Link love

Rainy Holiday Weekend Link Love

May 25, 2018


This is Memorial Day weekend in the U.S.—time to remember the fallen, and mark the unofficial beginning of summer. We’re hosting out-of-town family, and the forecast is for rain, rain, rain. Hopefully the weather will cooperate enough for us to spend time on our lanai. Luna is looking forward to meeting some new people and demonstrating her (questionable) swimming skills.

If your Memorial Day weekend proves rainy, or leaves you with a little extra time on your hands, here are a few links you might love:

I hate to tell you this, but the first half of 2018 is almost over. Yeah, I know, where did it go?! It’s a good time to evaluate how 2018 is shaping up, so check out these “10 Questions for Mid-year Reflection.”

“Four Things Procrastinators Need to Learn” was outstanding. I am a big-time procrastinator (and yes, I have several items on a to-do list that are more than a year old, much to my chagrin). 

Subscribe to free e-magazine Happiful here, or if you prefer, buy print versions here. Happiful aims to provide “informative inspiring and topical stories about mental health and wellbeing. 

You don’t have to consider yourself in midlife to learn from the suggestions in “8 Ways you Can Survive—and Thrive in—Midlife”. Number five helped me understand why setting goals is such a major production in my life.

I so much identified with “What If All I Want is a Mediocre Life?” For example, in one passage, the author writes: “What if I am not cut out for the frantic pace of this society and cannot even begin to keep up? And see so many others with what appears to be boundless energy and stamina but know that I need tons of solitude and calm, an abundance of rest, and swaths of unscheduled time in order to be healthy. Body, spirit, soul healthy. Am I enough?” A question I often wrestle with. 

And speaking of wrestling with feeling not good enough, in “Feeling Overwhelmed? Remember RAIN,” you’ll learn four steps to stop being less hard on yourself.

This baby elephant doesn’t want to stop playing in the mud:



There will be no post Monday due to the holiday weekend, but the Happy Little Thoughts newsletter will go out as scheduled on Sunday. (If you’re not already receiving the newsletter, click here.)

Hope you have a beautiful weekend, rain or shine!

Books

The Great American Read--Did Your Favorite Novel Make the List?

May 21, 2018


Since reading is one of my favorite simple pleasures, I’m looking forward to watching The Great American Read, an eight-part PBS series which premieres tomorrow, May 22. The documentary will explore and celebrate the power of reading in American culture “through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels”. The books were chosen in a national survey, and you can find a list of them here. You can join the Great American Read Book Club here

Viewers will have the chance to vote for their favorites online and on social media starting when the first episode airs. The finale will take place in October, when the winner will be revealed. See your local PBS station for details.

As I write this, I’ve read 36 of the 100 on the list, and I’m in the middle of a 37th (Great Expectations). Several on this list I’ve tried to read and couldn’t get through (I’m looking at you The Catcher in the Rye). I plan to read at least a few more of them, including The Giver, War and Peace, and Stephen King’s The Stand. And there are some on this list that I won’t even attempt to read because they’re just not my cup of tea, life’s too short, and my TBR list is already (wayyyy) too long. That’s the beauty of the modern age of books: there’s a meaningful book out there for everyone. And often they’re freely (literally) available.

Some of my favorites from the list include Anne of Green Gables, The Alchemist (I wrote briefly about both Anne and The Alchemist here), Pride and Prejudice, The Help, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Two of my favorite authors who were not on the list: Barbara Kingsolver and P.G. Wodehouse.

(In 2003, the BBC undertook a similar search for the best-loved book in the United Kingdom. The winner of The Big Read was J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.)

Let’s talk about books! Which of the 100 have you read? Which are your favorites and which ones didn’t you like? Why? Was your favorite on the list?

Attention

Our Most Important Tool

May 18, 2018


“Attention is like energy in that without it no work can be done, and in doing work is dissipated. We create ourselves by how we use this energy. Memories, thoughts and feelings are all shaped by how use it. And it is an energy under control, to do with as we please; hence attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience.”
—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience



Happiness

Are You Mean to Yourself?

May 14, 2018

On the bulletin board next to my desk hangs a sign with the following words:



I’m mean to myself sometimes, and I’m betting you are, too. For instance:

  • When you goof up, do you replay the mistake in your head, over and over again, mentally cringing at your error? Do you think you shouldn’t have made a mistake?
  • When you’re sick, tired, or just not feeling up to par, do you always “power through,” regardless of how you feel? 
  • Does your inner critic receive your full attention and agreement when he/she begins to speak? 
  • Do you practice real self-care on a regular basis? By real self-care, I mean things like eating a healthful diet, sleeping enough, using stress-relief techniques when you’re feeling anxious—generally, just taking care of yourself.
For our own happiness’ sake, I think we should be nicer to ourselves all the time, even when we feel we least deserve it.

A few ways to be nice to yourself include:

Talking to yourself with respect. Reprogram your thoughts. Next time you begin to mentally beat yourself up for a mistake or criticize yourself for some real or imagined failing, STOP. Take a breath. Admit, yes, I made a mistake. I’m human. I will do better next time. I’m doing the best I can. Treat yourself—even in your thoughts—as you would a much-loved friend.

