Hi friends, the year is already flying by and I’ve been enjoying catching up with you all here on the blog.
I’ve been deep in flower world lately and noticing that every time I try to come up with a new blog post, it always has something to do with flowers – ha! Working with flowers has added so much more joy, connection and meaning to my life and I really want to share that magic with all of you.
I know that not all of you are very interested in flower talk, so I’ve decided to blog on my other website: https://www.floweremedy.co/ for the time-being. I still hope to pop back here every now and again, but it just won’t be every week.
Here’s what I’m planning to share on The Flower Remedy blog:
Research on how being around flowers can add more joy and happiness to our lives
Easy ways to incorporate flowers, plants, and nature into our everyday routines to enhance our well-being
How we can connect with ourselves and the earth through nature and gardening
Behind-the-scenes of my garden and the flower giveaways I’m doing
Flower meanings and which flowers are best to give for each occasion
My best tips for growing flowers, giving flowers, pressing/drying flowers, and arranging flowers
I don’t know about you, but over the last 2 years I’ve had to get very creative with how to keep in touch with friends from a distance. There’s nothing I love more than sitting down face to face with my best friends and chatting about life, so it’s been a bit of a challenge for me to maintain a connection during the times where I haven’t had that ability. Below is a list that I originally created for myself when I was brainstorming different ideas for how to connect with my BFF’s. I know we’re able to see each other more now than in 2020, but I still find that I’m seeing people much less than I used to. I hope you find it helpful!
20 Ways to Connect with Friends During a Pandemic
1. Monthly goals
Choose one goal each month and check in with each other once a week to see how you’re doing with that goal via text or with a weekly phone call. It creates such great accountability and it helps you connect, while also doing moving towards an objective. I usually choose different goals than my friends, but you can also choose the same one. Anything goes!
Choose one recipe each week to cook with a friend. Cook the dishes in your own kitchens, then send each other pictures and rate how each dish was. You can also take it to the next level by cooking together on Facetime or a regular phone call. I’ve heard great things about Cook This Book: Techniques That Teach and Recipes to Repeat and you can never go wrong with a Barefoot Contessa cookbook.
4. Work out
Sign up for the same work out class (online) and do it together. A few popular online workout subscriptions right now are Melissa Wood Health, The Class, Sculpt Society, and Yoga with Adriene. Chat about how your workout went afterwards when you’re hydrating!
5. Bake something and give it to friends
Bake something delicious and deliver it to friends. This is a great way to connect with local pals by showing your love and will inevitably lead to more connection afterwards. Two of my favorite things to bake are these amazing chocolate chip cookies and these banana chocolate chip muffins. They are a hit every time!
6. Pen pals
Send each other snail mail. A great place to look for cute “mail tag” ideas is on Pinterest.
7. Share what’s in your garden
Have extra flowers, veggies or fruit? Surprise your friends by writing a cute note and dropping the goodies off at their house.
8. Learn something new together
There are so many courses on sites like brit.co and udemy.com that are inexpensive and fun. Ask a friend if she wants to take one at the same time and compare notes. One of my favorite courses is the free Science of Happiness course.
9. Volunteer online together
There are a lot of volunteer opportunities you can do online. You may not be interacting with each other while volunteering, but you can always call your friends afterwards to connect about how it went. One of my favorite foundations to support is https://www.7cups.com/, where you can volunteer to listen to people who need someone to talk to. If you want more ideas for where to volunteer, try visiting volunteermatch.com.
10. Do Happsters Weekly 3 together
Try out the Weekly 3 and send your entries to each other every week. I did this with my friend Gina for about 2 years and it was the best!
11. Tarot Tuesdays
If you’re both into tarot, choose a spread each week and send each other the cards you pulled. Chat about how you think it relates to what’s going on in your life right now. If you’re looking for a tarot deck, you can search for one you like here.
12. Daily breathwork or meditation
Ask your friends if they want to do breathwork or meditation with you (virtually) every day for a month. There are tons of free meditations on the apps Insight Timer and Calm. I also love the breathwork app Breathwrk (I use the free version). Text each other throughout the week to see how it’s going.
13. Book club
Start a book club and meet virtually every month to talk about the book. You can also mix it up and each read your own self help books and then get on the phone to discuss what you took away from your respective books. Here are 15 of the best online book clubs to join in 2022.
14. Watch party
Choose a series to watch and turn it on at the same time each week. Text throughout the show with your thoughts. If you’re watching on Netflix, try Netflix Party.
15. Sharing circle
If you have a larger group of friends, consider hosting a virtual sharing circle where you lead everyone in asking 2-3 questions like “What’s something you’ve enjoyed about 2022 so far?” and “What’s something you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t gotten around to yet?” Pose one question at a time and have everyone go around and answer without interrupting, then move onto the next question. Then at the end of the sharing circle, chat about life updates and/or follow-up questions you have from everyone’s shares.
