“If it was a worthwhile fight, it didn’t matter who won; some good was sure to come of it.” Richard Brooks
“Conflict is the gadfly of thought. It stirs us to observation and memory. It instigates to invention. It shocks us out of sheep-like passivity.” John Dewey
“Out of opposition, a new birth.” Carl G. Jung
I seriously debated in participating in this year’s A to Z Challenge, but if you heard a crashing sound that was my head smashing into the wall. I went so far as to pick a subject to write about “happiness,” and then I found words for every letter of the alphabet relating to happiness. But, did I step forward… No, I chickened out.
However, I think I’m going to do my own version of the Challenge as “happiness” is critical for my sanity. This is where Helen Keller’s quote comes to my mind. “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
Due to life’s challenges, I feel like I fell into a mud pit of quick-sand and can’t get out. The fact is that I need to put my best foot forward and start moving. So with that rant, this is what I have learned about happiness!
A = Amused, amusement
B = Bliss, bust-a-gut,
C = Chuckling, chortling, crazy
D = Delirium, delight: My delight for today was walking the Poulsbo waterfront enjoying the beauty of nature, and petting people’s beautiful dogs. I even laughed when one pit bull that I pet bounded over to visit me for his pet nearly pulling her owner across the lawn on her tummy as the dog was so strong and exuberant.
E = Enjoyment
F = Folly, fits of laughter
H = Howling, hysterics
I = Interest, interjection
J = Jest, Joyfulness
K = Kid around
L = Laughing
M = Mirth, Merriment
N = Nearly dying of laughter
O = Optimism
P = Playfulness, pleasure,
Q = Quip
R = Rejoicing, roaring with laughter
S – Sniggering
T = Twittering
U = Uber cool
V = Vivacity
X = Xylophone
Y = Yacking with laughter
Z = Zany, zeal, Zest of life
“A good laugh is sunshine in a house.”
William Makepeace Thackfray
Victory comes, at times, just when one no longer expects it.” Martin Buber
“The greatest of victories is the victory over oneself.” The Dhammapada: The Path of Perfection
“The first step towards victory… is to gain courage.” Plutarch
“How in the world were you ever able to do the ‘frog-kick’ and the breast stroke? These were the first words my University of Washington’s Back Specialist spoke to me as soon as he reviewed my MRI report. The report showed my severely twisted pelvis. To add to the fun my vertebrae are in backwards due to the twist in my pelvis. Now, they tell me! I was JUST learning about my deformed pelvis at 61 years of age. Just call me “Twisted Sister!”
The twist in my pelvis and back meant that I never had full range of motion for golf, baseball, or tennis. I couldn’t do backbends in gym. Plus, attempting to do the frog-kick along with my synchronized swimming stunts definitely was challenging, BUT I managed to succeed! You know what? I didn’t know that I could not do these activities so I kept plugging away. It is amazing what one can succeed at doing when you don’t know that you CAN’T do something!
So you might wonder… “How in the world did I end up with a corkscrew for a pelvis and back?” When my mom was approximately seven and a half to eight months pregnant with me, someone through a firecracker in her car. I had been in the down position until the explosion went off and then I decided that I was going to stay in hiding and reversed my direction. Mom had to go back to the doctor and have him turn me back to the “down” position. In those days the doctors used forceps to help deliver babies. There are many cases where the forceps squished the heads of babies or did other things like squish my pelvis and twist it when the doctor turned me around to the down position so mom could deliver me.
My mom was a nurse, so I have no clue whether she knew what the doctor accidentally did to my formation in the delivery process or not. Now that I’m grown, and especially after I learned about my twisted pelvis and vertebrae it so explained all the difficulties that I had to work at overcoming after so many years as a child and young adult.
It also explains why I’m so DETERMINED to be the Little Engine that Could… “I think I can, I think I can!” I did play a bit of golf, tennis, and baseball, but I was terrible at these games as now I understand why. I used to beat myself up and call myself all sorts of names because I was so terrible at playing these games, BUT my success was in my synchronized swimming. So REMEMBER…
“Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized.” Albert Einstein
“We are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be beaten and robbed as they make their journey through life. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice that produces beggars needs restructuring.” Martin Luther King, JR.
“If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them.” Francis Bacon
I read news stories and watch the happenings in the world daily where I repeatedly hear about the violence that seems to be ruling us. Some place along the line fear, anger, and disrespect prominently seem to have taken over the world. WHY? Why can’t we accept one another? Why do we have to fight or hurt one another?
