Our Happiness Project involves us achieving a healthy state - which includes taking care of any ailments and also routine, regular maintenance as well as exercise, and state of our pysche and emotional health.
This could lead to a 2 year long project - we have a lot of 'issues'.
Both Jan and Darleen use prescription medicine according to our doctors, and also over the counter medications - for several ailments. Since we come from a medical background, we trust doctors and medicine as we accustomed to receiving a prescription to 'fix' our ailments.
Both of us also have experimented with naturopathic medicine, and herbal remedies. Some of these appear to help certain ailments, and others we are just not sure about. The biggest negative we have with this approach is the COST. Jan has advantage of living in a different province and has most of her biodentical hormones and evaluations paid - Darleen on the other hand would require to spend without compensation about $1000. That is a low cost for good health, and if methods are found to repair and find alternatives
BUT IT IS A LOT OF MONEY!!
Since we do have a scientific background, we often investigate on our own - to find the scientific cures and proof. However, as often reported the reports and studies in some cases have been found to be inaccurate - such as the Autism-Vaccine Study, that was retracted under controversy. How do we know what to believe? Particularly if you are over 30 years of age, you will have experienced changes in traditional clinical medicine and pharmaceutical practices. And if you are older than dirt, like many of us feel, at least some days - you know that we no longer use leeches in medical practice, and many of the trusted medications such as diet pills and valium are used quite differently now or not at all.
Medicine does advance, and since doctors and scientists are human- they do make mistakes and learn better practices along the way.
In the summary Prescription Diet Pills at Health Reserve.com - which also includes current FDA approved and'Potential Future Weight Loss Drugs in Trial Stages', but the 'History of Diet Pills' did bring back memories to me from the 1960s.
"History of Diet Pills
In the early days of diet pills - the 1960s and 1970s - diet pills were primarily amphetamine derivatives, otherwise known as "speed". As a result of the addictive properties of speed, doctors ceased prescribing these drugs for weight loss."
I recall the neighbour mothers - or some of using these pills, and being very excited about them. My mother and most mothers at that time, were stay at home moms (SAHMs), and in our neighbourhood would get together for coffee clatches. Today we have Facebook! I do remember (my mom can maybe recall the details) that the ladies were so excited by these breakthrough pills for losing weight - due to the fact that they had added benefits. They energized them to get their housecleaning done in record time, and still have energy left. None of these ladies thought they were taking 'speed', and trusted that the doctor knew best, and it must be safe. I do remember that it was taken off the market and these ladies were sad to see their energy pills no longer available, but I don't believe they had any ill effects due to the short and limited time they had used the drugs.
Jan has been cleaning the house, and feeling good about that, even with SNOW in Alberta!! Ontario is beach weather and Darleen is out riding - motorcycle that is.
Darleen has too many swirling thoughts, and questions - about the purpose of life, how to get unstuck, why do cancer victims and survivors get more perks that healthy women, are we all survivors, when does menopause stop, why am I so exhausted, what do I want to do with the rest of my life, should I start a business, what do I have to sell, what will I leave the world to know I was here???
And that was just the first half hour of the day!!
What are my 'core values' - I dunno - wake up, get up, make money, be nice to people, love lots, laugh more, sleep more? Do I have a global purpose? I am Darleen, NOT Mother Theresa...
Argghhh ... and instead of a bolt of understanding I get a HOT FLASH ....
It has been my experience that children upon reaching age 14 or 15 become possessed by aliens. They are totally under the control of this insane invasion - something like body snatchers. It happens suddenly and without warning. However, some teens are not affected - and it seems about 1 in 5 remains sane, and can be observed to still be your darling son or daughter. The others, there is not much you can do, but wait for their brains to be released back to their control. Of course during this phase you will need to be vigilent to ensure that they do not harm themselves, get expelled from school or arrested. If you can get then graduated out of high school and safely into college or university, you have a good chance of having your relationship rekindled and your offspring becoming happy and responsible again.
During our Happiness Project - lighten up with parenting is one resolution. Uhuh, easier done with toddlers and those under 13 years of age. How can we lighten up, stay sane and live happily with our teens and young adult children?
From Darleen: memories and tradition - a special post
Sometimes You Just Gotta Dance
It was a ritual that my 3 girls and I did. It began when the girls were still innocent and naive, never thinking anything ‘bad” could ever happen to us.
I, the mother would sit with my eyes closed, head back and feet propped on a footstool. Letting my body fully relax, and for everything be released from my mind. Life could be hectic with work and 3 preschool aged girls, getting everyone out the door before 7 am, fighting traffic to work, getting through the work day, picking up the girls, spending time playing, making supper, bath-time, story time before bed time for the girls, and often still there would be housework to do before my own- self time for sleep and then starting the whole routine over again. Whew.
