Ann Lamott


December 22, 2023

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you.”

—Anne Lamott

Thank you so much for taking the time to read Catching Happiness, and for your kind and thoughtful comments this year. Writing for us (because I write for myself almost as much as I write for you) has been a bright spot during some hard times. After sending out the Happy Little Thoughts newsletter (click here if you’re not already subscribed) next week, I’m taking a short break to celebrate Christmas, host an out-of-town friend, and start 2024 in a thoughtful manner. I wish you the happiest of holidays and look forward to connecting again in the new year! 

Fall fun list

Fall Fun List Recap, and What Will Be on the Winter Fun List?

December 15, 2023

My dog is on the nice list...usually

Fall Fun List update: I did nearly everything on my list!

  • Decorate the house for fall
  • Burn fall-scented candles and diffuse fall scents in my essential oil diffuser
  • Bake sourdough bread using my “mother”
  • Write a letter to someone (friend or relative)
  • Play cozy ambience music videos on YouTube (like this one
  • Enjoy a pumpkin spice latte and other fall foods and drinks
  • Eat pomegranates 
  • Watch Barbie with a friend 
  • Choose and order a 2024 planner
  • Celebrate Thanksgiving with the family
  • Take a trip to a local nursery and decide what, if anything, I want to plant for our fall/winter garden
  • Attend the first three musicals of my Broadway series at the Straz Center in Tampa (The Choir of ManBeetlejuice, and Funny Girl
  • Sit outside and enjoy cooler weather—if we get some by Dec. 21
  • Change out fall house decorations for winter (I usually do this around the beginning of December)

I probably won’t manage to make the bread or see Barbie before the 21st, but that’s OK. Both of those things can move on to a Winter Fun List, which I’m still in the process of making. (Fun Lists are slightly different from lists of goals, and are good reminders that life is about more than work and chores and various other responsibilities.) 

I realize “winter” in Florida is quite different from winter in most other locations, so my winter fun list will not look like the winter fun list of someone who lives in Ohio (Hi, Debbie!) That’s one of the beauties of fun lists—they reflect your unique situation and personality. As Gretchen Rubin has pointed out in one of her Secrets of Adulthood, “What’s fun for other people may not be fun for you, and vice versa.”  

Maybe take some time this weekend to think about what’s fun for you. Then make plans to work that fun into your life more often. I’d love it if you’d come back here to share some of what’s on your winter fun list in the comments. We can all use a little fun inspiration!


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!