58 thoughts on “A Course in Happiness

  1. We went to a sealed bid sale/auction to look at buying a pickup truck. We have wanted one for a while but couldn’t find d one We liked that we could afford. We liked two of the trucks enough to bid on them. A little truck and a full size crew cab with extended bed. I did some research and wrote out the bids. I thought I had overbid on the small truck, the one we really wanted, and underbid on the large truck, our “why not, it’s there”.

    We won the large truck. I’m really happy we have a truck, but it’s huge and way bigger than we need. My husband is tickled pink. I guess he never knew how much he wanted a a really big truck.

    1. Congratulations!!!! That sounds nerve-wracking and exciting all at once. I guess the universe gave you the one you needed! 🤞😄

  2. The link to the 2010 post reminded me that I drove past an R-pod earlier this week and meant to look them up. I do NOT want an RV but boy do they look cute. And now I want cake, though not an ipad.

    Happy accomplishments at work, while helping my dear sister, and when I happened to be in the office of the non-profit at the same time as our employee, and fixed all but one of her issues. See, I DESERVE cake, though may have to settle for cookies for the time being.

    1. If you are breathing, you deserve cake. The rest is just a construct to help us not be selfish and unhealthy about it. And cookies bake and cool much faster, so you can treat yourself sooner.

  3. I FINALLY have an appointment for the vaccine on Wed. I’ve been eligible for a month now but couldn’t handle the weekly battle of a million-plus people pushing and shoving for one of the quarter-million slots available each week, but they finally went to a pre-registration/lottery system, which isn’t perfect, but at least I got a slot.

    1. Congratulations, Gin. My husband and I got our second one last week. I knew I was looking forward to it, but I was deliriously happy. That may be my happy for the rest of the year.

  4. I was happy because I have some precious free time ahead that I planned on devoting to writing. But then we binge watched some episodes of the Mayans (J D Pardo is gorgeous btw) and now that story is stuck in my head as well as various other life dramas.

    Help a cherry out here y’all. What do you do to clear your head of nonsense so you can get into your own story?

    1. I always resort to editing. There’s usually more than one WIP, so I throw a dart and pull up whichever document it lands on. Reading-and-revising almost always restores the ability to concentrate with Writer Brain, and then I’ll usually have some useful ideas for what comes next in that WIP. If not, I’ll close it and go to a different one, read until I get an idea for a new scene, and then shut down for the day. Can’t force it, but I’ve found if I leave the project with something already in mind to do, it’s much easier to dive back in. 🙂

    2. I do free-writing. Just anything that comes to mind about the story. Right in the document I’m working on, since it can be erased once I’ve gotten it out of my head. It starts out like “I have to write this scene and I don’t want to because it’s hard and I need to figure out a way to introduce a clue but it’s a stupid clue and I don’t know how to introduce it without a big neon light over it that warns it’s a clue.” But typing all that whining gets boring pretty quickly, and then I tend to segue into solutions in narrative form and eventually I hear the voices, so there’s dialogue, and once I’m in the dialogue, I’m all set. (My first drafts are really light on anything other than dialogue.) And then later I go back and erase all the whining.

      Sometimes doing it in Morning Pages instead of the document file works too. Since handwriting is slower, the whining gets oldin fewer words, and then I can do brainstorming stream of consciousness, and once I get going, I switch to the computer and type whatever is useful and go from there.

      I’ve also trained myself that when I set my timer, it means it’s time to write. Suz Brockmann has talked about that too — establish some sort of ritual that you associate with the beginning of your writing session, and eventually the ritual will trigger your subconscious to behave. She uses the example of lighting a candle, but I can’t do that with all my cats fighting for space on my desk (years ago, a longhair cat managed to catch the tip of her tail on fire by dragging it across a candle, and I caught her and put it out in just seconds, so she was fine, but I’m slower now and not gonna take any chances). So for me, the timer works. Plus, it helps to remind me that it’s time to get up and move before my joints are entirely rusted in place. Really, it’s anything that you identify as the start of writing.

    3. I go for a walk or take a nap. Chocolate helps. Oddly, doing dishes by hand, which I hate, helps. Best of luck!

    4. Read the previous pages you’ve done.
      Play music and sing along before you start. Avoid eagworms.

  5. I found an awesome unicorn sweater pattern that I am somehow getting done ridiculously fast. Like it’s half done after a week. I have decided to give myself a goal of seeing if I can finish it in TWO weeks–normally I finish a 1200 yds worsted weight sweater in a month–just to see. One sleeve is done, I’ve got a few inches left on the second sleeve, and then we’ll see.

