becausehappiness

My 2019 hashtag: #rootedlife


Neltiliztli is a word from the Aztecs and is their philosophy for living a worthwhile life. It means rootedness. It’s the reason I’ve chosen my 2019 hashtag, #rootedlife. I want to do things this year to live a more rooted life. First, a few paragraphs on last year’s hashtag and then, the scoop about what it means to live rooted, based on that Aztec word.

My hashtag for 2018 was #becausehappiness. Generally thinking, it felt like a pretty happy year, in spite of life (like unexpected household costs and auto repairs). But, my goal wasn’t to be happy all of the time. That’s unrealistic. Especially home with kids who stick a McDonald’s gift card in the Wii, cry during the night because they’re scared that their closet door is open a wee crack, or put a lot of effort into poking and prodding and irritating the other sibling as much as possible at those moments when I’m already spent because I just dealt with cat puke. #becausehappiness

Instead, my efforts were more along the lines of trying to live after a manner of happiness. (2 Nephi 5:27) I did my best and thus, I count it a good-enough year.

On to Neltiliztli!

I learned about this term reading an article called, “Life on the slippery Earth,” which went into great detail about this Aztec philosophy. Here’s my bullet list version for your enjoyment:

  • The term means rootedness
  • Living a rooted life means to manage your mistakes well, not try to avoid them
  • The reward is a promise of a worthwhile life
  • Focus on the virtues of moderation, justice, prudence and courage
  • To choose virtue means to follow the middle path, strike the mean (tlanepantla)
  • Our actions are virtuous when aptly expressed
  • Moral education is ongoing
  • Look to others for advice and listen most to practical experience (ixtlamatiliztli)

When we focus on the middle path and choosing virtue, our lives are worthwhile. Also, we need each other to travel safely along this “slippery earth” (tlaticpac). We aren’t perfect. Far from it. We slip up no matter our virtues. I like these sentences specifically from the article:

Wisdom in human affairs consists in the recognition that the best that we can do is to learn to stand with the help of others, to alter our circumstances for the better, and to clasp hands so that we can pull ourselves back up when we fall. This is the fundamental insight behind the social dimension of Aztec ethics. As challenging as it seems to ‘Western’ sensibilities, perhaps there’s enough that’s right about it to help us lead better, more worthwhile and rooted lives.

The Aztec’s philosophies differ from those of Western culture, as mentioned in that quote. These “sensibilities” referenced come from the words and thoughts of Plato and Aristotle. I studied these in several of my classes in college. I couldn’t possibly give you a good, brief summary right here. Instead, here’s one of the comparison’s from the article: “While Plato and Aristotle were concerned with character-centered virtue ethics, the Aztec approach is perhaps better described as socially-centered virtue ethics.”

As I read about the Aztec philosophies, they hit home. They tie in to my concern that my children will have others in their lives that they can turn to, like I did, when they don’t want to go to a parent.  It relates to my thoughts about “companion planting” in my life to supplement it with good people. And it ties in to how I turn to others to build me up, for my “health regeneration“.

This year, my hashtag is #rootedlife. Here’s my plan for learning to do this a little bit better this year:

  1. Love myself when I make a mistake, small or big (positive self-talk)
  2. Write some lists of what makes my life worthwhile (gratitude)
  3. Find moderation in work, sleep, diet, and self-care (seek balance)
  4. Be intentional about aptly expressing myself (show respect)
  5. Spend time on my moral education (study)
  6. Seek out others for advice (ask and listen)

I won’t attempt to focus on or do these all at once, but little by little, throughout the year. We’ll see how it goes!

Companion planting and happiness


“Companion plants create opportunities for timeshare or simultaneous display.” Lauren Springer Ogden, The Undaunted Garden.

I bought this gardening book because my green-thumbed Grandma DeeDee told me to. The problem with the book is that there is so very much information crammed onto every page. It will likely take the rest of my gardening life to get through it all. It’s not like reading a summer book, flipping pages while lounging in the sun. I read this gardening with my graph-paper notebook next to me, sketching out possible ideas to try as I go.

I won’t go into my specific gardening attempts with this post. Instead, I want to comment on the quote I shared above.

