Monday, May 14, 2012

Finding Joy [Part Seven]

Taking my daily prompt from Shelley Seale's article Finding Joy: Tips for creating your own 30-day Happiness Project, today's topic is Quality Time.

Choose carefully the people and activities you spend your time with. Make enough time for those which really matter to you, and make it focused time—be present with it, not planning all the other things on your to-do list.

This is good advice, whether one is embarking on a happiness project or not.

My initial reaction to the prompt was I hardly have any friends in New York, so this doesn't even apply to me. Of course, our first reactions are sometimes... stupid. Not only do I have two blossoming friendships with moms I've met in a local moms group, but one of my college roommates living Brooklyn, and I'm able to see her once or twice a month.

But for us, in New York with no family and missing our best friends, this means making time to stay in touch with our long-distance loved ones. Sometimes I feel lazy for spending an hour or so on Skype each day instead of doing "productive" things, like cleaning or laundry or reading for my thesis. Yet talking to my mom, my sister (who lives in Honduras with small family), and my mother-in-law on Skype is fantastic. I've never been closer to any of these wonderful women, they get to witness the growth of my small, resistant-to-bedtime offspring (who is shrieking in the other room as Ian tries to lull her into a blissful slumber), and their companionship and encouragement help keep me sane.

This also means spending more time corresponding with friends - letters! I never thought I would enjoy sending letters and cards, but popping a card into the mail is bliss! We even added a small weekly budget category for correspondence. This makes me happy.

Ian and I are usually good at spending time together. We have a goal of an hour of 'Us' time (computers off) after Felicity is down for the night, whether this is playing a game together, working on a crossword, reading together, cooking or baking, or just cuddling and chatting. Realistically this doesn't always happen (mostly because Felicity hates to sleep and sometimes getting her down can take hours), but the thought is there. Even if we don't have time to take our 'Us' time after Flick falls asleep, we're good at talking a little as we drift off to sleep, probably the reason I'm such a strong proponent of couples going to bed at the same time.

It took Ian a bit to get used to me asking, "What was the best part about your day, honey?" as a snuggle up next to him in bed, followed by, "And what as the worst part about your day?" Even if it's the briefest of chats before falling asleep, this really grounds us, helps us check in with each other and stay on the same page.

How do you stay in touch with your loved ones? Do you intentionally carve out time for close friends, write letters, chat on the phone with your family or friends?