Taking a moment to relax, I would concentrate on the music and the lyrics, singing along and smiling… “Come on pretty momma, let’s get away to KoKomo”.
“Mommy, are you thinking you would like to get away?” my eldest daughter R would ask - breaking my concentration. I smile widely, and reached for 4-year-old R and her twin sisters, just barely 2 years old, still babies. “No you silly” I replied, “I would never want to get away from you!” They all smiled, as R turned and went to the CD player, changing the selection, and suddenly through the speakers a new song played…
“She drives me crazy!” ooh aah”.
The three of them squealed, “Let’s dance, mommy!” as they pulled their mother from my chair.
I smiled, and picking each of them up separately, we danced, and jumped around the room, while they sang along at the top of their lungs. When the song ended, we all collapsed on the carpeted floor, rolling around and finally stopping with all three girls hugging mommy.
My girls and me.
We were happy. We were safe. We were connected.
There was never anything to worry about, other than routine colds, sore throats or earaches.
It was mommy and her 3 sweethearts insulated form the outside world.
We continued to be our own special unit, even when 2 years down the road my marriage ended. By this time we were in a different city and different house. We still danced.
A few years later, we accepted a new man into our home. I was unsure if it was the right thing to do, however was encouraged vehemently and cheerfully by friends and family. Suddenly however, our world was turned upside down due to actions of the new man. Our contentment was completely upset, and all our values of trust shaken. We went through several months of upheaval, police visits, Family Children Services involvement, court dates, lawyers, family providing advice and judgments.
I had failed to keep my children safe.
The most important actions required were to ensure that the girls were taken care of and provided help to deal with what had happened. The new man was removed from the home. We managed through the next several months to stabilize, being once again just mommy and her girls.
We were confused, hurting, and unsure how to feel safe again.
Once again I sat in my chair waiting for the girls to get ready for their weekend visit with their father. Suddenly I was aware of M crying and telling her sisters that she was not be going with them. M wanted to stay at home with mommy. This was not an option. She was adamant that she was not going to her father’s and reacted with a violent temper tantrum. She was kicking and screaming, with tears streaming down her face. I carried her to the car, placing her seatbelt around her, hoping that she could get her settled down during the hour and half trip. Her sisters were in the backseat and tried to comfort her as well, that all would be well, and she could call mommy anytime. She would not be consoled.
About an hour into the trip, M was still sobbing, as they drove through a small village.
At that moment on the radio came the music and words “She drives me crazy. Ooh aah “…
I silently pulled the car over to the side of the road, and put the car in park.I got out and went around to the passenger’s side, taking M out of her seatbelt and lifting her out of the car. Her sisters were perplexed,
“What is she doing? “ They asked each other.
M wrapped her legs around me, and clung to her, as she liked to call it her ‘monkey hug’.
“Let’s dance!” I whispered into M’s ear as she hugged her tight.
Her sisters danced as well along with them, and sang along to the words of the song.
By the end of the song, M had relaxed, and managed a small smile.
We were still mommy and her girls, against the world.
Our life may have been shaken up, but we were still the same to each other.
While doing Conscious Living and learning to take care of ourselves with more care, Darleen has been listening, and hopefully supporting Jan in her trials and tribulations with parenting.
Jan does still have 3 of her 5 children at home, in various stages of teenage and entering adulthood phases. As well her 2 eldest, have just in the past year ventured off on their own. This is a difficult time for a mother. Oh yes, it is what we live and breathe for - to raise the children to be self sufficient and on their own. We often find ourselves dreaming of our house and hearth being back to House Beautiful magnificence. Laundry will be finally done, our milk carton will never have just one drop left in the fridge - oh life will again be perfect. The love of our life husband will return to being the sex god and romance will sweep us off our feet. And then we wake up.
Life will never return to BC (before children), and we will never STOP being a MOTHER. We will continue to hold tight to these children, and not want to let them go. How can they be ready to make their own decisions. Heck, we barely feel able to make our own decisions some days. We feel a urge to help them along their way, and prevent them from making mistakes - particularly the same mistakes as we made. If only so we do not have to relive them again and again.
BUT ... they don't want our help, and as gently as possible, let us know - and sometimes this can involve some very heated discussions. Texting has only added the ability to really let them know, just one more time about the errors of their ways. Facebook and other social media allows us a 'peek' into their lives. It is frightening to admit that they are acting with the same rash irresponsible behaviour, at times - as we did at that age. Did we teach them nothing?
