Many things can contribute to happiness.  Happiness in itself is a state of contentment, it is more long-lived than joy or pleasure.  On the other hand happiness can increase joy or pleasure.

We all strive for happiness, we find it elusive because we don’t really know for sure what it is.  We think winning the lottery would make us happy, but it truly doesn’t. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t satisfy that deep feeling you have when you truly know that you are happy. 

Gratitude, friends, easing up on yourself, doing what you love, laughing, challenges, and kindness seemed to always come out in front when we want to cultivate happiness.

On our regular staff calls, Network staff have been sharing what makes us happy. We decided to create this happiness blog to share the love with all of you too. Each week we will post videos or links in this blog to what makes us happy.  Maybe a little kindness and a little laugh will help give you a little boost to your happiness.


Friday, February 12, 2021

Barbara: This week I was so happy to learn that my parents were administered their first dose of the COVD-19 vaccine. I experienced such a huge wave of relief upon hearing the news. I feel a new sense of hope for the upcoming year!

Rose: My brother sends me funny little videos during the week.  Most of them are amusing.  This week I wanted to share one he sent me that was actually pretty thought provoking. Sometimes it’s the attitude that counts 🙂


Friday, February 5, 2021

Rose:  I was looking at the happy blog and noticed that there was only one for the last few weeks.  We are still here but the sleepy, cold, cloudy days of winter has us firmly in its grasp like everyone else.  We get hit by a snow storm, more work to be done.  But sometimes in the hustle and bustle of our lives we find memories and happy moments.

With the snow storm this past week I found some happy memories while doing a last pass of shoveling Monday night. Some of my most treasured thoughts come from my teenage life living in Canada. Winter trips on our ski doo, snowshoeing, skating on ponds, good friends, adventures to be had.  On a night ski doo trip we traveled miles over dirt roads and into the woods.  The snow was deep and pristine and the moon was full and bright.  We came across a cabin by a frozen stream and stopped to warm ourselves up and eat the snack we had brought then headed outside for some fun.  I remember how absolutely beautiful it was.  The snow was sparkling in the moonlight and the air was crisp and it was soooo quiet.  We threw snow at each other and laughed at it all.  It was peaceful, quiet, and beautiful.

If you would like to share some of your happy moments send us your story.  It might make someone else happy.


Friday, January 29, 2021

Barbara: I loved all the Bernie memes circulating after the inauguration. They really demonstrated the creativity and good will of our great nation. It made me so happy to learn this week that Bernie turned the phenomenon into an opportunity to raise money for hungry children and families in Vermont– over 1.5 million dollars was raised in fact! Below is my favorite meme– somehow it capture Bernie’s essence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Friday, January 15, 2021

Barbara:  This week I rediscovered The Keep Going Song, it was just what I needed to get through the week. It made me smile. It reminds me that we are all sharing in the pain and joy that has been happening in our world due to COVID and political strife. It gives me hope and strengthens my fundamental belief that people are good!

https://youtu.be/Cs-ju_L9pEQ


Friday, December 18, 2020

Shawna:  This week I tried my hand at ice dyeing. That’s when you place your garment on a cooling rack set on top of a basin/bowl, to catch the ice as it melts. You place the ice on top of the garment then sprinkle powder dye on top. As the ice melts it makes cool patterns. I had so much fun I bought tons more colors and will be trying again this weekend!


Friday, December 11, 2020

Barbara: This week I found a wooly-bear caterpillar in the garage– every time I went in, they were in a different spot! Made me smile.


Friday, December 4, 2020 (Wellness Week (11/23-11/27)

Kevin: I have been so incredibly busy between grad school, work, and other research projects that I have had very little time to play my guitar/bass. So for wellness week, I made sure to spend some time learning new songs and re-learning old ones!

Marla: One of the best parts about Wellness Week, was just being able to concentrate on me. I did the usual mani/pedi routine, at-home facial, did a little x-mas shopping, got some additional piercings, played probably my last round of golf for the season and ate good food. There’s not one thing that sticks out, but it sure felt stress free.

Khadija: One of the highlights of my wellness week (and any week) was enjoying the the sun porch with our cat.  He (our cat) was not nearly as impressed as my husband and I were when we spotted this kitty walking the backyard property line (bobcat).

Monica: I had a few days of freedom this week.  I was able to sit and read a book, watch some Netflix, try out some new sewing projects, and do a little shopping.  Louise also enjoyed her days and is obviously spending too much time with the cats.

Shawna: Last week during staff wellness week, I got to play a lot of Crash Team Racing. The most wonderful part was being able to play with my younger brothers online. We even set my Fiance’s game system in the other room so we could all play together. It was a lot of fun and nice to connect since we weren’t able to go home for the holiday. This week what keeps giving me life is Balta’s New holiday bandana. I decided for Christmas this year instead of toys I would expand her wardrobe and just couldn’t resist when this came in the mail!

