Fall fun list

Updates, Updates, I Have Updates

December 03, 2021

That headline sounds a lot more exciting than the updates I have for you warrant, but I do, indeed, have updates.

2021 Gratitude Challenge

Though I didn’t post every day, I participated in the 2021 Gratitude Challenge throughout November. I decided to go easy on myself and post only when I felt inspired, though I read and thought about all the prompts. I wound up posting 18 times. Three of my favorites: 

Day 4 Laughter

Last week my friends and I attended opening night of the first show of our Broadway series in Tampa. Tootsie made me laugh out loud, and oh how I've missed that! It's been almost two years since we've been able to see a show, and how sweet it was. I'm grateful not only for the laughter, but for all the wonderful performances of the artists. We're so happy you're back!

Day 13 Kindness

Wishing for a world where kindness is the norm, and every day is World Kindness Day. Grateful for the kindness that exists even now, when being kind is sometimes taken advantage of. Kindness isn't weakness.

Day 24 Art

"The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls."--Pablo Picasso. I don't know about you, but my soul needs a shower! I've missed visiting art museums, and I'm looking forward to going again soon. I'm grateful for the escape and inspiration art provides, especially paintings like these my husband and I saw at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Maine.

(To see all my Gratitude Challenge posts on Instagram, click here.) 

My fall fun list

I did great with my modest fall fun list, and since a couple of these were out of my control, I’m calling this a win. Completed items in red.

  • Resume attending touring Broadway productions at the Straz in Tampa. First up: Tootsie at the end of October. 
  • Go see Dune in a theater with my husband. (Watched at home on HBO Max instead, and glad we did.)
  • Decorate my house for fall.
  • Do my current jigsaw puzzle. It’s not fall-themed, but I’d like to put it together before buying any more puzzles.
  • Buy some fall potted flowers—mums or?
  • Walk at a local park or recreation area with my husband and dog.
  • Eat dinner at Bern’s Steakhouse with another couple. We’ve had to cancel this meal twice because of COVID. (Unfortunately, this got cancelled again.) 
  • Choose a new set of inserts for my planner for 2022. 
  • Plant some cool season veggies and herbs. Hope springs eternal, despite some pitiful efforts in the past. Planted lettuce spinach, and jalapenos from seed. (The spinach and lettuce sprouted, but the jalapenos did not. I bought a seedling from a big box store…and then my cat ate most of its leaves, and the dog ate some of the spinach before we realized what she was doing. The struggle is real.)
  • Read and/or write outside…once we get a real cold front. (Didn’t happen yet, but technically I have until December 21 before fall becomes winter and it’s likely that I will work outside before then…)
  • And yes, drink at least one pumpkin spice latte.

Why I share updates

I don’t really think you’re waiting on the edges of your seats to see if I complete the Gratitude Challenge or drink a pumpkin spice latte. The point of creating and sharing fun lists and other challenge-type info is to encourage you to think about what YOU would find fun and challenging, with the bonus that it keeps me more accountable if I’ve shared my plans publicly. I try to write about both my successes and failures so that maybe someone will benefit from my experiences (today’s tip: keep young vegetable seedlings away from pets). These lists also help me think about how I spend my time. I tend to get caught up in the day-to-day rush and don’t plan or allow for the very simple pleasures and everyday adventures that bring me joy.

What else is on your mind, Kathy?

Why, I’m glad you asked!

Dear Reader, I’m thinking about the holidays. How they can be fun without being overwhelming. What will make them feel festive and special? I foresee a holiday fun list in the future! There may also be a year-end review of some kind. What should I include? Favorite books? Word of the year update? If you have suggestions, please share in the comments below.

What’s on your mind these days? Holiday fun? Year-end reviews? Planning for a new year? Any updates you would like to share? Id love to hear in the comments.


How to Calm Down and Destress Link Love

November 19, 2021

Photo by Hanna Balan on Unsplash

I’ve been more stressed and anxious than usual the last month or so, and with the holiday season approaching… All the yoga, barn time, and bubble baths will not be equal to the task. Even though the Internet can be a source of stress, it can also be a source of helpful and healing ideas. Here are a few links I’ve loved recently:

During this busy time of year, who couldn’t use “5 Resilience Tips for the Frazzled”?

Read Ingrid Fetell Lee’s “A Guide to Joyful Gift-Giving” before you choose your holiday gifts. I love finding presents that seem “perfect” for people, but that’s a lot of pressure to put on myself, and there’s no guarantee the receiver will love the gift the way I hope they will. So I’m scaling back my expectations, and remembering that “the real reason we give a gift is to show we care about someone.” 

I’ll be trying some of Courtney Carver’s “25 Simple Ways to Take Care of Yourself Over the Holidays,” especially #2 and (of course) #15.

Loved the pretty pictures in Tammy Strobel’s (Rowdy Kittens) Delight Diary. I just finished reading Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights and am pondering how I can do something similar. 

Even though this is a year old, “51 Ways to Destress, Calm Down, and Feel Less Lonely Right Now” still has TONS of great ideas.

I’m a fan of hygge, even in sultry Florida. Check out these “Simple Ways to Add Hygge to Your Winter Routine.” 

And if you’re just looking for something far removed from social media and the craziness of the world we live in, check out The Public Domain Review. I just discovered it and haven’t yet had the chance to explore it much. It looks interesting, even if some of the topics go straight over my head. 

