My fashion sense is going down the toilet.  I blame it on the coast.  And on the cards.  

My family plays a frenetic, cut-throat game we call Double Solitaire.  Perhaps this calls to mind lovely images of meditative silent card stacking.  But imagine a cadre of rabid honey badgers going after a sno cone stand, and you’d be closer. 

I’ve been playing this game since I was a little girl, and now, years later– I am still TERRIBLE at it. 

We just taught my daughter how to play, and she’s going to be better at it than me in about five minutes.  

And she can’t even get the name right– she calls it ‘solitary.’ 

There’s something kind of mesmerizing about being so stunningly incompetent at something.  

Because here’s the thing– I still love to play.  I can’t get enough of it.  


After a while my brain switches off, because I know I’m not going to win anyway, and then I get lapped in the honeyed waves of sound– the slapping of cards, the tinkle of ice in a gin and tonic, the frantic gasps and squeaks of my kooky familials.  

Also the insults.  My gentle parents and loving siblings let fly so many G-rated epithets that my daughter finally protested.  She outlawed ‘booger’ and ‘snotface’ but declared that ‘dirty dog’ and ‘stinker’ were acceptable.  Then my sister turned an accidental ‘damn you’ into a comment about the Danube River with facile agility.  Exciting times! 

Last night, my little girl also told me that I’m working too much to be on vacation.  I disagree; I’m spending hours at the ocean every day and watching Duck Dynasty, people– the very definition of vacating. 

But here’s the thing that she can’t understand yet: I spend time madly pounding away at my computer, even on summer vacation, because I love it.  (And also because my trust fund is so very very fictional.)  But mostly?  It’s because I love it. 

If you watched my face when I’m typing or coaching, you’d see the same look on my face that I have when I’m being pulverized at Double Sol– fascinated bemused concentration. 

I write and I coach and play double solitary because it’s so intensely interesting that it shuts out everything else.  Just try having a conversation with me when I’m doing those things; I can’t string together a sentence.  I go into a different part of my brain.  

And it feels so gooooood.  

You don’t have to participate in the Kunnecke family madness or pound away at your keyboard to get that feeling– you just have to find an activity that is mesmerizing to your senses.  Some of the things that work for me are: 

  • unhurriedly doing dishes by hand 
  • lounging in the park reading magazines (no Harper’s or The Economist– the shlockier the better.  I draw the line only at National Enquirers) 
  • reading the Harry Potter books 
  • shopping in Anthropologie 
  • walking by the ocean 
  • folding laundry and singing along to Patty Griffin 
  • reorganizing my spices 
  • coloring in kid coloring books 
  • cutting out pictures from magazines 
  • painting my toenails; actually painting anything 

Some people tell me that running and cooking do it for them.  Apparently we got different species of brains. 

I want you to get this good feeling too.  It doesn’t require huge amounts of time– set a timer for ten minutes and give yourself permission to get totally lost in something.  And then tell me what works for you– I’d really love to know.  (If it’s Excel spreadsheets, I’ll try to love you anyway.) 

This is all a sneaky way of talking about joy.  Joy isn’t the continuous orgasm tv commercials promise–  it’s the small moments of your life, savored.  

Your innate sense of wonderment (it’s the sixth sense) can turn the humblest ingredients into velvety buttery piquant deliciousness.  

Don’t believe me?  Feel angry right now?  Wonder if wonderment is missing from your DNA? 

If so, then you might want to join me and Amy Pearson for the class we’re teaching on The Joy Diet.  This has nothing to do with losing weight and everything to do with tasting your own life like it’s a delicious banquet.  You can watch our free videos on imperfect joy right here, and you can sign up for the full 10-week class here— we start soon, so mosey on over.  Amy’s giving away her How To Overcome Your Inner Approval Addict program, and I’m giving away a do-it-yourself version of The Queen Sweep to everyone who signs up; just because.  Because they’re incredibly useful. 

But mostly because it feels so gooooooood.  

The Wise Women Book Club

Anna books
My secret mission is a global takeover by the wise women. Gathering together to bond over literature seems like the perfect place to start.
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