“5, 4, 3… open sesame! Happy New Year!”

And just like that: 2015! I am shocked by how quickly 2014 flew by. If I stop to think about each week or each month, I’m pleased by the amount of adventure that we packed into one little year. But as a whole, at a glance, the year passed in a blink. They seem to have a habit of doing that…

So here we are, a new year, a new blank notebook, a new slate, perhaps not wiped totally clean, but ready to be filled with everyday romance, grand adventure, and endless beauty.

Each month this year, I will focus on a different subtopic within Positive Psychology. I sometimes find sitting down to write about an entire field to be quite daunting. Not that writing about “resilience” or “love” is any less so, but little steps, little steps…

And after all, isn’t that what progress really is? Just some little steps, and a few big leaps, all strung together, moving toward the direction you’ve chosen? This – the process of progress, of coming into beauty in all senses – is what we’ll talk about in 2015. 

In January, we will focus on New Beginnings. I’m so excited.

x Jessica

Clippings: What I’m Reading This Week (1/5/15)

Captain Crunch and Soybean Paste: Over oatmeal? Check out this article with a glimpse at kids’ breakfasts around the world. You may find yourself extra grateful for your Kashi and milk – or longing for miso soup tomorrow at 7am! http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/10/08/magazine/eaters-all-over.html?rref=world&WT.mc_id=AD-D-E-KEYWEE-SOC-FP-DEC-AUD-DEV-DSK-1201-1231&ad-keywords=AD1214KW&kwp_0=5865&kwp_1=114035&kwp_4=44537&_r=1&module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=Magazine&action=click&region=FixedRight&pgtype=Multimedia

 

Photo from NY Times article - Link above.
Photo from NY Times article – Link above.

 

#IDNYC: I love this idea! Municipal IDs are a terrific way to get city residents more involved – and to share the wealth of a city’s cultural and artistic riches with the people who call it home. http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/447-14/mayor-de-blasio-nyc-municipal-id-give-access-1-year-free-memberships-33-the/#/0

IDNYC Logo
IDNYC Logo

 

Nerd Alert!: I. Am. So. Excited. For. Game of Thrones. In. IMAX. (I am way less excited to sit near GoT fans dressed in costume. But I’ll put up with it, I guess.) http://www.people.com/article/game-of-thrones-imax-theaters

 

Game of Thrones! IMAX!
Game of Thrones! IMAX!

 

Guilty children, depressed adults?: Interesting article from The Atlantic, exploring new research that indicates that the more guilty behavior people exhibit as children, the higher their risk of depression and other mood disorders later in life. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/01/childhood-guilt-adult-depression/384176/?utm_source=huffingtonpost.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=pubexchange_facebook

Photo from The Atlantic article - Link above.
Photo from The Atlantic article – Link above.

 

Throwback to a 2014 Favorite: One of my favorite articles from 2014 has recently been making the rounds again. I enjoyed rereading it, and thought I’d share it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/01/opinion/sunday/what-you-learn-in-your-40s.html?_r=0

Pamela Druckerman - photo from NY TImes
Pamela Druckerman -author  photo from NY TImes article – Link above

Update: Happy December! (I’ve returned, with less-sprained fingers & a sulking puppy…)

Well! We have just returned home after two full weeks back home in NY. Our drive up was done in one shot, made bearable by the unexpectedly perfect behavior of our almost-5-month-old puppy and the fact that we had yet to listen to any episodes of Serial. All (at the time) 9 episodes, and many rounds of “whodunnit!?” later, we arrived in NY, and unpacked several suitcases, two bags of doggie items, and an XXL crate.

Ollie was not as enthralled by Serial as we were... But he was an ideal puppy car companion!
Ollie was not as enthralled by Serial as we were… But he was an ideal puppy car companion!

