“To recognize that the greatest error is
not to have tried and failed,
but that in trying,
we did not give it our best effort”
― Gene Kranz
I confess, <<Name>>: getting all gussied up to have dinner with Aviation and NASA greats was a pure pleasure on many levels.Last Friday, JB and I attended the 53rd Annual National Aviation Hall of Fame Induction Dinner. It was a black-tie event, so not only did we have a date night where we were going to meet hero's, I needed to wear an evening gown.
Because, it's not like I wear an evening gown just any day! And though JB often wears suits, his tux hadn't seen the light of day in six years.
Most exciting, though, was the opportunity to be a part of honoring NASA Legend Gene Kranz and Astronaut Jim Lovell. Though I didn't remember witnessing the story unfold as a child, who hasn't seen Apollo 13?
One of the things that brought JB and I together is a shared interest in history. As a former Naval Aviator, JB, of course, connects to many aspects of the Aviation side of history....as for me, airplanes became a way for me not to just read about a moment in time, but see history in the flesh.
Each person has a story. Each plane has a story. Those planes aren't just hunks of metal, but reminders of all the men and women that helped design them, create them, fly them, and maintain them.
What a wonderful evening we had. We were in the Air Force museum, surrounded by glorious planes, mingling with other attendees in their finest, greeting men that had literally made history.
Lovell, of course, took center-stage...being honored and giving the introduction to inductee Kranz. The quote I chose to share with you this week as the theme from Kranz about his life and career: what the greatest error in living isn't having failed at anything, but not really even trying.
It's a reminder to me that why would I choose to half-ass anything and expect results?
And, my other takeaway from this duo was their smiles and their laughter. Here were people that had been through incredibly stressful events in their lives, and they joked and laughed and were fully present in being ALIVE!
In fact, after shaking my hand, Lovell grinned at me, eyed the glass in my hand, and said "Where's the bar?"
Neither of us knew the stories behind the other three inductees (Robert N. Hartzell, Robert Cardenas, and Abe Silverstein) but I have to tell you, their stories were just as thrilling - and important - as the stories of Lovell and Kranz. The story I loved the most, though, was General Robert Cardenas, who at 94, walked onto the stage and shared some highlights from his career, including returning to the Allies via the tunnels under Paris.
Stories matter. And in this day and age of instant satisfaction, the stories of people just doing the best they can with what they have shine.
I hadn't expected to attend the event and learn more about myself and the kind of life I desire to live, but how could I not be changed after hearing the stories?
Time and again, I am reminded that the stories of each person MATTER in the whole scheme of humanity. We can go through hardships and challenges, and we can simply do our best. We can make a difference in the lives of others by being present. We can share in the triumphs of others.
We live our stories. We share our stories so that others can connect with us in some way.
Life is too short and precious not to LIVE it, you know?
So, tell me, darling: what about you? Are you living your life to the fullest? Are you half-assing any area of your life? What would it be like to give your best interest towards something you are passionate about? How can you learn from the stories of others? In what way can history teach you about yourself?
How can you connect with others through each other's stories?
How can you celebrate the victories, embrace life, and laugh? What can you do to fall in love with your life?
With so much love,
PS - Make Your Inner Sex Kitten Roar will be available beginning MONDAY. I can't wait to tell you more about the changes next week!
This week in the blog you'll find Simple Pleasures Invite Presence and Happiness. When it comes to pursuing our happiness, one of the biggest barriers to actually BEING happy is our inability to focus on the here and now. We worry about the past. We focus on the unknown in the future. Our minds slip away from what’s happening and slides down the slippery slope of wandering to anywhere but here and now.
In fact, researchers from Harvard concluded that unhappiness didn’t cause our minds to wander, but our mind’s inability to be present actually was the cause unhappiness.
And thus, away from our own sense of joy.
To be honest, even the happiest of folks have unhappy moments and seek ways to shift more time into the happiness zone. And, my heart goes out to those in the depths of despair not recalling many happy moments, let alone days. And yes, those with picture perfect lives that are on the edges, knowing that they are missing something within their heart or their life.
Because, of course, I’ve been all of those people: the happy gal seeking more delight and the depressed woman wondering if happiness was possible, at least a smidge. I have been the woman on the edge, at times living the picket fence life that seems perfect but isn’t in anyway pleasant beyond the surface and the and the phoenix rising from the ashes, knowing the she is on the edge of a ecstatic joy.
And, because I am a fact finder, I look at the research. I read the Harvard study and once again read about the conclusions I’ve found before: In order to BE happy, you must live in the moment. You must practice presence. You must be mindful in your actions.
And, no matter what stage of your life you’re in, well, darling, you look at these answers and feel frustrated. This is nothing NEW. You have heard this before.
How can you plan for the future and be in the here and now? How can you dive more deeply into joy? How can you be more mindful than you already am without becoming a self-absorbed jerk? What if my present is nowhere near a happy experience? Who would blame my mind for wandering away?
And the answer I’ve discovered when it comes to seeking answers in all these stages was to find practical ways to not just shift my thinking, but experience bliss that isn’t fleeting.
And though I cannot tell you that it’s easy, my darling, it can be simple.
