Category Archives: About Me

100 Days of Summer – A Review of the Happiness Planner

I spent the 100 days of summer using the Happiness Planner.  The planner style I’m using is a 3-month version.

I picked it up by chance when I had a gift certificate from Anthropology and thought it looked the mid year pick-me-up I need. It was.

The planner starts by asking what makes you happy & unhappy, what are your strengths & weaknesses, what upsets you and what do you want to improve, etc.  There is a place for goals, so I set summer goals (mostly around getting outside more, playing my ukulele and enjoying myself). Then I jumped in.

Weekly you put in your schedule and each day you record “what I’m excited about,” “good things about today,” “what I hope for tomorrow.” There is a place to list daily goals, exercise and meals.  I loved the focus on the positive.

What worked:

  • It was doable – setting goals for 100 days was something I could do. I found I was more focused and I achieved 50% more of my goals.
  • It was different – I liked having to think each day about what I was looking forward to. That really starts the day off differently – I liked it!
  • I could use it with what I already use (I use The Way App where I track my daily personal rituals).
  • Each week there is a 2-page summary which included a place to describe the week in 3 words (which was fun to think about) & a place to “score” your happiness, health and engagement.
  • On the 2-page weekly summary  there was a place for me to record what I learned that week – those ideas got captured and I could refer back to them. I really loved that.

My plan was just to do this for the summer and then to go back to my regular planner but I bought a second one to use for the next 100 days!

Goals – Update 1

12733442_10153510671343865_7678946094946885773_nMy last post was around my goals for the New Year and how even though I had 100% failure rate with last year’s personal goals, I was trying again. I thought an update was in order mostly because if I get off track, it is usually pretty quickly.

Here is what I am finding –

Keeping My Goals Before Me Daily – This is really working. I created a “vision board” with pictures of walking feet (I have a goal around steps I want to get in each day) and a woman sitting on her zafu meditating (my goal is a daily 20 minutes) and all kinds of other stuff. I pasted the photos into my planner and spend 5 minutes looking at them while I drink my morning coffee. It is a good reminder and I enjoy the beauty of the images. I also added the words “I expect,” “I believe,” and “its a gift not a chore.” These are phrases that are connecting me with my goals.

Also, I have added in one action which I am testing out:  imagining myself doing my goals.

Here is how it works:  As I walk in the morning, I imagine myself getting up early and spending time throughout the day doing the things to which I have committed. It is corny (like the vision board) but it is helpful in moving me into believing I can make the choices I want to make.

Honestly, I added this in after recognizing that there were things I wanted to do that I could not imagine myself doing. For example, I usually crash in front of the sofa when I get home -it is a long-standing bad habit. To open myself up to change I imagining myself talking a walk/making a cup of tea and reading/etc. instead. I am trying this out after reading evidence that using our imagination in this way is helpful in achieving goals.

Accountability and Organization – I am using my Way of Life app daily tracking what I am doing (and not doing) is helpful. When I take my morning walk, I look at the items on the app and remind myself what I want to accomplish.

One of the items on my list is “take 100% responsibility for myself.” Seeing this first thing enables me to remember that even as crazy as the day gets, I can take responsibility for what I do and don’t do in the midst of it all. This helps to stay on track with food or exercise because after all, I am 100% responsible for myself.

Support in Achieving My Goals: I enrolled in the Jon Acuff 30 day course and liked it. It was pretty straightforward and has a Facebook page so you can see how others are living into their 30 Day Hustle. My first 30-Day Hustle is walking 8000 steps. I started on Jan 2 and walked at least 8000 steps every day but 4. Achieving this simple goal every day is giving me the confidence I need to live into some bigger goals. I have continued this goal and am working up to 10,000 steps.

So, how are your goals going?

Train Trip Day 3

11/24/15 7:30 PM

12247155_10153347280583865_4110046340310252772_nUp at 5:30 AM and found we were almost in Kansas City – I opened my room’s drape to see the glowing red sign proclaiming, “Jack Stack BBQ.” I knew exactly where I was!

The conductor let us have a “fresh air break” at the trainstation and I paced back and forth by the train trying to wake up. Sadly, there was no bbq smell to enjoy. As we pullout out of the station, I pour a cup of coffee and got to writing.

It was a beautiful morning. Open fields, farmhouses and snow. Lots of snow. Dogs and horses, donkeys and emus. Only saw one Starbucks but saw hundreds of abandon homes in sad and beautiful states of decay.

I reread what I had written and tried to not get too caught up in trying to “fix” it. My time this week will be more enjoyable if I spend the bulk of it writing, not fixing what I don’t like. I am halfway done with a new chapter and am finding the committee in my head is quieter. Ate my lunch in my room and keep writing.

12246797_10153347282703865_6490883575727232364_nWe got in to Chicago by 3PM and I wandered around uncertain where to go and set up my computer for the 5 hours I had until we boarded the next train. Walked around upstairs and saw all the fast food, which did not look good at all.  I ended up finding that I had access to the Metropolitan Lounge where you get free coffee, wifi and lots of comfortable seating. There is even a Christmas tree in here.

Spent till 6:30 PM writing about the Eucharist and reading about the Maker movement. Read a magazine and confirmed yesterday’s suspicion that I hate magazines (they say nothing new). We board at 8:30 PM.

The new train has a different room set up.  There is a toilet and fold up sink which means the bed is not very wide.  I ate some pretzels and watched the first episode of The Royals. My attendant doesn’t make up my bed so I figure it out (mostly) and had a much better night’s sleep.

