Friday, June 27, 2014

Teaching and Learning

It is three years since I retired from my long-time job as a teacher-librarian. Tuesday night, I facilitated my first adult book club. Monsieur, who also has a library background, and I gathered an assortment of neighbours to our Fireside Room to decide on our first reading selection.

I had never met many of the 12 participants who probably ranged from 62 to 85 years of age. We have chosen to read  The Book of Secrets by M.G. Vassanji, a Canadian novel set in East Africa. Our public library has over 100 sets of books that are available to book clubs. Hopefully, this experiment will be an opportunity for the exchange of ideas between residents of our housing community.

I have been providing opportunities for French conversation for a lady from my church. She has an extensive French vocabulary but needs some correction and help with pronunciation. We meet at the Senior Centre and I provide topics for discussion and a little grammar practice. I really enjoy working with such an enthusiastic student.

Earlier this week, La Duchesse posted a blog Imagining Retirement  where she discussed how the reality of retirement often differed greatly from our previously-held expectations. Family, caregiving responsibilities, relationships and finances continue to change although we are no longer fully employed.

Last night, I attended the retirement of a fellow teacher for whom I have a great deal of respect and admiration. A woman of more than 65 years of age, who started teaching after raising 4 children of her own and fostering other children, who baked cupcakes for every Grade 7 class member's birthday, who
supports a adult child with mental health issues and nursed a dying ex-husband while working fulltime.
I didn't realize until last night what an important role a "work family" plays.

My former colleagues have been walking a picket line for two weeks. Today, they will be walking together as a staff in the rain. My retiree friend told a story of an exceptional student who recently approached  her with a gift. A twelve year old boy offered his saved allowance because he felt "that it was the least that he could do to help her."  Apparently, the kindness, humour and compassion that this teacher had shown her students had taught this boy about how to consider the plight of others and how to offer help. There is no more important lesson.

This is what public education is about and I support it with all of my heart.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

French Living 2: Collections and Recollections

my first piece of Quimper
Since I can not be in France right now, I have been looking at some of my French purchases and wondering how I might use them more often. In 1987, I made my first extended visit to France. I had
just separated from my first husband and was working in a small public library where one of my jobs was to sort mail and to affix suitable posters to a noticeboard.

My attention was instantly caught by a scene of sunflowers and market umbrellas. Remember that this was a time when French décor items were not everywhere and as the mother of an 11 year-old, I certainly did not own such things! I had just received a cash settlement and I decided at that moment to enrol in French classes in the little village of Montaigut-le-Blanc in the Auvergne.

The centre on Montaigut was owned by an artist, Paul Deggan and his French wife, Babette, who spent summers in France and who lived in North Vancouver in the winter. You can read about the Deggans and how they restored houses in Paul's book. The experience was one that altered my life. I became a woman who could decide to travel alone and who became increasingly comfortable in la belle France. Madame Là-Bas definitely has Auvergnant origins!

side plates from my first adventure
When I left Montaigut, I spent some time in Paris and in a window, I saw the Quimper pattern for the first time. I was in love! I purchased, at what seemed to me, great expense, the fish platter and four side plates. They are signed and painted by hand. I carried the china back to Canada and it arrived in one piece. How lucky is that!

condiment dish

I do not have a lot of pieces of Quimper but each piece tells a story of a place or an adventure. Sometimes, when I am travelling and find a brocant, I look for a hidden treasure. Quimper does not seem popular in the North-West but I have found a piece of two.

I also found The Quimper Inn, my favourite bed and breakfast in Port Townsend, Washington. Ron and Sue, who own the Inn are also francophiles and Quimper collectors. Staying at the Inn is like visiting with friends.

Two years ago, when I was in Paris, there was a vide-grenier (empty your attic) sale near my apartment. Voilà, the condiment dish. Le monsieur wrapped it for me and it arrived home safely to join the others.

With the Internet, I could order other pieces of Quimper but I will not. My collection is not just a collection of dishes but a collection of memories and experiences. When I am an older lady, I might not be able to travel as much but I will always be able to look at my first pieces of Quimper and remember the inexperienced young woman stepping out alone for the first time!

in front of our door in Montaigut-le-Blanc

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

French Living

early morning francophile sans maquillage

I wake to a grey Wednesday morning in a Canadian suburb. In my heart, I wish that I could be in France. I have been home for just one month and nothing here seems right. It is 4:49 a.m. for one thing and this has been my regular waking time since returning home. I could find an eye mask to block out the light that streams through my French door.