16. Weeds & seeds of the week
Get on the phone each Sunday and journal together about the things you need to get done in the coming week (weeds) and the things that would be fun to do/would bring you joy this week (seeds). Journal about it while on the phone and then share with each other your weeds and seeds. Check in throughout the week to see how you’re both doing.
If you and your friend(s) own businesses or have side hustles, start a mastermind where you get on a call every month to discuss your business goals, get advice on new ideas, and support each other.
18. Create one thing every day for a month
If you and your friend love to get creative, challenge each other to do one creative thing every day (they can be different from each other) and send each other a picture of what you made every day.
19. Sunday check-in texts
Send each other a text on a designated day each week asking “what was the best part of your week?” to help each other focus on the bright side.
I’m so excited to have my first guest post of the year share a little bit about her experience with social media. Amy Weinland Daughters is an author who is coming out with a book on May 17, 2022 called “Dear Dana: That Time I Went Crazy and Wrote All 580 of my Facebook Friends a Handwritten Letter.” When I first heard about this book, the first thing I said to my husband was “that sounds like my kind of book!” Many of you know how much I love handwritten letters, so I can’t wait to read Amy’s book! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy her post about how social media can connect and disconnect us below.
In 2004 Myspace reached one million active users, a watershed moment that signaled the dawn of the age of social media. Speed forward a mere 18 years later, and Facebook has 2.89 billion monthly active users across the globe. That’s roughly 35 percent of the world population.
To say it’s transformed the culture of human interaction would be a gross understatement.
While the advent of the telegraph (1844), telephone (1876) and texting (1992) enabled individuals to communicate one-on-one in real time – social media allows us to be connected without deliberately being a part of a conversation.
Though we can choose to participate via posting, sharing, commenting, and liking for all to see, we can also play the role of bystander – an individual on the sidelines who observes the interaction without contributing.
The reality is, most people who engage in social media – which is most of us whether we admit it or not – fall somewhere between these two extremes, we are active participants and silent bystanders.
The result is an alternate universe that seems like reality, but it can’t be. Not because it’s inherently “bad”, but because even though it can feel, taste and smell like actual human interaction – like real relationship – it just isn’t.
Before proceeding with the bashing of social media, let’s take a step back and acknowledge the absolute value it offers us as human beings who crave the company of other human beings.
The Connecting Points
The truth is social media allows us to do something that without it would be impossible – interacting with hundreds, even thousands, of people at the same time.
With it, we can keep in touch. We can know things that otherwise we wouldn’t.
Armed with this knowledge we can support and encourage one another. While we might not be there “in person” we can be there in a way that has the potential to make a meaningful difference.
Beyond that we can entertain one another, providing a much-needed distraction from the reality of our world. Then there’s the sharing of information – though often fraught – social media does have value for getting the word out, especially when we can agree on a defined truth.
It all adds up to a sense of actual, genuine, community that wouldn’t be without Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, etc.
Don’t think so?
Consider the essential outlet social media has provided throughout the pandemic. Despite all its inherent flaws, it’s made people feel less alone when the potent danger of loneliness is as prevalent as it’s been in our lifetimes.
The other truth is – we can’t be in real relationship with hundreds of people. It’s not that we don’t like – or even love – our on-line community, it’s that we can’t be there – in a real, in-person, way.
Social media doesn’t require us to personally invest in relationships – to sacrifice or to risk something of value to form a closer bond with another person. Instead, it allows us, by its very nature, to dip in and dip out. To show up when we want to. The rules of engagement don’t require us to be deliberate.
The blueprint of social media – the technological marvel that allows us to share our message with the entire world immediately, is fraught. It doesn’t work for human beings because of who we are.
Not only do we expect to be responded to, we also desperately need to know we’re listened to. It’s the only way to confirm that another human being cares enough, and that we matter enough, to be heard. And when we’re not, we question ourselves and our message. And since social media doesn’t require us to reply promptly if at all – as a one-on-one phone call would – when we don’t hear back from those who we assumed have read our message, we can feel isolated, unimportant, and alone.
It’s a scenario that seems almost counterintuitive given we’re using a medium that connects us with hundreds of people at the same time.
No number of likes or comments is ever enough – because someone, or something, is always missing. It’s the sense that somebody, anybody, is here – just for us – individually.
The good news is while we can’t be in real relationship with hundreds of people, we do have a capacity to solidly show up for, and make a difference to, a select number of friends. And they can do the same for us. The result is having the capacity to care and therefore be cared for. To support and be supported. To love and be loved. Not only is that something, it’s everything
While social media absolutely has substantial value in keeping us connected, it’s crucial that we separate our online relationships from those we do in “real life.” While we care about our virtual community, we also need to cultivate our in-person relationships, not only for our own well-being, but for the well-being of others.
