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Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Happy New Year, dear reader! Welcome to the beginning of a new year with endless opportunities waiting for us to experience, explore, and embrace. I am excited about 2022 for many reasons which will emerge as this year unfolds.

CHANGE is my word for 2022. I have been craving change for my life for quite some time, and Hurricane Ida has inspired me to engage change. Today, I am enthusiastically embarking on a journey to change several areas of my life.

In addition, I created a 22 for 2022 list with my aims for the new year. Most of the items on my list are new; however, I did carry over six items from last year that I did not complete but feel they will encourage me to make changes this year. Take a look at what I have planned for myself for 2022.

Kat’s 22 for 2022 List

1. Time-track in January.

2. Tweak morning routine.

3. Make consultation appointment with oral surgeon (implant).

4. Learn a 30-60 second monologue.

5. Buy a new vacuum cleaner.

6. Get wedding rings resized.

7. Clean out and organize master closet.

8. Plant new garden in front of the house.

9. Purge paper and organize file cabinet.

10. Go paperless (bills and statements).

11. Scrapbook monthly.

12. Complete Year of Gratitude scrapbook.

13. Have a Year of King (Stephen King).

14. Update theme (layout) for blog.

15. Research video editing software.

16. Complete a puzzle.

17. Write a will.

18. Revisit A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.

19. Read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

20. Complete the WordPress Blogging course.

21. Take a WordPress Podcasting course.

22. Take Becky Higgins Classroom: Photo Tips + Work Flow.

Other Plans for 2022:

  1. I am participating in Gretchen Rubin’s #Rest22in22. Basically, you rest for 22 minutes every day in 2022. According to Gretchen Rubin, “Research shows that rest is an essential element of working well and working smart. Working for long stretches without breaks leads to stress and exhaustion. Taking time to rest can refresh the mind, boost productivity and focus, and replenish mental energy.” Rest will look different to me from day to day depending on my schedule for the day; however, rest could be taking a nap, meditating, reading, drinking a cup of coffee while sitting on my front porch, or talking with a friend.
  2. On Goodreads, I joined the 2022 Reading Challenge, and my goal is to read 50 books again this year. Follow me on Goodreads (Katherine Loyacano).
  3. I will continue reading daily (#Read21for21) for at least 21 minutes per day, so no day goes by without having read something for pure enjoyment. Instead of reading nonfiction books during this allotted time, I have chosen to read children’s literature. This will allow me to track the number of books I read during that time frame and read the piles of unread books I currently own in that category.
  4. I will continue participating in the Chills, Thrills, and Kills Book Club.
  5. I will continue doing Collabs with Kelsi. Our collabs can be viewed on her YouTube channel, Slime and Slashers – A Nostalgia & Horror Channel. Consider subscribing to Kelsi’s channel in 2022.
  6. I will continue my walking streak and walk daily for at least 20 minutes (#Walk20in20).
  7. I will participate in Frugal February again. This is a NO spend month.
  8. I plan to keep a TA-DA list for 2022. This list is for goals or activities that I accomplished throughout the year but were not included on my original list. These accomplishments should be celebrated, too. 
  9. In 2021, I did an Instagram project called #yearofgratitude2021 which I plan to scrapbook. I posted a picture every day of someone or something I am grateful for in my life. This year, my Instagram will focus on JOY and is called #yearofjoy2022. Follow me on Instagram (katherineloyacano).

As you can see, dear reader, I have quite a bit planned for this year. What do you have planned in 2022? Have you made some resolutions or a 22 for 2022 list? If you could choose a one-word theme for this year, what word would you choose? I would love to know what your plans are for this year. You can comment on this post or email me at katloyacano@gmail.com. Happiness!

“If you are going to reach your goals and create the life you desire, you will have to make new choices that will lead you to new actions.” ~ Debbie Ford

Note: I do not own the image in this post, nor do I claim to own this image. 

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Many of you know I am a superfan of Gretchen Rubin and her work on happiness and good habits. On her podcast back in September of 2017, she talked about writing a “TA-DA list” if you are feeling dragged down by your to-do list. This year, I decided to keep a TA-DA List of activities I participated in or endeavors I accomplished throughout 2021, so I would not beat myself up too much for not completing everything on my 21 for 2021 list which I reviewed yesterday on my blog.