Companion planting is important to gardening well, whether it’s vegetables, trees and shrubs, or flowers. The flower above is one of the bulbs I planted in our parking strip (or hell strip, as Gardening Lauren calls it). It’s called an anemone coronaria hollandia. I planted it with over 800 other bulbs so it has a few companions, plus it’s surrounded by buffalo grass, which is currently dormant, but will turn bluish-green in the summer and require very little watering and no mowing.

One thing I’ve found that’s a must-have for me, home with my kids, is the need to do companion planting with my life.

Yes. I love spending time with my kids. It’s fascinating to watch them take in the world. They say hilarious things. They scream and fight. I lose my temper. We have amazing days. We have tiring days. But I absolutely need my “companion plants”. What are your companion plants in your life? Here are some of the things in my life that “supplement” or grow alongside my time spent with my kids:

  • Writers’ group
  • Book groups
  • Game night
  • Date night
  • Conferences (writers, tech, or spiritual)
  • Girls’ night
  • Soccer
  • Buying something on Amazon
  • Playing the piano
  • Doodling
  • Successfully cooking good food
  • Successfully gardening

I could go on and on with this list. This ties me into something I read in one of my other #becausehappiness booksHappier, about tracking what I do and whether it’s contributing to my happiness. You write down activities from your day and rate each with a number for how happy you felt doing it and how meaningful it was for you. Activities that are high in both contribute the most to your happiness. Cooking doesn’t always feel meaningful or joyful. Same with gardening. The best companion plants would be high in both categories, although, not all of the time, similarly to how flowers aren’t in bloom year round.

One last thing to add to my list: trying or learning something new. That’s a big part of my #becausehappiness goal and choosing the different books on my list. Learning and growing and stretching feels meaningful and joyful.

Come find me on my Facebook Writer’s page and share your list of companion plants. I want to hear it!

My 2018 hashtag (better than a list of resolutions)


This year, my hashtag of choice is #becausehappiness. Instead of writing a list of resolutions, I’m going to learn about and share things related to happiness. I like this way of doing things. It works for me.

Granted, for my hashtag last year, #yearofbeautiful, I didn’t put together as many posts as I envisioned in January, but, hey! I made it through the year with it and that’s far better than most resolutions I’ve made.

I’ll go more in depth on my plan for this year below, but first, a brief tangent about resolutions.

Ann Cannon wrote her last Wednesday column for the SLTrib recently. She wrote about resolutions she wrote when she was ten. Ten-year-old Ann wrote a nice, short list:

  1. Be patient.
  2. Don’t talk on the telephone too long.
  3. Be nice to all my friends.
  4. Be a good student.
  5. Don’t show off like …name deleted.
  6. Don’t swear or spit.

Did you record any of your resolutions from when you were a kid? The first list I put down in a journal was when I was 12-years old. It is not a short list. It’s a list that, for some reason, is embarrassing for me to share with others, but whatevs. Here it is… my resolutions for the year 1993 and for my lifetime (because I came up with those, too). The actual journal entry is several pages. I turned it into a much-abbreviated list. You’re welcome.

1993:

  1. Read the Book of Mormon.
  2. Play another [piano] piece by [Edward MacDowell].
  3. Practice doing Keorver (sic) methods in [soccer] games.
  4. Write in journal monthly.
  5. Draw 50 Natey cartoons.
  6. Sculpt a head or body.
  7. Complete the Everglades.
  8. Find a penpal.
  9. Complete a photo album.
  10. Complete some Personal Progress thing.

Lifetime (as decided by 12-year-old me):

  1. Play the violin.
  2. Draw blueprints for my own house.
  3. Marry and have kids.
  4. Play piano in concert.
  5. Compose piano song.
  6. Design daughter’s room.
  7. Live to the year 2050.
  8. Have a real garden.
  9. Own a wildcat.
  10. Build a dollhouse.

Interesting lists, huh?

Okay, on to this year’s plan. I dub 2018 my year for #becausehappiness. I created a reading list. I’m really very talented at starting and not finishing books. I’ve given myself permission to substitute or ditch a book once I get into it. Some of these books, I’ve read before (partially or complete), others I only have a vague idea of the content. Have you read any?

I made a #becausehappiness reading list on Amazon if any of these pique your interest.

I also wrote up my little plan in my journal. As the year goes on, I may substitute for a different book. We’ll see how it goes. Today, I started reading Happier, which is a book-version of one of the most popular classes at Harvard. In other words, for January, I’m enrolled in a Harvard class (at a discount!). Anyone want to read it with me?