Finding Happy

Yesterday was just a regular Monday. My job had sent me out to Stratham for training. It is only 10 minutes from the New Hampshire Seacoast, so I took a ride. I have always been adventurous at heart, but I haven’t always followed through.

 

My life used to be driven by other peoples expectations. Most of my energy was focused on comparing myself to others. I was so focused on other that I lost sight of my growth. My happiness was compromised, and troubled. My conscious was full feelings of loss and impatience. Until a few years back, I never understood why.

Back then, I was too responsible. Fun wasn’t recognized as a valid choice. Responsibilities came first. To take off for a couple hours and sit by the ocean, or take a ride to clear my head was unthinkable. Jobs wouldn’t allow it and I was upholding to others expectations. There was no time for happiness. Unfortunately, there was never time for self reflection either.

Ideas were hammered into my head about accountability and what adults did. My trusting heart latched onto these guidelines and invested in them blindly. I believed that happiness would come with achievement of those traditional benchmarks. I worked hard, and achieved several of them. Yet there was no fulfillment at the end, all I felt was emptiness.

They were someone else’s goals, not mine.

My Father always used to ask me the question “What do you want to do with your life? What are you passionate about?” The questions made me uncomfortable. I answered, but my responses were based on what I thought he wanted to hear. My answer was something used to make others happy.

Slowly there was a realization that I needed to make some changes.

This year, personnel development has been the focus. It has been reflected in several choices that have been made. I moved homes in order to escape a toxic situation. I quit a job that was hurting my happiness. My choices are deliberate now, and my well being is at the forefront.

It is something that has always been a struggle for me. Often it makes me feel selfish and guilty. I have to remind myself that self care is important. That putting myself first isn’t wrong. I need to advocate for myself because no one else will.

In the last six months my outlook on things has changed. I have discovered core principles in my values. Simplicity, adventure, quiet and a value for experiences over things. Discovering these things frees me.

Progress is steady,

It has been challenging, but slowly I am learning. To be mindful and calm. To engage in self care. To take space when it is necessary. To dig deep to find what my needs are.

I have begun to understand how different we all are. We all grow at a different rate. We all have different needs and dreams. That has helped me establish a inner peace. I don’t concern myself with what other think, or compare my life to theirs anymore. That freed up energy is spent on living life. I plan the future. I go for walks and teach my dog new things. I go for adventures. Life is better when you have found your truth.

Life can be challenging sometimes. So much of our success is based on how we meet those challenges. My focus these days is finding myself, and what makes me happy. I have cast off the expectations of others. My life is now committed to living a life that fulfills me. Life is more than a set of expectations or other peoples opinions. It took me so long to realize that. It is about being happy, whatever that means for you.

Finding Happiness

I have been away, taking some time to regroup. Late in 2018 we faced some challenges that forced us to move in with family. We traded in a wide open country lifestyle for a hectic urban one. It was hard, but we needed to get out of a toxic situation. Yet it has been an adjustment.

Overall, I thought that it would be much more of a challenge to my mental health. In the past, adversary has tended to drag me down into a dark place. Yet this time It has not been too bad. I have been trying to figure out why, and I think it is all about my attitude.

This year I am making a big effort to focus on the positive. I have also taken time for self care, and reflection. I have found that by doing this, my attitude is better. I have found a way to be happy, despite the challenges.

Life is about how we meet challenges. We can either choose to yearn for something ahead, or choose to be happy where we are. This afternoon, instead of yearning for another far off trip, I enjoyed the moment. We forget to do that, and I believe that it steals so much happiness from our lives. It is great to wish for bigger things but we cannot let those dreams consume us and steal the joy out of everyday moments.

There is magic in everyday moments, we just need to open up our minds to see it.

Overcoming Chaos

To say this weekend has been rough is an understatement.

My instinct is to keep things private. To discuss things is to let that wall down. To let people in is to show weakness. It goes against everything that has been bred into me since childhood. Yet sharing can be cathartic, and helps us grow.   There has been a big change in my thinking, that I just noticed over the last few days. This weekend was challenging, but I overcame it.

