Monday, January 11, 2010

Happiness is knowing a secret

I think secrets taste like lindt chocolates. You know the kind you get a christmas with the creamy middle? Yeah, those. Most are just the milk chocolate kind. They're good, and you can probably down a couple throughout the day, but they are fleeting too, the richness only stays as long as the secret is still a secret, but somehow those never really last very long. Some of them are wonderful dark chocolate secrets that you like to savor for as long as you can, enjoying every bit of the bitter and the sweet. That kind sticks around for a while, and you really can't handle having all that many of them. Somehow, probably because the bitter is just that much stronger in the dark chocolate and that actually makes the sweet taste sweeter, you cling to them, and the flavor of it seems to last. Sometimes, they are the more unusual kind, like the peppermint or the coconut. Those always take a certain kind of person and a certain kind of day to enjoy them.

There are some secrets that you just burst to share, and there are some secrets that are healthier once they are shared. But the reality of life is that everyone has a few secrets that make them so unsure of themselves they hide them away. I don't really think we are as alone in those kinds of secrets as we think we are. In fact, I wouldn't call then secrets at all, I would simply call those "insecurities".

Because if we never share them at all, they aren't really secrets, now are they? Just like if all you ever do is stare at the chocolate or leave it sitting on your dresser, you never really get the fun of eating it and savoring it. Secrets have to be temporary things. Imagine if you got your friend the greatest birthday present, only to never have them open it. And imagine if you simply took them shopping and never got to choose something and wrap it up. Neither of them taste quite the same as selecting and wrapping a present and then anticipating the chance when they get to open it. You have to time things so that your secrets are your secrets for only as long as you can savor them and enjoy them.

Secrets to me are actually just wonderful evidence of friendship. You know how special you feel when your friend decides to trust you with a secret? And you know how great it feels to have a secret and to know just exactly the right person you are going to tell it to? Yeah, those are the kinds of secrets that taste just like chocolate. And those are the kinds of secrets that are really happy to have, because they mean that you mean something to someone, and because they means that someone means something to you.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happiness is walking hand in hand...

This one is out of order. Sorry about that. It's not that I didn't have anything to say so much as I mixed up my days and sort of forgot about this line.

Oh HO! You are thinking... who is Nancy walking with "hand in hand"? (I should have said "with whom" but it sounded all sorts of pretentious.)

Well I hate to disappoint on the gossip front, but right now, its CS Lewis. Although since he is dead, that has the potential to be a bit of a grotesque image... So let's say its more that I am walking and his book is in my hand. Which actually proves to be grotesque on another front, because I have a hard time holding a book in my hands without reading it so I end up trying to read while I am walking causing me to run into things, people buildings, etc.

Yup, rough life.

Anyways. I love to read for a number of reasons. One is for the adventure and escape, thus the books like "Count of Monte Cristo" and "Harry Potter". Another is for humor, particularly the dry and witty kind that I wish I could just come up with so I glean one-liners from novels by Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. The biggest reason I read though, is that I like to find people, especially published people, that agree with me. Or rather, that I agree with. And its especially fun if the person that I agree with is someone smart or respectable or both. Like CS Lewis.

So I'm reading a collection of his letters that were published together just a year or two ago. And one of the things that I came across was his discusion with a close friend on the concept of love. Which as you know if you've read for very long, I'm a little cynical about.

Hang on, we've been through this. It's not cynicism, it's simply a disbelief in the traditional concept of romanticism and a deep psychological need for control. Or something like that.

But we digress. CS Lewis, in the middle of a discussion of the various greek words for love (in the biblical context), points out that most of the cultural definition of love involves a concept of romanticism that is outside of our own agency, and that it simply doesn't make sense that we would be commanded to do something which we can not control. He concludes that real love can not be remotely the same as what we view as romanticism.

Now lest I offend you romantics out there, he also points out that real love must grow out of something, and often romanticism serves as the foundation for a relationship that eventually produces real love. So I suppose I do have some adjusting of my attitude on the whole thing. I can take correction, especially when it is well founded on philosophy and logic. And when it comes from CS Lewis.

Is this too rambly? Am I making any sense at all? Here's the sum-up. CS Lewis and I agree that love has to be a choice. We also agree that love as a lasting emotion grows out of love as a choice and an action. Its the exact same reason I want the movie "Princess Diaries 2" to end where the fiance admits he is not "in love" but declares that he will keep his commitments and follow through with the marriage and learn to love her over the years. I personally have always thought that was the absolute most "romantic" part of the whole movie. And now I see that CS Lewis would agree with me. That's very affirming. It's almost like he came along and took my hand and walked with me for a few minutes.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happiness is two kinds of Ice Cream

I stopped eating Ice Cream back in November. It was the stats Milkshake thing combined with wintertime and a little stress and a sort of a push on the diet thing. I don't know exactly when the last Ice Cream I had was, I do know that things sort of came to a halt with that on the night I was packing to go to Thanksgiving, I thought I might like some Ice Cream, so I got it out to thaw, and then I got distracted and finished packing and went to bed. When I woke up in the morning, the Ice Cream was still sitting out and more than a little bit soupy. I threw it away and hadn't bought any to replace it....

