happiness hack june 2017

Happiness Hacks: June 2017

I LOVE podcasts. They fit my Type-A personality, my need to always feel like I’m satisfying the hungry curiosity that runs at warp speed through my brain. I love all sorts of podcasts, from political to storytelling to teaching tips to personal growth.

This month I’ve been plowing through the podcast “Happier With Gretchen Rubin”. 

You should check it out. She publishes two types of podcasts: one that is super short ‘happiness’ tips often in the form of a quote or anecdote to give you something to think about. She calls these “A Little Happier” – you might like this one called “We Don’t Always Know When Children Are Wasting Their Time”.

The second type of podcast she publishes is her longer series (she’s up to podcast #121, so you have some to look forward to!) – for example, I just listened to this one about how to get more reading done, and an interview with Sam Walker: http://gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2017/06/podcast-121-reading-sam-walker/

Gretchen’s name might sound familiar to you because several years ago she wrote the best-selling books The Happiness Project and Happier At Home. You can read my essay inspired by Happier At Home here.

Cover of "The Happiness Project: Or, Why ...
Cover via Amazon

Gretchen’s writing and podcasts inspired me to create what I hope are monthly lists of ‘happiness hacks’ – small, simple acts or moments in life that bring me happiness and maybe they’ll rub off on you, too.

Happiness Hacks June 2017:

Biking to work

happiness hack june 2017
Ummmm…yeah. My students/family thought I was hilarious. I thought I was a blue and gold Viking!

Last year a teacher/friend/neighbor and I started a biking to work challenge. We decided that we would commit to trying to bike to work every day. Now, biking to work is something I did regularly anyways, but I was noticing I was finding more and more excuses to take the car. I’d arrive home tired/hot/stressed, and completely unmotivated to exercise. Even my little doggie couldn’t always get me going after a long day.

The biking to work challenge worked, mainly because I love a challenge and when I start something I don’t like to give up. I started to notice how relaxed I felt when I got to work and got home after a 15-minute bike ride. I found I was listening to more podcasts, and taking home less work. Once I started I couldn’t stop – even when northern California experienced one of the rainiest winters ever! I simply bought a bike poncho and kept on pedaling.

I know not everyone can bike to work, but if you’re looking for more relaxation and exercise, is there a way you could commit to 15 minutes once (or twice) a day?

Happiness Hacks June 2017

Cleaning the fridge and freezer

Stay with me here: I love to organize my refrigerator and freezer. I can’t say that I love it when the juice has spilled and stuck in a gooey mess all the way down the side, or when I discover that package of fancy Brie molding in the cheese drawer. No one loves the smell or rotten kale or moldy sour cream, right?

But I do love knowing what I have and where it is because it makes life so much easier. Cooking and baking are relaxing to me, but not when I don’t have the right ingredients or something has expired. Plus, I love being able to open the doors, have the cold air hit my face and see the neatly arranged frozen bags of fruit, the containers of extra sauce or meatballs, and the easily accessible Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel gelato staring back at me.

For that, I’ll gladly clean the fridge and freezer at least every other month!

Happiness Hacks June 2017

Upcycled children’s books into journals

I recently took a trip to Salt Lake City to have a ‘staycation’ at my daughter’s college apartment. I love just hanging out in SLC, checking out the cool spots to eat and drink (coffee), walking through the beautifully landscaped neighborhoods, and shopping at a few of my favorite places: the Sundance outlet and Uptown Cheapskate.

One of the best parts of Salt Lake City on a Saturday is going to the HUGE downtown Farmer’s Market. I love the yummy food trucks, the produce vendors, and the beautiful homemade craft booths.

happiness hack June 2017
I went back for a second year in a row to this awesome food truck!

This year I discovered the breathtaking book journals made by Red Barn Collections. you can follow them on Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/redbarncollections/  I got so excited to see how they cleverly upcycled books into journals that I posted this video on my Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BVc4n1jhL8F/?taken-by=mamawolfeto2

I can see how they would make awesome graduation gifts, birthday presents, new baby gifts, recipe books, or just to write in! And I hear they do a “Christmas in August” sale, so be sure to check them out.

happiness hack June 2017
I forgot to mention that Red Barn Collection does adorable light switch covers, too! Recognize this guy?

