Love and Work: My list of ten things that make me happy.

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Kass has asked that I list ten things that make me happy. At first glance this task does not seem easy. I’m much better at writing about things that bother and trouble me. Things that make me happy seem too sugar sweet by half. However, I shall try.

Like Kass in her blog, I shall order these things in no particular order, but the fact that I order them implies an order and so just as I did when I was a child and fantasized about a woman whom I saw each Sunday in the church and rated her as the most beautiful woman in the world, I will qualify my rating.

When I was a child I put the Blessed Virgin Mary first ahead of my mother second, and Miss Andersen, my grade four teacher, third. I could not rate a complete stranger for beauty ahead of my mother. Then I included all my sisters and brothers for beauty and love in a bunch. I would not discriminate one from the other, just as I cannot rate my children as preferred or less today.

When my third daughter was around the age I was when I was in love with the woman in the church, she asked me,

‘Which of your children do you love the best? I don’t care if it’s not me,’ she said. ‘I just want to know.’

She did not let up. For weeks she hounded me with this question. For weeks I refused to give an answer. Eventually her question died away, but she had already decided whom I preferred, and nothing I could say or do would shift her decision, at least not then.

When I was a child I was convinced that my mother preferred me to her other three daughters. After all she gave me her name, her exact name, Elisabeth Margaretha Maria and she let me get away with things, things my older sister never managed to avoid, like having to tidy up – my mother never pressured me – and she bought me a Rockman’s baby doll for my eighth birthday, and a poetry book for my fourteenth. Proof positive of her special love for me.

I stored up evidence of my mother’s favoritism until I was well into adulthood and she was by then in her sixties. Not long after my father had died, my mother told me one day about an assignment she had been given by her church group. She had been asked to write down the name of the person with whom she felt the closest affinity.

My heart did a little flip. I was sure she would say my name, but no. She told me my older sister was the one closest to her in ideals and temperament. I was stunned. My older sister had convinced me for years that my mother hated her, and the feeling, my older sister suggested, was mutual. But this was not how my mother saw it.

You see now why it is so hard for me to list ten things that make me happy. I go off on tangents and always wind up with the difficulties. But I will try here to fulfill Kass’s directive.

1. In honour of what I have said above I will include my family at the top of the list. I bunch them together under the term family, my husband and four daughters, my grandson, my son in law. My love for them all is differential. I love them differently, as I say. Love for me, loving a person no matter who that person might be, makes me happy. I love to be with the ones I love.

2. Writing makes me happy, the sheer joy of clacking away at the keyboard just as I am now, writing, and to no serious agenda. Even here when I am trying to fulfill Kass’s request, I write into the unknown. I love the sense of not knowing where this writing will take me, what I might discover. Writing as an activity, as a process, as much as it sometimes brings me pain, brings me the greatest happiness.

There you have it: the two things that make me most happy.

3. Thereafter I list my work. My work as a therapist makes me happy but it also makes me sad. It worries me at times and I find it difficult and demanding – to be available; to keep my mind open; to project myself as far as I can into another’s state of mind; to try to imagine what might be going on in the room; to read about other people’s ideas on how this thing called therapy works – all these things bring me happiness. They also make me suffer.

I could say this applies to everything that makes me happy. There is nothing pure to me about happiness. It always comes with baggage.

4. So now I’m up to four. Dreaming at night, remembering my dreams in the morning, writing them up and discovering these dreams, days, weeks, months later to be surprised and wonder: Did I dream this? What can it mean? This makes me happy.

5. My house makes me happy. The bank still owns a part of it, but it is still our house. I have lived here since 1980. I have seen many changes. We have renovated twice. It was first built in 1895. It is an old Victorian house with a curved front veranda, lead light at the door and a long central hallway.

At the moment we are working on its maintenance. There are so many things wrong with this house but I am a homebody. I love to have a stable base. Being at home makes me happy.

6. Blogging makes me happy. This could I suppose be subsumed under writing, but blogging also involves reading and responding to others. It involves looking, seeing, listening and most all thinking and feeling in response to the stories of others from my blog community. This for me has some of the pleasure of being with and thinking about good friends and family.

7. Other people’s happiness and successes make me happy, especially the joys of those close to me, particularly my husband and children. I could say that I am happiest when they are happy. The same applies to those with whom I work. I am happy when they achieve a flash of their own genuine happiness, which happens from time to time over the course of our work together.

8. Books make me happy – my library case filled with books most of which I have read or at least dipped into. Books to lose myself in, books whose words flow for me such that I enter new worlds when I read, or revisit my own.

9. My correspondence, my letter writing to people like Gerald Murnane, makes me happy. Again I should perhaps subsume this under writing, but writing snail mail letters, the type you send through the post, the type that makes it into hard copy and gets sent off in envelopes away from me to be read by some beloved friend or others, makes me happy in a way that is different from blogging.

