Friday, February 28, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 23: Coffee!!

The perfect cup of coffee. (That's nutmeg in there, not grounds!)
This morning I  sat up in bed and thought; I could have coffee!! 

Now, I know for some people this is a no-brainer - coffee is, after all, a lifestyle. And even a necessity. But not for me. Since I'm able to set my own hours I rarely have to get up and get moving right away. So, coffee is more of an occasional thing; something to be savored slowly and enjoyed thoroughly.
I get on coffee kicks and will have it every day for awhile, then not touch it for weeks.
But once I realized that I currently have all the fixings for a really good cup of coffee - I was happy (and I hadn't even gotten out of bed yet!

Immediately Pharrell's "Happy" song jumped into my head, but instead of happy, I was singing coffee.
'Cause I want coffeeeeee.... clap along if coffee tastes good to you.... cause I want coffeeeee... clap along if coffiness is the truth; coffeeee coffeeee coffeeee cooffeee...
(You get the point.)

Anyway, I'm off to a great start!

And by the way, for my perfect cup of coffee, I prefer French Roast, organic half and half, agave nectar or honey, and some sort of spice like turmeric, cinnamon or nutmeg. Yummy!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 22: Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Yum!! Easy, delicious and healthy. Can't beat that!

I cut up a sweet potato, tossed it in olive oil and a mixture of chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and salt (equal amounts of each). I baked it at 425 for about a half hour and voila! Yumminess.

Another thing that made me happy today was finding the washing machine in my building empty. And of course the satisfaction of having done laundry (which you may think you're familiar with, but you're bound to be less familiar with if you don't have to actually leave your home to do laundry).

Day 21 Bonus happy: "Gimme" by Jill Scott. I love Jill Scott thought I was familiar with most of her music, but somehow I missed this one. Great video too.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 21: No Such Thing As Coincidence

Okay, I know it's not much, and it may seem crazy, but this piece of trash made me very happy today. (Yup, weird.)

But here's the thing: at first glance, I thought it was a dead bird. I was very happy to find that it was NOT a dead bird. Then I realized that for a piece of trash, it looked remarkably like a bird (more so in person - or perhaps in the moment). And I just happened to be on my way to teach a class on painting birds. Coincidence? No such thing in my book. For me, this little piece of garbage was a sign that I'm on the right track; that I'm coming back to life.  :D

A few other things that made me happy today: Watching David Byrne cover Biz Markie's "Just a Friend", finding that someone in my class had left me a big tip, and getting the last parking spot behind my building. It was a good day.

Day 21 Bonus (and definitely more entertaining than trash): Paul Rudd and Jimmy Kimmel lip sync competition. Hilarious!

My Happiness Project Day 20: Salt-n-Pepa

I was working away on my computer today and listening to Pandora; my TLC channel (that's TLC aas in T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli, NOT The Learning Channel). They were playing some good tunes from back in the day, but I had to take a groove break when Whatta Man came on.
Salt-n-Peppa AND En Vougue? Oh yeah, happy. This song is a classic.

Bonus Day 20 happy: THIS guy on Humans of New York. So wonderful!  Also, I just love HONY generally. Good stuff.

Monday, February 24, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 19: I Am the Architect of My Life

 I found this bookmark today while looking thorough one of my mother's old yoga books. It was a nice reminder, at just the right time: You are the architect of your life. Simple but true, and so good to remember!
It's easy to fall into thinking that things just happen to us; that we have no control over our circumstances. And... sometimes that it true. Stuff happens. But we do have a say in how we react to what happens, and that can make all the difference in the world.

The funny thing about finding this bookmark is that I don't remember pulling the book out of a box to look at it. I was going through some of my mother's papers, and the next thing I knew, the book was on my desk. I'm sure I absentmindedly pulled it out with a whole bunch of papers, but still. It was cool to just see it laying there, and then to find the bookmark. It does feel like a message from beyond. Thanks mom!

