Spring is sprung!

Happy May!

Can I get a big, “Ahhhhhh, spring! It’s a lovely thing?!” 😍

It’s super gorgeous in my little green niche of the world right now, and I’m busy planting flower boxes, cleaning perennial beds, and getting my garden ready to plant. The weeding is unending, but I’m not complaining because A) I love it, and B) all the hard work is the perfect precursor to (justification of, LOL?!) evening treats of wine and reading.  

Also, I have no doubt much-needed rains will come soon (though it’s strange to say “much-needed” living where I live, where normally so much wet stuff falls), so I need to make hay while the sun shines, as the saying goes.

I hope this note finds you well and that you, like me, are enjoying maximum outdoor time. 

If, however (also like me!), you need a break from time to time (I mean that’s why you’re reading this right now, right?), I’d be honoured if you relax with one of my River’s Sigh B & B novels.

Until next time, wishing you much sunshine, peaceful shade, and great reads,

😊 Ev

P.S. Make sure you enter this month’s fabulous contest! Good luck!

AMAZON ~ KOBO ~ iBOOKS ~ NOOK ~ GOOGLE


If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands!

Happy People

If you’re over 50—or if you’re currently enrolled in kindergarten—you’ll  know the title is from a song. Although whether we’re really happy or not may not be a simple thing to know, we all clap our hands anyway.

But how do we know if we’re happy, technically speaking? Well that’s a matter for experts to examine, including Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and bestselling author on the subject of living long, healthy & happy. I’ve read Buettner’s articles and many others about happiness—took a whole college course in psychology focusing on what makes happiness tick—and I’ve come up with my personal best list.

Top 7 ways you know if you’re happy:

  1. You laugh a lot. Like every day. Multiple times a day. Sounds simple, right? But really think about this one before you answer it for yourself. How often do you laugh? (Also, how often do you cry?)
  2. You like going to work every day. Especially if you’re like me and you don’t have to go anywhere! It’s no surprise that a long commute can be a big negative in people’s lives according to Buettner. It’s also no surprise that liking your job can make you happy.

    But did you know that you don’t even have to like your job to be happy  if you like the people you work with? 

    In fact, according to Buetner and others, liking your fellow employees and having friends at work is more important than making more money. I can personally attest to the truth of this!

  3. You have a great social network and get together with friends/family often. Everyone agrees about how important the people in your life are to your happiness, right? Maybe it’s hard to put this into practice in  every day life, but those who do are happiest.
  4. You are healthy. While it’s not something we think about, according to statistics, it is harder to be happy when you’re unhealthy. So don’t take this one for granted.
  5. You make a decent living. No need for riches. But just in case, I did buy a Powerball ticket when the jackpot went to $625 million yesterday. It would be a kick to play Santa Claus with all that money. Which brings me to the next tell for happiness.
  6. You focus on others with acts of kindness, helpfulness, care, donating and/or volunteering. Or maybe you’re there for someone with a shoulder to cry on in a tragedy. Of course, you probably already know how these things can make you feel all warm and fuzzy.
  7. Life Balance. You have the right amount of work, socializing and sleep—and all those other personal care things to keep you healthy, like staying active. This is no news for anyone who spends too much time at work, or too much time sitting around. Or not enough time sleeping!

Now that you know, what are you going to do about it?

I’m going to work on getting more sleep!

Tell me what you’re going to do to improve your happiness.

 

Get outside, now!

When I was little, I was outside as much as humanly possible in the spring, summer and fall. Though it might not always have been my idea (I recall my slightly exasperated mother commanding my hyperactive brother and me to “take it outside” on a frequent basis), I’m so grateful for the experience.

A tree on Railway Ave. in my little hometown Smithers, BC was my first introduction to the extreme joy of playing outdoors. Close investigation revealed it was a series of trunks that grew up close together in a tight circle. A barely discernible gap let me slip into the cozy, hollowed out centre.

From inside my tree, I could see everything going on around me, and no one knew I was even there! A perfect climbing tree with nicely spaced, sturdy branches, it was playhouse, fort, jail, ranch, and office.

On office days, I climbed to a special spot where I had fashioned loose wire loops around a branch. I could work for hours, sitting on the lower “bench” branch and sliding the loops back and forth on the “typewriter” branch. The wire made a great sound too, kind of jingly and clackety all at once. It broke my heart (no, seriously) when we moved to Vancouver and deserted my tree.

But there were consolations. Taxi summer, for example. One year my dad towed the chassis of some old car into our backyard. The fact that it had no body was irrelevant. It had a steering column and steering wheel—the critical parts! I conjured images of a bright yellow taxi for my friends and siblings, and we took turns being the taxi driver stopping for a customer.

We all enjoyed being the cabbie (screeching around corners, slamming on brakes, honking)—but we adored making up people who were waiting for the taxi. Pregnant woman (played most hilariously by my brother). Snobby person. Dangerous criminal. Mean teacher. Person who thinks he’s really a dog. You name it. We were imaginative.

I also visited my grandparents’ massive farm in Hazelton often. If there was anyone who enjoyed playing outside as much as I did, it was my aunt/best friend.

She and I would filch paper lunch bags from the pantry and fill one with smoked Oolichans (Mmmm, so smoky and salty and chewy!), and one with crunchy pink and yellow crab apples.

Barefooted, we’d disappear for hours. Life was complex as Elven princesses. There were ongoing epic battles to be fought, evil rulers to flee, magic to be mastered. My little leather pouch of elf stones proved helpful, and we carried jackknives, of course, for when we needed to make spears or arrows or walking sticks.

When our stomachs sounded a dinner alarm, we headed for the castle or tavern to feast with assorted trolls and miscreants—then moved out again as soon as we could.

When the sky turned purple (and in the North, that’s delightfully late!), we knew it was time to retreat to the inn, filthy-footed and exhausted.

To this day, I don’t know if there’s anything better than having your bedtime snack when you can hardly keep your eyes open, then crawling into bed smelling like tree sap and fresh air and dirt, your limbs so tired they almost ache—and the soft, all is right in the world feeling of clean sheets and blankets wrapping you in a sleepy cloud. . . .

A lot of people hit adulthood and yard time suddenly becomes chore time. As I explained to one of my young nieces, however, though it’s kind of weird, some stuff you call work as a kid becomes fun, almost like playing, once you’re an adult (except for dishes. Dishes are always horrible).

So yes, you’ll find me weeding and watering. But you’ll also find me meandering about, staring into the sky daydreaming, and playing in the lake. My feet still need to be scrubbed before bed in the summer.

I hope you have your own fond memories of playing outside—and that you keep making them. Let me send you off with words from my mother that I could never hear enough: “Get outside and play. Now!”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

This essay was originally published April 2012 in the Terrace Standard newspaper as part of my regular column “Just a Thought,” but since some things never change—like my love of playing hooky outdoors and my immense delight and relief when spring finally arrives after a long winter—I wanted to share it with you. I hope you’re yelling, hear, hear!

P.S. If you, like me, adore listening to audio books when you’re driving or gardening, I’m ecstatic to share that my novel WEDDING BANDS is coming out across all vendors in just two weeks! Yay! I hope you’ll give it a listen, and until then, I have a sample for your listening pleasure! Enjoy. 🙂 WEDDING BANDS by Ev Bishop, read by Sarah Grant.