Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Open House

I want to buy a house. I have wanted to buy a house since I had my first son nearly three years ago. I never allowed myself to want this before I had children because in Vancouver, where I live, you need to have nearly a six figure income in your household to afford (comfortably) a simple townhouse located an hour outside of the city. Prices here are inflated and they don't reflect an average family's earning ability. This is why brokers stretch the loaning parameters to the absolute ceiling so that a regular (read: non-Rockefeller) clan like mine can even hope to get in on the market.

Over the last year, it looked like my little family was heading in that direction. (Read: stretching loaning parameters to the absolute ceiling to get in on the cheapest townhouse we could find an hour outside of the city. And we were nowhere near a six figure income, hence the stretching.) However, the plan is now not so firm, as the kids say on the street. For a variety of employment issues that I will save for another blog, moving on up to the east side is a luxury we will have to afford to the Jeffersons. They will have their deluxe apartment in the sky, while we remain in our Vancouver special. And so, my vision of buying a home for my family is akin to blowing up a balloon: I huff and puff and almost get the end tied into a little knot to hold all the air inside but my fingers slip, the air shoots out of that little sucker and all I can do is hopelessly watch it sputtering and wafting far, far away into the distance.

Not only are we no longer in the market, now we are in a position, yet again, where we are wondering how we will maintain financial survival. And it is excruciating to be here again. Because I want to live beyond mere survival. I want a house dammit.

Oh, I want one for the practical purposes - more space, a bedroom for each boy, and enough room in my kitchen to create a few culinary delights without dislocating a cankle bone due to that handy dandy trip 'n fall schtick which occurs twice annually thanks to the warped tiles of linoleum that poke up from the floor. (This just in: My kitchen floor, in places, is a hazardous 3D version of a checkers board. James Cameron could make a movie about my kitchen floor and show it at the Imax.)

I also want a house because, somehow, I think it will make me a better person and a happier one. After all, people who are successful and good with money buy their homes rather than rent all their lives, as we do. People who buy homes have steady incomes and financial security. They don't worry about contracts ending and if and when new ones will begin. They wear cravats and monocles and have leather-bound books. Plus, they are excellent dancers. And it is commonly known that they go on hot dates with one another once a week, at least. Finally, they are always laughing and smiling and high fiving one another because they have something to celebrate. They're mortgaged up to their assholes, while my derriere is stuck in Pottersville (the not so friendly neighborhood in "It's A Wonderful Life", or from my perspective "It Would Be A Wonderful Life If We Had Enough Scratch To Buy A House").

Ah money issues. That old chestnut, again... Locked within that nut seem to be the means to building the life I am desiring for my family. But I cannot for the life of me figure out a way to crack it open. And I cannot begin to describe the stress that this point of contention can put on a relationship.

So it's interesting that last night I had a dream that my husband and I were going to renew our wedding vows. We wanted to remind ourselves why we got married in the first place and to celebrate all the goodness that we have been striving to create together.

In my dream, we were with close friends and family and the ceremony was about to begin. But I didn't have a dress and I didn't want to wear the dress I wore when we originally got married. Though it is a beautiful gown, it hadn't been cleaned (baby Zach barfed on it between the ceremony and the reception in real life) and it just seemed too fussy or too much of something that wasn't in alignment with the, for lack of a better word, newness that we as a couple were embarking upon. It was old. And I needed something new. Something simple.

So, I ventured back to my house to look for a dress. We live in the top floor of a four-plex. Two bedrooms, living room, dining room, 1 1/2 bathrooms, galley kitchen. Balcony off the front and back. No surprises; pretty standard fare and it's been really good to us for the last five years. But the thing does not bode well for closet space. So imagine my delight upon opening my bedroom closet door in my dream to find a walk-in closet. And it was huge! I remember thinking it had enough space to put baby Maxwell's crib in there so he could have his very own room. That's how big it was. And beyond the new walk-in closet, I spotted a doorway that led to a whole other room that I didn't know existed.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing! Where was all this space coming from?