Monsieur, who is sleeping, mutters something so I move to the den  as not to disturb him. Maybe I'll consult blogworld to find ways to inject some  Paris into my life. Right now, I am enjoying How to Be Chic where today Fiona in New Zealand writes about changing the domestic environment for a pick me up. I like to create vignettes around the apartment.
Peonies, books and Moorcroft are decorating le salon.

French women eat healthfully and sparingly so I will have some yogurt and bananas in a Quimper bowl on a Provençal tablecloth.
I have been collecting Quimper ware since 1987.
Today I am giving a private conversation class at the Senior Centre. I visited an international news-shop and purchased Lire, a magazine of excerpts from modern French literature. I have chosen and photocopied for today's discussion. Reverend Maggie at my church spoke Sunday of the difference between employment and vocation. If I became a substitute teacher, that would be a job. I enjoy preparing for the conversation class which is a vocation.

There is a lot of reading in this magazine which is suitable for Upper Intermediate and Advanced readers.

Fiona wrote about scent yesterday and I have been using a scent purchased last year in Paris.

a slight waft of Paris

French women pay attention to grooming and acquiring and maintaining a simple, flattering wardrobe.

My nails have just been done and I love the clean look of a French manicure.

Janice Riggs at The Vivienne Files is beginning a series on wardrobe planning from scratch. I have identified chocolate brown and tan as my neutrals and now I have to find the perfect pair of trousers.
I have "pants" in these colours but they are not "perfect". I wonder if a 5'3"woman who wears size 14 
can find such a thing. If I cut back on my favourite French custom "du vin avec les repas", I could easily be a size 10-12!!!

Mon dieu! Monsieur has appeared to présent me with un café.  I guess that it is time for my yogurt and banana. Bonne journée!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fathers' Day

Today is Fathers' Day. It is 18 months since my father died. One of life's natural passages is the first loss of a parent. As children we believe that our parents are invincible and that life will go on forever.
My dad was only 23 when I was born and 46 when he became a grandfather for the first time. He always seemed quite young to me.

When I see the selection of Fathers' Day cards in the drugstore or the often-purchased golf shirts in the
shops, it seems strange to me that it all goes on but that I have no father. Although I am in my seventh decade, I still feel lost. My husband has no children and my daughter spends the day with her father who often takes darling daughter to visit the grave of her paternal grandfather.

My father has no grave for me to visit. It was his wish but my wish is that there was a special place for me to go to visit him. I can think of him and I often do when visiting a port of call that would have interested him or reading a book that he would have liked but for me, rituals are important.

Today is Sunday so I will go to church with Maman. In a way, the Church provides me with some of the structure that I require. It is a recent addition to my life as I only started to attend services
when my father was very ill. Not everyone needs a church in order to pray but for me, taking the time to visit a special place and to join others in prayer and worship feels right. I leave the church feeling peaceful and a little stronger emotionally.

I am a reflective and analytical person. Some of my dear ones would say that I "think too much."
I am a teacher so early on I studied Piaget's stages of child development but I find the works of Erik Erikson more relevant at this time of my life.

Erikson used the term "generativity" to describe a stage in later life where an older adult wonders about his/her personal contribution to the world. What will carry on after he/she dies? For many, the appearance of grand-children creates opportunities to participate in new fresh lives. My parents have been lucky enough to have great-grandchildren.

For others, who have no children or grand-children, voluntarism is often a way to contribute to a "greater good". Planting a garden for others to enjoy, entertaining at a seniors' home…..There are many ways.

The loss of my father has brought my own mortality to mind. In a few years, I too will die. My work life is over and I do not have grand-children to bring new life to my older years. The opposite of "generativity" in the Erikson schema is "stagnation". If we focus only on ourselves and our own pleasures, we will feel despair and loss of purpose.

My father worked as a volunteer to promote and manage affordable housing for seniors. The tower that
will bear his name is progressing and Maman and I will probably drive by it today.

