Thursday, December 06, 2018

Choose Love

My sister-in-law Davini was in New York last week for the US launch of her friend Heather Rose's acclaimed book The Museum of Modern Love.

Heather's novel was inspired by artist Marina Abramovic's 2010 performance 'The Artist is Present' in which Marina silently engaged with members of the audience while seated in the atrium of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Heather won the 2017 Stella prize for her novel, the judges said:

"It is rare to encounter a novel with such powerful characterisation, such a deep understanding of the consequences of personal and national history, such affection for a city and the people who are drawn to it, and such dazzling and subtle explorations of the importance of art in everyday life."


Which brings me to my next point: art in everyday life.

I've realised a dream of my own this week - not quite at the scale of Heather's magnificent work - but a creative feat that I've put a lot of work into and am thrilled I can finally share it with the world.

And that is the launch of River & Sol Gallery the online home of Pete's extensive collection of beautiful photography taken over the past 25 years, complete with store selling prints, books, cards, limited edition prints and soon to arrive organic cotton t-shirts and tote bags featuring photography.




Inspired by a post Davini shared on Instagram while she was in New York of a neon sign that spelled out CHOOSE LOVE, I've made that the launch code for print purchases on the gallery valid until midnight Friday 7th. 

If you fall in love with a print on the gallery type in CHOOSELOVE at the checkout and receive 20% off your purchase, free shipping in Australia.

Davini going to New York to be with Heather reaffirmed to me that anything is possible in this lifetime. Opportunities and adventures don't end or run out, life continues to expand it doesn't shrink just because we're mums and wives and have responsibilities and people depending on us. We too can spread our wings and fly across the seas to celebrate our friend's successes.

It keeps my faith alive that good things happen when authors like Heather take time to put pen to paper and to follow the story, just trust and have courage to go where the story takes you.

xo

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Goodbye Wholefood Mama?



Hi Ladies (and Derek :) (I have one male reader that I know of),

How was your weekend? Mine was great I had the whole weekend off from the restaurant, much as I love my work there it was so nice to have time stretching out in front of me with nowhere I had to be.

Anyway, I'm popping in here on Sunday evening because I have time and energy to do so! And because I want to ask your opinion about something.

Last week I had my first business coaching session with The Content Coach aka Jo Johnson.

Jo and I have actually known each other since our twenties, we met through boyfriends at the time, we all went our separate ways and I reconnected with Jo when we realised we were both living on the Peninsula.

Jo had a successful corporate career and now has a great business working for herself as an author, writing coach and marketing mentor.

The session was so helpful for getting clarity and direction on what should come first in my long list of business ideas, projects and opportunities, and how I should focus my time. Focus being the operative word.

Here's the thing I want your opinion on:

I talked to Jo about wanting to write a series of books and to develop writing workshops, namely a workshop titled Write To Heal, and whether or not I should continue blogging under the Wholefood Mama 'brand' or switch to my name and develop my 'platform' rebranding to Nikki Fisher.

The whole topic feels slightly weird to talk about but as I know some of my most dedicated readers here are dear friends whose expertise and opinions I value I thought I'd put it out here to you, my readers :)

What do you think?

Continue as Wholefood Mama or switch and put myself out there as Nikki Fisher?

I've definitely outgrown writing about what to put in lunchboxes #spareme but I still kind of like being the Wholefood Mama, I still think it sums up to some degree who I am.

Jo thinks it is time to let it go and be more of Nikki. #abitscary

Love your thoughts. Email me nikkifisher@iprimus.com.au

photo is me in kindergarten circa 1978

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Motherhood Unplugged



























Are you addicted to your phone?

Go on be honest.

Perhaps you don't think you are but if you really paid attention to how much time you spend scrolling or how you take your phone absolutely everywhere you go, then maybe, just maybe you'd think 'hmmmm I'm actually super distracted by my phone'.

