Tag Archives: Happiness

Happiness, As I Know it

*Sam and Debi Travel Update: Our dynamic mother-son driving duo is sleeping safe and sound in Watson Lake, Yukon tonight with just under 1,000 miles left to travel. Apparently today was a beautiful one with sun, mountain passes and lots of wildlife! Continued prayers for safety are requested as some rain and snow are forecasted for the next two mountainous driving days!


A teary-eyed me paused when it was my turn to share what I am thankful for at last years’ Thanksgiving meal. Looking around a table full of many of the most important people in my life, I felt completely overwhelmed with emotion and happiness. I somehow choked out that I would not be able to answer – that to explain all I am grateful for, I would have to slowly describe each day, for I have been fortunate enough to come to a point in my life where the little moments stick in my mind far more than the huge occasions or pre-planned activities.

Living in Anchorage the past three weeks has been… hectic, new, exciting and insightful. Since I left, Sam encouraged me time and again to slow down and try to use the time to my benefit and for some reflection. It’s not so often I have the chance to take this much time for myself. At first I shushed him and felt as though the best thing to do was to keep on moving so as not to let the past well up and make me sad. But over the past few days, I’ve kept mostly to myself, and embraced a wonderful set of emotions. Of homesickness and of impatiently waiting for Sam to arrive to start our new adventure, certainly. But I have mostly been overcome with gratitude and happiness, and I feel lucky to have had the time to reflect on it.

Though I have always been surrounded by a fantastic support network and generally happy conditions, tonight I spent some time thinking of where exactly this feeling of contentment that I have been graced with so freely lately flows. Here are the top five things I settled on:

(I’m sorry if this comes across as boastful or overly sappy. If it is, you don’t have to keep reading. I won’t be mad at you, promise.)

sam1. Love. My family and friends the the world’s greatest. (No really, you are.) And, Sam …Sam is my rock, my comedian, my friend. Somehow, even in my worst moments, he shows me how much he loves me. He and his love make me continuously happy, plain and simple.

adventure2. Adventure. Experiencing new things brings out the child in me. While admist the unknown, often surrounded by beautiful things (sunsets, aspen forests, winding single-track, you name it) I enjoy that rare feeling of being completely engaged and in the moment. The excitement of seeing something totally new, and not knowing what’s around the next corner is uniquely satisfying, and increasingly rare. But also the need to rely on whoever I’m with to keep one another safe in uncharted territory, this builds trust and friendships pretty fast.

460249_10101743375962459_551963076_o3. Home. Some of my most special moments happen while stirring a pot of simmering marinara or in kneading dough amidst a floury disaster in the kitchen. They happen when resting my head on Sam’s shoulder and laughing about something funny that happened that day. They’re while reclining on a cheap, plastic chair under the canopy of the full tree shading our deck. Or laying in my bed watching the morning sun pour in the windows. I like to get out and enjoy the world a lot, but I like to come home, too.

380506_10102026290080299_573585002_n - Edited4. Activity. Preferably outside. If I go a few days without some, I feel sluggish, negative, and ugly. (No wonder why college was so hard for me! I never exercised!) As someone fairly new to consistent exercise as an adult, it is a game-changer. You know all those things the articles say about endorphins and positivism and joy related to exercise – turns out, they are all totally true. And, beyond simply exercising, I think setting a goal, all on my own, and sticking to it is a pretty amazing thing, too.

reflection5. Reflection. I relish in life’s joys by speaking them, and obviously, by writing them down. I know this isn’t for everyone. But sometimes when I don’t actively reflect on what’s good, I overlook it. I feel as though my happiness  and my awareness of and gratitude for said happiness go completely hand in hand.

I don’t really think this is the “right” happiness list and it almost certainly varies from your list. But I wanted to share it with you because many of you reading this are the reason behind my happiness and the very foundation from which I stand. Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing me such happiness. I hope I can do the same for you.


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This is How I Lost 40 Pounds.

I can’t believe I just wrote that.

This is the second week that I’ve been at my imaginary “goal weight” that I set oh so, SO long ago. (And I mean consistently at that weight, not those first-thing-in-the-morning-completely-naked-before-breakfast-but-after-you-poop kind of weigh-ins). Anyone dieting knows what I’m talking about. I think. Right?

Anyway, today I went for a run and I was thinking about what it took to get me here, and all the lessons I’ve learned about myself along the way… all four years of the way. Surprisingly, almost nothing about my life now is the way I imagined it would be when I thought about what life would be like “as a skinny person,” as I would say.

I don’t think this post will contain the answers for many people. I think that’s just it – weight loss is 100% individual.

But as a form of reflection, here’s how I did it anyway:

1. Got happy. I recently realized that I used to think of it all wrong. I used to think, “Once I’m skinny, I’ll be happier.”

Wrong. It wasn’t until after I addressed my bad habits, took on new challenges, tried new things, and made some big changes that my self confidence improved. Along the way, the weight came off. Once I became happier by actually doing things that make me happy, I spent a lot less time stressing about and wishing things were different, and more time just living a happy life than sitting around thinking about living one. (Usually with a snack.)

