charming things: and then he wrote a song for her

My lovely husband surprises me. I get random emails from him at all hours of the day.

"Here's a fun recipe. I thought of you. What's a galette?"

"Look. The littlest pony in the world. "

"We might like to go here (insert photo of a glass bottomed bungalow on a Bali beach). What do you think?"

And yesterday he sent me this link just because he thought it might make me happy.

Ze Frank's Chillout song. So L. didn't write the song for me but the fact that he listened to it and thought it would make me happy is enough for me.

Take a listen. Here's your Happy Music Part III: Ze Frank's "Chillout."

charming things: just a little prick

When we decided to enter the "Whee! Let's try and have a baby!" mode I jumped in with both feet. I started looking at Eastern medicine to compliment the traditional Western therapy. I discovered yoga (Salute the sun!), herbs and potions (Turtle Shell!) and acupuncture. Small problem. I hate needles. So much so that I stop breathing when I am around them. Even so, in my quest to try new things, I  tried acupuncture.

Being the logical girl that I am, I read everything I could find (and understand) on acupuncture. Acupuncture is a therapy where a practitioner inserts hair thin needles into certain points (acupoints) which access the body’s energy – called “qi”.   This ancient therapy is said to cure an untold number of ailments in the body.

This had to be something that worked if it has been practiced for thousands of years, even on animals. How could it not be a viable medical option if it even worked on pained dogs who couldn't be susceptible to the power of suggestion?

I wondered if acupuncture can work for fertility and headaches and backaches can it work to make someone happy?

Brief history of my acupuncture experience:

I have seen 8 different practitioners around the world.

Two didn't speak any English. One gave me five Ziploc baggies of herbs in the form of hundreds of  little brown pellets like tiny Skittles. And when I asked what they were, she wouldn't or couldn't tell me exactly what the medicine was.  I didn't take the pellets. The other non-English speaking doctor asked me just one question "What your period like?" and then pantomimed the rest of the questions which I ridiculously pantomimed back.

#3 was a Naturopath whose gentle manner made me fall asleep as soon as she placed the lavender pillow on my eyes. She was the one who got me accustomed to the feeling of the needles being tapped into my skin. I wondered if I needed to be awake to have acupuncture work.

#4 lit incense that made my eyes water and she would precisely hit the channels in certain spots that literally made me light-headed. When I asked her  about the zapping feeling like a nerve was being shot at with a bb gun she said it had something to do with thunder. I didn't quite get it.

#5 was located above a restaurant that served some sort of shellfish which I am fatally allergic to. My throat started to close the second I walked in. Plus, the parking was so awful that I dreaded going.

#6 made me cry the second he started putting the needles in. This was the most emotional one. I cried from the first needle and never stopped until I slipped my shoes on. After the needles, he placed crystals on my forehead and sternum and asked me to guess what colors they were. "Pink?" I asked with my eyes closed. He sighed and seemed disappointed that I didn't guess correctly. He then dabbed aromatic oils on my face which made me feel like I was in a cold pine forest. I felt ridiculous. Even more so when I paid the bill for this one.

#7 was Dr. Sharon Roth, a doctor in Las Vegas. I wanted her to adopt me. She listened as I told her everything that was going on. She soothed my hair and gave me the mental matzoh ball version of comfort. I really liked Dr. Roth.

#8 is Casey from Full Circle Acupuncture.

I love her. I called yesterday morning to make an appointment and was lucky to get in. As Casey checked my pulses on both wrists she asked me why I hadn't eaten anything yet that morning. "Holy Cow, how did you know that?!" I had just had some coffee and was starving. She asked me to stick out my tongue and then made notes in my chart. I asked her if she could put the pins in to make me happy.

She said that while there were no "happy points" per se on the body, what she could was to work to balance out the energy of my heart meridian and smooth the flow of qi in my body.

I told her about this blog and asked her her theory on how acupuncture works. Casey explained that acupuncture done correctly taps into your channels or energy meridians and balances out the qi and blood that flows through them.

She spoke softly about qi and the channels (which guide energy and blood flow through the body and to the different organ systems) as she inserted the needles into my forehead and hands, feet and tummy. At one point she inserted a hair-thin needle in the area between my thumb and forefinger on my left hand and I said "Ouch!" She chuckled and said "Well, that was your heart qi."

