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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Get Lost in a Good Book

The other day, after heating up my lunch, I walked to the teacher break room and was surprised to find one of the teachers eating lunch all alone, one-handed, at the table.  With one hand, she balanced salad on the end of a fork, and with the other, she held a paperback open, eyes glued to the page.  She looked sheepishly at me and admitted that she had been looking forward all day to her lunch break so that she could read another chapter in her book.  She was reading the Hunger Games, and although it made me laugh to see her multitasking her salad, I could completely relate. 

For the past two weeks, I've been reading, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith, and it's been such fun to find spare minutes to whisk myself away into the world of the story.  My mom cleaned out her bookshelf and offered this one to me, and even though I knew nothing of the book, I thought it sounded good.  And it really was.  I just finished it tonight while Robi so generously put Flanna to bed, and now I'm soooo sad that it's over. 

Here's a snippet from the book that I really loved.  A young mom is arguing with her mother about whether she should teach her little daughter to believe in Santa and fairies.  The young mom says to her mother:
"I know there is no Santa Claus."
"Yet you must teach the child that these things are so."
"Why?  When I, myself, do not believe?"
"Because, explained Mary Rommely simply, "the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination.  The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were.  It is necessary that she believe.  She must start out by believing in things not of this world.  Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination."
And also, I love this:
"It's a beautiful religion," she mused, "and I wish I understood it more.  No.  I don't want to understand it all.  It's beautiful because it's always a mystery, like God Himself is a mystery."

What books are you reading lately?  I'm always on the lookout for good ones, so I'd love recommendations! 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Take the Slow Way Home

heading home from the park
Flannery always wants to walk home from school in the afternoons, but unfortunately, I'm usually driving from work to pick her up.  On Friday, she asked if we could drive the car home, walk back to school, and then walk home.  Hah!  Needless to say, that did not happen, but I love that she loves the scenic route home!

And the funniest thing, though it can drive me crazy when we're in a hurry, is when she walks backwards, or on every crack, or toe to heel, or balances on the curbs as we go.

I remember being a kid, and going on a long walk with my sister and mom, and on the way back home, I tried to only look up at the sky the whole way home, and not to look down even once.  It was such a challenge, and I had to focus so closely, and I remember really enjoying the way the sky stayed still while I kept moving.  I try to remember that day when Flanna is darting left and right and wanting to "follow the tar lines" on the street in their zig-zagging pattern as we walk to school.  My mom indulged me--and it was such a neat experience, so why not indulge Flanna's silly way of walking here and there?

And when do we lose that desire to walk backwards all the way home?  When do we stop paying attention to whether we step on a crack or on only the black tiles in the hallway at school?  I'm going to try to enjoy these cute days where just walking can be interesting!  And hopefully I won't let it drive me crazy!  :)

What about you, do you remember when you couldn't help but gallop or skip or balance on curbs when you were walking somewhere?  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Embrace the Mess

I had to take a photo of this palette the other day -- Flanna was
making grey, but wasn't it beautiful in the process?
Flannery just started taking art, which I think I am as excited about as she is.  I love watching her create things, and seeing her pride when she's worked hard at a piece.  She's just the most excellent artist.  She can draw and sculpt so many things just by imagining them in her head.  I'm the kind of person who has to look at a picture of something to draw it just right, but she can just visualize things.  (When she was 5, she made a polar bear, with excellent dimensions and features, out of modeling clay with no model or picture to even look at--it was amazing.)

Anyway, it was so funny as I picked her up from art class yesterday--she was scrubbing her hands with soap, and they remained covered in black marker no matter how much she washed.  So finally, I decided we should just embrace the mess.  "You're an artist," I shrugged, "Artists get messy."

She smiled, wiped her hands on the front of her shirt, and lunged out the art room door to go pet a wet dog that was waiting for its owner.  

I guess if I embrace the art mess, I can handle the smelly wet dog mess, too.  Because, really, those were the best, most pure moments of joy in our whole day yesterday!  (Oh, besides her jumping in a puddle in her rain boots!)

What messes can you make up your mind to embrace in the spirit of adding joy to your life? 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A New Year, A New Look!

The Gladdest Thing has a new look!  I figure it's a new year, so what the heck, why not try a bloggy makeover?  Besides the cute new background, I updated my happiness resolutions, too!  Here they are, to save them for posterity in case I change them again next year.


  • Live your priorities.
  • Be in the moment.
  • Do your best, and be done with it.
  • Be silly; have fun.
  • Forget not the beauty of the in-between.
  • Learn new things.
  • Be unhurried.
  • Experience nature.
  • Respect routines.
  • Observe, wait, listen.
  • Work hard to make a connection.

My new additions were:
- "Forget not the beauty of the in-between."  -- trying to be content with each stage of life, not just the end products.
- "Be Unhurried," which I've discussed before
- "Respect routines" which is just to remind me that systems matter, and that a predictable routine and maintaining organization makes my life calmer.  
- "Observe, wait, listen," which is a Hanen strategy for working with children, but which I think is brilliant for helping me listen well to adults in my life, too, and
- "Work hard to make a connection," which is something that I say to myself a lot in work and play--sometimes I can get distracted with all that is on my plate, and I need to remind myself that connecting with people in my world is what brings me joy and fulfillment. 

