This Week in Pictures

August 11, 2023

Horses not minding the heat. Tank is second from right.

This week has been…hot. Luna and I usually walk our neighborhood’s trail twice a week, but with temperatures above 80F by 7:30 a.m., 100 percent humidity, and a dew point of 79, I decided not to. This is a picture of our house “crying” this morning:

Condensation on windows

I haven’t done much, just what’s required to keep life from imploding. I’ve been snapping pictures of random things for Susannah Conway’s August Break Instagram challenge, including this nut:

Ready to play?!

I made a fresh tomato and feta pasta for lunch one day, using basil from my herb garden:


My energy and motivation come in fits and starts. I Do Things during the morning and crash on the couch in the afternoon. When I think too much or catch sight of something in my home that belonged to my mom, I get teary. Like this key holder she used to have in her kitchen that is now in mine:

Excuse my scuffed up walls

Even in an ordinary week, with a little bit of grieving, and a lot of sweating, there are still bright spots. I’ve got the simple pleasures in hand, but haven’t had many everyday adventures lately. Working on it!

Hope your week was full of simple pleasures and everyday adventures!


Was Summer 2022 Fun, or How Did I Do on My Summer Fun List?

September 16, 2022

Short answer: meh.

Longer answer: It depends on how you look at it. Out of eight things on my list (see original post here), I checked off four. With only one more week left of the summer season, I doubt I’ll check any more off the list.

When I made a simple Summer Fun List back in July, even that scaled down list was a stretch. I’m just in a season of my life (har) when “having fun” is not the primary focus. Which doesn’t mean that making a fun list is a mistake, or that fun isn’t possible. If you don’t plan fun things, you’ll be even less likely to have fun.

Why I bother to make a fun list

For me, the point of making a Summer Fun List is to have fun things to look forward to during my least favorite season: Reasons to get out of my house and have everyday adventures. Gifts for my remembering self instead of a blank stretch of dull, sweaty days. I also believe: 

  • Fun lists are a nice change of pace from our typical to-do lists.
  • Fun lists help us enjoy the unique simple pleasures of each season.
  • Fun lists help expand our interests and horizons, and sometimes even get us out of our comfort zones in a pleasant way.
To sum up:   

What I did

I went to an immersive Van Gogh experience, and it was lovely (see photo at the top of this post).

I worked two beautiful jigsaw puzzles. (This one and this one.)

I ate ALL the summer fruit, enjoying many servings of cherries, peaches, grapes, plums, and watermelon.

I read from my summer reading list. I only made a tiny amount of progress on Mark Twain (not the “dent” I hoped for), but I did read Paris to the Moon, The Swimmers, and The Lost Apothecary (and many other enjoyable books).

What didn’t happen

I didn’t go to the movies with my husband, but that’s something we haven’t given up on.

I didn’t get my Chik Fil A peach shake but not for lack of trying. The shake machine at the location near me has been broken for at least a month!

I didn’t go shopping for fun.

I didn’t restart my sketching/art journaling practice, but again, I’m not giving up on this one.

The good news is it’s September and fall is, if not just around the corner, at least within a few blocks. I’m dreaming of a Fall Fun List…

Did you make a Summer Fun List? How did you do?


Simple pleasures

Better Late Than Never: The 2022 Summer Fun List

July 01, 2022

Photo by Cody Chan on Unsplash

As you might have guessed, fun has been in short supply around here. The good news is my mother-in-law’s condition has improved a lot, and we are cautiously optimistic that we can all have some summer fun this year. In fact, I already kicked off my summer by traveling to California and Washington for two and half weeks to see my mom, stepmom, and my friend Kerri (more about that in a future post). I’d already planned and paid for this trip before the health crisis, and looking forward to it kept me going when things were hard.

Since I still really need things to look forward to (don’t we all?!), I want to compile a summer fun list. Summer is definitely my lower energy season, so I won’t push myself too hard, but there is something to be said for what Laura Vanderkam calls “effortful fun.” And, since summer in Florida usually lasts well into November, I still have plenty of time!

