What’s Making Me Happy: October 2017

Wait! It’s November now! Isn’t this post late? 

Well, sort of. (Better late than never, right?) But with my new DIY MFA article posting earlier this week and S.J. Higbee’s blog tour stopping here last week, today is the most convenient day to look back on the joys of October.

And, boy, do I need this post right now. October was very stressful, between sudden changes at my day job and unexpected (and expensive) car repairs. And when I’m already stressed / anxious about one thing, it’s so easy for me to get stressed / anxious about other things. If you’ve felt the same way lately, let’s take a moment to inhale deeply, exhale slowly, and give thanks for our accomplishments and joys over the past month. And as always, feel free to share what’s made you happy lately in your comments.

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I Went to the 2017 Boston Book Festival

Last Saturday was the 9th Annual Boston Book Festival, and once again it was fantastic. I spent a gorgeous fall day in Copley Square, attending book signings and panels on poetry and YA fiction, drinking tea and hot cocoa, and generally being inspired by the vibrant, inviting atmosphere. In fact, I was so focused on getting from one panel to the next (all four I was interested in were back to back) that I forgot to take photos after the first panel. So the slideshow above only shows the “YA: Truth and Consequences” panel and my book haul from the event. Then I went reunited with Yoga Friend (she also went to BBF, but attended different panels) for dinner and dessert.

My highlights from this year’s BBF? Meeting Daniel Jose Older and Kristin Cashore after their respective panels. Older, who writes urban fantasy for adults (Bone Street Rumba series) and teens (Shadowshaper Cypher series), took part in my favorite panel of the day, “YA: It’s Getting Real.” He and three other authors discussed (among other topics) the importance of writing diverse characters and addressing racial injustice and other societal wrongs in YA literature. As for Cashore, I read her Graceling series after hearing her speak at the 2010 BBF. So it was utterly satisfying for things to finally come full-circle and meet her in person.

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I Went on My First Whale Watch

During a recent trip to Cape Cod to visit my parents, I finally went on my first whale watch! We took a Hyannis Whale Watch Cruise out of Barnstable and traveled out about 1 hour to Stellwagen Bank, a marine sanctuary at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay. Since the Cape weather was drizzly and foggy that morning, we didn’t know how much we’d see once we were out in the ocean. But the skies cleared the further north we went – and within minutes of arriving at our destination, we spotted our first whale.

In total, we saw about 20 whales (all humpbacks) during our 90-minute stop. The tour guide (a marine mammal expert who has studied these whales for years) was incredibly knowledgeable, sharing the whales’ many behaviors, how she and other experts identify each whale from their fins and other markings, and the efforts to protect these magnificent creatures. One of the juvenile whales, Abyss, also came within feet of our boat! The guide said this particular behavior, usually exhibited by younger whales like Abyss, is called a “curious approach,” and is rare to witness during whale watches.

I Met Abigail K. Perry, Another of My DIY MFA Colleagues

I enjoy reading my fellow staff writers’ posts at DIY MFA. So I was reading Abigail K. Perry‘s debut article this summer (click here to read it), and when I reached her bio, my mouth dropped open. To make a long story short: Abigail lives two towns away from me!

So Abigail and I finally met last week at An Unlikely Story (a local indie bookseller I first blogged about here), and it was a blast. We spent over 2 hours chatting about books, our own novels-in-progress, bridesmaid tales, and life in general.  It’s so nice to have a new writing friend who lives so closeby, and we’re already planning to get together again soon.

I’m Listening to Guided Meditations by Madeline Reinhart

Since I’m still having trouble with anxiety, I was recently searching YouTube for guided meditations that might help. Then I stumbled on Madeline Reinhart’s work – and oh my GOODNESS. The first one made me more relaxed and empowered than I’d felt in a while. And then I listened to a few others, then went to her website, and…. let’s just say I swear by her work now. ❤

The best place for an introduction to Madeline is her YouTube page. There, she has dozens of meditation recordings that assist with the seven chakras, abundance, self-love, and other forms of spiritual healing. If you find them helpful, then visit Madeline’s website for meditation downloads you can purchase. I splurged on one of her “meditation designs,” where you can create your own meditation by choosing the focal intention / topic, background music, and subliminal sound effects.

I’m Also Listening to the Music Choice: Soundscapes Channel

With all the changes that happened this month, I’ve felt the need to listen to more relaxing music. So in addition to my usual fare on my iPod, I’ve also been listening to Music Choice: Soundscapes. It’s an all-day music channel on cable TV that plays a mix of classical, ambient, and acoustic instrumentals. It’s soothing and especially helpful for concentration, and I’ve already discovered some incredible songs and artists over the past couple weeks. Here are my favorites so far:

What were some of the things that made you happy in October? Have you gone anywhere exciting or done something you’ve been meaning to do for a long time? If you’ve been experiencing stress or anxiety lately, what has helped you relax or maintain your sanity?

