Tag Archives: Happiness Project

I’d Have Less George and More Me …

27 Jan

I finally found a way to look at the other side and not jump off a cliff.

In an attempt to create a sequel to my Happiness Project Adventures of last year, I’ve decided to keep tracking my attempts to get as much juice as I could from the lemons life gave me and so far my Clear-Eyes-Full-Hearts-Thelma-&-Louise-you’re-different-now-kind-of-feeling  hasn’t worn off yet.

I’m happy about that.

Usually self-improvement projects, plans, bucket list items, changes, gung-ho promises made at the beginning of the year — aka resolutions — suffer setbacks or wear off. Luckily the ripples are still in the water.


Image via Seinfeld.com

So I managed to take advantage of this mindset and continued tweaking my outlook so that certain roles within my George Costanza existence would look more appealing and the effort to improve wouldn’t feel like such a chore. I’d have a Happiness Project Adventure Sequel, a Secret Life of Walter Mitty moment or two. I’d have less George and more me.

Apparently the first step to this was to psych myself up, to give myself one of those awesome pre-game sports speeches, the kind that’s delivered by Coach Eric Taylor in Friday Night Lights (the show, not the movie), by Sean Astin in Rudy, by Kurt Russell in Miracle, and by Gene Hackman in Hoosiers.

I’m no Kurt Russell, but I did come up with some creative ways to look at the different roles within my life. I juiced it up a little so that I could look forward to these parts of my life, instead of dreading them.

And so far so good.

Instead of checkbook balancer, coupon lady, and finance checker, I thought Rainmaker would motivate me more when dealing with my finances.

Instead of working on “emotional control,” I thought Zen Master Apprentice would be more appropriate.

Instead of saying dude I have to workout, I’d look at it more like my Ninja Warrior Triathlete-Decathlete training, which sounds a little bit more awesome.

Instead of working on exercises to develop a spiritual side, I thought I’d try to be a Super Soul Sunday Engineer. Sounds like I’d get all kinds of spirit with that.

Instead of thinking of myself sometimes as just a mom who’s home with her kids for endless amounts of time trying not to get lost, I could consider myself more of a Human Spirit Adventure Developer and Life Compass Architect.

Instead of freelance writer, I could look at myself as a Future Barnes & Noble Best Seller.

Instead of looking at crappy moments like I-can’t-believe-this-just-happened-to-me-I-need-chocolate-right-now experiences, they could be envisioned as life moments to be  written up and appear in Saturday Night Live Skits, although I wouldn’t get rid of the chocolate.


Chocolate is still a necessity.

Even though I’ve juiced up the different parts of my life and kept the ripples in my pond going I think I’ll still keep the chocolate. George Costanza phases come and go, but like I said before hopefully with these little changes in perception I’ll have less George and more me. Don’t get me wrong, I love George, but you shouldn’t have too much of him.



Ready or Not Self-Improvement Projects, Bucket Lists, Yearly Goals, Plans, and Guidelines A.K.A. Resolutions … Here We Come

2 Jan

Deep thoughts, late nights, Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Cheesecake, bags of Pirate Booty Popcorn, and Hawaiian chocolate covered macadamia nuts.

What brought on this onslaught of high fat, high calorie salty and sweet food no-nos?


I’m not a big fan of that word. Too much pressure. I like to call them plans, goals, life guidelines, hopes, self-improvements projects, or lists.


“I have now spent fifty-five years in resolving; having, from the earliest time almost that I can remember, been forming schemes of a better life. I have done nothing. The need of doing, therefore, is pressing, since the time of doing is short…” –Samuel Johnson


I was scanning the Word Press world and a lot of bloggers out there were talking about resolutions or plans for the new year. The thing is I already made plans, life guidelines, hopes, goals, self-improvements projects, and lists in the middle of the year and I’m rolling them over. I’m sticking to the completion of my Happiness Project and trying to scratch adventures off my Bucket List. But I can say that I am adding a few new goals and self-improvement projects in the hopes of continuing to add “life” to my life.

