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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Small Victory and a Taunt!

ORDER - Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
[Click here to see this week's Bliss Initiatives!] 

Ta Da!!!


And I want to report (brag) that I did not just dump the stuff in a box to deal with it later. I sorted and found the proper home for everything. (If you missed the post with the before shot click here.)When the stuff that made the cut gets to the new house it will live where it belongs!

I planned on giving you a big update on how I FreeCycled everything today but my wireless and their site just were NOT cooperating. Took me an hour to get one post up and I finally gave up and did one group listing of everything... which isn't as good likely and as of this moment it is STILL awaiting moderator approval!! . If you don't know what FreeCycle is you should check it out. I was first introduced when my friend Richard got this gorgeous new couch and he told me he got it FREE!! Yes people give the stuff, sometimes really nice stuff, away that they no longer want. I was trying to do a bulk give away today.  Hopefully I'll have something to report tomorrow.

Just for fun I want to share what one friend had to say about the project so far:

Michelle says, "love this everyday bliss. I am noticing part of my bliss is admitting when I am not in bliss and letting it be, and then the bliss comes back. In regards to "order", I have taken on giving away one thing a day and I am happy to say, that part is very easy for me. Somedays I give away a lot more than one thing. It is fun for me to try to think of what I can give to whom and how happy that person will be."

I am just delighted to know that Michelle and so many of you are having fun with it.

If you are a daily reader of this blog then you know that I announced my Everyday Bliss Give Away a couple of days ago.  I told you the Give Away includes a copy of Ben Franklin's Autobiography and a little whimsical surprise.  Well today I thought I would taunt you all with a photo of what you will be getting!




I will choose a winner this Sunday (October 4, 2009)  Enter the Everyday Bliss Giveaway here.

Next Post: FreeCycle and other giving extravaganzas

 My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Initial thoughts from "The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized"

ORDER - Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
[Click here to see this week's Bliss Initiatives!]

Well oddly enough I did it again. My born again friends will probably tell you it is a sign from God, and maybe it is but I am really not using this blog as my spiritual awakening! As my friend Rebekah says "Me and God are cool, you can go ahead and stay out of it."

Anyway, what I've done is pick yet another book with a very Christian leaning. Karen Ehman is a pretty well known, in addition to writing books, she is a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries national speaking team. So you might think I could be poised for yet another ill fitting read but that is surprisingly NOT the case. Karen's faith is a part of her in such a way, as my eyes are blue and I like french fries sort of way, that is in no way off putting or preachy. Her book gives straight forward, customized advice and while you know her choice to spend this or that free hour on a Church activity totally lights her up you are equally free to choose playing a video game, visiting a sick friend, or finger painting with your kids. 

The thing that makes "The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized"seriously spot on and useful is that she takes you on a little tour of your own life in such a way you get to see your specific irritants and issues that get in your way and then she gives you strategies for making things better. She even has a little system of rewards designed so when you get things on track you will be motivated to keep going. This book is written specifically for the stay at home mom so if that is your current calling I would highly recommend the book. I am currently 34% (love my Kindle!) through the book and look forward to reading the rest.

Next Post: Small Victory and a Taunt!
And don't forget to Enter the Everyday Bliss Giveaway here.

My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

Orderly observations

ORDER - Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
[Click here to see this week's Bliss Initiatives!]

So, I've been packing. I have deluded myself into thinking I am doing a pretty good job of NOT packing garbage I won't want at the other end. I have filled a couple lawn and leaf bags of crap which went out with the trash today but it isn't entirely true. I caught myself looking at a package of ducky bath beads... never been used, still cute in their yellow ribboned bag from 4 years ago, and then tossing them into the "bathroom box" I was packing. All the while I was thinking, "I'll sort it out when I get there." NO!!! Stop the presses and the packing! If you haven't used the blasted bath beads in 4 years why do you need them in the new house? Am I saving them for a "special occasion?" Are they for guests who are coming to take special bath bead baths at my house? What the hell are bath beads anyway??? They have already been moved once before. It is totally ridiculous!

Now the bath beads aren't really a problem except that they point to my overwhelming pack rat tendency. I save so much stuff all in the name of "Just in case" Just in case what?!! Just in case a five year old herbal tea I have never liked suddenly tickles my fancy? The spare buttons I saved from a shirt I no longer own will match perfectly with something I may buy in the future? The almost salvageable piece of wrapping paper will suddenly appear nice enough to use even though I have opted to buy more wrapping paper rather then using it for the last three years?

It really is time to get RUTHLESS as Karen Ehman says in her book "The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized.  I know that I won't miss anything I do toss or give away.  I am really giddy with the thought of my clean slate new house and see it as a once in a lifetime type of opportunity to do this organization thing right! A lofty goal but as Ben Franklin says,  I hope to be, "by the endeavour, a better and a happier (wo)man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it."

And before I get back to packing I think I will let Jessie practice using scissors on some pretty paper, take a ducky bath bead bath and play tea party with some real tea bags. See "just in case" can come, maybe I really do need to save that shoe who's mate hasn't been seen since the Neolithic age. NOT!

Next Post: Highlights from  "The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized
And don't forget to Enter the Everyday Bliss Giveaway here.

My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

Monday, September 28, 2009

Everyday Bliss Give Away!

ORDER - Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
[Click here to see this week's Bliss Initiatives!]

So, you all know that this game I am playing is based on Ben Franklin's account of his playing of his own virtue game as outlined in his Autobiography. What may not be quite as clear is my obsession with Ben Franklin. I have moved a lot in the past 20 years or so and as such have given away and purged a lot of stuff so periodically I have had the fear that I may have given away my copy of Ben Franklin's Autobiography. Turns out this is likely NOT the case as I have found two copies in this house already and "all my books" are still in storage... likely netting me at least one more copy!