My Happiness Project Day 18: James Corden Getting His Boogie On

James Corden is adorable, and is not about to let crummy news ruin his day. So, he cranks up his tunes and boogies through the 'hood. Along the way he steals a candy bar, dances with kids and cops and lays down the rhythm with some old ladies on a park bench. All while lip syncing to "Free" by Estelle.
In my mind, this is the way the world should be: singing and dancing in the streets.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 17: Studio Time

Eclectic Women Getting Creative
You'd think that I'd spend a lot of time in my studio, being a working artist and all. Unfortunately, I don't spend nearly enough time there. Between marketing my classes, updating my various websites and pages, posting my work on ebay (and shipping), and generally trying to make a buck (all while doing the other stuff running a business entails) I don't have a whole lot of time to do what I love and really should be doing: painting.

Today was one of those lovely days when I was able to share my space with others, and get some studio time for myself. The best of both worlds.
First up was an abstract painting class with my Eclectic Woman's Fun Club (a great group of women who have meetups several times a week and do all kinds of great stuff - it's always nice to see them). Then later I was able to get a few hours of painting alone, and started on a new tree bark painting. I've been chomping at the bit to start another one!

I like to paint to music, and these days I'm listening to my collection album by album. Tonight was Bonnie Raitt, Carly Simon, and Chaka Khan (all "Best Of" albums - which makes sense as I'm listening to my music in alphabetical order by album name).

Day 17 Bonus: Chaka Khan. Enjoy.

My Happiness Project Day 16: A Clean Desk

Having a clean desk perhaps brings more of a feeling of relief than of happiness. But... being able to breathe easy makes me happy. Therefore, a clean desk makes me happy.

I've had two "desk jobs" in my life and each department I worked for had cycles. The cycle would come to an end and I would tie up loose ends, file everything away, clean my desk and start fresh.

Now I work for myself, and there are no natural cycles in my business. Except perhaps First Friday, and that really only effects my studio, not my office (which is at home). My studio gets a nice cleaning once a month before and after First Friday, but my desk remains a disaster. I'd like to say that I'll take the opportunity of First Friday to clean my desk once a month but... we'll see. The only thing I tend to be consistent with is inconsistency.

That said, I found this great article: Why You Should Have a Messy Desk. Yay!! Finally, justification for my mess (I really should have posted a "before" picture, but feared judgement...)

According to the article, people with messy desks tend to be creative and risk takers, and people with orderly desks tend to follow the rules and not try new things or take risks. "Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights.”

YES! My messy desk helps my creativity. I knew it!

The article also said "When you’re generating ideas and concepts, it could help to have a messier desk. However, when you’re trying to be productive, getting a specific task accomplished, or simply need to execute on a creative concept, cleaning your desk can “trade in” your creativity for efficiency."

And there you have it. My clean desk makes me happy, and now I'll feel better about my messy desk in a few days. And that makes me happy, too. :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 15: Brian Williams Raps

This is that it made my day!

I luvs me some Rappers Delight - it takes me straight back to junior high. In fact I still have the 12-inch LP (with nothing to play in on, of course).

I can't imagine how long it took put this together. It's tons of fun.

And here it is in all it's 14:44 glory... I dare you not to dance.

The Right Song at The Right Time: The Shins Saved the Day

Have you ever heard the perfect song at the exact time that you needed to hear it?

That happened to me yesterday. I was driving along, feeling sad and woefully alone in the world. Then suddenly from the radio I heard:
 "I know that things can really get rough when you go it alone
   Don’t go thinking you gotta be tough, to play like a stone"

Just the words I needed to hear. I had never heard the song before, so I pulled over to Shazam it and found that it was "Simple Song" by The Shins.

Music is so powerful. 