A little while ago River (my 12 year old son) came up with the idea that we should all do personal challenges, "Mum I think yours should be not using your phone for a whole day".

Ouch. That kind of stung a little. Is my phone use really dominating my day and my attention?

I think it is.

So much communicating between mums happens via text and through apps - drop offs, pick ups, sports practice, school activities often all that information requires me to be looking at my phone, or paying attention to it while I'm doing something else as I wait for the beep of a reply.

Social media is a whole other story of distraction that is up to me to keep in check.

I have certainly burnt toast while falling down the social media rabbit hole but I'm sure much worse things have happened because focus is on the screen and not on what is happening in the room.

One thing I'm really glad about is that Instagram wasn't invented when I was breastfeeding my babies. No mother blame, guilt or shame intended here!! But if it had of been I could imagine myself tempted in the depth of the night breast feeding and scrolling over the top of my baby's head for hours.

My sister-in-law, Davini, and I were chatting about social media distraction, Davini realised she was unwittingly losing hours of her life to facebook so set herself a social media 'curfew' - no social media during the day, only between 4pm - 6pm and even then just for a short time within those hours (her children are all over the age of 17 so she's not dealing with toddlers and babies during those hours).

I don't watch TV, I rarely watch Netflix (I know, what's wrong with me?) but I do lose myself to social media each day, if I'm honest probably for one to two hours. Some of that time is work but some of it is just pure escapism.

The answer?

It's going to look different for everyone but here are some ideas:

- If your phone addiction is really bad I would suggest deleting social media apps and going cold turkey for a while.

- If you can't face that at least turn the notifications off.

- Consider not having email come to your phone. That way you won't be tempted to 'just quickly check' your email and then wind up on Instagram. You will also be more focused at your desk if you set time purely to respond to email.

- I'm guessing you set times for your children to have screen time, try setting some times for yourself AND STICKING TO THEM. One thing I have always done is turn off the computer at pick up time and not go back on it until the boys are in bed. I've had 6.5 hours while they're at school to be on screens for work I want to give them my full attention when I see them.

- When you go to the park or sporting events with your kids leave your phone in the car. Our kids want our full attention in these situations. Everything else can wait.

- At home have a place that you store your phone that is out of sight that way you won't be tempted to check it so frequently.

- Try Screen Free Sunday for the whole family.

And if you want to read a whole book on the topic take a look at How To Break Up With Your Phone.

Now put down your phone :)





Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Behind The Scenes

Two weeks slipped by so easily between posts.

So now I'm making space to reflect which is something we don't do enough in the busy times we live in.

If we just continually strive to keep up with the busyness, how do we ever change track if the busy one isn't getting us where we really want to be? Isn't fulfilling us?

That's why I think making time to reflect and appreciate is important.

And for me that usually means writing.

So, what's been happening over these past two weeks?

Well, I made pastry. By hand. From scratch.

I rubbed butter into flour, then poured a couple of tablespoons of chilled water into the buttery, floury mix and 'cut' the water in with a butter knife like I watched my great grandmother do a thousand times standing by her side when I was a child.

Her kitchen was a haven for me. I learnt so much and every time I make pastry I think of her and think how lucky I am to have learnt a skill that not many people learn now as part of their childhood.

I rolled the pastry out with a yellow handled wooden rolling pin gifted to me by my friend Lucy who I haven't seen in years but I have such warm memories of our old friendship, of a time when all our babes were babies and we spent more time together because life was running slow on 'baby time'.

Lucy would call me on a weekday morning and say "I'm making pikelets, come 'round" and we would sit with the children, drink tea, chat and eat pikelets dripping with butter and jam.

***

This year was the first year that Melbourne Cup really bothered me - sorry to my friends who love frocking up and having a flutter - first and foremost what bothered me most was thinking about those beautiful horses and what they endure, and then there is just the excess that goes with the whole thing.