Summer fun, 2022 style

So far, here are the things I’ve planned:

  • Go to a movie with my husband. Pre-Covid, this was one of our favorite things to do. Hoping to get back to the theater together in the next few months.
  • Try a Chik Fil A peach shake. I didn’t know about these until a friend told me about them. I love all things ice cream, and this sounds delicious.
  • Go to an immersive Van Gogh experience. Maybe this one
  • Go shopping for fun, not necessarily to buy anything. I have a few favorite stores I like to browse through. Window shopping also took a hit during COVID times, and I find myself wanting to return to “looking.”
  • Work a jigsaw puzzle (I have this one). 
  • Restart my sketching/art journaling practice. I really mean it this time 😊.
  • Eat ALL the summer fruit. So many of my favorites are available in summer, including watermelon, cherries, and peaches.
  • Read from a summer reading list. I’m going to work on Mark Twain’s Autobiography, Vol. 1 in earnest. I’ve started it, but it’s such a chunk of a book to carry around, I haven’t been able to maintain any momentum. My plan is to plunk it down next the couch and read a few pages in the afternoon after I eat lunch. It’ll take me the rest of the year doing it that way, but at least I should be able to make a dent in it over the summer. 

Also on my list to read this summer:

Paris to the Moon, Adam Gopnik. I have an enduring love of Paris-related literature. 

The Creative Journal, Lucia Capacchione. I’ve had this on my TBR shelf for a l-o-n-g time. I’m either going to read it or let it go. 

Two new-ish novels I hope to get from the library:

The Swimmers, Julie Otsuka. 

The Lost Apothecary, Sarah Penner. 

I’ll likely read a lot more than this, but I’m leaving plenty of space and time for reading at whim—one of my favorite simple pleasures.

What’s on your summer fun list?

Most of us seem to have a more laid-back attitude to life during the summer months. We tend to relax, go on more vacations, and just generally lighten up. It’s a perfect time to indulge in your favorite simple pleasures and everyday adventures. Or, if you’re like me, to allow yourself to slow down and rest a bit more. Whatever form your summer fun takes, I hope you do take the time to schedule some things to look forward to.

What’s on your summer fun list? Share in the comments below!

Check out more summer fun lists:

A Very Low-Key Summer Checklist

The Summer Fun List

Summer Fun 2021


Summer Fun 2021

May 28, 2021

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

It’s almost that time of year again. Summer. Some of my favorite bloggers are designing their ideal summers and creating Summer Fun Lists. Most people are looking forward to summer and are eager for the longer, warmer days to arrive.

Bah humbug.

I have mixed emotions about summer and creating a summer fun list. On the one hand, I’m all for planning for fun. On the other, I no longer get a scheduled summer vacation and I live in Florida where summer is one long procession of hot, humid days with the occasional hurricane thrown in for variety…let’s just say that summer is not my favorite.

In addition, historically I’ve had mixed results creating and fulfilling my summer fun list. I think it’s great in theory, but what it has turned into is a list of things that don’t get done that consequently makes me feel like I’m failing at the fun part of life.

I don’t want to give up on the idea altogether, though. The point of having a summer fun list is to have something to look forward to, as well as something to look back on. Too often, we allow life to drift by, filling our hours with work and chores and responsibilities and we forget to have fun.

Since Florida summers prostrate me (see above: heat, humidity, hurricanes), this year I’m going to make a super short and sweet list. Micro fun, if you please.

  • Have an ice cream cone at Baskin Robbins (many of my happy growing-up memories revolve around B & R, as we fondly called it)
  • Read and/or write at a café (now that I’m vaccinated)
  • Create and read from a summer reading list (post to come)
  • Get together with friends I haven’t seen in more than a year, because, well, you know…

This has got to be one of the most pathetic summer fun lists ever, but I’m hoping that if I loosen my grip on trying to have fun, I’ll actually have more. Who knows? It’s a work in progress.

I think what’s important here is that we do make plans for fun, but we also allow for differences in life stages, personal preferences and situations. Summer, for me, is not the time to push myself too hard. It’s the time to relax, loosen up, do less, lie on the couch and read, and conserve my energy as much as possible.

Do you love summer? Do you make seasonal fun lists? If so, why not share some of your fun plans in the comments below?

Previous summer fun lists can be found here, here, and here.