My favourite children's book is Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. The young Alice Rumphius is told by her grandfather to travel and learn about other lands, to come home to live by the sea and to find her own way to make the world more beautiful. She scatters lupine seeds all over her island home. Everyone, according to the narrator, must find his/her own way to make the world more beautiful but it is a personal quest to find the way.

Happy Fathers' Day to all the men in the world who care for children!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Three Years of Retirement!

I was lucky to have both my parents at my retirement.
Yesterday, I visited the school where I used to work to buy a ticket to the retirement party of a former colleague. I have been back only once in the three years since I retired. As I was walking towards the school, from a distance of about 2 blocks, I could tell that it was Sports Day. I enjoyed working as a teacher-librarian and English as a Second Language teacher but I always found the noisy part of school life difficult. 

Before Monsieur and I retired, we participated in some pre-retirement counselling through our local university. A lot of what we learned seemed irrelevant at the time but three years later, I find myself reflecting (as I will do) on the Retirement Skills Inventory.

I have always been a reader/writer sort of person. I value personal accomplishment and like to have my successes noticed. As a child, I enjoyed being on the Honour Roll. During my first year of retirement, studying at the Sorbonne, provided me with a rich intellectual experience and an opportunity to be successful. My need for adventure and my dream to live in Paris were also satisfied during that year.

I was so happy at my graduation.

When I came home in 2012, my father was very ill. I went to the hospital with my mother 2 or 3 times a week. As the only retired daughter living in close proximity to my mother, I felt useful and I wanted to spend as much time with my dad as possible. My father died in 2013.

Monsieur retired a year after I did so now we had an opportunity to explore the world together. I am not a great fan of sleeping on the ground in a back-pack tent nor of mountain-climbing. Remember, I'm the rambler who stops for wildflowers and pubs! We enjoyed a Panama Canal cruise together and Monsieur and I travelled to the WWI battlefields in Belgium but unfortunately Monsieur decided that he did not like Paris or Europe or travel that much.

We went golfing (Monsieur) and wine-tasting (both) in the Okanagan with friends.
We both enjoy time in Arizona where we explore and enjoy a bit of winter sunshine. Monsieur has stopped golfing due to a sore shoulder and seldom hikes now. 

Monsieur is very involved with music. Right now, he is involved in 4 projects. Tonight he has two different gigs with two different groups. He will be gone from the afternoon until after midnight. There are constant rehearsals, one being at another woman's apartment! I attend as many gigs as possible but remember that I am the woman who does not like noise or crowds.

One of the important factors in retirement satisfaction is our personal relationships. Employment provides many opportunities for this but during retirement, one must make an effort. Although
 I am quiet and reflective, I have a need for connection with others. I have made some new friends at my neighbourhood church  and I have longer-term friends from my younger days.

Retirement is definitely a "first-world" experience. We are a healthy couple with the financial resources
to travel or play music or golf. If I were writing a report card on me, it would read as follows:

Madame is participating enthusiastically in cultural and travel pursuits. She continues to develop skills in photography and writing as she produces a regular blog. Mme and M L-B are making an effort to spend time together.  During the coming months,  Mme should devote more time and effort to fitness activities in order to reduce stress and to regulate blood pressure. She should work on recognizing and valuing herself so that she will be a happier person.

the happy Paris lady

I don't miss the noise or energy of the school but I do miss teaching. I have started a small tutoring business and I am hoping to be able to share some of my skills and knowledge again.

Every stage of retirement is different, every person is different and so we all must try to look at ourselves and to direct ourselves to happiness in our retirement years.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Wardrobe Deletions:Too Much Floral Print

As I continue to tame my wardrobe monster, I have been eliminating many print pieces. I really had too much print! My theory was that solid colours tend to emphasize the curves (too many) of the body while a pretty print attracted the eye to pattern and colour rather than  to shape. There is probably some validity in my theory but who wants to look like a pretty sofa?
I love flowers!

I was inspired by the post on the Vivienne Files yesterday about whether anyone can wear print. One of the cardigans pictured reminded me of my favourite Gerry Weber cardigan. Today is a cool, grey day in Vancouver so I will need a cardigan or jacket. I have banking, visiting with colleagues at my pre-retirement school and a bit of shopping to do. My challenge was to put together a polished casual look using my few remaining pieces of floral print. I will layer my cardigan over a very thin tee-shirt that I bought at M&S in London.

