Monday, March 31, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 53: Learning to be Happy

To my memory, I was a pretty miserable kid. My mom (and many adults) liked to call me grouchy, and in fact, I really related to Oscar the Grouch, of Sesame Street fame. I'm surprised whenever I see pictures of myself smiling as a kid. I was moody. I felt alone, isolated and like I had very few shared experiences with other human beings. I was an only child until I was ten, and I'd spent some time begging my mom to have another child so I wouldn't be so lonely.
To make matters worse, I thought I wanted to be left alone. But... I didn't, really. Of course I longed for connection, but I didn't know how to connect, so I kept to myself.

Of course there were friends, here and there that got in. Some of them I'm still friends with, today (and I'm so thankful the were there). But they were so few and far between, that they really stand out in my memory.

I don't mean to have a pity party about my childhood, here. This is all to say, that somehow, at some point, I talked myself out of my misery. I don't know exactly when it happened, but along the way I changed my set-point from miserable to happy. I made a decision, and shifted my focus.
And then life knocked me down, as it tends to do. So, I'm changing my focus again, and slowly but surely I'm getting back to myself.

What made me happy today? Knowing that it's within my control. I feel that if I can overcome the unhappiness that I felt that I was born with, that anyone can.
I know it sounds simplistic, but it really does work. Life is all about perspective. You can look at the trash in the street, or you can look at the beautiful clouds up above. I've definitely got my head in the clouds.

My happy walking music this evening? Toni Braxton You're Makin' Me High

Saturday, March 29, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 52: Always More to See

As I was walking through the neighborhood this morning - for the umpteenth time - it struck me that there is so much that I haven't seen. Forget about in the world, or even in Colorado. I'm talking about in this neighborhood that I feel I know so well. There are entire houses that I walk by every day without noticing. (Perhaps I just know them by their gardens.)

In any case it's nice to live in an area where every house and yard and garden looks different. There is always something interesting to see. And with spring, there is something new blooming every day. Today it was the star shaped flowers in the picture above (what are those things?), and these beautiful red tulips.

Friday, March 28, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 51: First Forsythia

I love spring, it has long been my favorite season. Every day there is something new to see. Like today, suddenly, there were daffodils in full bloom; yesterday I'd swear they were just leaves sticking out of the ground. 

Also today, I saw the first forsythia blooms. They reminded me of my mom. She loved forsythias, only she called them "for Cynthia's". I never had the heart to correct her. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 50: Halfway There!!

Look at this matched set!
Today I am really happy just to have made it through 50 days of this project! Normal routine aside, 50 days of anything in a row is tremendous for the girl who is consistent only in her inconsistency.

It occurred to me yesterday that people may think that I'm happy all the time now. Tra-la-la, little old me, skipping along with not a care in the world.
Nope. Not the case, not at all. I'm most definitely not happy all the time. But I'm not sad all the time either, and I was sad a good lot of the time before I started this. Actually... I'm not sad that much at all. I'd say that I raised my overall vibration. My bad moments aren't all that bad right now.

The thing about happiness, is that it's only in the moment. And the memory of a moment, or anticipation of a moment. Same with sadness - nothing lasts. So, I look for something that makes me happy, and really feel it. I enjoy it, and I milk it for all it's worth. Then later, I write about it so that I can feel happy all over again. By the way - this is one reason I'm blogging about it rather than just posting a photo with a few words to Facebook or the site. Writing about it puts me there in the moment again.

Something else that has been huge in this process is changing my environment. I know it's hard if you're not doing so well, but it really helps. My daily walks with the little dude in the picture have taken me outside of myself and shifted my focus to the broader perspective.

Bottom line: happiness can take some effort, and it's worth it.

Day 50 Bonus: First song of my morning walk today.  

What a beautiful world this will be, what a glorious time to be free...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 49: First Tree Blossoms

So there I was, walking along, lost in the clouds, and thinking about how the clouds were going to be my happy thing today. Luckily, I came back down to earth for a split second - long enough to see the first blooms that I've seen on a tree this season. How exciting! The trees in Denver bloom for such a short time, that one really has to pay attention, and enjoy them fully while they last.

