On Happy Making

Confession: I’ve been kind of down lately. Nothing serious, nor is there anything specifically bumming me out, but rather a combination of stupid little things getting to me. I used to be well versed in feeling sorry for myself and one of my markers of success in maturity over the years is my ability to address those feelings head on and not let them wreck me. But sometimes it’s hard because feeling sorry for yourself is so easy. It’s easy to stay in your pajamas all day, it’s easy to ignore your email inbox, it’s easy to crawl back in bed and procrastinate. So yesterday, towards the end of the day, I decided it was time to end this week of blahs. And even though this is a particularly tricky case of ‘em, I have to grab hold of the things I can control in life, and well, control them.

(And I’d like to take a moment here to make sure I’m clear that I’m talking about being in a bad mood, not clinically depressed, which is so very different and you shouldn’t try to just “snap out of it” in that case – asking for help is courageous and admirable.)

Some little things helping me. I’m not dependent on “stuff” helping me feel better, but sometimes little “stuff” does indeed help. Pictured above, a plant I bought myself after a frustrating afternoon. $10 happiness and now our bedroom has a bit of life (why should the living room have all the fun?) note – the lovely calendar is an old Astrology Calendar from Prismatic that is too pretty to toss even though 2011 is long gone.

My Halona glass piece arrived and it’s even more beautiful in person. It casts beautiful rainbows around the room at certain points in the day and makes me smile every time I spot them. Occasionally retail therapy, especially when supporting an artist like this, is a-ok.

Going for a walk, headphones on, pensive music on. For some reason I forgot how much I need to go take a walk every day and my walks have almost stopped happening until I remembered again this week. It’s terribly cliché and makes me feel as if I’m in a Wes Anderson movie, but These Days is my favorite “go for a walk and be alone with my thoughts” song. One of my favorite mixes for chill moods is Miss Moss’s Ships In The Night mix – I still listen to it all the time! Funny since she made it almost exactly a year ago. Is March a pensive month?

Amazing happy-making package from JetPens. When Brad emailed me to see if he could send me some pens, I jumped up and down as I am a Jet Pens groupie or whatever that makes me. Obsessed. My old coworker got me into the site and we’d would order from them all the time, on a quest for the finest tipped pen possible (annoying everyone we wrote a note to) and it has been too long since I bought anything from them. I’m particularly into the Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Mangaka 01 pen. I nearly forgot how pens are one of the keys to my happiness. I know, I’m a simple girl.

Other things: two unexpected hand written thank you notes, warm enough weather to have the windows wide open, dropping off two rolls of film to be developed (something to look forward to), Will’s beard being back in action, brats with my homemade sauerkraut that’s finally ready, Tuesday work days with Lisa and Jessica at my apartment.


  1. says

    I know the feeling. Thanks for sharing what brightens your mood! Today is one of those days for me — but I blame the humid, rainy day.

  2. says

    I <3 your happy-making ideas. I think I'll buy myself some flowers today ~ a much lower commitment version of your plant :)

  3. says

    Definitely connected with this post. I find that walks really help too. Whenever I’m feeling down or frustrated I take my dog out for a walk and I instantly feel a little better.

  4. says

    Loveeeee Jet Pens too! I just ordered a bunch of Uni-ball Signos in 0.38mm and 0.28mm. I didn’t think I would find better pens than the hi-tec-cs, but DAMN. Good pens…

    • says

      I used to be so obsessed with hi-tec-cs! I even have this cool stainless steel refillable one I got as a going away present when I left my job. But I’m kind of into more inky pens now. I’ll have to try the Signos.

  5. says

    i’m all for simple pleasures that make you smile, even if they cost a few bucks. glad you’re in better spirits. i sure know that yesterday was “one of them days” for me!

  6. says

    Hi Kate! Always admirable to grab that grumpy bull by the horns. Similar to your pen-derived happiness, I find that buying a couple of colored markers brings me an undeniable joy. Even just trying out a variety of markers at the art supply store can do the trick.

  7. says

    I think it’s all this gloomy weather finally catching up with me, but I’ve been getting the sad days too. It is really nice to have things to look forward to, whether far in the future months, or in the next few days. I hope these days start looking a lot less gloomy for all of us. :)

  8. says

    I have a plant like that and I’m impatiently wanting it to grow faster… can’t wait until that thing is crawling all over the place. Good luck with yours! Also, if you’re listening to Nico, have you heard Cate Le Bon? You might like her as well.

  9. says

    these are all very good things in the happy making department. i’ve definitely found that walking helps my mood lately. i used to be lazy and often cop out on the afternoon dog walk (or make it stupidly short), but for the past few months i’ve been taking half hour walks almost every day after work- it really helps shake off the blahs and frustrations of 8 hours at a desk and puts me in a good mood for the evening.

    thanks for the mix link too, i’m totally going to check it out!

