Posted in Encouragement

Top Ten Happiness Questions

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This past fall term at SCAD (the Savannah College of Art and Design), where I teach composition to international students, my course topic was happiness studies.

Each week, I introduced a new question, which I told the students had the potential to make them happier–IF they took the time to ask and then answer the question.

Here are the ten questions.  I challenge you to ask them to yourself whenever you need a dose of joy.

Dr. Saye’s Top Ten Happiness Questions

1.  Just how important is it?

2.  Do I realize that I can choose to think a thought that feels better?

3.  Why do I sometimes try to control other people? That’s really not my job.

4.  What do I see RIGHT NOW that is beautiful?

5.  Who has helped me recently?

6.  What is a good holiday memory?

7.  What do I really, really love?

8.  Do I realize that I can take three deep breaths right now and center myself? My breath is my life.

9.  Who can I be a blessing to in the next hour or so? How can I do that? 

10.  Am I paying attention to NOW (and not wasting time regretting the past or worrying about the future)?

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I encourage you to print these questions out, put them up some place where you can easily see them, and start asking.

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Posted in Holiday Joy

HH – Holiday Happiness

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It’s Sunday night.  December 28.  Three days after the big day.  Christmas gifts and meals are opened and eaten.

Just a few more days left in 2014.

Sometimes there’s a bit of a letdown after the glitter is gone.

So … what is there to be Happy About?  Especially if you’re alone?  Or sick?  Or frustrated?  Or angry?  Or not where you wanna be?

To be honest, I don’t know.

BUT I encourage you to do this:  Go on a Gratitude Rampage.  Start listing — or just thinking about — what you have to be grateful for as 2014 wanes.

Go ahead — try it.  Make a list.

Here’s a tad of mine:

1.  Air to breathe.

2. Legs that help me to walk.

3.  Imperfect family members.

4.  A mind that allows me to think.

5.  Shoes.

6.  Eyesight.

7.  Collard greens (I just sautéed some for dinner).

8.  Music.

9.  Sunshine.

10.  Cinnamon.

11.  Grandchildren.

12.  People who know my name.

13.  Insurance.

14.  Roaring laughter.

15.  Pecans.

This list could go on and on.

May peace, joy and love be your portion now and forever!

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Gratitude is powerful.  Try it and see how it makes you feel.

Posted in Holiday Joy

Have You Counted Your Holiday Blessings? (Part Two)

A couple of days ago I encouraged you to consider, and attend to, the blessings that are in your life.  I hope you have taken a brief break from the Christmas rush, and done so.

Here’s my Counting Continued:

6.  Sitting Down and Sitting Still for a few minutes.

7.  A Christmas Visit with my parents (father–91, mother 87).

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8.  Sparkly Lights.

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9.  Appreciating my local Savannah Police.  Our police men and women are the first folks we usually call when something goes awry in our homes, neighborhoods and cities.

THANK YOU, BLUE!

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10.  The ability to see.

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Are you counting your holiday blessings?

Posted in College Teaching

The Smile — and Happiness Shared

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The students in my English 123 (Freshman Composition) classes at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) are doing what I call Visual Essays in this, their next-to-the-last week of Fall Quarter 2014.  We read two books this term, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and Tal Ben-Shahar’s Happier, both relating to our course theme of “Happiness and the Exploration of Joy.”  The Visual Essay project invites the students to MAKE, rather than write, their papers. Traditional essay requirements are still required: a focus and thesis, structure, detail and support, etc.  But this essay morphs into a drawing or painting, a sculpture, a collage, a video, a food, etc.  Basically this project is a visual representation of one topic narrowed into a clear thesis/perspective/idea.  The challenge: how to “show” their thesis.

Debora Jacob (from Brazil) went to Forsyth Park here in Savannah last Saturday.  Here’s her Visual Essay titled “Happiness Shared” on the topic of the smile and its significance.

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Thanks for the encouragement, Debora.

