About, My Happiness Project

My Happiness Project:Evening Routine


January of my happiness project is focused on cultivating routines. I have to say that my evening routine was much easier to cultivate than my morning routine. My evening routine is time-consuming and I am more likely to change it around depending on the day and how much time I have. My non-negotiables  are meditating and journaling. I do those no matter what and will add as time permits. I go from more active to less active and I find that this allows me to find comfort in the way I end my days.

Full Evening Routine


-Clean the Kitchen




The  next routine I am focusing on is meal planning. Yes, I already meal plan and I have mentioned it before, but I am testing out new strategies to try and figure out what works and what excites me.


My Happiness Project

January Happiness Project- Cultivating Routines

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As I shared in a prior post, I am doing a happiness project this year. I am taking it slow this year and trying to be more like me, so rather than just do it all. I am working towards one goal at a time. The first routine I have worked to cultivate is my morning routine. I started working towards this in December and only as of the beginning of January have I found one I like. In being true to myself, I started with someone else’s routine and it was bad. I mean like horrible. Not as a routine, all the components worked in theory, but for me it did not work. I ended up more miserable than at peace and ready to conquer the day after the first attempt. Here is why, I started off showering in the morning, which sounds like a great idea, but my entire life I have showered in the evening so I associate showering with sleep. Ergo, I showered felt more tired and cold and grumpy than I intended to be and yeah it was not great.  I then worked out some redundancies and have finally found something that works for me.

It took me 7 attempts total to find a routine that works for me, and I am sure it will change in time. I am trying this because I appreciate routine and structure and I like having an idea of how all my mornings start. This routine works for weekends and weekdays, which is important for me too.

My routine is the following

-Exercise (this changes depending on what I am working on, currently it is Pilates followed by yoga)

-Read a Psalm

-Drink a glass of water

-Make Tea


I am now moving onto creating an evening routine. I expect this to take a few tries as well. The point is that I am finding what works for me and it make take some trial and error to figure that out, but that is okay by me. This is my life, I do not feel like I need to rush it and I think finding things that make me feel whole and at peace when I start my day and when I end my day are important skills for me to feel sane.

Do you have any useful routines in your life? What does your evening routine look like?

About, Books and Reading

Top 5 Reading Goals For the New Year

The past year I have read more than ever before but as I go ahead with my life as a reader I want some reading goals.


  1. Actively Choose More Books- I enjoy them more and read them quicker
  2. Do Not Finish Books I Do Not Like- I am the type of reader that rarely puts down a book and I am pretty sure that will always be the case. I am wanting to not finish books that are creepy, scary or graphic in ways that do not sit well with me, life is to short and I will have bad dreams as a result.
  3. Write More Detailed Book Reviews- I started this year reviewing every book I read, but I noticed my reviews are mostly my impression with a few details if I feel like it. I want to be more detailed in my reviews so I can look back and remember more.
  4. Take More Book Pictures- I get most of my books out of the library and I think it would be fun for me to remember what I have read in a visual format.
  5. Read Daily- I want to read at least one more book this upcoming year than I did last year and I think the key for me is consistency. Reading at least a little everyday helps keep me engaged and wanting to read more.
About, Books and Reading

Top Ten Books I Read in 2017

As you can probably tell from my previous post, I love to read. I have loved reading for a long time. I was a “late reader” because my perfectionist streak got in the way, I did not want to do it if it wasn’t perfect. My family got me a tutor and my people pleasing streak overtook my perfectionist streak and I was reading. Since then (late second grade), I have been reading. Some seasons I read more and some seasons I read less. Usually when I am reading not at all it is a sign that something is out of whack, but I typically have been too busy to notice… This recent season has been one of me hunkering down and reading, a lot. I think I have probably read more this year than ever before. I have as of my writing this post read 109 books in 2018, the final tally won’t be in until later in the new year, because I am writing this still in 2017, so I am probably sharing with you from the past (oOoOoOo).