Barbara:  The week of Thanksgiving was our “Staff Wellness Week,” which made me very happy. I had great plans to finish painting the interior of my house, and I got a good chunk done, which made me happy, but also made me realize how bone-tired I was. So the first half of the week was productive, but the second half is represented by the bear (picture not taken by me)! I pretty much read, ate, and watched Netflix. I just hadn’t realized how much I needed the break. We had a family Zoom call for Thanksgiving, like so many others, it was great to see everyone together, it had been so long. And finally, I received flowers that I wasn’t expecting, which was a very pleasant surprise. 

 

Michelle: With a little time off last weekend I finally had time to make a couple of cards like this one for my mother-in-law’s birthday. The beach colors let me pretend it was warm outside!

 

Rose:  I discovered a delicious treat that made me very happy in the afternoon.  I love a cup of hot tea in the winter, little sugar, little cream.  But to jazz it up to extra special I covered it in whipped cream!  Just that small change really made a difference in happiness.


Friday, November 13, 2020

Michelle: The coolest art/science crossover in quite awhile came across my Twitter feed this week. It a video of Japanese artist Kenichi Kanazawa who studies cymatics—the art of visualizing sound vibration—by experimenting with sand on a steel tabletop. It’s described as “a visual demonstration of the power of sound to create order out of chaos.” Definitely worth checking it out below – and for more in-depth information, you can look here.

https://twitter.com/tedgioia/status/1327511170190864384?s=12

Barbara: This week I’ve really enjoyed nature and wildlife. All throughout my work days I was kept company by a cardinal and other bird, squirrels, chipmunks, and even a groundhog! With the blanket of leaves on the ground, it seems that the little critters are more agile and cute than ever!

On Sunday I enjoyed the beautiful weather by getting outside to finally clean up the mess that the Sequoia tree had left me. Beautiful days like that won’t be around too much longer!

 

Rose: With everything that has been going on I’ve found myself reaching for yummy, high sugary foods…they don’t make me feel good in the long run. Last Friday I decided I had to change. Those kind of changes are hard. It’s taken some time but I have been eating right and now actually crave those lovely veggies. This morning happy thoughts went to my brother who lives in Canada and can’t cross the border (unless he takes a plane ????). He created a recipe he calls the “deconstructed omelet”. It’s tasty, low calorie and visually nice. You basically sauté all your favorite omelet veggies, cover in spinach, drop 1 or 2 eggs on it and let it simmer covered. Delicious!


Friday, November 6, 2020

Barbara: Both my sons were born this week (2 years and a week apart!), so I was very happy to end the week with visiting each of them–they make me very proud and happy!  It’s hard to believe they’re grown men! We did nothing fancy, but in today’s climate, visiting and connecting with loved ones is always welcome!

Marla: I tell ya’ it’s the little things that count. I’m super happy with my newest water bottle. I’m one to carry my own reusable bottle everywhere I go, I just hate using plastic bottles. Unfortunately, in the past few months I broke two and I really needed a good replacement to avoid more breakages. The result this beauty from Simple Modern! Its 22 oz., has a flip lid, keeps liquids cold or hot and the design suits me to the tee….LOVE LOVE LOVE!


Friday, October 29

Michelle: This week we hosted three does at the bird bath, but I was unable to get a good photo of the big buck because he wouldn’t stop moving around. Just as close though!


Friday, October 23

Rose: This has been a happy week, felt kind of unhappy for a bit. I just keep looking for moments and trying to be thankful for what I do have. Wednesday I went for walk and it was fun walking in the fog, everything looks different with a spooky haze around it 🙂 Then I had another little fall walk at the Reservoir in West Hartford the following day. Here is what I saw.

Shawna: I won the jackpot at Bingo!!!

Ken: Slow and Steady Wins the Race: Turning an old corner of the basement into a functioning home office has been an ongoing project and challenge since March. Last month, I talked about the therapeutic benefits of home improvement projects (at least for me). After putting in the ceiling and installing the floor last night I had a sense of accomplishment. I had been able to bring the vision to reality (after returning 3-4 different shades of peel and stick vinyl planks). The project will be wrapped up this weekend or early next week. While I will miss the planning and endless trips to Lowe’s, I will be able to enjoy a workspace that I saw from start to finish. 


Friday, October 16

Shawna: Getting into the spooky spirit with pumpkin carving this week. Love the way my ghost came out!! Also living for apple cider flavor this fall.

Marla: I went to CHERRY SPRINGS STATE PARK in Pennsylvania!!!! So why does this make me happy, let’s say SUPER happy? Because Cherry Springs sits at atop a hill at 2,300 feet above sea level and with no nearby towns to throw light into the sky it makes it one of the darkest places in America. It is the place for stargazers to explore and admire the night sky. I mean seeing the Milky Way, clusters of stars and other galaxies, three planets, meteor showers and so much more… I was in celestial bliss. I cannot share any pictures of the night sky but here are some of the facility. Besides the foliage was amazing to see during the day!

