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.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I *Heart* Seth Godin

Seth Godin’s new book was released today.  It hasn’t arrived at our library yet but when it does, I will be first to get it because I’ve had a hold on that book for months.


If I could sit down and talk to anyone in the world over coffee, I would have to choose Seth Godin and I’m not the only one.  Seth Godin writes the most popular marketing blog on the web, is the author of 10 bestselling books and was named "the Ultimate Entrepreneur for the Information Age" by Business Week.  Seth’s complete bio can be found here.

Seth is one of those original thinkers who always seems to be ahead of the pack with his inspiring ideas.

Recently, while driving home after work, I caught a podcast interview with Seth Godin on CBC radio.  It was so interesting, I hardly remember the drive home.  I watched his TED talks while at home so as not to endanger other drivers.

“My definition of art contains three elements:

  1. Art is made by a human being.
  2. Art is created to have an impact, to change someone else.
  3. Art is a gift. You can sell the souvenir, the canvas, the recording... but the idea itself is free, and the generosity is a critical part of making art.

By my definition, most art has nothing to do with oil paint or marble. Art is what we're doing when we do our best work.” ~Seth Godin

Are you creating art?  Why not?


Monday, January 25, 2010

Project 365 Week Three

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” — Thornton Wilder


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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.

The List


Today is the day we are supposed to open our sealed envelopes and revisit our lists. I’ve been avoiding that pristine envelope all day.  If I open it, it’s real.  I’ve enjoyed the forgetting …

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dreaming of Spring


The unseasonably mild weather is causing me to dream of spring, a dangerous prospect when so many cold months remain before us.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


 When I tell people I blog, their reaction is usually, “Oh, you blog … really … what’s it all about?”

Well, people, this is the introduction I should have written when I first started my blog and it is my blog so if I choose to post my introduction out of sequence, who is to say any different?

Over the past two and a half years I have lost 130 lbs.  I had been overweight for more than 15 years and very unhappy with myself.  As I shed the pounds, I started to feel like there wasn't anything I could not accomplish but I was still plagued with a feeling of dissatisfaction with myself and with my life.  This further led to feelings of guilt since my family is blessed with excellent health, my husband and I both have good jobs, a nice house, etc. Why was I still feeling perpetually sad and discouraged?

Honestly, I still don't know the answer to that question but I am working hard to find out. I want to know what makes me happy and I want to explore it in a mindful way.  I am consciously seeking out like-minded people to discuss this topic with because I don't think I am alone. In fact, I know I am not.  I am reading books and blogs, listening to podcasts and anything else I can think of. At the same time, I am trying to implement the things I am learning and blog about them.  I don't want to reach the end of my life, whenever that comes, and wish that I could get a "do-over".

One of the things I have discovered is that I am a creative person (maybe we all are) and I do derive a lot of happiness and satisfaction from creative pursuits. I love writing, photography, art, scrapbooking (both digital and paper), and design.  My dream is to be able to incorporate creativity into my life in a big way.  I am not sure what form that would take. I haven't fleshed out any ideas yet.  I think I am still at the beginning stages of this process. It's funny because I want to work on "my dreams" but honestly I haven't even allowed myself the time to just be still and develop an idea of what they may be.

Monday, January 18, 2010

365 Project Week Two

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein


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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.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


winter path

As I get older, I tend to think about the past a lot.  A feeling of nostalgia sweeps over me and it is just so bittersweet. I berate myself for not appreciating different periods of my life or for not taking advantage of freedom and opportunity. I find myself wishing that I could live parts of my life over again or talk to people who have passed away to tell them how much I loved them.  I miss friends who have moved on.

I was mentally involved in just a such a little walk down memory lane when a sudden realization came over me.  At that exact moment, I wasn’t present, I wasn’t appreciating my life or making the most of it and some day in the future I would look back and wish I had.  There is a lesson in nostalgia and it is this:  Make the most of every day and every moment of every day. If you do, when you look back on your life, you will do so without regret, only joy.

It may seem simplistic and it’s been said many times by others who are far more eloquent than I am but in that moment, in that very moment, I understood. I felt the lesson, instead of just hearing it and it generated a profound feeling of resolve within me.  I don’t want to look back on the life I am living right now with the same bittersweet feelings of nostalgia and regret that I view my childhood with.

It is up to me to figure out what I am meant to be doing right now, and embrace it with my whole heart.  What are you meant to be doing right now?  Are you doing it?

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Who Inspires Me to Dream Big?

My Mondo Beyondo assignment today is to blog about, "Who inspires you to take a chance on your dreams? Whose example challenges you to be more open to your unspoken dreams?" How is this person taking risks?"

Without hesitation, I choose my sister. We grew up in the same house and shared many of the same experiences but while I tend to be the overly-cautious type, my sister, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have a problem following her dreams, her intuition, and her vision.

When we were little, my sister used to practice singing and dancing in our garage. She had visions of performing on stage.

After high school she decided she wanted to work on a cruise ship and see the world and she did. Many people (including me) thought she was crazy to spend money on a course to teach her how to be employable on a cruise ship but she packed up her belongings and headed off to Florida and soon she was working on a cruise ship.

Most recently, my sister and her family made the decision to move away to another city to work. Despite the fact that she and her husband had good jobs here and a nice home, my sister had a vision for herself and her family and they decided to pursue it. It was a bold move. I am inspired by her courage and her conviction. One of the things I admire most about my sister is her ability to listen to her own heart instead of the opinions of other people. She also excels at encouraging others to follow their dreams.

My sister never asks "why?", she always asks, "why not?"

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mondo Beyondo

 I’m so excited that Mondo Beyondo started today.  I signed up for this a long time ago. I read a lot of blogs and many of the bloggers I admire have taken the Mondo Beyondo workshop.  It’s described as “an online class about dreaming big.”

I’m not exactly sure how this works but almost immediately I began to have this overwhelming feeling that I am supposed to live near the sea.  Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

tropical beach

No that’s not it.  My dream looks more like this,

carolina coast

I love the stormy atmosphere and the solitude.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Strike While the Iron is Hot

 art club 1I stopped by the art club on Saturday. I was just going there to drop off a DVD I borrowed but as I arrived the encaustic painting demonstration started.  I was drawn in immediately, mesmerized actually.  I watched the artist melt wax on the tip of an iron and then quickly rub it across the paper.  With a few quick strokes she had created a beautiful poinsettia and then she pressed her iron to the paper and just as quickly the wax melted and the poinsettia was gone. Encaustic art has such beautiful intense pigments. It’s not precise because the art is created using melted wax and hot tools such as an iron or a stylus. I very much wanted to stay and “play” and I was invited to do so but it just wasn’t possible. The chicklets had so many activities scheduled for that day, my husband and I spent the entire day chauffeuring them around.

Since visiting the club, I have been itching to try my hand at encaustic art. I picked up a few supplies but it’s making the time that’s going to be difficult.  I really want to try this soon. I know that if I don’t, my curiosity and inspiration will wane and I will be on to the next project without ever having tried it. I need to strike while the iron is hot!

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Project 365 Week One

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie


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