The 28 Happiest Parts of February

Cheryl Publicity Photo
Today marks another 28 day period of happiness.

I have to say that adding to my “Happiness Jar” has become one of my favorite activities of each day. It requires thinking. It requires remembering. It requires sitting with your thoughts and plunking down the ones that really matter. Some days it requires stretching.

It isn’t as easy as it sounds either. Sometimes I have to choose between something amazingly different like holding my 8-week old granddaughter and eating a chocolate almond ice cream cone. They both make me happy. They actually both delight me. But I made a rule when I started the year long Happiness Jar that I would select the ONE thing that made me happiest each day.

Sometimes you want to censor yourself. Sometimes the things that make you (and me) the happiest seem so simple (or so odd) that they shouldn’t even make the list. But they do.

28 Days of Happiness for February 2013:

Day 1: Giving blood on my late Dads birthday (in his honor)
Day 2: The saleslady at Ulta Cosmetics telling me I knew how to ‘work it’. She was a former runway model for 13 years.
Day 3: Holding Bubby (Max) in my arms for 2 hours while he took a nap in the rocker
Day 4: Three mile walk in the park with Dennis
Day 5: Movie (Silver Linings Playbook) and pizza at Next Door pub with Dennis
Day 6: Watching Travis and Kaylin hold hands in church
Day 7: Sledding with Max and Dennis (and dancing with Max in the bedroom when we got home)
Day 8: Laying on the couch with Livi sleeping on my chest for 2 hours
Day 9: Cleaning the house so it looks beautiful
Day 10: Dinner at Bob Evans with Dennis and Trav
Day 11: Candice cutting my hair and styling it
Day 12: Finding hope with Dr. Shawn Wilson
Day 13: Seeing Legally Blonde with the Harpers
Day 14: Dennis leaving the words “I Love You” in Q-Tips on the counter for Valentines Day
Day 15: Watching Dennis read “The Cat in the Hat” book to Max with “The Cat in the Hat” stuffed animal in Max’s arms
Day 16: Max bringing me a “Love You More” sign
Day 17: Having lunch at McAllister’s with Kim, Rudee, Candice, and Margie and seeing Menopause the Musical at Crown Center
Day 18: Driving through the blizzard with Dennis in our Excursion (4 wheel drive) to get a pizza
Day 19: Shopping at Target
Day 20: Hearing Travis’ dirt bike was recovered by the Sherriff
Day 21: Snow day with Dennis…making lunch in our clean kitchen together
Day 22: Frying bacon
Day 23: Reading “Happier at Home” by Gretchen Rubin in front of the fireplace
Day 24: An entire Friday off with Dennis…Eating at Wells Restaurant in Waldo, painting the kitchen cabinets, Waffle House, a fire in the fireplace, buying an old chest at the Restore
Day 25: Afternoon nap with Dennis
Day 26: Road trip with Dennis and Travis to pick up Travis’ stolen dirt bike
Day 27: Yelling ‘Hey Good Lookin’ at Mary Shockley and watching her reaction as we went in to eat at Applebee’s
Day 28: Listening to Italian music at Ciao Bella before friends arrived for lunch

As I unfold the tiny slips of paper to record these ‘happy moments,’ I once again experience a bit of glee. There are things I would never in a million years remember if I hadn’t written them down. Things like frying bacon. Who knew that would actually make me happy?

I’m also amazed at how many days include my dear husband Dennis. We’ve been married for 31 years and he is my rock, my Prince Charming and my best friend. And when I look at February’s list, I’m reminded at how much our relationship brings me joy on a daily basis. Simple things like eating dinner together. These fill me up. Repeatedly.

The happiness jar is emptied and ready for March.

How To Have 365 Days of Happiness…Guaranteed

TAC-BH-3300_be_happyI’m one of those genuinely happy people but I also struggle with anxiety and ADHD in massive amounts. My life is not perfect. My obsessive thoughts and dark demons accompany me on most days, even when I try to silence them. A few years ago I developed a system called The Happiness Factor for tracking my daily ‘happy’ status. (I’m not going to go into that one here but just so you know my Happiness Factor is 88%.)

Anyway, I can usually dig deep into each days’ happenings and find something good. But, I’ve never tracked my happiness in concrete ways like I’m doing this year.

I don’t believe in making resolutions. But on the first day of the new 2013 year, I made one. It wasn’t one of the ones that I’m going to break after 3 days. This year I made a resolution to have 365 days of happiness

I got an empty big ole’ blue mason jar (aka My Happiness Jar) and some colored post its. I like color so for January I used yellow and white striped post-its. It sits on my nightstand so I don’t forget.

Every night, I capture the one thing that day that made my happy. Some days I’ve logged as many as 11, so I really have to sift down and find the one thing that made my soul sing for that day. Some days, finding even one has been a challenge. Makes you scratch your head at the end of those kind of days.

