Around Here Lately

I thought I’d share some random pictures and a few thoughts about life around here.

photo-53The coolest thing: I met with some graduate students from Taiwan. One of them contacted me because she had read both of my books on social anxiety disorder and was going to be at the University of Missouri for a cultural exchange program. She wanted to interview me for a class project. I hope to write a whole post on this–it was so, so neat. She had brought her Chinese edition of Painfully Shy, all highlighted, and wanted me to sign it. She said it was a miracle that we met, and asked for a hug when we said good-bye.

An interesting tidbit: They all said that being quiet in Taiwan was revered. It was the shy, quiet students who were popular and who were selected by teachers to be class presidents. It sure was confirmation of this research study.

Real Life: Greg sitting in the recliner, holding Larry up like a baby, shoes on the floor, stuff all over the counter-tops, and me being sneaky taking

 Lots of Walks: When I feel sad about all the things I can’t do with my chronic pain, I remember that there are lots of things I can do, like take walks around the neighborhood. The sunsets have been

Life Make-Over Fail: Greg says I sound like a walking women’s magazine. I’ve been talking to him for at least a month that after baseball season was over (our St. Louis Cardinals were in the World Series) we were going to have a “Life Make-Over.” We were going to watch less TV, eat better, exercise more, spend less time on the computer… It was all supposed to start on November 1. Well, we did horribly over the weekend.  Greg watched LOTS of football (but to be fair, he didn’t feel well). I even told myself I wasn’t going to eat my nightly ice cream, but I did. We didn’t exercise.  This is why you should never try to start things on the first of the month or on a Monday. It feels too much like a diet and instant rebellion kicks

Funny: Larry looks a bit like Einstein. They both have the static hair thing going on.my_collage_by_Fuzel-2

Still Pondering Existential Issues (some things never change):photo-59

Happy People have Happy Habits

Happiness is circular.

Happy people have happy habits,

which in turn, makes them happier.

Here’s a list of habits that have a high chance of giving you a happiness boost. (This links to my Psychology Today blog’s newest post.)

A few weeks ago I went to a continuing education day-long workshop on developing positive emotional habits. The presenter was a psychologist and a comedian, so it was one of the better workshops I’ve been to.

Here are a few key points:

  • Happiness has many influences: 50% is our based on our “set point” (temperament/genetics); 10% is based on our circumstances; and 40% is based on intentional activity.
  • Despite increases in our standard of living, Americans are no happier than they were 60 years ago.
  • Money brings happiness to the extent that it alleviates poverty; beyond that, it does little to increase sustained happiness.
  • Developing skills to increase happiness/contentment is not frivolous. Happiness is linked to many important life outcomes such as health, problem-solving ability, creativity, less depression and anxiety…

Okay, I don’t know what you’ll think about this, but the presenter said this has been determined the world’s funniest joke (according to the Richard Wiseman LaughLab):

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy takes out his phone and calls the emergency services.  He gasps: “My friend is dead! What can I do?” The operator says: “Calm down, I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is a silence, then a gunshot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says: “OK, now what?”

Did that make you laugh or groan?

I hope you’ll click through and read my post on Psychology Today: 15 Habits to Cultivate Lasting Happiness.

Photo credit: D. Sharon Pruitt

How to Wake Up: Book Review

41TrCuW0wiL._SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_Reading How to Wake Up is like sharing a cup of tea and talking at a kitchen table with a warm, wise friend. Toni takes you step-by-step through the process of learning to do what is skillful (what works) and letting go of what is not skillful.

She doesn’t make false promises that it will always be easy, but paradoxically, her truthfulness engenders a sense of hope.

She explains concepts of Buddhism in a way that finally make sense to me–but you certainly don’t have to be a Buddhist to benefit from this book. She tells stories, uses examples, and offers “Practice Notes” sections to trouble-shoot common obstacles. You’ll learn tools for increasing self-compassion, dealing with jealousy and anger, decreasing worry and anxiety, and being more fully present with others, plus a lot more.

What I most feel when I read this book (and her previous book, How to Be Sick) is that Toni cares about her readers. She isn’t an author, preaching to us from above. She is one of us. She sees us. That is a powerful gift, indeed.

The Last of the August Break Pictures


Religion is like a multi-colored lantern. Each of us looks through a different piece of glass, but the light is always there.”

–Mohammed Naquib, a 20th-century Egyptian politician and author.

Here is a link to a video I made inspired by the above quote.




Sunday Morning — we’re all connected…


Number — We had a nest with 3 baby bunnies in our yard last week.




Your fave thing — hanging out at home with my family.


Smile — Greg and my brother after The First Race post brain surgery.


Every Word Handwritten

I gave away all my scrapbook things. We’re talking everything. New albums. Paper. Pens. Stickers. Funky scissors and rulers. It was really difficult, but it was time. My fine motor skills have gotten worse, and scrapbooking greatly exacerbates my pain.

I’ve been a serious album maker for many years. I got my first stash when our son was a baby. I went to a Creative Memories show and came home with $200 worth of supplies. Back then (well, even now) that was a lot of money. I came in the house and Greg said, “You’d better use that stuff.” I stayed up late that night making my first scrapbook of our son. Since then I’ve made holiday albums, sports albums, ABC albums, quilt albums, heritage albums, everyday happenings albums, anniversary albums, celebration albums… So much time and detail. Every word handwritten. (Link to a cool song that is loosely related)





One of my favorite memories is walking into our family room and finding my then 10-year-old son and all his neighborhood friends (who all went to school together), gathered around looking at his Kindergarten album. Yes, I have an entire album just for Kindergarten!

It’s been a week and a half since I gave everything away, and I’m still a little sad. Greg has been super nice. I think some guys wouldn’t understand how hard this was. But he did. He also told me, though, that this was a way of taking care of myself.

I found a unique group of young women to give my things to–the “Groovy Girls Collective.” They describe themselves as “a community gathering place devoted to supporting, educating, and mentoring women of all ages, nurturing collaborative creators both locally and worldwide.”  (I may be giving up something, but if it has a world-wide impact, that’s OK with me.) One of my neighbors’ daughters is involved, and I contacted her, who said they would definitely like some scrapbook supplies. Here’s a few pictures from their Facebook page.


Visiting an animal shelter.

Visiting an animal shelter.

A lemonade stand.

A lemonade stand.

Although I’m sad, I’m also excited, as I can already tell these young women are having lots of fun and great things are happening. Maybe some of these pictures will end up in a scrapbook one day.

More August Break Pictures

These are not in order, and I’m skipping some days. Yea for flexibility!

Mid-day…my favorite Kelly Rae clock.


White…bluebird eggs from earlier in the summer

Not white, but still with the nest theme…an empty nest gift basket I made for a friend.


Something Old…a church pew, now in our entryway, from St. Peter’s Cathedral where Greg’s father went to church and school



A strange juxtaposition, but another Something Old picture, the old Missouri State Penitentiary…Greg used to play baseball “inside the walls” when he was a kid. Now he is in charge of all the mental health services for Missouri’s Department of Corrections.


#AugustBreak2013, Days 10-16

For explanation of these posts, click here.



Play (my nephew playing the banjo last weekend)


Far Away (love all the trees in our back yard)


Home (looking out onto our back patio)


Stillness  (one of the parks we go to)


Books (read most of this over the weekend)


Floral (in our back yard)