The Danish Challenge: Prelude

 

IMG_4961A few years ago, I was in a book club and one of the books we read was The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner.  Weiner travels the world to 10 different countries in search of the happiest places in the world. He seeks out a Dutch professor, Ruut Veenhoven, who runs the World Database of Happiness (WDH) in Rotterdam to examine his research. As I was going through the book this evening, I stopped at a few pages I had earmarked. One of these contained the findings that Weiner noted from Rotterdam (with the thoughts I had as I was reading): 

“Extroverts are happier than introverts (well at least they look it); optimists are happier than pessimists (duh); married people are happier than single people (well, that’s just great for me); though people with children are no happier than childless couples (? Maybe that’s due to a lack of sleep?); republicans are happier than democrats (ok one in my favor); people who attend religious services are happier than those who do not (amen!); people with college degrees are happier than those without (so my piece of paper includes happiness? Awesome!), though people with advanced degrees are less happy than those with just a BA (MAcc and CPA- nevermind I retract my previous statement); people with an active sex life are happier than those without (no comment); women and men are equally happy; though women have a wider emotional range (see, it’s not just me, this is fact people!); having an affair will make you happy but will not compensate for the massive loss of happiness that you will incur when your spouse finds out and leaves you (thanks Hollywood for proving this one); people are least happy when commuting to work (reason #1 for why I live 5 miles from work 🙌); busy people are happier than those with too little to do (ha! Maybe that’s because we are too busy to realize we could be relaxing on a beach with a book and fruity drink); wealthy people are happier than poor ones, but only slightly (thanks for the added clarification).

One of Wiener’s last comments in the book are “Our happiness is completely and utterly intertwined with other people: family and friends and neighbors and the woman you hardly notice who cleans your office. Happiness is not a noun or a verb. It’s a conjunction. Connective tissue.”  <– sometimes the happiest person I see all day is that lady who takes my office trash!  True Story.

I found this book intriguing yet obvious, funny yet insightful and now I want to travel.

IMG_4820Fast forward to this past weekend and I started a new book called The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell. Russell is witty. I found myself laughing even in the intro and I wanted to read more. (Which is something I rarely say!) Russell shares  the journey of moving her life from London to Denmark because her husband (referred to as Lego Man) landed a job with Legoland and she spends one year committed to living a Danishly- I don’t quite know what that means yet, but I’m soon to find out!

So what does The Geography of Bliss and The Year of Living Danishly have in common? I thought you’d never ask! According to the WDH, Denmark is ranked #1 among 155 nations as having the highest level of “inequality adjusted happiest” which “is measured as a linear combination of the mean and the standard deviation of the distribution of happiness in a nation.” Essentially if everyone in the country was completely happy, the country could score 100. Denmark ranks #1. Take away the technical, mathematical calculation, and I’m pretty sure we can summarize it as the Danes are pretty happy.

Russell knew this as well and set out on a journey to uncover why the Danes are so happy and how she might in turn, become happier by living Danishly. What’s their secret and how happy do they consider themselves??

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Since I really have enjoy this book so far, and have an interest in Danish living, I’m going to embark on my own journey – to learn why and how Denmark is so happy and see if I can incorporate Danish living in the US.

I’m going to call this The Denmark Challenge. Each month I will read and study a new chapter in this book, learn and adapt. The book is broken into 12 chapters, one for each month of the year. I’ll share what I’ve learned and how I’m “living Danishly in America” My hope is that I leave this challenge with much more knowledge of Denmark (not going to lie- I wasn’t even exactly sure where it was on the map) and a full embrace of happiness, which might be the Danish way of happiness, but only time will tell.

I’ll leave each post with a few Facts About Denmark and Living Danishly that I’ve gathered so far in the book and other research. I hope you take this journey with me to “Living Danishly.”

IMG_4736Facts About Denmark

  1. Legoland is in Denmark (some of the hotel rooms are themed and built legos – oh to be child-like again – that must be the key to happiness?!)
  2. Denmark has 5.6 million people
  3. Denmark is a progressive society
  4. Danes tend to look a lot alike- tall blondes (great, just great – dying my hair will not, I repeat, will not make me happy – no year-long test needed for that one) 

Living Danishly

  1. Christian Bjornskov is Denmark’s happiness economist- look him up later
  2. “mere penge, mere problemer.” translate 
  3. They are happy because their high expectations are realistic
  4. More than 70% of Danes believe most people can be trusted – wow. Just wow.

 

PS – After writing this, I now have Bob Marley’s “Everything’s gonna be alright” in my head… okay – not sure what Denmark and Bob Marley have in common but these are nice tunes to jam to as I’m getting ready for bed.

god nat [gohNAT] (good night)

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a view of Nyhavn Copenhagen, Denmark
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DIY: Tutus for under $10

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DIY Tutus

 

There’s something therapeutic about crafting. Add a little wine, frozen pizza and a friend who loves all of that equally and you get a pretty awesome craft sesh.  Somewhere between the hectic work week and the weekend, an idea emerged. Tutus. Pink tutus.

