Monthly Archives: November 2010

Happiness Project #1: You’re not happy unless you think you’re happy


You’re not happy unless you think you’re happy.
corollary: You’re happy if you think you’re happy.

The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. It is an important endeavor to be happy. It goes against the midwestern-protestant-be-miserable-and-then-you-are-good-enough upbringing, which makes it even more important!

Gretchen Rubin did extensive research on happiness. She read a ton of books about it and acquired advice, quotes, inspiration. She decided there were 12 areas in her life that could use improvement and would boost her happiness level if she put more oomph into them. She chose to be pretty compulsive about it, and made a calendar of 12 topics to cover in 12 months. She has about 5 new habits to learn each month, and they are cumulative! Wow, so 60 new habits to learn and guage over a year. She was determined!

I do not have control over people, but I do control my own attitude. Compulsions appeal to me. And, I have been writing too much about the downer (but honest) sides of single parent life. I am ready for solutions and action now. I need something more to sink my teeth into. I am willing to make 60 new habits over the next 12 months. And I think I could make a calendar to track progress, too! Her book is a really easy read; it feels I am like sitting down with a friend over coffee. I highly recommend you read it too and join me on this trip. It is not that we are unhappy, it is that we want more from life, and we want to give more to life.

These are Gretchen’s 12 Topic/Months:
Boost Energy – Vitality
Remember Love – Marriage
Aim Higher – Work
Lighten Up – Parenthood
Be Serious about Play – Leisure
Make Time for Friends – Friendships
Buy some Happpiness – Money
Contemplate the Heavens – Eternity
Pursue a Passion – Books
Pay Attention – Mindfulness
Keep a Contented Heart – Attitude
Boot Camp Perfect – Happiness

Happiness Project

I picked my 12 areas (Anne’s Happy Needs) . I am older than Gretchen, and might need more than 12 months to tackle my setbacks… but I decided on these 12 topics and their focuses to begin:
Giving – Time, love, money, acceptance, and gifts
Health – Rest, nutrition, energy
Friendships –
Love –
Fun –
Parenting –
Money –
Spirituality –
Beauty –
Receptivity/Contentment –
Creativity –
Happiness –

My next blog is about giving! I have some definite ideas about giving habits that will enrich our lives.


Joseph Campbell Quotes


Joseph Campbell kept me awake last night. He was rummaging around for hours, grabbing at ideas, reactions, hopes, and visions in my brain.

He has quite a few good quotes here:

The one that was bugging me was this:
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.
-Joseph Campbell

This one gets no argument from me. I know I need to let go of the picket fence/nuclear family around the Christmas tree/Dad in the house etc. dream for my kids. This quote is not new-news.

So if I believe it, why is it so hard? Where is the recipe? The mantra for acceptance? Why aren’t there 10 easy steps to accomplish the purge to make space for my lovely life with my 2 excellent kids, fun ski trips on weekends with friends, career in my favorite field of science, and lovely friendships with amazing women? I wanted all of that too when I was 17 and planning my life out.

That was the 3 am issue- sad greiving, angst, and whimpering that I have not purged old dreams and therefore I am often unavailable for today’s gifts.

If you are looking for answers for how to purge, I have none. All I have is hope and wish and prayer.

I have a big God and therefore only small problems, right?! I said that a few blogs ago. It is really annoying to write blogs that I don’t learn from…
I wrote about this blog back in May, and I am ready to be here and now to enjoy what is here and give up the old notions of what my life was “supposed to be like”. God, if you could help me learn a little quicker, that would be great!

I want so much more than a promise from the Bible at 3 am (in bed alone wondering what the Hell I am up to) at 5 pm (after school pickup with kids and their awesome accomplishments that I want to tell their Dad about), and at 8:30 pm (at bedtime when I am so exhausted I cannot see straight and need an ear and a hug to keep on going).

God, help me now to enjoy today, this lovely space of gifts for my kids and I. Help me to drop the illusions and outdated dreams. Give me guidance towards joy and gratitude today.

The resolve: One day at a time I can do this prayer, every morning or every hour. Life is more than good right now.

An Adventure of the Soul


Blogging is the ultimate adventure lately for me. I have to bare myself completely and dig deep in order to make the words come out. I risk being “found out” and embarrassed if certain people saw it (ex-husband, ex-mother-in-law, etc., all those meaningful (not) people in my life today). I am still very careful to advertise my blog only to people who I know are single parents and a few others who love me unconditionally.

