happiness list

Focusing on positive moments, events, and experiences, every week.

1. spontaneous hour-long phone conversation with a friend this week (it’s the unexpected heart-sharing moments that stop time and

2. the super rainstorm Friday morning, and the chilly breeze this morning.IMG_0269.JPG

3. Water boiling-advisory lifted just in time for the all-day retreat Saturday (Such a first-world problem!  It felt a bit like camping out in my own house; the thing I missed the most was my shower–what a luxury and reset button…)IMG_0272


Happiness List

1. Mornings below (!) the 70-degree mark; feels like such an autumn luxury.


2. Simone Weil.  Finally diving into her this week.  She was inspiration for this week’s Quotation of the Day


3. Morning Coffee with this man.


4. Psalms.  This week’s selection really got to me.

There’s a system set up in the BCP–used lots of places elsewhere, too–that leads you through all 150 psalms in a 30-day period.  You read 2-3 every morning and evening, straight on through (sure, you spend a few days in 119, and you breeze through 5 or 6 on other mornings).  A colleague and I were talking about how, having prayed the psalms this way for awhile, there are certain days that each of us look forward to–I love Evening Prayer on the third day, for example, because we say Psalm 18, and the morning on the 27th (Psalms 120-125).  The psalms–prayers of people who have sought God in ages past–are becoming companions, friends on the journey.  I’ve even heard of old wizened pray-ers  of modern times who’ve memorized the whole book (this was rather common amongst monks, I suspect, as some systems have a person praying the entire psalter every day).

I leave you with this morning’s offering:

Psalm 139

O Lord, you have searched me out and known me :
you know when I sit or when I stand,
you comprehend my thoughts long before.
You discern my path and the places where I rest :
you are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue :
but you, Lord, know it altogether.
You have encompassed me behind and before :
and have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me :
so high that I cannot endure it.
Where shall I go from your spirit :
or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend into heaven you are there :
if I make my bed in the grave you are there also.
If I spread out my wings towards the morning :
or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there your hand shall lead me :
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say ‘Surely the darkness will cover me :
and the night will enclose me’,
The darkness is no darkness with you,
but the night is as clear as the day :
the darkness and the light are both alike.
For you have created my inward parts :
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I will praise you, for you are to be feared :
fearful are your acts, and wonderful your works.
You knew my soul,
and my bones were not hidden from you :
when I was formed in secret,
and woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my limbs when they were yet imperfect :
and in your book were all my members written;
Day by day they were fashioned :
and not one was late in growing.
How deep are your thoughts to me, O God :
and how great is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they are more in number than the sand :
were I to come to the end, I would still be with you.
[If only you would slay the wicked, O God :
if only the men of blood would depart from me!
For they affront you by their evil :
and your enemies exalt themselves against you.
Do I not hate them, O Lord, that hate you :
do I not loathe those who rebel against you?
I hate them with a perfect hatred :
they have become my enemies.]
Search me out, O God, and know my heart :
put me to the proof and know my thoughts.
Look well lest there be any way of wickedness in me :
and lead me in the way that is everlasting.

Happiness List

A stark departure from my morning’s post, but by looking at today’s entries, you get a pretty good idea of Who Emily Is–yes, it’s a curious and intense combination.  Pray for me.

1. an app that makes falling asleep, keeping track of my day, breathing deep, and staying calm all DOABLE (there are 10 or so free meditations that give you a sense of the offerings.  Dozens more meditations for lots of different subjects are available with a subscription–which I’ve bought & highly recommend.  I’ve never been asleep faster than when I use the “sleep”ones; they’re especially great for travel, late nights, or when your mind is spinning).


2. Quercus by Penhaligon’s.  You’ve probably experienced the great power of scent-memories; when I traveled to London in June, some of Penhaligon’s Lavandula was at the top of my international shopping list.  A promotion allowed me to try a new shower gel for free, and wanting to try something very different, the clerk suggested Quercus.  Without really meaning to, I used it almost exclusively through our travels–now a whiff of the scent takes me straight back to long evenings in little French towns, sunny days inside and outside cathedrals, and field after golden field as we drove through the countryside.

Scent-wise, it most reminds me of Cefiro, by Floris, another English perfumerie, another spicy unisex scent.  Quercus’ lively smell at the beginning fades to a comforting woodsy, mossy scent–perfect for late summer and the shift to fall.  2014-08-02 22.11.13

3. Sewing.  My dear little Singer, bought 3 years ago on Craigslist (oh, Durham Craigslist–and even more, St. Louis Craigslist!–I miss y’all!!), has taken the plunge into quilting with me.  For the perfectionist among us, quilting is exacting, but also artful.  Attacking my first quilt for a gift, as mentioned in last week’s Happiness List edition.IMG_0054.JPG

This morning, I also re-edited a skirt I made for our French adventure–you just can’t buy Julia-Child-style-frolicking-skirts anywhere anymore.



