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Sideswiped by happiness (and other detours) June 26, 2008

Posted by eyegillian in change, communication, creativity, energy, explore, journey, learn, life, nature.
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boulder born
Janet (aka Lavenderbay) took this photo of me admiring the wonders of nature in New Zealand.

I know, it has been more than a month (wordpress courteously calls it “a while”) since I’ve posted, and a lot of water has galloped under that bridge.

I’ve thought from time to time of ideas that would make interesting posts, but thinking doesn’t always translate into doing. And doing has taken up all of my thinking lately. There was the 10-day trip to Paris, then the 4-day trip to New Brunswick, and all the jet-lag, catching-up, mental hiccups, etc that accompany changes of scenery and daily routine, not to mention time zones. But that’s another blog.

The occasion for writing is a prod from a friend, Goodbear, who awarded me with a “Tree of Happiness” and tapped me for a meme. It’s a simple task, at first glance, just the sort of thing to get me back into writing again: list six things that make me happy; name six blogrollers as recipients of this award; and link to the giver and the givees.

And, hey, I like a challenge, so…. hmm, maybe that could be my First Thing… so here goes, six things that make me happy (but not necessarily in order):

Trail ride in Paradise1. A challenge overcome: Yes, I can be competitive, but I my natural contraryness compels me to compete most fervently against the naysayers and despairers. Most of all I love games or problems that I can apply my Gillian-patented blend of humour, intuition and wiggly lines to come up with a possible solution (or even better, a choice of solutions from several possibilities). This is a highly satisfying pursuit, and I will drop my own boring work at the merest whimper from one of my co-workers in order to spring to the rescue. (But it’s strange how my work never gets finished on time…!)

play again?2. A doggy grin: I will admit it, I am now a total dog convert. Of course, I still love cats, and Cuca has no complaints when I stop to skritch him at that dry spot along his jawbone and behind his ears, but only a dog can make me smile when I’m all pouty inside. All it takes is that happy panting goofy grin to cause my droopy mouth to turn up at the corners, and before I know it, I’m grinning right back.

dapple path3. A forest path: I love the hush of the forest — where the ever-present hum of the city is drowned out by bird song and the sound of the wind in the trees. This is the song of the unwound road, which I have written about here, so I won’t repeat myself, except to say that this is one pleasure that I all too seldom allow myself. In fact, I have been doing way too little physical activity of any kind lately, so I hope we’ll have lots of time during our upcoming camping trip in Bon Echo for trail tramping!

family fun 34. A good meal with good company: I may be good at multi-tasking, but all too often I’m trying to read or work on the computer while I’m eating… or should I say, “wolfing my food”. I seldom take time for breakfast at home, ending up most days with a muffin and coffee at my desk at work, and that’s where my lunch often is as well. Then at home, there’s blogs and e-mails and other computer business to swallow up yet another meal time. How marvelous then when my partner and I actually take the time to sit down and eat and talk and spend a meal together, whether at home or at the pub, with friends or by ourselves. Sometimes it’s only then that I truly relax. (Or maybe that’s just the glass of cheer talking.)

the cat and the piano5. Music: I’m a trained musician, but I’ve stopped playing music myself, at least for the time being. (That’s another blog for another time.) Yet I can’t help being moved by music. I love so many styles, and I don’t always know what’s going to hit me in the heart on a given day, whether it’s the sublime “Summertime” from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (that we were so fortunate to see in Paris), the joyful skip of a medieval dance tune (as played by the Toronto Consort, for example), the full-throated folk-song world fusion composition (such as a song by the Finnish group Värttinä), the aching pain-pleasure balancing act of a Puccini aria, or one of those comfortably familiar ’70s tunes that we can croon along with in wobbly harmony. Music touches me and moves me; it picks up my feet and my heart and my hopes.

green walk, receding6. Photography: I take photographs. If I am seeing something — anything — for the first time, and there isn’t a camera attached to my face, it’s hard for me to fully enjoy the experience. I use a camera to record what I see, urban juxtapositions and natural wonders, friends and family, the world around me. I take photographs to make sense of what I see, and to help me see and appreciate the small delights that lift life away from the mundane. Sometimes when I’m behind a camera, when I’m focusing on a huge vista or tiny flower, time flows by like a dream, and I am completely absorbed by my task. After viewing and enhancing these photos I’ve created, it is a huge reward (and often ego-boost) to choose the best and share them with others. It’s like that with words, too, although they aren’t as immediate — so thanks for taking the time to read these!

