What makes me happy? Hmmmm… It really depends upon who you ask.
If you ask my husband: little to nothing. Or a new refrigerator. (Okay, I really didn’t ask him, but this is what I thought he would say.) What he actually said when I asked: a good conversation and Gilmore Girls.
If you ask my oldest daughter, G: proper grammar, good spelling, and quiet.
If you ask my youngest daughter, Effy: books, coffee, and Kim Flanagan.
If you ask my youngest, Z: he and Effy getting along and doing their chores.
I’m really not sure what makes me happy, but I do know that I find myself happy while I’m doing the following:
I like to travel and I love to learn. When the two come together then I’m one happy girl.
My dad made sure we went on a vacation every year, even if it was camping on the same lake in the Black Hills for several year in a row. The first “real” vacation I remember taking was when I was in 3rd or 4th grade, and seven of the ten of us (#1, who was busy with her own brood, #2, who was stationed in Germany, and #3, who lived in Houston and raising a daughter) went to Indiana to visit our paternal grandpa. I loved that trip. We were all stuffed into the car, and either sat up front between Mom and Dad or I was wedged in the far back between #8 and #9. That’s when my dad walked through downtown Evansville with a paper bag on his head and ate a brain sandwich. One particular vacation, I was sleeping in the front seat between my parents, when my mother woke me to see the lights of Saint Louis. Through blurry little girl eyes I saw tiny little lights dot an otherwise pitch black backdrop. Instantaneous amazement. It was beautiful, like a twinkly Christmas tree. At other times, my mother would point out the multicolored stripes of the granite as we drove through the Smoky Mountains. My dad would take us to memorials and monuments. He would make us all get out of the car to absorb the “scenic outlook” because one never knew what one would see.
With every vacation I plan (the tradition of a yearly vacation is happily carried on in my family), exploring new places and gathering new information is mandatory, even when we went to Disney World. One of my friends nicknamed it “veducation:” vacation + education. I’m okay with that. That makes me even happier.
A good laugh
I love a good laugh. Amy Poehler (of SNL fame) and I share the belief that laughing adds years to one’s life. That’s why I love Kim Flanagan.* After spending an afternoon with her, I am bound to live to be 512.
We can go from serious topic to uproarious laughter in the blink of an eye. That’s why I can’t sit next to her in church. If she’s sitting next to me, it is too easy to lean over and whisper the inappropriate stuff that flits through my head. Yes, it happens even when I’m focused on God. This is why I sit in a pew all by myself, except when Kim decides I need company. I have begged her husband to ban us from sitting next to one another, but he hasn’t done it. Or he has and she hasn’t listen, which could be the case, too.
*I have many friends who fill this roll: Kim Honey, Laura Michelle, Stephanie, and my dear sister just to name a hand full. Being my friend requires a forgiving sense of humor and a willingness to endure inappropriateness. Oh, and the time to have 3 hour lunches.
A small joyous flutters in my chest when I crack open a new book. The smell of new books, the smell of old books, the smell of a well used library are all little things that make me love being human.
The little time I get to actually sit down and read a book is precious to me, and when I pull myself out of the pages of a good book, I usually have a smile on my face.
Tucked quietly in a box of my parents’ very old things, My sister, #8, found the first story I had ever written. The handwriting was almost illegible, but it was mine. I remembered writing it when I was 9. Jaws opened in theaters in June of 1975. It was the talk of the summer, and it was the one movie my parents wouldn’t allow my brother (#9) and me to see. By the time school started, every kid in the universe saw Jaws except me. Since I couldn’t join in with the rest of the kids talking about it, I did one better. I wrote my own story: Jaws 2.
And that is how it started. After writing that story, I felt like writing about everything. It made me happy.
And I did.
And I still do.
I write on everything and about everything. I have plot points scribbled on the back of grocery reciptes. A miniature hardback notebook (thanks Jude) is tucked snugly into my purse alongside four pens. Runaway napkins cannot be thrown out of my car without first inspecting it for word like scribbles. The top shelf of my bookcase houses some of my journals, old ones that I couldn’t bring myself to store and crisp new ones waiting, impatiently, to contain something.
I buy a case, yes a case, of college ruled notebooks, covers varying in color, every August. The color the notebook cover determines it’s content. Red is my Bible journal; Yellow is my church notes, purple contains notes and records of the my various teaching jobs; black is reserved for a ideas for a leadership group; and green, my favorite color, is my beloved writing journal. It holds quick plot ideas, character sketches, snippets of plot twists, love interests, scene clips, and bits of information that might be useful somewhere.
There are some moments during the scrawling down of the madness in my mind where, in the periphery, I realize I’m enjoying myself. I am happy.
Going for walks (by myself)
Being a homeschooling mom gives me very little alone time, which translates into very little quiet time. Writer’s need alone time, and will spontaneously combust with out it. I remedy my lack of silence with walks around the neighborhood. This time alone allows me to explore sights, sounds, and feelings. Sometimes I listen to music, and other times I don’t. I always take my digital voice recorder. I have to have something to record my words when inspiration hits.
I always come back from a walk happy.
When everyone gets along
This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s pure bliss. When I hear my kids chatting, I think of my mother and wonder if she felt that warm glow in her heart when her children had ordinary, everyday chats with one another. I want my children to be friends not just siblings. The moments when I catch them being friends is like holding a warm cup of coffee in my hands. It’s comforting to know that they like each other, and that they can get along without me. That makes me happy.
That is what makes me happy. Pretty simple, huh? I guess my husband and kids know me pretty well (except for the grammar thing – that is only if you are my student; otherwise, I just correct it in my head and move along).
Oh, and ice cream, but that really goes without saying, doesn’t it?
What are some of your favorite things?