On the morning of New Year’s Eve while Dave was walking the dog and the kids were still sleeping, I curled up on my favorite chair with a blanket on my lap and a cup of coffee in my hand to reflect on the happy moments of 2016 (yes, there were happy moments) and read my Happiness Journal.
Inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s Happiness Jar, I would sit down at the end of each night and reflect on the little moment that made me happiest that day and write it down in my favorite calendar. Well, I aspired to, anyway. But can I confess something? I don’t think I ever once sat down at the end of the night to write my moment. I would try to capture it as it happened. This is my moment, I’d say to myself as Marley told a funny story at dinner or Chandler called unexpectedly and stayed on the phone longer than usual or I opened my front door to a full moon, shiny and bright at 5:15AM on my way to the gym. But after (another) night of falling asleep with while watching TV with Dave and Marley, I’d tumble into bed always, always, always taking the time to wash my face and 87% of the time brushing my teeth, but never having the energy to write my happy moment.
Many mornings I’d write my happy moment from the previous day (like this morning), and most mornings I’d write down two or three (or four) at a time. (What was your moment on Monday, Charlene? Think!)
This year, as always, I have resolutions.
Write a sequel to Frosted Cowboy.
Lose the holiday weight (again).
Waste less time.
Make healthier meals for my family.
And take the time before bed to reflect on that moment. Because even the shittiest of days (and years good riddance 2016) have wonderful moments. Some of them big, some of them quite small, but they should be recognized. Reflected on. Cherished.
Here are some of mine (big and small):
January 1st: I saw a father teaching his daughter how to ride her bike in the park.
February 8th: I held my book in my hands for the very first time.
February 22nd: The moonrise was amazing tonight. I called Rita to share it and she got in her car and drove to a high point to see it. That made me so happy.
March 23rd: My writers’ group always fills my soul with happiness. (BTW, we meet monthly and I wrote some variation of this every month.)
April 4th: Lunch with Dale and Mera. A hot waiter. An elixir with lavender, cucumber and mint. Happiness all around. So much love at that table.
April 15th: I watched the funniest commercial on YouTube. It sounds lame, but it gave me belly laughs. And belly laughs make me happy. (Want a belly laugh? You can watch it too.)
April 16th: Cheryl’s ballet boot camp class. So freaking hard. But if felt good to do something hard, even if I didn’t do it particularly well.
May 1st: Dancing in the pit at Stagecoach and feeling the energy of the music.
May 8th: Finding out Marley has Brown Eyed Girl on her “Feel Good” music mix and singing along with her. She knows the words better than I do!
May 10th: Hugging Chandler. He’s home!
June 5th: Having a margarita outside on a Sunday afternoon.
June 21st: Marley turned 16 today. Giving her a gift that she wanted but didn’t expect made me so happy. She knows that I listened.
July 11th: When we drove Chandler to the airport he said, “I’m glad everybody came.”
August 8th: Being home with Dave and Marley, just chilling with pizza for dinner after going out five nights in a row was heaven.
September 11th: Listening to Marley tell a story at dinner about the seniors vs. the sophomores. That girl is hilarious!
October 11th: I wore boots today! Fall is really (almost) here.
October 14th: I had to go to Ventura court for work and saw two couples getting photos taken for their weddings. They were dressed up and happy and in love. It felt so great to witness that.
November 8th: Voting for HRC made me so proud. (Remember, it’s my happiest moment of the day and not necessarily how the day turned out.) 😦
November 28th: Interviewing Matthew Ramsey on the phone and having a goal I set for myself be realized. (Matthew Ramsey is the lead singer of Old Dominion & interviewing them was a writing goal I set for myself. The interview was featured in an online magazine called Songwriter Universe and you can read the interview here. If you like.)
December 10th: Watching Marley give her speech and stand up for what she believes in at her march. Watching people rally around her. I’ve never been more proud.
Taking the time to reflect on the happy moments of my year filled me with such peace, such joy, such happiness. I noticed just as I did the year before, so many of my moments were repeated – listening to music, the feeling of accomplishment after a hard workout, laughing with Dave and Marley at dinner, talking to Chandler on the phone, spending time with friends.
And yes, most will agree that 2016 was sort of a sucktastic year. The entertainment world was robbed of beloved icons, there were too many terrorist attacks, and he-who-shall-not-be-named was elected president. And trust me when I tell you that I have taken plenty of time to wallow in the sadness of 2016.
But we can spend our time focusing on the sad times or the happy times. And while acknowledging the sad times is important and doing what we can to change them is necessary, I believe our well-being depends on reflecting on, acknowledging, cherishing the things that fill our hearts with happiness – both big and small.
What made you happy in 2016?