A good and long day.


Train Trip Final Day

11/25/15, 6:45 PM   It is a good thing my iphone always knows where I am because on a train, you’d have no idea-

12249618_10153347280653865_3154262454814556504_nYesterday we moved on to a new train and this had a smoother ride for sleeping and I was out till 7AM. My iphone told me I was in Ohio – Found the coffee, had breakfast (I did have the pancakes which were awesome) and started writing at 8 AM.

This trip has been focused on my book and a couple small blog posts. For the book, I ended up writing about 2,500 words a day or 7,5000 total. Which is 7,500 more than I wrote before the trip so while I didn’t feel I produced tons of material, it did feel like I really have made a start and have found a direction for what I am working on. To keep the momentum going, I spent time yesterday figuring out my next 3 writing session.

What I learned about myself.

  1. I struggle to put what I am feeling into words because I have been so very action oriented over the last decade or so. I found that writing for 50 minutes and meditating for 10 minutes (focusing on my breathing and finishing with a prayer) was the most helpful part of moving me forward.
  2. I struggled to say things honestly because I don’t want to say things that people might debate me on. That comes from all those years of preaching (which for me is about getting folks to engage and consider and not to tell them what to think). A book is more about telling people what you think and so it is very different from preaching.
  3. Using Focus@will helped me stay writing. I have used this music app for a couple of months and am finding I stayed focused and writing for longer periods of time (I saw this when I blew off using it a couple of times).

If you go on a train trip you need to know:

  1. Bring small luggage – a backpack is perfect because you’ll want something you can hang up in your room. Otherwise you have to share your bed with your suitcase or leave it on the luggage rack down the hall.
  2. Easy on & easy off clothing and shoes. You have about a foot of space to stand in and dress so, wear what is easy (and bring about half what you think you need since who cares if you wear the same things several times).
  3. Bring something that is home: I brought tea, a tea mug and an immersion heater and that helped me feel more relaxed.
  4. If the cabin door shakes put a piece of tissue over the latch – I wish I knew this last night but it did help me all day today.IMG_1610 (1)

So my train trip is over – thanks Jeff for the awesome birthday gift!

Train Travel Day 2

November 23, 4:43 PM

Someone told me that you sleep really well on a train. That is not proving true for me. Sure, it might be the tiny bed but really, I think it is the constant shaking of the train. I’d fall asleep and 20 minutes later I’d wake up thinking it was an earthquake (that’s the Californian in me). This goes on all night.

I awoke at 5:30 AM, the sun was coming up and it seemed like a waste to keep trying to sleep. What state was this? It looked like Arizona. I tried to figure out how to get dressed in the foot of space you have to stand. I washed my face and brushed my hair and wandered up to breakfast. I had the oatmeal. Three cups of coffee later, I was ready.

Here is how I spent the day:

8 AM-9AM: I worked on my Blog, both finishing and posting yesterday’s post on this trip and then, editing a second post on organization.

9:30 AM-11:00 AM: I worked on my book. (My inner voice was really loud & was shouting: YOU CANNOT DO THIS!!! the entire time, but I kept at it….)

IMG_154511:00 AM-11:20 AM: We stopped in Albuquerque and had about 45 minutes at the train station. I took a walk and bought a gift. There was snow on the ground.

11:30 AM-12:00 PM: I continued to work on my book while the train was in the station.

IMG_155012 PM -1 PM: I had lunch in my room and read a magazine

1 PM-3 PM I went through all my sermons on the teachings of Jesus and thought about what kind of a book/blog series this might make. I started working on the topic of what Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God. (Lots of work to do here to make these notes into anything helpful….)

3 PM-3:30 PM – I fell asleep.

IMG_15603:30 PM-5 PM I worked on my book. Inner voice was a little less loud but after I read what I wrote this morning, the inner voice loudly shouted, SEE YOU CANNOT DO THIS! I made tea (I brought my BU MOM mug and a tea immersion heater.) and tea always helps.

It’s 5 PM and my plan is to have a glass of wine and watch the beautiful scenery (we are in New Mexico/Colorado) and enjoy this evening. I have dinner plans in the dinning car and I plan to do a bit of art this evening. I am not looking forward to trying to sleep.

It was a great and productive day!


Train Travel Day 1

12250093_10153343511688865_4493781650585420476_nNovember 22, 2015, 5:55PM

I am not totally sure why I am here. It started when I heard about a week-long residency Amtrak offered to writers. The idea caught my imagination and before I knew it, I had applied.

I didn’t get it.

But, not one to let that throw me, I started thinking about creating my own personalized writers residency program. And by personal writers residency program I mean I thought about taking a three-day train trip alone where I would write.

What would I write? Well, a book, of course.

And a blog.

And a blog/book.

These are three separate projects. All of which I work on an hour here, 20 minutes there. Never much time and certainly not in any systematic way. The book has especially floundered with this method since for months on end I have done nothing at all.

Honestly, I would never have put this trip together on my own. It would have just have been one of those ideas that sounded awesome that I didn’t do (where would I find the time and why would I spend that money on something so self-indulgent?) BUT, my husband Jeff gave it to me for my birthday. Three days on a train, going from LA to Boston. Three days for my DIY writers residency program.

Tonight I begin. We left at 6:15 PM (right on time) and I set up in my tiny, tiny room. Glad to have a duffel bag and not a suitcase since it would need to share my bed with me.

Tonight’s schedule:

6:00 – Write

6:30-7:30 Read and get settled

7:30-8:30 Dinner

9 Bed

Here is a tour of my room: