A Project

11th July 2011

So, Internet! Things are not going well.

Divorce aside, the last few weeks have been crisis heavy. So much Big Bad stuff has been piling up that I’ve become slightly embarrassed to be around people. They ask you how you are, and you have to answer without hyperventilating. They ask what’s been going on and you have to come up with a response that doesn’t involve too many hospitals. They stand near you and heavy things fall on their heads.

I should note here that Hank is doing well. He’s a bright spot through all of this. Also, I’m reasonably healthy, which is excellent. (Do you hear me, universe? Super grateful for the kid and the health. Thumbs up! Please hold your lightening bolts.)

My instinct is to plan my way through difficult times, so here’s the plan. I’m going to start doing something fun every day. I just watched this brief TED talk by Matt Cutts on 30 day projects:

So for the next thirty days, I’m going to make time for something fun every day. I started Saturday, and I hope you’ll join me.

Have you done anything fun today?

71 thoughts on “A Project

  1. Liv

    Hi Maggie, sorry that you are having difficult times. I did something fun today – I started an online photography course! – fun, scary, challenging. Part of my plan to make 2011 The Year of More Fun.

  2. margaux

    I love this project!! I wish you nothing but the best and am sending you good thoughts. As I am new to SF, I figure I can incorporate this into discovering new parts to the city and bay area! WOO! Starting today!! xoxo

  3. Julie

    Yes, a fun thing. I’m moving (sad, not fun) and I took all sorts of files I haven’t looked at since the last time I moved (8 years ago) — many of them filled with statements and envelopes that I never bothered to open in the first place — and I tossed them without looking. I can’t throw away everything holding me down, but this shit? This shit can go.

    Then I took the boys to get crap Dora-licensed ice cream instead of our usual hipster ice cream place — bcs that’s what they wanted and I’m all of a sudden 100% fine with that.

  4. LT

    I, too, am sorry to hear you are continuing to have rough times. I hope things get better very very soon. I thought I’d answer your question (for the sake of fun!): Today I found new weird places to visit in Vegas later this month and in an hour, I’m going to a thrift store that has only books.

  5. Imelda

    Oh Maggie

    I hope the worst is past you. I feel your pain. Its hard to see someone that brings me so much joy with all that you share, be in such a hard place. This too shall pass.

    I saw this video and it reminded me of a friend that does 30 day projects. He is starting another today and I’ll start mine next Monday. I’m glad this video inspired you.

    Here is a song that I fell in love with by Rayland Baxter. He opened for The Civil Wars and both artists were amazing!



  6. Tasha

    Oh, I don’t like it when things are rough for you. I’m excited for how it’ll be on the other side though. Things are always amazing after they’re terrible. I wish you all the best, Mighty Girl.

    I think I will just have to join you on this project. I love fun stuff. Now to make myself stick with something for 30 days…

  7. Cate

    Today I let the dog splash around in the pond at the park, because I don’t think anything gives her greater joy than water, especially when it’s 95 degrees out. Watching her jump around like she was on springs made me happy. And then we came home and collapsed on the couch, where I still am.

    Hugs to you. Eleanor sends friendly wags.

  8. erika

    I’m game! I could use 30 Days of Fun. Good luck on your project. I’m off to look for fun things to do tomorrow. Yesterday & today were fun without me planning it.

  9. Cindy

    I call that year 2005. That was our year everything went to shit and then it just kept getting a little bit deeper. This is when I started changing a few things. I refused to blog about the negative. I forced myself to start doing fun things. Weekends became our lives where we just went and did. I wasn’t happy with my job or where we were living, but I could find happy in other ways. And we did. We made due. And now I have a job I love and we have a home of our own. And we’re happy. Really really stupid happy.

    I bet when you finish your 30 days, you won’t stop there. It will be the best habit you’ve ever made, to find fun every day.

    Totally didn’t mean to rhyme that.

  10. Cori

    Oh Maggie! I’m so sorry things are rough right now. I live in SF as do many other readers. If you need us all to drop off a lasagna or something, just put the word out.

    As for the fun thing… last night was fondue night. I’ll have to work on something for today.

  11. Stella

    Sorry to hear that you’re going through rough times! Internet hugs for you!

