The first month of my happiness project may have fizzled out, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up. Rather, I spent the weekend rethinking what I’m doing with this project in general, and what I’m doing in the second month in particular.
One of the things that really attracted me to the idea of a happiness project was the idea of systematically tackling the issues I want to work on, from eliminating bad habits to developing good ones, to carving out time to discover new interests or follow old ones, to start new projects or wrap up old ones.
Unfortunately for me, I’m one of these people who becomes utterly paralyzed when there are too many options (though it turns out that you are likely to be one of those people, too – Google “too many options” or look here, here, or here). So rather than opening my new set of watercolor paints, hauling the electronic keyboard up from the basement, assiduously studying Swedish for thirty minutes every night, or doing any one of a number of things I’ve been yearning to do for years (decades even!), I tend to watching something on Netflix or read a book. I’m not saying those are bad things, but they certainly aren’t getting me any closer to pursuing the hobbies that interest me and developing the skills that I would love to have.
With this in mind, one way of looking at a happiness project is as a month-by-month “boot camp” into a particular area of life. It’s just too much to focus on being a more engaged parent, organizing every room in the house, studying Swedish, organizing digital photos, doing yoga for sixty minutes a day, AND putting more energy into marriage all at the same time. BUT, if I focus on these areas one-by-one, I can spend a month intensely focused on each one, giving me a great head start with new habits–and also allowing me to deliberately choose what to take with me into the next months and years. I may not actually like watercolor painting, but if I don’t put forth deliberate effort to find out, I’ll never know.
Those are the general thoughts. Here are some specific ones about the second month of my happiness project.
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
― Edith Sitwell
When we moved to our apartment a year-and-a-half ago, in May 2015, we rushed around to get settled. We bought all the furniture we needed, we unpacked our boxes, and we got on with our new life in a new place. The problem is that we only ever got to about 80% moved in–we still have posters and portraits leaning against walls, waiting to be hung; we still don’t have good winter lighting; we haven’t created a workable entryway solution for coats, boots, mittens, wallets, keys, etc. In addition to that, we have the inevitable build-up of clutter, it’s time to do the seasonal clothing shift, and we have miscellaneous items that need to be sold or donated.
As winter in Sweden is long and we all tend to hunker down in our homes like bears in their dens to hibernate, I want to finish moving in before winter sets in. I also want to make the study/home office a clean, comfortable place to work–not a drop-off spot for all the things we don’t know what to do with. Before the new baby comes at the end of the winter (ha! As though March were anywhere near the end of winter in Sweden!), we need to reshuffle the bedrooms so the boys are sharing a room and Bing-Bong and I will have a room to ourselves (I have no idea where James will fit into our new sleeping arrangement, as he doesn’t like all the noise a newborn makes). And although we have done major purges with each major move (California to New Jersey, New Jersey to Sweden), we still have too much stuff–so I want to continue to whittle and refine our mass of stuff.
Here’s the list of what needs to be done, if you’re interested:
- Get new coat hooks (that actually work)
- Put up coat hooks at the kids’ height (we currently have this rack from Ikea, but everything gets bunched up and too cluttered for the kids to be able to use it)
- Find a great drawer/seating combination to hide away all the loose items that usually get thrown everywhere (taking inspiration from the picture below) and give us a place to sit down to put on shoes and boots (especially important as my belly gets bigger)
- Mount tiny shelves on the tiny wall for keys, wallets, phones, etc.
- Sell extra table
- Organize shelves
- Store pile of books
- Hang wall-mounted file folders
- Hang bulletin boards
- Paint large wall grey
- Hang family portraits and National Park reproduction prints
- Figure out the lighting situation, including kitchen light
- Bring keyboard up from basement
- Hang black whiteboard on kitchen wall (or paint with chalkboard paint)
- Switch rooms
- Hang cloud lamps
- Figure out Leif’s bed situation (floor mattress or toddler bed?)
- Hang string lights in bedrooms for winter coziness
- Book a professional cleaning
- Complete the seasonal clothing shift and sort, get rid of unwanted clothes
- Read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (yes, I’m the last person who hasn’t read this)
I haven’t figured out how to “resolutionize” these tasks, as most of them don’t lend themselves to small daily actions (like painting a wall or hanging lamps). I’ve put all these tasks into four categories: Easy, Less Easy, Less Hard, Hard. My intention is to work through all the easy tasks in the first week while starting research on all the tasks that require buying something or making tough decisions.
Do you have any home projects to tackle? If so, let’s get them done together before winter comes. Tell me what you’re working on and where you’re finding inspiration.
Photos by me.