Week #169 – Four Weeks to Happyness: Make your house a Special Delivery! (Happyness in Action — with Jessica Suto)

Special Delivery! (used with permission: Jessica Suto)

Week #169 – Four Weeks to Happyness: Make your house a Special Delivery! (Happyness in Action — with Jessica Suto)

Greetings Happyness Tribe!

You might remember back in Week #95 a challenge to leave something cool to drink for our mail carriers and other workers who were sweating it out during a summer heat wave.

Well, the holiday shopping season is here — and we are headed into the two heaviest delivery weeks for our mail carriers, delivery drivers, and package handlers.

Which is why  I am so excited to share this story of Happyness in Action with you!

Rob’s classmate — Jessica Suto — posted an idea to her Facebook page that caught my attention this week.  It was a forward from another site with a basket of snacks/water on the doorstep as a thank-you to those who are handling the added volume.  

(You can see the original post here.)

Knowing Jessica and her heart of gold — I reached out to her to see if this was something she actually does.  Indeed it was!

“I saw a friend share it (the original post), then thought how great my delivery guys have been, especially my UPS driver, he actually brings heavy things to the back door and if I’m home, he will bring them in for me.”

Jessica is a Navy Veteran with some health complications.  Online shopping for food and supplies is easy enough…but a little help with the heavy lifting is a big plus!

“At that time, I wasn’t able to tip, and when my friend shared this it was just an instant thing.”

An instant way to Spread Happyness!  How about that?!  🙂

As I was chatting with Jessica over messenger, she told me that just today she came home to a porch full of deliveries…and an empty basket!

“That, as well, put a smile on my face!”

I checked around social media to see if others were implementing this idea.  One woman in Georgia replied instantly that she loved it and was going to see what she could scrounge up.  Within minutes, she posted a photo of her front porch with a basket of goodies and a thank you note to her delivery people!

It was interesting to hear from drivers/delivery people as well.  Jeffery Linden, a UPS team member from Windsor, Connecticut, chimed in:

“I remember being out on the road this time of year. People either smiled or grimaced at you. A grab and go snack will make them happy!”

I asked Jeffery, what other simple things people can do to acknowledge drivers/delivery people?

“Just understand their stops are measured by the seconds, and understand if they are polite but never stop moving.”

(That’s good to know!)

As for Jessica, I asked her what Happyness means to her this holiday season as she gets ready to pack up and move across the country.

“Norm (just like in Cheers) is my mailman.  He is always super happy-go-lucky with a big smile on his face. I want to pack him and my UPS driver and take them with me!!!”

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: Make your house a SPECIAL DELIVERY!  Assemble a basket of goodies, water, gum, etc. and leave it on your porch with a note to your mail carrier, delivery people, or package handlers.  (A Giving Tree would be a lot of fun, too — with the goodies/snacks attached to branches!)  In Jessica’s words, “this time of year they are super busy, so make sure to thank them.  Also, the next time something is late, damaged or lost, don’t take it out on the carrier.  They didn’t necessarily do that.”  For Jessica, the fulfillment of knowing that these little gestures make their day — also makes hers!

Jessica’s note on her porch reads (in the photo above), “To the greatest deliverymen in town, thanks for all you do, and everything you have done for me.”

She’s going to miss them…and I think they’re going to miss her, too!

Spread Happyness — leave a Special Delivery for your delivery people this week!

(And if you or someone you know has a fun way to Spread Happyness this holiday season — please let me know!  I’d love to feature their story of Happyness in Action on the blog!)

12/8/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

(PS: A very special thanks to Jessica Suto for her service to this country — and for taking extra time out of her day to trade messages with me!  And thanks to Jeffery Linden for sharing his perspective, as well!)

Week #168 – Five Weeks to Happyness: MONSTER TRUCKS for TOYS! (Happyness Re-Revisited — with Amy Wood-Oblen)

Week #168 – Five Weeks to Happyness: MONSTER TRUCKS for TOYS!
(Happyness Re-Revisited — with Amy Wood-Oblen)

Greetings Happyness Tribe — and Happy December!

The holiday season is officially upon us — and nothing pleases me more than to revisit the story of a young mother paying it forward as part of our Year-End Countdown to Happyness!

