Monday, January 21, 2013

Week Three Progress Report

My goals for January and I did not have a good week together this week:

1. Blog regularly - 5 or 6 times a week
PROGRESS - I only blogged three times all week long.  But hey,  I've blogged twice today!  I will be back on track this week.

2. Read Daily
PROGRESS - I am still working on this goal.  When I don't get home until later, trying to have it all done by 9 is hard.  Then I started late and actually stayed up later than I should have.  But I am determined tonight to get back on track and make it work for this week.  It's a short week, so I should be able to make my goal.

3. Book Club
PROGRESS - All is good until our next meeting on February 21.

4. Gratitude Journal
PROGRESS - I did a great job of doing my gratitude journal until Saturday.  Since Sarah came into town, we've been going until late and then I crash.  So tonight I'm going to get it all caught up (I know what I wanted to say, just haven't had a chance to write it) and get back on track again for the week.

5. Movies
PROGRESS - No movies this week, but I did see a musical.  Can that count instead?  I really want to see "Zero Dark Thirty" - that is my goal for this week!

6. Social Outings
PROGRESS - I had two outings this week (wine with some friends one night and breakfast with my friend Terrell).  This week I've already done stuff with Sarah, so I'm doing really well in this area.  As a matter of fact, there are talks of a trip to Las Vegas later this year.  I haven't been in twenty years, so that would be AWESOME!!

This week wasn't my best week, but you know, I'm going to have good weeks and bad weeks.  Even though this wasn't my best week, I am committed to my goals and will keep working hard to meet them.

Are you trying to get happy or being satisfied with the same old, same old?
:) Mo

The Lion King

Last night was the third show in my Broadway series season.  We saw "Rock of Ages" in September and we missed "Billy Elliott" in December due to illness.  Michele was out of town, so since my sister Sarah was here visiting, she was able to step in and go with me.

I've never seen "The Lion King," but has always wanted to.  I had heard so many great things about it and I can tell you that is did NOT disappoint.  The music was amazing - I almost bought the soundtrack right there at the theatre.  The costumes were amazing - how they were able to represent all of the animals of Pride Rock.  Scar had a costume malfunction in the Second Act, but other than that, it was wonderful.

I've always loved the movie and I loved how the musical was able to capture the essence of the movie.  Sarah hadn't ever seen the movie, so it was neat to see her reaction.  Now she doesn't want to see the movie because she enjoyed the musical so.

This was my first trip to Bass Concert Hall at UT.  It was easy to get to and we were able to park right outside the door.  So it was a very quick and easy experience - I was a little nervous because I'm not that familiar with the UT campus.  Since we got there so early, we were able to go sit out on the patio off of the sixth floor and watch the sunset over the UT campus.  The weather was gorgeous!

After the show, we had dinner at Hyde Park Bar & Grill on Duval (thanks Jennifer, for the recommendation!).  It was a great meal with some great wine.  I had this incredible fried chicken breast with the queso sauce and spaetzle - coupled with a nice glass of Malbec - mmmmmm..... heaven on earth!!

What a perfect evening!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I am a book nerd.  I own this.  As my sister says, I devour books.  I could be content reading books 24/7.

Our Book Club met last week.  In true book nerd form, I put together a list of books that I was interested in reading for next month.  This book was created from books on my wishlist, books on my shelf and recommendations from others.  I will read every book on this list, but I thought if one could count as my Book Club read, I'd get double bang for my buck.

While we chose "Julia's Chocolates," I like to read the book closer to the meeting date.  So I selected one of the other books on my list, "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green.  It has received some incredible recommendations and awards this year.

It's a Young Adult book, so it's a quick and easy read.  What a great book!  It's the story of young love, sickness, health, friendship and coming to terms with all of it.  At times I laughed out loud, sometimes I teared up, other times I just shook my head.  The story of Hazel and Gus is heartwrenching, heartbreaking and at times, absolutely hilarious.