My cardigan will go well with a pair of straight leg jeans that are in my basic wardrobe.
I think that this will work.
I have a tote and a pair of sandals that will go well with the outfit. This can be one of my outfits for cooler summer days or for early fall.

Sue at Une Femme wrote about her True North and that she feels very comfortable in black. Despite my wardrobe taming, print is still a favourite look of mine. This reflection and selection of wardrobe items is an ongoing process. One of my errands today is to take two more bags of clothing to the charity shop. Bon week-end!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Etre bien dans sa peau???

Etre bien dans sa peau….what does that really mean? Literally, it translates as "to be well in one's skin"
or to feel comfortable with who we are. Many of the women that we admire seem to have met this challenge. I have not!

Being well in our skin does not depend on our accomplishments, our physical beauty or our economic circumstances. All of these factors can vary throughout our lives but acceptance of ourselves as we are today is a task that many of us find almost impossible. It is easy to blame the family, the education system or the capitalist economy for our malaise. It is much easier to control the daughter who is constantly looking for approval. She disturbs our classrooms the least so as teachers we can focus on the less able or more disruptive students. For all of her life, she will be buying the ONE cream, lipstick or outfit that promises her a moment of perfection….BUT she never achieves it.

The perfect moment that she is seeking is elusive…the moment that a parent says, "you are my best daughter" or that the lover/partner says,"I don't deserve such a woman." She may be a devoted mother, a breadwinner, a clotheshorse, a scholar, triathlete…..the list goes on to infinity but never is it enough! The insecurity and anxiety abate on occasion only to re-emerge at another moment.

What can we do about this feeling of insufficiency? Counselling? Pills? Wine? More purchases? Another partner? Learn a new skill? I really have no answer to that question. I probably have tried all of those solutions and guess what…..No luck! I may be coming a little closer to peace by having joined my local church but the jury is out on that one…..

I'm noticing my punctuation throughout this post..a lot of questions and so forth…..'s. Probably because  number of questions and possible answers are as many as there are different women!

I enjoy writing my blog because I know that so many women think about these things every day. When we share our ideas, we realize that we are all both exceptional and unexceptional in a lot of different ways.

Thank you to Rafe's Hotel for giving me something to think about this morning.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Manage your Wardrobe, Manage your Life

As I edit my wardrobe to create a few "planned " outfits, my life should become easier. As a "sociable introvert", I find busy weeks stressful. Deciding what to wear should not be another worry!

This week-end, Monsieur performed twice and I attended both shows. When M. performs, he has very little time for me so I usually take a friend. As I am a theatre or opera woman not a nightclub woman,  I often feel uncomfortable and out of place. Monsieur is generally older than the musicians that he plays with so I am older than their partners. How can I use wardrobe management to manage my anxiety? Two of my favourite European fashion bloggers are Josephine at Chic at Any Age and Hilde at Fashion 55 Plus.  I will use the lessons of these two elegant ladies to create an age-appropriate outfit.

The first gig is at an open-air shipyard where vendors are selling crafts and street food. The show is early (5-7pm) so there will be a lot of young urban families. The other band partners are about 20 years younger than I am but I have no intention of dressing like a "geriatric groupie".  I've got a linen tunic purchased at Sahara London. The colours are blues and golds and I could wear it with my linen tank and oatmeal coloured leggings.
outfit for Shipyard Market gig
Looking at this outfit through the eyes of Josephine (chicatanyage), I would change the bag for a market basket and the shoes for a pair of espadrilles for a more sophisticated look. Silver hoop earrings would be a nice touch. Could I wear the tunic with white jeans? This is an outfit that I can feel comfortable wearing to barbecues, outdoor concerts or markets.

The Saturday night gig places me at a casino auditorium where Monsieur is playing bass at a Return to Motown Revue. Although I enjoy all kinds of music, I am definitely not a "hands in the air" night club woman. Most of the audience at these performances are Baby Boomer women who come to dance with husbands or girlfriends and to have a few drinks.
This outfit didn't feel like me.
I don't usually go to dances and I don't usually wear black. This balloon silk two-piece was comfortable and appropriate but it didn't feel like me. I love my Bernie Mev shoes and my shawl from Diwali Paris but the black will take getting used to. I would probably remove the necklace and choose a drop earring
in one of the colours of the shawl. I don't think that I have the right bag in my collection. I should be able to wear this outfit to dances or on cruises and feel comfortable. What do you think?

