Latest photos

- See more: Family | Brian | Elizabeth

Happiness Challenge – Day 7

Posted by Elizabeth

Okay, so it’s Day 7. Yes, I skipped a few days. I might post about those at some point, but in the meantime, Day 7 is the one you get!

The challenge today was to think about the job/life/mission I have now or that I dream about having and ask myself the following:
1: What are you about?
2: Why is it important to you?
3: What change are you trying/hoping to create in the lives of others or the world?
4: What would the world be like if it didn’t have what you are trying to create?
5: What would it be like if you helped create it in abundance?

Initial thought was, “I don’t know.” I started to say I don’t think the world would miss me or what I do, but I know a few people who would. But question 4 isn’t asking what the world would be like without me – it’s asking what the world would be like without what I try to create. What would the world be like without music, creativity, silliness, or helpfulness? Pretty damn boring and really, REALLY sad.

Then I thought about some of my roles.

Wife & mom are similar roles. I’m about supporting my husband and daughter in whatever it is they’re trying to do. It’s important to me because I want to see them succeed and be their best. I want my husband to be able to follow his career and not have to worry about things at home. I want my daughter to be able to focus on doing well in school and exploring her talents.

Program Coordinator. I’m about supporting the residents in my program so they can be the best doctors they can be. It’s important to me because I want to see them succeed and be their best. They came into this profession to help people – not do paperwork. Granted, it’s part of it, but as long as I’m here, I’d rather they focus on the people and let me worry about the paper.

Hm…I’m seeing a trend here.

Church musician. I’m about selecting music that supports the readings and sermons in the hopes that the message reaches as many people as possible. I don’t want anyone to leave our church and not know that God loves them and that Christ died for them.

…definitely a trend.

Support support support

Why is it important to me? Because I like seeing people succeed and be their best.

What change are you trying/hoping to create in the lives of others or the world? I’m not sure that I’m really trying to create change, honestly. Or even hoping to create change. It would be nice if others who have been supported would then turn around and support others, but I don’t believe that’s really my goal. To me, that would be a bonus.

What would the world be like if it didn’t have what I’m trying to create? Okay. So I’m not trying to create change, but I am trying to create support so that others can succeed and give their attention to their passions. What would the world be like without supportive people? I think it would be one gigantic feeding frenzy. If no one looked out for others, we’d all be focused on ourselves and our own agendas – screw what anyone else wants or needs.

What would it be like if I helped create support in abundance? I think it’d be pretty cool. Although, I do picture the gophers from Looney Tunes:
Be Polite – Looney Tunes

Am I perfect at it? Nope. I fail sometimes. But sometimes I get it right.

The last step of the challenge (well next to last, sharing this is actually the last step) is to think about how I choose to live out these truths. If I had to take those answers and write a simple vow for my life, what would it be?

Toku actually helped me here. I posted my initial thought on his blog (partially quoted in the intro to this post). His response was, “So the world would be a boring place without the work you are trying to do. You’re about keeping shit interesting. Sounds like a good start.” So there it is – my simplistic life vow: I’m about helping people succeed and keeping shit interesting.

Happiness Challenge – Day 2

Posted by Elizabeth

My favorite things

We were asked to write down 4-6 things that we do or can do on a regular basis to create happiness and, of course, share it!

1. Reading
2. Listening to and playing music
3. Writing (being creative)
4. Being silly sometimes
5. Getting shtuff done (yes, I misspelled it on purpose)
6. Helping others
(bonus points if you figure out the more subtle “like” from my picture above)

Why don’t I make space for them? What could I do to create more space for them?

Because I’m an adult and things like reading, being creative, and being silly are, well, SILLY! This is no time to be sitting and reading – there’s work to be done! Sure, you can listen to music… while you work, of course! What? You want to be a musician? A writer? Both?! Nonsense. No one can make a living doing that. It’s frivolous. There are more important things that need to be done.

Honestly, I don’t recall anyone ever actually saying this to me and yet, if I do them, I feel I am neglecting my duties. (and yes, the 10 yr old in me just snickered)

Reading makes me happy. My dad used to take me to the library all the time when I was a kid. I have fond memories of conquering summer reading challenges. My favorite place to read was in mom and dad’s bed. I’d finish a book then put it on the floor beside their bed. One time, my dad saw a book we’d just gotten and commented to mom about me just putting the books on the floor and not reading them. She said, “She finished it.” I’d only had it a couple of days. If I’m not mistaken, it was Stephen King’s Pet Sematary or maybe Christine. At one point in time, I LOVED horror novels. The scarier the better. Then someone introduced me to Robert Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land). After a couple of years of relatively tame science fiction, I couldn’t handle horror anymore. I think it also had to do with the fact that I read to escape the real world and, as I’d gotten older and watched the news, I knew that some of those horror novels weren’t too terribly far removed from what was going on in the real world. I still can’t read horror, but I’ll give pretty much anything a chance. At the moment, I’m studying English, so darn – reading is required. Awful. I know. What’s the first thing I do when I get a book? Smell it, of course! It was nice to realize that, in the English department, this is not considered weird.