TA-DA 2021

  • Instagram (Year of Gratitude Project)
  • Collabs with Kelsi (Movie Musicals, Holiday Horror, Zombie Awareness Month, Slashers, Fear Street Trilogy, Halloween, Christmas…check out her fantastic channel for horrorific content)
  • Live Streams with Kelsi (books and horror movies)
  • Became Mr. Mike’s Godmother at the Easter Vigil (attended weekly RCIA classes with him; huge honor)
  • Travel (visited Helen in Colorado in April; visited my Aunt Carolyn and cousins in Utah in July)
  • Scrapbooking (attended TAC Scrapbook Event with Shelly, Heather, and Donna in June)
  • Weekly lunches with friends and family (part of summer fun list)
  • Created the Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club with Kelsi (meet and greet was in April; monthly Zoom meetings)
  • Zombie Awareness Month
  • Completed Level 3 Improv Class (in-person in June)
  • Improv Showcase with The Improvables (June)
  • Friday the 13th Date Night with the Hubster (August)
  • Survived Hurricane Ida (still dealing with the aftermath; currently in recovery mode)
  • Survived Tendonitis in my right wrist (finally had to get the shot)
  • Welcomed Ice Cream Bar to the Family
  • Halloween Decor Shopping with Kelsi (October)
  • Vlogs (Hurricane Ida, First Day of Fall, Halloween Decor Shopping/Thematic Fun Day with Kelsi)
  • Halloween ReadaThon
  • Mrs. Slides in the play, The House on Haunted Hill, at the Columbia Theatre (October/November)
  • Successfully throwing Mrs. Billie a surprise 90th birthday party
  • Halloween Fun List
  • Christmas Fun List
  • Christmas Evil Challenge

As you can see, dear reader, I kept busy in 2021 even though I did not cross off every item on my 21 for 2021 list. I am absolutely grateful for all of my experiences this year. Every single one of them carried a blessing into my life, making it richer and creating wonderful memories. Although I am a planner by nature and love setting goals and making resolutions, I also enjoy learning and trying new activities. When opportunity knocked, I opened the door and accepted whatever adventure was across the threshold. Life is truly an adventure. Happiness!

Ta-da list: I was surprised to learn that many people get very fired up by making a ta-da list. By reminding themselves of everything they’ve already accomplished, they find the drive to continue.” ~ Gretchen Rubin

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Today is the first day of my much-needed winter break. What a perfect day to reflect on my 21 for 2021 list! I chose FOCUS as my word for 2021, and for most of the year, I did a pretty good job. I completed nine items on my list and sort of completed two others.

  • Manage time. YES (accomplished this item by periodically tracking my time and then scheduling my time weekly)
  • Maintain a regular fitness regimen. YES (accomplished this item by walking at least 20 minutes daily)
  • Create weekly meal plans. SORT OF (only during the nine-week Fast Burn Challenge; beneficial)
  • Eat more vegetables. YES (proud of this accomplishment; tried new recipes; will continue)
  • Try intermittent fasting for one month (Clean & Lean). YES (accomplished with Fast Burn; same author; continued intermittent fasting since the Fast Burn Challenge; beneficial)
  • Declutter and organize each room in my house. NO (too ambitious; need to be more concrete)
  • Write a will. NO (procrastinating and don’t have any clue why)
  • Try one NO spend month. (accomplished this – Frugal February; beneficial; will do this again in 2022)
  • Revisit A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. NO
  • Complete The Four Tendencies course (Gretchen Rubin). NO
  • Read Atomic Habits by James Clear. YES (accomplished this item; beneficial; recommend to anyone who wants to develop good habits)
  • Read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. NO
  • Create a vision board. NO (procrastinating)
  • Take a WordPress Blogging course. YES (still working on this course; like the P2 community; made a friend across the pond, fellow blogger Rita; beneficial; renewed for 2022)
  • Take a WordPress Podcasting course. NO (did not make the time; renewed for 2022)
  • Purchase podcasting equipment. NO
  • Complete Write a Bestseller course (Jeff Goins). NO
  • Try 12 new restaurants (one per month). YES (not one per month, none in February, September, or December; 18 new restaurants for the entire year; 4-Colorado and 4-Utah)
  • Take Becky Higgins Classroom: Photo Tips + Work Flow. NO (disappointed that I did not accomplish this item; will attempt in 2022, especially since I will be doing another Instagram project)
  • Scrapbook at least two times per month. SORT OF (January, February, March, June; needs to be a priority for 2022)
  • Learn how to use my Cricut Maker. YES (thanks to Shelly; took online workshop; beneficial)

Additionally, I participated in two reading challenges which I am still participating in until the end of December. I joined Gretchen Rubin, her sister Liz, and the rest of the Happier community in the #Read21in21 challenge where I read daily for 21 minutes. I read only nonfiction books for this challenge. I joined the Goodreads Challenge again and set my goal to read 50 books in 2021. The nonfiction books read for #Read21in21 will be included in that total number of books. In addition, I kept a TA-DA list for 2021. I will be sharing more information on all three of these activities in the coming days.

Overall, I think I did pretty well with my 21 for 2021. I knew when I made my list last December that it was a bit ambitious, especially wth all the courses. However, once COVID restrictions relaxed with vaccination numbers increasing, I was not much of a homebody like I was in 2020. In addition, the impact of Hurricane Ida on my home and in my community affected some of my plans. I am still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Nevertheless, I remain hopeful that our home will be back in order soon (praying for January), and Andrew will be back in his bedroom before the start of the spring semester at SLU. We FINALLY got a new roof last Friday, and sheetrock installation in Andrew’s room happened on Saturday.

I am currently working on my 22 for 2022 list and will reveal it and my new word for the year in January 2022. In the meantime, dear reader, for the rest of today, I will read, go for a walk, watch television, basically enjoy the first day of my winter break. Happiness!

