15 Days of Happiness :: Plant a Garden


Today we added a garden area about 30 x 30 feet to our yard.  It has always been the plan, but we’ve never taken care of it in time to plant.  I can’t tell you how happy this project makes me.  At last, somewhere for my squash to run without choking other plants (they’ve been in the flowerbeds for the past 2 summers) and somewhere to plant pumpkins!  It’s not fancy, or very pretty, but the soil is good and all the plants I started back in February are now in the ground.   The watering is all hooked up and automatic so we can leave town and have it taken care of.


This was a big project.  It took us all day, and earned us some sunburns, tired muscles and headaches.  But it was worth it.  The children also planted vegetables in their garden boxes and I hope they learn good things from it.  (Some of them will learn the lesson of why we don’t crowd our gardens this year.)

I’m already excited for the tomatillos, tomatoes, peppers and squash.  I find myself wishing we could fast forward to our end of summer bounty and meal plans right away.  I’m eyeing all kinds of awesome looking vegetable dishes online.

My happiness project today was tackling something big.  And having an awesome husband who worked with me and didn’t quit until it was all done.  We haven’t had time for something like this in too long, and I’m glad we made good use of it.  I really believe that planting a garden is a healing experience.  It connects us to all the generations of the past whose survival depended on sowing seeds.  We learn great things from watching tiny seeds develop into fruitful plants, and the joy of harvesting what you grow yourself is a singular thing.

I hope you’ll plant a garden this year.  Or make time for a big project that you can stand back and enjoy for a long time.

Happy Living, Jennifer *This post is part of a short series on happiness.  For a complete list of all posts, click here.
For the previous post in the series, click here .  You can find the next post here .

15 Days of Happiness :: Pull Some Weeds


My peonies are bulging with promise and covered with more soon-to-be blooms than I had hoped for.  I planted several more of them last year, but the craziness of injuries in our home cost me precious hours in the yard, and the new flowerbeds we worked on last spring were taken over by weeds quickly.  In some spots the weeds were as tall as my peonies and it’s been driving me crazy to think that they’ll bloom and I won’t even be able to enjoy their beauty because they’re obscured by all the weeds.

Today I spent time in the yard pulling weeds.  As I worked I thought about how happiness is often work, or at least that work is what most often brings happiness.  I watch my children grow and struggle with the concept that happiness is non-stop pleasure and fun.  It’s a concept that dominates much of our society, but I’m a firm believer that pleasure and happiness aren’t the same thing.  I’ve seen people bored to death with pleasure because they’ve made a job of it and what they desperately need is work to do.  Work brings happiness.

My work in the yard didn’t rid me of every weed, but I focused my efforts on clearing the space around the beauty I want to enjoy.  I’ll spend all summer working away at the weeds and that’s ok.  What I accomplished brought a smile to my face and satisfaction to my heart.  I’m ready for the show of massive blooms that my peonies are about to provide.


As I pondered this post, I’m aware that not everyone has literal weeds on their property.  It occurred to me that we all have weeds.  Some of them grow in the flowerbeds, or between the cracks in our sidewalks.  Other weeds grow in our habits and our relationships.  So pull some weeds today.  Perhaps you can pull the weed of cynicism and sarcasm in a relationship with your spouse or teenager.  Perhaps you can pull the weed of jealousy by sincerely complimenting someone.  Weeds obscure the beauty of our relationships with others if allowed to grow and multiply.   It’s a project to get rid of them, to change our habits, but it can be done one weed at a time, one kind word at a time, one sincere gesture at a time.   Eventually we get them out by the root, but weeding is a never-ending task both in life and in gardening.   It’s part of mortality.

I’m reminded of the quote from Benjamin Franklin which says, “I was surprised to find myself so much fuller of Faults than I had imagined, but I had the Satisfaction of seeing them diminish.”

So grab your trowel (and your timer if you feel too busy).  Go outside.  Soak up some sunshine and get your hands in the dirt.  While you do it, examine your heart and see if there isn’t a thistle you can uproot somewhere else.  Think small and simple; don’t expect too much.  Just do something.
*This post is part of a short series on happiness.  You can find a complete list of all posts in the series here .  For the previous post, click here .  For the next post, click here.

15 Days of Happiness :: Paint Something

With the change of every season, I often feel tempted to go shopping for pretty new home accessories.  Stores and catalogs are transformed by seasonal color and designs that make the coming season feel even more exciting and beautiful.   They plan it that way, and while I believe it’s fine to update things now and then, I also know that if we update our fashion at the rate the retailers hope we will, the result will bring pleasure at first, but will end up robbing us of happiness in the end.   There is nothing wrong with liking pretty things; the fault comes in buying too many of them.  Falling prey to retail therapy brings more stuff into our already cluttered homes, gives us more to store/maintain/care for, and usually ends up being a roadblock to our long term dreams by pinching us financially.

One of my strategies to benefit from the gorgeous advertising without sacrificing my goals is to paint something.  It’s usually the color that sucks me in, and I’m particularly vulnerable to the colors of spring when they hit the stores.  My favorite pictures this year came from the Wisteria catalog that arrived in my mailbox covered with every shade of blue – my favorite.


Wanting something new, and wanting it to be blue, I decided to “shop my house.”  In the basement I remembered a votive candle holder that my sister gave me 3 (yes, three!) years ago.  The plan was to paint it all along, but I never got around to it.  I  used paint I had on hand from another project and got started.  My candle holder looked like this:


Pretty, but not me, especially with the metal inserts.  I decided to simply paint over all of it, and a few coats later I had this:


I also decided to put it to use with flowers instead of candles.


This project allowed me to be creative, to use something I already had, to display the flowers from my yard indoors, to save my money, and still feel like I had something new and exciting to enjoy.



Isn’t it wonderful what a little paint can do!  Perhaps you’ve got something you can update, too.  Making home more beautiful – and doing it with self-discipline – is a happy thing!

Have a great day!

Jennifer *This post is part of a short series on happiness.  You can find the complete list of posts in the series here .  To read the previous post, click here .  For the next post, click here.

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