Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Happiness Project


thehappiness project I read a lot of self-help books but I haven’t read one this good in a very long time.

I picked up the book, The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, on a whim. I was strolling around Chapters waiting for my daughter to finish making her selections when I noticed it.  This is the type of book I will usually pick up at the library, to save money, but instead I decided to buy it.  I am so glad I did.  From the very first page, this book was incredibly interesting and so hard to put down.  I read it whenever I had a spare minute.  I used a yellow highlighter to mark passages that I wanted to take note of but already I have decided to go back and read the entire thing again.  It’s that good.  Really.

Although Rubin took the time to read everything she could about what makes people happy, she doesn’t bore you with statistics.  She takes inspiration from a variety of sources and then tries to apply the wisdom to her own life.  She provides the information in the form of a memoir that spans a one year period. She talks frankly about what worked and what didn’t and why.  Rubin is brutally honest throughout the book, even when that honesty doesn’t cast her in a positive light.

I got a lot of great ideas from reading this book, ideas that I would like to share in future blog posts.  One of Rubin’s main points is that everyone’s Happiness Project will look different. What makes one person very happy might make another miserable and that’s okay.  The idea is to try different things until you figure out what brings you joy.  The perfectionist in me would like to start my Happiness Project on January 1st just as Gretchen did but I am too excited to begin to wait that long.  So I will begin now, on May 1st.  Spring is a time of rebirth and growth so, actually, what better time to start?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I had a rough day.  Without going into too much detail, my children have a lot of challenges and I am constantly advocating on their behalf, trying to get them the help and resources they require.  I don’t claim to be a perfect parent.  I make a lot of mistakes.  I definitely yell too much and I sometimes say the wrong thing but I try really hard.  I want my kids to be happy and successful.  I want them to have options when they grow up and I am always trying to keep my eye on the big picture where they are concerned.  So when anybody even hints that the challenges my kids face and the behaviours they sometimes exhibit are my fault, it cuts me to the core.  I think every parent feels inadequate at one time or another so to have another person judge me or my parenting abilities just brings out all my insecurities.

I was thinking about all of this on the way home from work today.  It was a gorgeous, sunny, warm spring day, and I couldn’t see it, couldn’t enjoy it.  Comments made during a phone conversation with a person whom I have never even met face to face were eating away at me and I kept replaying her words over and over in my mind.


After driving for a while, some things became clear.  I finally realized that I cannot control my children’s behaviour or my husband’s or anybody else’s.  I can’t control what people say about me or think about me.  At the end of the day, I can only control my own thoughts and my own behaviour and if I can sleep at night knowing that I have done the best that I can do for my kids, then what difference does it make what anybody else thinks? 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Artist’s Way

I have to admit that I am having some difficulty producing art.  I didn’t think it was going to be easy… I truly didn’t.  There are just so many obstacles to overcome.  I am having a lot of trouble finding the time to work on all of the pieces I have started.  I need help but I know this is something I will have to work out on my own.

vintage summer book

On Saturday afternoon, I visited the bookstore and found this book.  It’s called The Complete Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.  It’s a trilogy.  Over the past three decades Cameron wrote three books on creativity and they are all found within this one volume.  I feel like maybe I’m the only person in the world who hasn’t read this book.  So far I have only read the introduction but I feel hopeful that it might help me with the artistic  journey.  Isn’t it a gorgeous book?  I didn’t want to crack the binding.  Even the paper is translucent, delicate, beautiful.  I am committing to working through The Artist’s Way and doing my best to complete the exercises therein.  If I find it to be interesting or helpful, I will certainly share my thoughts.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Project 365

“There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.” — Ralph H. Blum


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Do you want to see other examples of Project 365? Head on over to The Mom Creative blog for Project Life Tuesday.

Valentine’s Day

Our Valentine’s Day was all about cinnamon toast, secret messages, pink tulips, strawberry cake and playing in the snow; so nice that it fell on a Sunday this year.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Nights in Rodanthe

We all look for guideposts in life.  When there are no easy answers, we look for something … anything to help us figure out what to do.  We solicit opinions from other people, read books and ruminate endlessly, all in an attempt to avoid making mistakes.  I would like to suggest that these solutions are actually counterintuitive.


What if figuring out your path in life was more about listening to your own intuition and following your hunches than weighing all the pros and cons?

What if being open to serendipity and coincidence could help you realize your dreams?

When I was eighteen years old, I met a boy at a bar.  I’m afraid there isn’t much inspirational about that fact but I invited him to a pub on campus the following night because I really wanted to see him again.  The very next day I went downtown with a girlfriend to do some shopping.  While we were waiting for the bus, I was telling my friend all about the boy I met the night before.  She asked me if he was cute but I couldn’t answer her because he was standing right behind her smiling at me.  He was catching the same city bus.  That was the first coincidence in a long string of coincidences that kept bringing us together unexpectedly.  In September of 2010, we will celebrate 20 years of marriage.

Confession Time:  I have an overwhelming gut feeling that the movie, Nights in Rodanthe, is one of my guideposts.  The first time I saw the movie, a couple of years ago, I had no idea that I wanted to be an artist, but I left the theatre with a very strong impression that I needed to visit Rodanthe.  Although I looked into the possibility of renting a vacation home there, I didn’t follow through on that plan.

I watched the movie again tonight.  It was on TV and I couldn’t find anything else I wanted to watch.  Almost immediately, I noticed that overwhelming feeling again.  My intuition is telling me to go to Rodanthe.  Last time I saw the movie, I had no inkling that I wanted to create art, and still the movie affected me greatly.  This time I almost fell out of my chair at the sight of the amazing artist studio at the very top of the Serendipity House.  Also, the main character in the film, is a mom, who rediscovers her passion for crafting beautiful boxes from driftwood.  She was so busy being a wife and mother that she forgot about that part of herself but rediscovers it as she builds a new life.  Definitely some parallels there.

Although I am a person who struggles to always be in control, I am remaining open to the possibility that the Universe will guide me if I trust my own intuition and let go of fear.  In the Mondo Beyondo class they teach that coincidence is, “…the conspiracy of a Universe determined to surprise and bless you.”

I am going to start paying attention to the coincidences in my life.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Project 365 Week Four

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” — Cynthia Ozick


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Do you want to see other examples of Project 365? Head on over to The Mom Creative blog for Project Life Tuesday.