Cluny Museum

Field Trip Friday: Two Paris Museums That Aren’t the Louvre

November 16, 2018

Today I’d like to share information and photos from two Paris museums which are not the Louvre, but held a special attraction for me. Both are much smaller and less overwhelming than the Louvre, and are worth a visit if you have the time and inclination.

First up, the Cluny Museum, also known as the Musee National du Moyen Age. When I was researching Paris, I came upon the description of some tapestries, known as the “The Lady and the Unicorn,” housed in the Cluny Museum. I’m not generally interested in tapestries, but for some reason these intrigued me and though I didn’t know if I’d have time to visit the Cluny, I tucked away the information for future reference. 

As luck would have it, our workshop hotel (Hotel Mercure—no affiliation), was just a couple of blocks from the Cluny. Since we had a free afternoon on check-in day that just happened to be the first Sunday of the month, when museum admissions all over Paris are free, we joined the crowds moving through the exhibits. 

In addition to the tapestries, the Cluny houses a collection of French medieval art, as well as the ruins of a second-century Roman bath. There is also a “medieval” garden you can visit without museum admission, laid out with plants pictured in the famous tapestries.

The sixth tapestry

The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries are considered some of the greatest surviving artifacts from the Middle Ages—the “Mona Lisa of tapestry art.” According to the Jean-Patrice Boudet’s “The Lady and the Unicorn” brochure, they are generally thought to have been created in the last two decades of the 15th century, somewhere in Northern France, Brabant, Flanders, or the Netherlands. Intricately and beautifully woven with gorgeous patterns, the series of six tapestries depicts a lady introducing a unicorn to the five senses, plus a possible sixth sense, according to the information card in the museum. The meaning behind the tapestries is somewhat of a mystery—is the sixth sense courtly love, Christian charity, or the intellect? Or something else altogether? No matter—the tapestries are charming and I loved them. (To learn more, there’s a short Rick Steves’ video about the tapestries here.) 

Musee National Eugene Delacroix
Before we left for Paris, I had been reading the Journal of Eugene Delacroix. In addition to being one of the greatest French painters of the Romantic era, Delacroix was an interesting man, and quite thoughtful about life and his painting. Some of his most famous works, including Liberty Leading the People, hang in the Louvre, and he is also known for his murals in the Chapelle des Anges in Saint-Suplice church.

I’m incurably nosy about seeing where artists and writers do their work, so I hoped that I’d be able to visit this museum, which consists of the apartment he lived in from 1857 until his death in 1863, his studio, and a small, private garden. Once more, luck was on my side, and we were also within walking distance of this museum.

The entrance was tucked away in the corner of a quiet square, the Place de Furstenberg, and we almost missed it. His apartment was an example typical Parisian architecture of the late 18th century, and his large, bright studio was built to his specifications. The dimensions of the studio surprised me, but shouldn’t have because of the size and scale of some of his work.

The entrance

Stairs leading to his apartment


Monsieur Delacroix
The best part was the garden, which is hidden from the street, hidden behind the apartment and studio. Laure and I sat and sketched there until we had to return to the hotel to meet the rest of the group. The time we spent in this oasis of peace and quiet in the middle of bustling Paris was one of my favorite experiences of the whole trip.

Stairs down to the garden


The garden, facing Delacroix's studio

No matter what your interests, there is something in Paris for you. Have you been to Paris? What were your favorite experiences? 

My sketch from the Delacroix museum garden

Everyday adventures

Let's Go to Paris!

November 12, 2018


Paris was, in a word, fantastique!

I’ve been to Paris before, but it was always a brief stop on my way someplace else. This time, I spent 12 full days exploring what the city has to offer.

It wasn’t nearly long enough.

Paris is huge, noisy, busy, a city layered with history and culture—and while I was there, a city of brilliant blue skies and mellow light that glowingly illuminated the stone buildings. We had nearly perfect weather, and I can’t help wondering if my impressions would have been different if it had been cold and gray. I feel lucky to have seen Paris at her fall best—lit up by the sun, the trees just beginning to change, with blooming flowers everywhere. Oh, I miss it.

