Happier by Design

11057308_10153481320743896_2850533367511182513_nJust a few weeks ago, we had a lovely visit from my sister and her family. Living on opposite coasts for the last 11 years and about 12 years of our subsequent college and travel experiences before that, it’s been a long time since we’ve been in the same place. Passing at holiday parties or family weddings doesn’t give us the chance to drill down on some of the nuances of our daily lives. It made me smile to discover that as we’ve each been running along living our lives, we’ve had parallel tracks and interests we haven’t discussed.

Kat, a few posts ago you happened to mention the book The Happiness Project. It’s been several years since I read that book but there are definitely things I do differently in my life because I read it. There’s one section that talks about treating yourself like a toddler. I myself have a bad habit of not taking snacks when I have a busy day. I don’t like to carry a jacket or a sweater but I’m often cold. And sometimes I’ll wait to use the restroom for no other good reason than I don’t want to be bothered to stop what I’m doing. But these creature comforts make me more pleasant and nicer to be around. I get cranky when I’m cold, tired and have to use the bathroom.

Recently, I decided that I needed to retake my commute. Driving 40 minutes in the morning and about an hour in the evening if all things go well, I need to make the best of my time in transit. As a working mom, those hours in the car are often the only hours I have to myself. As luck would have it, right after you mentioned Gretchen Rubin, I saw that she and her sister recently started a new podcast called Happier. I’ve been listening for a few months now and it turns out, my sister is listening to it too.

In concept it sounds silly. How much can you really say about getting happier but I think you’d really be surprised. I’m finding the shows tips and tactics great for building better habits and finding ways to keep my own energy and spirits higher.

I’ve been reading Glennon Doyle Melton’s book (thanks for that!)  and there was a section that I really loved. She says, “ Craig and I developed a theory that if you’re thin and smile a lot, people tend to believe that you have the universe’s secrets in your pocket and that a raindrop has never fallen on your head. If you also happen to be wearing trendy jeans, well then, forget about it.”

I think sometimes we look at happy people and think they’re happy because their life is somehow easier than our own. But the more I talk to people the less I feel that’s true. Everyone is dealing with something—it’s just a matter of whether or not they choose to share it with you. Barbara, another wise friend and great writer, once advised me that, you can’t compare your outsides with someone else’s insides. It’s a happiness thief that I find myself succumbing to time and time again.

Happiness doesn’t just fall in your lap. You have got to work for it. There have been times in the last few years that I couldn’t think about being happy because too much of my energy was focused on just getting myself out of bed and remembering to breathe. But if you do that long enough, it gets easier. Then you can think about things like remembering to make your bed. Or taking time to go outside. And then maybe the house stays clean and you get your finances in order. Whatever it is, it’s measured progress and sometimes you hit hurdles and set backs.

Improving your outlook at your attitude is hard, especially when you’re trying to do it on your own and you’re surrounded by people who are struggling through their own baggage. Having the podcast give weekly suggestions of things to try helps me get new ideas. It helps me understand where other people are coming from. And it helps me find a void for some of that sisterly banter I miss so much when it’s been too long since I’ve seen those crazy girls on the east coast.



I’ll Show You

From 2012, pregnant with our angel.

Last week, in a professional setting with someone who should have entirely more tact and poise, told me I was showing at the end of a very sensitive business conversation.

There was no mistake about it, this man thought I was pregnant.

Thought it enough that he said it outloud, to me, on my birthday.

The real rub of it is – this person is aware of my struggles to bring children into this world. Because of how it’s impacted my career and my health, he knows more than many of my very dear friends and family members. I wish that weren’t the case but that’s the world we live in.

I held it together in the moment but I thank the Lord that I have an office with a door because I most certainly closed it and cried.

For the rest of the week, I questioned everything I put in my mouth and every piece of clothing I wore.

After a week of self-pity, and a little more vodka than is probably reasonable, here’s what I think about it.

First of all, it blows my mind in today’s day and age how inappropriate people can be. I have to put it in writing that unless the baby is crowning, you don’t talk about it until the mother does. Let me also say the same for someone’s sexuality, religion, political views…let’s just not assume shall we.

Secondly, it just pisses me off that in a workplace, women’s bodies remain under such scrutiny.

The other thing I want to say is this. I am showing…just not in the way he thinks.

I’m showing 3 years of struggle. Three years of trying to accept the very hard reality we needed to face when we learned of our first son’s set of issues that were, in medical terms, not conducive with life.

I’m showing nine months carrying Lucas, questioning every decision I made even though I had no control of the outcomes. Praying with every breath that this time it would be different.

I’m showing 17 months celebrating the beautiful child that lights up my world with smiles and laughter every day.

And I’m showing four months since my body played an evil trick, thinking it was pregnant when in fact it was not a baby but potentially cancer.

I’m showing the world the very place where my babies lived, were loved and where I carried every hope in the world for them as long as I was able.

So no dude, I haven’t been thinking about the gym or calorie counts.

I’ve been thinking about hope and holding my head up. I’ve been thinking about joy and gratitude. And I’ve been thinking about moving forward.


Lo and Behold

Happy Birthday Lo!! Lucky for me our birthdays are less than a month apart, so now it is my turn to take a trip down memory lane too.


I learned that much of our friendship predates the digital age. I have three times as many printed photos as I do digital photos of us. I am kind of grateful we are the last class that graduated college without facebook. We still managed to get up to plenty of fun, but it was nice to not have that documented in excruciating detail.


I was able to find one small photo of us on our foundational beach trip. It looks like it is post haircut too. Who took this picture? Whatever happened to Steve? Who knows? But I sure am glad that we went on that spontaneous beach trip. The Tropicana will always be ours.


Lauren, being friends with you kind of saved me in college. I found my bearings when we became friends. Up until that point I felt like I was floating around trying on friends, but none of them really fit until I found you.


In the sea of ritzy trust fund kids that made up the AU population it was such a relief to find someone whose parent was also a teacher, who had to work for extra cash and who would play the “dressed for less” game with me each morning with glee. I felt at home with you for the first time since I had moved across the country.


And now that there is a country between us I still feel at home with you even from a distance. Ours is a friendship that doesn’t require proximity to feel close. What a gift for both of us. So even though the lack of technology protected us in college, the ease of technology is such a blessing to us now. Email and now this blog has helped us fill in the gaps between the big life moments that we always manage to show up for.



I feel lucky that we got to know each other early enough in college to share a dorm. I am so happy that we got to support one another as we each walked down the aisle. I can’t tell you how special it was introducing you to baby Ellis. Being pregnant at the same time with Luke and Calvin was the icing on the cake for me. I am a better parent because of all the emails and phone calls we have exchanged over the years.IMG_2292









I have always admired your daring spirit. You have never been afraid to go after what you want in life. From Australia to Cali to Eric to your career to Luke, you have achieved your dreams. You made your own way and you made it look easy and fun (and I know it wasn’t all the time). You are my working mama hero. I hope that when I go back to work someday I can manage my own career with half your grace.

So may this year be another good year in a great life. You deserve it. May your 33rd year be filled with wonderful words and unexpected adventures. Happy Birthday Lo!


Resolution Review


How is it July already?

The only good thing I can see from the feeling of each year passing more quickly, is that it’ll be easier to keep my resolutions because it will feel like I just made them.

I thought that six months out would be a good time for a check in so here’s where I stand.

  • Get outside. This is going incredibly well. As the mom of an incredibly active toddler, outside is my savior. Luke is happier outside, he can (generally) run farther without incident, and there is so much to do and explore. Of all my resolutions, this one has been the easiest to maintain. We’re easily outside a half hour a day and much longer on the weekends.
  • More non-knitting crafts. This is a complete and total fail. The only thing I have done besides a little knitting is color in Luke’s coloring books and plant a few plans.
  • Read and write. I’m reading! So, that’s a good thing. I never thought I’d love my kindle so much but I’m pounding out a book a month or so. Currently the other books by “The Happiness Project” writer Gretchen Rubin. Writing that’s another story…aside from work where I write every day, I really can only get my act together to write here once every other week or so and that is bumming me out. I really want to improve that.
  • Save. We’re doing okay on our savings. Two family weddings that we had to travel for earlier this year cut into that progress for awhile but we’re on track now and in a reasonable spot to hit our goal by the end of the year. In June I challenged myself to pack my lunch for work every day and that helped a lot…I may need to carry that on for the next 6 months!
  • Be present. I’d say this is going well too. Maybe to the detriment of some of my colleagues, I’m pretty hardlined about work/life balance. I want to work. I love my job and I love the mission of the organization I work for. However, come 5, I want to be on my way home to the lights of my life and the ones I do this all for. It’s a conscious decision each day but, for now, it’s working well.

I really believe that you need goals and to shoot for something. One of my favorite sayings is “If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Maybe it’s being very comfortable with failure, but I like finding tasks and milestones to work toward…little victories to help me mark time that maybe make the year feel like it isn’t flying by so fast after all.