Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happiness Project: Energy: Lists and Tackling a Nagging Task

Since I'm taking queues from Gretchen Rubin's book "The Happiness Project," I knew I'd need to address a few of my "nagging tasks" this month. Those are the things that sit in the back of your mind, you know you need to do them, but honestly, they are no fun and who the heck wants to do them, anyway? I'd rather sit down and watch Martha Stewart, instead. (who ironically probably already has her nagging tasks complete, done perfectly, and announced in a press release on personalized stationery.)

Here's what my list looks like, usually on multiple sticky notes and scattered around in my purse, stuck to a notebook, sometimes in my pocket. I get the urge to write these things down but then I don't really end up doing them.

To do

Well, enter my list tool - Cozi Calendar. I started using it this month and it's been awesome.

For this part of my project, I did a brain dump of all those that have been lingering in my mind, and on random sticky notes, in a single place at Cozi. 

This isn't life changing, "bucket list," I-want-to-visit-The-Great-Wall type stuff. This is the nagging-stuff-that -never-gets-done kind of list. Now that it's all in one place, and a place that's always accessible, I find myself using spare moments to get these things done. I pull them up at my desk, or on my iPhone, and get 'er done.
We ordered the mattress and a new platform bed (already crossed off, so it didn't make the stickies above). I've already found a well reviewed dermatologist, I just need to make the appointment. As soon as I decided WHO I wanted to see, I added that number to my Cozi post, so it's accessible.

What tips do you have for keeping yourself accountable for these nagging kinds of tasks?

Might be a nagging task, I just haven't added it on Cozi yet

Getting those nagging tasks done,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Podcast Review: Bethel Church: A Lesson From My Dad

In my daily commuting I like to listen to podcasts. This one, from Bill Johnson at Bethel Church, blew me away. The life stories and the history of the Bay Area are a great listen. Bill's clear understanding and sense of purpose is inspiring. Truly, being an example in all ways, planting the seed for others, his message is so close to my heart. It is my wish to learn to be more mindful about how to place these inspiring seeds for others, without being pushy, without any expectation, but with the knowledge that someday someone may remember a small thing that was said, a little act, and feel and understand the love that was presented in that moment.

Please, go take a listen to Bill Johnson's "A Lesson From My Dad."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happiness Project: Energy: Living it With Routines

I've been trying my hardest to live my Energy month as "high energy" as I can. Here's some of what I do each day, many of which are routines that make good sense for anyone, really. I've just been trying my hardest to keep them in practice.

Source: Etsy via Pinterest

At night:
- set the coffee maker to automatically go off at 6am (seriously, I wake up most mornings with the jingle of "The best part of waking up...." in my head when I smell that coffee)
- pick out an outfit, down to shoes and jewelry, and pick a sweater/cardigan as well
- plug in my phone so it's charged and ready for the next day
- wipe down the kitchen, putting the dishes in the dishwasher, starting the dishwasher if it's full
- do a quick clean up of the living room (key thing here is putting away Zoom's toys)
- do one of the Flylady Flight Plan items or de-clutter an area
- think about lunch for the next day, do I have something I need to pack up?
- read in bed for a few minutes to slow down from the day
- get to bed by 10pm

In the morning:
- Shower, dry hair, eat, get out the door
- If I'm taking Zoom to school, I get him out of the house as well
- check Waze (iPhone app) before hitting the road to see what route is best
- load a podcast before leaving the driveway so I have something interesting to listen to (Joyce Meier is a standard favorite, she has a new podcast each day)

During the day at work:
- Pull up my Cozi To Do list, so if I have time at lunch or between meetings I can tackle a personal task
- Log in to Weight Watchers, knowing that I'm more likely to log my points and pay attention to what I'm eating if it's already on my screen
- drink water
- eat lunch and have a fruit snack at some point
- go weigh in on the scale in the work gym

What kinds of habits have you developed to keep yourself on task?

Having the Best Year Ever,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Happiness Project: Life Lessons, My List of the "Secrets of Adulthood"

As part of the Happiness Project, I've been thinking about some my favorite "life lessons." Here they are, true, funny, real...and here I am, dancing in my front yard to celebrate :)

happiness projectRead the instructions all the way through before you start
Measure twice, cut once
Speak your mind, even if your lips tremble
Don't rescue anyone who isn't asking for help, and if you do, don't expect them to thank you for your "help"
Work with and for people you respect and who respect you
Don't drink beer through a straw
If you're not sure if you need it or will use it, don't buy it
Call your parents, and listen to them. You need each other.
Re-read books that you have loved to remember why you loved them
When it looks like you might be headed towards a fight with someone, ask yourself if it's better to be right, or happy?
Look for ways to be better, not bitter
Take the time to hem your pants, and buy a sewing machine if you don't have one
Stop taking yourself so seriously
Cherish and take time to remember those people who have passed away, and think of how they inspire you
Listen to your gut reactions about people, places, and events
Let people fail, let yourself fail - it means you are learning
Tell people you love them

Memorize and internalize the Prayer of Saint Francis
Practice Centering Prayer
Follow your passions
Treat everyone the way you would like to be treated
Take chances
Love un-apologetically
Relationships work when both people look for ways to make them work
Pack a pair of undies in your carry on, along with saline, a swimsuit, glasses, a snack, and a book
Instead of feeling sorry for yourself or feeling alone, plan something with and for your friends
Pa always says "Money on the barrel" - don't live in debt, and save for the things you want

Do you have any great tid-bits to share? Please spill the beans!