Wrapping Up Summer

September 16, 2019

Photo by Jade Seok on Unsplash

Do you smell it? Pumpkin spice is in the air! Summer is about to give way to fall—at least in my imagination. Time to wrap up summer and move on to my favorite season, fall. Despite the recent turmoil, it wasn’t such a bad summer. I checked off most things on my Summer Fun List (completed items highlighted in red):

  • Read by the pool
  • Attend yoga classes at Karma (no affiliation) while our circuit training class teacher is off having a baby 
  • Schedule a massage
  • Create and read from a Summer Reading List (post to come about this)
  • Escape for a beach weekend with my husband

As far as my Summer Reading List goes, here are the books I specifically mentioned, finished titles again highlighted in red:

Mansfield Park, Jane Austen.

Ride with Your Mind, Mary Wanless.

The Foundling, Georgette Heyer.

Also of note:

I went on a Lucy Knisley graphic memoir binge (my favorite was either Kid Gloves or Something New)

Read or skimmed several books by Alexandra Stoddard

Revisited Agatha Christie’s The Tuesday Club Murders (first appearance of Miss Marple)

This summer has felt long and hot and impossibly difficult at times, but things are looking up. Problems are resolving. Work is coming my way that is helping to pay for the recent horse and car expenses. When you read this, my husband and I will be road tripping in New England. I’m so grateful for all the good in my life, and all the kind words and thoughts you’ve shared with me. I’m breathing big sighs of relief, and actually looking forward to what comes next.

I hope your summer was just what you wanted it to be. What was your favorite moment? Any simple pleasures or everyday adventures you’d care to share in the comments below?

In other news, click here to read my article, “Tantalizing Tallahassee: A Tampa resident’s visit to Florida’s State Capital!”


Summertime and the Reading Is Easy

July 22, 2019

Nearly every day I find myself drenched in sweat—we’re talking “wring out your t-shirt” sweat (too much information?). That’s because Florida has experienced record-breaking heat since May. Not only am I avoiding the outdoors as much as I can, on the days when I do have to go outside (the dog needs walking, the horse needs tending to), the heat drains my energy so much that after taking a swig of an electrolyte drink, I often plop myself down to read…and sometimes I drop off into a nap, but we won’t tell my husband that. Except he reads the blog, so I guess I just did. Oops.

Anyway, I digress. Blame it on the heat addling my brain.

I’ve been zipping through my summer reading list, and I’ve also been enjoying a couple of the books I found on this blog post by Modern Mrs. Darcy. Do not read her blog unless you want your TBR list to explode. From my own shelves, I finished Ride With Your Mind, and read Vanishing Point, by Patricia Wentworth, a very enjoyable mystery featuring Miss Maud Silver.

My library holds did all come in at once as I suspected they would, but I was able to read the ones that had to go back because other people were waiting for them, and hold on to others for a longer period, so it’s all worked out OK so far.

Here are some of my favorites:

The Island of Sea Women, by Lisa See (Scribner, 2019) was not at all what I expected and at times it was an intense read. Set on the Korean island of Jeju, it followed the lives and friendship of Young-sook and Mi-ja, and the forces that draw them together and tear them apart. I really loved the peek into a culture I know nothing about. Well worth reading.

Lessons From Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog, Dave Barry (Simon & Schuster 2019). One of the library holds. I’ve loved Dave Barry’s writing for 30 years—he’s made me laugh out loud hundreds of times. This book, while still funny, is more thoughtful than some of his previous work. He’s 70 now, and his college-age daughter experienced a life-changing illness that clearly shook him up. The dog doesn’t die in the book, so that’s always a plus!

Wolfpack, Abby Wambach (Celadon Books, 2019). This slim book was based on Wambach’s viral 2018 commencement speech to the graduating class of New York’s Barnard College. Her vision of leadership inspired me, and I copied out several quotes from the book, including:

“Imperfect men have been empowered and permitted to run the world since the beginning of time. It’s time for imperfect women to grant themselves permission to join them.

“Perfection is not a prerequisite of leadership. But we can forgive ourselves for believing it is.

“We have been living by the old rules that insist that a woman must be perfect before she’s worthy of showing up. Since no one is perfect, this rule is an effective way to keep women out of leadership preemptively.”

The Year of Pleasures, by Elizabeth Berg (Random House, 2005) was a Modern Mrs. Darcy suggestion. It follows a recent widow, 55-year-year old Betta, as she begins a new life without her beloved husband, John. An easy and pleasant read, if a little too “neat.” One of my favorite things was minor character Jovani’s mangling of the English language.

