Thursday, February 26, 2009

Is happiness a trick?

I just came across a blog entry from an old friend of mine, someone whom I admire and am glad to have run across years ago.

Linda and I met skydiving. I was a newbie and she was an instructor, and she did my Level 6 (for those uninitiated in the lingo, there are 7 levels to become a solo skydiver) and I admired her so much that I was determined to make her proud of me. I did fine and went on to graduate, and actually made many thousands more jumps. My canopy is presently back in the shop for a reline but I intend to make more jumps when the weather warms up here in Washington state.

I am a naturally happy person. In my youth I heard myself referred to as a pollyanna, and I guess that's somewhat true (whatever that means). The other day I ran across a blog called The Happiness Project and read it with a lot of interest. The blogger recently interviewed Penelope Trunk and I quote,
I am not sure that I think the discussion of "Am I happy?" is productive. I think life is extremely difficult, for everyone, and that in order to get through life we have tricks for ourselves to continue the journey and happiness is sort of a trick.
Or maybe all you really need is to be born with a happiness gene. Or something. My friend Linda (first post up there) has something most of us would like to have: the ability to see positive outcomes from really tough life experiences.

I was terrified to think about retiring from my job of three decades, and stop the weekend-to-weekend jumping that occupied my life for such a long time. But when we moved up here to Bellingham from Boulder, a strange thing happened: I suddenly allowed myself to look at life from the perspective of a Senior -- even better than that, a Retired Senior. I played like I was stepping into the shoes of someone else, that I could always go back to the Life I Had Before. It worked; I made the transition with little discomfort, and I am now deeply entrenched in my new life of less than a year.

Snow fell here yesterday and last night -- I really thought I'd left all that behind in Boulder, but this environment continues to surprise me in very positive ways. Wet, yes: but also lush and green with mountains that have ferns and moss. And also clouds and sun and ocean and... birds.

I love my birds and look forward to planting a hummingbird garden and hanging a feeder for them in a month or so. I hung three feeders that I can see from my desk, with juncos and house sparrows on the ground, greedy steller jays in the big platform feeder along with pine siskins and, my favorite, chickadees. Those chickadees are so friendly I swear they wait until I'm out there filling the feeders to swoop in and check me out.

And I love my workouts at the Y. Riding the bus there every morning has become a huge plus (no need to find a parking place) and I've got friends who sit with me and we discuss our lives. And then there's the Senior Trailblazers (link goes to my Flickr account with pictures of some of the hikes I've gone on around here). Since September I've started learning about the hikes in Whatcom County (where Bellingham sits; it goes all the way up to the Canadian border 18 miles north).

Happiness consists, for me these days, of being outside of the apartment at least for a few hours each day, whether hiking or sweating at the Y, of watching my birds chomp down the birdseed, reading the news of the day online, of sharing thoughts and aspirations with my partner, and basically giving thanks for what's been possible in this uncertain economic environment. I might not have enough money to make many jumps this summer, but I'll make a few for sure; I might not be able to travel to Europe but I can sure leave the country by making a day trip to Vancouver; and I might not have a whole lot of disposable income, but I'm really, really happy.

And best of all, I have friends like Linda who inspire me, and I recently joined Facebook and read daily about the exploits of friends and family. Happiness is a state of mind, not a trick of the mind... isn't it?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Seattle Flower and Garden Show

On Wednesday, I went to the Seattle Flower and Garden Show with the Senior Activity Center. This is the last year for the show, so I was curious to see what I might have missed if I didn't go this year. Apparently it has been going on for a long time now.

I spent a lot of money (stimulating the economy) but I didn't buy any flowers, since I live in an apartment building and don't have any place to plant them. I did enjoy looking at the wonderful arrangements and landscape ideas, but where I spent my money was in the lavender booth, lots of sachets and a neck warmer (which I've used several times already), a prayer flag, a garlic grater, earrings, and overpriced food and drink. I would go back, although it's a long day, and we Seniors didn't feel like spending more than 6 hours there, with a trip both to and from Bellingham making it a very long day.

But whatever. I met a new friend, Willy, who uses the Senior Center for trips like this one, as well as being a passionate mahjong player. I looked it up (American mahjong being a little different from the Chinese version) and decided that maybe one day I'll try it, but for now, it's amazing how much time gets eaten up on the computer every day, with Facebook being my latest craze. I have 85 friends and I didn't even try very hard!

Anyway, I am looking forward to learning how to use this new blogging tool, to add along with my Mac web page and other networking tools. Funny how much I used to accomplish in a day, when I worked a 40-hour week, and now I get up, go to the Y for a daily workout, and come home to find that it's late morning already.

More later. For now, these first few posts are for finding the USE of this blog.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Creating ANOTHER blog!

Well, here I am, creating yet again another blog, because I really want to be able to post to other people's blogs and I need an identity. As a Mac user, and having a wonderful page there (, I still don't have an easily recognizable identity to use for making comments. Now I do.

I will try to use this one for my random notes. Right now I'm reading The Omnivore's Dilemma (Michael Pollan), and believe me, I am appalled and disgusted by the food industry. I knew it was bad, but I really had no idea how bad.

So, once I see this is working correctly, I'll post a couple of very interesting things I've learned already, only a third through. And welcome, anybody who finds this blog!