Clap Along If You Feel Like A Room Without A Roof

17 Jul

Because I’m happy. Seriously. I am. And I want you to be too.

Gratitude and how it’s connected to happiness is today’s lesson.

I’ve said this before, I’m no scientist. All I know is what I’ve been through and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. So if you want scientific proof…you should definitely continue on with your search elsewhere.

Back to our topic. Gratitude. And for clarity’s sake, when I talk about gratitude, I don’t mean the “thank you” that comes out of your mouth like a reflex when someone does something for you or gives you something, although, that is still important. I’m talking about really realizing how lucky you are to have all you do. The kind of gratitude that makes you celebrate life and pass on those gifts to others in need.

Now, I’m not casting stones here. I’m guilty of more than the occasional lapse in the gratitude department. There are so many important things I overlook when I say my prayers. For example, the ability to walk, to have the use of my thumbs to grip things like my toothbrush, a steering wheel or even a spoon to feed myself. I take for granted having an amazingly patient, kind and thoughtful husband who comforts me and takes care of me when I’m unable to do all those things I just mentioned. I take for granted the caring family and friends I have who love me unconditionally. I take for granted that even though I don’t make much money, I have an employer who bent over backwards to get me approved for FMLA to take intermittent leave so I don’t get fired for my attendance. Also, I have health benefits that allow me to get the medication I need and access to a rheumatologist.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the quagmire of self-pity and depression, especially when you’re faced with the inability to complete simple tasks like feeding yourself. It’s easy to let that self-pity overshadow the moment when someone who loves you brings you a spoon with a folded up paper towel wrapped and taped around the handle so that it’s easier to grip. (Seriously though, that just happened yesterday)

When I stopped to think about all these things today, I realized how grateful I feel. The emotion swept over me, and I thought my heart could explode with all the happiness I felt at that one single moment. I realized that I have to do better. I started to think about what I can do to pass this feeling along. And so here I am, making a start of it with this post.

Most of you (God willing) won’t know what it’s like to feel grateful for having use of  your thumbs, or the ability to do all the things it takes to get yourself to work. These things won’t move your or touch your heart the way it does mine. But take a look at your life. Take stock of all the wonderful and amazing blessings. Because I tell you, friend, to really, truly feel gratitude in your heart, that’s the door to happiness.

Tell me, what do you take for granted?

Filet-O-Fish Fridays

27 Mar

Well, people, it’s that time of year again. For Catholics it’s the time when you quit drinking soda (or whatever it is that you choose to give up), for those of you who are not, it’s the season where McDonalds offers specials on Filet-O-Fish sandwiches on Fridays. (Hint: it’s Lent) It’s a time for reflection, sacrifice and repentance.

In light of all this reflection, I’ve decided to take a moment to chat about something that I’ve been reflecting upon for quite some time. It’s something that I never really realized I was confused about, but it turns out I was.

Forgive and forget people always say. I say, “what the f*ck?” For so long, I withheld forgiveness because I always figured that it wasn’t true forgiveness unless it was something I was indeed able to forget. How am I supposed to forgive someone who hurt me so deeply that I still feel pain just thinking about it? Am I right?

I don’t want to be that person (we’ve all met at least one) who’s been hurt by someone and their anger and resentment paints every conversation and echoes in their actions. I don’t want to fill up with so much negativity that causes anger to spill out of my pores. I want to live my life with love, compassion and understanding. I want to forgive those who have done me wrong. But I need serious help.

I had an epiphany a few weeks ago. If you’ve read some of my early posts, you may know that there are a few people in my life that I’ve been seriously emotionally wounded by, one of them being myself. For a long time I harbored serious hatred for these individuals. But, while sitting in a class, listening to Father Barry talking about the sacraments and Reconciliation, I realized, I forgive these people. Well, in my head it was more like, “I think I forgive these people.” The reason I said think is because I was still not sure if it could be true forgiveness, since I still don’t think these people are model citizens, nor would I go out of my way to forge a relationship with them. So, I went to confession (by the way, from someone who NEVER agreed with the concept of confession, it turns out that this is frickin’ amazingly helpful and freeing). At the end, I decided to run my ideas about forgiveness past the priest and ask about his thoughts on the matter.

