recipe for happiness


When I was a little girl, I took refuge in public libraries wherever I lived. Which was a lot of different places.

By the time I was seven years old, I realized that all towns had one thing in common: a public library. I walked, rode my bike, or took the bus to the library. Always with the weight of too many books on the way home.

This remains a pattern in my life. A positive anchor. Riding a bike and walking to the library (or a local bookstore) sometimes a daily habit.

The minute I turned sixteen and had driver’s license in hand, my first thought was: now I can drive to any library I want.

The libraries with the biggest poetry sections were the center of my universe. Sitting right on the floor in the stacks, I skimmed each volume, starting with the letter A, and going through the alphabet.

Obsessive-compulsive or curiously-thorough?

Sometimes it’s a fine line.

I felt certain that the answers I was seeking, even if I couldn’t really formulate the questions, were somewhere in these volumes of poetry.

I knew that writers, and especially poets, held the keys to some form of mystery and magic that would guide me.

Mystery and magic — it’s how I’ve always felt about writing, language, image…books.

tea with Britt

Sometimes our recipe for happiness can simply be captured in an image.

This one is from a tea date with my friend Britt.

It was the first day with my new iPhone and she was teaching me how to use it. One of the first things she did was show me how to install apps, and Instagram was my first photography app.

You’re looking at my very first Instagram photo, circa 2011. You can see more, here.

It was the day before I left to teach for a month in Africa. Not my first visit there, but my first time with a bunch of workshops booked. The experiences of crossing borders on broken down busses with my paints nearly confiscated had not yet happened.

It was raining that February day in Oakland, CA, and I was cold, yet happy.

In the company of a friend, enjoying a cup of tea in a cafe.

This is the best way to learn new technology, by the way.

My colorful Coach rain boots peeking out. Feel like I’m wearing modern art on my feet. The boots another friend encouraged me to splurge on, during a hot day in Los Angeles, (no chance of rain) because of how simply delightful they looked.

While I gravitated toward the design done in pinks and magentas, she encouraged me toward the grey/black/burnt orange combo, and she is right: they go with everything. Rain or shine.

She left the planet too soon, and I still have her ideas and advice and love with me as I take more journeys in these boots.

The image holds so many memories…that can’t be see with the naked eye.

Just like the pages of our sketchbooks.


It turns out that rain boots are the perfect footwear for quickly getting through airport security lines.

So get some pretty ones.

I’m always floored at how many of the formidable-looking customs and security guys notice my boots and smile, many of them comment on the style.

Now, if Coach would just sponsor one of my jaunts…or better yet…create a collection featuring my artwork…

Some journaling prompts for you…

Who are the poets who unravel questions and answers for you?

What type of poetry speaks directly to your soul?

What is your “recipe for happiness”?

If you feel a bit daring, please do share in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.

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by Lisa Sonora Beam // share your thoughts... in the Comments { 23 }
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