Week #148 – Summer Fun: Take a drive!

My Co-Pilot! (Photo Credit: Grace Church)

My Co-Pilot! (Photo Credit: Grace Church)

Week #148 – Summer Fun List: Take a drive!

Greetings, All — and Happy Friday!

We are counting down the Fridays between now and Labor Day Weekend with some short “Summer Fun” suggestions.  Because I’ll say it again — while many adults are busy planning their kids’ summer fun, they often overlook their own!

And I want to make sure YOU have fun this summer, too!

I’m just back from a week at the Jersey Shore and still playing catch up.  Last week, I talked about taking a seat.  This week, I’m revisiting the idea of taking a drive.  Specifically, something called “one tank trips.”

Summer is now in full swing — and what better way to satisfy your wanderlust than by jumping in the car and taking a nice long ride?!

But where?

Before you beat the usual path…get out an old fashioned map (or print one off the web) and draw a couple of circles around your town: a 50-mile radius, a 100-mile radius, and a 150-mile radius.

One Tank Trips are designed to work with your gas tank.  The average car can drive about 300 miles on one fill up — 150 miles out, 150 miles back.  That could mean 3.0 hours worth of driving though…and an overnight stay.  That’s why I recommend a 50-mile (under 1 hour) and 100-mile (under 2 hours) radius, as well.

  • 150 miles: These destinations are likely to require a little planning, some advanced preparations, and possibly an overnight stay.  Don’t just look to the beach or the lakes…look for parks for camping, mountains for climbing, historic towns for exploring, or amusement parks for a full day of fun.  From the Jersey Shore, this covers a radius from West Point, NY to Lancaster, PA to Rehoboth Beach, DE and almost all of Long Island!  Where I am now in LA, this covers everything from the vineyards of Paso Robles to the streets of Tijuana — and out to Joshua Tree State Park!
  • 100 miles:  These are your day trips.  Think of concerts, antiquing, hiking, swimming, museums, aquariums, and exploring.  From the Jersey Shore this includes Coney Island and Jones Beach to the East, Sleepy Hollow and the quaint little towns along the Hudson River to the North, Bethlehem and the Delaware Water Gap to the West, and Cape May and Atlantic City to the South!  Here in LA it means Santa Barbara, Orange County, or even Disneyland!
  • 50 miles: These trips are less than one hour away.  Have lunch or dinner at a special place, plan an activity, organize a play date or reunion, attend a fair, pamper yourself, or spend some time on the porch with a friend!

Finally — and these are the fun ones — look in your own backyard!  Play tourist in your own town.  If a friend visited you — where would you absolutely have to take them?!  Where I live now — this definitely means a ride along the Pacific Coast Highway, a hike in the mountains, a visit to a studio, and a walk down Sunset Boulevard.  Back home, it would be a tour of my little Victorian town, and a romp through historic Asbury Park, or a drive around our beautiful lake — and definitely a stop at Cliff’s for ice cream!!!

Your Happyness Challenge for the Week Ahead: Take a drive!  Gas up, stock some snacks, open your windows, and let your hair FLY!  (But wherever you go…please stay off your phone!)  Enjoy the scenery, talk with your travel companions, open the windows and breathe the air of a different place or town.  Listen to music, a podcast…or drive in silence.  Get out, explore, stretch your legs, meet some new people! — and let the good times roll!

Where would you go on a full tank of gas?

Spread Happyness — share your One Tank Trip ideas in the comments!!!

7/14/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church
grace@spreadhappyness.com

Week #147 – Summer Fun: Take a seat!

“Take a seat!” (photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #147 – Summer Fun: Take a seat!

Greetings, All — and Happy Friday!

We are counting down the Fridays between now and Labor Day Weekend with some short “Summer Fun” suggestions.  Because — as I’ve said before — while many adults are busy planning their kids’ summer fun, they often overlook their own!

And I want to make sure YOU have fun this summer, too!