It turns out, forgiveness has nothing to do with forgetting. So just forget about that. (Ha, see what I did there?) His exact words (more or less, anyway) were, “It’s like a tug-of-war game. You feel all these negative emotions and that’s the tugging back and forth. Forgiveness is letting go of the rope”. Instead of continuing with the struggle of anger, you just walk away. Not that you’re forgetting the struggle, but you aren’t spending your life dwelling on it anymore.

As another illustration, during mass, a different priest explained forgiveness like an open wound. Imagine someone emotionally hurting you as causing a cut that breaks the skin. It bleeds. It scabs (forgiveness). You pick the scab (because what else would you do with a scab?). It bleeds some more (remembering the hurt). Each time that scab comes off, that cut gets smaller and smaller. Eventually, all you have is a scar. So yes, someone can cause some serious damage. Yes, thinking and talking about it can open that wound up again. But little by little, it’ll scab over and eventually heal…but you still have that scar as a reminder. Forgiveness is not something that’s done just once. It’s done repeatedly, and as it is done, it becomes easier to continue. Eventually all we have is that little scar that reminds us of what happened, so we can try to protect ourselves from the same thing happening again.

To put it into my own words, forgiveness is about losing the baggage and moving on with your life. Allowing someone’s actions or words to affect your life, how you feel about yourself or even just plain make you angry, is giving them power over your life. Who really deserves that kind of power? You do. God does. But that’s about it.  You want the key to inner peace and total happiness? Take your power back. Forgive those knuckle heads and keep it in the rear-view. Forgiveness is also a gift you give to yourself as well as to the offenders, so give it a shot. You deserve it.

So there you go, three different explanations…hopefully one of them will resonate with you. Let me know what your thoughts are on this topic.

Also, let the record show, I have given up drinking soda (I’m addicted), and eating cereal (I’m also addicted)…and I am doing well.

Three Years Gone

20 Nov

Today is bittersweet for me. It’s the anniversary of my father’s death, which, 3 years later, is still a painful thing to think about. I know I’m not alone in this pain. My little sister and brother share in it just the same. I hope somewhere, some time, they get to read this and understand that I’m thinking of them and love them to pieces. Luckily, I have a very good reason to be very happy as well: my best friend gave birth to her first son, whom I call Bowser, on this same date two years ago. It’s a strange situation for me. I love Bowser, he’s one of the coolest semi-new humans ever. He gives me reason to smile today,but I miss my dad.

It wasn’t until yesterday that I really realized that even though I haven’t  been deliberately dwelling on the approaching anniversary, it still affects me. It’s painful to deal with, even though it’s not in my conscious thoughts. It’s interesting how depression can sneak its way into your life. Little by little, it puts a shadow over your existence. Before you know it, you’re in a hole. Sometimes that hole is so deep that the sky is nearly invisible. I want people to know that they’re not alone with this.

For this reason, I feel it appropriate to re-visit a post from way back. It’s one of my favorite posts because I believe depression is a topic that is easily brushed aside by many because they don’t understand, and obscured by those affected by it. It’s not something that we can recover from unless we face it. So, I’m shining a light on it once more. I hope it helps.

The following is from Tired of trying, sick of crying. I know I’ve been smiling, but inside I’m dying…

Depression isn’t an easy thing to talk about. It lurks in the darkness of our soul, eating away at our hearts, consuming our will to continue searching for happiness. It’s an invisible ailment that many experience, but few understand. For some, it’s a fast and dramatic response to an event such as the death of a loved one, or a major failure of some sort. But many times, depression has no clear cut cause; there’s no singular traumatic event that starts the seamless progression from disappointment to sadness to depression to hopelessness.  Sometimes, the advancement is so slow and subtle; it goes unrecognized by even the person experiencing it. And therein lies the problem. How can you tell someone that something is wrong, when you yourself don’t know or can’t explain what it is? I may be alone in my stubbornness, but I find it difficult to admit to someone, let alone to myself, that there IS something wrong when I don’t even know what IT is. How am I supposed to ask for help, when I don’t even know what I need?

