Hatchet: Buried.

During April I had a “secret Metta friend.” I picked one of my yoga challengers and every time I saw her (which was every day) I said to her in my mind: “May you be happy, May you be peaceful, May you be free.”

Free from what?  Free from anxiety and worry, free from  everything that causes pain and suffering. Free from all psychological shackles.

I wanted that for myself, too. I wanted to be free from fear and timidity. Free from resentment and bitterness. Free from everything that keeps me small, restricted, boxed in.

Did my secret Metta friend receive my good vibes? Maybe.

Did my Metta boomerang back to me?

Yes it did.

Today I forgave. Today I buried a hatchet. Today I freed myself from years of resentment, hurt, and pain.

It took 10 years for it to happen, but it happened. I was weirdly afraid to let go of it. (I needed G to be with me.)

But tonight? Tonight I am happy. I am peaceful. I am free.

Sending Metta (lovingkindness) is powerful mojo. Try it. I promise: You will be astonished.

Namaste.

A Little Spring Meme

This afternoon I walked Boomer to the studio to check the mail and to see if anyone had slid Yoga Challenge money underneath the door. It is still weirdly warm, but it was cloudy and there were a few sprinkles as we walked. I could smell the ground. It smell like dirt and roots and …life.

At the studio, sure enough, there were some envelopes under the door, as well as one in the mailbox. But curiously, most of the envelopes did NOT contain Yoga Challenge money,  but rather a black and white copy of this picture, which was taken back in January.

After the Birthday "Om"

This was taken on my birthday, after my Wednesday Drop-in class. After class Shelley, the one standing behind me in the white coat, organized a birthday “Om” which is the tradition at my studio whenever it is anyone’s birthday.  These are the people who “Om-ed” me.

Afterward, Kestrel (the one kneeling next to me in the gray coat) set up Shelly’s camera for a timed shot, and took this picture.

And today a black and white copy of it showed up in multiple envelopes with notes from the people in the picture, wishing me a “Happy Spring” and saying all kinds of fun and great things, like “I hope samadhi smacks you upside the head! Happy Spring!”(that from Jim, the “guy” in the shot.)

(This little “Spring Meme” has Shelly’s fingerprints all over it.)

It totally tickled me.

Thank you, guys!

Happiness is…

I am happy when I am here typing.

I am happy when I am reading good books.

I am happy when I am feeling high energy, like after a workout.

I am happy when I think that my projects are going forward.

I am happy when I am doing my fundies daily.

I am happy when my space is clean and orderly.

I am happy when I have a felt sense that I am growing.

I am happy when I am feeling that I am inspiring other people to live their best lives, or to live better lives.

I am happy when the things I write inspire people and make them feel good about themselves and motivate them to contribute.

I am happy when I feel excited about the prospect of something new on the horizon.

I am happy when I am living in integrity; when what I think, feel, say and do are all in alignment.

I am happy when the sky is blue and the sun is warm.
I am happy when there is peanut butter toast and sweet cherries for breakfast on the first day of July when the sky is blue and the sun is warm.
I am happy today.

Peanut butter toast, sweet cherries and coffee

Reverb10: Day 8 – The Happiness Gene

Meeting Tigger at the Dark ride The Many Adven...

Image via Wikipedia

Prompt: Beautifully different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

As much as I hate to admit it, I am my mother’s daughter.  My mother and I had such a tortured relationship that when she finally died in 1995 at age 64, I felt nothing but relief and freedom.  I carried the burden of her like a bag of rocks around my neck my whole life, and when she died I gladly put her down.  At her funeral many of her co-workers made a point of telling me how much they loved my mother, how funny she was, how she would make their day.

I didn’t doubt it.  I could see how people would think she was hilarious.  She was.  She was totally outrageous and over-the-top and she’d say anything for a reaction.  My mother loved the limelight, and being the life of the party.  She actually thought it was her duty in life to be the show.  And people came to depend on her for that.  They invited her to parties precisely because they knew she’d do something outrageous and people would be talking about it for days and weeks, even years later.

My mother never heard the phrase, “fake it till you make it,” but that’s how she lived her life.  If those co-workers could have seen her when she wasn’t performing, they wouldn’t have thought she was so funny; they would have been sad and appalled to see how she lived her life “off stage.” My mother was insecure, scared, and petrified of being seen for who she really was: a petty schemer, a viscous manipulator, a liar and a fake. She embodied the “fake it” lifestyle but she never “made it” to where she wanted to go, and that was to… Happy.

