Tuesday, January 1, 2008

8 happy thoughts for the new year

Ornamental cabbages, I have never seen such huge ones. Coastal climate or genetic mutation?

I am writing while listening to the The Vienna Philharmonic New Year's Concert on NPR. According to the official website “Georges Prêtre becomes the first French conductor to lead the traditional New Year's Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna on January 1, 2008.” Next year the concert will be conducted by Daniel Barenboim. I love this concert, and I have listened to it many a times, even though it makes me a little homesick for Europe. So, there is already a little thing that makes me happy, even though bittersweet.

One of the most inspiring garden websites is Phillip’s A Southern Garden. I also enjoy reading what other gardeners write and look at their photos, such as those by Pam at Digging. It is fun to see how the garden changes throughout the year. And of course there are many more. But my favorite is Phillip’s A Southern Garden along with his blog Dirt Therapy. I admire the creativity how Phillip approached this piece of initially almost bare land that is now his garden. And after ten years he created a little paradise on earth, just beautiful. And I admit, I am also one of those who dream of a purple wall in the garden, but my gardening space is limited. It will be the back fence that soon will change its color. It was Philip who tagged me recently. I am fairly new to the blogging world, and I do not wish to tag anyone yet, but I like the idea to think and write about Happy Things, especially for this coming new year. How can you be positive and inspire others if you are not happy within your own skin.

Eight things that make me happy:

1. Playing board games with Teenage Daughter and Most Special Spouse, spending quality time with TD, MSS, and Black Dog in general
2. Reading
3. Gardening time, real or imaginary, including reading gardening books, flower catalogues, gardening blogs, gardening journals
4. Hearing from friends far away
5. Traveling and also visiting friends far away
6. Modern Art, Modern Art Museums
7. Doing some house remodeling projects, such as painting walls and the like
8. Painting with water colors

If these things make me happy, I should take more time doing those things in the coming year since I am not necessarily taking the time to do them. So instead of resolutions here are some of my personal guidelines for the coming year:

1. Spend more quality time with TD and MSS. Make a point to eat every night dinner together or play one game. Thirty minutes per day of quality time with the people I love most is time spent wisely.
2. Take the time to read one book per week and do not feel guilty – after all, I am a professor of literature!!!
3. Realize a number of garden projects: Put in a new flowerbed after getting rid of the slope in front of the house; have an arch made for the front and plant it (maybe a rose such as Zéphirine Drouhin); paint the backyard wooden fence; create small garden rooms in the back.
4. I love hearing from friends, but I have retreated too much into myself. So, get out of the shell, and let my friends know that I care about them. Especially the sudden death of my friend in country over there was a wake up call. We have lost in the last year two of our graduate students in our program to death, and a former student was just diagnosed with stage three cancer of the breast. It is time to let my friends know more how much I appreciate them.
5. If no long trips overseas are possible, take the time for weekend or day long trips and smaller excursions. There are many parts of the state we have not explored yet. How long will Teenage Daughter be able or willing to do such things with us?
6. The modern art museums are a tough call. But I finally want write more about contemporary art and literature.
7. The house needs some major remodeling work, but those are costly, so maybe I will paint the walls in the stairway.
8. I would like to paint more with water colors, maybe find one to two hours per week.

In short I want to become more aware of life and be content with what I have. I want to be happy so that I can pass on a positive way of seeing life to others. This does not mean seeing the world through pink glasses, but rather taking life for what it is by not glossing over but recognizing the positive force at moments that are rather dark.
In short, keep Socrates in mind: “The unexamined life is not worth living.

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