What do you love? What don’t you love?

Okay, now I’m excited.

The blogger John, from Stories in the Struggle posted a Love/Hate Challenge. The deal is that you list 10 things you love and 10 things you hate, and then ask all of your readers and followers to do the same. I’m in, John!

This is the core exercise of my book. Making and keeping up these 2 lists was the  key to figuring out who I was, and what I needed to be doing in the world. I write about lists A LOT on this blog. A recent post about how you are what you love, can be found HERE. I think this is the very best thing a person can do. Because when you notice what you love and what you don’t love, in the noticing you are paying attention to your life.

And when you pay attention to your life, you discover who you are. It’s freaking magical.

Things I love (in no particular order)

  • Cedar waxwings
  • Sinking down farther and farther into the sand with each incoming wave.
  • The little spit sink and cup at the dentist.
  • Office supply stores.
  • Marching bands.
  • Ironing
  • A great white shirt
  • Unplowed snow
  • Pudding
  • Fountain pens.

Go here for a more comprehensive comprehensive list of all the things I love.

Things I hate (in no particular order)

  • Vacuuming
  • Inserts in magazines that either fall out, or you have to rip them out to read in peace.
  • Plastic cutlery
  • The warm feeling of dog poop through the plastic bag.
  • Parallel parking
  • Styro packing peanuts
  • February
  • Mother’s Day
  • The cereal at the bottom of the box.
  • The phrase “poster child.”

Go here for a more comprehensive list of all things I don’t love.

I am so amped to know what is on the lists of the people who read this blog! I hope lots of you will play.

Thanks, John!

A Few Things That Made Me Happy This Week

1. Today it was sunny and in the 40s (omg,  my face didn’t hurt when I walked outside!)

2. And G’s wheatgrass is up!


3. I did a private Beginner Yoga lesson today with a delightful woman who came in with a new mat (the absolutely worst mat she could have gotten, but oh well, she didn’t know.) And a matching yoga towel and a matching water bottle.

She said she didn’t know what to wear so she asked Siri. That made me laugh. I would have never thought to ask Siri what to wear to yoga, and now I am going to think about it the next time I am in any clothing dilemma.

(I can’t think of the last time I was in a clothing dilemma, though. I probably need to get out more.)

4. I am reading Gretchen Rubin’s new book, Better Than Before which is about mastering habits. It is freaking me out how alike we are. She did NaNoWriMo on a lark–so did I. She learned Scrivener to make her writing life easier–so did I.  But though I have some strong “Upholder” qualities, I am mostly an “Obliger” in her system.

She says there are 4 basic types of people when it comes to habits: Upholders, who meet other people’s expectations  as well as their own; Obligers who meet other people’s expectations, but not their own; Questioners, who question all expectations; and Rebels who resist all expectations. It’s fascinating, and a fun read. I love these kinds of books about habits, and the creative process, and how the mind works, and sane business strategies, and what motivates people. Can’t get enough of them. (And I have a whole stack of them at my elbow.)

5. I also got a kick out of this Clive Thompson talk about writing with a pencil versus writing on a keyboard. It made me remember my January retreat when I would go back and forth between the 2. (It also made me buy a box of Blackwing pencils and a sharpener!) In a weird moment of synchronicity, the day after I watched this talk, Shelly Clark came to class with a pencil holder filled with pointy Blackwing pencils for us to write down our intentions for yoga class.

6. On my way to Wegmans yesterday for my weekly shopping I listened to the James Altucher podcast in which he interviewed Maria Popova of Brainpickings.org. I loved her distinction between writing “content” on her blog and “substantive” writing. Her blog is an incredible resource for readers and if you are a reader you should check it out. I have found countless gems there.

These things made me happy this week, despite my prana depleted, de-caffeineated, itchy, dragon-eyed, still-snowy-in-March-what-the-fuck situation.

What made you happy this week? Any good finds or happenings? Refrain from sending sunny pictures of flowers, or palm trees, or green grass, though. I’ve seen enough of that on Facebook and it’s really enough, people. Have some sensitivity.