Rob’s classmate — Amy Wood-Oblen and her family — are ONCE AGAIN (and one last time at the Chatterbox) headlining the Monster Trucks for Toys Event at the Chatterbox Drive-In in Augusta, NJ.  


This year’s event takes place on Saturday, December 2nd from 11-3p  — and will continue 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 told me in 2014 that she 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 they helped me to put presents under my tree, so I owe them a lot.”

This all started years ago while Amy’s husband Shawn (owner of NJ Monster Trucks) was eating at the Chatterbox Drive-In — and talking with owner.  During that conversation, they came up with the idea of doing rides for toys.

Five or six years later now, it’s a tradition!  

Each year, they collected a dining room full of toys!  (See photo below.)  Toys that will go to children right in Amy and Sean’s — and The Chatterbox’s — own backyard.  Amy added, “it’s a plus to know it will be local children receiving the gifts.”


2015 Monster Truck Toy Drive (photo credit: Amy Wood-Oblen)

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 once again starting early — with a rain/snow date of Sunday, December 3rd.

It’s been years now since Amy has needed to apply for help at Christmas.  “I still can feel the anxious feeling waiting to see if I would qualify to receive gifts. It’s been 11 years and it’s still so fresh to me.”  Doing the toy drive allows her to take that feeling away from other parents.

“Seeing and living the magic through my children and knowing we can give other children that same magic is what Happyness means to us.”

Last year, Amy shared a photo of her two youngest (Shane and Sammy) helping out at the 2016 event.  Anyone who knows Amy or her family knows that the kids are very involved with the Monster Truck events.  “I love that my kids enjoy helping other children. It makes them feel good.”

Amy’s children help with last year’s gifts. (Photo used with permission: Amy Wood-Oblen)

As many people know, The Chatterbox has been sold and will be closing in 2018 — making this the last year to attend the event at this unique location.  But that won’t stop Amy.  She told me she hopes to partner with another nearby business to keep this yearly tradition going in the future.

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: GIVE GENEROUSLY!!! As I wrote in Week #11 when this blog first started, one of my brother’s greatest joys was donating to Toys for Tots each year.  Spread the Wealth again this year!  If you’re a Sussex County local, Amy’s event on Saturday is a great place to start.  Otherwise — find a church, local food bank (don’t forget the coffee!), Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, or other organization that will benefit people in need right in your own backyard!

Spread Happyness — GIVE GENEROUSLY!  Spread the Wealth and donate a game or toy (or food, coffee, pajamas, etc.) to those in need this year!

(And if you or someone you know is hosting their own local charity event or fundraiser that Spreads Happyness directly to those who need it — please let me know!  I’d love to feature them on the blog!)

12/1/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

(PS: Special thanks to Amy Wood-Oblen for taking the time to share and update her story with me again this year!  To learn more about NJ Monster Trucks, visit them on Facebook at facebook.com/NJMonsters)

Week #167 – Six Weeks to Happyness: Count Your Blessings!  (30 Days of Gratitude Starts Now!)

Count Your Blessings (www.spreadhappyness.com)

Week #167 – Six Weeks to Happyness: Count Your Blessings!  (30 Days of Gratitude Starts Now!)

Greetings Happyness Tribe — and Happy Holidays!

Isn’t it strange that after our single biggest day of giving thanks — we turn and face the most commercial season of the year?

It’s no secret that retailers thrive on lack to drive their profits.  And as many Americans are trying desperately to simplify the holidays — retailers seem to scream even louder to get our attention.

It turns what many desire to be a season of happiness and contentment into a season of lack and comparison.

And so, I wanted to repeat my challenge from last year…to continue giving thanks into December and give ourselves the gift of gratitude this holiday season!

(This idea was born out of my own lack of gratitude last year.  You can read about it on Week #115.)

So here it is!  A very simple, one-page calendar that you (or your kids) can hang on your wall or refrigerator and fill in each day — and a challenge to Count Your Blessings for 30 days straight!  Think you can do it?!

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!  Give yourself the gift of gratitude this holiday season!  Download the 30 Days of Gratitude printable PDF and start counting your blessings today!  Come December 24th — you’ll have 30 reminders of everything that is going right and well in your life!  (And I will too!)

Spread Happyness — Share Freely!  And start counting your blessings today!

