Making Me Happy

Happiness can be an illusive prey. I think we all have times in our lives when we wonder if we will ever be happy again. Thankfully, we usually do become happy again. Sometimes, it takes a little more effort than usual to stabilize the muddy emotional ground and find our happy footing once more. I find that it is important to be proactive when I am down in the dumps and stuck in the mud.

Something that makes me happy is making other people happy. This can be a dangerous remedy for melancholia because it puts my emotional fate in the hands of somebody else. I try to remember that I can only be truly happy when I am the one making me happy. At times, I try to jump start the process by reaching out to others. This “selfish altruism” of mine has its detriments. I often feel like I have a tattoo on my forehead that proclaims “Ask Me” to the entire world. I always figured it did not cost anything to smile warmly at passersby and it is thrilling when they smile back. Sometimes, it does cost something. A colleague of mine used to say I could not leave our office to go to the bathroom without adopting some poor lost soul with a problem that needed fixing. And I, of course, would have to be the one to fix it. All in all, though, I’d say that it is almost always happy-making for me to see happiness exuding from others because of something I said or did.

Sometimes, I like to stop at Hardee’s (that’s Carl’s Jr to you folks west of the Mississippi) for a biscuit in the morning if I am out and about for some reason. There is something comforting about a hot, crispy, slightly salty biscuit. At my local Hardee’s, though, there is a challenge.  One lady typically takes my order at the drive-thru speaker. She is warm and friendly and cheerful. She calls me “baby.” She is rather like a biscuit herself. The lady who actually hands me the “bag o’ biscuit” when I pull around to the window is more like a stale saltine cracker.

She has never done anything mean or rude exactly, but she always looks and sounds so miserable. I have no idea what her life is like. I am certainly not judging. I am sure she has problems that would make my troubles seem petty. Still, it makes me sad that she seems so sad. I really want to help her feel better. Not that I know for sure that she is sad, but it is hard to imagine that she is NOT gloomy. Her voice is monotone and gruff. Her shoulders sag as if she is carrying a very heavy yoke. I have never seen her close to anything like smiling. Thin lips and squinty eyes always sink towards the ground. She doesn’t even seem to see me. I know she is a real human and not a robot because I can feel pain radiating off her.

Recently, I have been on a mission. I have been challenging myself to imbue a little warmth and happiness in this lady’s workday. When I hand her the money and take my biscuit bag, I push charm out of my being with every cell in my body. I smile. I intentionally let my eyes sparkle. I speak clearly and gently. I move my head slightly to try to make eye contact. I make sure that I am facing her direction when conducting our transaction, rather than blindly grabbing from my side.

None of this seemed to make much of a difference. I enjoy my short tete a tete with the order-taking lady inside the drive-thru speaker. We exchange chipper. As I turn the corner to pull up to the window, my mood turns hopeful. I think, “today is the day she is going to smile.” It didn’t seem like it was ever going to happen.

The other day, FINALLY, we had a breakthrough. As I drove up to the window, I felt the resignation building. I tried to tap into my biscuit lady in the speaker to shield myself from disappointment. As I waited for my turn to pay, I pulled out money. I had exact change, which I took as a good omen. That day, as I took my biscuit bag from the sad lady, I slowed my movements. If one can be graceful in receiving a bag of take-out, then I was. I put the bag on the seat next to me deliberately. Then, I turned my head back to the takeout window and flashed the special smile I keep for people who look like they need it. I waited a beat or two and… I saw it! Not a smile, certainly, but the very beginning of a twinkle in her eye. Her body seemed to relax a little and she met my gaze.

It made my day.

What do you do to make yourself happy?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a smiley day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Old Florida/Old Terri

The first time I visited Florida was about 40 years ago. I had an aunt and uncle who wintered in an obscure town in central Florida, about 50 miles from where I currently live. We visited the big-ticket attractions like Disney, Kennedy Space Center, and Daytona Beach. In those days, Disney World was only two parks- Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Universal Studios did not even exist in Orlando yet. Much has changed in tourism in central Florida theme parks over the past 40 years. However, on that first visit, we also went to less glitzy destinations. We visited Cypress Gardens, which is now Legoland. We went to Blue Springs to see the manatees. We took a glass bottom boat ride at Silver Springs. We took a boat ride through a wild section of Florida wetland. We visited many local native Florida venues. I certainly had the opportunity to appreciate the wild, primitive, naturalistic tangle of environment that is Florida.

