Happy Pt. 3 (?!!!!!!!)

I didn’t mean to lie, but I didn’t think there would be more to the story. So, here is part three of WHO KNOWS how many parts!?!?!?

The library is my favorite place (well, I have others, but I like the concept—free books, quiet, no one hangs out there).

For a while there, I was stuck on poetry. I haven’t read poetry in years, but I became a bit fond of Pablo Neruda. Thanks Ted, good call on that guy. Of course, I mean Ted Mosby from HIMYM.

Yesterday, I returned my last book and didn’t want to take another book out. I had one book recommendation, but thankfully they didn’t have it (it was a pathetic book that I probably wouldn’t have been able to check out without dropping my dignity out with it).

So, I went to my favorite aisle: nonfiction.

There were tons of books, of course, but I picked up The Happiness Makeover and 52 Small Changes.

Both books are about making the conscious choice to be happy.

First, I should admit that I was partially wrong. “How could you be wrong?” you’re thinking. “Why would you admit it?” Because I have to set an example. I’m trying to live by what I preach.

1. Prefrontal lobes
2. Envy
3. Gratitude
4. Happiness Myth
5. Law of Attraction
6. Expectations
7. Passions
8. Everyone Wants to be Happy
9. Three Options
10. Reasons

1. M.J. Ryan explains that we have two prefrontal lobes in our neocortex. “When the left is activated, we think thoughts of peace, happiness, joy, contentment, optimism. When the right is activated, we think thoughts of gloom, doom, worry, pessimism.” Each one of us has a tilt to one particular side; this differentiates pessimists from optimists.

I know, for a fact, that my tilt is to the right. I have been an optimist about certain things, but eventually, I (like many intelligent people) became jaded, pessimistic, and cynical. At first, these things attracted me to some people, but after spending serious time with cynics, I realized they were killjoys. So, I try to keep my negativity to myself (and there have been loads of negative thoughts, I tell you).

There’s a fix for this, though. You’re not doomed to be tilted to the right. Sure, this is years of carved neurological pathways to the right, but you can take steps to change. For example, the book says that when you have a negative thought, immediately think of something you’re good at or something you’re grateful for.

I started this today, and let me tell you, my go-to thought (at least six times) was, “I’m thankful I’m not blind and deaf.” The book talks about Helen Keller, too, so this was stuck in my head. Then as I took the stairs two at a time, I thought, “I’m thankful I can walk.” Then “I’m thankful I only bruised my tailbone two years ago.” “I’m thankful I can snowboard.” “I’m thankful for my job.” “I’m thankful for my friends.” “I’m thankful for my family.”

By the time I went to the bathroom and back to the office, I had a list of things I was happy about. My one negative thought was replaced by a list of things I was thankful for.

When I ran out of things I was thankful for (I didn’t, but I wanted to try the other exercise, too), I thought of things I was good at. “I’ve written a book, I’ve written a screen play, I’ve written songs, I’ve taken photographs, I’ve loved, I’ve been a good friend…”

So, every time you have a negative thought creep into your mind, redirect it. It’s easy to stay in a funk. Believe me. I have been Queen of Funk. I can brood about something for days and weeks and even months (okay and years). If I can have a genuinely good day because of changing the wiring in my brain (one small step, anyway), then you can. Trust me. This is years of negativity that I’m ridding myself of.

2. One thing that makes me unhappy is comparisons. If I compare my life to someone my age who has their life together, I can be pretty unhappy. I don’t personally know anyone who is 25, has a decent job, has found the love of their life, and is doing well. I do know a few who are in their 30s. I do know people my age with better (paying) jobs or incredible relationships.

I only see what they let me see, though. I don’t know if John Smith has the perfect relationship he seems to convey to the world. Just because he posts happy photos of his relationship doesn’t mean he’s genuinely happy. The cynic in me made a game out of picking apart other people’s relationships. I’d see a couple and decide whether they were truly happy, faking it, or on the brink of extinction.

Rarely did I see a genuinely happy couple. If you really look at two people, you can see everything. So, I’m renouncing this game, because of two things: 1. it’s depressing and 2. I feel sorry for people that aren’t with their person, and I shouldn’t make it a game.

So, envying people isn’t really my bag. The book says that you should be grateful for what you do have, because the grass isn’t always greener. I know this. Years ago, an old friend contacted me and asked how my then-three year relationship was. I said it was over and I was glad—I probably should have ended it sooner. She was shocked. “WHAT! You mean—you guys weren’t even that happy?”

She was under the assumption that we were this great couple, we’d get married someday, pop out some kids, and you know—live together. No, that was never going to happen, and I guess I knew that straight away, but when you’re eighteen, you don’t think you’re going to ever get married and being in a “relationship” is just what people do (not so, don’t get in unless you’re in it for the long haul [aka, willing to wipe their butt at 90 years old]–noted). She was envious until she realized that her relationship was actually great in comparison. (Mind you, I never paraded this relationship around and I was surprised she even knew I was seeing anyone. Stalkers come in all shapes and sizes, I guess).

The moral: people can appear to be doing well, but rest assured, you’re probably better off with your problems than anyone else’s. You can handle what you have (and don’t have), even if it makes you temporarily unhappy. Don’t envy someone else, because their haves and have nots might not be something you can handle.

3. Being thankful for everything you do have. This is a running theme in the book. I won’t get too involved, but it bears repeating. You should be thankful for the things in your life. A few weeks ago, I went to church and Skip asked me, “how are you?” I replied, “I’m okay.” I was actually a bit bummed, but who talks about that? “Could be worse though, right?” he asked. It was the way he said it that really hit me. He was so nonchalant and off-the-cuff about it. I nodded and agreed. Just when I was accepting that it could be worse, he followed up with, “but it could always be better, huh?”

Yes, on both counts. There’s this saying (I’m sure you’ve heard) “I wept because I had no shoes, until I saw the man who had no feet.”

We are all self-involved. Sometimes, you have to put things into perspective, though. I really don’t know what upsets most people, but I’ll use myself as an example. If something falls apart in my hands, I will be upset. I realize, though, that there is more to life than whatever just fell apart. People are sick. People are dying. I don’t want to rattle off all of the things, but big whoop. So, I didn’t get what I wanted. It hurts, it sucks, but it could be worse.

One of the exercises Ryan has you do is to say, “I’m glad that I’m not…” and you fill in the blank.

It sounds negative, but it’s not. They studied this and people who thought things they were glad they weren’t (alcoholics, addicts, paralyzed, sick) vs people who thought things like “I wish I was more” (attractive, friendly, outgoing, loving) were happier.

It’s something to think about.

4. There is a myth that if you actually embrace your happiness, you’re going to lose it. It’s true. I know that when something good happens to me, I think, “well, this is nice, but how long will this last? What’s going to blow up in my face?” So, I keep my guard up, and I don’t fully enjoy the happy moments.

You should enjoy the happy moments. Things are going to blow up in your face regardless of you enjoying them. At least if they blow up in your face, you will have been happy first.

Perfect example: There have been times when I was overflowing with happiness. I know, it’s hard to tell with me, and I’m sorry. It has happened, though. Inside, I’m a big ball of mush and I’m overjoyed at (insert whatever made me happy). On the outside though, I’m terrified that it will be snatched away. I’m almost convinced that the universe is going to single me out and say, “a-ha, we made a mistake. That’s not for you.”

Horror!!!!

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I’m never going to do it again. I promise. There’s a perfect quote that described me. “She was a compulsive pessimist, always looking for the soft brown spot in the fruit, pressing so hard she created it.”

This brings me to something I watched.

5. The law of attraction. So, some people think it’s hocus pocus, but I buy it. I think you attract what you want in your life. You do. Sometimes, you get a crazy person, but you can usually dodge them and see it coming a mile away. Seriously though, you attract everything into your life. The power of the human mind is incredible. I’m not saying that you’re going to win the lottery, but your thoughts are a direct line to the things you get in your life.

I used to say I was a realistic idealist. I guess I will still say that. I am. I am realistic in not seeing the world as rainbows and butterflies, but I’m idealistic in that I hope that true love, genuine connections, a good life, etc exist. In the same breath, though, I viewed “realistic” as pessimistic.

I’ve been dealt a good hand. I’m happy with myself. It’s the external world (which I can’t control) that upsets me. So, if you want to be filthy rich, technically, according to The Secret, you should think about it, behave as if you are (don’t go spending money you don’t have, but acting like you have it), and being grateful for having it.

I don’t desire to be filthy rich or anything, so the things I’d like to have are actually a lot less grandiose than that (in fact, well let’s not get into it). You have to think positively, though. You can’t play around and pretend.

