Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Huxley started giggling about two weeks ago. If you're ever sad, just listen to a baby laugh. Clears up the blues right away.

There's a lot of happiness going on Chez English these days. Huxley is a large part of it, naturally. We're also excited about the new books' publication last week, the impending spring, our upcoming trip to Florida to see both sets of grandparents, and a visit this weekend from some dear friends and their almost one-year old daughter (we're having a big 'ole brunch out here Saturday morning, with loads of friends, kiddos, dogs, and, finally, homemade donuts-I've been looking for an excuse to host a whole mess of folks here simply to justify making them!).

We're also happy about nothing. Generally happy. Content. Satisfied. I feel full lately in a way I've never before felt. Like I'm no longer chasing comets or second-guessing myself or restless. It's a great feeling. I think it stems, in part, from becoming a mother.

It's not always easy to remain happy, though. Huxley screams, not having yet learnt the art of delayed gratification. Our geriatric set of 5 cats leaves all manner of "bodily deposits" in all manner of locations at any given time. The dogs tramp around the forest and run back into the house with muddied feet, all over my freshly mopped floor. And, on a much more global scale, there are climate concerns, injustice everywhere, unrest in the Middle East, flooding, earthquakes, poverty, and so much more....Despite that, I'm choosing to remain happy. Not always slap-happy, smile-on-my-face happy, but happy, nonetheless.

Pearls of wisdom often show up in the most unexpected places. Fortune cookies. Tea bags. Or Whole Living magazine, the natural health-focused publication from the good folks at Martha Stewart. I picked up a subscription after finding another Design Sponge editor's article in there this past August (yay Amy!). The March issue is dedicated to happiness. One article really hit home with me. Thomas Bien, Ph.D (a psychologist based in Albuquerque, NM), author of The Buddha's Way of Happiness, offers three lessons to always keep in mind on the path to happiness:

*Know that happiness is always available to you. "The moment you see the truth of this, you can be happy right away. There's nothing that needs to happen first for you to be happy. You don't need to do anything else, go anywhere else, reform yourself, or become a different person. Happiness is very simple. It's only our tendency to complicate things that makes it difficult."

*Accept Imperfection. "There always seems to be something naggingly imperfect in life. We have the idea that if we could only get it all together, attain some imagined state of complete wholeness and authenticity, everything would be great. Being happy is about being able to relax into the imperfect nature of our experience, not about finally having everything just the way we want it."

*Don't try so hard. "The Declaration of Independence asserts our right to pursue happiness, but the pursuit of happiness makes us crazy. The idea that happiness is something to chase after deadens us to the wonders of life that are here now. Happiness is about being receptive, about opening to what's good in the present moment-here, now, and this."

Words to live by. May the happiness in the world make itself known to you. Huxley, Hubs and I will be on the sidelines, cheering you on.


Christine said...

Great quotes. I also loved this month's Whole Living, biased as I may be for being the featured community member in it :)

Your posts always remind me to appreciate the small things and to recognize that sometimes there isn't any better feeling in the world than sitting down with a cup of coffee, a good book and someone you love.

Katy @ The Non-Consumer Advocate said...

Aww . . . you're making me cry. I was also very happy when I first became a mother.



Anna said...

Definitely good things to remember. Sometimes I get too caught up in chasing something that I think I want or should have or hope to have. I'm trying more to enjoy what makes me happy now.

Kristin Marsh Shepard said...

Really nice post, Ashley. I am happy for your happiness. : )

One thing I'd add to the list, which also fits a Buddhist perspective: focus on other people (i.e. less on your own wants/desires). The Dalai Lama promotes compassion, not just as a way to make the world better but as a means to find individual happiness. More than anything else, motherhood brought me that gift--attending to my baby's needs greatly reduced the kind of self preoccupation that cultivated dissatisfaction with life and opened me to all kinds of joy.

Heather MK said...

What a great post. I am a new mama too and I feel that same contentedness in my life lately. It is great to feel as though you have finally ARRIVED! Life is good - enjoy it to the fullest.

Cherie said...

Delicious stuff Ashley! What a yummy little vibration you've got going on - despite dogs forgetting to wipe their feet. More immune building for little Huxley to rummage around in on the floor huh? It all works. Thanks for sharing - I really love your angle on things, and always end up being reminded to brew another pot of tea after reading your posts, never a bad thing. Have you ever thought the Dalai Lama must be a dedicated tea drinker to sit so beautifully in bliss the way he does? It would be too perfect if cups of tea were the key to cracking the universal code! Having another delicious day, with smiles, Cherie.

panthercreekcottage said...

It shouldn't be true but is. Contentedness happens when consoling the infant, wiping up after muddy paws and picking up the deposits. If we remember that home and hearth are our families sanctuary, Then we know that every task that pertains to it however wearisome provides an environment for happiness to flourish. And in some measure an antidote to the ills of our world. Thanks for the encouragement to keep on keeping on.

stephanie said...

"home dairy" arrived today via amazon.com. so excited to test out these recipes. thanks so much for sharing!

amy merrick said...

Wonderful wonderful post. Especially at the end of winter when it can be such a big freaking struggle to keep one's head above the water, so to speak.

I get really fed up with my own inability to recognize that I have everything I need, more than everything I need, to be happy. It's refreshing to remember that if you want it- you can have have it.

(Isn't Whole Living wonderful?!)

What Possessed Me said...

This is such a delightful post. I am so happy you are happy. The bambino is a dumpling - it's a miracle he hasn't been eaten. xox

Alicia said...

I love when babies laugh; it makes you want to laugh too.

I love small pleasures. One of mine? A friend's homemade tea.

Stephanie Fazio (aka lealou) said...

Love this post -- it put a smile on my face and made me happy instantly :) Thanks!

Alison said...

This is lovely. A very good reminder.

I also think self-sufficient living has a lot to do with happiness. The satisfaction that comes from growing things, nurturing things, making things is very primal. These behaviors have been hard-wired over centuries, but are absent in many mainstream lives today. I often wonder if that "searching" feeling so many of us (myself included) have felt in the past has something to do with unsatiated instincts. Not to geek out on it, but there maybe something to it.

Glad to hear you have found such a great grove. And thanks for the tips!

Lorene said...

My copy of the happiness book arrived yesterday. I'd forgotten that I learned about it from your post. And I love the name "Huxley." Makes me want to reproduce so I can perhaps use that name. As it stands, though, I'll just have to file it away to propose as a name for a future grandson.

Jessie K said...

Freaking doll, that Huxley is.