Today I’ll share just a few photos and impressions, because I’m still sorting through my journal and photos (and thoughts). I feel like someone picked me up, shook me vigorously, and returned me to earth, everything still whirling around inside my head. Paris feels like a million years ago, even though it’s only been a little more than a month (already?) since we touched down at Charles de Gaulle airport.

The adventure begins


Laure Ferlita, of The Imaginary Realm and Painted Thoughts blog, and I flew to Paris a few days before her watercolor workshop started. A third friend (hi, Claire!) joined us, and we rented an apartment through Airbnb for the days before we met the rest of the group. That worked beautifully for us, and our apartment host was outstanding (hi, Helen!). If you will be spending more than a few days in Paris, renting an apartment is a fun option. It’s generally cheaper than a Paris hotel, and you get more of a flavor of what it’s like to live in Paris.

Some highlights from our first days included:

The most delicious savory crepe I’ve ever tasted from a little restaurant we randomly chose on our way to the metro station our first morning. It was good, but is there anything as delicious as your first hot meal and cup of coffee when you’ve traveled to a new place and you’re really hungry?


Exploring Rue Cler, a popular market street.  We enjoyed people watching as much as we enjoyed the shops and restaurants. I spent a bundle on tea at Mariage Freres. I’m drinking a cup of Paris Earl Grey as I type this. A highlight for me was a cup of coffee, a buffalo mozzarella flatbread pizza, and sketching at Café Central.




Everywhere we walked, we came upon architecture and details that caught our eyes:




In addition to the larger and more famous parks like the Luxembourg Gardens or the Tuileries, pretty little parks are everywhere—pockets of quiet green-ness in a noisy world:



And, of course, many boulangeries and patisseries where we snapped photos and sampled the baked goods. Heaven!


The adventure will continue...

Stay tuned for more photos and posts about my favorite places in Paris, as well as in our second location, Le Vieux Couvent in Frayssinet. 


The Highest Highs, the Lowest Lows

November 05, 2018

I know you’re waiting to hear about France, and I’m eager to share—my three weeks there were some of the most interesting and exciting of my life. But first I have to share some sad news from my family in California. Shortly after I returned home, my father was hospitalized, and he passed away last week. His health has been declining for some time, but it still took us by surprise. The memorial service is set for later in the month, partly to allow me to have a little time at home before I have to fly out again.

Last week was tough in other ways. I got sick two days after getting home, and I moved Tank to his new barn where he’s still adjusting to his surroundings. I’m finally feeling better, and I hope to get back to working on my trip journal, photos, and sketchbook this week. Thank you for your patience understanding while I put myself back together.


Happiness

Find the Road to Happiness

October 26, 2018


Photo by Ugne Vasyliute on Unsplash

“People can hate on you for doing what it is that makes you happy, but ultimately, it has to belong to you. It shouldn't matter what anyone else thinks. Life is not easy. The road to happiness is not a path well trotted. You have to find your own path to enlightenment.
—Jamie Campbell Bower

Quotes

Vigor

October 19, 2018

Photo by Jeff Frenette on Unsplash

“Voyage, travel, and change of place impart vigor.
—Seneca the Younger

Hidden Gardens of Paris

The Green Heart of Paris

October 12, 2018

Photo courtesy Damian Aldeta Fuentes via Pixabay

“Look inside the green heart of Paris and you will see the exquisite beauty of one of the world’s most cherished places. That beauty quickens the love of life and stirs our desire for more. People—travelers—always want to come back to Paris again and again.”

I’ll be in Paris (and other parts of France) for the next three weeks—I’ve scheduled a few quotes and tidbits to post while I’m gone, Have a very happy October!

Paris

Clearing My Brain in Paris

October 05, 2018

Photo by Inna Korol on Unsplash


“There is but one Paris and however hard living may be here, and if it became worse and harder even—the French air clears up the brain and does good—a world of good.”
—Vincent Van Gogh


I’ll be in Paris (and other parts of France) for the next three weeks—I’ve scheduled a few quotes and tidbits to post while I’m gone, Have a very happy October!