When I read today’s prompt, it definitely made me squirm.  My first reaction was, “I don’t think this is my call to make. It’s for other people to decide how I’m different (and IF I am) and what about me lights them up.  I don’t know what I do, if anything, that “lights people up.”  The only thing I see in myself that I don’t often see in a lot of other people is a kind of ebullience.  Joy, if you will.  Happiness.

But it’s not always the case that I feel ebullient. But even if I’m not feeling particularly happy, there is something inside me, something of my mother’s legacy, that tells me that it’s my duty to shine, that I must try as much as possible to “happify” my surroundings.  If there were genetic testing for such a thing, I know I would definitely found to be carrying the “life of the party” gene. I feel it, and when it kicks in I am powerless to resist.

As personality types go, I am definitely a Tigger (as opposed to an Eyeore, or a Pooh.)  I have a pogo stick tail and I’m not afraid to bounce around on it. And like Tigger, I want everyone to share in my enthusiasm.  I want to kind of “sneeze” happiness all over the place, cough it right into the faces of everyone I meet. I want to infect people.

But there are scary moments, especially when I catch myself holding forth in front of a group, when I flash on images of my mother doing goofy-ass things at a parties, and I worry: Am I being an ass? Are people laughing at me, and not, as I hope, at the zaniness of the human condition?

I hope the gene that I inherited from my mother mutated somewhat from its original form and is now fueled by genuineness, rather than fear and insecurity and the need for attention.  It  definitely feels that way, regardless of how it looks.  It feels solid, this happiness.  It has roots that go deep down, and even when storms blow, it’s still standing in the morning, as if nothing happened. And then all that’s left for me to do is get on my pogo stick and get on with the day.

Disowning My Happiness

A weird thing happened at the yoga class I attended in Asheville, NC last month.  The teacher started the class by setting the context for the class.  The theme that day was “Gratitude.”

She started out by saying, “Who in here is really, truly happy?”  I immediately raised my hand, but then quickly withdrew it, when everyone began to snicker, (the implication, as I understood it, was that nobody could be really and truly happy).

She continued by saying that if anyone in that room was really and truly happy, she would gladly surrender her position as teacher and let that person teach the class because they would be more in a position to teach a yoga class than she was.

She then went on to explain that if we did want more happiness in our lives, a surefire way to get that happiness would be to start expressing gratitude everyday: gratitude for the miracles of our bodies, our friends, families, etc.

But it buzzed in my head for the whole class (and beyond, obviously) how I had disowned my own happiness in the face of peer pressure.  I was embarrassed to admit that I was (and am) really and truly happy.

But the question set up doubts for me.  Am I happy? Really and truly happy?  And if so, how is that even possible given war, environmental degradation, human rights violations and all the myriad sadnesses in the world

I kept posing that question to myself over and over, and the answer always came back to: YES.  There is something at the core of my life that radiates pure happiness.  Is my life perfect? Of course not.

Do I get pissy and want things to be otherwise than they are at times?  Most definitely!

But that doesn’t in any way diminish my core happiness.  I think it was wired in me from birth.  I believe it’s a genetic pre-disposition, because how else can I explain this?

I have a lot to be grateful for too, and hopefully I express that gratitude daily.  But it really bothers me (now) that I couldn’t admit it in a group of people for fear of…

For fear of what?  Having to defend myself?  Of looking like a Pollyanna or a ninny?  Of being condescended to in some way?

I wondered: Am I a closeted Happy Person? Afraid to tell people for fear of their reaction?  Am I afraid of being the big old target of somebody’s Happiness Pea-Shooter?

I wonder what would have happened in class if I had kept my hand up and said, “Me!  I’m really and truly happy! What’s not to be happy about?  I’m healthy, alive, about to do some fabulous yoga. I have people who love me, good food to eat, a nice, but modest house and really lack for nothing essential.”

I wonder what would have happened.  Would somebody else have been empowered to claim their own happiness, too?  I will never know.

What I do know is that I will NEVER disown my happiness again.

I’m happy, and I know it, and I’m clapping my hands, dammit.

Post-Modern Wedding (and life) Vows

Last weekend G and I drove down to Virginia to attend the wedding of an old friend.  I posted my pre-wedding thoughts here about how I was so happy for this couple, and for once, not cynical.

The wedding itself was what it was, both lovely and creepy in turns, which, as far as I can tell, is how most weddings tend to go.  It was a very conservative Catholic wedding and the homily was about how Eve was created out of Adam’s rib and how Woman was created to take away Man’s loneliness and serve him. (gag)

I was hoping that the bride and groom would have written their own vows, but they didn’t, though thankfully they did not promise to “obey,” or else I might have had a hard time “forever holding my peace,” (a bit they also left out.)

