Tag Archives: Emerson

WHAT’S YOUR 10% PLAN?

Non nobis solum nati sumus.  ~Cicero    (Not for ourselves alone are we born.)   Pictures by Marylin Warner.

Non nobis solum nati sumus. ~Cicero (Not for ourselves alone are we born.) Pictures by Marylin Warner.

10% HAPPIER

 

Who hears music feels his solitude peopled at once. ~ Robert Browning

Who hears music feels his solitude peopled at once.
~ Robert Browning

The Earth Laughs in Flowers.  ~ Emerson (Especially when the flowers fill the little boots worn by your grandchildren.)

The Earth Laughs in Flowers. ~ Emerson
(Especially when the flowers fill the little boots worn by your grandchildren.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those of you who watch Good Morning America may have seen it when Dan Harris, Nightline anchor, had a panic attack on camera and couldn’t continue.  Instead of ruining him, the crisis set him on a new path.  10% HAPPIER is his touching, hilarious, skeptical and profound book that shares his journey to rewire his thinking.

Harris’ book helped him deal with stress and have at least 10% more happiness in his life, and that’s nothing to scoff at, if you think about it. What would be your plan for 10% more happiness?

Before her dementia, I know how my mother would have answered. I once overheard her in the kitchen trying to encourage an unhappy friend. Mom was baking, and as they drank tea and talked, Mom asked the woman what things made her happy. I’ll never forget the cynical reply: “Do you think I’d be sad if I knew how to make myself happy? How do I know what might make me happy?”

Things got quiet. Mom was kneading bread dough. I heard her pound on the dough and say, “Well, at least try doing things and see if you stumble on something that makes you happy.” I peeked around the corner to see Mom move the dough bowl over in front of her friend and say, “Punch around on the dough for awhile and see if you feel better.” It didn’t take long until I heard them both pounding away and laughing.

Any time I want to feel/think/be happier, I go for laughter. I agree with writer Anne Lamott: “Laughter is carbonated happiness.”   And I know for sure that in church, in meetings and other ‘serious’ situations, whenever I try to suppress laughter, the worse it becomes. I’m not a big fan of Woody Allen, but he and I agree on one thing: “I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.”

So I take my cues from my mother: I try doing things to see what makes me happy. Even with the dementia, when a caregiver put a straw in Mom’s chocolate milk to help her drink it, Mom did something…she blew bubbles.   When I was growing up and got moody and mopey, I soon found myself doing something:  helping Mom in the garden, taking the dog on a walk, hanging up laundry in the sunshine, or going to the library to find a good book.

Or baking bread. Pounding the hell out of bread dough didn’t always make for the best loaf, but it got me pushing, pulling, breathing deep, and working out my feelings.

My happiest suggestion to add laughter to your life is this: become a snake charmer. Miss Harper Lee (not the author, but a darling, funny golden retriever) teaches you how in just a few pictures. Do yourself a favor and click on her link: http://thek9harperlee.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/its-official-im-a-snake-charmer/

If you have personal helpful hints for 10% more happiness—or any degree of increased happiness–please share them. Life is hard, and we’re all trying to do the best we can! And don’t misunderstand; there are times when we need more help than pounding bread or blowing bubbles in our milk. When that happens, we should support and applaud each other for getting the help we need.

This past week readers lost an inspiring and wonderful writer, Maya Angelou.   Her legacy will be celebrated for generations to come.

Many times I taught I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS in my high school English classes.  Each time it became obvious which students felt caged in their lives, and there were many who felt that way.  Angelou’s words made a profound difference in their growth.

She’ll be remembered for many things she said and wrote, but this quote by Maya Angelou is one of my favorites: “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.”

Maya Angelou  (photo by Gerald Herbert/ AP photo)

Maya Angelou
(photo by Gerald Herbert/ AP photo)

 

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, memories for grandchildren, memories for great-grandchildren, Ralph Waldo Emerson, special quotations, Uncategorized

STAYING LONGER

Frisbee Golf, waiting for players. (All photos by Marylin Warner)

Frisbee Golf, waiting for players. (All photos by Marylin Warner)

Maggie: This is Spring? Wow! Cool.

Maggie: This is Spring? Wow! Cool.

Pikes Peak~ Springtime in the Rockies.

Pikes Peak~ Springtime in the Rockies.

Dear Mom,

In the last two weeks, Spring burst out in Kansas with greening lawns  accented with bright yellow, purple and white crocus blossoms.  Spring also brought tornado warnings to Ft. Scott, along with hail the size of golf balls. During that same time, in Colorado winter stayed longer and lived up to its reputation of “Springtime in the Rockies,” which means bursts of snowstorms and bitter winds.

Remember when David and I were in elementary school and everyone in southeast Kansas woke up to a late winter storm of nearly two feet of snow?  Our cousins George and Glee had come from Missouri to spend the night and were supposed to go home that day. Because of the blizzard they stayed four extra days, and we kids were in heaven.  Markus Zusak could have been writing about us in his novel, The Book Thief, when he said, “A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.” The four of us built snow forts and tunnels in the back yard, launched snowball wars, and peeled out of wet boots, hats, mittens and coats at the back door so we could come inside and warm up with hot chocolate and oatmeal cookies.

On the last day, when the roads were cleared and we learned our cousins would leave the next morning, I sneaked into the laundry room to take Glee’s clean socks that waited to be packed. I planned to hide them behind the piano, certain that she couldn’t go home if she didn’t have her socks. (I admit it was a dumb plan, but I was 8 and doing the best I could, okay?)  You caught me hiding her socks.

While the others got to watch “Superman” on TV, you and I had a sit-down talk in my bedroom. I remember sobbing that it wasn’t fair that my big-girl cousin (Glee was 3 years older) couldn’t stay longer.  You didn’t hug me or console me. You sighed and said that I could either enjoy every hour I had left with my cousins and be grateful for that time…or I could feel sorry for myself, sit and cry, and miss out on all the good things that might happen.

That was more than five decades ago, Mom, but I still remember those options. Even now, when I come to visit you in Kansas, if you’re napping or unresponsive or confused about who I am or why I’m there, I just keep moving. I take out bottles of fingernail polish and ask you to choose the color you like, or I hold up a book and start reading to you, or I open the sack of treats I’ve brought and ask you what looks good. After a while, we’re oohing and aahing as I paint your nails a bright pink, or we’re smiling as I wipe cupcake icing off your mouth. You don’t always realize who I am, but I always love it when you pat my hands and say, “You’re just the nicest girl.”

I don’t try to guess how much longer it will stay like this for our visits each month, but while we are together, we’ll make the most of the time we do have instead of crying because it can’t be longer.  That’s all any of us can do, at any age.

 ________________________________________________

“The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them; there ought to be as many names for love.”  ~ Margaret Atwood 

“A lot of people like snow. I find it an unnecessary freezing of water.” ~Carl Reiner

“Let every man shovel his own snow, and the whole city will be passable.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hoping for Spring!

Hoping for Spring!

Fountain at Cliff House frozen in snow storm.

Fountain at Cliff House frozen in snow storm.

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, Ralph Waldo Emerson, special quotations, Things to be thankful for