Maybe…

… I should just blog more often, rather than less.

I took Sophie down to the Sanford RiverWalk this morning for our morning walk. (Why is it a RiverWalk when it actually runs along Lake Monroe? Because the St. John’s River flows through Lake Monroe. But the walk — currently a five mile multi-use pedestrian trail adjacent to the lake, with plans apparently to make it a 26-mile trail going all the way around the lake — doesn’t ever actually follow the river away from the lake, in either direction. So…? Maybe LakeWalk just doesn’t sound as nice? Ahem. Anyway… )

sunrise over lake monroe, Sanford, FL

The sunrise was beautiful. I don’t think this picture does it justice, but it was so bright, I had to take the picture without looking. Not quite in focus, but you get the idea.

a stretch of trees along the Sanford RiverWalk

This little stretch of trees is often my favorite part of the walk, because it’s a bit of shade and greenery between stretches of unobstructed sunshine. Unobstructed sunshine is, of course, awesome, but not so much when temps are in the 80s. This part feels like a break and there are often cool birds on those structures in the water. Sophie loves it for the squirrels.

the view from a little bridge on the Sanford RiverWalk

This bit of wilderness is usually my goal. It’s around 1.3 miles from where I usually park, so makes for a nice two and a half mile morning walk, and I’m always hoping that I’ll spot an alligator here. But it’s also just a good place to pause, lean on the bridge, and take a few deep breaths, appreciating the moment I’m in.

All of these pictures are more beautiful in their high-resolution, non-Website friendly versions. But I still wanted to save them, as memories of a morning worth savoring.

Bacon Tacos and Tomatillo Salsa Verde for Alice

Bacon tacos (aka pork belly tacos, I suppose, ’cause it’s not really bacon)

3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound pork belly, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Put the ingredients in a big pot, cover and bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat and simmer until the pork is tender and falling apart. It takes at least two hours, maybe closer to four.

About half an hour before you’re ready to eat, uncover and let most of the liquid steam away (ten minutes or so). Shred the pork, if it’s not falling apart enough already, and transfer some of it to a frying pan. Fry it over high heat until it starts to get browned and crispy, while breaking apart any big chunks. Don’t rush it, because the crispy bits are the best.

Transfer it to a paper-towel lined dish, and let the towels absorb some of the fat, like you would with bacon. Cover it with tin foil or stick it in the oven to keep it warm, while you do the same to the rest of the meat. (You’re only doing it in parts because 4 pounds of meat is too much to do at once.)

Serve with corn tortillas and other toppings of your choice. Chopped white onion is great, cilantro is nice, limes and avocados are good, cotija cheese is tasty… but charred tomatillo salsa is the BEST.

That recipe:

Toss at least a pound of husked tomatillos, a white onion (skin removed), a jalapeño (or two), and 1/2 head of garlic, unpeeled and halved crosswise, in a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil, then grill all of it on a medium hot grill until charred, turning as necessary to get a nice char. Let it all cool a little so you don’t burn yourself, then cut the stem off the jalapeños; squeeze the garlic into a food processor and add all the other vegetables, plus some fresh cilantro and 1/4 cup of lime juice, and whir until chunky. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper and maybe more lime juice.

Not the world’s easiest meal, and also probably not the world’s healthiest meal. But a delicious birthday treat meal!

(It almost makes an extremely delicious next day breakfast, reheated in a frying pan and often with the addition of an egg or two.)

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

In the eighteen years that I’ve been writing this blog, this is the first time I’ve used that title. Third time for “Time Flies,” though. To be honest, I was a little surprised by that. If you’d asked me to predict how many times I’d used that title, I would have guessed at least five or six. Clichés come so easy.

But wow, time flies when you’re having fun!

First things first, though:
I've been featured on eBookDaily

A little book-related link. I’m cleaning out my email today — I’ve been having too much fun and let it get out of control again — and came upon an email from these kind people, who featured Practicing Happiness on their site ten days ago when I wasn’t paying any attention to my books or email. They asked me to share their promotion of my promotion (Practicing Happiness was free for a few days) on my social media and I didn’t. But backlinks are helpful, too, for search engine optimization purposes, so here is a link to their site, with thanks to them for sharing my book promotion. Thanks! (And if you like free or cheap books and don’t mind getting more emails, consider signing up at the link.)

