Playing Many Parts

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the happiness category.

The Key to Happiness

birthdaycakeI turned another year older yesterday.  It wasn’t a milestone of any kind, but after 35, turning another year older can be more and more depressing, if your perspective isn’t right.

I did wake up yesterday feeling a bit glum.  I didn’t have any plans for my big day, my own fault, but still sad.  I had to work all day at a job I don’t love.  And the worst part of all, family and friends were all busy and I was planning a quiet dinner and cake alone.  I do NOT recommend this approach to a birthday.  If you want to be happy, do not spend your birthday alone eating cake.  That is recipe for both weight gain and misery.

However, something kinda awesome happened after I showered and got my first cup of coffee yesterday that kept me from going down a dark hole of self pity and sadness.  I started thinking of all the things I am grateful for.  I literally started counting things I love about my life and was soon overwhelmed with peace and even happiness.  As I got in the car and headed off to work, I kept thinking about more things I was thankful for. And as I was getting happier and happier, nice little surprises started coming my way.  I got a beautiful card from my Mom, my daughter posted a generous note to my FB wall, many friends sent me well wishes, and I even got a surprise monetary kickback from my bank!

I started to wonder if maybe being thankful not only changes how we feel, but changes how others feel about us. Could it be that being thankful opens us to receive more?  Since I was so happy and open, others were able to be open with me. They were free to share thoughts and feelings and I could graciously receive them.  All I know for sure is that when I could have easily gone down a dark road yesterday, being thankful saved my day.  It seems to me that if you are counting your blessings, noting all the things you are thankful for, it is hard to be sad.  If you start to realize all the things you have (it helps to remember that most of the world lives on less than a dollar a day), it is hard to feel sorry for yourself.

So I challenge you empty nesters who are sad, depressed, and looking for ways to make it through another day to start counting you blessings every morning.  Count things like being able to shower.  Clean drinking water from your tap.  A place to live and sleep.  Your next meal or cup of coffee is a real blessing.  You are alive today.  You are probably reading this on a smart phone, computer or tablet.  Are you employed?  Have kids?  Have a significant other who makes you smile ever?  Do you enjoy your freedom?  Are you educated?  Try to come up with a list of at least 10 things you can be thankful for.  Then try 100.  How about 1,000?


10 Ways to Beat Empty-Nest Blues

Chicks are Cute

Chicks are Cute

My chicks are gone. . .and I have an empty nest.  I don’t mind too much most of the time, but there are days when I get sad and then confused by what my new role in life is.  On those days when nostalgia threatens to darken my mood, I have found a few ways to punch it in the nose and do an about face to get my mood back on the happy track.  Here are some of my tips for remembering how awesome life is no matter where my children are.

1.  Explore old hobbies.  I used to play tennis in high school and love it.  It also helped me keep fit, so I am picking up my racket once again and re-teaching myself to play.

2.  Learn new hobbies.  I always wanted to learn to play the piano.  I am going to do that now, a bit at a time.  I haven’t decided yet how I will do this, so if you have suggestions please let me know.

3.  Read.  I love to read, but often felt guilty when my kids were younger taking time away from them to read fiction.  I now find I have plenty of hours in the day for TV, so I am turning that trap off and reading all those books I meant to years ago.

4.  Take online classes.  I absolutely love online courses.  I can learn about everything from Math to French Cooking through online courses.  I have signed up for free classes and have paid for some too and have enjoyed both.  I took a class on Science Fiction from the University of Michigan and a class on web design from Udemy.

5.  Start an exercise routine.  Now is definitely the part of my life where I can carve out time to get fit before it is too late.  All those TV hours can at least be put to use even if I can’t totally give up my guiltiest pleasure.  I can do plenty of situps, pushups, planks and jumping jacks while catching up on the last season of The Good Wife.

6.  Work on eating healthier.  Since I am only cooking for two now, I am finding it much easier to try new recipes with strange ingredients like kale, brussels sprouts and edamame.

7.  Adopt a pet.  I never thought adopting a dog from the shelter could be so amazing.  There are so many reasons why this is a great idea, but the top two are I now have someone I can still mother, and I have a walking buddy who can’t wait to go outside and get some exercise with me!