Anyway, in keeping with my promise, for this week of ORDER, to give something away each day,  on Sunday I will be giving away a copy of Ben Franklin's Autobiography. The way to enter, leave a comment on this post in the blog, and you will be automatically entered in my little drawing.  In addition to the Autobiography a little whimsical surprise will also be included. I will choose a winner this Sunday (October 4, 2009)  ENTER NOW by leaving your comment!

Next Post: Orderly Observations

My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

ORDER Week

ORDER - Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

It really worked out great to have this end up the week I am moving. I would love to admit some great planning on my part but I put my list together and the sequence just sort of stuck. As I mentioned in my post about the distinctions of Bliss  I was certain this belonged on my virtues list because I could palpably recall feeling blissful when I succeeded in bringing something that previously was in disarray to its proper, orderly state. I've never been very good at keeping things in that state, ask anyone who has ever had to live with me! It is something I'd like to be better at maintaining, but just reaching ORDER from time to time is wholly blissful.

Ben Franklin had this to say in his Autobiography about order after a lifetime of study: "In truth, I found myself incorrigible with respect to Order; and now I am grown old, and my memory bad, I feel very sensibly the want of it. But, on the whole, tho' I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it..." So like Ben, I hope to be a better and happier person for attempting it!

One of the exciting parts about moving into a new house is you have a very clean slate.  We won't have any bad habits, yet, about dropping coats on the back of this or that chair so it is possible to start a habit of putting things in the coat closet. We also get to decide where everything actually belongs. I have always ended up with a "junk drawer" but in this last house I actually have two! Check out photo:


 I really hope I can avoid this this time around!

This week's  "Bliss Initiatives" are color coded in purple for quick identification. They are concrete things that you too can try,  if you want to play along with me.  However, because as Earl Nightingale says, "you become what you think about,"  even if you only follow along,  and never take on any of the bliss initiatives,  I expect some positive results. I will be exploring and encouraging ORDER this way:

    • Field work -  In my case, this will be simple. I will be packing and unpacking in a way that leaves me with a organized new home by the end of the week! LOL "Simple" -- well, simple in that I will be doing it. How it actually goes will be an entirely different matter. I will, no matter what, be keeping you posted!  For those of you who won't be moving, I recommend picking one thing (a junk drawer, closet, or desk) or one place (the garage, office, kitchen) that would bring you the most pleasure to have organized and bring that thing to order. If you succeed in getting one thing the way you like it start on the next!   

    • Bliss work - This one is good for everyone no matter how organized you already are or aspire to be. Each day I will be giving  at least one thing away. Less is more and we have way too much stuff.  It is a great feeling when one frees themselves from the burden of their stuff and then to know that someone else could benefit makes the whole process highly addictive! If you like how this feels you may even want to consider the 29 day Giving Challenge.
    Cami Walker, founder of the wonderful  29 day Giving Challenge said this about giving things away "I want to notice what happens in my life if I focus my energy on giving ... What space will it create in my life for new and unexpected things to occur? What shifts will I see in my thinking and behavior as a result? What impact will my gifts have on others? These are just a few of the questions I'm curious about. Who knows what will unfold?

    Nothing is planned. I don't know what I'll give away each day. I just begin the day and when I feel moved to give something, I do. This really goes against my control freak nature, but taking contrary action is sometimes needed to create change. Part of me initially wanted to plot out the... days and line up the things I'm giving in my hallway so I have the illusion of knowing what to expect. But collapsing into that old, manipulative way of being would defeat the purpose of the experiment."

     
    • Get in the mood for order - This is a really fun one.  To figure out just what is important to me I am going to leaf through magazines like REAL SIMPLE,  PARENTING, OPRAH and figure out what organizational tools I want to use and activities I want on our family calendar. I will be creating a new vision board (see photo of the one currently hanging in our house - which helped us with finding the house we would later buy!) to foster the new organized way into existence.


      Next Post: Everyday Bliss Give Away!

      My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

      Sunday, September 27, 2009

      Reflections on Joy

      JOY - A source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something exceptionally festive or satisfying.
      [Click here to review this week's Bliss Initiatives.]

      Wow! I am really enjoying this. Thank you to everyone who is playing along, it is a lot of fun knowing that you are out there making your own strides towards Everyday Bliss.  I especially appreciated that many of you took time out to comment or otherwise let me know what has been happening in your life as a result of following my little game. My friend Lisa just posted in her facebook status that she "is taking one from Kathy and feeling blissful and full of joy. Content." SO SWEET and I'm happy she feels that way!

      If I were to sum up the lesson of the week it is to pay attention.  More then a hundred times a day there are chances to feel a little JOY. The trick is to open yourself up to them.  Feel the hugs, notice the hummingbirds, remember the love. Enjoyment is out there for the taking! Rebekah said it beautifully in her blog: (Check out the full post here) "SO I decided I would play along with Kathy and her experiment.  There are a couple reasons I thought this would be awesome.  The first reason is that I feel like over the last  year and a half or so I have become kind of numb to the miracles in my life.  The wonderful things I experience on a daily basis have become sort of ordinary.  It's easy to forget how great things are when you start to focus more on what is missing than what you have.... Here is what I have noticed already.  I'm more present to situations with others where I can be more graceful and understanding..."

      As I mentioned when I started, I don't think I'll ever finish everything I set out to do and that proved true this week. Two days I entirely forgot about my  Field work -  to do at least one thing from Daphna Caperonis' terrific list of 50 ways to find Joy.  I also took no time "getting in the mood for joy" and didn't even watch the super short Finding Joy Movie which looked like a fabulous idea to start any Joy filled day. I did do a lot of study and am amazed at the number of resources out there. One could realistically spend the entire year focusing on joy and there would be more to discover. I am really looking forward to doing it again in 13 weeks!