Announcement

Catching Happiness Goes to France

October 01, 2018

Photo by Tom King on Unsplash

Preparations for my trip to Paris and points beyond have reached a fever pitch at Chez Catching Happiness. In only TWO days I’ll be jetting—la-di-dah—across the Atlantic. I’d be lying if I said I’m not a little scared, though mostly I’m excited and very much looking forward to it.

Since I’ll be gone for three weeks, here’s what’s going to happen with Catching Happiness:  I’ve scheduled some quotes to appear as usual on Fridays. I’ll have limited internet access, so forgive me if I don’t respond to comments. I’ll likely be posting to Instagram while I’m gone if any of you follow me there, and will be thrilled to share all my simple pleasures and everyday adventures once I get home and settled. Because of the length and timing of the trip, there will also be no Happy Little Thoughts newsletter in October. 

This trip feels like a life-changing event, as my trip to Greece was so many years ago. I’m looking forward to seeing who I am when I return.

So au revoir for now, and I wish you a very happy month of October! 

Leaves

Drop Something

September 28, 2018


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

“Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.”
—Rumi 

Choice

Choosing the Positive

September 24, 2018


“I believe happiness is a choice. Some days it is a very difficult choice.”
—Steve Gleason
I just posted some pretty pictures on Instagram from a walk I took with Luna last week. Instead of sharing the photo of the Big Gulp cup floating in the pond, I shared the photo of the egret. Instead of the dead palmetto fronds, I posted a photo of Luna on her leash. I edited the walk to share only the most attractive sights.

If you look at my Instagram feed, you’ll see it consists of 99.9% pretty or happy things. That’s not because my life doesn’t have its unbeautiful moments, or because I’m trying to project an image of “perfection.” I guarantee you would find many messes in my house, yard, and mind were you to pop in unannounced.

On Instagram and on Catching Happiness, I choose to focus on and share the positive, the beautiful, the uplifting—the simple pleasures and everyday adventures of this blog’s tagline. I don’t believe you, Gentle Reader, come to a blog named Catching Happiness to ponder the scandal or atrocity du jour.

So even though life isn’t perfect, or unfailingly lovely, I will continue to actively look for and share the moments and things that are lovely, because lucky for me (us) there are many to be found.

This is my choice, one I make again and again. And yours, too, if you continue to visit Catching Happiness, which I very much hope you do!

We often can’t help what’s happening to us and around us. We can, however, choose what we focus on, what we emphasize, what we think about most often. As Steve Gleason said, sometimes it’s a difficult choice, but I’m making it.

How about you? 

Chris Bailey

Happiness Is a Team Sport

September 21, 2018

Photo courtesy Rhythm_In_Life via Pixabay

At work, at home, and everywhere else, our happiness, productivity, and success is intertwined with the happiness, productivity, and success of the people surrounding us. If you think it isn’t, you’re not living up to your full potential.
—Chris Bailey, “I’m One of the Laziest People You’ll Ever Meet—and That’s What Drives My Productivity,” gretchenrubin.com


Armchair travel

J’aime Les Livres Sur Paris*

September 17, 2018

Photo courtesy Sierra Maciorowski via Pixabay

For the past six months or more, I’ve been reading Paris…novels set in Paris, collections of essays and excerpts from larger works on Paris, guidebooks about Paris…

Did I mention, I’m going to Paris?

If you’re going to Paris, too, or even if your travel is of the armchair variety, here are a few of the most interesting livres I’ve come across:

Fiction

Paris By the Book, Liam Callanan. This was one of my favorites, though it got mixed reviews on Amazon. Protagonist Leah moves with her two daughters to Paris after her “eccentric novelist” husband vanishes, leaving behind plane tickets for Paris hidden in an unexpected place. When Leah discovers an unfinished manuscript her husband was writing, set in Paris, she and her girls “follow the path of the manuscript to a small, floundering English-language bookstore whose weary proprietor is eager to sell.” (Amazon) Books, exploring Paris, a little mystery (Is Leah’s husband dead or alive?)—I found it delightful.

13, Rue Therese, Elena Mauli Shapiro. Another intriguing story, following American academic Trevor Stratton as he sifts through a box of artifacts from World War I related to the life of Frenchwoman Louise Brunet. As he imagines what her life was like, he begins to fall in love with his alluring French clerk, Josianne.

