Monthly Archives: February 2017

Week #128 – Happyness in Action (Take the Giving Challenge — with Stephanie L. Jones)

(Used with permission.)

Week #128 – Happyness in Action (Take the Giving Challenge — with Stephanie L. Jones)

Greetings Happyness Tribe!

I am so excited to share this story of Happyness in Action with you this week!

Stephanie L. Jones is known on the web as “The Giving Gal.”  What started in 2011 as a month-long challenge to give one gift every day for a month — turned into a 522-day journey into the art of giving and ultimately grew into a book launch, speaking, and consulting gig.  Stephanie’s book, The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life launched in January of this year — and her weekly “Giving Challenges” have Spread Happyness to countless recipients, making her a great nomination for Happyness in Action!

And it all started on New Year’s Day!

Stephanie shared her story with me: “In December 2010 I read the book 29 Gifts and on January 1, 2011, I started on my giving journey.  I intended to give a gift every day for a month. That turned into a year, and 522 days later I was still giving.”  (You can view a list of her 500+ days of giving on her website!)

“I blogged a little during my giving journey and people kept saying, “You should write a book.”  I thought they were crazy.  I wasn’t good at writing; I hate grammar and had no idea how to write a book.”

But that didn’t stop her!  

Stephanie started researching how to write a book — and reaching out to people she knew who could give her advice.  “I knew nothing about writing and publishing a book and I didn’t know anyone who had written a book.  I was flying blind and making a lot of mistakes.”

The book was originally going to be titled “365 Days, My Year of Giving.”  Stephanie’s plan was to go back through her blog and figure out what stories to work on.  “The biggest challenge was not knowing what I didn’t know.  Spending money that I didn’t need to spend.  Lots of lessons learned.”  But Stephanie kept writing.

And she continued to give!

“In Spring 2015 I found my first editor and she was the one that suggested 40 stories and came  up with The Giving Challenge name.  But even after working with her, trying to cut stories took time.  I continued to give gifts so something fun would happen and I’d swap out an old story for a new one.”

Stephanie started to connect and get involved in various groups on Facebook…and started to meet people who could help, and they did!

“The book took me four years to publish.  Honestly the pressure I felt to get it done and out there is what kept me going.  Every time I’d quit, and that was like 100 times, someone would give me encouragement, say the right thing, and I’d get up and start again.  It was really obedience to God continuing to whisper in my ear to get the book done.  He laid this on my heart and kept showing up and put people in front of me that could help me.”

What kept her going?

“I struggled with it (the book) up until December 15, 2016 when I was sending final edits to the publisher.  I would take one step forward and then another hurdle would pop up.  At every hurdle, even though I was so close, I wanted to throw my hands in the air and quit.  I saw people around me putting out books quickly and I wondered why I was having so many challenges.  But now I have a great story because every setback improved the book.”

I asked her about that linchpin moment when she realized the book was really going to happen.  That moment where the struggle gave way to the finish line.

“When the book arrived in the mail, that is when I knew I’d crossed the finish line.  It was an overwhelming moment.  I have it on video and I’m a hot mess!”

What’s next?

“Now there are 1000 more finish lines.  Just because the book is out doesn’t mean the journey has ended, nor have the struggles.”  Stephanie’s focus now is on promoting the book, lining up speaking engagements, and beginning the next project — all while working her full time job!

“Time is the hardest.  I work full time for a Fortune 100 company and have a very demanding job.  But following my passion made me do my full-time job better.  I’m happier.  I’ve found even though I don’t work the crazy hours for the company that I used to because I thought hours equalled success…I’m getting more done in less time and I’m more productive.”

Oh…and more giving!

“The easiest part is I don’t mind the work I have to put into all the follow-up I’ve had after the book.  I work a lot of early mornings, late evenings, and weekends.  I love it!  I love connecting with new people.  I love the opportunities that are becoming available now that I’m on the right path.”

Which is how I met Stephanie!

As many of you know, in March of last year (2016) I picked up and moved my entire life across country in about sixteen days.  By June, I was still disorganized and floundering — and desperate to get my bearings.  I posted in a group looking for ideas to re-focus and re-set my goals for the second half of the year.  Stephanie was the only person to respond — and then she took a step further and reached out to me personally via direct message.  She introduced herself — and offered an hour of her coaching time.  My world hasn’t been the same since!

“Giving is a part of my life and I continue to give daily.  It’s a habit that I don’t think about, it’s who I am: The Giving Gal!  I give and expect nothing in return, but giving changed my life, and the more I give, the more incredible things happen in my life.”

What about you, Happyness Tribe?  Are ready to take The Giving Challenge?!

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: TAKE THE GIVING CHALLENGE!  Join Stephanie’s Facebook Group ( and take the weekly challenges she posts!  You can follow her on social media, sign up for email updates at her website (, or read the book and take The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life on your own or with a group!  Whatever you do, be sure to connect with Stephanie.  “I always love to connect and learn about people’s dreams and how I can help.”