      Following Ben Franklin's process to rate himself on how he did with regard to his virtues I am trying to figure out how I want to rate myself on this Joy Week.  I can definately give myself points for increasing the amount of Joy I felt over previous weeks,  I think sharing joy with others is up on it's scale too but it still feels like there is a lot more JOY to be felt. I could also rate the execution of my plan which if I do a 100 point scale I would give myelf a 75-80%.  The whole thing is entirely subjective so I will arbitrarily try out a 10 point scale and give myself a 7 for my first week of JOY.

      Up next: A week of ORDER

      My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

      Saturday, September 26, 2009

      Joy Boosters

      JOY - A source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something exceptionally festive or satisfying.
      [Click here to review this week's Bliss Initiatives.]

      I really like Earl Henslin's term "Joy Bosters." It clearly sums up what I want to offer in this post.  I will be telling you about a few of my favorites both from "This is your Brain on Joy" as well as from other sources. Whenever you feel that joy might be lacking and/or you want to encourage more, refer to this post for a quick joy pick me up!

      • MUSIC
      This is a universal choice. Music has the power to evoke strong feelings and reactions so use this power. to increase joy in your life.  Dr Henslin recommends putting together a CD or ipod play list of music that makes you happy.  Gather this array of songs and keep it handy for when ever you need a little jolt of joy. The entire process of collecting a joy library will in itself produce a lot of joy.

      The Spirituality and Practice website offers a whole list of Joy inducing music which might help get you started. Searching on the key words happy and joy in You Tube will also net you numerous offerings.

      Here is one from my personal list: Joy of Life by the Corrs



      •  SCENT
      I have never been someone that has paid a lot of attention, at least consciously, to smell. I don't wear perfume, I wash with unscented soaps and generally shy away from anything I deem too smelly. However as I learned from "This is Your Brain on Joy" smells "hit the brain first" and can be VERY powerful, if used properly, for imparting joy. We've probably all heard how the smell of apple pie and/or some other baked good contributes to a sense of well being and often reminds a person of home. The website AromaWeb.com has very detailed information on how to safely use this valuable tool. They even have a complete Aromatherapy Recipe Box which includes an entire batch of  Aromatherapy to increase joy preparations.

      • EXCERCISE AND NUTRITION
      I'm not going to say a lot about this. Get up and move your body. Take a walk, run, bike ride. Do something that gets the blood pumping. The endorphins, your self made joy drugs, are there for your taking!

      Eat Joyfully! Consult the following sources as reccommended in "This is your Brain on Joy:"  Dr. Daniel Amen's books,  "The mood cure" by Julia Ross and  Nina Planck's "Real Food."  All can guide you to foods that contribute to good brain health. When you eat this way, you can't help but feel more joyful and you will be on your way to being healthier too!

      • HUMOR
      Laughter is the jam on the toast of life. It adds flavor, keeps it from being too dry, and makes it easier to swallow.
      — Diane Johnson quoted in Zen Soup by Laurence G. Boldt
      Dr. Henslin says, "people who maintain a sense of humor out live those who don't" and recommends laughing at yourself once a day. Humor can be practiced and learned. If you are having trouble getting started I refer you to this famous You Tube video:



      • BEHOLDING BEAUTY
      Direct from "This is your Brain on Joy"
      Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.—Anne Frank
      "If little Anne Frank, hiding from the Nazis, could find pockets of beauty in her limited world, then surely we can upsize our ability to look for and absorb the beauty around us that brings an inner smile."

      Visit a museum, leaf through coffee table books with beautiful photos of your liking, send yourself flowers, visit a garden, go window shopping, look at the stars ( here is the amazing Hubble telescope gallery) etc. etc. Beauty is everywhere. Be conscious and on the look out for it and you will have more joy in your life!

      Since I am moving into my new house next week this tidbit, also from "This is your Brain on Joy," is particularly encouraging to me: "Rearranging or decorating is a pleasureable mental and physical excercise that packs a punch in increasing your daily joy quotient."

      • LEARN SOMETHING NEW
      This is my most satisfying Joy Booster. I am always happy when I am learning something.  Dr. Henslin suggests, "Write down all the things you'd love to do before you die." The Spirituality & Practice website recommends watching the film The Bucket List.  After doing these things, get to work! Try doing one new thing a month or anytime you need a little jolt of happiness. You will be feeling Joyful in no time!

      Next post: Reflections on JOY

      My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

      Friday, September 25, 2009

      This is Your Brain on Joy

      JOY - A source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something exceptionally festive or satisfying.
      [Click here to review this week's Bliss Initiatives.]

      I finished up Earl Henslin's "This is your Brain on Joy" yesterday and decided a little review was in order. I am glad I read the book and think it can be a valuable resource. The book is divided into three sections.

      Section one: Healthy Brain Healthy Life
      During section one I LOVED it. There is a ton of good brain science and some of Earl's way of describing things cracked me up. Entirely enjoyable. In this section came the"Joy Boosters" which I found delightful. I will share some of the brain boosters in my next post. These things are GREAT and offer some really terrific strategies for boosting brain health and subsequently JOY. 

      Section two: Raising Your Joy Quota in the 5 Mood Centers
      This is the part of the book that is about specific types of brain disorders. If you are dealing with any type of depression, mood swings, anger management, OCD, panic attacks, etc. etc. you should read this book. There are many conditions that can be miraculously healed if the right diagnosis can be made. If my child or any close friend of mine was dealing with a behavioral disorder I would be back scouring the pages of this book for help. I really think there is something special here.

      Dr. Henslin works in conjunction with Dr. Daniel Amen of Amen Clinics and "Change your Brain Change your Life" fame to make the miraculous changes in peoples' lives.  Dr. Amen's brain health website is worth a visit even if you don't currently have any brain concerns. Interesting stuff!

      Section three: Joy Everlasting
      This final section has several good tips for maintaing joy in your life. This part of the book would be of particular interest to any practicing Christians. Dr. Henslin shares biblical references for many of his techniques for increasing JOY in one's life.

      A small confession here. I really wanted to LOVE this book. Interesting science, great title, and the author took time out to say hello and thank me for picking his book. When all was said and done I have to say this book and I were just not a great match. I underestimated my distraction with the Christian perspective and because the bulk of the book is about how to fix specific brain problems, unless one is dealing with that type of problem it isn't all that compelling. To be fair Dr. Henslin even recommends skipping to the section that concerns you. Bottom line for me, this book is terrific as a resource on brain health but won't be making my favorite books list.

      Next post:  Joy Boosters

      My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

      Thursday, September 24, 2009

      Lack of Faith

      JOY - A source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something exceptionally festive or satisfying.
      [Click here to review this week's Bliss Initiatives.]

      It is already Thursday and I realize I have been ignoring my Bliss Initiative to consider the Practice of Joy as a spiritual endeavor. In retrospect, I think I would have been pretty happy to have left the undertaking off my list.  It was one of those "lofty ideals" one offers up when first considering all the possibilities of a project. It is also, I now realize, my Achilles heel. I am resisting this activity because of my fundamental discomfort with all things spiritual.

      For those of you who may not know, I consider myself a seeker. I have always been interested in aspects of living that exist somewhere outside the physical plane. I have participated in a 10 day silent meditation retreat, evangelical holy spirit retreats, walked on a 40 foot bed of hot coals in my bare feet,  joined in several sweat lodges and pretty much explored and enjoyed the teachings of many many spiritual leaders. Sounds like I should be right at home with a spiritual pursuit right? Well that really isn't the case.

      Spirituality and it's sometimes religious connotations just bother me.  While I can be pretty evangelical about things I have discovered, I always temper that relationship with my over arching belief that I am likely wrong. This belief, which allows me to feel compassion and find some truth in just about every credo, is a double edged sword.  On one hand, thinking I may be wrong keeps me interested in the seeking game. Under any given rock I may find THE answer. Contrarily, even if I find something that resonates as true, or just plain feels right to me, I am not willing to go full board into it.  Bottom line, I don't allow myself to have faith. Faith inplies belief as well as confidence and one really can't have that while simultaneously believing one is wrong.

      All this being said, my happy seeker part does like the piece of this initiative which is PRACTICE. I like the idea of practice. Practice says there is always more. What one has in this moment is not the penultimate level. No matter where one starts from they can practice and improve. Practice is the factor that will have me dip my toe into spirituality waters.  So I guess I'll be keeping my promise to consider joy as a spirituality endeavor.  Off to the Spirituality & Practice website I go...  join me if you wish!

      Next post: More from "Your brain on Joy"

      My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

      Wednesday, September 23, 2009

      Some Field Work

      JOY - A source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something exceptionally festive or satisfying.
      [Click here to review this week's Bliss Initiatives.]

      I picked Daphna Caperonis' 50 Ways to Find Joy list as my field work this week because in addition to thinking it is a pretty cool list, I knew that there were enough super simple things to do that I wouldn't have trouble keeping my promise to do one each day. So far this is what I've taken on:

      Monday #14 Awaken your Inner Julia Child. Create a dish without a recipe from just the ingredients in your pantry. Discover your creative power.

      This was particularly easy to do. Rob was out of town so I didn't have to be concerned with his tastes. Jessie wasn't feeling well and I didn't think it would be nice to take a poor sick girl out to the store anyway. We are moving in less then two weeks so I also have the added incentive to not buy anything more that I may need to pack later.  That being said, I should also mention that we have already been doing a good job of eating all our canned goods and no jars of tasty peanut, tomato or masala sauce  were available as good cheats.

      I did have some small white potatoes, a sweet potato, onion, parmesan cheese, some frozen edamame  and baby lettuces.  This is what I did: I chopped the white potatoes into small 1/2 inch cubes and sautéed them with the onions in a little olive oil for about 20 minutes on medium/high heat, the potatoes had started to brown a bit.  I then added the sweet potato which was cubed the same size and added about a tablespoon of butter, some black pepper and a little salt. I cooked the mixture covered for about 15 minutes on medium heat. I then added about a 1/2 cup of the frozen edamame and let it cook for another 10 minutes on low heat.

      The warm mixture was so delicious I really couldn't get over it. Jessie liked it too. It was sweet, but not too sweet and all together tasty. The next day I mixed the leftovers with a little parmesan cheese and italian dressing and tossed it in a bowl of baby lettuces... totally different but also super tasty. The tang of the dressing contrasted with the sweet potato was awesome, and the little bite from the parmesan just put it over the top. I need to make both dishes again!

      Tuesday #10 Know you're loved. There's no greater joy.

      Having a two year old makes this simple. Jessie is often running about telling me how much she "lubs" me but what I do far less often is let myself get present to it. I made a point of really feeling each of her little hugs and thoughtful gestures. "Thank you for the milk mommy", "I like you!", "It be so fun to do this with you!" etc. etc etc. When I allowed myself to be present it really was nonstop! I am actually a bit saddened by how much I haven't allowed myself to notice. This was a wake up call and I pledge to pay attention!