Similarly emailing makes me happy. I’m cheating here. It should perhaps have its own rating but I need more space before I can safely finish. I’ve written about emailing before, too. I love the ping from my computer, the way the little ball flashes red when I have mail, in my in-box. Of course it helps when the mail is personal and from blogging friends and actual friends, anyone who bears genuine good wishes. The experience of connectedness with the outside world, whether nearby or far, gives me great happiness.

10. Watching DVDs, particularly the BBC period dramas, alone in my writing room on my computer screen, while everyone else is asleep late at night after all my tasks for the day are complete, brings me joy. I love it. It is my moment of escape into another world and one that requires little from me other than to bask in the fantasies of what life was like many years ago, usually in England or Europe, when things seemed simpler and paradoxically far more onerous.

At the risk of cheating I add jewelery, the rough silver variety, not expensive but strong and bold, the stuff my husband makes, and two of my daughters make; silver earrings that hang long and low, these give me pleasure.

Once I start on objects my list gets far too long and I have already over reached my mark.

Thanks, Kass. This has been fun. My impulse is to tag many of the people you have tagged including yourself but that would defeat the purpose, so I presume I should move further afield.

With that qualifier in mind, I shall try to find ten other lovely and wonderful bloggers who might not, unlike Jim of the Truth about Lies, find the task too irksome, but even Jim, for all your hesitation, you have written a list of sorts in your response to Kass and have shared a most wonderful poem.

It’s a good idea therefore, Kass, this task you have set us. It gets us to work. What greater happiness is there than through work.

Work and Love: Freud’s two parameters for living.

So here’s the task for the following bloggers, if you have the time, the desire and energy, if you can bear it, please list ten things that make you happy and then tag ten bloggers who might have their go in turn.

If you choose not to, for whatever reason, it is fine. It will not be held against you. As far as I’m concerned blogging is for pleasure, despite its sometimes onerous nature. It ought not be done out of sheer obligation or duty.

Since reading through this, I have changed my mind.

To choose to tag people is to show preferences in one way or another. I find this too difficult, especially as I do not want to leave people feeling burdened, nor do I want to leave others, who like me, might feel left out.

So I have only completed half the task. Unless someone can convince me otherwise I will not tag others here. But I invite anyone who has gone to the trouble to read this post to have a go at the exercise if only for fun. And please add it as a post or a comment or whatever you like as you see fit.

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53 Comments on Love and Work: My list of ten things that make me happy.

  1. JeannetteLS
    January 24, 2010 at 2:42 am (8 years ago)

    I like this assignment… I think I'll work on it myself. Something jumped out at me, when you wrote about happiness not being pure. When I was in therapy, my counselor and I talked about that. For me it's more about joy than happiness. THings that give me joy, because I cannot feel joy without feeling pain or sadness. Having the flipside makes the joy more powerful. Does that make sense? I could write about chocolate and such… but those sorts of things aren't, for me, what I would list.

    The memory of my daughter's laugh… she is gone now. The feel of snow on my tongue… I once had frostbite from overexposure on my face. Correspondence of all kinds–some of which of late offered terrible pain. Writing on my memoir makes me incredibly happy, all the while I SOB sometimes. Those are the things that DO make me happiest, I think.

    ALTHOUGH, a great cinnamon butter cookie really does offer absolutely pure happiness, I think…

    I feel a blog coming on. Sorry. I am getting carried away, as is my custom. It's just some friends and I were talking at dinner about joy–about being able to feel happiness to our core only because we'd all been through twelve kinds of hell in our lives… they pointed out that I'm right. I love life on that border between yin and yang… where you are aware of the pain and joy–the balance.

    Sorry. I'm making something simple, something which, as an assignment is very straightforward, all convolluted I think. I think I May reference Kass, though, and use a list of my own this coming week.

    Thank you Elisabeth.

    Reply
  2. Elisabeth
    January 24, 2010 at 3:01 am (8 years ago)

    Thanks, Jeanette. your response makes me very happy.

    It's the sort of response I love, the way one idea from one person leads on to another in another person and so on, all of it spontaneous and voluntary.

    That's why I chose not to tag people. I hoped that people might feel freer as you describe to follow their own tangents and thought processes.

    I'm sure, at least I suspect that Kass will be pleased with this too.

    As for your thoughts about happiness, I couldn't agree more.

    People are forever talking about a search for happiness and they don't seem to realise that happiness is contingent on all the other feelings. You can't have one without the other.

    It's like feeling well fed relies on an earlier experience of being hungry. If you're never ever hungry, you can't ever really feel satiated. Everything becomes a tad homognised.

    I look forward to reading your post, Jeanette, very much. It sounds like it will be fascinating.

    Reply
  3. Ocean Girl
    January 24, 2010 at 4:28 am (8 years ago)

    I am happy when I realise I am happy. Other times, when I don't stop to cherish and savour the moments, they pass and become happy memories.

    I do not think I can list what exactly that makes me happy, happier or happiest. I am happy when I am happy.

    (I hope I'm not sounding like a jerk)

    Reply
  4. Elisabeth
    January 24, 2010 at 5:09 am (8 years ago)

    Of course, you don't sound like a jerk, Ocean Girl. Only honest and clear.