8.  Make new friends of all ages.  I have found that spending time with friends from some of my community groups of different ages has kept me feeling younger.  It is awesome to hear the opinions of younger women and I love hearing how older women are redefining themselves as they age.

9.  Watch stand-up comedy.  Laughter is just good medicine.  If you don’t believe me, Google it.  I have also found that in addition to making me laugh and smile, comedy routines are a fun way to keep up with all that crazy stuff that is happening in the world.  Even if the spin is a bit odd sometimes.

10.  Write a book.  Every woman has enough material for a book by the time she has an empty nest.  Childhood and teen years are awkward, funny, crazy times for kids and their parents.  I bet you have plenty of stories to tell that will be very entertaining to others who have similar experiences. . .maybe you can even be that stand-up comic from #9!

That’s it for now, my kinda “tongue-in-cheek” list of things to try if you are having a hard time adjusting to life at home without your kids.  I would love to hear back from you with fun ways to remind yourself that you used to be an entirely different person before your life was turned upside down by kids!

New Daily Habit – Letting Go of the Negative



I have been trying to create healthy new habits, including eating better foods, exercising more and drinking more water in hopes that the extra 20 pounds or so I have put on over the past 10 years would magically fall off.  I know, I know, what a setup, but what can I say, I want to be skinny for and upcoming event.

I have been focusing on trying to be more active (walking the dog more and longer) and doing weight training at least 3 days a week.  However, I was listening to a podcast this weekend that suggested my HIIT weight training was too short on length of high intensity.  This woman suggested that it needed to be at least 60 seconds of high intensity followed 60 seconds of low intensity, no more of the whimpy 30 seconds high and 90 seconds low.  So in my typical fashion, I decided that is exactly what I needed to to.  I needed to switch to her method immediately. . .which almost sent me right back to the beginning and wanting to never work out again.

I knew it would be hard, I am out of shape.  What I failed to really think through before I began was that there was no way I could succeed.  I can barely do the 30 second sprint followed by the 90 second walk as it is 7 times through.  I did exactly one round of 60 second sprinting followed by 60 seconds of rest and couldn’t do another.  Failure. . .as usual.  Lucky for me, I may have actually turned a corner in my life.  Instead of crying in defeat and walking the rest of the way home, I did the next interval, but I went back to one that was still challenging for me but doable. . .the 30/60 second interval.  After that one, I did 45/60 and went back and forth like that for all 7 rounds.

Just because someone gives crappy advice doesn’t mean I am a failure.  When I went back to check the advice again, what I found out is that this woman is probably at least 40 pounds lighter than me and has been training hard for years.  I started a month ago.  If you get off the couch today or out of bed or walk/run, you win!  This stuff needs to be challenging yes, but it also needs to be doable and enjoyable or you will give it up.

I am letting go of the negative and choosing the positive.  I finished my intervals Saturday, I did pilates and yoga on Sunday and yesterday I rested.  Today, I am back at the HIIT workout.  .but at my pace because that is what I can do.

Mangos, Who Knew?



I am not very adventurous when it comes to food choices.  I am a Mid-West meat and potatoes girl, or at least I was until I hit 40 and could no longer loose any weight.  Now days I will try anything if I can find a couple of articles that agree on the health value of a food.

I read this article on my favorite health website recently and decided to pick up a mango on my next visit to the market.  I am now in love with mangos and crave them like I used to crave cupcakes.  They are very sweet and high in sugar, so you do have to be careful and probably shouldn’t eat them by the bucket full, but one every couple of days or so may have some really nice health benefits.  They fight cancer, keep cholesterol in check, alkalize the body, help with weight loss and regulate diabetes if this site is correct.  Of course, any food that may help fight any type of cancer is also very high on my list of things to consume regularly.

And don’t get too hung up on how to cut them.  I just slice off slivers and eat those like I would a section of orange, but if you want to get fancier, here is a great video to help.

12 Mile Walk – I Love Sundays

I couldn’t decide yesterday if I could really forgo my 60 minute run and instead walk with my daughter, but I am so glad I did.  I had my mind stuck on how many calories I would burn during my long run, until I looked up how many I could burn just walking with my kid.  I had no idea how amazing it would feel to not only walk for so long, but to spend so much time getting in touch with someone else and nature.