I know it translates to jobs across lots of industries but there was just something about it this year that made me feel...icky. It was interesting to see amidst the photos of fashion and opulence there was also so much backlash against the Cup on social media this year. I took it as a sign of evolution!

***

I marvelled at grace this past week.

I have a darling friend, Tess.

Tess is amazing and wonderful and talented and funny, strong and smart, she's a damn fine cook,  a natural born writer, loves a wilderness adventure, a mama to two beautiful boys, wife to a beautiful man. And, she is living with cancer.

The cancer part completely sucks. To say the least.

Not so long after Tess was diagnosed we upgraded our friendship and adopted each other as sisters, which is a gift I treasure.

Last week we got to go out for lunch together and when we arrived at the cafe, a spunky young waiter beamed a smile at us and welcomed us in, he asked 'how are you?'

Those three little words rang through me.

Tess smiled graciously, said she was good and we were seated at our table.

Despite all the pain and nausea and vast unknown that is cancer, Tess was gracious and warm and engaging with every person we encountered.

I mean, I know when people ask 'how are you?' they're not expecting to get your life story - or sometimes even the truth - but this day Tess was grace personified and it stood out to me.

***

On the weekend I opened the Sunday papers to see my friend Georgie and her gorgeous fam smiling back at me, a story featuring their beautiful home and Georgie's art.

Looking at those pages, well it all looks so effortless right G? :)

But we all know that behind every success story there's hard work, determination, highs, lows, wins and losses.

You see Georgie used to be a cosmetic sales manager, she was great at her job but she had a natural born talent with a paint brush she wasn't using.

We all nudged her along, 'what are you doing?!' 'you should be painting!'

I wrote the press release for her first exhibition.

The paintings were beautiful. Deep, moody hues, her signature take on florals and blooms.

Georgie worked fiercely to paint those paintings with a baby at her feet and side jobs to juggle to pay the bills and make it all happen.

And happen it has, but it took courage and faith and focus and a whole cheer squad which I'm happy and proud to be part of.

***

Another gorgeous talented friend (lucky me to have so many lol) leant me a copy of Lunch Lady this week, ooh how I love it! The writing is so good. The recipes simple and yummy. The design is fun, love everything about it.

***

And I've been listening to Ann Patchett on the Beautiful Writer's Podcast, so inspiring about committing to one's craft and just Doing The Work.

***

Scary moment of the week was receiving a text from a school mum friend to say that Sol had broken the news to her son that...SANTA ISN'T REAL!!!! Omg.

That's what happens when you have a big brother.

I had a chat with Sol and borrowed the advice from my sister-in-law, explaining to Sol he is now the keeper of the magic of Christmas for the little children so it's best he keeps that special knowledge to himself.

#disasteraverted #magicofchristmassaved

***

There are always so many layers to what goes on behind the scenes of people's public lives, how we all have private stories and that more than ever being kind to each other really matters.

I'm making time to count my blessings and instead of being hard myself for all the things I haven't done, I'm noting all the things I have done and moving forward feeling happy from there.

Because big hearted love for this life with all it's highs and lows, hurts and triumphs is what's needed.

(Coffee, chocolate and wine are not the answer. Take it from me and my pants that came back from the dry cleaner this week and don't do up).

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Transitioning



We're moving.

And it's bittersweet.

Being part of a family, it's tricky to balance everyone's needs, dreams and desires.

And it isn't always a case of the one who shouts the loudest gets heard.

Pete and I have been having a recurring conversation about moving for many years, and now it is finally happening.

We moved from Melbourne to the Peninsula 13 years ago when I was pregnant with River.

Apart from Pete I knew no one who lived here. I think I'd only been to the Peninsula a handful of times.

Pete was connected to the ocean and land here through his surfing and photography, he had some long time surfing mates but they weren't people we spent a lot of time with.

I didn't really care, sure I'd left a big life and network in Melbourne that I'd created through my work in restaurants and as a journalist but I was ready for the next chapter - having a baby and becoming a family.