So I'd say the first pick off of my proposed book list was a great read - I'd say I'm a pretty good book selector! 


Mo's Review:
"The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green (2012, 313 pages): 4 out of 5 stars

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Warning: Purging Can Be Addictive!!

I believe that sometimes we can feel burdened by all of the physical possessions that we have.  And people, I have a lot of stuff.  Crap, actually.  Junk, even.

During the Christmas break, I went through my bedroom closet and purged 8 trash bags - some was trash, some was Goodwill donations and one bag was consignment.  It felt good to clear that crap out.  I had a shirt that was 20 years old and I probably haven't worn it in like 10 years.  Why do I have it? 

My sister is on her way to visit for the weekend.  My guest room hasn't been used for guests in a while, so it had become a crap repository.  Christmas crap, bag of books to sell at Half Price Books, and empty gift bags and tissue paper.  I cleaned out this guest room closet - I got about 3 trash bags full of stuff.  I went through a soap making phase..... and a phase where I put buttons on EVERYTHING.  All of it - now GONE.

With each bag I dump, I feel a little lighter.  I like throwing stuff away - it's like a little high each time I filled a bag.  It's kind of addictive....

My next project is to clean out my drawers, but that may have to wait for Spring Break.  By the end of the year, I'm hoping to have shed all of my extra crap so that whatever life has in store for me, I'm ready.

Stay happy - and start purging all of your crap - physical and mental!
:) Mo

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Appreciation - what a novel concept!!

According to, appreciation means "gratitude, thankful recognition."  Appreciation is such a simple act and it can mean so much.

When I was a teacher, I really liked when my principal did little acts of appreciation for us - a jeans pass, a kind note, a treat in our box, or a shoutout at a staff meeting.  Some bosses did a better job of it than others.  But when you don't feel appreciated, a little shot in the arm can be just what you need to get you over the hurdle.

Once I became an assistant principal, I wanted to show appreciation to my teachers.  I tried to leave handwritten notes to teachers after I did their evaluation or find ways to give them a shout out for their hard work.  I enjoyed doing it and it did seem to make a difference with the morale of the staff.

As I moved into a principal role, I still tried to show my appreciation for my staff.  It's a little more difficult with all of the demands, but I see it as more important now than ever.  Teachers are overworked and underpaid, so anything I can do to make them feel appreciated is helpful.

I'm blessed that I worked with a staff that shows their appreciation of me on almost a daily basis.  I find little goodies on my desk (treats, a Coke) and many of them write me notes or tell me they appreciate me.  They always spoil me on Boss's Day.  It's nice.  And it helps me keep fighting the fight on their behalf and for their benefit.

However, beyond my campus, there is little appreciation for what I do.  Instead, it feels like more work is dumped on me or my role is to help others complete their to-do list no matter what it does to my to-do list.  Instead of hearing what I do right or well, I hear what I haven't done or done well or done enough.  Sometimes I'm down and then I feel like I'm kicked when I'm down.  It's disheartening.  I just wish that I might get a call or a compliment.  Even a call asking what I might need. 

What I've learned about myself is that I need appreciation.  I need recognition for a job done well.  I don't need a parade or a key to the city, but I need to know that others see my hard work and appreciate the sacrifices that I make.  I know that I'm 42, I should be able to find my own intrensic validation, but I can't.  There. It's out there now......

So do I seek the appreciation I need (and sometimes deserve)?  Or do I appreciate the appreciation that I do receive from my staff and have that be enough?

The one thing I do know is that I need to appreciate my staff more and better.  They deserve the best I have EVERY day.

Staying happy means sometimes looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing and accepting ALL of you (even maybe the more needy and less attractive parts).

Stay happy!
:) Mo

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Week Two Progress Report

Okay, let's see how week two is going......

