Rabbit rabbit

Rabbit Rabbit

September 01, 2023

Photo by ierc on Unsplash

And just like that, it’s September.

There’s an old tradition that saying the words “rabbit rabbit” before saying anything else on the first day of a new month will bring you 30 days of good luck. Though I’m not especially superstitious, when I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning, I whispered, “rabbit rabbit.” I could use a little good luck.

I’m looking forward to September and all it’s pleasures, though there will be one notable sad milestone to navigate—my mom’s birthday.

I’m grateful that Hurricane Idalia passed by without doing any damage to us personally, though many others can’t say the same thing. However, some of the most powerful hurricanes have blown through in September (Ian, Irma), and I won’t really relax until hurricane season is over in November.

For now, I’m happy to watch the light change, to check my weather app for any change in dew point and humidity (a vain hope in September, usually, but I can dream), and to enjoy the fact that fall is coming. Even if it’s not a “traditional” fall, it should usher in some change, even if it’s just in d├ęcor. I love decorating my house and front porch for fall and will be getting the decorations out of the attic soon. A simple pleasure I look forward to all summer.

What are you looking forward to in September?

This Farmer’s Almanac article explains a bit of the tradition surrounding “rabbit rabbit.”

 

Baby steps

Small Is Big

August 25, 2023

A small, cute thing

Over the past 14 years of writing posts for Catching Happiness, I’ve returned to one topic quite a few times.

Baby steps. Tiny habits. Happy little things.

Small is big.

This week I was thinking about writing another post on this topic, but decided not to. I stand by what I wrote in the past! Instead, I’m compiling a Link Love from my own archives. Here are a few Catching Happiness posts about the glory of the small (click the title to read the entire post):

In “Thinking Small,” I talk about breaking through resistance by taking the smallest “next step” possible. I concluded, “Big dreams and new, improved habits are made up of many tiny steps. A happy life is made up of small, simple pleasures and everyday adventures—the cup of tea, the walk with the dog, the movie night with your spouse or best friend, the work project done well and turned in on time. Thinking small can make a big, big difference.”

I invented a new word in “The Power of Little Things.” 

One of my first posts about the power of small was “Just Call Me a Tortoise.” In it, I praise the practice of taking baby steps: “The beauty of baby steps is that if each small step is solid, you’ll find yourself making steady progress. You’ll be less likely to stagger forward then backward in fits and starts. In this way, you will go slower to go faster.” 

I listed a few small things I love, with pictures, in “The Beauty of Small Things.” 

“Painless Progress” describes the Japanese concept of kaizen. “Kaizen is the process of continual improvement through small and incremental steps. It started as a Japanese management concept and continues to be used in business, as well as in areas such as psychology and life coaching. It reinforces my belief that as long as you keep moving forward, even if by baby steps, you will eventually get where you’re going.”

Finally, in August of 2021, I was feeling especially overwhelmed. (Kind of like now.) “Something Small or Nothing at All” was my attempt to find inspiration and motivation to do something, anything. 

Rereading these posts reminded me of what I firmly believe: baby steps, tiny habits, small changes—and yes, happy little things—make a real and lasting difference. Starting now, I’m reviewing what small habits and changes I can commit to so that I can finish this year of loss in a stronger, happier place.

What are a few of your favorite small habits?


Jenny Lawson

A Monument to the Lost

August 18, 2023

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

“Sometimes the people you love leave you even when they don’t want to and you shatter into pieces. You may not be able to find all of those pieces again because when they left they took a few with them. It hurts, but the pain eventually becomes bearable and even sacred because it’s how you carry the people you’ve lost with you. And if you’re lucky you can one day see that the hollow spots you carry are in the shape of their face or their hands or the love they gave you. Those holes ache, but they are a monument to the lost, a traveling sacred place to honor them and remind you of how to love enough to leave your own marks on others.”

—Jenny Lawson, Broken (in the Best Possible Way)

Ordinary

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:

Yum!

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!

Agatha Christie

Agatha in Order: My Summer (and Beyond!) Reading Project*

August 04, 2023

Part of my collection

It’s been a couple of years since I compiled an official summer reading list (see 2021’s here), but of course that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading…a lot. This summer, even though I haven’t created a summer reading list, I have spent quite a few of my reading hours continuing what I call my “Agatha in Order” reading project. I own most of her books in inexpensive paperback editions because I started collecting them many years ago.

Murder as a comfort read?

It started back in October of 2020, when I wrote about celebrating 100 years of Agatha Christie. I reread The Mysterious Affair at Styles, the first novel Christie published and the first appearance of Christie’s famous sleuth, Hercule Poirot. I decided I’d reread the entire Christie cannon in the order the books were published. Since there 66 crime novels and I am doing this simply for pleasure, I put no deadline on the project. I’ve been doing it slowly, in between and alongside other reads. Often I read a few pages of my latest Christie just before going to sleep. Despite the murders, the books are comfort reads for me—and they’re not gory or suspenseful in a too-stimulating way. 

I’m not doing this for any other reason than I think it’s fun. I’m not comparing and analyzing her early and later work, or doing anything more than escaping to England (or ancient Egypt, via Death Comes as the End). The novel I’m reading now is set in fall and I’m envious of the brisk temperatures and changing leaves described in Murder After Hours (also known as The Hollow). 

This project also helps me feel closer to my mom, as she was a great Christie fan and introduced me to the books when I was a teenager. (I also plan to reread the books Christie wrote under the name of Mary Westmacott. I wrote about rereading Absent in the Spring here.) 

The pleasure of becoming a completist

There is such a thing in the reading world as becoming a “completist”—one who reads an author’s complete works. There’s satisfaction in doing so—I’ve managed it for a couple of authors in addition to Christie. I’ve also completed reading a particular series by an author, such as the Harry Potter books, or Patricia Wentworth’s Miss Silver mysteries. I still want to read more Wilkie Collins, and I only have Jane Austen’s juvenilia to read to finish her entire body of work. Maybe I’ll start a list of other authors whose complete works I’d like to finish.

But before I do that, I’ll continue to wend my leisurely way through the world of Agatha Christie. 

One whodunit at a time.

Are there any authors you’d like to complete? Is there another summer project you’re making progress on? Please share in the comments!

*It may seem late in summer to write about a “summer” reading project, but keep in mind that in central Florida, summer lasts until at least the end of October.