Let’s all SMILE more often.

Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers (10/31/14)

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It’s All Hallow’s Eve!  (Wasn’t it just July 4th last week?)  And I am spookily happy.  Seriously.  Here’s why.

1.  Yesterday going to my grandtwins’ nursery school and carving a Jack O’ Lantern.  Here it is:

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Okay, that’s a lie.  I took that pic near my place in historic district Savannah.  Here’s the one I did:

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Sorry but that’s a lie as well.  (Is that a bat?)  Here’s mine:

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For more decades than I care to mention, my Jack O’Lanterns have looked EXACTLY the same.  But what fun with Matthew and Madison and their little classmates.

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2.  Speaking of pumpkins, here’s my dinner Wednesday night–Butternut Squash Soup in Pumpkin Bowls.

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Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Gourmet heaven.

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3.  The Savannah Film Festival this week, hosted by my SCAD–Savannah College of Art and Design.

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Such fun.

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What incredible films I saw, including a fascinating documentary about Summerville, GA artist Americana Howard Finster and a mesmerizing selection of short films from Ireland.

4.  Singing with James Brown in Augusts, GA.

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We’re belting out “Papa’s Got a Brand new Bag,” followed by “Make it Funky.”

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5.  The joy of holidays.

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Happy, Happy Halloween to you all!

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Posted in Joy in Nature, The Joy of Color

Merry Autumn

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Fall is most definitely my favorite season of the year.  Even with its touch of “summer’s over” melancholy, autumn slowly paints the world with warmly joyful colors, smells and scenes.  The season makes me feel energized and ready to start anew (maybe partly because I’m an educator and connect fall to the new school year).

Autumn wants to make us pause and smile.

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Here’s a terrific poem, by late 19th century poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, which shows fall’s happy face.  Read it out loud to feel, as well as see and hear, the words.

Merry Autumn

It’s all a farce,—these tales they tell
About the breezes sighing,
And moans astir o’er field and dell,
Because the year is dying.

Such principles are most absurd,—
I care not who first taught ‘em;
There’s nothing known to beast or bird
To make a solemn autumn.

In solemn times, when grief holds sway
With countenance distressing,
You’ll note the more of black and gray
Will then be used in dressing.

Now purple tints are all around;
The sky is blue and mellow;
And e’en the grasses turn the ground
From modest green to yellow.

The seed burs all with laughter crack
On featherweed and jimson;
And leaves that should be dressed in black
Are all decked out in crimson.

A butterfly goes winging by;
A singing bird comes after;
And Nature, all from earth to sky,
Is bubbling o’er with laughter.

The ripples wimple on the rills,
Like sparkling little lasses;
The sunlight runs along the hills,
And laughs among the grasses.

The earth is just so full of fun
It really can’t contain it;
And streams of mirth so freely run
The heavens seem to rain it.

Don’t talk to me of solemn days
In autumn’s time of splendor,
Because the sun shows fewer rays,
And these grow slant and slender.

Why, it’s the climax of the year,—
The highest time of living!—
Till naturally its bursting cheer
Just melts into thanksgiving.

— by Paul Laurence Dunbar

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Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers — 9/11/14

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Summer is slipping away.  Can you believe that Sept 22 is the First Day of Fall?!  Would someone please tell Savannah’s daily temperatures that bit of info?

1.  Even though it caused a catch in my throat, seeing the pics my daughter Emily sent of the grandtwins yesterday morning — September 11.

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2.  Actually borrowing an egg from my next door neighbor.  (Is it okay to still do that?)

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(Of course she put the egg in a cute tiny bowl she found in Italy.)

I paid Vivian back with some Werther’s Originals–Chewy Caramels in the same bowl.  (Is that normal?)

3.  This green lion who (which?) lives nearby in Savannah’s historic district.

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4.  Taking four-year-old grandson Gabriel to his first-ever tennis lesson.

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Looking back at me, “Abu,” to make sure I’m watching.