As for the fun, let’s see… writing group; Mexican street corn and Filipino cheese ice cream at downtown Sanford’s monthly food truck event; farmer’s market, followed by hanging out on my favorite patio with Sophie, Christina, Greg, and a mangonada (alcohol-free, I didn’t know it was supposed to include tequila!) plus delicious GF cinnamon cake; Disney’s Hollywood Studios with J; hot pot at Hotto Potto; writing with another J; drinks on an outdoor patio with multiple dogs and extra friends; birthday fun and games including Christina’s awesome bacon tacos; birthday fancy dinner with family; Reninger’s outdoor antique mall and flea market; wandering around downtown Mount Dora and being gifted awesome shoes; sushi!; delicious rice bowls; swimming; savoring some time in a jacuzzi; a long walk around Lake Apopka (or maybe near Lake Apopka)… and I’ve probably forgotten some stuff.

Yeah, it’s been a busy few weeks. Sociable and fun, filled with good dog time — Sophie was an angel at the food truck event, I was so proud of her! — and great people time. Lots of lovely weather and interesting activities. Florida is fantastic right now, it’s the perfect time of year. Well, okay, the caterpillars were freaking me out and the mosquitoes are a PITA, but mostly it’s a perfect time of year. Temperatures are supposed to go up to the 90s by Friday, though. Still, fingers crossed, that might mean first beach trip of the year with ocean swimming!

Should I really be working? Well, yes, of course, and I am actually trying to do a lot. All plans still moving forward, one step at a time. But that’s why blogging sort of fell by the wayside — between a busy social life & lots of activities, I just couldn’t do all the things. Fortunately, I figure the first job of a happiness coach working for a business named Choosing Happiness is to choose happiness, so that’s what I’ve been doing.

the cantina at Disney's Hollywood Studios

My drink at the Cantina in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

I was completely surprised by how much I enjoyed the Star Wars area of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I’m not a huge Star Wars fan, but it was so well done. The rides were great, enough fun that I think Hollywood Studios has actually moved up in my preferred theme park list. I mean I’m not sure what it’s displacing, exactly, but I think I’d probably rather go there than the Magic Kingdom. And Animal Kingdom — well, it holds a special place in my heart, but it also makes me sad because I miss R so intensely when there. So maybe Hollywood Studios is my new favorite theme park. I actually rode on the Twilight Zone’s Tower of Terror ride for the first time ever and loved it!

a huge open field with a very small dog in the distance

Look really close and you’ll see a tiny black and white spot in the distance, off on the left side. Sophie Sunshine, loving the running!

Sophie got to play ball in this HUGE open field in Mount Dora. So fun for her to just get to run like mad in a big open space. There was one day in particular where I actually managed to tire her out. That does not often happen. She puts up with inactivity when I’m trying to work, but her preference is definitely to go, go, GO.

If I had made any dumb promises to myself three weeks ago about not posting again until I could share a link to my Choosing Happiness website… well, it’s still not ready. Someday. Maybe even someday soon.

Meanwhile, onward. So much to do, starting with continuing the email clean out. Can I make it back to inbox zero before midnight? It’s a quest!

Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach

certification seal for Health and Nutrition Life Coach

This one was really hard and took me SOO much more time than any of the others. I learned a lot, but some of the lessons made my head spin. It’s not often that I’m learning multiple new vocabulary words in a single ten minute period. I mean, I have a pretty good vocabulary to begin with!

Anyway, I’m sharing because it feels like an achievement, and I’m proud of my persistence and… well, maybe endurance? I do not intend to start designing exercise programs for anyone anytime soon: the movement section of my Choosing Happiness course is going to focus on things like short walks and two-minute stretches. But I have the resources and info now that I could if I needed to. (I’m not going to need to: if someone comes to me looking for a full-fledged exercise program, I’m going to be referring them to someone with a lot more experience really quickly!)

I actually want to make it through the course creation classes next, just to see what I can learn from them about designing a good course, and then I’ll be moving on to either the Diet Coach certification class or the Yoga Coach class. Again, my program is not going to be about weight loss — I’m opposed to deprivation diets — or yoga, but I want to get the Master Wellness Coach certification, which does fit into my ideas, and I know I’ll learn a lot from both of those courses. None of those courses, though, are going to get in the way of getting my coaching practice going — they’re going to be things I’m working on alongside the business. And there’s a Mindfulness Coach course with a 21-day mindfulness challenge that I’m looking forward to. Totally up my alley, way more so than a diet class!

So I didn’t write about identity yesterday (my popcorn was, in fact, delicious, however!), but this is what I’m thinking about/struggling with.

My name is not Sarah. Pretty sure that everyone who reads this blog already knows that, but just in case — Sarah Wynde is a pen name I chose for entirely practical reasons.