If I look back on the transition it wasn't without its tears, fears and frustrations but I was deeply happy in other ways because being a mother and creating a family was a deeply held dream.

It's taken a long, long time for the Peninsula to truly feel like home and ironically now that it does, we're leaving.

In the July school holidays this year we went on a camping trip to Waratah Bay and were instantly charmed.

We stopped in at a cafe in Fish Creek and were surprised and happy to find it owned by an old friend of mine from restaurant days in Melbourne. I knew Pete would be thinking this a 'sign' we were meant to be here.

Sure enough he did and the conversation about relocating to South Gippsland began.

This move is our compromise.

Ideally Pete would have loved us to be moving to southern New South Wales to the Bermagui / Bega area.

We have friends there living the life that Pete dreams of - sustainable, self-sufficient, in an artistic, creative community.

After many months of Pete trying to convince me that moving to southern New South Wales would be a great idea I had to find in myself a capital letters "NO"for him to understand that it was not something I was ever prepared to do.

Southern N.S.W. is eight hours drive from the Peninsula, 5 hours to Sydney and 3 hours to Canberra -that's not a location I'm excited about.

Now, one of the things that first attracted me to Pete way back when was his focus and determination to make his visions become a reality. I admired that. Any project or book he dreams up he stops at nothing to see it through.

Trying to deal with this quality when Pete applies it to a vision he has for the family is like trying to contain a tsunami in a paper cup. It has tested me.

And so, I feel like we are transitioning as a family to a new place and I am transitioning to a new place in myself.

A place where I learn to know myself better at this stage of life in my parenting, in my marriage, in my work. And it's scary. And exciting. Filled with challenges and opportunities.

It's time to grow. And sometimes that takes changing places.

Life is full of new beginnings. It's up to us to embrace them.

It doesn't erase what has gone before, it adds to it.

To quote Helen Keller, "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing".

And so off we go on a daring adventure. I'll be taking you all along with me :)

picture: Agnes Falls, South Gippsland.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Money Matters

Whether we like it or not money DOES matter.

How we earn it, how we spend it, how we save it.

There's no doubt our early role models influence our adult relationship with dollars and cents.

In my case, those role models weren't ideal!!

My parents idea of investing was going to the casino or betting on the horses.

My mum worked hard for her money but didn't manage it well.

Her underlying emotions of not feeling taken care of, anger and resentment towards my dad (he skipped town when I was four, that's a whole other story), and general overwhelm about life meant she spent money to make herself feel better. Only it never really worked because she wasn't dealing with the core issues of her inner emotional life.

If I'm brutally honest I've been repeating some of my mum's patterns (for different reasons) - minus the gambling.

Not that I'm blaming my parents, I'm a grown up now and make my own choices but where we come from influences the choices we make if we don't stop to reflect and make different, better choices.

I think honest money talk amongst friends is still widely taboo, it is another one of those life areas where many people want to give the impression they have it all sorted when really they don't.

I've been working on increasing my income because I have a tendency to stay in low paying jobs despite having skills that I could use in more profitable ways. That's not pretty to admit. And I'm the only one who can change it.

Relationship to work and money is both complex and simple, a bit like relationship to food or alcohol or exercise; intellectually we know the benefits of earning a decent income, saving, investing, budgeting, eating well, exercising and so on but what stops us from doing what we know is good for us?

Author of The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron calls money, sex, food, alcohol, drugs 'the deadlies' because for many they can have a huge emotional charge attached to them and when misused can indeed be deadly.

American author and money mentor Barbara Huson has written a number of books on the topic of women and wealth, Barbara says we need to do "the inner work as well as the outer work" - that is, it isn't as simple as writing a budget and sticking to it. We need to look at why we play small, why we self-sabotage, what are the deep emotions driving our behaviours. And her other main point is "the issue is never about money it is about power" it is about women stepping into their power in every sense not just financially.