Time is short and although I can’t avoid all the crappiness that life throws at me, I want to be able to squeeze the juice out of all the lemons it throws my way. So I may have added a couple of other goals and life guidelines for 2013 … Plans to finish writing my second book, plans to continue participating in triathlons, and plans to participate in roller derby classes are among a few of them.

But making all these new 2013 guidelines, made me reflect on the two that I made last year. I didn’t announce them to the world, just to myself and two other friends. One: Start a blog. Write everyday. Two: Be happy for one day. All day. Not just bits and pieces  … but all day. Dusk ’til dawn. And I’m happy to say that both of these two resolutions were completed successfully. Well technically, I have a couple more days to go on one of the “resolutions,” but overall I’ve done well.

They sound pretty simple, but with all the craziness that comes with life it wasn’t that easy. But a couple of pieces of advice helped me out.



Image via happiness-project.com



Image via happiness-project.com

Small steps. Small steps everyday toward a big goal was the way to go for me, maybe not for everyone, but yes for me. And expectations … fun is better than stressing out over perfect outcome. I’m hoping I remember the same advice this year.

But in all this resolution, goal setting, self-improvement me, me, me talk I failed to think of my kids and what if any experiences or goals they might want in 2013. I mean I plan all kinds of adventures and activities for them, but hadn’t really asked what do you want? Other than LEGOLAND, of course. So I’ve added a 2013 “Sandbox List” for my kids this year. I’m sure my four-year old will speak for both of them. And although my daughter can’t really speak clearly and tell me what she wants,  considering that she’s only one, her smiles and laughter tell me she enjoys the ride.

So the Guats are off … Ready or not self-improvement projects, bucket lists, yearly goals, plans, or guidelines A.K.A. resolutions … 2013 here we come.


Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

1 Jan

“Man, I ain’t changed, but I know I ain’t the same …”


The highlights of Guat 2012.


Challenge courtesy of WP Weekly Photo Challenge.


Silver Linings Playbook

30 Dec
Image via quotablecards.com

Image via quotablecards.com

With the year coming to a close and some people thinking about upcoming resolutions, bucket lists, Happiness Projects, or strategies, I began to do the same and wonder if I had accomplished some of the adventures on my list.

I wasn’t sure I’d finish a triathlon, but a finished two. I wasn’t sure I’d get through the unknown Warrior Dash, but I made it through the mud, muscles burning, but I made it. I wasn’t sure I’d survive the minimal to no work accompanied by the stay-at-home mom adventure, but I’m still here, more gray hair yes, but still here.

The list goes on … not everything completed. But it wasn’t my 2012 list, it was my Bucket List and I’m not dead yet. It was my Happiness Project, and I’m still under construction. I’ve got time. The Bucket List continues. The Happiness Project is in the works. My strategy is still in the works. Resolutions? My only resolutions are to keep The Bucket List and Happiness Project going. Brick by brick.

I wasn’t sure what I was doing in the beginning. I wasn’t sure of my starting point. I knew I’d probably fail a few times, but no worries. I began anyway. I began anywhere.

The point is I started and I’m not done yet.

2013 … it’s just another “365 day journey around the sun” … another 365 days to add to the Happiness Projects and to The Bucket Lists and to the strategies — all of it in search to find the silver linings. All I had to do was to begin … somewhere. And in 2013 I will begin again with all the plans, projects, adventures, and failures– all of them tucked into my silver linings playbook in hopes for a better something … a better version … a 2.0 … but still with a lot of chocolate.

Happiness Project Update 16: Pantene Moments During Crunch Time

8 Nov

“Who is she to talk about happiness when everything in her life is fine?”

She asked the question and I thought about it. And yeah … when I started this whole Happiness Project it did cross my mind. I thought yeah … Gretchen Rubin should be happy. She’s got everything she wanted … everything I wanted, what’s up with her? She doesn’t need any more happiness. She’s got surplus. I could use some. I’ve got deficit … in the trillions.

Yeah it did cross my mind. But as I continued reading and got to the end of  the “Be Serious About Play,” Chapter she brought up a good point:

“Are you more likely to think about happiness — and take action to try to build happiness — when everything in your life is going well, or when you’re facing a catastrophe?”