Don’t say you want a higher paying job, but only think about the crappy job you have. See, apparently, the universe can hear you and feel you. The vibes you put out in the world—the most vibes—are the ones that it picks up. “Don’t get fat, don’t get fat.” You’ll get fat. The universe doesn’t know whether you said don’t or do, it just heard fat.

Obviously that’s not the best example, but you can’t focus on what you don’t want. You have to focus on what you do want in your life.

This one is hard for me, too. It’s easy for me to think about what I want, but then I get to thinking, “merg, I don’t have that, though. When will I?” and then I move on to whatever. This also goes for your negativity. My pessimistic ways create problems.

I create problems.

Negative thinking is just a bad idea. Don’t do it.

6. Expectations lead to disappointment. I wrote about this previously. You should never expect anything, ever. It’s incredibly difficult for me to truly subscribe to this. I try, don’t get me wrong, but letdowns, man. Letdowns.

You should be grateful regardless of what happens in your life. I agree, but I also agree it can be hard to.

Also, don’t expect The Worst Outcome Ever and then live in worry. You should take stock of the worst thing that could happen and how you’d handle it, but don’t expect it. Don’t waste your time thinking terrible things, because it doesn’t make you feel good.

Ever.

Trust me. I am incredible at thinking up worst case scenarios. What’s the point? Sure, I’m a lot less surprised if something bad happens (never the worst), but why waste my time? Enjoy the not knowing and the possibility that it could be positive.

5A. I know, I’m backtracking, but I must. You should be happy at things even if they haven’t come to fruition. She uses an example that her husband might be getting a promotion. He comes home, tells her about it, but he’s nervous. He doesn’t want to celebrate and be happy, because he doesn’t want to jinx it.

That’s me. I don’t want to celebrate my almost-happy news, because I’m afraid that I’ll jinx it. I won’t get what my heart yearns for, and I’ll feel like a fool (even worse than that, I’ll feel responsible).

You cannot jinx things.

This was hard for me to agree with initially. Then I realized, wow, she’s right. There are many times when you could celebrate something, but you choose not to, because you’re afraid the universe will snatch it away.

In HIMYM, Ted says to Robin that the universe has better things to do. It does. I do think so. The universe isn’t going to say, “hahahahahah I’m so going to screw her for this.”

That’s people. People can do that. People will do that.

And you’ll live. (Getting sidetracked, sorry!)

You won’t jinx it, and you should be happy! Jump at the thought of your promotion or your increase in pay. Last fall, I asked for a raise. The number I was given (ballpark figure) wasn’t what I hoped. Sure, I was thankful in general, but I wasn’t thrilled. When I finally did get my raise, it was exactly what I hoped for, and I should have celebrated sooner.

One example is when I started writing my novel. I was inspired to write. I wrote and wrote and when the end was near, I was clapping and thrilled. I hadn’t finished, but I knew I was going to do it.

I’m now writing another novel. It’s book one of a series (I’m thinking four). I’m thrilled. I’m happy.

7. Find your passion. What makes me happy is doing things that I feel I was meant to do. I need a purpose. I need a drive. I’ve always felt that way. If I’m not happy, it’s because I’m not doing what I think was meant for me.

Don’t get me wrong: there have been things I thought I was meant for, and I was not.

I do know that I have found my passion/calling. I am a writer. I write, because when I talk, I realize that most of the time, it doesn’t really matter (to whoever I’m telling it to). It’s not that I don’t think it’s important, but I don’t feel the need to waste my time feeling like it doesn’t matter to someone else. Countless times I’ve said, “this is really pointless.”

It’s not to me.

I’m saying it, because it affected me. I’m speaking, because I’m passionate about something. I don’t mindlessly drone on about things. I’m saying it to you, because for a moment, you matter to me, and I’m letting you in.

It’s better on paper. It’s always better on paper.

Likewise, I write because it makes me happy. I’m not the greatest communicator. I try to be, but I think 90% of how I feel and what I think stays in my head.

Find what makes you happy. If that’s painting, you should paint. If it’s editing, if it’s saving people—whatever. I think that when you find what makes you happy, you should do it. You should go after that thing 100%.

I live by this. I write every day. I don’t write my novel every day, but I write something down.

8. Everyone else is trying to be happy, too. I wrote about my favorite teacher in here a long time ago. If he was 40 years younger, much taller, and hopefully attractive, I probably would have married that guy. He was intelligent, witty, hilarious, cynical, and realistic (and a runner!).

These days? I don’t think of him as anything but a cynic. Contrary to my previous beliefs, just because you’re (like me) a realist, doesn’t mean I’ll like you. In fact, unless you can find the good in the bad, I wont want to be around you. There has to be a balance. I can be negative, but if I was negative 100% of the time, well, you should shoot me. I’m usually quietly thinking negatively (working on it!), but I won’t kill your mood with my observations.

I don’t like people that are always negative anymore. What’s the point? You can be intelligent and happy. You can be witty, hilarious, realistic, and optimistic.

Anyway, this teacher said that people are not inherently good people. This is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is motivations.

People want to be happy. I accept that. I’m realizing that. Not everything someone does has to do with you. They are trying to be happy, and you should respect that. Sometimes, they will hurt you in the process.

Move on.

Everyone is really just trying to be happy. The person who cut you off? He’s in a rush. He wants to be on time for his date. The girl that dumped you? She wasn’t happy with you for x, y, and z. Change it or let her go. The boss who yelled at you for something that wasn’t your fault? Maybe his sister is dying of cancer.

We’re all just trying to get by. Try to be as kind as possible. I don’t think anything anyone does is personal or out to get you.

9. Ryan talks about grace. I have always lacked real grace. Sure, I can be feminine, but let’s be honest, I can be more of a guy than a lot of the guys I know Not in any vulgar way, but in general—I’m a lot stronger/more athletic (maybe not always physically) than plenty of them, and have a pair of figurative gonads that most just lack (you only live once–make it worthwhile and don’t putter around).

Anyway, because of this, I’ve always been a bit envious of the girly girls. I can’t be a dainty, graceful little tulip. I can wear a dress, smell nice, and look all right, but I’m not fooling anyone. We can all tell that I’m a tomboy at heart. I don’t sit at the nail salon or hair salon. I do my own lawn, but I can cook a mean casserole too. Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked.

I’m more like hyacinth (go figure, my favorite flower). I’m the first to say, “I got this,” and I really mean it. I don’t need help, and I won’t ask for it (even when I could probably use a hand—and would appreciate the gesture, but would probably say nahhhhh about a thousand times). I wouldn’t say I’m the most graceful is what I’m getting at. I do things, I’m good at things, but I don’t have the same dainty grace that a lot of others have so inherently.

Ryan says that you have the option to do three things, but you have to do them gracefully.

Uh oh.

You have to accept things as they are, be prepared to leave things, or change things. The key is to do either one gracefully.

I have prematurely done all three of these things in haste (sometimes, I just act on emotion—rare, but I can be a bit passionate about certain things). The trick is to remain graceful.

If you can accept things, accept all of them. She says her husband doesn’t clean the house. She isn’t going to divorce him over this. She accepts it. (He’s not a slob, but I’m paraphrasing).

If you can change things, change them. Sometimes, the changes take root, and sometimes they don’t.

If you can’t change things, if you can’t accept them, then you have to leave them. Gracefully. The key is to be graceful.

Thankfully, this is the kind of gracefulness that is a bit easier than the grace I described earlier. This comes with merely existing and doing what you say and saying what you do.

One of the running themes of this is accepting what you can’t change and being graceful about this.

It’s hard. I’m the person that you have to pry my cold, dead fingers off of something until I truly let go.

I’m working on this, too.

10. The final point on happiness is to find the reason for your unhappiness. For example: you’re selling your home, but no one is buying it.

You’re learning patience.

For every negative event in your life, there is good that comes out of it. We tend to focus only on the closed door or the unhappy ending, but there’s more to it than that.

I’ve learned patience at a young age. I’ve learned discipline. I’ve learned tolerance. I’ve learned kindness. I’ve learned that you don’t always get what you want, because you’re being taught something that only this situation can teach you.

A few months ago, this woman said to me, “you’re learning something now. You will look back on this and you’ll know what you learned. I don’t know what it is that you’re getting, but it’s something that only this situation can teach you.”

I’m still not sure what I was supposed to learn, but I did learn something about myself: I’m a genuinely good person. I learned it years ago, and I remember the first time someone I really loved said it to me. “Stay genuine—dignity often has a real cost.”

It does, and I pay the price, but I’d be doing myself a serious injustice if I wasn’t me. I hope that makes sense.

So, I think this contradicts some of what I said in my previous happy post, but that’s because I didn’t know what I know now. I think if you follow these principles, then you’re going to be happier.