“Aim at the sun, and you may not reach it, but your arrow may fly far higher than if aimed at an object on a level with yourself.” ~ J. Howes

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I woke up yesterday morning in my own bed at home filled to the brim with gratitude after spending an incredible week in Utah with my sweet Aunt Carolyn and my awesome cousins. Their hospitality was AMAZING, the mountains were beautiful, and the memories will last for a lifetime. My Aunt Carolyn is one of my favorite people on the planet. We always have lots to talk about, and we pick up where we left off, like no time has passed since the last time we saw each other or talked to one another on the phone.

The only two people missing from this visit were my cousin Max, who now lives in San Antonio, and my charming Uncle Charles, who passed away three years ago. Uncle Charles was one of my Daddy’s older brothers and Aunt Carolyn’s sweetheart. Thankfully, I was able to visit his place of rest to tell him how much he is missed. He loved to tell stories and jokes. I always enjoyed spending time with him.

The last time I was physically in Utah was back in June of 2000 when my Daddy, my hubby, and me flew to the beehive state. With my Aunt Carolyn turning 80 years old in November 2020, and it being seven years (yikes!) since I had last seen my family from Utah at my cousin Max’s wedding in San Antonio, I knew it was time for a visit. I sent a message to my cousin Karen, who Aunt Carolyn lives with these days (in her beautiful basement apartment), and we set a date for me to come stay with them.

Back Row: (Daddy, Karen, Kat) and Front Row: (Aunt Carolyn, Uncle Charles, Barry, Sr.)

The week started off with my friend Kathryn and I traveling together. We flew out of the NOLA airport early Monday morning (12 July), changed planes in Houston, and landed in Salt Lake City before noon. While I was visiting my family in Tooele (about 30 minutes outside of Salt Lake City), she was visiting her daughter and son-in-law in Salt Lake City.

Karen and Aunt Carolyn retrieved me from the airport, and my vacay in Utah was underway. This trip to Utah was all about spending time with family. Karen is married to John, and they have three terrific children (Samantha aka Sam or Sami, Zach, and Taylor). The last time I was in Utah, they were all young children.

Zachary, Taylor, and Samantha

On Monday and Tuesday while Karen and John were at work, my Aunt Carolyn and I hung out at the house or ran errands in Salt Lake City or Tooele. We ate lunch at Applebee’s on Monday and Chili’s on Tuesday. On Monday evening, Karen picked up pizzas on her way home for dinner. She bought them from Papa Murphy’s Pizza where they make fresh from scratch pizza that can be baked, grilled, or smoked at home. I had a couple of slices of pepperoni pizza along with salad and a breadstick. The meal was delicious! Sam along with her adorable three-year-old twins, Carsen and Cory, joined us for dinner.

On Tuesday evening, Karen and Sam cooked dinner for all of us which was yummy (pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green beans). I got to spend some more time with the twins. They are so much fun! Zach, his wife Teshia, and their adorable baby Maverick joined us for dinner. Zach has a lovely family. Later that evening, Taylor and I took the family dogs, Hobbs and Murphy, for a walk around the neighborhood. Even on vacation, I need to keep up my walking streak, and Taylor was the perfect walking buddy.

On Wednesday morning, Karen went with the twins to swim lessons because Sam, who is pregnant with her third baby, had a doctor’s appointment. Afterwards, Karen, Aunt Carolyn, and I had lunch at American Burgers which is one of Aunt Carolyn’s favorite places to eat. I ordered a BLT (my favorite sandwich) which was tasty. Later, Karen took us for a scenic drive. I love the mountains! We passed through Pine Canyon, and when returning to the house, we stopped above Deer Hollow; then, we rode through some neighborhoods where we spotted lots of deer. Deer are beautiful creatures. Utah is unfortunately experiencing a drought, so they’ll come down from the mountains searching for water. In fact, recently, Karen filled up a baby pool for a deer that wandered in her backyard. Her kind gesture was greatly appreciated.

Later that evening, I went out to dinner with Aunt Carolyn and her girlfriends from church. Her friend Cindy provided transportion for us as well as for Joyce, Janine and Janine’s daughter Barbara. Joanne met us at the restaurant, Los Primos (formerly Stockton Miners Cafe), which is located in a nearby town called Stockton. Karen had driven us to Stockton earlier in the day on our sightseeing adventure. I decided to order breakfast for dinner (French toast with two sausage links, an egg, and coffee). I was so excited about the French toast that I forgot to take a picture when I first got my food. HA! The food was awesome and the company was wonderful. Aunt Carolyn’s friends are cool, and I was thankful to be included in their outing. Back at Aunt Carolyn’s place, I walked around the neighborhood (definitely needed a walk after all those carbs). I spotted some quail in a neighbor’s driveway before heading inside. Sam and the twins had come over, so I was able to see them for a little bit. After they left, I hung out with Karen and John. Karen and I stayed up pretty late talking that night. What a delightful day!