Dude. Everyone could use happiness, when you’re at the bottomless pit of crappiness you need it. When you’re happy you need to realize that you have it and you should do everything you can to maintain it.

Everybody’s answer is different.

After reading all the responses at the end of that chapter, I realized that for me, it’s a combination of both. I think about happiness during my mid-life malaise and when I have my Holy-Crap moments. On most days I have small moments of happiness … I hear a great song, I dance in the living room, I post on my blog, I eat a great piece of chocolate, I sit in the quiet of the night, or I watch an awesome episode of Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men, or Breaking Bad. They’re not ever-lasting moments, but I enjoy them while they last.

Image via Happiness-Project.com

Then on some days, like when I accomplish triathlons and Warrior Dashes, when I get seven hours of uninterrupted sleep, when I have pizza-making night with my kids, a girls-night out with my friends, or Halloween-athons with the family, these moments last a lot longer. Sometimes the entire day or the whole night and even though I’m tired, weary, or exhausted, I’m so grateful for the day-long happiness — for the Guat smile, for the Guat laughter.

Most of this gratefulness stems from surviving all the crappiness that’s come my way. And since I haven’t had many happiness marathon moments, I tend to really appreciate and savor them when they come.

I recognize them when they happen. It’s like having a bad hair day six days in a row and then on the seventh day, you look like a Pantene model, with soft-silky hair. You remember when this happens.

You try to bank these days.

“It’s like saving money, you can’t save for when you get laid off, or after you get laid off; rather you have to save while you have a job and the money is still coming in. Life is like that, you have to DO while you are able to think of what you want, what you like, what needs it will fill, how it will enhance your life, how it will help you to maintain you, so that you have some reserves when crunch time comes.”

Crunch time. It’s all about trying to have your Pantene moment, or remembering a Pantene moment, when Crunch Time happens. That’s one of the lessons I learned from this chapter. You think about getting happiness when you’re going through a catastrophe, and you’re grateful for happiness when it comes. Or at least that’s the goal.

But I’m also learning what specific things make me happy. In this chapter finding out what “fun” meant for me was a nice holy-crap moment. I mean I already knew what I thought was fun, I was just reminded that other people’s idea of “fun” was different from mine and that was O.K. Even though I may find ideas exciting and great, they might not be fun for me, and I’m all right with that because during Crunch Time all that matters are the little Pantene moments that contribute to the “good hair” days in my life, those little Pantene moments that I can deposit or withdrawal from the bank at any time, during  Holy-Crap moments or catastrophes.


Life Smacked Me, But It’s O.K. … I’m Pacing Myself

23 Jul

“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” —  Carlos Castaneda


My light bulb moment right there. The weird thing was I saw the quote while exiting a parking lot. There I was stuck in the heat waiting my turn to leave the bank and I saw the sign. Sometimes it’s the most random places where a life lesson smacks you in the face.

I wasn’t even prepared for it, but there it was, and I was happy for the reminder. Sometimes with all the drama going on, you wonder when you’re going to get a good day. But then you get this wisdom thrown at you and it alters your perspective. Even in a bank parking lot.

It keeps you in check … The universe  is conspiring to teach you something, so I was trying to listen.

Being emotionally drained takes a lot of recovery on your part and a lot of chocolate. So why not change all that recovery process and spin it into positive effort — proactive energy — that makes your life stronger and better.

Image via Colourbox.com

Being miserable sucks. Depression sucks. Having periods of malaise sucks. I’ve had them all. Most of the time these things are under your control, but when they’re not … that’s when it becomes difficult, frustrating and infuriating. But life, miserable or not, keeps going and so should you.

The quote reminded me of my Happiness Project and I was thankful I created one. I was thankful I was taking steps to change my Guat existence. I was thankful I came across Rubin’s book. I guess the universe was reassuring me that I was on the right path. I might not be seeing instant Mary Poppins results, but I’m pacing myself. Slow and steady …


Happiness Project Update 6: Get a Grip! You’re Not Single Anymore, It Takes 90 Minutes.