What we need to do is talk. We need to identify and admit the fact that depression is not only a mental problem. It is a condition that reaches far beyond just being sad. It can affect your appearance, drain you of energy, kill your appetite, and kill your social life, among many other things. If we just continue to hide or ignore that depression is a physical condition as much as a mental one, we’ll just continue to sink lower and lower. We also need to stop surrounding ourselves with people that only add to the sickness. We all know drama mongers. They peddle their crazy to anyone and everyone that will listen. I’m here to tell you, when crazy comes knocking, you don’t have to answer the door.

Depression never affected me as a child or teen. So you can imagine my surprise and serious denial when it hit me in adulthood. Come to find out, I have a predisposition to suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts/tendencies. My mother attempted to end her life as a teenager. My cousin committed suicide when I was in high school. My paternal grandmother committed suicide when my father was a teenager. I have done some research and have found that my Austrian/German decent makes me more likely to make an attempt on my life. For some reason, people from these countries have a high rate of suicide and depression. It’d be easy to look at the statistics and family history and use it as an excuse. I could put the blame on genetics. Who in the world would argue with science and facts?

The problem with accepting that you have a predilection, especially a biological one, for something, is that we often use that as an excuse for giving into it. We let go of our power to the thought that we are destined to be this or suffer from that. Instead of telling ourselves, “yes, I am more susceptible to (insert condition here), but I have the power to avoid it”, we tell ourselves “I am more susceptible to (insert condition here); I don’t have any control in it”. We give the blame away to our genetics (or whatever variable) and in doing so, we give away our power to make real and positive changes in our lives. It’s this negative thinking that perpetuates depression, not our genes. If you think you’re worthless, then guess what? Perception is reality. The amazing thing is that you have the ability to change your perception, and in turn, change reality.

Here comes story time. I’ve talked a little about my father’s death; I think I’ve even mentioned the death of my grandma. But, to illustrate my point a little better, I’m going to tell you the whole story…the big points, anyway….

I met my ex a week before I turned 19. We were married two and a half years later. Even though I was young, I gave it everything I had, and then a little more. But getting little in return, I started to give up. I’d been unhappy for a very long time, and I was tired of being used, tired of being lied to, and tired of waiting. I blamed my husband for the way I felt. I resented him for everything I gave up to support his goals and dreams. I felt worthless because nothing I did for him was ever enough for him to value me as I once thought I’d deserved. Despite the way I felt about the way my marriage was going, we decided at one point that we were going to try to start a family. Wanting to be sure I was healthy enough for a pregnancy, I consulted my doctors. My rheumatologist cautioned me against it, saying that even if the inflammation in my feet from my rheumatoid arthritis was under control (at this point, it was not); I would almost certainly spend at least my third trimester on bed rest. I was 25 years old, and my doctor was telling me I shouldn’t try to have kids? I’m 25 years old; I should be able to get knocked up without the “ok” from a doctor…right?

Already unhappy with where my life was at the time, I received a phone call that would put me over the edge. I left for work one morning, and on the drive, I got a phone call from my supervisor’s boss telling me I was to report to him before I began my shift. My heart sank. I knew this was bad news, I thought I’d be fired, though I had no idea for what. I stood at his desk and he informed me I was being put on administrative leave and ordered me to surrender my badge. On my drive home that morning, my thoughts raced. I had decided that when I arrived home, I was going to take every pill in my bottle of Vicodin, and anything else I had. I got home, went upstairs, grabbed the bottle and popped the first pill in my mouth. I tried to swallow it. I couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried, it just wouldn’t go down. This was the beginning of what my ex and most everyone else would see as my decline. The truth is, all those little things with my marriage, the lies, the resentment, my health…that was the real beginning, but it was invisible. It wasn’t even until about a year or two before this incident that I had even noticed it myself.

The sad part about that first pill is that not being able to swallow it had very little, if anything, to do with how I valued my life. I never thought, “I can’t do this because I have so much to live for, so many things I still want to do.” As I tried to swallow that pill, I thought about my parents, the tears, them thinking that they failed at something because they weren’t able to save me. I thought about my nieces. I thought about being thought of as too weak to handle what God was dishing out to me. I even thought about my poor pup. I didn’t want to hurt the people I loved. I told my ex what had happened, and asked him to take all my medications and hide them from me. I called my doctor and got an appointment with a shrink who referred me to a program that literally saved my life.

