Loretta

In all of this pandemic, I am always looking for something that is uplifting and makes me smile. I love the New York Sunday Times book review where I learn so much information about people I would least likely read about.

Last week I read about Loretta Lynn in the By the Book section. It’s a very popular column where they ask the author out of the ordinary questions about their writing. The column definitely has its pretentious moments which makes this interview with Loretta all the more enjoyable. And finding being too pretentious myself when it comes to writing, I found her real refreshing.

It was discussing Loretta Lynn’s new book “Me & Patsy Cline Kickin Up Dust”. I am not a big country-western music fan and would probably never in a million years pick up this book even though I know about Loretta Lynn. But in reading about her philosophy about life I think I may have to git me one.

When asked how she organizes her books she replies, “Heck if I know. They’re all over the place.” Sounds like someone I know. Very well…

Her favorite booK? “The best book I ever got was my family Bible my husband Doo gave me in 1966. It means the world to me. My daughter downloaded a dang vampire book on my Ipad. It was nasty as heck and rated X. I made her remove it.”

Gotta love a country girl who speaks about the Bible and a dang X rated vampire book in the same thought. My kind of gal.

Asked which three writers, dead or alive, would she invite to a dinner party? She said she wouldn’t. “You build people up in your mind. I want to keep the stories as is and not know the ins and outs of their work.” How many times have we built someone up to be disappointed when they are nothing like what you thought they would be? Much like in life.

But my favorite quote was this when asked what book you were supposed to like and didn’t? In that matter of fact, down-home, pure and simple country way, she replied, “Self-help books make me crazy. Seems like everyone wants a quick fix. My advice is to go outside, hug your child, and thank God you got to see another sunrise!

Yep, I’m becoming a country-western fan after all. As one country-western song says, “There’s dust on Mother’s Bible.” Not in Loretta’s house. Her Bible, I’m sure, has a special place all by itself and she knows exactly where it is.

Hope

I have taken a long time to write this blog. Every time I sat down to write something I couldn’t seem to think of a topic or what to say. I mean what do you say that hasn’t already been Facebooked or tweeted or Instagrammed? How many videos can you watch or sayings can you read to make this pandemic go away? We are social animals who thrive on physical and emotional connection, so this social distancing is really hard.

It has only been about 5 weeks since I’ve been quarantined and I have it much easier than others because my son is grown and on his own and so I only have myself to take care of. I had all kinds of plans to finish projects that I had been putting off for, well, years and then I tore a ligament in my ankle. I had to put my foot up and stay put. I mean stationary. For someone who never stops moving that is torture but when you are in the middle of a pandemic it’s definitely a sign from upstairs.

So what was I going to do besides read? I have many books and get the newspaper every day but that doesn’t last all day. Or let’s face it I couldn’t do that all day. Then I came across an online course called The Science of Well Being offered by Yale University. It has become the most popular course in Psychology taught at Yale by a Harvard Ph.D professor. It deals with the scientific study of human behavior and what it takes to make humans happy. That would be scientific. And free of charge.

It includes all of the things that come to mind with happiness such as meditation, savoring, gratitude, kindness, social connection and on and on. I know these things and I tell myself I should make this a daily routine all the time. But then life gets in the way and I start to doubt how all of this will really make me feel. Not mentally but emotionally. Really get in there. I’m good for a while but I have to say I start to forget what my priorities are. I have issues from the past and know it’s not enough to talk about dealing with them. I have to rid myself of the demons that sneak in when I least expect it.

Taking the time to practice especially when I have all the time and opportunities now to put those studies to work gives me no excuse. I have seen so much kindness since this horrible virus has taken over our lives. From my neighbors checking in to the acts of kindness I’ve seen on the news every day. I know I have to stay in a mindset that allows me to follow the path. Not only for kindness to others but kindness to myself. We are our worst critics. I know I am. I want to feel what it is to be happy. Not just talk about it. And that brings me to what this blog is really about.

Hope. That in whatever life throws at us there is always hope. This is our time to believe, desire and trust. The true definition of hope and happiness.

Happiness

William James, the founder of psychology in the US, explains that most human feelings aren’t just in our heads. In his book “Principles of Psychology”, written in 1890, he says our emotions are “tightly bound” in our actions and bodies. Here we are in 2020 and not much has changed.

Depression seemed to embrace me in January more than usual. The first of the year always seems bright the first week and then old habits seem to sneak back in. I have notes everywhere of what I should do or feel about day to day living but never seemed to be able to carry it through.

I have to say I didn’t really feel like going out much or even getting off the couch. Work was slow and I felt my age for the first time. “The business retires you” kept going through my head and I must admit I seemed to think that was the truth. I was falling into what James writes we do… “sit all day in a moping posture, sigh, and reply to everything with a dismal voice, and your melancholy lingers.” But he’s telling us to “act differently. To do something even if it’s the last thing we want to do. Get the blood flowing. Inactivity is the enemy.”

I had not written my blog for quite a while and felt I had little to say. But in fact, I have a lot to say and refuse to let myself run off course. It is my responsibility to choose how I will let life go without having a say in it.

I leave you with this quote from William James. “We don’t laugh because we’re happy. We’re happy because we laugh. Actions do not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”