The title is twofold. First, I spent the first weekend of the New Year very, very happy. Stupid happy. Second, I read this book called the Happiness Project and it is my inspiration for this year.
First, a quick recap of my weekend.
My friend, Cyndi, turned 40! Her super sweet husband threw her one heck of a birthday weekend. The timing was perfect and I was able to take a couple days off of work and spend a long four day weekend in Cleveland, OH. I flew up a day early to spend some time with the Out of State Mystery Date (OOSMD?) I spoke of here. He lives in the area and it was nice to spend time with him before the birthday extravaganza started. He graciously agreed to be my date for the birthday events as well. I have to say – I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for a long time – this was the best part of my holidays.
I offered to make him dinner Thursday night and for a split second was nervous. If you read this blog for a second, it doesn’t take long to realize food and cooking are important to me – one of the most personal things about me. I’m a quirky grocery shopper on top of that and my sister had texted me before I left telling me to try and be less of myself when it comes to my weird ways. I think that added to my bit of anxiety. Anyway, all that quickly dissipated and I was able to enjoy the time and do what I do best – make chicken saltimbocca. Cooking for people is so my way of showing affection. It was really solidified for me why it’s so important for people to like what I cook – because that’s me putting myself out there. I’m so weird, I’m pretty sure this is what she was talking about when my sister encouraged me to tone down myself. Cooking isn’t just food to me – it’s my love language. It’s why I put so much time and energy and thought into the cooking lessons with my girlfriends, dinner parties for new acquaintances and special date night meals. Like my food, you must like me. I don’t think I ever realized this as clearly until this situation.
I digress. Let me get back to my “quick recap”. My sister is right – I’m so weird.
Okay – so after spending the night just outside Cleveland we headed downtown Friday afternoon to get ready for birthday fun to begin. We were meeting for the official birthday dinner at Greenhouse Tavern – a restaurant I was thrilled to be returning to. There were around 26 people at dinner from different aspects of Cyndi’s life: casino folks, family, Cleveland friends and such. I knew I enjoyed some of her Cleveland friends from having met them previously so I snagged seats at that table for OOSMD and me. Dinner was wonderful – such good food, perfectly paired wines and Jeni’s ice cream for dessert! Our table was fun and I had a lovely time with all the friends who were there to celebrate my friend!
I took exactly 3 pictures the entire weekend. This is one of them.
Saturday was a mostly free day so I found a brunch restaurant that focused on using local ingredients and sustainable practices and made a reservation at the Flying Fig, and then we headed to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I have always been excited about visiting it and it did not disappoint. I didn’t know how much I would be moved by seeing handwritten lyrics or Beach Boy artifacts. Lots of nostalgia as certain artists triggered memories for me. After the museum OOSMD took me on a tour of a different section of Cleveland and we ended in Little Italy where I got cappuccino and a cannoli. Yum.
We had just enough time to change and get back to birthday fun. On Saturday night’s agenda was appetizers and drinks and then tickets to the Cleveland Cavaliers game. I may have taken the “drinks” portion of the evening pretty seriously. There was a bottle of champagne, to which I’ll never say no to, and then there was a half full bottle of wine on the table as most of the group was ready to leave. I gallantly volunteered to join them at the game in a few minutes and contribute to finishing that bottle. Such a gracious gesture on my part, no?
The basketball game was fine. I didn’t think I liked basketball, perhaps having never been to an NBA game made me think that. I was surprised at how fast everything moved. Being a baseball fan – where there is no clock – and a football fan – where the action stops alllll the time – I was pleasantly surprised with the quick pace of the game and action. Also surprised at how small the court seemed. Soccer fields are humongous. Basketball court – kind of small. I was enjoying finally getting some time to talk to Cyndi and Lee during this night. We were a small group and an even smaller group went back to the lobby bar to have a drink.
I must say, OOSMD was a champ through all of it. That’s a lot of time to spend with people you don’t know at all. It’s a lot of time to spend with me. Sometimes I exhaust people. He was great and I’m pretty smitten. I’m reminded why long distance anything is a rotten idea. There’s a real problem with being this happy with someone you can’t see more. But there’s also a real problem denying how I feel about him just because he’s far away.
So – that’s how Cyndi’s birthday was done.
Now – phase two of the Happiness Post. I’ll just introduce the book here – I have gotten crazy sleepy while writing this and have an early day tomorrow morning as I head back to reality.
The week before Christmas I saw a link to “7 ways to keep your resolutions” and I followed it and it led me to Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project website. Intriguing. I clicked around on it and then I saw this blog post and knew I needed to download the book. That post simply had a discussion topic:
This book and website were appearing just as I needed them. It was a sign. I 1-clicked it through Amazon and started reading the book on Christmas Eve. I was drawn in immediately and started thinking about how to apply her year long project into my own New Year resolutions. Each month she focused on a different aspect of happiness and included lots of research along the way. Her biggest takeaway was to make a resolution chart – a way to visually remind and hold accountable your actions each day.
I don’t have the whole year farmed out, but I know what January is going to be about for me. Getting organized. Under that umbrella goal I need to come up with specific actions that support that. That’s also a big part of creating resolutions – you need small, concrete, actionable items. For me, getting organized – and hopefully feeling energized by the organization – is going to include these things:
- Make my bed every morning
- Stop wasting small amounts of time. (Meaning – using the little time I waste more efficiently. Empty the dishwasher while I’m waiting for my coffee to brew instead of just standing by the coffee maker. Using commercial breaks to fold a load of laundry or take out my trash. Etc.)
- Make my office usable
- Clean out the closets
Little things. I think big results. So far I’ve made my bed every day. This is a big deal for me. I feel accomplished. I get a gold star.
She had a list of “commandments” that she used as well. I’ll discuss her list and ones I like for myself in more detail, but for now Commandment #1. She phrases it as “Be Gretchen”. Be true to yourself throughout the process. Things that are fun for other people may not be fun for you. At work, our store design team has this slogan – “Let the building be the building”. It meant to keep as much structure as we could to avoid costly remodels. West Wing has this bit where they “Let Bartlett be Bartlett” when he’s running for office. Before I can be me I’ll have to work out some questions – what makes me feel good? What makes me feel bad? What areas do I want to grow in? And through it all – Be Sarah.
Weird and all.