    It makes sense what you write here. That's the ephemeral nature of happiness – often it passes before we know it's there.

    I catch it sometimes in the briefest flash, walking down the hallway some days, and I think to myself, this feels good. I am happy. But it's fleeting,

    And as it is for you, the feeling can soon can become an 'after the event' feeling, into what you so beautifully describe as 'happy memories'. Thanks.

    Reply
  5. Alanna Klapp
    January 24, 2010 at 6:05 am (8 years ago)

    Hi Elisabeth! Thanks for your wonderful list! I didn't think too much about the opposite side of happiness and how they go together until I read your post and the comments, but it's true. My dog and cat are the result of what came after sadness of losing our previous dog and cat.
    I think maybe the only happiness that comes without baggage is books, although if I'm sure I though hard enough, I could think of something….

    Reply
  6. lakeviewer
    January 24, 2010 at 6:31 am (8 years ago)

    Oh, how fun to hear more about you. And how clever to forgo the list of preferred bloggers. It is so hard to just pick a few. Everyone adds a new jewel to the collection.

    Reply
  7. Gabriela Abalo
    January 24, 2010 at 8:36 am (8 years ago)

    Hi Elizabeth,

    I enjoyed reading your “Happiness” post and all the comments.

    For me happiness is the end results of the attitude we take to face life situations. If I act negatively I will not experience happiness at all, but if I try to see the positive side of things and enjoy the moment, then happiness will be my daily companion.
    It all depends on us, it is our entire responsibility to have joy or not. As I read the other day:
    “Happiness is always a by-product. It is probably a matter of temperament, and for anything I know it may be glandular. But it is not something that can be demanded from life, and if you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness.” ~Robertson Davies

    I love this Happiness quote, for me it defines quite accurately what happiness really is: A life approach!
    When I listed in my blog the 10 things that make me happy (following Kass’s request) I listed (in none specific order of importance) the things I most enjoy doing. That doesn’t exclude the other things I don’t enjoy that much, but l still have to do. It may sound a bit weird, but when I have to do something I don’t like, my natural reaction is negative, but then I ask myself: What if this is the very last thing you will do in this life time, will you want to end it with a grumpy attitude? That immediately changes my attitude to a joyful one…. Seriously I don’t want to end with a grumpy face!

    I’m very thankful to Kass for introducing me to you and all her other bloggers, I will definitely keep coming back to your blog.

    loveNlight
    Gabi

    Reply
  8. Elisabeth
    January 24, 2010 at 10:13 am (8 years ago)

    Thanks, Alanna. I enjoyed your thoughts too on happiness, as you an see from my comments on your post. We owe a great deal to Kass for her generosity in setting us this task. I find I'm hopping from one blog to the next with great joy and excitement. All these new ideas.

    Thanks, Lakeviewer. Are you going to give it a go, list the ten things that bring you happiness? It's not hard to find them.

    Reply
  9. Elisabeth
    January 24, 2010 at 10:19 am (8 years ago)

    Thanks, Gabi

    I must check out your list of happiness options and thanks for your quote from Robertson Davies.

    What a wonderful way to think about the business of finding happiness, or at least meaning in what makes us unhappy.

    When I read your final comment about how you approach all the awful things you must do with the thought: what if this were the last thing to do in my life… I immediately thought of the stuff on my tax I've been avoiding lately.

    It makes the worst task seem worthwhile to approach it this way, if we can.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  10. ρομπερτ
    January 24, 2010 at 11:21 am (8 years ago)

    What an interesting read and challenge to do. Assume this to follow me way into the week, about how I could squeeze me into ten.

    A wonderful Sunday and start into the new week for you.

    Reply
  11. June Calender
    January 24, 2010 at 1:09 pm (8 years ago)

    I enjoyed reading your list, Elizabeth, which included many things I put in my list. I especially enjoyed these comments, and Gabi's quote from Robertson Davies. I do believe happiness is partly inborn temprament; I feel lucky to have apparently been born with it — which is not to say I did not have periods of life that were unhappy. I remember marveling in the midst of a serious depression that there were flashes of great joy.

    Reply
  12. Kass
    January 24, 2010 at 2:56 pm (8 years ago)

    I love the snowball effect of my non-assignment. I have gained so much insight into the bloggers I thought I knew. There is always more because we all keep growing. We both have some interesting followers. I could be enlightened and entertained for weeks, years if I followed this string. Thank you so much for responding, and in such a thoughtful way.

    Reply
  13. The Weaver of Grass
    January 24, 2010 at 7:45 pm (8 years ago)

    I think I might well try this exercise. I is good to actually think about such a thing and actually to put down clearly what does make you happy – so tomorrow I shall try. Thank you for giving me theopportunity.