    Fun thing? Well…I’m working out, which I haven’t done in a while. Perhaps it is not fun when I do it, but afterwards, I feel exhilarated. It’s great to feel my body being put to use, not just be another sedentary drone.

  12. Vee

    I can totally get behind this project. I’ve been in a cycle of work/home/sit on couch/sleep for weeks now. Doing fun stuff for 30 days sounds like an excellent idea.

    I sure do hope things get better for you. Internet hugs from Central Pennsylvania.

  13. Christa

    So sorry to hear that things have gotten worse instead of better. I’m going to take a book making class at the end of the month. Sending many good vibes to you.

  14. a.

    Today I made an excellent bean salad. And I bought a drill, which is going to make several life-enhancing home improvements immediately possible.

    Sometimes, not working very much and not having a very long to-do list is more anxiety-inducing for me than having lots to do. Oprah said, “Happiness is having something to look forward to”. It made me realize how true that is for me. This project is right along those lines. Right on!

    Best wishes to you, Maggie. I hope it gets better.

  15. Sara

    I’m so sorry life is tough right now! Although my life has been busy with grad school and parenting, it’s relatively drama free. I wish I could pass this on to you!
    Fun things I’ve enjoyed in the last week:
    I finished my new, awesome tattoo!
    Began watching The Story of India, hosted by Michael Wood. Amazing.
    Watched my daughter’s doll perform a tap dance routine (to April in Paris).
    Mentally map out a memoir that I will start writing. I will!

    Regarding watching my daughter play — I often find myself thinking of a million other things when she wants to share her play. This makes me feel guilty, but I know it’s normal. I listed the tap dance routine as a fun thing because I found true joy in watching her delight in my full attention.

    Be well, Internet friend.

  16. Megan

    Sorry for the rough times. For what it’s worth, your regular check-ins are missed.

    Are there any drive-ins in the SF area? I have great memories of my parents taking me as a kid (Karate Kid and Beverly Hills Cop double feature!), and I’m making plans to do it this summer. Do you think Hank might be taken in by the novelty of watching a movie on a big screen from a car or are kids nowadays all, “This is quaint, mother, but please pass me the ipad forthwith”?

  17. Miss K

    Oh Maggie, I want you to know that I light up whenever I see there is a new post from you. It’s always the first one I check on my reader. So three posts by you is a fun thing for me.
    Other than that…I had a wine-fueled skype chat with a friend where we sent a joke email to a guy we knew 6 years ago!
    Sending you a hug.

  18. LisaAR

    Girl, I’m sorry to hear bad is following bad. “This, too, shall pass” has been a comforting mantra throughout my life (including now!) I wish you strength, faith, and spirit to get through these tough times, and I’m glad you are seeing to it to add fun to your day. A great perspective refresher. Hang in there.

  19. Rebecca

    I’m sorry things aren’t going well for you. I saw that TED talk too a while ago and it inspired me as well. Hoping that things look up for you in the future.

  20. Mrs. Kinne

    It sucks that things are rough for you! I will be sending good things your way.

    I am feeling a little overwhelmed with life myself, and I like the idea of doing something fun everyday. I am totally in.

  21. April

    Sorry to hear your on the edge of hyperventilating. Hopefully in time you’ll look back and be grateful you had this challenge to overcome, whatever it is.

    My fun today was a little unexpected: some film I sent in to be developed came back to me in the mail. It’s always like xmas, getting photos in the mail!

  22. Kris

    I, too, hope you can find your Happy again. You’re an amazing woman, Maggie, and you deserve every happiness that life can offer.

    My son is undergoing evaluations for autism, and lately, all my free time is spent feeling overwhelmed and angry and sorry for myself. But! Yesterday, I watched an amazing movie on HBO called “Temple Grandin”. When you’re feeling down & need some inspiration, please watch it. She’s a remarkable woman, and I promise that you’ll take away something wonderful from watching it.