Do you have any little sayings or phrases like these "happiness commandments" that you tell yourself regularly?  I'd love to hear them!  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My 2013 Happiness Resolutions

The long-awaited and much-considered New Year's Resolutions are here!  I know you're on pins and needles waiting to see what they are, since I'm just *that* interesting.  Hah.

So, here they are:  (drumroll, please...)

2013 Happiness Resolutions
1.  begin to bike
2.  make music
3.  declutter daily
4.  master meditation
5.  speak Spanish
6.  meddle in montessori methods
7.  write regularly

Isn't that fun?  I wanted them to be memorable--to actually stick in my head, so I tried to make them cute.  Alliteration isn't just for preschoolers!  :) 

And now I'm writing them in the back of my planner, and taking a photo of them to keep in my phone, so they're official.  Maybe if I see them often enough and they stay in my head enough, I can meet them all!  Wish me luck!

Do you make new year's resolutions?  If not, why not?  If so, what are they?  (Leave me a comment with your 2013 resolutions, and I'll be happy to check in with you quarterly this year to see how your resolution is going!  Really!)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Be Unhurried

It's my birthday!  Flanna and I had sprinkles on our pancakes this morning to celebrate!  And cupcakes with dinner, yum!

And now I am trying to "be unhurried" as I get some reading done for work.  This job, and even this life, can get so busy sometimes that I feel like I am always catching up.  But some of that, I think, is in the way I frame it in my head, not so much in the reality of the situation.  Everyone has a lot to do.  We all do, no matter if we work full tim,e or stay home full time, or have kids, or are single without kids.  Life is just busy.  But that doesn't have to mean that I should make myself (or especially my little one!) feel hurried all the time. 

I think, "Be unhurried." is going to be my overall goal for the year.  It encompasses lots of things, from getting up earlier in the morning to help Flanna be unhurried on her way to school, to planning ahead better to make things run more smoothly so I'm not rushing around, to saying "no" to extra responsibilities and simplifying my life when I need to, to trying to maintain organization so I'm not searching for my cell phone as I head out the door so often.  I also want to be unhurried overall in life -- to try to help myself stop focusing on getting to the next thing in life, and to just enjoy the unique part of life we are living right now with all of its imperfections.

Because, really, hurrying just makes things more stressful.  I can work hard with a calm spirit, and chances are, I'll accomplish the same amount-- with a better quality of life along the way!

How can you make your days less hurried this year?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Take More Picnics

I saved some letters that my grandmother Norma had sent to me when I was a kid.  In one of the letters, my grandma wrote, "I hope you and your mom get to take lots of picnics!"  It was such a sweet little hope for a little child, and I think about it every time I take Flannery on a picnic.  There's something about eating outside with kids that just sets a fun and calm tone--that says, "We have time to just BE outside." and "We are unhurried."  

During a playdate last week, and again a few days ago, I took Flanna to the park and brought a picnic.  It was freezing out, but hot soup and hot cocoa warmed our bones!  

When can you work a picnic into your schedule?

Taking stock: Resolutions in Review

Happy New Year!  Its that time again--time to evaluate my last year's happiness resolutions!  

My 2012 Happiness Resolutions were:
1.  Exercise More 
2.  Submit some of my therapy activity ideas for publication.
3.  Trick myself into becoming a neat and tidy person somehow.
4.  Call more; write more, visit more.
5.  Breathe more deeply; Go outside more.
6.  Learn something new every month.  

7.  Figure out this baby stuff.

I met 6 out of 7 of these, hooray!  I have exercised more by walking Flanna to school each morning and to the park whenever we can.  I think I've been a tad bit neater this year, and have figured out that I must invite people over more often to help me maintain neatness!  I have called and connected more often with my family and friends, but can definitely still get better at this!   I have made a point to be outside by letting Flanna hang out at the playground for a half hour or so whenever possible when I pick her up from school, and I've tried to breathe more deeply whenever I'm in the car.  My job has helped me meet #6, because I've had the opportunity to either present or attend continuing education courses regularly this year.  I also had surgery last January which encouraged us that I might be able to safely have another baby one day if we decide we want another little one.  

I didn't meet #2, but I think I'll keep working toward it in 2013.  

I think it's really interesting that the resolutions that were easiest to keep were ones that I could work into my normal routine without having to add anything special into my days.  (I often try to help teachers make changes in their teaching practices, and it's important for me to remember that if the activities I'm suggesting don't fit into their normal routine, it makes the change less likely to happen.) 

Now I'm brainstorming my 2013 resolutions.  I want to just focus on a few important ones this year, so I'm taking my time prioritizing them.  

What about you?  What are your 2013 resolutions?  I'd love to hear!