Sharing the joy

It’s not as easy as you’d think …..

TennisflowersMy husband and I don’t really have all that much in common. He loves sports. I love to read. He plays music and hates yard work. I plant flowers for fun and lack all sense of rhythm. My ideal vacation would involve trekking in the Himalaya’s, preferably with people who like to talk a lot about philosophy. His would involve lots of tennis, good beer and people who hardly talk. You see the problem.

Every once in awhile, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, one of us decides that the other just has to try something that we really enjoy. This bout of optimism occurs because we happen to genuinely love each other, so it’s understandable, even though it often ends poorly.

click to learn more about qigong

click to learn more about qigong

This past week-end was the result of such a burst of enthusiasm. Weeks ago I convinced him to spend a perfectly good week-end in Gainesville Florida with me attending a weekend workshop in qigong.  I am amazed by this ancient Chinese form of moving mediation that I discovered last summer and, like most new converts to anything, I have a burning desire to share my joy.

I didn’t occur to me that he’d be spending the better part of his week-end in an uncomfortable folding chair while his perfectly good couch sat empty at home. Worse yet, I failed to predict that his favorite team, the Red Sox, would go on to make it to the world series and would now have to be watched on a dinky hotel TV for two whole nights with only mediocre snacks and no ability to rewind. He was gracious about the whole thing, but it was fair to say that this was not the weekend that either one of us wanted.

red soxBut luckily the story didn’t end with Sunday night. Yesterday, he asked a question or two about how one starts practicing this stuff and it sounded like he was doing more than being polite. Last night, Boston went up in the series three games to two, in spite of my husband not being fully engaged in their fate all weekend. Today, he told me he tried to use some of the ideas from qigong out on the tennis court, and he thinks it might have helped his game. A little anyway. Tomorrow? Who knows.

Luckily, sharing joy doesn’t have to be instantaneous, or an all-or-none thing. Give it time. Give it room to be just okay for awhile. Who knows. Maybe this new passion of mine will still join the short list of things that we both embrace.

How odd are you?

normal 1A book about oddity. That’s what the most recent reviewer of y1 said it was and I can see how a reader might think that.  To me, it’s much more a book about how each of us is odd, and how the world works so better when we allow ourselves to be what we are, and allow others the same privilege.

Imagine for a minute a world in which people did not feel compelled to convince others to share their particular faith, political ideals, style of dress, sexual preference, or taste in anything. Offering is one thing. Compelling is another. You being different from me does not make you wrong. It also does not take away from how wonderful I am. The only glitch is that your “true self” does not get to be a bully who forces everyone else to be like you or to pretend that they are.

normal 2Thanks to good old Facebook, to a delightfully fun page there called Hippie Peace Freaks and to the Dalai Lama and his Daily Quotes for the these contrasting reminders of how important it is to be your own unique self.

A good choice

Some readers of y1 have praised the story’s criticisms of the zealous marketing of prescriptions drugs in American, particularly mental health drugs to children and young adults. A couple of readers have taken issue with it.  For me as a writer, the subject was representative of the larger issue of putting profit ahead of the well-being of our children. It was a vehicle to make a bigger point.

tearsBut as a mother, the idea of routinely prescribing drugs with serious side-effects and unknown long term consequences to children as young as two years old hits home with an emotional wallop of its own. Every once in awhile I come across an article that reminds me why I thought that  pharmaceutical marketing targeting children would provide a good villain for my story.

Gwen Olsen, who worked for fifteen years as a drug rep for Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myers Squibb, was recently quoted on Alternet as saying: “Children are known to be compliant patients and that makes them a highly desirable market for drugs, especially when it pertains to large profit-margin psychiatric drugs, which can be wrought with noncompliance because of their horrendous side-effect profiles.”

Great. Adults are allowed to follow their best instincts and listen to their own bodies, and therefore frequently stop taking drugs they find more harmful than helpful. Children can be ordered to take their medicine, and their parents can be scared into making them do so.

It is enough to make a healthy adult want to cry.

Eight ideas for joyful journeys

I love going places I’ve never been. Thanks to a  profession that has sent me to four continents,  family that is far-flung well beyond the norm, and a deep wanderlust in my soul, I travel a lot. I was once told to only offer advice under two circumstances. (1) If it is asked for. (2) If it is a life-threatening emergency. Recognizing that this is neither, I am going to break this wise rule. Why? I’ve just gotten back from yet another trip and realized that traveling is something I am rather good at. This is, after all, a blog about being joyful, and a fun trip anywhere is one of the best ways I know of to dance ones life with joy.

towels1. Listen to the wisdom of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and bring  your towel. First, of course, you must figure out what your personal towel is.  Mine is a down pillow that guarantees me a good night sleep anywhere, keeps my feet warm on long flights or cushions that bottle of pinot noir I just have to put in my suitcase. My husband’s towel is a good flashlight. Once you determine yours, don’t leave home without it. While traveling, remind yourself that everything is gong to be okay because you have your towel.

2. Don’t bring other people’s towels with you. They have stores where you are going (probably). You can buy emergency supplies. You can wear clothes more than once. Whatever it takes, don’t leave home with more than you can comfortably run two blocks with. Suitcases on wheels help. Shoes to be worn anywhere but dinner on a cruise ship really ought to pass the two block run test too.

3. Get up fifteen minutes earlier and do what you do. Meditate. Stretch. Pray. Write in a journal. I now do qigong, You should do whatever the thing is that keeps you feeling like you. It’s worth way more than a little sleep.

water4. Put aside fifteen minutes for you know. Your body has a rhythm and it needs a little space and calm to take care of its business. Allow for it and nobody has to listen to stories about how constipated you are. A little attention to your diet before you have a problem helps also.

5. Water. Bottled water if your locations suggests that is wise. Carry it, have extra, and keep drinking it. Not only will it help with item four above, but it will improve your health, keep you from overeating, and mitigate effects of partying. As a corollary, never pass up the chance to pee while traveling. And if you are in bottled water country, be vigilant. Ice, teeth brushing , and freshly washed fruits and vegetables can all negate the precautions you have already taken.

6. Floss. Teeth problems on the road suck.

7. Layers. It’s always unusually hot for this time of year, wherever I go. Except when it’s unusually cold. Most of my travel outfits start with a tank top, and a lightweight down vest lives in the bottom of my travel bag. Comfy people are happy people.

cards8. Have something to amuse yourself with you the whole time. Travel is full of unexpected waits. Unless you are far more patient than I am, a pocket Sudoku book, a well charged phone loaded with games, or a deck of cards can turn “what the hell is wrong with these people” into an instant party or some nice relaxation time.

Enjoy the journey. My sister the travel professional tells me that if folks want things to be exactly like they are at home, then they should stay home. For those of us who won’t stay home, embracing those differences can make all the difference.