    Kris, I’m so sorry to hear it. I can’t imagine how overpowering the worry must be — kid stuff is uniquely terrifying. My fingers are crossed for you, and my heart goes out to you. Try to rest as much as you can. -Maggie

  23. Jules

    This is so weird. It’s been “a month” for me, too. In May, the father of one of my best friends and my husband’s mentor–who also happens to be one of my father’s work colleagues for over 30 years–was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. He died 34 days later, but not before my friend’s mom and dog died, too. Thirty four days. I told myself last week that I would try to do something fun, risky, and exemplary of a life well-lived for 34 days…and then you post this. So, yes, I’m in. And I’m hoping things get better for you, too. xo

    Oh no. I’m so sorry. Yes, time to take a three-hour bath. -M

  24. Julie

    So I am generally a bit snarky. Your blog, your viewpoint, and *you* evoke an almost universal snark-free desire to root for you. You should totally tap into that in this moment of difficulty. You have done a lot for people. Let us know if we can help.

    On the fun front – We live in an area with a gorgeous lake and we own land with a big, perfect pond. I avoided those verdant, isolated areas today and schlepped the toddler in 90 degree heat to the public pool. All the chlorine and chaos was awesome. The child also had her first experience with a snack bar snow cone.

    Thanks, Julie. I don’t know why I’m always so surprised that comments like these make me feel better. You’re already helping just by being here. How’s that for cheese? I’m offering up snark ammo on a platter. -M

  25. Rachel

    I’m sorry things kind of suck right now. Hard times are . . . hard? It sucks when everything seems to be against you.

    But good for you for finding fun every day. I am joining your 30 Days of Fun! I only read this today, but I actually did fun things both Saturday and Sunday, so I’m saying I started Saturday too. I’m blogging this, if you don’t mind. My first post: http://modaveloce.blogspot.com/2011/07/30-days-of-fun-1-3.html

  26. Meg

    I hope the world is better for you soon. It is always difficult when every. single. thing. in your day involves putting out massive fires of doom.

    What did I do for fun? I let my puppy sleep on my shoulder for a while before putting her to bed in her crate.

  27. Shevon

    I will join you, and I hope things get better for you soon! Today we ate homemade ice cream right in the middle of the day!

  28. TP

    Great idea! Good on you for sharing that things are not always perfect and for working towards the positive.

    I am going to start the fun tomorrow and try to embrace the chilly weather we are getting in Victoria, Australia.

  29. Erin @ Brownie Bites

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through difficult times. The 30 day project sounds really interesting. Sometimes having a little focus and consistency from day to day can help with smoothing over the rough patches.

  30. steph

    You know what, this is kind of a sucky summer for us too. I won’t go into details (it’s not my blog!), but it has been extremely disappointing and sad so far.

    I am very sorry to hear you say the big ‘D’ word… I was hopeful that you guys could go on, and I wish there was something I could say to make that better. It is NONE of my business, but I remember the togetherness, the marrying, the childbirthing, all read on here, and I just hate to see this happen… it nearly happened to my family too. Anyway, know that someone is saying a little prayer for you and all your difficulties, that you all can do what is best going forward.

    And I too am thankful for your health and your kid (and my health and my kid)! That goes a long way!

  31. Kizz

    My instinct in times like those (and man, why so many things all at one time, it’s like our life script is occasionally taken over by Cameron Crowe) is to do nothing. Like when you get the bed spins and you just want to lie flat on the floor until it’s over. You can’t do that, though, because things must be done, even little things. Doing something fun every day makes much more sense.

  32. Dana

    I helped my kids put on their first lemonade and cupcake stand. That was one hell of a lot of fun.
    Hugs, love and light to you.

  33. Viv

    When I saw your title “A Project” come up in my feed reader, I thought “I’LL DO IT” before I even clicked on it. I love your projects.

    My suggestion: BUBBLES. With your son, a friend, or by yourself, go outside and blow some bubbles. Lots of them. My son has recently reminded me what a simple joy bubbles are.

  34. aarwenn

    Oh, Maggie. I’m so sorry that you seem to be passing under a shitstorm. Those are the absolute worst.

    When I’m down, sometimes I find it helpful to read my own past blogs. (I KNOW. I’m very narcissistic.) BUT. It can be really helpful to discover how far you’ve come. In your unique situation, I’d read the REALLY OLD ONES–from back in the day when you were very single. It can be helpful in trying to find your voice again.

