Posts tagged Hello Moxie
A Summer of Happiness in the Second Week

The talented Denise at Hello Moxie (hello, have you seen her photos? Wowzer.) has inspired a Summer of Goodness here on Pars Caeli, the weekly bookclub capturing the best elements of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

Last week I challenged myself to Act More Energetic, a resolution that Gretchen had set for herself in Chapter 1. Real quick recap: Done with Difficulty. In the last seven days, I've had both daughters up vomiting through the night, causing worry, mess, and less sleep for all of us. They both recovered quickly but the witching hour of 4pm (that's our roughest hour with everyone between meals and ready for a break. Do you have one of these in your house?) fought me and drained what little bit of zeal I had left in me from sheer determination. Nevertheless, I do think focusing on energy and being more present and awake in the moment was really helpful, and I saw the positive ways my children responded to this effort.

Chapter Two takes us to Marriage

Here are the resolutions that Gretchen set out:

  • Quit nagging
  • Don't expect praise or appreciation
  • Fight right
  • No dumping
  • Give proofs of love 
My hubby and I have been married ten years in August, and we've been in love for fifteen. I first admired and respected him as a man of great integrity and character. I fell for his wit, his enveloping expressions of love, and his determination. I can be a self-doubter, but I am sure, and I was sure as I've never been before or since, that he was the man for me...the one with whom I wanted to live in happiness for the rest of our lives.

Marriages are as different as the individuals who vow to be a part of them. I thought this, often, as I read through Gretchen's struggles and solutions in this chapter. Had I made a list on how to be happy + married (which I'm crafting) I don't know that I would include points one, two, or four...and I'm not sure if three and five would make my top resolutions.

In fact, in a similar way to Denise, I was pretty frustrated with Gretchen early on in the chapter. I believe that good marriages necessitate both individuals being loudly, passionately, and lovingly themselves. Simple eg: If you feel like sending Valentine cards is an important part of who you are, then your spouse should know this. He/she does not always have to honor every request and whim, but simply swallowing your needs and wants does not lead to happiness (in my experience).

It also felt strange to me that she didn't let her husband into the research and practice more (part of me even felt bad for him as she was experimenting with different approaches to see his reaction).

But I get it. This book is about the process, the project.

Here are some take aways that I did love:

#1. I was entirely engaged with the Fight Right section. I'm fiesty and often too defensive. I could use help here. I am, like Gretchen, a snapper. Her description of couples who fight right made sense.

Couples...tackle only one difficult topic at a time...these couples ease into arguments instead of blowing up immediately-and avoid bombs such as "You never..." and "You always.
 Ewh, yuck, I utter both of those.

#2. I've been rolling this one over and over in my head:

In marriage, it's less important to have many pleasant experiences than it is to have fewer unpleasant experiences, because people have a "negativity bias"; our reactions to bad events are faster, stronger, and stickier than our reactions to good events.
YES! I get this. In fact, my husband just brought up a morning conversation he had with a blogger about how much more attention negative posts get than positive. Our media is geared toward negativity and drama, and our brains are wired for it, too.

#3. Loved this one:

Although men and women agree that sharing activities and self-disclosure are important, women's idea of an intimate moment is a face-to-face conversation, while men feel close when they work or play sitting along someone.
 From the moment I met my husband, I was struck by what a great companion he was. Never had I met someone so open to accompanying and going alongside of me (and not directing, negotiating, or just letting me go on my own). We both work a lot from home, and even the simplest gesture of the dualing laptops, sitting close on the couch means a lot.

#4. The good word from Yeats:

Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.

Definitely, yes. I have always been given a lovely space to grow and find new pathways to life fulfillments but am I offering the same? How are we helping each other to grow?

So here's what I'm working on for the week. It's not exactly one of Gretchen's resolutions, but she touched on it in her research.

#2 from my takeaways:

Create less negative experiences.

In many ways this ties up all of the resolutions. I am going to work on fighting right & offering more expressions of love. And I'm going to focus on him, and in the forefront of my mind, even with all the craziness that is life, I will create (meaning I have control of this) less negative. And I will naturally create more positive.

What are your thoughts, readers? Did you identify more with Gretchen's resolutions?

What will you take on this week?

Here's a pinnable for you. I've been talking with my kids about this a lot since reading. We've been practicing hugging each other while saying, "I love you, I love you." thoughtfully. That's about six seconds. So far, it's fabulous!


The Happiness Project for Summer

When Denise over at Hello Moxie mentioned in 140 characters or less (go Twitter), that she was planning a summer bookclub on her blog, I knew I wanted to join in the fun.

Are you a fan of the combo of summer & reading? I remember the utter joy I felt when breaking open the stack of chapter books I was required to read in the months before my sixth grade summer. I have such happy memories of those days, lounged across my bed or sitting on the lawn, soaking up mounds of memorable stories.

Jess over at Curated Style put our her own summer reading challenge of 30 books this summer, and I was inspired (and intimidated).

