The pursuit of happiness

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The pursuit of happiness

[Image credit: khunaspix]

When I review many of the blogs I’ve written, I see the topic of happiness come up a lot — the pursuit of and the desire for.  Conducting a cyber search reveals more of the same.  Thankfully, I’ve discovered those things in my life which bring me joy in small doses.  But what about a life filled with minute-by-minute happiness?  And what does being happy truly mean?  For me, the definition is subjective.  What makes one person happy may do nothing for the next person.  Some say it’s a deliberate choice, while others base their happiness on their circumstances.  I’m learning that a life of pure happiness means living transparently rather than simply surviving.  And that this only happens by moving forward in all my good, bad and ugly, grateful for the precious few traveling with me — the ones who accept my flaws and celebrate my strengths along the way.  Because the more I can be myself, the closer I become to minute-by-minute happiness.

What’s your definition of happiness?

Word-of-the-month: matriculate (v.)

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[Image credit: Arvind Balaraman]

Each word I see or hear that stumps me ends up in my “word-of-the-month” stash.  Then, when it’s time for me to pick and choose the next word to be featured, I can’t help but picture each one trying to outdo the other so that I’ll select the “best” one.  I have to admit, I did pass over this month’s choice several times.  And each time, I kept thinking it had something to do with chewing up my food — which, incidentally, is masticate.  But, finally, matriculate (pronounced muh-trik-yuh-leyt) is March’s word-of-the-month and I now know it means to begin or enroll.  Synonyms include enter, join, register and sign up for.  A sample sentence may read: As a non-traditional (older) student, I matriculated in undergraduate studies at Arizona State University where I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature, Writing and Film.  Perhaps you have always wanted to matriculate in a race, contest or cooking, fitness or art class.

Is there some activity in which you’ve recently matriculated?

The dirty little “i” word

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Dirty little i word

[Image credit: Master isolated images]

Never too old, never too bad, never too late,
never too sick to start from scratch once again.
~ Bikram Choudhury

I recently met a fellow yogini living halfway(?) across my world who shares a like-mindedness.  We’re both forty [cough cough] something and seeking to fully live each day with no regrets.  She ran across my blog and asked if she could share my story of indulgence.  Indulgence?  Me?  I’ve always been of the mindset that word was dirty — self-seeking.  But when I read her blog, I understood it’s all about saying yes to life.  Returning to school as a non-traditional student and changing careers mid-life — recreating myself — all of it a form of indulgence.  I’ve been accused of sporting a mid-life crisis, but I prefer to call it a mid-life awakening.  No crisis going on over here.  Just the desire to wake up Someday and, with a contented sigh, realize the best thing I ever did for myself was follow my heart.

What is your biggest indulgence?

Taking a step back


Taking a step back

[Image credit: Arvind Balaraman]

My consecutive days of Bikram — and lifestyle changes — came to an end.  After 41 days and increasing aches in various joints, I realized too much of a good thing may be doing more harm, rather than healing.  Considering my lab results (see Fighting the odds …), the last thing I want to do is hinder my ability to practice hot yoga.  So I took a day off and also enjoyed my first glass of wine in more than a month.  The next day I returned to the hot room, backing out of the poses as necessary.  One of the most important things the 30+ day challenge did for me was re-program my all-or-nothing attitude.  I feel a bit freer … less bound by the obsessions that sometimes drown out my common sense.  I was afraid I’d wake up the following day upset that I didn’t keep going with my uninterrupted days of practice.  But I didn’t.  Maybe I’m growing up.

What’s something you may need to lay off?

Fighting the odds … and winning

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Laptop screen winner

[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

I’ve been fighting genetics ever since I can remember.  From the outside, no one would ever know my cholesterol has been in the “high risk for heart disease” category for years.  And because I live with a heart defect, it’s something my cardiologist watches closely.  Although I have successfully avoided medication through diet and exercise, six months ago my numbers were disconcerting: 231 total and 116 LDL (bad cholesterol).  (My triglycerides and HDL have historically been good due to exercise.)  Jump ahead six months.  After practicing Bikram Yoga — as well as incorporating a few recent diet modifications — it appears I have finally broken through the bad genes to achieve a healthy 184 total and 84 LDL.  I know Bikram is a healer.  My improved IBS symptoms are proof.  But for me, seeing it in black and white serves as validation that each time I step in the hot room, I’m saving my life.  90 minutes at a time.

Is there a genetic barrier you’ve fought … and won?

Waiting for better days


Hands tied

[Image credit: Danilo Rizzuti]

As you wait for better days, don’t forget to enjoy today,
in case they’ve already started. ~ Robert Brault

Sometimes, in life, we feel our hands are tied pertaining to certain things — like staying at a job that’s lost its appeal or sacrificing one thing for the good of another.  But I believe, most often, we really do have a choice and we’re simply unwilling to change the status quo.  So if we choose to wait for better days, we must make the decision to be happy where we’re at.  Or be miserable and perhaps miss out on the best thing that may ever happen to us.  Yesterday during the first savasana in Yoga, the teacher instructed the students to mentally validate ourselves with a mantra of sorts to come back to.  Mine was: “I am strong, I am healthy, I am happy.”  Because that is what I choose to be today … while I wait.

How do you remember to enjoy today while waiting for better days?

Giving it our all

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Giving it our all

[Image credit: SweetCrisis]

Last weekend I was continuing my uninterrupted daily attendance of Bikram Yoga after completing my 30-day challenge.  Although I still don’t have plans to keep up with the vegan lifestyle, or to never help myself to a cup of coffee or an after-dinner drink, or to refrain from sweets indefinitely, I figured I’d keep going until I don’t want to anymore.  But when I walked into class on day number 37, I was not in the mood to be there.  And I figured I’d just do the bare minimum to get by.  Toward the beginning of practice, the teacher made a comment about working hard, because that’s why we were all there.  And I realized she was right, but on a deeper level.  Whatever we’ve got going on in our lives — our jobs, relationships, hobbies — if we’re going to take the time to show up, I believe we owe it to ourselves to give it our all.  Or else what’s the point?

Do you give it 110 percent?