I’m two-thirds of the way through another Modern Mrs. Darcy suggestion, Celine, by Peter Heller (Vintage 2017). So far I’m loving it, especially the descriptions of nature. Heller often writes for Outside magazine and National Geographic Adventure and it shows. Celine is a private detective who specializes in reuniting families. She’s also a 68-year-old woman with emphysema—not your typical PI!

What’s next? I’ve just started to read Mansfield Park and the Autobiography of Mark Twain over the weekend. Mark Twain is intimidatingly large, but I’m going to do my best to finish in the next few months. I’m not as familiar with Mansfield Park as I am with other Jane Austen titles, so I plan to take my time getting the most out of it.

And a couple more library holds just came in. Thank goodness I have plenty to read, because it’s going to be summertime here for the foreseeable future.

What have you been reading lately?


Summer Rerun--A Gift for the Remembering Self

July 08, 2019

On Saturday, I drove by the place where I took Tank riding on the beach a few years ago, so I dug up this post from June of 2015 to share as a summer rerun. It was a lot of fun to remember this experience. I hope you’re giving your remembering self something happy to think about this summer! 

A few months ago, Laura Vanderkam used a term in a blog post that intrigued me: the remembering self. Vanderkam described riding the train to New York (from her home in Pennsylvania) on a Saturday night to hear a Christmas concert, even though she was pregnant, the weather was bad, she’d endured a difficult week, and so on. She wrote, “The remembering self deserves consideration in decisions too, not just the present self.”

This term resonated with me so much that I commented: “I love the phrase ‘the remembering self.’ It reminds me that often it’s the things we don’t do that we regret later in life.”  She responded: “I think it’s as much that the remembering self and the experiencing self [or the present self] value different things. The experiencing self is never 100% happy, because it occupies a corporal body that experiences little annoyances like an itchy nose, needing a bathroom before the concert starts, etc. The remembering self looks back on the wash of the experience and doesn’t see all of these details. It’s easy to over-value the experiencing self because it’s what we’re currently occupying, but the remembering self deserves some consideration in all this too.” (Read the entire post here.)

Sometimes I let my experiencing self run the show too much. If it’s hard, scary, or uncomfortable, my experiencing self doesn’t want any part of it. (She’s kind of a wimp.) If I let her dictate what I do, my poor remembering self has nothing of interest to reflect on! Remembering self is not impressed by excuses.

All this is on my mind because last week I checked off an item on my summer bucket list: I took Tank to the beach.

All photos taken by Gayle Bryan

I confess that though I wanted (in theory) to take my horse to the beach, I was anxious about actually doing it. I knew it would be very, very hot, I knew I’d be riding with a bareback pad and halter instead of a saddle and bridle, and I knew that my horse can get excited and strong (i.e., hard to control) when he goes to a new place. I knew the trip would take most of a day, and that I’d be good for almost nothing after spending so much time in the sun, thereby throwing off my weekly schedule. I knew I’d have to wake up earlier than normal and to come up with the money to pay for the trip. My “experiencing self” was full of worries and complaints. But I managed to shut her up for a little while so I could give my remembering self this gift.

And while my experiencing self did endure some uncomfortable moments, they’re becoming hazier by the day. My remembering self is already delighted to look back on the adventure and proud of herself for stepping out of her comfort zone. I know Tank enjoyed the change of scenery, but he was less than enamored with actually going in the water, even though all three of the other horses marched right in, and a couple of them went in deep enough to swim. Some of his expressed thoughts:

“This stuff moves. Is it really safe to walk in it?”

“There’s too much slimy green stuff along the edge, it looks like it might grab me.”

 “WHAT IS THAT BLACK THING ON THE SAND?!” (It was a discarded t-shirt.)

Despite his skepticism, he eventually relaxed and splashed through the water with everyone else, and when we were on the beach itself, I gave him his head so he could explore, which he loved. And he especially loved snacking on the patches of grass we found. Instead of merely walking on the beach, we trotted and cantered on the sand and it was totally awesome. Even experiencing self had to agree.

When you feel overwhelmed at the thought of something you really want to do, how can you help the experiencing self to relax so you can give your remembering self this gift? It helps me to learn all I can about the upcoming event/experience, to look for support from friends or family, and to ease into what I want to do in a way that feels comfortable to me. And even if it’s still scary, I know my memory of it will likely smooth over the fear and remember the joy. Some things will just be more fun to have done than to do.