Notice Your Life!

I heard an interview recently with the writer Robert Greene who wrote the book Mastery. The interviewer asked him what he says to people who tell him that they don’t know what they want to be when they grow up.

My ears really pricked up when I heard that question because this question has been on my “Top 10 List” for most of my life. And his answer shocked me. And chastised me. And embarrassed me.

He said: “This question always disturbs me because it tells me that this person hasn’t been paying attention to his life. Because if they had been, they would know what they should do, or be.”

I felt embarrassed for thinking for so long that my vocation would somehow be “revealed to me.” I felt stupid for mistaking “calling” for something you were supposed to “hear” in your mind,  rather than something you were supposed to be continuously “noticing.”

Calling isn’t something whispered in your ear; it’s the continuous watching of how you act, what you do in your spare time, what you avoid, and perhaps most telling, what you do when you procrastinate.

If you started paying attention to those kinds of things you would know exactly who you are, what your talents were, and what you should be doing for work.

But most of us have not been noticing. We have been sleepwalking through our lives. Either that, or just allowing ourselves to be flippered from thing to thing like some pinball, hitting bumpers, racking up points in some game we aren’t even aware we’re playing.

As a result we can get to a pretty advanced age without knowing who we are and what we ought to be doing.

And this is pathetic. And a waste. And totally unnecessary.

I know so many people who are on the brink of retirement and still don’t know what they should be doing with their lives; they don’t know who they are, or what their gifts are. They are getting close to the end of their lives and they haven’t even come close to maximizing their full human potential.

And that is why they fear death. Or at least the next birthday.

But it’s never too late! Never! Start making lists. List everything you love and everything your hate.

Why do this?

Because these lists will show who you are. If you keep adding to these lists  you will notice trends, and how interesting and complex you are, and where you are a totally unique blend of character traits, and propensities, and weirdnesses. That’s your gift. Then all you have to do is figure out how you can add value to the lives of other people with your special brand.

And when you can add value, you hit the jackpot. You then start living a life of value and purpose. And that’s the whole game.

The Top 10 Reasons I Am Grateful It Is Still Winter in March

The robins are back. The redwing blackbirds returned today. But there is still snow on the ground, and I am still wearing my down coat, and down gloves, and a wool hat.  The temps are not going above 40 degrees for the foreseeable future. The lake is still frozen.

Everyone is talking about it. Everyone is complaining and calling it the “unendurable winter.” Since we don’t live in Florida, we are allowed to say “climate change” and a lot of people are saying it.

So I decided to try to come up with 10 Reasons to be happy that it still winter. I enlisted G in this game, and here is our list.

1. We are saving a lot of money on sunscreen.

2. We can stay in the hot tub all night and not get “too hot.”

3. We have no guilt in indulging in Netflix marathons of “House of Cards.”

4. There is no hurry to go into storage and drag out the capris and the t-shirts and put away the sweaters.

5. Neither of us have finished our winter books, so we can sit by the fire and read without the pressure of feeling we should be doing something outside.

6. We both hate taking the cover off the AC unit and there is no reason to do that.

7.  Shoveling is great functional exercise.

8. Everyone knows you burn more calories shivering than sweating.

9. There are no mosquitos or  bugs.

10. We don’t have to worry yet about exposing our less-than-ready swim suit bodies.

What else can you think of?

Add in the comments. I’d love to hear!

17 Things I Need To Be Happy

Today I hate winter.

Wallace Stevens has this poem called The Snowman that starts with,

“One must have a mind of winter…”

And that line invaded my consciousness as I stared at the kitchen thermometer that read minus something.

(As soon as there is a minus sign, all possibility for happiness is gone, so it doesn’t much matter what number you put after that minus sign.)

I was thinking, Wallace Stevens notwithstanding, that I definitely don’t have a mind of winter.  I have a mind of summer. I have a mind of wisteria, and viburnums, and lawn mowers. I have a mind of ice cream.

