Gratitude Challenge

Happy December and Gratitude Challenge Wrap-Up

December 02, 2019

You blinked, didnt you, and now its December. At least, that's how it felt to me. the end of a year always seems to accelerate out of control.

I just wrapped up the 2019 Gratitude Challenge, sponsored by Dani DiPirro of Positively Present. Even though I didn’t post every day, I did check the prompt and think about what it meant to me. I appreciate the chance to pause and reflect on what I’m most grateful for. Here are a few of my favorite prompts from the 2019 #Gratitude Challenge:

Day 1: Growth.
Growth can be uncomfortable, but the alternative is stagnation. Im grateful that each season and stage of life has its own opportunities for growth.

Day 6: Creativity.
I just came across a statement saying that vulnerability is the cradle of creativity and so many of the emotions and experiences we want from life. Though I hadn't thought about it quite like that, when we create something, whether it's a painting, a photo, a meal, a handcrafted quilt, etc., we are also offering a part of ourselves to the world. I'm grateful for the chance to grow more vulnerable and human with every offering, for the support of people who are gentle with me, and especially for all those who risk exposing their tender inner being when they share their creativity with us.

Day 18: Books
Today's #gratitude30 prompt is “books,” so get comfortable because I have a lot to say!

Reading is my favorite simple pleasure, and I'm grateful to everyone who has a hand in creating books, and to those who point me in the direction of good reads (especially @literarycat and @annebogel). I'm grateful for the contented hours spent trying to figure out whodunit (mystery is my favorite genre), getting to know a family much different from my own (Random Family, by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc), or typing 12 pages of notes on the topic of habits (Atomic Habits, James Clear). And I'm so, so grateful for the library system that provides me with so many of the books I read. This irresistible little edition of Slouching Toward Bethlehem from Picador Modern Classics came home with me from my most recent library visit.

Day 29: Dreams.
I'm grateful that so many of my dreams have come true—more than I ever “dreamed” possible. From travel (this shot was taken at Chateau de Beynac in France), to owning a horse, to working as a freelance writer. I'm especially grateful to my husband who has supported and encouraged my dreams for 30-plus years. And I'm grateful that I still have dreams left to chase!

Day 30: Self.
e e cummings wrote, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are” and he was right! Though I'm grateful that I mostly have the means and freedom to become my true self, I'm still working on the courage part.

I hope your November held many things to be grateful for! I’d love to hear about your favorites in the comments below. 

See all my posts for the Gratitude Challenge on Instagram here.


Catching Happiness Is 10 Years Old!

November 08, 2019

 Ten years ago Monday I pressed Publish on my very first blog post.

Since then, a post has gone live on Catching Happiness 1,095 times, including today. That’s a lot of words!

Over the course of that 10 years, I redesigned the blog’s appearance (see image below), and started a newsletter. I read hundreds of books, lost animals and people I loved, welcomed a new puppy, burned through a laptop, watched my son grow up and leave home, restarted my career as a freelance writer and editor, and traveled to some amazing places. Basically I experienced what anyone of my generation experienced as they moved through this particular stage of life; I just chose to share a bit of it publicly.

Original Catching Happiness header

Little old Scout

I’ve also shared information on positive psychology, the Danish practice of hygge (which seems to be everywhere now!), written many posts about books and reading (possibly my favorite simple pleasure), and even shared my love of a frosty shake known as a Black Cow. None of my posts ever “went viral,” and by far the most viewed post has been “Happiness A to Z—26 Things That Make Me Happy.” 

Baby Prudy

Baby Luna

What’s next?

I am so grateful for all your kind comments through the years. I’ve made many online friendships through Catching Happiness, and through reading other people’s blogs. It’s been a fantastic experience and I’ve met with nothing but kindness and friendship. Not everyone can say that of their online experiences.

But it’s time for things to change. What started out as a way for me to explore a more personal style of writing grew into a project that has consumed many of my hours. It’s been a labor of love and I don’t regret one minute of it, but as I’ve taken on more freelance work over the past two years I now have less time to spend on Catching Happiness. I don’t want to say goodbye…but I also feel like I’ve said just about all I have to say about simple pleasures and everyday adventures!

