Happiness Project: January

*Note: I wrote this two weeks ago, before Trump’s inauguration, but I couldn’t publish this then because of my blog issues. And now this post seems trivial, pointless, selfish. And part of me doesn’t want to hit publish. And part of me wants to abandon this idea of a happiness project all together. But I wrote it, and I want to write and I want to share because it’s a goal of mine for 2017: share more of my work. I was pretty silent in 2016. I vowed speak in 2017 — in every way. So hear I am speaking and sharing. I think all of us writers and artists are feeling this way about our work right now, and we must continue to make art. Always.

I’m in the car at least an hour every day. During this time, I listen to podcasts. One of my favorites is Happier with Gretchen Rubin and Liz Craft. I first read Rubin’s Happiness Project when it came out in 2009; I can’t say that I remember much about it or that I particularly liked it. I didn’t dislike it, but I was definitely not at the right point in my life or right age to read that book. I read it – not because I felt the need to be happier but rather because everyone else seemed to be reading it – and as a writer, I like to read trends. For example, I read the first book of the Twilight series and 50 Shades of Gray for the same reason. After listening to Happier, however, since its beginnings and since marriage, kids, work (you know, not enough time) have taken over my life, I find Rubin’s musings and tidbits on everyday life much more relevant – and I must say that I love listening to the two sisters because it reminds me of the relationship I have with my own sister, and our days of recording a “radio show” on my boom box.

At the end of 2016 during episode 97, Rubin and Craft discussed how to embark on a happiness project – and I found the idea of themed months so intriguing that I decided to start one of my own. I also picked up Rubin’s sequel to the Happiness Project, Happier at Home, which I loved and found super relatable. I liked how Rubin begins each chapter with three to four key goals for the month, which I’ve decided to emulate as well.

So, first, here’s a draft of my current themes (although these might change):

January: Home
February: Exercise  in light of current events I’m renaming ACTION
March: Self
April: Poetry
May: Past
June: Adventure
July: Present
August: Water
September: Nature
October: Art
November: Future
December: Family

I began January 3, after we returned home from a new year’s trip to Louisville, where my best friend and her family live. I started in the kitchen because it’s the heart of the home, and I wanted our small room, which we’d love to renovate but don’t have the budget, to be more functional. I went through every drawer, every cabinet, every shelf and purged and reorganized. Then I worked my way through my entire house this same way: dining room, living room, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a sunroom/kid’s art room, a front closet, a linen closet, laundry room, my office, and basement. I’m still working on the basement – it’s a beast; thankfully, I had already gone through my kids’ toys before the holidays but our basement has lots of nooks where we like to hide things, like quick-people-are-coming-over-let’s-shove-this-stuff-in-this-space-and-forget-it’s there.

Here’s some of my favorite accomplishments from the month:

  • Putting on a cabinet handle that had fallen off and been left off for at least two years and literally took me two seconds to reattach (it’s the small things)

    From The Container Store

  • Going through three boxes of old papers from grade school and high school that we’re sitting in my office
  • Taking down a heart-shaped shelf in my kitchen that I always hated and was here when we moved in (in 2008!) and I never bothered to remove
  • Convincing my husband to spend ten minutes going through the cabinet full of random wires in our basement and organizing them neatly in a plastic bin
  • Buying this (see right) super cool junk drawer organizer at the Container Store
  • Finally fixing our floating shelves in our bathroom that had been sagging so bad that we couldn’t store anything on them. So I finally went to Home Depot and bought some brackets to lift them up!
  • Loading up my car with four big bags and four boxes of unwanted stuff and donated it to the Vietnam Vets of America

With my house more organized and my possessions in check, I’m ready to move on to February’s focus: ACTION.

Anyone else bit by the de-cluttering bug? I’ve been finding inspiration from Tammi Salas’s blog as well!

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