This week is Treats week for the participants in Jamie Ridler‘s The Next Chapter book blogging group, and we are reading Martha Beck’s The Joy Diet: 10 Daily Practices for a Happier Life.
Let me preface this by saying that this week has been extremely busy for me, hence the vision card taking a vacation.
Before I get into the specifics of the chapter, I want to talk about how certain risks in the past two weeks became treats, to play off last week’s talk of Risk.
Yes, you read that right. For me, a few risks I recently took either led to or became treats.
Just before heading full-steam into the Risk chapter, while I was still reading it, I bought a new digital camera: a 12.1 megapixel Canon PowerShot A 1100 IS, fitted with lots of lovely bells and whistles (which bells and whistles I’m still playing with and figuring out), a distinct improvement over my 7.1 megapixel, store-brand point-and-shoot. I say it was a risk because I spent some money on it, and I felt a little tug of fear at that. What if I spent that money and never used it? What if I spent that money on that camera and never took a decent picture ever again? Irrational worries rose to meet my assertion that I am going to start investing in my creative dreams, in the things that make me authentically happy.
Let me tell you, that camera has brought some heaping servings of joy to me in a short span of time! I’ve been much more inspired to go outside on sunny days and snap away. Sunday, I had an awesome day at the lake and ended up with two sets of decent–some great—shots. You can look at them here and here, if you want.
Another risk that turned into a treat was showing my boss the photos from Sunday at the lake on Monday during lunchtime. He’s an autumn-leaves-photo-enthusiast, so I ran through some of them. Then, he decided he wanted photos taken of a local Boy Scout Camp of which he is a trustee. Yesterday, during work hours, partly during my lunch break, I went there and spent about an hour snapping away. I walked through spider webs, slogged through mud, and happened upon a snake’s tail disappearing up an embankment into some leaves, but I was so focused, so “in the zone” that it didn’t matter. Just being there, being allowed to photograph one of the prettiest places in the county, was a huge treat, particularly falling in the middle of a workday, when I’m usually imprisoned indoors and chained to my desk.
Finally, as I was getting ready to leave the camp yesterday, I decided to take one more risk that turned into a treat. I walked, very carefully, out onto the ledge of the dam that forms the lake at the camp, and took this picture, which is one of my favorites from the set:
That said, kids, don’t try that at home!
Now onto the chapter itself…
I loved the idea of making a list of spontaneous smile sparkers. Here are some of mine:
- Singing along with one of my favorite songs while driving.
- Looking up at a beautiful blue sky with scattered clouds. (This morning as I was leaving to go to work, I raised my arms out as though giving the sky a hug, and said, “Beautiful Morning! Thank you!” and grinned hugely.)
- Slipping my cold feet into cute, patterned or brightly colored fuzzy socks. I love a bit of whimsy, and warm feet.
- Watching the squirrels play in the front yard and around the neighborhood.
- The way our family cat will hold your finger in his paw to try to keep you cuddling, as opposed to putting him off your lap and going to take care of human business.
I regularly catalog sensory delights. Some of my absolute favorites:
- I love the taste of peanut butter and chocolate together, i.e. Reese’s Peanut Butter cups.
- I love the sight of the sky reflected in a body of water.
- I love the feel of slipping just-shaved legs into clean, soft sheets when I got to bed at night.
- I love the smell of laundry dried out in the summer sun.
- I love the sound of Placebo‘s instrumental B-side, “The Innocence of Sleep.”
As for employing the strategy of being the Dr. Jekyll to one’s own Mr. Hyde, I don’t really have a problem doing that now and again, but I’m not going to do it every day. For instance, yesterday I broke from my routine of always being perfectly on time during the photoshoot, as I was late getting back to work. I did have my boss’s permission, but, had I been doing anything else anywhere else, I would have still made the best effort possible to get back to work within the hour. I skipped class a couple of times during my university education purely for enjoyment’s sake, when, for the most part, I was a very conscientious and punctual student. I do think there’s value in breaking out of one’s mold every now and again and taking a stroll in your opposite’s shoes. I don’t know that I’d characterize it as always a treat, or as always leading to treats, but, not long ago, I’d never think a risk could become a treat, either.
I definitely like the idea of being a little childish now and again. I was gleeful like a child planning that photoshoot and doing it. I sing in the shower and spin around in circles regularly. For some reason, ever since I was a kid, I’ve liked to hang upside down from the bed, then sit up because it tickles and gives me a head rush. Weird, I know, and my Mom has continually scolded me for it and told me I would break my neck one of these days. Twenty-five years later, I’m still going with no broken neck. But, I digress…
Today, I’m treating myself to being unproductive. I still have days left to do on the–thankfully, self-paced–e-course I’ve been taking, but, with NaNoWriMo coming up, I feel I have bigger fish to fry. And, instead of pushing myself to finish writing answers to all the journal prompts in that e-course before November 1st, I’m taking a break until after I get my word counts up on the novel I’ll begin Sunday morning, and then work through one or two prompts at a time. (Each lesson has 10!) It was an excellent thing to do to get me used to getting a lot of words out, and a great way to learn to be the mistress of my Inner Editor, but that was in preparation for writing a novel. I think the remainder of the e-course’s prompts will make good writing warm-ups for days I find myself stuck.
Oh, and let’s not forget being profligate, as mentioned in the chapter. I have picked up a bad habit in recent years from my parents: scarcity thinking. As in, there’s never enough money. My mother is one who freaks out about spending more than $3.00 on a nice bath soap, etc. Now and again, I find myself freaking out about spending, though I do have some expendable cash and stay well within those parameters. This week, I treated myself by ordering some music I’ve wanted for a while by Iron & Wine, The Creek Drank the Cradle and The Sea and the Rhythm, and a deck of oracle cards, as I’ve been curious about oracle cards and this deck looks gorgeous and feels timely to me. All of the above should be arriving in the mail soon. (I live in a small town, rural area, and none of these treats were available locally.)
Yes, my week through treats has been fun and productive and surprising. How has your week with treats been, fellow Joy Dieters?
Now I am off to treat myself to a long, hot shower and that hour of uninterrupted reading I wished for on Wednesday!