Amy Weinland Daughters is a freelance sportswriter and author. Her second book “Dear Dana: That Time I Went Crazy and Wrote All 580 of my Facebook Friends a Handwritten Letter” (She Writes Press) is due to be released May 17, 2022. Currently a resident of Tomball, Texas (a suburb of Houston), Amy and her family have also lived in Blackwell, England and Dayton, Ohio.
Thank you for all of your kind responses to my post about giving away 1 million flowers! In line with that post, I wanted to share my favorite kindness ideas and resources with you. It’s almost Random Acts of Kindness Day (February 17th!), so hopefully this will inspire you to get out there and help out a friend or stranger 😊
Channel Kindness is a digital platform created by Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. It is a safe space for young people to tell their stories of kindness, resilience, and community. By highlighting the people and organizations that are doing good in their communities, Channel Kindness’ audience is inspired to create a kinder and braver world, one story at a time.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is a small nonprofit that invests their resources into making kindness the norm. They are rooted in the belief that all people can connect through kindness and that kindness can be taught. They follow a simple framework for everything we do. Inspire -> Empower -> Act -> Reflect -> Share. Their evidence-based Kindness in the Classroom® curriculum gives students the social and emotional skills needed to live more successful lives. Their workplace kindness calendar shows companies how easy it is to change workplace culture through simple kind gestures. They create a common language between schools, work and home with all their resources.
KindSpring is a place to practice small acts of kindness. For over a decade the KindSpring user community has focused on inner transformation, while collectively changing the world with generosity, gratitude, and trust. The site is 100% volunteer-run and totally non-commercial. It is a shared labor of love.
The Foundation for a Better Life creates public service campaigns to communicate the values that make a difference in our communities. These uplifting messages, utilizing television, movie theaters, billboards, radio and the internet, model the benefits of a life lived by positive values.
CHANNEL KINDNESS: Stories of Kindness and Community is a collection of inspirational stories written by young people as well as personal notes of empowerment from Born This Way Foundation co-founder Lady Gaga. Within these pages, you’ll meet young change-makers who found their inner strength, prevailed in the face of bullies, started their own social movements, and decided to break through the mental health stigma. These storytellers share how they felt, created safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth, and embraced kindness with every fiber of their being by helping others without the expectation of anything in return.
Deep Kindness pairs anecdotes with actions that can make real change in our own lives, the lives of others, and throughout the world. Diving into the types of kindness the world needs most today, this book takes an honest look at the gap between our belief in kindness and our ability to practice it well—and shows us how to put intention into action. Exploring everything from the empathy gap to the skill of emotional regulation, Deep Kindness is perfect for anyone who believes in a kinder world and recognizes that there is a lot of work to do before we achieve it.
Through years of developing her own kindness practices and studying those of others, Good Morning America correspondent and ABC News journalist Adrienne Bankert has experienced firsthand the unbeatable power of kindness and witnessed its transformative impact on others. This book helps us adjust our perspective from being closed off and self-centered to a mindset of kindness ripples into a staggering amount of personal fulfillment and growth.
The Kindness Handbook features a thoughtful collection of anecdotes, stories, and practical tools to inspire kindness for any life situation. This book is your personal companion to explore the rich landscape of kindness―and help you see just how it might shift and open up your life to greater joy, meaning, and compassion.
In The Power of Kindness, Dr. Brian Goldman leaves the familiar surroundings of the hospital in search of his own lost compassion. A top neuroscientist performs an MRI scan of his brain to see if he is hard-wired for empathy. A researcher tests his personality and makes a startling discovery. Goldman then circles the planet in search of the most empathic people alive, to hear their stories and learn their secrets. He walks a boulevard in São Paulo, where he meets a woman who calls a homeless poet her soulmate and reunited him with his family; a research lab in Kyoto, where he meets a lifelike, empathetic android; and a nursing home in rural Pennsylvania, where he meets a therapist at a nursing home who has an uncanny knack of knowing what’s inside the hearts and minds of people with dementia, as well as her protege, a woman who talked a gun-wielding robber into walking away from his crime. Powerful and engaging, The Power of Kindness takes us far from the theatre of medicine and into the world at large, and investigates why kindness is so vital to our existence.
In this groundbreaking book, Jamil Zaki shares cutting-edge research, including experiments from his own lab, showing that empathy is not a fixed trait—something we’re born with or not—but rather a skill that can be strengthened through effort. He also tells the stories of people who embody this new perspective, fighting for kindness in the most difficult of circumstances.
The Kindness Podcast is on a mission to teach the world about the transformative power of kindness! The host, Nicole Phillips is a champion for using kindness to overcome all of life’s difficulties, including her own battle with breast cancer.
Kind World is a show about how a single act of kindness can change someone’s life. In each episode, hosts and reporters Yasmin Amer and Andrea Asuaje search the world for good news stories that will restore your faith in humanity. A production of WBUR.
