Milestones to Happiness

zenera on Flickr

I don't know if I believe in the idea of spiritual synchronicity, but when something tries to insert itself in my life on three different occasions, I give it some attention. Such was the case with The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. I think it may be the first case of a book stalking a reader. But that's a long story and the point is that after a month of being accosted by a book I hadn't intended to read (the sample chapter lurking on my Nook is there because a friend wanted to look it over and the local B&N was out of copies) I have succumbed and started reading.

Of course, like many people, I could handle more happiness in my life, a fact underscored when I realized I've take then same Authentic Happiness Inventory the author mentions in the introduction. I scored something like 1.5 on a scale of 1to 5, while Rubin managed a 3.92 before she started her project to get happier. I'd like to point out that I took that test about a year ago, a month after my father died, and I was at a low point. But even so, a case could be made that while I've made progress, there is still room for improvement. Originally, I intended to read the book and learn what I could. By the time I was two thirds of the way through Chapter One, I was convinced I needed to map out a happiness journey of my own and use the coming months as mile markers or sign posts to keep me focused and moving forward.

In the introduction the author mentions the multitude of books she used to guide her.Since it was the convergence of four books -- a literary crossroads of ideas from unexpected directions -- that launched me on this path, I've decided to map my journey with books. And I wont be trotting out a parade of titles from the psychology and self-improvement aisles. Looking at all the areas of my life in which I fall short does not add to my happiness. Instead, I'll choose a different component of happiness to focus on each month and use a mix of novels and autobiographies to point the way. Rubin points out that everyone's path to happiness will be different. In that spirit, I will start my journey with a dip into romance. What could be more essential to happiness than loving and being loved?

February with it's heavy snows, fires in the hearth, and Valentine's Day at it's heart, is the perfect time to discover what romance novels can teach me about finding happiness. Ah, I see eyebrows arching. Keep an open mind and check back to see how it goes.

So, to get an preproject measure of my current level of happiness, I retook the happiness test and scored a 2.62. You can take the test yourself and I'm guessing it shouldn't be hard to pass me up:(.

If you're interested in planning your own happiness project, Gretchen Rubin's website has a toolbox to get you started. Registration is free and I created an account so you can follow my take on happiness there as well as here. Let me know in the comments if you're planning to do a Happiness Project of your own or if you know a good romance that can teach me something about happiness.

Check back later this week to see my report on the first milemarker in my project: Laura Kinsale's, Lessons in French.

The Sunday Scribblings prompt this week was: Milestones. Check here to see what other scribblers had to say about Milestones.


Shadow Journey

David Paul Ohmer: Chicago - Michigan Avenue Bridge Steps "Railing Shadows"

We started where most lovers do --
that starry-eyed place lit by candles.
Our tongues mapped each other's bodies.

Next time,
his teeth stenciled a crescent moon.
Color rose, red to violet.

Next time,
the marks were stripes
light and dark, side by side, a repeating pattern,
a codependency.

Dark giving birth to light.

This is my contribution to the Friday 55 at G-man's blog. He has a great "Flash" this week. See what he and the other Friday 55 Flashers have done here.

Mr. Knowitall


The Fantasies That Keep Us Going


I began my journey with The Tiger's Tale at the end of January, 2008. I attached my story to a contest entry form, took a deep breath for courage and hit send. I was hoping for useful feedback and was stunned by a win. Winning was a start, but there was a long trek between the win and landing a publishing contract.

When I'm running in a long distance race, I use mental tricks to get myself through the tough spots, those places where I don't believe I can put one foot in front of the other one more time. I might visualize the clock as I cross the finish line, or imagine a handsome volunteer hanging a finisher's medal around my neck. I can't believe some of the miseries I've endured for the sake of a finisher's medal.

I got the author's version of a finisher's medal yesterday -- my first book cover. Nice!


Friday Flash 55: Black Fruit

Flickr Photo Download: Black and White Blueberries

Your seeds are the germ of desires
too dark to share, and so they're left on ice:
never to blossom, go to fruit, go back to seed.

The seeds are locked away in a vault,
in an icebound cave,
and there they will stay.

It's a shame.
You could have sown those fantasies
in me.

This is an old project I rewrote as flash fiction for G-man's Friday Flash 55. He's got a great flash this week and so do his other contributors. Drop by for more great reading.


Therians are coming


More Therian Art. If you leave the text and credits intact, they're free for the taking. Just don't alter the image please.


Turning the Page

Flickr Photo Download: leaf + snow

It's been almost a year now.
The spring has turned 'round to winter.
I walked the beach last weekend,
That strip of sand where the wild ponies love to run.
I remembered our winter walks on the beach,
The way you would tip your chin up and stride into the wind,
Strong and bold, while I shivered and hunched down in my jacket.
A cold wind slapped at me, but this time I lifted my head,
Unzipped my jacket, ran into its sting, savored the life you gave me.

It's been almost a year now.
It was snowing the night you left.
I stood outside watching it swirl in silent spirals
and thought of a sheet settling over you.
Snow seeped from an ashen sky the day we buried you.
I couldn't look at you tucked in that clay jar,
propped on a drape of artificial grass,
while they counted down our allotted time to grieve.
I fixed my eyes on the brick wall you'd climb,
sneaking in after hours to bring flowers to mother.

It's been almost a year now.
Spring peepers gave a concert the week after that goodbye.
The ground turned soft from new rain.
My shovel slid into the earth
As I pried up a dead cedar, tossed it aside,
And set a young rhododendron in its place.
I remembered all the bushes we planted together.
May this one fare better.

It's been almost a year now
And I sat numb through too much of it.
The grass greened and went back to brown.
Two feet of snow buried your rhododendron.
The page is turning and I can't stop it. I can't put it back.
It's opening on a new chapter in my life --
The first year without you in it.

The prompt for this Sunday Scribblings is New Leaf. See what other Sunday Scribblers wrote here.



Flickr Photo Download: Lonely


I like keeping my secrets,
tucking my thoughts away.
It is so easy with you,
keeping my shades drawn.
I can listen, ask, and never tell.

But then in a moment,
a brief glance up,
I’m captive.
Your eyes search every shadow, every secret.
I freeze, hypnotized,
until you look down and set me free.

You'll find other contributions to the Friday 55 on G-Man's blog
He has a great tribute posted this week. Drop by for a look.