So this piece of Heaven is starting slow but not small with a tag along bookclub of The Happiness Project. Author Gretchen Rubin started out on this adventure to find what makes her happy and multiply it. Throughout the year-long experience, Gretchen offers great research and quotes from great leaders and researchers on the study of happiness. As a collector of words, I find these snippets to be my favorite part.

Those and the Note to Readers in the beginning which lays out the Secrets of Adulthood (lessons learned sometimes too late and ones that Gretchen kept in mind while going through her own happiness project).

It's an awesome list, short and to the point. One in particular caught my eye and I had to read it aloud to my hubby,we're right in the midst of this very thing with summer events about to begin:

"You can't profoundly change your children's natures by nagging or signing them up for classes."
Okay, we'll cancel the yoga sessions.

Chapter 1 takes us through her first month of resolution setting and accomplishments. I found Gretchen's goals approachable and ones I might write for myself:

  • Go to sleep earlier
  • Exercise better
  • Toss, restore, organize
  • Tackle a nagging task
  • Act more energetic
As an educator, I kind of wanted her to set measurable goals (less "better" and "earlier", more 1 hour earlier or 45 minutes jogging). This is likely part of what I need to work on in my own Happiness Project, but I'll try to keep with her #11 commandment here and suggest that there should be no calculation.

Certainly I could use a good dose of all five of these resolutions, but the one that intrigued me the most was number 5. 

Act more energetic


That's the one I'm taking away for this week, and I have a feeling it's going to bring a little more happiness my way. How about you? Is there a resolution that strikes a chord with your life right now?

We'll be exploring more of The Happiness Project here and feel invited to tweet with the #HappinessProject to add to the discussion on Twitter.

And a quotable to pin:

Happy Thursday, friends! See you back here tomorrow...bring your happiness. Or leave it behind, you'll find some here.


Hunger Games Bookclub Fun

Last night I had the pleasure of hosting my super smart and always entertaining book club ladies. A strong-minded group of eight, we can make any book into interesting, extended controversy and conversation.

I had made a strong push that our May book should be Hunger Games. I, unlike the rest of the civilized world, had not yet read the book, but I knew that I could add some spunk to the menu and decor for our evening. I love being able to throw myself into hosting, and thinking about each person in attendance, and how I might surprise them with a little extra goodness.

The good thing about being way behind the times is that there are now oodles of resources out in libraries and interwebs, and I'm excited to show you what made its way to the final round.

Most helpful spots to visit:
Fictional Food: a full list of every (there are a ton!) food mentioned in the book with many, many recipes attached
DaFont: always a source of awesomeness at beautiful prices (!) and for this night a key Hunger Games font. Downloaded, check.
Pinterest: search for boards with Hunger Games in the title and you'll find memes, quotes, and recipes galore.

In the story, early on, Katniss receives the ointment she needs to heal her wounds in a silver pouch from the sponsors. I decided we definitely needed some silver pouches. It was so much fun to capture memorable quotes and wrap them up in a silver (foil) bundle, sealed off with an arrow (also known as a doodled-upon bamboo skewer).

One quote for each silver bundle, one bundle for each of us. The recipient of the "May the odds be ever in your favor" was the winner.
I wrapped each quote in aluminum foil, hole punched the top, and then speared each with one of Katniss's arrows.
Sign accompanying: The sponsors have found you worth and sent you this.

Our eats and treats:
1. Prim’s wrapped goat cheese: goat cheese wrapped in our very own basil leaves
2. Peeta's saved bread: purchased cranberry bread with homemade brown sugar and cinnamon butter (mmmm)
3. Mr. Mellark's cookies: recipe here with some of our own District 12 sparkle sprinkles.

4. Fresh strawberries - just as Katniss and her family had eaten the night of the reaping.
5. "Cheese that melts on your tongue served with sweet blue grapes": baked brie with cranberries and gigantic purple (as close as we get) grapes
6. Mint tea (and mint/blackberry refreshing!) just as Katniss recalls enjoying with her family after meals.
7. Nightlock berries: raspberries filled with chocolate chips (a super easy, yummy idea from a friend of mine). The opposite of poison.
7. Wine - nothing to do with the book, but what's a bookclub and great friends without wine?

We rate our book 0-4 starts (4 stars is tops), and we had a great range of reviews and philosophical discussion.

I started out as a 3 for the book, and since we re-rate at the end of the discussions, I found myself eeking up to a 3.5.

Undoubtedly a fun one to prepare and share with my pals.

Have you read Hunger Games or seen the movie? What did you think? I'm intrigued to see how the movie will compare to the film I created in my head.

If you're hosting a party or just a Hunger Games uber fan, drop a comment, and I'll happily send off to you all of our sponsor's quotes in PDF.

Thanks for stopping over, friends!! You should totally try those raspberries stuffed with chocolate chips, simple goodness!


PS. We'll be tagging along here and there with Hello Moxie for a summer read of The Happiness Project. Hope you'll be inspired to more happy with us. :)