Podcast 261: Improve Your Posture, a New Way to Celebrate Birthdays, and Tackling T-Shirt Troubles.


Leap Day is coming! It’s a Saturday, so it could be something fun! I want to plan something (although I haven’t yet done so).

It’s been really fun to see people’s one-word themes for 2020. Some intriguing ones: Processes; Nourish; Consistency;  Strong; Grit; Pause; Complete; Conquer; Graceful; Clear; Resolute; Stretch; Success; Focus (inspired by 2020); Counterbalance.

Try This at Home

Improve your posture. “Do back exercises” was my #7 on my “20 for 2020 list.”. Elizabeth and Sarah talked about how posture can affect your voice in episode 141 of Happier in Hollywood.

For what it’s worth, these exercises are what we do—obviously, this isn’t medical advice, just what we do.

We’re good at doing the exercises:

  1. Neck forward flexion: we stand against the wall and push our heads forward, and tuck them back against the wall, using two fingers to tuck it back, 30 times, while keeping our chins down.
  2. Shoulder blade squeeze: we hold our arms to our side, then squeeze our shoulder blades together by bringing our arms back (with thumbs pointing backward) and hold for ten seconds, then rest. We do that 10 times.
  3. Wall slide exercise: we stand with our backs against the wall. Go into the “put your hands up!” position, move our arms against the wall so that our elbows and forearms are against the wall (this can be tough), slowly slide our arms up straight, then back down again. We do this 10 times.

We’re not as good about stretching. This is easier, but somehow we do it less, maybe because it doesn’t feel as “real”:

  1. Upper trapezius stretch – we put one hand on the opposite side of the head, then bring head down toward the shoulder, forward and more rearward
  2. Doorway stretch or corner stretch — to open up the abs and chest
  3. Massage chest muscles — to help loosen
  4. Massage neck — with fingertips.

You can find these and a lot of great information at backintelligence.com. Here’s a link to the part that describes these exercises more exactly. 

Happiness Hack

Our listener Holly had a great suggestion for introverts who would like to celebrate a milestone birthday, but don’t want to plan a big party or be the center of attention. She organized a photo shoot for her entire family. She writes:

Getting everyone together for this was something that I had been meaning to do for years, and spending the money on this photo shoot, instead of a dinner or a party, meant that I could have precious memories of my birthday captured forever, and also give a gift to my loved ones of treasured photographs.

Know Yourself Better

Do you relax better when you’re at home, or when you go on vacation?

Elizabeth relaxes more when she goes away, and I love a staycation.

It’s easy to assume that others feel the same way we do, but we relax differently in different situations. 

Listener Question

This week’s listener came from teacher A.J., who feels pressure to buy t-shirts to celebrate various holidays at her school.

Gretchen’s Demerit: Crabbiness on the loose!

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to the bestselling novel, The Stand, by Stephen King.

Speaking of Stephen King, my children’s literature reading group just read “The Body” (which became the movie Stand By Me), a novella in the collection Different Seasons.


  • Request a signed bookplate. If you’re thinking ahead to one of my books as a gift for a spring birthday or Mother’s Day, request a signed bookplate now. A personalized bookplate adds a special touch to a gifted book. Due to shipping costs, I can offer this only for U.S. and Canada. Sorry about that!
  • Wedding readings. If you’re looking for ideas for meaningful readings for a wedding, click here to download a free PDF of wedding readings that were suggested by Happier podcast listeners. I included my favorites, too.




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