The needles were in and a heat lamp was placed over my legs. I was feeling a warm glow and settled in to the quiet with a background of soothing spa music. I imagined my heart energy blossoming like a pink lotus flower and I felt something that seemed vaguely familiar, like I had known the feeling before. It was happy. And it was coming back.

insights: are you there, god? hello?

For eighteen years I was a good Catholic girl. I went to Catholic school, wore the plaid and the knee socks, respected the nuns and learned that God was my friend, the one who could whip up a world in 6 days, the person to turn to when I was troubled.

Last year I turned to God as I do, as I always have and he wasn't there. I am ashamed to say that I said goodbye to God. He didn't help me when I was lying there in a giant CAT scan machine terrified and crying. He wasn't there with me when I was trembling in that little room hearing the news that I was being laid off from a company and a job that I have loved since 1995. He wasn't there when my babies I had prayed so hard for died one by one in December. How could a God allow those things to happen? Didn't he know that I wasn't strong enough for this? I remember hearing the statement that "God doesn't give you more than you can handle" and that little poem about footprints in the sand and Jesus carrying you when things got too hard for you.

Jesus didn't carry me. God wasn't listening to me. All the prayers I had requested from the Dominican Nuns to protect the lives of my little babies were in vain.

I decided to break up with God.

I said goodbye and told my therapist I was done with God. What's the point? How could a loving God allow all of these tragic things to happen to me all at once?  I was going to show God that I thought he was mean and I stopped going to church. I said bad things about him. I cursed him. I felt like Job from the bible, except unlike Job I didn't keep my faith and accept what God was sending me. I was pissed at God. And I have been for the past year. While I decided I didn't believe in God anymore, a very little part of me was kind of expecting him to smote me down with a lightening bolt for the way I was behaving. But still I didn't care. God was mean.

I wanted to know why God hated me so much. Then I started thinking outside of myself about the people of Haiti or the bride who was killed in a car accident on the way to her wedding or the toddler who was run over by her dad who didn't see her on her tricycle behind his car or all the dogs put down to sleep in pounds. What the hell is wrong with God to allow these things to happen? I was angry and I wanted answers.

Last week I picked up the book "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" by Harold S. Kushner. I wish someone had told me about this book a year ago. I read it slowly. I read it expecting that it was more psychobabble. However, Rabbi Kushner, knows of what he speaks. He lost a child at a young age to a cruel disease. He has presided over the funerals of those who died before their time. He has seen tragedy strike one household but skip another.  He also wanted to know why. Why do bad things happen to good people? If God was fair, wouldn't He send disease and car accidents and hurricanes to the people who commit crimes and hurt other people? Oh, if life were only fair.

What Rabbi Kushner believes is that life is random. Life is not fair. If we think that God is mean and responsible for the tragedies that have happened does that mean that God cares for some people more than others? Did the millions of innocent lives lost in the Holocaust mean that the Jews did something wrong? All of them? Does it mean that all the people aboard a crashed jetliner somehow ticked God off or they were all needed in heaven?

By the way, when I lost the babies last year (one in January and the the babies in December) I was told by some well meaning folks that "God needed them more in heaven than you do. Think of how happy they are with God." Bull. Shit. I am sure God has his hands full hanging out with Mother Teresa, Frank Sinatra, President John F. Kennedy and yeah, even Jesus, to want my babies to add to his little group in heaven. I NEEDED those babies. They were mine. Every little heartbeat was mine. Shame on God for wanting them more in heaven.

Thankfully, Rabbi Kushner addresses this as well. He has experienced people saying the same thing to him and to others who have experienced a loss and to this he says that God does not work like this.

It comes down to this. Life is random. Things happen. We have free will to make decisions that will affect us, whether it's getting on a doomed plane or taking a job which will later be eliminated. It is just a random thing. It doesn't mean God loves one person over another and therefore rewards that person with his love and mercy. It is HOW YOU HANDLE what happens. And then I felt ashamed.