Because of my suicidal thoughts and my attempt, though failed, my only choices were being committed to a mental facility or the Intensive Outpatient Program, or IOP. I chose IOP. Though I am not and never have been an advocate for “group therapy”, I have to say, it worked. After two weeks of talking about the things I’ve been through, how I feel, listening to others, discovering that although the causes of what brought us all to that room were very different, we were all feeling very similarly. I learned that I am not something that is broken and needs fixing. I learned some very important coping skills and started to re-learn simple truths about myself that would ultimately hold the pieces of my heart together when I thought it would fall apart.

The next couple months brought my grand mother’s decline. She was constantly in and out of the hospital. My family, especially my aunt, who was my grandma’s primary caretaker, struggled with the burden of dealing with the impending loss and the day to day wear that caring for stricken loved ones brings about. Finally, we had a family meeting with the doctors who informed us of our choices. My aunt was not ready to let go. She wanted to believe that her mother wanted to keep fighting. Eventually, we all agreed that she should be put on home hospice care.

The night my grandma died, I went out with my cousins. I got drunker than I’d ever been, at that point. I fell apart. I’d never cried harder or for such a long time. Her funeral was the most beautiful service I’d ever been to. (I’ve been to quite a few) She was buried next to my grandpa, who’d passed away a few years earlier. At the graveside service, someone had booked a mariachi band to play songs that my grandpa used to sing to his wife. It was amazing.

The next day, my phone rang. It was my dad, and he was telling me that he has cancer. Stage 4 cancer to boot. For those who aren’t familiar with cancer, stage 4 means that the cancer is very advanced and has metastasized to other organ(s). In the subsequent months, I flew back and forth from my home in southern California to northern Washington, when my father lived. In the midst of this, I was ultimately fired from my job. Meanwhile, I helped re-model the house, I cooked, I cleaned, I took my father to many of his appointments. He had a prognosis of 2 years. The cancer took him in 3 months.

Two weeks before he died, I decided to make a book for my dad. I wanted to have him write down stories about himself, about growing up, about life. I had so many questions to ask him. I worked hard on that book, trying to make it perfect. Unfortunately, by the time I was done with it, he was no longer speaking, and barely moving. I ended up with a very beautiful, but very empty book.

If you’ve noticed anything in my posts, you’ve probably noticed my propensity to relating my life to music. Today is no different. As it turns out, there is a line from a Social Distortion song that is cold hard fact. Mike Ness sings, “Reach for the sky ’cause tomorrow may never come” (By the way, that song is called Reach for the Sky.) I decided that this empty book was not going to be the story of my life.  Losing my father so quickly prompted me (after a great deal of wallowing in grief and self-pity) to evaluate my life and the way I was living it.

The fact is that it’s easy to give up. It’s easy to put the blame for our disappointments and misery on everything and everyone around us. What’s not easy is taking a look in the mirror and realize that we are the only thing standing between us and bliss. It’s not easy taking responsibility for our unhappiness and depression. The way I felt about my life and my marriage was no one’s fault but my own. As soon as I took ownership of that fact, I got my power back.  I decided that I can’t wait for happiness. It’s not just going to walk up to me one day on the street. I have to actively seek it. My book will not be blank, it’s going to be filled with all the awesome things I am going to do, all the adventures I’m going to take on. I’ve been doing all the things that made me who I am. I’ve been doing all the things that make me happy, all the way down to my shoes.

I also began to understand that everything, and I mean everything, happens for a reason. If I had not been married to my ex, I would not have come to understand how little I actually loved myself. If I had not ended up with rheumatoid arthritis, I probably would have ended up with children with a man that I did not love, a man who didn’t truly love me. My suicide attempt led to me getting the help I really needed. If I hadn’t gone though the Intensive Outpatient Program, I wouldn’t have learned the tools that would later keep me from spinning out of control with the subsequent tragedies of losing my grandmother and my father. If I hadn’t been put on administrative leave, I would not have been able to spend so much time with my father before he passed away. If my father hadn’t been taken so swiftly, I probably would not have had the courage to finally take my life into my own hands. I would have continued being miserable, and blaming my ex for it. Like I said, perception is reality. My reality is a happy one, because I perceive it to be.

