Home/Tag: happiness

Ever Since Happiness Heard Your Name…


I love this quote with all of my heart.  It’s so hopeful + calming–a good reminder that I have to do very little to actually be quite happy.

I want to tattoo it on my forehead as a reminder that happiness is always chasing me down, looking for me so it can gently perch on my shoulder.  Yes.

Happiness is always looking for you, too!





Ever Since Happiness Heard Your Name…2018-03-29T20:23:08-04:00

Happiness Is Not One Big Thing.

Happiness is not one big thing


This is a reminder to all of you out there that need a little boost.  It’s easy to think (and wish!) that happiness comes and perches on our shoulder and never leaves, but we all know there’s an ebb and flow to life; happiness is a part of that ebb and flow.  If we were happy all of the time, how would we ever truly appreciate it?

Happiness is a habit.  We must cultivate the feeling of being happy by doing, saying + thinking in positive ways.  Want to become happier?  Start hanging around happier people: it’s contagious.  And the opposite is true as well: be careful of those emotional vampires.  Surround yourself with people that raise you up.

As a special gift to my readers, I’m offering an inspirational PDF to print out and hang up for happy-inducing times.  It fits on an  8.5×11 sheet of paper and will be a bright reminder on even the grumpiest of days!

Click here for your Happiness PDF






Happiness Is Not One Big Thing.2018-03-29T20:23:10-04:00

New Art: Joy To The World

I wanted to create a new piece for the holidays; something simple and happy that spoke to the heart of the season.  I really feel like joy is the underlying reason for most of the things we do.  And this is especially true around the holidays–all of the parties, gatherings + celebrations are about joy.  How can we get more?  How can we feel that unbridled joy?

But I’ve been trying to look at it differently this year: How can I give more joy?

How can I be more present and emotionally available to those I love?  Feeling joyful gets me there.  How can I truly feel the essence of this peaceful + holy time of year and share it with others?  Wishing joy for others is a good start.

I always find myself in a deep, reflective mood during this season, and it helps me focus on what is important–sharing moments, being still + feeling the love around me.  Along with the holidays comes the winter solstice, which I love too.  It reminds me it’s a time of deep renewal for my heart + mind.  It reminds me to keep seeking my true path.

Joy to the world

(new art available here)

“Happiness is the settling of the soul into its most appropriate spot.”
– Aristotle

And even though happiness + joy are a major part of the season, I notice the feeling of experiencing different levels of joy at different times.   I’m trying not to give in to the expectations of hitting that ecstatic crescendo everyone seeks during this time, but I try to enjoy more of the little moments; stringing these moments together are what add up to a special overall feeling for me. Remembering that the everyday joy has a magical quality.  And cherishing those quiet moments of inner peace and solitude that fill my heart.

I’m wishing you + your beloveds joy this holiday season.

Joy to the world, truly.



New Art: Joy To The World2018-03-29T20:23:13-04:00

My Day With The Dalai Lama

You guys!  The Dalai Lama came to Princeton a few weeks ago and I got to see him speak.  I like to think of myself as a buddho-christian so this was an exciting opportunity for me–only 4ooo tickets were available for the event and his last speaking engagement was to over 100,000 people.  Whoa.  Luckily, my sister worked a little magic and…voila!  We were in.  I was beyond excited.

Me and liv

I have always been intrigued by Buddhism; something about this religion’s message always resonated in a deep part of me.  I’ve dabbled in meditation + chanting, and I’m a big fan of Pema Chodron, but I was raised Catholic.  And, well,  sometimes I feel conflict about connecting with the ideas and a leader of a different religion, even as an adult.  Almost like I’m cheating on my religion?  Anyway, I’m getting over it; I just can’t ignore the peace + clarity that the Buddhist beliefs bring me.

And it was even more so after visiting India and Nepal seven years ago.  It’s a long story, but I pretty much ended up on my death bed in the middle of a Nepalese village.  It was a medically freak occurrence that brought me to a precarious state, but the kind people I encountered there saved my life.  Their way of life makes so much sense to me–they believe in compassion, forgiveness and tolerance; they value human lives over things.  I’m convinced their practice of these beliefs is how I made it back home in one piece.

dalai lama signSo when I got home from that trip, I started digging around about Buddhism–I wanted to understand it better.  And the more I dug, the more I liked it.