Oh - and a note about my happiness project (should you be following)...
The project is definitely helping to lift me out of my funk. I still fall into it, fairly often. But because I'm blogging every day about being happy - because I have committed to doing it - I am looking for things that make me happy. And I find just the looking helps. A perspective shift can be a really good thing. I believe that it's my commitment to looking for things that make me happy that made me able to hear those lyrics, and that really helped my day.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 14: Salted Caramel Shake

Happiness is THIS: a salted caramel milkshake from smashburger. Oh, and the smashburger and smashfries, of course. (For those of you who are uninitiated, smashfries have rosemary, olive oil and garlic, and are amazing.)
Throw into the mix a good friend, and you have a lovely, happy and oh so decadent Wednesday afternoon.

(Judge not, fair readers; the burger and fries were split between all parties at the table - okay, both of us - to make room for the shake.)

I regret nothing.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Happiness Project Day Day 13: Beauty In The World

Can I just say that I love Macy Gray?
This song pretty sums up my view on life (most of the time, anyway). This is "Beauty in the World" by Macy Gray, and it's a slice of happy for today.

"When I look around, I see blue skies, I see butterflies for us. Listen to the sound and lose it. It's sweet music, and dance with me..."

My Happiness Project Day 12: Spring is Coming

I have to say that February is usually my least favorite month. Historically I've suffered through the bitter cold, and through the dreaded Valentine's Day with the tiniest sliver of hope that spring would eventually arrive. 
But this year is different. The weather has been beautiful for the past few days. I woke up at 7am and the sun was up. I walked outside and the birds were singing, and I saw a bunny scurry across the backyard. I sat down on a cushion-less patio chair and soaked in the sun. Bliss. 
Yes, spring is on the way, and with it will come new life, growth, and fresh opportunities. 

Full disclaimer: the picture above was taken last summer, but it does give me something to look forward to!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 11: Paint Club

Paint Club is a weekly open paint session that I host at my studio each Sunday. Everyone from beginners to professional artists come to hang out and work on their own projects in a safe and supportive environment. 
There is a small group of regulars and a larger group of people who rotate through. It's always nice to catch up with people I haven't seen in awhile. None of my "regulars" made it in today; there were five people who were new to Paint Club, and one who has been a few times. Everyone had a good time, and it's nice to watch people experiment with paint just for the fun of it. It makes me happy to be able to provide space for people to create. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 10: Dogs!

Yay! I made it to the double digits of happy days: day 10! Today dogs made me happy. And I saw a lot of them! I went to the dog show (my first) to help my friend Ravay Snow* at her pet portrait booth. I had a great time watching  all of the wonderful dogs walk by. From tiny to giant and from adorable to odd looking, there were some pampered pooches there. And some of the most beautiful dogs I've ever seen.
By the way, the three dogs in the picture were sitting quietly in a row peeking adorably over the side of the wagon... Until I pointed my camera at them!

I also got to visit with one of my favorite four legged dudes - Mac. Here he is on all his glory. 

It's a dog's life, after all. 

*Check out Ravay's amazing pet portraits  at

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Happiness Day Project Day 9: Painting

I was delighted to steal three whole hours to paint today. It was the perfect day to do it, too - the weather was beautiful, so I was able to open a window in my studio, crank up the tunes and get busy.

All three hours were dedicated to this painting - "Churning". It's getting closer, but there is still so much work to do!

I know painting seems like a no-brainer thing to make me happy, but... well ask any painter and I'm sure we'll all say that painting doesn't always make us happy. It can be frustrating, hard work. But, it also makes me happy. Even when I'm down to the painstaking details stage like I am with this one.

My Happiness Day Project Day 8: Don't Go Breaking My Heart

Blast from the past for today's bit of happiness. "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" was released the summer I turned 10. It was the summer that we took the road trip to New York, and the summer that my sister was born. It was a good year.
This is one of those songs that can always cheer me up. It's just bouncy chewy-ewy goodness.

Day 8 bonus: Elton John and Miss Piggy

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Happiness Day Project Day 7: Frozen Banana Ice Cream

Actually, no. It's not really ice cream. Which is one reason that I'm so happy about it! This "ice cream" has just one ingredient: bananas. Yup.