As a child, I was taught to respect different ideas, ideals, and cultures. Mom said we do not all think alike, and that is OK as I might actually learn something from someone else. If we share ideas and thoughts, imagine the wonderful world we can create. To stop the flow of ideas is to strangle the world and it kills the mindset of the projects we work at developing.
When I took Latin in school, I learned that no language translates exactly, consequently if we work together we can come to an understanding, but we cannot assume that our language or way of doing things is perfect or better than others. Why force our beliefs on another person? Look at all the varieties of flowers in the world. What a glorious garden they create. If we had only one type of flower blooming around the world, how boring would that be?
Years ago when I traveled to Europe, I was offended by the ways other Americans acted and treated the people of other countries. Somehow the Americans thought they were better than those people around them. No one category of people is better than another, as we all have our pluses and minuses. While in Europe, I LOVED the history, and the cultures that engulfed me. The people were fun, intelligent, curious, helpful, and polite. As I walked around the various towns and attempted to communicate with people who did not speak English, I discovered that the towns’ people were as curious about me as I was about them. What a delight it was to have them work with me so that we could understand one another to accomplish simple tasks, like my attempt to ask questions.
I think the best part of my trip to Europe was a conference I attended as the organization had us play games as teams in order to get to know one another. There is nothing like sharing a good laugh or working together as a team in order to develop a working relationship and friendships. The conference represented people of all countries around the world. I found it a delight to work with people whose styles, tastes, and interests were so different from mine. However our incongruities made us stronger as we worked to forge our dissimilarities. Try it… you might like it!
The big day arrived for me to head to our family reunion down at Millersylvania State Park in Olympia. The family chose this new location as it split the distance between Portland and Port Townsend for various family members. I was ecstatic about enjoying a long visit with the family who I rarely see.
Since the younger family members love to camp, the park is filled with approximately 250 secluded camp sites surrounded by a forest of enormous Western Fir and Cedar trees, 8.6 miles of trails for hiking and biking, and an ice, cold lake for the kids to rollick in. Heck, the families’ dogs ecstatically sniffed the large, leafy shrubs surrounding the camp site. The park even supplied amenities for us elder people like an outside beer garden and a sandwich bar, not far from the lake.
The weekend in July that we decided to meet was glorious, yet the trees were so tall and thick that I nearly couldn’t see the sky or the sun. The shade made our sunny day quite dark and cool. Then with a name like Millersylvania I kept wondering if I would run into Werewolves, Frankenstein, Dracula, or vampires out there in the dark woods.
Since the reunion was set for a weekend, the younger family members arrived a day or two early to throw their tents up in order to enjoy being out in the wilderness. The forestry was so dense that you couldn’t see the tents on the sites surrounding you. Fortunately the family members had the opportunity to wander around and become acquainted with the area without getting lost while exploring the trails around the park, unlike me as I was only visiting for a few hours on Saturday.
When I arrived the kids were off exploring and hiking around the area, but one of the cousins remained at the campsite as he had been feeling ill, so I sat on a log to chat with him until the remainder of the family returned. As the family finally showed up at the Group Camp site I enjoyed receiving hugs and chatting with everyone. Holy Smokes the grandkids had grown and our eldest is now 6’5”. The consensus among the young people was that after lunch they wanted to head to the lake to canoe and swim. The older family members were heading to the beer garden and sandwich bar… except me as I wanted time to visit with my kids and my grandkids.
After gobbling down lunch, we took a circuitous route to the lake and the other family members split off heading for the beer and sandwich garden. When we arrived at the lake the children promptly jumped in splashing around in the cold lake. Water fights pursued as well as some of the kids relaxing on the water mattresses.
Some of the teenagers took off in a canoe, while others grabbed a paddle board, and a pedal boat that you pedaled like a bicycle. I sat on the shore chatting with my son and my daughter as they played with their small kids in the water. After a long visit, I decided it would be fun to gossip with the cousins that had headed to the beer and sandwich garden. I didn’t want to walk the circuitous route back as I felt that I had a straight shot through the woods and campsites, so I would connect with the cousins that way. I shouldn’t have any problems finding my way back, right? Since my son had his hands full with his three year old daughter and his one year old son, I decided I would take Leo, my son’s dog back with me. Now, Leo is not exactly a tiny little lap dog. He is a combination of Rottweiler, American Bulldog, and Boxer, so he is a feisty 100 plus pounds of determination with a mind of his own!
