A Day in the Life

I have been observing my cat, Tommy, this week on my quest for contentment. You see, he, like many other animals I have observed, seems to find happiness in the simple things. As humans, it seems to take a lot to make us feel content. We need to go for a walk on a mild, sunny day with a gentle breeze; our dinners need to be comforting yet healthy with a little variety thrown in for good measure; and hold the phone if our piece of fruit has a blemish!

Tommy, on the other hand, goes tearing through the house whenever he feels like it. He would have Tuna Marinade for dinner every night regardless of how good it is for him. And as for his fruits and vegetables, he’ll pretty much give anything a go once, even a piece of fluff.

After fifteen months observing his behaviour I thought I would try it his way. Maybe the things I think are important, are in fact not. Perhaps cats have the right of it and I have just unlocked the key to eternal happiness!

I had an a-ha moment … a different a-ha moment. (Image from http://www.mtv.com)

So, I decided to live a life in the day of Tommy. A day where his rules rule. So here goes…

Kitty Rulz 1: Sleep. In fact, sleep pretty much anywhere you can, as often as you can. The more awkward the position, the better.

Kitty Rulz 2: Eat small meals often. Food tastes best from the ground. Again, fluff is worth a try.

Kitty Rulz 3: Bend the rules from time to time…but not the Kitty Rulz.

Image from catladyland.net

Kitty Rulz 4: Exercise regularly. Running is good. The more random the better. It keeps everyone on their toes.

Kitty Rulz 5: Keep clean.

Kitty Rulz 6: Take every opportunity to play. It’s fun.

Kitty Rulz 7: The simplest things can be entertaining. Don’t mind the expensive toys, everyday things will do. Straws, bottle tops, fluff…

Image from ilovefunnypics.com

Kitty Rulz 8: Seek sun.

Kitty Rulz 9: Appreciate your surroundings. Show your surroundings they are appreciated by rubbing your face along them or licking them.

Kitty Rulz 10: Look after number one first and foremost. And second…and third…

Image from tickld.com

It was an interesting day and I have to say I haven’t felt this relaxed in a while. I followed most of his rules, with a few exceptions. I slept in this morning and showered (good start). I spent quite a bit of time listening to music and grooving around the house just because I could and it was fun. I deliberately sat in a sunny spot in my house and enjoyed it. Although I should have cleaned my house, I didn’t. What a rebel.  I snacked like a champion and had a great nap in the afternoon (and now have a crick in my neck due to the awkwardness of my position – nice tip Tommy). I also showed my appreciation for our comfy couch by drooling all over it.

The funny thing is, when you break down the Kitty Logic, it is basically the same things that human professionals advise us to do: eat well, get plenty of sleep and Vitamin D, live in the moment, exercise, enjoy life’s simple pleasures, and look after yourself. So, in effect, it is not so much Kitty Logic as Kitman Logic. Or Hutty Logic. Call it what you will, but the point is, our pets are onto something.

Unfortunately, due to breaking the rules (no cleaning) I couldn’t bring myself to eat off the floor. There was just far too much fluff!

I AM a Maniac!

I have to say, dragging my butt along to the gym is not always easy after a full day of phone calls, emails, people, emails, meetings, and did I mention emails? I have a common tactic of getting caught up in a conversation at work just long enough to miss the class I was going to (apparently there are no options other than classes at my gym). The simple fact I forget time and time again is how bloody fantastic I feel after going. I feel like I could conquer the world one treadmill at a time. Move over Jane Fonda, check out my hot cross buns!!

Jane Fonda (Image from flowtv.org)

Today my constitutional of choice was Spin, which in essence is forty-five minutes of  cycling that leaves you quivering in a pool of your own sweat, and a little of the person’s beside you. There happens to be a track in this class that I am particularly fond of: Maniac. In my fuzzy-minded exhaustion, I’ve often contemplated shoving the instructor off the stage and ripping out that classic Flashdance scene. Don’t worry, the instructor would be fine. Not only is he very fit and agile, his padded shorts provide a soft landing platform for his bum.

The aforementioned song has a knack for making me spin my legs off in a way that Barbie simply could not manage. Flying like the speed of light, yet technically going no where, I felt I could have overtaken every row ahead of me in a blaze of over-sized jumper and leotard bottoms. I feel I should mention that I was only the living embodiment of Jennifer Beals in my head, but that is entirely beside the point.

