50 Things that Make Me Happy

I saw this over at Reader Voracious and it seemed like the perfect way to reset my attitude. I have been grappling with some very stressful things lately (kids, job, health, the meaning of life, etc.) and my mental health has taken a hit. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the terrible things, but I don’t want to spend another minute in The Land of the Bitter and Sad. So, without further ado, here’s a list of 50 little things that make me happy!

  1. Silly repartee with my daughter
  2. Hugging my sonFamily
  3. Long phone calls with my mother
  4. Sweet texts from my boyfriend
  5. The smell of yeast when baking bread
  6. Cuddling with my cat
  7. Hiking along one of the beautiful trails in the Pacific Northwest, admiring snow-capped mountains, fields of wildflowers and gem-like lakesIMG_7610.jpg
  8. Playing Brahms on the Piano
  9. Sunshowers
  10. The smell of sagebrush just after it rained
  11. Chocolate chip cookiesChocolate Chip
  12. Pretty yarn on the needles
  13. Blackberry hibiscus iced tea
  14. Sleeping under a heavy comforter when it’s cold out
  15. Guitar lessons with Ted and Claire
  16. Getting lost in a good book
  17. Geeking out over a spreadsheet
  18. Watching Amelie
  19. The heart-shaped splotch on my cat’s back
  20. Taking off on a jet plane
  21. Weekend car trips
  22. Wandering through a bookstore or library
  23. Fresh-baked almond croissants
  24. Answering the door to see my boyfriend standing there with a shy smile on his face
  25. Meeting my mother at the airport
  26. Cooking with my mom
  27. Cutting in to the good fabric
  28. Wearing a quirky hat10.366 - Yee Haw
  29. Kitty purrs
  30. Silence after a snow fall
  31. Autumn leaves
  32. Autumn sunshine17.366 - Basking
  33. Making dinner for someone who appreciates it
  34. Wearing pajamas all day
  35. Listening to music that reminds me of my father (Louis Prima, Bill Evans, Chet Baker, Palestrina…)
  36. Singing loudly along to music while driving somewhere
  37. Tidying up my apartment
  38. Eating out somewhere new
  39. Reading cookbooks
  40. Decorating cookies
  41. Jogging when in shape
  42. Using good quality art supplies
  43. Colorful sunsets
  44. Hunting for four-leaf clovers and sand dollars
  45. Joking around with my friends
  46. Wearing something pretty
  47. Drinking a good gin and tonic or a good mojito
  48. Walking in a park with the swallows circling you
  49. Spotting wild animals in their proper habitat: bears, cougars, foxes, coyotes, etc.
  50. Cat naps

In the Depths

15.366 - Pair of Nobodies

It’s nice seeing all the posts from people offering to provide support and a listening ear to anyone suffering from depression; however, as someone who has been in the pits of despair many times over my life–and as someone who has family members who suffer from depression and suicidal thinking, I can assure you that trying to peer out beyond your own isolation at such times seems impossible. If you really care to help someone who is suffering from depression or anxiety, YOU can’t be passive. YOU have to do the reaching out. Check in on your friends and family members regularly.

Mice are Nice

My daughter had a rough year. She started experiencing severe anxiety related to school and suffered from panic attacks. At the time, it was bewildering and I felt unable to address her needs. The school counselor bent over backwards to help her, but she didn’t have any magic cure. Neither did a slew of other teachers, friends and healthcare providers.

My daughter is not alone in this experience.

An estimated 31.9% of adolescents have an anxiety disorder.

That’s a staggering figure.

One of the good things that came out of this experience (yes, there are GOOD things) is that we learned how to better communicate with one another. She began sharing more of her concerns and ideas with me, rather than just the superficial observations of everyday life. Our relationship became stronger. The anxiety issue is not behind us. I don’t believe it will ever be entirely absent from her life–or mine, but hopefully both of us will develop better coping mechanisms.

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My clever girl came up with one of her own ways to soothe herself. I will admit, I wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea at first, but I eventually gave in because (a) she had done a lot of research to support her argument and (b) I desperately wanted to give her something that made her feel better.

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So, yes, I allowed her to adopt a trio of mice. As is shown by the screenshot of our text messages, I was concerned about how our cat would react to the little creatures. I don’t believe this would be the case for every cat, but ours didn’t express even the slightest curiosity about them. She’s getting pretty old and all that canned food keeps her sated, so she wasn’t tempted by them in the least.

I enjoyed seeing my daughter bond with her little pets. She is not an emotionally demonstrative child, so I wasn’t sure how well she’d do with her caretaker responsibilities, but she took them very seriously. She spot-cleaned the cage daily and did a thorough cleaning once a week. She fed them and played with them and fussed over them when they inevitably developed a cold or respiratory problem. Sadly, despite her excellent care, the little creatures aren’t long-lived.

We had to have some tough discussions about mortality. But kids need to learn about those big issues and it’s no use trying to shield them from every unpleasant thing in the world. She learned to grieve and to move past her grief when the time was right.

My verdict: They are, indeed, “freaking cute” and “smelly.” They are also excellent for a child who needs to connect with another creature and to develop a sense of competence and responsibility.

They are also capable of some gymnastic feats that will blow your mind.

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