“Giving and serving others is Happyness.” (Stephanie L. Jones)

Spread Happyness — take The Giving Challenge and discover your own source of Happyness!

2/24/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

(Thanks to Stephanie L. Jones for taking time out of her busy schedule to share her story with me this week!  To learn more about Stephanie, sign up for her emails, or purchase The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life, check out her website at — and follow Stephanie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!)

Week #127 – Winter weather got your down? Prepare to FLY!

Prepare to FLY! (photo credit: Rob’s personal collection)

Week #127 – Winter weather got your down?  Prepare to FLY!

Greetings Tribe — and Happy Friday!

We are halfway through February — and it’s that time of year when winter has lost its luster and our bodies are itching for SPRING!

Unfortunately, there are still quite a few weeks of unpredictable weather patterns ahead.  (And even for us in Los Angeles — we have had record rainfall and uneven temperatures with another storm on the way this weekend.)

So, what to do with those inside days?

Prepare to FLY!

Make a list of all those inside projects you can accomplish during the remaining cold weather weeks…and then tackle them on those days when the weather is uncooperative.  Because you know it and so do I — as soon as those first nice days hit, you’re going to have a whole new list of fun things to do (and I bet you’re going to want to do them outside!).

Here’s a list to get you started.  Please feel free to comment or email me with your favorite “inside” things to do — and I’ll add them to the list!

  1. Take your Christmas Tree down (okay, this one is for me!)
  2. Do your taxes (tax day is coming up in April — and I bet it’s going to be a beautiful weekend!  Don’t let it go until the last minute!)
  3. Spring Cleaning — start your spring cleaning now so that your house is ready when Spring festivities roll around (Easter, Passover, Mother’s Day, Graduation, Prom, etc.)
  4. Declutter — dreaming of participating in that community-wide garage sale weekend?  Start decluttering and pricing items now so that you’re ready to unload when the big day arrives!
  5. Plan Your Garden — this one’s been on my list since last year.  With 14 feet of sunny balcony, I fantasize about what I could grow out there.  Unfortunately, I waited too long last year and everything I planted in June withered and died in the heat of July.  Plan ahead!
  6. Personal Inventory — update your insurance, financial, medical, emergency, and estate planning documents.  This is great peace of mind to you…and those you love.

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: Prepare to FLY!  I know those Northeast winters can feel like they are going to last forever…but Spring is sure to come sooner than you know it!  Get your “inside stuff” done now…so you can enjoy the “outside stuff” as soon as those first nice days roll around!  This one’s for me too…the word “prepare” has been on my mind all week.  My brother was the most prepared person I have ever known…and he still got caught off guard.  Take care of yourself and your family and get this stuff done!  (Me too!)

Spread Happyness…and Prepare to FLY!

2/17/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #126 – “Have a Rob Church Kinda Day!”

“Happy February!” (photo credit: Granny Church)

[Editor’s note: Tomorrow is Rob’s birthday so this week’s post is a repeat from Week #21 — because it will always be worth repeating: Have a Rob Church Kinda Day!]

Week #126 – “Have a Rob Church Kinda Day!”

Tomorrow — Saturday, February 11th — is Rob’s birthday.  He would have been 43 this year.  And do you remember from Week #21 what I said he would’ve done?

(All together now…)

Whatever he damn well pleased!

Thaaaaat’s right!  I celebrated a lot of birthdays alongside my brother…and there are two things I still know for sure:

  1. He always took the day off from work.
  2. And he always did exactly what he wanted to do!

That didn’t always include seeing family, either.  Some birthdays he spent with other people.  Some he spent by himself.  But on that day above all others…he did whatever made him happy.  And that made those of us who knew and loved him happy, too!

For a lot of people, birthdays are a harsh reminder of getting older, losing steam, or giving up on dreams.  Not Rob…on his 40th birthday in 2014 he was running windsprints at the track and told me he felt in the best shape of his life.  Over and over again, he said he was looking forward to his 40’s.

What a kick in the teeth.

Are you still alive?  Still breathing?  Well this week’s assignment isn’t just for you…it’s for me, too.

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: HAVE A ROB CHURCH KINDA DAY!  If you could do whatever you damn well pleased…what would it be?  Make a list, start a vision board, or fill a jar with ideas to draw at random.  Then, on Saturday, February 11th (or any time this week)…have a “Rob Church Kinda Day!”  You may not be able to take the entire day off…but set aside time to practice identifying (and doing) something ONLY for you!  Something that makes YOU happy.  Something that lets you hear Rob’s voice — or someone else who you know and love — saying “Good for you!”

With family, work, kids, parents, pets, jobs, PTA, churches, charities, and bills to pay…it’s easy to get lost in doing for others.  If you are waiting for the world to give you permission to take time for yourself…get comfortable!  Take permission instead…and practice doing ONE THING that pleases YOU this week!

Spread Happyness…and Have a “Rob Church Kinda Day!”

2/10/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #125 – Valentine’s Day is February 14th! (Read this before buying that expensive gift!)

Valentine’s Day is February 14th!

