Our Thanksgiving present – recipe for happiness

Everyone should read this month’s National Geographic cover story, The Search for Happiness.  Especially if you are a USA American.  Canadian Americans:   you can go back to whatever you were doing, having celebrated Thanksgiving last month, unjumbled with Christmas;  you’re the 6th happiest country on our planet.  If you live in the Lower 48, read on – we rank 14th.

YOUCH!  How did we tumble eleven places in one decade – in 2007, we rang in at #3.

Our Thanksgiving present to one & all – from the two of us & the Universe – are ways that we, as individuals, can infuse our lives with the qualities that support happiness:  personal & institutional caring, nurturing our freedom – and others, cultivating multi-levels of generosity, being honest & expecting honesty from others, taking care of our health & our wealth, developing strong governance within our families communities nation.

In your everyday actions, think NORWAY.  Norway leap frogged fron #4 on the 2016 World Happiness Report to #1 this year.

Most Americans – including me – are unaware that Norway is a major oil producing nation.  Probably because it doesn’t flaunt the wealth it’s earned over the past 20 years pumping oil on its North Sea rigs.  Instead, the bulk of monies earned are tucked into what has become the world’s biggest wealth fund.  Which illustrates one reason Norway is #1 to our #14 – they are excellent money managers with an eye on the distant future instead of the immediate present.  And it speaks volumes that the government is looking to – ironically – divest its fund of its oil stocks (it already shed its coal holdings) to ensure better stability.  It plays the long game, we play the short.

Start acting more like Norway.  Save more & save for the long haul.  Step as far away from immediate gratification as possible.  Model for your loved ones the power of moderation & forethought.

Two of our dearest friends are exemplars of this – after their fortunes changed in mid-life, they could have purchased a bigger home on the fashionable side of their wonderful city, but it never entered their mind.  Their house is large enough to welcome all their children & sleeping-bagged grands, is near longtime friends, is home.  They entertain there more than they go out, are right now busy planning one of the year’s highlights – their annual caroling party.  They are two of the hardest working people I know, highly ambitious & keenly competitive.  They love their work, are respected by their colleagues & associates, find ways to expand their work into other areas & are exceptional mentors.  They frequently visit far-flung children & often have the delight of welcoming them home for extended stays.  For many years, their annual trip to an exotic location has doubled as work (a professional conference) & an opportunity to bring four generations – their parents, their children, grandchildren, nieces & nephews – for two weeks of family-centered connections.  They can afford it because they’ve always carefully cultivated their money time energies, from newly weds to doting grands.  They have “good bones” to pass along – –  he has a lot of Norwegian in him, she has a lot of Swede (tied with Australia for #10) – – and have taught their children, model for all of us, how to cultivate grow build your natural assets.

My greatest take-away from 2017 is the realization that the two of us are all about cultivating happiness.  Reading the National Geographic article woke me up to the realization that an individual can take the very qualities that make the Top Ten so successful at cultivating joy in the everyday & make those qualities a more conscious part of our lives.

How can I be more Norway, less USA?

The holiday season is an excellent place to start nurturing greater caring (including self care), helping bolster the freedom of people who feel isolated & restricted, being generous with my time & energies even when money is scarce, expecting honesty from others & demanding it from myself, taking better care of my health & spending/investing wisely, discussing with John what constitutes “good governance” in our lives.

Moving toward the new year, what can we do individually & as a couple to develop new relationships & deepen ones we already have, what we can do to cultivate trust, how would we describe a life that’s right for us – together & separate?

Our Thanksgiving gift to y’all is a layup to help you score a slam dunk 2018 – focus on happiness.  Talk to your friends, family, nearest & dearest about the qualities that make a happy nation, which also make for happy individuals.  How can you ally with others in your mutual efforts to move your personal ranking closer to #1?  What can you do to make your communities happier places for everyone?

Good Dane that he is, Meik Wiking congratulated his neighboring country on nabbing the #1 ranking –  “Good for them. I don’t think Denmark has a monopoly on happiness.  What works in the Nordic countries is a sense of community and understanding in the common good.

Praise from the master is praise indeed – Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen (it was not part of the Happiness Report) & author of the best seller, The Little Book of Hygge,  hits the nail on the head.  What leads to happiness, as a nation, as individuals?

A sense of community and understanding in the common good.  Nail those & the rest fall into place.

This is just WEIRD – PA DMV

My present self is way more organized than my past.  Got out all the necessary documentation to take stout-hearted & true Gibbs (our Chrysler Concorde) in for the 11/30 inspection – current insurance info, driver’s license, car registration.  Wait…

As of 01/01/17, Pennsylvania stopped branding license plates with stickers to show it was registered, no longer sends registration cards.  Car owners do the whole thing on line, print out the receipt & LATER, when confirmation arrives from the state, print THAT & keep it with the basic car docs.  I’d done the first step, NOT the second.  A receipt is not an auto registration.

