make some happy

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I just wanna wear jumpers and jump around the puddles. Or overalls and run over all the hills.  What about shorts and sit behind the shortstop? Am I going too far with this, or should I make a silly about a skirt?

Thing is, I have an overwhelming urge to stick my toes in the mud and walk across the creek.  I want the sun to shine so bright that I can swim in the lake and sip sweet lemonade.  Imagine bare legs tanning and light freckles emerging under the endless summer sky.
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But perhaps I’m jumping too far ahead?  Shouldn’t I be more excited for the spring that keeps promising to come?  The spring, of course, is when everyone is hopeful.  The flowers begin to bloom and people everywhere are excited about picnics at the park and walks by the river and bike rides at the lake.

My imagination is getting the better of me on this cold winter’s day.  To get over my winter blues, I bought myself some ice cream and flowers.  Gotta make your own happy, right?
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Speaking of creating happy – Matt Richardson emailed me about a KickStarter campaign he’s doing for his new greeting card business, Gramr Gratitude.  Matt founded Gramr Gratitude to encourage people to become happier by writing handwritten letters.  The idea that practicing gratitude makes us happier is nothing new, but Matt designed his company so that saying “hello” and “thank you” and “you’re so kind” is not only easy, but fun.

Gramr Gratitude inspired me to do a random act of happiness centered around, you guessed it, thankfulness.  I put together a pre-paid greeting card and left it for a stranger.
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sip swirl clink

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Is champagne in the bathroom a luxury or a necessity?  Debatable, I suppose – we probably don’t need it while going to the bathroom but it might be nice while taking a bubble bath.  On the other hand, if champagne in the bathroom is reason enough to get you excited — then it’s absolutely necessary.

A group of friends had brunch at Blackbird Cafe, and I made a quick trip to the bathroom before we left.  I’m easy to please, I guess, because I got all kinds of excited about a ‘press for champagne’ button on the wall.  I texted my friend Lauren to “meet me in the bathroom ASAP.”
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Lauren entered a few seconds later, and she loved the quirky artwork as much as I did.  We loved it so much, in fact, that we did the little photoshoot you see above.  All in all, we went home more happy about the bathroom decor than the brunch menu.
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Like I said, easy to please, right?  But the thing is, I like when people get excited about small, seemingly unimportant things.  On the surface it might seem like dramatic or silly behavior, but, on a deeper level, it’s revealing of a strong sense of appreciation.Image
If you can appreciate quirky bathroom decor then you’re without-a-doubt able to appreciate kindness, generosity, friendship and loyalty — the larger things that make life special.

Remember the coffee picture above? Transformed into a reminder:IMG_6184

cold hands, warm hearts

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Let no love go unspoken. I’m a romantic about my love life, true, but I’m also a romantic in general: I’m in love with the sincerity of friendships, the loyalty of family, the pride of communities, the history of cultures, the transcendence of stories, and the beauty of nature.  That’s right, I’m pretty wrapped up in love.

Can you guess which holiday is my favorite?  Hint: It comes in February and encourages us to be grateful for the people we love.
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Valentine’s Day gets a bad reputation from skeptics claiming the holiday is a consumer trap that alienates the lonely.  But that’s a pretty superficial description, isn’t it?

At it’s core, Valentine’s Day encourages us to reflect on the sources of love in our life, and then, in turn, speak out about that love.  Give sweet notes to your neighbors.  Bake cookies for your friends.  Let your children know they’re loved.  And, if you’re lucky, wrap your sweetheart in kisses.
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The Wall Street Journal published an article about the benefits of instilling gratitude in young children.  The study found that people with a “strong appreciation of other others reported having higher GPAs, less depression and envy and a more positive outlook than less grateful teens.” 

In my book, Valentine’s Day offers an ideal opportunity for reflecting on gratitude and sharing our appreciation for the people that brighten our world every day.  
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To get people thinking about ‘who they love’ (excuse the grammatical error, didn’t want to be stuffy about street art), I did a little Valentine’s Day inspired rah rah rah project.
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make it pop

Is there a more important task than cultivating a grateful heart?  When we learn to recognize the smallest blessings, we’re able to truly appreciate the people and moments that make our lives special.

November inspires reflection on the multitude of gifts in our lives, and gratitude lists seem to be pop pop popping up on all sorts of social media.  These lists are wonderful, but I think it’s important that we remember to actually give thanks for our blessings.

Today I wrote gratitude letters to a few people who consistently make my life more positive.  To make the project a little more fun, I put the letters inside confetti poppers.  That said, make it pop!
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“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

adore-a-ball

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Practicing gratitude is a win-win situation for happiness.  A grateful person recognizes the importance of the people in their lives, and a recognized person (the person receiving the thanks) feels connected to their social network.

Gratitude is on my mind with Thanksgiving just around the bend, and so today’s rah rah rah project involved leaving little “I am thankful….” notes around 50th&France in Edina.  Hopefully, the recipients paused to reflect on their blessings, and, with any luck, felt a bit of happiness when they reflected on what they’re thankful for.
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How would you fill out the card?

cracks let the light shine in

the cabin trip concluded with a game of apples-to-apples on the boat and a bonfire under the stars.  as i watched the flames dance below the night sky, i started thinking about how grateful i was for the weekend: the time with family and friends, the easy laughs, the consistent sunlight, and the leisurely days.  thinking about gratitude and starlight reminded me of the leonard cohen quote, “there is a crack in everything, and that is how the light gets in.”  suffering, by definition, is painful, but the experience allows us to develop our capacity for gratitude and joy.  overcoming hardship allows us to see the value of small things with fresh eyes, and to be thankful for the simple, pleasant things in life.

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