This week, I’m headed home to the Jersey Shore!  And while last week I was reminded of how nice it is to get out and walk — this week, I’m looking forward to a good long sit on the porch!

As I wrote last year following my trip, there is something magical about sitting on a porch.  Something that automatically slows you down and shifts your gaze a little further beyond where you’ve been looking.  Something that opens you up and encourages you to share, to be honest, to be vulnerable.

Something that helps us connect — and maybe make a difference — to the person sitting next to us.

So if you’re in Ocean Grove, you know where to find me!  Come on up, grab a rocker, and take a seat!

At the very least…give us a honk and a big wave as you drive by!  🙂

Your Happyness Challenge for the Week Ahead: Take a seat!  Whether you have a porch, deck, patio, balcony, or tailgate — pull up a chair, take a load off, sit a spell, have a chat, visit a bit, or rock a while!  Watch the traffic, cars park, people pass by, critters hard at work, nature doing her thing, or just observe the world moving about while you sit still.  Invite someone to join you.  Share a glass of something cold, have a conversation, meet a neighbor, visit with friends, or get to know just a little bit more about your own family.

The world is moving fast…make porch time a priority this week!

Spread Happyness — and share your favorite place to sit!

7/7/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church
grace@spreadhappyness.com

Week #146 – Summer Fun: Take a hike! (And bring someone with you!)

“Point Dume, CA” (photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #146 – Summer Fun: Take a hike! (And bring someone with you!)

Greetings, All — and Happy Friday!

As I mentioned last week, there are exactly ten Fridays between now and Labor Day Weekend.  And while many adults are busy planning their kids’ summer fun — they often overlook their own!

So I’ll be counting down the ten Fridays to Labor Day with some short “Summer Fun” suggestions.  Because I want to make sure YOU have fun this summer, too!

This week, I was reminded of how nice it is to get out and walk.  When I lived in New York, we used to loop the Boat Pond and Bethesda Fountain pretty regularly.  Down the shore, I walked the boards every chance I got — wind, rain, or snow.

But when I moved to Los Angeles, I stopped walking as much.  I’m not sure why.  Los Angeles is known for some great walks — and there is no shortage of recreational space.  Still, the dusty hiking trails and noisy Valley traffic didn’t appeal to me.

More recently though, we discovered a lush little neighborhood right around the corner.  It’s still pretty busy with cars…but it offers a reliable 20- or 30-minute loop where we can stretch our legs, take in the towering old trees, and catch up on the day.

And the best part?  While we do carry our phones, we rarely look at them!  There’s something about walking that requires a very present focus, which lends itself to…

(gasp!)

…con-ver-sa-tion!  🙂

Your Happyness Challenge for the Week Ahead: Take a hike!  This week — grab someone you care about (or someone you want to get to know better) and take a hike!  A good walk requires no special equipment, no fancy clothes, and no high tech training.  Just lace up and go…and let the conversation ramble!

Remember, the best way to teach others to have fun — is to have fun yourself!

Spread Happyness — share your favorite walking spots with others!

6/30/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church
grace@spreadhappyness.com

Week #145 – Summer Fun Lists! (What’s in YOUR top ten?)

“Sand Art – Santa Barbara” (photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #145 – Summer Fun Lists! (What’s in YOUR top ten?)

It’s that time of year again!

The Summer Solstice occurred on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.  Proms and graduations are over.  And the last few days of school are taking place.

Summer 2017 has officially arrived!

And I’m going to ask you again — are you PLANNING to have fun this summer?

There are exactly ten Fridays between now and Labor Day Weekend.  And while adults are usually busy planning their kids’ summer fun — I’ve said it before: they often overlook their own!

And I want to make sure YOU have fun again this summer!

So I’m recapping last year’s list…37 random suggestions for FUN during the summer months.  And I’ll say it again:

Don’t let the kids have all the fun!

The best way to teach others to have fun — is to have fun yourself!

