Link love

New Year, New Link Love Volume II

January 10, 2020

Photo by Vika Fleisher on Unsplash

Is it too far into the year to tell you Happy New Year? It feels like 2020 has gotten off to a sleepy start for me, personally. I had one writing assignment to wrap up from the end of 2019, and now that it’s done, I can catch my breath and do some reflecting and planning. I went through my calendar/planner from 2019 and jotted down notable events and thought about the accompanying emotions. It was a full year.

I’d still like to set some new goals, and do some additional fun visualizing stuff—and hopefully, I’ll get to that soon. I’ve been jotting down possibilities, and will fill out my “20 for 2020” list to hang on my bulletin board. (Make your own, or download a free printable, like this one—no affiliation.)

If you’re still in a contemplative mood, here are a few recent Internet discoveries I’ve found thought-provoking or otherwise worthwhile:

While the New Year is already here, you can always decide to get rid of one (or more) of these “8 Things to Get Rid of Before the New Year."

One very simple way to review the old year and approach the new year, from Sandra Pawula’s (Always Well Within) Wild Arisings newsletter:

“I began the 2019 review process informally a few weeks ago by jotting down a heading in my journal called ‘Good Things 2019.’  I placed things on the list as they came to me day-by-day day. I also put in a second heading around the same time called ‘Let Go Of 2019,’ which I approached in a similar fashion.”

I love this quote, from Rainbow Rowell

When you make your list of things to do in the new week/month/year, do you plan for joy, not just work or accomplishment? According to, Ingrid Fetell Lee, author of Joyful, we should! In “Planfor Joy, Not Just Goals,” she writes,

“When we’re children, joy seems effortless because someone has planned it for us. As we get older, we can either believe that life has gotten less joyful, or we can take charge of planning it for ourselves.”

She continues later in the post,
Scheduling in joy is making a promise to yourself that it will actually happen. Productivity experts suggest putting everything that matters to you on your calendar. If you schedule business meetings and exercise, you are calling these out as important. So why not also give your joy this same weight by putting game nights or reading before bed into your calendar too?” 

I’ve already started participating in the Unread Shelf Project. Things have Gotten Out of Hand in the purchased-but-not-yet-read yet book department. 

It wouldn’t be Link Love without a post from Raptitude. Check out “How to Go Deeper in 2020.” Deeper was my word of the year in 2017 and I’m tempted to revisit it.  

Just discovered the delightful NPR Tiny Desk Concerts. I hadn’t heard of 99 percent of the musicians represented here, but I’ve enjoyed every tiny concert I’ve listened to.

What are some of your plans for 2020? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Decade

It’s Not Just the End of the Year—It’s the End of the Decade!

December 30, 2019

A few of the decade's journals!
Honestly, until I started seeing it everywhere, I hadn’t given one minute’s thought to the end of 2019 being the end of a decade! Now I feel like not only do I have to review the year, I have to examine the decade. What have I learned? How have I changed? How am I different now than I was in 2009? You know, simple little stuff like that.

So I pulled out the many, many journals I’ve kept over the past 10 years and skimmed some highlights. As I’m sure everyone has already noticed in their own lives, a lot happens in a decade!

To name just a few of the things that changed:

Ten years ago, we had a teenager at home. I was barely working as a freelance writer and editor, and I didn’t yet have a blog or a writer’s website. We had an entirely different set of pets than we have now, except for Tank. All of my parents and stepparents were living, and two of my grandmothers. I had yet to pick up a watercolor brush.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve read hundreds of books, seen multiple movies and touring Broadway musicals, traveled many wonderful places, experienced a couple of depressive episodes, endured home renovations, and exchanged my old car for a new one.

My experiences over the past 10 years have likely been similar to yours. Though the details might differ, we are more alike than we are different when it comes to the things we value most. I wish more people would remember this.

The past 10 years have been full to bursting with life in all its “good” and “bad” manifestations. I’m so grateful that I started Catching Happiness at the end of 2009, because it helped me better focus on what was happening in my life, at least partly because I would later mine my experiences for post material. And the topic I chose—simple pleasures and everyday adventures—was calculated to help me find and savor more of the good in life, as well as, I hoped, add to the sum total of the positive in the world. I wanted the blog to be a bright spot for anyone who needed one.

Over the next few days, I’ll continue thinking over not only what has happened during the past year, but also what has happened over the past 10 years. And since a new decade seems like a hopeful thing, I might even start looking forward to the next 10 years (if I’m lucky) of simple pleasures and everyday adventures life has in store.

When you look back the past 10 years of your life, what strikes you? What milestones have you passed, what joys and sorrows have enriched your life? And what are your expectations for the next 10 years?

I hope 2020 brings you many simple pleasures and everyday adventures, and, of course, much happiness. See you in the New Year!

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.



Anniversary

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 feedly.com (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 (www.poetryfoundation.org), 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.


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