Five Easy Pieces

No, this isn’t about the movie (although as I recall, it was a great one!)  No, this is about keeping light in one’s life as the days grow shorter and darkness stretches long. I find this to be a personal challenge as I am a light dependent creature and grow more so with every passing year. I just find this time of year requires some extra vigilance to keep a sprinkling of grey pall from descending on everything like so much fine plaster dust.

It is a good time of year for me to pay attention to what makes me happy.

I’ve found over the years that , barring life changing events of extraordinary proportions, if I make sure each day has some basic components, I am going to have happiness in my day. I used to think there were three building blocks involved. All involve work of a sort but of the most pleasant and satisfying kind, the kind that uses all of me:

1 ) Work with my hands ~ This can manifest itself in many ways, in knitting or baking or chopping vegetables or drawing or in gluing together a broken household object. I love to watch my hands work. They are older now… the veins more prominent, one little finger permanently crooked from an injury on a cycling trip in France a couple of years ago (and totally worth it of course as it allows me to reference France !) Yet they are strong and steady still and the muscle memory stored in them makes the kneading and the knitting a quiet meditation. And when all is said and done…something useful or beautiful or delicious has been created… and this in turn creates happiness.

2) Work with my heart ~ This too has many different paths, all having in common one thing…focus on others, It can be accomplished by contacting a friend that I know is troubled, baking scones for the newly widowed neighbor next door, volunteer work or something as simple as picking up an article dropped on the ground by an elderly stranger and handing it to them with a smile. It creates connection …and this too creates happiness.

3) Work with my mind ~ I am sure most of you are already on to this… I love, love, LOVE to try to puzzle things out. This in fact is what originally motivated me to begin a blog… it is easiest for my to clarify my thoughts when I write them down. I am not sure why, maybe a different part of the brain ? Anyway… writing, problem solving, organizing ,reading,  a deep discussion with a friend (which also usually involves work with the heart and in my case…hands!), or just daydreaming while cycling on a wooded path, all are deeply rewarding. Working with my mind makes me happy.

Cycling…yes. In the past year or so I have really come to appreciate a fourth building block I need in my day, physical activity…

4) Work with my body~ So many of the things I love to do are done with little movement so it is really only recently I have come to appreciate the role of larger movement in my life. Regardless of what is happening around me..if I have biked, or walked or gone to the gym … my day goes better. Every time. It is such a guaranteed effect that I am amazed how long it took me to realize it..and even more astonished to find, even knowing this, that it is hard sometimes to push myself out the door! But push I do, as I am committed (most of the time!) to having physical activity in my day. Using my body as it was meant to be used makes me happy.

And there is one other thing I think, something so hard for me to understand I should title the next one , “Please excuse the mess,this area undergoing renovation.” But for consistency’s sake, lets call it,

5) Work with my spirit ~ Oh my, I am such a beginning learner here. I don’t even really know what work with spirit means. I have had a long and winding path in this area. Born into a fundamentalist Christian family and moving on into so many variations of faith and lack thereof, including being agnostic, an atheist (that was my longest stretch), a Charismatic Episcopalian, a Unitarian, a fake Buddhist (I ate meat and would squash any ant that had the temerity to enter my house!) and most recently a regular church goer at a socially progressive church. I don’t have the deep and abiding faith that seems to, enviably, come so easily to others. All I have is a newly established relationship to prayer. I pray prayers of gratitude several times a day and “If You wouldn’t mind..” petitions for help for family and friends in need or for myself. I don’t understand who I am praying to..the Trinity as a concept is mind blowing to me. But I feel I am heard and held and loved. This might be enough…I don’t really know…but I do know that it makes me happy.

So yes, Five Easy Pieces…  and a Very Happy Fall to you all!

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6 Responses to Five Easy Pieces

  1. Karen Dervin says:

    Lovely as always, my friend!

    • beautiful Chris. First i would say you have the list of answers for every horrible mood and a great prescription for me,myself for remember. So easy to think selfishly in fact it is counterintuitive not to. And as for the spirit, you have it my child, for if you feel held the way you do, then the hands of God have accepted you and you do not have to struggle with any kind of reconstruction, in my opinion, but forgiving yourself for trying to do so!
      The only thing I am missing is working with my hands, unless you call banging on the computer keys the answer. I would love to sink my hands into dough but it would just drop on the floor and kill the dog.
      You are such a lovely writer, I love your humor and your poignancy. And your lesson giving. Im abandoning my pressing work and out to comfort a friend now after reading your blog. Love, Lucinda

      • Dear Lucinda,

        Thanks for the beautiful feedback , goes without saying that all your encouragement on my writing means the world to me!!! And you made me laugh out loud at the potential danger for the dog in bread making in your home :(!! Hope you had a wonderful visit with your friend – love Chirs

  2. Jeanne Leonard says:

    Chris,
    You have such an ability to touch long latent thoughts and feelings. A fake Buddhist, a reformed atheist. I love your “please excuse this mess” title. However, it is to me the toughest area of our being.
    I still think you should write that book.
    Hugs and love,
    Jeanne

    • Thank you Jeanne and yes, for me too, the toughest area. Frustrating and endlessly fascinating! I think writing a book would be a bigger project than the one we did together…I think I only have one of those in me per decade! But thanks from the bottom of my heart for the faith!

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