Day 49 bonus: Right after seeing the tree we walked a short way into an alley (many interesting smells in an alley, I suppose). Miss Janet came on my Pandora and I had to bust a move right there in the alley. I looked up to see a cat in a window checking me out. The cat clearly thought me a fool. I didn't care. I was a happy fool. 
I'm blogging from my phone, so I can't embed a video. But here's a link, if you feel like heading back to 1986...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 47: A Cool Morning Walk

Just yesterday I was complaining to people about having to get up early to walk the dog in the cold. I like walking, and a dog is a great excuse for a walk, but mornings? No. I don't do mornings. And I especially don't do them in the cold... That is, unless I'm getting paid to walk a dog in the early morning cold. In which case I'm generally shuffling along practically being dragged by the dog in a zombie-like stupor.
But for some reason, today was different. Perhaps I was properly bundled, and had the right music, but I actually had a pep in my step! It was overcast with little snow flurries here and there. Twenty-seven degrees, but... I felt happy.
Maybe there is hope for me after all. 

Oh, also, men in the park playing rugby made me happy. Such a lovely sight. 

My Happiness Project Day 48: Sweet Little Animal Friends

This little bird!
Coco and I have been friends for the past 24 years - just about as long as I've been friends with her mom. We've had our ups and downs... she used to like to bite me when I changed her food and water (Coco... not her mom). But now we're buds. I sing and she dances. We have fun!

This is Fiona, one of Coco's kitty sisters. We've been buds for awhile, too. I'm pretty allergic to her, but she's so furry and sweet that I can't help petting her. And then I suffer the consequences. But it's worth it!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 46: Zotz!

Old school candy... aww yeah! Anybody remember Zotz? Hard candy on the outside, with a very satisfying fizzy inside. Took me right back to elementary school.
Wikipedia tells me that it's an Italian candy. Didn't see that one coming...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 45: Little Birds and Tree Roots

These little birds made me happy today. Yes, there is a filter on the photo making everything look bright and happy. In reality it was a gray and somewhat snowy day, but it felt more like the filtered picture to me. So... I don't exactly have rose colored glasses, but I do have my happy filter!

Also... more tree roots. (I don't know why, but I just dig trees. Roots, bark, leaves, branches... love it all!) The faces in this one are amazing.

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 44: Opposite Dogs, Elusive Rooster Cats and Tree Roots

I like that after 44 days of this I can say that looking for things to make me happy is such a habit that I find them everywhere without really looking. The down side to that is that there aren't all that many things that stand out as big happy moments, but... I'll take it.

Today I walked the fluffiest of little fluffy dogs, and we ran into the the the biggest bulldog I've seen. He was off-leash and came galloping across the street to meet us. Bodhi - my fluffy buddy- is a bit skittish anyway, and was quite intimidated by this burly dog who was no taller than him. Of course he was just a big old love bug. Too bad I didn't get a picture of those completely opposite dogs together.

In other animal related happy moments, I finally met the cat of the house where I'm sitting. She's been very elusive, but finally came out of hiding tonight and is as sweet as can be. But the really great thing about her? She sounds like a little rooster when she meows!

These totally amazing tree roots made me very happy, too. And finding the PS Express app on my iPhone that made the roots look even more beautiful, made me happy, too.

5 Bits Advice for Beginning Painters

I've had a lot of beginning painters come through my studio in the three and a half years that I've been teaching my Painting Soiree workshops. There is much advice that I would like to give newbies based on my observations, and I have compiled some of it here. This advice works whether you're in a class or painting at home. I hope you find it helpful...

1) Don't expect to be a master painter right away.
Yes, I know that we live in an instant gratification society. And I know that the painting studios (including mine) tell you to come to class and paint your masterpiece. What we mean by that is come paint your masterpiece. Not Monet's, not Van Gogh's, not mine, not your neighbor's. When you come to my class I want you to create your own version of my painting. It will not look exactly like mine, nor should it. Painting is a form of expression; your expression.
I want you to love your painting, or at the very least be satisfied with it, and with the experience. One way to do that is to...

