Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happiness Project

I was poking around Slate today and stumbled across something called “The Happiness Project”. I immediately thought “THAT’S what I need! A Happiness Project!” Given my present state of mind, this is an excellent rabbit hole to fall down, and also well-timed since I’ve sort of been at a loss as to what this blog is actually ABOUT. And so, until I get sick of it or change my mind, this blog will now be a tiny bit more focused on this endeavor.

Also? I turn 38 tomorrow, which as many of you know I have been dreading for A Whole Entire Year. And I’m thinking, what better way to launch 38 than to focus on happiness?

And so, let me commence. First, I will interview myself, following the questions others have answered on Slate:

1. What’s a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?
Long hot baths. This is so critical that the presence and condition of a tub is the make-or-break decision on apartment hunting. Other things making me happy right now: buying tulips, knitting & quilting while watching to DVD’s of my favorite shows (Eureka, Eli Stone, and the BBC show Coupling), playing with the cat, baking, emails and phone calls from friends, anticipating lilac season, my quilt projects, singing (however badly and off-key it may be), and writing funny stories about my family (and hearing my writing class laugh in all the right places).

2. What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?
That I am completely and utterly responsible for my own happiness. And, that some people actually believe that pursuing your own happiness is selfish.

3. Is there anything you find yourself doing repeatedly that gets in the way of your happiness?
I'm pretty stubborn about things, and sometimes that can be a problem.

4. Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you find very helpful?
Lately I’ve been singing “Incomplete” by Alanis Morrissette. “One day I will be healed / I will gather my wounds / forge the end of tragic comedy”.

5. If you’re feeling blue, how do you give yourself a happiness boost? Or, like a “comfort food,” do you have a comfort activity?
Well, the baths help. I’m also finding that writing, and working on my quilts or other “art” projects, even if only for a few minutes a day, really helps me.

6. Is there anything that you see people around you doing or saying that adds a lot to their happiness or detracts a lot from their happiness?
Not being true to his/her self, and chasing material things out of a sense of “this is what I’m supposed to do”.

7. Have you always felt about the same level of happiness, or have you been through a period when you felt exceptionally happy or unhappy—if so, why?
I have been exceptionally unhappy a lot in my life, particularly over the past couple of years. . My friends tell me it’s all just bad luck. I am suspicious of that, as I am completely neurotic and assume everything is always all my fault. I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

8. Have you ever been surprised that something you expected would make you very happy, didn’t—or vice versa?
Didn’t: every romantic relationship I’ve ever had.

Did: being an aunt. Who knew??? Also, learning how to knit socks made me deliriously happy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Weekend Sewing

In lieu of anything else, I'll share my latest sewing project.  It's completely ridiculous for me to start anything new, given all of the other unfinished things lying around, and even more so because this will be a queen-sized quilt when it is finished (give me at least a year, since I hand quilt).  At any rate, I bought some fabulous batik fabrics (which I love dearly but hate paying for, because at $10/yard it's painful), and decided to use the Double Irish Chain pattern from the book "Quilts from the Quiltmaker's Gift".  'Cause, y'know, what else would you make out of Indian-inspired prints than an Irish quilt pattern???

I've actually made this quilt a number of times, usually in a baby size; it is very easy to piece, and it's great for showing off a nice, juicy fabric like the multi-colored batik here.  I am very fond of this book - none of the quilter's I know (all seven or eight of them) use it, but I think it is one of the best for beginner quilters (which I still think of myself as, even though I've been doing this for 15 years).  It has some very simple as well as more complicated patterns, and I've been really pleased with all of the ones that I have made.  

The fabric colors are much darker than they seem in this photo - here it almost looks like a pastel baby quilt.  I  must confess that I am really on the fence about the yellow.  I thought it would work well since the other two prints are so busy, but it seems to be really overpowering everything.  I'm kind of at the point of no return now, so I'm sticking with it...I just hope it looks better once the whole thing is put together.

Of course, I had some help sewing this afternoon...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Finally, A Happy Thing

You've probably already seen this.  It made me laugh, and sing along, and laugh some more.  I told S. that I thought it was because everyone secretly harbors the fantasy that one day their life will turn into a musical number, where everyone sings and dances in a seemingly impromptu manner. He then informed me that actually, not everyone wishes this.  I was shocked, shocked I tell you, to hear that!  So I did the only thing one can when one suffers a great disillusionment: I spent the rest of the weekend on the couch with the cat, watching "The Sound of Music", which was conveniently broadcast on cable, as well as "Mamma Mia" (which I found much less grating on DVD).

A writer at offered an explanation of this video's popularity, which I'm still mulling over.  I don't think it redeemed my faith in humanity at all - it just made me wish harder for my life to have a soundtrack.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Where I Return to (Semi) Regular Programming

In preparation for my upcoming writing class, I pulled out an essay about my grandmother that I had started writing last year. I finished it, more or less (I think there are still some issues with the past tense that need to be resolved in places), and showed it to my parents. They loved it, and then my mom gave it to my grandmother. I was a little hesitant about that; it’s very truthful, and I worried one or two parts might hurt her feelings. Thankfully, she loved it too, and has been showing it to anyone who will read it (including the residents of her retirement home). I’m happy about that, because it’s not sappy at all but still conveys how much fun we had with her as kids, and how much we loved spending time with her. And, given that she’s in her 80s, I’m glad she got to know that.

Truthfully, I’m not sure if it will be funny or enjoyable to people who don’t know my grandmother. At the same time, it reminded me that there are lots of reasons to write, and I can’t think of a much better reason to write than to make someone I love happy.

On another note, I got new shoes this weekend. This was part necessity as my current shoes were disintegrating, and part retail therapy. 

I’m still knitting -  I discovered a merino/silk blend yarn and an easy scarf pattern, thinking it would be great for spring. And it probably might be, but I have a sinking suspicion it will be August before I finish it. I’m still working on hand quilting a sofa quilt, while contemplating any number of other sewing and knitting projects. I find that much like writing, if I go too long without a good “hand” project I start getting cranky and out of sorts. There’s something about making things with my hands, rather than my head, that is really good for my soul.

And, on the reading list…through my craft blog perusing I discovered a new book entitled “A Homemade Life” by Molly Wizenberg, which led me to her blog. Really, really loved this book, and I don’t cook (it’s part memoir, part recipes), and sad that it’s finished. Great writing, and proof that a good blog can land you a publishing deal. I also dove into “Plan B” by Anne Lamott, a book of essays. I loved “Traveling Mercies”, but I’m not so into “Plan B”, although I can’t really put my finger on why. Also great writing, though, no question about that.

Finally, who can pout too much with this face peering into one's own?  (it's a little blurry, he moves fast)