Dancing the night away,

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happiness Project: Energy: Sleep and a New Bed

One of the primary things I identified in my "Energy" month is sleep. There are a couple of aspects of sleep that I wanted to tackle; both the amount of sleep I get and the quality of sleep I have been getting.

So the first trick has been attempting to get to bed by about 10pm each night. This is not easy for me. I try super hard to limit my time online, or watching TV, or even doing chores and pick up. But with a 16 month old in the house, evening quickly becomes the only time that I can take either enjoy a little "me time" or take care of stuff that just needs to get done.

I picked 10pm for a couple of reasons. During the week, I need to be up by about 6:30am to get to work on time. And on the weekends (well really every day), young Zoom often wakes up by 7am. With a little buffer time in there, it means I CAN get 8 hours of sleep.

The other issue at our house is our bed. Egads. The queen size mattress we currently have is almost TWELVE years old. No joke, I wake up multiple times a night with my arms and legs tingling, and often wake up with any number of odd pains. It's terrible. So terrible, in fact, that we have moved into the guest room and are sleeping on a futon.

That's about to come to an end. We are going to be buying a new mattress this week, and will be getting a new platform bed! Last week we went and checked out the Savvy Rest organic, all natural latex mattress and it is amazing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Golf Ball Art for Toddlers

Zoom and I did a little art project today. We used golf balls and finger paint and created some pretty cool paintings.

For supplies, we used finger paint in primary colors, a box leftover from Christmas gifts, and paper. I cut the box so that it acted like a tray to hold the paper.

Golf Ball 10

We used some paper bowls to coat the golf balls with paint.

Red Golf Ball

And then Zoom picked which colors to use, and we dropped in the box, and let 'em roll!

Red Art with Golf Ball

He held one side of the box, and I held the other. We laughed as we raised the sides and made the ball roll around. We also talked about what color we were using, and talked about putting the ball "in" and taking it "out" of the box.

Golf Ball 5

We finished four before it was time for dinner!

What fun projects have you tackled this week?

Creations by Kara

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Whoever is Happy Will Make Others Happy, too

This page has been moved to my new website. You can find it by clicking here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happiness Project: 12 Topics To Tackle

Happiness Project 2012
Happiness can be found on the beach :)
While the title of this post sounds a bit like it's a bit like a project manager's rendition of "12 days of Christmas," I had a little something different in mind. As Gretchen Rubin decided to do in her own Happiness Project, I am going to assign a topic for each month of the year. I took a little time to reflect on those things that are most important to me, and here's my list. I still need to figure out what order these go in :) and make sure they are the twelve that I want to commit to spending time with.

Energy (January)
Money / Finances
Learning / Mind

For each month, my plan is to post about a handful of things that I'm focusing on around the month's topic. I realize I can't tackle everything, so I'll probably limit it to four or five things. Stuff that is important, that may make a difference in my life.

For example, in January, I'm planning on focusing on the following items in the Energy category, with the idea being that each of these things will allow me to feel more energetic each day:
Sleep, and getting a new bed
Eating Right
Speaking my mind
Tackling tasks that have been dragging on far too long
Scheduling a vacation

What do you do to feel energized? Any suggestions?

Sending you all happy thoughts,

Friday, January 6, 2012

Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California

Hi friends! Last week I had a couple of days off, and took a trip over to Oakland to visit the Cathedral of Christ the Light. The outside of the building is wrapped in glass, and sits near Lake Merritt. The glass and sky meld together, meshing the limits of Heaven and Earth. I had my camera with me and took a few pictures, although, I'll admit, pictures can't capture the amazingness of this place.

Cathedral of Christ the Light

Cathedral of Christ the Light

From the moment I stepped through the doors, I was taken by the symbolism and presence that filled the place. And the sense that God was there, hovering, welcoming, surrounding me.

The first thing one sees as they enter the wooden double doors is the large bubbling baptismal font. Past that is the interior of the church which is a symphony of glass framed in wood. Light appropriately fills the space. Below my feet was the passage of Genesis 1:2-3 engraved in the floor around the large font. I walked over the passage as I read it.

"the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light.” 

Cathedral of Christ the Light

I loved how the dark waters and sparkling light gave me a deep sense of The Creation. I could see the symbolism of the water used here, that first act of God's Creation virtually dancing together with the act of by John baptising Jesus. Water and light. Creation and Christ. I stared at the bubbling watery void and imagined the Spirit of God moving over a vast sea of water before there was light or land.