      Wednesday #2 Get outside. Whenever you feel bored, antsy, or gloomy, go for a walk. The fresh air, changing scenery, and exercise will boost your mood.

      Today Jessie and I NEEDED to get outside so this was perfect! In addition to our daily nap walk we took a 90 minute meander around town. Jessie chatted nonstop the entire time. It was really fun and by the time Jessie was ready for the nap portion of the walk I could feel the excercise in my legs which made me even happier about our excursion!

      Now for the rest of the week.  Am I ready to amp up the game yet?  I'm considering: 


      27 Make a joyful book. Fill a small album with photos and stories that evoke your happiest memories.
      Love this idea... but realistically may have to wait until after the move... 


      33 Be an active constituent. Take steps to resolve a political issue that worries you by writing your congressperson. Log on to www.congress.org or call 202-224-3121 to find his or her address in a flash.
      Will require I actually take a stand when lately I've been slothfully hanging on the sidelines... and what IS THE issue that concerns me most? 


      Of course there always is:
      23 Sleep in. Allow yourself at least one lazy weekend morning a month.
      Why is that this kind of Joy just feels like cheating? Perhaps I do need more work in this area after all!

      Next:  Keeping you posted!

      My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

      Tuesday, September 22, 2009

      A hint of Moxie

      JOY - A source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something exceptionally festive or satisfying.
      [Click here to review this week's Bliss Initiatives.]

      When I selected the book "This is Your Brain on Joy" by Dr. Earl Henslin I did so for two reasons. First,  I just liked the way it sounds. I always liked the "This is your brain on drugs" public service announcement and the title made me think of that, except this is the good version!

      Secondly, when I did my random google searches on "JOY" this book kept popping up so I decided the universe was telling me something.

      When I read a synopsis of the book I became a little concerned with the VERY Christian slant. Although I grew up catholic and have had some experience in an evangelical church I am not very religious and I wasn't intending for my Bliss pursuit to be particularly spiritual in nature. Funny thing is however, when ever joy is pondered, particularly by people far wiser then me, there seems to be a natural tendency towards the spiritual. Part of being human is to feel and seek out joy so it is no surprise that it is so often a part of spiritual messages.  It seems absurd that I was thinking that there is a secular kind of joy and that would be the one I with which I would concern myself. Turns out JOY is JOY is JOY and while Dr. Henslin's book does have a specific message for Christians there is plenty of great information that is applicable no matter your faith or lack there of for that matter!

      I went ahead and Kindled the book and have been very satisfied with the content. (I totally adore the instant gratification a Kindle provides but truthfully this book, with all its cool graphs and pictures would be better in standard book form.)  One of the main themes Earl (Yes his name IS Earl, and since he introduced himself that way to me - more about that in a minute - I feel I can call him that!) puts forth in the book is compassion.  At only 16% of the way through the book (according to my Kindle) I am clear that all brains are not created equal in terms of the capacity to feel joy. This fact, supported by some serious brain science is outlined in the book. Strategies for fixing an injured or joy impaired brain aside,  compassion for those who have a brain dysfunction is as simple as compassion for someone with a broken leg once a diagnosis can be made.  With more then 80% of the book to go, I'm sure I'll have a lot more to share. I am particularly looking forward to reading about the "joy boosters" he promises later in the book.

      On a moxiful lark, as I was preparing for this week,  I decided to people search Dr. Henslin on facebook and what do you know,  he was there. There is also a page devoted to his book with several discussion topics. I thought, "That's pretty cool!" and I immediately joined the book group. Then I thought he personally might be interested in my project so I sent him a little note and he was kind enough respond, telling me "My name IS Earl :) " and thanking me for using his book. I felt a total surge of Joy when I reached out - a type of Moxie I readily and easily employed back in my cold calling sales days but have used very little of lately. Then when Earl also left a little comment on the blog I was beside myself -- actual bliss.  I was reaching out to my very own JOY celebrity and he actually responded! I don't know about you but I often think that someone noteable, famous or somehow rated (by my fallacious rekoning) as more important then me, would never have the time of day for me. It was really fun and JOY affirming to realize that this is not the case!

      Next Post: Some Field Work

      My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

      Monday, September 21, 2009

      Some initial observations from the JOY trenches!

      JOY - A source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something exceptionally festive or satisfying.
      [Click here to review this week's Bliss Initiatives.]

      It has been less then 24 hours and I am already noticing more Joy.  To be fair I have been mulling it over and planning my approach for the last week but, never the less, since the official start MORE JOY is percolating!

      While taking Jessie on her nap walk (stroller walk on a specific route which is the ONLY way she will take any nap.  lol)  a complete stranger said, "You look beautiful today!!" I am wearing yesterday's clothes, and since Jessie has a cold and we have been house bound, I haven't even showered yet someone said that I look beautiful! It can only be the reclaimed JOY on my face!

      I had just come from the post office where I sent a couple of things off to a friend and I enclosed a note. Normally I kind of hem and haw when it comes to the closing on the note. Signing "love" always seems a bit over the top, especially to someone I'm not very close to. "Fondly" seems less then my feelings actually dictate. I mean, I ADORE sending unsolicited presents to people. "From" seems kind of sad, and "Sincerely" is far too formal and then it hit me... OUTRAGEOUS JOY!! I used to sign all of my personal correspondence that way but somehow I had forgotten! Outrageous joy IS exactly what I wish for you and yours but somehow in the face of everyday life I had forgotten.  Remembering this alone makes my experiment worthwhile.