2) Keep it Simple
So many people come to my classes with big ideas of what they want to do with their painting, and it turns out that they've never painted before. I love confidence and a sense of adventure, and I really do encourage people to shake things up. But keep in mind that generally speaking, the more complex the idea, the harder it will be to put onto canvas.
If you haven't held a paint brush in your hand since you were six years old, then it might help to get some command over the brush before diving into something an experienced painter might hesitate to approach. Also it's good to...

3) Get out of your left brain and simply enjoy the process.
Painting can be very relaxing and therapeutic. To this day, I still enjoy watching the paint blend on the canvas. Watching yellow and blue turn into green before my eyes is such a soothing thing.
The majority of people who paint in my studio seem to have a similar experience, but every once in awhile someone has a really hard time getting out of that analytical mind. Trying too hard to make the paint look like something you think it should look like can be stressful.
Painting is an exercise in letting go. For those who have a harder time letting go, I recommend - well a myriad of things - but trying out abstract painting is a good start. (I happen to offer a fun abstract class...)
That said...

4) Painting is also about figuring it out.
Whenever I'm having a hard time with a painting, I try to remind myself that as an artist, I like to figure things out. It's one of the reasons I paint. I don't want it all laid out for me. I like to work at it and have the satisfaction of having found my way and figured it out.  And it gets easier to figure it out if you...

5) Practice, practice, practice!
Just like any other skill, the more you paint, the better you'll get. 

So, have fun with it. Forgive yourself. Be patient. Experiment. Explore. Read books, watch videos, but I encourage you to go to a class, take private lessons, or simply paint with people who are more experienced than you.

For a full list of classes and lessons that I offer, please visit

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 43: My New Furry Friend

Today this little ball of fur made me happy. He's my new pet sitting client, Bodhi. It took him a good half hour to gain my trust this morning before I could talk him into going on a walk. But as soon as his mind was made up and I mentioned "walk" he jumped up and twirled around. Adorable! Even at 8am. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Heart's Stairway to Heaven Tribute to Led Zeppelin

I wonder how many times I've heard Stairway to Heaven in my lifetime. It's a part of my soundtrack, and Led Zeppelin was a part of the culture. I just looked it up and found that the song was released in late 1971, when I was five years old. And yet I still feel like it was going strong when I was in high school in the eighties.

Whatever the case, I don't think I ever got really tired of it. (Except perhaps when I worked at Swallow Hill Music and so many kids - and grown ups - with guitars would sit in the lobby and practice that opening riff.)

I just saw the tribute to Led Zeppelin at the Kennedy Center from 2012. I've seen it before, and I find it just as moving each time I watch it. Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart and Jason Bonham (Son of  Zeppelin drummer John Bonham) played Stairway to Heaven, while the surviving members of Led Zeppelin watch and enjoyed the performance.

It starts out beautifully, with Ann Wilson singing in her still so amazing voice. Robert Plant looks thoughtful, while Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones are clearly just enjoying the show. They build the song with a choir, some guitars and violins. Then a horn section, guitar solo, and the wham! Ann Wilson belts "...and as we wind on down the road..." and ANOTHER choir comes in behind her - all wearing bowlers in honor of John Bonham (as is Jason, of course). So powerful!

Then the band drops out for the final line of the song, and there is Robert Plant wiping tears from his eyes. (And me with chills. Every time.)

It's still rock-and-roll. It's still relevant. It's still transformative. And it still ROCKS!

If you've got 7 minutes, watch Stairway to Heaven below. But if you have 22 minutes, I recommend you scroll down for the full tribute that also includes Jack Black, Foo Fighters, Kid Rock and Lenny Kravitz. (Love the brief view of Bonnie Raitt rocking out to Lenny Kravitz!)

My Happiness Project Day 42: Change of Focus

I had some big-time first world self-employed artist technical issues today. Okay, not THAT big-time, but that's how it felt. Not to bore anyone with details (which I already did on Facebook, anyway), the latest thing was that I found I had deleted the home page of my website in an I can't sleep so I should get some work done blurry-eyed bit of 6am craziness that I can hardly remember. Brilliant.

An hour ago I was pretty cranky about it. In the old days (like... 43 days ago), I would have muscled through it, recreated the webpage, and moved on to the rest of my work without a break. And my body and my psyche would have (and have in the past) suffered for it. But because I'm committed to this project, I went looking for something to make me happy. Someplace to focus that was not on my work. So I emailed my website host about the missing page, and I went for a walk.