Music makes me happy. I have a seriously eclectic taste in music. Here’s a glimpse of my playlist: Abba, AC/DC, Adele, Aerosmith, Air Supply, Allman Brothers, American Authors, Bach, Barry Manilow, Beatles, Beethoven, Big Daddy Weave, Black Joe Lewis, Carpenters, Casting Crowns, Chris Rice, Chris Tomlin, Colbie Caillat, Eagles, Emmylou Harris, Eric Hutchinson, Evanescence, Foreigner, Imagine Dragons, Indigo Girls, Jason Mraz, Kathy Mattea, Linkin Park, Metallica, Mozart, Mumford & Sons, Natalie Cole, OneRepublic, Ozzy, P!nk, Roger Miller, Steve Miller Band, Van Halen, Vivaldi, Walk the Moon.

Is your head spinning yet? And that was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

I’m also a musician. Primarily, I play piano. I also play organ, clarinet, and bass clarinet. I remember a few chords on guitar. In college, I dabbled with flute and trombone. When my daughter tested into band and her two highest scores were clarinet and trombone, part of me wanted her to pick trombone so I’d have an excuse to pick it back up. She went with clarinet, though, and is using mine (She corrects me, “It’s mine now, mom!”) and we’re proud of how well she’s doing with it.

Being creative makes me happy. I initially said “Writing” but am revising that. Being creative, in general, seriously makes me happy. Writing, playing music, creating spreadsheets, documents, booklets, signs, whatever. If I get the chance to be creative in whatever it is I’m doing, I’m a happy camper.

Being silly makes me happy. I’m slowly but surely coming around on this one. I used to worry about what other people think. I still do at times, but for the most part, nope. I don’t care. Now, I’m not a prankster (though I enjoy watching a good one unfold). My idea of being silly is more along the lines of singing along to the muzak at the grocery store, whistling while walking along to where ever it is I’m walking to, blowing across the top of my beer bottle or my straw so it makes noise (this last one sounds like a slide whistle if you do it right – try it!), making faces at my daughter when she’s on stage knowing full well how difficult it is for her not to laugh. In my office, I have a happy pill (squeeze him and he laughs, squeeze him again and he stops), a minion, and lolcat and poetry magnets grace my file cabinets. Oh! And I have a 1970 Mustang Mach 1! It’s a matchbox car. Honestly, that’s the safest variety of hot rod for me to have. Truly.

Getting… things done makes me happy. I’ve only recently become a fan of lists. I used to balk at people who talked about the amazing feeling of crossing things off their to do list. I’m honestly not sure when it changed, but I love my list and feel so much more productive when I see what I need to get done and, at the end of the day, see what I got done.

Helping others makes me happy. I work at a rather large teaching hospital. It is not uncommon to see someone walking along with a lost look on their face. I honestly enjoy helping them figure out where they’re going. I get a thrill at paying for the car behind me at a drive-thru. Probably the “scariest” thing I did was share my flatbread pizza with a homeless guy as I walked back from class one afternoon. Wait, no. The scariest thing, in my husband’s opinion, was the night I saw a girl walking along the highway. It was getting dark and it was cold. I turned around and offered her a ride. Dangerous? Yes. I don’t really recommend it and I certainly don’t make a habit of it. In this case, though, I just felt compelled to turn around and ask if she needed a ride. The thing that floored me was how far this child was planning on walking – she lived OUT there! And yes, child. She was a sophomore at the local high school. I feel funny talking about things I’ve done for others. I prefer anonymity. I share these only to say that it really, truly makes me happy to help others in pretty much whatever way they need.

So what do you do that makes you happy?

Happiness Challenge – Day 1

Posted by Elizabeth

Today’s question: How would I like my life to change over the next 30 days. Is it doable? Why or why not?

My initial thought is that I want to feel good, but what does “good” mean? I want to kick my fast food habit. I want to kick my Facebook habit. I want to kick every bad habit I have! Is that doable? Eventually, Maybe. In 30 days? Probably not.

So what would a 30 day version of that goal look like?

I’d like a better awareness of when I feel myself about to slip – pause, reflect on why I feel the need to hit the drive-thru or log onto Facebook and ask, “Is there a better option?” or “What am I trying to avoid by doing this?”

Is that doable? Yes. I believe it is. Will it mean I won’t ever hit the drive-thru or waste time online again? Highly doubtful and that’s okay. My goal is to think about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and decide from there if it’s really what I want to do or if there’s a better option. Most times, I will likely go with the better option.

Biscuit quote

30 Day Happiness Challenge

Posted by Elizabeth

Needless to say (yet I say it anyway), we haven’t posted in awhile. A few years back, I started a blog called “More to This Life” and, ironically, life got in the way. Since a lot of what I hope to say involves my family, I think I’m going to keep it all here on our “home” blog.

