10 Ways to Be Happier

Happiness.  Happiness is one of those things that can elude as quickly as it comes.  Particularly now that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is settling into our bones and spirits, are there ways to assure happiness?  To establish a sort of hardly wavering inner peace?

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Here are some things that can be incorporated into our lives to help make happiness a more prevalent constant.

1. Keep a gratitude journal.  Write down five things each morning or night (Or by golly if it’s that bad, day and night!) that you are thankful for.  I did not think this would work but am amazed at how such a simple act can really change one’s attitude.  It will begin simple and perhaps grumbly or rather broad.  Thanks for my catThanks for my coffee.  I am thankful for my family.  But it will quickly turn into I am thankful for the soft fur of my cat against my cheek.  For the early morning sunrise and the strong cup of coffee to revive me.  For the sweet texts that I receive from so and so… There is much to be thankful for.

2. Meditate in the mornings.  Seriously, meditate for 25 seconds. Whatever.  I look out at the beautiful mountain peak with ribbons of lavender and rose iced across its tall stature and close my eyes.  I think of a word.  Light.  Peace.  Love.  Forgiveness.  I try not to venture off of that word.  Deep breaths.  It changes the whole game.  Yoga is a great practice to add to this.

3. Become self reliant.  Listen, it would have been real easy for Doug and I to fall into the depths of despair for a much longer span of time.  We could have gone on government assistance, picked up our food stamps, and done the whole woe is me for a lot longer.  But instead we became determined.  We have the ability to work and we work hard.  Doug got a job.  He was not able to get back into the well paying field he was in.  He is working for slightly more than minimum wage.  We opened the shop on faith.  After being homeless for seven months it would have been easy to lose faith.  Don’t lose faith.  And don’t lose faith in yourself!  We are buying fresh, delicious food.  We got an apartment.  We gave up a car.  We are making it work.  It would be too easy to keep up the blame game and feel sorry for ourselves.  Happiness reveals itself in self reliance.

4. Become the Queen of Swords.  Okay, this one might require a bit of explaining. I have a dear friend, a Hopi elder, a wise man, who explained to me that I am imbalanced.  When making a decision I will first consider the feelings of not just everyone around but the impact on dogs in Italy and the children of Kenya.  I will worry everything to death.  What will my decisions cause?  I then will consider my passions.  I will finally think of what is the best decision for me and then lastly money.  I need to be the Queen of Swords! he says.  I must balance my decisions.  To make a swift and sound decision that benefits myself is unheard of to me.  But important. We give until we are depleted. We must begin to make decisions based on our own needs.  If we are well and balanced everything else around us will fall in line.  It is NOT our responsibility to ensure happiness and fairness or to take care of the entire world for everyone.  It is only our responsibility to live our life fully, be kind, and take care of ourselves first so that we can care practically and fully for others.

5. Do more of what you love.  Instead of being so busy caring for others, making ends meet, doing chores, doing what we think we ought to be doing, we ought to be coloring, or painting, or gardening, or singing karaoke, or eating out, or hiking, or…. We are not guaranteed 84.5 years.  Each breath, each moment is an opportunity to do what we love.

6. Get outside.  Therapy is cheaper in nature.  Get outside, walk along Mother Nature’s trails, listen to the birds, see an eagle fly, smell a ponderosa tree while the sap is rising, watch chipmunks scatter, smell the rain coming, touch a fuzzy mullein leaf.  Know that our life’s problems are rather mundane and we are connected to all things.

7. Connect with Spirit.  Your idea of God, Creator, or Spirit is exactly right.  Your connection with Spirit is written in each of your cells.  Worship with smudge herbs and a feather, with the Bible, with a candle, with a whisper of thanks, or by picking up trash.  Be connected.  Whatever your version is.

8.  Surround yourself with folks that inspire you, who love you, who make you happy.  Just because you are related to someone does not mean you have to have them in your life.  Our people enter our lives in many ways.  Since we only have so much time to offer, spend it with those that bring you up.

9.  Spend time with an animal.  A pet can truly bring joy and peace.  We take our minds off of ourselves for a moment every time we stroke the soft fur of a purring cat or take a happy dog for a walk.

10.  Watch what you put in your body.  Its mineral and vitamin content, or lack or, it’s source, it’s way of getting to you, all make a difference.  Eating powerful food gives you power.  Our mood can be directly related to the candy bar we ate instead of the avocado.  There are also herbs that help with anxiety and more severe sadness.  Find a real herbalist to make them for you (not a health food store).  St. John’s Wort, Borage, and Lemon Balm are just a few.

These are tried and true ways to add joy to your life.  To ensure happiness.  It is easier to get back to happiness when we are wavering or side tracked once you incorporate these.  Start with just a few.  Add more on.  Do what you can but ensure that happiness becomes a part of your life.  You are worth it.