And we remember - the years of raising them. And the errors we made, and wonder if only we had done a better job at Parenting 101. Of course it was a learn as you go program, and we had to keep working with what we had created. Not like a piece of clay that you can roll into a ball and start over again.
It can be darn depressing to look back, even though they are all still in one piece and functioning on their own. These thoughts entered my Conscious Thinking as I read the chapter on Parenting in The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
We have been busy flying across the country ... and Darleen had words swirling in midair.
Jan was in Ontario! Yeah! It was not all fun and games trip, but due to a family member being ill - and well family support. Being a nurse she was in her element, but more difficult when family. A good time for Darleen and Jan to get in some visiting time, and save our thumbs from texting. We actually could write and edit the blog ideas at the same time. WOW!!
Darleen also was in New Brunswick for a week leading up to and overlapping with Jan's arrival in Ontario. It was work related trip and very tiring.
And then there was the MAY 2-4 Long Weekend - the weekend that celebrates the beginning of summer. It usually rains. Jan and I can tell you stories about the May 24th long weekends of our youth, and on the boat on Lake Erie, and camping ... and rain. BUT .. this year it was more sun than rain, and ended on a pleasantly fulfilled happy note. Darleen managed to get in some time with the Wonderful Women cousins event, with good discussions, drinks, sun and yummy food. Finally Jan returned home to the arms of her waiting family, while Darleen was able to go for a motorcycle ride with Ken and friend M.
AND... Darleen's current paying job is coming to an end this Friday - becoming one of the unemployed.
So ... with all this action, excitement, crises, and heated moments - have we been able to achieve our first laid plans for the Happiness Project? Have we found Ralphie?
UPDATE - FIND RALPHIE HAPPINESS PROJECT
A> Sweat the Small Stuff
- yes we have found that paying attention to the little things does make a difference.
- more to come later this week
Get 7 - 8 hours of sleep >> YES most night we have done!
Get dressed in comfortable clothing >> YES
Go for 15 minute walk >> ahh Not so good at this one
Eat healthy and stop when full >> most of the time except the licorice
Spend time on cleanliness and appearance >> yes we have put in more effort
Take scheduled breaks >> yes
Drink 8 glasses of water >> hmmm.. well we tried
Find one thing that will improve MOMENTUM level
-->Darleen is working on decluttering >>> did a lot of thinking and discussed
Count Our Blessings >>yes even though with gritted teeth some days
Go the Extra Inch >> we did try, deep breathing helps with this
Set An Example >> well again we did try
Appreciate Ourselves >> well we did, with some coaching
Visualize Perfect Self >> ahh difficult but started
Find Solutions >> YES, this is one we love, rather than wallow find a solution
bird by bird, inch by inch >> yes one step at a time
It was not exactly difficult, BUT we did have to consciously think about our actions, and how reacting and how taking care of OURSELVES.
WHERE IS RALPHIE?
Ahh.. well entering into our Find Ralphie Happiness Project – or possibly more like Why did we kill our Ralphie? - we have realized how we ignored simple conscious living. Survival has eliminated the starry eyed goals we had in our youth – getting from one day to the next replaced the long term goals. Unconscious habits replaced our brain cells. We have gone through the motions of daily life without consciously thinking of what we are doing, or if are the correct actions often. Happiness? Well that was to come with the Bon Bons and the reward at reaching age 50 in one piece.
From our many readings of self-help books and helpful blogs, we should have achieved our perfect lives, reclaimed our slim bodies, found incredible wealth, along with everlasting love and good sex! BUT - it is like we are spectators, watching on the sidelines. Why are we so lethargic?
What is it that we need to get us moving and having the 'momentum' to follow through?
We have done a lot of thinking on how we once were, and tried to figure out what has made us stuck in the muck. We can blame it on old age, or having children - but what changed? We still feel like our Ralphie selves inside, but with a lot more experience, trials and tribulations under our belts, and don't recognize ourselves in the mirror. Ralphie did things because she wanted to do, and had no real fear of failure. We now fear and are finding things just .. well harder. When we were twenty, we could eat all we wanted, and if we gained weight - just slightly cut back for a few days. We maybe didn't always like ourselves in the mirror, but with a few beauty tricks quickly resolved - now the beauty makeup tricks really make little difference.
Areas of life to deal with in order to get to OUR HAPPINESS:
1) VITALITY - energy= MOMENTUM
How do we achieve the energy that we had in our Ralphie days?
What has drained our energy?
Weight & Appearance
Being a Nicer Person
Marriage, children and friendships
6) HAPPINESS ROADMAP
Our Bucket List
Being True to Self - want to we really want to do
Giving - leaving something of value
HOW DO WE GET OUR MOMENTUM BACK?