I know that today was a nice day. I know that a few people were happier, because I was around. Normally, I don’t really think about that, but I could see the small difference.

If you want to see change, be a change.

Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen. You could argue that you’re doing something to get something in return, and I could indulge you and discuss this for hours (I’d like to if I liked you), but I’ll just point it out instead.

As always, don’t worry, be happy.

IMG_8692

Cranberry Apple Pie

This is much like the blueberry pecan pie. I’d have added walnuts to this, but I didn’t feel like leaving my house this late (7pm is late if you’re me). I’m already in my pajamas.

Originally, I intended on a delectable chocolate pie, but then I saw a couple of lonely apples on the table. I also had cranberries from a while ago that I never used (who knows what recipe called for them–some crazy pinterest idea I never got around to making).

I know it isn’t Christmas yet, but I figured what the heck.

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats
2 1/4 cups vanilla soy milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
Small bag of cranberries
2 medium apples (or whatever you have)
4 tbsps cinnamon
1 large egg

1. Mix your wet ingredients
2. Put one cup of oats on the bottom of your pan (mix in the cinnamon too)
3. Add half of your apples and cranberries
4. Add your wet mixture
5. Add the remainder of your apples and cranberries
6. Sprinkle cinnamon (if you’d like)
7. Bake at 360 ish for about 30-35 minutes

IMG_8690

IMG_8691

IMG_8692

Voila.

You can add cool whip to taste. Some people prefer it warm, others prefer it cold.

I think you can sub the apples with peaches and pecans, and that would be tasty, as well.

There seem to be an infinite number of possibilities. I will eventually make my chocolate one, but I have to decide precisely what would taste best. I could do a s’more-esque pie. I think I’d prefer just dark chocolate on top of dark chocolate drizzled in dark chocolate, but I guess some people would find that boring or too dark.

We shall see!

Lousy Parenting

I’m not a parent.

I have to preface this, because I can imagine some parents won’t take non parents seriously.

That’s fine. Exit stage left.

Someday, I may have children. This all depends on a couple of things.

1. I get married
2. I don’t hate my spouse (obviously number 1 wouldn’t happen if I had any inkling of hated)
3. My spouse doesn’t baby our children/be a pushover

So, it’s possible, but I’m not in a rush.

My children, however, would not be loud, annoying, or babied.

There’s a word in the English language (and Romanian) that they’d be incredibly familiar with: No.

That’s right.

Growing up, you have to be taught that no, you can’t always have things your way.

I went to the museum yesterday, and parents had no concept of the word no. At first guess, you’d say, “probably some trashy kid who got knocked up at (insert any age).”

No, fully-grown, 20-30 somethings.

If I’m in line to touch the electricity machine, that means I’m waiting for it. That means I’m next. I don’t care if your snot-faced six year old comes up just as the person ahead of me finishes. No, it’s my turn.

To be fair, we let several (more than several) bratty children ahead of us, but–like any disease–they kept coming.

The parents were socially inept, as well. They ranged from awkwardly butting in front and trying to incorrectly explain how electricity works (these are the geniuses reproducing) to the parents who just shrugged and gave the “kids will be kids” face.

Kids will be what you mold them to be. Kids need some structure.

So, if they’re clapping in the planetarium, knock it off. If they jump the line, say no, gently remove them and put them in line.

“Just don’t go places on the weekends,” is what I’ve heard.

Really? Did children monopolize the weekend? I work a regular work week. I’m going to enjoy my weekends, and unlike the majority of twenty-somethings, my scene isn’t the nightclub and pounding back mixed drinks while entertaining some halfwit at a bar.

Thanks, but I’ll take a museum day any day.

If I jumped a line anywhere, I’d get my butt chewed out. Someone would say something.

How will kids adjust to the real world when you’re not coddling them? What about when poor Jimmy can’t get his way when he’s 17? What if he’s such a baby that his new girlfriend says she’s just not that into him? Waaahh

Seriously, I’m all for making your kid’s childhood great, but manners and common sense aren’t Hitler’s inventions. You can say no to your kid and they won’t hate you forever.

Heck, their concept of forever is a road trip to the mall.

Most importantly, I guess, is the manners. I don’t care what you do to your kids at home. If you’re in public and your kid does something that an adult shouldn’t do, and you don’t reprimand your kid, you’re a lousy parent. I don’t care how many gray hairs you have. I don’t care how many hours of sleep you lost. I don’t care about anything regarding you, at all.

Excuses. Don’t have kids if you can’t set a good example for how they should be.

Period.

Maybe I don’t have kids now, but when I do, I’ll parade my little troops around, because they will be well-behaved. Trust me, I’ve seen them. It can be done. I was one of those kids! Never threw tantrums. Why? Because I’d lose playground privileges. I’d lose Barbie privileges. I’d lose skating privileges. Anything I liked was taken from me if I acted up.

Good lesson, too. You won’t ever see me lose my cool.

So, thanks Mom.

If you were offended by this post, you probably need a reality check.

Happy pt. 2

You should never be unhappy.

For long.

Yes, “long” is subjective, but we’ll get to that.

Outside of synapses misfiring and psychological disorders, we should all be happy most of the time.

Not content. Not getting by. Not okay.

Happy.

I’ve been thinking about it for some time. See, I know that only I can cause myself emotional upset, but it’s easy to stay there. You could argue that it’s hard to get out.

I’ll agree with you, but I have bursts.

The unhappy state doesn’t last long for me. Sure, it’s upsetting and if you’re close to me, you know how I can dwell, but it comes and goes in waves. If something simmers for me, it’ll simmer; however, at some point, I make a conscious effort to get over it.

Can we blame that on astrology? The fact that I’m ruled by both mars and Pluto (aka rebirth, warrior, fighter–unable to self-pity for long)? The fact that my water sign/earth sign ratio is actually extremely equal (it’s also close to fire, but off by about 4%).

You can decide. I like to think that no, it’s just me. Sometimes, I like to think it’s astrology.

One thing that always makes me happy is a quote. (I love quotes. I have a quote for every occasion.)

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
Lao Tzu

I don’t think I need to continue writing, as that sums up my entire existence these days.

I will, though.

Today, I was sitting at this light where there’s a second lane that ends just beyond the intersection. Every tool in the state thinks they’re a VIP and tries to cut someone off by being in that lane. Since I was first in the first lane, I found myself staring at my mirrors to make sure no one was going to burn me in the next lane.

I felt that annoying feeling of anxiety in my chest. It was subtle, but it made me uncomfortable.

Then I stared ahead. Who cares if someone burns me? Maybe they have somewhere to be. Maybe they have a chip on their shoulder.

Who cares?

If no one gets in that lane, faith in humanity is temporarily restored.

Immediately, I felt at ease. I didn’t care. I felt happy. It was 68 degrees, cloudy, and there was a breeze. My windows were down and my hair was blowing all over the place.

I have a tendency to focus on the past. I overanalyze, because I am a thinker. I have to understand things before I can accept them.

Well, you can’t understand everything. (It sucks if you’re anything like me, and you need to know why a caused b and how it yielded to f.)

I’ll never get advanced calculus (except for that one summer – you were lovely 2011). I’ll never understand another person (or maybe I do). I’ll never understand people who don’t like chocolate. I’ll never understand a lot.

Another thing I tend to forget is living in the present. When it comes to travel or new experiences, I try to remember everything so I can write it down later. I’m much better at it now, but sometimes I forget. Sometimes I get caught up trying to remember it.

When I was seventeen, I was in the passenger seat with an old friend. He was driving us home from a diner and bad mouthing a summer mix I made. I remember being torn between focusing on what we were talking about and remembering that day.

I remember the day, but I wasn’t conversational. I wasn’t fair.

On the opposite spectrum, I used to focus on the future too much. I created so many different lives that I wish I had wrote them down. They were all so intricately weaved and unique. I could have had a lot of different books.

After one too many disappointments, I swore I’d never picture a future I wanted again, because it was like the universe would hear me and say, “you foolish girl, you can’t choose how things unfold.”

Really, not one thing I’ve ever pictured has come to fruition, nor will it ever. So when I want something, I don’t think too much about it. I certainly don’t picture it. I don’t even let it enter my mind. That way, if it happened, I would be able to honestly say, “never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen.”

Of course, the silent part of that would be “but oh how I tried not to dream of it because of how badly I wanted it.”

It’s a bitter pill to swallow. I’m all for creating your future, and I do, but expectations still manage to surprise me.

My favorite song during the 2006 – 2009 era was by The Books, “Smells like Content.”

At the end of the song, he says:

“Expectation leads to disappointment. If you don’t expect something big huge and exciting… usually…I don’t know, just..”

I knew what he was getting at. I knew it in my bones.

