Enliven and transform

A cheerful setting can transform a cup of tea into a special occasion! Yorktown, Virgnia May 2013

A cheerful setting can transform a cup of tea into a special occasion!
Yorktown, Virginia, May 2013

“Instead of resigning ourselves to lives in which 75 percent of the day is less enjoyable or at best, neutral, we can find ways to enliven and transform these moments.”
Todd Kashdan

Whatever you have planned for today, tomorrow, or this week, see if you can think up some ways to add sparkle to the daily routine of life.  It doesn’t have to take a lot of money or effort.  Light a candle, use your good china, play some nice music or listen to an audiobook as you tackle mindless chores.  Tape a treasured card or photo to your mirror where you see it first thing in the morning.  Make a new recipe, or dig out one you haven’t used in awhile. Leave surprise “I love you” notes for family to find later.

There’s nothing like a brush with our own (or a loved one’s) mortality to reinforce a truth that we all know, but seldom enact: Life is too short to spend even one day dwelling on the discouraging, sad or frustrating.  Whatever you plan for today, or this week, I hope you will get creative and brainstorm some ways to enliven and transform your routines.  Please share your ideas with us in the comments!


  1. nataliejo210

    I love this article! I just started a blog and it would mean so much if you could check out my site! Followed btw xx

    • Hi Natalie, thanks for inviting me to your blog; I will be happy to follow you, and hope that I will visit often. Having said that, I’m not able to spend nearly as much time reading blogs as I would like; my “about” page will give you some idea of why. BUT I’m an optimist and keep hoping that eventually I will be able to spend more time on my WordPress Reader page. BTW I never had to wear a school uniform, although I eventually came to see that it could be an advantage in some ways. But I understand how it could get frustrating! When I was a librarian at a prep school for girls, my assistant was always noticing “uniform violations” and sometimes giving demerits for them, but my private policy was “so what?” 🙂 Thanks for visiting!

  2. I recently heard a network news report that included the statistic that it takes about six million dollars to train a U.S. fighter pilot. If so, that figure has jumped by a twentyfold factor in the forty-some-odd years since they quoted my training cost to me. But one thing has not changed: it is a calm, measured, corrective voice that properly instructs. There was (and is) nothing more discouraging than being chewed out for a mistake, or about a forgotten instruction. I recently drove from the southwestern corner of the Washington, D.C. area, all the way to a Bethesda, Maryland address. I had a calm, steady, instructive voice giving me detailed directions all the way. Not once did I hear something screamed like, “I told you about this! Now you’re in the wrong lane – I can’t believe it!!” The kind demeanor of the instructor for my drive will stay with me for the rest of the days I am allowed to be on this earth. That is positive!

    • Thanks Eric. Although readers won’t know the “back story” behind this comment, I will say that in all the years Jeff has spent running a postdoctoral residency program, he gets many positive comments from his residents for being patient, and from his colleagues for “never losing his cool no matter what happens.” I think he simply bottles it up and saves it for other venues 🙂 but I do agree that he seems to maintain a far different demeanor, as a teacher, than his grizzly old retired colonel professor at UT Dental School, who cracked you up so much with his salty critiques of the students’ efforts at prosthodontics (“This looks like *&^%!”)

  3. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia and family. I like to create a visual and inviting “curb appeal” at our beach home. I have an old quilt and pillow on a swing, in the shade. It’s by an outdoor shower stall, where I try to always keep several beach towels for any “takers”! The grandkids seem to migrate there so it has become a haven. Sometimes I stand at my front door, open it and take a look at “first impression” as I step inside. A beach house can be challenging as a permanent residence.We accepted it!! Haha. Enjoy your weekend. Love, Sheila

    • Sheila, enough said — I’m on my way! (Sigh. In my DREAMS, I mean!) Now when I’m out in a shop and see a cute saying about being at the beach or living near the sea (and there seem to be lots of them) I always think of you! Your grandkids are very lucky, for more reasons than one! Thanks so much for being here :-).

  4. Carolyn

    Do you have pictures of Grady yet. Hope you all are doing good today. Write later, going shopping.

    • Hi Carolyn, yes, I took photos as soon as I saw Grady (which was late at night), and posted them the next morning on my blog – click on the words “Grady’s page” at the top. Or just click this link or paste it into your browser: https://defeatdespair.wordpress.com/gradys-page/ Sorry I didn’t think about whether those who get the blog by email would see these. Hope you are doing well. Thanks for stopping by!

      • Carolyn

        I just didn’t look up to see Grady’s page, I don’t know what to do with computers anyway. I did it!!!! He is the best looking Denton around. Congratulations to you all. I think you have a very happy family now that Grady has arrived. Do you have your name yet? I’m a Mimi to my five. One day Zachary said to David, did you know that Mimi has another name, he was 7, I think. Enjoy Grady and I hope that Jeff is feeling good. Give each a hug for me, this is an exciting time for you all.

        • Carolyn, we had discussed using “mémé” for a nickname since my mother already hold claim to “Granny” and Jeff’s mother is “Grandmother.” Mémé is a French nickname for grandmother and would be easy for a baby to say – plus, it is coincidentally pronounced the same way as mei mei, which is Mandarin for the younger sister in a family, a role I was born to. Ultimately, however, it will be Grady’s choice, and it might come out as “Mimi” or “Mamie” or even “that strange lady who talks too much.” 🙂 So happy you found the photos! Thanks so much for your visits with us here!

  5. Well, today is my 40th birthday! And to celebrate I’m doing something that I’ve always wanted to learn (& intimidates me a little bit): learning to surf! Lol!

    • WOW, you must be in Hawaii still! Believe it or not, last Sunday I got out a card to send to you and then remembered that the only address I have for you is the old one — plus I wasn’t sure that you would be back from Hawaii — so it will just have to be late. But HAPPY BIRTHDAY today!!! Hope you have a wonderful day. Akahele, Akamai, and HANAU!!

      • Lol! Yes, I’m still in Hawaii. 2 more days (counting today). It’s been wonderful. 🙂 thank you for the birthday wishes.

        • Wow, after all this time you are practically a kama’aina! Enjoy the waves, music and aloha spirit for me!

  6. What a pretty terrace you’ve got there, I could perfectly see us chatting over a cup of tea there. Is your table cloth Cornell & Company? Jim was going out of town tonight for a couple of days so he came home for lunch today. It was so nice to have time together mid-day and chat. It was simply a grilled cheese sandwich and salad, but I sure enjoyed it. We’ve been consciously making time for little things, like a walk together at lunch (the office is only two blocks from home) or bike riding thru the river valley after supper. They cost nothing, but mean so much.

    • That’s not my terrace, although I’d love it if it was! So I have no idea about the tablecloth, but just LOVED this setting. I saw it on the garden tour in York County that I mentioned going to awhile back. I saw some really lovely homes and since it was a tour, I felt free to take all the photos I wanted (although I did ask permission first). I remember the years when we lived on base (during our first California assignment, and in Hawaii) Jeff would come home for lunch every day. It was really nice, and now the memory is even more treasured. You are wise to create such times together. BTW grilled cheese is my favorite sandwich, so it sounds grand to me! 🙂

  7. merry

    yes. life too short for not saying I love you.

    • Thank you Merry! I really appreciate your visits here, and your comments.


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