      I did not choose to make "smile at three strangers each day" one of my Bliss Initiatives, (feel free to make it one of yours!) but I have been thinking about it since mentioning it in my post last week. What I realized is that Jessie greets EVERYONE with an enthusiastic smile and while I generally do smile too,  I avert eye contact and say or do something so that we don't actually fully engage with people we don't already know. Jessie is SO JOYFUL but I have actually been throttling down the experiences! Truthfully I have even been a bit embarrassed by Jessie's exuberant behavior. Somehow I made the decision that only a certain amount of restrained joy is appropriate when interacting with strangers.  YEESH! It is truly hard to believe that I used to think of myself as the possibility of outrageous joy. I've actually allowed myself to become the possibility of keeping joy in check. Thank goodness I decided to play this game!

      Next Post: A little Moxie with my Joy please

      My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

      The game begins with week of Joy!

      JOY - A source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something exceptionally festive or satisfying.

      I was feeling pretty smug.  I had this post completely written and scheduled for a 12:01 AM delivery when I decided to play around with a color setting ... and poof! It was gone in an instant.  I really have NO IDEA what happened.  I have to admit it is pretty funny to be starting a week of joy with this kind of frustration.  I suppose it is really quite perfect.  A lot of what we have is based solely on what we choose to feel.  I could spend the rest of the evening stomping around being annoyed and annoying or I can just get back to it.  After all, I am doing this because I enJOY it.

      Welcome! As I think you know by now, my 12 month game is based loosely on Ben Franklin's weekly focus on each of his 13 virtues.  I have chosen virtues that I believe will encourage Everyday Bliss.  In addition to focusing on my virtues,  I will be coming up with "Bliss Initiatives" (color coded in purple for quick identification!) which are concrete things that you too can try,  if you want to play along with me.  However, because as Earl Nightingale says, "you become what you think about,"  even if you only follow along,  and never take on any of the bliss initiatives,  I expect some positive results.

      I will start each week telling you what I plan to do,  end each week telling you what I actually did, and share my observations "from the field" in between.  I will explore each virtue in a number of different ways.  This week I wll be exploring and encouraging JOY this way:

      • Study - I will be poking around the internet, considering the Practice of Joy as a spiritual endeavor,  and reading the book "This is Your Brain on Joy" by Dr. Earl Henslin -- no recommendation yet I will let you know once I have read it!  To play along,  conduct your own study of JOY or click on the links I've provided to do what I am doing.
      • Carry a pocket charm - I fully expect that I will forget about this game as I navigate through my daily life.  I will carry this small totem around with me,  and as I happen upon it,  I will be reminded that I am focusing on JOY.  I found this small pewter stone with the word joy engraved on it but any small pocket sized item can work for you as long as you associate it with this project.   
      • Field work - Each day I will be doing at least one thing from Daphna Caperonis' terrific list of 50 ways to find Joy.  Click here, even if you have no plans to do anything from her list.  Just considering it is a joyous experience!
      • Get in the mood for Joy - I will watch this very short (less then 5 minutes!)  Finding Joy Movie which is a nice, meditative way to begin any JOY filled day.  If time during the week permits,  I will also watch one of these feature Films on Joy.
       Next Post: Observations from the Field

      My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

      Saturday, September 19, 2009

      A bit of whimsy...

      Many of you who are following this blog have also been following my 2.5 year old daughter's Jessie's Show blog and/or have seen my Jessie-isms via facebook so you know that I have quite the little character on my hands. My sister in law,  Linda (check out her blog), was kind enough to share her thoughts about the Everyday Bliss project and came up with Jessie's take on the 13 Bliss Virtues and, with her permission,  I thought it would be fun to share:

      I have indeed been following your "Everyday Bliss" project.... I agree--choosing virtues of your own was far better than using Ben's. It does make it more personal--and more timely. As I read your list I was mentally making one of my own...asking myself, "Would I include that....or something else?"

      I can't help wondering, though, if "age" would determine the contents of a person's list. If not the list itself, the definition of some of the items. 

      I suspect that all your readers will be mentally making his or her own list....and mentally following along with you. You've laid the groundwork well, and I'm looking forward to Monday.  

      As I read your Blisslist, though, I couldn't help but associate it with Jessie. It's easy to see that you not only strive for these virtues for yourself, you set the example for Jessie too. 

      JOY...I see an image of Jessie enjoying a "Cakefest in the Park." 
      ORDER...Building "towders."  (Towders is how Jessie say's towers)
      CREATIVITY...Jessie writing and/or drawing the gift cards for the birthday presents for her friends. 
      PASSION...OK--she has a passion for cake. :) 
      WHIMSY..."Naruto is coming to my house...play with my toys....and then we're going to the grocery store." 
      SERENITY..."I want to snuggle with you, Mommy." 
      INQUIRY...."Buggy stuck!"  (A beetle clamped on her hand -- she was very brave and even came to the conclusion that "Buggy scared because Jessie is a giant.") 
      COMMUNITY....Attending her friends' birthday parties. 
      ROMANCE...."You ate all your broccoli. Good job, Mommy!" 
      GRATITUDE..."Thank you for holding my hand my friend Lil-li-ya." 
      MOXIE..."No, I want that money." 
      HUMILITY..."Thank you, Jessie." "No problem, Daddy." 
      SURPRISE... Take your pick on this one--because that child is an endless supply of surprises. :)

      Thank you Linda! That was very fun!

      The Everday Bliss Project begins on Monday!  I hope you join us!

      Next Post: The game begins!

      My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

      Thursday, September 17, 2009

      Playing the game

      This is a complicated post because there are probably dozens of ways one could play this game. I'll begin with Ben Franklin's Virtue pursuit (I hesitate to call his version a game because I don't think he called it that.) As I mentioned in my very first post, Ben spent his entire life tracking his progress related to his 13 virtues. He created a little score card  in a journal that he kept with him and in addition to weekly study he would grade himself daily on how he was doing with regard to each virtue. If you are ambitious enough to play this way, I whole heartedly applaud your effort and would love to hear about it! I am not quite up to the task myself and have come up with a modified format!