Jennifer Beals is a maniac too! (Image from sowhateverhappenedto.com)

But seriously, if we are talking about getting happy, exercise would have to be one of the best ways of improving your mood. If you have ever pushed yourself past that initial burn and reached the euphoria that only comes with this kind of exercise, you will know what I mean. Today, I could have gone on and on until I fell off my spin bike a la Bridget Jones.

Bridget Jones (Image from culture.com)

I think there is an important point to consider here, however. You do need to enjoy what you are doing just a little bit. That doesn’t necessarily mean enjoying the hours of debate with yourself. Or other people’s stinky feet. Or the eye-full of someone else boob you accidentally got in the change room. Those things no one can enjoy unless of course you are a male lawyer with a foot fetish. The point is that I’m not sure I would get quite the same feeling if I were jogging or rock climbing. I just don’t enjoy those things. But give me an aerobics room or something to punch and I’m a jumping, kicking maniac!

Be warned: what follows is the red, puffy, sweaty phlegm monster, but it’s all part of the magic my friend. If only modern society would still accept the wearing of leg warmers and leotards, I would be as happy as a pig on a spin bike.

Mood Music

Music makes you feel good. I know, duh, right? How many times have you found yourself bopping around to the radio and singing at the top of your lungs like you just don’t care. Or more to the point, how many times has someone else walked in on you doing this. Now there’s a fun experience.

It’s something that we all know, but the fact is it is a fact. Well, at least many a clever person has studied the impact of music on our health and the benefits we can derive from it. Music has been said to reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, and even improve recovery times following surgery. A friend of mine who suffers from extreme anxiety at the dentist (who doesn’t, I hear you say) was advised by the dentist to listen to music on her earphones while he chipped and prodded and drilled…quick, where’s my iPod!

I have personally tested the theory that music makes you feel better and have taken to wearing earphones when cleaning the house. My study indicates that there was a significant decrease in chipped skirting boards, noise pollution (caused by things slamming into other things) and instances of “toilet face”: a condition caused by toilet water splashing in the subject’s face.

So that proves it: music really does work! Breakthrough accomplished now pass me my Nobel Prize please sir! Who hasn’t felt one hundred times better doing a bit of butt slapping along with Sir Mix-a-Lot. Personally I like to mix-a-lot of Riverdance a la Michael Flatley. Just his legs along would improve anyone’s mood.

At the top of this post you will notice a link to a video which would have to be my ultimate feel good song. I had to pass on my favourite lyrics because they’re just so, well, you make up your own mind:

So what we have to do is move on up and keep on wishing
Remember your dream is your only scheme so keep on pushing

Seriously, try listening to this without busting a groove on your dance floor a.k.a. your living room. In fact, if you’re not inclined to do some toe tapping, I’ll set you a challenge. Try listening to this song, frowning. Honestly, you won’t be able to. Certainly another friend of mine wouldn’t be able to as I recently found out he can’t frown, but that’s another story which was also one hilarious discovery I must say. Perhaps I’ll have to make him the poster boy for my blog…

Enjoy and I hope it leaves you feeling chipper!

Meet My Friend: Procrastination

Murder She Wrote

Is that you, Procrastination?
Angela Lansbury in Murder She Wrote

Most days for me revolve around my computer and involve working through reports, finding information on databases and interpreting guidelines on top of my normal management duties. Exciting stuff I hear you say. Well, believe it or not, there’s not a great deal of creativity involved in any of these pursuits. Rather than throwing a kicking, screaming tantrum and pulling my hair out about this, which frankly would only cause my colleagues to think “we need to do something about this bald girl”, I have decided that I need to foster my creativity outside of work.

For the last three or four years I have been playing around with writing. My current focus, and I use that term loosely, is writing for children. Sometimes there is nothing better than sitting down to my laptop or notebook and playing puppeteer with my characters. Inventing places, people and things is thrilling. Being able to conjure up an idea in my head and put it into a story gives me an extraordinary sense of achievement. So what’s stopping me?