Aridyan: I saw this cute bird at the park and it made me so happy!

Monica: My happy thing is a bit of dark humor this week, but it made me laugh and it is one of my favorite books of all time.

Barbara: This easy recipe made me happy this week! I added mini chocolate chips as the third ingredient to my muffins. I’m on my second batch, with ingredients for a third ready to go in the cupboard! They are a big hit with the family!

Michelle: My grandfather was an immigrant from Poland, and I grew up eating plenty of Polish food. My favorite is a potato dumpling boiled then sauteed with onions. This week what made me happy was a big bowl of kluski.


Friday, October 2

Barbara: This week I was exceptionally happy to see my beautiful work friends, some for the first time in 7 months!! We had a fun time at Lyman Orchards picking apples and shopping at their market. It hit me just how much things have changed in all our lives, and how grateful I was to finally connect with them in person.

Marla: Waited all week for Friday, but not because it was the end of the work week, but because I got to finally met up with some of my co-workers whom I haven’t been able to chat in person since quarantine. We all met up at Lyman Orchards for apple picking and to their market for some Fall goodies. What a great morning we had even under the cloudy sky and rain.


Friday, September 25

Ken: Since March 15th I have been working from home due to the pandemic from my basement. This was the place where I did my doctoral work from 2011 – 2015, it is the place where my cats like to hang out and walk through Zoom meetings occasionally, it is the place that people across the country have been able to see my built-in bookshelves the previous owner made years ago. As we move into the fall and having meetings outside on the deck becomes less frequent, I decided to go to Lowe’s and turn my corner of the basement into a real office (with lights and outlets). 

There is something therapeutic about building an office, being the ultimate decider on where the door is, what kind of ceiling do I want to install, and vinyl or Pergo flooring. Working sometimes until 10:30 – 11 at night, or starting at 6:30 am to finish that one last thing before work has become a regular occurrence. As I have learned to navigate the “new normal” be it Zoom, groceries, yard projects, and overall keeping our family healthy and safe, the office project has been a nice getaway and will hopefully make the winter months a little less drab while we continue working from home. 

Marla: I fell in the iOS14 trap…LOL. Doing the new Home Screen was super fun and now whenever I get bored of looking at the same thing, I can play with it and customize it all over again. It takes time and patience, but the end result will be worth it. I went with my astronomy/space theme for this one. Here are screenshots of the before & after. If you have an iPhone and want to customize yours, make sure to download the Widgetsmith app, and you should already have the Shortcuts app (if not download as well.)

Barbara: This week one of my projects was reorganizing my closets! (I know, excited stuff.) But, it was the final touch of converting my son’s old room into my office/guest room. What made me happiest though, was the fact that I now have an official stationary drawer, and gift wrapping drawer. Seriously, I’ve opened and closed them just to look inside several times now. It’s the small stuff folks!!

Rose: I had a great day on Wednesday. Generally I wake up well slept but you know that feeling where you wake up and your brain works on all cylinders (without caffeine). That was Wednesday for me. It’s almost a gift from above. You remember names, you can talk without fail, you have energy to do projects that needed to be done but couldn’t find the energy to do them before. Those kind of days don’t happen often but when they do it’s like a mini vacation. It was a HAPPY day!

Michelle: My favorite Twitter account of all time belongs to the fictitious Duchess Goldblatt @duchessgoldblat and duchessgoldblatt.com who makes every day brighter with her sassy kindness. Her book, Becoming Duchess Goldblatt, just out this summer, is a quick and funny but moving read that I will enjoy again and again. Even my husband liked it! Here she is seated on a chair worthy of Her Grace:


Friday, September 18

Marla: I haven’t used my Nespresso coffee machine for a few weeks now. This week while scrolling through my Facebook feed I stumbled upon an ad for Nespresso and made an unexpected find. I learned that they added #cafecitodepuertorico to their Reviving Origins line. After Hurricane Maria wiped out about 80% of the island’s coffee in 2017, Nespresso is working with the Hispanic Federation to help independent farmers replant. So far over 160,000 trees were donated to Puerto Ricans farmers, and with every purchase I’m contributing to the recovery. So I get to use my machine again, sip on some great espresso coffee and support my island!

Barbara: This week I got bit by the baking bug!! It’s apple season, and so of course I made apple turnover, and well, who doesn’t like a cookie?! Baking has always made me happy!

Rose: What made me happiest this week was finding out that my oldest brother made it through a bad patch with his heart health. We laugh because we call him the man of nine lives. I’m pretty sure he has surpassed that.

Monica: With hybrid school, we have many mornings free and board games have become very popular.   They get loud and silly but it is a wonderful sound.