Your Happyness Challenge for the Week Ahead: Make your Summer Fun Lists!  What are the top ten ways you are planning to have fun this summer?  Brainstorm by yourself, with your family, or with your friends.  Then get planning!  There are exactly ten Fridays between now and Labor Day weekend.  Don’t let it pass you by!  Make this the summer you take that trip, cross off that bucket list item, make that leap, try that thing, get serious about that project, or just get plain silly!  Peruse this list, brainstorm with the family, share it with friends!  And then report back — because it’s no fun to keep all the fun to yourself!  😉

Here are 37 random ideas to get you started:

37. Take a 3-4 hour “swamp walk” in the Florida Everglades
36. Have breakfast for dinner — or dinner for breakfast!
35. Tubing down the Delaware!
34. “One Tank Trips”
33. Surprise trip for spouse or loved one
32. Kayaking
31. Beach time
30. BBQ’s
29. Tourist for the day in nearby city
28. Walking the boards
27. Rock climbing
26. Scuba diving
25. Touring an estate
24. Time with family
23. Sitting on the porch
22. Watching for rainbows
21. Learning to surf
20. Gardening
19. Writing a book
18. Working on a “summer” project
17. Moving to a new town
16. Planning a spa day (or half-day, or even lunch hour)
15. Taking Fridays (or Mondays) off!
14. Day at the ballpark (Minor League stadiums are great, too!)
13. Outside concerts/music events
12. Hot air balloon ride/festival
11. Pool volleyball (a Church-family classic!)
10. Take yourself or someone you love for ice cream!
9. Weed your front yard garden (and talk with neighbors and folks walking by!)
8. Lose yourself in wonderful music, either listening or singing
7. Play in the grassy backyard
6. Play with your dog (or maybe your neighbor’s dog!)
5. Sing karaoke
4. Explore your town, county, state…through food and drink!
3. Visit a farm
2. Make plans to see friends you don’t often get to see (or schedule a gathering!)
1. Blind-folded Make-overs!  (Great for a rainy day!  Bonus points if you go out in public after!)

How do you plan to have FUN this summer?!

Spread Happyness — share your thoughts or ideas in the comments (or by email) and keep the list growing!

6/23/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church
grace@spreadhappyness.com

Week #144 – BE STILL!  (Celebrate the Solstice!)

“Manhattan-Henge” (photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #144 – BE STILL!  (Celebrate the Solstice!)

Greetings, All — and Happy Friday!

The longest days are upon us!  At most latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere the sun is coming up at its earliest all year (5:42 a.m. local time for me) — and will soon be setting at its very latest toward the end of the month.

Depending on your time zone — the actual solstice will occur late Tuesday night (6/20) or early Wednesday morning (6/21) this year.  This is the moment when the Earth’s north pole is pointed closest toward the sun — and the time in our calendar year when the sun seems to “stand still” (literal meaning of the word sol-stice) in its arc across the sky.

Of course, we know that WE are moving (not the sun) — and, to blow your mind, it’s to the tune of about about 67,000 miles an hour through our orbit!

No wonder the ancients worshipped the solstice!  I would too if it seemed we could stop the world and catch our breath for just a moment!

Summer is always a bit of a paradox, isn’t it?  Nostalgia and fantasy (not to mention advertisements and social media) all lead us to believe that summer should be a time to slow down and relax.  To kick back and take it all in.

But the reality is, for most people, it just picks up the pace.  Kids are out of school, summer activities are scheduled, there are camps, vacations, summer reading lists, and endless projects (now inside the home AND outside in the yard!).

If you are one who gets to feeling run-down and depressed during the summer — please know you are not alone.  It is not your imagination.  You just might be BUSIER than you are all year!

Which leaves little time left for you.

So take a cue from the sun this week…and BE STILL!