You never realize how big your expectations are until you’re disappointed.

So, where are we?

Live only in the present, and don’t have any expectations.

The past can’t affect you now, and it shouldn’t. What has happened has already happened. What will happen will happen without you worrying about it.

It’s nice to know that among all of the chaos, you can still rest assured that you’re where you need to be.

Unless you have a winning lottery ticket and don’t know it, I guess.

On the reg, though, you’re where you have to be.

“Life is so great that we only get a tiny moment to enjoy everything we see. And that moment is right now. And that moment is counting down. And that moment is always, always fleeting. You will never be as young as you are right now.” – Neil Pasricha

I learned this from Mogli on one particular walk last year. He kept stopping to smell flowers. I used to smell flowers often, but I stopped. I don’t have any reason, but I stop these days. Most don’t have a great scent, but I take the moment anyway.

“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow. Maybe for you there’s one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it. But for some of us there’s only today. And the truth is, you never really know.” – Lauren Oliver

I joke and say I’ll live to 125, but I really don’t know. I try to live every day to the fullest, but my fullest isn’t your fullest and I don’t think people are aware of that.

Sadly.

Living every day to the fullest is being happy, loving my friends and family, and doing something that achieves one of those.

Some days I’m not good at any of them, but I’m a work in progress.

The biggest issue that dampens my happiness is focusing on the past or worrying about where I should be now.

I read this quote that said she wishes she could be 5 and have her whole life ahead of her or 29 and have her whole life figured out already.

I’m almost 26. I know people who are close to 29 and over 30 who don’t have anything figured out.

I don’t speak for all of them, but a select few will probably never figure it out. I can tell you why, too, but I don’t need to get on my pedestal.

Instead, I’ll say that I have goals and I’m halfway to them. I have a list of things I need to accomplish by 30, and you can bet that I’m working hard on them. I’m not focusing on the end-game, but I know it’s there. I know what I want.

I don’t, however, let it taint my today. My present is where I need to be.

I wish I could explain this a little better. Anyway, I shouldn’t compare my life to anyone else’s. I clearly have a different outlook and that’s why I’m me.

So, I hope that if you’re faced with a moment of sadness, that you think about what is upsetting you. I hope that if you recognize that it’s something that occurred in the past and there’s nothing you can do about it now (maybe there is, I don’t know. You figure that out.), you focus on the present.

Because unless certain things happened (illness, death, some other catastrophe), you still have your health, at least one person who loves you, and the ability to change and be whatever it is you want to be.

Or maybe this is just for me. I can’t tell anyone what to do.

IMG_8507-1.JPG

141114: The Essentials

So, these are my favorite songs. I make a playlist of my favorite songs every month now, but these have stood the test of time. These are songs that have been in my life for some time and I know (in my gut) that they’re permanent (it’s a good feeling when you can feel permanence toward something).

I don’t know what makes some people like certain things or what makes other people love and hate others. I know that I love things that make me feel. I left a few songs off this list, but they’re in my heart. This is the playlist I can put on any day and I’d be happy with any of the songs. This is my go-to. If my life was a record collection, this would be Carmen: The Essentials.

Was that corny?

Let me be corny then.

YOU WONT – WHO KNEW

On my 24th birthday, Emily sent me this song. From the moment I heard it, I knew it was my song. That day, I bought a red velvet cupcake from the small bakery in my town (fav place), and I ate it in the kitchen. I kept saying I’ll watch Back to the Future, but I have yet to. I will.

I’ll never forget certain days. My 24th birthday is one of those days, because this was the best gift I could have received.

Years ago, I used to have a composition book where I wrote my thoughts down (I had several—they’re somewhere around here). I remember being upset one night. I was angry at the way my life had unfolded (at the time–adolescence, it happens). I wrote, “I just feel like my timing is off. People I met way too soon were supposed to be met later. I should’ve met others sooner—some not at all. This is all wrong—-If I could just rearrange the chapters in my book…”

This song deeply resonates with me. I’m incredibly thankful for the people in my life (regardless of the amount of time it took us to find each other [some of you longer than others…!]), but there have been (and occasionally are) times when I’ve shaken my head and felt that my timing was off. If only I could rip apart the binding and move a few things around, it would be right. “Right” being the optimal term here. This song means more to me than I can ever convey.

THE WATSON TWINS – U N ME

This is one of my all-time favorite songs. I first heard it in 2010 after my first serious breakup. I say serious, because it was a long-term relationship, but if we were to weigh my emotional investment in that, I’d have to give my first serious breakup award to a different time period.

This song struck a chord with me, but not because of the guy I just dumped—no. It struck a chord, because it didn’t (and never will) relate to anyone! It was (and is) a fantastic song about independence. It’s about you (me, that is)!

It’s about closing doors and locking them. It’s about throwing away the key. It’s about believing in yourself and not needing a single other soul to believe in you. I think that’s why I love it. I believe in me enough for the whole world to doubt me (not that the whole world knows of my existence [or cares], but you get my drift). Trust me when I say I belt this out every time it’s on.

RADIOHEAD – THINKING ABOUT YOU

This is my all-time favorite Radiohead song. I know that it’s a sad song, but it’s comfortable. I don’t know how to explain how I feel about this song. It’s not about anyone. I certainly never pined (nor will) over anyone with this song (sorry, tainting music is not my thing). It’s just a hauntingly beautiful song.

I love his voice, and I love the guitar. I wish I could tell you what it means to me, but it isn’t words. It just sits in my heart. I picture the bedroom in Vanilla Sky, some dentures, a glass half full of water, and Thom’s voice. Sometimes you just love things, because they’re beautiful. This is one of those things.

THE BIG BAND ORCHESTRA – IN THE MOOD

I heard this song on the fourth of July this year. I’ve heard it before, but never gave it much thought. The moment I heard it last month, however, my heart swelled to four times its size (not really, but it felt that way). I wanted to be in the presence of the orchestra.

To be completely honest, I was a bit unhappy at the beginning of that night. The song came on, and it was kind of a slap in the face. “Hey, you’re not the happiest of campers tonight, but I’m gonna play and I sound snazzy!” It came on twice that night. Two slaps!

Even still, I appreciated it and decided I had to have it on my personal playlist. I was talked out of approaching the DJ and asking who played it, but I found it at work one day (ha). I love how it sounds. Someday, I will hear this played live. I will wear an incredible looking dress, my hair will be perfect, and I will look smashing. So, here’s to that evening. :) Dangly earrings will be worn.

THE LUMINEERS – HEY HO

The first time I heard this song was one night when I was driving Steven and Rick home from Six Flags a couple of years ago. I didn’t pay attention to it (if you suggest a song to me that’s on the radio, I probably won’t give it a chance, because the radio is filth—I’m working on my music snobbery; I apologize!)

Then I heard it again a few months later. I was sitting at a train crossing. I hate waiting for this particular train, but this song came on and warmed my heart.

I fell in love with it. Hard. So hard, in fact, that I am still in love with it. That’s right. I don’t just love it like you just love things after a while. I’m still in the honeymoon phase of this song (it’s been over a year. I hear that the 2 year mark is when you fall out of the honeymoon phase [some earlier, but who cares about those sad suckers?]. I’ll let you know if I ever do).

I think it’s a love song. I think it’s about knowing your person exists and maybe this guy screwed it up. Maybe he fixed it? I really don’t know what his end-game is or what he’s getting at, because I like my interpretation of the song more (of course).

I still like to think life is like a good book. My life is, anyway. I’m sorry if yours isn’t, but I guess that’s why I’m not you (or anyone else).

I truly love this song. I love it, because I love that someone felt this way. I love that someone has—not only felt this way but—shared it with the world and was able to convey it. It might be my favorite song. I love that people have good endings. Maybe (in real life) the guy is single, actually miserable and pining over The One That Got Away (he probably screwed up. Sorry guy). I don’t know, and I don’t want to know. Even if I listen to it as a “that didn’t work out,” I still love it. It’s full of passion. I love it.

FUN. – SOME NIGHTS

I only recently fell for this song. I hated this song and the band from the moment they came out. I don’t really know why. I guess I just hated the hype and the fact that it was always on.

Well, one day (last month), I heard it, and decided I love the song (I’m throwing the L word around a lot this evening—hey, at least I mean it). I have no idea what this song means to this guy, but I’m glad he wrote it. I know all the words (I think), but they don’t resonate in the way I think he meant for them to (sorry, sir. At least you have a permanent place in my heart with this hit [and several of your other songs]).

To me, it’s just about your life. Recognizing that: this is your life. Don’t blame anyone for your trials or triumphs. Try to be the best you can be. Sure, you probably screwed up a few times (we’ve all done it, and I can admit I’m genuinely sorry for some of the things I’ve done). That’s the thing though: things happen. Things don’t happen.