Talk about an instant state change! From cranky to oh - look - spring bulbs popping up and green grass! It was a short but lovely walk, and it did the trick. I came home and felt much better. AND I found that by the time I got back, my website peeps had restored my deleted page! (I didn't expect them to even get the email until tomorrow) Oh happy day!

My Happiness Project Day 41: Living Alone, Cooking For One, and Miles Davis

"Vino" ©Tabetha Hastings
Being alone is so underrated. I often take living alone for granted. I come home, get on my computer, get to work. Or get to Facebook. My mind is going going going, so I'm not appreciating the reality of my own time and space.
But tonight, I took a break. I put on some Miles Davis, had a glass of wine, and enjoyed cooking myself dinner.
Now, those who know me well, know that I do not like to cook. But that's not exactly true. I tend to get caught up in what I'm doing, and I don't like to take brakes to do some pesky thing like cooking. But also... I just don't like to cook for other people. I don't like the pressure for things to turn out well, or the multitasking of trying to carry on a conversation while trying to make things taste good and keep them from burning all at the same time. It's just too much for me!
But when I'm alone (and can break free from computer) it's really nice. So my bit of happiness today was fully enjoying my solitude, my cooking, my wine, and my Miles.

Monday, March 17, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 40: Love and Happiness

"Big Love" ©Tabetha Hastings
I've heard that it happens in an instant. I know this to be true with my own personal evolution. I can be exposed to ideas and mull them over for a long time. I can understand them on an intellectual level, but when I really get that idea, to believe and embody it... personal change can happen in an instant. It can be a small change within me (or you), or as big as to call it an awakening, or a rebirth.

Mine is big, folks. It's a big love awakening.
And here it is: Today, I am in love.

No no... it's not with another person, or even with myself. Or maybe you could say that I'm in love with all people including myself. Yes, I know this sounds hippy-dippy new-agey and I really don't care. (How could I care, when I'm in love?)

Prior to my new way of thinking, if I felt like this, I would have said that I'm in love with life. But what I realized this morning is that "in love" is not something you feel for another person or thing (like life) outside of yourself. "In love" is a state of being. It may or may not be activated by another person or thing, but in the end, it's all you, baby.

Since being in love is a state, one can "fall" in or out at any time. But falling is so dramatic, isn't it? We don't "fall" into happiness. We get happy. We find things to "make us" happy, but really we find things to activate the happiness within us. It's always there, just like love. We have only to tap into it. Which is what I've been doing with this happiness project; changing my focus to find things that will cause me to tap into that happiness stream. And now I know that I can also change my focus to tap into the "in love" stream too. And really, love and happiness is the same vibration, right?

My Happiness Project Day 39: A Glass of Red, A Bottle of Red

It's been a weekend of work, but also of dinner and/or appetizers and/or drinks with friends, new and old. A lovely weekend, really. And now I'm happy to wind down with a nice glass of red. Tonight's red is a nice Chilean Carmenere.

Day 39 Bonus:
I wanted to post a video with a song about wine here, but I thought UB40's Red Red Wine was a bit too obvious. So I decided instead to post Billy Joel's Scenes from an Italian Restaurant. I went searching YouTube, and what I found was this funny video of him singing the song and interrupting himself to talk about how he wrote it.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 38: Dorothy Was Right

There's no place like home.

Over the past few days I've taught several classes and have had a pretty active social life. And tomorrow will be no different. That's just a bit much for this introvert. I love people, but man oh man do I need to be alone sometimes! (Often, really, truth be told.)

So tonight I'm enjoying a small break in the madness, at home, alone. Couch time, baby!

Also - happy to NOT be out in the St. Paddy's Day craziness.

There's no place like home... there's no place like home... there's no place like home...

My Happiness Project Day 37: Perfect Timing

I met some friends from high school for happy hour today. We've recently started meeting every month to hang out and catch up without letting too much time go past. The restaurant that was picked for today's outing just happened to be across the street from our high school (and I believe that it used to be the Burger King where we would hang out and dip our french fries into our vanilla shakes).