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: “BE STILL!”  If you are already feeling frenzied and hectic about the summer months ahead — take some time this week to get quiet and be still.  I know this sounds like the very opposite of what you think you should be doing — but find some time and a space to tune into yourself.  Think about how you want to spend these days.  What experiences you’d like to have.  How you want to remember the next ten, twelve, or thirteen weeks.  There is only one Summer of 2017…don’t let it become a runaway train crashing into the start of the next school year.  Make time for silence…and see if you can catch the world standing still!

“Summer afternoon – Summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”  (Henry James) 

Spread Happyness — share your thoughts in the comments!

6/16/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church
grace@spreadhappyness.com

Week #143 – Father’s Day is June 18th!  (Read this again before you buy another necktie or coffee mug!)

Father's Day To-Do List (by Grace Church)

Father’s Day To-Do List (by Grace Church)

Week #143 – Father’s Day is June 18th!  (Read this again before you buy another necktie or coffee mug!)

In early May, I gave you a heads-up that Mother’s Day was just around the corner.  Well — June is underway, and I wanted to take another moment this year to repeat a little public service announcement to those of you who are celebrating Father’s Day this year:

PLAN AHEAD!

But before you go out and buy another necktie or coffee mug or singing fish, take a moment to stop and think about what the man in your life really wants.

Not that!

The other things!

Last year, I polled the guys:
What is that you REALLY want/wish for on Father’s Day?

I have to be honest, getting answers was like pulling teeth.  While over 50 ladies responded within hours of my Mother’s Day question, I had to ask the guys three separate times — and then only received answers when another guy intervened on my behalf.  (Why is that, guys?!)

Like the ladies, most guys don’t want something that can be bought in a store.  Hell, most of them don’t even want to leave the house!  A few brave ones even told me: “Nothing.  To do nothing.”  That doesn’t make for a sexy wish-list!

It took some arm-twisting — but a brave group of guys took me up on the question and told me what they REALLY want on Father’s Day.  And it can be summed up in four words:

FOOD, FUN, FAMILY, and a FRIGGIN’ NAP!

FOOD: From morning until night — most dads responded with some sort of food request: breakfast on the deck, donuts, waffles, burgers on the grill, ice cream in the fridge, and beer in the cooler.  Rather than buy your dad something at the mall, head to the local grocery store instead and pick him up the makings of a king-size breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, waffles, OJ, and coffee), a deli lunch (fresh bread, sandwich fixings, side salads, chips, cookies, and deli pickles), or a Grill-fest dinner (burgers and dogs, ribs and chicken, or steaks and potatoes).  Make sure you back it up with his favorite dessert — you know, the one just for him (even if the kids don’t like it!).

FUN: Whether it’s a day at the park, a trip to the ballgame, an outing on the golf course, an inside day at the science museum, or the latest action movie — dads do want to have fun!  (As long as they’re with the ones they love!)

FAMILY: In almost every category (except one, see below) — the dads I heard from all wanted to spend time with their families!  Laugher, cuddles, and a few “I love you, dads” don’t hurt either!

THE NAP: Moms aren’t alone in their request for a little extra sleep!  Napping was the number one response I received from dads, too!  Extra sleep goes a LONG way!  Make sure you get some on Father’s Day!  😉

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: Father’s Day is June 18th!  Do you know what the man in your life really wants?  Use this list to jump start the conversation!  Let HIM create the honey-do list for the day!  Work out a list that includes things each member of the family can check off: food, family, fun, and that all important NAP!  Just like Mother’s Day, the most important thing is to PLAN AHEAD!  Don’t leave things to the last minute.  And if it is a necktie or another coffee mug — wear it or drink from it in good health!

[A big THANK YOU to all the Dreamers & Builders who took the time to respond to my poll — and whose honest sharing made this post possible!]

Spread Happyness — PLAN AHEAD!  And share YOUR Father’s Day ideas in the comments!

[This post originally appeared on Week #91.]

6/9/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church
grace@spreadhappyness.com

Week #142 – It’s Graduation Season! (What’s the best/worst advice for grads?)