Everyone needs a reminder about just how good people can be. On Wondery’s The Daily Smile, host Nikki Boyer brings you stories that will make you feel good each weekday morning. With interviews, inspiring clips, and chats with special guests and passionate friends, The Daily Smile takes you on a journey into goodness, gives you all the feels, and will leave you with a smile on your face.
The Kindness & Happiness Connection is hosted by Dr. Elia Gourgouris – The Happiness Doctor and Randy McNeely – The Kindness Giver. Join them weekly with invited guests as we share actionable kindness and happiness tips, insights, and inspiration to promote personal and professional well being.
Important Kindness Dates:
November 13, 2022: World Kindness Day
World Kindness Day is a global day that promotes the importance of being kind to each other, to yourself, and to the world. The purpose of this day, celebrated on November 13 of each year, is to help everyone understand that compassion for others is what binds us all together. This understanding has the power to bridge the gap between nations.
February 17, 2022: National Random Acts of Kindness Day
Random Acts of Kindness Day was first created in Denver, Colorado in 1995 by a small nonprofit organization, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. National Random Acts of Kindness Day falls within Random Acts of Kindness Week, which is February 13-19, 2022.
“Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle.” – Charles Glassman
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” – Brad Melzer
“You’re never too important to be nice to people.”
“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” – Maya Angelou
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – The Dalai Lama
“A little spark of kindness can put a colossal burst of sunshine into someone’s day.” – Unknown
“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and more underrate agent of human change.” – Bob Kerry
“The world is full of kind people. If you can’t find one, be one.”
“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” – Princess Diana
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation’s new Kindness in the Classroom® curriculum is a Tier 1 evidenced-based social emotional learning curriculum designed to help schools create a culture of kindness. Every unit teaches six core kindness concepts: Respect, Caring, Inclusiveness, Integrity, Responsibility, and Courage.
There’s nothing like picking a rose, artichoke, or carrot from your own garden. Fruits and veggies somehow taste sweeter than what you pick up at the store. Instead of eating on the run, you tend to stop everything when you bite into a juicy strawberry that you grew yourself. You study the range of colors you can see in just a single dahlia. There’s a sense of awe knowing that it came from right outside!
Once I started gardening more often in 2020 (hello, pandemic!), I quickly realized that I had more food and flowers than my husband and I knew what to do with. I thought back to the year before when one of my favorite things to do was host surprise flower giveaways for people in my community. There’s a magic about flowers that connects people, brings a genuine smile to their face, and really just lights them up. That was when the idea was born to create a “Giving Garden” called “The Flower Remedy.”
Right now, I use 3 garden beds to grow all kinds of flowers including cosmos, amaranth, dahlias, ranunculus, anemones, sweet peas, snapdragons and more to create bouquets to give away. I’m adding 4 more beds to the backyard very soon and can’t wait to have more space to grow.
The goal is to give away 1 million flowers. Many of the flowers I give are from my own garden, but I also work with other local gardeners and a market that is kind enough to offer me their leftover flowers that haven’t sold.
We give flowers to a variety of different local community members including:
We work with local senior living homes and seniors centers to give flowers to their residents and members. Recently, we gave 50 flower bouquets to seniors who tested positive for COVID.
Those who are grieving a loved one
We give flower bouquets to locals who have recently lost a loved one. We have a sign-up form on the Flower Remedy website so that their family/friends can nominate them to receive a bouquet.
We deliver flowers to hospitals for patients going through a hard time.
I’m lucky to have an amazing group of two types of volunteers for the project. The first type of volunteers are gardeners who offer up their extra flowers to create bouquets. The second type of volunteers are community members who love flowers and want to give back. They help with putting together flower bouquets and delivering them.
Are you interested in giving flowers to your local community? Here are some tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way:
Use old jars as vases. Some of my favorite vases are old coconut water glass bottles, pasta sauce jars, and salsa jars.
Join your local “Buy Nothing” Facebook group and post in the group asking your community if anyone has any old vases or jars that they don’t want anymore. I’ve received probably 90% of my vases from this group!
If you don’t have enough flowers to give away in your garden, ask a local grocery store if they ever give away their flowers that they can’t sell anymore. Usually independent grocery stores are open to giving away their flowers that are slightly past their prime. Just take out the flowers that aren’t in perfect condition and re-work them into bouquets using the best-looking flowers of the bunch.
Decide who you want to give to and reach out to a local organization who works with that demographic. They are usually thrilled to receive the flowers and can help with coordinating to make sure the flowers go to the appropriate people.
Add a tag on the vase with a nice note that will help brighten their day even more!
Are you a gardener or are you interested in gardening? Comment below with any questions you have about gardening or gifting flowers!