While I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time, I still continue to struggle with depression. I’m not going to lie. There are days that I feel just like vanilla ice cream: white, plain, nothing special. But then, I Googled vanilla, and I learned that vanilla is actually one of the most complex flavors on the planet (another scientific fact). So, while I may just be feeling like vanilla, I am actually quite special. This gives me hope that though I’ve been battered by storms, I’m not quite destroyed. Little by little, I begin to strengthen and bloom again.

Happeh Happeh Happeh (Issue No. 3)

11 Sep

As a continuation of my little research project into happiness and fulfillment, here are the things I’ve identified that need improvement:

Things I’d like to improve:

  1. Relationships (love/family/friends)
  2. Energy level
  3. Finances
  4. Personal Satisfaction

The game plan: How do I plan to make these things better? I’m glad you asked.

Relationships

  • Communication: I won’t wait for or depend on others to initiate interaction.
  • Remember birthdays: I am really terrible about this, and I feel really bad about it. At the beginning of each month I am going to buy.make cards for everyone close to me with a birthday that month and send them out immediately. Goodbye procrastination!
  • Call, skype, write or email more often.
  • Be honest: if there are people in my life that just drag me down or do not contribute something positive to my life, I will not continue to waste my energy on them.
  • Forgiveness: If someone has done something that hurt me, real or perceived, I will let it go. It isn’t healthy or productive to hold onto grudges.
  • Connect: I want to find my long lost sister that I’ve never met. I want to rebuild my relationship with my little brother and sister and strengthen my ties to my big brother and sister. We are such a complicated family, with many obstacles, but with all the things I’ve listed above, I’m optimistic that it can be done.

Communication specific to my love relationship:

  • I will give him a break. He’s trying really hard.
  • I won’t say “I’m fine” if I’m in fact not. If I don’t want to talk about it, that’s what I’ll say.
  • I will let go of the past. It’s over. I need to either get over it and move on, or not get over it and end the relationship…if it’s that serious.

Energy level

  • Improve sleep: Because of my health, there are some things that affect my sleep that are beyond my control. Here are some of the things I can control:
    • Embrace the darkness: It’s amazing how just a small bit of light can disturb sleep. I’m putting up black out curtains and getting rid of any glowing lights from chargers and other gadgets.
    • Be active during the day: Duh.
    • Eat dinner at a reasonable time: 9 o’clock does not fit this criteria. Let’s shoot for 7-7:30 ish.
    • Read more, TV less. This isn’t really that big of an issue because we traded cable TV for a gym membership, but we can still do a little better. TV is not conducive to sleep, as a matter of fact, it’s usually to blame for nights I stay up late. (Like Monday night football that starts at 9:15. LOL)
    • Journal/Blog/Sketch: I need to get all of those thoughts and great ideas out of my head so my mind can rest.
  • Meditation: I’m a skeptic when it comes to “new age” type ideas. However, I gave this an honest shot for a while and was amazed at how well it worked to quiet my mind and relieve stress and anxiety. If for no other reason, I’m doing it to shut my brain up. I’ve got thoughts a mile a minute and they never stop, not even when I’m not paying attention to what I’m thinking about. I am shooting for 30 minutes a day, at minimum Monday through Friday.
  • Exercise: This is probably key to fixing many of my personal issues, so don’t be surprised to see this one a few times.
  • Eat better: Obviously.
    • Limit eating out. I will be cutting out places like Mc Donalds completely. It makes me sick to my stomach anyway.
    • Cook dinner at home, from scratch as much as possible.
    • Bring lunch to work whenever possible.
    • Make/eat more vegetables.
    • Make more fruit smoothies.
  • Clear out the clutter: Unworn clothing, unused miscellany and trinkets…I’ll be getting rid of them or finding a way to properly store it so it’s not lingering all over the house.
    • Be honest: Am I really going to use this?
    • Sentimental items are okay to keep as long as it’s properly displayed or stored.
  • Finish projects: All those nagging loose ends hanging around drain my energy and actually keeps me from getting to work on them. It’s a vicious cycle. I plan on keeping a list of current and future projects to be able to visualize what I have on my plate, so to speak.

