#55 Bird Watch

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Bird Watch

Early last summer I found myself sitting on the deck in my backyard enjoying the early morning with a cup of coffee. I noticed something yellow fluttering just outside my direct line of vision and ultimately realized that a pair of yellow finches had taken residence in the rear corner of my yard. It didn’t take long before I was mesmerized watching them move through their morning routine.

The contrast of the bright yellow against the summer green foliage was striking and I had to try and capture it. My phone wasn’t cutting it so I grabbed my more elaborate Nikon and added the telephoto lens. It essentially became a sort of binoculars and I found myself zeroing in on those finches – enthralled with their movements.

I was bird watching.

And I’m not a bird watcher.

That single experience and the deep pleasure that I experienced convinced me that there is joy in bird watching – something I never thought I’d admit. I understood that morning, what people loved about the sport – or hobby – of watching these creatures move about their environment.

I took to having my coffee on the deck more frequently and noticed a pair of woodpeckers. I had heard them of course, but had never bothered to get out there and see for myself – their pecking. I saw bluebirds and robins. My curiosity increased and I found myself on Google to try and identify the female birds too as they aren’t as colorful and I wasn’t sure which was which.

I was really bird watching – and I was loving it.

There was an unexpected pleasure in the activity even though it was so solitary and quiet – perhaps that was it. I was a voyeur into the lives of those creatures and they didn’t care at all. I found myself wondering about their habits even though animal behavior was the least of my interests when I was pursuing my psychology degree. I wondered about the casual and carefree sensation of being able to fly and move to the top of trees. I got it. There’s really no way to explain the feelings or the benefits. I accidentally learned why people pull out their binoculars and I highly recommend that you make the time to…

Bird watch.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#90 Plan a Surprise Getaway

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Plan a Surprise Getaway

I’ve written about Surprising someone but this suggestion is just a bit more specific and has a tendency to crank up the appreciation scale significantly.


Your partner may be the most obvious choice for this suggestion as they are the often the most deserving of your unannounced benevolence. It’s a great way to spice things up; to let them know how important they are; how much you appreciate their contribution to your life together, etc… It doesn’t matter if it’s only an overnight at a local Holiday Inn or a week away in Sedona – the fact that you thought of and planned for his or her absence (leaving no detail unchecked) will garner points for months – if not years – to come.


Next to your spouse, for many of you it’s your parents that have devoted themselves to your success. If You’re going to plan a surprise getaway for someone, why not a spa weekend for mom or a golf outing for dad? Maybe they’d enjoy a weekend at the beach or a chalet overlooking a ski slope. It could even be a camping cabin with a fire ring all set to light. Surprises don’t have to be fancy to be meaningful. If money is tight – try AirBnB or call in a favor from a friend who has a place that mom and/or dad may like.


One of the best gifts I ever received from a friend was when she surprised me by taking my kids for a weekend. She came and got them, left me a big pot of soup and left me in my own home – alone – for the whole weekend. It was a great reprieve at a difficult time in my life to have a ‘staycation’ without any responsibility. It was – in it’s own right – a surprise getaway even though I only ‘got away’ from responsibility. I’ve never forgotten how good that felt.


The key element here is that a big part of the surprise is not having to plan – a thing! I’ve heard some stories about how a even a suitcase was packed and in the trunk of the car – almost like a love kidnapping. The babysitter was arranged, the meals were planned, responsibilities covered, etc…. It’s a true escape for the recipient.

If you can’t think of anything to get your loved one this year for the holidays – consider a way you might…

Plan a surprise getaway.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#145 Hide a Love Note

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Hide a Love Note

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about surprising someone you love. While finding a love note you’ve tucked away may be a surprise to the person who finds it, I thought it detailed enough to be its own tip to promote your (and another’s) happiness.

This suggestion is almost always found in lists of ‘things to do’ in order to perk up your relationship or build trust and intimacy between you and a partner. It’s another one of those things we are apt to do in the early stages of romance before our attention and energy get pulled into the day-to-day distractions of real life. Yet, it’s another – rather easy – free effort that reaps big payoffs in the long run.


I’ll describe a number of the variations for this suggestion as well because it isn’t as black and white as it may seem.

  • Love note: This can be a one liner; a lengthy tribute; or anything in between. It is specifically directed to someone you love and the note points to those emotions; includes any ‘loving’ relationship.
  • Thinking of you note: Generally a one liner but may include a romantic suggestion or a good will wish.
  • Appreciation note: A note specifically pointing out the attributes of the individual that you especially appreciate; more meaningful if you speak to ‘who’ the person is versus ‘what’ the person does.

