Maintaining Happiness

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This winter of spring weather has certainly helped keep a bounce in my step, which is a welcome change from the past several years of bitter cold Marches or rainy Aprils. I am thrilled spring has arrived. From now until we hit super high heat indexes, my bragging seems entitled. I can say to anyone that I really do get to do one of the best jobs in the world. There’s really nothing better than taking a dog for a stroll on a sunny, beautiful Chicago day.

Side note: as I typed that paragraph I reached for my Kleenex at least twice to blow my nose. I’m battling a poorly timed cold right now. It’s one of those sorts of colds that make concentration difficult and makes laying down for additional rest pretty enticing. This is my first time working for myself, by myself. It’s been a humbling experience receiving the gifts and the challenges that presents. This week in particular, I have wished I could call out to a partner to type up the newsletter or to take one or two of my dogs for a walk. I’ve had to work a little harder to stay fueled for my 12-hour workday. But that’s to be expected when you’re on Sudafed.

So for this month I’m going to use my column to share practices I do to maintain happiness to keep me moving forward during the occasional challenging day.

1. Humor Therapy
When you work for or by yourself, you can often go throughout an entire day without laughing. Luckily I don’t have to go far from home to get a good laugh. Mark is fantastic at making me happy. On those days he works late too, my boarding clients and Mr. Chauncey Billups Vanderhoff provide great comic relief sometimes by just walking past me while I’m reading a magazine.

2. Gratitude Therapy
I like starting my morning with hot coffee and a window. I’m not sure how many other people find this meditative but I learned this practice from my Mom. There is something so peaceful about being grateful for what’s right outside your window, like beautiful trees and a nice breeze.

3. Brain Therapy
I’ve taken to a practice of doing one hour of professional development every other day. I’m a member of a couple of different professional petsitting associations, so I resource their library of webinars to learn new and better ways to run my business. I also sign up for classes and seminars around Chicago, usually related to dogs but sometimes for personal growth as well.

4. Food Therapy 
No, this doesn’t mean what it sounds like. I don’t eat cartons of ice cream on the hard days but I do shut my computer down and cook. Once I realized that cooking can be a great creative outlet for me, I started making something different each night for Mark & I. Lately I’ve been bad at this because work has been so busy but it’s the first thing I’ll return to when life resumes some normality.

5. Family & Friend Therapy
I can’t start a day without checking in with my Mom. And I love a weekend that includes a dinner with my parents. Phoning my brother in Doha, Qatar lightens my heart every time. Emailing my mother-in-law regularly makes me excited for the next opportunity to see her in person. Squeezing Mark every day makes me feel loved. Making sure I prioritize time with my gal pals each month really does make life easier. I don’t know how I’d do it without these people.

And in general, remembering that to be human means that sometimes you can’t do it all. For example, this post is now three or four days overdue according to my calendar but getting over this stupid cold is more important so I won’t feel too badly about missing a deadline. Not today.

What are your favorite ways to keep positive and happy?



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