11/24/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #166 – Seven Weeks to Happyness: “It feels like you have forever…you don’t.” (JoCheryl Holcombe)

(JoCheryl Holcombe via Facebook on 11/15/17)

Week #166 – Seven Weeks to Happyness: “It feels like you have forever…you don’t.” (JoCheryl Holcombe)

I’m counting down the last ten Fridays of 2017 — and today, as we head into Thanksgiving Week, I’m simply going to quote JoCheryl Holcombe, who lost EIGHT family members (TEN if you include an unborn child and a close family friend) in the Sutherland Springs, Texas shooting earlier this month on November 5th.

An acquaintance of mine is friends with her and shared her Facebook post from this past Wednesday, November 15th — the day her town gathered together to celebrate the lives of the Holcombe and Hill families that were killed en masse just ten days before.

You can see JoCheryl’s public message on FB here.

I couldn’t possibly add anything to that — except to agree and share it with you.  As you gather together with family this week — if you get along or you don’t get along — remember, it may feel like you have forever.

You don’t.  

(But then again, you do!)

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead is this quote from JoCheryl Holcombe:
“So, when you think of those you love and it feels like you have forever, just remember you don’t, but then again, YOU DO! make this life matter, our soul is the only thing we take with us when we are done…it’s worth tending, it’s worth making meaningful deep connections and living each moment in the fullest most meaningful way. BECAUSE everything can change in a holy instant 
(JoCheryl Holcombe via Facebook — 11/15/17)

Spread Happyness — make your moments matter!  

And Have a Happy Thanksgiving Week!

11/17/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #165 – Eight Weeks to Happyness: Thank a Veteran!

Thank a Veteran (photo credit: Robert Church, Jr.)

Thank a Veteran (photo credit: Robert Church, Jr.)

Week #165 – Eight Weeks to Happyness: Thank a Veteran!

I’m counting down the last ten Fridays of 2017 — and tomorrow is Veteran’s Day!

So, once again, I wanted to repeat last year’s post — because after another contentious election week, there is always one thing we can agree on:

Thanking a veteran is always the right thing to do!

Tomorrow — November 11th — is Veterans Day.  It was originally known as “Armistice Day”, marking the first anniversary of the end of WWI — which came to an end on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918.  Since 1954 it has been known as Veterans Day — a day set aside to honor all those who served in the United States Armed Forces, who swore on their very lives to support and defend this great country and her constitution.

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: Thank a Veteran!  That private vote you cast (or chose to abstain from) this week…was protected by a veteran.  That free speech you have enjoyed in your workplace, in your place of worship, or online…was protected by a veteran.  That right to protest…or to protest the protesters…is protected by a veteran.  The freedom to oppose, support, engage in, or criticize our democracy…all protected by a veteran.

So regardless of what side of the aisle you are on…put down your words and your weapons, even if it’s just for a moment, and THANK A VETERAN!

Spread Happyness — and thank a veteran, ALWAYS!

11/10/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #164 – Nine Weeks to Happyness: Vote “YES” to Happyness!


Week #164 – Nine Weeks to Happyness: Vote “YES” to Happyness!

I’m counting down the last ten Fridays of 2017 — and here we are coming up on another Election Week!

So I thought I’d repeat last year’s post, because while some decisions come around only once every year (or four years) — there are hundreds (if not thousands) of little decisions that shape us every day!

This Tuesday, November 7th, people all across the country will cast votes once again — this time for Governors, Mayors, School Boards, and local representatives.

Perhaps you’ve supported some of these candidates, debated these choices, or stood up against the ones you don’t believe in.

Can you think of any other decisions you’ve given that much time to?  Or how many “votes” you’ve cast within that time — for or against all kinds of decisions in your own life?

A quick internet search returns multiple sources quoting that people make up to 35,000 decisions every day…from when exactly to get out of bed to when to call it quits for the day.  Some sources say that we make over 200 decisions about food alone!

Each decision is a silent vote:
– YES – I will get out of bed.
– NO – I will not hit the snooze bar again.
– YES – I will floss.
– NO – I will not pick at that blemish.
– YES – I will weigh myself.
– NO – I will not check Facebook before I shower.

The list goes on…and it’s easy to see how we can amass THOUSANDS of little decisions in a short time.