Friday, September 11

Barbara: This Labor Day weekend I got to see my brother and nephew who live in PA for the first time in a long time!! For two days I hosted family gatherings–I love the food preparation– it reminded me of my “deli days,” and of course the visiting. There is something about retelling and laughing about family stories and events that have been retold so many times over the years..my soul felt nourished. 

Marla: A few weeks ago, I posted about getting ready for my daughter’s 21st birthday celebration. Saturday we were able to come together with family and friends to do just that. It was such a good time. Here are a few pictures from the decorations.

Rose : We were painting nails last nights with a group of kids. One wanted to paint a rainbow on my thumb Happiness is…..a rainbow of colors painted on by a 6 year old 🙂

 

Michelle: I stumbled across this picture on twitter that seems to capture the feeling so many have this week as school re-opens. Context: “This is what I get after I took his chair away because he was spinning in it . . . that’ll show me!!” and “It’s ok, mom. I turned my camera off.”

https://twitter.com/mrsnewell22/status/1304508637109346304?s=11

Friday, September 5

Marla: I was super happy when my fiancée asked me to go golfing this week. He loves golfing and plays every weekend. We spoken plenty about getting me into it and Tuesday was #NationalWomensGolfDay so he took advantage of it. We played a 9 hole game at Grassy Hills Country Club. The afternoon was sunny, with just the right amount of warmth for a comfortable playing day. It was just so great to be doing something new and having fun doing it!

Monica: This summer, due to many difficult circumstances, we were not able to have our traditional family vacation on Cape Cod and we were missing it so much.  We decided that we needed a one day Cape Cod trip and we would do all the most important things.  So this Tuesday we left the house at 6:30am and we were on the beach in Wellfleet by 10am, the beach, the ocean, and the sky were amazing.  We also visited Chatham for fish and chips, shopping, candy, and ice cream.  Stopped in Harwichport to jump off the lifeguard stands and check out all the mottled horseshoe crab shells.  We were home by 10pm, it was a perfect day.  Of course, we are already planning another one.

Barbara: I was able to take some time off, and it was very much a “staycation.” I worked outside in the yard, and organized some things in the house. I visited with family and friends on sunny days, and read for hours on the rainy ones. Nothing spectacular, but it was healing. It reminded me of a quote from one of my favorite authors, and so I looked it up to share:    “As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness — just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.” ― Laura Ingalls Wilder, Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder: On Wisdom and Virtues

Khadija: My birthday was a few weeks ago and my hubby mentioned there was one more gift on the way still… Well, this afternoon two heavy, dusty, collapsing, flat rate boxes arrived.  I knew that could only be one thing.  If you can’t go rock hunting yourself, you can bring some mine dirt to you. My inner environmentalist cringes a little, but I’m SO very excited to spend this weekend sifting dirt in our back yard/ living room!! And THIS makes me happy.  Here are a couple finds from past trips.

Shawna: This is the second time I’ve gone for a walk with Balta and seen a rainbow. This one is a double rainbow if you look really close. Probably the 4th one I’ve caught this summer! Love a sunny warm rain, always brings the rainbows.

Ken: Bittersweet Road Trip – This week what made me happy was getting to leave CT (even for a few hours). I had to go to New Jersey last weekend to retrieve the rest of my daughter’s stuff from the spring semester. This was my first time out of the state (and out my immediate area) in 6 months! Driving down the open road of 84 to 684 to 87 was fantastic with windows down and tunes cranking. Once we got to NJ, I was able to see some of my family (who I had only seen on Zoom since December). On the way back we took the Palisades Parkway to Bear Mountain (to get a scenic drive in – which is the picture). It was nice to be back home after a full day of driving, packing, and visiting, but I do miss the highway and road trips.

Aridyan: I’m really appreciative and grateful that I live near a park. My daily jogs, being in nature and being able to get some fresh air make me happy!

Michelle: I’m moving my home office out of the dining room and in to the guest bedroom. Last week I stopped at ReStore in Plainfield and found a great used chair! Maisy likes it too.


Friday, August 28

Monica: I finally hung up my bee house.  This bee house attracts mason bees, a native bee that will pollinate but does not sting.  Mason bees are solitary bees so they do not live in a hive and are not aggressive.   They lay their eggs in reeds and in the spring the new bee emerges and takes care of your garden.  Great for you garden and the bee population.  Can’t wait to see who emerges in the spring.

Marla: Planning birthdays in time of Covid can’t be fun for anyone. But my daughter’s 21st is one for the books. So planning and making decorations has kept me busy and looking forward to something good. I can’t wait to celebrate! Theme: Blackjack (21) 😉

Michelle: I love to travel, and although all my adventures will be of the more local variety this year, I have friends in far away places who have shared their local adventures with me, and it’s like a mini-vacation. The Dolomites are mountains in NE Italy, and these photos from my Italian friend made me happy this week.

