Five years ago, on my birthday, Tara gave me a little blue journal called The Happiness Project. It’s based on a self-help book by Gretchen Rubin, in which the author dedicated a year of her life to focusing on things that truly matter…and as a result, finding happiness. The book was wildly popular and spawned a global movement.
The goal of the journal is to write one sentence a day, every day, for five years. Gretchen writes, Several years ago, I became alarmed by how little I remembered from my own past, so I looked for a realistic way to keep a colorful record of my life. Because keeping a proper journal seemed far too daunting, I decided instead to keep a one-sentence journal.
I appreciated the gift and figured it would be an easy and fun way to keep track of my life. So, on April 27, 2016, I wrote my first entry.
Celebrated my birthday with a hike to Falls Creek Falls and dinner at my parents’ house — teriyaki chicken, potato salad, and carrot cake.
Today — April 26, 2021 — was the final entry.
Took 4 hrs. of personal leave in the aftn. to get an oil change and tire rotation before we leave on our road trip. Finished moving the dirt.
I can’t believe I actually kept this going for five years. Now I’ve got a permanent record of small moments from 1,826 days. The journal gives you four lines of space in which to write, so I often ended up with more than just one sentence.
This turned out to be a great gift and I am very thankful Tara thought of it. But, not gonna lie…I’m also glad it’s over! Some days were easy to write about, but others, not so much. I won’t miss staring at that blank page before going to bed, trying to think of something interesting or noteworthy to say.
Worse still, if I skipped a day or two and had to catch up later, which happened all the time, it was next to impossible to try to recall what happened days before. Do you know how many random Tuesdays there are in a five-year span?! Sometimes it was hard to remember what happened THAT day! I always had food as a fallback and resorted to that often. I wonder how many times in my journal I mentioned Italian wedding soup?! I just randomly flipped to August 16, and two of those five entries talk about dinner. 40% is about right, ha.
Corny as it sounds, the most interesting thing about this project really was finding happiness in the mundane. Each day is a tiny slice of life, no more than a sliver really, and while March 8 or June 20 or September 3 may have been unremarkable by themselves, they add up to a pretty interesting story. Look at how different my life was the day I started the journal: I was living in the Pacific Northwest for what I assumed would be the rest of my life. I never could have fathomed I’d be moving to Rapid City, South Dakota, two years into the project. Now, I can flip through the pages, and see how a farfetched idea morphed into reality.
- June 15, 2017: Tara found us a house, got us pre-qualified for a loan, then decided we couldn’t afford it. Cool and rainy day — I made Italian wedding soup. (Ha!!)
- June 16, 2017: Started to think about the possibility of moving to Rapid City. Housing is super cheap there! And I’ve always liked it…
- June 19, 2017: Researched cost of living indexes in Rapid City; learned it’s ranked #16 on Top 100 places to live.
- June 22, 2018: Met Audrey at Linda’s for breakfast; finished loading up, had our final walk-through, said goodbye to mom & dad, and drove to Spokane. (This was the day of our move.)
And of course, hundreds of little moments in between all the big stuff. Our house-buying adventure is in there…lots of COVID-19 stuff…various trips we took. But so is talk about the weather and grocery shopping and TV shows.
In her book, Gretchen writes, Aim to live so that you don’t look back, at the end of your life or after some great catastrophe, and think, “How happy I was then, if only I’d realized it!”
The Happiness Project did help me to realize that, each and every day. It kind of forced me to live in the moment, but you know what? That’s not such a bad thing.
I mentioned dirt earlier. Yeah…that was a project…
Saturday, we had eight cubic yards of topsoil delivered in preparation for Tara’s raised garden beds. Which didn’t even exist yet, but partially do now.
Getting that topsoil from the driveway, up the sidewalk, through the gate, into the backyard, and then piled up in two places: the west corner (pictured above) and along the south-facing back fence…which, I might add, is atop a small hill…involved multiple wheelbarrow loads over the span of about eight hours spread across three days.
(Ha…I just typed “three years” and had to correct myself. It only FELT that long!)
I lost track of how many trips back and forth this took. 75 is a conservative guess. You can imagine the aches and pains we both felt after. We decided we’d earned a treat, so we headed downtown on Saturday afternoon for a few hours at our favorite bar and grill, Paddy O’Neill’s. And then Tara saw that Wobbly Bobby, a British pub a couple of blocks away, was hosting Bingo. That sounded like all kinds of fun, so we went there next and killed a couple more hours.
And yeah, it was a blast. Tara and I both won a game, too! The prizes were cheap bar swag, but hey, it felt good just to get out and have some drinks, eat some food, play some games. We knew we’d be right back to hauling dirt on Sunday.
Which we were, and we didn’t even quite finish. So, on a whim, I decided to use some personal leave this afternoon to take care of business. As I wrote in my final journal entry, I took my Kona in for an oil change and tire rotation. Then I came home and spent another couple of hours hauling dirt. I got that giant pile down to almost nothing…
…and finished up right before it started raining. That little pile left over is extra, and Christmas Light Kelly will be taking it off our hands for her garden.
We really do live in Mayberry, you know.
So, I was happy that I’d finally landed a job where nobody knew my birthday. Until last Friday, when my supervisor said, “Hey, I hear you have a birthday coming up!”
Well, she didn’t hear it from me! No doubt that “little bird” that told her works in HR, ha. I’m just the type who prefers to keep things low-key and doesn’t need people to make a big fuss over my birthday, but she said CenturyCo always celebrates with cake or pie. So I was like, well, if you INSIST…this local bakery does have a lemon cheesecake that sounds pretty good…
Tomorrow we are having lemon cheesecake at work.
And Tara is taking me out to dinner at Sabatino’s. Italian food, if the name wasn’t a dead giveaway.
Then, on Friday, we’re hitting the road after work for our trip to Ohio. I have a habit of blogging during road trips, so I’m sure I’ll be doing the same this time around.
Next stop: Sioux Falls. See you on the road!