Sunday, June 14, 2009

Happiness - thoughtfully

Dr. Nick Baylis, author of the newly released book The Rough Guide to Happiness: Practical Steps for All-Round Well-Being, spreads his passion for living life to the fullest in his work as an experienced therapist, lecturer and columnist. He begins by explaining what happiness is not: it is not the definition given by Freud -the sum of our pleasures minus our pain. According to Baylis, pleasure and happiness are not the same.

Pleasure is a transitory state dependent on our physical sensations or emotions. Happiness is a deep rapport with life: with others, with nature, with our own conscious and sub-conscious.

I could read The Rough Guide to Happiness in one day - and then forget most of what I read. Instead, I'm approaching it as an opportunity to make changes in my own life, by embracing the ideas in his book one by one. Yesterday I went for the longest walk in a year, exploring the neighborhood around our apartment. It was not the bicycle ride I would have done in years past, but to do nothing because I can't do what I used to enjoy would be to quit the struggle to remain actively engaged with life. And it is a struggle most days, but that is no reason to give up.

There was a merry wedding in the park we passed by, with a horse-drawn carriage for the bridal party. In this recently-built neighborhood, the houses were architected in a style strongly reminiscent of old Portland, and the charming streets reminded me of days from my childhood. A bank of pale pink climbing roses wafted a scent that brought back the rose trellis in our back yard when I was in grade school.

Sights, sounds, smells, memory: engaged with my world, myself, a satisfying afternoon to save in my memory portfolio.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

1,263 pages

Yesterday I brought home Cyteen and Regenesis by C. J. Cherryh. Together they add up to one thousand, two hundred and sixty-three pages. I don't know what I was thinking. I have an audio book and another book to read and review, and Beggars in Spain to re-read for a Science Fiction group.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

On Grey Hair and Wrinkles

My husband and I both engaged in risky behavior when we were young: speeding cars, speeding jets, speeding boats, etc. We liked to go fast. We also did not think we'd live to be over thirty (that was old!) and we didn't plan for living long and well. Short lives but happy was practically our motto.

So now he is seventy and I'm getting there, and we really are quite perplexed to discover grey hair and wrinkles in the mirror. How did this happen to us? One day at a time, I suppose, but still, we aren't any older in our hearts.

Perspective changes though. On Monday at the periodontist, the hygienist, who I had assumed was newly out of high school and no more than twenty years old, told the dentist he just turned thirty. I nearly choked. Not only do I feel as if I'm walking around in a weird disguise like an 'old person', but really old people like thirty-year- olds are disguising themselves as high school kids. This just is not acceptable. I'm going to get out my belly-dance CD before I start really believing I'm as old as I look.

Don't Miss Your Life: a review

I requested "Don't Miss Your Life" from the Library Thing Early Reviewers group because of the word "Laughter" in the title. The book lives up to its title. I giggled. I tee-heed. I snorted. I laughed out loud. Then I laughed so hard that tears ran down my cheeks. I laughed so frequently while reading "Don't Miss Your Life" that my husband asked to borrow the book when I was done with it.

Charlene Baumbich lives up to her reputation for humor. Better yet, the "Grace" in the title is fully accessible, and especially in the last few chapters. I made notes all over the first three-fourths of my copy, but for the last fourth, I could only read and drink in the assurances that we all have been given the ability to live, love, laugh and share our gifts, however small, with others.

Baumbich relates hilarious stories from her own life that are very freeing, and I found it easy to relate to her. I know that the next time I want to give up and drop out, or the next time I trip and fall down, I will think of Charlene, and I will choose differently. Because how could I take myself too seriously or stay angry when I'm brimming over with grace, laughter and happiness? Oh, I'll still get mad or huffy, but I won't live there for long with the memories from "Don't Miss Your Life".

I didn't just read the book, I inhaled it, I wrote all over it, and I laughed, chuckled and giggled my way through it. I was sorry when I got to the last page. Guess I'll have to look up her back list - I'm addicted to humor now.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

It can be dangerous to read and eat at the same time

So here I was almost a quarter of the way through Don't Miss Your Life, and although I had smiles and one little giggle, I was no longer looking for the laugh out loud humor I thought I'd discover in this book.

Well! Now I see, this is a humorist of the kind that likes to sneak up on her prey. Just when I was sure it was safe to read while eating my dinner, she pounced. Suddenly I was trying not to choke, laughing out loud until tears ran down my face and my tummy muscles hurt. Laughing so hard my dinner drink spewed right back out.

Take heed, my web friends. Baumbich will kill you with laughter if you aren't careful. Don't eat while reading!

They are all barefoot!

Arrived today courtesy of LTER group: Don't Miss Your Life by Charlene Ann Baumbich - a very fast response from the publisher! The cover has me smiling already, because the pictures of ladies in dresses has a unique feature. They are all barefoot.

Baumbich writes about the intentional pursuit of life, even on occasions of death and suffering. Rather, especially on those occasions.