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?

a few more random things

I saw this on Lindsey's blog. Of course! We share a joy of the small details of life, of personalities, favorites. Inspired by her answers, I thought I'd share my own responses. (Slightly edited to reflect where I am right now). Go-to weeknight recipe?

Hmmm... right now Mediterranean Turkey Loaves because they're easy, tasty and great for leftovers. My go-to crockpot recipe is probably chicken tikka because it makes so much food and you can eat it for days until it gets too spicy and you have to add some yogurt to cool it down.

First job?

My first job ever (besides babysitting) was working the desk and cleaning at a tanning salon in a small town where I lived. I was paid under the table each week and one day my keys wouldn't open the door. After we moved from that town, I worked at a dancewear store fitting toe shoes, ballet, jazz and tap shoes as well as selling all dance and gymnastic-related clothing and gear. It was a great after-school job with a proper paycheck and everything. My first professional-in-my career type job was as a writing center tutor during my Master's program.


I'm inspired by the women in my family who held jobs when many women didn't, who taught me to tell stories, to stand up for what I believed, who seemed larger than life, strong and funny, clever and warm.


That's an interesting question because I moved throughout my childhood. I consider Mobile, Alabama where I visited family, and where I went to undergrad and grad school my home.

What would you put on your neon sign?

Live fully. Love deeply.

Wouldn’t leave home without?

My phone. Lip balm. Headphones. A bottle of water. A sense of adventure.

Essential beauty products?

Lip balm.  Sunscreen. Sea salt spray.

Wouldn’t fly without?

Xanax. My ipad. Headphones. A protein bar.

Things you buy in bulk?

Black Bean burgers. Toilet paper. Quest bars.

Favorite book?

Novels: Frankenstein, The Hours, The Awakening, Never Let Me Go, The Unbearable Lightness of Being  Poetry: Last Night on Earth Poems (Bukowski), anything by Nikki Giovanni, Adrienne Rich, David Lehman, Philip Levine Non-fiction: The Prince of Frogtown (Rick Bragg), Object Lessons (Eavan Boland), anything by Susan Sontag or Joan Didion

First celebrity crush?

also my first girl crush, Alyssa Milano circa Who's the Boss

Favorite movie?

The Big Lewbowski 

People on speed dial?

I don't have a speed dial but I do have a favorites list on my phone, which means even if I'm in do not disturb mode, the call comes through. My wife, my mother, my brother and sister-in-law, are on this list

Preferred form of exercise?

Zumba. Rowing. Biking.

Drink of choice?

Iced tea

Best moment this year?

being at MythAirport with old and new friends

Perfect Sunday?

A bike ride on a day that isn't too hot, followed by brunch at our favorite spot, playing a board game with friends, getting fro-yo and enjoying each other's company