Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Living Simply Brings Happiness

One morning early last week I was walking Izzy when I realized that with each step I took, there was a little hop.  I felt almost like I was as light as a feather hoping along our walking path with a great big smile that came from nowhere.  The next day it was the same.  The day after the same again.  This wonderful  feeling stayed with me all day as I traveled to work, to the grocery store, as I cooked, as I cleaned the house, to homeschool group, and back to work. Even at the end of the day I realized I was still smiling.  What I was experiencing  was a feeling of complete happiness.

My schedule has been busier the last month than ever before.  When I get home at night, I can't wait to jump into bed and fall asleep.  Yet, I feel happier than I can ever remember.  Why?  My guess is that even though  my hands are extremely full right now, I have simplified my life to include the things that really mean the very most to me. 
  • Work:  I am working a lot of hours (for me anyhow).  But I love my two jobs!  Both jobs are as adjunct faculty teaching adult English as a Second Language and although I get paid for my job, I leave each class feeling like I have given something to my students and they have given something to me.  They each leave class saying, "Thank you Teacher."  One day we had about ten minutes left of class time so I stood at the door and asked each one of them a different question as they left.  The next day they wanted it again.  Teaching makes me feel creative and dramatic.  Getting up in front of a classroom of limited English speakers requires me to come outside of my usual quiet personality into a personality of drama and fun.  I love being this other person!    
  • Food:  I am eating very simply.  I am purchasing my meat (beef, chicken, pork, lamb, and eggs) from a farmer that has been providing for us for eight years now.  We have seen his family go through some ups and downs, but they have always been there for us.  I like having this relationship with the people that provide the foods I eat.  We are eating veggies that are organic (and local if possible).    That's about it. We add some good fats to our foods and the kids eat some fruits. Very simple, yet delicious.  My body is responding well to these foods.  It doesn't overeat because without the grains (even gluten free) my body knows when it is full and it listens.  
  • Sleep: I am not getting as much sleep as I have in the past, but I make it a priority to get to bed as early as I can.  My body likes that I am caring for it this way.  Sleep is so important in healing.
  • Responsibilities:  I took a close look at the list of things I am responsible for and got rid of the ones that weren't nourishing my family and me anymore.  I am so proud of myself!  People have taken over and done such an amazing job!  It is nice to think we have to do it all ourselves, but really, we don't.  We just have to give up the control and realize things will go in the direction they were meant to go.  I am also saying "no" to things that add stress to my life, even if it means disappointing people.
  • Exercise:  I am exercising more than I have in years.  Each morning I get up with Steve and we work out together.  This time is probably the one thing that has made a huge difference in how I feel.  I love having time together in the morning to see each other grow stronger, to laugh, and to give little hugs during breaks. When schedules get busy it is very easy for couples to slip into conversations that focus only on the necessary day to day things.  I am glad we have carved this time out together.  Afterwards, I take Izzy for a walk where I get to experience the gifts that nature gives each day: cold, rain, wind, and heat.  It sets the stage for the rest of the day physically and mentally.
  • Family:  Even though my schedule has been really busy, I have found new pockets of time to spend individually with each member of my family that wasn't planned.  With me being away from home more, they each need that one on one time with me to reconnect.  I need it too.
  • Friends:  I have been connecting with a few friends that I have known for many years on a whole new level.  I like knowing more about them and that I get to share me with them.   
  • Rheumatoid arthritis:  RA is taking a backseat in my life right now.  It sneaks in every week with a new nodule in the wrist, swollen wrist and fingers, or a limp caused by swelling in the knee.  But, overall, it is allowing me this time to experience true happiness.  Thanks RA! 
There have been times when life brings events that get me down and at my worst with rheumatoid arthritis I have felt some depression, but overall I am usually happy.  What I am experiencing now is a whole new level of happiness. I feel it radiating from me. I have focused on the simplest things that give us nourishment and energy: food, sleep, exercise and family/community.  I have llet the other things go to the sidelines. I have been searching for many years for new "alternative" types of medicine, but what makes me feel the happiest and most content is just the very simple things in life. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.  I am so thankful that you read my thoughts here on my blog and that many of you share comments with me.  I love reading them.