Here’s why this turned out to be good.  John & I were set to watch the Hatboro Holiday Parade – we went, but only long enough to see the start, for me to get weepish soaking in the experience of the first high school marching band (red & black school colors).  Then we went to the Upper Moreland Library to track down my missing registration CARD & get a hard copy (we currently don’t have a printer).

Found nothing – zip nada zilch.  Reviewed my 07/01/17 receipt, which gave an e-mail address to contact with problems – it would be responded to promptly (I thought Tuesday, if I was lucky);  sent off the e-mail, with a copy of the receipt & explaining my dilemma.

I then posted a description of my dilemma on Facebook.  People responded & I revealed the depth to which I am tech timid.  If felt like one of them even sort of shamed me, which actually turned out to be constructive (more later).  Called Microsoft support to find out how to remove the non-persistent cookies which were blocking me from accessing the portion of the PA DMV site needed to resolve my dilemma.  Learned how to locate my browser, but little else.

My ultimate solution – be at AAA/Warminster when they open at 7:00 this morning.  THEY would be able to resolve it.  It messed up my morning in a couple difficulty-creating ways, but the early opening seemed an answer to this maiden’s prayer.

Around 7:00 p.m., I checked my e-mail, which is not my norm.  There were two notification from “REGISTRATION” – one with an attachment.  The first explained that my original registration request was reprocessed; because it was not within the 30-day window stipulated on the receipt as when to contact the state with an error, I’d be billed for the full cost.  Again.  And there it was, in the 2nd e-mail ~ a beautiful registration card, waiting there to be printed.  We don’t have a printer.   And the relatively local places that once offered print services on a Sunday night no longer do.

It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  No – it’s SUPER ANDREW!  My go-to savior for all things computerish printed it out for us.

Right now, I have – tucked in the clear plastic holder AAA gave us a couple years ago – is Gibbs’ registration, our current car insurance info & it awaits my driver’s license, all needed for PA inspection.  I will drop Gibbs off at Chuck’s Service Center at 7:00 a.m, then another longtime super hero will pick me up & whisk me up to Be Well, where I will hunker down until getting the magic call the inspection is done, then I’ll a slow, hobbly (my left calf is giving me problems) walk down the long hill to pick it up, grateful for the opportunity.

In the meantime, will call Uber to pick up John to hie him to A.C. Moore/Warminster – a manager called last night about needing extra help & being the good guy he is, John said yes, in spite of a head-stuffing cold.  Another super hero!

Okay, here is the flat-out weird part – – after I received the two registration notices, I checked my online credit card history,  just to see if the duplicate charge had posted in pending transactions.  Not there.  But scanning down my purchases, it was THERE, already processed as a THURSDAY purchase & a FRIDAY post.  Three days before I duplicated the registration.  Spooky, albeit in a good way.

In any case, am ready to roll. Heading out in twenty minutes, as the sun begins peeking over the now barely light skies.

postscript:  What good came from being burned by a friend for my lack of computer savvy?   The computer wiz alluded to my having a lot of problems with computer stuff gave me the opportunity to reply – – deev would be having lots of problems with computer things other people consider simple & straightforward. it is why i am good working with people who are older because i know how it feels to not know stuff that other people consider fundamental. i’ve taken that weakness & turned it into a strength, yet it remains a weakness – for the time being. it will not always be so.  “It will not always be so.”  I might not ever be masterful, but the day will dawn when I am computer competent!


Blessed – a Thanksgiving gratitude from the Gramster (11/23/00)

 A thankful posting from Mom to her Mindwalkers….
Subj: blessed
Date: Thu Nov 23 21:47:24 EST 2000The “cpu” is still up and running, so I am keeping my fingers crossed and writing a longer note that more fully expresses my feelings of this day.

My blessings over the past year have been many. At this time in 1999, I was still in the early stages of recovering from my stroke in September. The doctors and nurses and staff who helped me through it all were God sent.

I live with two young ‘uns who seem to enjoy fussing over me, even when I drag John out of the studio or Elsa out of bed for the 4th time in the wee small hours of the morning. They almost always – unless totally groggy – come into my room and leave with a smile. They are fun and make my life lively.

The Bryn Athyn community has blessed my life for almost all of my life. There are so many ways it blesses it, from the wonderful recordings of the Contemporary Service which I love to listen to, to the rides that dear Ginny Tyler arranges to take me to appointments, to the friends she sends to be my chauffeur du jour and whose generosity and friendship are so very special, to the wonderful people who embody the word community and kindness.

A big and unexpected blessing this year has been my involvement with an online group of men and women who are exploring the role of women in the ministry of the General Church. The discussions I have heard and participated in online have kept my noggin stepping lively and the get togethers I have attended have always left me with a sense of peace and trust in the Lord.

