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Blog The Happiness Project

2013: Gratitude, Beauty, and Health

28 June, 2013

In the past couple of years, I’ve chosen just three words to focus on for twelve months. Last year, my words were Create, Celebrate, Simplify. Though I didn’t follow through with all of the goals I set out for myself, I was relatively happy with how they manifested for me. I got back into writing and wrote more than ever before during NaNoWriMo. I celebrated with friends, I celebrated myself, I even got to travel to Indonesia to celebrate my brother’s wedding to a wonderful Indonesian girl. And I simplified to such a degree that I find myself wanting more, for I have bare walls at home begging for some art.

For 2013, my three words are: Gratitude, Beauty, and Health. Here I have outlined them with words and photos, including ideas on how to better bring these wonderful things into my life and how to move forward with goals that will keep ensure they stay a part of my life.

[I realize that I’m a bit late to the party in posting this, but I’ve literally been working on this all year. (I started the first draft of this post on January 4.) I actually think taking my time and posting about this later in the year has helped to crystallize my vision for what I want and constantly updating this draft has kept me focused on these three words.]


prayer offering in Bali

  • Goal word: GRATITUDE
  • Path 1 to the goal: Keep up my lists of Love A La Carte (gratitude, wonder, and general awesomeness).
  • Path 2 to the goal: Live in the moment and be thankful for what I have.
  • Path 3 to the goal: Give some of the gratitude away. Instead of random acts of kindness, perform targeted acts of kindness, sharing with friends and family.
  • Path 4 to the goal: Complete Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map.
  • Distractions: Getting stuck in a rut. Getting overwhelmed or stressed.
  • Steps to the path: Keep a cup of “great times” moments listed on colorful Post-It Notes, eat seasonal food, update to Happier as often as possible, and take more photographs to document awesome things.
  • The finish line: Making 2013 my most grateful, happiest year yet. Feeling a sense of accomplishment. Radiating gratitude and kindness.
  • What’s next: Inspiring others to radiate gratitude and kindness.



  • Goal word: BEAUTY
  • Path 1 to the goal: Spend less money and more time appreciating the beauty that surrounds me. Find the beauty in the mundane.
  • Path 2 to the goal: Write about beauty in the world and appreciate the beauty in myself.
  • Path 3 to the goal: Take more photographs of the beautiful details in life.
  • Distractions: Distractions. Being busy. Lack of awareness.
  • Steps to the path: Update my iPhone (camera) to a better one and/or carry my digital camera more often. Make my own beauty products. Organize and weed out beauty products I already own. Stop feeling guilty about making myself look good (STYLE).
  • The finish line: Experimenting with multiple design and style aesthetics.
  • What’s next: Finding a design and style aesthetic that pleases me.


blueberries and blackberries

  • Goal word: HEALTH
  • Path 1 to the goal: Getting new glasses. (check)
  • Path 2 to the goal: Finishing dental work. (check)
  • Path 3 to the goal: Going gluten/wheat-free. (So, okay, I tried this and it didn’t really work out for me. It was too hard not to eat wheat and too expensive to keep up with. But, I tried something new. So, at least there’s that.)
  • Path 4 to the goal: Finish one full year on Weight Watchers.
  • Path 5 to the goal: Keep current with all doctors’ appointments throughout the year.
  • Path 6 to the goal: Start running.
  • Distractions: Time restraints, convenience, expense.
  • Steps to the path: Track the food that I’m eating, experiment with wheat-free cooking and baking, make and keep doctors’ appointments.
  • The finish line: Making 2013 my healthiest year yet. Losing weight. Feeling more full of energy.
  • What’s next: Don’t stop. Run a 5k. Run 3-4 times a week consistently. Add yoga.

*All images mine.


On Inspiration

22 April, 2013

I keep waiting to be inspired. And then I am inspired by absolutely everything, but I don’t have the words to write. As the glory of spring blooms around me, I am reminded that I need routine in my life. A routine of being inspired. A routine of creating art. A routine of writing.

I am reminded of one of my all-time favorite quotes:

Be regular and orderly in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work. -Clive Barker

It is so often that artists credit their routines with inspiration for great art. It seems so simple, yet is often a challenge to stick to that basic schedule. In essence, not only do we have to plan to be inspired, but clear the time and space for it to happen.