Some of these decisions are quite easy — because we’ve already made bigger, pre-set decisions about them so they fall neatly in line:
– YES – I will go to work and be on time
(therefore, I will get up and out of bed and hit the shower immediately).
– YES – I will take care of my physical health (therefore, I will floss every day, leave my face alone, and weigh myself daily).

When you “vote” early and often for the things you truly want in life — temptations, like really wanting to stay in bed, become small and insignificant compared to the big goals of providing for your family, succeeding in your career, or living a happy and productive life.

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: Vote “YES” to Happyness!  While some decisions only come around once every year (or four years) — there are hundreds (if not thousands) of little decisions that make up EVERY SINGLE DAY of your life.  Add those up — and you have millions of little decisions that shape the course of your entire lifetime.  So what do you say?  Yay or Nay?

Vote “YES” to Happyness — one precious moment at a time!

Spread Happyness — and share your thoughts!  How do you say “YES” to Happyness?

11/3/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #163 – Ten Weeks to Happyness! (Don’t pretend…make plans: “Go get your wings!”)

"He's got his wings." (photo credit: Grace Church)

“Got his wings.” (photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #163 – Ten Weeks to Happyness! (Don’t pretend…make plans: “Go get your wings!”)

This has turned into an annual re-post — because it’s worth repeating!  (You can find the original here!)  

There are exactly TEN Fridays left in 2017 — and where better to begin the Ten Weeks to Happyness countdown than with this refrain:

“Don’t dream it…be it!”

To recap the backstory: for Rob’s wake, a work friend of mine (who didn’t even know Rob) drove nearly two hours to attend his viewing.  While Jim H. waited patiently on line he saw the photos of the planes, Rob’s pilot log, his flight suit — and on the word board he wrote:

“He’s finally got his wings!”

Jim’s comment echoes as a poetic completion of Rob’s long held desire to BE a pilot.  And Rob didn’t just dream about it…he pursued it.  He spent time at airports, around planes, talking shop with pilots, logging hours, and enduring long hot summer days on the tarmac at airshows.  I still will never really know what it meant to a boy who never traveled very far from home to be miles high in the air with nothing but a propeller to keep him going!  But it made him happy…and he planned around it…and that was enough for me to believe he could be it!

Are you making pretend…or making plans?

Halloween is a day for pretending…pretending to be fierce or funny, scary or sexy.  To masquerade our secret selves…or maybe even disguise our real ones.  But look closer: is there more to your costume than an attempt to collect candy or win an award?  Is there a dream or desire or longing behind that mask that represents a calling to BE something more in your every day life?

Your Happyness Challenge for the Week Ahead: Don’t dream it…BE IT!  I’ll ask you again…if your “costume” became your clothing on November 1st and beyond…what would you pick?  What props or clues, habits or traits would you need to let people know…this is who I am, this is who I was meant to BE.  Then ask yourself…what is the ONE NEXT THING you can do to go from pretending to planning?  Write it down — and DO IT this weekend.

Don’t pretend…MAKE PLANS!  Go get your wings!

Spread Happyness — share your dream, your plans, and your support of others in the comments!

10/27/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #162 – “To Whom It May Concern…” (Say “Thank You” this week!)

Week #162 – “To Whom It May Concern…” (Say “Thank You” this week!)

Greetings Happyness Tribe!

This past week I’ve was reminded of the simple art of praising loudly.

  • Someone I know who works in sales received a letter from a customer (sent to the boss) praising his above-and-beyond efforts during a requisition.
  • Someone else I know who works in a restaurant received a nice note written on the bottom of their credit card slip thanking him for his excellent service (and hopefully accompanied by a nice big tip!).
  • And finally, a performer at a local venue took the time to publicly thank the facility’s staff for taking care of him and making him feel so welcome.

Three separate incidents…absolutely no cost to anyone…and plenty of benefit to go around.

It’s easy to complain.  It’s easy to notice what is wrong, what might not be up to par, or what was missed.

And the internet has made it SO convenient — we can even do it anonymously!

But it’s a lot more fun catching people doing things right!  There are probably people you encounter every day who take care of you, who serve you first, who meet your needs without you even asking or saying a word.

Have you thanked them?

Have you let them know you appreciate them?

Have you praised them?  Loudly?  Publicly?

