Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hygge Holiday Challenge ~ second update

Dec. 8 ~ have a candlelight dinner
I call this meal "chicken by candlelight" because I remembered at the last minute to light a candle
for this challenge.  Eating by candlelight doesn't feel more hyggeligt to me, but more like remembering an assignment.  Chatting with a friend is what I enjoyed.

Dec. 9 ~ have a tech-free evening
How about simply "have fun opening a small gift bag" I was given?  The leaders of our two "Life Transitions" groups got us together this week to talk about whether (and how) we should continue as support for each other.  At the end of our session, we received gifts from young people at a local synagogue.  I say "young people" because I don't know if they are seven or seventeen.  Each gift bag included:
  • warm knit gloves (mine are purple),
  • a pocket-sized packet of tissues,
  • five cough drops,
  • lip balm (mine is watermelon flavored),
  • two Newman's Own tea bags that say on one side "keep calm and brew tea."
  • a folded half-page-sized note, each one different.
My note says:  "Hope you have a warm winter! — Lauren."
Thank you, Lauren!  She didn't know about my Hygge Challenge,
but how's that for a cozy hygge gift?
Dec. 10 ~ add some greenery

Okay, but first I'll add to my gratitude list.  I'm grateful for friends, old and new, and that includes my furry friend, Clawdia.  This photo shows her inspecting the crinkly white paper on Tiny's door and sniffing those peppermint candy canes.  When Tiny's phone quit working, she came to our door just down the hall to borrow my phone to call her daughter.  When she left, Clawdia hurried along with her because Tiny is one of Clawdia's best friends.  I told Tiny I needed to shower to take a neighbor shopping and didn't have time for visiting, but she let Clawdia go home with her for a visit anyway.  I was still getting ready when my hall door opened and Tiny announced, "She's home!"  Not just every cat has her very own friends.

Now for the greenery.   I have re-seeded Clawdia's kitty garden with a mixture of barley, rye, oats, and wheat.  It sprouts in four to six days.  I got it for her when she started nibbling my green plants, some of which could kill her.  It's been several weeks since she had any grass of her own, like in this photo that I've posted before, and she really loves it.  So that's my added greenery for December, which will go back on the floor in the kitchen, once some sprouts get a few inches tall.

Dec. 11 ~ invest in a cozy sweater
I'm retired with enough cozy sweaters to last the rest of my life, so instead I invested in some soft, fuzzy, warm, and cozy socks.  These are on sale right now, which makes me even happier.

Dec. 12 ~ go for a 30-minute walk
I'm behind in the walking and exercising I intended to do this month, but I've been doing some of both.  One of my neighbors goes to an indoor gym for walking and promised to take me next time she goes.  It's too windy and cold to do a lot of walking in St. Louis weather right now, and the fitness center in our building has machines, but no place indoors for serious, intentional walking.  Going with that friend means another opportunity to socialize.
Dec. 13 ~ go on a coffee date in real life
I interpreted this as going out to eat with a friend, when Evelyn and I decided to go to Dewey's.  Here's the pizza we shared, her side with sausage and artichokes and mine with feta cheese and Greek veggies.  No coffee for us, though.  I had my usual iced tea, and Evelyn had a Coke.

Dec. 14 ~ cozy up with a new book
This is the day library books are delivered to the Crown Center, and I got Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin.  Click the link to read what I wrote about the book.  I started reading it today, curled up in my recliner.
The challenge
Click this link to see the complete Hygge Holiday Challenge calendar.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday Salon ~ booked and unbooked


Here's a brand-new novel I put on reserve at the library, since I've been reading all nonfiction lately:
Grief Cottage ~ by Gail Godwin, 2017, fiction (South Carolina)

After his mother's death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his great aunt, a reclusive painter with a haunted past.  Aunt Charlotte, otherwise a woman of few words, points out a ruined cottage, telling Marcus she had visited it regularly after she'd moved there thirty years ago because it matched the ruin of her own life.  Eventually she was inspired to take up painting so she could capture its utter desolation.  The islanders call it "Grief Cottage," because a boy and his parents disappeared from it during a hurricane fifty years before.  Their bodies were never found and the cottage has stood empty ever since.  During his lonely hours while Aunt Charlotte is in her studio painting and keeping her demons at bay, Marcus visits the cottage daily, building up his courage by coming ever closer, even after the ghost of the boy who died seems to reveal himself.  Full of curiosity and open to the unfamiliar and uncanny given the recent upending of his life, he courts the ghost boy, never certain whether the ghost is friendly or follows some sinister agenda.
Here's my library loot for this past week:
  • Do One Thing Different: And Other Uncommonly Sensible Solutions to Life's Persistent Problems ~ by Bill O'Hanlon, 1999
  • The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person ~ by Judith S. Beck, 2007
  • The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living ~ by Meik Wiking, 2017
Here's what I'm in the middle of reading with my study buddies:
  • Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America ~ by Chris Hedges, 2005
  • Womanist Midrash: A Reintroduction to the Women of the Torah and the Throne ~ by Wilda C. Gafney, 2017