Really now, why should I care if my neighbors, ex-boyfriends, or boyfriends-to-be find this excavation adventure? This blog site is about working over topics and allowing other single parents to read about my depths so that you see you aren’t alone on your path. If I leave out the honest Juice and make it pretty, what use is it to you? I want a single parent out there to read my entry about heartbreak (or parenting frustration, or loneliness, or bone-weary fatigue) and see that she is normal and will heal. There is hope. Keep doing the good work. Have courage because God is with you there too.

We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another. ~Luciano de Crescenzo

Sometimes I know my blog entries come off as really pitiful globs of blathering (but honest) rant that I may laugh over next month. But I am determined to keep on trying, to put it out there, to reach out to single parents in the midst of horrors, trying to find courage and hope for the next phase, day, or hour.

Life is a daring adventure or nothing.
~Helen Keller

Writing this blog is terrifying to me sometimes, but it is part of my definition of living life to the fullest.

If we don’t pay attention and nurture what we love to do and what fuels us, where does that leave us? How are we to expect full fantastic lives if we don’t nurture our heart’s desires? What adventurous risk will you take today to nurture your heart’s desire?

Live life to the fullest. Laugh like you’re going to die. Love like there is no tomorrow.
~Summer Goodwin

Club Awesome: sharpies, beds, and sunshine


New format for this weekly list: I am going to depersonalize it some and make it about things in general that we can all be thankful for. I will attempt to be creative, grateful, and cheap bc that is what single parents need to be.

1. It is almost Friday. Tomorrow night we get to either go out with friends and relax and stay up past 9 pm actually enjoying ourselves and not doing the dishes. Or, we get to put pjs on, eat cheap pizza, and watch a movie with our kids.

2. God answers our prayers. But we have to be careful what we pray for! The other morning I thought I was being very specific. I asked God for a man in my bed and said that I didn’t really want to go to work in my office. Minutes later, I opened the bathroom door, and there was my man-son in my bed, coughing on my pillows and complaining that he was sick and couldn’t go to school. That is not really what I had in mind, God. But thanks for your sense of humor. We had a really good day together, and I am glad he thinks of me and my space as a refuge when he feels ill.

3. Church is cheap daycare. I honestly don’t know what I would have done these years had I not had the guarantee of an hour once a week when I could sit in Church and get good stuff poured into me while knowing my kids were happy and occupied.

4. The sun comes up every morning, and we can count on that. God is good, and will always be there, just like the sun. I heard a great quote on the radio this morning: “You either have a big problem or you have a big God. I choose to have a big God and little problems”.

5. Sharpie pens. They have lots of uses, many colors, and they are fun and cheap.

6. This amazing video on UTube!

Single Parenting Shortcuts 102


I wrote a long blog back in March with a list of 10 shortcuts for busy people. It is here:

This is a shorter and new list, bc you don’t have time to read long lists, and its about shortcuts!

Single Parents have to find ways to save on time and still get the job done. Here are a few things I think might work. I do them.

1. Dinner vegetables: Throw a bag of carrots on the counter, add Ranch. Serve snap peas instead on special occasions. Add Triscuits for carbs.

2. Networking at office: Forward the funny Swedish commercial jokes and laugh over the cubical walls at them together. Especially good bonding when it is not PC.

3. Exercise: Anxiously stand on tip-toes while waiting for daughter to put her shoes on every morning while running late, twiddle thumbs and ankles nervously while waiting for staff meeting to end so you can get some work done, and cock eyebrows worriedly when we find out our (overly?) honest son is shooting rubber bands and sling-shotting “wasps” in Geography class on a regular basis. Good cardio.

4. Empathetic People Managing: “I know this totally sucks and I am not your favorite person right now. Could you please do it anyway?” Add kind smile and be genuine. Add a silent prayer if you have been doing this a lot lately with the same person.

5. Leaves in yard: Mow lawn. Or just wait until the snow falls and covers them up. Or just ignore them and hope they go away.

6. Quality time with dog rather than walking: Give up and let her sleep on the bed with you. Keep her off the pillows.

7. Make-up: Ultra-thin Sharpies! They come in lots of colors and are cheaper than the permanent make-up tattoo gig. Ok, have not tried this one myself, but keep considering it. I researched this. One coworker and one woman at the hair salon admitted to using sharpies as eyeliner. How about if you try it first and let me know how it goes. Be careful of caffeine shakes…

8. Teeth Care: Brush teeth in shower, floss while reading school paperwork. Be cautious if kids are talking to you that you don’t fling food bits at them while they explain about the 20 tubs of cookie dough you need to buy for the band fundraiser this year so that they can win the plastic radio prize.

