Category Archives: Happiness

Grumpy Gus

Published / by Annie

“Watch out,” my trainer whispered into my ear during my first day on the job. “The guy who just got in line is really mean. He’s made cashiers cry before.”

I glanced up to see an older man with graying hair and a decidedly sour disposition, tapping his foot impatiently as he waited his turn. He loudly remarked that if I couldn’t do my job properly that they should fire me and get someone in who could.

“You’re new,” he snorted when he approached my register. “I can tell. You’re slow.”

“It’s her first day,” my trainer defended me before I could respond. “She’s doing really good.”

“Hmph!”

I was out of training when I saw him again. A customer turned the bag carousel too fast and caused a two-liter to fall. Sensing their embarrassment I claimed full responsibility for the mishap. “It’s my fault; I should have handed it to you directly,” I apologized.

Just then, Grumpy Gus walked past my register. He glanced at me as he huffed. “Is she new?” he called to the manager on duty.

“She’s been here for a couple of weeks and she does really well,” my manager responded. He snorted skeptically as he began to shop.

A few minutes later he brought his purchases to my register. “So you’re the new girl.” He eyed me up and down like he’d just found me molding in his refrigerator.

“Yes, sir!” I responded cheerfully as I began scanning his order.

“And you’re the one who drops bottles for the customers,” he tried again.

“Yes sir, I sure am,” I looked up at him calmly, refusing to be intimidated.

His eyes widened. “Hmph!” He paid for his order and left.

Two more weeks went by, during which the man pointedly refused to come through my line. I watched him wait for service at the other registers while my line stood empty and he glared at me balefully.

I decided to up my game. Every time I saw him enter the store I waved and greeted him cheerfully. He was taken aback at first but then started responding with his trademark snorty huff.

“How are you doing today?” I asked when he was finally forced to go through my line again.

“Obviously not as good as you,” he grumped. He proceeded to complain about missing a sale. I apologized for his inconvenience and confessed that I’d missed it too. “They just don’t last long enough, do they? I didn’t get paid in time to take advantage of it either.”

“As much money as you’re sittin’ on I don’t see why you couldn’t,” he replied.

“Bills,” I told him with a shrug.

He nodded, paid for his order, and left. In the next few weeks he seemed determined to throw me off my game. I fielded him every time.

Just because he’s unhappy doesn’t mean that he has the right to right to disturb me. I allow every single insult and complaint to roll off my back because I know it isn’t personal.

He just likes to have something to complain about.

Inevitably the time came when he caught me on a bad day. I punched the numbers into the register so fast that the machine failed to acknowledge one of them. I called out my mistake and begged him to cancel the transaction on his side so that I could fix it before he ran his card.

I apologized profusely. Of all the customers, it just had to be him.

To my surprise he comforted me. “We all have bad days,” he announced. “At least you caught it before my card went through.”

I had to catch my jaw before it bounced on the floor. “Yes sir, we do. I’m so sorry it happened to you, though. I know you’re too busy to deal with my carelessness.”

He snorted. “I’ve got time,” he replied.

We came to an odd sort of truce that day. While he still likes to complain, his attitude has shifted somewhat. He now glances toward my regular register when he walks in and nods in response to my greeting.

He even fusses at me now when he sees me out after work. “I just can’t get away from you,” he grumped one evening when we encountered one another at a nearby gas station.

“I’m stalking you,” I gave him a mock evil look. He actually laughed at that one!

I love my Grumpy Gus.

Minimizing Relationship Stress

Published / by Annie / 8 Comments on Minimizing Relationship Stress

It’s painful to watch friends self-destruct, to watch them slide down the slippery slope of insanity. It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion. You’re unable to turn away. You reach out your hand, only to have it slapped away time and again. Either they realize they are slipping and don’t care, or they’re enjoying the ride. Regardless, you try to help.

Eventually you realize that this person is causing you misery. You dread your encounters. Instead of offering them another hand up, give them your foot–to shove them out the door of your life.

There is no shame in this. It is not beneficial to keep people in your life simply because they are friends or family when all they do is give you pain. Loyalty is stupid when the person in question bites the hands that feed them.

Minimalism is about so much more than stuff. It is about curating all aspects of your life to bring peace and tranquility. While you cannot eliminate all of life’s storms, you can reduce the day-to-day strain on your emotions.

Today I urge you to look at your relationships. Determine that one person you would be better off without.