Let’s finish this off with a video featuring relaxing nature sounds:

Happy Friday, and happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate!

Feeding the wolf

The Wolf You Feed

November 12, 2021

Photo by Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash

Does it feel like the world has become a darker, scarier place? It does to me.

In a recent conversation with a friend, we discussed, jokingly (wishfully?), going back to a time when we were not as intimately aware of the many problems facing mankind, whether it was because we were younger and more innocent, absorbed in our own lives, or simply because we did not have 24/7 news from the farthest flung reaches of the earth thrust into our faces at every turn. We know that’s not possible, or even desirable, but…

It’s hard to be happy when there is so much misery all around.

Of course, it’s anyone’s guess if the world truly is more miserable right now, compared to historical times that include the Dark Ages, the Black Death, and the Holocaust, just to name three examples. Perhaps we are just more aware of the misery because of that 24/7 news cycle. 

It’s a question I ponder over and over: how to be happy while still having compassion for others. How to be aware but not feel overwhelmed. How to remain kind and open, instead of judgmental and angry.

The story of the two wolves

You’ve probably heard the story of the two wolves (or dogs, in some versions), sometimes attributed to the Cherokee or Lenape people. Briefly, it goes like this: 

An elderly Cherokee brave explained to his grandson that a battle is taking place inside of people—a battle between two wolves. One wolf is evil, representing things like anger, jealousy, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, lies, false pride, and a feeling of superiority. The other represents good: such things as peace, joy, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, compassion, and truth. The grandson asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The grandfather replied, “The wolf you feed.”

So I’m making a choice to feed the good wolf.

Feeding the good wolf will look different for each person. For me, it means choosing to hope and to look for good, rather than focusing on the negative, incompetent, frustrating, and evil. In my own situation, in order to feed the good wolf, I have to limit:

  • Stories (fictional or real) of mean people doing ugly things to each other.
  • Books/movies/TV shows where one bad thing after another happens to the characters, so that I’m constantly dreading what fresh hell these people will have to deal with.
  • Social media accounts of people with strong political opinions, even ones I tend to agree with overall. Too often complicated situations are reduced to memes, and the comments sections suck me in and stir up my emotions.
  • “Doomscrolling”—immersing myself in the negative news of the day.

What I (try to) do instead:

  • Notice and savor stories about kind things people do for each other, amazing scientific discoveries, beautiful art, hilarious videos. Among other sources, I follow Upworthy and subscribe to the Smile newsletter from inspiremore.com to help balance out negative news. 
  • Practice yoga. Very calming to my nervous system.
  • Listen to music—different types depending on my mood.
  • Learn more about topics that interest me.
  • Do “real” things like planting seeds, spending time with my animals, cooking and baking, even small home projects and repairs. I haven’t made it back to art journaling, but I still want to.
  • Tell my people important things: how much I love them, or how a certain thing they did was special to me.
  • Read a LOT—but carefully curate the selections (see above).
  • Keep track of happy little things. Watching birds and squirrels at the feeders, inhaling the scent of my horse, rubbing Luna’s soft ears, a hug from my husband. For more inspiration, see Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights, which is itself (you knew this was coming) a delight. 
  • Don’t make snap judgments or have opinions about everything. Try to see both sides of an argument or issue. If it’s something I need to understand, I will do research. If it’s not that important, I’ll let it go. There’s no shame in saying, “I don’t know enough about that to have an opinion.” I can’t care passionately about everything. I just can. not.

Finding what works for you

I’m not saying we should ignore the wrongs and suffering in the world in favor of “always looking on the bright side.”  I’m saying we should know ourselves, and what we can handle. What balance we as individuals can stand before tipping into overwhelm. What stories can energize us to make a difference, and which ones will make us crawl in a hole and pull the hole in after us.

I’m saying that if we feed the good wolf in ourselves, then maybe we can feed the good wolf in society in general. If we can seek and be the positive, maybe we can be the people who make a situation better rather than worse.

Wouldn’t that be a nice change?

In what ways do you “feed the good wolf”?


Practicing Gratitude: Join the 2021 Gratitude Challenge!

November 05, 2021

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Practicing gratitude is a time-tested way to boost happiness. That’s one reason why I look forward to Postively Present’s annual Gratitude Challenge, which runs for the month of November. I’ve participated in this challenge since 2014, and every year I’ve loved taking that extra time to think about what I’m grateful for. Many people, including myself, post a photo and caption on social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, labeled #Gratitude30, but of course that’s optional. If you want to check it out, click here for the 2021 prompts. Even if you don’t choose to share what you’re grateful for publicly, you’ll probably find that it makes you happy just to spend time thinking about it. 

At the end of November or the beginning of December, I’ll post a round up of my favorite prompts here on Catching Happiness. I post on Instagram, and if you’d like to follow along, you can follow me by clicking here.

What’s one thing you’re grateful for today? Please share in the comments below.

Interested in past challenges? Click on the year to see the applicable Gratitude Challenge round-up post: 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020. (I participated in 2015, but didn't write a round-up post!)


Open the Door

October 29, 2021

Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash

“Happiness occurs when you forget who you’re expected to be. And what you’re expected to do. Happiness is an accident of self-acceptance. It’s the warm breeze you feel when you open the door to who you are.”

—Matt Haig, The Comfort Book