I had broken up with God who was actually a good guy. He was funny at times (evidenced by some of the crazy looking animals on this earth) and awe-inspiring (Hello? The Grand Canyon) and he was there always. I just had to close my eyes and he was there.

After reading "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People" I decided to get back together with God. Random things happened to me all at once. It wasn't God sending me my very own form of plagues (which I had complained about after I was covered head to toe in thousands of hives in January. ) I have free will and choices will be made and bad things will happen. But good things will happen too. I met my husband in a random twist of fate and in 2001 L. and I brought home the funniest little puppy in the world who (we later found out) was born on what would have been my due date in 2001*. Sometimes, if you're lucky enough you'll get little signs from God.

So God and I are together again. And it was like I had never left.

* If it seems like I have lost a few babies, I have. One in December 2001, one in January 2009 and 7 in December 2009. I'm 0 for 9.

insights: my grandmother's purse

My grandmother, Marie Reine, was 89 when she died and there were two things she needed:

1.) Her large, shiny, red, leather grandma satchel purse which could have held a regulation size Bible, a change of clothes and an 8-track player but which actually  held (for as long as I can remember):
  • Kleenex
  • Butterscotch candy
  • A change purse
  • Her license which seriously should have been taken away when she was in her 70's
  • Pictures of her grandchildren which strangely enough were from when we were really little. (Apparently we weren't as cute when we reached grammar school because she never much cared for the school photos.)
I remember going to the hospital once with her and we had to drive back home because we forgot "the purse." I wish I had that purse now. It's the thing I think of when I think of her.

2.) Her weekly hair appointment which included covering up the grey and a wash and set, which meant the puffy grandma bubble hairdo i.e. Margaret Thatcher. Whether she was under the weather or it was raining and windy, Marie Reine visited her stylist until dementia took away this sweet trait of my grandmother's. I remember going with her to her weekly appointment during summers when I was with her. It seemed funny to me that all the grandmothers who got their hair done at this hairdresser's home all came out with the exact same hairdo that wouldn't blow over in a windstorm.

Which brings me to this post. Through all the trials my grandmother went through, as poor as she and my grandfather were, she always did her hair. I thought of her last week when I looked in the mirror and realized that for the past year since "The Day Bad Things Started to Happen" I really haven't looked in a mirror. My eyebrows are very close to meeting each other. My blonde highlights would now be called stale yellow straw and I've just let it go do its thing. Hair didn't seem very important as my life was going to pot.

Then I heard my grandmother's voice and I could imagine as she was looking down at me from heaven "Good heavens, kid, your hair is in your eyes. You are French. You're hairy. Cut your eyebrows. You look like a hobo. Are you sick? Do you need some money?" as she made that clucking noise and shook her head at me in shame.

It's hard when you're in the midst of just trying to wrap your head around something awful happening in your life to care about your appearance but what choice do you have but to go on? So I made appointments and I was cut, highlighted, waxed and buffed. I looked in the mirror again and could swear that as I looked at myself in the salon mirror that Marie Reine was there just over my right shoulder nodding her sweet bubble-do. I no longer looked like a hobo. I was starting to look like myself again.

insights: to shrink or not to shrink?

I am not the person I was.

That is a fact that I finally have come to accept.

Two years ago my life was completely different than what it is now. I had a job I was crazy about, working 7 days a week for 7+ years. I was busy, I slept like a baby, I was starting a family with my husband, life was wonderfully amazingly good. Then it wasn't.

There comes a point when complaining to your husband or your mom or your best friend about your problems is not helping and in fact it hurts your relationship. I realized last May/June when I was in the throes of "The Year That Was Going Badly" that I needed help. That talking to L. constantly about everything bad that was happening was actually hurting the little safe spot in my life. I needed to keep my relationship with my husband and the safe zone, as the place that has nothing to do with what was going on.  I had so much guilt for getting laid off on the day we were signing the papers for our dream house (and subsequently not buying it) that my heart was heavy every time I looked at L. It was my fault that I was not bringing any money in. It was just all my fault and my thoughts just became this cyclone, all swirling into each other.

