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A Trip Down 2019 Happiness Lane

I’ve written for the blog already about how 2019 was a very challenging one for me personally.

A few weeks later, though, it was time for me to review my year in Essences. Essence (vs form) refers to the feelings and emotions we experience. The form may be something like getting your driver’s license but the Essences would be Freedom or Opportunity. Every month of 2010, I picked an Essence to focus on.

I ended my year end review with a simple realization: It has been a pretty beautiful year after all.

When it came time to wrap the year in another way, I thought back to a post I had written one year ago, a Trip Down 2018 Happiness Lane.

After another 365 days of “Happiness is” I figured now might be as good a time as any to pick this year’s favorites.

January 4 2019

Day 2614: Happiness is.. when someone suggests a new drink/food and you immediately are able to try it.

On January 3rd, I had made a “Happiness is” about enjoying steamed milk at coffee shops. Someone told me about London Fog, a tea based steamed milk drink. The next day, I went to the coffee shop and had it. But this joy is monumental for a different reason. I sat with an old friend I hadn’t seen in years. We caught up. We shared stories. We collectively healed. I never expected to experience this in the way I did and while I won’t write about it further, this was a life-changing tea date for me.

February 12 2019

Day 2653: Happiness is.. judging the day by the morning occupants of the dog park. I've been working a temp job at Union Square since I got back to Manhattan a few weeks ago and every day, I do a loop of the park to walk past the dogs. Today there was a golden retriever, a collie, a couple mutts, and a little dog with a sweater and boots. They were all running around and playing. That's got to be a good sign. Last week, we had a day with three husky puppies (good day) and a day with a chihuahua and a terrier who ignored each other (bad day). Morning routines are important.

February brought me back to “normal office jobs.” Of course, I was able to put my own spin on normalcy. This may sound silly, but the Union Square dog park became a very big part of my 2019. The concept of the “doggy forecast” comes up in future “Happiness is” as well.

March 13 2019

Day 2682: Happiness is.. a friend that will come support you at a job interview. I was ordering tea at a coffee shop when two women got in line behind me. I went upstairs to stake my claim at an outlet table when I noticed them still behind me. One woman sat down at a table. The other lady asked if she could sit at the comfy chairs with me. I couldn’t understand how they were hanging out minutes before but now not sitting together - especially when there were seats available. About ten minutes later, a professionally dressed man came to our corner of the cafe and sat down with the table girl, clearly in a job interview format situation. The interviewer left to get coffee and the friend gave the girl at the table a thumbs up. It took me a second to put all the pieces together, but I’ve been working here for two hours and am just so touched by this whole scene. The one woman is playing on her phone by me and the other is nailing this interview. Supportive friends are the best.

March was filled with beautiful moments caught from behind a mug of tea. I am grateful to have witnessed this one. I am grateful for the way we look out for one another.

April 29 2019

Day 2729: Happiness is.. when you make a decision and all of the sudden feel lots of extra space in your head since that is no longer weighing on you and taking up energy.

It is hard work. To let go of things that no longer serve you, things that are actively weighing you down. It is heart work. I am blessed to be able to experience it all.

May 20 2019

Day 2750: Happiness is.. exceeding your goal. A dear friend suggested I get 25 people in 25 cities to commit to one act of kindness for my 25th birthday today. We hit well over 25 cities. Well over 25 acts. Grateful. Happy.

I turned 25 this year and asked you all to celebrate with me. Celebrate we did, spreading Kindness in 39 cities across 6 countries and 4 continents. It was pretty rad. You can read more about it here.

June 18 2019

Day 2779: Happiness is.. trusting that you know your stuff. Last week, I gave a talk about The Smile Project at the RYLA 7280 conference. This morning, I headed down to La Roche, flash drive in hand to give the same presentation at RYLA 7300. After a short technology glitch (always save your presentations in your email too, folks), I was ready to go. Except I wasn’t. See, I always present with a PowerPoint in Presenter mode aka - the view where I can see what slide I’m on, what slide is coming next, and what my notes are. For the life of me and a friend, we couldn’t figure out how to make that option available. It was 9:30 and it was go time. So I took a deep breath, stared at my opening slide, and trusted myself. After all, there’s nothing I know better than The Smile Project. Giving an hour and 15 minute presentation with no notes and little recollection of what slide came next in the show was not my plan for this morning, but boy am I grateful for the opportunity to have my comfort blanket taken away. And wow am I grateful for this joyful nonprofit.

I’ve never had that happen before at a speaking event. I think a younger me would have folded. It’s hard, sometimes, to trust yourself. But in that single moment, as I took a deep breath, I told myself that I could do this. That I knew The Smile Project better than anything. That I was where I was supposed to be. That was one of my favorite presentations of my life and another reminder of how beautiful even unplanned moments are.

July 15 2019

Day 2806: Happiness is.. a mid-morning walk to a lake.

I have a lot of memories this year related to health and nature. I could have picked any other July post and written about where that left me or The Smile Project, but I want to keep this one simple. Simplicity is the most beautiful of gifts.

August 13 2019

Day 2835: Happiness is.. cancelling your flight in the spirit of spontaneous adventure.

One of the best decisions I made this year was this. After working at four summer camps, I spent 11 days traveling with two of my co-counselors. Adventure is never the wrong choice. I think about this joy nearly every day.

September 10 2019

Day 2863: Happiness is.. a ferry ride through the islands of the Pacific Northwest.

If I’m trying to pick singular joys that define entire months, may September be defined by coming home to Anacortes, Washington and the family and love that I have there. To find a place so unexpectedly that comes to define love is one of the most generous and beautiful things I have ever experienced.

October 25 2019

Day 2908: Happiness is.. sitting criss cross applesauce on the floor of the public library in front of a section full of books you want to read. There is nowhere that feels more free and beautiful to me than the public library.

May October be defined by an eagerness to consume knowledge and a joy of learning. From connecting with people I haven’t seen in almost a decade to reading everything I can get my hands on, I am lucky to be led by a value of education. May that continue to be a guiding value in 2020.

November 14 2019

Day 2928: Happiness is.. friends that you make at exactly the right time.

This joy was originally written about the relationship between my grandmother and her neighbor and how special and sweet their friendship is. However, this year can be defined by a lot of unexpected friendships and joyful reconnections. What a beautiful thing to define a year by.

December 24 2019

Day 2968: Happiness is.. joyful moments caught on camera.

I was looking through the December joys and this one caught my eye. With it, I posted the below photo of myself and my brother and his fiance’s dog. It was a happy photo. It was joy in an image.

I reread 364 Happiness is statuses to make this post. I saw complete storylines in the lives I lived this year. I saw the ones that I was writing through tears and the ones that reminded me of decisions that changed my life forever. There are a lot of places I could have taken this walk down Happiness Lane. A lot of stories I could have told.

But at the end of the day, I keep coming back to joy. To gratitude. To love.

If the heart of all 364 days comes down to those three Essences, then it’s been a pretty remarkable year after all.

Love always (for the last time in 2019),


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