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5.  And speaking of Gabriel, when I picked him and brother Daniel (7) up from school yesterday, G told us that he made a BIG picture of Batman in pre-K art class.  When we got to his house, of course we hung it in the dining room.

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After a few minutes, big brother Daniel, after pointing out that Gabriel had spelled Batman with an M (Matman), said to me, “Matman sure looks like a monkey to me.”

Gabriel screamed, “IT’S BATMAN!”

Happy Friday Folks!

Posted in In Our Own Backyard, Savannah Joy

Seeing and Walking Green — A Jones Street PhotoEssay

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I just got back from a very warm but invigorating and visually stunning morning walk.  Today I trekked a few blocks over to Jones Street, one of the most beautiful residential avenues in Historic District Savannah.

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I decided to look for GREEN on Jones, and boy did I find it!  Here’s a (rather large) sampling of what I saw.

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Go Green.

(Oh, and here’s an old post featuring Jones Street at Christmas.)

Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers — 1/31/14

1.  Happy Chinese New Year 2014!  The Year of the Horse.  (The new year starts today, Jan. 31!)

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2.  Speaking of celebrations, as some of you know, the #%*! birthday of Yours Truly occurred earlier this month.  What you don’t know is that, for some reason (which I should probably discuss with my therapist), I HATE being sung Happy Birthday to at restaurants.  It just SO embarrasses me.  I turn beet red.  So when daughter Amy suggested La Parrilla for my family bday celebratory meal, I IMMEDIATELY said, “NO!” (probably too loudly) because of the huge sombrero …

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… which must be worn as ALL the staff gathers round and screamingly sings, “Feliz Cumpleaños a ti!”  I quickly chose another restaurant where I knew they did not serenade patrons.

And my %+&! bday passed by without the public festive vocalization.

Tonight after the gym, I went to La Parrilla for chimichanga.  Feeling brazen, I ordered a mojito.  And as required by restaurant rules (as opposed to simply glancing at my graying hair), the friendly, delightful waitress Kimberly asked to see my ID.  I smiled and showed her my driver’s license, to which she seemingly sincerely and joyfully replied, “Oh!  Happy late birthday!”  I thanked her and went back to seeing how much salsa I could get on one tortilla chip.

A delicious meal later, I heard clapping hands, MANY thunder-clapping hands, and looked up to see a sea of La Parrilla employees–waiters and waitresses, the hostesses, the bartender, the manager, cooks, dishwashers, janitors, the owner, the business partners, the accountants, the CEO, the CFO, most of the diners (okay maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but not much) –walking (skipping?) from the other side of the restaurant.  I thought to myself, “Whew, gosh, somebody’s in for it!” but smiled and pretended to join the revelry as the loud little army marched forward.  I looked around to see who looked bithdayish.  I spotted a chubby man with long dreads, eating a tamale but looking up and grinning at the clappers.  “This is kinda fun,” I thought, ready even to clap and sing a tiny bit.  The guy looked so happy.

But then, the musical marauders didn’t turn toward tamale’s table.  They stopped at mine!  Total confusion.  But then it happened.  The big sombrero

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… gingerly landed on my head (placed there by the CEO, I think).  And louder than loud: “Feliz Cumpleaños a ti!” over and over.

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But to my utter amazement (and probably because I wasn’t expecting it and it happened so quickly) I found myself actually ENJOYING the impromptu celebration.

So when the crowd left my table (looking winded and exhausted), but while tamale was still gazing (a little envious, I think), I threw the sombrero down on the floor and expertly performed the traditional Mexican Hat Dance.

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That showed them.  And I thought it was a good way to thank Kimberly, as I sat back down to enjoy my complimentary sugary sopapillas.

3.  Another great winter soup, made with (among other things) beet stems and beet greens

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4.  Fun time with grandtwin Matthew.

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5.  Making it through the South’s winter storm.

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Grab joy this weekend.  It’s there for the taking!