What's going on in my life outside of books?  I swiped a photo off Facebook of my son holding his youngest grandchild before her sister's dance recital.  Baby Shiloh's hand is blurred, but I think David is digging Cheerios out of a baggie for her.  That's big brother Jaxon sitting beside his grandpa.  So you want to see the little ballerina, right?

Here's Shelby after the dance performance.
She'll be four years old on Wednesday.

Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Beginning ~ with how to pronounce Hygge

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living ~ by Meik Wiking, 2017
Hooga?  Hhyooguh?  Heurgh?  It is not important how you choose to pronounce or even spell hygge.  To paraphrase one of the greatest philosophers of our time  Winnie-the-Pooh  when asked how to spell a certain emotion, "You don't spell it, you feel it."

However, spelling and pronouncing hygge is the easy part.  Explaining exactly what it is, that's the tricky part.  Hygge has been called everything from "the art of creating intimacy," "coziness of the soul," and "the absence of annoyance," to "taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things," "cozy togetherness," and my personal favorite, "cocoa by candlelight."
I've already started reading this book and applying what I've learned to living a more cozy life.  I've even taken on what one person is calling the Hygge Holiday Challenge.  Click on that link to read what I wrote on Tuesday about that challenge and what hygge is all about.  Just to intrigue you a bit more, the image above shows not only the book's cover (front and back, with the author's photo) but also a pair of warm, cozy socks.  Yes, new socks.  Let me quote from a later chapter in the book:
"Ally yourself with a nice pair of woolen socks as a hygge insurance" (p. 85).
No, I haven't gotten that far in the book yet, but I have figured out how socks and candlelight and my favorite tea help make my life more ... hyggeligt ... more cozy.  I'm hooked.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays. Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hygge Holiday Challenge ~ first update

Dec. 1 ~ start a gratitude list
  • Three children ~ Barbara, Sandra, and David.
  • Seven grandchildren ~ Kendall, Cali, Brandy, Kenzie, Chase, Jamey, and Cady.
  • Six great-grandchildren ~ Raegan, Jaxon, Shelby, Jonathan, Micah, and Shiloh.
Dec. 2 ~ add relaxing scents
I lit a vanilla-scented candle and bought a new hand soap scented with coconut water and mango to use in the kitchen.  I'm already using hand soap in the bathroom that's lavender-scented.
Dec. 3 ~ more gratitude
Since I'm retired, the challenge on the list makes no sense for me:  "sleep in 15 mins or more."  I can do that any day.  Instead, I'll add to my gratitude list.

Randi Schenberg
I'm very grateful for the Crown Center for Senior Living for being the great place for active retirees that it is.  That means being thankful for the wonderful people on the staff and the board.  Randi Schenberg, the Community Relations Director, was the first person I met at the Crown Center, when I applied to live here.  In February, Randi was given the 2017 JProStl Pillar Award, and I posted a 2-minute video about it on this blog.  Thanks, Randi, for your smiles and all you do for the Crown Center!
Dec. 4 ~ learn a new skill
I'm still trying to learn how to operate my new computer.  I've been very annoyed trying to use Windows 10.  Oops!  Being annoyed is not very "hyggeligt" ― it doesn't create a cozy environment.  I'll get someone to help me with the new laptop, but not today.  I'm going to get comfy, instead, and read a book.
Dec. 5 ~ get the Hygge book
I went to the University City Library and got a copy of The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking.  Loosely translated, hygge is a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being.  It's about an atmosphere and an experience, like being cuddled up on a sofa, wearing cozy socks, and covered by a soft throw during a storm.  And don't forget to light a candle or two.
Dec. 6 ~ "unbook" yourself
Too late!  I had already agreed to drive my friend Barbara somewhere today.  Watching her enjoy old friendships was also joyful for me, so it worked out perfectly.  On our way back home, we stopped at the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions for Barbara and for another Crown Center resident, since we were going there anyway.  She and I also had lunch together in the Circle@Crown Café and visited with several people, including Judy and Marianne.
Dec. 7 ~ send a thank you note
I looked through my cards and found this one that says "Thoughts of you..." on the front and on the inside "...are the happiest kind!"  Who and why shall remain between the recipient and me, but the card is on its way.
The challenge
Click this link to see the complete Hygge Holiday Challenge calendar.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Laura's award

Laura accepting her award on November 17th
Laura Greenberg, who is Crown Center's Community Engagement Manager, has been recognized by the Metropolitan Volunteer Management Association as the 2017 Volunteer Director of the Year.  Here's a quote:
"Laura has engaged Crown Center volunteers and provided them with meaningful, fulfilling volunteer experiences."
I'm one of those volunteers.  I work in our small library, mostly re-shelving books, but also going through boxes of donations to see what is likely to be of interest to our elderly readers.

