Happiness is Getting Simpler

As the quarantine stretches on (and my plague state becomes one of the safer places in the country), I’m finding happiness is getting foggier in its definition . . . and simpler. I’m not sick, nobody I love is sick, everybody I love is being careful, the weather’s lovely, I have enough money to pay my bills, I have books to read and write . . . I’m not getting a damn thing done, but I’ve settled into cocoon-like comfort where Lack of trauma seems like a huge accomplishment. Which makes me wonder how much of this will linger when we’re (will we ever?) be through this and into some kind of normal. I’m pretty sure the new normal will not be like the old because we’ve learned to live simpler lives because we haven’t had a choice.

This week I’m happy I’ve made it through another week. For now, that’s enough.

What made you happy this week?

69 thoughts on “Happiness is Getting Simpler

  1. I was just thinking yesterday “I’m really happy today and I don’t know why.” I did yoga that morning after a busy week where I didn’t work out every day (like I’ve now gotten used to, one positive to come out of the quarantine), I finished a book without struggling. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either. In the last few days, I’ve noticed some progress in my Italian, so I did extra studying that day b/c I felt like it, not b/c I felt obligated to.
    The day wasn’t too hot and I didn’t feel too stressed about the undone chores around the house. I got a good nap in. Really that was it. Simple formula for a good day, but I’m not sure it’s something I can force. Everything unfolded just right.

    I’ve always kind of been okay with simple for most things. I do love travel and fancy food, but that’s about it. My dad said to me once, “If you can’t be happy in your own living room, you’re probably not going to be happy at all.”

    I do wonder (and worry) what this new world will be like for my children, but mostly I just hope we get there.

  2. I don’t know, somehow I feel as if when I’m always home, my home stops BEING my home, and turns into my prison. The wanderlust I’ve felt over the past few months, or stir craziness or cabin fever or whatever it might be called — it feels like a kind of hunger for novelty, or connection, or just exposure to things I haven’t seen recently, or people I haven’t talked with recently. It’s as if talking to the people I always talk to stops being like talking and becomes more like rote behavior. I can only imagine what that must be like for writers, who are trying to bring new words and ideas into people’s minds. How can a person do that if they are undergoing slow starvation in terms of novelty and change?

    I was happy yesterday to finish building a Lego kit that I was given as a gift. And happy the day before that to finish a potholder in a new (to me) weaving design. But everything else has more or less disappeared from my memory, because it has all been exactly the way things have been for the past almost five months. It feels like I should start scratching lines into my computer to mark the passage of days, as if I were a Bastille prisoner waiting for the Revolution to change the world and set me free.

    1. I’ve been doing a lot of things on eventbrite.com, which helps for the novelty. But that said, I am feeling lazy of late and have just spent this weekend and last weekend mostly lying around in bed.

      I am trying to accept that this is how life is going to be for at least the next few years, to forever. Because well, the way things are going, that seems to be how it is.

    2. I just learned about adventuring via Randonautica, an app that randomly generates coordinates within a specified distance of your location. The “adventure” starts with you setting an intention (“I want this adventure to involve animals”). Then you generate the number and go there and see what happens–generally relying on the power of coincidence for an “oh, wow” moment. Read the July 21 article in The Atlantic for a better idea.

      If you can leave your dwelling, it could provide a dash of novelty.

  3. I’m with jinx on feeling very trapped. I live in a large city and have always hated it here. I kept it together in the past by traveling on my vacations to places with nature.

    It’s just an awful sensation to be trapped here, and people in my city are not wearing masks, or being careful to distance, cases are climbing, and there’s so much city noise and concrete. I just want to be in a woods with a body of water nearby.

    1. I know everyone says “it’s okay to take walks,” but my shitty asshole racist neighbor goes outside multiple times a day to deliberately sneeze and cough in our shared patio area blasting his droplets, and I can’t go outside without thinking of him. I never thought I’d go agoraphobe, but here I am. I only go out long enough to make sure my car doesn’t die and take out the trash/get the mail, and hardly anyone ever has a mask on. It’s California, so I don’t think there’s anywhere I could go where people are not. There are always people.

      1. What a shitty neighbor! Get one of the witches among us to give you a useful spell for that. 🙂

    2. Anyone want to rent a big house at the beach (my preference is the Central Oregon Coast, but I’m not picky) to wait out the apocalypse? I mean, no one is going anywhere anyway. 🙂 I have agoraphobia (mostly under control right now, thank goodness) and cabin fever and I want to be near water. We work remotely, we wander out into nature …. Hands?