I was blessed by the circle of women who get together every other Wednesday for discussion about topics of interest. They are older women – although all are younger than yours truly – and the discussion is always interesting. I have not been to the get togethers for over a year, but did go last month when they invited Sonia Soneson Werner to come talk to them about the current discussion on the role of women in our ministry. I was so proud of them for asking her, I was so proud of her for going, and I was so lucky to be there to hear my friends’ willingness to listen to the unknown and to share their own experiences and their feelings about it. It was an unexpected and profound blessing.

The “dist list” that started my online life – New Church Women on the Internet – continues to stimulate and recharge me every time I read a new posting. Each and every one of you is dear to my heart.

The wonderful circle of women who gathered at Tonche and showed me such kindnesses throughout the women’s retreat weekend was a delightful blessing and what an unexpected bonus that both of my daughters were there with me.

Among my greatest blessings this year has been my relationships with my children, each of which is more clearly defined than ever. That has brought me a deep sense of peace.

My blessings include two new grandchildren – Kimberly and Chad. May their marriages to Scott and Whitney be blessed with all the happiness true married love offers.

This group – my Mindwalkers – continues to be a blessing. When I was confined to the big chair in the living room, I could always get up and about through this list. Just knowing each of you is out there makes a tremendous difference in my life and – this might sound strange but it is true – in my energy. I truly do believe that this has done more than I can imagine in helping me recover more of my energies than I would have believed possible.

My faith, my Creator and my constant love for my dearly missed Pete are my greatest blessings and the foundation of all others. I am a lucky lady and I know it.

Love to you all and my thanks to the computer for not going walk-about before
I sent this. The Lord upon you send His blessings – Grammie Kay

Music hath powers…

Music can play a key role in transforming a holiday dinner into an unforgettable celebration.  Cue up the favorite music from the era of your guests to during the mix & mingle, before & after dinner.  Dinnertime provides an opportunity to have quiet music playing in the background.

To help work off some of that feasting, encourage great-grands to show off some of the moves they perfected back In The Day to grands teaching  the Twist – Mashed Potato – Loco-Motion to parents explaining disco to younger folks teaching the hottest moves from today’s dance scene.

Review your holiday game plan EARLY

If you’re expecting folks with memory challenges at your Thanksgiving celebration, NOW  is the time for a holiday game plan run through – fill them in before they arrive on the DOs & Please DON’Ts of interacting with the guest of honor.  the game plan BEFORE they arrive.

If you’re expecting a full house or just a few others, make sure that they’re avoiding the “do you remember…?” memory sand trap, that they introduce themselves by their first name WITHOUT relationship, that they include the older in the conversation without expecting them to contribute, that they know the g of h is NOT supposed to have a drop of alcohol due to medications (not because you’re being overly protective), that they let you know if s/he seems to be tiring – suggest a short nap & have a pleasant, quiet place available (shoving a pile of coats to the side of the bed to make space is NOT okay).

Keep the holiday happy for everyone, including the guest of honor’s care partners, who deal with the brunt of an overly-long, overly-taxing, overly-stimulated guest of honor for days, weeks after the last nibble of turkey, the last taste of pumpkin pie.

Tenderized by holiday magic & memories – Ramblin’

We’re less than a week from Thanksgiving, on the cusp of Christmas!  I can sense traces of ginger cloves nutmeg in the air, a lighter bounce in everyone’s step, all ages getting wide eyed & full of anticipation over the welcome sight of family & friends, of the coming season of hope, promise & joy.

In our teeny tiny household, it officially kicks off tomorrow with the 57th Hatboro Holiday Parade, a tradition reaching back pre-John, when Mom, Mim & I would hie ourselves over to that delightful little town with real-deal charm.  Mim was always mortified when I wept as the high school & elementary school marching bands went by – always gets to me, all those impossibly young, high stepping musicians.  John & I upped the experience, starting out with lunch at Hatboro Dish, which closes at 2:00 p.m., just as the parade begins.  It’s one of the happiest days of a spectacularly happy time of year.

Next Sunday, it’s up to Newtown for the McCaffrey’s Holiday Parade,  also a 2:00 p.m. start.  Alas, not as magical as years ago, when the parade was held at night, it still fills me with wonder & delight.  How can it not be?  In the town where John & I met, fell in love & courted, put on by a food market that has a super special place in my heart – a Lockhart Ladies Christmas tradition was a trip over to the Princeton, NJ location, going into the store in the middish afternoon, heading out the back to the enclave of other must-go Princeton Shopping Center  stores, then back out to the car at dusk, with the images of ballet dancers in the studio that was over McCaffrey’s dancing in our heads.  So many beloved memories, tied up in one truly super supermarket; one of many layers in our Holiday Parade experience!

Quite weepish at the moment, with memories of Mom & Mim & John all jumbled together.  Mom was the heart of my Christmas, no one did Christmas better than my sister & John is better than any Christmas wish I ever made.

Let the magic begin!