Violà!

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My beautiful grandmother.

Violà – is part of my very limited French vocabulary thanks to my grandmother; it means ‘And there you go!’. It’s something she would often say to me and my sister whenever she would present us with some of her amazing cooking, or if she had discovered an item that we had declared absolutely lost forever – and was always sewn on a little fabric label into the wildly creative wooly jumpers and pretty pinafores she would make us.

About 6 years ago my grandmother was diagnosed with dementia. Unusually, it attacked the speech centre of her brain before her memory. In many ways we have been very lucky in that her personality has remained largely intact; however, over the last 6 years her ability to speak has slowly reduced almost to nothing. I have always been very close to my grandmother; she was the sole instigator of my love affair with classic literature and writing. Throughout my childhood and early adulthood, I would spend every Wednesday night sitting on her the kitchen bench drinking hot milo and avidly discussing my latest read with her. So I have found it very hard to watch my grandmother’s fierce love of literature and quick wit slowly snuffed out. I often find myself wanting to tell her things about my life, ask her for advice or just talk to her about my latest read. But I can’t. And I miss her. I miss her enthusiasm, her wonderful sense of humour, her incredible passion and strength, I miss sneaking out and eating chocolate brownies for lunch with her and promising not to tell grandad. I think most of all; I just miss the sound of her voice.

Now, I know at this point my grandmother would remind me that this is in fact a happiness blog and to get on with it – so I will. I want to remember the person my grandmother was. She was strong and she was fierce in her love for her family and her passion for life, literature and chocolate. She was an amazing woman and has shaped the person I am today. I know that so long as I am snuggled up with some good bonnet drama, a block of cooking chocolate and the occasional gin and tonic that she will always be with me. And to this day, when things work out just when they seemed to be going all wrong, or I find that stray sock that I was sure Teddy had eaten – I think, Violà!

And there you go.

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Naptime Snaptime

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If it’s the little things in life that give the greatest happiness, I think this guy has got it covered.

Meet Teddy. A 3.5kg neurotic toy poodle whose greatest love is quite possibly licking crumbs off the kitchen floor. I know anyone that is a dog person will know there’s nothing quite like coming home to a pooch who celebrates your home coming like you’ve been lost at sea for 10 years. Teddy becomes so excited that he tears around the house doing a mad victory lap before he can stay still long enough for a cuddle.

In between Teddy’s manic moments and incredible enthusiasm for all things squeaky, there are the rare times when he snuggles up for a nap. Teddy’s favoured naptime position is not unlike that of a dead bug – sprawled out on his back with his legs stuck out at awkward angles. I have often wondered why he might sleep like this, as it certainly doesn’t look comfortable. Perhaps as an eternal optimist he is ever hopeful of a tummy rub, or maybe he’s just a little weird. Regardless of his motivations, his odd sleeping positions never cease to entertain me, so I thought I would share a few of his best naptime snaps. 

What a fabulous gene pool.

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Some found the annual fairy procession a little more exciting than others.

It’s situations like these that make me sure I wasn’t adopted (or we were all subjected to some sort of similar trauma):

A nightly ritual in our house is catching my little brother to help with the dishwasher before he slinks away to ‘do some homework’ (play on his computer, play with the dog, watch tv, roll around on the floor moaning  etc). However, a recent development seems to be – hide somewhere & terrify your sister.

The other night, I was about to give up searching when something in the laundry (our toy poodle’s sanctuary) caught my eye. My little brother was silently standing in Teddy’s basket, wielding a butter knife – somewhat reminiscent of Jack Nicholson, circa 1980. When asked (after a small amount of screaming) what the hell he was doing in there, I received the response: “Helping with the dishwasher”.

So, as any good big sister would do –  I quickly snapped a picture of him in the basket before he could de-creep himself. Then, promptly texted his – Here’s Johnny!! – moment to my older sister (I wouldn’t want her to miss out on these special moments in our little brother’s childhood).

This is the conversation that ensued:

Me: I think it’s time we registered him on some kind of list

Eliza: I can just see the pictures on the news now…

Me: Local pervert found lurking in the laundry with dirty butter knife

Eliza: On further questioning he stated that he was looking for the large grey rat that lives in the laundry to skin for his headwear. He was charged with crimes against fashion as well as general creepiness

Me: I just misread headwear for underwear – awesome.

What is happiness?

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A while back I read the Dalai Lama’s ‘The Art of Happiness’, where the purpose of human life is defined by seeking happiness. At first, I must admit I found this idea puzzling – how could one live a life purely motivated by furthering their own happiness? Wouldn’t you eventually tire of continually pursuing pleasure? It seemed a terribly selfish concept and somewhat confusing coming from one of the world’s greatest spiritual leaders. However, I read on and discovered that the Dalai Lama makes an important distinction between happiness and pleasure – “True happiness relates more to the mind and heart. Happiness that depends mainly on physical pleasure is unstable, one day it’s there, the next day it may not be”. So to be specific, pursuing something that will give us a lasting sense of happiness and achievement will lead to far greater contentment than an act geared towards giving us some sense of pleasure that may be fleeting and meaningless. Simple right? Well, it certainly made me stop and question things. What truly made me happy? What truly feeds the mind and heart? And the answer was this: so many things. My friends, my family, my dog, travelling, food (eating it and cooking it), reading, writing, swimming, adventures, the random silliness in day to day life – just to name a few. Since then I’ve found, the more I look for things that make me happy, the more I seem to find. So I’ve decided to start this blog to track some of my happiness pursuits in the hope that they might make a few more people smile too. I figure, we only get one life – let’s make it a happy one.