It’s Not Just the End of the Year—It’s the End of the Decade!

December 30, 2019

A few of the decade's journals!
Honestly, until I started seeing it everywhere, I hadn’t given one minute’s thought to the end of 2019 being the end of a decade! Now I feel like not only do I have to review the year, I have to examine the decade. What have I learned? How have I changed? How am I different now than I was in 2009? You know, simple little stuff like that.

So I pulled out the many, many journals I’ve kept over the past 10 years and skimmed some highlights. As I’m sure everyone has already noticed in their own lives, a lot happens in a decade!

To name just a few of the things that changed:

Ten years ago, we had a teenager at home. I was barely working as a freelance writer and editor, and I didn’t yet have a blog or a writer’s website. We had an entirely different set of pets than we have now, except for Tank. All of my parents and stepparents were living, and two of my grandmothers. I had yet to pick up a watercolor brush.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve read hundreds of books, seen multiple movies and touring Broadway musicals, traveled many wonderful places, experienced a couple of depressive episodes, endured home renovations, and exchanged my old car for a new one.

My experiences over the past 10 years have likely been similar to yours. Though the details might differ, we are more alike than we are different when it comes to the things we value most. I wish more people would remember this.

The past 10 years have been full to bursting with life in all its “good” and “bad” manifestations. I’m so grateful that I started Catching Happiness at the end of 2009, because it helped me better focus on what was happening in my life, at least partly because I would later mine my experiences for post material. And the topic I chose—simple pleasures and everyday adventures—was calculated to help me find and savor more of the good in life, as well as, I hoped, add to the sum total of the positive in the world. I wanted the blog to be a bright spot for anyone who needed one.

Over the next few days, I’ll continue thinking over not only what has happened during the past year, but also what has happened over the past 10 years. And since a new decade seems like a hopeful thing, I might even start looking forward to the next 10 years (if I’m lucky) of simple pleasures and everyday adventures life has in store.

When you look back the past 10 years of your life, what strikes you? What milestones have you passed, what joys and sorrows have enriched your life? And what are your expectations for the next 10 years?

I hope 2020 brings you many simple pleasures and everyday adventures, and, of course, much happiness. See you in the New Year!

Gratitude Challenge

Happy December and Gratitude Challenge Wrap-Up

December 02, 2019

You blinked, didnt you, and now its December. At least, that's how it felt to me. the end of a year always seems to accelerate out of control.

I just wrapped up the 2019 Gratitude Challenge, sponsored by Dani DiPirro of Positively Present. Even though I didn’t post every day, I did check the prompt and think about what it meant to me. I appreciate the chance to pause and reflect on what I’m most grateful for. Here are a few of my favorite prompts from the 2019 #Gratitude Challenge:

Day 1: Growth.
Growth can be uncomfortable, but the alternative is stagnation. Im grateful that each season and stage of life has its own opportunities for growth.

Day 6: Creativity.
I just came across a statement saying that vulnerability is the cradle of creativity and so many of the emotions and experiences we want from life. Though I hadn't thought about it quite like that, when we create something, whether it's a painting, a photo, a meal, a handcrafted quilt, etc., we are also offering a part of ourselves to the world. I'm grateful for the chance to grow more vulnerable and human with every offering, for the support of people who are gentle with me, and especially for all those who risk exposing their tender inner being when they share their creativity with us.

Day 18: Books
Today's #gratitude30 prompt is “books,” so get comfortable because I have a lot to say!

Reading is my favorite simple pleasure, and I'm grateful to everyone who has a hand in creating books, and to those who point me in the direction of good reads (especially @literarycat and @annebogel). I'm grateful for the contented hours spent trying to figure out whodunit (mystery is my favorite genre), getting to know a family much different from my own (Random Family, by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc), or typing 12 pages of notes on the topic of habits (Atomic Habits, James Clear). And I'm so, so grateful for the library system that provides me with so many of the books I read. This irresistible little edition of Slouching Toward Bethlehem from Picador Modern Classics came home with me from my most recent library visit.

Day 29: Dreams.
I'm grateful that so many of my dreams have come true—more than I ever “dreamed” possible. From travel (this shot was taken at Chateau de Beynac in France), to owning a horse, to working as a freelance writer. I'm especially grateful to my husband who has supported and encouraged my dreams for 30-plus years. And I'm grateful that I still have dreams left to chase!

Day 30: Self.
e e cummings wrote, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are” and he was right! Though I'm grateful that I mostly have the means and freedom to become my true self, I'm still working on the courage part.

I hope your November held many things to be grateful for! I’d love to hear about your favorites in the comments below. 

See all my posts for the Gratitude Challenge on Instagram here.