On Thursday after noon, we drove to Salt Lake City and spent time at This Is The Place Heritage Park. I am writing a separate post about this excursion later this week. This is the day that I finally got to meet Sam’s husband Michael. Stay tuned!

On Friday morning, I walked around the neighborhood before breakfast since we were having a big family gathering in the evening. Karen had to work, so Aunt Carolyn and I ran a bunch of errands and ate lunch at Jim’s Family Restaurant. I ordered breakfast for lunch (avocado, mushroom, and cheese omelette with hashbrowns and coffee). Scrumptious! On the way back to Karen’s house, we stopped at the cemetary to visit Uncle Charles’s grave. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend his funeral because I was out of town for a professional development conference for work. Back at the house, I spent the afternoon getting organized for my departure on Saturday morning. I also spent some quality time with Murphy. Both of Karen’s dogs are super loveable.

Friday evening was FANTASTIC! My cousin Scott and his wife Kim came to the house for dinner with their three children. Zach, his family, Michael and Carsen were all there. Sadly, we were missing Sam and Cory. Cory was feeling unwell, so Sam and Michael decided that he should stay home for the evening. It was an enjoyable evening spent eating fabulous food (everything was sooooo yummy), engaging in carefree conversations, and taking family photos. Karen’s savory macaroni salad and mouthwatering key lime pie were a hit with my taste buds. Scott’s daughter Tylee made a delicious chocolate cake that I thoroughly enjoyed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (and chocolate sauce). I definitely splurged this week. Carsen came inside to find me, so I could see the rainbow she spotted in the sky. What a perfect way to end such an amazing week!

Well, dear reader, Saturday morning arrived too quickly. Michael drove Aunt Carolyn and me to the airport where we said our final good-byes. It was time for me to meet Kathryn for our returning flight to Louisiana. What an incredible visit with Aunt Carolyn and my Utah cousins! This trip was assuredly well-spent with some of my favorite people. I felt so welcomed and enjoyed everything that was done for me to make this visit special. The hospitality, generosity, and thoughtfulness of my extended family will never be forgotten. Happiness!

Kat and Kathryn at the Utah Airport (heading back to Louisiana)

“The memories we make with our family is everything.” ~ Candace Cameron Bure

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What a busy week! So many adventures, surprises, and milestones happened throughout the past week. I had to take my car to the dealership to check on an emissions leak that turned out to be nonexistant. I received an Easter surprise from my dear friends, the Picone family. I hit the one year mark of walking daily for at least 20 minutes per day (walking streak). Kelsi and I had a ZOOM meeting to finalize details before we launch our virtual book club on April 1st. I got my 2nd COVID shot. And, Sophie, my German Shepherd, turned 13 years old. What a blessed life!

Not only has the past week been busy and a blessing, but the first quarter of the year has also proven to be stellar. I have some PROPS and FLOPS for the first three months. As you know, dear reader, I created a 21 for 2021 list with goals, activities, and courses that I want to accomplish this year. For the first quarter, I chose seven items to work on during January, February, and March. I’m happy to report that I get props for six of the items on my list with only one item being a flop.

PROPS

First of all, I completed #11 (Read Atomic Habits by James Clear) and #8 (One NO spend month). I picked up some great strategies to build good habits from Atomic Habits and saved some money during Frugal February. I now subscribe to Clear’s weekly newsletter to continue receiving terrific information and inspiration about habits, and I plan to do another NO spend month later in the year since it was a vast victory.

#1 (Manage Time) is going well. I schedule my time weekly, and it has been quite effective. #4 (Eat more vegetables) has been a huge success thanks to my hubster. He enjoys cooking way more than I enjoy it, so he has been the one cooking the new veggie recipes. He definitely deserves the props for this item. #14 (Take a WordPress Blogging Course) is going smoothly. I am half way through the course and have picked up some helpful tips. I anticipate completing the course next quarter. #20 (Scrapbook at least two times per month) has been a delightful way to spend my time. I’ve been catching up on the journaling portion of Andrew’s Ireland scrapbook. All of these items are ongoing, so they will appear again on my 2nd quarter list.

I’m happy to report that the various schedules that I created back in January, with the exception of one, have been working really well. I’ve been wholeheartedly sticking to my housekeeping schedule and course schedule. As for my self-care schedule, I have (for the most part) been sticking to everything in that category. My daily routine (#Read21in21, Walk 20 for 2021, gratitude journal, and daily Instagram photo) is an enormous happiness boost, and I look forward to it every day.

Finally, I must mention that I have engaged in some additional fun and fulfilling activities this first quarter. I completed one movie marathon in February and started another one in March that will conclude in April. I am participating in RCIA at St. Margaret Church where I am sponsoring Mr. Mike (Shelly’s step-dad). He will become a member of the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, and I will become his Godmother. I’ve been involved in a project called Tranquility by Tuesday with the author, Laura Vanderkam, who writes about time management. And, last but not least, I’ve been working with Kelsi to create a Horror Book Club which will launch this upcoming Thursday. There is still time to take a survey (deadline on March 31st) and help us choose our book club name.

