Tag Archives: May Sarton

What’s Your Most Fruitful Time for Thinking?

“Some of the most fruitful thinking times are when I wake after sleeping a few hours, and in the seamless time when nothing needs to be done, not even getting up, I meditate.”

–May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

When is your most fruitful time for thinking — in the middle of the night, before you get out of bed, in the shower, during a run, walking the dog, in the car?

I have a friend who never misses his weekly massage, because that’s when he gets his best ideas for building his business.


Podcast 39: Elizabeth Talks about Getting Fired — and Do You Want More Time for Friends or for Solitude

It’s time for the next installment of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

Update: For our upcoming Very Special Episode, Holiday edition, we want to hear from you: What’s the thing that’s the essential element of the holiday for you? For instance, for Elizabeth, the essential element of Thanksgiving is stuffing.

And keep sending in those responses to our other holiday question: what’s your Try This at Home for staying happier, healthier, and more productive over the holidays?

In other news, Elizabeth reveals that she has persistent acid reflux. TMI?

 Try This at Home — this week, it’s an involuntary try-this-at-home: Get fired. Elizabeth describes the first time she got fired, and why in the end, it made her feel more free. Of course, we recognize that many people would say that getting fired had no upside for them.  She’s talking about her personal experience. It’s about dealing with the thing you fear, and learning that you can move forward.

Know Yourself Better Question: Would you like to have more time to spend with friends, or more time in solitude — or both?

I mention the journals of May Sarton.  In her books, such as Journal of a Solitude, she writes a lot about the difference between solitude and loneliness.

Listener Question: “How do you deal with negative press or hecklers or adversity?”

RoyalsCrowdGretchen’s Demerit: I felt bad because I’m not that into sports, and I just wasn’t terribly excited about the fact that our hometown team, the Royals, won the World Series.  Everyone in Kansas City was so thrilled! I wish I’d felt more excited.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: As a surprise treat, Jack and Adam took Elizabeth to dinner at Benihana, one of her favorite restaurants.

Call for comments, questions, observations!

Have you ever experienced the involuntary try-this-at-home: getting fired? We’d be fascinated to hear your experience.


As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

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“How Does One Find One’s Identity?” What’s Your Answer?

“How does one find one’s identity? My answer would be through work and through love, and both imply giving rather than getting. Each requires discipline, self-mastery, and a kind of selflessness, and they are each lifetime challenges.”

–May Sarton, Recovering: A Journal 1978-1979

Yes, another quotation from May Sarton. I’m slowly working my way through all her journals.

Do you agree? That we find our identity through work and love?

Do You Love the Excitement of Being Snowed In?

“For the first time in this house I’m to be snowed in for the day. How exciting and moving that is, the exact opposite of an outgoing adventure or expedition! Here the excitement is to be suddenly a self-reliant prisoner, and what opens out is the inner world.”

–May Sarton, The House by the Sea

I’ve never before read anything that captured the sense of excitement that comes from being snowed in.

Do you feel this, too? Of course, if children are staying home for a snow day, that’s a source of tremendous excitement too.

I’m slowly working my way through May Sarton’s Journals.  I wish I’d discovered them when I was writing Happier at Home, because she is so interesting on the subject of what makes home feel homey.

What’s Your Idea of Luxury?

In her memoir Plant Dreaming Deep, May Sarton describes her move into a new house — how she renovated it, planted the garden, met her neighbors.

I wish I’d known about this book when I was writing Happier at Home — so many of the same ideas emerged. I’m planning to read her Journal of a Solitude next.

At one point, she remarks, “If someone asked me what my idea of luxury is, I think my answer would be: flowers in the house all year round.”

I think mine would be: going into a bookstore and buying every book — hardback or paperback — that caught my eye.

I think of luxury in the context of spending a lot of money, but now that I think about it, it would be interesting to learn if most people’s ideas of “luxury” are actually very expensive.

What’s your idea of luxury?