What are some memories your remembering self especially enjoys?


Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat, It’s July!

July 01, 2019

January through June of 2019 have to have been the quickest six months of my life. And experience tells me that the next six months of the year won’t be any more leisurely if left to their own devices. How can I slow down time—or at least make it feel slower?

Summertime is the perfect time to do that, because generally the pace of life tends to slow down on its own. Many people schedule vacations, kids are out of school, and most of us make an effort to chill a little more during the hot months.

What it boils down to for me is becoming more mindful of the quality, pace, and texture of my days.



Here are a three simple ways to slow down and become more mindful that I swear I’m going to try. Want to join me?

Build in breaks. Use a timer if necessary. After a work session, schedule at least a 15-minute break, to stretch, drink a glass of water, walk around the house or office, look outside at blooming nature, and so on. I'm TERRIBLE at this. I tend to rush from one project to the next without taking a few minutes to reset and suddenly it’s 5 p.m. (And it has to be a break. No sorting the mail (or reading emails), tidying up the kitchen, or pretending that chores are a break. They are NOT.)

Create rituals throughout the day. First thing in the morning, take your coffee outside to see what’s going on in the yard, sit in meditation for 10 minutes and do a few yoga poses, or climb back in bed to write in a journal and read something inspirational. At lunchtime, pause to appreciate the smell and appearance of your food before eating, take a short walk afterwards. At bedtime, jot down three good things that happened to you today, read a poem, or practice relaxation exercises in bed. Rituals can help slow us down, as long as we don’t let them become mindless ruts

Revise the to-do list. Take at least one thing off it, and when you’re done with your list, you're done. Go put your feet up and read a book. Or whatever your favorite thing happens to be.

I’ve written about these things before, and tried them all with varying degrees of success, and it’s time to get back into practice. Do I control my life, or does it control me? Do I want to look back in December and wonder where the last six months went? No, I do not.

What are your tips and tricks for slowing down and being more mindful? Please share in the comments—I’m convinced we could all use some help in this area.

More posts about mindfulness and slowing down:

Also, check out the Action for Happiness July calendar. Today’s prompt: Make a list of things you’re looking forward to. I love it!

Everyday adventures

Summer Fun List 2019

June 03, 2019

Luna's summer fun list involves a) balls and b) swimming

Even though it’s summer (or about to be), we’re not kids anymore, looking forward to the unbridled freedom of weeks of summer vacation. We have jobs, housework, and Other Important and Grown Up Tasks to accomplish. That doesn’t mean we can’t schedule a few special, summer-ized simple pleasures and everyday adventures. After skipping it last year, I’m resurrecting the Summer Fun List this year (originally known as the Summer Bucket List). It’s still a work in progress, but instead of making a long list that will overwhelm me, I’ve kept it short and sweet:

  • Read by the pool
  • Have a movie date with a friend
  • Attend yoga classes at Karma (no affiliation) while our circuit training class teacher is off having a baby 
  • Schedule a massage
  • Go on a playdate with Laure Ferlita and her puppy, Shelby
  • Create and read from a Summer Reading List (post to come about this)
  • Indulge in a black cow
  • Escape for a beach weekend with my husband
  • Go to the 2019 Etsy Craft Party
It’s not a very long list, but it gives me several things to look forward to during the hot, humid months of summer.

How about you? What are you going to do for fun this summer? 


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?


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?


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!


Work, Play, Be Joyful

July 06, 2018

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

“Summer is a period of luxurious growth. To be in harmony with the atmosphere of summer, awaken early in the morning and reach to the sun for nourishment to flourish as the gardens do. Work, play, travel, be joyful, and grow into selfless service. The bounty of the outside world enters and enlivens us.”
—Paul Pitchford


Summer Reading List 2018

June 11, 2018

I’m feeling a bit bookish, how about you? Watching the premier episode of The Great American Read reminded me of just how much reading and books have meant to me, and how passionate readers are about their favorites. Plus I’ve been inspired by blogging friends who’ve posted their own summer reading lists: Leanne Sowul has an ambitious list of 37 books on hers! And Danielle Torres has a cool theme for her summer reading. Check it out here.