“Oh, the places you’ll go…” (Photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #142 – It’s Graduation Season!  (What’s the best/worst advice for grads?)

Happy June!

It’s graduation season — and a quick stop in the greeting card aisle is going to render some pretty trite advice to graduates:

  • Follow your dreams…
  • Find your calling…
  • Pursue your passion…

My partner, James, and I often joke that there should be a “realistic” greeting card section with blunt advice, obvious statements, and realistic responses to really hard situations (“Heard your cat died…that sucks!”).

Why is it that we need to talk in hyperbole when wishing students well for the future?  Why not think about what we needed to hear — or wouldn’t listen to — when we were in that same position ourselves?

Our world is moving faster than ever.  Today’s graduates have more options than any other generation before.  Their world is much bigger and wide open than any other time.  They were born into the internet, social media, and missions to Mars.  There’s no telling what opportunities or challenges the next year — let alone ten years — will hold for them.

And yet, some things will remain the same: their secret wishes for themselves, that thing that lights them up on the inside, the values they hold most dear.  In short…their “why.”

So…rather than give vague advice and pleasantries, why not share what you really know?

Your Happyness Challenge for the Week Ahead: Share what you really know!  What is the best (or worst) advice for graduates?  What was it that you needed to hear — or didn’t listen to — when you were graduating?  Can you find a way to talk about these things with a recent grad — without talking down to them?  They are more overwhelmed than you think.  Most might be relieved just to have someone truly interested in helping them build their future, rather than just telling them “how it is.”  This week, reach out and share what you really know: the good, the bad, and even the obvious!

My best advice?  Our prognosis is all the same: our days are numbered.  Big moments or little — do your best to make them count.

Spread Happyness — share your best (or worst) graduation advice in the comments!

6/2/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church
grace@spreadhappyness.com

Week #141 – REMINDER: Keep the “Memorial” in Memorial Day!

"Remember to Remember" (photo credit: Grace Church)

“Remember” (photo: Grace Church)

Week #141 – REMINDER: Keep the “Memorial” in Memorial Day!

This week’s post is a repeat from Week #36  and Week #89 — because it’s always a good reminder to keep the “Memorial” in Memorial Day!

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.”  (attributed to Plato — and George Santayana)

We are coming up on another Memorial Day Weekend — and there is no doubt that you’ll see a lot of commentaries about Memorial Day this weekend.  Here is one more — but it may not be what you think!

Memorial Day, for certain, is a day set aside to remember those who died serving our country.  But before it was called “Memorial Day” — it was called “Decoration Day” because it was a day when families reunited at burial locations to “decorate” the graves of their fallen.  And because many people traveled very far to get there — they would relish the opportunity to visit and reconnect with relatives, usually accompanied by a pot-luck or picnic supper nearby.

So, as I’ve written before, our modern traditions of family reunions and bar-b-queing are not really that far off.

It’s the REMEMBERING (and DECORATING) that we sometimes miss!

Your Happyness Challenge for the Week Ahead: Put the MEMORIAL back in Memorial Day!  Enjoy your family, the nice weather, and the freedom we have — just remember to REMEMBER!  This may mean simply raising a flag, bringing a note or flowers to a grave of one who lost his/her life in service, or writing a name in the sand for all to see.  You could make a donation, plant a tree, or lay a wreath at the base of a statue.  Even after the day is past, the flowers fade, or the ocean wipes the shore clean — you never know how long your tribute will stick to the walls of someone else’s memory!

How do you keep the MEMORIAL in Memorial Day?!

Spread Happyness — share your thoughts or ideas in the comments!

5/26/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church
grace@spreadhappyness.com

Week #140 – Clear the deck! (Summer’s coming!)

“Clear the deck!” (Grace Church)

Week #140 – Clear the deck!  (Summer’s coming!)