I realize that the photo looks suspiciously like mashed potatoes and gravy, but trust me: that is a banana and a half.

I love bananas, but their shelf life is ridiculously small. And the window of time that they REALLY taste good is like a day. So I've end up throwing away a lot of bananas in my day (I cannot deal with an overripe banana - yuck). Then I heard that one could freeze bananas. So I took a spotted one and threw it the freezer instead of the trash. I figured I'd use it in a smoothie at some point. And there it sat for a couple of months. In my freezer looking ugly. Then a week ago another one joined it.

I finally decided to make a smoothie today. I took out those nasty looking bananas and didn't really believe they'd be good. I broke open the week old banana and it peeled fairly easily. The older one not so much - I had to peel the skin off with a knife. But they both tasted good. Then I recalled some sort of ice cream recipe using frozen bananas. I did a search for "banana ice cream", and this page popped up. I was thrilled that I had all the ingredients I needed! (The only ingredient.)

How does this deliciousness work? I just plopped the frozen bananas into my blender and put it on the lowest setting for... I don't know... maybe thirty seconds. And voila! A yummy frozen treat that is actually... dare I say it? Healthy.

Happiness! Double happiness, even!

My Happiness Day Project Day 6: Dance

Hip swaying, bootie shaking, salsa, cha-cha. Pop and lock, jump up jump down jump around, shake your money maker. Shake what your mama gave you, for that matter. (Do you want fries with that shake?) Ballroom, jazz, tap, ballet. Jitterbug, waltz, vogue.

I love dance. I love to do it and I love to watch it. (No... I can't do most of those dances, but I do pretend REALLY well.) I even love watching "bad" dancers - as long as they're having fun, it's all good. Dance, to me is like singing - natural. In fact both things are natural to everyone. Don't tell me you can't sing or dance. You may be not be able to do either as well as you'd like, but who cares? I say just do it. And by the way I am terribly uncoordinated, but I have a hard time resisting a line dance. Go figure.

And so I give you the ultimate "all's well that ends well" fun dance scene of my generation, as well as an updated version that I'd never seen...

Day Six Dance Bonus: one of my favorite poems:

by Jewel Mathieson

We have come to be danced
not the pretty dance
not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance
but the claw our way back into the belly
of the sacred, sensual animal dance
the unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box dance
the holding the precious moment in the palms
of our hands and feet dance

We have come to be danced
not the jiffy booby, shake your booty for him dance
but the wring the sadness from our skin dance
the blow the chip off our shoulder dance
the slap the apology from our posture dance

We have come to be danced
not the monkey see, monkey do dance
one, two dance like you
one two three, dance like me dance
but the grave robber, tomb stalker
tearing scabs & scars open dance
the rub the rhythm raw against our souls dance

We have come to be danced
not the nice invisible, self conscious shuffle
but the matted hair flying, voodoo mama
shaman shakin’ ancient bones dance
the strip us from our casings, return our wings
sharpen our claws & tongues dance
the shed dead cells and slip into
the luminous skin of love dance

We have come to be danced
not the hold our breath and wallow in the shallow end of the floor dance
but the meeting of the trinity: the body, breath & beat dance
the shout hallelujah from the top of our thighs dance
the mother may I?
yes you may take 10 giant leaps dance
the Olly Olly Oxen Free Free Free dance
the everyone can come to our heaven dance

We have come to be danced
where the kingdom’s collide
in the cathedral of flesh
to burn back into the light
to unravel, to play, to fly, to pray
to root in skin sanctuary
We have come to be danced


Monday, February 10, 2014

My Happiness Day Project Day 5: Falling in Love Again

Okay, no - I'm not falling in love - not with a person anyway. But perhaps I can see a glimmer of falling in love with life again. Let's just say it's a gleam in my eye right now. Focusing on happy is a really good thing.