The trip was fantastic. Our post-Hurricane- Sandy home is still kitchen-less, so we celebrated our second Thanksgiving in a row in the East Village at our favorite Cuban restaurant. We were the only diners, aside from the restaurant owners and staff, and we all shared the small dining room to toast to friends, family, and feeling grateful.

One of many paella-and-Sangria-fueled Thanksgiving photos!
One of many paella-and-Sangria-fueled Thanksgiving photos!

 

The day before Thanksgiving, we took Ollie to the beach. He was startled by the ocean at first, but came to love it!
The day before Thanksgiving, we took Ollie to the beach. He was startled by the ocean at first, but came to love it!

The days that preceded and followed the holiday itself flew by. My partner’s visit was broken up by a 2 day business trip that took him to and from Minneapolis. Meanwhile, puppy and I stayed home so that he could play non-stop with my parents’ 3 dogs. A house filled with 4 dogs – ranging in age from 5 months to 10 years, and in size from 30 lbs to 90 lbs – is loud, chaotic, and cuddly. It requires a lot of dog treats, water bowls, paper towel, and patience. Walking 3 puppies at a time may lead to sprained fingers (I still can’t make a tight fist with my left hand…), but snuggling on the couch with 3 or 4 puppies at a time really is the loveliest.

Puppy chase!
Puppy chase!

 

Puppy snuggles!
Puppy snuggles!

The best part of our time in NY was getting to visit with family and friends for such a long time. Generally, we don’t have the opportunity to visit – and stay for 14 days. But once we moved so far away – and once we realized we were going to spend 20-hours driving roundtrip – we decided to make the most of the visit. We had brunches and dinners, we made quick visits for hugs and “see how big little baby has gotten,” and hosted long visits where “just stopping by” turned into “yes, I’ll have another Scotch and what do you have in the fridge?” And we got to spend lots of time with my parents and brother, working from home in my dad’s office, doing errands and holiday shopping, and just relaxing and enjoying NY during the holiday season.

The best visits include a piano and some singing...
The best visits include a piano and some singing…

 

One of the loveliest parts of NY in winter...
One of the loveliest parts of NY in winter…

Our ride home was split into two parts, with a last-minute overnight stop at Kuna and Pierre’s after traffic and pouring rain got the best of us.

Rain and traffic meant we got to visit with these cuties!
Rain and traffic meant we got to visit with these cuties!

Now, we’re back in North Carolina and Ollie is full-on sulking; he clearly misses his puppy-pack and is not thrilled about returning to life as an only child. I am terribly homesick, but am excited to be back on the blog and to get back to work. I’m also ready to plunge headfirst into the holiday season! Most of all, I’m looking forward to twinkling lights, delicious food, hot cocoa, chilled cocktails, Christmas music, reading end-of-year best-of lists, wearing sparkly clothes, getting cards with the faces of people I love on them, and wrapping presents (yep! I love to wrap them!).

What are you most excited about when it comes to the holiday season?!

Clippings (11/17/14): This Week’s Articles of Interest

Cross-country Cooking: This has been making the rounds, but is worth checking out. A NYT compilation of regional Thanksgiving dishes, one to represent each state, plus DC and Puerto Rico. Grape salad outrage aside, it is great recipe-reading to prepare for my favorite holiday!  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/18/dining/thanksgiving-recipes-across-the-united-states.html?_r=0

JohnSteinbeck_TheGrapesOfWrath

Apples to Apples: If you’re a fan of cider and you’re looking for some new options for holiday drinks, here you go: http://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/2014/11/6/12-excellent-hard-ciders-to-drink-this-fall?adbid=10152383340442026&adbpl=fb&adbpr=17786732025&xid=blog_20141112_35361567

Selfie-Esteem: Interesting article about how we view our own selfies – and how social media is impacting our self-esteem. Check out the slideshow: women were asked to choose their favorite snapshot (of themselves) from a photoshoot, explain why, and then comment on the photographers’ favorite. Fascinating, but difficult and somewhat sad, to see how we critique ourselves so harshly, and dislike things about ourselves that no one else even notices. Hopefully, if you have selfie-concerns, this article will help you to see yourself in a more flattering light.  http://www.elle.com/beauty/makeup-skin-care/how-instagram-is-ruining-our-self-esteem

A selfie?
A somewhat-selfie?