The creation passage continues to play out in the architecture of the space, as does the marriage of Old Testament and New Testament in imagery and message. I was drawn into the space by the light, the light of the sun cascading through the huge ark-like dome that makes up the "ceiling." And, led by the light of Christ, whose image sits above the altar. The image itself, called the "Omega Window" stands 58 feet tall, and is made of 94,000 preforations through metal. The light of the sun illuminates the light of Christ for this amazing image, again marrying Creation and Christ in a moving way. The outdoor shadows change the lighting of the image constantly, breathing life into it.

Cathedral of Christ the Light

As I looked straight up from this same point, I was taken by the architecture. The vast ark-like wooden beams, coupled with the triangular panels, resonated with the story of Noah, and at the same time, symbolism of the Trinity.

Cathedral of Christ the Light

This photo is taken standing in front of the altar, looking back towards the entrance.
Interior of Cathedral of Christ the Light 2

And here is Jesus on the cross which sits below the Omega Window on the altar.
Cathedral of Christ the Light

Everything about this building and its design is inspiring. The attention to details, the inherent resonance with scripture, and the overwhelming sense of God fills the space; each was mind blowing to me. The lines of the building constantly lead the eye towards the Heavens, yet at the same time the materials used to build the space are simple, modern, clean. I love this Cathedral, and have a hard time finding words for how completely breath-taking it is.

If you'd like to visit or learn more, this stunning building was written up in Arch Daily (an architecture site). You can also visit the Cathedral of Chris the Light in Oakland's website to find out about taking a tour or attending mass.

Feeling inspired by humanity's tribute to the Holy,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happiness Project 2012: The 'Beginning' - Energy

Completely by chance, as I was wandering a bookstore recently, I found the book "The Happiness Project" by Gretch Rubin I remembered that my friend Chrissy had mentioned this book once, so I picked it up and began looking it over. Wow, this is just what I "needed!" it's a book about one woman's journey to find happiness. She decided to take a year to do it.

So that's what I want, too. I feel like my weight loss that started in September was the beginning of this journey, I just didn't know what the next steps were. I really wanted to find me, the adult me, the one who is in charge, who has things "planned" instead of feeling like I'm constantly reacting to the whims of others. I want our little family to have a firm foundation, some routines, some traditions, some time for just unplanned / unscripted fun.

While happiness can come out of unscriptedness, I don't think that living an unplanned life (for me) can result in happiness and fulfillment. It's too easy to get caught up in everything else, doing things for everyone else, so that at the end of a day or a month of a year, you step back and wonder ... where did all that time go?

It's like the first time Sean and I went to Hawaii. He said he'd never been because there just wasn't enough money. To which I said - if you plan, and save, and put the money aside, you will have enough. It's a matter of making things a priority. Happiness is a priority, but I don't think enough of us make time for it. Happiness doesn't just happen, you have to make it happen.

Now I feel like I have some ideas of what the next, real, tangible steps will be. For right now, I'm going to make "Energy" might focus for this month. Gretchen Rubin broke her year up into 12 areas of focus, so I am going to follow that lead. Energy was also her first area to work on, and I can see that it makes sense for me to start there, too. I'm going to be working on more lists and ideas, too.

What makes you happy? What can you do more of to make you happy this year?

Let's get happy,

Me at Vesuvio
The Happiness Project begins!

Monday, January 2, 2012

How to Make a Star Wars Sweatshirt for a Toddler

A few years ago, I fell for the super nerdy "Spaceships Tee" from Super 7. It has a bunch of different spaceships on it, and it was only made in men's sizes. Here I am with it:

Star Wars Toddler Sweatshirt - me with the shirt

Perhaps you realize the error of my ways. Male nerds are drawn to this shirt, and the cool pictures are plastered all over, well, my chest. After a long day of awkward interactions, I sadly put it away for good.

And then I realized that while I'd never wear the shirt again, I could make something with it for Zoom by cutting up the pattern on the t-shirt. I envisioned a super awesome toddler Star Wars Sweatshirt. Here's what I did!

I grabbed  Zoom's black 18 month size Circo (from Target) hoodie. This was $8.
Star Wars Toddler Sweatshirt - original sweatshirt

I cut my beloved shirt, taking part of the pattern, being sure to get the recognize-able AT-AT Walker and X-Wing Fighter:
Star Wars Toddler Sweatshirt - cutting the t-shirt

I pinned the cut outs on to the sweatshirt to make sure I had them just where I wanted them before sewing:

I sewed the t-shirt pieces on to the sweatshirt with black thread using my sewing machine. There's no need for a hem or finishing as jersey doesn't fray, and I liked the idea that it will curl a bit and look more "street" after Zoom wears it a bit:

Star Wars Toddler Sweatshirt - back

And here's the pocket detail:
Star Wars Toddler Sweatshirt - front