July 12, 2005

Care & Feeding of The Inner Happy Puppy

I've had this sitting in drafts for a while, waiting to be completed. I pulled it out, dusted it off, and reminded myself of what I'd written. It seemed like a good time to complete it.

I've had a few requests to share the list, so here, without any major fanfare, is the list of things keeping this puppy's tail a-waggin', even when it's dark and gloomy outside, which, even though it's JULY, is currently happening outside my window. Drat.

Build Ye An Arsenal No, not weapons of mass distraction. More like a Toolbox of Thriving. My 'arsenal' includes letters, 17 years worth of love notes from the beloved spouse, particularly brilliant journal entries, copies of poems, essays and prints that I love, a file of my sister's childhood drawings (she was a whiz at the personalized multi-page birthday card and the just-because-I-love-you drawing), a chainmail belt for belly dancing specially made by one of my dearest friends and a big box of crayons. I plan to add some Lego soon. I don't have any real guidelines for the T'o'T; my only real criteria is that the item in question helps me feel good. A friend of mine swears by her outdoor pool, another soaks for hours in his favourite Lush Bath-bomb-scented bath. You get the idea.

Go Play Outside! Preferably without the intrusion of MP3 players, heart monitoring devices, your cell phone or even a watch. Invite a friend, a child or a dog, depending on how adventurous you are feeling. Don't bother scheduling anything for after, cause you aren't really sure when 'after ' will be. If it threatens to be nice, and you feel like being extra-generous to yourself and others, take a handful of toonies, get ice cream, sit on the curb and eat in the sun.

Read a book - but not just ANY book. We get enough harsh images, foul language, violence and people spouting off their opinions about how bad the world is. Bypass all that and spend a quiet hour in the Children's Section of your local independent bookstore. Whether you revisit old friends or surprise yourself by making new ones, there's bound to be at least one book that resonates. I believe that part of the magic of kids books stems from the author's or illustrator's ability to use the simplest of building blocks to illuminate ideas made complex by overwrought adult language. (How's that for an example? Hee..)

Do something for someone else. Friend or stranger, does it really matter? No, not really, because the key here is not to get a reaction from them, but just to do it. Making sure an elevator door doesn't close in someone's face, helping out a lost tourist, getting tea for my beloved so he doesn't have to roust himself from his book and cat... all good.

I get a ridiculous amount of (completely selfish) joy out of giving my favorite
Blenz barista a few extra dollars to cover the cost of the next person's coffee. Especially when the next person hasn't shown up yet. There's no way for that next person to know it was me, my friend the barista won't tell, and with luck the person on the receiving end will pass it on in one way or another. Do I even need to mention that a tip for the barista is always appreciated?

Spend time with a loved one. Yes, that includes pets. Just make sure you give them your full attention and forget about yourself for a while. One of the things everyone seems to crave these days is attention, and giving someone your full attention, even for an afternoon, is one way of showing them you care. I'm still not very good at this, but am enjoying the practice.

Lose Yourself in The Moment. My attempts at meditation in the past have shown me how bad I am at it. My mind wanders, I lose focus, I fall asleep - all within a matter of minutes. But I am fairly good at short
walking meditations, or anything where my body is actively doing something and my job is pay attention to that. I've recently returned to my yoga practice, partly because my body is not as limber when I'm not practicing it, and partly because I loved the freedom that came with being totally focused on maintaining my breath and being open to what my body was saying.

Make a List. No, not a grocery list, a to-do list, or a list of all the things you've been neglecting and feel guilt over. I'm aiming for happy, not flustered or stressed, remember? Instead, I 'll list..
- 5 things I'm grateful for.
- 5 people I love, and why I love 'em.
- 5 people who would love to hear from me right now.
- 5 things I can choose to neglect with little or no consequences.

Suggestions? Additions? Comments? I'd love to hear 'em.

Just another thought from ...


MissMeliss said...

Thanks so much for visiting my blog...

I've added you to my blogroll - though I have to say, I love it when dark and dreary days come in July (they break the Texas heat).

I really enjoyed your list, also.

Indigo said...

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Your care & feeding is great! Very well written. :-) I especially like your 5 things list.

Pearl said...

Great positive thoughts. I think I'll slate the sets of 5s to digital page next week.

Christine said...

Great list Cin. I have one to add, although I know a lot of people will say I'm nuts. Let yourself cry. When you're feeling overstressed or upset or whatever, a good cry can dissipate the bad and make room again for the good. "Tears are the safety valve of the heart when too much pressure is laid on it." Albert Smith

trusty getto said...

What a great list! I'm visiting today via Michelle's. Nice blog, BTW.