Monthly Archives: November 2015

Week #63 – Five Weeks to Happyness: TOYS for…TRUCKS?! (Happyness in Action — with Amy Wood-Oblen)


(Chatterbox Drive-In – Augusta, NJ)

Week #63 – Five Weeks to Happyness: TOYS for…TRUCKS?!
(Happyness in Action — with Amy Wood-Oblen)

Greetings Happyness Tribe — and Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

If Thanksgiving is all about GRATITUDE then December is all about GENEROSITY!!!

And how better to kick off the holiday season (and our very own 50-for-50 Virtual Toy Drive) by celebrating our second nomination for Happyness in Action: Rob’s classmate Amy Wood-Oblen and her family — for headlining the Monster Trucks for Toys Event at the Chatterbox Drive-In in Augusta, NJ this Saturday from 11-3p to benefit children in Sussex County this holiday season!  Each new, unwrapped toy gets you a ride on the Monster Truck for free!  (See poster for details.)

Amy and her family are happy to give back to Project Self-Sufficiency’s Season of Hope Program.  “It means a lot to us because years before I met my husband I lived in Sussex County with my son and for a few years and they helped me to put presents under my tree, so I owe them a lot.”

The owner of The Chatterbox has the toy drive every year.  A few years ago while eating there, Amy’s husband Shawn (of NJ Monster Trucks) was talking with him and they came up with the idea of doing rides for toys.

Four or five years later, it’s a tradition.  Last year (even with weather complications) they collected over 70 toys.  Toys that will go to children right in their own backyard.  Amy added, “it’s a plus to know it will be local children receiving the gifts.”

And while the suggested donation value is $5 per ride, Amy says:  “The great thing about this event is how much people give…they give much much more!”

Weather has been an issue in the past because if it rains or snows they have to cancel.  This year they are starting earlier so they can add the rain/snow date (Sunday, November 29th).

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: GIVE GENEROUSLY!!! As I wrote last year on Week #11, one of Rob’s greatest joys was donating to Toys for Tots each year.  I’m calling on you — Rob’s Happyness Family — to spread the wealth with another “50-for-50 Virtual Toy Drive” this year.  If you’re local, Amy’s event on Saturday is a great place to start.  Otherwise, you choose your gift and your location (Rob chose Toys for Tots, but there are many other options in your community — a church, local foodbank, Salvation Army, or other organization).  Just let us know what you donated and where…and maybe even post a photo!  I’ll tally up the info and post a running total each week, with a grand total at the end of the month!

Last year we tallied about 50 donations — which was MATCHED by two anonymous donors — for a total of 100 donations!

Whattya say, Team Happyness…can we top it?!

Spread Happyness — GIVE GENEROUSLY!  Spread the Wealth and donate a game or toy (or food, etc.) in Rob’s honor this year!  (Then tell us about it — post a comment, send a photo, or share this challenge with others!)

11/27/15 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

(PS: Special thanks to Amy Wood-Oblen for taking the time to share her story!  To learn more about NJ Monster Trucks, visit them on Facebook at

50 for #50 Toy Drive Update  (AS OF 12/12/15):
1. A football, Hot Wheels set, Loom activity set, 500-piece puzzle, toy construction vehicle, mini construction vehicle set, and a tea party set were donated to Toys for Tots.
2. Lego Friends toy donated at Turtleback Zoo Toy Drive.
3. Donation was made to Teterboro Animal Shelter
4. Donation was made to Endometriosis Foundation of America

Week #62 – Six Weeks to Happyness: EXPRESS YOURSELF!!! (Happyness in Action –with Scott Cuzzo)

Free coloring page!

“Express yourself!” (

Week #62 – Six Weeks to Happyness: EXPRESS YOURSELF!!
(Happyness in Action — with Graphic Designer, Scott Cuzzo)

Greetings Happyness Tribe!