11 Jul

While still working on the aiming-high-career-path section of my happiness project, I realized that even though I continued having periods in my life that truly sucked, I’ve learned that I can have moments of peace during the chaos and this brings me momentary happiness.

I reached the Phil Jackson kind of Zen. But it’s not like I’m in an 80s movie and I’m living the happily-ever-after-roll-the-credits moment.  But I’m momentarily happy and that’s important when you’re taking it day by day.

Image via Happiness-Project.com

So when applying this day-by-day philosophy to my writing career, I took a good piece of advice from Rubin’s book and her section on career.

Work Smart. It’s not mind-blowing, I know. More like fortune cookie mentality, but sometimes fortune cookies are awesome.

Carving out time to be productive. This proved to be difficult when I, mother of two always working a double-parenting shift, barely had time to take a shower. But it was just difficult, not impossible.

Rubin mentions that as I writer, it was hard for her to set aside a good chunk of time, four hours, to write and this made her feel frustrated and inefficient.

Holy Crap! Me too.

I thought finally someone who gets that I need a couple of hours to get going and then begin my storytelling process. But then Rubin went on to explain that sometimes in that four-hour block, distractions appear and she doesn’t really use the four hours.

I’m guilty of that. I don’t know how many times I’ve decided to clean up, wash dishes, and put away toys during my writing time. I mean aside from the fact that I’m a little Howard Hughes, and I need a clutter-free environment to work, sometimes I go beyond that scope.

I decide to rearrange the clothes, which are not even in the same room. I decide that my car needs to be washed, or the toilet needs to be scrubbed. All great chores, but not really within my work space.

Procrastination is a writer’s Kryptonite. I’ve often been exposed to it. Sometimes too much when watching USA Network, FX or AMC.

So during this analysis of time and trying to be more productive, Rubin revealed her secrets. She did better when she had less time — like when you’re on deadline. You feel a rush. You feel the pressure, but you still have a surge of creativity, because you know your time is limited.

But let’s not get crazy, it’s not like you’re feeling the pressure of a college final either. It’s 90 minutes in your home — probably in your Costco sweats making a dent in your couch, with sandwich in hand. The only pressure you have is you — you and your crazy writer mentality.

These 90 minute intervals were the plan. At first I might have thought that wasn’t enough time, but once again if you know your time is limited, you’re going to use every second.

Then I thought about it in sports terms and it made sense. I mean if you’re trying to lose weight, be a better tennis player, swimmer, or triathlete and you workout 90 minutes every day or even every other day, you’d probably be on the cover of Shape Magazine with no airbrushing needed and winning all kinds of trophies in every division.

So as hectic as this ride is, I realized it was chaotic because my expectations still hadn’t been adjusted. I was living in my single-chick mentality. When I was single, not married, no kids those four-hour blocks came in abundance. Now that I’m living the adult life, I can’t find four-consecutive hours by myself on a weekly basis to save my life. So I decided that my four-hour expectation needed to be dumped. I thought I would try Rubin’s 90-minute interval strategy and see how it would work out in The Guat World — the you’re not single anymore world so stop thinking you have all this time.

I don’t know if that will make me crazier or happier, but it will sure make things different.

Stay tuned, we’ll see what happens.


Half Measures? What? It’s All About Full Measures.

8 Jul

As I was catching up on Breaking Bad episodes before the big season opener next week, I was reminded of a very important lesson. Now I’m not a criminal entrepreneur, Chemistry teacher gone meth lab consultant, or big muscle enforcer for suspect people, but I get it. Half Measures.

Breaking Bad (season 3)

Breaking Bad (season 3) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Things in life shouldn’t be dealt with in half measures. Now this guy went a little bit too extreme with the example, but I guess sometimes extremes work. They catch your attention.

On the show the big muscle enforcer dude has a business talk with Walt — the main character. He tells him of his previous job and his run-ins with a domestic violence case. The enforcer dude came across this woman who wouldn’t press charges against her husband, because she feared him. The enforcer dude tried to convince her time and time again, but it wouldn’t happen. She’d get beat up, get sent to the emergency room, wouldn’t press charges, and go right back to her husband, who would eventually beat her again a couple of weeks later.

