Monday, September 26, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Even though it's still pushing 90 degrees here in Augusta, I'm unabashedly embracing fall, pulling out my sweaters, thinking about soups to cook (already made my first bouillabaise!), and looking forward to the holidays.

Two of my favorites--which you won't see on any calendar--are "Leaf Day" and "Bird Day." I was so thrilled when I found out my husband had already found out about these holidays. There's always one day every fall when suddenly the air is full of falling leaves. I've been lucky enough to be outside for this day only a few times in my the house where I grew up, at recess at school, even at college. But it's been years since I've caught that day.

The second is the day when birds flying south for the winter decide to make their pit stop in Augusta, and suddenly our yard, our neighbors' yards, and the grassy median in our section of Olde Town is full of roosting, calling black birds.

I'm full of anticipation--maybe this year will be the year that I'll get to enjoy both! Do you have any special traditions or "holidays" you celebrate this fall season?

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Year Full of Happiness

Last year, I read "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin, a popular blog-become-book chronicling Rubin's pursuit of happiness. One idea I took away from her experiment was the importance of chronicling and really experiencing those happy moments that happen each and every day, but are so easy to forget.

About a week later, I was at the Country Living Festival in Stone Mountain, Georgia, where one of several freebies was an adorable pink and purple Remember Book, a mini daily journal, from Dress Barn. It felt a little like fate when I opened it, and read, "Memory is how we hold on to the things we love, the things we are, the things with which we never part." I started that weekend to collect those meaningful moments in my daily life, beginning with "Taste of Atlanta!" and "Country Living Fair, Stone Mountain" and "my new typewriter key necklace."

Over the past 11 months, I've jotted, crammed and sometimes struggled to fill each daily line with a true moment of happiness. Some days I can only work up to the happiness of "Coming home...and porkchops," while other days are gems of memory: "Laughing with Sean in the water at the lake," "Everyone loved the caramel cake," "Snow day!", "Finding Adam and Morgan the perfect wedding gift", "Laughing with Jamie and Becca; with Chris and Andy." And some sad, rollercoaster times: "No more pain for Uncle Robert," "The girls...during a stressful day," "The struggle to be good!". During this year, I also went through the stress of a reorg at work, an outside job offer, doubts, and second thoughts. While I made my choice, it wasn't without regret at any pain I caused, especially when I read, "I do like the girls!" and "R.S. and S...they're so nice!" and "Nice conversation with A.W."

I still have a month left before my little Remember Book is complete. And I find myself asking the same question that Gretchen Rubin did at the end of her Happiness Project: Am I any happier? Some days the answer would be a loud No! But I think I've come to the same conclusion she did: I'm more aware of my own happiness, and when it comes, I take the time to revel in the fullness of that feeling, be it something as simple as "The rain smell" or as complicated as "Little boy who looked like Harry Potter--I told Sean, 'Look, there's Harry Potter,' and he looked down all pleased."

I wonder what I will do now, without my little pink and purple friend on my bedside table? It's become a ritual, me laying on my belly, propped up on a pillow, thinking over the day and jotting down the one--or three--things that filled me with joy. As I look for replacements for my little book, I think--I hope!--I will keep it up. Because even on the bad days, now I can look back and remember, at least there was that smell of rain.

Friday, September 9, 2011

It's Fall!

The other night as we were walking to the car to head out to dinner, I stretched out my arms and spun for the sheer pleasure of feeling the cool air. Have you felt the chill in the mornings? (can you believe it?) It's fall! I'm ready to luxuriate in sweaters, the rich smell of fall leaves raked on a Saturday morning, and crisp days punctuated by blue skies behind orange trees.

The perfect fall outfit:

Where I'd love to visit this fall:

So welcoming!

Even more than spring, fall to me feels like the start of something new. Can you feel it?