    Reply
  14. Marja
    January 24, 2010 at 8:25 pm (8 years ago)

    What an interesting list. Family and writing would be surely on my list and I think it is natural if you care much about something You also get easily hurt when things don't go the way you want. Day and night are part of the dame day. I have learned to intensly enjoy moments without letting it interfere with other things.
    I tell both my children that I like them best I can get away with it because than I tell one is the best girl and the other the best boy and I have only one of both.
    I like my house too It is a place where you can relax and be yourself.
    Wish lots of happiness to come

    Reply
  15. Frances
    January 25, 2010 at 12:10 am (8 years ago)

    1. Family first.
    The others in no particular order:

    2. Early morning coffee on the step: cool, clean air, whiff of basil, a magpie singing.
    3. Achievement – from baking a cake upwards.
    4. When a random child or animal is attracted to me.
    5. Restoring old furniture, polishing junk shop brass.
    6. Originality, creativity.
    7. Learning, understanding more, growing.
    8. Galahs flocking home at sundown.
    9. Good bread, good cheese, good tree-ripened fruit, and a glass of wine – or two.
    10. Unexpected good news for the family, the district or the world.

    Thankyou for making me think, Elizabeth. I do enjoy your blog.

    Reply
  16. Christine
    January 25, 2010 at 7:43 am (8 years ago)

    Hmmmnn…
    1. dusk when the day's work is over. When I was younger I was sent to confirmation classes for a year. Evensong, I discovered, expressed the ordinary thanksgiving of people at the end of a day's work.

    2 On that trajectory, Bach's preludes and fugues – making music, listening to music.

    3. Family. I am fond of the motley lot that constitute this group of people amongst whom I grew up. They have their vanities and strengths as well as their hard bits. I know how they got there…

    4 Swimming in the river; the sun, trees and people on the shore.Dogs gambolling and splashing about in the water, kids swinging from ropes like Tarzan. Beaches don't do it for me.

    5. Looking at my books and thinking 'one day I will read all of you'. I have thought of beginning at the top left hand corner of shelf number one and working my way through but somehow it never happens.

    6. Watching the two dogs and one cat wrestling together. They trust each other. The cat usually wins.

    7. Waking up in a tent when we are out bush camping. I love it.

    8. Discovering a corner of beauty when I least expect it.

    9. Working out something, a problem or dilemma I have been wrestling with for ever, it seems. Or even finishing something simple that I set out to do.

    10. Good company…

    Reply
  17. melissashook
    January 25, 2010 at 12:49 pm (8 years ago)

    I like this blog a lot, especially the part before you began listing your favorite ten things because those first paragraphs exposed, allowed us to see, precious feelings about 'place in the family' and the desire to be loved/most important.
    thank you!

    Reply
  18. Nazia Mallick
    January 25, 2010 at 4:25 pm (8 years ago)

    Hi Elisabeth

    This reminds me of a post I wrote sometime ago, citing my own list of things that make me happy.I am posting the link below.
    In your list and the reader's comment list I could find plenty of things common with my idea of happiness.

    Here is the list of 10 things that never stop making me happy:

    "A bear hug.

    The rain soaked breeze entering my bedroom window.

    Seeing a long awaited mail in my Inbox.

    Smell of freshly sharpened pencils.

    A deeply satisfying kiss!

    Sometimes … just a cup of tea!

    Giving myself the permission to cry…

    Buying books, reading books, touching books, and smelling books.

    Having both sides of the bed to myself.

    Eating chocolates in bed and sleeping without having to brush my teeth."

    If you wish, I would love to share the rest here:

    http://mylogbook-nazia.blogspot.com/2009/01/make-love-with-life.html#links

    Thank you for refreshing the happiness quotient. I just realized after reading your blog, how the simplest of things in life could make us happy!

    Reply
  19. Elisabeth
    January 25, 2010 at 9:01 pm (8 years ago)

    Thanks, Robert. Are you saying it would be hard for you to find ten things that bring you happiness, or that it would be hard to restrict your list to ten only. I found once I got started it was hard to stop. There are so many things, people and activities that bring me happiness. I'm sure though that I could probably write an equally long list of the things that make me sad, or the things that annoy me. Emotions are complex.

    Reply
  20. Elisabeth
    January 25, 2010 at 10:14 pm (8 years ago)

    June, thanks. I agree with you. I think there is a level of temperament with which we're born that determines to some extent our capacity for optimism and happiness but of course these things are also influenced by our environment. It's those flashes of great joy against a back drop of sadness and depression or great difficulties that I too find fascinating and exhilarating. Thank goodness for them.

    Kass, your assignment has had a terrific snowball effect. No wonder you're pleased. It's good to write about good things.

    So often, as I think I said in my post, we focus on the negative. The negative s often more newsworthy and yet there is also something uplifitinng about considering the things that give us joy.

    Thanks for taking the non-assignment on in the first instance and then for passing it on.

    Reply
  21. Elisabeth
    January 25, 2010 at 10:21 pm (8 years ago)

    Thanks weaver. I haven't had a chance to look at your blog yet this morning and I worked all day yesterday, bit I look forward to reading your efforts. It's a fun and worthwhile exercise.

