So, it turns out I’m now 40 years old. Holy cow! What have I done with my life? But it’s okay, because I’ve actually done quite a bit and don’t regret where I am or who I am. And after forty years, I think that’s an accomplishment in and of itself.
I had thought I would write a post about 40 things I love in honor of the birthday. But it turns out that when I think about having to “LOVE” something that I freeze up at about five things and most of those aren’t even things that are part of my daily life. (My dog, New Zealand, and sky diving were at the top of the list and two of those three are part of my past not my present. The others were vague things like good music and great books.)
But there are probably 40 things in this world that make me happy. So I figured I’d list those instead and under weird categories.
Places I’ve Been That Made Me Happy:
- Lake Atitlan, Guatemala – I’m not sure if it still is, but when I was there it was just stunningly beautiful and I stayed in a hotel that had a botanic gardens so it was even more amazing.
- Lake Taupo, New Zealand – Do you see a theme here? I am a water sign and it shows in what makes me happy. A lake the size of Singapore with a wonderful paved path along its shores and mountains in the background? Check.
- The mountains of Colorado – At the end of the day, Colorado is where I was born and raised and will probably always come back to. Especially up in the mountains. I love blue sky and pine trees and twisty dirt hiking trails and windy mountain roads.
Food That Makes Me Happy:
- My grandmother’s homemade pinto beans – They have this rich, creamy gravy and bacon strips in there and…oh yum. Not particularly healthy, but worth it anyway.
- Haagen-Dazs Sea Salt Caramel Gelato- Oh my god. Heaven. That strip of caramel that runs through it? Wow.
- A good steak – Like from Morton’s. I once stopped eating meat for a couple months because I was just poor and living on baked potatoes and, surprisingly, Snicker’s granola bars for breakfast, and I got so depressed and run down. Finally, I took myself out for a really, really good steak dinner and all those sad feelings just melted away.
- Coca-cola – It doesn’t give me the same feelings of pure bliss as the first few items I had it, but Coke is that one constant in my life from year to year. I don’t drink coffee, so it is my sole source of caffeine. I once wrote an essay for school on how drinking an almost-frozen Coca-Cola from a tall glass bottle is one of my most treasured childhood memories.
- Chef’s tasting menus – I know it sounds strange, but I just love to have a variety of food to try and to be surprised by some new, yummy experience. One of the best courses I ever ate was figs with foie gras. It was sooo good. But I would’ve never ordered that in a million years.
- Cheese – I love a good cheese plate. And I eat cheese every single day. And when I quit my nice-paying job and could only afford your basic cheddar cheese, I have to admit I went through withdrawal from basil-infused Gouda.
Music That Makes Me Happy:
So today I took the new Harry Potter quiz for what North American house you’d get. I was a Wumpus, I think it is. But what cracked me up was the question about jinxes, because one of the possible jinxes was to have music playing in your head all the time and I laughed because I do have music playing in my head all the time. (Right now it’s Taylor Swift.)
I love music. I have 6,457 files in my iTunes library at the moment. Some of those are language-related, but most are songs.
A few of my favorites are:
- Happy by Pharell Williams
- Like Water by Ladi6
- Video by India Arie
- Beast of Burden by The Rolling Stones
- Something To Remember by Madonna
- On My Own from Les Miserables
- A Couple More Years by Dr. Hook
- I Shall Believe by Sheryl Crow
- Hurt by Johnny Cash
- Feelin’ Good by anyone (the version I have in my faves list is by The Pussycat Dolls)
Books That Make Me Happy:
I love to read. I really do. And most of what I read is fantasy, but the books that’ve really left an impression are mostly outside of that genre. So if you asked me favorite authors you’d get a lot of fantasy names (Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robin Hobb, Guy Gavriel Kay, etc.) But in terms of books I’ve read and think, “oh, yes, gooood book”:
- The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
- Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
- Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
I have more books on my favorites shelf, but those are the three that stood out when I looked just now.