Happiness Hacks June 2017

Finding and using gift cards

My last happiness hack for June 2017 is finding and using gift cards. This will take some upfront time – you’ll need to go through your purses, wallets, drawers, mail – anywhere you have stashed gift cards. Put them all together in an envelope or just slap a rubber band on them, and take them on your next shopping trip or vacation. I’ve done this two years in a row with my Salt Lake City trip, and am amazed at how much fun it is to try to pay for everything with a gift card! Consider it a way of ‘forced saving’ if you want – but I was able to indulge us with new clothes, books, frozen yogurt, burgers and a mani-pedi without forking out any cash!

Taking this happiness hack a step further, consider looking for sales on gift cards – sometimes the grocery store has a special deal or card resale sites like Gift Card Granny.  You could but a card every now and again and tuck them away for next summer!

I sure hope these happiness hacks from June 2017 gave you some ideas – and please, let me know if you try them – or better yet, what your favorite happiness hacks are! I’d love to include them in my July Happiness Hacks post!

primark

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Alone And Lost In A New York City Nightmare

It’s broad daylight on an ordinary day…or so I think. Over the loudspeaker, the emergency message screams to “pack all your belongings and get out!” Disoriented, I spin and spin until I realize I’m alone and lost in a New York City nightmare, away from my family.

Why am I here? My mind races to center, to grasp any sense of normal.

I can’t move fast enough, and I’m isolated. My children…..I can’t find you. You’ve disappeared, dissolving into a murky future that doesn’t make sense. Why can’t I find you? I always, always know where you are. 

Frantically I search for everything I know to be real. I’m in my house now, pawing through my childhood treasures, scooping figurines and trinkets with broad strokes into a bag as would a burglar. With each movement, my mind flashes back to small moments of beauty, happiness and joy. Where to begin, where to end? The clay figurines, so thoughtfully crafted with childhood fingers…the bookmarks they made in preschool, the framed photos of us smiling at the parade. 

I move from room to room wondering where I will put all this, what bag or box will be big enough, sturdy enough, to contain all that is dear to me. What will I forget? How will I choose what to carry? What will I leave behind, remnants of everything I once had?

I think of my husband, thirty years of him by my side, and I return for more. Remember my wedding dress, our box of letters from college. Our rings – I must get our rings. My children – where are you? Desperately, I run down the hall to their room…but it’s not there. I’m somewhere else, someplace I don’t recognize. Have I been here before?

Breathe…think. You can do this. Opening the door, I’m outside. The sun beams down as I approach the outdoor cafe. I see the complacency on their faces, the men who sit outside with their coffee and cigarettes. They smile, the edges of their mouth crinkling up in dominance. They know they’ve won. They think they’ve got this. They wouldn’t let

Right and left, I see bodies fleeing in desperation, moving chaotically as they search for helpers. I know I can’t be the only one…just breathe. Say excuse me, there must be some mistake. I just need to get past you…

They wouldn’t let me, though. They chuckle, and remind me to hold close to what care about – they are coming, and I’ll need my armor. This battle will be relentless.

Squinting at their glare, I contemplate my next move. They’re running now,  saw small pods of people flowing down streets and alleyways, towing bags and boxes of their lives. I feel my anxiety throb, my chest heaving for air. My hair covers my face, my hands strain to hold tight. I’m lost, alone, petrified.

 I stretch, desperate to see over their heads…swiveling to my left as the formation, comes towards me. I freeze, pulling my life towards my mouth paralyzed with terror…

I shoot out of bed, fumbling for my pulse. This is it. It was pitch black as I run for the front window, pull open the curtain and gazed out at the empty street. Silence. I’m alone. A shiver runs down my spine as the wind picks up, rustling the ocher leaves down the deserted sidewalk.

Pulling the down comforter guardedly under my chin, I withdraw to my refuge. My pulse calms as I settle in. I am home. Motionless, my body stills. I make out the quiet breathing echoing down the hall. Cola cocks one eye towards me from his dog bed, then gently settles down with a sigh. All is as I know it to be in this moment.

No more watching the news before bed, I promise as I will myself to sleep.

 

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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