The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Cry

December 08, 2023

Image by Simon from Pixabay

I’m currently working my way through Susannah Conway’s free Unravel Your Year workbook (no affiliation), looking back over the events and experiences of 2023, and man, that post headline about sums up 2023 for me. Those of you who have been with me for the entire year already know that in 2023 my husband and I both lost our mothers rather suddenly. I was my mother-in-law’s caregiver, and while she was under Hospice care, her decline and death were unexpected and extremely quick. 

My own mom’s decline was even faster and more unexpected, and I spent good parts of the months of February through May flying back and forth to California, staying by her bedside as she transitioned, arranging for her funeral, and then closing up her home and preparing it for sale. I also contracted Covid while I was there in February and spent many of what would be our last precious days sick and in isolation (because the last place you want to go when you have Covid is a nursing home…).

How’s that for Bad?

And believe me, there was some ugly crying.

On the surface, the Good doesn’t leap out at me, yet I know there was good, and a lot of it. The support of my friends through this year has been more than “good”—it’s been priceless! My son and husband here at home kept everything going while I was otherwise occupied, including taking care of our pets and each other.

I read a lot of really great books (post to come) and saw several fantastic theater productions. I reconnected with a couple of friends from high school. Just as it’s impossible to keep bad things from happening, it’s also impossible to keep good things from happening!

This morning, I came across a phrase that describes something I believe to be happening to me: post traumatic growth. This year has been traumatic, and I don’t intend to waste the pain I’ve experienced. I feel different from the person who started 2023. While I’m a little shaky and unsure about how to move forward in my life after this transition, I also know that I found depths within myself and a safety net surrounding me that I did not realize existed. For that I’m profoundly grateful.

I encourage you to take the time to reflect on your experiences in 2023. What joys and what sorrows did you experience? What lessons will you take with you into the new year? (If you want some gentle prompts to help you reflect, I recommend the above-mentioned Unravel Your Year workbook.) 

I’m nearly ready to shut the door on the year and move into 2024. May we all find peace and closure with 2023. 


2023 Gratitude Challenge Wrap-Up

December 01, 2023

Courtesy Positively Present

I was pretty haphazard with my participation in the Gratitude Challenge this year. Some days it felt too hard to come up with something to post. Not that I’m not grateful for many things—it’s just that I couldn’t gather the mental energy to formulate a thoughtful post that anyone would be interested in seeing in their Instagram or Facebook feed. Sometimes feelings are too deep for words, and I’ve been feeling A LOT of feelings. Still, I’m always glad to take some time to ponder what I’m grateful for.

Here are a few of my favorite prompts from 2023 (click here to see all my posts on Instagram):


Lately I've been trying to slow down my bad habit of rushing through everything I do to get to the NEXT thing. I feel so much better when I let things take the time they take. This sundial reminds me to be grateful for the time I have.


Even during the hardest times, I'm grateful for beauty (especially the beauty of the natural world) to remind me that there's more to life than the mundane, the painful, the annoying. So the next time you (or I) need a lift, look for something beautiful.


To "inspire" also means to breathe in... I'm grateful for places like this that encourage me to do just that. And maybe, once I have taken that breath, the creative inspiration I long for will also find me.


On the last day of the 2023 Gratitude Challenge, I want to express my gratitude for how growth (today's prompt) can sneak up on you. While you're preoccupied with doing your best to survive whatever life throws at you, suddenly you wake up to find you have the capacity to do more than survive. Maybe you have a clearer idea of what's important, or you're not as scared to do something you've always wanted to do. Maybe you feel stronger, just for a moment. Those moments are worth noticing and holding on to. Why did I choose this photo to illustrate this post? Because this plant, which I bought last year, surprised me by growing several red bracts. I've never even been able to keep a poinsettia alive for a year, let alone have one turn red. (It's the little things... 😁)

Thanks to @positivelypresent for the prompts, and to all who have commented and shared their own thoughts on these concepts. On to December!


Link love

November Link Love—A Hodge Podge

November 10, 2023

Me, lately. Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash

I’ve been feeling a bit scattered and all over the place lately, and this Link Love entry is going to reflect that. Funny flight attendant? Check. Thoughtful article about how money and happiness are connected? Also check. Here’s a hodge podge of some of the interesting things I’ve found online recently. (Also, “hodge podge” is a fun term to repeat to yourself…)

I’ve been enjoying this new-ish blog which focuses on looking for “Wow Moments.” (Wow Moments are definitely first cousins to my simple pleasures and everyday adventures.) This post details ways to improve your ability to notice Wow Moments when they happen. 