The Light of Paris, Eleanor Brown. The intertwining stories of Madeleine, trapped in an unhappy marriage and reconnecting with her own essential self and Madeleine’s grandmother, Maggie, whose youthful diary Madeleine discovers reveals a completely different woman than she remembers.

The Little Paris Book Shop, Nina George. Monsieur Perdu prescribes novels for the hardships of life from his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine. I’m possibly the last person alive to read this, but I picked up a copy at my library’s used bookstore for a dollar last week.

Hunting and Gathering, Ana Gavalda. “A winning portrait of a group of misfits who band together to form their own family,” according to Booklist. This sounds so good to me, I’m going to try to squeeze it in before I leave. 

Paris: The Novel, Edward Rutherfurd. I’ve never read anything by Edward Rutherford, but several family members have recommended him, so I loaded this chunky historical novel onto my Kindle to take with me. Gotta have something to read on those long plane rides.

Nonfiction/Essays

A Paris All Your Own, edited by Eleanor Brown. All-new Paris-themed essays written by best-selling writers of women’s fiction. Not only did I enjoy the essays, I added a number of books to my TBR list while reading this.

A Paris Year, Janie MacLeod. I reread this (I wrote about it here) and jotted a few notes. 

Paris in Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide, Jesse Kanelos Weiner and Sarah Moroz. I’m probably taking this one with me—not only for the recommendations, but for the inspiration of the charming watercolor illustration.

Paris in Mind, edited by Jennifer Lee. I’m reading this right now. Excerpts from writings by everyone Thomas Jefferson, Sylvia Beach (who writes about opening the Shakespeare and Company bookstore), Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, David Sedaris, Dave Barry, and many more.

How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City, Joan DeJean. Notably, I haven’t read anything about the history of Paris, so I put this book on my TBR list. Likely won’t get to it before I leave, but there’s plenty of time to read when I get home.

The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris, by Edmund White is another for the TBR list. “A collection of impressions” (Publisher’s Weekly), it sounds intriguing.

When I type “Paris” into Amazon’s search bar, it returns 50,000 results, so I know I’ve just barely scratched the surface of Paris-themed books! Which of your favorites did I leave out? Please share in the comments!

*“I love books about Paris”

Discipline

Happiness Is Earned Interest

September 14, 2018

Puppyhood: this too shall pass and this too is good

“The discipline of joy requires holding in the mind simultaneously
 that this too shall pass and that this too is good. This alchemy of mind isn’t easy, but the good life is not always the easy life. Happiness requires effort. It is not just bestowed; 
it is the earned interest on what you choose to pay in.”


Anticipation

The Simple Pleasure of Anticipation

September 10, 2018

Photo by Amelia Bartlett on Unsplash

“‘What do you like doing best in the world, Pooh?’
“‘Well,’ said Pooh, ‘what I like best,’ and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.”
—A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

I believe the word Pooh was looking for was Anticipation.

Anticipation is that pleasant, tingly feeling we get when we’re looking forward to something in the future. It’s worry’s much happier cousin.

I wrote briefly about the importance of anticipation in my August Happy Little Thoughts newsletter, but it deserves more page time.  (Not a subscriber to Happy Little Thoughts? Become one here. I’ll never sell or share your email with anyone else, and you can unsubscribe at any time.  Happy Little Thoughts comes out once a month, and it will give you something else to anticipate…)

Waiting makes the thing anticipated more valuable. How much more do we appreciate a purchase if we save up and pay cash rather than buy on credit? I still fondly remember the first thing I ever saved my allowance for as a child: a little gold alarm clock with rhinestones surrounding the face, just like the one my best friend had.

Delaying gratification can draw out the pleasure of things we enjoy. Instead of an “on demand” mindset of instant gratification, why not wait? Why not watch one episode of Stranger Things at a time, rather than streaming the entire second season in one weekend? (I may be speaking from personal experience here.)

Scheduling and planning ahead for simple pleasures and everyday adventures rather than just waiting for them to fall into our laps also gives us the chance to anticipate the happy event beforehand. When we buy tickets for a movie this weekend, or a concert in November, we give ourselves time to look forward to pleasurable experiences.

