Each Wednesday I’m recording Curiosity Journal, a recap of the past week. Tag words are: reading, playing, learning, reacting and writing.
Some of you have mentioned that you may begin posting a Curiosity Journal, as well. Monica started up her Curiosity Journals last week, so if she publishes one today, I’ll send you over.
Reading: The Day I Became an Autodidact: and the advice, adventures, and acrimonies that befell me thereafter, by Kendall Hailey, is totally distracting me from all other titles.
Playing: Since I’m a miserable failure at playing games, I’ll show you the next-closest thing to play, and it involves my new best friend.
Remember how Tom Hanks’ character in “Castaway” had his friend Wilson?
Well, I have “Dunlop.” (I have yet to draw a face.)
Because I’ve categorized this under “Playing,” You might assume that I’ve taken Dunlop along to the neighborhood tennis courts to thwack him over the net.
You would be mistaken.
He’s playing a much more vital role in my life.
You see, I discovered the joys of using a tennis ball for back massage. I poked around some videos and instructional websites that encourage people to give it a go and thought, “This could be fun to try.”
Digging through some old boxes in the garage, I turned up Dunlop. And now, having tested his potential as a personal massage therapist, I am urging everyone to befriend a tennis ball.
Learning: I figured out how to get some “share” buttons on my blog using a WordPress.org plug-in. It automatically provided an RSS feed gizmo on the right that says “Follow” and stays visible as you scroll down the page. Not sure if I like that or not, but I was happy to learn how to get something installed. Now you can tell me if it’s easy to share this post with a simple click on the appropriate icon (all are displayed at the bottom of each post).
Reacting: Thursday night, Charity and I attended a lecture on Design and Happiness by Stefan Sagmeister held at the Art Museum. If you’re curious, take a minute to read Charity’s marvelous description of the evening. And this TED lecture has some of the same content, though the lecture we attended was much longer. And, if I might say so without bragging, as an audience we were much livelier than the TED audience (in spite of having waited two hours for Sagmeister to arrive).
Sagmeister is making a short documentary film about happiness, using himself as a guinea pig to test various theories on what can increase a person’s happiness and well being.
On Sunday, when we were with my parents and brother for Father’s Day, I told everyone Sagmeister’s statement that one simple and rather obvious way to increase happiness is to do more of the things that you like to do and fewer of the things that you don’t. So he made a list of things he likes to do, most of which were related to his work as a designer and artist.
I asked the others what would be on their lists. As everyone sat in thought for a moment, I turned to my dad and asked, “Well, since it’s Father’s Day, why don’t we start with you, Dad. What makes you happy?”
He cleared his throat and responded, “Well, I suppose it would be the same as what Winston Churchill said, that his idea of a good dinner would be to first have good food, then discuss good food, and then to discuss an interesting topic…with myself,” and here my dad pointed to himself, tapping his chest, “as chief conversationalist.”
Happiness for my dad, you see, is to be heard. As it turned out, he went on to introduce a variety of topics he was interested in and without a doubt, served as chief conversationalist. I gave him a book as a Father’s Day gift that may or may not make him happy; but as it turned out, we provided far more happiness than a physical gift could offer, simply by listening.
Because we were so accommodating to my dad, however, I never did find out what makes my mom or brother happy.
The next day, I was browsing the New Books section of the library and came across The Happiness Project, in keeping with the theme of the week. I checked it out and brought it home, but haven’t cracked it open yet because of the autodidact book.
Speaking of which, I was reading another chapter in The Day I Became an Autodidact, wherein Kendall’s Uncle Thomas, who is confined to a wheelchair, has a health scare. They almost lose him—he even undergoes brain surgery—but he makes it through and is able to return home. She writes:
It is 5:16 A.M. and I’ve just checked on Thomas and Puli [the dog]. Thomas is home and they’re back together–pretty cruel to make a man who just had brain surgery sleep with such a neurotic dog, but they’d missed each other.
I left them both sleeping soundly, which is what I now plan to do. I tend to check every hour through the night and Nanny will be up in about forty-five minutes. No one has told us to check so often, or that there’s any need to at all, but when you know where your happiness is, it does seem foolish not to check on it every once in a while. (Hailey 131)
When you know where your happiness is…check on it every once in a while.Where’s your happiness?
Writing: The stories I tell while filling these Curiosity Journal categories could be divided into several posts and published over several days. I wonder sometimes if I should spread stuff out. Of course, then you might not look forward to Wednesdays as much.
Lyla Lindquist says
The tennis balls? My PT friend recommended them a year or so ago.
They keep me alive some days.
They are enlivening, for sure. Glad to know that you have found relief in them.
Sheila Lagrand says
Those tennis balls would not stand a chance in our three-dog household! Ann, if I’m ever fortunate enough to have you grace my home, please leave Dunlop safely away!
Where’s my happiness. What a question. I think at the moment he’s putting the house to bed, making our home ready for night. The even greater Happiness is commanding the night to fall, to pass, to give way to tomorrow morning.
And you, Ann? Where is your happiness?
I might growl back at the dogs if they tried to take my Dunlop!
Your happinesses are true and good.