The number one reason was that my real name (Wendy Sharp, it’s not a secret) is thoroughly taken. Google “Wendy Sharp” and you’ll find a Yale violinist, a social worker from the UK, a television personality in South Africa, some lawyers, some dentists, a singer, an artist, an Ironman competitor! I am not the Ironman competitor, which is not going to surprise anyone who knows me. Fifteen years ago, you could also find an editor, which was me, but I’ve mostly disappeared out of the 19 million results for the name my parents gave me by now. Well, I’m probably in there somewhere, but I didn’t dig down deep enough to find me.

Sarah Wynde, on the other hand, was a name that didn’t exist on the internet. It does now, so I have to feel slightly guilty about the woman in Surrey who should really own the search results for her name, but there are still less than a million results on a search for that name.

There was another reason too, at the time: I was in graduate school to be a counselor and didn’t really want to mix that identity with my author identity. I didn’t expect being an “author” to become a major part of my life, but I didn’t want potential future clients to learn about me from reading books with sex scenes and ghosts. Now, on the other hand, I do feel like my books — specifically Practicing Happiness — are important to what I want to do. I’d love for people to read Practicing Happiness and then feel like I was someone they wanted to work with. But I think it would be really weird to go to a coach who’s using a false name. That just seems wrong.

This is mostly relevant for marketing issues: do I create new social media accounts under my real name? Do I create new social media accounts under my new business name? Or do I use the social media accounts I have and put my real name into them somehow? It’s a question I need to solve. Do I re-do the cover of Practicing Happiness to put my real name on it? Do I add my real name as an author name in the meta tags but ignore the visible evidence of the author name? Ugh.

It seems like it should be easy but it’s also the kind of decision that could ricochet into the future in unforeseen ways and so I want to make it carefully. (Like getting a new phone number back in 2019 — it turns out that it’s really hard to change your phone number these days, because the supercomputers in our pockets never forget the old one, and so I’ve had to wonder innumerable times about what messages might have drifted into the ether instead of making their way to me.)

I’ve also been thinking a lot about identity because — believe it or not — I actually think of myself as a pretty private person. I know, I know, I’ve been writing a personal blog for almost 20 years, how private can I be? But I don’t post pictures of me much at all, I rarely use social media and when I do, it’s mostly to share cute dog photos, and… well, what feels like the way to say this is that I’m not out there. I’m not demanding visibility in the way that sells books, sells ideas, sells a coaching practice. And I never have been. I’m comfortable speaking in front of crowds, but I’ve never tried to build a reputation, or establish myself as an authority, or even wanted to be famous. I don’t even understand why people want to have a video go viral — I am just not that person. Except… well… maybe that needs to change? Maybe I need to become the person who’s speaking up, who’s networking and building an audience, who’s selling an idea? Passionately selling an idea? Or at least open myself up to becoming that person? I don’t know. Things to think about, I guess. But the first question to solve is the literal one of how do I merge my identities in a practical way that feels good and keeps my life simple?

Related, in some sense — my three rules of change, to be covered in the first course module of my Choosing Happiness course and probably in the second chapter of my Choosing Happiness book are:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Make it easy
  3. Have fun with it

So maybe as I think about my identity(ies), I need to think about what would be simple, easy, and fun. A good strategy for change!

Hedonic Adaptation and Identities

The two things on my mind this fine Monday afternoon are hedonic adaptation and identity. Well, actually, there’s a bunch of other things on my mind, too, but those are the two most interesting things on my mind.

Hedonic adaption is… oh, how interesting. Well, okay, wikipedia says that hedonic adaptation, also known as the hedonic treadmill, is “the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.” The discussion in the wikipedia article seems mostly to suggest that we inevitably return to our happiness set point, and looks at hedonic adaptation in terms of the big picture events in our lives, ie marriage, disability, that kind of thing.

I’ve been thinking of hedonic adaptation in much smaller terms, basically just the human tendency to get used to things — to anything, really — and start taking it/ them for granted. If you drink a cup of tea at 4PM every afternoon, it will just be a cup of tea. If you have a cup of tea one afternoon out of the week and you schedule it and you plan for it and you really consider what kind of tea would be most delicious and you make sure to have actual milk available (if you like milk in your tea), then your tea will be a pleasure, a delight, a joy.

If the weather is 72 degrees and sunny for ten days in a row (it hasn’t been), on the tenth day, you’ll be thinking, “I wish it wasn’t so bright” or “this wind is so annoying” or “damn these awful caterpillars,” instead of “wow, this is so lovely.” Unless maybe you’re one of those people whose happiness set point is really high, but I am not one of those people, and I don’t think I’ve ever even met one of those people, so… (shrug)… I’m not sure we need to consider them.