Happy weekend, friends!

Happiness List

a banner week.

1. spending the better part with the dear choristers of Trinity Cathedral, noticing and calling out God’s work in their lives (it didn’t hurt that we were all in the NC mountains).2013-10-01 19.21.02

We had hardly all arrived, but I was re-dubbed “Momma Hylden” (from “Mother Hylden”–the former was ‘more southern,’ they told me) and a daily hang-out in the outdoor chapel, christened “Moments with Momma Hylden” was born.  Those were truly my favorite moments of the week; witnessing the connections young minds and hearts made amongst music, worship, vocation, offering, community, and Scripture.  A few of the light-bulb moments are captured in Quotations of the Day from earlier this week.

2. (1a.) Playing in rain, mud, and pudding with chaperones & youths alike.  Nothing like summer camp for reminding one that laughter is not only good medicine, but a window into God’s heart.

2014-08-04 15.12.21 HDR

3. And last, but by no means least–tomorrow, one of my dearest friends gets married (it doesn’t hurt that it’s in Durham!).  2012-11-29 08.06.37
We found each other during transitional moments in both our lives–wondering where we belonged, suspecting we each were called to a life that didn’t look a lot like what we’d known our lives to be in the past.  We were confirmed in the Episcopal Church together, together we’ve wondered about what to do with our lives, and as she stood up with me and my beau when we tied the knot more than three years ago, I’m so eager and full of joy to do the same with her.I’m working on a quilt (you may have seen bits on instagram) as a wedding present; I’m especially grateful for that old “you’ve got a year after the wedding to send a gift” rule!

Godspeed this weekend, y’all.

Happiness List

Deep in a dance party of one last night, I was inspired to share the epic playlist.  My mind moved at lightning speed, wanting to share, too, the eyeglasses which just arrived (having almost posted a status yesterday–before coming home–that Warby Parker was holding the keys to my hope.  I eventually decided it was a little too stark.) and the menu for the Margaritas & Mexican party I’d just cleaned up.

Further, beginning the discipline of enumerating the highlights of each week might help my resolution to focus on the good, the true, and the beautiful (as psychologist friend told me this week, “we see what we want to see”–it’s much easier for me to see negative, bad, gloomy things).

So, without further rhapsodizing, my first happiness list, for the last week of July 2014:dance party cover

1. DANCE IT OUT playlist (via spotify) It’s heavy on mid-2000’s anthems.


warby glasses

2. these new glasses, arrived from Warby Parker yesterday, squee!


3. the fail-safe margarita recipe (recommended: make in batches of 8 servings–as shown below)

12 oz  fresh-squeezed lime juice

12 oz tequila

8 oz orange liquor

2 oz agave or simple syrup

(add Emily’s version–coming Monday–of Pioneer Woman’s Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork, and PW’s Tres Leches Cake, and you’re rollin’!)

Lessons on Self-Worth from Facebook

Do you ever stop yourself from doing something good, because you know there’s something better that you could do?  (and then, end up not-doing the better thing and do no-thing instead?)

In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin uses the example of her friends’ birthdays: she’d mean to send them a card, or call them on the phone, but either the day passed and she forgot, or pulling out stationery and finding a stamp, or digging up a phone number just was too high a barrier, and she’d let another birthday–and another chance to connect–pass by.

Her dilemma hit home for me: if I couldn’t think up some clever or especially meaningful thought or wish to share on a friend’s facebook page for his or her birthday, I just said nothing at all.  My mind got used to ignoring the little birthday candle at the top of my newsfeed every day.

Rubin swallowed her pride, gathered all the pertinent birthdays into a program with requisite email addresses, and vowed to send an email to each person every year on their birthday.  Sure, a card or a phone call would have been “better,” but if the barrier to those actions was just high enough to keep her from completing them, an email was definitely better than nothing.

On my birthday earlier this year, I noticed that it wasn’t the clever memories or sayings that delighted me as well-wishes showed up on my newsfeed all day.  The messages that surprised and delighted me most were  from those people with whom I hadn’t had contact over the last year, but who took just long enough to notice that it was my birthday, and to write two or three words on my wall.  Just knowing that they’d thought of me warmed my heart and I started to see what it is that’s meant when we say “it’s the thought that counts,” or “90% of life is showing up.”–I’m often tempted to think that something’s got to be personalized, or super creative, or fantastically complex to be a good gift, or to be a job well done.

In and of ourselves, who we are when we’re just sitting on the couch, our very presence–that’s plenty for most people.

God created us to be fantastic, personalized, creative people just as we are, without energy-sapping window-dressing, complicated choreography, or intense planning.  Just sitting on the couch, doing nothing, “contributing” (in an economic sense) nothing–we’re plenty.