FLOPS

My one flop this quarter was #6 (Declutter and organize each room in my house). I created a decluttering schedule back in January that would have me decluttering and organizing one room in my house each month. Needless to say, it was ambitious and unrealistic to think I could tackle such a monumental item, even broken down into smaller tasks, with everything else I want to accomplish this year while also working a day job. Does that mean I am abandoning this item on my 21 for 2021 list? Absolutely NOT! However, I have set it aside for the time being until I can shed some of my other responsibilities.

My other flop is minor but still needs to be addressed. Since Daylight Saving Time has started, I have not been going to bed on time. I can now walk later in the evenings which puts more pep in my step, and I stay up later doing all sorts of wonderful things. Thus on Friday evenings, I am in bed and asleep by 8:00 p.m. because I basically run out of steam. I need to practice better self-care and adhere to my bedtime, so I do not get sick.


Not too shabby, dear reader. I am pleased with my progress and productivity. So many activities and adventures await me in April. The second quarter will mean the end of some events and the beginning of others, including a book club, Easter break, and summer break. Anticipation, what a glorious feeling! Happiness!

Easter Surprise from Jeff, Joanna, and Jackson

“The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” ~ Jonas Salk

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Happy New Year! It feels wonderful welcoming in a new year after living through a year of disappointment, turmoil, and unpredictability. While there were aspects of 2020 that I am grateful for, I am happy with moving on from that chapter of my life and currently focusing on the next chapter with the anticipation of new opportunities to learn, grow, and increase my joy factor.

FOCUS is my word for 2021. I’m choosing to focus on my health, my home, my happiness as it relates to my career (focusing on creating a new career I have wanted for many years), and my hobbies. My 21 for 2021 list will FOCUS on these four areas.

Kat’s 21 for 2021 List

  1. Manage time.
  2. Maintain a regular fitness regimen.
  3. Create weekly meal plans.
  4. Eat more vegetables.
  5. Try intermittent fasting for one month (Clean & Lean).
  6. Declutter and organize each room in my house.
  7. Write a will.
  8. Try one NO spend month.
  9. Revisit A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.
  10. Complete The Four Tendencies course (Gretchen Rubin).
  11. Read Atomic Habits by James Clear.
  12. Read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
  13. Create a vision board.
  14. Take a WordPress Blogging course.
  15. Take a WordPress Podcasting course.
  16. Purchase podcasting equipment.
  17. Complete Write a Bestseller course (Jeff Goins).
  18. Try 12 new restaurants (one per month).
  19. Take Becky Higgins Classroom: Photo Tips + Work Flow.
  20. Scrapbook at least two times per month.
  21. Learn how to use my Cricut Maker.

During the month of January, I will focus on managing my time. I want to establish a better daily routine, create schedules for decluttering, housekeeping, working on my courses, and self care, as well as continuing to participate in improv and RCIA. Essentially, I want to use my weekly 168 hours more effectively. I also want to try to break down the remaining 20 items on my list into the four quarters of the year to make accomplishing them more manageable. Naturally, several of my items are designed to run throughout the entire course of the year which is also totally fine. I’m excited about all the possibilities this new year has to offer and look forward to the journey through 2021.

Other Plans for 2021:

  1. On Goodreads, I joined the 2021 Reading Challenge, and my goal is to read 50 books again this year. 
  2. I am participating in Gretchen Rubin’s #Read21for21 challenge. Basically, you read for 21 minutes every day in 2021. While I do read a great deal, I don’t necessarily read for pleasure every day. I’ve also decided to read specific books during my daily 21 minutes to see how many books I read throughout the year just in that daily timeframe. According to Gretchen Rubin, “If you read for 21 minutes per day for 365 days, that’s 7,665 minutes, or almost 128 hours of reading. You can read a lot of books in 128 hours!” 
  3. This year, I also plan to keep a TA-DA list for 2021. Many times I accomplish goals that are not included on my list, and I should be celebrating those accomplishments, too. 
  4. Hopefully, I will be attending my annual scrapbooking convention with my gal pals in June. We didn’t get to attend last year because of the pandemic, so I REALLY hope and pray we can get together this summer. 

What do you have planned in 2021, dear reader? Have you made some resolutions or a 21 for 2021 list? If you could choose a one-word theme for this year, what word would you choose? Let me know what your plans are for 2021. Happiness!

“Focus is the key to accomplish what is necessary – easy word to spell, it contains only five letters but it is probably one of the most powerful words there are in order to move forward with confidence and with the expected results.” ~ Bryan Pulsifer

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I strive for positive living and look for the silver lining in the most precarious situations. It doesn’t take much to fill my happiness bucket. As a result, the littlest of things tend to give me a happiness boost and bring a measure of joy to my life that I embrace with delight.

I am a fan of the podcast, Happier in Hollywood, which is hosted by television writers, Liz Craft and Sarah Fain. They had rainbow silipint cups made for the show, and I wanted one. So, I ordered one when they first came out which was when the pandemic started, so I had to wait a very long time to get one. My patience finally paid off, and I received one in the mail about two months ago. I get a happiness boost every time I use it while working in my scrapbook room.