Anyway…here is Month 1’s happiest moments (January):

Day 1: Hearing Raul Minon sing “Listen to the Rain” on KCPT
Day 2: Buying “hot pink” running shoes
Day 3: Listening to Travis play his guitar in the living room
Day 4: Buying a corn dog, cheese popcorn, Heath bar and Diet Coke at Gibson’s General Store
Day 5: Seeing “Zero Dark Thirty” with Dennis, Rudee and Roy
Day 6: Addressing the Save the Date cards for Travis’ US Army commissioning ceremony
Day 7: Making chocolate chip cookies with Kelsey & Max in Candice’s kitchen
Day 8: Hot steamy shower under the skylight with rain hitting it
Day 9: Holding my Livi all Sunday afternoon
Day 10: Cleaning the Mercedes inside and out
Day 11: Sitting over lunch with Mary at her new bungalow in her pretty flowered sweater discussing life
Day 12: Buying the “Nest” pillow for Gavins new wife’s wedding shower
Day 13: Browsing around TJ Maxx looking for presents for Valentines Day
Day 14: Sitting in church with Den, Candice, Kelsey, Travis, Max, Kaylin and Kiley and singing “I Belong to the King” while I cradled Olivia in my arms
Day 15: Drinking “Comfort & Joy” hot tea at Cockrell Mercantile
Day 16: Working out with Dennis and doing our secret handshake
Day 17: Making biscuits and gravy with Max
Day 18: Weightlifting with Dennis and Kelsey
Day 19: Shopping for scarves with Helen and Max and making magic wishes in the waterfall pond
Day 20: Making my bucket list and sharing it with our old friends Mike & Mary
Day 21: Eating lunch with Kelsey at MiMi’s café (a chicken, walnut and strawberry salad) before I took her back to the airport to go back to Texas. She had a beautiful big mug of hot chocolate
Day 22: Driving to and from Warrensburg with Janece
Day 23: Reading “The Traveler’s Gift” in front of the fireplace with Dennis
Day 24: Long lovemaking session
Day 25: Reading Mickey Mouse to Max as he snuggles on my lap
Day 26: Holding Olivia for 2 hours
Day 27: Eating cheese corn and a big ole Diet Coke
Day 28: Having hot tea with Fawn Brents at the Whistlestop
Day 29: Making a big ole’ pot of vegetable soup/stew
Day 30: Shopping in the Crossroads district with Candice and Livi
Day 31: Walking in the park (2 miles) and saying hello to the sad-looking old man

These are the moments. 31 of them. There were thousands of other significant moments…happy things that made a difference. But these were the ones that at the end of the day, I knew the word ‘happiest’ was attached to each of them.

None had to do with goal setting. None had to do with conquering a huge struggle. None of them had to be broadcast over Facebook or captured in a photo. Most of them had to do with simply being. In 10 words or less.

They don’t teach you this stuff in school. Tucked between kindergarten coloring and 9th grade geometry, you learn to fit into the system. To be like everybody else. I like to think that the most important thing we can ever teach another is how to truly love life and be happy.

On to February. The journey of discovering what really makes you happy is soul-stirring. It makes you realize that perhaps doing less and being more really is a good life mantra. And it makes you realize that these are the moments that really matter.

(It’s not to late to start your own Happiness Jar. It’s perpetual. All you need is a jar, some colored scraps of paper and a pen. At the end of each day, simply jot down the one thing that made you the happiest that day. One moment. One thing. In 10 words or less. You’re on your way to 365 days of happiness. Guaranteed.)

Book Review: The Traveler’s Gift

David Ponder (the main character) is down on his luck. At 46 he’s broke, unemployed with no purpose for the future other than how to survive. He has a wife and a daughter to support, and his daughter is in need of an operation he can’t afford. A car accident turns him into a traveler where he unexpectedly meets some of the world’s greatest teachers including Anne Frank, Colonel Chamberlain, King Solomon, Gabriel the Archangel, Christopher Columbus, Harry Truman and Abraham Lincoln. This is what he learns.

Seven decisions that impact personal success:
#1: Take responsibility for every single part of your life
#2: Seek wisdom
#3: Be a person of action who makes decisions
#4: Have a committed heart
#5: Choose to be happy
#6: Greet the day with a forgiving spirit
#7: Persist without exception and focus on results

The author Andy Andrews is a gifted storyteller. He speaks of a ‘hedge of thorns’ that protect each of us (which I believe is Christ) until we have fulfilled our life purpose and teaches that “the ultimate outcome of anyone’s life is a matter of personal choice.” You’ll experience how David uses the wisdom of the ages to transform his broken life into a beaming beacon of hope.

Great read for anyone who’s stuck, questioning your purpose in life, want to make a big difference and live outside your comfort zone or simply for someone who knows they’re destined to do more.

Outstanding book with direct actions to take!

-The Traveler’s Gift
Author Andy Andrews

Are You a Really Crappy Mom?

We’re living in a generation where everything gets a pass.

