Thursday, November 17, 2016

Lady Podcasts and Smooth Jazz

One of the real pleasures of blogging is meeting folks on the internet. This may seem like a one-way highway, a masturbatory, navel-gazing activity, but it's not. It's actually quite social. You see, we don't just blog to shout into the black emptiness of the universe only to have it echo back our own words at us. We actually engage in dialogue. Nice folks like you sometimes comment.

*Clears throat*

*Looks meaningfully at the comments section*

Sometimes those comments turn into conversations, which evolve into online friendships. Those online friendships can become real-life, live-and-in-person friendships. And so the blogosphere permeates our lives and becomes so much more than these silly words in cyberspace.

That's a rather lofty way of saying, I make friends on the internet. And sometimes I meet those friends and do stuff with them that might interest you. 

Two such friends are two hilarious women from Ohio. If you don't know, I'm from Michigan and our states border one another. Sometimes we fight over our football teams, but mostly we have a lot in common. Particularly the Rustbelt cities of Detroit and Toledo. You could call them sister cities. Brittany Gibbons and Meredith Soleau are two of my sister bloggers from my sister city. They were kind enough to invite me down to Ohio this week to step in as a guest on their weekly podcast, Girl's Girls. 

I love the concept of Girl's Girls. Both women feel strongly that we as women need to lift each other up rather than tear each other down. We also need to day drink and talk about a lifetime commitment to therapy. 

I spent a few hours in the lovely Ms Gibbons' home with a pair of headphones on and my lips pressed against an enormous fluffy "mic." That's what you say in the biz. "Mic." Because now I'm in the 'biz. The ladies also noticed what a "low voice" I have on air. My husband also noticed this the first time he spoke to me on the phone after we'd met on an online dating site. He used the exact same phrase. 

"Wow, you have such a low voice."

Which I always thought meant I sound like a man. It was especially disconcerting coming from a man who could give Barry White a run for his money.

But Brittany and Meredith dubbed me "Smooth Jazz" so now that's my Radio Personality Name. I want to start my own podcast and call it "Smooth Jazz with Mandy Fish" and play absolutely no jazz whatsoever because I don't really like jazz, to be honest. I do like the blues, if that counts. And Ella Fitzgerald. Hey, I'm trying to save myself here from the wrath of the jazz lovers.

I want everyone to like me.

Which may be the cause of many of my mental health issues.

If you'd like to hear three Midwestern women discuss therapy and mental health, check out this week's edition of Girl's Girls on iTunes. I'll be back with the girls next week too to talk about sex gone wrong. 
And let me know how you like my low voice in the comments! You can also feel free to ask any questions of me, Brittany and Meredith. I'll make them come over here and talk to you. Because that's what girl's girls do.

What’s a girl’s girl? Click here and Brittany will tell you. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Slices of Happiness and Non-Attachment

Last week I read about the concept of "Slices of Joy" by the former Happiness Ambassador at Google, Chade-Meng Tan. I also went to temple on Sunday, where the guiding teacher explained the concept of "Detachment," which always seems to be problematic for people. What could these two things have to do with each other, you ask? Lots.

I like the concept of "Slices of Joy." Tan, a former mindfulness instructor at Google, teaches us that our attachment to our own thoughts and slights keep us from noticing all of the "Slices of Joy" that the world offers to us. A golden burst of color on the fall trees. A sudden text from an old friend. A moment of sheer delight on our children's faces. All of these moments can be missed if we're too wrapped up in our own thoughts.

On Sunday the guiding teacher of my temple, Koho, spoke about the Buddhist concept of Detachment or Non-Attachment. This almost always freaks people out. They think it means Buddhism makes you not give a damn about anyone or anything. As though transcending into some unfeeling, unruffled saint is the whole object. Which it's not.

The concept of Non-Attachment is the concept of not attaching ourselves to the stuff that's not important. The stuff that robs us of our happiness. If we were to live fully present in each moment, we would find bliss. It is bliss to breathe in and out. It is bliss to feel a breeze flowing carelessly across your cheek. It is bliss to watch children laughing in the park. And bliss to see the sun play across the grass and light each blade with fire.

But alas, we let all those thousands of moments slip by as though they were nothing. Instead, we spend the majority of our time lost in thought. Thoughts about other people. What they said or did. Thoughts about what we said or did. Thoughts about what we might say or do. Things we might have done wrong in the past or may do in the future. Money we might save or spend. Chores we might get done. Chores we might blow off. Micro aggressions hurled at us from other drivers on the road or from our spouses. Children. Friends. Family. Such a litany of suffering. Such a litany of irritation.

If you attach yourself to all that, you're missing out on all the slices of joy.

Not big joy.

Not overwhelming euphoria.

The majority of life does not offer us that.

What it does offer us is tiny moments of happiness. Tiny pleasures. Pay attention. Seek them out. Smile. Recognize them. For they slip past so quickly, it will be as though they never happened.

But if you pay attention, my god. You may suddenly realize that your life is chock full.