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January Reflections:

How to Have a Good Day Everyday

Most people know I’m a very happy, positive person. I’m off my game when I don’t personally feel that spark or jolt of happiness when going about my day. One morning this month, I woke up stressed and feeling off. I had deadlines to meet and small tasks were starting to feel like huge perils by the minute. I could feel the early panic begin developing in the pit of my stomach. “It’s going to be a bad day,” I thought and I hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet! A few minutes later into my morning routine and I had an a-ha moment, the day wasn’t over yet, it was just getting started. How could it be so bad when looking around me and everything was really, really great? I stepped back and knew I could fix this day I had already marked for loss in my head. I simply needed to shift how I was looking at it. Luckily for me, Alice’s More Mindful Moments book had just the tips to help me look at the day from a different perspective:

  • Focus on where things are going right
  • Let go of what’s out of your control
  • Remember that worrying is an extreme waste of energy
  • All moments are transient, this too will pass
  • In the grand scheme of things, tasks can feel large and daunting break them down one-by-one

No matter how small or large of a situation you’re looking to redefine your perspective towards, it’s helpful to know stepping back can shed some much needed clarity on it and in turn make for a really, really great day. Hope you have a good day today! –Breana


February Reflections:

Stop Feeling Guilty For Where You Prioritize Your Time & Be Happy Where You Do 

Attending the Life Planning Workshop today, the group went through an exercise on where we think we value our time and figured out where we truly spend our time. While my results were anticipated, seeing the list populate was helpful in understanding where my overall priorities sit. In understanding this, I know there are certain aspects of my life where I think I should be spending time and know I don’t. Family, self and work came in first for me. I feel guilty for sometimes not taking the time to attend to the rest of the list. However understanding that my time is spent on keeping in touch with family, taking care of myself and working hard are really important to me. That on top of other commitments I have make it difficult to do anything else. I’m very happy and proud that those are my top three choices of where I spend time and wouldn’t change a thing. The next time I feel guilty that I haven’t done a chore that day and opted to catch up with family that lives on the mainland instead via phone, I’m going to remember the time I spent laughing and sharing stories instead. 

“It’s not that you don’t have time. You have time, it’s just not on your priority list.” – Alice


March Reflections:

Declaring Your Own Self-Manifesto & Having Your Dreams Come True

It is amazing what happens when you take time and energy for yourself to think about what you want for yourself. What you want to happen today, tomorrow, next month, within the year or life itself. Here is how I started declaring to myself what I want for this year.

  • January 2018, set goals for the year based off Physical, Mental, Spiritual, and Emotional states, in pursuit of better overall well-being. I bought a brand new, colorful journal that matched my word of the year: GLOW, to start fresh and new, and to inspire me for the year of change ahead that I wanted to create for myself.
  • By writing down clear, concrete goals for myself, it became part of how I viewed my year and I check back on my goals often to remind myself and check-off progress made. When I accomplish a goal, I mark the date next to it (& smile).
  • By keeping my goals at my fingertips, they have become ingrained into my everyday life. My daily thoughts, but also my conversations with others have shifted to incorporate my goals into them. People, that have either been in my life already or new people that I pass or strike up a conversation randomly, and I are connecting on a different level or they are able to connect me to accomplish one of my goals.
  • Three months into 2018 and I’ve accomplished a lot already, it is inspiring to think if I keep doing this how much more I can accomplish! I also love that I’m getting to connect with a lot of people in my life at a different level.


April Reflections:

Travel & Perception

I had the pleasure of traveling for work this month after several months of serious focus on my projects in Hawaii. One of the greatest joys in my life is traveling. To visit people from all over the world and see how they go about their daily routines, experiencing what it is about their home that makes them get up in the morning, what makes their life unique and beautiful, is inspiring. We all have commonalities – more than one can imagine – as we are all humans living on Earth, but what variables define who we are and where we are from. THAT is why I travel. To get outside of myself, my everyday, my routine. To walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and live a bit more humbly knowing how we all interact in synergy together in the chaos and harmony that is life.


May Reflections:


Two years ago a friend, a triathlete, overheard me say I wanted to try paddling. In my mind I wanted to get in a boat and ride a few waves and call it a day. She generously connected me to her friend, an Olympic kayaker, to try paddling. On a Friday evening, I met the kayaking friend at a canoe club and she had me practice paddling solo in a boat. I thought it was odd that we wouldn’t just go out and paddle with a group of people but appreciated her thoroughness and respectfully obliged to this “training session”. That being said- at the end of the hour she looked at me and said, “Great, we have practice Monday, Wednesday, Friday, see you next week.” I was shocked, did I just try-out for a team and have no idea? Yes. It makes sense now looking back given the level of athleticism and love for the water both women had, it only seemed natural that triathlete would connect me to kayaker to do competitive paddling. The whole event was comical because it caught me off-guard and at the time I did not have an ounce of free time or money to fund a new hobby. Ever since that experience I envisioned what it would be like however to be on a team and I pictured a life that I envisioned myself living in Hawaii. Practicing three times a week at sunset on the ocean. It seemed magical to be able to connect to the water through movement and in synchronicity with five other people in your boat to a history deeper than yourself.