Finances: Money, or more specifically lack of, is a monumental source of stress and general unhappiness. The issue isn’t strictly a matter of not making enough money to make ends meet, it’s a combination of that and not spending as wisely as we should. Getting a grip on income and expenditures would relieve a lot of this stress.

  • Make a budget: List all expenditures and income.
    • Take cash out at the bank for all small expenditures like gas, etc.
    • Set up bills to be paid through the bank’s bill pay to ensure they’re paid on time.
  • Stick to the budget: Use only the cash allowed for any miscellaneous spending.

Personal Satisfaction: There are a lot of things that I can do or change to increase my self-esteem or make me feel better about who I am or how I’m living my life. I’ve made a good start, making forward progress with this over the last couple years. However, I’m a long way off from where I’d like to be. Some of these items overlap or repeat, but that’s because they’re important.

  • Figure out what my business is, and start it. Whether it’s on Etsy or even working with someone that sells on consignment, this needs to happen. I need to define what my business will encompass, build a plan, buy supplies, start production and get my stuff out in the world. Oh, and I need business cards because everyone knows you’re not legit business person without a business card.
  • Get right with my spiritual life. I’m Catholic and always have been. I’ve fallen off the wagon like most people do from time to time, not because I don’t believe anymore, but I lose sight of my priorities. Sitting in mass, my heart feels full and find myself at times stifling back tears of joy. I can’t help feeling that this is where I’m meant to be.  I would like to start a family in the fairly near future, and I want my children to grow up with faith and the knowledge of God’s love and how we are not just arbitrary beings with no purpose. I want to pass along the faith that my mother passed on to me, because it is a beautiful thing. I’ve begun confirmation classes to kick off my journey to re-acquaintance with the Good Lord.
  • Finish projects: A repeater. All those quasi-finished project lying around make it hard to view myself as a success. Small victories will help with this for sure.
  • Get back to school ASAP. Seriously. Even if it’s just a random class here or there.
  • Get into shape! I need exercise like a pizza needs cheese. My clothes don’t fit as well as they should and I just get depressed when I look in the mirror. I’m not too far off, but enough that I’ve disappointed myself.
  • Finish organizing my music on iTunes. Sounds stupid I know, but I’m so OCD that having duplicate songs and mislabeled music is really irritating.

Happeh Happeh Happeh (Issue No. 2)

10 Sep

I recently read Juicy Joy by Lisa McCourt and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Both excellent reads on the subject of happiness, I highly recommend them. They’ve given me a bit more focus in my life, as I continue my quest for a life that thrills me. Even though I am happier than I have been in a very long time, I know that there are always thing that can be done better. Just like there’s always room for Jello, there is also always room for improvement. SO…I’m beginning this research project, inspired by these books, as a quest to pin point the little things that might occasionally cause a little strife, and decide how to change them.

As I start this project, I am taking some time to identify some important lessons I’ve learned over the years. I am also going to identify  aspects of my life that need improvement, as well as ways that I can actually implement these improvements.

First step, what have I learned so far:

  1. I am in total control of the way I feel, the way I view myself, and the way I react to certain situations or events.
  • I make the decision to give that power/control away each time someone/thing causes me to feel unhappy or bad about myself.
  • I have the power to change the way I perceive things and in doing so, I have the power to  change the way they affect me.

       2.     Harboring hate or negative feelings doesn’t hurt anyone but myself.

  • Hatred and negativity are not constructive. They won’t change anyone’s behavior. Allowing these feelings and types of thoughts is another way of giving your power away.

       3.     I can’t control everything.

  • I can’t force anyone to see or do things my way. I need to accept that even though it would be nice for everything to be done exactly as I would have done, I am much less stressed and much happier just accepting that some people thing and do things differently.

       4.     Life isn’t about finding comfort and sticking with it.

  • Adventures, no matter how big or small, are the key to a happy life.

       5.     Take risks.

  • You never know how something is going to turn out. But if you take a risk, at least you won’t be left wondering if maybe it could’ve been something really great.