  4. Murderbot ebook alert !!!

    1st book ‘All Systems Red’ is $1.99
    2nd book ‘Artificial Condintion’ is $2,.99
    3rd book ‘Rogue Protocol’ is $2.99

    1. Ooh, good to know — just sent the info to a friend who was bemoaning the cost for such short books, which is understandable, although given how many times I’ve read each of them, definitely a good ROI.

    2. Thanks – but alas, UK prices seem if anything to have gone up. I’d have bought 2 & 3 if there’d been a deal. (Although my library has the ebook of 2 (only), so that’s where I’m stalled.)

      1. Is it possible for someone in the States to buy a copy and gift it to you? I have done that with other people who live here, but I don’t know if you can do that for someone in a different country.

    3. Thanks, I was able to get book 2 and book 3 for 1.99 each then I bought the last book at 10.99. Two out four at a bargain. With the exchange for three books, it comes to about 6.88-ish depending on our dollar, which has been rising. Can’t remember what I paid for All Systems Red. Thanks so much.

  5. I feel very lucky. I have been able to go to work because it was just my boss and me until restrictions lightened up. I live with my DH and we get along well. Now that we can have 10 people gatherings, I can have the 4 “regular” visitors to my large living room on Saturday nights to watch a movie. I have gained weight, but I have eaten really nice things doing it. I can’t Jazzercise, but I have been walking with DH in our pleasant neighborhood. I am meeting neighbors who are also walking. I am deeply thankful for all of these things, and wish I could share with all of you in more difficult situations.

    1. I’d be happy if you would tell me the title of the “lighthearted romance” you bought for $4.00 last week. I’ve been having trouble getting my hands on a lot of the recommendations I’ve received lately and a lighthearted romance would really fit the bill. You said that you thought it had too much sex in it for you, but I might have a different opinion about that. In any case I, was curious enough that I wanted to take a look at it.

  6. What made me happy this week was re-organizing my bookshelves and finding my original 1997 autographed copy of TRUST ME ON THIS. The inscription reads “For Anita – Best of Luck at IM – Jenny Crusie”. (We met at an RWA conference through a mutual OVRWA friend and I was wearing a First Sale/New Author ribbon.)

    What made me even more happy this week was reading the book again. Funny thing though — as much as I like Alec and Dennie, I am now drawn to Aunt Vic. Guess that’s what happens in 23 years!

  7. I took a road trip to Vermont to see my brothers, one lives there and one is hiking the Appalachian Trail as a post-retirement challenge and I guess a demarcation. He’s said he’s looking for clarity and calm; I think therapy might be a better way for him to get some peace.
    For me, I am already surrounded by nature and beauty. What was great was to take a road I’d never taken before, and see new trees and some small mountains.
    I can move my arm up and down, and I’m paying attention on how to avoid hurting it again.
    Watered the flower beds and determined to finish up the online course I started.

  8. Totally with you on the simple things. Counting blessings-wise, but also just the pure joy of knowing what’s truly real and where we find value.

    This past week I got out the last audiobook from my backlist. Which is a happy for me in itself, but the book is dedicated to my mom and I think that dedication also fits in with your post today as it says:

    “For my mother, who could always find joy in ordinary things and fill ordinary things with joy.”

    A real gift I think that is and one I try to remember every day, but is especially helpful to me these days. Remarkable woman my mom:)

  9. I’m enjoying a new fiction project. It’s the first time in a number of years that I’ve had a story take over my head this strongly. I just can’t stop thinking about it (often when I should be doing other stuff, but I’m still happy to be this obsessed with the project). Plus, it’s stretching me out of my comfort zone, which is good.

  10. I’m fortunate to live in a neighbourhood with lots of green space, including along a river, although I’m avoiding the local beach during the ongoing heat wave. I’ve also been able to visit my cottage – DS stays home and gets extra space and DH and I get peace and quiet beside the lake. Working in my vegetable garden is deeply satisfying – keeps me busy on a daily basis and I get to eat the fruits of my own labour. Plus share the bounty with friends and neighbours. I’m still adjusting to being retired and have to actively fight the feeling that I’m not “accomplishing” anything (my brain has trouble counting my daily hour+ dog walk and gardening as accomplishments). I’ve made a list of the various tasks I want to finish before school starts and it’s helping me keep my perspective.