This is not a step by step process of going through our outlined areas, one month at a time. We don't have time for that. Darleen currently is in job search mode, and that is a heavy burden along with the other issues that will affect the outcome. Janet is dealing with family illness and being a support system. We continue to look in the mirror each day, and not like what we see - BUT we simply do not have time or energy to do anything about. We need to work on several of these areas at one time.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Sweat the small stuff ...
It is half a century of small stuff that has got us here.
Get 7 - 8 hours of sleep
Get dressed in comfortable clothing
Go for 15 minute walk
Eat healthy and stop when full
Spend time on cleanliness and appearance
Take scheduled breaks
Drink 8 glasses of water
Find one thing that will improve MOMENTUM level
-->Darleen is working on decluttering
Count Our Blessings
Go the Extra Inch
Set An Example
Visualize Perfect Self
bird by bird, inch by inch
This is correct - we are working on ourselves, as after all we cannot change anyone else.
Of course that seems to make the most sense, as if everyone would just do as we wish,
then we could magically be 'happy' - or maybe not?
See you tomorrow!!
Oh.. there is motivational music to listen to while walking that can be found online .. of course I Googled. One site I found - http://www.mywalkingmusic.com/ is rather interesting selection of music and facts.
People who listen to music during their walking fitness workouts tend to exercise more frequently, for longer periods of time, and with greater intensity.
I would tend to dance instead of walk, and could end up hurting myself ... like the car alarm music, to exercise to:
Yes, we do need to prepare to be happy. This is serious business. We have 6 months towards our goal, therefore will designate 6 areas of life stuff, that we want to experiment with better ways of managing. Darleen is away this week on business, and Jan is preparing for a visit to Ontario. YES - we shall be together soon. And although there is some family illness to take care of, making the visit bittersweet., most of it will be sweet.
Yes, there is always a but, with us. At least at this moment of our lives. Our quest to find our 'Ralphie', requires some preparation.
Number 1 TASK:
R:REST E: ENERGIZE C: CLEAN U:UPSIDE-DOWN P: PROTEIN E:EXTRA NICE R:REFRESH A:ACTION T: Take Off your pjamas E:ENVISION
Yes, I saw Ralphie yesterday at the hair salon. She was hiding - within 'Helen', a delightful white- haired woman. Helen was getting her beautiful white hair styled, and requested streaks of bright pink and purple. It was absolutely gorgeous. Her eyes twinkled, as she stood up from the chair when all coiffed and colour shining.
"Well" I said to her, " that is quite wild hair that you have there!"
"Do you like it ?" she responded.
"Are you a Rock Star?" I asked her.
" Well I would like to be, and after all I am only 70, so I have lots of time." she came back at me.
" Next you will say we should be Exotic Dancers - at the old age home!" I teased her.
" Yes, we could be a team." she said with eyes dancing.
Her face glowed with radiance, she was trim, had stylish clothes and the latest fad in eyewear. She was a bit slow with walking - but it was the smile and chance to brighten each person's day that she encountered. Well, and the pink and purple streaks in her whiter than white hair.
Yes, that was finding Ralphie. I enjoyed the exchange we had, and felt lighter and a sense of 'happy'.
And how about the Exotic Dancer role? Well the true art of Strip Tease, or the Burlesque style is more about the art of removing clothes - than nakedness. It was considered risqué, decadent and entertaining! There is an image of glamour, mischief and sauciness presented by the true burlesque strip tease. The idea is to celebrate the female beauty artfully. To be successful for an audience of one or many, you need to feel good about yourself. And who knows, maybe it makes you feel better about yourself.
The props can hide a lot of imperfections.
Now if we can just get ourselves more sleep, and out of these flannel pjamas we might feel more glamorous. More on our progress tomorrow.
And ... a smile for today regarding weight loss tips.
The correct way to weigh yourself:
I can't believe I was doing it wrong all these years.
Happiness Project? What is this all about Ralphie?
The Find Ralphie Happiness Project - officially announcing we are beginning.
After 69 days, many investigations and trials with theories, diets, self hypnosis and other self help books destined to make us thin, and propel us through menopause - we had an epiphany (cool word huh?). This came after our journey the past few months, and Darleen & Jan discussing in between our ideas on how to lose weight - about lack of happiness. Both have struggled with some depression over the years, but this is different - a sadness that weighed heavily on us. We blamed this on many external reasons - children, husbands, weather, extra weight gain, growing old - well you get the idea, everything and anything.
