Numbers 51-60 of 100+ Things That Make Me Happy

August 31, 2010

It’s time for another edition of “100+ Things That Make Me Happy“.  One of the best things of this edition, is almost all of it is from actual experiences I’ve had during this first week of summer vacation (and even better, there are still two weeks left of vacation!).  You’ll see several summer pleasures on this list.

51.  Hanging out in a hammock on a hot summer day

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My husband is a master hammock-hanger.  He actually has put up chains in the trees where we put the hammocks so they can be rapidly attached and taken down (better for short weekend trips to the summer house).  I like lying in them, listening to the sounds of the bugs, birds and trees, and reading a book, falling asleep and generally daydreaming.  They’re in the shade strung between several trees, and basically the best thing to do in the hot afternoons in the South of France is retreat here for a few hours…

52. Doing something slightly adventurous, like canoeing.

Bugs!  Life jackets!  Sunburn!  Also : water, sun, family, nature, & a whole lot of fun!  Anything new can be an adventure, and a lot of outdoor activities qualify as adventures each time you do them.  I think adventures are great ways of waking up your brain to new ways of doing things, and pursuing them keeps your spirit alive.

53.  Pay it Forward.

I’ve been through a lot to try to have a baby. It feels good when I can take some of what I’ve learned and share it in a calming, reassuring, hopeful way with someone else.  I have a friend who’s starting to go down some similar paths, it’s been nice for both of us to share this.  It helps me to play the expert, to help guide her through the tests, the worry, the hope.  It helps her to not feel so alone.

54. The “typical” summer meal at our summer house : tomatoes, olive oil, goat cheese & melon

The “typical” summer meal at our summer house consists of tomatoes, olive oil, goat cheese & melon.  It’s often accompanied by sausage or salami, and often sweet onions that are rare in France but actually grow in this region.  “Goat cheese” in the American sense isn’t really a fair description – the cheese of this region is called Pélardon, and it sells for about 4 dollars for 2 ounces in Paris, but down here it’s quite cheap (and much better!).  My husband could eat this meal twice a day, but I often use our vacation time to try new recipes, so he rarely gets to…  Sometimes I’m able to take enough cheese back from the region so that we can enjoy a week of this kind of eating back at home, but this year that didn’t work out.

55. Swimming

I’ve grown up and I no longer feel self conscious in a bathing suit (well, most of the time).  I love the feeling of my body moving through water, I love the meditative repetitive motion.  My husband is allergic to chlorine so if I swim a lot sometimes he has issues (it NEVER completely washes off).  I went back to swimming about 2 years ago and loved it – then kind of got out of the habit, but am so glad I’ve found it again!  It’s best when it’s outdoors, but all year it’s a real pleasure.

56. Picking fresh fruit off the trees (cherries, plums, pears) or bushes (blackberries)

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There is little in life that makes you appreciate how truly wonderful Nature can be as much as a naturally-grown, perfectly-ripened fruit fresh off the tree.  When you feel like you’re in competition with the birds and the insects you know you’ve hit the right time, and your fingers get stained with fruit juices, your belly gets full with warm-from-the-sun morsels and there is succulent bounty around you.  This year we caught Cherry season in May, and last week we found yellow plums, purple plums and blackberries galore!  Joy!

57. Watching stars, especially on a warm summer night when there is a  chance to see shooting stars!

We’ve been really lucky this year to be at our summer house during the Perseid meteor shower and the peak days to see it (just before a new moon).  It’s been a great evening activity, taking full advantage of the countryside, the warm summer nights, and a chance to enjoy life with no gadgets!  It’s always great to stargaze in the countryside, but nights when you can so clearly see the Milky Way and hope for a glimpse of shooting stars is the best!

58. Birthday cake and ice cream

Cake and Ice Cream

Recipe for a good year : cake AND ice cream

When I was 25 a good friend told me that in order to have a good year you MUST have both cake and ice cream on your birthday.  I have a number of superstitions I adhere to, but this is probably the most consistent one.  I go out of my way to make sure I have both on my birthday.  This year my husband and I had agreed that the big birthday celebration would be the night before my birthday, and he went to some lengths to make sure there was my required cake and ice cream.  But I still felt I needed to be sure of a good year, so on the day itself I still went and found ice cream. Then cake.  Then more ice cream.  Can you tell I take my birthday day off from my diet?  I think I covered my bases for a new year!

59.  Catching a rainbow!

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I’ve always liked rain, I guess because I have memories of my mom taking us to run through the park during rainstorms, letting us get go wild and get totally wet.  I like rain, but even better is when after the rain the sun pops out again, and you actually see a rainbow.  We had just a little bit of rain on one day of our vacation, but enough to run through puddles and later, see a rainbow (actually a double rainbow, but the double is quite faint in this picture).

60. Time off work

Of course, to enjoy all these wonderful vacation things that make me happy, you actually have to have time to GO on vacation.  One of the things I really love about working in France is the generous vacation time everyone has.  Another is the culture of vacations, because there are tons of options of places to go and things to do about 5 times a year during the summer, winter, November & Easter vacations (plus Christmas) that fit every price range and type of interest.  From waitresses to CEOs, everyone takes time off, and no one is revered for working during time off.

What makes you happy?

If you start the 100+ Things List I’ll link to your post (or page) if you let me know.  There is a page that shows my Happy List above under the heading “Relax”

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