And when we anticipate an event or experience in the future, we have time to deepen our enjoyment by preparing for it. When we anticipate a vacation, we can add to our enjoyment by reading up on the area we’re visiting, researching the cuisine, or practicing the local language if it’s not our own. 

Consciously looking forward to something and preparing for it—whether it’s an experience, event, or purchase—can be a simple pleasure all its own. Cultivate anticipation by deliberately delaying a pleasure, by looking ahead to pleasures to come, or by taking steps ahead of time that you know will deepen your pleasurable experience.

What are you anticipating? How can you better savor that delicious feeling?

Joy

Happy Out, Happy In

September 07, 2018


Photo by Maria Shanina on Unsplash

“If we want a joyous life, we must think joyous thoughts. If we want a prosperous life, we must think prosperous thoughts. If we want a loving life, we must think loving thoughts. Whatever we send out mentally or verbally will come back to us in like form.”
—Louise L. Hay, You Can Heal Your Life

New Year

Summer Rerun--September Is the New January

September 03, 2018

Photo courtesy Candace Penney
Now and then I dip into the Catching Happiness archives and share a post from the past. Even though this one was written in 2013, I’m still doing some of the same things, including purging my house, getting excited about fall, and planning another anniversary trip, this time to commemorate our 30th anniversary! Apparently, some things never change.

Is it just me, or does September feel like a new beginning? Most of my life I’ve treated September the way most people treat January: as a new year. Even before I had a child going back to school or lived in Florida where the promise of the occasional cooler, drier day bumps up my energy, I reevaluated my life in the fall. My birthday is in September, so I think that adds to the “new start” feeling since like most of us I become more introspective around birthdays.

I’ve thought about starting my own Happiness Project, like Gretchen Rubin has written about in the book of the same name, and its follow-up Happier at Home (where the title of this blog post came from). I even began listing areas I’d like to focus on, but decided I’m not ready to attack things I want to change or enhance in quite that fashion. Planning all those months in advance felt too overwhelming to me. Instead, I decided to take baby steps and do some very simple things to get my new year off to a good start:

First, I’m keeping a time log this week to see where I’m spending my time. (I’m using this one.) From there, I hope to come up with a flexible schedule so I can get the important things done while still having time to play.

My weight has become a concern again, so I’m tweaking my eating and fitness routines to combat those creeping pounds.

I’m making plans for fun by figuring out the details of our postponed anniversary trip and scheduling some upcoming Field Trip Fridays.

I’m purging—the freezer, my closet, my file cabinet. I’m always battling stuff!

Even though it’s still blazingly hot here and it doesn’t feel like fall yet, I’m starting to feel more energetic, more likely to make some changes and explore new avenues. I’m ready to savor simple pleasures and take part in everyday adventures. Even though the calendar says September and not January, I’m ready for a new year!

Do you make any special plans in September? Are there any other times of year you evaluate life, set goals or take up challenges?

August

Au Revoir, August, Don’t Let the Porte Hit You in the Derrière

August 31, 2018

August is pretty, even though it's hot

Every year I stagger through the summer and I feel surprised when my energy begins to come back in September. This summer is no different. I’m happy to say goodbye to August, and already I feel stirrings of autumn energy (thank goodness) because I have a lot on my plate. For instance:

In October, I’m going to France for three weeks (!) to attend two on-location watercolor workshops with Laure Ferlita. My to-do list has a to-do list, which is part of the reason I’ve been spotty about posting here. Je suis désolé (I’m sorry). 

I’ve been looking for a new boarding barn for my horse, Tank. My longtime barn is being sold so the owners can move closer to family. I found a facility that I like, and at first I thought I’d have to move right away to keep from losing my spot, but that has turned out not to be the case. I’d rather leave Tank with the people he’s familiar with (and who are familiar with him) while I’m gone in October, so this is a good development, if a bit stressful.

Our son is temporarily moving home after his roommate moved out of state. He can’t afford an apartment on his own yet and was unable to find someone he was comfortable sharing with. He’s working on a professional license that should boost his earning power, and is hoping to move out on his own again in a few months. We hope so, too, because as much as we love him, my husband and I have enjoyed it being just us two again.