Rose: It’s been a rough few weeks for me. I’ve been trying to find the things that make me happy but mostly it’s just been survival. I walk each morning in a beautiful location, I catch my pokemons, I sit down to work, babysit in the afternoon, and work in my garden to keep busy. I find that keeping this routine gives me that lovely illusion of control and security. Sometimes that is what you need to keep going. You build in activities to occupy your mind for a time.


Friday, August 21

Marla: This past week was very quiet and I could almost feel a sense of “back to normalcy”. But my happy moment came from my mom arriving from her trip to Puerto Rico. She has been gone for over a month, and believe me I don’t go more than a few days without seeing her. Having her back home is my happy this week! 😀

Michelle: A quiet week this week with lots of folks taking a little time off before the summer is over. One small thing that makes me happy all the time are the occasional fun photos I see on Twitter. A favorite is @possumeveryhour, not to be outdone by @raccoonevery which also posts fun photos every hour:

https://twitter.com/possumeveryhour/status/1297805902649741317?s=11

Friday, August 14

Mary: My cactus blossomed!

Ken: Making Lemonade out of Lemons – Last week Tropical Storm Isasias blew through our neighborhood knocking out power for 4 days. After the initial scramble to save ice cream and ensure the other essentials were saved we began to settle into nightly campfires, camping in the backyard, and taking a dip in the pool. Having no power allowed us to disconnect from the news and chaos of the everyday world and have some quality time with family.

Barbara: When I was in college way back in the 80’s, I was very involved in the theater department. I formed friendships that have lasted through the years. One of our favorite activities, back in the day, was to play Dungeons and Dragons. It was fun acting out all the characters’ parts and using our imaginations to create adventurous campaigns– more times than naught we would encounter helpful and wise dragons on our quests to find fortune, fame, and glory. 

My Welsh ancestory had already paved the way for me to have affection and love for the mythical dragon, and through the years, like my friendships, my love for dragons has remained intact. And so, when my sister recently made me a dragon (with her own hands!), well, I was smitten– exceedingly happy.

Allen the Book Dragon now resides in my den where all of my treasured books, pictures, and nick-nacks are kept, and where I go to think, read, and reflect. I guess you could say it is my “Happy Place.”

Pictured are Allen the Book Dragon, the Welsh Flag, and me.

Marla: I did this painting this past weekend. I had seen something similar and wanted to make my own version of it. With so much happening around the world still, I felt I needed to retreat and just be in my own zone. Hope you enjoy!

Rose: Well, we’ve had so many adventures these past few weeks. My neighbor went on a walk and texted me that there were some baby ducks without a mother following her and the kids and sent a picture. When I saw it I knew that they were not wild ducks…it was sad but someone dumped 3 yellow baby domestic ducks down by our community center. Oh my gosh they are so cute. I’ve undertaken a few wild animal saves over the years and I know how much work they take but I do it anyway because every living thing deserves a chance at life however short it might be – that is what makes me happy – that they have a chance. I’ll work to find them someplace else to live. We believe that these are a type of duck called Pekin, and they get pretty large. So if anyone knows of a place please email me at rdugas@ctafterschoolnetwork.org.

Aridyan: While I was jogging, I saw this adorable mother deer and her baby. Without getting too close to them, I managed to get these pictures. Definitely made my week! 

Michelle: I have an abiding love of Sesame Street and the Muppets, and I get a regular dose on Twitter from @HistoryMuppet where I saw this version of Grover in the Old Spice commercial, redone as “Smell Like a Monster” which made me laugh this week:

https://twitter.com/HistoryMuppet/status/1295063006708203520

Friday, July 31

Marla: This past week was a tough one due to the heat. I fell a little flustered more so than any other time (AND I LOVE THE SUMMER!!!). However, the skies above and the cooler nights helped my state of mind. Seeing shooting stars this week made me smile. FYI, we just passed the Delta Aquarids but if you see your self looking up this month, don’t miss out on the Perseids Meteor Shower. Visible through late August. Here is a link to show you which day of the month and time is best to look. Peak days Aug. 11-12)

Ken: A few weeks ago at the start of summer I was thinking about the pool we used to have. It was one of those quick set pools with a filter that was great for cooling off on a late July day. I went online to order one and found that (1) they were really overpriced, and (2) they were all out of stock. After a week of searching, I finally settled on one that was big enough and fit my budget. Fifteen days later there was a delivery…it was the new pool! After an hour of setup, we got into the cold water (fresh from the hose)…it was 95 degrees out. The pool met and exceeded my expectations with enough room for the whole family.

Barbara: The last couple of weeks have been too hot to take walks or work outside, but it was perfect weather for swimming!! I have visited my sister three times in the last week where I enjoyed swimming in her pool until I was worn out!! It felt good and made me very happy!! I didn’t think to take a picture at the time, so no pic or video this week, just happy memories.

Rose: It was a weird week. Every day this week something glitched. I kept saying these types of things come in 3’s, only this time it was continuous. Some weeks I might be stressed and frustrated but this week I was able to roll with the punches. Why does that happen? I can’t say I was happy but it was just ok. Sometimes we just have to deal with ok until happy reappears.