On the way there, I was sitting at a stoplight and looking at the school, thinking back to our high school days in the early 80s. Just then, at that very minute, Oh Mickey came on the radio, and blew my mind.

It was a really perfect moment.

Friday, March 14, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 36: Possibly the Best Salad EVER

Look: I make a good salad. I just do. You won't hear me brag much on food that I've made because I don't really cook. I can do a mean breakfast, and a mean salad, and that's it.

So when I say that this is possibly the BEST salad ever? You better believe it. What makes it even better (healthier), is that there is no meat or dressing.

If you happen to be interested in assembling this deliciousness for yourself, here's what went into it:

  • Greens (Whatever greens you like. I got the Organics Mixed Baby Greens from Safeway.)
  • Chopped red bell pepper
  • Sliced red onions
  • White button mushrooms
  • Gorgonzola*
  • Asparagus
  • Carrots (Regulation. None of that nasty baby carrot crap for me.)
  • Ciabatta or bread of choice. Lightly toasted.

I sauteed the onion, pepper and mushroom in olive oil, then placed them on the greens, and topped the whole shebang with gorgonzola. Serve with asparagus on the side (boil in shallow water until you can pierce it with a fork), and a carrot.

*I don't recommend the crumbles in the plastic tub - they've got extra ingredients to keep them crumbly. I get the Montforte brand at Sprouts. It's good and reasonably priced. It's messier to deal with, but tastes SO much better.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 35: Dorky Musical Dreamworld Couples

Today, this bit of lip-synced Disney goofiness made me happy. Why? I mean - it's a song from Frozen - which I've never even seen. But... I have always believed that life should be like a musical. (I have been known to break into song at the drop of a hat, and anyone who will break into song with me is welcome in my world!)

Beyond that, what I love about this video is these two people are in their own dorky musical dreamworld together. Their daughter seems completely disinterested, and yawns halfway through. I think the best couples consist of two people who are dorky, nerdy, quirky, weird (whatever) in the same way. I would love to have that. These two look like they really have a good time together.

(Please ignore the ridiculous title...)


Day 35 Bonus!! I just watched this one again and... I think it makes me even happier than the first one - even though I've watched it approximately eight thousand times.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 34: Napping When Necessary, and iPhone Do Not Disturb Setting

Sure, self employment can be scary as all get-out. No regular paycheck, no paid time off... (If I went on with all the bad things about working for myself, this would cease to be a blog about happiness!)

One of the many things that I love about working for myself is the fact that I can (usually) keep my crazy hours. I can work all night, sleep for a few hours, work some more, then go back to bed for a bit in the afternoon.

I'll be honest; I felt like absolute crap today. And the only thing that really made me happy was the fact that my office is 20 feet from my bed, and I could - and did - lie down whenever I felt like it.

Also, I love the "do not disturb" function on my iPhone. It's like I have a secretary holding my calls. And my texts. And since it doesn't actually block them from coming through (just silences the phone completely), I can wake up and glance at my phone to see what went on while I was sleeping. No calls or no texts means that I can perhaps sleep a wee bit more, should I feel the need.

My Happiness Project Day 33: Surprise Homemade Dinner and Dessert

Well, I'm over a month into this project, and I must say that it's getting hard to new find individual things that make me happy. I am definitely happier all around, so it is working. However, I find that a lot of the things that make me happy in the moment, make me happy on a regular basis, so there are bound to be some repeats. Sunshine, spring, painting, friends, dogs, trees... I'm really trying not to repeat, though!

Today I got to a friend's house to walk his dog, and there were two cookies waiting for me with a note on the baggie saying to check the fridge. I opened the fridge, and there was some homemade yumminess waiting for me. This made me very happy indeed! Dinner, dessert, cash for dog walking, a lovely walk in the park, and getting to hang out with a cool pooch... yup, happiness. :)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 32: Today

I'm having trouble picking one thing that made me happy today, because there were so many things. It was a really great day, from start to finish.

My morning started out with too little sleep; partially because of the time change, and partially because I had an early class to teach. (Why I scheduled a rare morning class on the day that I was to lose an hour of sleep anyway, I'll never know.) Despite that fact, I was out of my apartment on time, and thankfully, I had set up for the class yesterday.