  11. The kids were here over the weekend which always makes me happy, particularly seeing how much they enjoy being with each other (which almost never was the case for me and my sister). Due to Corona, this was only the third time this year that we all got to meet, but it’s always so much fun.

  12. Six Cloves Under has finally surfaced after 17 days somewhere betwen NJ and PA. It should arrive tomorrow. I should get everything else I’m expecting this week. I always look forward to packages.

    I’m gettting my hair cut. Finally. I can’t wait for it to be off my neck!

    1. Yay! After your post about the delay, I started seeing a number of reports about slowdowns, especially in the NJ area, so apparently you weren’t alone in getting packages stuck there.

      1. I had something ‘stuck’ before. It’s only happened fairly recently. I got the book today.

  13. The positive things this week. The rose I planted for Aubrey, my cat who died last year, has bloomed. It is wonderfully fragrant and the same colors he was. I love it. I will once again attempt to post on Working Wednesdays.

    Our friend came to dinner on Thursday and we had a great evening.

    On the other hand the anxiety levels are out of sight and I am having trouble sleeping. My friend marched in the BLM last month, thousands (literally) of marchers, not a cop in sight and no problems. Trump’s thugs showed up in Portland and started attacking protesters and things downtown around the federal building (about a three block area) are now awful. Of course, I have been reading Erik Larson’s The Splendid and The Vile and the stuff about Nazi Germany is not helping my peace of mind.

      1. Thank you. Most of Portland is still the heart of of middle class America: green lawns, shade trees, large and well-kept houses, nice yards, friendly neighbors. But everyone is so upset about the federal goons because it really wasn’t a problem. Some peaceful protestors across from the federal court house, who were staying across the street from it. Then the poor guy was shot in the head by the feds and cracked his scull. Hopefully he will make a full recovery. But still there was no excuse for shooting him.

  14. I had a friend round for a chat in the garden on Friday, and we brainstormed ideas for my 9ft square briezeblock shed and the odd space next to it – and came up with an idea I’m really excited about: to fit a 6ft square greenhouse in the rear corner space and use old french windows and a glazed door to replace the small window and wooden door, to turn it into a summer house (with storage for garden equipment along the back wall). This feels like a really good solution, and I’m determined to do it. It would give me somewhere to sit in the garden when it’s too cold to sit out, plus an invaluable space for raising plants.

    Now that’s sorted in my mind, I’m coming up with more design ideas for the garden and the allotment (where I’d been havering over fitting in a greenhouse). Ponds, cut flowers, Plants to entice butterflies – lots of exciting dreams.

    And my fiction project is still moving forward, even if more slowly than I’d like. Which is also making me happy.

  15. DH and I took a drive up the coast to Malibu for lobster rolls and a beachside picnic. The weather was perfect, the lobster rolls were divine, and it was lovely to have a change of scenery.

    Friends took the train out from Tennessee to pick up the car they bought from us, so we had a wonderful socially-distant visit with them – we do miss seeing people.

  16. I’m rarely happy about simple things, just content. That’s why I never contributed to the Sunday posts here before, but today, I have something I’m really happy about. On Friday, I finished my radiation treatment program. No more radiation for me. I’m happy, whatever the future brings.

    1. That is wonderful news! Now your body can start to recover and your energy levels should improve. I am very happy for you.

    2. That’s great news, Olga. And I hope there’s nothing but good times ahead.

      I reckon contentment counts for these posts. I often post about things that make me content, not wildly happy.

  17. It dawned on me that we haven’t bought a Sunday newspaper since March. Why would we willingly spend $5.00 for bad news.
    Keeping things simple is the way to go now. Yes, we have major projects coming up, house needs painting, may or may not need a new roof, but for the time being we’re just hanging in.
    Yesterday I made a blueberry coffee cake with those beautiful New Jersey berries. Pretty soon the Maine blueberries will show up at the supermarket. Should start thinking about freezing a few boxes. Simple!

  18. I had the conversation I had been dreading with my niece. Evidently, I am the last in a long line of people to warn her about the possible problems with a step she is taking, so it was a fairly short call. I told her that I hope and pray that what I warned her about never happens, but that I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t say anything about the risks inherent in her choice. She seemed to understand why I felt I had to discuss it with her and I hope it will not cause any discomfort between us as time goes on.

    There is a good chance that what worries me will not happen and we can just let the memory of the conversation fade with time. And if the step she and her husband are taking works well, I’ll just apologize for being a worrywart. She may be almost 36 and a lot smarter than me, but I still want to protect her, especially from being hurt. And it is the emotional risk she is taking that worries me more than the financial one.