It’s for the best. It’s for the best things did and didn’t happen. I realize this every day.

My heart literally just did a small dive right now. I felt something in my chest take a turn south (yes, my heart swings. I’m an emotional little being, what can I say? Some music does that to me). This song means a lot to me. It will always mean to go through life without regrets. It means that you’ll have a lot of “oh wells,” but no “what ifs” if you’re true to yourself.

That’s always me.

THE LUMINEERS – STUBBORN LOVE

This song has a special place in my heart. I’ve always really loved this song, but I heard it one evening when I really needed to hear it. I was driving home, and I kept it on repeat about 8 times (I’m being modest. I think it was more like 14, but I don’t want to come across as a liar). I even learned to play this on guitar (I don’t do the song any justice, but I like that I can play and sing it).

I love the words to this song. “It’s better to feel pain than nothing at all.” I kind of interpreted that as “then there’s hope” you know? I don’t think that’s what he means. I think it ties to the rest of the song. So, you feel pain about something, but at least you’re capable of feeling, period. Some people can’t or don’t. That’s the sad truth. I’d rather feel anything than nothing. What a crappy existence you must lead if you feel nothing.

I pity you.

“Keep your head up, my loooooove.” I think good people are increasingly difficult to come by, and when someone fools you, it’s easy to turn into some cold, unfeeling jerk, but I don’t think you should. I don’t think The Lumineers want you to. I think they’re saying, “keep your head up. Good people are out there. People with feelings, people with hearts, decent human beings are out there. You may feel sad now, but good days are ahead. You shouldn’t let the bad seeds devastate you and ruin you for everyone. I mean, if you’re going to do that, then you deserve to take up residency on Beat Street. Good riddance.

People can be slimy (and they’re out there, and they’re surprisingly adept at blending in), but never forget that’s a reflection of their character and not yours.”

Stay a good person. Keep your head up. I love this one.

BOB DYLAN – DON’T THINK TWICE IT’S ALL RIGHT

This is my favorite Bob Dylan song. This is the one song where what he sings is what I take from it. So, just because someone put up with you for X amount of time, is no longer in your life, and doesn’t actively wish death on you and your incompetent parents (actually, your parents aren’t incompetent. You’re just a bad human being), doesn’t mean it’s all right. You still wasted their time. It’s just that some of us are mature enough to listen to good music, and take our wasted time with you as a lesson learned (I think we’ve all related to it at some point in our lives).

I’ve always wanted to play this at a coffee house. I love Amy Millan’s cover of it. I could never top it, but this song has been one of my favorites for years.

THE CLASH – TRAIN IN VAIN

AHHH this is actually my favorite song. I begin to dance just when I hear the beginning—that’s how amazing this is. Okay, so an old friend, Andrew, told me about this song. Actually, he quoted one line, “so alone I keep the wolves at bay” and I was sold (back in like 2003 or 2002?). This has been my favorite Clash song, favorite running song, favorite driving song—favorite everything song.

This is the ultimate, feel-good song for me. If you see me dancing in my car (even in traffic today!) singing this—I can tell you that I’m in a good mood. The worst thing ever could happen, and this song would cheer me up. So, why do I love it or what does it mean to me?

Once again: independence. I think that’s a running theme in my music selection. As a person fluent in the art of spending time alone (and thoroughly enjoying it), I like songs that embody that. Occasionally, some people have weaseled their way into my life and (more or less) been a predictable disappointment, but this song has been around since I was a little babe.

All the lines in this song. ermergerd. Love this song so much.

FLORENCE + THE MACHINE – SHAKE IT OUT

I really hated all of this band’s songs for the longest time (years), because I had no idea what she was saying, and I thought she was whining (I’m a jerk, I really hate whiners).

I heard it on my drive to work one morning, and it sucker punched me.

Hard.

The horse metaphor. The graceless heart. The darkest before the dawn.

This is well-written, beautifully sung, and thought out—so incredibly touching.

To me, this song is about being foolish, continuing to be foolish, having things blow up in your face, continuing on your foolish route (aka dead horse), and being unable to bury your dead horse (some of us are foolish troopers). She does bury the horse (thank God), and she also cuts out her graceless heart (I get it, Florence. Call me up, we can do a follow up to this).

The only way out is through. There are no short cuts. I think if you take short cuts in life, you’re never going to be truly happy. If you’re not aspiring for a great, genuine life, then by all means—short cut. This song means seeing things through to the end.

I think it’s about following your heart, even if it leads you to the darkest caves. At some point, you have to cut your losses, though. Strength isn’t about being foolish. It’s sometimes required to give up. Shake it off. You can’t be happy if you’re dragging around a dead horse.

After this song became my favorite thing ever, I heard it in an episode of HIMYM with Robin realizing her terrible news. I love that episode, and I love that they used this song at the end. This song means a lot to me. I think it’s just about realizing that you’re only human and you have to let go of things. You can’t be happy until you get rid of the useless clutter. Sometimes, the least expected things have to go, but you’re better off without them.

CHUMBAWUMBA – TUBTHUMPING

I heard this one morning on shuffle. I was on my way to work, and I thought, “holy canoli, this is epic.” You get knocked down, but you get up again. It’s such a simple concept, and yet, we forget this. This is one of those obvious mood lifters. I heard it when I was a kid (and actually had the CD), but it’s still great.

Some people stay unhappy for long periods of time. I can’t. I can’t, because there are too many good things to be happy about. Plus, getting knocked down is important. It teaches you how to deal with the punches, and it teaches you how to get back up.

ONEREPUBLIC – GOOD LIFE

I’ve heard this in many different friends’ cars, and I love when I have. I file it away under, “moments I’ll never forget with important people I love.” I’d rattle off a few people, but you probably remember it, too and I love you. Thanks.

MAN MAN – HEARD ON (HOLD ON TO YOUR HEART)

This is a perspective song for me. I think sometimes we can let our crazy thoughts get ahead of us. I like the message of this song. Always hold on to your heart. Guard that. It’s your world. There’s even a verse on it. “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23

It means a lot to me, because your heart is huge. You should never let anyone screw with that.

So, hold on to your heart. You only have one.

BEN GIBBARD – YOU REMIND ME OF HOME

Okay, so this song is about a broken relationship. I know.

Not to me. Home is a feeling of comfort. Home is where I can lay my head down and not have to move. Home is love to me. So, even though it’s about an ending, losing, wasted relationship—to me, this song will always be about love. It’ll always be about loving someone with everything you have, because they’re home. My house isn’t the most glorious one on the block. The floors creak, the lock conveniently gets stuck when I’m carrying a thousand groceries, the windows can be drafty, and I don’t always like it.

But it’s home. If you remind me of home, I love you. As such, I love this song with every fiber of my being (and for the past ten + years).

THIRD EYE BLIND – MOTORCYCLE DRIVE BY

I don’t remember where I was when I first heard this, but I will never forget the hours I spent driving around to this song. I used to have this best friend that loved Third Eye Blind as much as I did (more, actually). He always drove, because I had a junky car. The windows were always down and we drove all over. My favorite was driving through the farm towns. We drove past dozens of them (ermergerd, breathtaking views). We drove up hills. We drove by lakes. We drove by fields. Gorgeous days. My hands were out the window, my hair blew in the wind, and we both sang this song at the top of our lungs. We were both out of key. Sometimes it was freezing, sometimes it rained, sometimes it snowed—but it was always my favorite.

We stopped at random shops for snacks, ate outside, and most times we just listened to 3EB. I’d tell him about some douchebag I wasted my time on (ha), and he’d always say I was wasting my time (I did). Then he’d tell me about some new douchebag he wasted time on, and I’d always tell him my thoughts (which were always spot on).

We saw this band together three times, and I’ve since seen them at least three other times.

Each time I’ve seen them, the audience goes absolutely crazy over this. I wish I could find the words to describe why I love this song, what it means to me, but I don’t have them. It has nothing to do with unrequited love (I know, I’m sorry Stephan Jenkins) for me. I’ve just always felt this one in my stomach and heart.

I may be forgetting a few songs, but if I remember, I’ll add them later.

:)IMG_8507-0.JPG

Update 8/20/14

Enrique Iglesias – Escape

I know what you’re thinking, “what the heck?” Let me explain. This song reminds me of that capital cities song. At first I listened to this escape song as a joke, but it is uplifting! I get that it’s about him saying this girl will return to him because he’s so great. We all think we are so great (don’t we, though?) and someone will come back to us (even if we’ve kicked them to the curb). I just love this song. I think you can escape and for good cause, but I love the feel-good sound to this and I always smile when I hear it now. 1. Because it’s Enrique and 2. Because it’s Enrique. This isn’t my type of music at all, but it’s so dang catchy and it’s on my permanent list. I can tell.

