What’s warming my heart and making me cry on this Tuesday.

So, those of you who know me, know how much I love Michael Franti. I love his spirit, his music, his message, and his heart. I also love his partner, Sara Agah, who is also an incredible human being. Together, they created the Do It for the Love Foundation, a nonprofit, wish-granting organization for those with life-threatening illnesses, and other traumas. In short, they are two amazing people individually, and even more magical together. This weekend, they got engaged. Michael posted this video on YouTube that he made for her as part of the proposal.  I have probably watched it 10 times today, choking up each time.  Finding love is a beautiful thing, but it’s made even more beautiful when you share that love with the world around you. Take a look, and feel free to weep tears of joy along with me.

Also, if you’re so inclined, get involved with Do It For the Love!


Five things to improve your happiness (or mine, as it were).

Look, it’s easy for us to dismiss the world, and our current state of affairs as less than savory. A lot of things DO suck, at the moment. That’s why it’s so important to nurture your own happiness, in whatever ways you can. Here are five things that give me joy, big and small. Try a few, or feel free to tell us in the comments section below what ranks highest on your happiness meter.

1)Take a picture everyday.
-There are a million different moments and memories waiting to be snapped every single day. It doesn’t matter if they’re poignant or pretty or well-composed. The idea is that you’re chronicling your life, and telling your own story. I think you’ll be surprised at what you capture. And you don’t need anything fancy to do so-whether you’ve got a point-and-shoot, a DSLR, or a cell phone-as they say, the best camera is the camera you have on you. If you’re really into it, start a blog, or a gallery to share it with others.

2)Tony Bennett’s “Winter Wonderland” as a mood enhancer.
-As it happens, I’m either usually irritated on my way to work, or not feeling so positive on my way home. My solution? Tony Bennett’s Christmas album, most notably the “Winter Wonderland” track. I consider this an upgrade from my former pick-me-up: Mariah Carey’s Christmas album (but I still love you, Mariah). Who cares if it’s the middle of summer? It makes me feel better. Give it a try-I promise you’ll come away happier. And if you don’t, you’re a total monster, and there’s no helping you, or that little black space where your heart used to be.

3)Develop your own soundtracks for life.
-How often have you thought, “God, life would be so much better with an accompanying soundtrack?” Or, if you’re like me, you’re on-the-spot creating those playlists in your head, as you’re experiencing things. So, what I’ve done is create those track lists, in iTunes, complete with fun title (also useful for future referencing). Now, I’ve got endless track lists for nearly every situation in life. Some examples: “Smashing Mailboxes”-for when you’re feeling angry, and very Damn-The-Man; and “Sing Me to Sleep”-full of those perfect, haunting voices that disintegrate the stress of the day. Playlists are also great gifts for people, because I think sharing music with others that represents you, and that reminds you of them, is a very, very cool thing.

4)Anonymously committing good deeds.
-This can take a million different forms-paying for the coffee of the person behind you, leaving a book that someone mentioned wanting to read in their mailbox, or raking a neighbor’s lawn while they’re at work. You get the idea. You’ve made someone’s day a little brighter, you feel good, and you’ve most likely inspired that person to be more aware of the goodness in people, and want to replicate those kindnesses. You get back from the world, what you put out there.

5)Do something that scares you.
-This sounds daunting, but I’m not talking about scaling a mountain, or voting a Tea Party candidate into office. I’m talking about doing something that maybe you’ve always wanted to, but havent, due to fear. I’ll give you an example: I’ve been writing, writing, writing since I was fourteen years old. I have boxes and boxes full of journals, notebooks, you name it. It’s what I love to do, and it makes me incredibly happy. However, it’s also incredibly personal, and sharing my writing has always been an act of vulnerability I didn’t think I was up for. This year, though, I decided to take that leap (thanks in large part to the encouragement of some great friends), and start sharing my writing, and as an extension of that, my life. It has been the most freeing, amazing experience, and I can’t even articulate what joy it’s given me. Having people respond in a such a positive manner has given me the reassurance that I did the right thing. So, moral of the story? Do what you love, and put yourself out there.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in my “Things That Make Me Happy” file. There are a million things that give us joy in life, we just have to take the time to acknowledge them. So, that said-tell us, what makes YOU happy?