My last musical adventure is a matinée performance of Wicked with my darling daughter. The day is warm but overcast with no chance of rain.We took public transit to the theatre and had lunch in our favourite pub-restaurant. I wore my floral jean jacket and a dress with a scalloped hem and my favourite walking shoes.
This outfit is comfortable and easy to wear to a matinée.
I am learning lessons about wardrobe planning every day from other bloggers and from observing what I feel comfortable wearing.  My pile of giveaways is growing and soon my closet will be organized to my liking. If I can clearly see what my clothing options are, my daily choices should become simpler. 

As a librarian, collection development was part of my job. A collection of books needs to be circulated or it is of no value. The same is true of clothing. If an item has no purpose in my life as it is today, it is simply taking up  precious space. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Working with Colour

One of the blogs that I read every day is The Vivienne Files where Janice Riggs puts together some of the most beautiful outfits that I have ever seen! I have to admit that I have been fascinated by wardrobe planning since high-school when I designed a rotation of clothing so that no one in my classes would see me in the same outfit twice in fourteen days. I didn't have that many clothes but the key was in combination and recombination. In the 1960's, before computers, I had to spend time every Sunday assuring that all of my pieces were clean, pressed and in good shape. Okay, I might be a little obsessive-compulsive but I also spent time organizing my classroom notes and doing my readings for the next week. Like the Boy Scouts, I always like to be prepared.

A few days ago, I was inspired by a wardrobe that Janice curated that was based on a painting, Lucy Hessel at the Seashore. As I am "mining" my wardrobe to create a new, softer look more in keeping with my grey hair, the painting and Janice's examples gave me some ideas.

During my last few trips to Paris, I have purchased some softer coloured linen clothing. These items tend to be looser in fit and more muted in colour than my regular clothing. I decided to start with my soft green "balloon dress" bought on rue St-Placide last year when I was living in the 6th arrondissement on rue Cherche-Midi.
soft green linen dress

Rue St-Placide is a wonderful street for medium priced shopping and there are a few shops that carry stock suited to the older "ronde" woman. My "balloon" dress is a small/medium so that it fits perfectly through the shoulders. It is especially important that a looser fitting dress does not overwhelm my 5'3"

I have many scarves of different colours, shapes and sizes. After studying the painting in Janice's blog, I chose one that had languished in my drawers for about ten years.
I loved this scarf but have not worn it for a very long time
Next, I visited the jewellery box to find my Cécile Jeanne earrings bought last year on rue Cherche-Midi.
These earrings pick up the rosy colour of the scarf.

I have comfortable Thierry Rabotin shoes and a handbag to finish off my outfit.
My outfit is ready for a day of lunch and shopping.
Each day, I look forward to a new Vivienne post. The combinations are truly art and as I continue to organize and "weed" my wardrobe, I will be looking for new possibilities. This outfit is going to be my summer shopping and lunch in the city uniform for this year. How do you plan your outfits? Do you have a few pieces that you use over and over?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Making Space at Home

When I spend time away from home, my life is always a lot simpler and decidedly more elegant. At home, I often feel the burden of my possessions, my relationships and my whole big bag of "stuff".
Today, I started to lighten my load as I undertook a partial wardrobe inventory, laundry and pressing project. Just how many pieces do I need to look and feel my best every time that I leave the apartment?
Right now, I'm not at the magic 33 number but I can reduce substantially from 333. For each season, can I construct  several great outfits that I can adjust to suit different occasions?