9. Protein in diet: Iron supplement? I don’t think this one really counts as a wise choice. But there are entire days when the only eat food that works is in handfuls, and chocolate chips come to mind as my favorite handful… Try to add almonds.

10. Make the list only 9 things long instead of 10! And go laugh with your kid.

Stars, Tea, and Sabbath


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The word for the day is RESTORATIVE, my single mom friend Bhanu told me this 4 days ago.

Katie’s sermon yesterday at Church was about single parenting ( and she said the craziest thing- “Single parents need to take a Sabbath Day”. A totally nutter idea, as my kids would be running around naked eating old candy corn if I took a weekend day off of the work of mothering.

Three days ago, my single mom friend Susan told me she was doing intensive self-care this week in the midst of a huge effort at work… yikes!

What are these people thinking? Do they not know how many chores are necessary to keep a household afloat? The dirty socks are everywhere. Do they not know my workaholic boss Scott who shows up to the office every weekend day at 5 am? Do they not know how much food my kids require during these middle school growth spurt years?

They actually know that and so much more, because they know me, and they know themselves. They know we need as much love as we give our kids. Did you give yourself as much love today as you gave your kids? Did you spend as much time loving you as you spent loving your kids?

Did you stop and pour yourself some milk this morning and use the pretty glass becasue you know you like it that way best? (that is what you did for your daughter, isn’t it?!)

Did you buy your favorite fruit at the grocery store this week because you know you will especially enjoy it? (that is what you did for your son last week!)

Did you stop and look at the stars and moon the other night just because you needed a break from running around? (isn’t that what you let your kids do while you unloaded the groceries last weekend?)

What new ways can we give ourselves as much love and tender care as we give our children? I would need to start with eating at regular intervals and work my way up to the Sabbath. My friend Delia at work can tell when I have not eaten- the world is falling apart, I cannot take another snide remark from the tech guy, my report is in terrible shape, the client is a snot, and all she has to do is say “Anne, have you eaten, dear?” And I realize it is 11:30 and I have eaten nothing all day… Doh! And of course, after I spend a little time on myself, the world becomes negotiable again.

We are raising precious children. The shepherd needs to tend to herself as well as her flock (remember the oxygen mask concept on planes?) . Do you want your children to live like you do? (Ok, I would like him to pick up his socks like I do– that is true). But I don’t want my kids to run around like headless chimps*. How do I teach them to be thoughtful, kind, caring, respectful people? By becominging one myself and caring for me as well as others in a kind, caring, loving way.

I am going to use the pretty mug this morning for my tea.

You know it takes more than glassware to make changes in our lives. But we can begin small, add in more positive self-talk every day, sprinkle in some time alone to catch our breath, let some gross dirty socks sit for a week while we do some self-restoration… eat the yummy fruit we bought for us this time, do a nice meditation, read the book to yourself tonight, call our sweet friend for a chat, and plan to take an entire Sabbath day off from work of every sort next weekend!)

*Bhanu’s phrase- really true, if you think about it!

Club Awesome Gratitude List November 13, 2010


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I am still pushing my gratitude at you, trying to stay in MY grateful place for all of the blessings in life. The more we focus on positives, the more blessings we will notice, appreciate, and acknowledge. It is really good for our brains. I would like you to comment back to me with a gratitude list or item from your week.

1. It snowed this week! I got to run with my friend Sara early in the snow, and watch the sun come up over it. Wow, so crisp and clean and fresh. Ella made a hilarious snow man laying down on his face in our front yard.

2. My kids keep me on my toes and keep inspiring me to be a better mom. I learn a lot more from my kids than they learn from me these days. Ella said we would be boring if we didn’t put up Christmas lights this week, so she got up on the ladder and made it happen. Dillon really goes for it on the wrestling mat- persevering, pushing himself to the max, and winning.

3. I have been letting go of negative* people in my life and it is allowing space for others to come in– a really amazing concept to watch in my own life. It is one thing to hear about that phenomenon, but totally different to watch it happen! Letting people go if they need to is actually a loving gesture. I cherish my friends, so this has been difficult to learn.

4. My friend Delia cooked dinner for us last night, such a warm, wonderful comforting gesture for a cold dreary day. Thanks D!

5. Ski season is beginning, and we are waking up from our summer slumber. Woo hoo!

6. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

*PS- this “negative” person was not just down and out; she was spewing anger and negativity at me while also being demanding and rude.