One night the husband broke her nose in the shower and they took her to the emergency room, and the enforcer dude had this guy in the back of his car. The wife beater began humming “Danny Boy” and the enforcer dude lost it. He pulled him aside, pulled out his gun and was ready to shoot him and bury him in the desert somewhere. But this wife beater began pleading and begging for his life, promising, swearing that it wouldn’t happen again.

Enforcer dude stopped to think about his actions. They stood there for a while, waiting. Enforcer reconsidered his position, put his gun down, and began the “if you-ever-do-this-again” speech and let the wife beater go. With a strong warning.

Two weeks later the wife beater killed her. He bashed her head in with a bat.

Enforcer dude tells Walt that he learned a valuable lesson that day. A life lesson. He should have gone all the way. He chose a half measure, when he should’ve chosen a full measure.

Kind of a scary lesson, but I agree.

Now learning something from a shady enforcer muscle type character on a gritty crime drama wasn’t something I was expecting to do on a Sunday night, but I did. Sometimes gritty crime dramas like these have life lessons that sort of pop out at you. And this one sort of caught my attention. The writers. It’s the writers. They’re pretty good.

While I’m not the enforcer big muscle type of person, I agree that in life, full measures should be taken. Now I’m not talking about domestic violence type of situations. I’m talking about life in general, trying to get the best out of it. My Happiness Project and Holstee Manifesto combined … Dance to your own rhythm even in public, savor every bite of food regardless of the calories, get the dreamer’s disease and follow passion, fly your freak flag, nerd flag, geek flag, your whatever flag, but just fly it.

Full measures. Good lesson.


It’s What Leads to Spectacular

6 Jul

Image via shop.holstee.com


In researching different materials and websites for my own happiness project, I came across this poster. Cool people everywhere have probably seen it a million times. There’s even a video. But apparently I’m not that cool, because I’m just catching up with this awesomeness.

It’s called the Holstee Manifesto. I don’t know who Holstee is personally, but he deserves some really good chocolate for this wisdom. Actually I do know that the manifesto was created by three dudes who had quit their jobs and were following their passion. Dave, Mike and Fabian.

The manifesto comes into play with my spiritual, mental, and physical wellness phase, as well as my aiming high career phase.

It reminded me of a simple lesson. Sometimes being The Guat is difficult and because of all the crap I go through, sometimes I over analyze things. That’s one of my crazy pitfalls. It must be the writer in me. No. Not true … let’s stop playing these games. It’s all the CSI and Law & Order that I watch. It’s contagious. So I need to check myself every now and then.

But aside from the over analyzing part, I was reminded of the passion factor. This will help keep my happiness project in check. It will help keep me in check.


Everything is about passion. Passion in your dreams. Passion in your parenting. Passion in your humor. Passion in your relationships. Passion in your chocolate eating. Passion in your failures. Yes failures. If you’re going down, go down in flames. And then own it. You might learn a good life-lesson, or just need Costco-size amounts of Neosporin for all the cuts and bruises you encounter on your fall, either way it’ll be worth it, because following your passion is worth it. Life may not always turn out the way your 15-year old brain thought it would, but following your passion will eventually lead to good things. Eventually. This is what I was reminded of when I saw the poster.

Passion is what makes things better. Passion is what leads to spectacular.

It’s a good thing I was reminded of that. Sometimes I tend to forget. Drama makes that happen. Pinche drama. It’s a speed bump that can develop into a massive detour, a six-car pile up on your journey if you let it.

It’s not always easy, but I imagine nothing spectacular ever is — not that I know from personal experience, but at least that’s I what hear.

Passion. I’m on it.



Happiness Project Update 4: Listening to my GPS and Getting More Branches on the Tree

27 Jun

Mental wellness. This is a hard one. I’ve been searching for this my entire dysfunctional existence. Seeking spiritual and physical wellness seemed to come easy to me this month. But the mental aspect? That required work. And I didn’t have a shrink.

