Come On, Get Happy

This week I tried to make a list of things that make me happy. Things that bring me comfort and calm. It started as an assignment for my Mindfulness and Meditation class I am taking at Jefferson’s Center for Integrative Medicine. But I ended up doing my own personal version at home.
Rheumatoid pain is perverse. It’s like being in a bad marriage. We wake up together and it’s bad from the start. I want to find a way to move forward but I feel frozen in place. I want to reach out to friends but I know they won’t really understand. We do have some good days and I think maybe this is the start of a new and better phase but eventually things get bad again.
So my current escape plan is Mindfulness and Meditation. It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be. And pain fights me every step of the way. I have always tried to push the pain down and away. Try to ignore it and get on with it. Mindfulness encourages me to examine the pain. To feel it, to give it a shape and color. Really feel it, then back away when it’s too much. This is crazy hard to do, because you’re in pain, ya know?
I don’t take any pain meds. I’m a hospital pharmacist and handle narcotics everyday. Self control is not my forte. So I just don’t want to go there. I’m waiting for my newest biologic to kick in. Orencia is a weekly injection and can take 3-6 months to give relief. I am only two weeks in. Shit.
Ok, back to my happy list. Our Mindfulness teacher talked about our brains being hard wired for negativity. Noticing bad things and paying attention to them was a survival skill when we were living in caves. It’s a lot harder to notice and hold on to the good stuff. We have to retrain our brains to be all about the good stuff. Again, this is a lot harder than it seems. Sure you can do it for a half hour, but doing it all day long, every day is really hard. Especially when every freakin joint is on fire.

Finding my Happy List.

Wine.

But not just wine. I enjoy food and wine pairing. It’s kinda of like drug interactions. You don’t always get what you expect. But a good pairing makes a good meal into a great meal. But I can’t be drinking wine all day. (or can I?) (maybe i should do an blog entry on wine , hmmm)

Travel.

Love it. Love planning it. Love writing about it. It the only time I find it super easy to stay in the moment.  Getting lost in Venice, the sound of far away sheep in Ireland, a cable car into the Alps of Switzerland, Chocolate and French Fries in Bruges, street musicians echoing thru the subways of Paris,you get the idea.  Feel the air. Smell the smells. Really see things. Colors,Mountains, Oceans. People. But I can’t afford to always be planning a trip. (unfortunately)

Having friends over for dinner.

Specifically friends that are cool with new recipes and the possibility of a hit or miss. If things are a big miss, I just up the wine consumption. I also am into Pot Luck Dinners. Everybody brings something. Less work for me and everyone gets their moment to shine. If there is not much shine, we make fun of that individual cook and up the wine consumption. Ok, sometimes even when the food is great, I up the wine consumption.

Target. Enough said.

Wawa.

It’s a Jersey thing. For some reason everyone temporarily becomes friendly in Wawa. It’s the only place where everyone holds the door for each other and smiles at strangers. Then we can back in our cars and nearly kill each other in the parking lot. It’s a Jersey driving thing.

Floating.

Have you ever been to one of those flotation tank places? The idea is that you float in super concentrated Epsom Salts. You can’t sink no matter what you do. You are in a private tank and you can also opt of complete darkness and silence. It’s a little weird at first, but then I get into it. It’s kind of like a meditative state. The super concentrated Epsom Salt float for 90min really reduces the inflammation in all my joints and my mind slows. I try to go every other week. It’s good.

Long talks with my cousins.

Cousins make the coolest friends. They know all your crap. They get you. Unconditional love. Tons of loyalty. The best.

Making soup.

If my hands are up to it, soup rocks. You can use whatever is in the fridge. You can be creative. It’s really hard to mess up. The chopping and stirring can be hypnotizing. Just cook it low and slow. The smells fill the house with love. I batch it up and give containers of love to my peeps. They thank me. I feel happy.

Noticing the small stuff that makes me happy.

You know that…Stop and smell the roses shit.

-Hugs from coworkers that know you are having a bad day.

My  amazingly cute dog. It’s a dog mommy thing.

Honey Crisp Apples

Tracking down old friends on Facebook.

Bringing my mother to Olive Garden for soup and salad lunch with a hundred other oldies.

Watching Gone With the Wind one more time.

A clean kitchen

The smell of clean clothes

Afternoon sun that makes the family room look golden

Getting the “Ultimate” package at the car wash.

Port wine and dark chocolate. A party in my mouth.
When I think about it, I guess I could go on and on.

And hey, less pain while I was writing this.

I’ll have to pay attention to that too.

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