Recognize and relish the moments when you are at one with the world

famous quote about remembering momentsWe do not remember days. We remember moments.
-Cesare Pavese, Italian poet and novelist

Life is a series of moments. Of all the millions of moments we experience, there are rare sublime moments when you feel pure contentment and at peace with the world.

Two Sundays ago, I had three of these moments.

The first was early in the morning. I was walking through our sunroom to take a load of laundry to our laundry room. Grace was playing this beautiful piece on the piano called Nuvole Bianche. As the gorgeous notes from the piano danced through the air like a debutante floating across a ballroom, I looked out the window to see Bella sleeping peacefully under the almond bush. I stopped with the laundry basket still in my arms and just listened and watched. It was so peaceful and I was overcome with an immense sense of gratitude to have so many blessings in my life.

The second moment happened when I was paddling into our back lake, which by itself is a very special place since there are no cottages on it. As I paddled through the channel, I saw a lone snow goose at the end of the lake gliding peacefully across the sparkling waters. She was magnificent, and I just sat and watched for a long time before we both went our separate ways.

The third moment was after my paddle. I was swimming back towards the dock. Clare was sitting on the dock with her arms extended behind her body, her bronzed face turned upwards towards the sun and sun-kissed hair shining in the sun. Once again, a feeling of overwhelming pride and joy washed over me.

This week’s #HappyAct is to recognize and relish the moments when you feel at one with the world–for they are all too rare and fleeting.

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Desperate times call for desperate measures

funny quote on houseworkWe are living in desperate times. No, I’m not talking about Trump, Syria or ISIL. I’m talking about the division of labour in our households.

Let’s just say I was not a happy camper last week. It started last Sunday. We got home from Clare’s hockey game. Dave went to lie down and do his exercises for his knee, Clare flaked out on the couch reading a book, Dave’s Dad sat in the sunroom reading the papers and Grace retreated into her lair to do homework and spend endless hours on her iPad.

Instead of curling up with the latest People Sexiest Man Alive issue, I did laundry, drained and scrubbed the hot tub, made supper and did the dishes. At one point I asked the kids through gritted teeth for help with sweeping the floors and folding some laundry.

Help. I hate that dastardly word. It implies the sole responsibility for keeping a household running is one person’s, with the others just “helping” out.

Then Tuesday came. After a 10-hour day, I came home to find supper not started, the wood not brought in and the dogs unfed even though my children get home 2-3 hours before me and my husband was at home all day (albeit still recuperating from his knee surgery, but well enough to make a salad I reckon).

I resorted to the most shameless, childish trick of all time—the silent treatment. I admit it. I’m not proud of myself, but I was angry, tired, and frustrated. The worst part was I had this utopian hope that with Dave’s surgery, the girls would step up their game and help with the cooking and cleaning. I was so wrong.

One brisk walk and one quiet night helped restore my equanimity, but I wasn’t happy with how I reacted and worse, knew it wasn’t a long-term solution. So the next day I came up with the idea to introduce a new rewards system, “Two Things a Day”. I made a chart and explained that everyone in the house had to do two things a day to keep our house running. If at the end of the week, the chart was full, there would be a special reward.

What a change. Yesterday morning, the girls did chores around the house without being asked. We had fresh sheets on the bed, swept floors, wood in the wood box and sand for when the snow and ice comes.

It’s early days yet. But I’m hopeful my evil master plan will work, and my family will accept that we are all responsible for doing housework and keeping our busy household running and I will be a happy camper once again.

Ed. note: When Dave and I first got married, we had to take a marriage course. The minister asked, what is the biggest source of most arguments in a marriage? People answered finances, family issues. I answered housework and the class laughed. Guess what? It was housework.

The Sounds of Silence

morning sunIt’s 8:30. I’m sitting in the sunroom sipping my morning coffee, the sun streaming through the windows.

The house is still.

Bella is sprawled full-length on the futon, one eye half-open. Murphy is lying quietly at my feet, occasionally stirring to scratch an itch.

Clare is curled up on the living room couch under a blanket, fast asleep. Grace is at a friend’s sleepover.

Dave, the early riser of the house, is still in bed.

I hear nothing.

No kids yelling. No phones ringing or devices beeping. No irritating noise of the TV in the background. No dogs barking.

Just the sounds of silence.

This week’s #HappyAct is to find a few precious minutes this week to enjoy a moment of peace, quiet and solitude.

Dog sleeping on couch

 

 

Girl sleeping

Imagine your dream home

Girl looking up lakeThere’s a vacant lot up the road. It faces west, has a clearing with a charming apple tree and is surrounded by beautiful pines. It would be the perfect spot to build your dream home.

We’ve never built before and probably never will, but it’s fun to imagine…

…a quaint Cape Cod style house with a large wrap-around deck with a screened in porch to enjoy bug-free summer nights…

…beautiful English style perennial gardens, a hot tub on the back deck and a swim-up bar at the lake…

…a games room with a pool table, ping pong table, air hockey and shuffleboard…

…two bathrooms, and a bedroom with a walk-in closet…

I think that’s reasonable, don’t you? Grace on the other hand has a different dream: to build a tiny house that she’d leave on our property, but that would be on wheels so she could move if she got tired of us (our kids clearly watch too much HGTV). Clare’s dream home would have a hockey rink.

Actually, I don’t have to imagine my dream home. I’ve found it. There’s a cottage on Sydenham Lake that is absolutely stunning. I’d be happy to live in their garage.

cottage on lake
My dream house on Sydenham Lake

This week’s #HappyAct is to imagine your dream home. What would yours look like? Leave a comment, and have fun dreaming.

 

Live in a happy place

According to Jetpac City Guides, I live in the happiest city in Canada, Kingston, Ontario.

Child smiling in Kingston
My youngest daughter Clare is all smiles after a day in downtown Kingston

Jetpac makes travel apps, and they looked at over a million Instagram photos to count and size the smiles on people’s faces. We’re a university town so there’s a high likelihood the reason we ranked high on this very unscientific study is because we have lots of university students who use Instagram, but Kingston regularly places high in the annual studies of the best places to work and live in Canada.

It’s been almost 20 years since we moved to the Kingston area and I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions we ever made. I love going back to Toronto, I love the city, but we would never ever have been able to enjoy the quality of life we enjoy now.

And here’s the rub: this just didn’t fall into our laps. It was a conscious decision; we had a goal and a plan. We targeted five regions in Ontario. We could have wound up in Sault St. Marie, northern Ontario (the snow!), or Muskoka, but we landed in beautiful Eastern Ontario, and we have come to love and consider this community our home

So this week’s Happy Act is to ask yourself, am I happy where I live? Do I feel part of my community? Do I love my home? Hopefully your answer will be yes, but if the answer is no, what changes can you make to be happy where you live? Maybe you could get more involved in your community, or maybe it’s just a simple change to your home (when we first moved to our house, the lack of sunlight drove me crazy, but we have a beautiful sunroom now). True, happiness comes from within, but living in a happy place can only help.