Last week I asked you to send me your nominations for individuals who TAKE ACTION and Spread Happyness for the benefit of others.  In exchange, I promised to donate one can of coffee to the local food bank for each nomination.  Well…I’m pleased to announce I have a nice little line-up of individuals who are making wonderful contributions at their local levels — and a half-dozen tubs of Folgers ready for good homes!

I’ll look forward to sharing each of their stories with you in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, here is our first nomination for Happyness in Action: Graphic Designer and Illustrator, Scott Cuzzo (, for his free coffee cup coloring page — and an important message about what the world needs from YOU!

Scott is a graphic designer and illustrator who, just this past May, decided to put his skills to work for himself by creating and publishing his own version of adult coloring books.  While engaging in an online chat for people who care for elderly parents, someone said: “I wish I had coloring books to bring my mom, but they are either too complicated (like the current adult book trend), or silly children’s books.”  As a designer and illustrator, Scott realized that he could fill this need, that he could do it quickly, and with no funding.  Above all, Scott realized it was important work.  From there, Scott created a brand and a logo — and got a quick blog up and running.  SpryMind was born…with a mission to design coloring books suitable for all ages by providing a range of difficulty and topics.

Six months later, Scott has four coloring books available on Amazon — and last week he found himself in the middle of a social media controversy over coffee cups.  Like most people…Scott had his own strong opinions but he told me he tries not to engage in religion or politics on Facebook.  So he created something instead!  “I’m a creative person…and my brain just reacts to things. I thought…let’s give people a cup…and they can decorate it however they choose!”

“Go for it!  It’s just a cup!” — Scott Cuzzo

The idea struck fast…and within an hour he was done.  “The topic was hot, so I acted quickly. Waiting too long would have been a fail.”  He drew the cup…and put it out there on his Facebook page.  For free!

The response?  Scott’s surprised at how many people shared his post!  Some have even colored them in and sent them back to him.  And me…well…I contacted him for an interview!  Why?  Because he TOOK ACTION to make people happy!

“I just wanted to respond in a way that didn’t create anything negative. I love to make people laugh. Laughter is vital and healing.” — Scott Cuzzo

Seems easy right?  It’s not.  In Scott’s own words, “It’s so easy to come up with ideas! Follow through is HARD.”  He added: “Fear is real. It creeps in and must be destroyed…regularly.”

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: EXPRESS YOURSELF!!!  The world needs your skills, your ideas, your commitment, AND your follow through!  It isn’t easy, I know.  There are thousands of distractions and an abundance of (sometimes very good) reasons not to do things.  Start today!  It might be as simple as Scott’s blank coffee cup coloring page!  Print it out and use it to create YOUR vision of the holiday season ahead.  Make it a family project, a business contest, or office icebreaker.  Most important…share it with others!  We don’t need social media memes or some corporation to tell us what to think…EXPRESS YOURSELF!

“The world is a fragile, sad, messed up place.  It needs your love.  Give it away freely and generously, like you’re made of the stuff.  Start now.”  – Scott Cuzzo

Spread Happyness — EXPRESS YOURSELF in the comments!  (And if you do color in the page…please share it with Scott!  Or send him dark chocolate…he really likes that!)

11/20/15 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

(To learn more about Scott, visit him on Facebook ( or contact him directly at







Week #61 – Seven Weeks to Happyness: TAKE ACTION! (What coffee cups and Christmas trees taught me this week!)

Coffee & Christmas Trees (photo credit: Grace Church)

(photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #61 – Seven Weeks to Happyness: TAKE ACTION! (What coffee cups and Christmas trees taught me this week!)

There’s been a lot of discussion about coffee cups and Christmas trees in the news this week…which has me thinking about two things:

  1. Did you know that food banks really need coffee?  I talked a little about this during Week #22.  For families with limited resources, coffee is a huge budget-buster and an absolute luxury after meal basics and toiletries are covered.  One can of coffee goes a long way to bring warmth, comfort, and a feel of normalcy to adults at the head of those households!
  2. Can you imagine if everyone who complained about, commented on, or posted a picture about these issues TOOK ACTION and donated ONE can of coffee to their local shelter?  Can you imagine how many adult lives that would affect?  Maybe lives right in your own community?