A few years ago, I started posting cute dogs on my Instagram feed on Fridays because who couldn’t use a little puppy pick-me-up?! Today, I thought it would be fun to do Puppy Friday here too. Enjoy!
1. “He saw us feeding the ducks so he pretended to be one.”
2. “Oh to be a yellow lab napping on a windowsill overlooking a canal in Bruges.”
3. “Every time I’m in the shower my dog stares at me, worried, and he must assume I’m upset in here (because he hates baths) so he thinks if he drops his toy in that I’ll feel better.”
4. “I bought a mini toy laptop for my dog. So he can at least look like he’s helping support this family.”
5. “We were taking pictures of my dad for his birthday and then my dog did this. Truly man’s best friend.”
And now onto some amazing dog stories that were recently shared with me!
First up is Shala’s smart pup about her extra smart (phone) dog!
“My last service dog knew how to find my phone. I only ever asked him to [do] this in the house. One day me and a friend walked our dogs in this 3 acre field. We get back late and then I realize I don’t have my phone. It’s 9PM and about to rain. My dog is dead tired because he ran the entire time. He gets up, trots along with me as I search the house, no phone. I decided to check this pitch black field with no light. We got there and on a whim I said go find my phone. He went straight to it and picked it up. I went to the store and bought him a steak.”
Now onto Erica’s story about her dog, the fierce protector:
“My parents live on a dead end road. My sisters and the 2 kids my mom babysat at the time were outside riding scooters in the road between our house and our grandma’s next door. All of a sudden, my mom and I hear what sounded like thunder, but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Then we see 2 scared horses and a donkey coming towards us. My mom yells for me and my sister to get in the woods that were right on the other side of the road, she ran [to] grab the little kids and told them to get in our grandma’s house real quick and then came back to check on me and my sister. So I’m standing in the woods and I look and Chandler (the dog) is standing in front of them stopping them from coming at us and he just looks back at us to make sure we’re OK and then barks and runs them in the opposite direction of us…He was such a good boy.”
Next are Karina’s two pups on a walk:
“When I was a teenager (many years ago) I took both my dog’s out for a walk. They both somehow got loose and took off running with their leashes dragging behind them. One dog caught up to the other dog, grabbed the leash with its mouth and walked back to me with his brother in tow.”
Finally, here’s Lisa’s story about her mom and their German Shephard:
“My mom told me that before I was born her and my dad lived in a small house by a creek. My mom went on a walk with our German Sherphard, Moses, around the property after some really heavy rain. The creek has flooded pretty severely. Well apparently [my mom] had gotten too close and fell in. Our Moses was able to help drag her out of the water. She sears that he saved her life. Otherwise there was no way she could’ve gotten out. It was in the country and my dad was at work. I great up with that dog and he lived to be 17 years old. He was the best.”
I hope you enjoyed this edition of Puppy Friday! Let me know in the comments if you have your own pup and if she’s ever done anything heroic!
Have you ever opened an envelope that says “Magic Inside”? It’s something my pen pal friends and I write on the back of our letters to each other to signify that something exciting has just been delivered. The most recent letter I received from my pen pal, Makenzi, had that phrase neatly written on the back bottom corner and I gasped when I saw it. I ripped it open and the first thing that fell out onto the kitchen counter was a crystal oracle card that she enclosed. This is the second crystal card she’s given me and it made me smile. The first was a carnelian card (to stimulate creativity) and this one is a turquoise card (for when you want to express something).
I then found a note from her about what’s been going on in her life in the past month. She also included a patterned piece of paper with “Mail Tag” questions like “Favorite holiday?” and “What are your moon and rising signs?” Astrology lingo for those wondering!
There’s something about hand-writing a letter, putting a stamp on it (I recently bought these flower stamps), and sending it off into the world that feels like a warm hug. My friends call me “Mabel” because I’m like an “85-year old trapped in a 33 year old body”. Don’t get me wrong – I love technology as much as the next Millennial, but old-fashioned stationary and markers are really where my true love lies.
Back in 2015, I started a pen pal program called Happsters Mail on this blog and had the best time matching up readers with each other. One of the people I matched up was one of my childhood best friends, Maggie. She and her pen pal, Kylie, are still writing to each other to this day! I’m always so curious to hear the ins and outs of their pen pal friendship when Maggie brings up their letters, so I wanted to share the interview below featuring Maggie and Kylie. I hope that it inspires you to mail a note to a friend or family member soon.
First up, my interview with Maggie about her pen pal friendship with Kylie:
Where do you live?
San Diego, California
How long have you been writing pen pal letters to each other and how often do you typically write to each other?
We have been writing to each other since the beginning of 2015. We used to write to each other monthly, but the turnaround time has gotten longer as life has gotten more complicated. I would say it’s maybe 4-5 times a year now.
What do you think it was that helped you continue to be pen pals after all of these years?