  10. says

    I know exactly how you feel. I had the same type of blues a couple of weeks ago. Love all your ideas of “happy making” and thanks for the idea of walking – I need to get into the habit of taking afternoon walks!

  11. says

    I love this post so hard. I’ve been feeling the blahs this past couple of weeks but I’ve been blaming it on the change of season. Even though we’re going into a great one it still seems to make my mind feel fuzzy and my thoughts get jumbled and I just don’t feel like prancing for joy.

    I work in a city and lunchbreak walks downtown have been PERFECT for me. I just got back from one actually, and in the process found a new restaurant I’d like to try.

  12. says

    I feel you. My car’s transmission just died and there are multiple other problems with my car. I’m feeling so overwhlemed trying to make the decision to fix it or sell it, entering into the not enjoyable task of looking for a new car. Either way I’ll have to spend money I dont have which breaks my heart because I thought I was finally going to be on top of all of my bills and not stressed out about money this month.
    I’m at a point where I suddenly have a million decisions to make in lots of areas of life, a moment when I wish I wasn’t my own boss and could deflect responsibility to someone else. I want to just crawl up in bed too, but alas, I can’t.

    I hope that you got to take a nice long walk and that you’ll continue to do so in the coming weeks. I need that too. I usually go to a gym a few days a week but I need to drive there because its kind of far away and since my car is dead, I’m stranded. Driving me nuts!

    xo Moorea

  13. says

    I was just telling Jim this morning about an article I read yesterday that said walking outside at lunchtime stops the production of melatonin that makes you sleepy in the afternoon, ha. I was pretty pumped about that article.

    I’m a fan of little mood boosters. They can get me through bad days/weeks. I’m totally going pen shopping later and I bought a giant palm this past weekend. Plant therapy.

  14. says

    I actually bought myself a plant last night. Perfect timing! Caring for and enjoying plants can be so soothing. Anyway, thanks for sharing this post! I think so many of us know the feeling of a week or two where you just can’t shake the blues. Nice to know we’re not alone.

  15. says

    I can totally relate with you. I’m trying to take it one day at a time and focus on little things that can bring glimmers of joy, whether it be lunch with a friend, or collecting colorful images that liven up my dreary days. As someone once said, the days are long but the years are short!

  16. gia says

    Along with walks, my other favorite things are gym time, and meditation. You can find some good meditation cd’s with Deepak Chopra or I found a free 10 minute one on the Yoga International magazine website. Listen to them on your headphones. It’s epic. I also wrote a pretty note to myself in big letters, “Your Peace is your Own” and it’s been my mantra. People get tense these days so it’s good for me and for them to keep my own calm. xoxo

  17. gia says

    P.S. I put a slant on your whiskey maple sour drink. I make it with vodka, lots of lemon and dash of maple. My male friend liked it so much he brought back maple syrup from Vermont for me. Meditation + vodka lemon… a good start.

  18. says

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I’ve been trying to shake some March blues as well and reading this post makes me feel not crazy. Thanks!

  19. says

    gaaawwd I know how you feel! I get so easily overwhelmed by things bugging – mostly when there are things I am ‘scared’ to do or avoiding – and I feel like I am getting so much better at handling it. Sometimes though, there is nothing to do, I have to wast a whole day feeling sorry for myself and hiding, before I realize that, hey, you CAN actually do stuff to get out of it!

  20. Jo says

    Yeah retail therapy can always help. And I don’t think we have to excuse it – in the big scheme of the world it might not be the most important thing, no, but it makes us feel better in that moment, and that is so worth it. Enjoy the plant – bedroom plants are the best.

  21. laura says

    I hear you. I actually bought myself some little penguin paper clips from jet pens a few weeks ago (!) that sit on my desk and make me feel happy. Cleaning my desk and going out for a walk at lunch can do wondrous things for my well-being — happy to hear that I’m not alone!

  22. says

    I can definitely relate…and I too feel that the little things keep me from despair when big things are overwhelming. The golden moments mostly come from being outside, I find – the particular light of the day, the feeling of the air, good smells from the bakery, birdsong or a happy kid. Sounds cheesy, but it’s true. :)

  23. says

    i find that, as someone who moves a lot, even if i enjoy a place, big changes in weather or lifestyle bum me out after a year or so…but then i move and miss wherever i left. now i have to stay-put to maintain a healthy relationship, but i am not a california girl and that is where we are presently stuck…
    best wishes

  24. says

    great post, i can totally relate to having those “off” weeks :( And seriously, being able to pick yourself up from them is a tough feat sometimes, so thanks for sharing with your readers :) Ive been in an downer week, but mostly because im sick… Anywho, I think im going out to buy a plant, thanks to this post!
    Hope youre feeling much better

  25. Karin says

    Hi Kate! I’m in the market for a new plant and I thought I’d start with your blog for inspiration. Do you know/remember what kind this one is?


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