    Marja. It's amazing that of those who have completed such a list, most mention family and writing, family as a given, as you suggest here. I'm glad the post resonated with you.

    Thanks, Frances. So your another blogger who puts family first in line. Then it's interesting to see how the simple things, like that early morning coffee, and the smell of basil, and sound of birdsong can bring you such happiness.

    I love the mix of the concrete and the abstract in your list, and the way you blend the experience of simple objects and domestic pleasures with the business of relating to others. These are so essential to life and of course to happiness. Thank you.

    Reply
  22. Elisabeth
    January 25, 2010 at 10:27 pm (8 years ago)

    Hi Christine. What a lovely list you have complied for us here. You bring in nature and music along with the complexity of family, 'the motley lot'. I love the physicality of your list items too – the swimming in the river, the dogs gamboling, the camping and reading and finding solutions to problems.

    I love the diversity we find in different people's lists. There might be the odd universal but then there is so much diversity as well. It makes it feel good to be alive in the face of such rich sources of pleasure. I resonate with much of what you write . Thank you.

    Reply
  23. Elisabeth
    January 25, 2010 at 11:46 pm (8 years ago)

    Melissa, thanks. That desire to be loved, it's pretty central to everything isn't it?

    We all desire and need it, though for some who've been hurt we can be wary or even deny the need.

    It goes back to the basics as far as I'm concerned and is something we ought not be ashamed of, and yet we often are, for all sorts of complicated reasons that have to do with the experience of being shamed, and left to feel bad about our needs when they weren't met in ways the should have been. Sorry for this long-winded sentence. I hope you get my drift.

    Reply
  24. Elisabeth
    January 25, 2010 at 11:48 pm (8 years ago)

    Thanks, Nazia. You're so right: it's often the simplest things in life that make us happy. Thanks for sharing your list, which to me reads like a poem.

    Reply
  25. Helen Ginger
    January 26, 2010 at 12:03 am (8 years ago)

    This was just a wonderful post. Wonderful answers. Wonderfully written. I really enjoyed reading your list.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

    Reply
  26. Ces
    January 26, 2010 at 1:13 pm (8 years ago)

    Elisabeth, oh my goodness! I absolutely love the way you presented this. Oh I could read you forever! You write so beautifully. I am amused with your daughter being convinced with who you love the most. I too did the same with my big family but my sister and I took care of our mother during the last three weeks of her life an seeing my brothers and sisters made me realize that she really loved all of us equally. You have a fascinating story and you tell it so well.

    Reply
  27. Phoenix
    January 26, 2010 at 8:12 pm (8 years ago)

    What a beautiful list 🙂 Very interesting that your mother was hardest on the one she felt closest to…isn't that always the way? Why do we show such grace to strangers yet hold the ones we love most dearly to such fierce expectations and ideals?

    I just wrote a list of my own on my blog, having been tagged by someone else, so in the effort as to not make your comments section longer than it already is, if you're interested, feel free to check it out 🙂

    Reply
  28. Elisabeth
    January 26, 2010 at 9:15 pm (8 years ago)

    Thanks Helen, 'straight from Hel' I'm glad you enjoyed the list. it's not something I'd normally do, totally blog inspired, but it is an excellent way to write and communicate. After all, that's what writings for, of course the way we communicate matters a great deal.

    Hi Ces, thanks for your comments. i certainly resonate with the sound of your big family, too, though yours sounds a little less troubled than mine, more good will in yours perhaps, though of course that's only on first glance. and there is also good will in my family, among my siblings, but certain external and internal pressures have made things more difficult.

    Thanks, Phoenix, I'm over to your blog now to read your list. I've read over ten lists so far. So many people seem to be working on them, whether tagged or not. It's a terrific exercise. Thinking about happiness can be inspirational.

    Reply
  29. Gina
    January 27, 2010 at 3:37 am (8 years ago)

    A beautiful post, Elisabeth. Seems we have a lot in common. Thank you for visiting my blog—I’ll be returning often to visit yours!

    Reply
  30. A Cuban In London
    January 27, 2010 at 9:10 am (8 years ago)

    I loved your post so much and this little, short phrase stuck with me somehow:

    'I write into the unknown'.

    Ah, that's a delicacy in and of itself. Many thanks. I inhabit the abyss, I benefit from your writing. Keep dropping words, I will carry on lapping them up. 🙂

    Greetings from London.

    Reply
  31. Ruahines
    January 27, 2010 at 9:27 am (8 years ago)

    Kia ora Elisabeth,
    It is interesting to observe the very common aspects of connecting with people via this way, a love of similar things as it were, and a sense of our real selves we are open enough to share. You have a lovely place here and I appreciate your visit to Aotearoa. Cheers!
    Aroha,
    Robb

    Reply
  32. Elisabeth
    January 27, 2010 at 9:35 am (8 years ago)

    Thanks, Gina. An artist, and a writer meet through words and images. It's great to see you here. Thanks for your visit. I'll see you back at your blog.