  35. Chels

    I’ve been putting off a bunch of DIY stuff. I will start a 30-day project to Make Stuff, starting Monday. Thanks for the prompting.

    Much love to you. Your words have bolstered me many times, and I hope you feel the love of your readers surrounding you.

  36. saraspunza

    Sometimes just the right person does just the right thing. I have been noticing my complete unhappiness in most things and my complete happiness in one specific area. Time to build a little more happiness into my life. Just the right person does just the right thing. Thanks Maggie for being so spot on! The river looks lovely. The pineapple is gorgeous. Hold your heart, stride forth, and giggle along the way.

  37. Kathleen

    I too tend to kick into planning mode when things are going to hell around me. My favorite is to click over to travel sites and see what it will cost to fly away to an exotic location. No need to delve to deeply into the psychology text book there, right?
    I loved Matt’s advice. It got me thinking about what goals and projects I should dust off and get going.
    Again Maggie, you show us how to get up and remember to live; even if life is crappy right now. It’s only way you’ll get through to the other side!

  38. Mfree

    We got a vintage porch swing and hung it up today! Seriously, there is nothing better than swinging away the California nights with your beverage of choice.

  39. Maileen

    Ah, life. Sending you internet hugs. Projects are good – thanks for being inspirational. I’m starting the project and hopefully will get through it without making it too ice cream/gelato/dessert related. Because sweets are always fun.

  40. Christina

    I can totally relate to how you are feeling!
    I have been putting off calling a few friends that have been leaving messages for months because I have nothing positive to tell them about my life. The last few years have been a blur of sick parents, surgeries and chronic pain, pets dying, boys breaking my heart, etc etc. So much sadness! It can be totally overwhelming.

    SO. I love this video about doing something new for thirty days, and I love your happiness project. I hope it is going wonderfully well and I want you to know that you have inspired this fun-needer!


  41. Sarah

    I don’t know you beyond your cyber-presented self, but I think if I were within arms reach and it didn’t freak you out and neither of us were wearing easily-wrinkled clothes and my piercing clavical was properly padded: I would give you a {hug}.

    You’re going to be okay. Promise-promise.

  42. vanessa

    Maggie – I came to your food fight with my daughters. I hope your 30 day fun challenge includes another group activity. I’d be there with bells on. What about the bubbles on the Golden Gate bridge? I’d always hoped you’d open the invitation to that.

    1. Maggeh Post author

      Hi Vanessa, how are you? With Camp Mighty and the Summit looming, I don’t have the bandwidth for another group adventure right now, but when bubbles on the bridge happens I promise to put the word out.


  43. Nikki

    Im sorry you are having a rough time, but i love your positivity here! totally joining you on this project! what a good idea to boost your spirits.

  44. Tami -- Teacher Goes Back to School

    I don’t know you personally, but I just want to hug you. I know how random stranger hugs can help tremendously. Hope that your 30 days of fun makes weathering the shit storm a little easier.

    I’m definitely in on the fun times these days – it’s summer break and I have no intention on working for the next 6 weeks on anything except fun.

    Today? Chips, guacamole, beer and laughing for lunch with my best girlfriend.

  45. Sarah

    Hang in there Maggie — you can do it. My mother used to say that to me, in standard reserved New England fashion, and it took me years to recognize that strength and conviction she was backing it up with. I send you all those powerful you-can-make-it-through-tough-times vibes.

  46. Megan

    Girllll, I am in the same boat. I felt like I wrote “So much Big Bad stuff has been piling up that I’ve become slightly embarrassed to be around people.” Seriously. I watched this video too and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for 30 days… I TOTALLY want to do something fun for 30 days straight. Duh! Sign me up! My fun having starts today. I had a picnic/dance party on the park near my work with my mom, sister & little niece.
    PS- I think you are the most divine person. Clearly, I don’t know you personally but your humor, style and ambition are such an inspiration to me. I adore you from afar(and not in a creepy way. I don’t think. HA!)

  47. michelle k.

