The Pursuit of Happiness

I just read Maggie Mason’s recent blogpost, “20 Things I wish I’d known at 20” and it reminded me of all the key points and goals I’d made for myself when I read  The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This book took me some time to read, I read a chapter or so and made notes. I had to think on her thoughts and how they applied to my life. While reading other books, I would feel like it was time for a dose from The Happiness Project.

From the start, I was struck by her words, “What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in awhile.” Somehow, I have come to be 25 years old and my life (like most) is a collection of memories of family vacations, parties, and milestones. This may be that a camera is only present at important events and thus their is only photos for reflection of milestones. So what do I do everyday? Well of course I have to read Twitter updates, check Facebook to see what all the people I’m not actually friends with are doing, and waste a good deal of time. I feel successful in my career change, and I do go to work everyday. Hanging out with kids everyday is far superior, for me, than sitting in front of a computer.

Some other gems from The Happiness Project:

  • Most decisions don’t require research
  • If your not failing, you’re not trying hard enough
  • No deposit. No return.

These lines bring up different feelings and memories. I have often been guilty of running things by my friends and relatives before making a decision. While their help is appreciated, what am I doing? Where is this fretting getting me? I could be taking action. Why aren’t I? Albeit that some decisions are major and require others input, but there are many simple things that I would be far better off going with the first thing that comes to mind.  On the flip side of that, everything that I am truly proud of in my life has taken a great time investment, hard work, and sticking to who I am. NO DEPOSIT. NO RETURN. I may need to write this large somewhere. Deposit: working through the summer, Return: having the funds to buy a car.

Maggie Mason’s post struck a few chords on things I want to work on in pursuit of my own happiness. #4. “When in doubt, shut up.” Ummm… I do the opposite. I know that I shouldn’t, but I just keep talking. I am guilty of telling people more than they should know or want to know. Her #5 ties right into that, “Don’t Complain” in her explanation she says, “Maybe venting makes you feel better, but letting off steam can also lull you into maintaining the status quo.”  And then, “If you’re frustrated, turn that energy toward fixing your problems, not bitching about them.” ACTION. I think Maggie Mason wants me to get into action. It easier to just spill out my problems. Do people perceive me as a complainer? If so, how can that be good for me or for my relationships? Her list is great. Maggie makes other points about how good I look and how I shouldn’t be intimidated. It is a good reflection tool. Please, read this list and read this book (I will loan it to you if you promise to give it back).

Happiness is my goal. It can be easy to find or it can be difficult. Maybe I need to make some signs at home as reminders or write these things on my arms. It’s funny how thinking of ways to make myself happier, is satisfying (thanks Gretchen Rubin!). These are goals I can reach. I can be proud of what I do everyday, what I do everyday makes me who I am.

The Pioneer Woman Comes to Town

Pioneer Woman Shirt

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go the Pioneer Woman‘s book signing. It was originally going to be at a tiny bookshop (Blue Willow Bookshop) but the they weren’t going to have space in their 1200 sq ft store for all the ladies that came out to see the Pioneer Woman. It was moved to Georgia’s Farm to Market. It was an adorable local grocers that had dining room tables all over the place and teas, coffees, snacks, and foods to consume.

We got there a little after 11:00 and got our cookbooks and found our seats. The PW answered questions at 1:00 and then the cattle call began. The 500 or so women were broken into color groups and we were called by color. Mrs. Oswalt and I were part of the “PETAL” group.

Barbara and Meg

While we waited our turn, we drank coffee and looked around at all the interesting teas, coffees, herbs and foods to see. We also talked to these ladies. They were in the “LIME” group.

Sandra and Monica at the PW Signing

Sandra and Monica were on hand to converse with us. We talked about which recipes we thought we might try. Monica brought sticky notes and tabs so we could mark recipes.

Barbara, PW, and Meg

Then (several enjoyable hours later) Mrs. Oswalt and I met the Pioneer Woman. I told her about the dark chocolate cranberries we ate and she seemed genuinely interested. She truly was friendly and sweet and made an effort to speak to every single person who came. She also gave everyone who came to see her a T-shirt.