Because my son had rescued Leo from a shelter when Leo was approximately a year old, Leo is extremely attached to my son and his family as Leo is now nearly six years old. Since I don’t see the kids very often, Leo does not know me very well, so Leo was concerned about being away from his family. Needless to say Leo often would express a desire to go in a different direction. Ever have a tug of war with over a 100 pound dog?
Ok, now the fun part here is that I assumed that the sandwich bar was not that far away, especially if I attempted a “straight” shot through the woods. Now, I do LOVE walking, but it has been a long time since I have wandered through a wooded area. I had forgotten about tree roots and the mounds of earth, so I was bouncing around like a buggy going over a rocky road. Oh yes, and Leo periodically yanked me in the opposite direction, “I want to go THAT way, and NOT your way!” so I had to convince Leo that I was ruler. After pulling on Leo, I’m now convinced that my right arm is about two feet longer than my left arm. Then after about an hour of walking through the trees and around various campsites, Leo and I STILL had NOT found our campsite OR the sandwich bar. So much for that “straight, easy shot” back.
Consequently, I started stopping at campsites asking for directions but the other campers were as unsure of their way around the park as I was, so I was sent in a variety of directions, none of which helped me find my destination. One woman was kind enough to even give me a map of the State Park, but it did NOT have an “X” marking the spot saying “You are HERE!” I would have LOVED to have owned one of those Life Alert buttons so I could press it and say, “I’m LOST and can’t find home!”
After yo-yoing back and forth, I’m convinced that I explored all 8.6 miles around the State Park and I was singing “Round and round we go, where we stop, nobody knows!” I finally pulled out my cell phone and called my daughter. “Hi Hon, I’m LOST, will you come find me?” I looked up as my daughter leisurely strolled around the corner saying, “We are right over here, mom.” I can’t tell you how many times I must have walked past the area close to where the family camp site was located but didn’t see them. But after an hour and a half I felt like I had been drawn and quartered, from Leo’s yanking on his leash and my bouncing and stumbling over tree roots. I now know about walking on the Wild Side! The worst part is that since I had two hours to drive home, I only had about 15 minutes for my “long” talk with the cousins.
I can promise you that when I arrived home, I was VERY sore, but after taking a couple of Tylenol and rubbing Arnicare Gel all over my body, I definitely did sleep well that night.
“We find a delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“To make other people laugh is no great feat so long as one does not mind whether they are laughing at our wit or at us ourselves.” Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
Every Thursday morning, I have the pleasure of opening up Poulsbo’s Historic Maritime Museum to acquaint visitors with Poulsbo’s history of logging and fishing. One particular Thursday morning a gentleman stopped by to ask if it was OK to have groups of boys and girls from the Sons’ of Norway Summer Program visit our museum. “Of course!” was my response… little did I know what I was letting myself in for!
As the morning grew to afternoon, suddenly a line of 16 little male bodies appeared as they romped and bounced down the sidewalk in as close to single file as young boys can possibly do at their age. As they entered the museum, their teacher announced “Now, DON’T touch ANYTHING!”
Heck, kids have to have some fun and mischief so I instructed them on how to pump the fog horn so they could alert the ships to the danger of nearby land. There is nothing like an ear blasting sound to excite the kids. One after another child worked at pumping the horn to make it roar! I considered taking out my hearing aids.
Additionally, we have a ship’s bell at the “Captain’s Wheel” so I encouraged the boys to ring the bell too. While the commotion was taking place one little boy walked up to me asking “How tall are you? You sure ARE tall!” After my answer, he hit me with the next killer question… “How OLD are you?” When I responded, the young man shrieked, “You SURE ARE TALL for being THAT old!”
Ok, I have white hair, or some might call it “blond” but age is in the eyes of the beholder, as I sure don’t feel old! Evidently, the young man disagreed with my thinking.
My friends laughed with me about my experience, then shared some of their tales. One friend from my high school days discussed colors with her three year old grandson. The color, yellow, came up and my friend’s grandson replied, “Like your teeth!” After my friend picked herself off the ground from embarrassment and laughter, she decided she might need a whitening agent for her teeth after all!
One day another friend was quietly enjoying lunch at his favorite restaurant when a mother and her two young children sat at the table next to him. The one child, a young toddler, sat in a high chair, while the other sibling sat a long side. The toddler made eye contact with my friend, and then the ESP kicked in as my friend hiccupped! The toddler hiccupped in response, so the two seemed to communicate through continued hiccups, then the older sibling asked, “May I join in, in your conversation?” So the three, two children and an older man, hiccupped in response to one another while the mother laughed so hard tears streamed down her face.
Children bring joy to our lives… OK, and some craziness!