Aridyan: I picked up some new art supplies which I’m very excited about! I will be working on some painting projects that I have been wanting to do. Art has been extremely therapeutic for me during these times.

Shawna: I finished another book last night! White Oleander by Janet Fitch. It was a very good read, MUCH better than the movie. Now I’m moving onto Toni Morrison’s, Paradise, recommended and borrowed from my good friend Grace.   

Monica: Sweet and short. Loved this!!!  The dad is sooo funny. Hope you find it too! https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10164013110500626&id=652935625


Michelle: While inspiration is different than happiness, what really moved me this week was President Obama’s eulogy for Congressman John Lewis. He called for us all to continue Rep. Lewis’s work improving our democracy, expanding voting rights. I’d almost forgotten how much I love listening to him speak. If you didn’t see it live, take some time for yourself today to watch the whole 40 minutes. Here’s CNN’s Youtube video.

Friday, July 24

Ken: New Kicks for the AM — I have never been one for jogging…it seems like a lot of work, gives me a cramp, and those uphill roads, forget it. However, over the course of the pandemic I somehow managed to lose a bunch of weight (all I can think of is more walking at night, less office pastries and candy, and eating three balanced meals a day). So a few weeks ago, I decided to trade in my 20 year old sneakers for a new pair. After getting over the sticker shock of sneakers these days (gone are the cheap days of Sketchers), I decided to dive in and see what I could do. I had a master plan that I would jog everyday at 7:30 and go for a 1.5 – 2 mile run around my neighborhood. I finally hatched the plan last Monday and have been jogging consistently for the past 9 days. I have my 14 year old son to thank as he comes with me and keeps me motivated, understanding that I may need to walk up that hill or give my calves a break on a straight-away. I am hopeful I can knock out the 12 pounds that stand between me and my 2001 weight…with my new sneakers anything is possible. 

Monica: As a huge Princess Bride fan, I was worried to see a remake but this is perfect!  And supports the World Central Kitchen.  Now my family is considering our own remake.  So many favorite lines.

https://www.facebook.com/TytanComics/videos/286510035997706

Mary: I am happy this week because we celebrated Flash’s 12th birthday. He is the best boy ever and helped me out so much with cuddles and long nights alone while I worked on my Masters. Happy Belated Birthday Flash!

Michelle: I spent some time this weekend cleaning my chaotic art studio and I discovered a new song that made me laugh out loud: “Mask, Gloves, Soap, Scrubs” by Todrick Hall off his timely album Quarantine Queen. What other song will include lyrics like “Febreeze for me,” drag queens, and dancing with mops? Here’s the link for the song and the video (which only made me smile more!) FYI the lyrics do have an explicit warning on them. Happy cleaning!

Marla: During this quarantine, I gave in and joined Tik Tok. Had to see what the fuss was all about. My For You feed this week contained a pretty awesome Bill Nye the Science Guy video. It was pretty clever, funny and yes made me happy. Hope you enjoy!

The science of skin color.

Barbara: Back in April I heard about Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 6 from a friend who, like me has been a member of the West Hartford Women’s Chorale for quite some time. We were both sad that we had to cancel our spring semester. Singing, particularly in a choir, has been a great joy of mine since I was in middle school. It is my favorite self-care practice. And so, during May I signed up for Eric Whitacre’s Choir, downloaded the music, practiced, and then recorded (about 20,000 takes!), and finally uploaded my single soprano voice to the over 17,000 voiced choir. And then I waited. Singing alone just isn’t the same as singing with others. It just isn’t. And so when the final version of the song I had sung a single part for, was released this past Sunday, and I was finally able to hear us all together, it brought tears of happiness to my eyes. I finally felt that connection with others that only happens when you are creating a piece of music together. The song is just over three minutes but it represents 17,572 singers from 129 countries (and so the credits are long!). I hope you take the time to listen to “Sing Gently” and that it also brings you joy.

Rose: Oh my gosh I’m all most embarrassed that I was happiest chasing Pokémon this week. My husband and children thought it was hilarious. Everyone except my 6 year old grandchild, we had a blast fighting in gyms, catching rare Pokémon and this week the Pokémon Festival. I’ve lost a little weight walking to pokestops to get more pokeballs. It really gets you going. You never know what pops up to make you happy. I think I’m hooked. Who’d have thought?

Alolin Grimer from my Pokedex. Quite colorful

Friday, July 17

Monica: I hung this bird house for decoration and this summer ended up with a nest and three baby wrens.  Their parents work so hard, constantly bringing them food.  See the open mouth.

Khadija: This post was shared with me this week.  It definitely made me smile and made me think of lots of things to do that make me happy.

Barbara: Last weekend I was a weekend warrior! I painted the spare room a beautiful blue and transformed it into my new home office! I am so grateful (and happy!) to have my own work space again–and my dining room back!

