Xmas Adventures and New Times Ahead

Must be better about grabbing photos, but that’s ok . . . better to write something than nothing at all!  We have had a few fun adventures this Xmas break.  First, we waited in a car line for about 40 minutes to see the IBEW/King of Kings Lights In the Park display at Lake Phalen.  It captivated us not so much in a beautiful way but rather in trying to figure out how they had set up the displays to do what they did.  We enjoyed it and all the money goes to charitable causes.  This event is on until Jan. 1, 2014.

Today we went on our annual Christmas experience with my in-laws.  I love that this has now become a tradition.  Some of our past excursions have included Como Conservatory to see the poinsettia display, a show in downtown Minneapolis with dinner at The Oak Grill, and a visit to the Purcell-Cutts house (a prairie style home that is part of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts collection).  Another year we delayed our adventure until the spring and took a ride on the historic streetcar at Excelsior.  Today we went to a Victorian Christmas tour of the Alexander Ramsey House in St. Paul and then out for a delicious lunch at St. Paul Grill.

I have a hankering to visit the MIA over break.  Haven’t been in a few years and figure I should scratch this itch while I have time.

In other news, I finished Daring Greatly.  It was no small feat.  Reading it was like having someone peer into my soul.  It was much more difficult than I expected!  So, naturally, I had to buy the book.  🙂  I felt I shouldn’t be depriving other library patrons any longer and the nature of the work will be ongoing, so I will need a copy to refer back to.  One of the points I’m really trying to work on is actively practicing gratitude as a way to combat foreboding joy, or never allowing yourself to fully feel joy because it must mean something awful is going to happen just around the corner – I’m awful about this and have not allowed myself to enjoy my pregnancy too deeply because of it.  That was a hard realization to come to.  By actively practicing gratitude, we can help ourselves realize that our cups are more full than empty, and that the other shoe does not always drop – it’s ok to revel in the joy of a moment or experience.  Not quite sure how I’ll do it yet – planning to set up a gratitude jar for us to put in little slips of paper when we feel gratitude for something, but beyond that, again, not sure.  Going to church would probably help, that always inspires great feelings of thankfulness.

I am also reading The Happiness Project, which I felt would be kind of gimmicky, but I’m really  getting into it.  She has attracted criticism for working on her “perfect” life, which is kind of how I have felt when undertaking any kind of changes in my own life – like, what problems do I have?  What right do I have to try to improve anything when I already have such a wonderful life compared to what so many others are living?  But she argues that the time to work on being your happiest is not when you are in terrible straits; you need those skills, networks, practices to support you in bad times.  But all of the above are developed in good times!  Also, who else will help me to be happier if not myself?  I can’t say I am unhappy, but I know I could be making the most of this life and am not.  So reading that – reading that she has really no “real” problems but still wants to undertake her happiness project – was reassuring and almost like permission to do what I need to do.  Like, we all have room to grow and if others have to think something of it, well, whatever, they don’t have to live this life – only I do.

So one of the things that is standing out from The Happiness Project so far is documenting happy memories – that looking at photos and mementos help us remember happy times and resultingly feel happier.  So I’d like to get back into taking, printing, displaying, scrapbooking more photos (ha! ties in with the first sentence of this post) and also reconnecting with this blog.

Last thing that’s been on my mind!  🙂  I’m really digging Michelle Ward lately.  I just love her upbeat but super practical resources.  She shared Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions that she blogged on someone else’s blog and the idea of choosing a word for the year has got me thinking hard.  With a baby on the way in April, some work changes, and a nagging feeling that it’s time for me to do something different with my paid employment but never quite sure what, I am leaning toward words like “flexibility,” “openness,” “flow,” etc.  I think I try to over-control and it’s gotten me nowhere.  Plus, I think with not knowing how it will feel/look/be to become parents, it might be a bit self-defeating to set a concrete “resolution” type goal.  I want to be more open to seeing what comes this year and to treasure it, and not to strive so hard.  It reminds me of when I started dating my DH.  It was only because I decided “no more dating” that I was able to stop all the associated shenanigans long enough to become open to the possibility of seeing him.  🙂  Oh, the irony.  I wonder what would happen if I swore off goal-setting/striving/planning/concocting and just waited to see what might happen?

Still reading?!  You win a prize!!!  🙂