I have no patience with stupid snowmen standing stoically regarding junipers shagged with ice.

Fuck snowmen. Fuck ice.

So today I will focus on things that make me happy. (Note the glaring absence of snowmen.)

Happiness Makers

Enough sleep (9 hours, preferably.)

High quality food, and a nearby market to buy it.

To sweat and detox daily.

Yoga. Every. Single. Day

20 minutes of Meditation. Every. Single. Day

Regular fun and play.

Order in my surroundings.

A clean kitchen.



A Hot bath. With bubbles.

Wine (in moderation)

Inspiring people in my immediate surroundings. Real people. Not online “friends.”

Beautiful, natural surroundings to live in

One cup of extraordinary, extra bold coffee every morning.

A big, warm, soft bed to sleep in. Alone.

Somebody to speak my soul to, to share my neuroses with, and to tell me (even if it’s not true) that I’m not nuts. Every. Single. Day.

Not “Needed” but Nice

2 ply toilet paper


ski tracks

We are what we love.

We are what we love. It’s as simple as that. If we do the things we love, we show our real selves to the world. If we show our real selves to the world, that will give us the best shot at living a happy life.

So try it.

Start making a list of all the things you love.

Include everything: people, places, states of mind, activities, food and drink, objects, times and seasons, nature and senses.

Nothing is too trivial.  If you love it, list it.

Dryer lint.

The little spit sink at the dentist.

Mallow cups.

Getting a letter in the mail.

The more things on the list, the better. Get subtle. Get nuanced:

Looking down at the ground from a plane.

The faces of kids in line to see Santa.

The smell of viburnums.

List it all out. List out at least 100 things. Keep the list on your phone and add to it as you think of more and more things. Add to this list for your whole life.

List out all the things you dislike or hate, too:


Parallel parking.


Try to get at least 50 things on this list. We are also the things we don’t like.

Why do this?

Because when you know what you love, you know who you are. You have self-knowledge. This self-knowledge allows you to make conscious choices about who you hang out with, what you do for work, and how you recreate.

If you know you love the outdoors and talking face-to-face with people (because you have these on your list) you’re less likely to take a cubicle job in a call center. You might not know what your ideal job is, but at least you won’t make that mistake.

Your list can function as your “true north.” You can consult it whenever you feel bewildered, or have to to make thorny decisions.

It is incredibly helpful to have a printed list of who you are, because even though we think we know these things, we forget. Then we get lost. And then we make really big mistakes from this lack of self-knowledge.

Mistakes which might have been avoided if we had just consulted our list. It’s like forgetting to get the milk because  you thought you’d remember. You should have put it on the list, dummy.

We frequently forget that we are a complex composite of all the random and incongruent things we love. We forget that if we want to be happy, we can’t forget the milk.

If our friends and our work and our fun activities are all aligned with the things we love, that is our best shot at being happy.

That’s why we need to put it on the list.  So we’ll remember.

list pic

The Life-Changing Magic of Everything

Life-Changing Magic

Life-Changing Magic

I bought this book because of the title.

I am a sucker for life-changing magic of any kind.

(Tidying up is the least of it.)

How about instead of “Tidying up” we go with “The Life-Changing Magic of:

Getting Your Work Done

Overcoming Obstacles

Walking the Edges

Weaving a Latticework of Community

Hacking the Follow-Through

Staying in The Game

Making Stuff Happen

Doing What You’re Good At

I would buy all of those books. I could even write most of them.

I have a raw draft of a book I wrote during NaNoWriMo crying to be “cooked” and no time to cook it at the moment because of all the hoo-hah that is Christmas.

My book is a workbook for people who feel they are not maximizing their full human potential, but want to. It gives them a surefire method for finding what they should be doing with their time, with their “one wild and precious life” if you will.

This book needs a sexy title though, and I have yet to hit upon it, so I am super jealous of this title. I think as soon as you put “life-changing” and “magic” in your title, you win.

That, and “belly fat.”