Barbara writes about the different ways that men and women view money and power and that there is a way to think about power from a feminine perspective, she is not talking about women pursuing a traditional masculine sense of power.

While I deeply believe that our physical and mental health and well-being is our greatest asset in this lifetime, I also know that financial wealth brings a level of ease to life and provides choices that influence our physical and mental health.

I think it is such an important topic - our relationship to work and money - because at the extreme there are women and children living in poverty or living with domestic violence in its various forms because the women are not in their power - be that financial and emotional power.

I would love to see this change of course, and change starts with talking about it.

Something else to consider is the link between money, time and energy. I notice that when I am feeling depleted in one area I am feeling depleted in other areas too. If I pay attention to how I am valuing - or not valuing - my time and energy, it relates to my money as well.

Identifying 'leaks' in our money, time and energy can go a long way to increasing our emotional and financial power.

More power to us ladies!

I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic.

Leave a comment or send me an email nikkifisher@iprimus.com.au

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

On Being Vulnerable

Being vulnerable is not something I really excel at.

By vulnerable I mean having a go at something new and risking embarrassing myself or sharing raw emotions that show I'm finding something hard (I'm super good though with other people's raw emotions just not sharing my own about me!), I do this to avoid being embarrassed and because I want the world - the people who love me - to think I am capable, confident and have it all together - ALL OF THE TIME.

Which is of course completely ridiculous because I'm human, and I don't have it all together all of the time that is just plain unrealistic.

To get all psycho-analytical this comes from my childhood where my dad skipped town - literally - and my mum was left with me age 4 and my baby brother and so I took it upon myself to balance the scale and become a mini adult and basically do my best to be self-reliant and have no needs or wants. Ridiculous. And clever. Because that's how I survived.

At age 44 I don't need to do that anymore but a lot of the time I still do - negate my needs, push down, push through, shape shift, adapt. Be adaptable is a good quality, just not if it is so constant that it is at the expense of ourselves.

ASKING for help or for anything really has been excruciating for me and I generally don't even realise I need help or that it is an option to ask until it is too late ie. I'm a crying overwhelmed mess.

Anyway the emotional stockpile has been building in me lately and I've been giving vulnerability a go, revealing some raw emotion that I would usually hold and taking stock of what is working and what I really need to leave behind.

Even writing this post is an act of being vulnerable. (To all those family and friends reading wondering if I'm ok, yes I am :) I'm just writing from the place of 'start where you are')

I'm here to tell you crying a lot, expressing true emotion and feeling, finding my voice and speaking what's true for me is exhausting but so too is holding it all together all of the time.

I was talking with my sister-in-law this morning, being completely open and vulnerable, she's a mum of 4 that she gave birth to (who are young adults now) plus a number of step children over the years, and we were talking about how when children are little it is easy for women to lose themselves in their mothering, to lose that sense of self and that it is only as the children get older we are able to even realise that it's lost and begin looking to reclaim ourselves again.

Where to start?

It is like having all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle scrambled inside and working out how to put them together again to create a beautiful picture.

In some ways that's where I feel I'm at. Again.

I say again because it is an on-going process this one of self-discovery, growth and renewal.

And I couldn't think of a more perfect picture to share of vulnerability, growth, renewal, innocence, strength and trust than this one of me pregnant with Sol and dear sweet River's little face resting on my pregnant belly waiting to meet his baby brother.

It was taken by a photography student that was working with Pete, she stayed at our house for a couple of days and I agreed to doing some portraits. Such a special time. And on the other side of the fear and excitement and vulnerability of being pregnant and giving birth was the gift of Sol.

Much love everyone xx

p.s. to anyone feeling vulnerable or scared to be vulnerable don't worry it's all going to be ok.
It always is one way or another.


Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Are You a Time Debtor?




A time what?