Charlie Sheen gets a hit TV show called “Anger Management” after he acts like an imbocile and tries to take down his former TV show “Two and a Half Men.” Lindsey Lohan continues to get movie deals after she’s been arrested too many times to count. Gun toting psychopaths gun down innocent children in elementary schools and 5 kids get 1 million likes on Facebook in 13 hours because they want to get a family dog and need Mom and Dad to pay attention.

What do these four isolated scenarios have in common? They’re all insane.

Never has there been a time in history where you can do less and get noticed more.

You started reading this article because you wanted to know if you’re a really crappy Mom. Perhaps you are. I’m not going to post a test or a checklist with the “10 Ways to Know If You’re a Really Crappy Mom.” You know if you are. Your gut tells you. Your heart tells you. You don’t have to ask anyone on Facebook or read any blogs to know.

Motherhood is sacred.

Motherhood is the one thing that can literally change the world.

You know if you’re doing your job. Or not.

If your kids are in day care, that’s crappy. They need you.

If you feed your kids fast food 5 nights a week because you’re too tired to cook, that’s crappy.

If you watch TV all night long instead of reading to your kids, that’s crappy.

If you spend more time in the car toting your kids than talking to them, that’s crappy.

If you put your kids to bed between the commercials, that’s crappy.

If you divorce their Dad, that’s crappy. (And yes, it will affect them forever. That ‘resiliant’ word is a cop-out. Just ask any adult whose parents divorced when they were young.)

If you work underneath your own potential, that’s crappy.

If you scream and yell all day, that’s crappy.

If you drink or take drugs to numb your own pain, that’s crappy.

So are you? A crappy Mom?

Or are you like the many million Moms out there who are getting about 50% of it right and 50% of it wrong?

The human ones. The ones where guilt and goodness and love and letting people down weigh in about equal on the scale of life?

Are you trying?

Are you doing your best?

Are you training up your child in the way he/she should go?

If you are, then you’re doing okay. We could all do better.

We could be more and do more and work less and love more.

But that’s the same with all of life.

The insaneness will always be with us.
The crazies will get the publicity while the Mom on a quest to do the right thing will go unnoticed.

Not entirely unnoticed.

The kids are watching.

They need you Mom.

All of you. (or as much as they can get)

If you want to change the world, simply go be a good Mom.

The $157.41 Ugly Oak Fireplace Mantle Makeover

I hated the old fireplace.

A fireplace is supposed to be the focal point of a room and all I could think every time I walked into the living room or kitchen was how ugly the fireplace was. The house was built around 15 years ago when grey tile and high gloss oak was ‘in.’ Now that’s it not ‘in’ anymore, it’s out. But I didn’t want to spend alot of money and I didn’t want to do any major renovations to the house.

The fireplace had to go. So we got busy. Mainly, Dennis (my husband) got busy and I was his cheerleader.

Dennis discovered a product at Lowe’s called Airstone. It’s 75% lighter than regular stone and costs a fraction of what real stone would cost. See for yourself from the pictures whether you like it or not. It’s changed the entire look of the house, simply by changing the fireplace.

The 8-Step How-To $157.41 Ugly Oak Fireplace Mantle Makeover
Step 1: Remove old tile (unfortunately the old tile took some of the sheetrock with it so we had to replace the sheetrock around the black fireplace insert)
Step 2: Repair and/or replace sheetrock around fireplace insert
Step 3: Paint the mantle
Step 4: Tile the hearth
Step 5: Grout the hearth
Step 6: Install stone (we used AirStone – it’s awesome…we used a small T-frame support over the opening of the fireplace to keep the stone from slipping until the adhesive was dry)
Step 7: Glue embellishments on and paint
Step 8: Admire your handiwork!

The entire makeover took approximately 5 hours total, but it’s many small steps. Installing the AirStone, the bulk of the project accounted for about half of the time. The most amazing part of all…it only cost $157.41.

1 quart Valspar Paint (we used Valspar Ultra Interior Satin, #391638, it’s a Paint + Primer)
1/2 sheet of sheetrock
2 boxes of Air Stone (flat style)
5-18″ x 18″ ceramic tiles
2 embellishments
1 bag grout

Hacksaw (used to cut the AirStone tiles, could also use a miter saw)
Grout tool
5-gallon bucket
Large sponge

$3.00 Paint (I got this out of the ‘oops’ pile, it would’ve normally cost around $15 a quart)
Sheetrock (free from my father in law)
$18.88 Ceramic tile
$135.53 Airstone, Grout and Stone Adhesive

$157.41 Total Fireplace Makeover Cost

Handy tip: If you don’t have a tile saw and don’t want to invest in one, Lowe’s will cut your tile for FREE for you. All you do is simply mark the tile where you want it cut and the Lowe’s associate will do the work for you.

No, we didn’t sand the fireplace first to remove the old finish on the woodwork. My husband Dennis is the equvalent of Ty Pennington (without the hair) so we didn’t have any labor costs involved with the entire renovation. Kinda funny that I hated the grey tile but I painted the mantle grey.

You really can do this yourself. 5 hours. $157.41. Sweat equity is the best equity you can put into a house.