A Day in the Life: Cool video with tips and tricks to be “your most productive self” tomorrow. Hint: select tomorrow’s outfit tonight, make time for meditation, and plan on a cocktail in the evening. http://www.fastcompany.com/3038737/secrets-of-the-most-productive-people/a-day-in-the-life-of-your-most-productive-self

Remembering when…: New research from the University of Southampton on “collective nostalgia” and the impact that a “sentimental longing for the past” can have on group loyalty. As the articles notes, “rather than being without function, it appears that nostalgia is an organizing emotion, strengthening group membership, and developing collective identities.” Especially interesting to consider in terms of Gottman’s studies on nostalgia within romantic relationships, and his theory that the more positively we recount our relationship milestones (especially the early ones), the higher the chance that a relationship will be strong and will survive. http://digest.bps.org.uk/2014/11/want-to-inspire-group-loyalty-try-some.html

#thankoutloud midpoint: gratitude and growth

As many of you know, starting on November 1, we began the first #thankoutloud project. Over the last two weeks, it has been wonderful to see so many people sharing their gratitude for others “out loud,” sometimes in person (and then reported via social media), but usually through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We even had some people thanking colleagues via LinkedIn!

For me, the best part has been reading about the reactions of those who have been thanked. One person reported back her their dry cleaner was pleased to have been recognized for his hard work and attention to detail; another person shared that her Mom cried when she was thanked for providing such a good example of how to balance professional and personal obligations. And some of those being thanked have chosen to comment directly on the post in which they are cited. It’s fantastic to read those (pleasantly) surprised and (extremely) appreciative comments, as well.

We started the #thankoutloud project somewhat organically – by just beginning to post our own person-focused gratitude each night. We let some people in on the purpose of the project, and they joined us. We put up a post about it, and others started sharing thanks each night. We kept posting, and were thrilled to see people joining in without having been solicited – they just saw the impact of the project and wanted to participate.

My own experience with the project has been rewarding and has strengthened the bonds I have with the amazing people in my life. I’ve been varying my “thanking venues” – some days, Facebook, other days, Instagram. Sometimes the “venue” is based on whatever network the person I’m thanking is a part of, but no matter where I post the thanks, spending a few moments a day crafting a thank you note has had an amazing impact on me. I feel a stronger, more specific sense of gratitude each day for those who impact my life in ways big and small. And this month, I’ve felt a strong sense of gratitude for all of those participating in our little pay-it-forward, gratitude-boot-camp experiment.

Thank you for sharing thanks and for increasing the amount of smiles shared each day. And if you haven’t started to #thankoutloud yet – join us! Research shows that you’ll be grateful you did!

If you have joined the project, who did you feel most appreciated your #thankoutloud?! How did they react? I’d love to hear about it!

x Jessica

Food for (Positive) Thought: Breakfast out of Bed

I am not a morning person. In fact, I am so not a morning person that, if I had my druthers, I’d sleep through the whole thing and only wake up once the clock hit 12:00PM. The problem with not being a morning person, however, is that the world keeps turning, even if I stay under the covers.

For this reason, I am teaching myself to not only wake up earlier, but to eat breakfast, as well. As we all know by now, breakfast jumpstarts our bodies,helps our metabolism get going for the day, and provides us with energy to make it through the morning.

It took me awhile, but I’ve found a few good A.M. dining options that are easy to make and I thought I’d share them with you. If a bleary-eyed, morning-hater like me can make them with enough time to still hit the snooze button once (okay, thrice), so can you.

