personal growth

Emotional Weather Barometers ~ Sadly No App For That

I love my weather app. Like, to a possibly unhealthy degree. I know it’s a little nutty to repeatedly check the current temperature on a little machine instead of just sticking my head outside and judging for myself. But there’s something so reassuring about always “knowing” the temp and humidity and the type of precipitation we are or are not experiencing at this very “updated two minutes ago” moment. And even though I know, rationally, that the forecast might change drastically between now and then, I really like knowing the predicted chance of rainfall next Tuesday. I don’t know why. I don’t claim to be normal.

The other day it occurred to me how awesome it would be if there was an app like the Weather Channel for my life. Some sort of mood gauge or progress barometer that highly trained specialists could read, analyzing insights I was likely to stumble upon, calculating my future emotions based on hormones and sleep and food and exercise. “By Thursday, you should be feeling substantially better – your current ennui is unjustified, a mere blip in your spiritual barometer…like a front it will pass and the birds will sing.” That. Would. Rock.

Or perhaps it would be able to warn me of emotions that haven’t surfaced, not-yet-visible storms on the horizon whose inevitability blows like a hurricane across the Atlantic ~ undoubtably coming but the trigger that equals landfall and the exact timing are still up in the air. The prediction would caution vigilance, emotional inventories – at least I’d know to stock up on sleep.

I guess this urge to know the future is why people read horoscopes and question oracles – two things I don’t do very often anymore. And the reason I’ve stopped is that I finally realized I have way more control over my emotions, now and in the future, than I will ever have over the weather. Not that anyone can exactly choose their feelings every second, but we can change our emotional direction and weaken the impact of negative emotion far more than we usually give ourselves credit for. But we must first accept responsibility for ourselves and the way we feel.

It seems easier to just predict how we will feel, as if our futures are inevitable. Sometimes I am like that: “I didn’t want X to happen but it did, ergo I will feel angry.” But it doesn’t have to work like that. When I stop resisting what “is” and realize how much is outside my control, my inner Doppler radar calms down a lot. There are fewer hurricanes. More sunny days. I realized that I can choose to be a birch that bends or a branch that breaks, and that when the sun hides her sunny face for too many days on end, I can be like the moonflower, blooming by moonlight in spite of herself.

So I guess I’m cool without the app. I have too many anyway (Machinarium, anyone? That game is so much more fun than silly personal growth any day.) Seriously, though. I don’t need a barometer, only the courage to accept life and what it brings, no matter the stormy weather.

Still. It would be super-cool if there was an app for that.


personal growth, yoga

Bangs and the Pursuit of Happiness

Last year I vowed to not make any New Year’s resolutions. It worked well and I managed to accomplish all sorts of things while resolving absolutely nothing. However, with the turning of another year (and the fact that I survived the prophesied end of the world…thanks Mayans,) I find myself reflecting on where my life’s path has taken me and where I’d like to journey next.

The only problem is that those kinds of reflections often send me into a spiral of “should haves” or white-knuckle-life-changing strategies that never seem to work out. I’ve discovered that when I focus on what I want instead of what I should want or don’t want, I take much bigger leaps forward in life, at least from a satisfaction and happiness perspective. Little hunches and whims have carried me far, from my job to yoga to writing a children’s book to most of my closest friends. Following supposed “flights of fancy” often takes my life in new directions I didn’t perceive at the outset, directions that often seem unrelated to the initial “purpose” or point of the activity. Inevitably, I find myself in situations that I would have chosen for myself in hindsight. but if I’d set out to arrive at my destination I never would have been able to plan the haphazard, jaunty path whimsy set before me as the quickest path to “happy”.

So this year, when I found myself trying to design some sort of new “project” for my life or to structure my growth towards a defined goal, a little voice inside resisted. Every idea I played around with didn’t seem right until this one: Do what makes me happy. In Joseph Campbell’s more eloquent words: Follow your bliss.

I find myself in the fortunate position of liking my job and the person I live with (two big criterions for happiness), and I have several good friends….so I’m starting out this little project ahead of the game, probably thanks to all those whims I’ve already followed over the last decade of my life. But now I give myself permission to pursue this sort of happiness path with gusto and enthusiasm. In the past the “shoulds” have stopped me, but no longer.

I’m no fool. I know there will be all sorts of things I have to do that might not be my preference in the moment. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about my free time, the people I associate with, the projects I devote myself to. I’m talking about filling my life with even more beauty and joy and playfulness than I’ve allowed in so far, and seeing where it takes me.

First stop? A new haircut on Saturday. When I told my daughter that I’ve wanted bangs for the longest time but haven’t gotten them she looked at me with total confusion. “Why wouldn’t you do something that you’ve wanted to do for so long?” I didn’t have a good answer for her and hopefully, I won’t be asking myself that question much longer.

Here’s to a year of pursuing passion and talking to owls (my term for trusting and listening to your inner voice.)