In the past year or so, my life has thrown so much unexpected at me. Any one of these events might have knocked me off my footing, but the combination of everything that’s happened to me? It’s a bit unmooring, at best. Why not head off to a writing retreat?
I keep jumping into that abyss. Since my mom has died, I’ve been to: LA (twice), Sonoma, Ireland, Brazil, Peru and Colombia. As I wrote months ago, getting on a plane and going somewhere where everything is new, rather than too many things being new in a familiar location, is good for my (tortured?) soul.
And so…I write this to you on a plane somewhere over Minnesota, on my way to my first writing retreat, on Orcas Island, off of Seattle. I know only twopeople, and I don’t really know what the weekend holds…other than, I hear, a plunge in the cold water at the end? But everything I hear is that it’s life-changing, and hey, I could use a little of that.
At “worst”, it will be a wonderful weekend spent unplugging and learning more about myself and my writing among other word nerds.
Being knocked on my ass again and again this past year is teaching me how to nourish myself, and I can’t think of anything better right now than spending the weekend in a beautiful (wifi free zone!) place, writing my heart out.
How do you care for yourself? (Or, if you’ve lost your mother, too, how do you self-mother?)
I last wrote about a happiness boost of refreshing my apartment. Since then, my mental health has taken a turn towards the less-than-awesome, and I’m working harder than ever to get out of this. (There’s a lot more behind this that I will discuss someday but I’m still processing it myself.) Until then… I thought I’d present you with 10 ways to be happy that have worked for me thus far, as well as some things I’d like to try. None of this is earth-shattering, just some things one crazy girl is trying. Also, I’m cognizant that some of these might not be budget-friendly, but I’m trying to include a mix of both.
10 Ways to Be Happy
1. Catch up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while.
My friend Meggie moved to LA (boohiss), so I only see her every few months but love catching up with her. (P.S. She’s also on Ali’s podcast, so you can catch up with her too!) No joke, after having coffee with her, I felt better than I’d felt in at least 10 days. (Or maybe that was just all the coffee I had???) This sunny day in Flatiron didn’t hurt either. But don’t be deceived, it was still cold AF.
I’m also setting up lots of coffee/run dates with other people I haven’t seen for a while or don’t know as well. I have The Best Friends Ever, but sometimes a little new blood doesn’t hurt.
I’ve been volunteering with the New York Junior League for 9.5 years, but I’ve always been internally-facing. I started off working on our communications, and the nature of our league, at least, is that you end up getting pulled into different things.
I’ve been looking at opportunities both within and outside the League, and I’m thinking of volunteering my running or writing skillz to help others. If you’re not familiar with it, idealist.org is a good place to find volunteer opps.
3. Try a new fitness class or activity.
My girl Liz used to teach at my beloved Uplift but has since moved back to NJ. Random fact: we are both from Franklin Lakes but didn’t know each other until we met at Uplift. She’s now teaching at Sweat Glen Rock. Her class is bootcamp-style and fairly similar to her Uplift style, but it’s always fun to try a new studio. (Or one you haven’t tried in a while — this morning I went back to Rowhouse.)
4. Get away.
If you can fit any kind of last-minute getaway into your schedule and/or budget, DO IT. It doesn’t even have to involve getting on a plane or getting a hotel or Airbnb. A few weeks ago, on one of those freak warm days, my BFF and I played hooky and drove out to Montauk for the day, working our way back west. The fact that we were playing hooky felt so forbidden (hello goodie-two-shoes who has never taken a true hooky day in her 13-year career), that it was part of the fun.
I also love this idea of a DIY writing retreat. Even if you’re not a writer, I think you could still use this to hole up and work on whatever your side project is — or just have a lovely little getaway close to home.
I am SO excited to go on this writing retreat in a few weeks and be surrounded by inspiring creatives.
6. Sign up for a class.
This one is super high on my list right now (and I have to say came as a great push from my therapist — I’d been thinking about it for some time.) I’m personally thinking of signing up for a writing class (duh?), but I think either honing existing skills or finding new ones is an excellent way to get your mind excited about something new. I took one improv class a few years ago, and mayyyyy return. TBD 🙂
Sites like CourseHorse or Skillshare are excellent places to start to look for IRL classes. I’m much more of an in-person learner, but if you don’t mind online, Coursera looks great — or just google whatever it is you want to learn and DIY your own learning experience.
7. Sign up for a race.
(You knew I’d say this one, right?) But really. It gives you something fun to look forward to, and if you’re new to running, a new goal/activity to strive for.
8. Change up your physical space.
Obviously I’ve been going pretty hardcore on this one, but I think even re-arranging furniture or buying a new candle (I’ve been loving this one lately) can make a difference in your outlook.
9. Send a friend a letter to let them know how much you love them.
My friends have been nothing short of amazing during these tough few years, and I like (/am trying to do so more) to send them little notes in the mail to let them know how much I appreciate them. Knowing I’m going to brighten someone’s day, even if just for an instant, makes me feel better.
10.When in doubt, Kimmy Schmidt.
I can’t watch that show without smiling at least a bit.
What about you? What are reliable happiness boosts for you?