Me, I’m all over the place. I want to read All The Books. I’ve chosen quite a few from my groaning TBR shelf, and a few from the running list I keep in my planner.  I know I won’t read them all, but that’s OK.  I love the process of choosing books to read. Thinking about reading is almost as fun as actually reading.

The first two books come from the Great American Read list of 100 novels: The Giver, by Lois Lowry and The Stand, by Stephen King. I’m not sure I’m up for this chunk of a book, but maybe. Or maybe I’ll woman up and choose War and Peace?  

I’m very intrigued by Circe, by Madeline Miller. 

Blandings Castle, by P.G. Wodehouse. Sometimes I just need a little Wodehouse. (I was disappointed to see none of his novels made the list for the Great American Read.) 

Starting to prepare for Paris in the fall with these possibilities: 

The Light of Paris, by Eleanor Brown. This one is waiting for me at the library as I type. Thanks to Danielle for the recommendation.

The Little Pleasures of Paris, by Leslie Jonath.

Paris in Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide, by Jessie Kanelos Weiner. I’m already reading this charming little book.

Speaking of Paris, I should be practicing my drawing and painting prior to the trip. Am I? No, I am not. Maybe one of these books will jump start my practice:

Keys to Drawing, by Bert Dodson.

The New Creative Artist, by Nita Leland

How about a peek into someone else’s life? I have the Journal of Eugene Delacroix on my shelves, as well as Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, by Edith Holden.

Surviving Your Dog’s Adolescence, by Carol Benjamin. Because Luna.

Upstream, by Mary Oliver. I love her poetry, and look forward to reading this collection of essays.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman, by Jill Leport. Because now I have a thing for Wonder Woman.   

Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan, by Elaine M. Hayes One of my favorite jazz singers

The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club. by Gil McNeil. Because it’s been on my TBR list for years!

A collection of short stories: either by Eudora Welty (I have a collection on my TBR stack at home), Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors, Edith Pearlman’s Honeydew, or Ellen Gilchrist’s Acts of God.

These are the books I feel like reading now—and that list is likely to change over the summer as new books catch my eye. Will I find a new favorite author or will one of these books rate as a “best read” for 2018? I can’t wait to find out.

What will you read this summer?


Why I'm Not Making a Summer Fun List This Year

June 04, 2018

Photo by Angelina Litvin on Unsplash

Those of you who know me know I hate summer in Florida. It’s too hot and humid to enjoy being outside, and those conditions drain my energy and kill any desire I might have to get things done. Unfortunately, the need to get things done doesn’t go away with the advent of summer conditions. Every year, I tell myself I’m not going to complain (much) about the weather, and I am going to plan fun things to look forward to during the hottest, stickiest months. (You can read about previous summer fun lists here and here. Last year I was deep in the redesign of Catching Happiness and didn’t make a list—instead, I asked friends to share their favorite summer pleasures.)

This year, I’d planned to make a summer fun list again, but I’ve been struggling to come up with anything that sounded like fun.

Yes, I can make a struggle out of having fun.

Then I realized that part of the problem was that I was making a list of things to do. If you were already fighting an energy drain, would you want to pile more things to do upon yourself, even for the sake of “fun”? Probably not.

What will make me happy this summer? To have more time to relax and do nothing (or very little). What that translates to for me is: time to read a book on the couch in the afternoon, time to play with Luna in the pool, time to sit in my rocking chair and daydream, even time to putter around my house tidying up the inevitable messes that materialize here and there. (It makes me happy to have a pretty and tidy home.)

In 2018, I’ve been busier with freelance work than I’ve been in a long time (for which I’m very, very grateful), as well as training and supervising Luna, which means I’m stuffing other necessary and pleasurable activities into a smaller box of time. It feels like every moment of my day is full, and there’s a waiting list for my time and attention. So this summer, I want to rush less and savor more, to float rather than dog paddle

I’m looking for an easy, relaxed feeling this summer (flow!), not to cram it full of more things to DO. I’m still experimenting with not over-planning my schedule after my mini-breakdown in March. 

Does this make me a slacker? No, it does not. My summer fun list doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s in order for it to be right for me. And neither does yours. I don’t want to run around a lot, but maybe you do. Maybe you’ve been cooped up all winter and you’re ready for adventures! Maybe you still have kids at home who’ll drive you insane if you don’t get them out of the house to do something. I remember those years.

