Monday, September 29, 2008

the dozen daily delights

After my posts yesterday about wine and chocolate, plus pondering the end of the world, I've decided to list the twelve daily deeds of delight for health and happiness. Each must be performed every single day. Each must be done without hurry, without thinking about what comes next.

  • drink tea (I like hot Irish breakfast with a spash of 2% aka semi-skimmed milk, but some strange people prefer it cold, with ice in it, and I'm okay with that, as long as the tea is freshly brewed and not some vile packet thing)

  • eat chocolate (I mean chocolate not brown 'candy', and I most definitely do not, notnotnot, mean Hershey's; may be combined with drinking tea)

  • drink wine (may substitute beer)

  • eat a piece of fruit (I mean fruit, a whole something you could pick from a tree or vine: an apple, a nectarine, a pear; not juice; not sorbet; not a disgusting frozen pie; a plump ripe luscious piece of mouth-watering fruit grown without herbicides or pesticides)

  • eat fresh vegetables (I mean a brightly coloured, vitamin-stuffed vegetable, not starch, not french fries or creamed corn or frozen peas, but some still-glistening with the dew courgette, lightly sauted in olive oil; roasted butternut squash; steamed cabbage tossed in Danish butter and freshly-ground white pepper. Vegetables.)

  • have a conversation (I don't mean an information exchange about who's cooking dinner tonight; I don't mean a shouting match or politely modulated torment about politics; I don't mean an angsty confession about childhoold trauma, or a monologue about javascript; I mean a relaxed, lively, back-and-forth exploration of what gives each of you joy; maybe combined with eating vegetables and drinking wine)

  • have sex (why would you do Kegel's exercises when orgasm is the best way to exercise your pelvic floor? why would you do step-exercises when you can use all major muscle groups and get a good cardiovascular exercise with thrills? why do couples therapy when you can bond the old-fashioned way?)

  • get out in the fresh air (walking from the office to the car doesn't count; I'm talking about the park, the beach, the city at one o'clock in the morning: breathe deep of cool, living air)

  • do nothing, think nothing, say nothing for at least 5 minutes (it gets easier with practise; beginners should start in the bath)

  • look at something with attention--a bird or a beetle, the back of your hand or a glass of water, a shoe or a pencil--until you see something new (newness is all around us; trust me, this one puts a sparkle around your day for hours, and it's a must for beginning artists)

  • read a novel (may substitute a good poem or two, or a play or script, but not non-fiction)

  • enjoy a glass of cool water and feel very, very lucky

A bad day is when I do fewer than seven things on this list. A good day is nine or more. A brilliant day--which I'm planning for tomorrow--is every single thing on the list (some more than once) plus a few extra.

What makes a good day for you?

Oh, and by the way, this is my 200th blog post since the very first one exactly six months ago.




  1. For me a must is writing something. Either jotting on the blog or banging out fiction, even emails, but something. It stops the annoying itch in the back of my head and makes the days I don't write sweeter.

  2. A good day would be seeing my partner smile again, finding her way through the grief, that right now is consuming her. If I could find a way to help her through her pain, that would be a good day.

  3. ssas, I don't have to write every day--unless, as now, I'm actively working on something. Then if I don't work, I feel as though a cat is licking my brain. Shudder.

    Rory, I'm so sorry to hear about your partner's grief. How recent is it? In my experience, the first two months are terrible, then it eases marginally. And I need to hold my sweetie often and long. Kelley has always helped me the most by not getting sucked into the grieving herself, and by being herself in all ways--though of course willing to stop and give me a long hug at the drop of a hat.

  4. My partner's father had a massive stroke in Feb., we were on the first plane out of here but we did not get there in time. It was a heartbreaking experience for me to watch this man taken off of life support, I can only imagine what it did to her.

    She won't talk about it with me, she says she is fine. She keeps trying to push me away, anything and everything can set her off. I know now not to take the attacks personally but they don't seem to be abating. This weekend was particularly bad because this is the first time her father will not be here for the Jewish holidays.

    I keep trying to hold her and just be there if she wants to talk, some days I am successful, most days I am not.

    My heart is just aching for her, to get through this somehow, to find the joy in life again. I just can not see the light at the end of the tunnel, although I know it is there. The worst part is just watching someone I love so much, being consumed by so much pain.

  5. I'm sorry to hear that, Rory. We just went through a stroke in my family.

    I've long suspected that emotions are not so much a spectrum but a big tangle stuffed in our hearts. Happiness and love might lie very close to grief. Patience and kindness, which it sounds like she has in abundance from you, is what she needs.

  6. Rory, I'm so sorry to hear about this. It is so hard to feel helpless in the face of a beloved's grief.

    I think the hardest part is that what grieving people do and say often has no discernible context... it just happens. Of course the context is all internal, but if people don't want to talk about it, then it's hard to know what's going on.

    For what it's worth, I don't think there is anything you can do except be available, and allow yourself the daily happiness that comes into your life, even if she cannot do that for herself. I think of it as keeping the batteries charged for both of you, rather than letting both batteries be depleted. Don't know if that makes sense.

    I'll be thinking of you.

  7. Brown candy. I am whooping out loud!!!
    I just started reading The Gathering by Anne Enright (Irish author) because have a weakness for Irish things (music, accents, Guinness...) and because, as I flipped through it at LAX, I randomly hit upon not one but THREE different sex scenes. :P
    A good day is discovering poetry, in nature or on a page. It's here too, in this novel: "His muscles hooked to bone and wrapped with fat...."
    Rory, a hug to you.

  8. ssas, Kelley and Sarah, thank you for your kind wishes. Kelley I understand what you are saying. I know that patience, understanding and being available are the only things I can control at this point. We are going to get through this and we will be a lot stronger for it.

    Nicola, sorry if I was such a wet rag on your blog today. Hope that you have a wonderfully joyous and happy birthday tomorrow.

  9. Rory, she's lucky to have you there - that kind of support is a huge gift, and when the worst of this is past for her, I'm sure she will acknowledge that. And it will get easier, it's just hard to say when.

    In my experience, I can't see happiness rubbing up anywhere close to grief. Love, yes.

    Excellent list. I can't think of anything to add to it. Maybe I need to start noticing how many of those I can check off in a day...

  10. Rory, no need to apologise. This is a tough blog, it can take it.

    But following on from what Kelley said, when I was grieving what helped most was knowing that the world continued no matter how wacky my internal part of it became. (And grief really does make you a bit insane. It alters all kinds of brain transmitters.) It mattered that Kelley stayed stable and smile and even laughed now and again.

  11. Nicola, thank you for this post.
    When the light fades this time of year, I tend to hide under the covers at the foot of the bed with the dog.

    This was a perfect reminder to be present every day. I've got my own list going, and this was a perfect addition! Thanks again.

    Rory, allow me to join the others in offering my virtual shoulder. Pain and grief really .do. make a mess of us. Grief can tear us to pieces. But as one who's lost her father suddenly, the tatters do come back together. You are so good for your partner.

  12. I have just been browsing your blogs - all fascinating - and came across your recipe for daily rituals and thought it was the best advice I'd heard in a long long time - thanks for that!!


  13. I hope you have delightful days ahead...

  14. Just curious, why no music on your day's list?