Lake House Bliss

Rocks on IceThis past weekend seven friends and I journeyed northward for a weekend at a lake house that I imagine to be Wisconsin’s most adorable. With its massive stone fireplace, seriously kitschy kitchen, and yards and yards of wood paneling, how could any cabin be better?

Add to that an extremely comfortable leather couch big enough to seat all eight of us, and you’ve got the perfect place to spend a fun weekend with friends.

And it was fun. I laughed so hard I could barely breathe, several times because of repeated impersonations of the “Cheese Doodles Guy.”

Bird HouseShore

Said Cheese Doodles Guy was on a recent Radio Lab episode about the feeling of bliss. In the episode, Cheese Doodles Guy (his real name is Aleksander Gamme) explains that as part of his preparation for a solo trek across Antarctica, he buried caches of food for himself so that he can avoid carrying all his provisions across the continent.  Later, you get to hear Cheese Doodles Guy experience extreme–and I’m talking extreme–happiness when he locates one of the caches of food after months of trekking alone.

Basically he just screams and screams with joy and then, between many Norwegian words, he says the words “Cheese Doodles.”

It’s an amazing clip and since several of us had heard the same Radio Lab episode, we couldn’t help but impersonate his screams and shout “Cheese Doodles” at the top of our lungs. It was so funny.

You can watch a video of Cheese Doodles Guy’s extreme happiness here.

WaterDead LeafDespite all this tomfoolery about the Cheese Doodles Guy, I spent a lot of time over the weekend thinking about what bliss really is. In the Radio Lab episode, they talk about bliss being this supreme state of happiness, almost like a religious experience, where feelings of joy and peace come together to create some amazing moment.

I think I’ve had moments like this. For me, they often result from being in the water. Perhaps in that warmth you feel when you first put on your clothes after a late night swim or during a sit in a hot spring deep within some ancient forest. During experiences like these, I’ve felt deeply at peace and content.

Our HouseOn Sunday night, after our lovely weekend had come to an end, I started to think more about the fact that most of my blissful experiences have a very physical element because of their connection to water. What I’m trying to say is, I think that getting out of a freezing cold mountain lake or relaxing in the warmth of a beautiful  hot spring results in an actual physical change in my body, perhaps the release of endorphins or  serotonin, that allows me to feel a state of bliss.

Huh. I guess this makes me think that I need to start respecting all of my feelings of happiness equally. I need to stop relying on bodies of water for providing these magical moments and realize that if I’m purely happy, it should be good enough to be considered bliss. I shouldn’t need that physical element. That magic.

And so I return to my friends screaming their heads off and pretending to be Cheese Doodles Guy and to all the other deep belly laughs, basketball games, meandering walks, and long talks that we all shared over the past few days.

These experiences all came together to create an amazing weekend that made me truly happy. It was a weekend that I hope to remember as a time of bliss.

Rock on IceFor anyone reading this, please share your comments! Feel free to respond to any of the following questions:

  • What do you think bliss is?
  • Is there a difference between happiness and bliss? What is it?
  • What have been some of your moments of bliss?
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Day 239: Seasons Change

Last Sunday, I set out to write the lyrics to a song without writing the music at the same time, something I don’t usually do. This is what I came up with. In the near future, I’ll set it to music and post a recording.

Seasons Change
The fall comes in soft and slow
and although I try to ignore it
The days get cool and the nights get cold
how summer wanes much too quick

Our suntanned skin will quickly fade
and the sand will fall from our feet
and we’ll all run out of lemonade
as we move inside to find a seat

Oh goodbye summer, I’ll miss you
Oh goodbye summer, come back soon
Oh goodbye summer, Oh I’m a fool
I’m a fool for you

So we all pull out our hats and scarves
and we light up the fires and we buckle down
We put on our coats and cover our arms
It’ll be six months now til we get out

The seasons change and they harden you up
You’re just digging yourself out of snow and muck
This is what life in Chicago means
you’re freezing your ass two days out of three

Oh goodbye summer, I’ll miss you
Oh goodbye summer, come back soon
Oh goodbye summer, Oh I’m a fool
I’m a fool for you

Day 45: Jellyfish

Jellyfish Drawing

Red Jellyfish Drawing

Blue Jellyfish Drawing

After seeing the jellies exhibit at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium a few months ago, I’m still very amazed and inspired by these crazy creatures. Soooo, tonight I drew a regular jellyfish and then ran the same drawing through the heat map filter and the invert filter on Picnik. Pretty cool!

Day 31: Cumberland

Blue and Green Tile

Newspaper Boxes

Escalator

Today I had an consultation to see if I’m eligible for getting my vision corrected with LASIK. Since I had to get my eyes dilated, I wasn’t able to do anything too fancy for the Making Made project. I just snapped a few photos at the Cumberland Blue Line El stop and then added lots of contrast and saturation.

Since I’m done with my post for tonight already, maybe I can spend the rest of the night deciding whether to get my eyeballs lasered.

Day 28: Lincoln Park Conservatory

Lincoln Park Conservatory

Purple and Yellow Orchid

Orange Collar

Water Fountain

Green Stuff Growing on Wall

Green Wall

Hanging Cactus

Today, Jim and I took a little field trip to the Lincoln Park Conservatory, always a favorite thing to do in the winter. The humidity and warmth helps me pretend that it’s summer for just a few moments. I like it.

Day 26: Snowy Night

Snowy Night Illustration in Sharpie

Once again inspired by the book Trubloff: The Mouse Who Wanted to Play the Balalaika, tonight I decided to recreate one of the illustrations from this beautiful book. Instead of using paint  like the illustrator did, I thought it would be a fun challenge to convert the concept to a Sharpie marker drawing. I like the result, but I think I’m a little light-headed from the markers. How do Sharpie-users avoid this? Or do they just get used to it?

Check out my previous painting inspired by this book.

Day 15: A Day in Wisconsin

Snow in the Pines

Man with Red Beard

Wintery Forest Scene

Wooden Shutters

Hanging Lamp

Feet in Snow

More photos. These are from our day cross country skiing and hiking in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin. We had great weather and enjoyed spending time and being active outdoors. A lovely day!