I also have been an "ambassador" for some of the new residents who moved into the Crown Center.  Laura assigns us as needed, and we show the new folks what's available here:  the library (of course), our Circle@Crown Café, the fitness center, bus trips to shopping malls or eating out together, workshops available each month, the dining program, where to dump our trash.  You know, all those little day-to-day things, though I think we probably have a lot more activities than most independent living retirement places.  And that's thanks to Laura!

Congratulations, Laura!  You deserve it!

I ran across this article just now that fits perfectly with Laura's job: Volunteering Is the Best Kept Secret for Mental Health.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Hygge Holiday Challenge

Hygge Holiday Challenge:
Since I just learned about this minutes ago, I'm already behind with this challenge.  But ... and this is important ... I'm smiling because this seems like a way to be loving to myself.  First, I need to run over to the University City Library and get this book:

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living ~ by Meik Wiking, 2017, psychology
Embrace Hygge (pronounced Hoo-ga) and become happier with this definitive guide to the Danish philosophy of comfort, togetherness, and well-being.  Why are Danes the happiest people in the world?  According to Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, the answer is Hygge.  Loosely translated, Hygge is a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being.  "Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience," Wiking says.  "It is about being with the people we love.  A feeling of home.  A feeling that we are safe."  Hygge is the sensation you get when you’re cuddled up on a sofa, in cozy socks under a soft throw, during a storm.  It’s that feeling when you’re sharing comfort food and easy conversation with loved ones at a candlelit table.  It is the warmth of morning light shining just right on a crisp blue-sky day.  This book introduces you to this cornerstone of Danish life, and offers advice and ideas on incorporating it into your own life, such as:
Take a break.
Be here now.
Turn off the phones.
Turn down the lights.
Bring out the candles.
Build relationships.
Spend time with your tribe.
Give yourself a break from the demands of healthy living.
Cake is most definitely Hygge.
Live life today, like there is no coffee tomorrow.
Get comfy.
From picking the right lighting to organizing a Hygge get-together to dressing hygge, Wiking shows you how to experience more joy and contentment the Danish way.
I googled the word Hygge and got this, which seems to contradict the book cover (hoo-ga):
"Hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special."
I'm so ready to try something like this.  My version of the rules is to do the things on the list that fit me and my life.
1.  I'm willing to "start a gratitude list," but not "turn off the phone before bed."  Why?  Because I'm retired and live with other retirees, some of whom count on me to be there for them (even in the middle of the night) if they are having a bad reaction to a medication with the room whirling around or if they need me to drive them to the emergency room in the middle of the night.

2.  For the same reason, I'm willing to "go for a 30-minute walk" ― hey, it's on my agenda anyway ― but not "w/o phone."  My mobile phone is always in my pocket, in case I need assistance or someone to come get me.  Yes, I understand why this may work for young folks, but I'm 77 years old.

3.  I won't "invest in a cozy sweater" because I have enough sweaters to last the rest of my life.

4.  "Have a dance party"?  Hmm, I'll have to think about how to adapt that, like maybe dancing around my apartment by myself.  Or maybe I'll "party" by inviting a couple of friends to go out to eat together, letting our words dance all over the table.

5.  If the suggestions don't work on the day suggested, I'll shuffle them around and do what I can when I can.
Anyway, here's to having a fun December doing things suggested by or dreamed up because of Albie's list above and her "How to Hygge for the Holidays."  Thanks, Albie!

Readers’ Workouts – Dec. 5, 2017

Hosted by Joy's Book Blog
Goals for this week:
Tuesday ~ walk in my neighborhood (cardio)
Wednesday ~ exercise with Melissa (strength)
Thursday ~ chair exercises and squats (endurance)
Friday ~ exercise band twists and pulls (flexibility)
Saturday ~ floor exercises (strengthen core)
Sunday ~ walk in my neighborhood (cardio)
Monday ~ chair exercises and squats (balance)
Here's a week's worth of challenging myself, since it apparently takes something like this to make myself exercise.  My twice-a-week group let me down.  When nobody showed up twice in a row, I called the whole thing off.  Now I need to find a way to do it on my own.  Maybe this will work.