Category Archives: Happiness

Please Remember

Dear Jenny,

This is a note to remember to continue to notice how spectacular it is here.

ImageLong after you’re done saying, “I just moved here x weeks ago,” after the apartment searching, and the learning new roads, don’t forget to still look at the mountains with awe at how they magnify the sunsets and sweeten the landscape. 

Never stop dropping your jaw when an enormous moose strolls past you while jogging on the coastal trail, and please keep playing the game, “Clouds? Or Mountains?” Also, just try to remember when stuck in rush hour traffic that your backdrop is mountains and billboards, as opposed to just billboards.

Eventually, soon probably, these surroundings will become commonplace, but it is important not to take this much beauty for granted.

Sincerely, 

Previous Self

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Happiness, As I Know it

*Sam and Debi Travel Update: Our dynamic mother-son driving duo is sleeping safe and sound in Watson Lake, Yukon tonight with just under 1,000 miles left to travel. Apparently today was a beautiful one with sun, mountain passes and lots of wildlife! Continued prayers for safety are requested as some rain and snow are forecasted for the next two mountainous driving days!

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A teary-eyed me paused when it was my turn to share what I am thankful for at last years’ Thanksgiving meal. Looking around a table full of many of the most important people in my life, I felt completely overwhelmed with emotion and happiness. I somehow choked out that I would not be able to answer – that to explain all I am grateful for, I would have to slowly describe each day, for I have been fortunate enough to come to a point in my life where the little moments stick in my mind far more than the huge occasions or pre-planned activities.

Living in Anchorage the past three weeks has been… hectic, new, exciting and insightful. Since I left, Sam encouraged me time and again to slow down and try to use the time to my benefit and for some reflection. It’s not so often I have the chance to take this much time for myself. At first I shushed him and felt as though the best thing to do was to keep on moving so as not to let the past well up and make me sad. But over the past few days, I’ve kept mostly to myself, and embraced a wonderful set of emotions. Of homesickness and of impatiently waiting for Sam to arrive to start our new adventure, certainly. But I have mostly been overcome with gratitude and happiness, and I feel lucky to have had the time to reflect on it.

Though I have always been surrounded by a fantastic support network and generally happy conditions, tonight I spent some time thinking of where exactly this feeling of contentment that I have been graced with so freely lately flows. Here are the top five things I settled on:

(I’m sorry if this comes across as boastful or overly sappy. If it is, you don’t have to keep reading. I won’t be mad at you, promise.)

sam1. Love. My family and friends the the world’s greatest. (No really, you are.) And, Sam …Sam is my rock, my comedian, my friend. Somehow, even in my worst moments, he shows me how much he loves me. He and his love make me continuously happy, plain and simple.

adventure2. Adventure. Experiencing new things brings out the child in me. While admist the unknown, often surrounded by beautiful things (sunsets, aspen forests, winding single-track, you name it) I enjoy that rare feeling of being completely engaged and in the moment. The excitement of seeing something totally new, and not knowing what’s around the next corner is uniquely satisfying, and increasingly rare. But also the need to rely on whoever I’m with to keep one another safe in uncharted territory, this builds trust and friendships pretty fast.

460249_10101743375962459_551963076_o3. Home. Some of my most special moments happen while stirring a pot of simmering marinara or in kneading dough amidst a floury disaster in the kitchen. They happen when resting my head on Sam’s shoulder and laughing about something funny that happened that day. They’re while reclining on a cheap, plastic chair under the canopy of the full tree shading our deck. Or laying in my bed watching the morning sun pour in the windows. I like to get out and enjoy the world a lot, but I like to come home, too.

380506_10102026290080299_573585002_n - Edited4. Activity. Preferably outside. If I go a few days without some, I feel sluggish, negative, and ugly. (No wonder why college was so hard for me! I never exercised!) As someone fairly new to consistent exercise as an adult, it is a game-changer. You know all those things the articles say about endorphins and positivism and joy related to exercise – turns out, they are all totally true. And, beyond simply exercising, I think setting a goal, all on my own, and sticking to it is a pretty amazing thing, too.

reflection5. Reflection. I relish in life’s joys by speaking them, and obviously, by writing them down. I know this isn’t for everyone. But sometimes when I don’t actively reflect on what’s good, I overlook it. I feel as though my happiness  and my awareness of and gratitude for said happiness go completely hand in hand.

I don’t really think this is the “right” happiness list and it almost certainly varies from your list. But I wanted to share it with you because many of you reading this are the reason behind my happiness and the very foundation from which I stand. Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing me such happiness. I hope I can do the same for you.

-Jenny

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Recap.