It’s been six months since I started my Happiness U journey. In January I was inspired by HU to write down a list of all of the goals I wanted to accomplish for the year one being to join a paddling club. I’m not sure how much I meant it at the time, I would almost imagine I’d even put it down to learn more about paddling but low and behold, I wrote it down, began talking about it, people heard me and continued connecting me to the right people and now I’m a paddler. I am practicing not only three days a week but sometimes four or five. I spend money on workout clothes or my first paddle. (I sometimes say you have to start things blindly in order to do them, ha!) I can’t believe how much my life has changed, for the better. Minus a intercostal muscle I’ve pulled. I played competitive sports in high school and to be back on a team is indescribable. We even won first in our race last week, that sensation was addicting and long-forgotten. At the finish line, having passed it with six strangers who’ve become friends and all of us looking around to see no one else there. Your heart explodes as you realize collectively, WE DID IT.

While I was looking to check off the boxes on my 2018 list, what stood beyond the lines on paper were other variables- time, dedication, new challenges, new people to meet and experiences to be had. We all think we will get to some of our goals tomorrow but we don’t realize how quickly tomorrow has come and gone. I am so eager to learn and live a fantastic, challenging yet interesting life that in doing so I’m still learning how to balance everything but the journey is exhilarating and so worth it. Thanks to HU for giving me the head-space to realize this for myself. I challenge you, reader, what are you waiting to do that you haven’t done yet?


June Reflections:

Time heals all when having to make tough choices

I’ve been struggling with a tough choice for a few months now. It’s not a fun place to be in. The best part of all of this is that I continue to tell myself and know this is only temporary, even when its been eating at me for what feels like forever! Logically however I know the longevity of life itself or the outcome will far outweigh this hardship now. Alice recently asked, “Where do you see yourself in a year?” I was perplexed and slightly discouraged, I felt I would be the same in a year. She could see everyone felt that way so she asked, “Well where were you last year?” Then we all smiled.

A lot does happen in year.
It’ll all be ok because it always is.
That is the balance of life.
That is the beauty of time.


July Reflections:

Design the life you want

What I’ve learned most this year through Alice and the really supportive community at HU is that you can design the life you want, this is a constant theme and I really enjoy just even imagining the world of possibilities! It’s never too late to focus on yourself or prioritize the life you envision for yourself. I’ve always felt this way but to not only hear this surrounding you but feel this support from the community around me continues to reiterate and instill this within me. I can’t thank you all enough for that! Now the hardest question I ask myself, “If there were no limits, no boundaries to my existence what impact do I want to leave on the world?”


August Reflections:

Cost of Living in Paradise

There’s a certain stigma that comes with living in Hawaii- a tropical oasis and in the most secluded set of islands in the world. Friends and family on the mainland are envious of an “endless summer” lifestyle. It is glorious but good things come at a price. The cost of living is the highest in the country- friends in NYC always like to argue this with me but some of our main food sources arrives via boat so I challenge them – and even some of the highest in the world. In my time living here I’ve experienced things I’ve never had to before including hurricane warnings and a missile threat. It’s a unique feeling when you literally can’t go anywhere because you’re on an island and have to just “face the problem” and accept it. A few years back I went grocery shopping and I was asking for some ham at the deli counter. They didn’t have it, I suggested something else, still didn’t have it, requested a third item to which they didn’t have and I said, “Well what is going on?” “Remember that boat that got stuck 500 miles offshore, it had our deli inventory on it!” Said the clerk.

At Happiness U I have had a lot of growth and understanding in my perspective of life itself. So much so, that perspective continues to be the constant thread throughout my Happiness U experience. I always come back to it as if its an outer-body experience itself. Looking at the challenges I face head-on but trying to physically step-out of frame and see all angles and influence challenging my perspective. In regards to things I can’t control like the obvious potential threat of a natural disaster you do what you can, you research, you prepare and you wait. You imagine how a week before you were going throughout your day, week, etc. without a threat so seemingly substantial. We tend to take it all for granted. When the sun comes out again after whatever challenge has subsided, I feel it makes us that much more humble and appreciative of everything. So things like even having deli meat or by some miracle having a category 5 storm become downgraded to a tropical storm in one single day puts life itself into perspective and in my opinion some kind of miracle. I was already humbled by the fact I get my groceries every time I visit the store (because the boat obviously made it!) let alone having to prepare for 14 days of survival (per recommendations). While it is alarming at the time, we all go back to our regularly programmed days and schedules. However these repeated encounters with life on an island are slowly shaping who we are, and I have to say for the better. The cost of living in paradise is expensive in a variety of ways but makes life so much richer and meaningful.