1. Blog regularly - 5 or 6 times a week
PROGRESS - Last week I blogged 5 times - goal met!!  However, I hadn't blogged for two days and I got a FB message from a friend letting me know how much she appreciates my posts and that she missed them.  Thanks, Emily, for holding me accountable!!  I appreciate it!!

2. Read Daily
PROGRESS - I did not read daily.  But I did do my 9 PM DEAR time on Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday.  Tuesday I didn't get home until too late.  Thursday, I chose to use my time to watch Beyond Scared Straight, one of my favorite TV shows.  Friday, I was too tired.  So I can see that my goal this week is to work on this daily reading time.  I really enjoy it, I just have to make it a habit and that takes time.

3. Book Club
PROGRESS - We had book club this week and it was great.  We've got our next story and five weeks until we meet again.  I already have my next month of books queued up!

4. Gratitude Journal
PROGRESS - I've continued my goal to journal daily in my Gratitude journal.  I've found myself journalling in the morning as much as the evening.  Sometimes it's a nice way to wake up, think and journal about something you are grateful for, then start your day.

5. Movies
PROGRESS - Yesterday I saw "Gangster Squad" (see blog).  I was going to watch a movie this afternoon, but I've got too many little things going on to do that.  Next weekend?

6. Social Outings
PROGRESS - Five outings this week (lunch on Sunday, dinner with Dad on Tuesday & Wednesday, Book Club on Thursday and the movies with Lisa & Kelly on Saturday).  I also had a few other offers that I couldn't make.  It's so great to reach out and spend time with old and new friends.

All in all, things are progressing nicely.  I can tell a difference in my energy level, my attitude and my outlook.  I'm finalizing my plan for February.  I can't wait!!

What have you done this week to make you happy?
:) Mo

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Gangster Squad (2012)

One of my goals is to see a movie each week.  Today I took a break from Maude's steriod induced potty party and joined Lisa and Kelly to see Gangster Squad.

I'm really excited to see this movie.  I love Josh Brolin.  I think he is uber sexy.  I don't like Ryan Gosling.  I loved The Notebook, but not Ryan Gosling.  I loved Crazy, Stupid Love, but not Ryan Gosling.

I can say after this movie, I might like Ryan Gosling.  It was a lot of violence, but it was a good story.  Sean Penn was interesting, I think he played his character a little bit over the top and it didn't really work well.  I love Emma Stone, but she was underutilized.

Almost as much fun as the movie were the previews for new movies starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Stallone has some great lines!

Will Gangster Squad win an Oscar?  Probably not....  But is it a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon?  Absolutely!!

Mo's Review:
"Gangster Squad" (2012): 4 out of 5 stars

Friday, January 11, 2013

I Woke Up This Morning

One thing that I've noticed as I am working my Happiness Project is what people say when I ask them questions.  I noticed this week that from 4:01 PM until 6:59 AM I am super positive and pumped.  I am working each day to incorporate those changes I've committed to for this month.  I feel happier, am sleeping more, and I think that I just overall feel better.

But from 7 AM until 4 PM, I am fighting the positivity.  I noticed it this week while listening to how I was interacting with my admin team.  In the best of circumstances, there is a lot of negativity being a school principal (parents yelling at you, central office dumping on you, trying to keep your teachers motivated, trying to keep the students focused on learning, etc.) - but there is a difference when you are actively bringing the negativity with you.

It made me think of an employee of our after school program.  Every day when I greet her, I ask her how she is doing.  She always has the same answer: "I woke up this morning."  I never really thought about until one day I asked her why she always says that.  She told me that she had been diagnosed with lupus and other ailments, that she would never walk again, nor have children.  Well, she walks everywhere and has eight children.  She really focuses on the positive.  When I was telling her about my Dad and that we were waiting to hear if he was going to be in remission, she told me to pray and believe that he will be in remission and he will.

So now when I hear someone ask her how she is doing and she says, "I woke up this morning," I think about it differently.  It really is a gift to wake up each morning.  At any moment, our life can be altered dramatically or even be taken away.  It is a gift to see each day, connect to the people that you care about, and have a chance to make a difference for yourself and others.