This year I have actually started choosing my books with an active part of me rather than just allowing the Goodreads lottery to decide, no there is no lottery just a wacky system I created to avoid decisions. I have learned that since I am reading more books I like and also abandoning books, I still feel bad about this and in the year of 2017 have only abandoned 2-3 books so far (I cannot remember if the third one was this year or last). I have noticed though since I am reading #onlygoodbooks I have been reading quicker and I have been reading more. My husband looked at me like DUH when I shared this with him, and he said it is that way with most things in life; you do more of what you love. So I have been doing what I love and I have been reading. This year has also been one of big shifts for me and so many of the books I read would be considered in the self-improvement vein. I have enjoyed them and although I feel like I should apologize for that I am not going to. I just like what I like, and that is what I am reading now. Some of these books are fiction and some are nonfiction, they are also listed in order from earliest I read in the year to most recent, not in order of greatness. All of these books I rated 5/5 stars on Goodreads.

  1. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce


I loved this book. This was the first novel I read this year (2017) that hooked me. I did not want to put it down and may have stayed up late to finish it. This book tells the story of an elderly man who takes a journey across England. As he walks, the book delves into his life and backstory as well as those of other characters. I found the characters to be well developed and likable. I also found even though the plot seems predictable it was completely engaging and I did not want to put it down.

2. How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran


This book is a book of nonfiction, I would call it memoir. Caitlin Moran describes her journey to grow up and being a woman in the modern age. I think she writes in a very humorous, honest and engaging way. I found her story to be fascinating and connect with me even though we have lived very different lives. I also found her persuasive in her ideas relating to feminism, they just made sense.

3. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah


I have been watching the Daily Show with some regularity and I still was not sure what to expect from this book. My husband listened to it first and said I should read it. I listened to it on audiobook as read by the author, which was important. I am sure he read words that I would not have been able to pronounce. This book is a memoir style book, written filled with short stories of Trevor’s life with a few overarching plot points woven in. I found this book to be funny and engaging. He completely immerses you in his life. You feel like you can relate and connect even if your experience is completely different.

4. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert


I had not read this book prior to this year. This feels surprising, but although I saw the movie when it came out I had not read the book. This was the first book I chose to read in a more active way this year. Every other book on this list I also actively chose, so there is something to be said for me trusting my intuition and reading what I like. I wanted to read this book because I feel like the end of this year has been a journey for me and I wanted to read books about other people going on journeys. This is a nonfiction book that describes Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey to find herself that she spent a year traveling and exploring to figure out who she really was. I loved this book and found many passages from it felt true and honest to me. I know some people dislike this book, but for me it was the right book at the right time.

5. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Tayler

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I loved this book. This is the second and last fiction book on my favorites list. I have read everything Laini Taylor has ever written in the past two years and they are not short books. I love how she is able to build worlds and lay out plots that move along quickly but also develop the characters. This book tells the story of an orphan boy who grows up to be a junior librarian. He becomes obsessed with the fabled city of Weep, and through his own resourcefulness and intrigue he begins a wild adventure. This book would be classified as young adult fantasy.

6. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin


This is a nonfiction memoir type book. I would classify it as an experiment book. Gretchen Rubin decides that for a year she is going to work to be happier by making concrete practical goals that she can track in an attempt to be happier. Each month she chooses a specific focus. I love how well researched this book. I feel like in that way Gretchen Rubin is my sort of person, whenever I struggle or am presented with a challenge, I start by reading/researching everything. Hence all my current self-improvement books. I also am inspired by this book to be doing a happiness project this year. More on that in other posts.

7. Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenrider


I heard about Tsh through my mom a few years ago. This past year I have read a few of her books, this one and At Home in the World. I have also caught up on all of her podcasts with The Simple Show. I knew a lot about her going into this book. I still found myself surprised by how much I loved it. I read it in about a day and a half. In this book Tsh describes her life as a parent and ex-pat returning and the bumps and struggles along the way. This book flips back and forth between times and locations, but is organized in a way that I did not find it confusing. I feel like in this format I found Tsh to be authentic and honest in a way that made me like her more. She admits her faults and her joys. Her overall message of living with intention is one that resonates with me.

8. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist


I love Shauna Niequist. I find her voice in her writing to be engaging and honest. I feel very strongly connected with her because of her love of food and struggle with perfectionism and the idea of always wanting more. In this book, Shauna describes how she realized her goal of perfection was ruining her life and how she is working to focus more on the simple pleasures rather than making every moment perfect. This book was a good reminder to me that slow and simple can be better than elaborate and complicated.

9. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown


I have been meaning to read Brené Brown for a long time. I watched her TED talk years ago and it wasn’t until a few years ago I realized she had written books. This book talks about being authentic and vulnerable. She describes ways to live wholeheartedly that she discovered through her research into shame and vulnerability. This book was hard to read, not because it was too complicated, it wasn’t, but because I saw myself so clearly in her stories. I saw all my defenses and coping strategies unmasked and as what they are. It felt like a hard look in the mirror. I think though in a way that is necessary for us to truly see ourselves if we hope to change. I found this book to be really interesting and am looking forward to reading more Brené Brown books in the new year.

10. Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman


I had not read anything by Emily Freeman before I read this book. I heard her on an old episode of The Simple Show and I heard her talk about the idea of living a small life rather than a big life, about questioning the should’s and the ego. I heard this and I thought wow and this is for me. I then decided I was going to read her book and I started with this one. I loved this book so much. Emily Freeman describes how she is being intentional about living a slower life and being present. She writes about this from a religious perspective and through vignettes of her own life. I read this book quickly and have since read everything she has written in book form. I think this book is a good reminder to slow down and really live, not to live to be showy or to gain accolades but to live in the way we were created to live to do what we are called to do rather than trying to do it all or be someone we are not.


What were your top ten books of the year? Any suggestions for me in the coming year?


AMP Video Game Challenge 2018

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As I may or may not have mentioned before, for the past two years I have participated in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. I find it an interesting way to track my reading and it pushes me out of my comfort zone. I plan on participating in this new year 2018. Last year, in an attempt to be inclusive I suggested my husband participate with me. I realized quickly though that my wanted him to participate was more about me than it was about him. He reads books, but he is going to read what he wants to read and he does not really have an interest in changing that. Oh, well, I realize my underlying motives were more to have a co-conspirator, but you cannot force that on someone.  So instead this year I created a challenge for him. He wants to play more video games, always more video games so in honor of the new year I created a video game challenge.

Keep in mind, I AM NOT A GAMER! I have spent hours watching him play, but usually I am reading a book and although I sometimes help spot the missing piece, when I try to play on my own it ends epically. For example, I tried to play Assassin’s Creed Black Flag. I had watched my husband play all the games a number of times and figured how hard could it be. I did not make it out of the tutorial mode because I could never run fast enough to catch the sage. Here is how it is supposed to be done. I spent 15 minutes trying to catch him and gave up. This challenge is NOT FOR ME. I would not enjoy it and I frankly don’t care. The only video game I have played/play when the mood strikes is Skyrim and I have not gotten far on the main story line. I finally have figured out how to kill dragons though. Although as I level up it gets harder and harder. Anyhoo, besides the point.

The point of this video game challenge is to expand the range of games you play. To get you out of your comfort zone and as a challenge something you are attempting because it is slightly difficult and different than you would do on your own.

I tried to find one of these online, but the only video game challenges they have are do this type of a play on this particular game, some of my ideas have come from that, but most of these can be accomplished with a wide range of games. The idea is that there are twelve challenges and you complete one per month on average, some may take longer and some may take shorter.

Good luck gamers, and let the fun begin. Click below to open up a PDF version to track your gaming progress, on the lines you track the game you played to complete each challenge and check off once it is complete.

AMP Video Game Challenge

My Happiness Project

My Happiness Project


I have been inspired by Gretchen Rubin to create my own happiness project for this year in 2018. I decided this year that I can choose to be happy and I can choose to do things I want to do. I have decided to share to hold myself accountable and because feedback always helps for these types of goals. I am starting with my own commandments to live by:

  1. Trust Yourself
  2. Be Here Now
  3. Single Task
  4. Take Care of Yourself
  5. Breathe
  6. Forgive
  7. Be Brave
  8. Create Space and Go Slow
  9. Challenge Yourself

Each month during the year I am going to tackle one area of my life and break it down into small goals to make me happier.

January: Cultivate Routines

February: Love My Body


March: Do What I Love


April: Challenge Myself



May: Tend to the Spirit


June: Laugh More

July: Be An Activist


August: Be Creative



September: Go Slow



October: Trust My Intuition


November: Be Playful

December: Achieve Elfhood

I look forward to sharing my more detailed plans on the first of each month and throughout. Are you starting any projects in the new year or any resolutions? I love resolutions and reflecting on the past year and here are some of the ones I am doing. In addition to thinking of a word for the year and answering some questions in my new planner. Happy New Year All!