Then let them go.

Notes to your Future Self

Published / by Annie / 1 Comment on Notes to your Future Self

Katie and I started a little tradition when we defrosted our refrigerator for the first time several years ago. We didn’t know how long it had been since we had defrosted it so sensing an opportunity we each wrote little notes to our future selves (Katie even left herself a gift) and stuck them in the back of the freezer for the next round.

My last note was dated April 16, 2016. In laborious chicken scratch, I told myself that “life sucks but it will get better.”

It definitely has!

So now the time as come to write myself another note. I think I’ll write more in this next one. In the meantime I have a nice, clean, defrosted refrigerator to enjoy.

 

Have you ever written a note for your future self to discover later? Please share your stories in the comments below.

The Magic of Decision

Published / by Annie / 7 Comments on The Magic of Decision

I’ve lived in this little house for close to seven years. In that time I’ve never gotten around to making the little touches that turn a house into a home. I didn’t see the point since I didn’t know how long I was going to live here. Was I going to upgrade to another house, move into an RV, or thin down to almost nothing and travel once the kid was gone?

I honestly didn’t know. Something deep inside of me was restless so rather than waste time, money, and effort getting comfortable here I just made do in several areas. I would probably relocate after the kid left for college anyway, I reasoned.

I spent the first few days in shock after the kid turned 18. The knowledge that I was legally free of the responsibilities of parenthood and could do what I wanted did not compute. What would I do? While I still had a year before she left for college, I needed to get cracking!

But then I realized something: I am happy here. I like the house, I like the area, I even like the simple job that allows me to pay my bills while pursuing my simple passions.

I didn’t have to move. I didn’t have to travel. I didn’t have to go out in search of answers or happiness or even adventure.

I had enough right here, right now. I could settle down and stay right here.

As a result of finally making a decision I’ve finally started to settle in. I purchased a set of curtains to begin the adventure of making this little house a home. Once I accomplish the goal of getting my window treatments sorted I’ll move on to another.

Many people fail to realize how liberating it can be to make a decision. It frees you from considering other possibilities and allows you to focus on a single path instead of worrying about all of the other paths you could or should be taking.

For me personally, making the decision to remain here even after the kid moves out eliminated a stress that I didn’t even know I was carrying. It allowed me to admit that I didn’t need to travel. I didn’t need to move, change my circumstances, chase some dream or fulfil some magical bucket list.

I am happy right where I’m at.

What decisions have you held off making? Please share your stories in the comments below.

A Word on Coping

Published / by Annie / 1 Comment on A Word on Coping

There was a study done about drug addiction a few years back. Scientists took two rats. One was placed in a basic cage with no mental stimulation, while the other was placed in “rat heaven,” a cage filled with mazes and other things that the rat could use to keep occupied. Each rat had two water bottles. One bottle contained plain water while the other bottle contained water laced with a common street drug.

Both rats sampled the two water bottles but the scientists noticed a distinct difference between the two. While the rat that was in the basic cage used the drug-laced water bottle semi-constantly, the other rat, the one that had other things to occupy it, preferred the bottle that contained plain water.

This difference helped the scientists to conclude that one of the reasons that drug addiction is so prevalent is because people either don’t have enough to keep them occupied or they lack hope for a better life.

When life is a constant struggle, when we see people on television or in certain neighborhoods, or even in our own extended families who have so much more than we do, it is easy to get frustrated and give up. Instead of fighting to improve our lives we focus on methods of escape, be they drugs, alcohol, or fantasies. We get to the point of “well, my life isn’t going to get any better so why bother? This helps me cope so I’m going to use it.”

After a while we become so attached to our coping mechanisms that we fail to even try to improve our lives any more. Once that happens we have a reason to use our escape mechanism even more in a vicious cycle that never really ends.

I’ve dealt with this vicious cycle many times in my life. As a child, I didn’t think that I would ever manage to escape the drama of my alcoholic parents where in reality all I had to do was wait until I was a legal adult and move out. As an adult trapped in an abusive marriage, I became addicted to fantasy since my reality was so miserable that there were times when I didn’t work to escape my marriage and pursue a better life.

And now, in this current challenge, there are times I want to sit on my butt, whine, cry, and say that “I can’t” continue to fight this damn disease in my head and continue to function as a normal adult. I want to escape into a fantasyland where I am hale and hearty. I want to forget the fact that I can’t do everything I want to do.