I absolutely adore pineapple. Until just recently, I ate pineapple out of a can. It seemed complicated to cut a fresh pineapple with a knife. My friend Shelly had a Pampered Chef party a few months ago, and I decided to buy a pineapple slicer. I already have a slicer that cuts apples and pears perfectly, so I thought this gadget might work just as well. And, thankfully it does…for my hubby.

Receiving a selfie of two of my favorite people on the planet in the middle of a work day provides a ginormous happiness boost. My friend Karen works as a florist at Rouse’s, and our friend Jeff popped in on her at work last week. This picture makes me smile BIG.

I’m a huge fan of children’s literature and cherish picture books. Jan Brett is one of my favorite children’s authors and illustrators. I picked up this gem at my school’s recent Scholastic Book Fair. This delightful tale has been added to my Christmas Fun List for 2020.

Stephen King is my absolute FAVORITE author. I’ve loved his work since I was introduced to him in the 8th grade and read The Stand. I now have three of his POP figures. The first one is Stephen King with his dog Molly aka The Thing of Evil. The middle one is Stephen King as the shopkeeper in It. And, the third one is Stephen King holding a red balloon (reference to Pennywise the Clown in It).

On Sunday afternoons and Thursday evenings, I get a gigantic happiness boost from watching my friend Kelsi’s live stream on Twitch. She talks about so many terrific topics that I find both interesting and entertaining. Kelsi and I will be conversing soon about Christmas horror movies.

Today, I added a touch of whimsy to my Christmas shopping adventure at The Home Depot. I’m Kat the Elf, spreading a little Christmas cheer at this joyous time of year. As my friend Kelsi would say, “this is ridiculous,” and I would have to agree. However, adding a little whimsy to your day can be a tremendous happiness boost. This would actually make a good picture on a Christmas card. HA! I tried to convince my hubby to take a picture as the Grinch with Max the dog, but he would not hear of it.

These are just a few objects or activities, dear reader, that add some happiness to my day. I can honestly say that every day there is something or someone that boosts my happiness. The gestures or items may be small, but they are blessings, and their effects are huge. What are some things, activities, or people that give you happiness boosts? Happiness!

Comet aka Tooty gives me a happiness boost every single day.

“Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness, and small obligations given habitually, are what preserve the heart and secure comfort.” ~ Humphry Davy

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Happy Birthday, Aunt Carolyn!

Typically, November is the month that plenty of us pause and reflect on our blessings. The celebration of Thanksgiving stirs up the soul to think more deeply about who and what we are most thankful for in our lives. 2020 has been a challenging year for many with the global COVID-19 pandemic, numerous natural disasters, and the presidential election in the United States. I’m sure there are some who would scoff at feeling grateful amidst so much suffering and loss. However, counting our blessings every day, not just during the month of November, is a wonderful way to navigate through a stressful period of uncertainty. 

I chose November 2020 to visually count my blessings with a gratitude project on Instagram called A Month of Gratitude. If you are interested in my project, you can follow me on Instagram @katherineloyacano. Each day, I post a black and white image of someone or something that nurtures my grateful heart. I am fully aware that 30 days will not cover everyone or everything that I am most grateful for in my life, but it is a wholehearted starting point towards being more mindful of the gifts I receive daily. Today, I am grateful for my Aunt Carolyn who is celebrating her 80th birthday. What a terrific person! I wish I could be with her today celebrating such a huge milestone. She has a special place in my heart. 

Undeniably, there is a great deal that stinks about 2020. It has been a year of loss in so many ways. Loss of life, loss of jobs and financial stability, loss of hopes and dreams, as well as the loss of security to name a few. Nevertheless, when you peel back that layer of discontentment, worry, and fear brought on by loss, there is a fresh layer of hope ready to replace all those negative feelings with comfort, calmness, and contentment. This year also celebrated babies, marriages, graduations, and birthdays. In addition, this year has shown us resilience, living in the present moment, and our true priorities to ourselves and others. Those are all something to be grateful for during uncertainty.

It is never too late to develop an attitude of gratitude, dear reader. It is a simple habit that costs nothing to cultivate. With a little time, you will immediately reap the benefits. A grateful heart is rooted in joy. Take some time today to plant some seeds of gratitude and see how your life blossoms. Happiness!

“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.” ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

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Back in June, I had listened to Episode #6 (“Dial D for Distracted”) of Season 2 of The Happiness Lab podcast. The episode included an enlightening conversation between Dr. Laurie Santos and Catherine Price, a science journalist and author of How to Break Up With Your Phone. Shortly after listening to the episode, I bought Price’s book because I felt like I had a phone problem. After reading the first part of the book called The Wake-Up, I scheduled The Breakup which is a hands-on approach to establishing a healthier relationship with your phone. The experience of breaking up with my phone revealed surprising information about myself, my relationship with my phone, and helpful tips to dealing with screen time in general. 

