Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Is That a Cat In There?

In the past few months, I've become obsessed with podcasts, and one of my current favorites is Gretchen Rubin's Happier. I love her books, and the podcast is chock full of her simple, commonsense, non-woo-woo-even-though-I-really-like-woo-woo-too suggestions to live happier. Make your bed, for instance, embrace good smells, do simple tasks right now instead of putting them off. Lots of quick easy ways to add a little more happiness to your day.

Yesterday, her suggestion might have changed my life. She said, "Give yourself permission to stop reading books you don't enjoy." I was currently slogging through a book that I really didn't like. But I have a hard time quitting a book. A really hard time. When I finally gave  up on Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, I had a psychic crisis. How can I hate this book and still consider myself a writer? What is wrong with me that this amazing author doesn't inspire me? Well ... nothing. You don't click with everyone, and Joan Didion and I didn't click.

So I stopped pushing myself to embrace something I wasn't really into and allowed myself to enjoy something that made my heart sing. And that felt amazing.

And that is what this year is about for me. I didn't make any resolutions because, it's so much darn pressure and then I get overwhelmed and crawl into my shell with chips and chocolate and darkness surrounds me and ... it's ugly. However, I did set some goals, and one of them was to give more energy to people and activities that bring me joy.

Fortunately, the universe responded by bringing some fabulous, inspiring, loving, wonderful NEW people into my life. Since I was already surrounded by fabulous, inspiring, loving and wonderful people, this seemed like a crazy bonus.

But I have to remind myself to shift my energy all the time ... especially lately in terms of my kids growing up. For so long we're celebrating firsts that before you know it you are clinging to one last after another. Those lasts can be gut-wrenching if you dwell on them.

My kids are never gonna be babies again. Chloe will never twist my hair around her finger and Peyton won't ask me to take my earrings out so he can rub my ear to fall asleep. Lily still snuggles, but there are no more naps on my shoulder.

Focusing too much energy on those things makes me put the cat in a sling and bounce him around while hot tears splash on his head. Disclaimer: I do carry the cat around in an infinity scarf, but he's old, and well, I'm not going to try to justify that. I own my eccentricity.

You get it though. It's sad to think about all that has gone by in a heartbeat. I had to answer a questionnaire about Peyton's college choices, and even as a tall, lanky teenager stood in front of me, I saw a chubby, curly-haired, dimpled baby snuggled in my lap.

So, I can cry all over the cat or I can shift my focus from what was to what is. And, if I really need to cheer up, what will be. Yes, he was a precious baby, and today he's a cool, funny kid, and tomorrow who knows.

Lately Brad is gone a lot for work. Sometimes it feels overwhelming. Sometimes I cry myself to sleep on Sunday night because I don't want our weekend to be over. But instead of dwelling on that, I try to focus on the time he is here and make our weekends mini-vacations when we only do fun things and spend quality time together.

So, I'm looking for more suggestions. I wonder: How do you shift your perspective? What simple things do you do to add a little happy to your day? Do you force yourself to finish books you are hating? And are any of you doing the Daniel Fast this year? I gave myself permission not to, and it's pretty fabulous I must say.

Oh, and what are your favorite podcasts? I LOVE: This American Life, Magic Lessons, Serial, Dear Sugar, Strangers, Happier, Detective...