For example: the Dalai Lama believes that despite philosophical differences, all major world religions have the same potential to create good human beings.  That really resonates with me because, isn’t that what it’s all about?  Individual choice to believe our own way of becoming a better version of ourselves?

We all want to be ‘good human beings’.  And the ability to practice religion is such a precious and necessary component of any culture–multiple and different religions offer a range of perspectives–that’s how we learn and grow.  It’s how we become tolerant, how we learn acceptance.

Suppporters of the Dalai Lama

So armed with this information I’ve gathered over the years, I understandably felt a little buzzed on the day of the Dalai Lama talk.  I was going to see THE man.

The amazing energy of all of the kind, compassionate + devoted people that gathered for the day brought a peaceful, but  intense feeling to the campus.  There were groups from communities all over, showing support and respect for their holy leader.  They sang and danced and dressed in their beautiful robes–I literally got choked up a few times watching them!


Even though we were in the upper level for the talk, it still felt like a small gathering–you could literally hear a pin drop.  Everyone was in awe of him; I think it was because we all felt like we were in the presence of a living legend.  Regardless of your religion, it’s hard to dispute the fact that the Dalai Lama has had a major impact on humanity + the world as a whole with his teachings.

View of talk

Throughout the talk, he was happy + childlike, which was an amazing surprise; he giggled a lot and was playful.  He got a Princeton baseball hat as a gift when he was introduced, and  he popped it on + wore it for most of the talk.  Such a cool dude.

DL in baseball cap

There were even peaceful protestors outside before and after the event!  They were able to share their truth, too. (SO important.)


 So here are a few basic ideas I took away from his talk:

  • Affection and kindness are the answer; no amount of money can create true happiness and inner peace.
  • Compassion and kindness expand the human nervous system.  Anger and hatred shrinks the brain in development. (I’m pretty sure he cited some studies of this)
  • We need more education about inner values–how to develop them within ourselves–and create this secular education of whole heartedness in schools.
  • Trust and fear cannot go together.
  • The real meaning of forgiveness is reacting without anger.
  • Read different views of topics that come up in your life and use critical thinking to come to your own conclusions.  Don’t accept things at face value or how they are presented.
  • Our life depends on hope and the belief that it exists; when you don’t have hope, there is no purpose and it’s easy to give up + believe in the bad.
  • We are closest as a society when we feel we are all the same and are connected.

The levity of his talk stayed with me for days and made me feel really, really good. It was a confirmation that even though it’s not the religion I was born into, I can explore other ideologies when they ring true with me (and not be afraid).  Trusting the path of growing and learning new things can be a wonderful, enlightening experience–peace + joy come in many forms.  And I feel like challenging myself occasionally about what I believe + stand for, helps me grow.






My Day With The Dalai Lama2018-03-29T20:23:13-04:00

Do You Know What Makes You Happy?

Let your joy give you wings original artwork by Stephanie Martel. Find 8x10 prints in my shop.

When I was little, I was very good about naturally doing things that made me happy: bike around the neighborhood with my friends, watch my mom dance around the kitchen as she made dinner (and I joined her sometimes), make shoebox dioramas of dream rooms in my dream house and binge eat all the candy I could get my hands on.  These may sound silly, but they filled my heart up to the point of bursting.  I wasn’t trying  to be happy, I just did what felt good.

Now that I’m an adult (well, most times anyway), I realize the things that make me happy aren’t so different from when I was a kid: meet my friends for a bite to eat and catch up on our lives, reminisce about sweet moments spent with my mom, slurp down an icy cold coke with some doritoes and make time for all sorts of creative painting mojo to flow in my art room.

We think we change so much as we get older, but we don’t really change all that much on the inside.

And when I periodically tune in to my inner compass to help me figure out what makes me happy, it keeps bringing me back the things I loved to do as a child.