I’ve been reading some good books, practicing French, practicing sketching, getting my Global Entry approval, and having a yearly physical. Luna continues to be a handful.  I’ve continued writing for America’s Horse, and especially loved writing this piece

Add these things to the usual work and personal obligations, and my own summer doldrums, and well, you get it. I’m tired. I’m more than ready for September! And even though we likely won’t get cooler weather until October or even November, in the meantime I’ll watch the light begin to change and to make plans for fall and winter. To be ready for the burst of energy that fall brings. Since travel also boosts my energy, I should be quite a dynamo when I return from France!

So au revoir August—bring on September!

What have you been up to in August? Any plans for the fall?

John Foy

A Walk in the Woods

August 24, 2018


Introduction by Ted Kooser: John Foy is a poet living in New York whose book, Night Vision, published by St. Augustines Press, was the winner of The New Criterion Poetry Prize. I especially like this leisurely, conversational account of a walk in the woods that just at the end lifts its eyes and looks into a deeper place beyond the particulars.

Woods

I took the dog and went to walk
in the auditorium of the woods,
but not to get away from things.
It was our habit, that was all,
a thing we did on summer days,
and much there was to listen to.
A slight wind came and went
in three birches by the pond.
A crow uphill was going on
about the black life it led,
and a brown creeper went creeping up
a brown trunk methodically
with no record of ever having
been understood by anyone.
A woodpecker was working out
a deep hole from the sound of it
in a stand of dead trees up there.
And then a jay, much put upon,
complained about some treachery
it may or may not have endured,
though most are liars anyway.
The farther in, the quieter,
till only the snapping of a stick
broke the silence we were in.
The dog stood still and looked at me,
the woods by then already dark.
Much later, on the porch at night,
I heard the owl, an eldritch thing.
The dog, still with me, heard it too,
a call that came from where wed been,
and where we would not be again.


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 ©2016 by John Foy, “Woods,” from Night Vision, (St. Augustine's Press, 2016). Poem reprinted by permission of John Foy and the publisher. Introduction copyright 2018 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.

Being

Remember the Joy of Being

August 17, 2018

Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

“In today’s rush, we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just Being.”
—Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

Preparing

Weathering Summer Storms

August 13, 2018


It starts with a grumble in the east. You quickly glance up at the sky—what’s the cloud situation? Is there lightning? The Spanish moss hangs limp from the oak trees and there’s not a whisper of breeze.

It’s still sunny where you are, but puffy clouds edged with gray appear, racing across the sky. A summer storm approaches.

Quickly the blue sky turns gray, the air temperature drops, the rumbling surrounds you. Sometimes the light takes on an eerie green tinge.

The house shakes the next time the thunder booms, and you begin to see lightning flashes. In moments, the rain begins to spatter the ground, speckling the pavement. The rain whispers or rustles or thuds, depending on how hard it’s coming down. If you’re lucky, you’re inside, cozily watching. If you’re unlucky enough to be out and about, you’re probably drenched despite your umbrella. You might take off your sandals so they don’t get ruined, and run through the parking lot to get to your car. (Or is that just me?)

After a few moments—or an hour—the sun may shine through the rain. This is what’s known as a sun shower. Or a rainbow will appear. Your gift for weathering another summer storm.

Sometimes we can see the storm coming from a long way away and we can prepare at least somewhat, as my family and I did last summer when Hurricane Irma was bearing down on us. Sometimes a storm appears seemingly out of nowhere and we’re forced to take cover until the worst is over. Afterwards, we pick up the pieces.

What’s true of the weather is also true of our lives. Sometimes we see the storm coming, other times it takes us by surprise and all we can do is hold on. If you’re in the midst of a storm, know that it will end, and that you may very well find a world made new on the other side. If you’re watching a storm on the horizon, what can you do to prepare for it? And if you’re currently enjoying a stretch of beautiful weather, savor every moment of it, knowing that soon enough, the storms will come.

What storms have you weathered lately?