I think we have stayed pen pals for so long because we have truly become friends. When we first started writing to each other, I had just gotten engaged. Now we are both married with kids! We have also supported each other through job changes, personal/family life events, and of course the pandemic.
What’s one or two of your favorite things that Kylie has sent you?
Kylie sends really thoughtful birthday surprises! She sent me some cool beeswax wraps that I love, and always nails it with the snacks. But my favorite part of every correspondence is just reading what she has been up to in her life.
Have you met in person or are you ever planning to meet?
Since we live so far away, we have never met. I would love to meet her someday! We started following each other on Instagram a couple of years ago, so it allows me to sort of see what her world looks like.
Do you ever have themes for letters depending on the time of year (i.e. your birthdays, certain holidays, etc.)?
We definitely have themes depending on the month/season of the year. I love getting Kylie’s Christmas card every year (and sending her mine when I have the energy to make one)!
What’s something you love about having Kylie as a pen pal?
I love having a friend that I haven’t actually spoken to in person. It’s unique and old timey and cool! I never would have crossed paths with Kylie, and yet she is a really supportive person in my life. It brings me a sort of grade school nostalgic joy when I receive her letters in the mail. Then I get to be creative and tactile in return, which is wonderful too.
I hope that we always continue to write to each other. Maybe our kids can be pen pals someday!
Here’s what Kylie had to say about writing to Maggie for all of these years:
Where do you live?
I live in rural Southeast Iowa, just outside of a very small town, Keosauqua.
2. Had you ever written to a pen pal before? What made you want to sign up for one this time?
The only time I’ve previously written to a pen pal has been through school assignments growing up and those were always short lived. This is my first real, long term pen pal. I decided to sign up because I was just fresh out of college, had a lot of time on my hands, and was looking to add something new to my life. I thought having a pen pal could lead to some fun experiences and hopefully a new friendship!
3. What kinds of things do you typically include in your letters to each other?
Our letters vary depending on what’s going on in our lives but it’s usual a general update of what’s been happening in our lives since the last time we wrote to each other, holiday or vacation plans, books we’re reading, and often small seasonal gifts, stickers, trinkets, etc.
4. What’s one or two of your favorite things that Maggie has sent to you?
My absolute favorite thing Maggie has ever sent to me was for my birthday a few years ago. She sent me the cutest tin seed organizer (I’m a big gardener). Not only was it super cute, but it’s super useful and I still use it to organize my seed packets and keep track of my gardening!
5. Do you have any tips to give someone who is just starting a pen pal relationship?
My tip to someone who is just starting out with a pen pal is to be open and playful. I loved that Maggie and I started out with exchanging an “about me” card that asked silly questions we wouldn’t normally think to ask but really helped us get to know each other. By being open to answering questions (especially silly or playful ones) you can find things you have in common or maybe find out something about them that you want to learn more about.
6. Where do you come up with ideas on what to include in your letters? Do you look online, at Pinterest, or just come up with them on your own?
When we first started out I initially looked to Pinterest for inspiration but have found that I don’t really need to anymore. Our letters are pretty intuitive anymore and we always include a “mail tag” card that asks different questions that don’t flow in our letters, seasonal things (what Summer foods are you enjoying right now?/ Any New Year’s resolutions?/ What are you dressing up as for Halloween? etc)
7. What’s something you love about having Maggie as a pen pal?
I love that Maggie and I live very different lives (Iowa and California are very different in lots of ways!) but we have SO MUCH in common! I almost feel like Maggie and I are the same person in some ways and we could definitely be best friends that hang out every day if we lived near each other. Her letters are so warm and she feels like someone I’ve been friends with my whole life so I have no problem opening up to her like I would with any of my other close friends. I love that I have made a lifelong friend out of being her pen pal!
I’m so grateful that I signed up for a pen pal and that you set me up with Maggie. She was definitely the perfect choice for me and has brought a lot of joy to my life! To anyone contemplating getting a pen pal, you should do it! It’s so much fun!
Thank you Kylie and Maggie for sharing your pen pal friendship with us today!
If you’re interested in getting your own pen pal, here are some organizations that match you up:
Today, I want to talk about a project I’m doing for the first time this year that I call “Monthly Mirror Messages.” This project is pretty simple and is exactly what it sounds like. Each month, I’ll tape an affirmation on my mirror to motivate me during those 30 days. Then on the first day of the next month, I’ll switch out one affirmation for another one. That’s it! Here are the step-by-step instructions if you’d like to do it yourself:
Write down 12 affirmations (one for each month of 2022), each on its own small piece of paper.
Here are the affirmations I chose:
I make a difference in the world by simply existing in it.
I focus on what I can control and I let go of what I can’t.
I attract positive people and experiences into my life.
Success follows me.
I am the master of my abundance.
“I am in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing.” – Louise Hay
The perfect moment is this one – Jon Kabat-Zinn
I am full of energy and optimism. I am ready to have fun.
