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!

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A tale from the winter woods

imagesThis morning I went for a walk on the Iron Horse Trail, a long disused railway track that has been converted to a walking trail and enthusiastically reclaimed by nature. It was a frigid but picture-perfect Christmas morning – silent and white.

In other seasons, the trail is lush with life, home to woodland creatures and birds, dripping with vines, bursting with underbrush, bright with flowers and a dappling canopy of leaves overhead. Today, beneath the white sky, the trail seemed stark and colourless.

But as I walked, I realized just how much was apparent precisely because all the beautiful distraction was gone. Like one of those Magic Eye images, a vibrant picture emerged before me.

I could see the tree trunks and branches, coated in sparkling ice and creaking and clattering in the wind. Squirrel, bird and wasp nests nestled in the branches. There was a maze of footprints and burrows beneath the underbrush.

Lazy snowflakes drifted down. A chickadee swooped past. Red berries, so bright in the white landscape they seemed to be lit from within, drooped on a bush. A raven called and rose above the black branches.

Especially during the holiday season, fraught with pressures to buy, decorate, eat, consume and glitter, how much do we miss because we’re filling our life with stuff? Are we comfortable stripping back our lives? Are we okay with what we might see and hear if we pared back the clutter?

I suspect that if we did, like the winter woods, what at first might feel empty and lifeless would reveal a vivid, hidden world.