29 thoughts on “What’s Making Me Happy: October 2017

  1. It’s so cool you got to see Kristin Cashore! I saw her in NYC once when she mentioned she basically rewrote Bitterblue from scratch on advice from her editor. So scary! But I guess it worked out for her, and she agreed it was the right advice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! Definitely do one, and use Hyannis Whale Watch Cruise if you can. Their cruises are kid-friendly, and a number of families were onboard during ours. They’re closed for the winter, but their website says they’ll reopen in mid-April for the 2018 season.


  2. Ooh whales! I’ve seen whales but I’ve never gone on a whale watch. It sounds like you had quite a good month. As for me, I’m hanging on by my fingernails, trying to get through kid #2 applying to colleges, missing my son, and my company being sold (and like you, lots of changes at work). Let’s just say I’m sprucing up my resume just in case…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Whales are majestic, aren’t they? ❤

      Sorry to hear October was so stressful for you. I hope November is a better month, though I'm sure Kid #2's college search will still be going on by then. Does #2 know what kind of school they'd like and/or what major?


  3. I’m sorry you had a tough month during October, Sara. Hassles at work and car expenses are always horrible. But as ever, this uplifting post is joyous to read:)). Thank you for sharing that lovely whale-watch – how amazing! And I’m glad you had such a good time at the Boston Book Festival and fancy finding out that a writing colleague lives so close! I love the music and hope the meditation works well. Also, thank you so much for taking part in the blog tour for my book – I really appreciated your support throughout October:)) I hope that November is kinder to you, as well as producing some more wonderful moments to treasure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sarah. It’s easy to lose perspective when you’re constantly stressed or experiencing upheaval of any kind. So when these and other joys (especially the cookbook intro news) happened, I made sure to relish them even more. Which explains why even though the whale watch weather wasn’t ideal, I still had such a good time. A little rain isn’t going to dampen my spirits! 🙂

      “Fancy finding out that a writing colleague lives so close!”

      I know, right?? Abigail and I said something along those lines during our chat, and it’s… just… so good to have that again. I used to be in a writer’s group several years ago, but left because things started to get a little… contentious, so it wasn’t the most supportive atmosphere. But Abigail has already volunteered to beta-read STORM when it’s ready, and I love her story idea and would be thrilled to do the same for her in return.

      You’re very welcome about the blog tour stop. Best wishes to you for a lovely, productive November as well. 🙂


  4. I’m so sorry October has been anxiety-producing for you, Sara! I also swear by meditation to help with my anxiety. I’m devoted to Headspace. When I first joined 18 months ago I didn’t think there was enough variety, but they’ve added so much lately and I love the little mini “refresher” meditations, the packs dedicated to specific issues like depression and sleep problems, and the new “every day” series, which has options for anywhere from 3-20 minutes. It’s made a huge difference in my life. Using headphones while meditating has also helped me to concentrate better.

    I hope November is full of relaxation and joy for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Leanne. This week has already been infinitely better in terms of stress levels. 🙂

      I remember you mentioning Headspace before, maybe in one of your past What’s Making Me Happy posts. I’ll have to check it out when I have a chance.


  5. I’m sorry to hear how stressful October was for you. I hope this month will be easier. The whale watch trip sounds fun; I’m glad you saw so many whales! My family went on one once and it was so stormy that everyone on the boat was sick and we saw no whales. I haven’t tried going on another since, but maybe I should give it another chance.

    I’m curious, what was the YA: Truth and Consequences panel about?

    What’s made me happy in October has been the leaves and unusually warmer weather. 🙂 Plus pumpkin spice lattes. And I’m reading Crooked Kingdom!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, E. 🙂 November is already off to a better start than October. I feel more relaxed now than I have in a while.

      That’s too bad about the whale watch you went on. My parents and my brother had a similar experience with their first one; it wasn’t stormy, but the seas were choppy enough to make a number of people seasick. But the waters were very calm during mine.

      The YA: Truth and Consequences panel focused on the importance of young characters learning to make choices and deal with the results and consequences – all of which are a part of growing up. According to the booklet’s description, the most recent novels put out by the panel’s three authors all deal with that theme. I’m not familiar with the other two authors, but with Kristin Cashore her latest novel “Jane Unlimited” is all about choices, especially since it was inspired by Choose Your Own Adventure books.

      October was unusually warm, I agree! Even the beginning of November has been mild so far. I think they’re expecting highs here near 70 today.

      Yay for Crooked Kingdom! What do you think of it so far?


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  7. Despite the stressful parts, it sounds like you had a lot of fun experiences! Whale watch must have been amazing! It’s on my bucket list. ^ ^


    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m glad that regardless of all the stress you had, you still managed to find some happiness. (and it’s definitely not too late to write about it in November: after all, you need to wait till the month ends to collect all the happiness from it, right? 😉 )
    I’m glad you’ve found a writing friend so close and hope that you two will continue having a blast!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, October was not fun in some ways. Thankfully that was a while ago now…. But it makes me grateful for doing this series. If I didn’t, I probably would have focused almost entirely on the negatives and forgotten the special moments. Though that whale watch would be impossible to forget. That was a magical day. 🙂

      Abigail and I are hoping to get together again soon. It was too difficult to find time once Thanksgiving and the Christmas season, so hopefully we can find time now that things are slowing down.

      Liked by 1 person

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