Thursday, January 31, 2013
A Year of Happiness
I've never understood people who shun birthdays. To me, not celebrating another year on the planet is like saying, "life doesn't matter" or more specifically, "my life doesn't matter". No, sir! I don't agree with that at all. Another year to enjoy this world, form new and stronger relationships, and make a difference in people's lives is something in which to revel! And as anyone who knows me will tell you, I hate letting birthdays (mine or anyone else's) pass unnoticed.
This weekend, I'll be celebrating entering the final year of a decade and while aging isn't exactly awesome, it has its benefits. I know who I am now, what I like, who I like and the things that make me happy. I fully intend on blowing out this final year in my 30s with happiness. Here are a few things, some silly, some not, some that are within my control and some that I am just putting out there into the universe, that are going to make me happy in my 39th year.
1. More Flowers. Fresh flowers are amazing. I love to receive them, but I have no qualms about buying them for myself.
2. Real Mail. Real mail is the best. I'm going to send more. Maybe I'll receive more. Seeing someone's handwriting feels so intimate and personal. It's a thrill every time I open the mailbox to a personal note.
3. Cooking. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen at the end of last year. That has to continue. I want to push my culinary boundaries with more ethnically diverse dishes, more dough products and a hell of a lot of dinner parties.
4. Continue to try new things. Last year, I experimented with rock climbing, Pilates class and even took part in some avant-garde theater. This year, I'd like to try sailing, kayaking and attending the opera, for starters.
5. Kissing. Yes. More, please.
6. Appreciate the happy. Two articles struck me this week. One was a piece entitled "It Would Be Awesome If (Some) Men Would Stop Being Giant Pussies". As I read it, I found myself nodding my head and emphatically shouting, "YEAH!" ...and then, I realized I am that guy a lot of the time. I seek out the rush, I flee at the first sign of discord, I skip months ahead to the "this will never work". This year, I'd like to spend more time recognizing when I am happy *just in the moment*. Not projecting ahead. Not worrying about the "what if" or the "is this going anywhere". Just saying, "I am happy. Now." And wallowing in it. (For a great example, read this love story.)
7. Be kinder to myself. Sometimes, I do stupid things. I'm going to forgive myself when I do, learn from it and move on.
8. Beat the blues by focusing on others. When I'm feeling sad, nothing cures moping like swapping my self-absorbment for thinking of someone else. I'll send some of that real mail to a friend, volunteer somewhere or just ask someone I care about how their day was instead of feeling sorry for myself.
9. Have The Moment. You know the one. When the person you're dying to kiss actually leans in to kiss you. This happened to me once last year, and it was bliss. This year, I want it to repeat itself. Preferably, many times over. Maybe even with the same person. Got it, universe?
10. Watch, discuss and share shameful TV shamelessly. Yeah, I love So You Think You Can Dance. And I'm going to tweet, facebook and text about it with abandon. Because if you watched it, you'd love it, too.
11. Not be afraid of being awesome. Yep. You heard me. I'm going to be more confident that I'm worthy of people's friendship, attention, and yes, even love. It shouldn't be such a surprise to me when someone likes me. I'm going to own that shit. (But gratefully.) When I need a pep talk, I'll watch this video from Kid President.
12. Not be afraid of telling others how awesome they are. I don't really have a problem sharing my feelings. (I'm kind of an oversharer. Have you noticed?) But, occasionally I get tripped up when someone responds uncomfortably to my accolades. This year, I won't feel embarrassed. I'll just suggest maybe they work on #11.
13. Love every extra second I get with the LDog. Lola's time is drawing near. Rather than feeling sad prematurely, I want to continue to enjoy all the moments we have left.
14. Drink more bubbly. For no reason. For many reasons.
15. Put things in writing. Whether it's this blog or a note of gratitude or an email explaining my feelings, the written word has power. You can wonder if you've remembered something wrong but seeing it in print leaves no question.
16. Take a few do-nothing days (guilt-free). Sometimes I have days where I lie on the couch watching TV and dozing for hours, or sitting around reading 2 Sunday papers and a dozen magazines, or just hanging with a friend talking through a whole afternoon. I will enjoy these moments and push aside thoughts about what I have or haven't accomplished.
17. Give people the chance to rise to the occasion. I have a habit of taking charge of situations and...er..."guiding" people in a certain direction or bailing completely before they can disappoint me. Instead of preparing for the worst, I will spend this year expecting the best and patiently waiting, because there is no thrill quite like that of having someone meet or exceed your expectations on their own accord.
18. Discuss the things that matter and get involved. Gun control, equality, food security, nutrition. I won't sit passively by this year while the world takes places around me.
19. Be vulnerable. Every single time I chose vulnerability last year, I felt empowered. Showing people the real me, even when it hurts or is rejected, is always better than trying to be someone else.
20. Embrace the silly. Have 30-minute debates on Taylor Swift's love life. Dance with my friends' kids. Critique dresses during the red carpet awards shows. Go bowling (badly). Laugh at myself and life and recognize not every moment needs to be fraught with meaning. Some moments can just be FUN.
And also, happy.
I make bean soups all the time. However, I rarely experiment with spices like curry, turmeric and mace. I got a jump #3 by making this easy and tasty dish this week.
INDIAN-SPICED BEAN SOUP
from a marthastewart.com recipe
1 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
4-6 cloves chopped garlic
2 tbsp finely grated peeled ginger (fresh)
2 finely chopped jalapenos or thai chiles (leave seeds depending on desired spiciness)
11/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp curry
1 can (15 oz) chopped tomatoes (with juice)
4 cups cooked beans (assorted works well, I used kidney, pinto and andazi)
2 cups vegetable stock
yogurt, cilantro (for serving)
1. Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven to medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened and golden. (About 8 minutes.) Add ginger, chopped chiles and spices. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes.
2. Stir in tomatoes and juice, beans, stock and salt (to taste). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10-20 minutes.
3. Serve with yogurt and cilantro (don't skip the cilantro unless you have the cilantro-tastes-like-soap thing, it makes this delicious!) and naan on the side.
Find your happy!