I called my therapist I had seen a few years ago to work on my food issues and made an appointment. I felt guilty because of the cost but it was either that or my sanity, literally. And so I saw her weekly, sometimes twice a week for awhile and I got through it. I made it through the sadness and the guilt, even when things got so much worse and I lost the babies.

I realized there is very little that actually matters.

What matters is this: The love that L., my husband and I have for each other and our dog Emma. We have a roof over our heads and we are healthy and L. has a job he loves and is great at. L.'s family is loving and there is no drama. We have a few close friends.

The lesson here is this: There is no shame in seeking help. The one thing to keep in mind is that your family and friends love you BUT even they will get sick of hearing about how miserable you are. Luckily, there is someone you can pay to not only listen to you but actually try to help you. The best thing my therapist did was to call me on my bullshit. I was in her office one afternoon crying, sniffling, eyes sealed shut from the tears, nursing a crying headache and hyperventilating on how much everything sucked and it wasn't fair that someone else got to keep their job when I loved the company so much and it wasn't fair. . .round and round and round I went.

Until finally my therapist quietly and firmly said said "ENOUGH! Yes, it sucked what happened but move past this. You are not a victim and WHAT HAPPENED OR DIDN'T HAPPEN TO SOMEONE ELSE IS NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS!"

I remember stopping in mid-cry and looking at her. I thought "You're not supposed to yell at me when I am miserable." But she shocked me enough that I stopped crying and she was right. The fact that I was laid off when someone else wasn't was none of my business. What happened to me, happened and I can move on or obsess and never move on.

I chose to move on. I still see my therapist. She gets me. She keeps blueberry tea just for me. She makes me feel safe and one day I realized I wasn't so sad when I was arriving at her door. I was thinking ahead about plans and I knew that seeing someone about your problems is not something to be ashamed of, rather it is a healthy sign, especially when she breaks through the ugly cry.

insights: the guinea pig problem

I have a guinea pig problem. When I see one of these furry, sturdy little animals I want to squeeze it. Not hard but in the same way you feel that irresistible urge to pinch a chubby baby's pink cheeks. Maybe it's the happy face of this rodent or their solid bodies but my husband, L., knows that if we go to a pet store to pick up puppy chews that I will invariably make a beeline for the guinea pig cages and stay there mesmerized hoping that an attendant is nearby to let me hold one.

This did happen. Once. L. and I were in a pet shop back east and the attendant happily took out a chubby little brown and white Holstein-looking guinea pig and handed it me. I remember her feeling like a warm little potato in my hands. I bit my lip to avoid squeezing her, looked over at L. and he knew what I was thinking. He immediately called the girl over and said "OK. You need to take her back NOW." That was the last time I held a guinea pig.

And then two weeks ago I discovered ETSY. Oh. My. Gosh. This site is spectacular and addictive. It's just this incredible universe of creative people selling their hand-made designs. I looked at aquamarine earrings and paintings of cantaloupes and I don't know how I discovered this gem, but I did.

And I just about lost my mind.

Look at her face! I saw this watercolor and I started to laugh. I just felt good. Looking at this painting made me happy so I bookmarked it and revisited it. A lot. And I went back a week later to buy it and it was gone. Damn. I emailed the artist, Jen Klimas, and the listing had expired. She kindly re-listed it. I went from being so bummed out that I missed out on buying this funny little painting to being overjoyed that she was not sold. So I bought her.

I had breakfast at the Heathman Hotel with my friend Melethia this morning and showed her the painting online. She started laughing too. She liked the guinea pig's feet. It made her feel good just to look at this too.

The points here are this:

1. I am not under the illusion that little things like the painting of a blue guinea pig will magically make me undepressed but I think if enough little happy things fill my day that they will add up to changing my mood. This whole experiment is about being 'the girl who got her happy back' and if looking at a blue guinea pig or tanning or getting a pedicure makes you feel better than take that step. Take a little step. If it makes you feel better for five minutes than at least it is something that breaks the depression or the malaise or the angst. Buy the blue guinea pig.

2. If you see something you love, get it then and there. When I was little girl I remember going to Vermont with my mom and her friends. We were in a general store and she found a bread she liked. It was the only one and she picked it up, put it down and looked at a sweater vest behind her. Well, someone came along and picked up that damn bread. It was as if someone had taken her only child. My mother was fit to be tied and darn it all if we didn't hear about that bread all afternoon on the long drive home. It became a legend it our family. If you like something, pick it up or someone will steal your bread.