September Reflections:

Mental Clutter

I recently watched the Clutter Clearing Plan 101 and the Feng Shui 101- wow, do those messages hit very close to home. You have to watch them! So much so that I usually have to watch a couple of times to let the messages really sink in and take some good notes. All quotes in here are from Alice during the classes.

“Clutter is a choice.”

I had lived with someone all of my life. From childhood to adulthood, either family, roommates or significant others. For the first time in my adult life this past year I didn’t inhabit my personal space with anyone. It was freeing! Maybe a little too much so, over time it too ran its course and a few piles of untouched items needed to be addressed.

“It’s not as big of a chore, clearing clutter is actually really fast.”

Agreed. The biggest chore is getting over the mental block of starting to clear clutter. However once I heard…

“When you’re feeling kind of blah or down, clearing clutter is one of the most self-improvement strategies you can do for yourself.” 

Who wouldn’t want to easily, improve a space and themselves? I was sold and got to work right away as I had these classes running on my laptop and starting clearing!!

“We are not our things. We are independently self-sufficient.”

I even came across an old note from an someone who is no longer in my life that was really sweet and started realizing it was triggering old feelings. Alice referenced this may happen. Then I remembered this note or thing did not justify the relationship in totality it was only a small glimpse into something that was no longer serving me.

“Clear from the rooms you want to see the most change.”

Rooms represent certain aspects of your life from living room/sociableness to bedroom/relationships etc. This was the part really hit home. I realized I had been ignoring/holding onto certain aspects of old pieces of my life. I started clearing from those rooms that seemed to be affecting me most immediately. A few bags of trash, donation items and some organized closets later…it was very rewarding. Now, what’s next?!


October Reflections:

You May Have What You Already Want 

I grew up surrounded by a great entrepreneur, my dad. I’ve always admired that spirit, work ethic and creativity. I have several friends that are creating side businesses that are really inspiring and different than what they do daily for work. I love that they’re enhancing a new skill set and creating a new line of income. For a few months I asked myself, “What would I do as a side job?” I wrote out a list of possibilities but nothing felt right. I pride myself in being optimistic and finding creative-solutions to challenges but no matter what, I could not come up with an idea. It started to kind of bother me! I stopped thinking about it for a little bit. Ironically, or not-so-ironically, during that same time I had put an extra parking space on Craigslist. I didn’t need the extra income but knew I could do something with the extra space. I finally got a lead that was serious and met the person to show the space. As I was walking to meet her, it dawned on me I was creating a side income. Almost immediately I started to look at other aspects of my life that I felt I was looking at the same way. I self-started a new project at work, was concurrently looking at revenue generating streams for the nonprofit I volunteer with; in so many areas I was too laser-focused on idea of accomplishing a goal, I forgot to see it happening in other ways. While focusing on these goals (no matter how big or small, mundane, silly or extravagant) I was not giving credit to what I intentionally wanted to do and was spending time/energy developing. I was actually very proud and profoundly present.

wants a side income = rents out parking space
wants to be healthier = but also enjoys networking with clients at social foodie events
wants to travel internationally more = wouldn’t miss traveling home to the the mainland to visit family or exploring Hawaii

To reiterate what HU has taught me all along:
You are in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing.
Everything in life is about balance.
You prioritize what you want.
Be present.

Thank you!


November Reflections:

Putting it all to the test

I had started this reflection to be all about balance and it couldn’t have been a better theme. We learn and discuss all of these important topics all year long at HU and it only really counts when we start seeing how we react when life challenges us outside of the classroom. I recently found out that my landlord will be selling my apartment, while it’s expected as a renter – four years into my lease I wasn’t expecting to go anywhere anytime soon. It came as a shock and a let down initially and understandably. I allowed myself to feel it out for a day and immediately (or simultaneously) went to work with an action plan. Right away, my mindset was already trying to shift to – this is happening for a reason – imagine the new place you’re going to live in, how exciting – you’ve been wanting a new kitchen, etc. While change can be hard to accept at first it was great practice to ease the timeframe at which I begin accepting circumstances and getting to work on how to embrace the change. I’ll invite you all over for the next housewarming party, ok?!


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