Basically, human beings take the status quo, whatever it may be, for granted. We so much take it for granted that psychologists have been writing about our ability to take things for granted for fifty years! But taking things for granted gets in the way of happiness. Ergo, one way to be happier is to fight your own tendency toward hedonic adaptation. Variety is truly the spice of life. That’s what I’ve been up to this week and it’s been working wonderfully well.

Yesterday I had a delightful day. Why was it delightful? I don’t know. Just because it was. I changed the sheets on my bed and put new sheets on that I’d bought at Ross earlier in the week in the most impulsive, “I must own these sheets immediately” purchase I think I’ve ever made of sheets. Here’s a peek at my pillowcase:

a pillowcase with a print of the Eiffel tower on it

I wasn’t at Ross to buy sheets — I was looking for a towel, because I only owned one towel and towels turn out to be a thing where having an extra is really nice. It’s kind of pain not be able to take a shower because your only towel is in the washer. But I saw these sheets on an end-cap (the end of the aisle shelves); saw that they were full sheets, which can be hard to find; saw that they were $19.99; all in about ten seconds, and immediately picked them up and carried them around the store with me, hugging them to my chest. Mine!

Did changing the sheets on my bed really make me happy? Well… sort of? I mean, yes, I was happy that I got to have clean sheets on my bed, and happy that my sheets were pretty, and really, I was mostly just happy, and that was a piece of my happiness.

What else made me happy? Well, my breakfast was delicious, with lots of vegetables. Oh, and I have determined that spending $4.99 to have the good tomatoes is a totally worthwhile expense. This after a couple months of buying cheap tomatoes or having no tomatoes. But a few delicious tomatoes truly elevate a meal. Also! Expensive butter — totally worthwhile if you’re doing something with the butter where you can taste it. I bought Buy One, Get One Irish fancy butter at Publix last week and it is COMPLETELY different on popcorn than regular cheap butter. A different color, a different taste, and so delicious. Yeah, I had delicious popcorn yesterday, too. Hedonic adaptation suggests that I will start taking my delicious buttered popcorn for granted soon, but I haven’t yet.

Hmm, now I’m hungry. And I haven’t written about identity, and I haven’t written about today (also a delightful day) and… well, I’m in a mood where I could probably just write forever. But I’m being very careful about my sleep — one of the foundations of happiness, IME — which means I only have half an hour left in which I can eat, because if I eat later than that, I mess up my sleep. So I’m going to share one more picture:

a scenic water byway

This morning I took Sophie down to the river walk for our morning walk — fighting the hedonic adaptation of getting used to our regular walk and taking it for granted means changing up the walk, looking for new beautiful views, so that the familiar views have a chance to become new again, too — and it was so lovely. A beautiful day, a beautiful place, a nice breeze blowing, a delightfully happy dog bouncing along and being a very good girl. Hmm, word of the week appears to be delightful. Well, or maybe beautiful. Or maybe delicious!

And now I am going to go eat something delicious, which might even be popcorn, since I’m not yet hedonically adapted to that butter. Mmmm, butter. I’ll just have to write about identity someday soon.

Caterpillars and other annoyances

I found a really cool and interesting caterpillar in the backyard earlier this week.

caterpillar

Isn’t that weird? I posted a little video of it crawling on instagram and thought nothing more of it. Until I found another one on my leg. And another one on the back of my chair. And another one fell out of the tree and landed on my head. ICK!

I retreated inside promptly.

The next morning, I chose a different chair, one away from the fire table, at the back of the yard. It’s shaded by a palm tree, not one of the giant live oaks, and I glanced at the palm tree, didn’t see anything crawling, so I didn’t think about it again until I found a caterpillar wending its way along my neck. ICK, ICK, double and triple ICK. I don’t think that caterpillar survived my frenzied determination to get it off, although it might have.

That night, I was trying to sleep and my neck was on fire. I got out of bed and checked myself out in the mirror. It looked like I had 20 spider bites, a cluster of red lumps all along the side by my shoulder where, yes, the caterpillar was crawling. Turns out some people have an allergic response to these caterpillars. It is not a surprise to me that I would be one of them — I swear, my immune system is so paranoid, it thinks everything is dangerous — but it was a bummer. I didn’t get a lot of sleep that night, and felt pretty lousy the next couple of days.

Do you know where the word “lousy” comes from? It means “very poor or bad,” but it’s really a description of how you feel when infested with lice. Being bitten by lots of bugs is a miserable state of being. Being crawled on by poisonous caterpillars is also a miserable state of being. I dragged a chair over to the middle of the yard, no trees overhead, and have been sitting there for now, waiting for caterpillar season to come to its inevitable end. But those caterpillars are no longer on my “cool and interesting” list but my “scream and run away” list. Well, okay, maybe they’re still interesting. But not in the “wow, nature is awesome” kind of way, more the “ugh, nature sucks” way.