JOMO

Lazy Summer Link Love

August 10, 2018

Well, it’s August. What more can I say? I’m feeling about as lazy as is possible while still being conscious, just marking time until the weather cools off. But my fingers still work and I have an internet connection, so here are a few links I’ve loved recently:

I’m not the only one struggling through summer. Apparently, according to at least one study, your brain really does slow down during hot weather. Read about it here: “It’s Not Your Fault If You Can't Get Anything Done in the Summer.” 

Laura Vanderkam’s posts are always full of common sense. In “Every Yes Is a No, Every No Is a Yes,” Laura writes, “The upside of keeping this phrase in mind is that it reminds you that expectations are infinite, and time is finite. You are always choosing. A choice to do one thing is a choice not to do something else, and therefore a choice to disappoint someone. So the question is who are you choosing to disappoint, and why?”
“Reclaim Your Weekends” looks at the importance of scheduling time for restoration: “We all need rest and rejuvenation. Without deep, restorative time, we power through jam-packed weekends (or aimlessly surf the net), only to wake up on Monday mornings feeling tired and dissatisfied.”
I’m still exploring Julia’s Bookbag, but so far I’m enchanted. How lovely it would be to receive one of her book boxes! And wouldn’t it be fun to create them?
Read “10 Things to Keep You Going When Everything Goes Wrong,” because it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you respond to what happens to you. Numbers 3, 7, and 9 especially resonated with me.

I just finished reading Quiet Girl in a Noisy World, and checked out the author's Tumblr, “Where’s My Bubble?” The book reminded me that I haven’t been allowing enough recharging time for my introverted self. 
To continue with the theme of doing less and enjoying life more, have you heard the acronym “JOMO”? It’s FOMO’s (“Fear of Missing Out”) cousin, the Joy of Missing Out. Read about it at “FOMO vs JOMO: How to Embrace the Joy of Missing Out.” 
And for the times when it requires too much energy to go to the beach, here’s a video of waves crashing on the beach...


Hope you have a relaxing, restoring, and very happy weekend!

Being present

This Moment

August 06, 2018


Breathe.

I’m an expert at worrying. About the future. About what might happen.

But in this moment, I’m OK. My loved ones are OK. Sure, there will be times when this isn’t the case. But not this moment.

Breathe…

All my worrying, my complaining, maybe my problem is not noticing and being grateful for this moment. This moment is a gift—that’s why it’s called the present.

Hurry, distraction, multi-tasking—these are the enemies of presence and peace.

I want more presence and peace.

Instead of constantly searching for something bright shiny new (shopping, reading yet another self-help book, etc.) to distract myself from uncomfortable feelings I’m practicing appreciating, caring for, and savoring the many gifts I already have.

Will you join me today in stopping to breathe and appreciate where you are? All the things that work in your life? Let all the worries for the future go—poof! Maybe even make a list of 10, 15, 100 things you love about your life right now. Summer is a good time for slowing down to appreciate this moment.

What do you notice when you become present in the moment? What’s best about your life right now? What would you like to change? Please share in the comments!

Habits

Cultivate Habits of Happiness

August 03, 2018

Photo by gabrielle cole on Unsplash

“So many of us believe that to be joyous we need to do a lot of work. But the truth is, our essence is already sparkling with happiness and bliss. All we really need to do is cultivate good internal habits to allow our divine spark be revealed.”
—Tzivia Gover, Joy in Every Moment

What habits do you cultivate to reveal your inner spark?

Dreams

Summer Rerun--Someday Isle

July 30, 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 2010. 


Have you ever been to Someday Isle? Maybe you find yourself taking up residence now and then—I know I do. Someday Isle is a wonderful place—there is always enough time and enough money to do just what you want to do. On Someday Isle my desires are just as important as everyone else’s. I can follow a dream and not worry about what that will mean for anyone else. (I don’t have to do laundry on Someday Isle, either.)

I visit Someday Isle every time I say, “Someday, I’ll…”

“Someday, I’ll” can keep you going when things are tough, give you hope for the future. There can be many excellent reasons why you’ll do whatever-it-is “someday.” There really are times when personal responsibilities and lack of time or money will keep you from your dreams. But not always. The trick is knowing when “someday, I’ll…” is a cop-out and when it’s legit. Usually, what’s stopping me is an issue with time or money, but occasionally it’s fear or guilt.