Now, the rooms had some clutter, to be sure. There were some old clothes hanging around in the walk-in from many years ago and the larger room was still decorated with heinous decor from the 1970's, when I was a young girl. The paint was peeling off the walls and the linoleum flooring was tinged yellow with age like the unsightly stains on the fingers of someone who rolls their own cigarettes. The decor was not pleasing to the eye but its dilapidated state symbolized something deeper going on within me: The state of my own beliefs of lack and struggle, tattered and no longer useful to me; ones that had been cultivated as seeds during my first decade of life when this room was first designed; beliefs that have been contaminating my inner dwelling for a very long while.

It is no mistake that marriage plays a part in this dream. Intimate relationships often bring about a person's fears to the forefront of their experiences and mine is no exception. My scaredy-cat cyclone has been rearing its funnel head lately, thrusting each one of my fears out individually by gusts of wind designed to destroy any bits of happiness in their wake. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that, on some level or another, I have always felt a sense of needing to just "pass this storm" in life, whatever the particular storm may be.

But my dream tells me that there is room in me for change. (A whole other room to be exact.) And I need to tend to it. I have more space where I am right now, even if it's not where I want to be. It's a real fixer upper. But it's there. It revealed itself to me in a dream where before there was only the longing for its existence. And the discovery of it has given me what I seek, a place to call home.

Despite the stress and tension in my real home right now, in my dream, my hubby and I were recommitting to success rather than to failure (which he always believes in doing anyway). And that act of renewing, the act of intending to create something better for ourselves, can only work to the extent that I am open enough to allow it.

So, this is where I begin. I will clean my inner dwelling, soaping its stained walls and ripping up the tile that threatens to trip me up as I journey forward and I will provide myself with the home I have been longing for.
It's scary because I hate not knowing how my home renovation project will turn out, or what lies ahead. But I proceed with the hope that where ever I go, I will always be within a beautiful sanctuary. My own.

I will invite peace and prosperity over to my place today. I'll have them over for coffee and pound cake and take them for a walk to the room just off my closet. It seems like a good place to begin.

My house is open.
May all good things find their way home...

Yours in the quest for bliss,

The Happiness Detective

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Happy Birthday to me!

"The fountain of content must spring up in the mind, and he who hath so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition, will waste his life in fruitless efforts and multiply the grief he proposes to remove."

- Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) The Rambler
As printed in The Gift Of Inner Peace, by Sophie Bevan

Today, for my birthday, I will give myself the gift of inner peace. That is all that matters in life. Well, that is the foundation one must tend to first and foremost in order to recognize the value of anything else in life.

Today, I will not worry about the fact that my husband's contract is up in the middle of next month and we don't know where he will be working afterward. Today, I will not fret about the how and I will give myself the gift of surrender. I will open up a piece of my armour (the armour I have carried with me all of my life) so that a crack in it reveals that I have a willingness in me to let go and trust.

Today, I celebrate my birth and my life. I do so with a gentle grace I have not afforded myself in a very long time.

Today, I give myself the gift of happiness. I will pour syrup on it and add a layer of cream cheese with a liberal helping of fresh strawberries and bananas. (Thank you hubby for breakfast in bed!)

Today, I wish for you all a little heaven on toast...


Yours in the quest for bliss,

The Happiness Detective

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Silencing the inner critic

One of my favorite things to do is to clean. I enjoy it because when I'm tidying (usually after supper) I put my head phones on while my husband watches the boys and I listen to music blaring from my iPod. The music silences my inner critic and it gives way to just a little room for personal imagination. I have envisioned great things for myself while scurrying about getting the dishes done and sweeping the errant pieces of cheerios I find daily off the bottom of my feet.

Music, for me, is the great equalizer. It lifts me out of the mundane chores at hand and propels me directly into the spotlight of my mind's eye where I long to be. Well, I long to be in that spotlight in reality, rather than just in my mind's eye. But I accept the temporarily satisfying facsimile thereof in my head and I rest for the moment in the middle of the spectrum of reality vs. fantasy, somewhere between excitement and boredom; success and failure. Hence the perceived "equality" between who I am and who I wish to be.

The fantasy may not be real but it bridges the gap between my wildest (and sometimes insane) dreams and the commonplace tasks of my household where I exist every day. So I plug those headphones into my ears, crank up the tunes and proceed to get jiggy with it.
Sometimes I am rocking out with Guns n Roses, killing it with Slash on a rendition of "Welcome to the Jungle" (which in my imagination it took me a year to learn, without anyone being aware that I was secretly learning it and which I debuted with the band in front of 20,000 screaming fans and all my surprised friends and family). Yes, I am that girl. I have a muffin top and deep, dark circles under my eyes but in my galley kitchen, while I am loading the dishwasher, I am on stage in front of the masses and I am kicking it old school.

