good stuff

What's Making You Happy?

Happiness is contagious.

I listen to quite a few podcasts, though some more regularly than others. The Pop Culture Happy Hour Podcast has a regular feature called "What's Making You Happy" where the panelists talk about what in pop culture (typically, sometimes it's personal) is making them happy during a given week. I was thinking about that today when a link to a blog post I wrote on happiness last year popped up in my TimeHop App. (Timehop is an app that reminds what you said on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, and can also comb your past photos for photos you posted on social media sites.) Here's an excerpt of what I said then: WE OFTEN THINK ABOUT HAPPINESS AS A KIND OF GOAL, SOMETHING TO ATTAIN IF WE DO ENOUGH X OR Y OR Z AND THAT ONCE WE ACHIEVE IT, THAT’S SOMEHOW ENOUGH. BUT HAPPINESS IS A STATE OF BEING, A FEELING, AN ENERGY, ONE YOU CAN PROJECT OUT INTO THE WORLD. I OFTEN WEAR A BRACELET THAT HAS “HAPPINESS IS CONTAGIOUS” STAMPED ON IT AS A REMINDER THAT IT MATTERS HOW I BEGIN MY DAY. IT MATTERS THAT I WANT TO BE KIND, THAT I TREAT PEOPLE I MEET WITH POSITIVE ENERGY.

These weeks have been challenging as I readjust to the hectic pace of a new semester, as I try to get to know my students and let them know me. Today was humid. I was sticky with sweat from walking across campus. I gulped water like I was desperate for it. And even with that discomfort, I loved being in the classroom, loved offering students a piece of what I know, loved asking them to challenge their notions of what it means to compose. Not for the first time, I felt so incredibly lucky for the work I do.

Here are some other things making me happy lately:

Zumba. I am awkward. I sweat profusely, embarrassingly so. I have no rhythm to speak of and yet I'm drawn to the energy of Zumba classes. I  try to take a class at least 3 times a week if I can. It doesn't bother me that I don't always get the steps right, or that things move quickly and sometimes it takes me a few beats to catch on. I still love it.

My August Playlist. I keep wondering if I'm going to get tired of the same songs but instead they've become this great soundtrack to my days.

Trail Mix. I'm a little crazy over Salted Caramel Craze Trail Mix from Kroger right now. It's the perfect amount of sweetness when I'm craving it. Also, more than a handful or two and I feel a bit overwhelmed so it helps me from overindulging.

It's September!  I love Fall as a season, the crispness of the air, the way the leaves change around here. I have some awesome plans this month to hang out with friends. Also, it's football season! Finally. (Poor M, she doesn't enjoy football or the fact that I play fantasy so she has to watch more than one game). But I also love September because my shows come back on in a few weeks. I'm mostly excited for Elementary, despite the way last season's finale broke my heart. I want to know what's going to happen. I want to meet Sherlock's dad. I need things to get better.

My students asked me about my favorite books and then took notes as I talked about them. I hope some of them end up reading some of the work I mentioned.

Tejava. I just discovered this micro-brewed tea and it's incredible. I may have to go get a few more bottles while they are on sale.

What's making YOU happy this week?

#reverb13: adventure is out there


Adventure: Did you go on an adventure in 2013?  What sort?

I never expected to respond so strongly to an animated character as I did when I saw Up for the first time. As a kid, I was certainly a dreamer, imagining all kinds of adventures. My brother and I used to sit on our roof, looking at the stars, talking about all the places we wanted to visit, things we would do. It's that kind of innocence that Ellie captures, the steadfast belief that she will get to the Falls and have her adventure.

What follows is a montage of Ellie's life, the small adventures that each day brings, and the sometimes painful truths and disappointments that go along with it. The thing about adventures is that we imagine them as big moments, something out of the ordinary, and they can be. But I also think that we can have adventurous spirits no matter what it is we're doing. 

I've had all kinds of adventures this year. 

I've run in 5 5K's.

We went to Disneyworld in March with M's mom. 

I met Jeopardy champion, Ken Jennings

M and I stood on top of Dan's Rock in Frostburg, MD, a trip that was an adventure in itself including me being awfully sick. 

I bet on my first horse race at Churchill Downs. And won a few bucks. 

We went to St. Louis for a Cards game, visited the Zoo and had delicious Indian food. A much needed weekend away. 

But Vegas was probably the biggest adventure because a) it's Vegas, and b) all the stuff we crammed into a weekend, including the Cirque Beatles' Love show, dolphins at Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden, a trip to Hoover Dam, and hanging out with M's family, celebrating her aunt's wedding. 

Right after the Vegas trip, my parents visited. Mom and I went on some of the trails near campus, which was an adventure because some of the paths were blocked by downed trees and we had to wind our way around to get back to the car. We also ate at The Hearthstone, a restaurant featured in Rain Man.

M and I dressed up as Hedwig and Mad Eye Moody for Halloween, though the waiter at the restaurant thought I might be Lady GaGa. We also went bowling where I lost the costume contest. I was robbed. 

I picked out a pumpkin, which I ended up not carving. 

I traveled to Alabama for Thanksgiving where I had an awesome time with my niece, including sharing popsicles. 

This week, it snowed several inches creating an adventure just getting out the few times I needed to attend talks and dinners on campus. 

Adventure is always out there; it just depends on where you find it. 

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