I have far too much orange and brown clothing

I started the morning with sorting the clothing in my laundry hamper. In my home, I use a communal laundry room while in my Paris apartments, I always have a ventless washer/dryer combination. This suits me well because I like to do smaller, more frequent loads and there are more settings than on the heavy duty commercial machines. I am looking into purchasing the LG model for the apartment. Smaller, more frequent laundry loads mean that I can wear the same clothing more often.
the simple, elegant way to do laundry in Paris

As I laundered summer bedding and towels, I wondered "how many sets of linens do two people need?" Our linen closet right now contains, a duvet, two quilts, a vintage chenille bedspread and toss cushions to coordinate with each different look. The apartments that I rent in Paris usually only include a duvet in a cover that also functions as a top sheet. Monsieur hates cushions but I now have a major investment in them.
my Paris bed
As I launder our clothing, I find that some of the items have been languishing in the hamper since before I left for Europe. I do pay special attention to laundering my clothes so I don't mix colours or fabrics without a lot of consideration. If I have not missed these items, do I really need them?

As two older adults living in a shared space, Monsieur and I are frequently  bicker about our personal belongings. Just this morning, after spending two days looking for my camera charger, I discovered that Monsieur had not understood what I was talking about and had put it in a drawer.
No charger, no camera, no blog! When I am living alone in my 30 square metres in Paris, such things never happen.

I am a sociable introvert which means when I undertake a stressful task, I want no one around. I want no suggestions and I want no conversation. I might listen to music of MY choice  but focus is really important to me. Monsieur tends to take this personally but that is just who I am. It's not elegant but at 62 years of age, I am not likely to change. Sometimes I'm the "B word".

All this is part of my "big bag of stuff. It's probably harder to "get rid of" than my surplus clothing.
I could proffer all kinds of explanations but to no avail. Only through my own awareness can I bite my tongue when the sharp words come.

I've done all that I can or want to do today. Tasks of this nature take more emotional than physical effort on my part. I just love the French verb "se débarasser de quelque chose" which means "to get rid of something".   Right now, I feel a little bit lighter for my effort. Bonne journée.

It's far too sunny outside to stay inside.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Turmoil, Walking Days and a OOTD

in our garden
It has been two weeks since I arrived home from Europe. In those two weeks, there has been a lot of turmoil. Monsieur and I are two very different people trying to share our later years. Although we have known each other for thirty years, August will be our tenth anniversary.
poppies in a neighbourhood garden

Time apart is essential to each of us but coming together is difficult. I enjoy the European lifestyle (small apartment, daily walks, proximity to cultural activities) immensely so it is always a bit of a shock to return home. While I have made travel the priority for my first 5 years of retirement, Monsieur has committed himself to performing music.

Life as a performing musician involves practise, the fellowship of musicians (male and female) and later hours than I like to keep. For the months of the year that I am home, I look to our partnership for support and companionship. I find myself feeling tearful and frustrated much of the time.
What interesting park benches along the bicycle route!

Walking is an important part of my routine. When I am in Europe, I generally walk for 2-8 hours a day. My walks range from strolls to rambles through the countryside. Since I have been home, I have tried to continue this habit to stabilize my mood, to maintain my health and to develop a greater appreciation of the beauty in my own locale.

 I have always been reluctant to drive and Monsieur has been using the car to transport  music equipment. Consequently, walking has been a regular part of my routine. I am starting to use public transit to cover greater distances and I hope to be mostly car-free by the age of 65.

This Canadian window is a little different from those in my Paris neighbourhood.
It would difficult to to drive a car and to appreciate the sights of a city. In Paris, I love to read every single historical marker. While walking in Vancouver, I have found some interesting murals and plaques.
The geneticist and environmentalist, David Suzuki, is pictured on a downtown mural. I like the touch of green.
Last night, I had my first meeting of the Bible study group since my return. I find that the support of these people for each other and the fellowship bring me a feeling of peace that is difficult to explain. I'm not sure that it has a lot to do with bible study although our leader was saying that groups that had maintained the study component lasted longer than those that had taken a self-help path. Perhaps this group fulfils a part of my need for support and companionship. One of the members has asked me to help her with conversational French so I will be meeting with her in a café this week.
My great-grandmother attended this church. I discovered the marker on a walk.

I have been enjoying the simplicity of my new haircut and have chosen a softer look in clothing to complement it. Blue and grey are gradually replacing orange and brown.
Taupe and blue for city walking days.

No one has a life without upset. Our expectations are not always met. Sometimes we try our hardest and we can't get what we want and sometimes we can only marvel at the beauty and joy that is around us.  I recently read this quote from Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse:

Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again ... Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

To read more about scientific evidence that happiness is a choice.