I know that this is another way of rejecting myself. Pretending to be someone better than who I believe I am. Although, sometimes it's necessary to make believe and to have a little fun. And therein lies the quest - to find the balance in the act of imagining, or in my need to imagine in the first place.

I am most definitely on a path of reconnecting to the authentic and worthy lady within me who has been patiently waiting to emerge. Only lately, she's not so patient. She has grown weary of my constantly looking outside of myself (and to Guns n Roses) for validation because she has been calling out to me for so long to look within. And I have avoided listening to her.

However, sometimes when I seek to distract myself with reverie to quell my restless mind, my fingers will guide through the maze of options on the iPod as if they have a mind of their own and they will settle on a tune where fantasy is overshadowed by meaning. And the light of the lyrics of a long forgotten song will connect with me in such a way that illumination comes flooding in and I remember that it is okay to believe in myself again.

The other night, I found myself selecting a piece from the set list of the divine Ms. Bernadette Peters - a song I had heard many times before, from the musical "Sundays In The Park With George". And it suddenly hit me anew. This time, I wasn't performing it in my head. It was being sung to me and the message, received, was timely.

The lyrics are below.


Yours in the quest for bliss,
The Happiness Detective

Move On

Stop worrying where you're going-
Move on
If you can know where you're going
You've gone
Just keep moving on

I chose, and my world was shaken-
So what?
The choice may have been mistaken,
The choosing was not
You have to move on

Look at what you want,
Not at where you are,
Not at what you'll be-
Look at all the things you've done for me

Opened up my eyes,
Taught me how to see,
Notice every tree-

Understand the light-
Concentrate on now-

Move on
Move on

Stop worrying if your vision
Is new
Let others make that decision-
They usually do
You keep moving on

Look at what you've done,
Then at what you want,
Not at where you are,
What you'll be
Look at all the things
You gave to me
Let me give to you
Something in return
I would be so pleased...

The color of your hair
And the way it catches light

And the care
And the feeling
And the life
Moving on

We've always belonged

We will always belong

Just keep moving on
Anything you do
Let it come from you
Then it will be new
Give us more to see...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Ten years ago today, my mom died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. Her name was Diane and she loved me. I wanted to write something eloquent and heartfelt to convey how much she meant to me but it hurts too much just now and the words won’t come.

So instead, I will borrow her words. This is a love letter she wrote to me shortly before her death. Though I cannot seem to find my own voice in this moment, I feel certain that she wouldn’t mind my sharing hers.

I love you too Mom.


Yours in the quest for bliss,

The Happiness Detective

"Dear E.R.

This is a letter that I should have written you a long time ago because I have felt this way for a very long time.

You are one of my prized joys and have been a real inspiration to me. I've always admired your zest for life, your honesty and your wonderful sense of humor. You are, in so many ways, the person I always wanted to be, but for whatever reason or reasons, stopped myself.

You have so many successes in your life and I know you'll have many more. You have excelled in school, in friendships and have something very special in your life that you have focused on. You are living your dreams. In many ways, you are also living my dreams, & in so doing, you have shown me that I, too can have my dreams come true.

Everything happens for a reason (altho' we may not see it right away). I want you to know that you are doing wonderful things with your life and not to get discouraged. Stay focused; stay happy. Never lose sight of what's important to you.

Please know how proud I am of you and keep following your dreams!

Love Mom"

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I bitch, therefore I am...

I think I'm having a mid-life crisis. I really do.

I wake up most mornings utterly glum and irritable. I feel uninspired by the nuts and bolts of my domestic minutia (I only just saw the bottom of my laundry basket after 3 days of dedication to that particular goal. If only I could reach my professional goals as quickly.)
I pray for more sleep, less noise and just a suggestion of something resembling personal space.

After nursing my youngest son 3-4 times a night lately, the mornings are not met by me with delight or vigor. Hence my previous posts below, which are admittedly attempts to cheer my sullen ass up.