Memorial Day is NEXT weekend!!!  And while I may be living in the land of eternal sunshine (which, by the way, is not all it’s cracked up to be) — most of my friends back east are heading into summer.  And for many of you, it’s the BEST season of the year!

One of the things I miss most about New York/New Jersey is the weather.  Four clearly cut quarters of the year with distinctly different seasons always served as a great reminder of the swiftness of time passing, and the importance of capturing the moments right in front of you.

And when tomorrow may not be beautiful…again…there is a sense of urgency to grab it while it’s there.  To make the most of it.  To squeeze the life out of it.

To eat the ice cream on your plate.

And the best way to do this…is without guilt!

I know this…because I’ve spent a lot of time taking care of to-dos when I should have been out enjoying myself.  And I’ve tried to enjoy myself when I know I should be taking care of other things.  It’s a delicate balance.

You can’t be in the moment if you’re still catching up on spring cleaning, taxes, or putting that Christmas stuff away (come on…I know there is one of you out there that still has a tree up!).  So make a list…check it twice…and get some of that old stuff done and put away in time for Summer 2017!

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: “Clear the deck!”  I know many of you (both parents and students) are WORN OUT from the school year and looking forward to coasting for a bit.  Give yourself one more good push!  Sit down and brainstorm a quick list of things you want to get done before summer sets in.  What do you want done?  Out of the way?  Finished?  Completed?  Think about what it would look like to be able to sit out on your deck and watch the grass grow, to take that spontaneous day trip to the beach, to huddle the kids together and enjoy that thunderstorm — all without the guilt of thinking “I should probably be doing (fill in the blank) right now.”  Life is precious.  Time is short.  We never know what the next season of our lives will bring.  Check some things off the list this week…and make space to enjoy the Summer of 2017!

“Live each season as it passes…” (Henry David Thoreau)

Spread Happyness — share your thoughts in the comments!

5/19/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church
grace@spreadhappyness.com

Week #139 – “Take care of yourself!” (Especially on Mother’s Day!)

“Take care of yourself!” (by Grace Church)

Week #139 – “Take care of yourself!” (Especially on Mother’s Day)

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 14th!  Last week, I re-posted what over 50 REAL MOMS said they REALLY wanted on Mother’s Day (and it wasn’t always reservations).  If you haven’t made plans yet, don’t panic!   Read this first for a list of ideas that you can’t find in a store or restaurant!

This week, I’m re-posting again — because for many women, Mother’s Day is not a happy day.  For some women…it is a day of mixed emotions.  And if this is you…please read on, and know you are not alone!

Mother’s Day and Mixed Emotions

Many of the women I exchanged ideas with reported feeling mixed emotions on Mother’s Day.  Issues of infertility or infant death, the loss of parents or children at any age, disconnection from living parents or children, disagreements among family members, decline of elderly parents, or disappointments in childhood or childrearing — they all come front and center on a day when it seems like “everyone” else is out celebrating with their perfect and loving families.

If you feel this way, please know you are not alone.

There are many articles circulating about what to do when you can’t, won’t, or don’t want to celebrate Mother’s Day.  The bottom line is this…and it’s in my own mother’s words:

“Take care of yourself.”

These are tough words to hear when you feel victimized, bitter, or powerless.  They’re more like a bed of nails than a soft place to fall — trust me, I know.  But they are true.

Because if you won’t take care of you…then who else will?

As I said last week, many women reported mixed feelings on Mother’s Day.  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 and your future!

Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: “Take care of yourself!”  Mother’s Day is a great day to remind each of us that “mothering” is an age-old practice.  And while one woman may be have brought you into this world (and maybe even another brought you up)…all that she taught you, good and bad, instructs how you carry and deliver yourself your entire life!  If Mother’s Day is a struggle for you — do what you need to do to take care of yourself this year!  

And take care of others, too — because everyone needs a mom sometime!

Spread Happyness — share your thoughts in the comments!

[This post originally appeared on Week #86.]

5/12/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church
grace@spreadhappyness.com