That’s right: sometimes actually getting what you want brings up some negative emotions. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Greece for two weeks. I have always wanted to visit Greece, my husband said to go for it, and we had the money to afford the group fare. I had a traveling companion, my mother-in-law, who had brought the trip to my attention in the first place. I hesitated—I hadn’t traveled overseas in years, I didn’t know anyone else in the group besides my mother-in-law, I would have to renew my passport, and figure out what to pack and make plans for keeping things running on the home front while I was gone. I felt guilty about spending that much money just on myself. Life had given me a beautiful gift, and I was afraid to take it. Thankfully, I didn’t let any of my apprehensions get the better of me. I went and I had the time of my life. I think about that trip often and the good feelings remain with me to this day. 

Of course, that doesn’t’ mean the words “someday, I’ll” don’t still frequently come out of my mouth. I have a file folder labeled “Someday” filled with clippings of things I want to do or experience…“someday.” There are also plenty of things I want to do with my horse “someday” and there’s that book I want to write “someday….” Well, you get the picture.

What are some of your “someday, I’ll”s? Do you really have to wait for someday? If so, what can you do right now to bring someday closer?

Someday Isle?

C.S. Lewis

Do You "Like" Happiness?

July 27, 2018


I *Heart* Happiness
“I begin to suspect that the world is divided not only into the happy and the unhappy, but into those who like happiness and those who, odd as it seems, really don’t.”
— C.S. Lewis

Absent in the Spring

Rereading Absent in the Spring (Agatha Christie writing as Mary Westmacott)

July 23, 2018


 

One of the things I like most about traveling is the complete break from the usual routine. I almost always come back from a trip refreshed and ready to make changes in my life…whether or not those changes actually take place. Sometimes it takes leaving home to see myself more clearly.

All that sounds pretty good—having time to oneself to re-center, finding solitude to think and evaluate one’s life.

It can also be a little bit frightening.

At least in the hands of Agatha Christie, writing as Mary Westmacott, in Absent in the Spring. I reread this book over the weekend, and it was as thought-provoking as I remembered it. (And no bodies in the library...this is a different kind of frightening.)

Absent was one of Christie’s favorite books. She completed it in three days straight, and wrote in her autobiography that it was “one book that has satisfied me completely…. It was the picture of a woman with a complete image of herself, of what she was, but about which she was completely mistaken…. What brought about this revelation would be the fact that for the first time in her life she was alone—completely alone—for four or five days.”

In the book, self-satisfied, middle-aged Englishwoman Joan Scudamore finds herself stranded at a rest house in the desert on her way home from visiting her daughter in Iraq. There are no other travelers for company, she runs out of things to read, uses up her writing paper, and has no sewing or handiwork to occupy her. She’s left with nothing to do but think and remember. At first, this makes her uneasy:

“The truth was, she reflected, that she had always led such a full and occupied life. So much interest in it. It was a civilized life. And if you had all that balance and proportion in your life, it certainly left you rather at a loss when you were faced with the barren uselessness of doing nothing at all. The more useful and cultured a woman you were, the more difficult it made it.”

And then downright frightened, as her thoughts take her places she’d rather not go.

“There was nothing to be afraid of in being alone—nothing at all.”
 
Eventually, she comes to see herself as she really is, not as she’s told herself she is all her life.

“She had got to know, once and for all, just what kind of a woman Joan Scudamore was….”

The title comes from a line in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 98, “From you have I been absent in the spring.”  One of Joan’s realizations is that even though she really loves her husband, she’s been “absent” from him in the ways that really matter.

When Joan returns to England, will she keep her hard-won self-knowledge and make changes? Or will she return to her old ways? I won’t spoil the end for you—you’ll have to read it for yourself.

Absent in the Spring was written in the 1940s, but anyone whose life is overfull with commitments, social media, and general busy-ness might recognize in themselves the tendency to fill up time with doing in order to avoid uncomfortable thinking.

At fewer than 200 pages, Absent in the Spring is a quick and compelling read. Check it out, and let me know what you think!


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