In other news… well, no real news. I’ve still been working on all my various projects, still trying to stuff my brain full of information, still experimenting with various technology tools. I found an app this week that felt like it was going to be my new best friend, the thing that let me actually organize all the pieces of information that I’ve got piling up in metaphorical corners, the one that let me structure and retrieve content for my newsletter, my blog, my mailing list, my database — it was gonna be so good. (The app is Notion, fyi.)

But last night I was trying to update a task list and I was tired, so the text felt unreadably small. I tried to zoom in. No zoom buttons! No big deal, I’d just increase the font size. Um, no, turns out I wouldn’t. The font size is set and you can’t change it. WTF? Talk about a product insensitive to aging eyes and people with vision issues! I honestly couldn’t believe that was possible, so went searching the internet for help, but nope, the internet agreed: you are stuck with the text in the size at which it is set. Which is a size too small to be readable on an iPad for me when I’m tired. Dealbreaker. And if I was an HR person at any of the businesses they’re trying to sell this product to, I’d be murmuring about ADA and accessibility and the risks of developing systems in software unsympathetic to potential disability issues. It’s frustrating because I really would still like to use it. It looked like it had such potential, and I’ve been struggling to organize my notes and files in a way that makes them easily findable. I cannot count the amount of time I’ve wasted trying to find, for example, a citation about learning styles research being incorrect. (A thing I searched for yesterday for at least half an hour — I knew I’d seen it somewhere!)

But speaking of wasting time, I should get back to working on my website. I’ve been feeling like building this business is a complicated game of Jenga — which piece goes first, which piece makes the whole thing collapse? — and have definitely concluded that a working website that allows me to collect names for a mailing list is a pretty essential foundation piece. It is not, however, nearly as much fun as playing with Keynote animations and reading books about happiness. Still, the good news is that once it’s done, it’s done, whereas I can keep playing with Keynote and reading books about happiness indefinitely. So, onward!

 

Ta-da List

Last week, I decided to add a new thing to my ever-growing to-do list: a ta-da list. I heard about the concept first from my life coach training class, but in that class, it was really just another name for a to-do list. The idea was that you cross things off your to-do list and say, “ta-da!” and that therefore you feel better about your to-dos.

I’m not arguing with that premise, but it wasn’t really working for me. Sure, it’s nice to cross something off, but that list has so, so, so many more things on it. And breaking my to-dos down into smaller lists was sort of helpful, but not helpful enough. So what I did was start ending my day — the official end of my “work” day, which sometimes happens right before I go to sleep — by writing a list of what I’d done during the day. And the list didn’t just include work-type things, it included anything that I felt good about doing.

What a satisfying habit!

I forgot to do it last night, but I definitely want to make it part of my regular routine, because it really felt great to look back on my days and see that even if I didn’t get nearly enough “work” done — (Did I really spend three days working on a client contract, the first piece of paperwork I need to start working with clients? Why, yes, I did. Could I really not have just copied any one of the numerous generic forms that exist online? Why, no, I couldn’t.) — I’d accomplished plenty of good learning, healthy choices, and happiness boosts.

As I walked Sophie this morning, I was thinking about the day ahead and the days behind and really appreciating the sociability of all of them. Today’s plan includes my accountability meeting with Greg; yesterday was the monthly writer’s group; Saturday, lunch with my dad and stepmom; Friday, writing in downtown Sanford with my writing accountability buddy; Thursday, an absolutely delightful day with my friend Lynda, including dinner in the evening with two other friends. Spending time with family and friends = major happiness booster, probably one of the biggest.

At least three times in the past week, I took Sophie down to the waterfront in downtown Sanford in the middle of the afternoon and walked along the lake, down to the boats, and then back again. Our morning walk is really nice, too — in the mornings, we walk about a mile and a half, to the local park with the peacocks and ducks and pond with a fountain and then back home again — but I really love the waterfront walk. Partially it’s the sunshine and palm trees, the water view, the boats, the marina, the wildlife — but it’s also a sociable walk. There are always other people around and many of them are friendly. Lots of hellos, and nods, and feeling part of a healthy world. (This is, of course, nothing to do with me, and everything in the world to do with me walking a really adorable dog.) Happiness boosts — movement, nature, community — it’s a trifecta of happiness boosters!