Until New Year's eve.

That's when I suddenly remembered about ColdStone. Not that I had forgotten that ColdStone existed, just that I had forgotten about ColdStone's holiday flavor. Dark Chocolate Peppermint.

Of course, the sudden recollection of it's existence merited an immediate trip to the local shop, just to reassure myself that it was still there. And it was. And I found a coupon for those take-out quarts of ice cream.

But when I went by in the afternoon to check these things out, I got stuck in like behind some sort of relief society group who was having massive difficulties choosing their ice cream. I stood there for an appropriate amount of time before I gave an audible exasperated sigh and walked back out. (I was going to be late for work if I had to wait any longer, and only one of them had managed to order yet.)

So I went back after work. I bought Dark Chocolate Peppermint mixed with brownies and Cake Batter mixed with cookie dough. I'm enjoying a little of it now. And maybe it has everything to do with the "B" in stats that means I will never have to take it again. Or maybe it's just because I have a bit more self control and a little less need for emotional eating. And maybe it has everything to do with the fabulous flavors I chose and the rich creamy ColdStone goodness. Whatever it is, Charlie Brown was right. Happiness is two kinds of Ice Cream.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happiness is playing the drum in your own school band

OR maybe its just getting the part you wanted in the school band. And for some of us, its just getting any part at all in the school band.

Or in the church choir.

And I know it's probably getting old, but you may have to hear about this again. Because choir school starts on Tuesday, and I have to admit to feeling a little nervous.

Nervous? Why? I mean, You are IN, aren't you?

Well, yes. But IN doesn't always mean all that it seems to mean.

I mean, I was IN the music program at BYU, and still a certain voice teacher managed to tell me that there was "No natural beauty" in my voice. Which tends to make a girl second guess herself. I was, in fact, in and out of the program several times before I actually graduated out of it.

Plus, they keep sending these letters and emails, full of instructions and warnings and such. What if I screw this up? What if I sing out of tune, forget the words, can't find the right door to walk in, or park my car in the wrong lot?

This is waaaay more complex than the school band.

I know all I really want to do is keep my head down and sing. I'm certainly not one of those people that walks into a choir and tells the director how to run things. For all of the enjoyment I get out of certain diva-ism, all I really want is to be a member of the choir. Sure, in theatre I want a challenge, but in the choir, I want to blend (a near impossibility with my voice). I've seen enough obnoxious self-appointed backseat directors to know that I will be more appreciated as the quiet girl on the back row. (I'm always on the back row, I'm too tall to be allowed anwhere else) It's just that I don't want to screw that up. The goal this time is actually just to fly under the radar, do what I'm told, be prepared, and blend.

Blend? Me? I guess we'll just have to see, now won't we...

Happiness is learning to whistle, and tying your shoe for the very first time...

My grandpa could whistle, I can't. I'm actually a little ashamed of that. Grandpa's whistle was one of those sharp and clear and LOUD whistles that got everyone's attention. My whistle is weak, particularly considering I played the flute, it should be a little more solid than it is. And I can only whistle when I'm inhaling. Don't quite know why that is. In fact, sometimes when I'm driving all alone I try to practice whistling, but whistling while exhaling only leaves me gasping for breath. I feel fairly insecure about this gap in my musical ability, but it turns out its a fairly common thing for people to not be able to whistle. I know several people who have only figured out how by using coping methods similar to my whistling by inhaling. One good friend whistles out of the side of her mouth, and another person I know just blows air through her lips and pretends like there is sound coming out. It's not that Grandpa didn't try to teach me, in fact, thanks to him I can whistle a blade of grass and even tune it to varying pitches. That is a mad skill that I think makes all the difference for my lack of independent whistling.

But while we are on the subject of learning basic skills with our own coping skills, I should mention the tying shoes thing. My dad ties his shoes different than anyone else I know. He taught me his way when I was in 1st grade, and I did that for a few years before some little girl in my fourth grade class told me I was doing it wrong. I was very concerned, perhaps that I had committed a social atrocity by tying my shoes the wrong way, and so I asked her to teach me the real way. She did, and I blissfully continued my life thinking that I finally fit in properly. Until one day I saw my dad tying his shoes the old way, the way I had learned before. I am grown up enough now to realize that it really doesn't matter how you tie your shoes, as long as they get tied, and so now every time I tie my shoes, I find myself with options. Do I tie them my dad's way, or the normal way? How lucky am I that I know both!?

So why am I still ashamed of the whistling thing? I mean, is it really necessary to whistle with the best of them? I'll be just fine without it, just like I'll be just fine without being able to only raise one eyebrow at a time (even though I still desperately want to learn that), and I'm sure I'll be fine without being able to wiggle my ears, wear nail polish, run in a straight line, or put things in alphabetical order without singing the song. And when it comes to whistling and tying your shoes, I guess its less about how you do it as it is about actually being able to. And even if you can't do some of those useless things, you probably have a few other useless tricks up your sleeve.