:)

Chocolate Avocado Cookies

A sugar free, flour free, and butter free dessert? How could this be anything but disastrous?

I’ll tell you.

The ingredients:

1 ripe avocado
1/3 cup honey
1/5th bag of semisweet chocolate chips
1 egg
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1 tbsp water
1 tsp baking powder
Nuts (optional)

Mix the avocado, egg and honey until smooth. Then add the cocoa powder and chocolate chips (and walnuts or pecans).

Preheat your oven to 350. With a spoon, plop your cookies on a sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.

They taste best refrigerated. So, I usually eat them the next day.

You get about 8 cookies, so I double the recipe now. They are incredibly rich and chocolatey, so if you’re anything like me, these will fill your craving for chocolate.

Everyone I know (who has tried them) loves them.

They are quick and easy to make. They’re a little sticky, so finding a nice way to display them will be your biggest feat.

IMG_8576.JPG

Idea is from pinterest!!

http://thesmoothielover.com/healthy-avocado-chocolate-cookies/

The Universe is Hard at Work

Not getting what you want.

Some people are okay with that. They don’t get what they want for various reasons, but mostly because they don’t try.

When I don’t get what I want, it’s rare, but for good cause.

For example, I’ve wanted certain well-paying, great benefit jobs last summer, but I didn’t get them because of two reasons. 1. I was quiet in the interview. I hate unnecessary chatter. 2. I lacked hands-on experience.

The truth, however, is it happened for the best. The one job was for a mortgage company with a bunch of stiffs. I would have been unhappy working with people in suits and snooty attitudes. The second was a phony company that preached one thing and behaved in another way (terrible people, I’ve been told by an employee there).

If there’s one thing I can’t tolerate, it’s not practicing what you preach. I wouldn’t have lasted long. Every job I’ve ever had where I was treated poorly lasted a minimal time.

In the end, I was hired by a company I like. I could wax poetic about the perks of my job, but I won’t. There are things I dislike, but that’s with any job. I do think that the universe didn’t let me have what I wanted, because it was looking out for me. Trust me, I lamented last summer for weeks. “Why didn’t they pick me? I’m the best employee? No one would be as fast and loyal? I’m great!” I whined. I knew it was the truth. It is the truth. I would’ve been great there, but it wasn’t in MY best interest.

For example: last winter, I landed the job that I dreamed of. I wanted it so bad, but another girl got it over me. She didn’t work out, and a month later, they gave me a shot. I hate being second best, but I got the job! I was ecstatic…for a minute.

Turns out, the job was great, but the boss was horrific. I ended up leaving after less than a week.

There’s one more thing I can’t tolerate: condescending, rude, shouting people. I deserve respect no matter how low on the pole I am.

It’s a shame. If I had no self respect, I’d probably still be there, unhappy and anxiety-ridden.

So, while I think you create your future and all that, I think there are some things that seem to work against you, but really don’t.

I know for a fact when I want something, I go 100% full-steam ahead. I never want to regret not having something, because of me. While it sucks (truly, my heart aches when I don’t get what I want, because it’s so rare), eventually I see why I didn’t get it.

Sometimes it takes longer than you think. One particular thing took me four years. When I finally could have had it, I stood dumbfounded. I remember driving home and feeling empty-hearted. How could I want something and then when the universe said, “here ya go!” I had zero desire.

I really don’t know. I just know that my heart (or my gut. Whatever you’d like to call it), said no.

There’s this great quote that really resonates with me lately:

“I am trying to see things in perspective. My dog wants a bite of my peanut butter chocolate chip bagel. I know she cannot have this, because chocolate makes dogs very sick. My dog does not understand this. She pouts and wraps herself around my leg like a scarf and purrs and tries to convince me to give her just a tiny bit. When I do not give in, she eventually gives up and lays in the corner, under the piano, drooping and sad. I hope the universe has my best interest in mind like I have my dog’s. When I want something with my whole being, and the universe withholds it from me, I hope the universe thinks to herself: “Silly girl. She thinks this is what she wants, but she does not understand how it will hurt.””

– Blythe Baird

I think that happens more often than we think. I’m pretty mature, and things don’t always go my way. For the most part, sure they do, because–again–I make them. The ones that still don’t, despite my crazy desire for them and effort for them, are the ones that remind me to keep a level head.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many times that I frustrate myself trying to figure things out, but I believe there’s a bigger reason that I can’t see yet.

I also know this, because there have been times when I know things were out of my control, and yet–somehow, I got them (long story). Then what happened?

The reason for why they weren’t mine in the first place reared its ugly head fairly quickly.

So, the next time you’re pining over not getting your way, think about your dog and the chocolate he wants. It’s for his own good that he can’t have what he wants.

It’s for your own good that you don’t always get what you want. It may suck now, but it might have been ten thousand times worse if you got it.

“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” -George Bernard Shaw

List of Happy

This is part one of a two part piece. I know that some people aren’t as fortunate as I am in the way of happiness. We can sit and try to figure out why, but I’d rather focus on the happier side of things.

I wish that I could make everyone happy, but I can’t. At some point along the line, I realized that you have to be happy first. It’s like when you’re in an airplane, and they tell you to secure your oxygen mask first, before helping others.

That’s how I try to live my life. In the past, I’ve made others a priority. In some skewed thought, I believed that if I could just make one person happy, then we’d all be happy (it’s actually more in depth than that, but I don’t think I thought it, so much as I behaved this way. I have examples, but I’m the furthest thing from a martyr).

Of course, this failed, and I tried harder. This process continued until I grew tired. You’ll eventually stop knocking if someone doesn’t let you in. Sure, you try round about ways (I’ve been known to grab a ladder, scale to the sixth floor, and try the window), but the door is locked for a reason.

My life mission isn’t to figure people out (it’s more of a hobby when I have down time and care—so, as of late, it’s not at all a priority).

People always say that you should work on yourself and love yourself. I mean this in the least narcissistic way, I love myself. It’s a rare occurrence when I don’t. So, to anyone that’s told me to work on myself, I’d like to take a moment of silence. You wasted your breath. I better myself every day, thanks.

I don’t really know what makes other people tick or tock. Likewise, I don’t know what makes another person happy. Some people love attention, some loathe it, some people are materialistic and need possessions, and others just need time alone or with someone they love.

When something makes me happy, or contributes to my happiness, I make a note of it. Below is a list of things that make me happy. I don’t know if it’ll resonate with anyone else, but I hope everyone has a list of things that make them happy, too.

1. My biggest fan, best friend, true love of my life, running partner—Mogli. Almost every moment spent with him makes me happy. There are the moments when he cries uncontrollably (in public), and I’d like to rip out my hair, but he’s still my buddy. Not everyone has witnessed him in the comforts of our home, but I implore you to. He wakes up, stretches his long body across my legs and then burrows his way under the blankets, crawls to my feet, crawls up to my arms and somehow manages to be under my arms and looks at me with his bright brown eyes. I could give you ten examples of why he’s my favorite creature, but I won’t. I’m happy he’s in my life, and I couldn’t picture my life without him.

2. Cooking and baking. I’ve never been the greatest cook, and I’ve always been bored watching my mom do it, but I’ve gotten into it. I like taking ingredients I’ve never heard of, plopping them into my dish and being surprised. As a pessimist, I expect half of my concoctions to blow up in my face. Unlike some things in my life, cooking has yet to blow up in my face. I love the smell of my kitchen permeating the rest of the house. I love the fact that I have deliciousness to devour all week. I love that it’s healthy, and I’m happy.

3. My friends. I have few friends, but they mean the world to me. Two of my best friends don’t even live here (anymore), but distance only reinforces how much they mean to me. We talk nearly every day, via phone, facebook, or text. I always feel better hearing from and spending time with them. Even the times we’ve been unhappy, we were unhappy together, and we got through it. I always fast forward to the day I someday get married, and I know that even though my family is tiny, I’d have five friends that would be there. I can’t stress enough how much I love them, and I’m really glad we met (even if a couple were met in the most bizarre ways). I’m happier, and I’m a better person having met them.

4. The ocean. I love going to the beach, leaving my feet in the sand, and looking out at the sea. I need very few things in life. The sea is one I cannot compromise on. Someday, I will live near it. If I don’t permanently live there, I’ll have a beach house, for sure. I love swimming, I love floating, I love bodysurfing, and I love being in the water. I’m happiest in the ocean. I realize it, because every time I go, I think of nothing but the present moment. After I’m out, I lay out and it still feels like I’m swimming. It’s a nice feeling. I guess I could incorporate all bodies of water, because I like being near streams and rivers, as well. It’s safe to say I’m a mermaid.