Phew. I did manage to find six things, and I haven’t even mentioned chocolate. Wow. I have a lot to be happy about. Thank you, Goodbear, for the invitation!

Now, since I haven’t been active here for a long while, I don’t know whether my blogfriends will notice if I tag them, but I guess it’s worth trying. So, here’s a Tree of Happiness — and an invitation to list six happy things — going out to: haiku-ist extraordinaire Shaw Malcolm, world-explorer Richard, Devon organic farmer Paula, and… oh, Lavenderbay has already tagged the others I would have asked. Oh well. Three Trees of Happiness is a good start, and maybe I’ll find some more recipients later.

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1. lavenderbay - June 27, 2008

A social life, artistic pursuits, regular mild exercise, dogs, and a little perseverence — sounds pretty well balanced to me! Going my way?

2. eyegillian - June 27, 2008

There’s plenty of room on the road — and it’s lovely to have your company!

3. livingisdetail - June 29, 2008

Hi eyegillian,
Lavenderbay alerted me to your riding adventure. You chose a great place to go horseriding. Look at that scenery; it is amazing. I think riding is one of the happiest things in the world. Such a sense of freedom. Love your beautiful photos and you have a great list of happy things. Those paths just beckon don’t they. Magic.

4. paula - June 30, 2008

hi there gillian – good to see you back again, unfortunately, for me, in the form of a tag which I have noticed – squinting out the corner of my eye. They make my heart sink, so I’m avoiding thinking about it too much!

I promise, though, if I have time I will respond…if I don’t absolutely no offence meant.

5. Shaw - June 30, 2008

Hi Gillian,

It’s wonderful to hear from you! I’ve missed reading new work and seeing new photographs of yours. Thank you for the “Tree of Life” award — I will hold it close to my blog-heart as I put together a list of six things that make me happy. I’ve been a bit busy myself with life, so my own blog has been a bit absent, too, of new postings. It is an intriguing challenge to narrow the possibilities down to six; I will be meditating on them today as I walk.

I hope that all with you is well.


6. eyegillian - June 30, 2008

Thanks for visiting, friends! I’m hoping to be able to blog more regularly now, but you never know when life is going to trip you up again…

living is detail — I was intrigued to see that at least two of the people responding to the “tree of happiness award” listed horseback riding. Going on a trail ride (in Paradise, NZ!) was a challenge for me, but as you can see from the photo, it was a memorable experience. I did find it a bit scary being so far off the ground, but it was fascinating feeling the horse move and trying to anticipate the motion, leaning forward going uphill, and backward going down, for example. I nearly fell off when it jumped a little creek, but I didn’t…. I would love to learn how to ride a horse properly, but I have enough trouble balancing my time as it is right now.

Paula — I hope you don’t feel compelled to respond to the “tree of happiness”! Memes can be a bit pressure-driven, because you don’t want to ignore it because you might hurt someone’s feelings, but believe me, I won’t be at all bothered if you let it drop. I know you certainly have too much work and little enough time to write as it is… (Although I see you have been writing a lot — I’m hoping to catch up with you soon.)

Shaw — I’m glad to see you are still making time to write, and writing well, too! Thanks for taking time to visit and your warm welcome back.

Regarding the “Tree of Happiness Award”, I really want to make it quite clear, that (as with chain letters) please don’t feel you have to perpetuate it if you don’t want to. It’s not always easy for me to guess who would appreciate this kind of meme and who would find it annoying, but my happiness is not tied to your willingness to “play along”.

7. paula - June 30, 2008

Oh thank you, thank you – reason 1 to be happy – I’ve been released! Actually that might make me happy six times over…

8. goodbear - July 3, 2008

well, i absolutely love your 6 things! and, i’ve always loved your photographs!

9. eyegillian - July 3, 2008

Wow, thanks, goodbear — and hearing from you is another good thing (naturally, since “good” is in your name)!

10. OneBlueSky - July 6, 2008

Love your 6 things, especially the ‘hush of the forest’, and your photos – the ‘green walk’ looks amazing. I envy your escapes into the wild, it’s something I’d love to do more often. Am too much of a “keyboard-stuck in the concrete city slave” who needs more daylight!

11. eyegillian - July 12, 2008

Thanks for your visit, OneBlueSky! I find the forest is one of the best antidotes to city living… well, and the sea, but that’s a bit harder to get to from here. And I do find it really hard to escape the city — we’ve talked about going on a hike or walk or something every weekend, but we don’t even manage to do that once a month. There’s just too many other things to do, and perhaps not enough effort and will on our part. If I’m a city slave, I fill that role all-too-willingly.

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