      To begin with, I have elected NOT to evaluate myself on each virtue on a daily or even weekly basis. That is to begin with anyway. I decided it was important to go through the first quarter of the game, 13 weeks for the 13 virtues, and as part of the first week of study each virtue will get, I will also figure out what specifics and measurements I want to incorporate for the rest of the game. It is my intention to create an online survey/log system (which I will make available to you too!) that will allow for more formal tracking in the future.

      I am interested in making this game VERY user friendly. I mean it is about BLISS so I want everyone to have fun while participating or even just following along! As part of my study into each of my virtues I will be coming up with what I'm calling "Bliss Initiatives" which will be concrete things you can do in your own life to foster a particular bliss virtue.  Some of these things will be simple; perhaps something like Smile at three strangers today and others will be more time consuming; make a list of the things that bring you joy today or more complicated: hand make a greeting card and deliver it in person.  My thought is for you to participate as much or as little as you want. Some weeks it may be possible to take everything on and other weeks you may only want to follow along as I try things out.

      I don't expect that I will be able to do everything I come up with either.  We all have busy lives and this project is intended to inspire not overwhelm!  Some weeks I may have a dozen lofty ideas but be unable to even complete one. Remember I am going on the belief that "we become what we think about" so even the inquiry is likely to have an effect. This is the very thing I am excited to blog about.

      So, bottom line, there will be different kinds of participation:
      • following along
      • playing along with the "Bliss Initiatives" I come up with
      • creating your own initiatives
      And you are invited to play along as much or little as you want!

      I stepped away and Jessie decided to add this:  b vvvjjjjvvbvb      
      "I do it while you are gone mommy"

      Next Planned Post - Starting the Game Monday!

      My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

      Wednesday, September 16, 2009

      Defining the 13 Virtues of Bliss

      Before I even begin today's post I must tell you that Dictionary.com rocks!  I used a variety of dictionary sites as well as wikipedia when doing my research but time after time Dictionary.com had what felt to be the most blissful definitions. The synonyms section is particularly thorough but even the standard listings provided more nuance and depth then other sites. If you are interested in conducting your own inquiry or if you just want to know what a word means then Dictionary.com is the place to go!

      So here are the definitions I have chosen for my 13 Virtues of Bliss:

      1. JOY - A source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something exceptionally festive or satisfying.

      2. ORDER - Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.*

      3. CREATIVITY - The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.

      4. PASSION - a fervent or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything; experience of strong love or sexual desire.

      5. WHIMSY - extravagant, fanciful, or excessively playful expression; an odd or fanciful notion.

      6. SERENITY - the state or quality of being serene, calm, or tranquil; composure, peacefulness, peace.

      7. INQUIRY - a seeking or request for truth, information, or knowledge; study, scrutiny, exploration.

      8. COMMUNITY - Sharing, participation, and fellowship.

      9. ROMANCE - To court or woo romantically; treat with ardor or chivalrousness; a strong fascination or enthusiasm for something.

      10. GRATITUDE - warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; very thankful.

      11. MOXIE - The ability to face difficulty with spirit and courage; vigor; verve; pep.

      12. HUMILITY - The quality or condition of being humble; imitate Jesus and Socrates.*

      13. SURPRISE - A sudden feeling of wonder or astonishment; to come upon or discover suddenly and unexpectedly.

      * = Taken directly from Ben Franklin's virtues.

      I am expecting that  I may tweak my virtues' definitions and I also welcome suggestions from you.  This entire game is a work in progress so I welcome your feedback at anytime.

      Next post: How to play the game

      My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

      The Distinctions of Bliss

      For those of you interested in "my process" so that you can create your own personalized game or just because you want to understand the how and why of my 13 bliss virtues please do stay tuned... this is the post for you!  If, however, you would rather not have this much detail and are just waiting for the game to start,  I recommend skipping this post and joining me when I post the Game Specifics or starting next Monday (September 21, 2009 -links added 11/5/09) when I start the actual game.

      Once I decided that Everyday Bliss was to be my target I began to consider the distinguishing characteristics of bliss. I began by defining the word bliss and many of its synonyms and slowly as I dug deeper and deeper into the meaning of particular words I noticed that certain qualities would resonate and I would find myself recognizing bliss in them. It was exciting and fun to see how one word would ring true somewhat but subtly was a little off the mark. Then as if by magic the right word would click and I knew that it was a defining characteristic or true virtue of bliss for me!

      I am pleased to report that ORDER and HUMILITY from Ben Franklin's virtues remained on my list. ORDER "clicked" because I could palpably recall feeling blissful when I succeeded in bringing something that previously was in disarray to its proper, orderly state. I am also eager to expand on that meaning and include Ben's addendum to ORDER : "let each part of your business have its time." HUMILITY might not have been included if I hadn't read how Ben was pursuaded to add it to his own list.

      From Ben Franklin's autobiography: "My list of virtues contain'd at first but twelve; but a Quaker friend having kindly informed me that I was generally thought proud; that my pride show'd itself frequently in conversation; that I was not content with being in the right when discussing any point, but was overbearing, and rather insolent, of which he convinc'd me by mentioning several instances; I determined endeavouring to cure myself, if I could, of this vice or folly among the rest, and I added Humility to my list, giving an extensive meaning to the word. "

      This total lack of pretension and grace afforded by modeling one's behavior on Jesus and Socrates is entirely blissful so HUMILITY makes my list.