I stumbled across this concept of being a time debtor probably when I was procrastinating down the rabbit hole of social media but in this instance I'm so glad I did.

I've been a time debtor but I never knew until it was pointed out to me.

American author, book coach and podcaster Linda Sivertsen (aka Book Mama) is the one who introduced me to this concept of being a time debtor.

So what is time debt?

As defined by Linda here - Time Debt is:

"The misspending of time - either consciously or unconsciously - in ways that ultimately lead to a life half lived".


Similar to being in financial debt, spending our time in unconscious ways does not serve us.

The gap between what I dream of achieving and what I actually do has been W  I  D  E.

To close that gap I have taken stock of my time.

How do women fall into this time warp?

There are lots of reasons. 

My reasons include: 

- being a giver 

- not wanting to rock the boat

- not easily stating my needs and wants

- not prioritising things I want to do over and above all the things I feel I HAVE to do

And I've worked out what's behind that behaviour. And it's deep.

It's not simply a matter of "I've run out of time today".

We all have the same amount of minutes in a day.

I've worked out that living in a place that comes from feeling like I'm always trying to catch up and that there's never enough time comes from these (somewhat embarrassing to admit) deep seated places:

- by not committing and claiming time I can stay small and safe ie. if I'm always running out of time to pursue or complete my creative projects then no one can judge or criticise me for what I've created. But it also means no one can enjoy or celebrate what I've created either. (this one comes back to self-belief / self doubt)

- I dread having to say "No" to other people's requests on my time (I am much better at this than when I was younger)

- if I say yes then I don't have to brush up to my emotions and the emotions of my family and friends when I say "No" (which comes from my deeply ingrained pattern of 'avoid confrontation at all costs')

Hard truths right there.

I bet you'd never thought of all those emotions in relation to how you're spending your precious time?

Neither had I!

You can watch Linda's Ted Talk about Time Debt and what to do about it here.

It's 12 minutes of your life worth spending on YouTube :)

So, what have I done about my time debting? Well it is a work in progress but a couple of easy things I've done is looked at my life and set some priorities.

It doesn't mean I don't want to still be a deeply giving and loving person, I do! Caring for others is what fills me up and makes me happy, but I've realised I can't do this at the expense of my own dreams, desires, health and happiness.

It's a similar theme to last week's post about filling our cup first before giving to everyone else.

The other major change I've made is, when I can I go to bed at 9.30pm or 10pm at the latest and then get up at 5.30am.

Having one and a half to two clear hours to myself in the morning before anyone else is awake in my house is a gift I'm giving myself.

It means I can meditate, journal, write, get some computer work done, exercise - whatever I need or want to do without question or interruption.

It means I start the day ahead, giving to myself first.

It's not possible for me to do this every day because I can't always get to bed that early but when I can I do.

I hope this concept of time debt makes some sense to you too and is helpful in making some much needed change.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

44


Getting older is a gift.

Some people don't like to talk about their age, or complain about getting wrinkles or grey hair but I see it differently.

Last month I turned 44.

Turning 44 had a significance to it for me because it is the age that my Mum died suddenly of a heart attack.

I posted the photo above on Instagram with these words:

"I'm 44 today on top of the world here at Cape Byron Lighthouse with Sol and River and I'm using my 44th birthday as a bit of a 'community service announcement'. 

44 was the age that my dear mum had a sudden heart attack and died. 

Yes that completely sucked and now that I am that age and have some dear friends confronting their mortality much earlier than I would like them to be, my message is to look after your health as it really is your most precious asset (go and get the checks you've been putting off!), don't sweat the small stuff and love your family and friends with a big heart. 

And now for the rest of the celebrating. Lighthouse walk, early swim, good coffee, birthday cake!"


The day after my birthday I was sitting in a cafe in Mullumbimby enjoying the morning sun and coffee while Sol and River were around the corner browsing in the bookshop.

