One of us lives on the east coast. One of us lives on the west.

One of us lives in a rural community. One of us lives in a city.

Both of us wander. Both of us witness. Both of us write.

This is a record of what we find.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Happiness Project, Gratitude, and the Point of It All


As you can probably see, I missed a week!  Sorry about that.  My life has been… hmmmmm… full is a nice way to put it.  Bursting at the seams is, perhaps, a more real way to explain it.  (And even that is the rated G version of what I want to say…) A lot of work, every single person in my house has a lot of work right now, from us adult-types to the kid-crew, all of us are burning the oil fast and furious.  And the day feels so short.  It is short, right?  Dark before we know it.  I would say, perhaps, that my household has NOT transitioned to fall with a tremendous amount of grace. Very klutzy.  We are very klutzy and confused over here.

But we are muddling through...

One of the things I keep telling my kids (especially my son, who is really struggling to find his joy right now, in the midst of a tough 7th grade workload and looming puberty, oh boy oh boy, and also my middle daughter, who is hard at work wrestling with anxiety) I keep reminding them that it is up to us to find the moments in our day that make us smile, laugh, hope, and bust out with energy.  Part of that seeking is, perhaps, shifting our schedule or routine. But part of that seeking is also a perspective shift. 

Much easier said than done, I know from personal experience---we all do---but it is so so vital to do all the same.

My very cool yoga-therapy teacher taught me this two minute grounding exercise. It's a sort of coming home practice. I sit quietly for a few moments and simply feel what I am feeling.  Then I name the feelings, a sort of calling out to them, a validation of them. And then I figure out where they reside inside me.  Most of the time they are right near my heart, but sometimes they are lower, like in my belly. I sit like that for another few moments.  Then I viscerally place myself in the here and now.  What do my feet feel?  What do I hear?  What do I see?  And then I get up and go about my day. 

This is a bit of that perspective shift.  Simply being.  Not trying to fix or argue with or hate wherever I am at.  Simply being.

Or here is another version of this perspective shift. My very cool 6 year old daughter* grabbed her hula hoop last night (the kid is a champion hula hooper!) and told us all ("Ladies and gentlemen," she said, as she turned the lights off while we were eating dinner, "come join me in the Circle of Love…") to stand in a circle holding onto the hula hoop with both hands.  She then instructed us to go around the circle, each of saying something we liked about the person to our right. If we managed to use the word love or heart in our statement, the person we were talking about got to stand in the middle of the hula hoop!  Well, we dropped dinner and engaged in this Circle of Love activity…and it was, as you can imagine, kind of stunning. 

(Until the two older kids got inside the hula hoop together and began bumping bums. Then it wasn't as much stunning as chaotic and nutty… our standard in this household…)

The point is, though… well… okay, so I recently came across this very cool TED talk by Louis Schwartzberg, and he showed a short video called The Happiness Project. 

The Happiness Project is the point.  If you haven't watched it, I urge you to watch it here, below.

The young girl in the video says: the path, it could lead you to a beach or something…and it could be beautiful.

And the older man says, you think this is just another day in your life, it's not just another day, it's the one day that's given to you today…it's given to you, it's a gift. it's the only gift that you have right now.

Yes.  Those are the points.

The video kind of wrecked me. In that good, breaking-down-so-there-is finally-space-again kind of way.

My friend Sarah Tomp wrecked me this morning too. I asked her to read a manuscript of mine that is almost ready to go out into the world. One that I am too close to, at this late stage, to have any real perspective on. Sarah's perspective is one I cherish. I trust it, I believe in it, and it always teaches me something about myself, and about the world. Her perspective on this story was no exception to that. And exactly what I needed right this minute. 

Sarah is the point.

And then she sent me this poem. It is the point too. Yes yes yes.  

Permission Granted

You do not have to choose the bruised peach
or misshapen pepper others pass over.

You don't have to bury

your grandmother's keys underneath

her camellia bush as the will states.

You don't need to write a poem about

your grandfather coughing up his lung

into that plastic tube—the machine's wheezing

almost masking the kvetching sisters

in their Brooklyn kitchen.

You can let the crows amaze your son

without your translation of their cries.

You can lie so long under this

summer shower your imprint

will be left when you rise.

You can be stupid and simple as a heifer.

Cook plum and apple turnovers in the nude.

Revel in the flight of birds without

dreaming of flight. Remember the taste of

raw dough in your mouth as you edged a pie.

Feel the skin on things vibrate. Attune

yourself. Close your eyes. Hum.

Each beat of the world's pulse demands

only that you feel it. No thoughts.

Just the single syllable: Yes ...

See the homeless woman following

the tunings of a dead composer?

She closes her eyes and sways

with the subways. Follow her down,

inside, where the singing resides.
                                                 David Allen Sullivan

With gratitude, you all.


*My 10 year old daughter and 12 year old son are pretty cool too… :-)


  1. Beautiful poem. Beautiful post. I am so grateful and happy to know you.

  2. This whole post is amazing - in that Oh my God kind of way he's talking about in the video.

    Serendipity on the poem, for sure!

    Sarandipity (doo dah)

  3. Thanks for the poem and the post, Tam! May we each find those moments of joy throughout the day.