Podcast 325: Design Your Summer, Splurge on Colorful Felt-Tip Pens, and a Conversation with Julianna Margulies of “The Good Wife”

Try This at Home

Design your summer.

We’ve talked about this idea before, in episodes 2767118224, and 276. The challenge is mindfully to design your summer, to make sure that you have the summer experience that you want.

This idea was initially inspired by writer Robertson Davies:

Every man makes his own summer. The season has no character of its own, unless one is a farmer with a professional concern for the weather. Circumstances have not allowed me to make a good summer for myself this year…My summer has been overcast by my own heaviness of spirit. I have not had any adventures, and adventures are what make a summer.”

— Robertson Davies, “Three Worlds, Three Summers,” The Enthusiasms of Robertson Davies

Especially this summer, in these strange times, mindful planning feels more important than ever. Elizabeth is planning a few trips with friends. I’m having my Summer of Virginia Woolf, for my reading.

Happiness Hack

In my book The Happiness Project, I write about my happiness-boosting resolutions, and one is to “Indulge in a modest splurge.” Usually I write with the usual black and blue felt-tip pens, but one day, I noticed a set of pens in bright colors, and I splurged. Beautiful tools make work a joy. 

Interview: Julianna Margulies.

Julianna Margulies is an actor and producer known for her outstanding performances on the TV series The Good Wife and ER, as well as in movies and in theater. She’s won Emmy awards, the Golden Globe award, and eight Screen Actor Guild Awards.

In addition to being an actor, she’s written a powerful memoir, Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life (AmazonBookshop), a candid account of a childhood spent shuttling back and forth between her divorced parents, which required her to adjust over and over to new schools, homes, and friends in Paris, England, New York, and New Hampshire.

We discussed issues like…

  • what made her want to write a book
  • why getting chicken pox helps her to understand herself better
  • how playing the character of Alicia Florrick so intensely for seven years affected her
  • how her plan to write an actor’s handbook turned into her memoir
  • how she discovered her love of acting in college
  • her mother’s response to the candor of the memoir

Some highlights:

  • “I never knew self-examination would be so difficult.”
  • “I am a do-er by nature, I have my checklist in hand, I’m always doing.”
  • “Can I think like myself and not feel like I’m Alicia Florrick?”
  • “Acting for me never felt like a reality for my own life. That wasn’t going to be my calling.”
  • “When I got on stage…I realized it was my ticket out of my grief.”
  • “Acting gave me freedom, on stage, to express myself through other people.”
  • “For a long time, I was much more comfortable putting on someone else’s shoes, clothing, make-up, and hair, because I didn’t feel quite right in my own.”
  • “The study of man is really what acting is: we study behavior, we study actions, and that has to be book-ended with learning.”
  • “This is just a moment. This is not the rest of your life.”
  • “What makes me happy is comporting myself in a way where I can be heard and respected.”


Julianna’s Tendency: Upholder.

Julianna’s Try This at Home

When you feel overwhelmed, separate yourself from the situation, take deep breaths, and remind yourself, “This is just a moment, this is not the rest of your life.”

Gretchen’s Demerit

It’s very hard for me not to say “I told you so.” And I do.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star

She gives a gold star to her eleven-year-old son Jack for being flexible and resilient in a time when so many things are changing for him.


  • Looking for a gift for a graduate? Many of my books make great gifts for those entering a new stage of life. Check out Better Than Before for building habits, or The Four Tendencies for harnessing self-knowledge.
  • Looking for ways to be happier at home? Click here to download my free PDF with nine tips for finding more happiness at home at.

What we’re reading

  • Elizabeth: Well-Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave (AmazonBookshop)
  • Gretchen: Dark Harbor: Building House and Home on an Enchanted Island by Ved Mehta (Amazon)




Like what you see? Explore more about this topic.

Subscribe to Gretchen’s newsletter.

Every Friday, Gretchen Rubin shares 5 things that are making her happier, asks readers and listeners questions, and includes exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes material.