    I am watching the Women’s Storytelling Festival (bettersaidthandone.com) and really enjoying it this weekend.

    I also signed up to do a musical theater audition next week! I haven’t officially done that before, so I’m giving it a go in the Zoom era since they can’t make me bring in sheet music and have to sing with a accompanist. I have only done that a few times and man, I hate it. The pianist either plays way too slow or way too fast and throws me off. Thanks to the Zoom era, I can just use a YouTube karaoke video to get my “Helpless” from Hamilton on.

    The one thing that makes me nervous is that the callbacks are LITERALLY THE DAY AFTER MY SECOND SHOT….fuck. Well, who knows if I’ll even be called back anyway, my voice is not the best and I have no vocal training, I’m just auditioning for ensemble. If I’m too ill to audition or have to do it while sick, I guess it gives me a story for storytelling…

    1. I was pretty sick for several days after my first shot and my doctor recommended taking Benadryl the day of the second shot and for as long as I needed it after that. I was achy the night of the shot and a little the next day, but an over the counter pain reliever fixed it. Good luck on the audition.

      1. I wished I had thought of benadryl after the second shot, my arm was itchy at the site and I also had a lump which both went away a day or two later. Not a bad reaction after reading that is a good sign, it shows the vaccine is working.

    2. The only time–high school–I ever auditioned for a singing part my drama teacher was the accompanist and after I screwed up the time twice I said “Can I just play for myself?” and he let me and he cast me.

  6. At my business school, concious business and happiness is a very successful elective in more thsn one study program. The prof in charge also offered 2 day seminars for us professional staff. Highly interesting. However, i found it tricky to tranfer what I heard that day into every day life.
    One thing I took away: put more emphasis on breathing consciously.

  7. Saw a reminder article today about the coming Brood X appearance of 17-year locusts in my area. Even the thought makes me happy. They look like perfect little pale ice sculptures with bright cherry red eyes when they first appear, hanging off leaves and twigs after emerging from their underground shells. Then as the day goes on, they gain their color, take off flying, and join the wonderful joyful chorus of singing, dating, connecting broodmates and they’re just about the most giving creatures you would ever want to encounter. I can hardly wait for them (although at the height of the celebration they can be eerily noisy).

      1. It’s true. We are indeed, as an entire country. Devolved, though, mostly out of 18th-century Europeans, so in a way you guys are seeing bits of your past in us.
        But the periodic cicadas aren’t eating anything once they emerge — they finished that when they were snacking on roots as young nymphs. Instead they benefit gardens. Create tunnels that aerate and provide moisture runnels for the soil, then prune the trees where their eggs are laid, die in huge bunches, which break down quite quickly and fertilize everything everywhere they fall.

        Oh and every wild animal and bird eats them and has a wonderful spring of eating. Quite different from the locust plagues that come to eat rather than be eaten. 🙂

        1. The last time they were here the Maryland Secretary of Agriculture held a press conference where he fried and ate them.
          My daughter was in middle school at the time and this inspired many of the kids to eat them on campus to gross out the other kids. It got so bad that the principal made an announcement that went more or less like this:

          “There will be no eating of cicadas on the buses. There will be no bringing cicadas on campus to eat them. There will be no going off campus to catch or eat cicadas. There will be no eating of cicadas .” Since his announcements also went on the school website, and since many Washington Post reporters’ kids went to that school, it then ended up in the Post.

          Then the French teacher decided to make a big deal about the wide range of French cuisine (snails, frog legs, and apparently cicadas) and got permission to serve them in class. Since most kids didn’t want to eat cicadas, and someone pointed out that locusts are not kosher, suddenly everyone in French class decided they were Jewish and kept kosher.

          It was a memorable time. I have a feeling that without kids around this time will be a lot less exciting.

  8. I’m just starting Week 10 (of 10) of that Yale happiness course. I sort of signed up by accident but kept going.

    The first six weeks cover how and why we tend to be wrong about which things make us happy, what actually does make us happy, and how to get more of those things in our life. There’s a lot of research presented engagingly.

    The final four weeks are spent in a self-directed “rewirement” project, picking one of the proven happiness strategies and applying it to our life. (I chose getting more sleep; I’ve had moderate success so far.)

    I have enjoyed the course and found it easy to keep up with watching the videos etc. No real shockers, but lots of useful and interesting information. It has been worth it to refresh my thinking.

    1. Thank you for reporting back. It has overwhelmingly positive reviews, but it’s good to hear from somebody we know who’s actually been there.

        1. Based on your review I’ve enrolled earlier today and done all the assignments for week 1 (well, apart of the homework i.e. applying my signature strenghts for one week). Many things I already knew but very interesting were the results of what my signature strenghts actually were.
          Looking forward to continuing 🙂

          1. Dear Jen B,

            I don’t know why I couldn’t reply to your post…
            anyway, I already finished all videos and reading for week 1, have to only do the assignment (ahm, the difficult bit).
            I also told our “Happiness” lecturer about it and he recommended another course (Berkeley university, also free unless you want to get a certificate), too.
            I’ll see if I get addicted to the topic and maybe then I’ll contiue 😉

  9. Once again, gardening = happy. Intended to put in only an hour or so yesterday, but conditions were perfect (too cool to sit still, just right when hacking at weeds + quiet in the neighborhood) so I stayed out 2.75 hours and Finished A Job. Namely using my wolverine tool to hack out 30 square feet of horrible weeds, the last such swath in the front yard. Filled up the green-waste bin and wore out my hands, but OMG so happy.

    I have the day off tomorrow; there is a non-zero chance I will actually get in the car and go to Home Depot for mulch so that area isn’t just naked torn-up dirt inviting all the neighborhood wildlife to use it as a toilet. And if I’m going to Home Depot anyway, I might as well get something blooming to plug into that dirt, right?

    Also decided how to solve the hell strip. Have no intention of buying a lawnmower for it (it’s not really grass anyway), so I’m going to hire someone to scrape off all *those* weeds and put down artificial turf. Will require no maintenance, look much tidier, and be nice for our neighbors who get in and out of their cars in front of the house.

    1. Wolverine tool? What kind? Google got me to their website, but there are so many, and I, too, have weeds to hack.

  10. I started reading yesterday’s post late last night then put it aside to finish this morning. Well with one thing or another baking, breakfast preparing tonight’s supper I was not done till 1:30 this afternoon. That’s because I went into 2010 post and got stuck on the white on white cake. While reading it I wanted to put white flowers and leaves in my pretend masterpiece. Then I was thinking how much was an Ipod 11 years ago? And then I saw “previous” on the screen about dogs and clicked that page on. I kept going back and back I think to over six years of ARGH. Some I had already read like the “Bob” stories and SEP, some were new to me, the parrot book and stories with pictures of the dogs. I initially had a question about Veronica and Pink but changed my mind it was a long time ago. And then there was your tattoo, did we ever see it? And so on. Dinner is ready to put in the oven so I’m going to take a nap, I’m exhausted.

    1. I have two. One you haven’t seen, but there’s one on the back of my neck that anybody who’s seen me with my hair up has glommed. The other one is Mare’s butterfly from The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes. There’s a scene where she gets a tattoo and I wanted to make sure I got the scene right, so I got the same one she did.

  11. I was thanked for doing a rush job – it’s rare to hear anything after I’ve finished a job, so that made me happy. After three weeding sessions, I’m starting to see my way clear on the allotment, which I more or less abandoned over the winter. Loads of seeds have come up in my workroom-nursery. And this afternoon I’ve spent several hours talking to friends.

  12. My happy is I got into another MFA program, one I can sort of afford (there will be loans, but half of what I took out for undergrad, so doable if not wise). It’s in a city I love with friends I miss, plus the opportunity to go all in on a career path I’ve been flirting with for years. I also got a lead on a job I could be happy in, if I decide to turn down the MFA and stay in town. So imperfect but good options, either way. If this was fiction, I’d say it’s a well-crafted conflict. I’m making a choice that will change me.

    Is it wimpy to say I like well-structured conflicts better when they’re happening to fictional people?

  13. The Brood X 17-year cicada (not locusts) emergence is a wonder of nature. Emergences have teen recorded since at least 1715. They are everywhere and they are LOUD. Also harmless, though it’s best not to plant saplings during the busiest weeks. I cannot *wait*. The last time I was in northern Virginia at the right time was 1970–it was a formative childhood memory.