Tank and friend

Previously I’ve tried to stick to a twice-a-week schedule, except when taking a deliberate break from blogging, but I’m not going to hold myself to that going forward. I’ll only post when I feel like I have something special to share—when inspiration strikes. It may be once a week, or it may be less frequently. I’m not sure yet what my posting will ultimately look like. I’m also going to look into assembling a “Best of” compilation of my favorite posts, possibly for sale as an ebook.

Staying in touch

If you subscribe to posts (see the sign-up info on the right side of the page), you’ll always know when something new is published. You can also follow Catching Happiness on a feed reader like (basic version is free, and I have no affiliation with them). I’m planning to continue the Happy Little Thoughts newsletter for the rest of 2019, but I may discontinue it in 2020—I haven’t decided.  

If you want to stay in touch between posts, you can always connect with me through email or social media. Click here for more information about that. 

Thank you all for 10 years of friendship, growth, happiness, and, of course, simple pleasures and everyday adventures!

Holly J. Hughes

What the Mind Wants

November 04, 2019

Photo by Illiya Vjestica on Unsplash

Guess what? There’s a special Catching Happiness milestone coming up this week. I normally post poems and quotes on Fridays, but since I plan to write a special post for Friday, I’m sharing this lovely poem today instead.

Introduction by Ted Kooser: Here's a poem by Holly J. Hughes, who lives and writes in Washington state, about finding joy in what's before us. I found it in Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, published by Grayson Books of West Hartford, CT. Ms. Hughes' most recent book of poetry is Hold Fast, (Empty Bowl Press, 2019).

Mind Wanting More

Only a beige slat of sun
above the horizon, like a shade
pulled not quite down. Otherwise,
clouds. Sea rippled here and
there. Birds reluctant to fly.
The mind wants a shaft of sun to
stir the grey porridge of clouds,
an osprey to stitch sea to sky
with its barred wings, some dramatic
music: a symphony, perhaps
a Chinese gong.

But the mind always
wants more than it has—
one more bright day of sun,
one more clear night in bed
with the moon; one more hour
to get the words right; one
more chance for the heart in hiding
to emerge from its thicket
in dried grasses—as if this quiet day
with its tentative light weren't enough,
as if joy weren't strewn all around.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2004 by Holly J. Hughes, “Mind Wanting More,” from Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, (Grayson Books, 2017). Poem reprinted by permission of Holly J. Hughes and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2019 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.


Happy November—Time for the Annual Gratitude Challenge!

November 01, 2019

For the past nine years, Dani DiPirro of Positively Present has hosted an annual Gratitude Challenge in the month of November—and I've joined in most of those years. I can honestly say I’ve been looking forward to this year's challenge—as a way to remind myself to think about and appreciate both the large and small things I’m grateful for
According to the experts who study positive psychology, “…gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships."
I'll have what they're having!
I’ll post my daily responses to the prompts on Instagram, and I’ll do a review post on Catching Happiness at the end of the month. Let me know if you want to join the challenge, and we can follow each other’s progress! Use the hashtag #Gratitude30. And, of course, you may choose to participate privately if that feels more comfortable. 

What are you grateful for today?

This Week in Bullet Points

October 28, 2019

Photo by Todd Trapani on Unsplash
  • Still waiting for fall to make an appearance
  • Bathing and clipping Tank this week, since he’s grown a lovely and unnecessary winter coat already
  • Some real “circle of life” stuff happening (subscribe to the Happy Little Thoughts newsletter for more details) among my circle of friends
  • Marking the first anniversary of the death of my father
  • Preparing for the 2019 Gratitude Challenge, sponsored by Positively Present, which starts Friday
  • Little bit stunned that it’s almost November
  • Happy that yesterday’s car trouble turned out to be a dead battery and not something more serious expensive

What will your week hold?

Look for my travel writing here