Every day of the past week, I read some of a fun book, some of an educational book. The educational books included, “Outsmart Your Brain: Why Learning is Hard and You You Can Make It Easier,” “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead,” and “Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits.” The fun books were mostly rereads, including the entire Julie Kriss’ Road Kings series. (<-affiliate links) I’m not sure I’ve decided what the term is for the happiness boost from reading — is it learning? Entering a flow state? Being engaged in something? Using your brain? I don’t know why it’s satisfying — I’ll have to think about that some more! — but it definitely is.

One thing I’ve been working on that has not been giving me a happiness boost has been my website design. Ugh, indecision. But yesterday morning I realized I really ought to be having more fun with it. Why is it not fun? There’s a bunch of learning that I don’t really want to do along the way, that’s part of why I haven’t been having fun, but I really should be letting myself enjoy the process more. I should be playing with it, treating it as a delightful chance to be creative and have fun with color and shapes. So that’s a goal for this week — more fun with the design of things, both the website, the written materials I’m working on, and some of the marketing stuff I’ve been doing.  My three rules for change are 1) Keep it simple, and 2) Make it easy, and 3) Find the fun. I think I need to think about those rules in relation to my whole life, not just making change. They’re excellent rules, IMO.

Just abut time for my accountability meeting, so one last thing:

an anhinga

My favorite bird from yesterday’s waterfront walk.

 

Busker’s Brew

Greg started a coffee company last year: Busker’s Brew, because he is a person who cares passionately about good coffee. I myself am not a person who cares passionately about good coffee, but once a week, he and I have been meeting for an entrepreneurial accountability meeting, and he provides the coffee. It is, in fact, excellent coffee, so if you, dear reader, are interested in coffee and not using one of those Keurig coffee makers, you should check it out. Support small businesses! And entrepreneurs!

Our accountability meetings are great. We’re not efficient about them — they always run well over an hour, which in my corporate days would have maddened me. But it’s conversation and goal-setting and discussion of online businesses and sharing info about marketing and classes and so on. Also watching dogs play, mostly in my backyard in the sunshine. Riker and Sophie are ridiculously cute together. If I ever figure out how to post video to my web site, I’ll share one of them romping while Greg talks about keywords and search engine optimization techniques in the background. I was listening, really I was. But I was also filming dogs being cute.

And I just did some quick research and the answer is no, I’m never going to post videos on my website because I use shared hosting and I don’t have the bandwidth. So I’ve posted it to Instagram instead, and if you’re interested, you can either click the post when it shows up in the blog’s sidebar, or try this link: rambunctious dogs having fun.

I’m still working on ALL the things, including learning ALL the things. I’ve concluded that I have to prioritize, because it is just not possible to do everything at once, but I haven’t decided on my priorities yet. I intended to create a course first, then write a book, then open up to working one on one with clients, but it’s looking as if that’s backwards, just because of the technology challenges of the course development. I can’t even embed a video on my website, ha. But I’m researching course creation apps and platforms. And mailing list software, and web design tools, and all the things.

Meanwhile, I’m currently taking three courses: The Yale course on happiness called The Science of Well-Being, via Coursera; the Health and Nutrition Life Coach Certification via Transformation Academy; and another course from them called The Online Course Revolution. Last week I did one called Bingeworthy, How to Make Addictive Online Courses, on xperiencify.com, as well as the first two.

The Health and Nutrition Certification class is by far the slowest certification class for me, in part because some of it is repetitive of things I’ve already done, which makes it hard to pay attention (although repetition aids learning, so I should still pay attention!) and in part because some of it is… just not me. I absolutely anticipate writing about food and mood and movement in my Choosing Happiness materials, but none of it will be about losing weight or going to the gym. I’ll finish the course eventually, but I’m aiming for the Master Wellness Coach certification to go along with my Master Life Coach certification and I think that’s probably going to take a while. I’m really just not capable of binging it, but according to xperiencify, only 3% of people who start an online course actually finish it, so I’m ahead of the curve anyway.

I was working on a revised bio last week, mostly for the Choosing Happiness website, which is still a work in progress, but this was part of it: Wendy Sharp is a writer, editor, publisher, designer, counseling school dropout, certified master life coach, certified happiness coach, certified wellness coach, overly fond of continuing education and certifications, and an excellent cook. Under the pen name Sarah Wynde, she is the author of Practicing Happiness: a Memoir of Van Life, as well as multiple fiction titles. 

Obviously, I don’t have that wellness certification yet, so I won’t be posting it anywhere officially, but it made me laugh. It might not last, of course.