Well, let me introduce you to my good old friend, Procrastination. He’s the type of friend who will knock on your door at just the wrong time and say, “What are you doing that for? Come sit on the couch with me and watch Murder She Wrote.” He isn’t the type to stand behind you and support you, but he’ll always make you a cup of tea. Even ten if you want. He’s not a planner, more a spur-of-the-moment fellow. He’s not into fitness, or hobbies, or eating well. He prefers television, surfing the internet, and any mindless activity as long as it’s not too hard. Braiding a stray strand of hair for example. Or daydreaming. Peeling dried glue off his hands…

Procrastination stops me, and probably a lot of people, from doing things that I know make me happy. Instead of jumping in there and doing it, Procrastination tells me “it’s too windy to go for a run” or “you know, you’ll have to change your shoes if you want to go into the garden,” or “I think you need more stationery before you start that.”

So if this is a quest for happiness, it is time to put this happy sapper in a box. From now on I will endeavour to stop Procrastination in his tracks and keep doing the things that I know make me happy. He means well, I’m sure, but sometimes, with him, you just need to pretend you’re not home.

Soup for the Soul

Image from allaboutpumpkins.com

It’s getting cold. We are nearing the end of Autumn and my eternally icy hands and feet are fearing the colder days to come. I’m not sure what I’m complaining about because, in truth, the winters are fairly mild where I come from. Much to my disappointment, but to the delight of my extremities, we don’t have the opportunity to make snow angels or snowmen. I’m pretty sure if we did I’d be one of those people who would have to put the carrot somewhere other than the snowman’s face…

In truth, it’s just a tad chilly here and I spend most nights with my feet stuffed into giant socks and the covers up around my forehead. We tend to have a nightly debate about how far the covers should come up the bed to avoid giant ice caverns created by my other half. It’s a debate I generally lose, but unbeknown to him I win as I am a master of stealth, i.e. I pull the covers up when he’s out of the room. Sneaky huh?

As a lover of all things food, and particularly anything that can be cooked long and slow, this is a very exciting time of year for me. Soup season! There is nothing quite so soothing and satisfying as a pot of soup bubbling away on the stove. I think half of the satisfaction comes from knowing how many vegetables have been packed into each serving. I guess the other half comes from pulverising the whole thing with my stick mixer, although there is a soup and a place for doing this.

In light of my quest for contentment, I have decided that cooking is something that I will be doing more often, so I have decided to soup up my saucepan. And no, that doesn’t mean affixing a spoiler or go-faster-stripes to the side.

There is something very therapeutic about making soup, or any slow cooked meals for that matter. The act of preparing, stirring, simmering, and of course eating, is difficult to beat. So today I whipped up (literally, with my stick mixer of course) a batch of the old faithful pumpkin soup. I add a little twist to mine with some spices which gives a healthy zing to the taste buds. The end result was a glorious, golden pot of deliciousness which I have to say tasted marvelous, in fact if I was still ten years old I would have been saying “yum, yum, pigs bum”. The best part was not only did my soul get a big, soupy cuddle, my hands got to forget, albeit only for a moment, that winter is on its way.

The quest begins!

It seems to be the hot topic of the moment: blogging. I would love to meet the person who came up with the term used by professionals, foodies, mums and CEOs alike and, quite frankly, makes me think of great muddy holes or things that live up my nose. Perhaps that was the point…

Whoever they were, I have to admire their ability to have people from all walks of life repeating this ridiculous word. Imagine if they had called them snozgrubbles. Can you imagine a table full of executives debating the content of the next snozgrubble? I like to think the creators

fun

fun (Photo credit: hodgers)

of blogging had a bit of a laugh when coming up with the term.

I’ve always believed in not taking yourself too seriously. In fact, it is something I have always struggled to do which doesn’t always compute working in a business environment. I’ve never exactly been a class clown, but for me being serious has it’s limits and I’m all for lightening the mood at any possible opportunity. Give me puns over presentations any time.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, life has a tendency to draw me into the droll and dreary beast that is the rat race but it is time to rebel! Instead of bills I want thrills and instead of responsibilities I want more possibilities!

So here goes. I am on a quest to make my otherwise mundane life just a little more exciting. To find ways of squeezing some fun into the familiar. I am on a quest. Come join me!