5. Music. I don’t play nearly as often as I could, but I love music. I love that I create playlists. I love that other people have enjoyed them. I love when someone loves music as deeply as I do. It’s hard to explain, and I think you’ll only understand this one if you feel it as passionately about it as I do. I joke and dance to some songs, but I need music. There’s a song for every feeling I’ve ever felt. There’s a song for things I’ve never felt. I love the people that create music. It’s a feeling I’ll never lose. I have a playlist of songs that I believe were made for me. I know they weren’t really made for me. I just mean, they’re my songs. They mean more to me than most things. :)

6. Running. I don’t run as much because of the heat, but once the temperature drops a little, I will run every other day at the park. The park is just over 3 miles and around the river. I love it. I love running it. I love when I finish running it, I get to walk to my car and reflect on it. I don’t know how to verbalize the feeling, but I’m happy I started running two years ago. I know I started to tone up, but now I don’t do any exercises for vanity. I run, because I’m happy when I’m finished. I do some barebones yoga, because I feel stronger. There’s something about reaching your limits and pushing beyond them. It’s a slow and long process, but I think the things that are worth it in the end, are the ones that take time and patience.

7. Traveling. I’m going to France in Mid-September. I was going to go to Romania, but I’ve been there, and I was born there. I’d like to go elsewhere. I’d love to see Fiji and Thailand, but I’ll wait on those. I don’t have a partner in crime yet, and I’d like to save that. Plus, I’m not a solo traveler. I like to get lost together. I do love to feel out of my element, though. I like it, because I know it’s touch-and-go. I know that I’ll never see these people again. I know I’ll never have the exact moments again. I like it. I know that’s life in general, but there’s something about travel that brings it out in me. I soak it up. I may be quiet, but my heart and mind are hard at work.

8. How I Met Your Mother. Okay, let me explain. This show makes me happy for several reasons. First, Ted is in search of his soul mate. We could stop there, but I’ll go on. I don’t like the whole dating tons of people approach (I feel like this is the mentality of our generation, though) until he finds his woman. I think he should have had standards that people do or don’t meet, and either spend time with them or don’t. I guess I have a pretty traditional view of relationships, though. Do I suddenly sound like I’m sitting on a high horse? I do, don’t I? That’s because I’m passionate about this. It was recently explained to me that I get defensive when I’m passionate about things. More on this later. Secondly, I love the dynamic of Lily and Marshall. Third, I love that it makes me laugh. I love that there are running jokes throughout the seasons. Finally, I love that things don’t work out. It’s happier than real life, but not everything turns out the way you once thought (or hoped). I think sometimes what we want in life is just an illusion. I think that after a time, you’ll realize that things happen for a reason. I know it goes against my fate idea, but it makes sense. I’d elaborate, but I’ll keep this to myself.

9. Writing. I love to write for various reasons. The first reason is because I don’t relate to a lot of people, books, or movies. I’m not a super secret spy that’s engaged to a sexy, super secret spy who also has a penchant for long-haired brunettes (namely, me). I know, but let me go on. I’m also not in silicon valley and creating mini robots. What? The books I read vary, and I think that’s what makes me unique (hey, we’re all unique). So, what can I write about? Anything and everything. I’ve heard that you can tell a lot about a person by how they write. I wish someone would tell me what they thought of me from my writing. I’ve written a few terribly tragic pieces, but I’m not a masochist. I’ve written a love story, but I can assure you I’ve never been courted in the way my protagonist has been. Does writing reflect our desires? I think if you can read between the lines, you can tell a lot about a person, but I think people get caught up on the big picture. So, yes, I love to write, because I live in my own world on the reg. My characters are part real and part fiction. You can find yourself among them if you look hard enough (and I know you/had a profound impact on me [pretty slim chance]). I like to write, because I’m an escapist. The real world is often disappointing and dull. People aren’t as passionate and intense as I think they should be.

10. Driving. I love to drive. I love going places I’ve never been before. This goes hand in hand with traveling. I love road trips. I love pumping my own gas. I love singing. I love listening to my playlists. I love seeing new license plates. I love the music on max and my windows down. I love my hand out the window. I love being in my car. Likewise, if I feel safe with a driver (super rare), I like to be a passenger. I love to enjoy the scenery without having to watch the road sometimes. I like watching the moon. I like knowing someone else is in control (that I trust [again, this is hard to come by]).

11. Meaningful conversations with meaningful people. I abhor small talk, which is why my list of acquaintances is short. I do, however, love meaningful and and intense conversations with some people. If we’re on the same page, the little kid in me is clapping inside. “YES!” she sings. It’s rare, but those conversations make my day. When people make an effort, that’s appreciated. I’d phrase this better, but I’m happy with it.

So, these are things that make me happy. I hope that someone can read this and pick something out they’ve never done before. I hope that thing makes them happy.

I realize that happiness is a solo activity. It’s a personal thing. It’s nice to have someone that contributes to your happiness and that you can make happy, too. I don’t think it’s necessary. I think if you can be happy with minimal, you are on the right path.

Where the path leads is completely beyond me, but I know I’m on my way. I may be small, but I’m a determined gal. You can only get what you want by asking for it and making a way for it.

I’ve doubted things before, but more and more I realize that the future is in your hands.

As Jane Austen says, “It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.”

Always do. Always.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Can we learn anything from children’s books?

I’m going to go ahead and say we can learn something from most things (even the ones that leave you scratching your head).

One particular book really made my day these past few days.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

Edward is a toy rabbit made of china. He is an arrogant, snooty little rabbit with a penchant for fine clothing and is incredibly selfish, but doesn’t think so (yeah, I’d like to point a finger at someone but will refrain).

Edward belongs to a seven year old girl, but he doesn’t really love her. He’s just sort of going through the motions of being her rabbit.

That is, until, one day he comes to an unfortunate fork in his road.

This leads him to new and unexpected places. I won’t go into where he goes, who he meets, but I will say that for a children’s book, it’s eye-opening. I think I like it, because it’s metaphor after metaphor of big moments in our lives.

Well, that’s if you’re aware enough to see/feel them.

I like the way it’s written for several reasons.

1. Edward is just like we can be. Some of us start off unnecessarily cold and then go through similar things that this toy rabbit does. It’s bizarre, but it’s endearing.
2. I like that it’s full of love. It’s not gooey and fake; it’s in-your-face and bold. When things happen, they happen.
3. I fell asleep each night comfortably. I don’t have too much trouble sleeping (except for some nights, I suppose–you think about useless things), but this book was great. I would read until my eyes were heavy and then I was out. It was such an interesting read, but it was tranquil, too. I’ll probably read it again.

Maybe I like it, because it’s not your run-of-the-mill predictable book. I think it’s more than that, though. I like it, because it makes you think.

Here’s the link to the PDF.

Decent Human Being Etiquette (Condensed Version)

I understand that not everyone follows the same moral compass I follow (what-a-pity), but I think there are a few things we could all agree on.

Yes, I say this, but I’m 100% sure that someone will say, “nope, nope, I disagree.”

Good for you – I doubt we’d agree on much, then.

  1. Honesty is always, always, always (repeat infinitely) the best (and only) policy.

Here’s why I think you should always be honest: the truth will always (always, always, always) come out. You could easily save face by being upfront. You lose several things when the truth comes out. You lose trust, your own trust in that person (if you can easily lie to someone, how easy would it be for them to lie to you, too?), and potentially that person. See, some people are okay with lies. Some people are not. If you find yourself knee-deep in a lie, staring at someone who doesn’t tolerate liars, just know I told you so.

I read this book on how to spot a liar. I trust my gut on most things, but as the book explains, sometimes we want to give people the benefit of the doubt. We want to believe that we are being paranoid. We ignore our gut, because we want to believe there are good people out there. We want to believe that someone couldn’t look us straight in the eye and lie to our face.

People are liars. Trust your gut. If it smells like bs, it’s probably bs. Even if it’s the faintest of scents, you’re probably dealing with a liar.

I’m sure you’re thinking there are certain times when lies are okay.

“Those jeans do not make your butt look like an amorphous blob.”

“I think you’re a great employee.”

“No, I didn’t forget your birthday.”

“Sure, I’d like to hang out.”

If someone’s butt doesn’t look good, and they’re asking for your input, you should tell them. Unless you’re someone I won’t name, you probably want the truth. Actually, if you don’t want the truth, don’t ask a question.

If someone sucks at their job, you should tell them (if the opportunity presents itself—tactfully).

You should remember a birthday, but it happens. Some people just won’t be that important to you, and that’s okay. Big whoop. They will live.