The choice to cultivate simple pleasures in the process of living your ordinary life will immerse you in presence. Yes, you must choose to create a daily life that is nourishing in the small ways, which in all their tininess add up to bigger, bolder, ways to experience profound bliss.
Yes, I know it sounds too simple to be true, but I can tell you that no matter how crappy my life was, that first sip of coffee every morning has always been an infinitesimal moment of presence and delight.
I discovered that I was more successful in extending my periods of contentment and happiness when I took the time to tend the details of my life and seed it with small pleasures.
Here are some of the ways I have seeded the ordinary living with simple pleasures:
- Not only is that first cup of coffee a ritual, I’ve attended each detail of the experience. Filtered water combined with excellent coffee beans, ground fresh each morning . Organic milk and turbinado sugar to blend in my cup served only cups that I feel delightful in my hand and are delightful to look at.
- I make my bed each morning, so that when I slip between the covers at night, I am embraced by high-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets that I change weekly. Because is there anything more glorious than fresh, clean sheets against your skin?
- Popping in and out of the shower when I’m in a hurry happens, of course, so I stock the shower with just the right shower gel so no matter how long I may linger or quickly I want to get clean, it can be a spa-like experience of caring for my skin.
- Speaking of the bathroom, who loves cleaning the toilet? Yet, it’s one of those necessities of a happy home. So, I choose products that make the job easier and make my bathroom smell fresh and clean. It’s a small detail, yet shifts my view of the task and invites me to be present. This concept carries through to all of my cleaning and laundry supplies: products that clean yet delight my olfactory system.
- Working from home means that I could easily slob out and exist in yoga pants and worn out tshirts. Been there, done that and it makes me feel crappy. So, I’ve devised a uniform of sorts to wear: solid skorts or dark jeans paired with sweaters or polos, presentable for unexpected visitors, lunches with girlfriends or video conferences.
- When it comes to getting dressed, I wear my nice lingerie every day. I have a growing collection of costume jewelry that mixes and matches with all my uniform choices. And, my favorite perfume and lipstick are a part of my daily routine. Because each of these details brings me to the here and now.
- I use a basic sketchbook as my journal, which may not seem fancy or special, but I love the heaviness and feel of the paper and the invitation to write as large or small as I desire. And, I only use my favorite pens to write with there. (If you’re curious, it’s the Uniball 207 medium point BLX Ink Pens).
- When JB arrives home from work, we sit on the deck and enjoy a glass of wine as we share the tales of the day. We enjoy the fresh air and the golfers going by while we chat. The wine we drink is the same wine I’d choose for a dinner party.
- We must eat, of course, so when I make dinner, I only serve it on dishes that make me feel excited to dive in. I have deep autumn themed bowls for serving stews and holly-edges plates for Christmas. I no longer keep dishes that I don’t love.
- When dusk arrives on those fall and winter evenings, lighting candles illuminate the dark corners and invite us to pause.
When I mentioned that it was simple, but not easy, it wasn’t a throwaway sentence or a play of words.
As you can see, none of these examples are super expensive nor do they require that I stand on one foot while facing south on every second Tuesday. Yet each of these tiny details and small pleasures demand that I am present.
It’s not easy because our minds will try to convince us that we don’t deserve to have even small pleasures because we haven’t earned it. Who are we to wear our favorite perfume on a day we’re staying home? Who are we to use the good china? What kind of diva must we be to be picky about a writing instrument or the cup we drink from?
These small pleasures, my dear, are a way for us to touch presence. Delighting our senses propels us into awareness. The tiny details we pepper our lives with urges us to be here, now.
So, that’s the challenge I throw down to you: how can you find pepper your world with simple pleasures that open your life up to more profound joy? How can you delight your senses through ordinary living?
No matter what stage of happiness you may be in, you have the ability to invite your mind to stay in the here and now. Life isn’t about the big moments, but all the tiny moments that build upon each other to create deep joy.
Choosing to cultivate simple pleasures leads you to not only living a daily life that you love, but makes you access that deeper sense of joy.
Though we tend to eat mostly chicken and fish, occasionally I create a meal made with "the other white meat" aka pork. Sometimes, of course, I crave my mother's smothered pork chops, done with lots of flour and potatoes in the pressure cooker, but I don't have a pressure cooker, so go to my go-to-method of cooking any meet, which is to saute it in lots of olive oil. To marry that with my attempt to bring more veggies into my diet, I made Mediterranean Pork Chops for lunch last weekend.
Take boneless pork loin chops (either thin or butterflied) and heavily season them with garlic, Italian Seasonings, and fresh ground pepper. In a Dutch Oven or deep skillet, cover the bottom with olive oil and heat on medium-high.
Place the pork chops into the hot pan and get a good sear on each side. Don't crowd the pan, so if necessary, do this in batches.
When all sides are seared, add into the pan a can of petite diced tomatoes and allow to simmer on low for fifteen to twenty minutes. Add a small container of baby spinach and stir into the tomatoes, then turn off the heat and allow spinach to wilt.
Serve the pork chops in a deep bowl, top with the tomato and spinach mixture then add a small sprinkle of feta on top.