Photo by Hristo Fidanov

When we went to bed on Thursday, I noticed Maddie, our 10 month old Australian Shepard, was acting strange. She tried to get up and couldn’t. Her body was raked with tremors that quickly developed into full  blown seizures. It was a nightmare with my eyes open. Nothing is worse than not being able to go fast enough as your puppy  shakes uncontrollably in your husbands arms.

We were able to get her to the vet, and thankfully, she is Ok,  The Vet thinks she got into something and it had to work itself through her system.  We got incredibly lucky, and are happy to have her home. Yet it was terrifying. You know it is part of the deal, but it doesn’t make it easier emotionally.

We stayed until they had fully checked her out. We didn’t get home until 3 am Friday morning. Maddie had been given Valium and was sleeping . We had to monitor as she came down, to ensure the seizures had stopped. I was up until 5 am and missed work on Friday because of it.

The rest of the weekend was bumpy as well. My paycheck was two days late, which was a major issue.  We were not able to go out for our special dinner on Friday. I didn’t end up getting bills paid until Saturday. I also managed to get a nasty cold.  Sick and tired, it has been difficult to rest and catch up on that sleep.  The bad things just seemed to keep coming.  It has been a challenging couple of days .

But, it is important to keep moving. And I believe that my focus on positive thinking has been paying off in big ways. In the past, a weekend like this would have brought me right down. I would have stuck in a bad mood, and unable to do anything. This weekend I was able to ride out the challenges, and do it with a positive attitude. I was also able to stay productive. I  finished an entire book, and wrote.  The chores were done, and the bills paid. It was challenging, but I was able to get things despite the challenges.

It was a good weekend, despite the issues. I am learning to rise above the daily challenges, and remain positive.  There is a certain amount of pride that. life hasn’t been easy, but with the right attitude, I can overcome it. This revelation shows me what I am capable of accomplishing. It give me confidence to push into the future.

Till next time’

Colleen

Waves at Wallis

Today was a rough Monday. I felt tired, and stretched out, and couldn’t really settle. My mood was volatile, and I did only did the least expected of me. My daily life has been boring as of late. Right now, what is getting me through is the thoughts of tomorrow. The trips we are planning for this Summer is helping me through Winter. After work, I decided to look through pictures, to cheer myself up.

A few weeks back , we went out to the ocean on Sunday. We went up to the Hampton Beach. We got caught up doing family stuff, and didn’t get to the beach before sunset. My plan was to be there earlier, and the delay frustrated me. Honestly I was angry that that we didn’t get to the beach earlier. The plan to go to several beaches changed to a quick stop at Wallis sands. My opportunity seemed to have been lost. I rushed out, and began taking pictures.

Despite the challenges, it was a good trip. My pictures came out great, and It brought me peace. I got to thinking about everything on the way home. I tend to get wrapped up in things. My emotions tend to run wild, and cause problems. I get all bent out of shape when things don’t go the way they were planned. But that is life, and I have to learn to breath.

I have to let go and enjoy the twists in the road. That is when the best adventures happen.

Five Favorite Books

 Reading is one of my favorite activities.  There is something special about sitting down at the end of a hard day with a good book.  I love it so much that my undergraduate degree was in English with a specialty in literature. About a week ago I did a post on books, and it seemed to be a big hit. I figured I would continue with that. Here are my five favorite books of all time.

 

Dark Woods, Chill Waters,  By Marcus Librizzi I picked this one up in a by chance a few years ago. On vacation, I was browsing books in Sherman’s in Bar Harbor.  Librizzi believes that Downeast Maine to be one of the most haunted places in the world, and shares tales from the region. Librizzi narrative is strong, and had a way of sending a shiver down my spine.

 

The Daring Ladies of Lowell, By Kate Alcott The Mill Girls, paved the way for women in the workforce.  This is a story about a girl named Alice. Her life is transformed when she leaves country life behind for the bustle of industrial Lowell. This book touches upon an important period in our history in an intimate way that I was impressed by.

The Hobbit, By J.RR Tolkien   This prequel to Lord of the Ring is a book of adventure. It is the epic adventure of Bilbo Baggins as he goes to the Lonely Mountains. There are trolls, dragons and gold in this tale, but it has a much lighter tone than Lord of the Rings. As a cautious travel myself, I really enjoyed this one.