    This makes me understand the challenges of being a parent much better than I did before. I wish I could thank my own parents again for surviving and loving the five of us.

  19. I have decided to buy things. I am usually a penny pincher, but it’s one of the things that I can do to help people. So I have a monthly budget to spend locally, or places like Etsy. I started out buying gifts, but now I just buy things that I want, which I never do. Also, I am buying books that I want instead of rationing them out over time. This makes me happy.

  20. Sleeping in until noon on the last few weekends. While I’m in bed, I can forget that this shit is going on.
    I have finished three books this month, which is better than 0 since going into quarantine. I finally read “Miss Wonderful” and indeed, it was.
    I am in a show that has rehearsals on a regular basis, so that’s something to look forward to.
    My work got permission to hire a third person for my team, which I had been told wasn’t happening. That’s a goddamned miracle now. The second person started this week but I haven’t really met her yet. I hope we get along.

    Oh, and I don’t think I got to mentioning it last week since it was last Sunday night, but I did manage to text with the crush for 3 hours. It was entirely about work, mind you (that’s all he’s got to talk about) but still! Three hours! This gives me hope, if I can come up with more to say….

  21. I spent a long weekend at a dance retreat, which was wonderful. Lovely people, great music, and the venue was right by a patch of forest so there were heaps of birds. This is my fourth retreat and there’s a handful of others who’ve been to all four too. We’re getting to know each other better and that’s really nice.

  22. I’ve had some good talks with friends, some of them not via Zoom! Also our local art museum opened, and I visited today–the only person in the galleries! They had a wonderful display of art by women in honor of 1920 right to vote, plus some interesting paintings of foundry work. I expected all grayscale, but it was vividly colorful, like a child’s paintings. And I sent out some poems, for the first time in a long time, because my writing partner said we had to.

  23. Such a philosophical post! “Happiness is getting simpler”. From that title, one might guess that to achieve happiness, one must simplify one’s life. OR, Happiness is getting, in its definition, a simpler goal. Before I started typing, a couple of other interpretations had occurred to me. I was distracted – I forgot them.

    One of the thoughts had something to do with the reduction of things necessary for happiness, until finally, there was only one thing, or nothing. Nothing could be simpler. Nothing is simple. But nothing is simple. Everything is complex. So… happiness is getting complex? But complex numbers contain imaginary numbers, so is happiness imaginary? I imagine so. And I imagine I’m happy, so it all works out.

    Imagine that. 🙂

    1. I’m trying to enjoy my last weeks with DS before he goes back to grad school. He has been here since March and we have loved having him—I’m lucky to be a parent who enjoys their adult kid living with them.

      I don’t know if if I posted this before but i am still happy that my daughter and her boyfriend of five years broke up. Fortunately so is she. My tongue is healing from all the times I bit it to avoid telling her what I thought (joke).

      I am slowly losing weight which I badly need and i am grateful for that .

      Baseball is back. I’m not confident it will make it through the season but it’s great while it lasts.

      Ballet companies are doing some innovative online things and I am enjoying them.

      The recent joke meme on Twitter has me smiling. If you look for I have a joke…
      My senator’s version was


      Monica Lewinsky won it . https://twitter.com/monicalewinsky/status/1286787059026292736?s=21

      Also hummingbirds are showing up.

    2. I’m trying to enjoy my last weeks with DS before he goes back to grad school. He has been here since March and we have loved having him—I’m lucky to be a parent who enjoys their adult kid living with them.

      I don’t know if if I posted this before but i am still happy that my daughter and her boyfriend of five years broke up. Fortunately so is she. My tongue is healing from all the times I bit it to avoid telling her what I thought (joke).

      I am slowly losing weight which I badly need and i am grateful for that .

      Baseball is back. I’m not confident it will make it through the season but it’s great while it lasts.

      Ballet companies are doing some innovative online things and I am enjoying them.

      The recent joke meme on Twitter has me smiling.
      Monica Lewinsky won it . https://twitter.com/monicalewinsky/status/1286787059026292736?s=21

    3. Let’s hope that one last thing is toilet paper. I mean, keep those happiness priorities straight, right?

  24. I’m an introverted creature of habit so staying in my house, ignoring people, and not doing new stuff isn’t really that hard for me. I kinda like it, actually.

    I’m happy this week that the sidewalk project is finally done. Paul kept saying that he didn’t want to do much yard work this week because he had to work 2 extra nights and then on his next shift he works overtime as well but every time I got settled into a work routine he’d pop his head into the office and say that we should go work on it. We only have 2-3 projects that we are DIYing left for the summer.