Many people would look at the central Florida where I live today and marvel at how it has changed in the last 40 years. The citrus industry that gave birth to most of the area’s inhabitation is long gone. Glitzy theme parks multiply like rabbits around Orlando. The Villages, a monolithic luxury retirement community centered about 20 miles north of me expands ever southward. The number of banks, hospitals, and Walmarts per square inch is alarming. One might say that the old Florida I saw 40 years ago is a thing of the past.

On the other hand, maybe not that much has changed after all.

When my brother visited us before my mother’s stroke, his main comment was that “Florida looks like it needs a haircut.” I thought it was an incredibly poetic… and apt… way of describing the geography. You do not have to go far off the beaten track to find a little of the messy, raggedy, feral old Florida.

Awhile back, I took a boat ride through the Lake Dora canal system. It is amazing that, in no time, you can reach sections of natural waterways that pass areas you would swear no one has touched in centuries. On the same ride, you pass through multiple mobile home parks that have probably been there for at least 40 or 50 years. Many of the mobile homes there appear also to have been there for 40 or 50 years. We noticed a small island in the canal next to one of these parks. The island was populated by hundreds of gnome statues and accoutrements for their gnomey existence.

Just a short hop down Highway 48 from my house, you will find a yellow building with a sign almost as large as the entire front of the edifice. The sign announces that the building houses Southern Wildlife Taxidermy. I swear I can hear banjo music playing every time I pass by the location. When you shoot something… or run it over with a car… in Florida, you apparently have two choices. Eat it or stuff it. I have to say that I lived over 55 years of my life without seeing a single taxidermy shop. Now I have one as a backyard neighbor. I guess I know exactly where to take my pet possum for preservation when it croaks. Not that I have a pet possum, but you never know. I’ve lived in Florida for over eight years now.

The other day, I went to Silver Springs with a friend of mine. I had a vague memory of the glass bottom boat trip from 40 years ago. It was only about 35 miles away so I figured why not take a little day trip and see what had changed since my last visit.

What had changed? Absolutely nothing. It was delightful, but nothing had changed. The old school sign at the entryway was exactly the same as it was 40 years ago. The water was still stunningly clear. The boat ride and narration were still campy. I still did not see the monkeys that supposedly inhabit an island in the springs.  The statues installed in one of the deep areas for an episode of Sea Hunt in 1959 were still there.

It is interesting to note that I was born in 1959. The statues have probably withstood the test of time better than my body has. Come to think of it, old Florida has weathered the changes of the last 40 years better than I have since the first time I visited!

Have you ever revisited a place many years after seeing it for the first time? What did you notice? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a primitive day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Disney In My DNA

Those of you who have been following along with my story know my obsession with Disney. There is a long family mythology that links me with Tinker Bell on many levels. I grew up three miles from Disneyland, watching the fireworks from my backyard in the summer. When Max and I decided to move out of California post-retirement, living within easy traveling distance to a Disney park was high on my list of priorities. I have a wardrobe that is the envy of four-year-old girls everywhere.

I may have hit a new high. Or a new low, depending on how you look at things.

This month, my chapter is hosting the general meeting of my church’s ECW (Episcopal Church Women) organization. The general ECW is made up of four small discussion groups or “chapters.” The whole general membership meets monthly, and each chapter also meets separately each month. The chapters take turns providing food and decorations for the larger general meetings. My chapter is handling the February festivities.

We met on Monday to decorate the parish hall in our be-blossomed Valentine’s Day theme. Now, there was a time when decorating meant laying out pink or red paper placemats and scattering a few cut out hearts on the tables. Those days are gone. Somewhere along the line, somebody upped the game. It was not me who upped it. It is fun to have everyone contributing creative ideas and working together to implement them, as long as it doesn’t become a competition and feelings don’t get hurt. Monday was actually great. Everyone seemed to be having fun decorating. We have several crafty women in our group and there were a lot of random fru-fruy supplies to play with in creating centerpieces and such. One of our talented artistic ladies designed some lovely heart shaped artificial flower topiaries for the tables. We found we needed one more. Somehow, the least artistic person in the room (me) got the job of crafting the final topiary.

I have been trying to embrace trying things outside my comfort zone, so I decided to play along. How badly could it possibly go? Attacking a Styrofoam heart with a glue gun and a truckload of fake flowers didn’t seem too hard. Even if it did go badly, what’s the real harm? After all, it is not like the fate of the nation was at stake.

