Everyday adventures

7 Things Making Me Happy Right Now

January 22, 2018

I live in Florida, so I like winter, but I know it’s a challenging season for many people. All the more reason to look for and savor simple pleasures and everyday adventures that will help you through the cold, dark days. I’ll start. Here are seven simple pleasures and everyday adventures making me happy right now:

  • Actually having a “winter”. I’ve been cold. I’ve worn sweaters and jackets and fuzzy socks and we ran the central heat! This is noteworthy in central Florida.

  • A milestone wedding anniversary. My husband and I celebrated our 30th anniversary last week! We’ve now been together far longer than we were alive before we got married. We’re planning a celebratory trip of some kind later in the year.

  • Jigsaw puzzles. I put together a puzzle a friend gave me over the course of a week or so, and I enjoyed it so much! Bonus: this made me realize that if I set up my sketching supplies the way I set up a place to do my puzzle I might actually start sketching again.

  • Riding Tank at full strength. All his owies are gone. We’ve started jumping again. Another bonus: spending time with him without coming home drenched in sweat (see #1).

  • Crazy Aunt Purl is back as crazytourist.com. CAP/Laurie Perry was one of my favorite bloggers when I first started blogging myself. She took a break from writing for a while, but she’s back and as delightful as ever.

  • My Reticular Activating System (RAS). Say what?! The RAS is a part of your brain that “takes what you focus on and creates a filter for it. It then sifts through the data and presents only the pieces that are important to you,” according to Tobias van Schneider, writing on Medium.com. My RAS has been active in looking for flow—I’m seeing it everywhere, including the January 2018 Editor’s Letter in Better Homes and Gardens. (Thanks to my friend Kerri for introducing me to the RAS.)
Your turn! What simple pleasures and everyday adventures are making you happy right now?


Happiness and Flow

January 19, 2018

Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

“Happiness is achieved by flowing with the known and the unknown within you, being in a state of simplified simplicity.”
—Pablo Andres Wunderlich Padilla


Making a Friend of Fear

January 15, 2018

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t consider myself brave. My first reaction is to shrink back rather than charge forward. “I am afraid” is one of the limiting beliefs I’ve been doing battle with all my life. And while I’ve found work-arounds for times when I need to push through feeling fearful, I’ve never actually thought about fear in a positive way.

Until last week.

Last week I picked up a pretty and deceptively simple little book, My Friend Fear: Finding Magic in the Unknown (2018, TarcherPerigee), by Meera Lee Patel. Just like reading The Upside of Stress changed my attitude towards stress, reading My Friend Fear triggered a change in my attitude toward fear by helping me see it in a new way.  

Some tidbits:

“Fear is a friend, and it’s here to support you. Like all friendships, the one you have with fear is a two-way street. It requires time, hard work, and honesty in order to become and remain healthy. It requires us to sit with it, listen to it, and try our best to understand it—even though we don’t always know how. Like any friend, fear can help you only if you let it.”

“Becoming aware of fear is the first step to befriending it. After all, how can you become friends with something you’re pretending doesn’t exist? 

“It’s okay to be afraid. All it means is that there’s something you care deeply about. It’s okay to have fears, as long as you are willing to explore them. It’s okay to hug fear closely, to poke and prod and discover what’s underneath that heavy, dark cloak.”

“Fear is here to help you uncover your greatest wish.”

As I was finishing up My Friend Fear, I picked up my copy of Susan Jeffers’ classic Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. After a quick skim, I realized these two books worked together to help something click in my mind. (Don’t you just love when that happens?)

Here are my epiphanies:

  • Fear will always be there when you step outside your comfort zone. All learning and growth occurs outside of your comfort zone, so unless you want to stop growing, you will always have some fear.
  • The only way to get over being afraid of doing something is to do it.
  • The doing comes first, then the fear fades.
  • Everyone feels this way—I’m not an anomaly.
  • Fear is my friend. It shows me what matters to me.