I didn't realize Motherhood would be this, for lack of a better word, hard. I love my children. I do. I mean, I love these boys more than donuts. And let's face it, I never met a Krispy Kreme I didn't like. (Though, here's a hot tip: If you like donuts, and you live in Vancouver, where there is no Krispy Kreme nearby, go to the little kiosk in the Granville Island market. When they are just brought out of the fryer and freshly glazed, forget about it. Panty soup!)
Anyhoo, I love my boys and I love donuts but neither is keeping me happy these days.
I mean, really happy.

I don't know if I have a touch of Postpartum blues or if I'm just generally grumpy. I know that I tend to view life on the negative side of that dastardly barbed wire fence. You know, the fence that separates me from my professional hopes and dreams, which are always it seems on the other side. Yes, I know the grass is greener there and yes, I know I should bloody well stop belly aching already.

I have so much to be thankful for: A loving husband, two beautiful children, lots of food, a roof over our heads and, most importantly, everyone in my little family is healthy (aside from the cold we all share at the moment). So with all there is to cherish, why I am I feeling like such a cantankerous git?

I think it's because, for me, motherhood alone is not enough. I know there is profound value in raising excellent people and that is obviously my goal. It's just that I am feeling lost in the process. I still regret that my career flat-lined years ago. I've since begun a different business and I've done fairly well at it but even that feels exhausting given that I've taken time away from it to have another baby and the prospect of rebuilding it places me at the beginning of a long and uncertain road. I don't know what is at the end of it. Will I fail as I did in my acting career?

Will I ever become a success?

My husband tells me regularly that I already am a success and that I need to stop looking to a career to prove it to myself. But I don't know how to do that. How do I stop and accept myself where I am, exactly as I am? Because, I don't want this to be all there is. I need more. I need to feel that I am giving to this world as a woman and an artist and not just as a mother.

Hence, my discontentment. And if I'm being honest, I would have to ask myself - is this a new feeling or is it something that visits my neck of the woods on a somewhat regular basis?

When was the last time you woke up happy? I mean for no good reason. Just because you did. I can tell you precisely when that happened for me. It was my 35th birthday, almost two years ago. It was a Monday and I woke up just as pleased as can be. I had no reason to be happy on that particular day. It's not like I wake up on most birthdays thrilled to pieces. (It's just another excuse to eat cake in my books. And that's fine by me.) And certainly, on this day there was a lot to be decidedly unhappy about. My husband was unemployed at the time, having been laid off a few months earlier, along with his entire department due to the recession. Our son was 10 months old and we were living off my husband's EI cheques while he looked for work and going more and more in to debt as the months hobbled along. I was many, MANY pounds overweight, still carrying that pesky baby weight that just wouldn't go away.
I had no job (my acting career was in the shitter), no prospects for work (the TV/FILM industry was all but collapsing around me and the projects I tried to direct myself flopped). I had no idea if or when life would get any better.

Yep. I sure had no reason to be happy. But that day, on my 35th birthday, I woke up happy just the same. I was delighted to be me. I was thankful and eager to experience the day before I even got out of bed. I smiled at myself in the mirror. I was tickled to be alive.

It was the only day I can remember ever waking up being pleased to be myself. No outward circumstances were determining my mood. Nothing was different outside of me. It was me that was different. I had changed that day internally. Somehow I had lifted the blanket of doom and gloom without intending to and I simply felt a joyful peace in every moment of that day.

Now, I don't mean to suggest that I have been angry, sullen, moody or depressed every other day of my life except for that one. What I am saying is that I woke up happy that day without trying. There was no effort required. It was easy and freeing and fabulous. I actually winked at myself in the mirror. (I even considered going to Sears to get a portrait taken of myself to commemorate the event.) It was a beautiful, liberating thing and I loved it!

So that is the goal. To allow that feeling to happen again and again.

Hence the reason for the change in my blog's title from I Ate Enough To Stop The Heart Of A Donkey (which, believe me, I have) to something that is a little more relevant and necessary in my life's path, The Happiness Detective. I'm going to make it my business to do a little daily investigating to find that innate joy in my life again.

And I hope to be more than happy to let you know what I come up with.


Yours in the quest for bliss,

The Happiness Detective

Friday, June 4, 2010

Just breathe

Today is a challenging day and so I seek to calm the storm brewing in my imagination telling me about the sinkhole I believe is sure to swallow me.

