Whew, What a Year!

December 31, 2018

Remember this? This happened in 2018!

I don’t know about you, but for me 2018 was f.u.l.l. The last few months have been a mad scramble, and I’m planning some time off this week to recover. I’d take more time, but I already have writing deadlines! (Yay for writing deadlines.)

Before 2018 becomes history, I want to say thank you to you, my Catching Happiness friends. Thank you for reading, for commenting, and even for lurking (I lurk on multiple blogs myself). Working on Catching Happiness is one of the pleasures of my life.

Happy New Year, and see you in 2019!


Savor the Present

December 28, 2018

“One of the most important things I've learned during the last fifteen years is how to enjoy and savor the present. When I am writing, I am inside the sound and meaning of the words, playing with them, curling them around each other. When I am eating, I luxuriate in the taste and texture of every bite. When I am alone, I listen to and communicate with the silence within me and the noises and messages of the world around me.

“And when I am with people, I am really with them.”
—Rita Golden Gelman, Tales of a Female Nomad


Wishing You Holiday Happiness

December 24, 2018

Prudy, Luna, Tank, and all the humans here at Catching Happiness wish you and your loved ones much holiday happiness, whatever your traditions may be. 

Emily Grosholz

What Will You Miss When You’re Gone?

December 21, 2018

Introduction by Ted Kooser: Do others of you think about what you'll miss when you leave this life? For me it will be the great skies over my part of the world. Heres Emily Grosholzs take on this, from her new book The Stars of Earth: New and Selected Poems, from Word Galaxy Press. She lives and teaches in Pennsylvania.

Here and There

What will I miss when I'm gone?
The squeak of the wheelbarrow's wheel,
Grace note that strikes with every slow
Revolution, and then the hushed, rusty
Answer in triplets from the invisible
Bird in the lackluster maples.

Branches, weeds, last autumn’s leavings
Raked from the moss-eaten pads, beds,
Borders, still untrimmed hedges.
Also the silent pale blue bells
Of my half dozen borage, ringed,
Self-seeded from the woods.

Daylilies my mother liked to set
Roadside in June. Pale Greek anemones
She never traveled far enough
To find wild, as I did once or twice, but
Maybe I'll bring her some, if over there
Windflowers blow beside a cloudy sea.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2017 by Emily Grosholz, “Here and There (from “June”), from The Stars of Earth: New and Selected Poems, (Word Galaxy Press, 2017). Poem reprinted by permission of Emily Grosholz 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.


Tools to Help You Build a Foundation of Happiness

December 17, 2018

Friday’s quote from Operation Happiness got me thinking about the concept of building a foundation for happiness—the kind of foundation that will support us when we’re deep in grief, facing some of life’s more wrenching experiences, like losing a parent, watching a child struggle, or coping with the serious illness of a friend.

Building a foundation for happiness of this nature involves more than investing in some bubble bath and chocolate, or even a great book and cozy blanket. While comforting self-care rituals are nice (and necessary), by themselves they won’t be enough to support us during our darkest hours.

I went back through the Catching Happiness archives, and I thought about the things that have helped me most during my hardest times, and here are four I’ve found useful in building a foundation of happiness that sustains me. Perhaps they’ll help you, too.

Create and strengthen close personal relationships. Relationships are the number one contributing factor to happiness, according to a long-running Harvard study. I’m grateful that I have quality relationships with my family and my husband’s family. I also have many close friends, and many “virtual” friends I know only online. They’ve stepped in to offer support, love, encouragement and more when I’ve needed it most. I have several people I know are only a phone call or text message away if I really need help (and I hope they know I would do the same for them). It’s easier to walk through the dark valleys when someone walks beside you. 

Determine and write about your personal values. Surprisingly, this is one of the keys to coping well with stressful situations. Sometimes painful feelings result from not doing what someone else expects you to do, or from making hard choices. When you’re tired of struggling, remembering why you’ve chosen to think, behave, and live the way you do can help. Reminding yourself of your personal values can give you strength when you’re suffering.

Treat your body well. Eat healthfully, exercise, and get enough sleep. If you’re run down or sick, it’s much harder to feel happy. If, like me, you have a few nagging injuries, look into how to treat them…then actually do it! Care for yourself the way you would care for a child or someone dependent on you.

