Heather: 27% happier


Every year at this time, yard work totally weighs on me. It’s not a feeling that I can honestly call guilt, but it pushes on my cranium in the same way. Maybe obligation? Whatever it is, I don’t like it. Too much chatter in the brain; sentencers that start with “you should”.


Proof that my Australia vacation was beneficial: I came home with some new rules for myself; well, maybe not rules, but some ideas on how to live better. I’m telling you, a little thinking time works wonders. Also, Carrie Bradshaw thinks that single women should be thrown a party for being brave enough to go on vacation by themselves. I’m just happy with my post-vacation take-aways:


1) Chill out on the mental dialog. I am so not sure how I am going to do this. But it’s so weird how things happen in life. I’m not all spiritual, but I keep getting messages from different people about the mental dialog and what it means and the importance of calming it. Eckhard Tolle says it’s the ego (are you reading his book? I’m 1/4 of the way through and it’s pretty awesome) and it’s definitely not your identity. I think I must have decided that when I named it (note to self: when you tell people in person that you named your inner voice, don’t be surprised when they look at you like you have a horn growing out of your head). So I am not sure what I am going to do about the voice, you know, the ones that keeps me up at night. But I am going to do something; maybe yoga. It just feels like mental clutter. I can at least acknowledge it for what it is.


2) Speaking of clutter (and despite the fact that I have done a wee bit of shopping lately), I am going to continue to scale down on the possessions (I can’t bear the thought of a yard sale, but I am sure I can find good homes for a lot of my stuff). When I am about to buy something, I have to ask myself “Will it make me happy to look at this thing? Will it make my life better?”.  I’m getting so much better at saying no (and actually feeling really good about it). I am not my possessions. I feel another major purge coming on. Bring it. Or at least bring your pick-up truck over to my house.


3) Obligation. I have talked about this before: the way it feels to do something because you feel obligated, not because you want to. I’m going to be selfish for a while. I am going to have to let go of some routines. I already feel kind of liberated by this. For example, yard work. Every year, I plant stuff and try to get my yard looking all Better Homes and Gardens. I’m am so not doing that this year. I am mowing the lawn and I have spraying the weeds and that is it. I’m not going to get myself all wrapped up in “I have to work on the yard today!” No, I do not. I do not “have to” anything. My neighbors don’t care. Yeah, I like having a nice yard but I also need to learn how to relax. And that doesn’t happen when there’s a voice in my head trying to make me feel guilty about not having dirt under my fingernails. I admit it, I don’t like gardening; I like having a nice yard. There’s a trade-off there. So I am trying something different. I won’t be doing the same things because I always have. And I won’t feel like I owe someone my time. (Hi, mid-life crisis…jeez….next I’ll be buying a Porsche)


4) Less of other things that don’t add to my life. Less TV and more reading (I’ve been getting through a book a week). Less analyzing and more appreciating. More cooking, more music. Less “projects”. Less thinking about what I should do, more time outdoors. Less wine, more water. More listening, less talking. More sleep? Huh, nature? Can I have more sleep? Por favor?


I already feel better just typing this out. It’s kind of like figuring out that you are allergic to your laundry detergent and not your clothes, if that makes any sense (even if it doesn’t make any sense, that’s what it’s like). It’s 10:53 and I am still in my pajamas and I don’t feel bad about it.

Comments (12)

  1. RB says:

    You should have put up a vacation group on Meetup.com. Hell that’s what I should do.

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    What? I don’t want to vacation with people I don’t know. I kind of liked the flexibility of being on my own.

  3. Kevin Daly says:

    2 Reminded me of something: a few years ago when I was getting ready to leave the country for several years I put some of my stuff in storage, sold some of it and gave a lot of it away, and some of it of course (2 large boxes and a guitar) I had shipped off to Dublin, where I was going.

    I remember vividly the last night I spent in my old flat, with just my clothes and a sleeping bag…and the sense of being *free*. Partly we’re brainwashed into wanting to own things because other people make so much money from selling them to us, but it’s amazing how much we can actually do without.

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    That is so true. When I was in college, I could fit all my stuff in my car and I remember what it felt like to pack it up and geton the road. Kind of awesome.

  5. wisemx says:

    Heather I think you should make that yard a nice place to ride your scooter fast and yell Woohoo!  🙂

  6. Geezer says:

    Many moons ago a very wise person suggested I "stop shoulding on myself." Best suggestion I’ve ever gotten.

    Now I pass it forward to you.  Enjoy! 🙂

  7. --Lisa says:

    I’ve been downsizing myself, using freecycle.org.  It’s refreshing to give things away.  And there is always someone who needs your discards.

  8. Steve says:

    Lisa beat me to it – definitely join a local freecycle.org mailing list group to rid yourself of personally-unused-but-usable-by-others type of items.

  9. Bad_Brad says:

    Here’s a good one that a Microsoft manager of mine told me … everyone has a "to-do" list.  But no one has a "stop-doing" list.  And most people don’t need more "to-do", most people do need more "stop-do".  If there’s something that you do, at work or in your personal life, and you are not even sure why you do it (maybe it’s just because that’s what’s always been done), stop doing it.  Just stop.  If someone notices (i.e. if someone was relying on you to do that thing for them), then continue doing it, but at least you’ll know who you’re doing that thing for.

  10. HeatherLeigh says:

    Bad_Brad, it’s mostly self-imposed obligation. Now that I realize it for what it is, it seems kind of silly.  Instead of trying to make everything perfect, I’m going to get comfortable woth 90%. That extra ten percent is really a pain.

  11. mrscrooge says:

    Great post. The ‘less tv/possessions’ does wonders. As part of ‘more reading’, I’d recommend trying out magazines like "Seed", "Ode" or "Adbusters" which usually have great articles and interesting new ideas.

  12. HeatherLeigh says:

    Thanks for the recommendation. Did I mention that I am reducing the # of magazines I am subscribing to? So far, People, Us Weekly (don’t judge, I have no idea how I got subscribed to it) and Food &Wine are out. I’ll probably cut out a few more. Too much pressure to readh the big stack that I haven’t gotten to. Maybe I can check out your magazines online.