One amazing snapshot from our walk.

One amazing snapshot from our walk.

Our walk was along a long winding road in the middle of West Michigan.  With the leaves beginning to change color and the wind blowing just a tiny bit it was an amazing 3 hours.  My daughter and I started our walk just catching up on life and discussing upcoming events.  As we got further along the road though, we fell into a very comfortable silence and both just settled in to experience life.  It has been a long time since I have felt such a sense of peace and at the end accomplishment.  I walked 12 miles in three hours yesterday and it was one of the best 3 hours in a long time.

Want to clear your head and feel peace?  Take a walk, the longer the better!

Homemade Lotion

Homemade Lotion

I have been wanting to get completely away from commercial beauty products for a long time, and this is the year!  With my hot oil treatment from last time and my new homemade lotion, I feel like I am finally on my way!

This recipe is so easy that I can’t believe I waited so long to do this.  I used the recipe over here at ReadyMade.  It isn’t perfect.  I used Brewed Peppermint Tea, Coconut Oil,  Beeswax, and Clove Essential Oil.  I ended up with a nice product that I will use, but I do need to play with this recipe.  It has a nice consistency and smells great, but it does dry up a bit drier on my skin than I like.  I think it is the coconut oil, so I am anxious to try some different oils to see if I can’t do a bit better.

2012 is off to a very productive start for me.  If you have ever considered making some beauty product on your own I encourage you to give it a try!  It is awesome!  I am a mom, work full time outside the home, and have a couple of programs I am involved with too, but making time to get rid of crap beauty products that might make me sick is something I am quite happy to spend 30 minutes a day on!

Something New A Thankful Hump Day!

I was driving in to work today, bored to tears with my commute and I found my mind wondering to how I might be able to make my blog more interesting, or at least more meaningful. So today, I would like to focus on something that makes me happy, and very thankful.

I am thankful for my transportation that reliably takes me everywhere I want to go. I love that it has 4wheel drive, is convertible and is RED! But more importantly, if I let it, it reminds me daily that I am loved, cherished, and cared for by my husband.

You see, when DD needed a car last year, it was quickly decided that my current car was perfect for her, and that I needed a new one. My husband suggested a car that he thought I really wanted, but I’m a modern woman, I no longer wanted that car. I had only to mention once that I had always dreamed of owning a jeep when we were off to the dealer. My stoically Dutch husband may not be the most affectionate person, but when it counts (and his pocket book ALWAYS counts), he finds AWESOME ways to show me just how much he cares. I am blessed, and I choose to meditate on that and have a very thankful Hump Day.

What are you thankful for? What gives you hope and inspiration? What nice thing has someone done for you recently?

I Can’t Stop Making Things!

While I was thinking about how to finish my quilts and what backs to purchase and such, my favorite fabric was taunting me. . .daring me to make something fun for the house out of it. I had seen a post over at Sew Liberated a while back about a recycled bath mat, so I thought I would give it a go, but put it in the kitchen instead of the bath. I think it turned out pretty good. . even though DH and DS assure me I need to put the pillowcase back on my bed.

I do apologize for the quality of the picture, I couldn’t find the regular camera this morning early so I had to use my awful camera phone.  I will update as soon as I can.

I Should Be Able to Finish Soon!

I have been working on this lovely quilt top for a couple of weeks, and am about ready to start the actual quilting on it.  All I need now is for my new book, Machine Quilting Made Easy, to arrive so I can do some practice quilting and then I am off and running to get this beauty done by June 12 for DD’s graduation!  I am soooo excited!

Still Alilve. . .Making Quilts for the First Time EVER!

Just a quick note to say pictures of my first two quilts (both for DD for graduation) are coming this week. I have the tops almost finished . . . then on to the scary part . . . the actual quilting!

I am quilting a kit I bought, and also making a t-shirt quilt for her to take to school.  They are both turning out quite nicely, and were both somewhat easy to do.  The kit was trickier than the t-shirt quilt, which is strange since I had an actual pattern and instructions to follow for the kit and had to put the t-shirt quilt instructions together myself.  Both have been fun so far and I am looking forward to finishing both projects then moving on to a King sized quilt for my own bedroom!