Sure, a movie or a museum visit with a friend will be most welcome, and I’ll likely create a summer reading list since I haven’t done one for a couple of years…and that couch is beckoning. Beyond that, I don’t think I want to commit to doing anything else!

For me this summer, that feels right.

Tell me about your summer fun plans. What will you do—or not do?

Carew Papritz


August 02, 2017

Photo by Joshua Newton on Unsplash

“Summer, dropping so easily a delicious everything upon your skin and lips. Like a never-ending kiss—taunting, deep, and luscious. The sun. The heat. The thousand echoes of a timelessness before time, when every day seems longer than the next and no day seems likely to ever truly end. Summer.”
—Carew Papritz, The Legacy Letters


Looking for the Simple Pleasures of Summer

July 21, 2017

I hate summer in Florida. It’s hurricane season, mosquito season, sweat-through-your-T-shirt season, I-wish-I-lived-in-Maine season. All the cheerful articles and blog posts about having summer fun leave me grumpy, since many of their suggestions aren’t practical for our extremely hot and humid climate. My idea of summer fun in Florida is to stay inside as much as possible. Unfortunately, errands still need to be run, horses still need grooming, and household maintenance still requires setting foot outdoors. Now more than ever I need a stock of simple pleasures to look forward to until cooler temperatures arrive (probably sometime in January, if the past couple years have been any indication). I want to savor the summer, and I want to share summer pleasures with you…but I confess my stock of simple pleasure ideas is running low.

So since I’m such a summer grump, I put out a call to my friends on Facebook to see what simple pleasures they enjoy during the summertime. Here, in their own words, are some sweet summer pleasures they savor:

“Sitting in matching tree swings with my husband, talking and watching the fireflies. Tubing, also with my husband.”—Maria

“I just love Target in August. It reminds me of my young co-ed days going to college. We had one right next to campus at NAU, and it would be full of all my classmates, dorm mates, sorority sisters, and cute boys. Picking out sheets, towels, and even garbage cans made me feel so adult! Every August at Target still takes me back and this summer I get to do that with my boy!”—Moki

“Camping in the many places by or around Banff. We use a tent.”—Anita

“Really cold watermelon, corn on the cob, Rainier cherries…shared with family and friends; crepe myrtle trees bloom and when the blooms start to drop, they look like colored rain or snowflakes on the breeze; that glorious (peculiar) golden green color we see just before dusk. It’s especially noticeable after a rainstorm. It almost glows.”—Laure

“Tomato sandwich!”—Debbie

“I love grooming and bathing horses and then hand grazing them until they dry. Just spending quiet time with my favorite horses without asking anything from them. Another simple pleasure would have to be picking fresh veggies at work and being allowed to take them home to enjoy with my family.”—Chris

“With school out for the summer, I savor sleeping in!”—Kathy

“Sitting on my front porch between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. reading…when there is still a bit of coolness, but [it’s] not cold. It is refreshing, and so pleasant. T-shirt, shorts, maybe a hoodie. Birds singing, calm, quiet, pleasant.”—Lynn [Lynn lives in Canada—can you tell?]


“I love working in my yard. It’s a great way to sweat/get rid of some toxins and it’s good for my health, plus I get some good ole Vitamin D. Then I like sitting in the evening looking at my yard listening to the birds and hopefully catching a glimpse of some birds with something refreshing to drink”—Robin

“My favorite summer pleasure is taking a trip as far north as I can…to get away from the Texas heat.”—Becky [Clearly a woman after my own heart.]

After some additional thought, I came up with a few simple pleasures I plan to savor between now and the end of summer—pleasures like floating in our pool (now that our son is grown, we rarely use it), making homemade ice cream, sharing a margarita with my friend down the street, taking a few days off for a mini staycation, listening to music by candlelight, hosting a game night for visiting friends, and putting together the jigsaw puzzle my friend Mary gave me. Of course, there will still be plenty of reading and hanging out with Tank while he grazes. And perhaps the best thing of all, taking the pressure off myself to “enjoy” summer—or, at least, not worry about enjoying it in ways that other people say I should enjoy it!

What are your favorite summer pleasures to savor? Please share in the comments section!

Tank's favorite summer pleasure