I think back to my most unhappy times, and it was the Great Happiness Himself who sustained me and gave me hope and vision to make it through. Though, I guess a brief definition of happiness would be beneficial at some point. Because there is happiness, and there is joy.
Bob Gorinski says
Tennis balls are a nice trick for soft tissue restrictions – the poor man’s massage. To some they feel miserable at first, and I encourage them to try and hang in there. The muscle, tendon, and fascia restriction gradually subside, things start feeling better, and they usually see the payoff. Many things that make us happy are like that.
Bob! I’m so glad to hear from you regarding tennis ball massage. The poor man’s massage; yep, that’s about right. It was really tight and painful at first, and already, within a week, it’s loosening up and feeling so much better, just as you say. I can’t believe it. So I have spent time each day, sometimes twice a day, rolling out those muscles.
I’m a little obsessed. Can you tell?
I’m glad you’re reading The Happiness Project. I’ve read it and recommended it to others. Though not written from a distinctly Christian perspective, I think she comes to some conclusions that are downright biblical. I’ll be interested to read your thoughts.
Oh, I’m so glad you said something. I took it on a whim, having found it on a fluke, but wasn’t really expecting much. I wonder if the pursuit of happiness has corrupted into a hedonistic mindset. The fact that her conclusions may be “downright biblical” motivates me to give the book a closer look.
Linda Bannister says
Darn, wish I had know about the Stefan Sagmeister lecture, need to get on some list for the art museum. Thanks for the links, I will check them out.
I would have told you, Linda, if I had any idea he was famous! I just thought a lecture on “Design and Happiness” sounded interesting. Neither Charity nor I had any idea who he was or what the lecture would be like!
Simply Darlene says
Golf balls work for the more boney areas like the scapula or even the bottom of yer feet…
What makes me happy? Is it sad that I have lost track? That I have to think a good while about it? Maybe that’s why I’m always such a “goof-ball” or “funny girl” — cause I try to make others smile. Dang. I need a therapist. And a couch. And maybe a glass of lemonade too.
Golf balls, eh? I need to introduce myself to a new set of friends. “Titleist” doesn’t have the same ring to it as Dunlop, when it comes to names. Actually, I think Dunlop might make golf balls as well as tennis balls. Anyway, thank you SO much for another health tip. I like the idea of focusing in. Someone mentioned trying out those “Kong” toys for dogs that you stick peanut butter inside for them to spend twenty minutes licking out…I’d try one on my back after cleaning and sterilizing it, of course.
As for your happiness…I’d love to bring you that lemonade, flop down on the floor next to you while you lounge on the couch (I’ll need space to roll around on Dunlop and Titleist), and help you think through a good list of some of your long-lost simple pleasures as well as your deeply profound happiness.
Surely you can find it again?
Charity Singleton says
Boy do I love these curiosity journals! I love that the Sagmeister quote became a central theme for Father’s Day – the only them, in fact! That same quote is going to be the theme of my vacation next week, though it feels a little self-indulgent at times. Love this!
I hope you do many things that make you happy–and, as much as possible, avoid those that don’t. 🙂
What’s top of your list of happy activities?
I had never heard that about tennis balls Ann.
Your Dad is so sweet. I was just thinking myself that listening, truly listening, is a precious gift to give to someone.
Try a tennis ball on your back, and you may never be the same again!
As for my dad, well, he’s kind of needy. But at least he was honest about wanting to be the center of attention…frankly, he often forces us to listen and pouts if the conversation veers briefly away from a topic of interest to him. Or he changes the subject back to something of his own. On Father’s Day, as a gift, we quietly listened.
My happiness is watching my four kids (9, 7, 4, 2) play outside together–riding bikes, catching insects, giggling at their made-up games, splashing in the kiddy pool, laughing in the rain. It just doesn’t get any better than that…..at least right now. If only I could keep them 9, 7, 4, 2. 🙁
I love these journals too!
My dad is a mess, but on Father’s Day I try very hard to forget that and honor him in every sense of the word….which isn’t all that hard, since he’s on the other end of the country.
I meant to tell you last week that in Northeast Ohio, we are having the worst allergy season in ten years. My kids all have allergy shiners, post-nasal drip, etc., and my husband has a long-standing cough and sometimes wheezes on exertion. The doctor said that people who have never suffered from allergies are having trouble this year. Also, my uncle has had a cough since early April. Do you have seasonal allergies, by chance? Maybe why you can’t get rid of the cough this year?
Bless you this week!
I love your happiness–the kids at such joyful ages! My youngest is now 9, and they go up from there, 13, 15, 17. We still have fun doing almost all of the same things on the list. 🙂
And thank you, also, for your suggestion that perhaps allergies are at the root of this cough. The onset of everything came with an illness at the end of April that had me bedridden. The illness cleared up, but the cough remained. Nevertheless, as the doctor has been treating it, she’s beginning to wonder if allergies might be frustrating things and is exploring that with an initial blood test/screening for respiratory allergies. When/if it is figured out, I’ll be sure to mention it on my blog. I appreciate the input here–isn’t the Internet a wonderful place where we can help each other out? Blessings to you (and to your kids and husband, who are suffering from this same aggravation)!