Back at home, I opened an email Brian Johnson of Philopsopher’s Notes had sent to his list which included his wedding vows (he got married last month), and I have bookmarked them and will save them forever because they are beautiful and wonderous beyond words.  Here’s the link to them. You must check them out.

I loved them all, but the one that resonated most strongly with me was this one:

I commit to taking full responsibility for my life, my happiness and my goals. I absolve anyone and everything from the past or present from having any control over my happiness. (B. Johnson)

I think this might very well be the key to life, and to all relationships in general.  Can you imagine what would happen if we all took responsibility for our own happiness?

(whoah.)

What if we stopped blaming our parents, our spouses, our bosses, our political leaders, our teachers and every other outside institution and person past and present for our happiness, or lack thereof, and took complete and total responsibility for our lives and for making ourselves happy?

What would that look like?

I’m thinking it would probably put a lot of therapists out of business, for one thing. Or at least those old fashioned ones who are still listening to a regurgitation of all the hurtful things Mom and Dad did and said that caused their clients to be so effed up now.

It would also force us all to call “bullshit” on all meetings and social interactions that did not serve, or otherwise create personal happiness. And if we did decide to put up with them, we’d have to realize that it was our own choice to do so.

It would also probably force us all to advocate for disadvantaged populations and for environmental sustainability and integrity.  There would be no more “them” to point fingers at and blame for social injustice, or the filth of our planet.  “Them” would become the new “us.”

We could no longer argue with our spouses or our bosses or our children by screaming, “You make me so ______!!!” (fill in the blank: angry, unhappy, miserable, frustrated, annoyed, irritated.) Because if I truly commit to taking full responsibility for my life, my happiness, and my goals, then “you” can’t make me angry, or block my progress, or ruin my life.

Only I can do that.

If “you” do anger me, or annoy me or frustrate me, I have allowed it.

So Brian and his new wife Alexandra have “absolved” each other from the responsibility for making each other happy.  Instead, they will take responsibility for that themselves and just be free to enjoy each other as they make a life together.

I feel so inspired by this.  It seems to me it’s the only way to be.

In a way, taking responsibility for your own happiness is like brushing your teeth.  When you’re little, your mother brushes your teeth for you, then she teaches you how to do it yourself.  Then, from a certain age, it’s your responsibility to do it, and if you don’t, your cavities aren’t your mother’s fault.

Same with happiness.  From a certain age, you’re responsible.

What if everyone got on board with this?  Can you imagine what a groovy world it would be if we all collectively decided that, starting tomorrow morning, we were suddenly “off the hook” for making anyone else but ourselves happy? And that we totally absolved everyone from our past or our present from the duty to make us happy, and were now about to take that job on ourselves?

Can you just imagine how free you would feel? How light?  How giving and magnanimous?  No more blame. No more shame. No more guilt. Just a life lived with personal responsibility and integrity.

(whoah.)

Happiness, the ingredients

I’ve been thinking about my recipe for personal happiness and what the basic ingredients of that happiness might be.  This is what I came up with– so far.  (I’ve taken as a “given” my health and having food, shelter and clothing.)

Things I Care About and Think Are Important

  • Having a neat, clean, orderly and aesthetically pleasing environment to live in.
  • Celebrating things: birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Groundhog Day—any excuse for a celebration
  • Having friends and being a friend
  • Reliability. Being “count-on-able.”  Doing what I say I am going to do.
  • Promptness.  Being on Time. Honoring my commitments.
  • Taking real action towards dreams and goals.  Talk alone doesn’t count.
  • Fun.  Having fun regularly, daily.
  • Balance.  Work + Play.
  • Seeing the glass half full.  Worldview is skewed towards Optimism and Fun.
  • Generosity.  Going out of my way to help.
  • Regularity in daily habits.  Eating. Sleeping. Working. Exercising.  Daily rituals enable me to thrive.
  • Being a responsible pet owner.  Understanding that animals rely solely on me for their care and happiness and that if I choose to have pets I need to put their needs before my own.

And to sum up:

  • Compatability.  (Definition: Capable of orderly, efficient integration and operation with other elements in a system with no modification or conversion required.) The people I live with, and choose to be in daily contact with need to operate smoothly together in terms of daily habits, rituals, and world view.  They need to care about, and think the same things are important as I do. If that happens, then I feel in harmonious collaboration with life, which in turn creates in me a feeling of deep, rich, fudgey happiness.

Yum.