50 things that make me happy – part 2

Perhaps the simplest but deepest wisdom is just being happy.

With my 50th birthday less than three weeks away, I decided to list 50 things that make me happy. This list is in no particular order and by no means is it complete. I’ve left off the big and obvious ones – my friends, family, job and health

1.       Learning something completely new – especially a concept or idea that forever changes the way I understand the world.
2.       Kindness – more and more this is the trait I respect and admire and want to emulate

3.       The full moon.  fullmoon

4.       History. I’m fascinated by the past and how enduring and universal human nature is even as cultures, technologies and ideas change.

5.       Reading poetry. Here’s my favourite poem.

6.       A great big laugh. It’s the best day when I’ve laughed until I’m in tears.
7.       Ghost stories.

8.       Snorkelling –only the sound of my own rhythmic breathing and a secret underwater kingdom before me.

9.       Foot rubs and scalp massages.
10.   Thunderstorms.

11.   Cooking and baking – it’s like magical alchemy right in my kitchen

12.   Fancy soaps, especially handmade soaps

13.   Dawn – still and stirring, promising a fresh start.
haka14.   Watching dancing of any type – from the ballet to the Maori haka.
15.   Coronation Street. I’ve been watching since I was 25 years old and it’s like an old friend now.

16.   Stargazing. Contemplating the universe is mind busting and humbling.

17.   Champagne cocktails.champagne

18.   The Internet, email, text etc. My father lived in Germany when I was a child and I only knew him from handwritten letters and the very rare, rushed, short phone call. How would our relationship have been if we had had Skype and email and file sharing?

19.   And having said that, I love to getting real mail – handwritten addresses on a card or parcel – hooray!

20.   Cheese. I’m pretty sure it’s my favourite food.
21.   Being naked. I’ve hate wearing clothes and only do it out of civility and for warmth.
22.   Animals. They amaze me with their sheer variety, beauty, zenlike purpose, abilities and authenticity.
23.   Frogs singing on a hot summer night.

24.   Walking through the woods – any season or weather! Woods

25. Getting into a freshly made bed – the sheets crisp and clean. Ahhhh!

A little princess

A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, was one of my favourite books as a child. It’s the story of Sara Crewe, a beloved and pampered child who is suddenly orphaned and left destitute. When they realize she is penniless, the other students and teachers of her boarding school treat Sara cruelly, but Sara never loses her dignity or kindness. It was a story that sang to my soul.

“Whatever comes,” [Sara] said, “cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it.” Little-Princess-main

Sara Crewe showed me that I too could be a little princess no matter what the condition of my physical world because being a true princess is about nobility of spirit and heart.

It’s easy to think the lessons espoused in this book, which was published in 1905, can’t be applied today. Too often, being a princess now means pouting and having royal temper tantrums, bullying and disdaining others who don’t have the latest glitter or tutu, assuming a haughty attitude and treating people as if they were indentured servants. Our society has Bratz dolls and “mean girls” and tiaras for everyday wear.

But, Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote her book precisely because meanness, tantrums and haughtiness were rife in her day too. Her readers could relate to these sorts of behaviours and were enchanted by Sara Crewe who, through goodness of heart and strength of character, rises above adversity and is richly rewarded for it in the end.

We choose the type of princess we will be.

Happy birthday to Frances Hodgson Burnett – born November 24, 1849.