I'm going to the mailbox now. Hoping that I've got a little blue guinea pig in there just waiting for me.

insights: living in siberia

When things started going terribly wrong last year I was kidnapped to Siberia. Actually it was me. I bought a one way ticket to a self-imposed exile to the great white solitary North.

It was as though I wore an ankle cuff tied to to a table in a cold dark room and no one knew where I was. Days turned into night turned into day turned into weeks turned into months. I cut myself off from everyone and didn't even try to lick my wounds. I let them fester until I was one walking wounded girl. Actually I wasn't even walking. I had given up my morning workouts. I had given up caring about everything when it seemed that everything that I cared about was slowly being taken away from me.

And one day I was in Top Foods surely buying more junk food when I stopped into Barnes & Noble and found myself in the self-help section where I randomly picked up a book "The Game of Life and How to Play It" by Florence Scovel Shinn. I took that and my potato chips home with me.

That night I started reading and I didn't stop until the book was finished and dog-eared and highlighted. This was the book that started letting hope back into my life. Remember "The Secret"? Great book. This book expounds on that but what it so incredible is that it was written by Scovel Shinn in 1925!

"The Game of Life and How to Play It" is about  'discovering the astonishing power of your mind  to create success.'
What you think, you are.

Some lines from the book that mad a difference:

  • Desire is tremendous force, and must be directed in the right channels, or chaos ensues. (p. 41)
  • How long must you remain in the dark? Until one can see in the dark. cast you burden (forgive) and you will see in the dark. (p. 51)
  • It takes a very strong mind to neutralize a prophecy of evil. The student should declare "Every false prophecy shall come to naught; every plan my Father in heaven has not planned shall be dissolved and dissipated. The divine idea shall now come to pass. However, if any good message has ever been given one, of coming happiness or wealth, harbor and expect it, and it will manifest sooner or later, through the law of expectancy. (p. 72)
  • affirmation for health "Divine Love floods my consciousness with health, and every cell in my body is filled with light."  (p. 95)
Reading this book actually shocked me back. It made me realize that there is light outside of my exiled room but ONLY if I imagined that light. I had to BELIEVE the light was there. It blew my mind that in 1925 Florence Scovel Shinn was teaching the law of attraction. Every chapter of her powerful book reinforces that what you think, you will become. What you focus on, will happen. I suddenly realized that everything was going to hell because that is what I expected to happen. Once I lost the baby, then my job, I EXPECTED everything to go wrong and it DID! I had to stop focusing on what was wrong in my life and how awful things were and focus on what was right like my husband and our dog and our home and our family and our friends. . .I had to give thanks instead of bitch every day and cry about what I had lost.

I read "The Game of Life" as if it held the instructions on how to survive, how to take that first tentative step towards the door of my 'cell' and into the light. I still read this book every night. I open it randomly and read a page or two to remind myself that life is good. It is full of light if you know where to look.

Armed with this book, I bought another one way ticket. This time I left cold Siberia for the sun, for the light, for my life.

entertainme video: happy baby laughing

I found this link this morning and immediately put a grin on my face!


entertainme music: oh, happy day part ll

Some songs make you smile without even realizing you're doing it. I like those songs.

"Still the One" by Orleans is one of those. Listen to the clip and see for yourself. It's one of those "Happy on the beach with your family as a kid" kind of songs that brings you back there so clearly you can smell the Coppertone.

Enjoy "Still the One."

Still the One

entertainme music: oh, happy day

I was pulling a sweater on this morning and I found myself annoyed with the damp weather and all the talk talk talk on the radio when I just wanted some music that would put me in the good mood on this dreary, cold, April day here in Seattle. Not only was the talk talk talk and all the radio spots (ads) annoying but the morning jocks were talking about their impending divorce which was of course, sad. This was followed by a song about a girl done wrong. I realized that this was not how I wanted to start my day. What if I created a playlist that encouraged a happy, sunny, positive feeling? Could it make me feel happy and even get me out of a foul mood?