Other Things That Make Me Happy:
- Skydiving – I don’t do it anymore, but I loved skydiving. Such a thrill and a challenge. Every jump was a new adventure.
- My pup – She’s such a goof and so worth having in my life.
- My friends – I’m fortunate to have a handful of friends that just get me and that I can hang out with for hours laughing and talking. I’m not one of those people who has a core group that are always together, but the friends I do have I treasure.
- My family – We are by no means perfect and all the family I have left I’ve had struggles with at one point or another, but I love them and I love spending time with them.
- Writing – I’m still not sure why I keep doing it but I do. I love to write. I even love the fiddly bits about designing covers and writing blurbs. It’s a passion for me as far as I have passions. (Which means a good t.v. show can still take priority.)
- Movies – I watch fewer movies now than I used to, but I still love a good movie.
- Television shows – There aren’t that many t.v. shows these days that I really, really love, but I still like to watch television and it still can make me happy to watch. It’s an insight into other people’s lives that I can’t get anywhere else.
- My Home – I don’t have expensive things in my home, but I have lots of little things I’ve picked up from my travels. It makes me smile to see them and be reminded of those places I’ve been.
The Big Picture Things That Make Me Happy:
Haha. It seems I’m too old. Because that was thirty things and I’m struggling to keep going here, so I guess I’ll get all philosophical at the end here.
- Internet – The internet has made my life amazing. I can be anywhere in the world and do my job and write and keep in touch with all my friends and family. Thirty years ago the life I live right now was not possible.
- Planes and Trains and Automobiles – If you think about it, it’s crazy how easy it is for us to get to any place in this world. It’s allowed me all sorts of travel opportunities that, again, would not have been possible to an earlier generation.
- Available Credit – The life I have today is because I was able to borrow money to fund my education and to buy my home and to fund my travels. Without the credit system that exists in my country where a complete unknown can be lent money and a decent amount of it, I would have a much poorer existence.
- Rule of Law – I know that there are some in this country who don’t feel this way, but I think I am incredibly fortunate to live in a society that is as safe as mine is. I don’t need armed guards or barbed-wire fences to protect what I own, which is not true for the entire world. I can travel at night without feeling in imminent danger. I can walk into a restaurant or store alone and feel safe doing so. Not true in all parts of this world.
- Freedom to Be Me – I do not have the same issues that many people I know do in terms of being who they are. I’m a cisgendered heterosexual who generally conforms to society’s expectations. But at the same time, the life I live right now is not a life I could’ve lived a hundred years ago. I am fortunate to live in a society that allows me to be me.
- Nature – I love that I can take my pup to a sixty-acre dog park every morning or drive twenty minutes and find myself in the midst of tree-covered canyons with access to probably a hundred hiking trails.
- My Health – Given my family’s health issues, it’s surprising I didn’t put this one further up the list. Weird how even knowing what I know, I take for granted that I live a pain-free, medicine-free life. But doing so makes me very happy.
- Who I Am – This one’s a hard one to explain, but I’m grateful that I was born who I am with what I was born with in terms of potential and skills and all that. I’ve been fortunate that I don’t think I’ve had to face challenges that others do simply because of who they are.
- Access to Knowledge – I’ve been incredibly fortunate that I’ve had the ability to access the type of knowledge that could help me improve my life. From getting a scholarship to a private middle school and high school to the colleges I attended to being able to take free courses online now to being able to acquire knowledge from blogs and Internet forums.
- Money – A weird one to end on, but I’m sort of stretching at this point. I’m not rich by any means, but having enough money to pay for food and a roof over my head and the things I enjoy doing is so so so vital to everything else. Money is a thing it’s easy to take for granted until you don’t have it. The pursuit of money in and of itself isn’t worth the sacrifices to me, but I do think having enough to take away the day-to-day worry about tomorrow is essential to happiness.
So there you have it. Forty things that make me happy, as bizarre a list as it is. Hopefully if I make it to eighty I’ll be just as contented with my life then as I am now. But I will not be writing a list of eighty things that make me happy. Forty, it turns out, was hard enough!