    The forecast is calling for warm and sunny for the next 14 days (fingers crossed) and that’s going to be a big happy if it actually happens.

    Also, I made 10 dozen banana muffins today. They are now portioned out and in the freezer.

    1. I can’t imagine having freezer space for 120 muffins. Even when I was baking that many cookies, which take up less space, I had to farm them out. What I miss most from when I helped run a food pantry is being able to borrow space in their walk in freezer.

      1. We have 2 small chest freezers so I have lots of room. We buy our meat in bulk, usually half a beef from a co-worker of Paul’s so we need lots of freezer space.

  25. Spent the weekend with our sons, wives, the granddaughters and the grand dog at Birkenhead provincial park. Well, they camped and we camped in a lodge with all the amenities. The simple act of holding my granddaughters’ hands and walking into the lake was the purists of joys. Cooking dinner with one son and eldest granddaughter, absolutely a joy. Talking, laughing, and playing. Our new normal summer vacation.

  26. I may have some unexpected help in solving a family history problem I have wondered about for decades, and my, does that make me happy! I heard from a distant cousin who has just decided to putter around in genealogy that he is interested in identifying the biological parents of our great-great-grandfather, 1841 – 1916, who was adopted. I’ve known all along that HE knew who his biological parents were, because in the 1880 census he is recorded as living on his Ohio farm in Athens County with his widowed adopted mother, and his wife and children. The 1880 census asked about the birthplace of the person and each parent, and gggrandpa said that he was born in Ohio, his father was born in Ohio, and his mother in New Jersey. His adopted mother and both her parents were all born n Pennsylvania.

    About three years ago a partial record of the actual 1861 adoption turned up (yes, the adoptee is 20 at the time), which says that the judge has read petitions from the prospective adoptee, his mother, and the adopting couple, and is pleased to grant the request, and is charging $1.50 for court costs and 50 cents for the certificate to change the adoptee’s name. This record provided the mother’s name, and I have found some records of her — census, marriage, widowhood — but to learn more about the father, I think we need to get a copy of the full adoption file, including all the petitions. The mother’s petition probably names the father and explains why he isn’t in the picture, because in 1861, he’d be the custodial parent and with all the legal rights.

    So the cousin and I are now discussing
    1) how to acquire a copy of records which are reported as being stored in a basement cell of a former Athens County jail and/or
    2) which DNA testing services are most likely to link his Y-chromosome profile to a family group or two.

    1. I had a random bit of success with the John Smith who has been a roadblock in my tree last week. While on the Smith (perhaps Schmidt, they’re in that part of PA) side, I’ve only gone back one generation, I’ve now got his mother’s side back to 1532 in Germany! Congrats on your good luck!

  27. I made my first load of you dough bread. It has a very thick hard to cut crust. I am happy the bleeding stopped.

  28. I have been spending evenings watching Marvel movies with the husband, then reading some of the truckload of romance novels I’ve bought because like Lupe I decided to quit rationing. 🙂

    It’s been pleasantly mild instead of unpleasantly hot.

    My plants are all still alive and there are flowers here and there. The chocolate mint is climbing out of its container and proposing to escape the back yard entirely. I told it to send me a postcard when it gets to San Diego.

    Have also spent money on some new music, even though I’m listening to less music these days; I find it distracting rather than soothing when I am working or writing. But music!

    Small things, but they make me happy.

  29. I took an introductory tarot class online from Jessica Dore, who draws on her background in psychology and social work to offer a fresh view of the cards- and restore a timeless view of psychology.

    I don’t know why I took this class, except that I wanted to. And I’m glad I did.

  30. I am an introvert, so I am mostly happy to stay at home. And very happy not to be commuting in the dangerously hot weather we’re having. (July commutes have always been the worst, as it’s very hot and humid here.)

    But I am CRAVING a trip. To anywhere, domestic or foreign. Once my deadlines are over I’m going to take a couple of days off and be a local tourist.

  31. Hot. So hot. So, my AC is undersized for the half-garage. I looked at one of my thermometers and it said 89F, the other 85F. I lowered the blinds and closed the curtains, because some (much?) of the heat enters through the blinds, which were up (and curtains open) for the needy plant on the window sill.

    The plant is still there, on the outside of the blinds and closed curtains. I hope I remember to water it every Sunday.

    Cool. Cool enough.

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