I started thinking back to songs that actually made me happy. Songs that my best friends and I played over and over again when I was twelve or made me feel like I was driving top-down on a sunny Saturday summer morning.

Since this is the happy girl experiment I'm going to listen to a new song each morning. It may seem like a little thing but The Happy Girl Experiment is about little steps that will hopefully all roll into the happy I want back in my life. Maybe for you too it will shake loose those nervous vibes about a meeting coming up or a medical test you're taking or the bad dreams from the night before.  Even if it is just for three minutes, allow yourself those three minutes to stop obsessing about what is making you so unhappy or angry. Give your mind a reprieve. Listen to the lyrics, allow them to move through you for. just. three. minutes.

I knew we had to start with a classic and it doesn't get any better than Frank Sinatra's "I've got the World on a String." I ran downstairs and found it in our music library and yes, I turned it to 11 :-) I closed my eyes and it made me forget what I was so upset about even if it was for just a couple minutes. It was a sweet nap for my brain.

See how it makes you feel and if you have a song that  just makes you feel good, send it to me!

Listen to the clip here

I've got the World on a String

insights: and the password is. . .

Working in a high-tech company we had to change our passwords often and then there was every other site in my life that had a password from Facebook to Twitter to personal banking. And to be safe I had different passwords for everything which is confusing but a good idea. I realized one day that my passwords were meaningless. Typically because I had to change passwords often for work I would choose something on my desk like Paperclip22 or Notebook5 which while easy to come up with with were boring.

Last week I decided that since most things online are password protected that I was going to choose something that inspired me every time I logged in.

Want a boost to your morning when you get to work? Try changing your password to something like hamptonbeach1989 or holdinghands2. What is a great memory for you? What do want to weigh? What do you want to do? Make it happen already in your mind and perhaps if you mind sees Annie125lbs! you'll think of that not as your goal weight but what your mind already holds to be true.

Sure, your dog or your child's names make for a precious password, but try something else that is a little safer and gives you a lift every time you key in iamhappy2010!

Happy meter 7!

insights book review: the law of forgiveness

The Law of Forgiveness: Tap in to the Positive Power of Forgiveness--
and Attract Good Things to Your Life

In this catastrophe that started January 2009 one thing that I have learned is that wallowing in the space that is the black hole that I have made for myself isn't working. But when you feel so sad/angry/hopeless, it's hard to reach out to anyone mainly because you think "Why bother? Nothing will change." If you have felt this way like I have, I get it. Maybe you're not ready yet to talk to someone or seek therapy even but I can tell you that the first way and maybe the easiest way to even see a way out of your rut/hole/situation is to pick up a book. If you've been laid off or you're just scraping by, go to the library.

When I was laid off last May it took me a few weeks to lick my wounds and get out of the house. I am ashamed to say that I had never been to my local library. To be honest, I thought it was a place for moms to bring their toddlers for the afternoon. I was wrong. Since I was part of a mass layoff there was actually an entire table set up with books on finding a job along with packets on getting through the layoff with helpful websites and organizations. I piled myself down with resume and interviewing books. It didn't occur to me that I needed more. I needed something to heal my spirit. One of the books that I found early on and keep coming back to is: The Law of Forgiveness: Tap in to the Positive Power of Forgiveness--and Attract Good Things to Your Life.

I chose this book as my first book review over the dozens that are sitting here on the table next to me because I feel like you have to let go of the hate and resentment before you can move forward and accept anything.

As thoughts of all the dreadful things that were happening to me kept swirling in my mind  I became more and more angry with certain people, blaming them for what happened to me. I couldn't understand why their lives were so great and I just kept losing things that mattered to me like oh, my job, my friends, my health, my babies. I was one very angry girl.

I don't know what caused me to pick up "The Law of Forgiveness" and even as I started reading I thought "This is bullsh**." But I kept reading and I started to feel small trembling cracks in this hard shell I had built around myself.  As an RN who teaches public health nursing at the University of North Carolina, the author Connie Domino is somehow able to put into words what I have been too ashamed and blind to see. I needed to forgive the people who I felt had been responsible for the "bad" things that were bombarding me. Even more so, I needed to forgive myself.