  14. Deeply happy that this morning we were allowed back inside church for the first time in more than a year—masked and socially distant, no singing, sign-up required, wafer but no wine. Just seeing people in 3-D, hearing and saying the words, being in the beautiful structure was a gift.
    Also happy that it’s been warm enough to walk.
    And I made a chocolate cake; I gave some of it away, but ate the rest.

  15. Can anyone steer me towards how to change that horrible symbol that appears by my name when I comment?

    1. Is you horrible symbol a cartoon monster? If so, just choose another symbol and upload it as your avatar. Right at this moment I do not have the instructions at hand, but I think googling “replace comment avatar” will probably give you something.

  16. Got my first shot-Pfizer-no problems.

    Made a blueberry/rhubarb crumble. If that sounds like a mash-up of two recipes in Gin’s latest, it’s because it is. (Thanks, Gin.)

    Daffodils are coming up and the morning temperatures will stay above freezing in a few days. Love dafodils and warmer weather.

  17. Finally finished the first draft of the third cozy mystery. Now I have about ten days to revise the whole thing and add in about 4,000 words before it is due to my editor on the 1st of April (yes, I do see the irony, I’m not a fool). But considering that not long ago I wasn’t sure I could finish it at all, typing “The End” made me pretty happy.

    Spring came early here in upstate NY, although no doubt it will go hide again before coming back for good. But most of the snow has melted, it was 60 degrees and sunny today, and just being able to go outside without a coat made me ridiculously happy. The birds are singing their spring songs, too.

    Plus I have an appointment for my first shot on Tuesday. Pfizer. My rural area was actually referred to in an article as a “vaccine desert” but we finally got an oasis in the form of a huge site at the local college, complete with National Guards. They plan to give out up to 1,000 vaccines a day, which is just wonderful. I got in because I’m 60 (the current cut off in NYS) and my housemate got in because she is a cancer survivor. Who knew those two things would turn out to be good? My body tends to overreact to things, so I’m hoping for the best. Still very excited to be getting it.

  18. I’m happy that I’ve got the first act of Nita pretty much where I want it. I sent it to Krissie and Bob, and Toni, you can stop hiding because as soon as you post here again, I’m going to be asking to send it to you, but basically, unless there’s something that comes up in the rest of the book that means I have to tweak something, the first 35,000 words are done. Again. Cut down from 46,000. Much better. I can’t even remember what was in the missing 11,000 pages (besides Mort) so that’s a good thing.

    Very happy about this.

  19. I am happy for this week’s Professional Left podcast; though normally political, this week there was a lot about short story structure.

    Ep 590: The Russian Asset Episode

    I also loved the last bit, where the Internet Kitties want to know where their $1400 check is!

  20. H got his first shot last Monday. Made him very happy. Me too I still have to wait until next month for my shot. Found the sun flower seeds and going to start them. This year will be the year of sun flowers; big, happy yellow faces along the fence.

  21. I got my first shot (Phizer) on Wednesday, and was very happy. The next day I was fine, then I realized I was very cranky and achy, and ended up taking a 4-hour afternoon nap. Which is all good, not complaining.
    Yesterday the women of our church choir met, actually in the sanctuary, and recorded some hymns for the Zoom Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday services. We were masked and far apart, and it was just great to sing together in that space.
    Then I came home to find a friend had left a plate of sugar cookies shaped like the starship Enterprise, a phaser, a Vulcan Live Long and Prosper Hand (that was a little weird) and, not to be left out, the symbol of the Klingon Empire. With orange-flavored icing.
    Lots of bird chatter going on, red-wing blackbirds in the wetlands are in particular a sign of Spring here.

    1. The Vulcan live long and prosper hand is also what the Kohanes ( the priestly class in Judaism) used when giving the last blessing in a Sabbath service. I don’t know that Leonard Nimoy added that element, but he was Jewish,,,,,,,

      1. In a documentary I saw recently Nimoy mentioned rhat indeed the Vulcan hand was inspired by the Jewish blessing.

      2. And the phrase “live long and prosper” is a translation of the classical Egyptian “LPH” — Life, Prosperity, Health — honorific (courtesy Barbara Mertz), Ankh wedja seneb.

  22. I’m planning a zoom Seder with my kids. This time last year we said “ next year in person”. Oh well.

    Lots of bulbs are up and about to bloom
    And it’s warm enough to take evening walks comfortably.

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