

Prime – Prompt package delivery and entertainment. Amazon has given me the opportunity to focus on re-investment in what I want instead of what is, “popular.” I’m also able to watch shows using our Prime account and I must say that Amy Poehler and Donald Glover are helping me to stay cozy and relaxed before bed rather than watching the news or scrolling, which both drain my energy and leave me too wired for rest.

Instacart – My first purchase was at Costco… and Aldi. Even before the pandemic began we were ordering our groceries from the grocery store. Letting grocers fill our trunk with delicious foods while protecting ourselves and those out in the stores by staying home. The added benefit of Instacart and the variety of shops I am able to access by using the site, keeps me home and saves me time. That one Costco trip saved me three hours of time and in being able to tip those people willing and able to shop on my behalf feels as if I am doing something to help others.

I think it just feels good to know we have these tools that we can use to help keep more people safe. I like that entering this second year of the pandemic we have so many tools available to make staying home convenient and comfortable. These tools were not all in my kit when the pandemic began but as we have all adjusted they have given me a sense of comfort at a time when the world feels less than comfortable. 

What new tools and technology have you picked up to stay home and stay safe? What good ideas am I missing?