    Thanks, Cuban. I'm still alive with your latest review, those words from Orwell's 1984, and Lolita in Tehran, http://cubaninlondon.blogspot.com/ Anyone who hasn't read it yet, might fancy a visit, too, if you like me are interested in totalitarianism and the way individuals can be crushed through authority etc etc.

    It's great to see you here, Cuban and thanks for your generous comment.

    Reply
  33. Caio Fernandes
    January 27, 2010 at 11:44 am (8 years ago)

    you have a beautiful ten list here Elizabeth …. it made me think about lots of things .
    it is a pleasure to have "discovered you" .
    thank you for your kindness !
    see you !!

    Reply
  34. Elisabeth
    January 27, 2010 at 11:58 am (8 years ago)

    Hi Caio. It's good to see you here and thanks for your lovely comment.

    Reply
  35. Eryl Shields
    January 27, 2010 at 2:33 pm (8 years ago)

    This has got my mind sparking and popping all over the place, it will take a while before it settles down so I can think about what you and all your commenters have said, and then make my own list.

    However, two things keep asserting themselves: my son who still, at 24, accepts me with no hint of a complaint even when one is more than due. And finding new (to me) connections.

    This is a great post, thanks.

    Reply
  36. jabblog
    January 27, 2010 at 2:55 pm (8 years ago)

    This post and the following comments are most interesting. Happiness seems such a simple emotion and yet patently it is not. This will bubble away in the back of my mind for a while.

    Reply
  37. Annotated Margins
    January 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm (8 years ago)

    An acceptable task, and when I finish proofreading the third and final part of my most recent blog, I will put myself to the task, albeit coming up with a list similar to yours.

    Reply
  38. Jm Diaz
    January 27, 2010 at 8:12 pm (8 years ago)

    I could never decide on preferred bloggers either. Thats why I don;t forward the awards I've gotten.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog, btw 🙂

    Reply
  39. angela simione
    January 28, 2010 at 4:54 am (8 years ago)

    yay! thank you so much for this, elisabeth! i really needed to read something like this today- especially the first few paragraphs of this post before the list got going. it gave my outlook on my own family (and role within it) a positive shift in a much better, more understanding, empathetic direction and i sincerely thank you for that. i have, up until reading this post, felt a bit like your sister had. maybe not to a very severe degree, but definitely like the one who had the most to prove and the most to earn… much the same way my mom probably feels. we are very similar, she and i. in a good way. 🙂 thank you for the reminder.

    Reply
  40. Elisabeth
    January 28, 2010 at 10:03 am (8 years ago)

    Thanks Jablog, you're right, there's nothing simple about happiness, and that's only a start.

    I look forward to reading your list, albeit similar to mine, Annotated Margins. It will also be different, no doubt. Thanks.

    Thanks, JM Diaz, the awards are a missed blessing aren't they? – both a pleasure to receive and a responsibility to pass on. Still it's all good fun and it does build community.

    Angela, thanks for your comment. I'm glad it was helpful.

    On another note, here's my somewhat pathetic attempt at a poem, one that's definitely in need of termination/elimination. I'm number 32, directly after your wonderful expiring poem.

    I console myself with the knowledge I'm no poet, a mere prose writer who occasionally dabbles in poetry. I much prefer to read other people's poetry. See: http://anikainpink.com/anikainpink.com/32.html

    Reply
  41. Beth Niquette
    January 29, 2010 at 12:21 am (8 years ago)

    What an interesting read. I love your style of writing. In case my email doesn't get to you, I wanted to respond to the comment you left on my blog. I have many stories to tell–but not that one. Looking back, I think twas best for all concerned. I have no desire for any type of revenge (shudder), only respect for the opinions of those who brought certain things to my attention.

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  42. Elisabeth
    January 29, 2010 at 12:35 am (8 years ago)

    Thanks, Beth. That's good.

    I feel a need to qualify here. I'm not interested in revenge either, not the enactment, merely the desire. You know that little flash of hurt you feel when someone has wronged you. That brief impulse when your first thought is, I hope the person who has wronged or hurt me might suffer too, so that you're not alone with the pain. It's a commonplace feeling, but rarely explored, particularly as an initial spark to creative writing in many forms, other forms of art as well I suspect.

    Thanks for getting back to me about this, Beth. I look forward to revisiting your blog.

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  43. A Cuban In London
    January 29, 2010 at 9:15 am (8 years ago)

    Ah, I forgot to answer your question on my thoughts about why totalitarian regimes find willing subjects ever so often.

    My theory is, and i've got the practice, too, in Cuba, that many of us, as humans, have a button which, if well pressed and manipulated, can trigger off a set of emotions and feelings that could well be used by a autocratic government. It's no surprise that Pol Pot, Mao, Hitler and Stalin were so successful in gathering followers. I think that we all have that predisposition to follow at some point. The flipside of that coin is rational thoughts, which all too often is suppresed by that theocratic or totalitarian elite.