I love this video. I find it interesting that I had a dream last night where I was driving very much like the man in the beginning of the video. I was speeding around curves on two wheels; only I was driving by lying on the top of my car and holding on for dear life. Kind of scary, but exciting too. Who knows what's around the bend.

Edit: The original video that I had posted is no longer available. Below is a snippet from it.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 4: The First Time I Heard Coltrane

The beauty of this project is that I find that I'm always looking for something to be happy about. There were many things to be happy about today. Paint Club took up much of my time, but I can't list anything specific that made me happy there, because what happens at Paint Club stays at Paint Club. :)

So tonight my happy comes via The Nightside with Andy O' on KUVO
This is "The First Time I Heard Coltrane" by Tribaljazz featuring Alfre Woodard. (Which reminds me that I have a Coltrane painting sitting in my back room just waiting to be finished...)


Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 3: Sunshine

Ah, sunshine. I love it. It's one reason I stay in Denver; I need my sunny days. Glad we're climbing out of that nasty cold snap - at least for awhile. Sunshine is good for the soul!

Friday, February 7, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 2: Old Friends

Poor Theresa is partially obscured by my giant hood and giant finger.
Day 2: Old Friends

What can I say? 

These two ladies are my oldest friends. I've known Jane since Jr High, and Theresa since High School, and they've known each other since Elementary School. There are only two people on the planet that I've known for longer than these two. 

That's not to say that it's been steady eddy for the past thirty some-odd years. We were all good friends into our 20's and then we sort of drifted, the way people do.

Thanks to Facebook we found each other again a few years ago. When we met again for the first time in years, it was like no time had passed. That's the way it is with old friends.

Recently we decided to have a standing date - once a month we get together to catch up. Last night we went to the Elephant Bar.

I'm so happy to have found my girls again!

Day Two Bonus Happy: Eggs With My Father

Okay, no... I didn't actually have eggs with my father this morning. He died when I was pretty young. I don't have a whole lot of memories of him, but today when I took a bite of my scrambled eggs I was transported right back to a breakfast we had when I was six or so. I remember discussing our scrambled eggs, and noting that he liked his with ketchup, so of course, I did too.
I rarely eat my eggs scrambled these days, and if I do, I have a bunch of other stuff in them. But today it was just eggs, cheese and ketchup, and it took me back.
Not much to the memory, but it is definitely a happy one.

Follow along!
Happiness Project Day 3: Sunshine

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 1: My Small Bathroom

My postage stamp sized bathroom.
I want to start out by saying that I have been pretty freaking miserable for the past few months. My mom passed away in the beginning of August; I made it through the end of summer and fall pretty well, all things considered. But since the cold weather has set in... it's just been hard. All I really want to do is hibernate.
Yes, I am mourning. And I'm recovering from a very hard year.  But bigger than that, I realize that I've been putting my focus on the wrong things. I've been focusing on everything that's wrong with my life.

I am a believer in the Law Of Attraction, which basically says you get back what you put out. Put out crap, get crap; put out love, get love; put out lack, get lack. It's time to look at what's good in my life.

So without further ado, I give you my own personal Happiness Project. Borrowed from my friend Josie and (although I'm not officially participating through them because... well I just don't want to sign up for yet another thing), I'm going for 100 days of happiness. Starting today I will list one thing every day that makes me happy. If I skip a day, I start fresh at day one again.

Day One: My Small Bathroom

Recently I house-sat in a beautiful house that had a nice big bathroom. It had plenty of elbow room and enough space to get dressed or move around without bumping into things and knocking them into the toilet (yes, I've done that in my apartment).
Why am I singing the praises of a small bathroom, then? Because a small bathroom allows me not only the opportunity to steam my clothes while showering, but it also means that I won't FREEZE MY ASS OFF when I step out of the shower. Which is important when the temp is zero degrees, as it is today.
I love my small bathroom!!

Day one bonus, the appropriately titled "Happy"; I love this song!

Follow along!
Happiness Project Day 2: Old Friends
Happiness Project Day 3: Sunshine