Things started off reasonably well. I felt encouraged as I gunned glued blooms in place. However, as things progressed, I realized that a truckload of flowers was not going to be quite sufficient to completely cover the blasted heart. I started gluing anything sparkly to the Styrofoam to cover white spots. My topiary began to look like a Brownie troop project. Also, the glue gun started to get a bit awkward and tetchy. Manipulating the hot dripping glue was more difficult when trying to attach the glittery ribbon and hearts that when just reinforcing the fake flowers I punched into the Styrofoam. I ended up burning my fingers repeatedly, all the time struggling not to utter an expletive that would not have been appropriate for a church gathering.

I did not realize that I had actually blistered my skin until after I had peeled all the excess dried glue off my hands. Then, I saw it. I had branded myself with a perfect little hidden Mickey on the pad of my finger. I may or may not bleed pixie dust, but I certainly burn Disney.

What we do for love….

What is the silliest craft-related story? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me to

Have a hearty day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

My Mickey-shaped brand, right on the tip of my middle finger… maybe that particular finger is an appropriate message to the glue gun?
my finished Brownie troop project

Growing Pains

I think I am going through a growth spurt. I went to the doctor last week and I gained two pounds over the holidays. It appears that my girth, if nothing else, has gone through a growth spurt. I’d like to think it is much more than that.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been working on being more intentional about how I spend my time. I wanted to disentangle myself from being overcommitted. I wanted to decrease the amount of energy I spent of activities and relationships that I do not enjoy. Going forward, I wanted to focus on improving myself instead of busy-ness and “contributing.” I really wanted to trust myself and my own intrinsic worth instead of relying on the opinion of others or the quantity of my contribution to form my own opinion of myself. It proved to be harder than I anticipated.

I took a two-month participation vacation from an organization that was starting to consume me. I was starting to not like myself and the way I felt when working on tasks related to this organization. It was not that anyone did anything wrong or that I did not enjoy the organization. It was simply some my own tendencies that I had to tame. I tried to rein myself in and protect my feelings while continuing to participate in the organization’s activities. I found the unhealthy part of me was just too ingrained and I needed to disconnect myself completely for a couple of months.

I finally voiced my reluctance to continue with another activity that had been causing me angst over the past couple of years. I honestly did not have sufficient time to invest in the activity at the required level. Also, there were some interpersonal challenges and confusion as to roles, which sapped my energy.

I stopped trying to be the driver of all the many relationships I accumulated since COVID. In my attempt to help people feel connected and valued, I began reaching out to far more people than my sweet little introverted self could handle. I continued in my quest for connection long after most of the world abandoned the “virtual world” and started interacting in real life again. I was typically the one who was reaching out to my relationships. That fed a need in me, but it also critically drained my emotional battery. I began allowing time for other people- people with whom I had genuine relationships- to reach out to me.

I expected that my self-imposed hiatus from the wild world would be pleasant, relaxing, and satisfying. That did not turn out to be the case… at least, not initially. In fact, after just a couple of weeks, I felt isolated and lonely and discouraged. I felt kind of hopeless. Maybe I was not such good company for myself after all. I struggled through the holidays a bit. My brother, my last tie to my family of origin, died this year. I had given up, at least temporarily, my involvement with some of my affiliations. Many of the people with whom I have the closest, more authentic connections were off doing family stuff. Nothing felt right.

I think my feelings were the delirium tremors of the soul. I was detoxing from this need for validation of my worth- either from activities or from other people. Unfortunately, I did not recognize this right away. I embroiled myself in another major activity by which I was measuring my worthiness. It was something I did want to do for some excellent, valid reasons. However, I allowed myself to stop focusing on these great reasons. Instead, I got caught up with the idea of proving myself and being valuable in other people’s eyes. I did not react well.

Just in the past few days, I’ve realized that I have been holding on to some resentment and hurt left over from before my hiatus. I stopped the activities, but I did not stop the unhealthy thought patterns. Thanks to a frank conversation with a friend, I realized my problem. In that conversation, I allowed myself to feel all the negative emotions I was pushing to the back of my brain, in an attempt to convince myself that they didn’t matter and that I should just get over them. They did matter and I couldn’t get over them until I dived into them. My poor friend was completely unprepared for my reaction and I am sorry she had to see it, but I am so grateful to her for being the pilot light that ignited the bonfire. Now that I have burned at least some of that negative emotion, I might be better equipped to trust in myself and in my intrinsic worth. I am entitled to be me. What’s more- the world is better because I am me.

People always say that there is no growth in comfort and no comfort in growth. I say that I see nothing wrong with comfort. People also say that whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I say that I don’t see why I have to be so frickin’ strong. God often has to drag me kicking and screaming into the next phase of my development.

Still, it is pretty cool when I do see the growth that comes after the pain.

What have you learned after experiencing some “growing pains?” Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a painless day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