    I don't know if I've made myself clear. I used to be a true believer when I was younger, but I woke up. Literature and art by default helped a great deal, because it led me to question my surroundings and myself.

    Thanks for your comments about The Clash, they were very welcomed.

    Greetings from London.

    Reply
  44. Reader Wil
    January 29, 2010 at 2:25 pm (8 years ago)

    That's a long list Elisabeth! You have a lot of reasons to be happy!Thanks for your visit and comment. The snow bench was in my Dutch winter garden and this bench was in a French summer garden. Have a great weekend!

    Reply
  45. Claire Beynon
    January 29, 2010 at 7:10 pm (8 years ago)

    Hello Elisabeth

    I've just been on a privileged and thought-provoking journey through your blog; beginning with your first entry and leading up to this latest one. This is something I've intended to do since first 'meeting' you towards the end of last year, just before your trip to the The Writer's House, Varuna.

    So much of what you write resonates with my own story – in time, I may be able to articulate some of this through postings on my own blog, where things have come to a bit of standstill for me, I think; this as a result of a rush of significant internal and external changes that have been taking place in my world that I've not yet had time to give shape or word to…

    For now, I want to acknowledge your courage and candour and to thank you for sharing your experiences with us – you are not unafraid to state your reality with all its different tones and timbres. This is a marvelous thing and, I think, something that brings with it a great gift – that of being a catalyst; an encouragement to others similarly engaged in the process of searching, opening, and communicating…

    Thank you.

    Reply
  46. angela simione
    January 29, 2010 at 9:22 pm (8 years ago)

    yay! i'm so happy you sent a poem! congratulations! and very wise and beautiful, that poem. thank you!

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  47. Nancy Devine
    January 29, 2010 at 10:04 pm (8 years ago)

    blogging makes me happy. this is both a surprise and a given for me. a writer would enjoy writing, yes? the reason blogging appeals to me so much is that it is intimate and personal, yet available to the whole world.

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  48. Elisabeth
    January 31, 2010 at 12:57 am (8 years ago)

    A quick respons here to you Cuban about the things that can trigger off subservience to a dicxtator. i agree with ou Cuban and it remins mew of a time when i was in my early twenties when i fitst read germaine ?Greer's the female eunuch and begam for the first time t question some of the assumptions on which I'd based my entire life. It opened my eyes. These days writing helps me to open my eyes still further, helps me to avoid becoming to enchanted by anyone's dogma.

    Dogma is dangerous as are any of the 'ism' words, including feminism, if we adhere to them to tightly. They can make us a prey to the totalitarian approach. Thank you, Cuban.

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  49. Ces
    February 4, 2010 at 12:35 pm (8 years ago)

    I am generally a happy person. I find great joy in the simplest of things. I do not have many mental and emotional issues. I try to live simply and only splurge in my love for my family, my friends, my work, my art. Blogging is wonderful but for two years it became hell for me. Someone started liking me and we became friends because she started being gentle. I also was struggling with my then 13 y.o. son. Well that blogger is a lesbian and she knew I am heterosexual and love my husband. In fact I was a homophobe at that time, I could not even say the world lesbian. Two months into our blog friendship she dicied to write a novel except she used our conversations, comments, my life story and my emails for her dialogue. I felt violated. It was so obvious to the other bloggers that she was writing about me and they were cheering her so she was emboldened but I hated it. When I came to visit her. her writing coach even called me the name of her character instead of my real name. I begged her to stop. She fell in love with me and when I told her it was wrong she refused to let go. She eventually wrote another novel and I did not want anything to do with it yet she insisted on dedicating it to me along with her mother, partner and daughter. It is a cheesy and trite novel so I am not really worried about it becoming a best seller but she had my real name printed on it as if it was an honor for me. I felt violated again and again. I finally decided to stop being friends with her and communicating with her. It was a struggle because I felt indebted to her for helping me and listening to me when I needed to share my difficulties with my 13 y.o son who by the way, is a wonderful 17 year old now. Some of my friends told me that she still writes about me but rather than finding it interesting, they worry about her mental state. My best friend told me that if it helped her get over me, so be it even if she now portrays me as a villain. The truth will always come out. She was upset with me because she claimed we were meant for each other and we were ancient souls etc etc all that crap. She went to a seer and spiritual leader and she reads tarot cards. I hope she finds peace. She is not a bad person, she is a good person though strange and odd. That is the only bad thing I can think of. Even that now is the past. But sometimes I think she follows me and tries to see what I am up to by visiting my own blogging circle. If you post this, she may come here now.

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  50. Elisabeth
    February 4, 2010 at 11:07 pm (8 years ago)

    This is an amazing story you tell here, Ces, and it serves as a warning to us all.

    Sometimes to be loved can be worse than being hated, especially when the love is of the possessive type you describe, more like a type of stalking.

    It puts me on mind of this beautiful piece of writing I have transcribed from Carson McCuller's long, short story 'The Ballad of the Sad Cafe'. It's worth reading.