    While 2006 is my official year that can suck it, 2011 rapidly climbs the charts. If it makes you feel any better, my year thus far consists of my son’s father leaving, the kid getting a concussion, my parents disowning me, and my laundry (with all of my kids and my favorites) being stolen. The thing is, in the end, I think it’s all for the best (concussion aside). I’ve planned and enjoyed myself so much more without all the negative weighing me down. It gets so much better, my dear, so much better. Just decide that the next 30 days will not suck and they won’t. I second the person who said you might just need a lasagna delivered…if you need food, I live in SF and am a great cook (reference 2006 and my husband leaving)

  48. Martini Mom

    I’m sorry you’re having such a rough time. This sounds like an excellent plan. I’ve been doing something similar all summer. I’ve been a working single mom for most of my oldest son’s life, but an unexpected job loss has given me the summer off with my son out of school. Stressful and scary? Yes. But we can still have fun! And my son’s totally into it. He greets me every morning with, “What’s going to be our fun thing today, mom?” I love it. Hope you do too. Hugs and good thoughts to you.

  49. Catherine

    “My instinct is to plan my way through difficult times” – an excellent instinct, and one I need to work on honing.

    My fun thing for today: biking to work in the sun with a basketful of home-baked brownies for the office. Happy-making.

  50. Cynthia

    Maggie, you are one of the most inspirational people I have never met in real life. The things you have done over the years have inspired me to see the good in people and the joy in life. I get disgruntled when I hear how life is not treating you well because you are one of the good people, ya know!

    I love this idea. I am home with my kids this summer as I try and figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Our fun thing this week has been playing with good ol’ Silly Putty.

    My other suggestion comes from the queen herself, Oprah. Do a random act of kindness. My fav is paying for the coffee of the person behind you line. Instant karma points right there.

  51. Anne

    I appreciate your blog, your candor, and your need to quantify in order to overcome. At 35, I am going through the most difficult time in my life. What helps: the knowledge that there is comedy in everyday circumstance; sure I’ll hyperventilate as I stroll my daughter down the street after a heartbreaking day of work, but later I can sometimes laugh at the comedy in people’s idiosyncracies. And everything that I’m going through has forced me to dig really fucking deep to realize that at my core is unbeatable strength and optimism. So there is something meaningful behind the shitkicking years of our lives. They are fit to kill, but life goes on.

  52. JoAnn

    I’m with Carol who said that 2011 can suck it… I thought 2010 was bad until I met 2011… I’m trying to figure out how I can charm a better 2012 into existence.

  53. Snithia

    I agree with Miss K. Your website and writing are a part of my ongoing days of fun! Thank you.

    A great idea to do this. We shun you Big Bad Stuff.

    The best to you!


  54. Eleanor

    Great inspiration – just started following your blog. Watched the TED link, and taDah – I’ve now done 2nd day of my new 30 day. (record something every day)

    Gotta love someone who can transform the negative into empowerment. Thank you.

  55. Sommar

    No stranger to some periods of hard episodes myself I can confirm the super cheesy “Time heals all wounds” is said for a reason. Things I thought I could never live through, I somehow did. It gets better. A lot of times it gets worse before it gets better (divorce) but it gets better.

    One thing I did learn is that all the planning in the world has very little affect on the outcome. You have to get over any idea of control. That realization can bring a measure of peace. Easy to say, hard to do.

    I wish you way more than luck.

  56. sugarleg

    just as I was realizing that spending another weekend alone on my couch was doing nothing positive for my psyche or heart, I came across this latest project.

    you inspire me. thanks.

    and then, just like that I remembered when I was a wise 22 year old and posted a list to the fridge for my roommates to see and participate. it was called, “Justine’s List of Summer Fun.”

    making a new one RIGHT NOW.


  57. Evan Comeau

    You may possibly Insanity Workout Schedule Calendar have not really intended to do so, but I feel you’ve got were able to express the state of mind that a lot of individuals are inside. The sense of wanting to support, although not knowing how or where, is some thing a great deal of us happen to be dealing.

  58. Rhonda C.

    Maggie, we’ve never met, but your site has been one of my bookmarks for over a decade. :)

    It’s so amazing to watch you successfully navigate life’s tidal waves being primarily equipped with the love of your friends. Kindness begets more kindness and it’s beautiful to witness.

    It’s ironic that even in your time of stress and crisis, you have still found a way to help and inspire others! Thanks for the great project post, it’s a launchpad for even more good things to come.

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