Your Happyness Challenge for the Week Ahead: Say “Thank You!”  Be on the lookout for people doing things right this week!  And when you find them, be sure to thank them — loudly and publicly!  Be specific…and let them know what made the difference.  Our culture is saturated in complaints, criticisms, and score-keeping.  Be one of the good guys this week and let someone know you see them, you appreciate them, and you’re not afraid to say something nice!

Spread Happyness — catch someone doing something right this week!

10/20/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #161 – “Roll Me Away!” (Listen to your longings this week!)

“Rollin’ away down the shore!” (photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #161 – “Roll Me Away!” (Listen to your longings this week!)

Good Afternoon, Everyone — and Happy Friday!

I’ve been taking care of some long-overdue to-dos these past few weeks.  It feels like 2016 (yes, that’s LAST year) just will not let me go!

And while I have gotten quite a few important and somewhat urgent things done — one thing slipped through the cracks completely: my motorcycle endorsement.

And I’m not happy about it.

When I moved to California last year, I had a year to take the written test again in order to transfer the endorsement.  The year passed, and I never retested.  I haven’t confirmed anything with the DMV yet…but I’m afraid it might be gone.

I know that in the grand scheme of things…this isn’t important.  There are some really sad, complicated, and important issues going on in our world right now.  But it was my brother who taught me to ride.  Who helped me achieve a life-long dream of getting my license and riding solo!  That “M” represented an awful lot of him.

And there is part of me that feels I lost another piece of him this week.

But there is another part that knows for sure…I will take a class, I will retest, and I will ride again!

Which reminded me of this post from Week #18.  Because try as we might…we can’t be perfectly happy all the time.  Longing is part of the human condition…it’s what keeps us dreaming, keeps us envisioning, keeps us journeying to find out what’s beyond that next bend in the road…and then over those hills…and then out further along that plain…

So, once again Bob Seger’s words speak to me: “Next time…we’ll get it right!”

Your Happyness Challenge for the Week Ahead:  When you come across something you “aren’t happy about” — don’t just settle for unhappiness!  Identify the longing…and use it to get focused on what you want.  Then, get a theme song to inspire you!  When I was leaving my corporate job, I listened to Boston’s “Don’t Look Back” every single day on my way to work to remind me that my future was AHEAD of me…not behind me!  Now, it will be Bob Seger’s “Roll Me Away” as I set off to recover my endorsement.  Maybe for you it’s a workout song…or a vacation-starts-today-song…or an interview song.

Whatever it is, try it…and tell me about your “escape” song in the comments!

Spread Happyness — listen to your longings this week!

10/13/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church


Week #160 – Q4 is Here! (What do you have left to do in 2017?)

Q4-2017 (photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #160 – Q4 is Here! (What do you have left to do in 2017?)

Greetings Tribe — and Happy Friday!

With the flip of a calendar page to October 2017 — we have made the turn into the fourth quarter of 2017.

There are three months and exactly 13 Fridays left in the year.

A dozen weeks to finish STRONG!

If you’ve been keeping up with your dreams and goals…good for you!!!  Hopefully you’ve been keeping track, as well: gratitudes, achievements, highlights, benchmarks, photos, accomplishments.

(If not, don’t worry.  Check out Week #68 for some surefire ways to remember these things!)

As I wrote last year about this time, the turn into October is usually a white-flag moment for me: the last lap.  A time to stop, take stock, and set a course for Q4 — the finish line of the calendar year.

Last year, October got away from me.  A few significant deadlines, the holidays, the debates, a trip to the DMV…and before I knew it, it was Halloween!

(And Halloween is a slippery slope into the holidays and the end of the year!)

So this year, I’m not waiting!  A friend posed this question to me last week, and I’ll share it with you:

What do you have left to do this year — that you don’t want to take into 2018?

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: What do you have left to do in 2017?  Is there something you still need to do that is nagging at you?  If so…you’ve got a full three months to get it done!  Don’t take unfinished business into the new year.  Break it down into a dozen steps…share it with a friend…find yourself a buddy…get to work…and get it DONE!

Most important…keep collecting the good stuff!  Keep on keeping track of the good stuff!  Because we need more of that.  More focus on the wins.  More focus on what’s right.  More focus on loving our lives — so that we can live our lives more fully.

“Give yourself the gift of done!”  (Jon Acuff)

Spread Happyness — share your thoughts and plans for Q4 in the comments!

10/6/16 by Grace Church
© Grace Church