September 28, 2012

inspired: gretchen rubin

Last week, I attended not one, but TWO Gretchen Rubin book signings! Our wonderful Mom, Kim, had invited me to join her for an afternoon tea author signing event hosted by the Book Stall in Winnetka. And then last-minute, she found out that Gretchen was also going to be signing at an Anthropologie store in the city the day before. Anthropologie is selling a special-edition hardcover of Gretchen's new book, Happier at Home, which they carry exclusively. This copy includes fourteen extra pages of bonus material, including many fun tips and lists as well as a quiz. The Anthropologie signing event was free, so we decided to take the train into the city and catch this event, too, so we could check out this special edition. While Gretchen's presentation was similar at both events, it was fascinating to hear her responses to different questions. And I also think it helps sometimes to hear something twice, or more, to really let it sink in and perhaps catch some bits you've missed!
I know I have mentioned Gretchen Rubin's earlier book on happiness, The Happiness Project, before. I am still using the "resolution charts" every day - I love them! The book is an account of Rubin's experience setting out in search of more happiness through a structured one-year project, focusing each month on a different aspect of her life. This book has really inspired and motivated me to seek out more of the happiness that is already available to me in my daily life, if only I would choose to focus on it! Here is a favorite passage of mine from The Happiness Project
You won't wake up one day and find that you've achieved [a resolution]. It's something that you have to resolve to do every day, forever. Striving toward a goal provides the atmosphere of growth so important to happiness, but it can be easy to get discouraged if reaching the goal is more difficult than you expected. Also, what happens once you've reached your goal? Say you've run the marathon. What now--do you stop exercising? Do you set a new goal? With resolutions, the expectations are different. Each day I try to live up to my resolutions. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but every day is a clean slate and a fresh opportunity. I never expect to be done with my resolutions, so I don't get discouraged when they stay challenging. Which they do. (from Chapter 12, "December")
It was really inspiring to hear Gretchen speak live at these book events! It is always interesting to hear any author speak in person, and to get to meet them as they sign your books. But it is especially wonderful when an author whose work has been really significant to you is just as inspiring in person. Gretchen spoke eloquently and was very organized (I would expect no less, from reading her book!), and the highlights she shared from the new book made me even more excited to read it soon. She said that her favorite part of her events is taking questions, and it was clear this is true! She was passionate and witty as she answered each question, and showed more of her fun sense of humor, which we really appreciated. 
She talked about her new book, Happier at Home, which takes her Happiness Project into more specific territory. The book examines how one's home can play such an important role in one's happiness. She brought some fun props as she shared some highlights from the book: a set of food coloring dyes to help make holiday traditions even more festive, an example of an origami project she abandoned in order to streamline her possessions, and an old copy of one of her Cricket children's magazines she has kept all these years, which contributed to the Children's Literature "shrine" she created for herself in order to nurture her passions within her home. My favorite point she shared at the events was the importance of your sense of smell within your home. She brought tiny vials of some "smells" she loves, to pass around and share some of her favorites with us, creating an experience which was visceral as well as intellectual. You can look up these scents here! The scents she shared were "At the Beach 1966," "Memory of Kindness," and "To See a Flower." They were all lovely, but my favorite was "At the Beach 1966" - it reminds me of getting married by the ocean. I am also curious to smell "In the Library." 
The Southport Anthropologie store did a wonderful job with this event! As we walked into the store, we were greeted by a beautifully arranged table overflowing with yummy cheese trays and fancy pastries. I enjoyed a glass of Mango Passion Punch and for those who wanted, there were fancy glasses of champagne, served in these pretty Anthropologie "Horta" glasses, each topped with a perfect red raspberry. They had plenty of copies of the book on hand, and many of the guests grabbed extra copies to give as gifts. It was a really crowded event, and a very hipster crowd - it was neat to see so many different people gathered to hear her speak. Gretchen was kind enough to pose for a quick picture as she signed my book. 

At the Book Stall event in Winnetka the next day, I enjoyed a cup of Paris-themed tea and a Madeleine to remind me of one of my other favorites, Marcel Proust. At this second event, we picked up copies of the Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal, which is a wonderful companion option for lots of happiness-boosting spread out over five whole years to come. I think it will really help to have this pretty little blue book to remind me of my own happiness goals! 

It was great to be able to attend both of these events, even though I might not usually plan to repeat this type of experience twice. Each event offered different learnings and I am an even bigger Gretchen Rubin fan than before! I am really looking forward to reading Happier at Home very soon. Have you read any of her books or tried a "happiness project" of your own? I would love to hear about it!

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