When I find myself uninspired, I know it is time to make energy move. It’s time to clean up, clean out, organize, and simplify. That time is now.

Love a la Carte

Spring Fever

23 May, 2012


Love A La Carte features all the little things that make my life just a little more delicious.

♥ popping bubbly to celebrate the completion of a huge project ♥ walking outside in the sunshine ♥ these 5 Manifestos for Life ♥ watching tv shows without commercials (thanks, Netflix!) ♥ getting a thank-you package in the mail for helping out a friend overseas ♥ buying gifts for someone… just because ♥ orange juice ♥ the intersection of art and science that brought about the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts to creating rainbows in the sky ♥ The Adventures of Merlin (or Merlin), the British tv show (obsessed! – I LOVE the Aurthurian legends, The Mists of Avalon is one of my favorite books… anyone else?) ♥ this Impressionism exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art, recapturing the radical nature of the artistic movement ♥ my new favorite drink, which still needs a name: St. Germain, pomegranate juice, soda water ♥ getting my first BirchBox in the mail ♥ 15 Clever Ideas for Instagram Photos ♥ drinking tea from Cherie Anne Designs ♥ Harry Potter Weekend on ABC (I love that they include deleted scenes!) ♥ sending little notes via e-mail or Twitter DM to congratulate friends on their successes ♥ the 90s alternative station on Spotify ♥ having friends who are embarking on the Camp NaNoWriMo adventure with me ♥ this awesome, inspirational article from Gala Darling on 10 Ways to Make Your Instagram Photos Pop (with application recommendations!) ♥ reliving my adventures in Indonesia by blogging about it and reading my mom’s take on the trip, as well ♥ buying books from a brick and mortar bookstore ♥ bright, multi-colored Post-its ♥ tips on How to Start Your Blog with a Bang (good tips for new and old bloggers alike) ♥

this inspirational commencement speech by Neil Gaiman at the University of the Arts (2012)



Themes for Success in 2012

31 January, 2012

For me, last year was all about gratitude. Without choosing the word specifically, I had a connection with it from the beginning of the year. I started each day with a morning ritual and took on a “less is more” attitude about social media and life in general. I wrote myself a love letter, reminding myself to be grateful for everything around me. I wrote often about things I love and that make me happy. I cleaned up and out and was more grateful for the fewer things I had. I worked at it and eventually, it became habit. Gratitude was abundant.

In 2010, I chose three words as themes for the year: Learn, Create, Invest. This year, I am revisiting the idea of putting all my energy into three aspects of my life. This year, my three words are: Create, Celebrate, Simplify.



  • Goal word: CREATE
  • Path 1 to the goal: write and continue personal blog
  • Path 2 to the goal: scrapbook
  • Path 3 to the goal: finish family cookbook and continue cooking blog
  • Distractions: time management, lack of patience
  • Steps to the path: blog at least once a week, finish a novel; build a scrapbook from scratch; collect and organize recipes for cookbook
  • The finish line: write “The End.”, have sections of the cookbook mapped out
  • What’s next: edit the novel, put together and edit cookbook in InDesign, continue blogging with new features and fresh ideas, move on to photography and other media



  • Goal word: CELEBRATE
  • Path 1 to the goal: celebrate with friends
  • Path 2 to the goal: celebrate with family
  • Path 3 to the goal: celebrate myself
  • Distractions: money, time management, other priorities
  • Steps to the path: remind myself that each day there is something to celebrate; rejoice in small victories; take every opportunity to socialize, treat myself, and appreciate others; in short, Celebrate Everything!
  • The finish line: feeling great about myself and the world around me
  • What’s next: Celebrate more!


laundry, organized

  • Goal word: SIMPLIFY
  • Path 1 to the goal: simplify self-care
  • Path 2 to the goal: simplify my space at home and at work
  • Path 3 to the goal: simplify online presence
  • Distractions: work and home responsibilities, time restraints, lack of motivation
  • Steps to the path: eat well (no nitrates, chemicals, preservatives, or hormones, eating a balanced diet, eating often but not lots at once); exercise (walking, biking, and getting out more); clean and organize often; get rid of clutter and unnecessary items; donate to charity; cut down on the number of social networks I’m involved in; step away from technology more often; take great care of myself, including a nightly and weekly beauty routine
  • The finish line: feeling mentally and physically healthy, a clean and organized living space and working space
  • What’s next: Keep it up!