Initially, I thought I was addicted to my phone. After spending 30 days  (July 06-August 04) breaking up with my phone, I realized that I had an unhealthy relationship with screens in general, specifically internet-related screens and mainly with social media. And, that relationship, which was having an adverse effect on my mental health and well-being, took root rather quickly and stemmed from the uncertainty and isolation brought about from COVID-19. At the start, it was fun staying connected through Facebook, playing games, and taking silly quizzes. Additionally, lots of time was spent watching the news, scrolling daily through data on COVID, and reading articles about life during the pandemic. Unfortunately, as time passed, fun was replaced with feeling depleted and numb which then turned into shame. And, being “informed” nonstop about the pandemic and its negative effects on the world was causing me to become anxious. For three months, I spiraled down the rabbit hole of mindless scrolling and unconscious living. Without having the ability to freely go places or engage in work or social activities with other people outside your pod made me feel stagnant. Except for my daily walk, I was not spending my spare time intentionally.

Break up PhoneThankfully, Catherine Price’s handbook brought me back to reality and helped me reclaim my time and sanity. The first task Price assigned was downloading a time-tracking app on my phone. I chose Moment which she recommended in the book for iPhone users. In my opinion, this app is helpful. I still have it on my phone. My goals were set for 3 hours of screen time and 50 pickups. Looking at my Moment Data, it is clear that I rarely go over my screen time or my pickups. There was one day that my screen time was 6 hours and 47 minutes. This was the day that Shelly was taken to the ER in Florida. Texting was our line of communication between one another and our friends. My heaviest pickup day was 12 August with 68 pickups. School was back in session, so most of my pickups were school-related texts. For me, this app curbs my craving to constantly check my phone or reach for it to check Facebook, so that is the main reason I still have it on my phone.  

On Day 5 of the plan, Price recommends deleting social media apps. The only social media apps that I have on my phone are Facebook and Instagram. I immediately deleted Facebook. I rarely use Instagram, so there was no need to delete it. The point was to make accessing these apps more difficult and less appealing. It worked! I have since reinstalled the Facebook app on my phone; however, my time on the app is limited to mainly posting pictures/inspirational content and checking on family/friends, and my usage is at designated times of the day and for a designated amount of time. On Day 9 of the plan, she recommends tidying up your apps by organizing them in categories. This was quite simple since I don’t have many apps on my phone. My only junk food app is Trivia Crack which is an enjoyable game. While it can be a big time suck, it did not consume as much of my time as Facebook, so I chose not to delete it. Since the breakup, I have limited my game time tremendously.

Days 20 and 21 were the most challenging part of the plan. This is the trial separation from your phone for 24 hours. I chose 7:00 in the evening on Friday, 24 July through the following evening on Saturday, 25 July. In addition to disconnecting from my phone, I also disconnected from my other devices. In the beginning of the trial separation, I was antsy. My main concern about this assignment was someone trying to reach me since my phone is also my family’s home phone. To put my mind at ease, I turned my ringer on, so I could answer any calls. Checking text message was limited to twice during the 24 hour period. Once I accepted the challenge and put my phone away, I felt lighter and excited about the next 24 hours. From my data log, the screen time and pickups on Friday were prior to 7:00 that evening. On Saturday, the data shows 4 minutes of screen time and 4 pickups. Clearly, my time was well-spent, and I felt a sense of freedom.

At first, the hardest or worst part of the breakup was feeling disconnected from others virtually. In addition, observing others constantly reaching for and checking their phones made me feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately, our world relies too much on technology to feed the mind and soul. I kept a time log during my breakup to see where my time was going when not using my phone. In the beginning, I discovered I was playing a bunch of Words with Friends on my iPad, as well as scrolling mindlessly through Facebook. Fortunately, the best part of this experience outweighed the worst part. I quickly realized that I hadn’t become addicted to my phone, but to social media and games. Luckily, I now view my phone more as a tool that allows me to communicate with others both personally and professionally, listen to podcasts and music, access necessary information (maps, email, appointments, etc.), and record memories through pictures, video, and audio. Facebook is no longer on the main screen of my phone and is no longer checked first thing in the morning. Trivia Crack is played daily but only for a few minutes. Since the breakup, I put my phone away more often when working on tasks or participating in activities. I find that I am more creative, more focused, and happier. As for other devices, I limit any frivolous time spent on them. I would rather use my time to write, scrapbook, read, play card/board games, watch something on television, or spend time with family and friends. 

Breaking up with my phone was a valuable experience, dear reader. I gained new insight about myself, gained more time to be creative, and gained healthier habits with screens. If you feel like you have a phone problem or a social media problem, I would highly recommend How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price. For more information on budgeting screen time, check out Episode 23 (“Good Screens and Bad Screens”) of Season 1 of The Happiness Lab podcast and Catherine Price’s website Screen/Life Balance. Happiness! 

“The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free.” ~ Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Game

This is “The Royal Game of Ur” created by Andrew’s girlfriend Aileigh as a gift to Andrew which I recently learned to play in my spare time.

