387: Create a Five-Senses Portrait, Protect Bicyclists, and Ideas for Designing Your Summer


For Elizabeth and her one-word theme of “Step” for 2022, a listener suggests taking a look at the Beatles’ iconic Abbey Road album cover. Also for “Step” — the coat of arms for Australia.

A listener donated a kidney to a stranger! Extraordinary. She mentions my post, “Today is one of the happiest days of my life,” about organ donation and my husband Jamie’s miraculous cure. Thank you, science. We mention that Elizabeth was wearing her “Onward & Upward” t-shirt.

Try This at Home

Create a Five-Senses Portrait.I mention the Album of Now, which we discussed in episode 332. When I thought of Elizabeth and the sense of touch:

  1. the heavy terrycloth robe she always wears
  2. stretchy hoodies, her favorite item of clothing
  3. weirdly heavy bodies of a corgi with plushy, spiky fur
  4. hot coffee in a heavy mug—she has a certain few mugs I always try to use when I visit
  5. her beloved, tattered Blankee of course!

Photo of Elizabeth's blankee

When Elizabeth thought of Gretchen and the sense of taste:

  1. Sweet potatoes — Elizabeth mentions that I now eat low-carb
  2. Monkey bread — though my monkey bread was buttery, it wasn’t the cinnamon-sugary kind
  3. Winstead’s burgers
  4. Diet Coke
  5. What I eat now (very predictable): eggs, bacon, cauliflower, broccoli, smoked turkey, plain Greek yogurt

Doing this Five-Senses Portrait helps us appreciate the physical presence of someone we love—and noticing the outer gives us insight into the inner.

Happiness Hack

Bicyclists face the serious risk of “dooring”: the collision that results when the occupant of a car opens the door into an oncoming pedaler’s path. One solution, from the Netherlands: when you’re getting out, reach for a car door’s handle using the arm that’s farther away, instead of the hand that’s closer to the door. This movement (called the “Dutch reach” in the United States) forces you to pivot your body, so you’re naturally looking over your shoulder, which allows you to notice incoming bicycles. Here’s a video demonstration. 

Listeners’ Ideas for How to “Design Your Summer”

In episode 378, we talked about the try-this-at-home to “Design your summer.” We’ve heard great suggestions from listeners:

  • Create the “ABC’s of Summer” by taking summer photos that represent each letter of the alphabet, then make a photo album with explanations.
  • Get immersed in someone’s work–last summer, the Summer of Julia Child, this summer, the Summer of Nora Ephron. (I mention the “moderator vs. abstainer” distinction and my post about Delia Ephron’s observation about “discardia,” and Elizabeth mentions the new HBO Max TV show Julia.)
  • To read more and grow closer to others, ask family members to recommend one book to read, and then read it.
  • Set an ambitious family biking challenge.

Demerits & Gold Stars

  • Gretchen’s Demerit: I got excited to listen to more audiobooks, downloaded Take the Gun, Leave the Cannoli, listened to the first two minutes, and then stopped.
  • Elizabeth’s Gold Star: She gives a gold star to the gorgeous Kansas City Zoo.


  • If you like a good know-yourself-better question, and you’re facing a big transition, you can pre-order the new journal Know Yourself Better: Embracing ChangeFor 15% off at checkout, use HAPPIERCHANGE15.
  • If you’d like to get the Happier shownotes by email, sign up here. I put a lot of work into creating our shownotes, so they do have a lot of bonus material.
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