Aridyan: I’ve been experimenting with my instant photography camera that was gifted to me for Christmas last year. The fun part about instant photography is that you never know how the photo is going to come out, so it’s always a surprise. Using my camera to take pictures of nature has definitely been enjoyable!  

Ken: Summer home improvements continue here so my happiness last week was brought to me by redoing our bathroom floor. Using self-stick laminate “boards” we covered over our 1957 tiles and with that buried the last part of the original house parts. While the sink and toilet were a little challenging, it only took a day and a half and we were able to put it all back together by the end of the weekend.

Rose: My happy thing was a very small ledge garden I created this past spring which has a paddle type cactus that grows in Connecticut….it BLOOMED and it was so beautiful. I was showing it off to everyone. All thanks to a stranger who offered it to me while walking my dog when I stopped to admire his garden.

Shawna: Everyday I take Balta to the tennis courts for about 30-45 minutes. Not only is it good for her but it brings me a lot of joy too!

Here’s Balta!

Michelle: Last year for Mother’s Day I received a wonderful hummingbird feeder that attaches to the glass door in the dining room with suction cups. Since we’ve been working from home, I spend breakfast and lunch almost everyday with the hummingbirds (we have at least six of them, some of which I’ve named – this one is Curious Girl). On this day my family were there too, but I erased their random conversation with some music — and we had another lunch guest too!  And yes, those are my Christmas lights that I never bother to take down, and snowflake clings on the glass to keep the birds from banging into the door all the time. Does save time decorating!

Marla: One of my favorite pastimes is stargazing. This month the sky has given us so much to look at. While camping, we got out on the field and with our small travel Celestron telescope and Iphone camera we were able to catch these amazing pictures of the full moon, Jupiter and Saturn.


Thursday, July 2

Aridyan: I went for a jog in the rain this week and the scenery made me happy. Even though the sun wasn’t out, I was still able to appreciate how beautiful everything looked. 

Monica: Here are Louise, the french bulldog (who doesn’t love other dogs) and Eleanor, the crazy kitten.  They both needed a playmate and found each other.  No one was injured in the making of this video.

Marla: Tik Tok is definitely the new thing nowadays.  I admit to spend time watching videos laughing or shaking my head but this one was just too funny not to share just because I can relate. I get a new package in the mail every other day or so…please help! #onlineshopper  https://vm.tiktok.com/Jd3pHaq/

Ken: This week I was able to clean my home office. After 16 weeks it was time for a tidying. My office mates that regularly walk in front of the computer on Zoom meetings, sleep in chairs (see the pictures), and keep me company throughout the day seem to be happy as well.

Barbara: This video makes me very happy! This kiddo has moxie! I like that. “It’s an apple. No, it’s an onion.”

Khadija: And then there is this wonderful dog.  He is almost always always joy making.  I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone with a better attitude.

Michelle: I’ve got two videos that have made me happy this week – both are tweets with music and dancing and contain so much joy:

https://twitter.com/biancajoanie/status/1277575769036857345?s=11
https://twitter.com/beautybind/status/1263466945485123584?s=11

Rose: OK, so I missed a couple of “What Made Us Happy”. I remembered each week what did make me happy. All of us at the Network had a week’s vacation it was so different, it did make me happy; it took a couple of days to realize that I could just do anything. I did do that. I discovered Pokemon Go. A deadly addictive app that make you get off your keester and walk. Walk I did! You catch Pokemon with balls that you pick up at Poke stops. All kinds of strange creatures of nature. Then you battle with them; not much of a one for battling, I like collecting. Character built by my 6 year old grandson 🙂


Friday, June 26:

Shawna: Since I’ve missed the last few weeks I decided to take a picture that encompasses what has made me happy during that time. 1) On 5/24 my partner Chris asked me to marry him, with a ring his great grandma, Mumsy, made for his mother’s engagement. 2) Last week I gave myself a sparkly manicure to match! 3) This week I repotted ALL of my plants. My living room jungle is coming to life!

Monica: I have enjoyed everyone of Dwayne Johnson’s videos with his daughter.  She still doesn’t believe he is Maui.

https://www.facebook.com/DwayneJohnson/videos/231671608153615/

Mary: I got a fresh new planner for July and that makes me sooo happy! There is an hourly view for each day, a to do list, and a spot for daily gratitude. I am excited to start filling it in. 

Barbara: Not every day affords me the opportunity to watch as the sun sets, so when I am able, and catch such a beautiful one as this, it brings me great joy and peace.

Marla: It was a tough week to say the least, but I am very thankful for the little things.  Thought this would put a smile on everyone as it did with me.  I love watching compilation videos of animals and this one was great to see, turned my week around. Check it out!

https://www.facebook.com/Naturee.jellysmack/videos/2559374774342351/?vh=e

Michelle: I love to travel and have been getting my fix by watching the Netflix travel documentary Somebody Feed Phil which follows Philip Rosenthal as he eats his way across a city. What makes it special is how much joy Phil takes in meeting people and trying new things, along with his great sense of humor. Watch it on a full stomach as it’s sure to make you hungry!