Treating your body lovingly. Feed it well, move it, let it rest. And talk to it nicely. Go slow enough, or take enough breaks during the day, that you can hear what it has to say.

Having more fun! Schedule at least one thing just for fun every day. Working out doesn’t count, unless you do it for fun. Maybe it’s a half hour of reading at lunchtime, a glass of wine with your partner before dinner, or playing a game with a friend online. Whatever simple pleasures make your heart happy.

When you are kinder to yourself, you’ll probably find it easier to cut everyone else some slack as well. We’re all imperfect, we all lose concentration now and then, we—gasp—make mistakes! It’s much easier to be patient and forgiving with others when that’s “where you live,” so to speak.

Being nicer to ourselves is not only a way to feel happier, it is also one way to add to the sum total of kindness and gentleness in the world—something the world desperately needs.

How are you mean to yourself? What can you do today to be nice to yourself?

George Santayana

A Happier State of Mind

May 11, 2018


“To be interested in the changing seasons is…a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”
—George Santayana, “Justification of Art”


Beautiful things

Happy Little Things--Beautiful Books

May 07, 2018



I’ve had an influx of beautiful books lately, so I thought I’d share this simple pleasure with you.

I was shopping at Target a couple of weeks ago when this book caught my eye:



First the pretty cover and then the enticing title: A Book That Takes Its Time: An Unhurried Adventure in Creative Mindfulness. I picked it up to flip through and found that each page was unique. Thoughtfully written pieces were interspersed with happy illustrations and interactive goodies, such as tear out “Notecards for your beautiful moments jar.” The clincher that made me drop it into my basket—it is “a flow book.” (Flow is a magazine I’ve heard of but not yet seen in person. Since flow is my word of the year, my reticular activating system is constantly bringing it to my attention!)

I’m taking my time going through this book, savoring the simple pleasures within. On the back cover, it’s described as “A mindfulness retreat between two covers….” It has sections on kindness (to yourself and others), creativity, learning and more, as well as writing prompts, mini-journals, postcards, and decorative papers. I can see it sitting on a coffee table, available to browse through at whim. This was an impulse buy, but well worth the price.

Prudy likes it, too







The other beautiful books came to me by way of a contest! Rizzoli Books sponsored a giveaway on Instagram recently, and I won! The books arrived Friday. They’re all beautiful, and I know I’ll spend many happy hours browsing through them. 




 Two were of particular interest to me: Gardens of Style, by Janelle McCulloch, and Paris in Stride, by Jessie Kanelos Weiner and Sarah Moroz. Janelle writes and photographs the most beautiful books, and I’ve read her blog A Library of Design for several years. I claim her as a blogging acquaintance and hope to meet her someday as she sometimes visits Florida. 

 




Paris in Stride comes at just the right time, as I will be joining Laure Ferlita on her sketching tour in Paris in October! Paris in Stride is subtitled “an insider’s walking guide,” and is arranged by arrondissements, so I think it’s going to be helpful in planning our visit. Plus it’s charmingly illustrated in watercolor! (The books also came with a watercolor of the Eiffel Tour as seen below left.)

 


It will be hard to get my work done with these tempting beauties around!

What happy little things and simple pleasures have you savored lately?






Birds

The Winding Road Comes to an End

May 04, 2018

Gentle readers, let us finish up the Birds and Blooms and Winding Roads trip with some delicious food and a visit to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. (See part one here, part two here, and part three here.) Click on the photos if you'd like to see them bigger.


The last full day of our trip splurged on breakfast at Circa ’62 at the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek and Spa. I’m glad we didn’t stay there, because I would have found it hard to leave the property. The grounds were lovely:

Circa '62

There were chipmunks!


The food was some of the best I’ve ever eaten—we shared the hard cider French toast and the bacon and mushroom hash.

 

In addition to serving people, they are dog-friendly with a special menu just for their canine guests: the Stop, Drop & Drool menu, and there’s a special room where you can eat with your pet. (Luna would have lost her mind with joy.)


The doggy dining room
If I’m ever in the neighborhood again, you can bet I’ll try to wangle a stay there.

After we waddled walked to our car, we headed just up the road to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens: “47 acres of botanical bliss fronting the Pacific Ocean.” This garden was voted 5th best garden in the United States by USA Today’s “10 Best” Reader’s Choice Awards.

I could tell you about the blooming rhododendrons; the succulent and Mediterranean gardens; the walk by the sea where we watched in fascination as waves curled and broke, dashing themselves against rocks; the hummingbirds darting here and there...but instead I’ll let my photos show, not tell.


Enticing path

Blooming rhododendron





Tulip tree--I think it's a type of magnolia

Stalked aeonium


And so we come to the end of the Birds and Blooms and Winding Roads trip. It’s given me much happiness to relive this trip with you—thank you for joining me! I don’t know where my next everyday adventure will take me, but I’ll be sure to invite you along for the ride.

Where will your next everyday adventure take you?




Look for my travel writing here