July Recap

I completely skipped recapping the month of June and in July, I set aside my bullet journal and tried not to track every little detail of our life on paper. What I learned from this experiment was that while I might not always enjoy jotting down what we ate for dinner, I miss seeing the results at the end of the month. I miss looking back at what we’ve done to see how far we’ve progressed toward where we want to be. Alas, I guess I am a goal-oriented person after all (*big sigh*).

Once upon a time, shortly after leaving my career in corporate training, I rebelled against goal-setting. I even wrote a post about the importance of not having goals. But that was then and for as much as I like the thought of embracing each day as it comes, I think it’s equally as important to have some sense of direction in one’s life. Goals do that for us – even the small ones. 

So I’m back to bullet journaling and thankfully, Angie did not take a break from her goal tracking efforts so I have some idea of how our July went.

Angie made this nifty thermometer for our fridge.
  • We removed 55 items from our home, bringing our decluttering total up to 696 items for the year.
  • We earned $62 in side-hustles, which will go toward our trip to Canada this fall. We tried a new app for side hustling this month called GigSpot. The jobs are mostly mystery shops but we found one fairly easy audit among the bunch. It’s an ongoing gig through September so we will probably do a few more over the next few weeks.
  • We enjoyed 10 completely meatless days (or 61 meatless meals).
  • We hiked 28.4 miles and walked only 13.5 miles. I’m not sure if it’s the heat or the fact that my back was out for a few days after our long hike that kept us indoors but we plan to do more walking in August.
  • Our dumpster finds have slowed down (mostly because the hot weather makes most perishable dumpster items…well, perish…before we can get to them) but we did find: 2 giant baking potatoes, a Vidalia onion, 1 can of blackeye peas, a 12 ounce bag of hazlenut coffee, an 18 ounce jar of crunchy peanut butter, a 30 ounce jar of cashews, an 8.5 ounce bag of dried tropical fruits, and 6 mini Coca-Colas. All items were unopened and in-date.

After having such a wonderful visit with our friend and former neighbor, Suzanne, this month, we decided it might be a good idea to meet some of our current neighbors. You never know when and where you’ll find those lifelong friends but one thing’s for sure, they aren’t hiding behind the couch inside your own apartment. You have to get out to meet them. So we went to our apartment’s “Summer Pool Party”. The food was awesome! I can’t rave enough about that. The games were fun too. But meeting new people…yeah, that did not happen. We spoke to lots of our neighbors but sadly, none wanted to carry on a conversation…or share a picnic table. It was pretty sad really. Folks here just don’t seem to want to mingle outside their family or clique.

Undeterred by the pool party, we’ve decided our best bet for making new friends probably lies in finding folks who share our interests. To that end, we’ve decided to kill two birds with one stone – knock out our volunteerism goal for the year and meet new like-minded folks at the same time – by joining a farm gleaning with the Society of St. Andrews. Angie is diligently monitoring Facebook for one near us and we hope to participate in August. We’re also looking at other volunteer/recreational opportunities as well, including an overnight paddle trip and a river clean-up event.

No bites = big smiles!

Speaking of being outdoors, I want to give a shout-out to my niece for her suggestion to use Baby Magic Creamy Baby Oil as mosquito repellent. Trust me, we were very skeptical. We have tried 4 different kinds of bug spray this year – 1 homemade, 2 naturals, and 1 with DEET – and we still get eaten alive by mosquitoes when we go outside. Yesterday we used only the Baby Magic and hiked 2 miles in the woods by the lake. I kid you not, neither of us has a bite today. I read that the oil in it creates a barrier that mosquitoes can’t land on or bite through very easily but I’m not sure how true this is. All I know is that it worked for us on this occasion and it smells really good too.

How was your July? Did you discover any new things? Make any new friends? Read or watch anything interesting? We’d love to hear about it.

5 Things I Learned from 50 Days of Happiness

Today is my 50th day in the 100 Happy Days challenge. People who complete the challenge are supposed to be in a better mood every day, be more optimistic, and realize how lucky they are to have the life they have. Midway through the challenge and I already feel that way. Truth is I’ve felt that way all along. This challenge hasn’t been a waste though. Far from it! It has helped me to be more mindful of what makes me happy and how my happiness affects the people around me and I have learned a lot about myself, my partner, and my friends along the way.

First, I learned to never be ashamed of the things that make you happy.

19 of our 49 posts were food related. At first, I felt guilty posting so many things to eat. Negative messages played in my head about how you shouldn’t find happiness in food because it’s unhealthy blah, blah, blah…but then I stopped to really think about it. We’re foodies. We love food. From homemade applesauce to picnics by the beach, Angie and I both find great joy in preparing and sharing food…and there’s no shame in that.

DSCN3800Next, I found that happy images can indeed inspire happy feelings.

The most liked posts over the past 50 days have been the ones of the beach and sunset. Beaches are a universal symbol of relaxation and people see in those images their own happy times, past and future. I can relate. I keep a picture of the ocean on my computer desktop just for that same purpose.

But soon I came to see that happiness can’t be measured in Facebook likes.

The first few weeks of the challenge were about posting the things that made us happy but soon we began to put too much thought into the process. Each day as we talked about which “happy picture” to post, I noticed that the primary consideration wasn’t on sharing our own happiness but on choosing something that might make the most people happy (ie. get the most response). Such is the downside of being human…we all just want to be accepted…but putting someone else’s happiness ahead of your own is never a good thing.

And I developed a greater appreciation of the fact that the pursuit of happiness is not happiness.

The greatest lesson that I’ve learned in this social experiment is that there’s more than just a grain of truth to the saying, “The moment you stop chasing happiness, you become happy”. Many times over the past 50 days I’ve found myself scrounging about to find a picture that conveys happiness rather than finishing up the chapter I was reading, taking a walk, or having a conversation with the ones that I love.

Finally, I realized that it’s okay to stop doing something that doesn’t really make you happy.

For a few days now I have been contemplating calling it quits on this challenge, at least in part…and apparently I’m not alone. On the 100HappyDays.com website we’re told that 71% of people will fail to complete this challenge because they don’t have time to be happy. When I started this challenge I agreed wholeheartedly that in this fast-paced, get-ahead-society, people really don’t take the time to be happy. But now I’m not so sure I agree that this is why folks stop participating in the challenge. I think they do it because it works. The benefits of paying attention to what makes you happy are undeniable.

I’m happy just being mindful of my own happiness. I’m not happy trying to come up with ways to showcase that happiness every day. Posting a picture a day takes time and sometimes that time gets borrowed from the actual things that bring me happiness. While I may ultimately decide to stop posting to Facebook, I still plan to continue this challenge by simply taking a moment each day to reflect on happiness.