In “What if Money Does Buy Happiness After All?” Ingrid Fetell Lee reports on a recent study showing just that. She shares several specific areas that having more money definitely improves happiness levels, including safety and security, time, health and wellness, and the ability to live out your values. It’s a classic case of both/and (as I wrote about in a October’s Happy Little Thoughts Newsletter): of course there are some things that don’t require money, like our personal relationships, and many that do benefit from having more money. She concludes her post by talking about why it matters that we’re honest about the role money plays in our happiness. 

I happened to be listening to the radio in the car when, to my surprise, I heard a new Beatles’ song! I came home and looked online to learn more about it. According to this article, “The track was originally shelved due to the poor audio quality, but revived when AI helped better enhance Lennon’s performance.” You can listen to “Now and Then” here. 

I’m already thinking about next year, so I bookmarked this announcement from photographer Georgianna Lane. If you’re looking for a beautiful calendar for 2024, look no further than these (no affiliation). There’s even a FREE printable Paris-themed calendar if you subscribe to her mailing list. (I’m already a subscriber, and she does not bombard your inbox with emails.) 

While “3 Things to Do When You Wake Up in the Middle of the Night” was written for a younger audience than me, I have found the tips here helpful when I find my eyes popping open at 2 a.m. 

In “Somatic Therapy: 12 Easy Ways To Shift Your Mood With Your Body,” guest poster Rachel Shanken details ways to recognize where in our bodies we’re feeling stressed, and ways to break the stress cycle. 

I want to be on a flight with this guy. 

This is so cool:

Happy Friday, and hope you have a beautiful weekend.


Inspiring Discoveries--Morgan Harper Nichols: “I believe art is a form of communication”

November 03, 2023

During this past hard year, another writer/artist whose work has helped me manage my emotions and stay (relatively) positive and calm is Morgan Harper NicholsI thought you might enjoy Nichols’ work, too, so I’m sharing a little about her in today’s post.

Several years ago, I started following Nichols on Instagram, where I frequently bookmarked what she shared because it resonated with me. I read her book Peace Is a Practice when it came out in 2022 and greatly enjoyed it.  Recently, I’ve been checking out her other books, including You Are Only Just Beginning (2023) and How Far You Have Come (2021). There is something very soothing about the combination of her art and words.

Nichols posts frequently to Instagram, and I’ve especially enjoyed her daily affirmations (see below for links). Sometimes just one sentence is all you need to quiet your thoughts.

Nichols is a mixed media artist from the Atlanta, GA area. In 2017, she began creating art and poetry in response to messages she received on social media. In part, her artistic endeavors have come out of struggling with neurodiversity—she was diagnosed with autism at age 30, and diagnosed with autism, ADHD, and SPD (sensory processing disorder) at age 31. As noted in her bio, “Her work features themes of creating room to breathe and how to recognize the ways you are learning and growing in daily life.”

I’m sure you can see why I enjoy her work!

Here are two quotes I copied from Peace Is a Practice:

“What I have learned in writing poetry and making art about peace over the past few years is that peace is a practice. The world practice means ‘to carry out,’ and peace is a way of living that we can carry out each day—maybe not everywhere all at once, but we can learn to find peace and live in its presence.”

“But to fill the page and to pour out, I must first open myself up to inhale it all. I openly witness everything around me, allowing my senses to experience the world fully, what I can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. And furthermore, I don’t try to make sense of it all right away.”

I’m so grateful for the artists and writers whose work has comforted, encouraged, and pushed me not just over this past year, but throughout my life. How dull and sad would it be without the people who share their artistic gifts.

Are there any other writers or artists whose work you especially enjoy? Please share in the comments.

Where to learn more about Morgan Harper Nichols:



Storyteller “daily encouragement” Instagram account (Click here to see October’s daily affirmations) 

November affirmations

And speaking of gratitude…it’s November, and you know what that means: the annual Gratitude Challenge, sponsored by Dani at Positively Present. I plan to post on Instagram and Facebook as often as I can. Join in, or just follow along by following me on Instagram or Facebook. I’ll also have a wrap-up post on Catching Happiness at the end of the month.