The Medium

The notes can be from a sticky pad, beautiful stationery, printer paper, or the back of an old envelope. It doesn’t matter what the note is written on – what matters is the time and sentiment that it takes to write and then ‘hide’ the message. Likewise, your penmanship, spelling, ‘writing ability’, and writing instrument makes no difference. The sentence: “I luv u with my hole hart” scribbled in crayon is just as sentimental as one that is typed on parchment paper and spelled correctly.

Hiding Spot

Hiding them is perhaps, the trickiest part. It’s nice when they aren’t blatantly obvious although if your only option is to lay it on the kitchen table before you leave for work – it’s better than not doing it. However, the little surprises of finding a note hidden in a towel as you grab your shower, or inside a shoe you only wear on weekends, or at the bottom of a cereal box… those are the moments when you least expect to be presented with something significant or sweet. The goal here is for the note to be discovered in the most least expected way.

Think about the person you are writing to… where would they least expect to find a note of love, appreciation, or a kind thought? Grab something quick, while you’re thinking about it, jot something down and then…

Hide a love note.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#146 Plan a Surprise for Someone You Love

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Plan a Surprise for Someone You Love

This suggestions will elevate happiness for both you and someone special in your life. Surprising someone is always fun but planning a little (or big) surprise for someone you love is the best! For this particular post, the intent is to up your game romantically.

Dopamine Rush

A lot of us made this part of our early romantic life. We commonly offer the unexpected as a way of initiating romance. We love the dopamine rush when we pull off a surprise and many of us enjoy the experience of receiving these kinds of gestures. Coming home to an impromptu candlelight dinner… a hot drawn bubble bath with spa music… being whisked away for a steamy night in a local hotel room… These kinds of surprises turn up the ‘you’re special to me’ meter in any relationship and they are generally low cost; low effort.


Keeping this type of energy alive in a relationship demands awareness and intent. An awareness of time and activity with the intent to keep our romantic partners needs and interest in the forefront of our mind regardless of the years that have passed.


Perhaps the surprise is being picked up from work and escorted to a coveted sporting event or a favorite restaurant. Perhaps it’s bringing in a cleaning team or scheduling a babysitter for a couple’s night out. It could be as simple as declaring it “Jane/John Appreciation Day” – and treating that person as if you would on a birthday or Mother’s/Father’s day – but for no special reason other than they are ‘appreciated’. Everyone receives an endorphin rush by being appreciated.

Keep Them in Mind

It’s important to specifically consider the individual you are wanting to surprise. The surprise needs to be something THEY would enjoy. Some people don’t like ‘surprises’ so the gesture needs to be softer and maybe less spontaneous. It may be important to have a random and casual conversation with your romantic partner to find out what kind of surprises they would enjoy and then write them down or commit them to memory.

Spice up your life, invest in your relationship, and elevate your mood by…

Planning a surprise for someone you love

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#276 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Surprise someone

Do you like surprises? Do you know someone who does? Sometimes, a surprise is a really nice thing! When you surprise your mom or dad…  your grandmom or favorite uncle… When you put away the dishes without asking or when you bring someone home their favorite ice cream, you are acting in an unexpected manner and pleasantly surprising another.

These kind of surprises promote happiness for a number of reasons.

  • Surprise activates the pleasure center of our brain. The experience of being surprised produces a burst of dopamine in our brain, allowing us to feel good then and there. Each time we recall the intensity of the surprise, a little more dopamine is pushed into our system until it fades away. The more meaningful the surprise – the longer the effect lasts.
  • Surprise pulls us into the moment. When we feel surprised, our attention is on the here and now versus some other point. Staying focused on the present eliminates frustration from the past or anxiety of the future – at least temporarily.
  • Surprise breaks up monotony. We sometimes fall too easily into routines that become boring. Whether it’s our daily schedule or the way we engage in our relationships, too much certainty becomes boring. When the pattern is broken or at least, interrupted by little surprises, it allows us to reset and relax; producing feelings of pleasure.
  • Surprise can motivate learning. When we are surprised, our brains rush to discover ‘why?’ or ‘how?’. We wonder, “how did I miss that?” or “why did that happen?”. Learning always strengthens our brain capacity and again, pulls us into the present by forcing us to pay attention. Our curiosity is activated and confidence may increase – producing more ‘happy’ chemicals in our brain.

These are the things that happen we someone GETS surprised – I am suggesting that you BE the one to offer a surprise; be a giver of good things.

When we give – we often receive. In this case, you’ll be pulled into the present moment as well. You’ll be focused on something (someone) other than yourself. You’ll be creating feelings of pleasure and happiness for another human being. You’ll more than likely be the receiver of appreciation – activating pleasure centers in your own brain. It’s a win -win situation when you pleasantly…

Surprise someone.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.