 

 

 

Being Present, Manifesting a Home, and the Pumpkin Lady

I am reading a fabulous, fabulous book.  “What I Know For Sure” by Oprah Winfrey is both compassionate, real, and thought provoking.  It is allowing me to read it while nodding, for those things I know for sure too, and then consider whether I really put those things in motion.

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I finished the first section last night about Joy.  The secret to a joyous life is to be present.  So true when one thinks about laughing hysterically in a moment with friends over something nonsensical, drying one’s eyes, and then embracing in the moment.  That is joy.  I ought to laugh more.  In the mornings as I enjoy my cup(s) of hot, dark coffee and write to you at sunrise, I look out the window and thank God for this little “vacation” I am on.  No deadlines, no to-do list, no….then I get antsy and want to-do list back!  I have been sitting and thinking for two months.  There is a real possibility of losing it!  Shh, be present…

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I love watching everything that Maryjane does.  Listening to her little words.  Spending so much time with Doug.  Taking walks and holding hands.  Tending to the greenhouse.  Watching the leaves turn.  Visiting friends.  Resting my body.  Resting my mind.  Ok, well, trying to rest my mind.

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But, there must be balance.  I cannot be present all the time or I would get nothing done.  I am presently manifesting with help (Divine and friends!) and dreaming (because that is what I do).  We have always known what house we want.  Out of the twenty-five places I have lived in my life there is only one that really felt like home.  It was our house in Kiowa.  The one we moved out of last year because they couldn’t keep up the mortgage payments and needed to sell it.  We thought Calhan was our forever farm.  It was a mere stepping stone.  What we really wanted was to own a home.  I guess the only way that we could own a home was by losing everything.  Our friends want to buy us a house and hold the note until we can get our finances in order.  A gift beyond measure.  We know which house we want.  It has been empty since we left it.  People around town wonder where the Pumpkin Lady went.  Not a bad nickname.  There are lots of hoops to go through.  But Friends, we are ready to go home.

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The Joy of Celebrating Birthdays

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Two of my favorite people have birthdays.  Who could have told me the intense connection and recognition of a new soul that I would feel upon seeing the small creature born from my daughter’s womb?  I think I must have known her in a past life, I think I understand her completely.  I am enthralled by her feisty personality, her silent communication (just like her mother’s), and her mischievous smile, in a person two feet tall!

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Was it really two years ago that I announced her birth?  Our princess, Maryjane Rose, is two years old the 8th.  A tea party and mass gift giving will ensue.  Five sets of grandparents will gather, three could not make it, a huge family adores this little girl.  We are so blessed to have her.

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And behind the scenes, snowed into a hospital two years ago, holding a new life, a new life for us, was Doug who spent his birthday cradling his first grandchild.  My partner in all things from business, to celebration, to mourning, to farming, to family, to friendship.  He is my stability and a part of my very soul.

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So, happy birthday my dear Maryjane and Doug (Papa).  Wishing us all many, many more years of celebrations of life and love and family!

Daily Bits of Happiness, Added Silliness, and If You Had No Fear…What Would Your Life Look Like?

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More and more of my to-do lists include things that will make me happy.  Instead of working myself to death over say, dishes, I want to include more day to day activities that bring a smile to my face.  Like smelling the orange blossoms in my window.

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My daughter gave me this journal a few days ago.  I love its cork-like cover and its simple but profound words.

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Do one thing every day that makes you happy.  Enjoy a cocktail on the porch watching the sunset.  Read a great book.  Be with the ones you love.  Take a walk.  Indulge in a bit of chocolate.  Dream big.

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We have done a great job of creating a life here that brings us profound happiness.  There are horses and mules that come to greet me at the fence line in the evenings.  There is peace and quiet and good water and sustenance to be had here.  It is spiritual medicine out here.  We live great and we help people for a living.  We spend a lot of time together and we get to be near our granddaughter often.  We talk to our children often.  We live a great and happy life.

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I have worked hard to incorporate more silliness into my day to day.  It does not come naturally to me!  I was the oldest.  I have always been responsible.  I am more serious than silly.  My husband is the ultimate goofy person.  Lord, if he needed another job a comedian would be suitable.  He is a happy-go-lucky man and it rubs off on me.  Laughing and silliness should be a part of our day to day.

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I may be forty years old, but I have lived through much more.  I realize that life is whatever you make it.  This journey is to be taken lightly!  We are to love the Creator and our fellow creatures that share this Earth with us.  We are meant to be happy.

The passions that are put in our hearts are there for a reason.  A bit of a guide map, if you will.  What do you dream of?  What do you want to accomplish and do?  How can you get to that point?  If you had no fear, what would you do?  It’s scary just saying it.  Maybe it is skydiving or something like moving to Brazil.

