Thank you all for your comments yesterday and for the links you left. Some of them are known to me, some are not, but I'll check them out as soon as I can. One recommendation that really should have been in my previous post was Notes from the Frugal Trenches, a UK blog written by a young woman, that is full of excellent information. And she writes for the co-op! Thanks Luisa.
Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason, you just need certain things in your life. Take pets, for instance. If I were living a strictly frugal life, cutting back at every opportunity, I wouldn't even consider having a pet dog or cat. I would acknowledge the need to spend money on veterinary bills, I would know my animal would need good quality food and I would decide against getting a dog or cat. However, I am not motivated by the need to be careful with money alone, there are other considerations. I can't imagine my life without a dog in it. I could live without a cat, and when Hettie dies she will not have a successor, but a dog is a different story. When Alice dies, we will have another dog. I am certain of that.
Buttermilk apple cake + black tea = morning tea happiness.
I believe strongly that we must all find our own happiness and part of my happiness is having a dog. I know there is no reason to have a dog. Our dogs are not working dogs, unless you call barking at strangers at the door working, nevertheless, they've been part of our home for many long years. So why have a pet dog? It's pure pleasure, they make us feel good, they give unconditional love and run around like mad bouncing clowns when we come home. Who can resist that kind of wild joy? Not me!
Everyday I mine my life for the pleasure it contains. I want to live a life full of happiness, fulfilment and pure joy. I look for it at every possibility, sometimes I find what I'm looking for, sometimes I find something deeper. But I always look. There is always the hope of finding treasure.
You have to do a lot of thinking when you live as we do. You can't just coast through on automatic pilot because our lives are different to most. We do more work so that has to be incorporated into each day in the most efficient way and you also want to feel good about it (most of the time). Forget perfection, that only exists in the advertisements for products sitting on supermarket shelves. Real life is flawed, but it is also beautiful and amazing.
Take knitting, for instance. If you had never seen anyone knit, how could you imagine that a ball of wool and a couple of sticks could produce such wonderful and beautiful garments? It's amazing. I find joy and contentment in my knitting. It's like a meditation - the repetition; stitch after stitch for row upon row. Knitting makes me happy.
At the moment, when I look out my window, I see dawn's light slowly creeping into the sky. It's not red, like it has been the past few weeks, it's grey and in front of the grey sky is a stand of pine trees that in the half light, looks like black filigree work. I'm glad I looked up at the moment and found it lurking in my day because I know in ten minutes new light will replace it and it will look like what it is.
In the normal course of most days there will be many things that have the potential to make you happy if you look at them in a different way or with kinder eyes. I know a lady in my own life who has no joy within her. She sees most things in a negative way, thinks she is badly done by, always looks for, and expects, the worst in people and is generally a bit of a sadsack. She never expects anything good to happen and consequently, it doesn't. Her mean spirit turns people away from her and this just reinforces for her how bad life really is. I believe that expecting goodness in each day and actively looking for and anticipating happiness makes you more aware of it and when those fleeting moments happen, you're ready and open for them to come into your life.
Don't expect blinding fireworks. I'm talking about all the small fragments of simple happiness that can be found in most days. Those big moments of happiness like the birth of a baby, a wedding, birthday parties, hearing "I love you" for the first time, or the ten thousandth, they are big things. They're the easy ones. But if you can look out for all those little bits that are scattered throughout the day, and collect them by acknowledging them, they will fill your basket to over flowing. Acknowledgement is the key here - you have to notice and know what you've found. Had I looked up this morning and seen a grey sky, big deal. But I saw more than that, recognised I liked what I saw and thought about it for a while. Look for the good, find the treasures - sometimes grey can turn into a rainbow.
These days are all we have. We only live each day once. Appreciate every day for what it is - your chance to live well. Be mindful of your surroundings and the people you share your days with and you will, hopefully, find the sweetest kind of felicity. Everyday happiness will be small and humble and you will need to notice it. Taking pride in getting your work done - be that paid work or house work, knowing you did your best, watching your children play, teaching what you know to someone who needs it, learning a new skill, baking your best ever loaf of bread, hearing your family say: this is delicious Mum!, all these small things should be gathered up and thought about. These are not insignificant things, they are crucial. They will fill you up, they can fill your life up! If you live mindfully, expecting to be happy, if you truly appreciate what each day holds - the good and the not so good, then you will get the full measure of every day. And that, my friends, is quite an achievement.