My look-after-your-health-and-you'll-be-ok bubble burst that morning when I received news that a perfectly fit and health conscious friend had suffered cardiac arrest. What?? No! This can't be true.

Sol and River came back to find me in tears, I was crying that my friend and his family were in this situation with him fighting for his life in intensive care and crying at the shock and unpredictability of life. That there really are no guarantees and assurances.

Not many people want to spend too much time thinking about mortality and the fragility of life but I think it is important to talk about it and think about it, it can shape the life you live and give perspective to what matters.

Maybe you'll choose to quit that job you hate or stop hanging out with people who drain you, change your diet so you feel more energised, cut back or quit boozing, the list goes on but I encourage you to take some time to reflect on what's working or not working in your life and seek to appreciate it more.

Folding the washing can wait, there are memories to be made.

Practice self-love and kindness everyday.

Nourish and nurture: yourself first.

Hypnotist and neuro-linguist practitioner Jim Fortin says, "Putting the oxygen mask on EVERYONE ELSE FIRST is a BROKEN STRATEGY. It does not work."

This was a big lesson I learned from my mum who soldiered on despite her inner turmoil, perhaps not knowing how to ask for help or who or never wanting to appear like she didn't have it all together. When, inside that was the truth.

If you want to read about the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest you can do that here.

And from a really practical point of view if you don't have a will or life insurance, make a will and look into life insurance. 

Sorry to be all a bit morbid and preachy but I feel so strongly about all this stuff having been up close to it.

Life and growing old are gifts to treasure, don't waste the days away.  Forgive yourself, forgive others and live life large.
Whatever that means to you xo


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Book Review: The Happiness Project

Ever felt like you were in danger of wasting your life? Or maybe you just feel like life's ok but something's missing? 
Then maybe this is the book for you...

A couple of years ago when I was leaving Darwin for Bali a friend handed me 'The Happiness Project' by Gretchen Rubin. "It's a good holiday read," she said.

First published in 2009 I was late to reading this New York Times best-seller, I'd heard of it but there was something about it that made it sound...sorry Gretchen...a little...cheesey.

On the other hand, this book was a perfect holiday read for me because it is a mix of two of my favorite genres - memoir and personal growth/self-help.

In case you missed this read at the height of its popularity it is written by New Yorker Gretchen Rubin, a mum of two young daughters, happily married and fulfilled in her career as a writer.

So why undertake a happiness project? Gretchen had a realisation on the bus one ordinary weekday morning that perhaps she was in danger of wasting her life.

"As I stared out the rain splattered window of a city bus I saw the years slipping by 'what do I want from life anyway?' I asked myself, 'Well I want to be happy. But I had never thought about what made me happy or how I might be happier'".

And so Gretchen set about focusing on happiness, studying it, questioning it, and ultimately living her version of a happiness project - everyone's will be different Gretchen tells us - and then writing a book and a blog about it that has become wildly popular.

The book is divided into 12 chapters one for each month covering a specific topic - marriage, parenting, exercise and so on, with each month having a set of tasks to complete.

I found the book fascinating and irritating at the same time (sorry Gretchen about the irritating comment I will explain!)

I was compelled to read it cover to cover and to take notes but there were aspects that I couldn't relate to and in some ways the whole concept felt like a forced or clinical way to approach life and being happy.

I'm a Virgo and we Virgos love to order things but the idea of a checklist or spreadsheet to check off happiness milestones? That was the irritating part, but hey what would I know? Over 3.5 million copies have been sold!

I admire Gretchen for taking the time to write her project down. Her voice is clear and she's honest about the set back and detours on her own happiness project.

For me Gretchen's book isn't so much about purely about happiness,  I think happiness is fleeting it comes and goes like all emotions, the book brings into stark reality that days can slip away without us ever really doing things that we say we want to do.

This quote from the book says it all -

"The days are long, the years are short".

So make the most of them. And designing a happiness project of your own might just be the way to do it.
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