Does anyone else worry about money, career, and one's place in the world? I find these are subjects that occupy my mental space these days. These are the ingredients that, when combined, are the batter for a sticky and unpleasant mix. The sinkhole to which I refer.

So how does one release the fear of what may or may not lie ahead? The breath. Let me see if I can talk myself through this: If I breathe and if I focus on my breath, then I create a space within for quiet introspection. It's just the break I need from my fear. This breath, lolling up and through me like a most welcome breeze, sweeps the negative away and stretches my inner cavity until there is enough quiet room within me to still the chatter that calls forth doom. This stillness then becomes a fresh palate, clean and pure, untouched by my circumstance, providing the canvas to create the masterpiece I desire.


Then this breath, and the space it has gifted me within, become a magnet attracting components to my experience which make me feel lighter. While my ego feels stubborn today and wants to drag me through the trenches, my breath wants to offer me a reprieve. And I want to accept.

I let go of this struggle. I welcome the sun. I welcome light and ease and freedom. These are qualities I find that I re-invite into my experience on a daily basis for my default setting tends to rest on gloom and worry. So I have to push the lever, every morning, over to the side that calls forth peace into my realm. That is where I would like my setting to be, on the side of knowing that all is well.

Today, I will simply breathe and allow my life force to be still in the midst of activity so that it might re-charge within me and call forth all that I desire. And what I desire most of all today is to feel good.

I want to be a good mother. I want my children to see a woman who is relaxed. I want only confidence and prosperity to touch their young lives. And I want this for myself as well. I want to be the role model offering the example via experience and not only rhetoric.

Well, you have to give up something old to make room for something new. And if there is only room within me for one focus at a time, and if there is also within me a swirling hurricane of worry and doubt, then these are exactly the decrepit pests I must give up in order to welcome the feeling of ease.

What if I go about my day deciding that every thing in life is easy? Though every thing may not always be clear to me, what if tranquility was the wind at my back and that was all the clarity I required in order to create my day? Imagine the day that would unfold before me if that were so...

I want it to be so. I will take my first breath and start anew.

The breath brings me back here to this place where I was born - a quiet knowing. This knowing became lost to me somehow along my travels. But it feels familiar. It welcomes me back to kindness. It invites me to the table and serves me a plate of the kind of sustenance that reminds me to be gentle with myself. I know this place. I have moved many miles away from it through my life but there is no denying that it is my home.

I lay my bags down at the door and step inside. If ever the noise outside these walls distracts me, I will simply breathe and know that I am where I belong.

Right now it is quiet. I like it here. I think I'll stay a while.

I wish you peace and prosperity today.

May you always have a home to go back to.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Today as I go about my day, I will breathe the very life of ease and freedom. I will know that there is more than enough in my bank account so that I enjoy only prosperity. I will release the shackles of any previous mindset that imprisoned my grace in a house of struggle. I release the fatigue that was embellished from my pattern of negative thinking and I will wholeheartedly embrace the vibrant effervescence of simply knowing that I am good enough.

I am good enough to be happy.

I am good enough to be wealthy.

I am good enough to trust that my marriage is a match made in heaven.

I am good enough to be my husband's best friend.

I am good enough to believe that my husband is good enough.

I am good enough to write a book.

I am good enough to make manifest anything I dream up: riches, adventures in other lands, a new home, a great time in the 5k.

I am good enough to let go and let God.

I am good enough to surrender control and know that life will support my every step. And further more, I am good enough to not only know this but to live it as well.

Today, I am a vessel for peace. Today I am the wings upon which beauty and healing fly to heights previously undiscovered by me and I am the generous spirit who will share that beauty and healing with all who seek it. I change the world for the better with my very existence.

I am a powerful being and I am here to succeed. All that is required of me in this moment is that I surrender. That I surrender control, old unhelpful habits and the idea that I am meant to fail. This above all else I pledge to surrender most of all. For I was not born of this earth to make misery. I was born to make merry.

God bless me as I open my heart to show my vulnerability. No one will attack me. I am safe. I am free. And I am powerful.

All is well in my world. Ease and freedom are mine and they are me. They are the waters that shoulder my blessed and worthy being. And I will ride them to the very last drop.

May peace be yours today and every day.