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If I had no fear…

I would sell my Apothecary.  There, I said it.  I don’t utter it because I don’t want folks to think that I am not putting as much effort into it.  My recipes are amazing.  And I believe that my medicine is the best out there.  I really do.  I think it is stronger than pharmaceuticals.  I feel blessed that we have been able to help virtually thousands and thousands of people around the world over the years.  That was my calling and I achieved that.  But new whispers are being quieted in my spirit.

If I had no fear I would sell my apothecary, my recipes, my name, my website, and I would teach the buyer everything they need to know to pick up where we are right now and run with it.  We have a huge client base.  Doug looks terrified when I say these things.  How will we make a living?

I don’t know but I know that I want to farm.  I want to throw myself into farming.  And teaching.  I love teaching!  I want to keep my Herbalist School and my Homesteading School.  If we got enough to live for a year or two from the sale (this hypothetical sale…do people even buy businesses anymore?) we would have enough. We could see where the Creator leads us.  I think there is something around the corner.  It’s exciting and terrifying and often seems completely preposterous.  But so did closing my dance company to become an herbalist.

A few things come to mind…when I wake up I am not excited to make medicine and fill orders anymore.  I am excited to get outdoors, to be in the soil, to teach students, to share my enthusiasm, to grow fresh food.

And while we’re at it, I want to publish a book.

Alright, now it’s your turn.  How will you add some silliness to your day?  What will you do today that makes you happy?  And if you had to fear…what would you do?

A Very Prairie Christmas

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The bees were out yesterday.  I could hear their sweet buzzing all around me as they took advantage of the beautifully tepid day.  Just a hint of coolness swept the air to remind me that it was December but the sun shone bright and warm and I decided to take a walk across the prairie.  The barn owl swept in front of me, round and solid, his steel colored wings glinting slight across the air in front of me, gracefully sweeping across the prairie.  The mountains rested majestically across the horizon, their shadowy masses holding the sky.  A group of horses gathered in the distance grazing softly.

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The ancient willow holds masses of singing blackbirds and large owls.  A century or more of memories do my favorite trees hold.  Signs of cattle that grazed here long ago, and of antelopes not so long.  The Buffalo grasses with their curvy heads and the colorful prairie grasses defied the supposed snowy landscape that is so often envisioned with Christmas.  This is what a Colorado Christmas often looks like.  I find myself wishing for a bit of snow.  Sunday we are to get a little and the feeling of Christmas will shine all the brighter.

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I gather kindling with my companion. (The neighbor’s dog, Serina, who is ridiculously cute.)

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Inside the house, all is bright.  Simple decorations best show the spirit of Christmas in this hundred plus year old homestead.  This year we got our first real Christmas tree and it feels simple and beautiful.

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Real greenery, candles, pine cones, feathers…cats…all decorate the scene.  The birds play outside in their feeder entertaining the felines.  Our new rescues add quite a lot of Christmas cheer to this place!

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A vintage sled sets boldly on the dining room table with fresh greens and candles.  This helps create a feeling of fun and winter magic.

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Outdoors the woodland creatures welcome visitors.

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Everyone has one sadness or another at Christmas time.  Remembering and missing loved ones, financial woes, relationship troubles, irritation with our consumerism society.  But the spirit of Christmas is there all the same.  Beautiful and glowing, we remember that God ever loves us and takes care of us and that our prayers are always answered.  Sometimes the puzzle comes together later and we can see why things occurred but they are always answered.  We will celebrate Hanukkah with Doug’s parents and remember the miracles that God made and we will remember the child born, the reason for the season.  Not in a legalistic, all must believe everything I believe way, but in a spirit of humility and humbleness.  Prayers for those deceased, prayers for the living.  Acts of kindness without folks expecting it.  Simple things like paying for someone else’s coffee or sending an unexpected letter.

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This year we haven’t much money.  All the lists I love to make throughout the year of things I would like to get people I cannot.  It makes me sad because even though I talk about simple this and simple that, I want to spoil my children and give Doug all the things he won’t buy for himself.  I want my friends to have beautiful gifts and I want…well, this year is a handmade Christmas.  Quilts, aprons, scarves, canned foods, and baskets of goodies, gifts tailored for the recipient and wrapped with love, but not store bought and I wonder how folks will take to these but I shall give them with the spirit of Christmas, with love and with a giving heart.  I will remember that our blessings are many.  For I had material and food to can and I have people to make things for.  My heart overflows with joy.

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A handmade, simple Christmas on the prairie is a blessing for sure.  Time to put on my favorite Christmas album by Andy Williams (my son’s namesake) and do a little sewing!  May you have a simple season filled with love and fond memories of past and present.

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And may your heart be filled with the childlike wonder of Christmas…

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