Salt to the Sea, Ruta Sepetys  Many World War Two books focus on countries invaded by Germany.  This book takes a new perspective. It  shares their story,  and also focuses on those on the German side of the conflict. It follows four people escaping from the Russians advance. It shows the struggles they faced. This book really humanized the entire war for me. The suffering of World War Two was all encompassing. This book really brought that home.

 

The Last Stand, Nathaniel Philbrick Custer’s last stand is one of the most iconic events in American history. There are many myths  that swirl around the events of that day. This book takes an even keeled look at the battle. it examines the wide politics of the time, and was incredibly researched.
Philbrick also looks at the intimate lives of Both George Armstrong Custer and Sitting Bull. The book was well rounded with a strong narrative style that made it great to read.

 These are my favorite books. I enjoy history, fantasy, and most importantly a good narrative. It is the stories that make our lives so interesting. If you couldn’t already tell, I love a good book. I am also always looking for suggestions. If you have read any good books, leave them in the comments.

Till Next time!

Colleen

 

Dreams of The Bold Coast

Tucked away from the tourist traps, Lubec Maine is the type of place that calls to wanderers. The town is tucked into the open edge of the Bay of Fundy. It has always seemed like a place where adventures should start. The town sits of the edge of the United States, looking over towards Maritime Canada. It many way it seems to be a world apart.

Downtown. Photo By Colleen Ann.

Downtown.
Photo By Colleen Ann.

Maine 428

Looking Out. Photo By Colleen Ann.

The most eastern town in the United States, Lubec is known for Quoddy and neighboring Campobello Island. The town is an incredible place in its own right, though many fail to see it. I have spent countless Summers wandering the streets, trying to discover her secrets. There are concerts are art galleries, and beaches strewn with sea-glass. Yet at the same time fishing boats are moored out in the harbor, and rusted chevys move around town. The new blends in with the old, creating a eclectic city at the edge of the sea.

Reflections. Photo By Colleen Ann.

Reflections.
Photo By Colleen Ann.

The Bold Coast is a place of stories. As you head up Route One, the hustle and bustle fade to the quiet of the East. It is a place that is quiet, and ways have always reminded me of the past. Things become slower and more deliberate. One hundred years ago it was much different. In the heyday of Maritime Trade, nearby Eastport was a bustling shipping center. In many ways this part of the Maine was much more worldly two hundred years ago than it is today. As the times changed, these town faded into obscurity.

 

Edge of the World. Photo By Colleen Ann.

Edge of the World.
Photo By Colleen Ann.

Maybe it is the lonely nature of these places. Lubec has a haunted quality,where people were and now are gone. I love this beautiful lonely place because it is full of stories. its a place where the new tourist crowd intersects with the old guard, creating a cultural mosaic that I find it hard to look away from. Its always been a place that pulled at me. Months later, I wish that time would let me return there. It is a timeless place that stands at the edge of my world.

A Light in The Darkness

Yesterday, Paris experienced incomprehensible violence all over the city. Once again we are we left with questions, pain and many people who lost their lives too soon. It is a terrible thing, watching as hate fueled attacks become increasingly common. The biggest question is, how do we move forward from this? On an individual level, how do we fix this?

Part of me wanted to be silent, to honor the victims of this indiscriminate violence. Yet I knew I needed to say something. As a writer, it is my duty to interpret the world. I have grown up in a world where we know terror and violence. September 11 fell on the eve of my 11th birthday, and fourteen years later I am no closer to understanding what makes people do such things. Sometimes we will never understand, and often there is no good reason to begin with. All you can do is mourn the victims, and move forward. There is nothing we can do to change other peoples hatred. What we can do is change how we look at our world.

We need to condemn these acts, yet we need to keep from falling into the same traps of hatred that define the Radical Islamic State. We need to remember who we are. We live in counties defined by Freedom, Equality and Justice. The Western world needs to rise above this hatred and show the world our understanding and compassion. We need to set an example of what humanity can be. Thinking about that today, I got my answer. There are things all of us can do to make our world a better place.

Be kind.

Be strong and brave.

Help where you can.

Say I love you too much.

Make someones day better.

Hug your loved one tight.

Forgive.

Practice compassion and understanding.

And most importantly.

Be a light in the darkness.