If you don’t want to hang out, say you don’t want to hang out. I’m guilty of making plans and knowing dang-well that I will bail as I make the plan. In my defense, I picture it and think, “yeah, that could be non-miserable.” After more thinking, I realize that I’d rather swallow bees, and I come up with some excuse. I am working on this, and I apologize if I’ve done this (sorry, I just need baby steps if I havent seen you in a while. Tea date and then go from there).

So, always be honest. People are surprisingly resilient. Will you eventually hurt someone’s feelings? Most definitely. I’d rather have my feelings hurt than be lied to. If you can’t respect someone enough to be honest with them, what kind of a person are you? Not someone I’d like to know, that’s for sure.

That’s just me, though. Again, my moral compass is a bit skewed in comparison to a couple people.

2. If you have nothing nice to say, keep it to yourself.

Yes, we’re all thinking that so-and-so is a blabber mouth that can’t stop talking about (insert something you don’t care for), but you bringing attention to it is worthless. We already probably exchanged an eye roll (if you know me), but that’s as far as it needs to go. I think this also depends on who you’re talking to.

For example: if you and I are close, we’ve reached the point in our relationship where we’ve vented about something before, then go ahead and tell me about your crappy coworker. Vent your little heart out, because I’m sure I can empathize (about most things).

On the other hand, if I hardly know you, if you open your mouth and only negative dribble spills forth, I don’t want to know you. It doesn’t matter if I’ve had the same negative thought (I probably have), but I wouldn’t say it to just anyone. It’s really unattractive unless I know you anyway. So, yes, this is a personal thing that I find offensive. I think you can understand why, though.

Also, being nice is harshly underrated. You don’t have to be a butt-kisser, but simply being polite and respectful will get you a lot farther than negativity.

Be nice.

3. There is absolutely no reason to call someone a name ever. Ever.

Some people will argue that it’s just the way it is. I sincerely hope that those people are called every name in the book and have to deal with it.

There’s no reason to call someone stupid. People can behave foolishly, sure. Telling someone that s/he is stupid…UGH. I just want to punch you in the temple. Here’s the thing: people know when they screwed up. They don’t need your rude self telling them.

Stupid is on the lighter end of the scale. We have all sorts of names: idiot, moron, bitch,, ass, dick, etc.

If you accidentally blurt something out (I’ve done this once and felt the worst pang of guilt ever), APOLOGIZE and NEVER do it again. Sure, maybe people don’t take this as seriously as I do (no one does, I know. What a shame), but you should still apologize.

It’s disrespectful. If you wouldn’t call your mother that, then you shouldn’t call anyone that. I don’t care if you are actually a total douchebag (look, I had to say it. Some people are, are aware of it, and just don’t care), you shouldn’t name call.

Yes, I was definitely a hypocrite right there, but I’m referring to a group of people. I’m not singling anyone out. Also, if you think you belong in the aforementioned group, you probably do, and you should make a hasty getaway.

4. Unless you’re on a field, in need of help, at a concert, or something similar, you shouldn’t shout/scream.

Maybe this is just me, but I hate when people raise their voices. So, you had a bad day? You stubbed your toe? Did someone irritate you?

THERE’S NO REASON TO YELL.

First of all, everyone around you will think you’re a psycho.

Okay, maybe they won’t think you’re a psycho, but they will think you’re immature and childish.

Throwing tantrums is what children do. No one over the age of ten should be throwing a tantrum (I say this, because my kids will be well-behaved, upstanding citizens).

Here’s the thing: no one and nothing owes you a darn thing. So, if something does not go your way, you better take a chill pill, and calm yourself. Has yelling ever solved anything?

I don’t speak for everyone, but I speak for anyone I’ve seen shout: no.

Most likely, I will stare (wide-eyed) and wait for your moment of hysteria to pass. After that, I’ll ask what that solved. You’ll say (in a justified tone), “I feel better.”

Maybe you do, I really don’t know, but now you just look crazy. I understand that not everyone is capable of containing their thoughts/emotions as well as I can, but everyone should. If I shouted every time something didn’t go my way, I’d need a voice box. Yes, that’s right, things blow up in my face every day, but what am I going to do?

That’s right: take a moment, either write it down, put on some music, or go for a run. Find things to let that out. Just never, ever, under any circumstance, raise your voice to anyone. If they’re anything like me, you will have your childish butt handed to you, and you’ll feel like the immature child you are—not better.

5. Apologize when you’re wrong.

This one is tough, because no one thinks they’re ever wrong. I’ll use myself as a perfect example. When I listen to another person’s advice or thoughts, I’m more inclined to behave in a way that isn’t totally me.

I’m always wrong, because I’m not being myself. No matter the outcomes, if I’m not being true to myself, I’m wrong.

On the day to day, I follow my gut and ignore what anyone says. I’m straight-forward, and I’m happy with all of my decisions. There are those one-off days, though, when I let someone’s opinion sway mine and then I second-guess everything.

These days are the worst, because I behave unlike myself. I’ve done this in the past, and I’ve regretted it. I was only capable of apologizing, because I wasn’t really apologizing for myself, so much as I was apologizing for being a dweeb. I doubt that makes sense, but bear with me.

So, it can take a while to realize you’re wrong. For me, it ranges between one to two days. I go through a scale of thoughts until I realize, ah drats, that was totally my B.

I don’t know what the thought process is for others, but I know mine is fairly quick, because I hate being wrong. I’d like to expunge my record ASAP and pretend it never happened.

Maybe that’s the way you could look at it. If you realize you’re wrong, get it over with and apologize. Of course, you have to commit to not making the same mistake again.

Also, a good rule of thumb is if you feel guilty, then you’re probably wrong. This goes hand in hand with your gut. Trust that thing. If you really listen to it, you always know where you stand. It’s amazing how the brain will rationalize everything away, but you can still feel torn. Maybe that’s just how I feel when I’m wrong.

On the other hand, if you genuinely feel good, then you’re probably right,

Or you’re a sociopath—I’ll let you decide.

6. Don’t use the word Just.

I recently learned this, and I’m thankful I did. When someone tells you something, you should never add “just” to the beginning of your response. It will make their entire dilemma seem like a trivial issue that could’ve been solved decades ago if only you dropped your knowledge on them sooner.

Presumptuous.

When I was younger, I had one serious issue that plagued me. A handful of those close to me caught wind of it once or twice, and I’ll never forget how angry I felt at their advice. “You should just…”

Yeah? I could just do that. Wow. Let me bow down to thee. How did my puny little brain miss that answer? Unbelievable. Here, let me kiss your feet.

No, you don’t JUST do anything. People don’t ask for advice. Well, I don’t ask for advice. When people do ask for advice, you can bet that they’ve thought of everything at least four times. So, if they’re finally spilling the beans to you, it’s most likely because they need to vent. I could be wrong, but that’s usually how my course of action has gone.

Similarly, even as I grew up, I still received the “Just” answer. Just Just Just.

I know this is something that can happen so easily, but you have to try to be aware of it. I’m almost 95% sure that I still preface my advice with “just,” but I’m really working on this. Also, I try not to offer advice unless asked, but even then, it’s delicate, because I get it. People (well, except for dramatic folk) don’t like to discuss their problems. So, when they do, you can’t roll it up and deliver it like a generic, DUH answer. Even if it seems obvious to you (and it will sometimes), you should be thoughtful about it. Never say just. It’s just (ha) not considerate.

7. Be considerate.

I think this one is overlooked, because people can be self-involved. Try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes every day before you say or do anything to them. If you aren’t being honest, if you aren’t being kind, if you wouldn’t like someone to do that to you—don’t bother them.

If we really had to reap what we sowed on a daily basis, I highly doubt we’d treat people the way we do. I keep my circle of people relatively small for many reasons. The first one is because I don’t really vibe with many people. I’m pretty sensitive, so the tiniest thing can turn me off. To me, it’s not tiny. A slight is a slight no matter how you slice it; therefore, I try to stay away from anyone that seems to have crappy behavior. I’m learning that people aren’t inherently crappy (LOL I’m working toward learning this, but I’m not totally sold). A crappy action doesn’t make you a crappy person.

Well, in my eyes it does, but that’s another topic.

So, because of this, my circle is pretty tight.

I do, however, have to mingle with the general public every now and again, and I try to be as considerate as possible.

If you wouldn’t want something done to you, don’t do it to someone else. It seems like the easiest thing to comprehend, and—yet—I’m genuinely surprised each time someone is inconsiderate.

That’s all I have for etiquette in life. I’m sure I’ll have more by next month, but this is the bare bones of it. I know it seems like common sense, but as Voltaire said, “common sense is not so common.”

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes as of late: “One of my main regrets in life is giving considerable thought to inconsiderate people.” Jarod Kintz