But you know what? I’m not going to allow myself to do any of that. I know from experience, from watching my parents before me, that if I allow myself to start down that path that I won’t have a chance in hell of beating this. Even worse, I will have to give up the hope that some way, somehow, my struggles will inspire others to keep fighting.

It doesn’t matter what you are facing. It could be something physical like an illness or an injury. It could be financial like a job loss. It could be something personal like an abusive relationship, a divorce, or your kids growing up and leaving the nest. Whatever it is, if you lose hope, if you allow yourself to give up, if you choose to try to escape your current reality and instead pursue something that makes you feel better, you won’t ever be able to overcome whatever it is that you need to overcome.

In other words, no matter what your current challenge may be, you need to get off your ass and do something about it. If you need to earn money, figure out a way to earn money. If you suffer from a disability, figure out workarounds for that disability. If you are in an abusive relationship, figure out how to get away or end the abuse somehow. Do not allow your challenges to define you. Rise above them and keep fighting until you kick them to the curb.

You can do this. It won’t be easy. Some days you might want to hide beneath the covers and cry. You might try and fail, then try and fail again, but as long as you are trying you are making progress, if only figuring out the things that won’t work. It took Edison hundreds of tries to figure out how to design the light bulb. When asked about his numerous failures he said that he hadn’t failed, he had just figured out XXX amount of ways that wouldn’t work.

We need to apply that to our own lives.

So no matter how many times you have tried and failed, remember that if you keep trying a solution will eventually appear. Keep that hope in your sights and never allow yourself to forget what you are fighting for. Remember, every sacrifice you make in order to achieve your goals is for a reason.

And never, ever give up.

What keeps you going? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Fighting the Good Fight

Published / by Annie / 10 Comments on Fighting the Good Fight

Life, no matter how you arrange it, is far from perfect. We all have things that we need to deal with. In my personal journey, I am dealing with a brain disease as a result of an injury I suffered some time ago.

I have a choice: I can sit on my ass, whining and crying, or I can plow forward and keep fighting. On the days that I glitch, when I transpose numbers at work , my hand refuses to work, I stumble over thin air, or the words that come out of my mouth sound like gibberish and the pain makes it hard to think it is easy to sit down and give up. I am terrified that my boss will figure out that something is wrong with me and fire me as a result.

But you know what I do? I keep trying. Every day I use the tricks that I’ve invented to keep moving forward. I get friends and family help me to remember things. I use notes and Outlook to keep track of stuff I’ve done and stuff I need to do. When my hand doesn’t work right, I switch to doing things one-handed until the glitch irons out. When my words turn into gibberish I play it off as I’m just dingy.

And when I hurt, I take whatever is available to dull the worst of the pain and I keep moving forward.

It would be so easy to give up and to say that “I can’t.” But you know what? Can’t never could do anything. Can’t never managed to get a damn thing accomplished. The only true failure is to stop trying and it will be a cold day in hell before I do that. I am going to fight, and keep fighting until I either beat this shit or I am dead in my grave.

And I want you to learn from that.

I want you to understand that, no matter how bad things are, no matter how bad things get, that the only way out of them is to keep fighting. You may make a lot of mistakes. You may hit a lot of brick walls, but if you allow these things to defeat you then you will never be able to achieve your dreams.

So please, whatever you do, keep fighting. Don’t let the darkness win.

What challenges are you facing that make you want to give up? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Gratitude List

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on Gratitude List

One thing that has really helped during my current challenges is keeping a gratitude list. Sometimes it is a mental list, other times it is a written list, and frequently it is a combination of the two.

Here are a few things I am thankful for:

  • We have a roof over our head with electric, water, and Internet. I have no idea how I’ve managed this on my current income but I am extremely happy that I’ve accomplished it.
  • My book royalties are going in the proper direction. That feels so nice!
  • My Katie is doing well in school. She is a straight-A student and I am so proud of her.
  • I am able to read and write again. Sure, it’s not as easy as it was before I got hurt, but who cares? I can do it, and that is all that matters!
  • It was a beautiful day today. The sun was shining and life was just…good.
  • I’ve got money in my pocket. It has to go for bills but hey, it’s money. I haven’t had cash in my pocket for so long that this is a treat!
  • My belly is full. We ate a nice Spaghetti meal earlier and I am still stuffed.
  • Katie washed dishes tonight. That is always a treat!
  • We are slowly coming to terms with the loss of Emery.
  • I have a dedicated writing computer! I managed to piece together another laptop so that I no longer have to switch over whenever I want to go online. Yay!
  • The fact that my tech skills are coming back so that I can actually manage to piece together another computer! That feels heavenly!
  • Anytime I’m bored all I have to do is read the news. The current political climate makes for some interesting reading as you try to sift through the propaganda to find the truth behind it.
  • I am thankful for my ancient, aging tech even more as I read the news. My writing laptop is Windows XP and never goes online. My other laptop is now running Ubuntu Linux, so I am safer than the average bear when it comes to online spying, malware, and the like. I don’t have a television, so no worries of being spied on there. My internet connection is so slow that I would instantly know if something was using any bandwidth so I would know to check things out.
  • I have more friends than I ever imagined. Even Katie’s friends have taken to adding me on Facebook and shooting me messages to ask how we are doing. Folks I haven’t heard from in ages have been reaching out to me. That means so much.
  • Soon I will be starting a new adventure. Katie will be off to college and I will be moving on. I have no idea where I will end up but the fact that I’m so close feels amazing! For a time I never dreamed that this time would be so close.

I could go on but I don’t want to bore you. Once I get started thinking of all of the awesome things I have to be grateful for it is hard to stop.

What do you have to be grateful for? Please share in the comments below so that we can be thankful together!

What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

Published / by Annie / 7 Comments on What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

At first I was nervous when the water started rising. “What will I do if the house floods?” I worried. I don’t exactly have the resources to move and this is the cheapest place around. The fact that it was happening 20 years to the day that I was flooded out in 1997 made me nervous as well. Would it happen again?

But then it hit me. What’s the worst that would happen?

First, I would have plenty of warning. There is a huge field that has to fill up before it gets to my place. We would be able to gather up our essential items, pack a few clothes, crate the dogs, and bug out.

Then if the house washed away we would be homeless. If the water got up that high this whole town would be considered a disaster area. There would be help available.

So you know what? We would be okay. Yeah, we would lose some stuff but who cares? Other than the critters, everything we consider essential can easily be stuffed in a couple of duffel bags apiece. For me, that means I would have a bag filled with my ancient, aging tech and important papers while the other would be filled with clothes. As for Katie, who knows what she would stuff in hers?

But the important thing is that we’re not attached to this house. We’re not even that attached to most of the stuff that’s in it. We have a small list of things that we consider essential but as for the rest? It is all replaceable.

After realizing that I relaxed. Even if the worst happened, we would be okay.

Of course, once I calmed down the water started receding. Ain’t it always the way?

Happiness and Attitude

Published / by Annie

Welcome to yet another Throwback Thursday post, courtesy of John Grebe, the awesome person who managed to save these posts. He recently published a thoughtful critique of the 100 Things Challenge that I highly recommend.

This post was originally published on March 18, 2010.

~#~

“The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything.  They just make the best of everything.” ~ Anonymous.

Lies We Tell Ourselves

It’s easy to look at our failure to accomplish our dreams and lie to ourselves concerning the real reasons they don’t materialize.  Have you used any of the following?

  • I’m not smart enough
  • I’m not talented enough
  • I don’t have enough time
  • I’m too old
  • I’m too young
  • I’m broke
  • I’m afraid
  • I can’t

“The reality is that much of what has been accomplished in our world was achieved by men and women who shouldn’t have succeeded. Many people and obstacles were against them, but they succeeded because they refused to believe the lies we tell ourselves.” ~ Stephen Seaford

Your attitude will determine what your experience is. Decide to be happy, and your world will eventually change to give you more things to be happy about.

Decide to be sad or broke—you can guess what you will get more of.

Have you ever said some of those statements listed in the previous quote?

As lovingly as I can put it—stop.  Stop thinking these negative thoughts about yourself and your circumstances.

We didn’t make it to the moon, invent such wonders as computers and cell phones by saying we couldn’t, we were too dumb or that we were broke.

So the house is a mess and you don’t have enough money to pay all of the bills?  Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, focus on what you CAN.

Be happy that you paid X amount on this bill.  Grateful that you had enough money for dinner tonight.

Thankful and delighted that the table is cleaned off now, or the dishes washed!

Focus on the good in your life NOW, and more good will come. This happens because you are changing your vibration to the positive, which cannot help but attract more positive vibrations to your life.

Try it.  What do you have to lose?