      Ben's virtues of Silence and Tranquility are summed up blissfully in SERENITY.  I like Industry and Resolution a lot and had both of these other Ben virtues on my list at one point but suddenly MOXIE revealed itself as the bliss filled amalgam. JOY was almost dropped from the list because it felt like too close of cousin to bliss that I feared it wouldn't distinguish anything new. However, since I have spent the better part of 10 years (thank you Landmark Education!) thinking of myself as the Possibility of Outrageous Joy (POOJ for short lol) I decided it had to make the cut.

      I have no idea where WHIMSY originated in this process but the moment the word crossed my lips it solidified a spot on my list. CREATIVITY, PASSION, ROMANCE and GRATITUDE fell into place with nary any consideration. They belonged from the start.  COMMUNITY or more specifically, the fostering of community was an easy pick since bliss is most often found in the company of other people. INQUIRY was almost discovery until I realized the process of looking thrilled me even more then actually finding.

      My last virtue SURPRISE was exactly that. I originally intended to leave my 13th slot blank so I could have a catch all for anything I may have missed. I wanted some wiggle room. Heck if I ran out of things to write about perhaps I could even take a vacation during the fill in the blank week! What was giving me trouble was how would I distinguish this undeclared virtue? Writing BLANK didn't seem to fit and then I thought to write SURPRISE but in italics, so as not to be like all the others.  A soon as I pushed the italicize button I felt that knowing click... SURPRISE is a perfect virtue of bliss and had to be given its full member status!

      NEXT POST: The Blissful Definitions

      My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

      Tuesday, September 15, 2009

      Everyday Bliss

      When I first decided to do my experiment I considered using Ben Franklin's 13 virtues. After all, they were tried and true. Then I thought that coming up with my own virtues would make it a bit more personal but thinking about picking THE virtues that I wanted to live by started to become very daunting. What if I picked the "wrong" ones? What if my choices made me shallow, mean or otherwise less joyous then I really want to be? It suddenly started to seem all lofty and not at all fun. That is when it occurred to me to pick something I wanted more of in my life.

      I would follow the old Earl Nightingale adage "You become what you think about." I would pick distinctions that have me "think about" what it is I want. So on to the next dilemma. What is it that I want? As most of you probably already know, I am a pretty happy gal. I have a wonderful husband who signed up agreeing to "Woo and Wow" me forever and I get to be the full time mother of the funniest smartest little girl on the planet. What more could I really want?

      My inquiry led me to BLISS. I can remember some really perfect moments of bliss but could it, would it be possible to cultivate it as a regular occurrence? Something experienced EVERYDAY? Bliss is defined as supreme happiness; utter joy or contentment and somehow occurs for me as a special event. Everyday is defined as an everyday occurrence and somehow the two things could be a bit incongruent. Would cultivating bliss somehow make it ordinary or less blissful? I decided it was worth the risk. I mean what could it hurt if I end up raising the bar on what bliss for me is and if I only end up experiencing more fun and joy on a daily basis? Heck this is a game worth playing!

      Next post: What are the distinctions of Bliss?

      My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

      Monday, September 14, 2009

      Let the experiment begin!

      I've decided to conduct an experiment and I'm taking you along for the ride... Some of you may know that I have had a longtime fascination with Benjamin Franklin. When I was in my early twenties I happened upon his Autobiography and was introduced to his 13 Virtues. Ben came up with his list of virtues while in his twenties and tried to lead his life following these virtues. Ben's follow through was remarkable. He put together a scorecard in a small book, which he carried at all times, and he would evaluate his performance on a daily basis. He did this for his entire life, and while one can debate his success with mastery, I am convinced it was huge contributing factor to his accomplishments and life well lived.

      Since reading "The Autobiography of Ben Franklin" I have mused about what virtues I would be interested in applying in my life and from time to time came up with lists of the qualities I wanted to pursue. Unlike Ben, I did not follow through.

      In addition to tracking all of his virtues on a daily basis, Ben would choose one for additional study each week. In one year each virtue would get concentrated attention four times. I particularly like this idea and will be conducting a year long experiment by focusing weekly on one of the 13 virtues that I think will contribute to EVERYDAY BLISS.

      Recently I decided to blog about my experience on the Master Cleanse and I discovered that telling the world I was doing it kept me from letting myself off the hook. I blogged because I said I would, I didn't quit the cleanse when it became inconvenient. Pretty much letting you in on what I was doing helped me to keep my promise. I've decided to capitalize on this powerful trick to keep my personal promise to play my own version of Ben Franklin's game for the next year.

      In my version of Ben's pursuit I will concentrate on each of my 13 bliss virtues over the course of the next 52 weeks. Each quality will get 4 weeks of specific attention and I will blog about the impact this has in my daily life. This first week I will explain how I came up with my 13 virtues, develop the general game plan and answer any questions you may have. I will begin the actual game next week. I believe strongly that what one focuses on one gets and bliss is something worth focusing on! As you follow along it is my hope that you too experience a little more bliss in your everyday life.

      In my next post: Why "Everyday Bliss?"

      My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

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      Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues

      • 1. TEMPERANCE - Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
      • 2. SILENCE - Speak not what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
      • 3. ORDER - Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
      • 4. RESOLUTION - Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
      • 5. FRUGALITY - Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e. waste nothing.
      • 6. INDUSTRY - Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
      • 7. SINCERITY - Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and if you speak, speak accordingly.
      • 8. JUSTICE - Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
      • 9. MODERATION - Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
      • 10. CLEANLINESS - Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths or habitation.
      • 11. TRANQUILITY - Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
      • 12. CHASTITY - Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or to the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
      • 13. HUMILITY - Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

      Benjamin Franklin Quotes

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