Week #125 – Valentine’s Day is February 14th!  (Read this before buying that expensive gift!)

February has just arrived — and I wanted to take a moment for a little public service announcement to remind those of you who will celebrate Valentine’s Day this year:


But before you pull out the credit card to buy that expensive gift — or pick up the phone to make a dinner reservation for 7:30p — take a moment to think about what the Valentine in your life REALLY wants.

I took an informal poll this week — and asked people:
What is it that you REALLY want for Valentine’s Day — but are afraid to ask for?

The answers may or may not be surprising — but one thing is for sure: most of them are not purchased at a mall or served in an overbooked restaurant.

Next to Mother’s Day — Valentine’s Day is one of the MOST stressful days of the year in restaurants.  It is NOT a good day to make last minute plans or “figure it out” as you head out the door.  It is also not a day to expect fast service so you can get home to your babysitter by 9pm.  If the love of your life LOVES to dine out — then by all means make your reservations now, preferably for BEFORE or AFTER the rush!  (But if you are an experienced diner, you already know this and have probably done it already!)

If not, take heart — and listen to what REAL PEOPLE told me they REALLY want for Valentine’s Day:

For Starters
– Words of Affirmation: 
the reality is, most people I asked did NOT respond with a request for a gift or money spent.  They wanted to hear good words from their partners.  You can start the day with a note, a card, or even a text (but don’t follow it up with a request!).
– Affection: from young to old, many people (women particularly), want some physical reassurance that you are their one-and-only.  Hold a hand, give a hug, plant a kiss (but again, don’t follow it up with a request for more!).
– Surprise at Work: one woman I spoke with initially told me she wanted dinner and dancing — but the confided that she and her husband always do that.  What she really wanted was for him to send her flowers to work.  In her words, “we know we exist when someone else thinks of us.”

The Main Course
– Dinner/Movie:
Dinner is a go-to part of Valentine’s Day — but most everyone I talked to didn’t want the hassle of going out.  Much of this depends on where you are in your relationship — but preparing a special meal at home (one young millennial mentioned grilling steaks for his girl) and settling on the couch to watch a movie (he lets her pick) was his plan for February 14th.
– Dinner/Dancing: Still, there are those who look forward to getting gussied up and going out on the town!  As mentioned, if this is you — make your plans early, leave plenty of time, and go all-out!  (And pay cash…you’ll both feel better about it the next day!)
– Gifts: Surprisingly, more men mentioned to me the desire for a gift!  A nice watch, electronics, or sports gear seemed to top the list.  However, more than one woman mentioned cash or a gift certificate to her favorite store or service.  (As far as gifts go, permission to splurge on oneself should not be overlooked!)
– Nature: Whether it’s a long walk, a beach day, a ski-day, or a lazy drive — the quiet of nature is a great place to get out and get connected to one another.
– Get-a-way: If it’s in the budget and wouldn’t cause additional stress — make plans to slip away for a weekend or even just an overnight for a little one-on-one time.  A snowy lodge, a flashy casino, or a quaint B&B might be just what you need to remember what brought you together in the first place!

The Sweet Stuff
– Conversation: 
Both men and women reported wanting to “really talk” with their significant others.  And as one young man said to me: “if I could have anything, I’d just want him listen to me.”
– Cuddling: Sorry guys…but top ‘o the ladies’ lists is a good cuddle!  I know you may not be able to understand it…but the ability of a man to selflessly provide affection can be very erotic!
– Sex: Sorry ladies…but the one thing your guy is really hoping for is that you still dig him.  If you really want to surprise your guy, let him know it!

– Couple’s Challenge: 
One young man I asked told me that he would love for his partner to commit to a challenge with him!  Whether it’s to get in shape, quit a bad habit, build a new one, redecorate that spare office or basement, or plan for a vacation — some couples thrive on encouragement and teamwork!  Working together to achieve a goal can be a great way demonstrate your love and commitment throughout the year!

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: Valentine’s Day is February 14th!  Do you know what the love in your life REALLY wants?  Use this list to jump start the conversation!  Present him/her with a menu of options and have them circle their favorites.  You might even be able to team up to make sure you BOTH get a little of everything you want throughout the day.  The most important thing is to PLAN AHEAD!  Whatever your love wants — don’t leave it until the last minute.  And if it is reservations — please make them now (and be sure to take care of your servers, chances are it’s their Valentine’s Day too.)

Above all: Remember that Valentine’s Day is available every day — not just once a year!

[A big THANK YOU to all the brave souls who let me put them on the spot — and whose honest sharing made this post possible!]

Spread Happyness — PLAN AHEAD!  And share your Valentine’s Day ideas in the comments!

PS: I realize that for some, Valentine’s Day may not be the happiest of holidays this year.  Death, divorce, disagreements, or decline can bring about mixed emotions.  If this is you, you are not alone.  Many people report similar feelings.  Their advice?  Seek refuge in the comfort of safe friends, the company of like-minded people, or in the things that you really want for yourself!

2/3/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church