This was all juxtaposed with Veteran’s Day this week — and I started thinking about people who are motivated to TAKE ACTION.  Three specific people in my Facebook feed came to mind — people I’ve witnessed take action to Spread Happyness for the benefit of others.

And then I thought: “Well hey, Grace…what are YOU going to do about it?!”

I immediately contacted each of the three to feature them and their efforts on this blog in the coming weeks.  I’m not sure how that will unfold or what I’m going to call it yet — but I know that I want to shine the light on people who take that step.  Who put Happyness into action for the benefit of others.

What about you?

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: TAKE ACTION!  If you know someone who embodies Happyness in Action, who’s stepped up and Spread Happyness in the face of a challenge, or who’s taken that step beyond wishing or complaining and actually done something to benefit others — I want to hear from you!  You can email me directly at — or tell me about your nomination in the comments and I’ll contact you to find out more!

And what will I do?  I will honor every nomination, every celebration of another person’s effort, every spotlight shone on Happyness in Action — by donating one can of coffee to the local food bank (mine, yours, or wherever).

My brother Rob loved his morning coffee.  He even had a little 4-cup coffee maker with him for hospital stays — right up to the end.  He always said, if he made it through, he really wanted to help people.  He can’t…but we can!

Spread Happyness — TAKE ACTION!  Send me a nomination or celebrate someone else in the comments!!!

11/13/15 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #60 – Eight Weeks to Happyness: CONNECT!

Strange Magic 3

Strange Magic (photo credit: Grace Church)

[Editor’s note: This week’s post comes on the heels of losing yet another soul too soon: to the family, friends, loved ones, co-workers, clients, and children of Valerie Lupo (Mount Olive class of 1997) — my heart is with you.  May every connection, big and small, strengthen and support you in the days, weeks, and months ahead. I dedicate this post to her mom Jodi…and her beautiful Val.]

Week #60 – Eight Weeks to Happyness: CONNECT!

One year ago today, Rob’s hairstylist Jodi tracked me down because she was remembering and missing Rob.  She shared stories about his visits to the salon…and then she mentioned that a certain song (“Strange Magic” by ELO) reminded her of him.  I wrote about that on Week #9 — and challenged you to reach out and connect with someone when a song (or word, or place, or food) reminded you of them.

One year later…this post is once again dedicated to Jodi, and her daughter Valerie who passed away earlier this week.  I got word of Val’s passing via Facebook on Tuesday…and my heart immediately sank for Jodi, her family, and all who knew and loved Val.  The next few days and weeks will be beyond difficult…and I know now the truth of what lies ahead: an ever-changing but endless grief.

Our Ten Weeks to Happyness is underway — and it may seem strange to tie the subject of death or grief to Happyness — but this is where we have to take the lead.  Horrible things happen.  Unimaginable, unexplainable, incomrehendible things.  In October we talked about setting priorities, taking action, and living up to who we say we are (or want to be).  This week I can’t help but take a step back and challenge us, while we’re in hot pursuit of your own dreams and goals, to REACH OUT and CONNECT with someone else who is struggling!

Especially someone who is grieving.

Grief is one of the loneliest roads a person can travel — because each loss is unique to the griever.  We don’t need to fix it, or make sense of it, or spin it — we can just be lost in it as much as the other person and say we don’t know why…we just know, and we’re really really sorry.

A little connection goes a LONG way.  Don’t hold back.

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: CONNECT with someone this week!  Send an email or text, make a phone call or reach out to let them know you are thinking of them.  If you know them better — make some food, offer to help with a chore, or run an errand.  (And if they’re already gone — talk to them out loud, write a letter, or share a story about them with someone else.)

Grief knows no time limit…but neither does love!  That is “Strange Magic” indeed.

Spread Happyness — CONNECT!  And share your experiences in the comments!

11/6/15 by Grace Church
© Grace Church