We got our cookbooks signed and then he seemed strange to leave after being there for so many hours. The cookbook has pictures of every step of the way, which makes me want to give some of the recipes a chance. The food looks delicious and the photos in the entire book are of her ranch and family. You should probably buy it.

P.S. Sandra and I made the enchiladas and guacamole in the book. It was hard work and my fingers burned from all the cutting. They were tasty!.

The Sweet Potato Queens

I just finished The Sweet Potato Queens, by Jill Connor Browne. I got the audio book last week at the library because I needed something for the road. I didn’t have anything on my hold list, so I had to browse. Browsing is something I no longer do at the library. Someone tells me about something they adored and I put it on the list. I see something that catches my eye at the book store, I write down the title, and then put it on my list. I get a Wowbrary newsletter of all the new exciting things they have, something catches my eye on this list, and then I add it to my list. All in all, the library is the best system there ever was. When it is my turn for a list item, I swing on my branch (which I adore) and pick it up and get started. If you don’t have a library card, you are missing out.

But I digress, I had to browse for a book. I was reading the backs of audio books (because I had a car ride ahead of me) and this little old lady told me The Sweet Potato Queens was a hoot and a half. So I was sold.

Although I’m not really from anywhere, I do believe I have a big streak of Southern Woman in me, so I adored this book from the start. Then when I was telling my momma about the book on the phone and I glanced at the box, I realized that the main character was the author. I had thought it was a hilarious tale of a woman from Jackson, Mississippi. Apparently Jill Connor Browne is the woman and her tales were absolutely hilarious that I had just assumed fiction. Although there is fiction in it, it is based on her and her fellow Queens. The book starts that she just knew when she was in the womb, that SHE WAS A QUEEN. Every year the Queens march in the Jackson St. Patrick’s Day parade and there are now 6,000 chapters around the world. I am enamored with the Queens and am sad to be done with their story. Jill reads the book herself, the library has a few copies, please read it and then call me to discuss your love.

Jill Connor Brown

“Do not ever give a Queen a home appliance as a gift. Period. The end. Now, an exception can be made in the event she just happens to mention in passing that she wishes she had, say, a full Viking kitchen, and then she goes out of town for a few days; and when she comes back, her entire kitchen is renovated with fabulous Viking appliances. She will be touched. On the other hand, if it is her birthday and you, all on your own, select, purchase, and present her with a Crock Pot, well, you are over.”

– Jill Conner Browne, The Sweet Potato Queen’s Book of Love

A Lion Among Men.

I just finished Gregory Maguire’s A Lion Among Men. It is the third book in the Wicked series. I adored Wicked and the fantasy world of OZ it recreated. We watched the Wizard of OZ fairly often as children. Mike called it the “Weee of AH” and wanted to see it over and over, which meant that I saw the film many times. It is a magical movie and there really isn’t much that children will still watch that was made in 1939. Gregory Maguire does a wonderful job playing on that childhood nostalgia, but with more adult themes. OZ deals with class issues, with civil war, rule of a dictator, a girl born green and talking animals that are treated as second class citizens. Although I was happy to reenter the world of OZ for a third time, this book falls far behind Wicked and Son of a Witch. The first two books deal with the same family, but the entry of the Cowardly Lion as the main character just doesn’t have as much of a hook. His only presence is in the first book, in the last chapter where he is part of Dorothy’s entourage. The coward never really overcomes his cowardice. His name is Brrr, because he shivered as a cub. Poor Brr just couldn’t hold a story. But, if Gregory Maguire decided to write another tale of OZ, I’d read it. I suppose if you make the trouble to develop a whole world, you would want it to serve as the backdrop to as many stories as possible.

Pillars of the Earth.

I finished. I have been reading this book for months now. It is huge. Although I had heard many positive things about it, I’m not sure I agree. There were so many points where it could have and should have ended. The story line wasn’t strong enough for 1000 pages. It wasn’t like other epics, where I felt starved for more. I think it was the violence that made me feel so done with it. I did not need to hear about any more murder for gain, rape, or a repeat of a peasant who couldn’t pay rent. Sorry mommy, I didn’t love your suggestion.

P.S. Please don’t stop the suggestions though.