I choose to be glad that I woke up each morning.  I choose to be positive all day long and make a difference.  I want to be happy.

Stay happy!
:) Mo

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

We had our first book club meeting for 2013 tonight.  We went to Ramos for dinner and good conversation.  My dinner actually ended up on the floor (it fell off the server's tray), so I had to wait for a second meal to be cooked.  However, with great conversation the time flew by.

I like our Book Club.  We are trying to read a wide variety of books, some books that I might not pick for myself.  "The Devil in the White City" is one of those books.

This was an interesting book.  It was the story of the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.  There were really two parallel stories happening:  one, the history of the men who built the fair (literally and figuratively) and two, the story of H.H. Holmes, a serial killer that killed people in Chicago during the fair.

The historical part of the fair at times was boring (I'm not really into architecture), but it did get interesting as the fair drew near.  It was also really interesting to see the historical connections to other people famous in American history.  I really loved the part about H.H. Holmes - I could have read a whole book about him!

My intial reaction was not positive, I didn't even know if I would finish the book.  However, the more I delved into the book, the more excited I got.  I gave it three stars today, but I really think I might bump it up to four stars.  It's one of those books that keep you thinking and analzying.  I've even gone back and reread parts again.

So do I recommend this book?  Yes, but be patient and keep reading - I think it's worth it.

Our next Book Club meeting is February 21.  We are going to read "Julia's Chocolates" by Cathy Lamb.  It's a little bit of a lighter read after our last two books - I'm looking forward to it.

Another January Happiness Project goal complete - woo hoo!!!

Mo's Review:
"The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson (2004, 393 pages): 3 out of 5 stars

Monday, January 7, 2013

Deep Thoughts from "Fried Green Tomatoes"

One of my favorite movies from the early 90's is Fried Green Tomatoes.  It's a great story of friendship and family.  Yesterday, during my day of rest and rejuvenation, this movie was on HBO.  It's one of those movies that you stop what you are doing and watch it - so that is what I did!

Kathy Bates plays a middle aged lady trying to find herself and her place in the world.  One of her quotes really hit me:

"I'm too young to be old and I'm too old to be young."

At 42, I really understand that.  I don't think I'm old, but I also know that I'm not young.  How do I know this?
  • OLD - I need reading glasses to read and write in addition to needing my contacts to be able to see far away.
  • YOUNG - Put Duran Duran on the iPod and I can dance like it's 1984!!
  • OLD - Like Kathy Bates's character, I have great insurance!!  I am excellent driver!
  • YOUNG - I can recite any scene from any John Hughes movie. 
  • OLD - I can still drink like a fish, but instead of taking one night to get over it, it can take the rest of the weekend.
  • YOUNG - I remember high school and college like it was yesterday.
  • OLD - I color my hair to cover my gray as much as I color it because I like being a blonde.
  • YOUNG - My heart still goes pitter-patter when I see John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler.
  • OLD - My mind pops awake when the alarm goes off - my body isn't as quick at getting out of the bed.  My feet crack and pop like an old lady.
  • YOUNG - Nothing makes me happier than cruising down the freeway with the sunroof open and jamming to music. Makes me think back to when I cruised Denton in the Nissan Sentra jamming to Vanilla Ice.  (I probably look/looked like a fool, but I don't care!!)
  • OLD - I have staff members on my campus that were born when I was in high school.... and..... .... college!!
  • OLD - Smart enough to know that the Bachelor doesn't work.... but.....
  • YOUNG - Still want to be the eternal romantic optimist!!
It's funny because I do feel that high school and college were yesterday, not 20+ years ago!!  I'm happy with my age (except the gray hair, creaky feet and inability to digest alcohol!) and I'm looking forward to what the future brings!!

Off to watch the Bachelor,
:) Mo