WHAT’S MISSING?

 

I’ve got to say: My life is grand.
My best friend Kate sent me home from her house with a The Happiness Project to read on the flight home. In the book, Gretchen Rubin takes readers along as she spends a year exploring happiness with scholarly zeal and scientific curiosity. It’s a good read and got me thinking about happiness without feeling like a self help book. Her point wasn’t cultivating happiness as a cure for clinical depression. By her own admission, her life was good when she began thinking about happiness. Her project wasn’t about changing her life, but about being happier in life.

 

One concept from the book I latched onto was how happiness unexamined is less valuable. If you don’t think you’re happy, how can you be happy? The other side of the argument is if you have to ask wither you are happy, are you?  For me, thinking about happiness and what works or what doesn’t in my life is important. I’ve been some scary places ignoring unhappiness and depression. I’d plugged away at life. I’m not in that place anymore, but I’m ever aware of my relationship with happiness and stress. I think of it as being mindful – checking in with myself as if to ask “does this make you happy, Tina?”

I’d really love to read the book again, take some notes and share some thoughts here on my blog. I’ve subscribed to Gretchen’s blog, but haven’t played with all the toys and tools on her website yet. I’m undecided as to wither I intend to start my own formalized happiness project anytime soon. I’m busy and happy. My life fits me.

I have only one nagging concern – one missing and neglected piece. I don’t write anymore. It’s easy to see from my blog, I haven’t blogged. I’ve barely even Tweeted. I don’t have a notebook in my purse or nebulous bits of poems in my head. The idea of writing fiction seems as lost a dream as going to Harvard. Reading about Gretchen, lawyer turned writer, talking about doing what you love, but also working through frustration doing things which lead to long term happiness struck a cord. Writing is great… after it’s done. Or those rare times words gush before I’ve even thought about what comes next. Otherwise, it’s work.

I had been thinking on a blogging comeback – and blogging has always been a writing exercise for me – for a while before I took the trip to see Kate.

The question I began to ask myself: Why do I still think I ought to be writing?

The Happiness Project helped me find the answer: I go back to writing when things are bad in my life. Without fail, I look back on every traumatic event immediately followed by the purchase of a new notebook. When I’m happy, I’m busy living. Too busy to slow down and cultivate what is important to the deepest parts of myself? Seems to be a flaw in my logic.

The worst part is how difficult the process becomes when you haven’t kept up. Practice makes perfect. I know full well without discipline comes first in any creative endeavor. Typing out this post has been excruciating, to be honest, and I’ve taken much longer than I intended. What I’m pushing toward is publishing because once I have hit the button, posted to Facebook and Twitter that I have, I’ve accomplished something. One step at a time, I intend to blog consistently enough to call myself a blogger again. I’d love to build on blogging to make words my profession in some form or another.

First, I’m going to go ahead and hit publish.

PLANS FOR 2011

I have not resolved to reform my procrastination this year, clearly, or I would have written about New Year’s resolutions, plans and goals sometime before the middle of January.

Even now I struggle to explain where I am in relation to where I was a year ago to anyone who hasn’t shared the journey with me. I spent a few minutes reading over what I wrote about plans for 2010 on my old blog. So much has changed. It is disorienting to attempt to see life from through the eyes of the woman I was twelve short months ago. If she only knew what goodness waited for her, maybe the transition wouldn’t have been so hard.

What I planned last year got preempted by life altering events I could not have predicted when I sat down to blog my yearly “looking back” and “looking forward” year end posts. I tend to do similar reflection around my birthday. I wasn’t blogging much when I turned thirty in August, but rest assured by August 2011, I will have much to reflect upon.

I don’t reflect much these days as I am busy living. When I do it is with a thankful heart. I have survived much and have a life I never imagined. It’s not without challenges, but perfection isn’t a requirement for happiness.

Over the last few months of 2010, the puzzle pieces of my life have come together in a shape they will likely hold to through 2011. I spend as much time as possible with my beloved Chris.  I am working two jobs, neither of which I intend to discuss on this blog. I have great friends, some who have been with me for years and some who have joined my life recently. They are invaluable. Life moves on day by day in predictable pattern.

I do have a handful of goals for the year.

First, I’ll be getting my driver’s license as soon as possible. My typical explanation, as with so much in my life, as to why I’ve never had one is “it’s complicated.”

After that, I will be considering the merits of replacing two jobs with one full-time gig. Again, will likely not discuss job situations on the blog. I’ve never had trouble finding work, but I do not know if there is anything I desire for a career beyond working whatever job comes to hand. Unlike last year, when I was determined to go to college at great personal sacrifice, I am unsure if formal education is necessary or practical for me.

My overall goal – the one I would dub a resolution – is to cook actual meals. Wrapped up in cooking is eating healthy stuff in portions appropriate to allow continued progress on the weight loss I managed in 2010. I don’t want to have to “diet” but rather would like to develop healthy eating habits. It’s easier for me to motivate myself to cook for two, so I including feeding Chris in this resolution. It will be easier to accomplish when we are living under the same roof (we’re working on details), but even now I can and do put together meals. I’d like to do some batch cooking with portioned out left overs to avoid the trap of eating out or eating badly when life gets busy. And life is always busy.

So far, I can report some success in the kitchen. I ordered spices online to made Indian food, the followed through and cooked something. I made Chicken Tikka Masala. It was so good. Even better, Chris loved it. I’d never considered myself the domestic type, but given the chance, it appears I am. As I get more confident in the kitchen, I intend to launch my food blog, OgleFood. I’ve owned the domain for, maybe, three years. I love the idea of lots of pictures and a celebration of good food.

While I joke about procrastination, I am working on my time management skills. Blast and darn you interwebs with all your goodness. I can waste infinite amounts of time – the only asset I haven’t found a way to stretch. I have piles of books I want to read, unwritten blog posts, and hundreds of hours in movies and tv shows to watch. If only I could quit sleep. Short of that, I can only do my dead level best to put every minute toward something worthwhile. I expect mixed results. Realistic expectations are a key to happiness, after all.

I learned enough in 2010 to know I can’t plan for everything, so I’m content to otherwise let 2011 happen as it happens. We’ll meet back here in a eleven months to discuss, okay?