Image credits: create – IHeart Organizing; celebrate – That Kind of Woman; simplify – The Container Store

Love a la Carte

Manic Monday

30 January, 2012

You yourself deserve your love and affection as much as anyone in the entire universe.

Love A La Carte features all the little things that make my life just a little more delicious.

the smell of LUSH stores, particularly of their bath bombs – ahhhhh ♥ free cupcakes from Sprinkles Cupcakes (follow their Twitter feed for the secret word of the day) ♥ ♥ crumpets ♥ PsychologyToday asks and answers: Who Is Creative? ♥ Dana Tanamachi’s stunning chalk doodle cover of Oprah’s O magazine ♥ my friend Karen’s blog – she writes about life, love, friendship, and navigating today’s world with such eloquence ♥ Emergency Puppy! ♥ No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom – after 17 years, it’s still one of my favorite albums ♥ the image above from purple buddha projectBonobo ♥ hanging out in Barnes & Noble and finding all kinds of books for my to-read list ♥ terrible diner food and great company ♥ being asked to help out a friend from Germany who is writing a dissertation in English (about the assessment of aesthetic appreciation for different types of visual art) ♥ e-mails from my mom “just because” ♥

Love a la Carte

Oh, Darling, Let’s Be Adventurers

20 January, 2012

Oh, Darling, Let's Be Adventurers



Eat Like an Artist in 2012 ♥ my new Wonderland playlist on Spotify ♥ iCal ♥ the above image from Fifi du VieBeing Erica ♥ Jay Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne ♥ Move and the world will get the fuck out of your way. – <3 Hey Amber Rae ♥ PinterestThis post about a true adventurer and his 365 photography project (make sure to watch the fascinating and moving video). ♥ the complete works of Shakespeare free for iOS ♥ Shit DC Says ♥ letterpress business cards ♥ John Legend’s cover of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep (can you imagine if they collaborated? OMG.) ♥ Adobe Bridge ♥ mimosas ♥ President Obama singing Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together

What adventures are you up to? I’m brainstorming my own for 2012…

Love a la Carte

Shiny New Year Love List

13 January, 2012

Shiny New Year love list:


origin: unknown (Is this yours? Let me know so I can credit you.)


Pantone and Sephora teaming up for a new beauty line!  ♥ SARK at TEDxFiDiWomen “Succulence is Powerful” (YouTube video) ♥ friends who are always there no matter how many miles or days come between you ♥ Inbox: 1 (as close to zero as I can get realistically) ♥ teaching my mom how to use Flipboard and getting links from her as a result ♥ Janelle Monae ♥ handmade quilts ♥ warm and fuzzy sweaters ♥ The Definitive Color Wheel ♥ these 30 Things to Start Doing for Yourself ♥ light and fluffy snow falling ♥ laughing with my coworkers ♥ my brand new Nook (thanks, bro!) ♥ my new nightstand and lamp from IKEA ♥ starting the New Year off with a fantastic brunch shared with good friends in my new home ♥ having less than an hour commute ♥ using traveling as an excuse to buy my favorite magazinesRihanna’s You Da One ♥ reading through my old blog entries ♥ President Barack Obama sings Lady Gaga’s Born This Way (YouTube video) ♥ LUSH’s Stimulating Spice ShampooTwelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking (great article on creative thought processes) ♥ some wonderful inspiration from Louise Hay on how to love yourself and why you should start NOW! ♥ research and creative projects ♥ Hyperbole and a Half’s alot (must read: hilarious, especially for grammar nerds like me!) ♥ the fact that it’s Friday ♥ a Lord of the Rings (extended editions, of course) movie marathon with good friends ♥ my new Tumblr theme ♥



The Alot is Better Than You at Everything (image source: Hyperbole and a Half)


What are you loving right now?