It was an absolutely gorgeous morning. It felt like spring; the air was cool, but the sun was strong. Driving to work a song came on the radio that I've heard far too many times, but somehow it just hit me right today. I had to sit in my car and groove to it while I was parked outside of my studio. Didn't even care about the traffic passing by; I was doing some driver's seat dancing.

Got up to my studio, had a great abstract painting class with some wonderful people. Then later, a great Paint Club with my awesome crew of semi-regulars, then I laughed hysterically through dinner with a good friend.

In the words of Ice Cube: today was a good day.

Here is the song that for whatever reason had me grooving: Drops of Jupiter by Train

Saturday, March 8, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 31: Hair of the Dog

....or hair of a dog, at least. It was the wine dog that bit me last night, but I had a hair of the whiskey dog this (very late) morning - in the form of Irish coffee at Racine's.

Happy is having a yummy adult coffee - complete with copius amounts of whipped cream, while revisiting last night's shenanigans and comparing notes.

By the way, do you know where that term "hair of the dog" came from? According to Wikipedia, it referred to treating bites from rabid dogs by taking some of the hair from the dog and putting it on the bite wound. My issue with this is; how are you going to get the hair from the rabid dog?

In any case, here is a blast from the past: Nazareth with "Hair of the Dog" (why it's titled that, I'll never know...)

My Happiness Project Day 30: Interesting Conversation

Tonight was first Friday. Its the night that I have my art studio open for the Art Walk on Santa Fe Drive. Generally speaking, it's a really good night with interesting people coming through.

I have no facts to back this up, but I believe that there have always been great conversations going on in artists' studio. Artists are said to be free thinkers, and I've found it to be true. At any given time during the month (often during Sunday Paint Club), there is great conversation to be had in my studio. Tonight there was an in-depth conversation about body image, and how differently men and women are perceived and judged just by looks. It was very interesting.

I don't wish to go into any detail about the conversation, but let's just say that I'm happy to be a part of a great tradition of free thinking artists. And to be able to provide a forum where all kind of things can be discussed. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 29: My Neti Pot

For those of you who are not familiar, a Neti pot is basically an old fashioned sinus rinser thingamajig. Here I am pictured with my Neti pot; however I am not actually using it. Had I actually been using it, water would have been running out of a nostril, and frankly, my ego would not allow me to take THAT particular picture.

When I was growing up, my mother had a Neti pot. But she never told me what it was for, and I never asked. Some things you just don't want to know the answer to. Who KNOWS what she did with that mysterious contraption with the weird name? I figured it was one of those "You're too young to know what that is" situations. (Like my best friend when I was 8. I saw a hot water bottle in her linen closet once and asked what it was. She said her mom had told her that she'll find out when she's older.)

Anyway, years went by and I finally found out what a Neti pot was thanks to Oprah and Dr. Oz. A woman from the audience was brave enough to get onstage and pour water into one nostril and out the other into a basin.  In front of a live audience and eight gazillion people. More power to you, sister.

Even though it looked pretty gross, I decided that it would be a good thing for me and my long suffering sinuses. And lo and behold it was! I'm telling you it's a wonderful thing. I actually feel rejuvenated after I do it.

So today, I was happy to locate my Neti pot and the salts that go with it. And happy to feel better!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 28: Springboks Pronking

Yep. Springboks pronking. Or pronking springboks. (Springboks who pronk?) Whatever the case, I like to say it, and I like to watch it. Truthfully, before today I had never heard of springboks or pronking, yet here they are making me happy. I challenge you to watch this video and NOT be happy! I smiled the whole way through.

Hang in there, peeps - spring is on the way, and soon we'll be pronking, too!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 27: Compliments from a Stranger and Italian Hand Gestures

This evening as I was leaving my studio, I noticed a man at the bus stop. I locked the the door and then headed his direction to get to my car (while attempting to avoid too much contact with this guy - simply because, well... you never know). However, I did sort of nod a hello to him as I approached. Which I immediately regretted because he made a gesture with his had... he pinched his thumb and index finger together - kind of like the "okay" sign. He also said something, but the sound of the traffic drowned him out.

