Cats

“Happiness Is a Warm Puppy”*

June 22, 2018


Today is Take Your Dog to Work Day, and while I tried to convince my husband to take Luna to the office with him, he declined. Since I work at home, every day is Take Your Dog to Work Day for me, and while that has its drawbacks, overall I love being able to take a break for cuddle time with either Luna or Prudy, my other fuzzy office mate.

For many, myself included, pets are a lasting source of happiness and simple pleasures. In honor of the dog in my life, here are a few quotes about how dogs and happiness:

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring — it was peace.”
—Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

“When we adopt a dog or any pet, we know it is going to end with us having to say goodbye, but we still do it. And we do it for a very good reason: They bring so much joy and optimism and happiness. They attack every moment of every day with that attitude.”
—W. Bruce Cameron

“Animals have come to mean so much in our lives. We live in a fragmented and disconnected culture. Politics are ugly, religion is struggling, technology is stressful, and the economy is unfortunate. What's one thing that we have in our lives that we can depend on? A dog or a cat loving us unconditionally, every day, very faithfully.”
—Jon Katz

“My idea of absolute happiness is to be in bed on a rainy day, with my blankie, my cat, and my dog.”
—Anne Lamott

(Sounds good to me!)

“Because of the dog's joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born.”
—Mary Oliver

Happy Friday, everyone—and if you have a dog, cat, or other animal companion, give them a little extra love today.

*Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts


Summer Rerun--Artful Living: Applying the Five E's

June 18, 2018

Now and then I dip into the Catching Happiness archives and share a post from the past. I hope you enjoy this one, from 2012. 

Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheion, Athens

I recently completed Laure Ferlita’s online art class, An Imaginary Trip to Greece, an experience that qualifies as both a simple pleasure and an everyday adventure. One of the main focuses of her classes is learning how to quickly capture a scene on location where conditions can change quickly, you can be interrupted, etc. One tool Laure stresses in class is the “five E’s”—concepts that help us figure out what we want to sketch and how we can make each sketch uniquely our own. The Five E’s are: Evaluate, Eliminate, Edit, Exaggerate, and Embellish. Always on the lookout for principles that could be useful in living a happier, more artful life, it occurs to me that the five E’s could be quite useful:

Evaluate. Just as an artist evaluates his or her subject to find its most pleasing aspect or determine what is sketchable in the time available, you can evaluate your life to see how it's running. What feels good and bad, how you’re measuring up to your standards, how you’re progressing toward your goals. Taking stock of the who, what, when, where and why of life. In stopping to evaluate, you bring awareness to your life instead of drifting (or charging) around mindlessly.

Eliminate. On location, once you’ve chosen your subject, you want to eliminate anything that doesn’t significantly add to the sketch. You simply won’t have time to get every detail down on paper, so choose your details wisely. In the same way, life is short! After you evaluate it, you might decide you have some things to get rid of. Maybe literally, like that closet of items you want to donate to charity or a stack of old magazines and catalogs you’ll never get around to reading. Maybe it’s a chore or other commitment that has outlived its usefulness. It might even be a person who drags you down every time you’re together. What can you get rid of to make your life better?

Edit. In sketching and life, once you’ve decided what you want to focus on and what you want to eliminate, what’s left? Maybe you don’t want to eliminate something all together, but you can pare it down or simplify it.

Exaggerate. In class, Laure advises students to “use your creative license to exaggerate the elements to make it a great piece of art.” In sketching, that might mean darkening the values, or adjusting the direction of the light hitting your subject to make a more interesting composition. To translate this into life, choose to focus on, encourage and support the positive.

Embelish. The fun part! In art, this is where you add your own style to your sketch. In life, this is where you find ways to make it more beautiful—buy the fresh flowers, eat the chocolate, go see that movie, play, concert or sporting event that interests you. Life should be more than a list of chores and responsibilities.

Just as Laure’s five E’s make sketching on location easier and more fun by giving me a framework to help me choose a subject and execute a sketch, using the five E’s as a framework for living helps me feel like an artist in my own life. (And thank you to Laure for introducing me to these principles in art and in life!)

Do you have any principles that help you lead a happier, more artful life?

Cats

Happiness Is Like a Cat

June 15, 2018



“Happiness is like a cat, If you try to coax it or call it, it will avoid you; it will never come. But if you pay no attention to it and go about your business, you'll find it rubbing against your legs and jumping into your lap.”
—William Bennett

Books

Summer Reading List 2018

June 11, 2018

I’m feeling a bit bookish, how about you? Watching the premier episode of The Great American Read reminded me of just how much reading and books have meant to me, and how passionate readers are about their favorites. Plus I’ve been inspired by blogging friends who’ve posted their own summer reading lists: Leanne Sowul has an ambitious list of 37 books on hers! And Danielle Torres has a cool theme for her summer reading. Check it out here.

Me, I’m all over the place. I want to read All The Books. I’ve chosen quite a few from my groaning TBR shelf, and a few from the running list I keep in my planner.  I know I won’t read them all, but that’s OK.  I love the process of choosing books to read. Thinking about reading is almost as fun as actually reading.

The first two books come from the Great American Read list of 100 novels: The Giver, by Lois Lowry and The Stand, by Stephen King. I’m not sure I’m up for this chunk of a book, but maybe. Or maybe I’ll woman up and choose War and Peace?  

I’m very intrigued by Circe, by Madeline Miller. 

Blandings Castle, by P.G. Wodehouse. Sometimes I just need a little Wodehouse. (I was disappointed to see none of his novels made the list for the Great American Read.) 

Starting to prepare for Paris in the fall with these possibilities: 

The Light of Paris, by Eleanor Brown. This one is waiting for me at the library as I type. Thanks to Danielle for the recommendation.

The Little Pleasures of Paris, by Leslie Jonath.


Paris in Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide, by Jessie Kanelos Weiner. I’m already reading this charming little book.

Speaking of Paris, I should be practicing my drawing and painting prior to the trip. Am I? No, I am not. Maybe one of these books will jump start my practice:

Keys to Drawing, by Bert Dodson.

The New Creative Artist, by Nita Leland

How about a peek into someone else’s life? I have the Journal of Eugene Delacroix on my shelves, as well as Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, by Edith Holden.

Surviving Your Dog’s Adolescence, by Carol Benjamin. Because Luna.

Upstream, by Mary Oliver. I love her poetry, and look forward to reading this collection of essays.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman, by Jill Leport. Because now I have a thing for Wonder Woman.   

Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan, by Elaine M. Hayes One of my favorite jazz singers

The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club. by Gil McNeil. Because it’s been on my TBR list for years!

A collection of short stories: either by Eudora Welty (I have a collection on my TBR stack at home), Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors, Edith Pearlman’s Honeydew, or Ellen Gilchrist’s Acts of God.

These are the books I feel like reading now—and that list is likely to change over the summer as new books catch my eye. Will I find a new favorite author or will one of these books rate as a “best read” for 2018? I can’t wait to find out.

What will you read this summer?

Best Friends Day

Celebrating the Simple Pleasure of Friendship

June 08, 2018


“Close friends contribute to our personal growth. They also contribute to our personal pleasure, making the music sound sweeter, the wine taste richer, the laughter ring louder
because they are there.”
—Judith Viorst

June 8 is Best Friends Day—let’s celebrate the people who bring so much happiness and pleasure to our lives!


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