Speaking of being an excellent cook, though, I did the weirdest thing for breakfast this morning and it was delicious. I’d been sick for the past few days and my stomach was still feeling doubtful, so I decided I’d just have eggs for breakfast. A nice simple omelette, no veggies. Or maybe just a little onion. Or maybe just a little onion and this arugula chimichurri that I made the other day with arugula, parsley, garlic, and red onion. Then I remembered that I had tomatoes. Tomatoes are kind of a pain in an omelette, IMO, because they’re too wet, so I like to cook them first, then add the cooked tomatoes to the omelette. So I cooked the tomatoes with the red onion, and eventually added some of the chimichurri, but I was feeling lazy, so instead of taking them out of the pan, cooking the egg and then adding the tomatoes to the egg, I just poured the beaten eggs on top. I sprinkled the egg with feta and some grated parmesan, and then, because I wanted the cheese to melt and I wasn’t going to try to flip the omelette, I covered it and left it alone for a couple minutes. Oh, and I threw in some fresh basil and oregano while cooking the tomatoes, because why not?

Voila!

egg dish

It turned out so pretty. I have no idea why the egg puffed up the way it did, that was quite unexpected. It tore a little when coming out of the pan, and obviously I sprinkled it with micro greens, but it was such an aesthetically pleasing breakfast. Also, very tasty, but I expected that. The pretty was a surprise.

Yum, breakfast. Now I’m hungry.

 

Progress, Not Perfection

Certified Master Life Coach

I should do a little portfolio of my certification badges — this one makes five. This one, in fact, really just means that I’ve gotten the other four: Life Coach, Happiness Coach, Goal Setting Coach, and Life Purpose Coach. I took a little bit of a pause after I finished this one — a few days without watching any videos! — but I’m working on the sleep class now, and then will start the Wellness Coach certifications, too. Am I an over-achiever or am I just procrastinating on actually starting the business part of this idea? A little of both. There’s actually a bunch of classes on the business part of being a coach and I’ll probably try to take those, too, while simultaneously working on learning how to make videos for the course I want to create, and build a website, and do all the other things I’m trying to do.

Last week, I met with a friend who’s going to be my business accountability buddy and we gave ourselves goals for the week. I was feeling reasonably good about meeting my goals, until we met again this morning and I realized I’d missed one of them entirely, and made mistakes on two of the others. Sigh. But I did finish the Master Life Coaching certification, so at least there’s that.

Meanwhile, it rained for two solid days straight this weekend. It wasn’t a particularly cold rain or a particularly torrential rain, but Sophie has now decided that she agrees with me: she would prefer that the sky did not drip water on her. Last winter when it rained every day for days on end, we just went out in the rain anyway — I stood under the trees in Stewart Park and threw the ball for her and got wet and tried to practice happiness, looking for beauty and listening to the rhythm of the dripping in the leaves — but this weekend, we mostly stayed inside. Our regular morning walk, but we didn’t play ball. Not at all!

Two whole days, with no ChuckIt, no throwing for me, no running for her. She accepted this willingly enough — she really did seem to agree with me that going outside was not pleasant — but wow, was she happy to run around today. Major, major, major zoomies in the sunshine. I know in my head that it’s a good idea not to be too committed to a schedule with a dog — routines set expectations and expectations create behaviors. Flexibility makes life easier for both of us. But we’ve fallen into a schedule anyway. The past few days it was disrupted, though, and Sophie provided remarkably amenable to adapting it, except that once the sun was shining again, she really wanted to be outside all afternoon. I should have just brought my laptop outside, but instead I decided it was a holiday for most people, so it could be a holiday for us, too. Mostly a holiday for us, too, I did a little bit of working/thinking, but not much.

One of the things I thought about was the way that we label emotions — good/bad, positive/negative. February always seems like a hard month to me. Someday soon — and I could look it up, but I’m not going to — it will be four years since I last spoke to my son. Four years. What a horrible anniversary. When I think about it, I feel sad. But I don’t think that sadness is “bad” and I don’t even think it’s “negative.”

I do think it’s unpleasant. If I was picking my emotions like clothes from a closet, I wouldn’t choose to wear sadness. And yet, I’d rather wear sadness than try to numb it or hide from it or distract myself from it, because all of those ways of handling it make it stick around. Make it turn into some kind of gooey slime, oozing up from the depths. Instead, I just sorta say, oh, yes, there you are, sadness. Totally deserved, what a sad experience this is. And then I move on, and go back to playing ball and appreciating the sunshine, and not doing the work I need to do, but mostly being happy. I think when we label our emotions good and bad, it makes it seem like the bad ones need to be avoided, but life is richer and more vivid when we acknowledge and experience the full spectrum. My happiness is happier because it is so hard-earned. Which doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t change things if I could, but 100% happiness would be a very pastel & shallow kind of happiness, I think.