Throughout the book the author discusses opening yourself up to forgiving others and in doing so you let go of all that angry, toxic matter that clogs up the space where wonderful, good things can come into your life. Think of it like this. You have a beautiful, hand-blown crystal cup and someone asks "Would you like to try the most incredible taste in the world? It's a juice made from a rare fruit that only blossoms once a year for one week. It tastes like a cool breeze on a balmy, sunny summer morning." And you start to salivate and think "Why, yes I would!" but you look at your glass and it is full of this toxic sludge left over from a moldy iced coffee you drank last month and a cigarette filter that someone threw in." And  sadly you can't try this new, extraordinary taste because your cup is full of sludge. Now imagine you are the glass.

So let's fix this.

For me, I found Chapter 2: Invoking or Enacting Forgiveness to be the key.

In this chapter Domino gives specific instructions on how to let go of your anger and forgive others as well as yourself. The key is that you don't actually have to have a sit down face-to-face with someone which is a good thing if you are too angry to actually talk with the person you have an issue with. Find a quiet space and make a list of people you need to forgive or who need to forgive you. Then visualize one person at a time walking into a room. Don't "see" the "bad" person who you feel did you wrong. Instead "see" their highest self, their pure self. I imagined myself sitting on a deck at the beach at sunrise and a door would open and the person I had an issue with would walk in  and in my mind I would have a conversation with them something like "While I hate what has happened, all is well between us, the energy is released. I wish you much success and happiness as you move forward in your life. Be well and happy."  I imagined the person smiling as he walked out and another walks in until everyone you have an issue with has come and gone in peace. And then let it go. I know it sounds ridiculous that it could work just like that but it does. Forgiving someone who stole something from you or betrayed you or cheated you is not easy. No, it is not easy to forgive someone who stole pieces of your life away but then what choice do you have? You can choose to harbor the vile that is hatred or you can start to heal yourself and let in a little light. Sometimes it feels like less work to keep that hatred for someone, doesn't it? It feels like if you forgive someone it means you are letting them off the hook. When someone has done something wrong, something so horrible it can seem completely unreasonable to forgive. The fact that they committed this act will always be fact but how you choose to handle this after the act is up to you. You have the power to decide what you hold in your heart.

The Law of Forgiveness works. Once I did this exercise, I felt good for the first time in a long time. Holding that hatred in, even towards yourself for something stupid you may have done, hurts no one but yourself. Think of someone who has hurt you or taken something away from you. Hating them does not hurt them. It hurts you. So let it go. It's time to fill your glass with someone extraordinary. And I'll be right here to toast with you.

Happy Meter for The Law of Forgiveness: 9!

insights: night, night

I don't sleep.

Not "Oh, I had a fitful night" but rather I just don't sleep. Period.

My mind keeps me awake. I think. I wonder if I'll ever be lucky enough to have a job that I love ever again. I worry that I'm disappointing L. by not having a great job that brings in great money. Like I used to. I worry that I'm not contributing to this family, to my community. I worry.

And I lay awake and watch the green glowing digital clock projected on the ceiling. 11:34. 1:17. 2:50. Then 4:34 AM. And as I stared at it I realized that upside down it read "Heh! Wa! I laughed and then I listened to Emma's slow steady puppy breathing. I slowed my breathing to match hers as she slept across my pillow. And I listened to L. breathing, slow and steady and my eyes got heavy.

Maybe it was the sound of Emma and L.'s dreamy rhythmic sleepy breath or maybe it was the middle of the night laugh that signaled a happy hormone to release and relax me but I fell asleep, not even seeing 4:40.

Happy Meter: Falling asleep finally! 7!

insights: change the way your mind works

They say that if you don't use a muscle it atrophies. If that's true than my brain is propped up on a little pair of crutches. Since I was laid off last May, my brain which felt like it was 99% engaged 24/7 has slowly degenerated into pudding. The days of meeting after meeting and forgetting about lunch until 4pm are long over and my brain has become lazy, dull, hardly challenged. This has not helped me gain back that feeling of being valuable and smart. My witty comebacks are slower,  sadly. This. Is. Not. Good.