  •  Scooped-out Bagel with Light Cream Cheese, Sliced Tomato, and a Chiffonade of Basil
    • Sounds labor-intensive and sorta fancy; is really easy and… sorta fancy. How could you not feel like getting the day going with those lovely little ribbons of fresh basil!? Chiffonade is not just for the evening, my friends.

IMG_6381

  • Frozen Waffle with Peanut Butter
    • I like Van’s organic waffles – and Skippy (non organic) peanut butter. I realize that as a regular Whole Foods shopper I should probably have organic, but I just can’t take stirring that oil around the jar. Especially so early in the day.
    • Fruit on Hand?: Add some sliced banana or some berries
    • Note for those on-the-go: this is a good portable breakfast, too. I take it along while I walk my dog.

vansskippy

  • Oatmeal with dried cranberries and brown sugar
    • If you want to be lazy: make a big batch and reheat it for breakfast the next two mornings. Just stir in a little milk before microwaving.
    • If you want to be indulgent: stir in half and half, not milk.
  •  Protein Smoothie
    • I usually wait to have this until after I workout, but sometimes I split it in half, and have some before and some after. I’m crazy like that. (If you use a Contigo metal coffee cup, your protein shake will stay frozen through your whole workout. Just make the shake before you head to the gym.)
    • If you make one for me: I like ½ a banana, chocolate protein powder, peanut butter, ice, and some milk (as you can see from the picture below).
    • If you make one for you: try out some of these delicious-looking options: http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-recipes/20-super-healthy-smoothie. Let me know which one you like best!

IMG_6382

So, dear readers: Are you morning people? What do you like to eat for your first meal of the day?

Clippings: This Week’s Articles of Interest (Week of 11/10)

PIN-terest: I love this article on a Baltimore hairdresser, Janet Stevens… who spends her evenings studying and replicating ancient hairstyles… and disproving long-held assumptions from archaeological scholars on how Greek and Roman women styled their hair. It’s amazing what can happen when people combine their skills and passions. As Ms. Stevens, says, “Whatever you’re most passionate about when you’re five is what you should do for the rest of your life.”  http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324900204578286272195339456?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424127887324900204578286272195339456.html

golis

What we (should) talk about when we talk about Buzzfeed: Interesting thoughts on the future of Buzzfeed and the power of FacebookWorld from good friend and brilliant media expert, Andrew Golis. https://medium.com/@agolis/this-is-what-we-should-fight-about-when-we-fight-about-buzzfeed-93cc6538657c

Do something today that could make this list: While we’re on the subject of Buzzfeed and their C circle (see above article), here is a list of photos to brighten your day.  http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/see-the-world-differently#11fdyj9

nyt cooking

Dinner and a (cooking guide) movie: I’ve always loved Mark Bittman’s cooking videos, and I’m happy to find that I also enjoy Melissa Clark’s videos, as well. The NYT recipe pages are quickly becoming my go-to how-to guides and Clark’s mini-lessons are simple, short, and amusing. My brother sent this recipe along to me (a not-so-subtle request for his next visit?): http://www.nytimes.com/video/dining/100000003105258/pasta-with-caramelized-lemons.html?WT.mc_id=D-NYT-MKTG-MOD-71835-10-04-HD&WT.mc_ev=click&WT.mc_c= – and I’m planning to use this ice cream how-to this weekend: http://www.nytimes.com/video/dining/100000002967947/ice-cream-basics.html?playlistId=100000001606605

fredrickson book cover

How you doin’?: Visit Barbara Fredrickson’s website to take her Positive Self Test. The quick online test looks at your strongest emotions from the past 24 hours to provide a snapshot of your positive : negative ratio. If you sign up through the site, you can also track your results over time. Fredrickson has found that a 3:1 ratio is needed for one to truly flourish. Not seeing the results you want? Look for assistance (a friend, family member, counselor, or trusted person) and take steps to improve your happiness and well-being! For suggestions, keep reading our page! http://www.positivityratio.com/single.php

"Go with beauty, not disaster"