The tag line on my new business is currently “personal coaching for people who want to feel better,” which is part of why I spent so much time thinking about good & bad, positive & negative, as they relate to emotions. “Better” could mean so many things, after all. I’m definitely over-thinking the concept, but I liked the directness, before I started my over-thinking. I still like the directness, actually.

logoSpeaking of said business… I have a logo. I have a million variations of that logo, too (<–hyperbole), but this is what it’s going to be. Now to get that logo on a website!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Procrastination Satisfaction

I started the day determined to either do my taxes or build/re-do my websites, one or the other. Four hours later, I’ve rearranged the furniture in my bedroom, dusted, and started a load of laundry. Ah, procrastination, how lovely it is. At least it’s been productive procrastination. My belongings are more sensibly located now and soon I’ll have clean clothing, yay.

I intended last week to be a big creation week — lots of actual making of content, not so much reading other people’s content — but it didn’t turn out that way. I’m not honestly sure why. I knew there would be points along the way where I got discouraged. It’s inevitable in any new endeavor or project, I think. Down moments are what makes room for the up moments, right? But I think it’s not really discouragement so much as still needing processing time. I had an idea when I started of exactly what I wanted to do, and then I thought I couldn’t do that specific idea, so I started looking at related ideas, but really, what I want to do is what I thought of initially. And so now I have to think about how I can do that, and what’s getting in the way of that.

How vague I’m being! Sorry. But my goal really was so specifically about depression, and about wanting to help people who are fighting that specific battle, and life coaches/happiness coaches/wellness coaches are ethically not supposed to work with people who have a “mental illness.” I put it in quotes, because to me, depression is a symptom. And maybe it’s a symptom of a mental illness, but maybe it’s also a symptom of not getting enough sleep and not getting outside enough and not eating enough vegetables. That would be the whole point! But obviously, I am not going to do anything that is unethical. And on the other hand, how can it actually be unethical to be an accountability partner/cheerleader/strategist for someone who wants to become happier? Unethical, certainly, to make promises, but I wasn’t planning on making promises. I’m not even willing to guarantee my own happiness, much less anyone else’s. Ugh. Indecision kills dreams. I need to stop being so indecisive.

On Friday, I went to meet my writing buddy — very much looking forward to it! — but the car was dead. It looked like I hadn’t quite closed the back door, and the light might have been on, so I surmised it was a battery problem, but no one was around to give me a jump start. Christina and Greg were in Pensacola for the weekend, and no neighbors were out and about.

I was sad.

I felt like I had so many possible options, though. Downtown Sanford is only a couple miles away, so I could have walked, but I would have been far more reluctant to make the walk back in the dark. I obviously could have called an Uber or Lyft, too, and that might have been a good choice, except that I spent long enough messing around trying to figure out why the car wasn’t working and what I could do about it that our writing time would have been over by the time I arrived, anyway.

And then, of course, there was also the question of what to do about the car: call some kind of roadside assistance? Eh, I was in my driveway, so not in urgent need. Wait for Christina to get home? Definitely an option. It’s not like I use the car every day, so waiting three or four days to try a jumpstart would not dramatically affect my life. Hover outside until one of my neighbors came home? Someone would have shown up eventually, I’m sure.

But it was remarkable how unstressed I felt about it. Sad, yes. Bummed that I was missing my fun writing date, which I had been looking forward to. Annoyed, a little, that I was going to have to solve a problem that was so uninteresting to me. But not at all worried. I knew that if the car was truly dead — somehow completely non-functional, for now and forever — I would be just fine.

It was a really nice realization. Five months or so ago, when I was catastrophizing, not having any transportation felt terrifying. I would never have sold my van if I’d realized Suzanne was so untrustworthy, and I felt trapped and powerless. Now, despite not having a job, despite needing to earn more money, despite being indecisive and unsure of what my future will bring, I still feel safe. It’s really quite lovely. I do so like being happy. 🙂

As it happened, I bought this clever device from Amazon (at the BBE’s suggestion.) It arrived by 8AM the next morning and the car was running again that afternoon. Technology is lovely sometimes.

And now I have spent far too much time writing this blog post and pondering my own internal state of being, so onward. I think maybe taxes. Or, you know, a shower, and then a snack and then some playtime with Sophie, and then maybe taxes…

Happy Monday!

Washington Post's Keyword game scores

One secret of happiness is to celebrate your small successes. Each tiny win is a tiny dopamine hit. This is an entire week of tiny wins on the Washington Post’s Keyword game, adding up to a big win — every single game for the week completed in 6 guesses, which is the minimum number of guesses required. Go, me!