50 Things that Make Me Happy

I saw this over at Reader Voracious and it seemed like the perfect way to reset my attitude. I have been grappling with some very stressful things lately (kids, job, health, the meaning of life, etc.) and my mental health has taken a hit. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the terrible things, but I don’t want to spend another minute in The Land of the Bitter and Sad. So, without further ado, here’s a list of 50 little things that make me happy!

  1. Silly repartee with my daughter
  2. Hugging my sonFamily
  3. Long phone calls with my mother
  4. Sweet texts from my boyfriend
  5. The smell of yeast when baking bread
  6. Cuddling with my cat
  7. Hiking along one of the beautiful trails in the Pacific Northwest, admiring snow-capped mountains, fields of wildflowers and gem-like lakesIMG_7610.jpg
  8. Playing Brahms on the Piano
  9. Sunshowers
  10. The smell of sagebrush just after it rained
  11. Chocolate chip cookiesChocolate Chip
  12. Pretty yarn on the needles
  13. Blackberry hibiscus iced tea
  14. Sleeping under a heavy comforter when it’s cold out
  15. Guitar lessons with Ted and Claire
  16. Getting lost in a good book
  17. Geeking out over a spreadsheet
  18. Watching Amelie
  19. The heart-shaped splotch on my cat’s back
  20. Taking off on a jet plane
  21. Weekend car trips
  22. Wandering through a bookstore or library
  23. Fresh-baked almond croissants
  24. Answering the door to see my boyfriend standing there with a shy smile on his face
  25. Meeting my mother at the airport
  26. Cooking with my mom
  27. Cutting in to the good fabric
  28. Wearing a quirky hat10.366 - Yee Haw
  29. Kitty purrs
  30. Silence after a snow fall
  31. Autumn leaves
  32. Autumn sunshine17.366 - Basking
  33. Making dinner for someone who appreciates it
  34. Wearing pajamas all day
  35. Listening to music that reminds me of my father (Louis Prima, Bill Evans, Chet Baker, Palestrina…)
  36. Singing loudly along to music while driving somewhere
  37. Tidying up my apartment
  38. Eating out somewhere new
  39. Reading cookbooks
  40. Decorating cookies
  41. Jogging when in shape
  42. Using good quality art supplies
  43. Colorful sunsets
  44. Hunting for four-leaf clovers and sand dollars
  45. Joking around with my friends
  46. Wearing something pretty
  47. Drinking a good gin and tonic or a good mojito
  48. Walking in a park with the swallows circling you
  49. Spotting wild animals in their proper habitat: bears, cougars, foxes, coyotes, etc.
  50. Cat naps

Want to Master Instagram?

instastyleInstaStyle by Tessa Barton is going to be a hit with a lot of people. It hands you the keys to creating an aesthetically pleasing, well-branded, focused and influential instagram account, which you can set up for monetization of your online efforts.

If this is what I wanted to do with my instagram, I would have been thrilled myself. It’s a beautifully produced book, containing stunning photography and streamlined how-tos on everything from finding inspiration, developing narratives,  fostering engagement, and editing images.  Additionally, it provides niche-specific advice, including lifestyle, fashion, travel, food, beauty, family, health & fitness, interior design, and flat lays & products.

This book just isn’t written for a person like me, who already has a full-time job and only wants to use social media as a creative outlet and a way to connect with like-minded people. InstaStyle makes it abundantly clear that if you wish to develop an account like Tezza’s, it’s going to require a lot of work.

Gotta work for it: Truth be told, I’m never not working. I’m constantly planning posts, gathering inspiration, scouting locations, styling outfits , and meeting with brands. It’s a 24/7 job. Granted, it’s a pretty dang good 24/7 job, but it really can be exhausting. It’s important to know that before jumping in. It takes pushing yourself every day to come up with something new and finding ways to stand out and be different.

~ Tezza MB

Clearly, it’s not for dilettantes like me! Recognizing that I’m not the target audience doesn’t mean I’m going to dismiss the book as a bad one. It’s not bad at all. In fact, I think it will be an excellent resource for a lot of people. If you’re like me, however, and want something that encourages playfulness and experimentation, then you might want to save your precious book money for something else.

This book also promotes an aspect of Instagram that I find off-putting: it’s just too sleek and polished. The images show glamorous skinny people doing glamorous things using fancy products and basically living a life I’ll never have. It can be downright depressing to look at too much stuff like this online. I’ll look, from time to time, because it’s hard to turn away from something so perfect that’s begging for my attention, but I prefer to follow accounts that are a little rougher around the edges and show people I can relate to doing regular people stuff…like petting a fat cat on the belly (it’s a trap!), or eating a tub of ice cream while binge-watching the 100 on Netflix.

I do appreciate Tezza’s frequent reminders to keep your expectations realistic, practice positive self-talk, and remain authentic:

Don’t lose sight of the goal. Let your experiences shape your life, and don’t get caught up in doing things for the sake of the ‘gram. They’re not authentic when they become a chore.

~ Tezza MB

Many thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for my ARC. All opinions are my own.

Release Date: October 23, 2018

 

What is America?

Fireworks at Gasworks

I took this photo in 2003. The state of the nation has changed dramatically since then. As a people, we are sharply divided. We are currently engaging in battles over constitutional law, basic rights and privileges. Many people voicferously argue for one position or another because they believe it’s what our forefathers had envisioned, or it’s the American way, or it would make America great again. Many of these positions are diametrically opposed to one another, which shows that the national character has lost clarity over time.

If you’d like to dig deeper into what our founding fathers (and mothers) had in mind and what America used to be like during its formative period, I suggest reading the following:

Continue reading “What is America?”