Discovering Happiness

April 16, 2021

“Nothing is so personal as happiness; each soul is fitted for a joy entirely individual; often a whole life is required to discover it.”

—Jeanne de Vietinghoff, The Understanding of Good

What are some things that make you happy? 

One thing that makes me happy—travel/road trips! I just returned from a quick road trip with my friend Kerri (she’s fully vaccinated and I’m halfway there), and there would have been a Field Trip Friday today except that I’ve been wrestling with my computer much of last night and today. First it hid my photos, then it ate my blog post. Twice. So stay tuned—trip adventures and photos to follow. (I took the one above on Panama City beach.)



It’s Been a Year

March 29, 2021

Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

It’s been about a year since the COVID-19 pandemic upended our lives. And it’s also been a year, if you know what I mean. In addition to a pandemic, so many other awful things happened—or were revealed—during 2020. I’ve been trying to come up with some thoughts to mark the occasion, but the document for this post has been open on my computer for two weeks! The Year That Must Not Be Named has left me speechless.

Well, almost. Here are a few thoughts…

Surviving, not thriving

Most of us have experienced a year of isolation, confusion, frustration, fear, and sorrow. But if we’ve been lucky, it’s also been a year of small pleasures, slowing down, and deep thankfulness. Pretty much the same as any year, but much more intense. Anyone who lived through 2020 has likely been changed forever in some way. Think about what you were looking forward to at the start of last year, the things that took up much of your attention. How have they changed? What has become more important to you, or less so?

I’m disappointed that I didn’t produce any brilliant work, make sourdough bread, or learn a new skill (I did complete a year of French practice on Duolingo. Je regrette to say I’m nowhere near being skillful, let alone fluent). But I did keep our household stocked with food and other essentials (including toilet paper) and we all survived, even my husband who actually had COVID. For me, 2020 was about surviving. Some seasons of life are just about surviving, and perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by that. 2021 has not been much different yet, but there are signs that things are slowly changing.

A shot in the arm

Last week I got my first dose of vaccine against COVID. My planner is starting to fill up again, with a haircut here, and an outdoors coffee date there. I’m taking a Florida road trip with my friend Kerri. And while I haven’t reserved the ticket yet, I’m tentatively planning a trip to visit my mom in California sometime later this year. Provided it seems relatively safe to do so.

And while last year was mostly a long, slow nightmare, no experience is wasted—even the pandemic ones. As we stumble toward a new normal (should we call it “nermal” with apologies to Garfield cartoonist Jim Davis?), ask yourself, “What have I learned about myself this past year? How has it changed me? Have I made changes I want to bring forward into the future? 

I still feel like I’m picking up the pieces of my life and trying to fit them into a new pattern. Nothing gets put back in without scrutiny. Does it belong here? Or here? Or maybe it doesn’t fit at all anymore. This is going to take some time.

I hope that 2020 brought you some gifts along with all its trauma. I hope that 2021 is objectively a much more positive year. I hope that we don’t forget how at the beginning of all this, we tried so hard to be positive and help each other.

That’s what I’d like to see carry over into the future.  

Kate Gavina

It's Time to Say Yes Again

March 05, 2021

Photo courtesy Luiza via Pixabay

“If you say ‘yes’ enough, life starts saying ‘yes’ back.”
—Saeed Jones, quoted in Last Night’s Reading, by Kate Gavino


Signs of Spring

February 26, 2021

Early yesterday morning I pulled out my planner/calendar and a small stack of embellishments—stickers, washi tape, etc. Snuggled up in my bed, sipping coffee with Luna sleeping next to me, I decorated my month-at-a-glance pages for March and April, choosing inspirational, encouraging words as well as colorful stickers and tape. After that, I decorated my weekly spreads for the month of March. I spent probably 45 minutes to an hour of my precious early morning quiet time matching colors, and looking for words that will gently encourage or inspire.

Why is this significant?

Because I haven’t wanted to do this, or indeed even felt able to, for almost a year. Why bother, when I wasn’t going anywhere except the grocery store or the barn? Even though I still used my daily planner, I didn’t care what it looked like. When the to-dos on my list never varied from the mundane daily “keep us alive” chores week after week, I didn’t have the mental energy to make my pages pretty.

Just like snowdrops and crocus are harbingers of the spring season, my desire to pretty things up in my planner indicates to me that something is stirring in the frozen wasteland of my psyche! Could a spring thaw be coming?!

While I was playing in my planner, flipping through sheets of stickers with inspirational words, matching washi tape to my weekly to-do list, I felt a little current of happiness flowing through me. A gathering of energy, even a flicker of creativity—things that have been sorely lacking lately.

Even though I’m still essentially going no place that isn’t necessary, I feel the slightest tickle of, could that be…hope? That I will—we will—be able to enjoy life a bit more soon. When I’ll be able to write “coffee with ______” on my pages, when the exhortation of “wake up and be awesome” won’t make me want to hide under the covers (my stickers are ambitious).

Even though my pages are still mostly blank, surely they will begin to fill up soon? Maybe with a visit to an outdoor market before it gets too hot? Maybe even with “plan trip to California”? I need to start penciling in things to look forward to!

It’s such a small thing, this desire to decorate my daily calendar. But I hope it’s the start of something positive.

When you’ve been down, what small thing(s) demonstrate to you that you’re feeling better?