The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

The Birthday/Funeral Gift

Find Happiness NowThose of you who read between the lines are probably aware that five months of grumpy gut has been hard on me on a mental and emotional level even more so than on a physical level. I'm a total believer in the brain-gut connection now, having charted my moods and bowel movements for months and found a nearly perfect correlation between good and bad days on both ends of the body spectrum.

On the plus side, this realization has forced me to work harder than ever before to create order out of the chaos within my own slightly flawed brain. I've found easy pick-me-ups in the form of gratitude exercises, long baths, Christmas lights, zumbaing to youtube videos, and doubling down on the daily walk. 95% of the time, being aware of the early warning signs saves me from long days in the outhouse and from long nights wandering down dark mental alleys. But the other 5% of the time can be a doozy.

Which is where you come in. One of the books I'm working through at the moment is Jonathan Robinson's Find Happiness Now, a series of exercises you can carry out in five minutes or less to boost your mood short and long term. With my birthday just past, I decided to follow Robinson's advice and beg for help from those who love me for a project he calls "The Birthday/Funeral Gift."

To that end, I'm collecting anecdotes and photos to go into a make-Anna-smile book for rainy days of the soul. Want to join in? It's simple. Just think of a favorite memory about your connection with me, write it down, and mail or email it over. It's a bonus if the tale comes with a photo, but any kind memory is much appreciated. I'm looking for short, sweet memories that I can read and look at when I'm down to remember how much brightness there is in the world. Thanks in advance if you choose to play along!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Our singing on that train ride, from the Fireside Book of Folk Songs...actually, the whole trip:)

Our amazement when we got to our house on Pawleys Island--all the beauties of the ocean, the constant waves, the light, the expanse of shore, your companionship:)

Just a start!--love, mom

Comment by adrianne Mon Dec 19 08:44:10 2016
Like you, I discovered a long time ago that my moods affected my body, so that if I got angry about something, I inevitably ended up with a massive sinus infection. Now that I'm retired, I laugh at everything because what usually aggravated me were people and now that I'm not around aggravating people anymore, I don't get sick! Yay!
Comment by Nayan Mon Dec 19 09:38:53 2016

Hi Anna and Mark,

Speaking just for me, I eventually stumbled into the doors of AA. By accident really. I had already stopped drinking, didn't belong, didn't apply to me, etc.

That was in 1996. Still, at this point, it is the best thing I do for myself [period!!].

I do meetings on line and also face to face. I have gotten to know some people on line I will most probably never meet who have helped me move past the darkest places of my early life. I can ask people on line questions I would be embarassed to talk about in person with anyone. I have gotten and continue to get a LOT of good guidance doing exactly that.

At this point there are only two books in my spiritual library. The AA 'Big Book' and the 12 step book. I also have a Bible, but I don't get much out of it for whatever reason. Too confusing to me maybe.

Good luck with your journey. You are in my thoughts and prayers. You already have my e-mail address and I would be happy to correspond further if I can be of any help to either of you.

Love to you both, John

Comment by John Mon Dec 19 09:39:08 2016

Pics coming your way of your first trip to Ohio with Mark Pics of us coming to your homestead the first time & meeting your Mom too!

Comment by Jayne Wead Tue Dec 20 08:38:19 2016

Anna and Mark:

I have followed your blog almost from the beginning I think. I am probably an unusual patron because y'all are the only site on the internet that I visit. I don't own a television and I do not have internet in my home. I always joke around and tell people that I don't have time for such frivolities in my day. I will surf and watch TV when i get old and crippled and cranky. Until then I am outside doing anything to avoid being forced indoors before dark.

I look forward to lunch every day because I come in, pull out my cell phone and come here to see what y'all are up to. You guys are a daily inspiration to do more and experiment more and to live simply. I can't tell you how much peace and tranquility you convey out into the world of fast times and the constantly changing thrill of the day. I love this place.

I wish y'all nothing but the best and I truly thank you for countless gifts I have received from your experiences and y'alls gentle good humor.


Comment by Wen Tue Dec 20 10:52:45 2016

Anna, you are one of my most respected and trusted resources for homesteading information. I really appreciate how you research various methods, then try them out to see what works for you. Your mind is powerful and inquisitive, and you are willing to explore and say "Let's see!" Through the years, you have helped me immensely, because I've read many of the same books and had many of the same questions about "common knowledge" or "received wisdom." Then you take it a step further and experiment to attempt to answer those questions. The places where you find "It works!" and "Doesn't seem to help" have been equally useful as I work on my own micro-homestead.

We've never met, but I wanted you to know that your affinity for the growing things, your inquisitiveness, and your willingness to share your results have had a huge impact on my life and my understanding of how the world works.


Comment by Emily S Tue Dec 20 11:16:12 2016

Every morning, first thing, I check out Anna and Mark which is my alternate reality as see what wonderful things are going on. In my (right now unheated-boiler broken) apartment, with a tub in the kitchen just like you, 4 story walk up tenement, you bring such joy to my life and a bit of nature which I miss terribly. I live vicariously through you and if I was younger would do exactly what you are doing. Such peace and beauty. Hugs and all best to you both and to the critters too.


Comment by Suzan in New York City Tue Dec 20 11:31:17 2016

Anna, Wanted to say how delighted I was to discover your secret life as a writer of vampire tales, so exciting when someone reveals someting completely unexpected. It would never have crossed my mind to read a vampire tale if it had't been that I knew you were the author and was curious about your 'other side'. I really enjoyed the Wolfie trilogy personally and I also think they could be really ueful reading for adolescents who have difficult naming and partnering with strong instinct. Great idea to name these my 'wolf self' - such a strong visual image. I could have done with these books during a turbulent adolescence. I went on to read some vampire tales from other authors that you have recommended - but I prefer yours - better plot, clearer story line and great psychological insights. Thank you.

Comment by J.P. Sat Dec 24 01:29:51 2016

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