One day however, Jan texted in response to Darleen's question "Do you know why you are sad?"- "Not really, just wish I could shake it, as there is no excuse for it, my life is good." And, of course when we decide there is no reason for our feelings of sadness, we feel guilty and thus making ourselves even more miserable.
Darleen, in attempt to help her friend feel better asked " What makes you happy?" Jan answered: " Well most is centered around family." And some events unfolded in the days following days, that provided Jan with a very 'happy' week - her daughters spent time with her, and another day she spent time with the entire gang, and the highlight came from her first born son - "Adam took me to lunch! It made my Day!!" And not just once, but Darleen received this message 3 times with :) and lots of !!!!
hmmm ... It was obvious that when Jan was feeling happy, she also was more productive, ate better and didn't dwell as much on the weight she would like to lose. hmmm... How do we keep this going? And maybe, just maybe we are looking at this weight loss as the secret to our becoming happy - well backwards, or upside down?
Stepdaughter Rebecca looking at life from different angle
Several thoughts and texts back and forth, and pieces started to come together, and the fact that the issue is not the weight. Although if we were to wake up tomorrow morning, with bodies as thin and nubile as our ex 20 year old selves we would be ecstatic - well at least until we realized we had no clothes to wear!
Darleen was reminded of how utterly completely cheerful Jan always was in her youth, and has always been her signature personality trait. When thinking of Jan, it is always with her smiling, laughing and being extremely energized. That is who she is, and it has always rubbed off on others around her, to be more energetic and happy. So we can be happy, and when happy we accomplished much more and didn't have to think about dieting or exercise, it all just happened.
And then ... another booked crossed Darleen's path (when googling Happiness)
-whose new book, The Happiness Project, is an account of the year she spent test-driving studies and theories about how to be happier. On this blog, she shares her insights to help you create your own happiness project.
Upon Reading excerpts on the Happiness Project Blog, well you know what happened. The same as whenever Darleen finds the perfect book, with the perfect advice and perfect solutions. She bought the book. Had to drive to Chapters before it closed and barely made it before 10 pm. And sent urgent text to Jan, to look for book for her Sony eReader. Jan got it!
I have the pearls, where are my bon bons?
You may recall, that when Jan and Darleen started this journey we discussed how we 'expected' to come to this point of our lives and be rewarded. We did all the duties, bought the pearls even
- now where are our bon bons, and forever beautiful and thin?
June Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver was our role model. She was always perfectly coiffed at all times, always the smile (which we interpreted as HAPPY), and of course the pearls.
Wikipedia notes that June Cleaver was a fictional character, had a perfect marriage, was dedicated to her family.
June is dedicated to her family; her interests outside the home are social events like weddings or school events like meetings and plays. She has ladylike pastimes: needlepoint, cake decorating, and arranging tea roses. She reads glossy but high-toned, tasteful women's magazines. When the boys arrive home from school, June can be found in the kitchen chopping salad vegetables, basting a roast, or icing a cake. Her kitchen is immaculate. Like most TV middle class sitcom families of the era, the Cleavers breakfast and lunch in the kitchen while their dinners are full scale affairs in the dining room. She is happily married with never a suggestion otherwise on the show
Of course we had no draft to follow for her mid-life or aging as the show stopped. No episodes of June having hot-flashes or yelling like a psycho mad woman, or gaining weight.
We somehow assumed we would get a reward. But again we have no clear image of what we would look or be like over 50.
Eating bon bons - and lounging by the pool (or in the pool) .- age 40 maybe?
After a hard day at work.
So .. what happened to us? hmm .. well for one thing we did have careers. We had it all, as we were the women that were 'allowed' to work full-time outside the home and have a family. We were the LIBERATED women. Wow!! Lucky us, we worked full-time - Jan as a nurse, and Darleen as a Lab Tech, working shift work, doing the housework, birthing children, and taking care of the husband 24/7 every day of the year. BUT .. we held on to the belief we would be rewarded for our dedication to NOT just our families, but also our careers. We smiled a lot, told our friends how rewarding our lives were, and how lucky we were to be able to have it all! We were the epitome of 'Super Mom'. We had so much more than our mothers were allowed to have. uhuh...
So... fast forward through Darleen's relationship woes, job changes due to layoffs, and Jan's adapting to suddenly having 5 children, a stint through cancer treatment for the 4th child while pregant with the 5th, several moves and distanced from her family - and we hit 50 years of age. Jan was able to retire, Darleen still working but children left home and 2 grandchildren added. Where is the prize? Where are the bon bons? We have the string of pearls - well buried somewhere, maybe under the many stacks of 'stuff' on our dresser or maybe in the jewelery box?
BUT ,.. we are .... just so tired, and looking in the mirror -