Creativity runs through me and leads me to great ideas.
I don’t chase. What belongs to me will simply find me.
I listen to my intuition and trust my gut.
I am well-rested and excited for a fun day.
Looking for others? You can get great ideas for affirmations by searching Pinterest for “inspiring affirmations,” “affirmations for self love,” “affirmations for confidence,” etc.
Optional: Decorate the pieces of paper around the affirmation. You can add paint, doodles, stickers, or whatever you’d like or keep it simple. I glued some dried flowers from my garden onto the paper and used those as the art.
Put every affirmation card into a bowl or jar.
At the beginning of each month, choose one affirmation at random. I believe that whichever one you happen to choose will be the perfect one for that month.
Use washi tape or clear tape to put it on your bathroom mirror where you’ll see it when you brush your teeth every day. Say that affirmation out loud or to yourself every day.
Curious if there’s science that backs affirmations? I was too. I was pleasantly surprised that there is quite a bit of good research on daily affirmations. Here are a few benefits of using affirmations:
Affirmations have been shown to decrease health-deteriorating stress (Sherman et al., 2009; Critcher & Dunning, 2015)
They have been used effectively in interventions that led people to increase their physical behavior (Cooke et al., 2014)
They may help us to perceive otherwise “threatening” messages with less resistance, including interventions (Logel & Cohen, 2012)
They can make us less likely to dismiss harmful health messages, responding instead with the intention to change for the better (Harris et al., 2007) and to eat more fruit and vegetables (Epton & Harris, 2008)
They have been linked positively to academic achievement by mitigating GPA decline in students who feel left out at college (Layous et al., 2017)
They have been demonstrated to lower stress and rumination (Koole et al., 1999; Wiesenfeld et al., 2001).
Have you ever created affirmation cards or mirror messages for yourself? Do you plan to? Tell me in the comments section!
P.S. Living with Kindness interviewed me recently about what I call the 4 G’s of happiness. Check it out here.
In the last post, we talked about lessons learned in 2021. Now I think many of us are ready to look toward the future and manifest some amazing things for 2022! In this post, we’ll dive into a few of my favorite things: Vision boards, manifesting, and words of the year.
Now if you know me, you know I’m into all the crafty things. Give me some glue, paper, and markers and I won’t come out of the room for a day. Anyone else spend hours and hours with their childhood friends making huge poster boards filled with magazine images of their favorite bands, glittery backgrounds, and Jonathan Taylor Thomas (JTT)? Shout out to my 6th grade BFF, Danielle, for doing with this with me.
I look at those poster boards from 20 years ago as the training ground for making vision boards as an adult. And while I usually make real vision boards with paper and pen, this year I decided to try something new and create a digital vision board with Canva that I’ll use as my phone background.
Below are the steps to creating your own 2022 digital vision board:
The first step to manifesting is to get clear on what it is that you want. I wrote a bulleted list of about 20 things I want to happen in 2022 including places I want to go, goals I have for the year, hobbies I want to do more of, people I want to be with, feelings I want to have, etc.
Next, decide if you’re going to stick with a color theme. One major benefit of creating a virtual vision board is that it’s easier to choose photos from the same color family than if you were cutting pages out of a magazine because there are more photo options online to choose from.
Now is the fun part where you’ll find your photos. I chose a pink and white theme for my virtual vision board, so I searched in Canva for images like “rose quartz,” “pink ocean,” and “white flowers” to find the perfect photos that matched my vision. If you can’t find ones you love on Canva, there are other free photo sites like Pixabay.com that you can get great quality images from.
Next, drag and drop your photos to the location you want them to be in. If you are layering them on top of each other, click “position” on the top right if you want to move the photo in front or behind another one.
You may want to also add in words using Canva’s “Text” function. The word I chose for 2022 is “fun,” so I included that word on my board. If you’re looking for some more word of the year inspiration, a few past words of mine have been community, connection, and joy. I also love the idea of adding in an affirmation, so I chose one of my favorites: “I lead with kindness.”
Once you’re happy with your design, you can download it and add it as your phone background. The size that worked for my iPhone was 1080 (width) x 1920 (height) px. You can resize your design through Canva for a different type of phone or you can make it your computer background. Another great option if you love having a physical item is to print your design and have it both digitally and in your office or bedroom.
Here is my 2022 digital vision board:
This vision board includes many of the things I want to fill 2022 with: Art, gardening, giving flowers, community (as noted by the ice cream cones), writing on this blog (the typewriter), fun, kindness, nature (the beach and mountains), and as many crystals as my pockets can hold. I just love seeing it every time I look at my phone as a reminder of what I’m calling into my life.
Feel free to use this for your phone vision board if you like it. You can make changes to it by clicking here.
Are you planning to make a vision board this year? I’d love to see yours!