       6.     Travel as often as you can.

  • This one is directly related to adventures.
  • What good is that PTO doing you if you’re not taking it?
  • It gets more and more difficult to travel (for most) as we get older. Obligations, careers, children…these things make traveling more complicated. If I could do it over, I would have tried a semester (or two) of college abroad. Unfortunately, the ship has sailed on that one. So instead, I promise myself I will make the extra effort to get away as often as I can.

       7.     Take good care of your skin, and for the love of everything good, don’t touch your face! (unless you’re washing/moisturizing)

  • Dirty hands on your face = zits. Seriously. Even the natural oils on your hands can cause issues. So just keep your hands away from that pretty mug.
  • Forget spending a ton of money on injections, peels, and lifts. Just take care of your skin. Try not to smoke, take it easy on the boozing (drink water more often) and get your beauty rest. You’d be amazed at how big of a difference these changes will make in your appearance. Also, make sure you wash off your makeup before bed time and use moisturizer. If you throw in an occasional scrub or mask, all the better.

       8.     Forgiveness isn’t easy.

  • It’s real hard to let someone who did you wrong off the hook, so to speak. But instead of looking at forgiveness as absolving the person of their actions, try looking at it as a gift you’re giving yourself (getting rid of negative emotional baggage and finally allowing people who belong in your past stay in the past)

       9.     Be yourself, no matter what.

  • Don’t try to change who you are to fit someone’s expectations. You weren’t created to hold back your gifts just because it makes someone else uncomfortable. You were made to pass your gifts along.

       10.    Money isn’t everything.

  • True, money does make the world go round. But like I mentioned a minute ago about what good is that PTO doing you if you’re not taking it…the same goes with money. I’m not going to say it isn’t prudent to build up an emergency fund, to have a cushion in the event you lose your job. It is. And I highly recommend it, if you can. But do you really need a massive savings account if its acquired at the expense of your personal life? Everyone tells us to save now so we don’t have to worry about expenses when we retire. Who says we’re going to make it that long? Not to sound morbid, but tomorrow is a gift, not a promise. Great, your next of kin will be most appreciative enjoying the duckets you stowed away, working your ass off, and sacrificing your personal time for. All I’m saying is don’t put money and work above your happiness. I’ve never heard of anyone saying, “Gee, I really wish I would have worked more”.

Happeh Happeh Happeh (Issue No. 1)

10 Sep

The purpose of todays post and pretty much all my posts is to get you thinking. I want you to think about your life: the way you’re living it and what you’re doing to pursue happiness. Are the choices you’re making made because they will result in happiness or are they made out of convenience? It’s easy to keep your head down and move forward without any real scrutiny. It’s certainly easier to cope with unhappiness or lack of fulfillment when you’re not thinking about it. Wake up!  It’s time to take control of the wheel, my friends. Sure, sometimes heading out on a road trip without a map is exciting. It’s called adventure. But even a spontaneous trip starts with a general idea of what you wanna see or what you wanna do. There’s a general theme driving the adventure, be it the beach, national parks, or who can find the most bizarre landmark. The general theme driving your life should be happiness. Going through life complacent, not considering where you’re headed or what you’re after is the fastest way to wake up at (insert age here) with a slew of regrets. You need to think. Incidently, it’s the whole purpose behind being blessed with the capacity to reason.

Speaking of reasoning, have you ever stopped and taken inventory of what brings you happiness? If you haven’t, I highly suggest that you do, and do it often. The things that bring happiness change regularly, just like everything else in life. Sometimes a long weekend partying with good friends is what makes your heart smile. Other times, it’s the satisfaction of finally finishing that painting that you started in high school that you’ve been meaning to get to for a dozen or so years that does it for you. If you’re not constantly considering what makes you happy, you’ll miss those changes and find yourself chasing hollow dreams, winding up unfulfilled.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: if you don’t like something in your life, change it. Sure, that’s a simplified statement, and certainly easier said than done, but at the same time, it is literally that simple. It’s a matter of thinking about your  life and the situation situation you find yourself in and deciding it’s not what you want. You need to embrace the fact that your happiness is in your own hands, and is often just a decision (albeit sometimes a difficult decision) away.