Part of me just wanted to keep walking because... well... the hand gesture could have been asking "Do you want to get high?" For some reason though, I leaned towards him and said "Excuse me?"

And he said "You look beautiful. I said you're beautiful."

Wow. Was NOT expecting THAT.

I just grinned, thanked him, and went on my merry way. And my way was indeed merry, because a stranger at a bus stop made me happy.

I definitely encourage everyone to compliment a stranger. Tell them they're beautiful, handsome, that they've got great style, whatever. (I often compliment people on their snappy sense of style.) You could just make their day.

By the way, after the fact, I realized that his hand gesture was one I think of as an Italian gesture. One that is made when when you really like something. I did a quick search and found this super cute video of adorable male models illustrating Italian hand gestures. Bus stop guy's gesture comes in at 1:10.

Monday, March 3, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 26: Doggie Greetings

There were several happiness inducing things in my world today. One of them was THIS kid. I got to hang out with her and go out and walk in the beautiful day.

She is always happy to see me, but today I walked in at the time that she would normally see her dad. She just looked at me with slight disbelief, like "Wait... you... what?" And then "Wait a MINUTE. You're here. YOU'RE here! Oh YEAH... let's play!" And then she proceeded to the the "curly boxer jump-twist dance". How could that NOT make a person happy? Imagine if we all greeted each other with such enthusiasm.

We went for a walk in Infinity Park where I was happy to see these kids playing football. Often there are official looking teams practicing and playing in this park, so it was nice to see a bunch of teenagers enjoying the space. It was also nice to see teenagers out of doors and away from electronics.

I was also able to get a few new tree bark pics and one of dried grasses, just for fun.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 25: Happy to Be Feeling Happy

What makes me happy today is the fact that I've been able to stick with my happiness project! I'm now more than three weeks in, and definitely feeling the results. My outlook on life is substantially better than it was a month ago, I'm feeling better physically, and my brain is buzzing with ideas.

100happydays was the impetus (finding something to be happy about every day), and has been a major part of this transition, but there are some other things I've been doing that have helped immensely. Here are the other things that have helped me:

1) Self care.
This includes tons of sleep (something I can't seem to do easily every night lately because of all the great ideas spinning in my head), tons of water, and lots of vitamins and herbal supplements. Historically I've been very bad at taking supplements, but I've been adamant about it this week.

2) Morning pages.
This one is huge. The Morning Pages is a method used in The Artist's Way program and is really wonderful. Three pages of long-hand writing first thing in the morning. An unedited brain dump. It's a good thing.

3) Meditation.
Of these three this is the one that I've done the least, but when I do, I notice a difference in my mood and my clarity of thought. I definitely need to meditate more often.

Next on the list will be to incorporate some exercise (besides the very minimal yoga I've been doing at home). Honestly, my physical energy hasn't popped back up yet. I've been feeling better emotionally, but not quite as much physically. Soon, though.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My Happiness Project Day 24: New Use for Old Paint

I absolutely hate throwing away paint. I tell my Painting Soiree students that I don't care how much paint they use, as long as the use it. I even have "group" paintings specifically for left-over paint, that class after class works on. 

The other night as I was cleaning up after a class, one of the painters told me what she does with paint that is left on her palette. She lets the paint dry, then soaks the palettes (paper plates) in water and peels off the solid paint. What's left is really cool pieces of acrylic paint that she uses in other art projects.

So I decided to give it a go. I saved the palettes from Wednesday's class and let them dry for a few days. Then tonight I put them in a plastic bin and filled it with water and let them soak for a bit. I was very happy with the results! I was able to peel even very thin layers of paint off of the plate (or tore the plate away from the paint); and the thicker gobs of paint just separated on their own and drifted to the bottom of the bin.

Some of these pieces are beautiful on their own. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them yet, but I'll come up with something.

These pictures are of some of the paint that I peeled off. There is a whole bunch more, but these are the ones I like the best. They're drying on my kitchen counter.

I'm really inspired by these palette blogs! There are so many things in these forms. I love the big blue and white form with the shock of pink. I can't wait to work with it!

It kind of boggles my mind how much paint I've thrown away, when I could have been doing THIS with it!

Day 24 Bonus: Bruce Springsteen covering Lorde's "Royals"