There’s just so much drama. I’m like the chick on a telenovela on Univision. However, I realized that during this phase of my happiness project, mental wellness was critical to being happier. It was critical to other wellness components (physical and spiritual) that I was working on this month.

Image via Happiness-Project.com

Then it hit me. Physical wellness helps my mental state of being. They are sort of intertwined. Case in point: The TinMan Triathlon. Finishing my second triathlon, put my mental state in a great place among the chaos that surrounded me. I didn’t care that some guy cut me off on the freeway and nearly ran me off a mountain. I didn’t get that crazy road rage. I just brushed it off, turned up the volume on Maroon 5, and kept driving. I felt great the entire day, no setback, not even a writer rejection got me down that day.

But I can’t run a triathlon everyday. What happens when I don’t have exercise or sports as an outlet? Where’s my mental state of wellness then? Probably at some supermarket parking lot in the middle of the night, listening to Journey,  and drowning in rocky road ice cream or Claim Jumpers Chocolate Silk Pie with a plastic spoon I bought at the store, because I couldn’t wait until I got home. Besides, no one judges you at the supermarket parking lot.

But how did I avoid these moments of low this week? Because you know I had low moments. There’s never a week that goes by where I can say everything was spectacular for seven days. It may happen to other people, but not on my planet.

What tends to set it off?

The Usual Suspects: Family.

But whose family doesn’t make them crazy, right?

Blood is blood. You’ve got to learn to live with them. GPS makes this possible. I learned that you gotta have a Family Global Positioning System.  I’ve learned to work my own personal navigation system and listen to the alerts, flashing lights, and voice telling me to turn left or right and warning me of the dangers and drama up ahead.

Being able to navigate has been key to mental wellness this week. Whether it was my mother, sister, or dude flipping out for things that they really shouldn’t be flipping out about, I turned to my GPS and listened. It tells you when to pick your battles. Sometimes when you walk away things get better. Sometimes when you blow up, getting things off your chest helps you weigh less, mentally. You’re not carrying around all that negative crap and the “what ifs” don’t get you because you laid it all out.

But what about yourself? What happens when you’re the problem?

Sometimes you just wake up and feel like crap. Nothing is going your way. Nothing. And then you get in the shower and things get worse. The shower. A place where things are supposed to be predictable, right? You reach for the soap and realize there’s a measly wad of mush hanging out in some cloudy water. So you think I may not need soap today.

You reach for the shampoo and there’s none. Not a drop. Not even any residue inside the bottle you can use to mix with water to make fake shampoo. They just left the TRESamme bottle there … staring and laughing at your naked body. So you get out of the tub, get a new bottle from the cabinet, nearly slip and kill yourself coming back in the tub. You take a minute wash your head, and then take another minute to stand under the running water. You have so much going on in your head, you don’t even remember whether you washed your hair. You have to look down at the tub to see bubbles to confirm it. Yeah. If you can’t even remember shampooing your head a minute ago, you got issues.

So where’s my mental wellness kick? How do I get rid of this funk that just accosted me in the morning?

I found most of the stuff that was related to my lack of mental wellness had to do with where I was in life as opposed to where I wanted to be. Career. Family. Future. That was it. I was here at the bottom, and I wanted to be there at the top. Real simple.

This was my mental wellness speed bump.

But two things helped me out. My mantra and the new quote.

Mantra: “You’re so money and you don’t even know it.” — Trent from the movie Swingers.

Something I tell myself to set me straight mentally and emotionally, every now and then.

The new quote?

”  … Research shows that the more elements make up your identity the less threatening it is when any one element is threatened.” — Gretchen Rubin from The Happiness Project.

I had to broaden my self-identity definition. My soul continues to be a writer. This was the trunk of my tree, but my trunk was currently getting festered by termites. I just needed more branches. More creative challenges. Not that I don’t have enough challenges with two kids. But challenges in way that help my mental wellness goals.

The fact that I figured that out this week helped me. It put me at ease among all the chaos. It helped me spring forward and smile, because I knew I had the ability to grow plenty of branches. If one branch got cut off, broken, or crapped on too many times by the birds … no worries. I was still a bad-ass tree because I had more branches coming, some even with flowers.