Use Notion to organize my entire life (trust me: it’s free and easy and this is not an ad!)
Get dressed even if I don’t leave the house the whole day (work from home life). People told me to do this throughout 2020, but my stubborn Aries came out and I didn’t do it. I get it now.
Decorate for all holidays. It’s worth the hassle and makes me happy.
One of the biggest lessons I learned is to release expectations and go with the flow. Easier said than done, right? While this is going to always be a work in progress, it came up big time at the end of 2020 when my husband, Billy, and I got our first dog. He was the cutest, sweetest puppy and we couldn’t have been more excited! Once we got him though, we quickly realized that I was allergic to him. There were many tears and conversations about whether or not we could keep him, but we ultimately decided after a week that we couldn’t. We ended up finding the best family to give him to whose son had been wanting that type of dog and they were able to pick him up on Christmas Eve and give him to their son on Christmas morning. A true Christmas miracle!
Very soon after we released our expectations of what we thought our lives would be like as dog parents and gave him to his new family, a neighborhood cat started coming around every day. I grew up with cats, so this was a thrill for me. We quickly found out that he’s an outdoor cat who has an owner a few houses down from us. His owner loves that he comes over to our house and it now feels like we share this amazing kitty with our neighbors! He’s brought such joy to our lives and even my husband, who did not like cats previously, is so in love with him. We call him Peaches and he spends so much time at our house that we got him a cat bed (among many other things), where he watches TV with us every night. Releasing expectations allowed us to bond with Peaches (Instagram video of him being adorable here) and now he’s truly a part of our family. We feel like he adopted us and we couldn’t be more thrilled.
In addition to my own lessons, I asked others what their biggest lessons this year were. First, I want to share a beautiful heartfelt answer from Kirsten Allen, who said her biggest lesson was:
“Don’t take anything for granted. Be a good person and live each day in a way that brings you joy.”
When I asked if she would elaborate, here’s what she said:
“Ok, the short answer is that my dad suddenly passed away in May. He was 59 and healthy. It was a shock to everyone.”
“The long answer… I’m incredibly fortunate because we had a wonderful relationship my whole life, and especially in the past few years. He was big into rock climbing – a pioneer in the southeastern US and climbing wouldn’t be what it is today in this region without what he and his friends did to establish access in the 70s and 80s. He also worked until the day he died to ensure proper mentoring in the younger generation. He and I were climbing partners for the last 5 or so years. He taught me a lot through that and I learned even more about him as a person. I was so lucky to take a 3 week road trip with him out west in sept 2020. We lived in the van that we built out and that I have now inherited. On that trip, we had many conversations about life and death and I know without a doubt he left this world with no regrets. I feel like because of that time, I have more closure than others around me do and I’m so grateful for that…”
“Basically, he was a really good person. If you met him, you were a friend, and friends were considered family. I’ve tried to emulate that in my own life. I’m working every day to go to bed with no regrets and to make sure the people in my life know what they mean to me. I’ve learned to be more open about my feelings and gratitude than ever before. We aren’t promised tomorrow.”
Thank you, Kirsten for sharing your profound lesson with the Happsters community. Sending you and your family so much love during this difficult time.
Other powerful lessons that were shared include:
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that I need to advocate for myself in all aspects. You need to ask for the jobs you want, the love you want, the things you want. I used to wait and wish they would just happen to me. Once I took charge of that, that’s when the magic happened!” – Steph Clark
“In order to learn and grow, I needed to put myself first for the first time ever! Even if that means letting go of relationships that didn’t serve me any longer.” – Mary Maheux (Instagram: @bigmommamare)
“I think the biggest [lesson] I have learned was patience and to truly live in the present. I lived my whole life worrying about the future and sitting too much in the past. It always really put a toll on my mental health. Once I realized that and practiced being more patient and truly living in NOW, and accepting sometimes things can’t be changed and just work with what life has thrown at me, my mental health and mood has gotten so so much better.” – Hannah Albert (Instagram: @flowitoutcreations)
“I have learned that finding the humor, absurdity, and silliness in a situation is the easiest way to dispel any feelings of frustration, irritation, or anger. I’ve embraced not having control in the best way. All I can do is be present, be loving, and do my best and what will be, will be. Que sera, sera!” – Annie Kell
“If you believe in your dreams, you have to do something about it and not wait for them to show up! Loving yourself will allow more to flow in.” – AnnaLynn Waterman
“You do not have to hold any guilt for other people’s actions and priorities. Helped me so much in dealing with my relationship with my dad (or lack thereof!)” – Anonymous
“It’s okay to ask for help. And it’s okay to feel all of your feelings.” – Anonymous
“It’s okay to set boundaries and stick to those boundaries regardless if it’s family or friends. It’s okay to walk away from things and my absolute favorite “No” can be a complete sentence!” – Anonymous
What’s a lesson you learned in 2021 (big or small)?