Back track a few weeks and this conversation happened:

Me: Hey Katie, do you want to do a 5k?

Katie: Ha!? Have you seen me run?

Me: It’s The Players Donna 5k to raise money to FINISH breast cancer

Katie: Umm, I can’t run a 5k

Me: Well everyone will be wearing pink.. Like everyone… Head to toe #pinkout4donna

Katie: Ok, I’m in.  (And 15 minutes later she ordered pink knee high socks for the race)

So on Friday, with less than 24 hours until the race, Katie and I were talking about what to wear and somehow we needed something more. What possibly could make running a 5k even more fun? Tutus. Where else can a woman wear a tutu and it be socially acceptable other than a 5k!?  I already have two Tough Girl Tutus, but they aren’t pink.  I sported a lime green one at the Napa Zooma half marathon two years ago and the leopard one at the Amelia Island Zooma 10K. With time against us, we set out to put our crafting skills to the test.

With Hobby Lobby coupons in hand, project tutus was well underway. We lucked out with tulle at 50% off and used our coupons on scissors and an elastic band. We over-purchased tulle just in case but ended up taking 3 rolls back.   These were so incredibly easy to make. Time consuming, yes – but so much fun!

pink_tulle_tutusWhat you will need for 2 Tutus (because twinning tutus > one):

  • 3/4″ elastic band – long enough for 2 people
  • Spools of 6inch wide tulle
    • 25 yards of hot pink tulle with sparkles
    • 25 yards of light pink tulle
    • 75 yards of hot pink tulle
  • Scissors
  • Yard stick, measuring tape
  • 2 safety pins (or a sewing kit)

How to make tutus:

Step 1: cut the spools of tulle in half with a knife so you have 3″ wide strips.

pinkt_tulle_tutus_how_to

Step 2: cut the elastic band so it’s a little longer than hip measurement. Use a safety pin to pin it together. Wrap the band around a barstool or chair legs.

tulle_tutus_stool

Step 3: Pour a glass of wine. This next step takes a little while.

Step 4: cut strips of tulle. Lots of strips.  I used 20 inches and am 5’7″ and Katie used 18 inches and is a little shorter than me.  We both thought the length was perfect.  Just remember however long you want the strips, double that and add one inch for the tie.

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Step 5: fold each tulle strip in half and loop it around the elastic band. Alternate the looping by looping on top of band and then behind the band. We used two hot pinks, one light pink, two hot pinks, one pink sparkle and repeat.

Step 6: squish the tulle together and tighten the loops. The more squished the tulle is a) the more poofy the tutu will be ✅ but b) the more strips you will need

Pink_tulle_tutus_DIY

Step 7:  take lots of pictures 📸

The total to make both tutus was only $16!! This includes the 50% off all tulle and 40% off the elastic band. It did take us about 5 hours (including dinner and wine) but it was so much fun. And seriously, how cute are these tutus!?

Also, major shout out to Katie who completed her first 5k in style!!

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#pinkout4donna 5k @ TPC Sawgrass
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I love running with friends with tutus!

Giveaway Time: lactation cookies 

Dark-chocolate-mint-clusters

A special thanks to River City Live for selecting me to be a guest on the show for National Cookie Day!  What an honor it was to be selected and an experience I’ll never forget!

This morning, I did a cooking demo on mint chocolate no-bake cookies.  These are one of my favorite holiday treats and only take a few minutes to make with a few ingredients!  Chocolate, mint and microwave – doesn’t get much better than that!  (Well a glass of red wine would be an amazing addition but we only had a few minutes and I had to go back to work after the show!)

I announced on the show that I am holding a giveaway for a sample plate of lactation cookies!  Are you or do you have a friend who is breastfeeding? If so, you definitely want to enter in this giveaway!  Here are the rules:

  1. Enter between 12PM, December 4 – 12PM December 6
  2. Enter by leaving a comment in the section below this post with who you would give your sample to and what type you would want
  3. One entry per person, per day (so up to that’s 3 entries!)
  4. You must be able to pick up the sample at Unity Plaza

If selected you will be notified in the comments on this post, so check back here on Sunday after 12PM!

What others are saying:

“The reason why it (the cookies) was important to me was because I was unsuccessful nursing with my first child and upon learning about the things that would help nutritionally, I wanted to try them.  Knowing I was going to have a newborn on my hands and not much time or energy to make a batch, I asked you for them.  I would have 1-2 each time I nursed (because you have a ravenous appetite) and a bottle of water.” – Katrina R

“Awesome cookies that really work!!  Lots of great flavors, with new ones added frequently.  Cheaper and better tasting than the ones I was buying off Amazon and work just as well!!” – Morgan C

“These are really yummy cookies.  The good calories of the oatmeal was a great mid-morning snack and the energy from the chocolate was a fun addition.  I love trying the new flavors that come out.” – Tiffany L