My tendency has always been to think something was wrong with me when I felt fear, and to push it away instead of listening to it. Or I’d become paralyzed and overwhelmed—the antithesis of flow

After reading these two books, I’m changing my response to fear. Instead of trying to “overcome” fear, I want to learn how to be comfortable with it, and with being afraid. I’m no longer going to feel like I shouldn’t be afraid, or that I should just ignore fear and push ahead. I’ll be looking on fear as the friend who highlights the areas of my life that matter the most, the areas where I’m stretching outside my comfort zone. 2018 is already giving me opportunities to test this theory, with new writing projects on the horizon, the chance to help teach a yoga and journaling workshop this weekend, and, in October, a chance to travel to Paris with Laure Ferlita and The Blue Walk

Do you welcome fear into your life? What would you do if fear were your friend?


Not the Same Happiness

January 12, 2018

Introduction by Ted Kooser: This is the sixth poem we've published by Peter Everwine, which testifies to how much I admire his writing. How fine it is when a memory arrives from the past to surprise us into happiness. Everwine lives in California, and his most recent book is Listening Long and Late from the University of Pittsburgh Press.

The Day

We walked at the edge of the sea, the dog,
still young then, running ahead of us.

Few people. Gulls. A flock of pelicans
circled beyond the swells, then closed
their wings and dropped head-long
into the dazzle of light and sea. You clapped
your hands; the day grew brilliant.

Later we sat at a small table
with wine and food that tasted of the sea.

A perfect day, we said to one another,
so that even when the day ended
and the lights of houses among the hills
came on like a scattering of embers,
we watched it leave without regret.

That night, easing myself toward sleep,
I thought how blindly we stumble ahead
with such hope, a light flares briefly—Ah, Happiness!
then we turn and go on our way again.

But happiness, too, goes on its way,
and years from where we were, I lie awake
in the dark and suddenly it returns—
that day by the sea, that happiness,

though it is not the same happiness,
not the same darkness.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2016 by Peter Everwine, “The Day,” from New Letters, (Vol 83, no. 1, 2016-17). Poem reprinted by permission of Peter Everwine and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2018 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.


One Word to Rule Them All—A Closer Look at Choosing a Word of the Year

January 08, 2018

One day in December I was cleaning out our pantry while listening to Marie Forleo interview Tim Ferriss. Something Tim said struck me as I stood in my kitchen, clutching cans of black beans and tuna: 

“What would it look like if it was easy?”

I realized I’m not used to expecting things to come easily. I’m used to expecting to work hard, to struggle, to sweat, to grind it out. What is this concept “easy” of which you speak?!

Because even when “it” is easy, I find a way to make it hard.

It’s my superpower.

I grasp, I cling, I obsess, I worry, I engage in procrastination and perfectionism and many other unhelpful habits.

And you know what, I’m tired. I’m tired of struggling, of swimming upstream, of overwhelming myself in “shoulds” and over-analyzing and over-researching and over- everything.

I’m “over” it.

I realized, standing in my kitchen, listening to Tim and Marie talk, that I want my life and work to flow. And just like that, my 2018 Word of the Year (WOTY) presented itself to me.

My words of the year have often appeared this way, without my having to dig around in my subconscious. A word pops into my head or keeps showing up in what I’m reading and seeing in a fashion impossible to ignore. I’ll roll it around in my brain, noticing how it makes me feel. Is it a word that can apply to multiple areas of my life? Is it a stretch, but not so far outside my comfort zone that I’ll feel constantly intimidated by it? Does it have layers of meaning? Do I get excited at the possibility of having it guide me during the upcoming year? Flow fit the bill for 2018.

It’s always fun seeing the ways my WOTY pops up throughout the year, whether it’s in art, music, or words. I’ve already stumbled on several passages that connect to the concept of flow in my mind. Here’s one paraphrased from the novel The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles:

“Life is like a dance partner, and if you relax and let yourself go, you’ll find yourself waltzing.”

Doesn’t that sound lovely?

So in 2018, I plan to focus on putting aside things that impede flow, such as fear and perfectionism. I’m going to take up habits and practices that lead to flow, such as Morning Pages, and remembering to take a few moments to plan out my day so that things will run more smoothly. I’m also going to focus on not over-scheduling, because that leads to rushing, and rushing is not flow.

Working with a Word of the Year is a gentle way to set a tone, intention, or expectation for the coming year. It can be as simple or as in depth as you like. In my experience, it can be a useful tool in advancing your goals and enriching your life. 

Have you ever tried choosing a Word of the Year? How did it work for you? 

Look for my travel writing here