It happened again this past Sunday.  It was gorgeous out–I woke up to the sound of Chris grinding his coffee beans and the birds chirping in the backyard.  The morning was full of my favorites:  buckwheat banana-walnut pancakes drizzled with maple syrup, whole-hearted conversations with people I love and an uninterrupted session of playing + painting in my studio.  My heart was exploding that day because  I was tapping into the main things that make me happy: connecting with others, enjoying amazing food and expressing myself.

It wasn’t until later I realized that I was practicing all of my childhood favorites.  I was feeling so connected, so understood and so calm.

I thought, I need to do these things everyday.  We all need to do things everyday that make us happy.

What if you’re not sure about what makes you happy?  Here are a few quick questions to help you figure out those happy points:

  1. What are the things you think about when you have a few moments of free time? (What do you day dream about?)
  2. If you had a day to do anything that didn’t involve obligations to anyone else (parent, job or partner responsibilities), what would you do?
  3. What was your favorite thing to do as a child?

These dream scenarios are your happy activities.  Whether they’re a hobby, a hope or just something that you want to try, you can incorporate them into your life in some way.  Not sure where to begin?  Just start digging or ask someone for help.

And in case that little guilt monger is creeping in about hording ALL the happiness, just let that go.  I’m not talking about being indulgent or about always being ‘blissed out’,  it’s more about  incorporating simple things in your everyday life that keep you in your natural, joyful state.  It’s about finding and following your special flow.

Have you found what makes you happy?  I’d love to hear about it here.





(Artwork by me)

Do You Know What Makes You Happy?2018-03-29T20:23:14-04:00

Share your Joy. {We Want to Hear About It.}

I was out with a group of women recently and the conversation shifted to one who just got engaged. As we dug into the details of the day and all of the glorious trappings of it, I couldn’t help but notice how she was tempering her excitement and downplaying the whole thing. “I don’t want people to think I’m bragging” she said to me later. “I remember what it felt like to be single and I don’t want to make any of my single friends feel bad.”

As one of those single friends, I really wanted to hear about her happiness. There’s something contagious about someone who is beaming pure joy; it’s catchy and I wanted some of it.

But I understand what she was saying. On one hand, no one likes a bragger. On the other hand, she was experiencing an amazing time of her life–if you don’t scream for happiness about this sort of thing, when do you? It got me thinking:

When did being happy become taboo?

Share your joy

I recognize that she was coming from a place of sensitivity. And that’s so considerate of her! But like my mom always said, there’s enough happiness to go around. There’s no limit on how much happy one person can experience + they can’t use it all up. We can all win.

And downplaying your happy doesn’t increase mine, it just decreases yours.

We don’t have to degrade wonderful moments so that others won’t feel inadequate or jealous. I get it–we’ve all felt jealous at some point of someone else’s good fortune; but tempering joy isn’t helpful.  In fact, quite the opposite is true. Feeling the full throttle of elation for your own life encourages others to do the same for theirs.

So let’s get back to basics, increase our overall joy and encourage others to do the same.  Here are some simple steps to do that:

  1.  Choose happiness.  It sounds simple, yet we forget that happiness is a choice.  There is a silver lining to every cloud.  Start cultivating a habit that always looks for the best in all things.  When you approach life this way, happiness becomes the norm.
  2. Stop comparing.  If you encounter someone that has what you want, remember that by virtue, the yearning you have was put there for a reason.  Your wanting and searching for it, means it was meant to be in your life in some way.  Be gracious.  Know your time is coming.
  3. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.  When you’re aware + grateful of all of the wonderful things in your life, it’s easy to be happy.  Make a list of all of these amazing things and reflect on it regularly.  It’s tough to be down when you’re feeling like a rockstar.
  4. Be the pied piper.  Moods are contagious so bring your happiness with you wherever you go.  Share your joy.   You can be an inspiration to others and create an environment that is fun and joyful.  You just might be that spark to give others permission to ignite their own happiness.

Next time someone starts leaning in to a joyful story, give them permission to wallow in that happy space.  When they try to divert to the negative parts or shut it down, encourage them to stay present and share more of their elation.  It gives everyone permission to feel good, then we all win.  And that’s the best reason to be happy.






Share your Joy. {We Want to Hear About It.}2018-03-29T20:23:16-04:00
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