The last 4 years have been … chaotic, peaceful, awful, wonderful, boring, exciting, monotonous, tumultuous, happy, and sad. In other words, it’s been life. I’ve struggled with bad habits (who hasn’t?). I’ve struggled with figuring out what to do with my time and my life (who hasn’t?). I’ve found a few things that have helped along the way and would like to share them.

For a while there, I was beginning to really worry about myself. I was having difficulty thinking of the right words to say – it was on the tip of my tongue and the best I could do was “whatchamacallit” or “thingamabob”. HIGHLY frustrating. Even worse? I’d tell Taylor to hand me a fork while pointing to the spoon in front of her or I’d call the washing machine the dishwasher (“I’m going to put a load of laundry in the dishwasher. Wait. That’s not right.”). The funniest one, in my opinion, was the time Brian was in the shower and Taylor came in the house looking for him. I said, “He’s in jail.” Yep. Good times.

At some point in there, I got diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. For those who don’t know, it means I hurt. A lot. For no apparent reason. There are lots of things that can trigger it and, thankfully, mine is not bad – I can count on one hand how many times I’ve needed anything stronger than ibuprofen. I love my CPAP (gives me quality sleep) and have a new appreciation for naps (it’s amazing how just 30 minutes can help!).

But was there anything else I could do? I hated the foggy brain feeling!

I realized I was spending a lot of my time doing meaningless things like games on my phone and watching a lot of TV. Interestingly enough, when I started doing more meaningful things (e.g., reading, crosswords, listening to productive podcasts) I noticed the foggy brain feeling lifting a little. I think this is where Brian and I discovered a key difference we have. He has difficulty shutting his brain off. To that end, mindless activities (sorry, hon) help. My brain, on the other hand, needed more stimulation.

Let me try to redeem myself here. In his line of work, it’s easy to reach information overload so he needs less stimulation in order to relax. Brian doesn’t sit and stare at his phone or the computer. Okay, he does but it’s usually work and rarely ever a game. And if it’s a game, it’s football, baseball, or basketball (often work related) and not Bejeweled Blitz. I think I’ve dug my hole deep enough.

Moving on! Stimulation was good for me.

I was surprised that I liked crosswords. I had tried them before and hated them because the clues were too vague and I just didn’t get it. I preferred fill-it-ins. It’s like Tetris for words. You have a list of words and a blank grid that they will all fit in, you just figure out which words go where. They had become too easy, though. There are usually 1-2 really long words that are easy to place. Once those are placed, it’s not hard to figure out where the rest of them fit in. I gave crosswords another try and, for whatever reason, it clicked and now I love them.

I re-discovered my love of reading. I thought about listing off books I’ve read over the last couple of years, but some of them would be embarrassing to admit to. So yeah, some trash novels, but also wonderful books like The Lord of the Rings series and Sherlock Holmes. I tried Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but haven’t finished it because it just got weird. Though I still snicker and whisper “42″ when someone talks about the meaning of life.

Podcasts are probably my new addiction. The Daily Boost, Unmistakable Creative, and Daily Knowledge Podcast are the three I generally stay up to date on. Others I listen to periodically are Meet the Composer, 99% Invisible, Grammar Girl, Slate’s Lexicon Valley, Arc Light Stories, True Story, and Selected Shorts.

It was on Unmistakable Creative that I “met” Toku. He talks a lot about the path to change, awareness, and making space to be happy. The next several posts will be in response to a “Happiness Challenge” I’m taking part in for the next month. I hope you enjoy!

My greatest joy this season

Posted by Brian

It’s been just over a year since our last blog post. Whoops. We don’t post here often, but when we do, it’s for a big deal. And I think this counts.

Our daughter, Taylor, is 9. All on her own, she decided this year that in lieu of presents, she wanted to adopt an Angel Tree child and give a great Christmas to a little boy who otherwise might not have one. Yes, she wanted to adopt a boy. We suspect this is compensation for not having a little brother to buy for — a little brother I know would be horribly spoiled by her big sister at this point.

Elizabeth and I were skeptical when she first announced her wishes a few months ago. But she stuck with it, and was very emphatic about her desire to give this gift. We ran with it, and through November, she and Elizabeth went shopping for this unknown child.

Family members have been so impressed, they donated more money for the cause, enough so that we were able to adopt a second child off the Angel Tree, much to Taylor’s delight.

Sunday afternoon, we watched Taylor sit and wrap all those presents herself, and she did a pretty darn good job at it. (Much better than I do at wrapping.) The excitement in her voice, and sheer joy on her face, reminded me once again what this season is all about.

This time of year, I’m often guilty falling into the trap of commercialism and skepticism, frustrated with the whole annual routine. Taylor, through her sacrifice and her empathy, has shaken my inner Grinch loose and restored my joy this season. Despite her parents’ mistakes — and there have been plenty — Taylor continues to show a true servant’s heart. No parent could ask for more of their child.

Pride may be one of the seven deadly sins, but if pride in your child is included, well, I need to go to confession. And I’m not even Catholic.

(Don’t tell Taylor, but she’s still getting a couple presents from us. We couldn’t resist.)