Belonging in a community
We talk family Whatsapp groups, lust after a good sock drawer, and Hannah shares a happy recipe for spaghetti bolognaise.
Lizzie: Hannah, what makes you happy?!
Hannah: What makes me happy…
Family. Hanging out with my family - brother, mum, all those people. Seeing my family happy makes me happy. Those are two pretty basic things for me!
Then freedom is my biggest thing. I like having choices that I can make about my own personal journey. That's obviously been quite prevalent this year; if you have fewer choices, it restricts your freedom, and I think freedom has always been important to me. I was talking to my dad about what makes me happy, actually, and he said you've got to decide whether it's money and things, or whether it's the process, the journey and the freedom. For me, it's going to be process and freedom, every time!
What else? Spaghetti bolognaise.
Lizzie: Oh, very nice! What'd you put in your spaghetti bolognaise?
Hannah: Basically all tomatoes: chopped, tinned, puree. Then, two bags of basil, which is a bit of a wild thing.
Lizzie: Two bags of basil?!
Hannah: Yeah. Literally two chopped bags. Basil is, like, the base of a tomato sauce!
Hannah: Yeah food makes me happy - I like sushi. Smoked salmon! I could eat a whole pack of smoked salmon, with champagne…so middle class.
What else? Physicality: being able to move and express myself through my body, which has always been a big part of my life. It's transitioned into different things; it's gone from just running to cycling to challenges in other physical ways, and then it went to yoga and more fluid movement. Now, it's coming full circle, and a bit of everything's combined.
Lizzie: You used to do a lot of triathlons, right?
Hannah: Yep, lots of triathlons and more competitive movement. Now I move more for enjoyment and to challenge myself. I used to ask myself, how far can I run? – now, I just go out and enjoy the exertion, feel my heartbeat, get out of breath. It’s enough!
Lizzie: That's really nice. Do you run to music or do you run?
Hannah: Oh yeah, drum and bass usually. Music makes me happy. I also like to hum, it turns out…since moving in with my boyfriend's parents during the pandemic, I've noticed that I hum probably 80% of the time, which must be really annoying! When I’m walking around the house, they know that I'm happy because I'm humming…if I'm not hunting, something’s wrong!
Lizzie: I don’t think I noticed that about you when we were living together…
Hannah: I do it a lot!
Friends make me happy. It's nice to be able to see them, and see them flourishing in their own lives. Seeing a smiley face; a smile is always going to make you happy. It doesn't matter who it comes from (unless you hate them!).
Anything else? Hmm. Oh, good socks. They make me happy! I've always dreamed of having a soft drawer.
Lizzie: …why don't you have a sock drawer?
Hannah: I have an underwear and sock drawer, but I want an individual sock drawer, in which the socks are all neatly aligned.
Lizzie: How would you sort them?
Hannah: Maybe by colour? Yeah, and there would be no balling; they would all be neatly folded.
Lizzie: Yes. I've always thought if you ball the socks up, eventually the elastic will go.
Hannah: You're right. Also there's times you just lose one, and that's always such a terrible thing; that makes me unhappy!
I think that's probably all the things I can think of at the moment that make me happy. They're all quite basic things.
Lizzie: They're all quite lovely things.
Hannah: Any probing?
Lizzie: I was interested in the things that you started with about family – we moved on quite quickly from that. Tell me a bit about your family?
Hannah: I think they've all got a really good sense of humour – maybe it’s just my sense of humour! We’re a close-knit family and it makes me happy to spend time with them. I like their mannerisms, their weirdnesses, and the strange things they do – because I can see, oh, I do those things too! I’m in that clan of weirdness, I belong in their community. I like community elsewhere, but I particularly like it with family. Even when you're having a bad time or you're doing something stupid, you still belong with them.
I’m happy when I see them happy and enjoying stuff. We obviously have a family WhatsApp group in which many, many awful photos are passed around every day.
Lizzie: Who’s in the Whatsapp group?
Hannah: My brother's family and in-laws, my mum and my dad who are separated and both remarried. And me! It’s more than 20 people and they're all from five family units, effectively. Everybody's in there.
Lizzie: That's a real feat!
Hannah: I guess the glue of that big group is my niece, who is a year old, because obviously, everybody has an attachment to that one person. But we share all sorts of things, like achievements. My brother goes wild swimming, so he takes a photo in which he looks like he's about to perish and we can all laugh about that! I think I appreciate things like that more now that we can't share it in-person. I used to live near my brother, so I would go in and see him three or four times a week and now I can't do that. I get joy out of seeing photos, it makes a difference to my week.
Lizzie: It sounds like your family have worked really hard, through separations and remarriages, to come together
Hannah: Oh yeah my parents annoyingly get on. I could never play them off as a kid! I always tried: “Dad, Mum said I couldn't do this!” And he’d say, “Well, Mum said no, so no!”
The outdoors makes me happy, I forgot the outdoors! I love spending time outside in any form. It’s an opportunity to use less technology: less looking at phones and laptops. When I'm teaching yoga I’m always mentioning the wrists, because we spend so much time typing and texting.
Actually, it's a such a big thing, I can’t believe I've just forgotten to say it until now - work makes me happy! If I'm not working, I'm not happy. Wow I sound like a workaholic.
Lizzie: Well, it’s about purpose, surely.
Hannah: Yeah, exactly. Purpose is the best word you could have picked. Without purpose, I think humans are a little bit lost.
Ok! Those are the things that make me happy.
Lizzie: And I really appreciate you sharing them with me.