Make a list of simple mood boosters. This may seem frivolous in comparison, but there is a time and place for using mood boosters. When you’re knee deep in misery, you’ll be hard pressed to come up with anything that might lift your mood, so now is the time to think about what generally makes you feel happier. See “Five Ways to Feel Happier (in 10 Minutes or Less)” and “The Dark Side” for ways I boost my mood when sadness threatens to overwhelm me.

If your happiness is built on a foundation of deeper values and practices, it will stay with you, running like an underground river even when you face un-happy experiences. Happy feelings will return, and sorrow and grief are temporary. 

For more ways to seek deeper happiness, check out:


How to Build a Foundation for Sustainable Happiness

December 14, 2018

“Part of building a foundation for sustainable happiness involves preparing to weather the most challenging times with as much peace, light, and inner fitness as possible. The way to do this is to gain skills that help us create supportive, go-to responses for emotional pain and tools to help us find the strength to take baby steps toward healing that lift us up, help us process, and empower us through our journey. Part of changing our view about happiness is embracing the idea that there are always encouraging tools and resources to reach for in any life situation if we’re willing to take action.”
—Kristi Ling, Operation Happiness: The 3-Step Plan to Creating a Life of Lasting Joy, Abundant Energy, and Radical Bliss

What tools and skills do you use to cope with emotionally difficult times?


Four Things I’ve Been Thinking About Lately

December 10, 2018

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

I’ve been having trouble getting back into the habit of writing for Catching Happiness—maybe you’ve noticed? My life has been…full…lately, and I’m playing catch-up in more than one area. So to ease back into post writing, here are four things I’ve been pondering lately:

Life is too short to sweat the small stuff.
Being around people who have lost loved ones has reminded me that so many of the little things I fret and obsess over (which dog food to switch Luna to now that she’s a year old, for example) are just that: little things. They barely matter now, and won’t matter at all in 10 years. That’s becoming my new rule of thumb: will this matter in 10 years? I’m just worn out with all of the obsessing.

I have no idea how long it takes to do anything.
I just read Dan Charnas’ book Work Clean: The Life-changing Power of Mise en Place to Organize Your Life, Work, and Mind, and took away some helpful ideas. Charnas takes principles he’s learned from interviewing dozens of culinary professionals and executives and tweaks them to apply to work and life outside the kitchen. One thing I’ve discovered while doing one of the exercises from the book is that many of my projects take longer than I think they do. I also forget to factor in the time it takes to transition between activities, make and eat breakfast and lunch, take care of our pets, and shower and change clothes after a workout! All those little things add up to a big chunk of day that I’ve not accounted for, and so I wind up scheduling too many things in a day, leaving me feeling unproductive and defeated.

It’s OK to feel sad.
After my dad died, one of my close friends lost her mother, and a friend from my old boarding barn became dizzy and fell while getting out of a car, and passed away from her injuries. Even though my life is unutterably blessed, I feel sad—sad for my friends, sad that I won’t have these people in my life, sad that we have to say good-bye permanently before we’re ready to do so.

But it’s OK to feel happy, too.
Friday as I was pouring my cup of Barnie’s Creamy Buttery Caramel coffee (no affiliation) and getting ready to sit down and write this post, I felt a little lift of my spirits that I haven’t felt in probably at least a month. Do I dare to feel happy? Yes, I think so. Sad doesn’t last forever, 24/7, just the way happy doesn’t. And that’s OK, too.

These are just a few of the ideas that have been floating around in my head as I try to get back to “normal,” whatever that is going to look like. I’d like to thank all of you for your kind comments and for sticking with Catching Happiness when there wasn’t much happiness to be caught!

What have you been thinking about lately?


In the Flow

December 07, 2018

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

“Water teaches us things, with the most valuable lesson probably being: flow! Go through life with ease and elegance, follow the path of least resistance, bobbing and swaying in the flow. Accept everything that life brings you. Always be prepared to move along without fear or reservations. ‘Water reaches its goal by flowing uninterruptedly,’ Richard Wilhelm wrote in his translation of the I Ching, the Chinese book of change. ‘It fills every depth before it flows on. It does not recoil from anything—no dangerous spot, no fall into the abyss—and nothing makes it lose its essential nature. It remains true to itself under all circumstances…as all noble folk should.’”
—Happinez magazine, issue 9