 

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The passing of time has always fascinated me. At times it drags on like a boring lecture while most of the time it seems to fly by like a shooting star; yet, the amount of time is the same. As a child, time feels unlimited. Since I’ve turned 50, time now feels limited and has become more valuable to me. It feels like yesterday that my Daddy and I were enjoying a cup of coffee with my Uncle Manuel in his kitchen in Kentucky although it was a month ago to this day. And, so much has happened to all of us in a month that our time together feels like a distant memory.

Aunt SueMy Daddy had been wanting to visit his older brother for quite awhile. He is one of five siblings (three brothers and a sister) and the baby of his family. In the last three years, two of his brothers have passed away, and it began weighing on his mind that he might not see his remaining brother before either one of them departed from this Earth. Sadly, it took the passing of my Aunt Sue to make the trip to Kentucky a reality. My Uncle Manuel’s beautiful bride died at the end of July, and my Daddy was unable to attend the funeral services. So, he and I talked; and with the help of my cousin Mark, we hatched a plan that I would drive him to Nicholasville, Kentucky.

I was excited about the prospect of seeing family and finally visiting Kentucky since I had never been, but I was also a tad bit apprehensive because I would be driving which is not what I do on a road trip. Thankfully, my excitement outweighed my apprehension. So, on Wednesday, 02 September, Son #1 picked my Daddy up on his way home from work and dropped him off at my house. Then, we loaded up my car and pulled out of my driveway at 6:30 that evening. Our plan was to drive a few hours, spend the night at a hotel in Grenada, Mississippi, and get up early the next morning to drive the rest of the way to my Uncle Manuel’s home in Kentucky. After a few pit stops along the way, we made it safely, and our adventure in bluegrass country was underway.

Road Trip

Kentucky is a beautiful place. Parts of the state are mountainous while other areas are hilly with plenty of farms in between. Near my Uncle Manuel’s home there are many horse farms. What a joyous moment when we eventually arrived at his home! My Daddy and I were greeted by my Uncle Manuel, his new puppy Rocky, and my cousins, Mark and Junior. Even though the last time we had seen each other had been at a family reunion many years ago, it felt like hardly any time had passed at all while we were all hugging and smiling our big smiles. Conversations started up, and the comfort of family surrounded us like a warm blanket on a chilly morning. The next couple of days were wonderful. We stayed with my Uncle Manuel which is a few steps away from my cousin Mark’s house. The weather was gorgeous and provided much cooler temps than back home.

Uncle Manuel's Home

My Uncle Manuel and Aunt Sue had six children: Junior, Mark, Denise, Connie Wayne, Kimberly, and Lelia. Growing up, it was always a big deal when they would come visit. They would stay at my Nanny and Paw Paw’s house for about a week. As time passed and my grandparents were no longer alive, our paths would cross again at family reunions held in Monroe, Louisiana where both my Nanny and Paw Paw were originally from and many of our extended family members still live today.

Manuel Walters Family

Back row: Denise, Mark, Junior, Connie Wayne Front row: Aunt Sue, Uncle Manuel, Kimberly, Lelia

So, it was nice to have the opportunity to visit my cousins in Kentucky. Except for Denise, who was out of town, my Daddy and I were able to spend time with the rest of the bunch and their families. Even though we didn’t get to see Denise during this visit, we did meet Denise’s daughter Jessica and her family. The hospitality shown to us during our visit was amazing.

On Friday evening, Dempsey, my cousin Kimberly’s husband, drove my Daddy, Uncle Manuel, and me to Junior and Betsy’s house for dinner in an old-timey car that he and my Uncle Manuel rebuilt. I believe it took the two of them three years to rebuild it. Riding in that beautiful car was like stepping back in time. It was really cool! I had never ridden in a car like it before and will cherish that memory.

Yellow Car

On Saturday, Mark and Teresa provided their house for a huge family gathering. Mark barbequed and everyone else brought lots of food. Everything that was prepared was delicious. Before we ate dinner, Mark revealed a surprise to my Daddy and Uncle Manuel. He had purchased my Uncle Ronnie’s motorcycle from our cousin Cindy who had decided to sell it. Mark felt it should be kept in the family since it was a reminder of my Uncle Ronnie who had passed away about three years ago. Despite being a little teary-eyed, they were both happy and definitely surprised.

motorcycle

Uncle Manuel, Mark, and my Daddy

 

The time with my Uncle Manuel and Kentucky cousins was certainly not long enough. However, it was pleasant, memorable, and a much-needed boost of happiness for everyone. As my Daddy and I journeyed back to Louisiana on Sunday, we reminisced about our brief but lovely time spent with our family, appreciated the time traveling in the car together, and planned our future visits. Time will not stop, dear reader, and we should all take advantage of spending time with the ones we love. It will be time well-spent. Happiness!

“Family and friendships are two of the greatest facilitators of happiness.”             ~ John C. Maxwell

Brothers

Uncle Manuel and my Daddy

Me & Uncle Manuel

Me with my Uncle Manuel

 

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