    McCullers talks about the problem of being the one who is loved, when we all imagine it's exactly what we want. It need not always be so, as you describe so well here.

    I may need to put the quotes into two or three sections. So please read it as it follows.

    Reply
  51. Elisabeth
    February 4, 2010 at 11:09 pm (8 years ago)

    First of all, love is a joint experience between two persons – but the fact that it is a joint experience does not mean that it is a similar experience to the two people involved. There are the lover and the beloved, but these two come from different countries. Often the beloved is only a stimulus for all the stored up love, which has lain quiet within the lover for a long time hitherto. And somehow every lover knows this. He feels in his soul that his love is a solitary thing. He comes to know a new strange loneliness and it is this knowledge, which makes him suffer. So there is only one thing for the lover to do. He must house his love within himself as best he can; he must create for himself a whole new inward world – a world intense and strange, complete in himself. Let it be added here that this lover about whom we speak need not necessarily be a young man saving for a wedding ring – this lover can be a man, woman, child, or indeed any human creature on this earth.
    Now, the beloved can also be any description. The most outlandish people can be the stimulus for love. A man may be a doddering great grandfather and still love only a strange girl he saw in the streets of Cheehaw one afternoon two decades past. The preacher may love a fallen woman. The beloved may be treacherous, greasy-headed, and given to evil habits. Yes, and the lover may see this as clearly as anyone else – but that does not affect the evolution of his love one whit. A most mediocre person can be the object of a love, which is wild, extravagant, and beautiful as the poison lilies of the swamp. A good man may be the stimulus for a love both violent and debased, or a jabbering madman may bring about in the soul of someone a tender and simple idyll. Therefore, the value and quality of any love is determined solely by the lover himself.
    It is for this reason that most of us would rather love than be loved. Almost everyone wants to be the lover. And the curt truth is that, in a deep secret way, the state of being loved is intolerable to many. The beloved fears and hates the lover, and with the best of reasons. For the lover is forever trying to strip bare his beloved. The lover craves any possible relation with the beloved, even if this experience can cause him only pain.

    Carson McCullers. The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories.
    Bantam Books: USA, 1951. Pp 26-27.

    Reply
  52. Elisabeth
    February 4, 2010 at 11:09 pm (8 years ago)

    And love changed Marvin Macy. Before the time when he loved Miss Amelia it could be questioned if such a person had within a heart and a soul. Yet there is some explanation for the ugliness of his character, for Marvin Macy had had a hard beginning in this world. He was one of seven unwanted children whose parents could hardly be called parents at all; these parents were wild youngans who liked to fish and roam around the swamp. Their own children, and there was a new one almost every year, were only a nuisance to them. At night when they came home from the mill they would look at the children as though they did not know wherever they had come from. If the children cried, they were beaten, and the first thing they learned in this world was to seek the darkest corner of the room and try to hide themselves as best they could. They were as thin as little white haired ghosts, and they did not speak, not even to each other. Finally, they were abandoned by their parents altogether and left to the mercies of the town. It was a hard winter with the mill closed down almost three months, and much misery everywhere. But this is not a town to let orphans perish on the road before your eyes. So here is what came about: the eldest child, who was eight years old, walked into Cheehaw and disappeared – perhaps he took a freight train somewhere and went out into the world, nobody knows. Three other children were boarded out amongst the town, being sent around from one kitchen to another, and as they were delicate they died before Easter time. The last two children were Marvin Macy and Henry Macy and they were taken into a home. There was a good woman in the town named Mrs Mary Hale, and she took Marvin Macy and Henry Macy and loved them as her own.
    But the hearts of small children are delicate organs. A cruel beginning in this world can twist them into curious shapes. The heart of a hurt child can shrink so that forever afterward it is hard and pitted as the seed of a peach. Or again, the heart of such a child may fester and swell until it is a misery to carry within the body, easily chafed and hurt by the most ordinary things. This last is what happened to Henry Macy, who is so opposite his brother, is the kindest and gentlest man in town. He lends his wages to those who are unfortunate, and in the old days he used to care for the children whose parents were at the café on Saturday night. But he is shy man and he has the look of one who has a swollen heart and suffers. Marvin Macy, however grew to be bold and fearless and cruel. His heart turned tough as the horns of Satan, and until the time when he loved Miss Amelia he brought to his brother and the good woman who raised him shame and trouble.
    But love reversed the character of Marvin Macy.

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  53. Ces
    February 5, 2010 at 12:36 am (8 years ago)

    Thank you Elisabeth for your responses. If I may so, I set out to offer my friendship to this person. Have you heard the quality of friendships described by Aristotle? I tried so hard to achieve a friendship of virtue but it is not possible when the object of your friendship wants to possess you. True love and a friendship of virtue does not possess. True love protects but lets the spirit soar. The whole situation was dysfunctional and caused tremendous discomfort. It was a lesson painfully learned. It has made me cognizant of the signs and symptoms of a toxic and dysfunctional relationship and has made me a cautious person.

    Reply

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