It has been almost a year since I’ve blogged. A YEAR. Luckily, I have good things to say about the end of 2011 and most of 2012. In fact, I have so many good things to say I hardly know where to start.

Actually I do. It’s with this guy —-> 

I have always liked to do stuff. Just in general. But this guy takes “doing stuff” to a whole ‘nother level. He has that good initiative to bundle up and strap on some skis when it’s 10 degrees out. Or that motivation to start training for biking season…in March. I have never had that “get up and go.” But, he inevitably brings me with him and although I grumble and whine (a lot) getting out of the warm car to put on my bike shoes or ski boots on days the sun is NOT shining, I get going and always end up thanking him for forcing us up and out.

However.

His “doing stuff” also occasionally results in me sitting in a diner in Copper Harbor, Michigan surrounded completely by mountain bikers (read: really, really smelly dudes) after a night of sleeping in a tent in a storm yelling, “Ifeellikeicantkeepupwithyou!”

But that’s getting ahead of myself. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the awesome stuff we (I) have been doing since I last posted:

Rock-tober 2011: This was the month I ran my first half marathon. I attempted to write a blog post about that milestone, but decided I was better off relishing in my personal victory all by myself. My journal from that day starts, “I do not want today to end. Today I finally proved that I am capable of setting a lofty goal, dedicating myself to work toward it, and reaching it – all by myself.” This taught me the value in goals – especially when it comes to athletics.

Thinking of doing one for the first time? If you’re anything like me, you’ll need a schedule. Print it and put it somewhere you see everyday. I liked this one.

November: This is the month I discovered Pinterest. I know this sounds lame to list as a milestone, but this means that I found a lot of really good new tips, tricks and recipes that have now become staples. I could do a whole post on this, but here are three of my faves:

December: I can’t remember a damn thing about last December except that it was really busy at work and then I got to spend Christmas in MN followed by a week on the beach in Florida. Not too shabby.

January: Someone wonderful sent me this quote that I have come to love:

Bessie Stanley, in the Lincoln Sentinel on Nov. 30, 1905 wrote:

(s)”he has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.”

February: Got to see so many of my favorite people all in one place. I am so proud of my friends from high school (many of whom live in Chicago where this picture was taken). They’ve all gone on to do such wonderful things!

March: Sam finished chemo this month. He’s been on the up and up for a long time now, but every time I watch him cross any finish line on his bike, I still have the urge to yell, “HE SURVIVED CANCER… RECENTLY!” What an inspiration.

April: Oh you know, just BOUGHT A HOUSE. We love it, but for most of the summer it has merely served as ‘homebase’ in between activities. Cook a meal, clean, sleep, store the bikes for the night, load them, go to work. Repeat. (Or some variation of that.)

May: 

June: Tackled Horribly Hilly Hundreds (“the toughest one day challenge ride in the midwest”) number two.

July: Did July even happen? It was a blur. Aside from attending some bike event, family occasion or work trip constantly, I also started indoor climbing as a result of purchasing a groupon to the local climbing gym and LOVED it. It’s a workout, a puzzle to be solved, not terribly time-consuming and just plain fun. I highly recommend it. And, I got to visit Hannah in my first trip to the Big Apple!

August: Biking, biking, biking. Then, started training for my second half marathon. And, for the first time in my life I feel like an athlete.

I am sure I forgot a lot. But, I have had a great year. I feel tired so often, but I also feel really, really happy.

…which is something to remind myself next time I am rushing to load the car up with a canoe, paddles, PFDs, two mountain bikes, gear, clothing, toilitries, a tent, sleeping bags, pads, (etc) to get on the road to make it up north before 2 am. Or something like that.

Thanks for reading this long blog post. Let’s do it again sometime- soon!

-Jenny

Inspiration Station

If you’re anything like me, sometimes you need a good dose of something inspirational.

Well here you go:

(Not that you asked, but I recommend reading this slowly – to give yourself enough time to let things set in before you move on.)

On that same vein, Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech is a lot like this Holstee Manifesto. It’s inspirational in a jab-you-in-the-side-might-be-exactly-what-you-didn’t-wanna-hear kinda way. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, here are a few excerpts:

“…you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. […] If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

“…On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.”

-Steve Jobs

Since college, I have had this theory that there is just not enough room for meaning in everyday life – we are uncomfortable with it for some reason, except with our very close friends or family. I think this is just the type of advice we can easily be uncomfortable with. It’s easy to say, “What does that even mean?”

Or, you can apply it to your life in a very specific way and run with it.

In sum:

Start doing things you love. Stay Hungry. Stay foolish.

PS: TM – thanks for the inspiration. Everyday.  🙂

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