A long time ago I remember hearing someone talk on seeking joy instead of happiness. It was probably a sermon, and I remember at the time thinking that I'd take happiness, thank you. But of course I kept my mouth shut. The other day I saw on the internet somewhere the darling pink pig above (I since have read Mr. Monkton's little book - and it just made me laugh.) Not only his pig but all his other creatures, ending with chickens, were smiling and my laugh was for them all.
Perhaps that is why, when I went on my walk yesterday morning. I decided I felt exceptionally happy. Maybe it was because Jerry is feeling better and has actually gained some weight back. Perhaps the endorphins I am supposed to feel when I exercise had kicked in. Or maybe it was the Malt-O-Meal I made myself for breakfast, with my taste buds reminding me of having breakfasts as a child with my dad, my mom, my sister and my uncle Bill all at the table before we went off to work and to school.
But the happy feeling also rolled over into today -- so I decided to share with you some of the things in my life that have made me happy. My folks made sure we kids had a good childhood, and when I got old enough to pick and choose my own activities one of the first things I focused on that really pleased me was liking to canoe. In my mid-teens our Mariner Scout troop often spent Saturdays at Alamitos Bay in Long Beach, and it was there I learned to canoe.
In the 9th grade students were able to choose some electives in school, and my mother encouraged me toward Journalism. She had always wanted to be a writer; she said her grandma wrote a book and Mother felt she had those genes in her. She encouraged me to give it a shot. So this was the beginning of a long period of writing and editing school newspapers, and going off to college with an eye toward a future in writing.
Of course, a liberal arts college is where you try out 'stuff' to see if it fits, and I was hard pressed to decide what to do about sports, which I was not crazy about. My college roommate, who was very athletic, took up archery and it seemed to me I could do that. I had no idea it would be so much fun and that I would turn out very good at it. I did it, of course, for the credits I needed, but even years afterwards I always though I might go back to it as a hobby. It was great fun.
After four years of marriage my husband and I bought our first house in a newly built tract, and shortly we were introduced to square dancing by some neighbors. Although dancing had never been one of my interests, I found square dancing very challenging and exhilarating and we took it up with a vengeance! We probably would have stuck with it a bit longer, but I kept having more babies and believe me when I say it is very difficult to square dance when pregnant. I also joined a young mothers' bowling league, and although I had never bowled, I fell in love with it and for about two years I spent every Wednesday morning at the bowling alley. My children were baby-sat by the neighborhood women's baby-sitting co-op and all it cost me was (in 1960) 10 cents a line! It was SO much fun, and my children had fun with their little playmates under the watchful eye of their mothers.
All through this time, from my earliest recollections to the present, music has been in my life one way or the other. I was given lessons on the violin, the piano, the bassoon and the guitar. I played the ukulele. I sang in choirs. Later I led children's choirs and adult choirs. I do not care for hillbilly music but I do like real blue-grass, all jazz and blues, popular music, classical music, as well as organ music. And stumbling upon a group of Morris dancers in Reath, England I decided that this old form of merriment provided the epitomy of happiness for me. Back in the states I looked for Morris dancers here, but alas, I found none.
As I've gotten older, I have gone through a lot of hobbies that pleased me. Probably the first was taking a cooking class from a woman who grew up in China, the daughter of missionaries. She taught us to cook what the chinese people cooked for themselves. (Since this was in 1978, they may eat differently now!) It was SO much fun. We used no recipes, just watched her and followed, which was how she learned to cook. My idea of fun was to gather a group of friends over for dinner and cook up a storm for them.
Then I went into photography. I have always had a camera in my hand but didn't know much about it. I did what the instructor called "aim and shoot." His class was helpful and practical. Some of the things I learned can be seen in the following sample photos:
That photography phase made me very happy and I put lots of my knowledge to good use when we went to Turkey.
But also I have had little collections that pleased me. The problem with collections is once you commit to something, then well-meaning friends and family contribute! My collection was of cups having some significance to me. Those coming as gifts usually didn't. When we downsized I had to let my collection go, but I did kept three special cups shown below. On the left is a cup given to us by a cemetery maintenance employee when Jerry and I solicited his help in finding the gravesite of a dead relative. The middle is a cup given to me when a little RCA office in Tustin, where I had a great part-time job, shut down. And the last cup was sold by the Los Angeles Public library as a money-raiser when they had a devastating fire and needed to rebuild their collection. I hated to give up my cup collection, but at least keeping these made me very happy.
And if you've read my blog at all, you'll know tracing my family tree has been a real labor of love for me since 1984. One thing I don't much talk about is that for years I have been able to schedule talks on various aspects of genealogy for genealogical societies all over Southern California. The reception of these talks has been very satisfying. Strangely enough, I am very comfortable going before 30 or 300 or 3,000 people and giving a talk on "Research Surprises: Making them Happen" - but I have difficulty being comfortable with social chit-chat at a cocktail party. I find I have very little to say and come across like a wallflower! But interacting with people, no matter how many, over a subject we both enjoy makes me awfully happy.