I knew I had to do something more than beat Professor Layton at his own game. As the first full day of the Happy Girl Experiment, I am challenging my mind.  Today I signed up for two courses at the  School of Visual Concepts with tonight being the first class in Creative Thinking and Concepts with Intro to Public Relations Writing on Wednesday. In class as we were assigned a creative brief and I felt my neurons firing bing bing bing!!

There is something to be said for working your mind.

I'm feeling a little like that first day of school. Oh, the possibilities. I just may have to go buy some navy blue wool knee socks to go with this new notepad of mine.

Happy Meter: 6!

insights: 9 months and 18 days later

So. It has been 9 months and 18 days since that first post. It's funny. When you think things are bad, you don't stop to think that your life can actually get worse. My life took such a bad turn that I couldn't even fathom thinking about happiness ever again. I felt cursed. But today is Easter and that means new beginnings, moving forward and fresh starts.

But before the experiment begins, let me give you some perspective into why I'm doing the Happy Girl Experiment.

The most important things first. Here is what matters:

1.) I am so lucky and blessed to be married to my best friend in the whole world. I'm still giddy when I see L.'s name pop up on my mobile.  He is my sunshine.

2.) We have a great little dog, Emma, who bounces with joy every morning when she wakes up. Daily I am astounded by her excitement for life and her giddiness over a treat.

That being said, in 2008 my life was on track. I levitated. I was THE HAPPY GIRL. Then it all fell apart.

  • I was working in a job I loved at a Fortune 500 company I loved. I couldn't believe I got to do what I was doing for a living. I felt challenged every day and I felt like I was making a valuable contribution. I was also lucky enough to work alongside an extraordinary group of the smartest people on the planet. I was being compensated very well but  I would have worked for free. I was just that HAPPY.
  • I had good friends from around the world who I saw every weekend when we converged in Los Angeles for work.
  • I was losing weight, working out, getting fit and healthy and eating right for once in my life.
  • I was happily flying between 100,000 and 200,000 miles a year for my job.

  • After two years of taxing fertility treatments and a relaxing few weeks off in December I was  pregnant. We were overjoyed. We started decorating the nursery. In pink.
And then 2009 happened.
  • I lost the baby. :-(
  • I started becoming depressed.
  • I was laid off from a job I adored and a company I loved and had been with since 1995. It broke my heart on that Cinqo de Mayo morning to hear that my job was eliminated. My ego took a sucker punch.
  • On the day I was laid off, we were signing the papers for our dream home. We didn't do it. I think of that house every day.
  • I started wondering if I was cursed. I was depressed.
  • As a girl who loved living her life on a plane, I was grounded. Traveling was done.
  • L. was in a car accident. A teenaged driver wasn't paying attention.
  • I no longer saw my contacts or friends in LA.
  • I was sliding into a black hole of depression. I was once moving at the speed of sound juggling my crazy, busy, wonderful life and then it stopped flat into nothing.
  • I ate to make myself feel better. But it didn't work. I gained weight and I was still numb. I didn't work out. I didn't move.
  • The job search was disheartening.
  • After more expensive fertility treatments/medications in December, we had 7 beautiful little embryos who thrived and then died. All seven babies died. The air left my body that day.
  • An infection from one of the shots almost killed me on New Year's Day.
  • Three days later, a reaction to the antibiotics I was taking for the infection caused me to break out into thousands of dangerous, angry, red hives covering my entire body. I was covered in a gooey, thick, medical paste from head to toe to ensure it didn't become the fatal disease where your skin falls off and YOU DIE.
And, THAT is why I doing this experiment.

I am The Girl Who Got Her Happy Back.

For those of you who have lost your jobs, or your loves, or your babies or your homes or your joie de vivre this blog is dedicated to you. If you are depressed and you feel numb inside and every day is exactly like the last one and you wonder, what lies ahead? Why even bother, right?  I get it. I feel that but you know what? I've had it. I have spent a year feeling sorry for myself and tender and pissed and sad and teary and wilted and angry and disgusted and I am done.

I am going to explore every single thing that this incredibly juicy world has to offer to get my happy back. Thanks for joining me. I'm happy to have you along for the adventure.