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Archive for December 30th, 2005

Practicing a Good Attitude

Friday, December 30th, 2005

northern MichiganDo you know the song with the lyric: “…I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do…”???

Nairobi National ParkWell, I’d be someone where that saying applies. In fact, it’s sort of amazing how often I moan about small things. I’m happily married (more than nine years) to Brian, after many years of unhappiness in personal relationships. I’m mostly healthy and none of my aches and pains are anything near life-threatening. I had a miracle last year and got to go to Africa for five weeks. I’ve been to many more places on this earth than I ever imagined possible, even though I live a fairly simple life.

sunset over Mt. Hope Cemetery, LansingI have great friends. I do something I passionately love for my work… actually many things I love comprise my “living.” I am happily childless but am surrounded by wonderful children from other houses than my own, who really make my life better. I have a house that is adorable but not too big, in a city that is friendly especially to creative souls.

CityKidz Knit!My city has more yarn shops within an hour and a half than I can possibly have found and visited, and I work in five of them. I sing, I dance, I dye yarn, I work with polymer clay, I teach knitting (and computers)… all of which I enjoy. And I get along well with my Mother and my brother (the two other people I grew up with), their partners, and my husband’s large family as well.

garden one block from my city homeI have so much going right for me. But complain, I do.

I create my own web pages in HTML code, using a text editor geared toward web page creation. I’ve used several editors over the years, and I like the simpler ones best. My favorite, the one I’m using again, is called Arachnophilia. (I use an old Windows version, 4.0, copyright 1996-2000, and it is still wonderful, without too many bells and whistles.) This program is CareWare, thus the author does not want *money* in thanks for having written this wonderful product that makes my life very much better.

Central Park, NYCWhen I start the Arachnophilia program, if I click Help/About, it brings up a box with a button saying “Explain CareWare.” If you click it, there is a bit of an essay about the author’s take on CareWare, basically the software is his gift to anyone who wants to use it, but with a request that costs nothing. Oh, what a lovely bunch of ideas he discusses (you can read the full text here)… but the part that stands out in relation to this column I am writing today is this (bold emphasis is his, not mine):

To own Arachnophilia, I ask that you stop whining about how hard your life is, at least for a while. When Americans whine, nearly everybody else in the world laughs. We have so much, and yet we manage to:

· Overlook great examples of beauty around us,
· Miss our most important opportunities,
· Manage to make ourselves miserable by expecting something even better to come along.

Every time we whine about how tough we have it, apart from the fact that we look ridiculous, we make it harder for people around us to appreciate how much we have. We encourage people to overlook the things we do have, the gifts of man and nature. We provide a context to dismiss everything as not good enough, to be miserable in the midst of plenty.

Don’t get the wrong impression — many things are unjust, things that should be struggled against until they are made right. My complaint is with people who can’t find even one thing to take joy in, to appreciate. These people not only make themselves miserable, but they infect others with the attitude that the world should right itself, by itself, before they will take simple pleasure in anything.

So here is my deal: stop whining for an hour, a day, a week, your choice, and you will have earned your copy of Arachnophilia. Say encouraging words to young people, make them feel welcome on the planet Earth (many do not). Show by example that we don’t need all we have in order to be happy and productive.

Paul Lutus, Port Hadlock, WA

My gardenAnd with that, my dear blog readers, I am committing to you that I will do my best for 24 hours, starting now, to not complain. I have a feeling that it will be very, very difficult. And that is incredibly sad to me, that I’ve become such a complainer. Yes, I write an uplifting blog entry almost every day. I do my best to keep this column positive. But in my life I am not so selective, and I’m sort of embarrassed by myself. So I will spend a day paying attention. It is a good day for this, because I’ll be with Brian’s family for part of it and probably Abbott Brothers’ band for another part. It will benefit others if I can stick to my resolve and keep negative thoughts to myself.

Jam at WheatlandI’ll report back on what I learned about myself in the process. I’m ready to be different in this area, my friends. Would you dare/care to join me?

I took all these beautiful/happy photos in the last year, and they all give me reason to be grateful. 1) Lake in the Upper Peninsula, Northern Michigan, May 2005. 2) Nairobi National Park, Kenya, December 2004. 3) Sunset over Mt. Hope Cemetery, Fall 2005, Lansing, Michigan. 4) CityKidz Knit! after dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid drink mix, Spring 2005 (my absolute favorite picture ever taken of me, it’s so right and so illustrative of what is best in my life). 5) City garden between sidewalk and curb, one block from my home, early Summer, 2005. 6) Central Park, New York City, August 2005. 7) Nearly-wild perennial flower garden by my garage, Summer 2005. 8) Jam Session, Wheatland Music Festival, September 2005.