Rose: My daughter and I went out for the first time to Joann’s Fabrics.  We spent two hours in the place and it was heaven.  That’s our go to place. So that’s what made me happy this week.

Image by Texworks from Pixabay

Khadija: On days when it’s not too warm I like to work with my office window open.  So does my cat.

Ken: Summer Painting in 90 Degrees – The thing that made me happy this week was painting my house with my family. Having painted professionally during college, I am always happy to hop on a ladder and cut in the windows and trim. With all of us home, the whole family got involved. With 6 days behind us all that is left is trim, foundation, and touch ups.


Friday, June 19:

Marla: Home projects always make me happy, even though some are hard work others spark creativity. This week we made a cat wall.  Not finished yet, just needs some additional decorations.

Rose: We have a mitsubishi unit in our bedroom but we don’t use it often; I like having fresh air while I’m sleeping. I turned it on last night. There is something great about walking into a nice cool room from a hot hallway. It makes me happy. Simple things really.

Aridyan: My mom gave me this really cool card for my birthday because she knows I love outer space and it made me happy.

Michelle: I spend a lot of time on twitter, and while it’s mostly news and politics, I follow a few fun folks that always make me smile. Thoughts of Dog @dog_feelings is a perennial favorite!

https://twitter.com/dog_feelings/status/1273958539350794242
https://twitter.com/dog_feelings/status/1136390021894660096

Monica: I built a very small pond in my backyard, my new happy place.  I have always wanted one and finally just did it.  It was a day of hard work, about $30, and rocks and plants borrowed from other parts of the yard.   Totally worth it!

Mary: My dog assistants made me happy this week. But I wish they wouldn’t sleep so much on the job.

Khadija: One of the perks of working at home is the ability to work outside on very nice days.  I am often by delighted by the surprise coworkers I find like this chipmunk on our rock wall who hung out with me one day this week!

Barbara: What makes me happy is warm bread fresh out of the oven!

Ken: Hiking has always been a hobby of mine. Memories of when I was young exploring woods near my house in NJ growing up, hiking in the desert near Joshua Tree National Park, and finding new paths right here in Connecticut. Last weekend  my friend Jim and I headed to the Grannis Trail in Litchfield. This hidden gem was listed on the All Trails app and had numerous caves and abandoned mines. Winding through dense forest, old stone walls, and meadows, this trail gave a good flavor of the Litchfield Hills and made my weekend .


Friday, June 12:

Khadija: I thought this Squirrel obstacle course video was pretty cool.  He talks about how he is mindful of keeping squirrels from harm while they were trying to complete the course and about the how the squirrels adapt for the challenges.  https://youtu.be/hFZFjoX2cGg 

Barbara: Watching all the beautiful flowers, bushes, and trees bloom bring me immense joy and pleasure.

Marla: Our household got bigger this week. We adopted 2 kittens!!! We originally planned for one, but this brother and sister combo were too much to resist. They are definitely a lil’ blessing throughout this pandemic. Now we have three cats, with big brother Desmond still getting used to them. Meet Dante and Daenerys!

Mary: The Zoo on Animal Planet is a great show to watch and has been a relaxing way for me to unwind as of recently. If you have streaming TV you should definitely DVR. If not you can watch clips here of animals in zoos or full episodes if you sign-in to access. I love de-compressing by watching the animals and seeing how the zoo keepers interact so intimately with these beautiful creatures.

Michelle: We don’t watch much television, but we love Netflix’s Queer Eye Season 5 and wait anxiously for each new season. Has been just what we needed this week.

Monica: This is a skit done by the Australian Ballet’s Corps de Ballet during quarantine, which they refer to as ‘Corps-en-tine’.  For a little background:  The corps de ballet is the group of ballet dancers who dance together in a ballet company.   This corps plays the role of the Wilis in the ballet “Giselle”.  The Wilis are ghostly apparitions of maidens who died of broken hearts and are led by Mrytha, the Queen of the Wilis.  Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39_lS4v1sqw

Rose: My family lives close to me, like next door. It can be frustrating to be interrupted A LOT. When I get irritated I take a couple of breaths and talk to the positive. On one such day I took my granddaughter out for a short bike? walk??? It was wonderful and I watch this video frequently, it makes me happy. https://youtu.be/kP1IQUKn5ZM

Ken: Ken: Having been an avid Phish fan since my first show in Plattsburgh, NY in 1996, I was thrilled to hear about Dinner and a Movie 12 weeks ago. Each week the band webcasts a show and has a coinciding recipe. With the warmer weather here, Tuesday night shows are fireside in the backyard. To join in the fun or to find something new to make check out webcast.livephish.com

Check back next Friday for more things that are making us happy!