2. Got realistic. I still don’t look good in skinny jeans. I won’t go running only in a sports-bra, and I still have a lot of… well, jiggles. Being at my goal weight doesn’t look like what I thought it would, and I’m surprisingly OK with that. (And who has the time to do all those sit-ups?!?!)

3. Made goals. Lots and lots of goals. Many of them I never met. So then I made smaller ones. For example, last year I wanted to run a half marathon. So, I started by running for 25 minutes. Then I added a block at a time. Then I ran 3.5 miles quite regularly and came to really enjoy it. Once I made it 5 miles. I never ran a half marathon, but I did complete a 5k and loved it. It wasn’t my original goal, but it got me running across a finish line and that felt awesome.

3. Got going. I used to look at blogs, attend meetings, read books, and actually fantasize about weight-loss and healthy people. But it was so hard to translate reading about someone else’s success to my own success.

First, I got going the classic way: Weight Watchers. There, I learned exactly how much of what I usually ate was superfluous to what I needed to eat. I talked with others with the same habits and actually really, really enjoyed it (the chatting, not the non-eating). Weight Watchers’ Points system sucks and takes tons of time to adjust to, but it is a great way to learn what my body needed, how to find good healthy alternatives to favorite foods, how to create and maintain portion-control, and very importantly; it teaches you the lesson that if you screw up and over-eat, it’s OK.

All that said, I would never go back to Weight Watchers. My last 20 pounds were lost in a much more simple way than points equations and weekly weigh-ins and I think if I would have come up with it from the beginning, it would have worked just fine.

It finally took me equating “getting going,” with “getting happy” to eventually get healthy. Once I wanted to see some scenery on a hike, unwind by taking a jog, ride my new bike, or try cooking a new recipe, (and actually make time to do these things regularly) I simply found myself busier, and then healthier, and then happier, and then skinner. And it was fun. I don’t think I could have lost the last 20 pounds without a whole lot of fun because prior to that, I was in a big, fat rut.

And that’s what I did. 🙂


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New Directions. (Almost.)

Hello, Readers.

I know. You’re probably not there anymore because my last post was 4 whole months ago.

That’s ok though, because over the last 4 months, I’ve been doing important research for this space and discovering the real reason why I titled this environment-focused blog, “Welcome to the Good Life,” when I started it back in the spring of 2009. Ok not really. But, since June 1 of this year, I’ve lived a lifestyle that is incredibly environmentally considerate, but also one that has made me the happiest I’ve ever been. In other words, I’ve learned that it’s easy to “be green,” and what’s more: it’s actually pretty fun.

If you know me, I know what you’re thinking. The incredible boyfriend, awesome apartment, living in a very liberal and enviro-minded community, and having a job at an influential environmental non-profit helps with all of that, but I have recently discovered that this new found [non-college] environmentally friendly life I’m living, aside from making me happy,  also made me the healthiest, skinniest, most resourceful, and still frugal…. ever!

This picture doesn't really have to do with anything except me being happy. And hiking.

A while ago, I thought that I could just abandon my blog because Sam and I are so busy hiking, biking, skiing, canoeing… and ok, watching some TV, too (if you haven’t watched How I Met Your Mother, you really should. It’s hilarious.) on any of our free time post 5 o’clock. But, the blog has been slowly taunting me. I’ll think of a fun post idea or experience something funny or thought-provoking that I just can’t help but want to put in my blog. So anyway, today I gave in. While I’m not expecting anyone to read this, I’m also not expecting this post to be any good. So there.

Here’s why I wanted to write though.

This weekend I did so many things that were “normal” (aka I wasn’t doing them out of any strained environmental obligation), but that were so awesome and the kind of things I always hoped I would do but wasn’t sure if I actually would.

We: home-made really cute Christmas wrapping paper from paper bags, paint, and potatoes (carved into stamps shaped like Christmas trees, bells, bows, etc.). I made delicious (and beautiful!) roasted root vegetables for dinner from the CSA, we went back country skiing to enjoy the breathtaking winter scenery (picture: snow draped over every branch, nice sunset, powdery snow, etc.).

…and then other boring stuff like cleaning our apartment, making chocolate-walnut toffee (somewhat unsuccessfully, I hate to say) and movie-watching (Inception), which are all boring things that are actually incredibly satisfying and not particularly boring, except to write/read about.

ANYWAY, I don’t really know what to do with this space now that I’m back because very few are interested in hearing me go on about how lucky I am (except maybe you, Mom. Hi… I know you’re reading this…), but I do think I’ve gained some interesting insight on healthy/happy living that I look forward to sharing.

Ok, so I’ll take that thought and chew on it for a while (that, and some Christmas cookies and mediocre toffee) and get back to all… (one?)… of you with my “new directions.”

Ahhhhhh…. it feels good to be back!

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