To illustrate this point, I’ll use myself as opposed to embarrassing someone I know or lying to you good people by making up a fake story. I was the same person from just before I turned 19 until our divorce at age 27. The idea of having children with him terrified me. Buying a home with him terrified me. A normal person would say to them self “hey self, these events are pretty fundamental to marriage, if they scare you, maybe this isn’t the person for you”.  I didn’t trust my instincts about the lies or the cheating. I continued on unhappy, my anger and resentment mounting for years. I blamed him for the way I felt. I really felt, down to my shoes, that he was the sole person to blame. And he was to blame. To do the kinds of things he did while we were together is unacceptable without a doubt. But who’s the girl with two thumbs and stuck around through it all? That’s right, this girl. Ultimately, I was the only one that can be held to answer for my profound unhappiness. I was lost. I had given so much to support his dreams that I forgot who I was as an individual. I turned my back on the things that truly brought happiness to my life and lost myself. In my defense, and I feel like this is a big obstacle for many people which is why I’m airing out this laundry, a divorce would mean my life would be changed so completely, it’d be unrecognizable. We’d have to figure out what to do with all our stuff, the house would need to be disposed of, I’d have to get a new job, and probably give up my medical benefits (which, with RA, is beyond a huge deal) because we worked at the same place, not to mention climatize myself to a single  (and much smaller income). I am happy to report that though I was lost, now I am found. Mind you, it took some catastrophically major events to open my eyes. It was one of the scariest decisions I ever made, but big pay offs rarely come easily.

My intent is to open your eyes. Don’t let it come down to a life altering or tragic event that finally wakes you up and makes you realize that happiness cannot wait. It will not. It’ll pass you by like all those cactuses  on the drive to Vegas. No one can stop the car but you.

Happeh Happeh Happeh

10 Sep

If you’ve ever noticed a common thread running through any of my posts, it’s happiness. For several months, I’ve had so much on my mind and in my heart. I’ve not been able to get it written down in any comprehensible way for the life of me. Over and over, I type, I write, I talk to myself, trying to get it all out. It dawned on me this morning while I was in the bath tub before heading to work (I wanted to bathe but not get my hair wet….aaaand I maaay have been just a little  too lazy to accomplish that whilst standing up. Don’t judge me) that perhaps i’ve been a little too ambitious by attempting to fit all of my thoughts into a single post.

So now we embark on what has evolved into a journey. At this point, I don’t know how long it’ll take, as I have only just made the decition to spread out my thoughts across several posts this morning. I ask that you stick with me and keep your minds and hearts open.

WRECK IT WEDNESDAY!!! (Issue No. 8)

27 Feb

Welcome, welcome, welcome! Here we are again, my friends, another Wreck it Wednesday. I figure the little traditions that I began not so long ago here on this blog need to be resuscitated. So here I am, attempting to breathe new life into Wednesdays.

In case you lovely people need a refresher on what a Wreck is. A Wreck is when we chat about ways to turn your life upside down. Shake up all those ideas you have about how you’re supposed to live, how you’re supposed to look at the world. Society seems to have rules for everything. But there’s not one person on this planet that should tell you how to live your life. You do not have any obligation to live up to anyone’s expectations or ideals.

Sure, it’d be nice to stroll into Lowes or Home Depot and pick up all the things your heart desires to make your home into that image of perfection from all those magazines and websites you’ve been pouring over. But who has the money these days? An even better question is this: Why in the hell would you want to make your space into an image out of someone else’s imagination?

My best friend wanted a fire pit to add to her new backyard addition. Incidentally, she also wanted the brick planter dismantled. So here’s what I did…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some used/recycled bricks, cheap wood, a few cinder blocks, some spray paint and a little acrylic craft paint…and there you go. A fully functional and entirely customized fire pit, complete with benches. It absolutely doesn’t line up with all those beautiful images I always see on Pinterest and on the magazine racks. Nevertheless, it’s perfect. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Besides, those words painted on the benches pretty much describe the whole reason the fire pit was wanted anyway. To inspire relationships, life, love, faith, happiness and laughter.

That’s what it’s all about, kids. Hope you enjoyed today’s Wreck.

MAKIN’ IT MONDAYS (Issue 3)

25 Feb

Call me a Pinterest addict, that’s fine. It’s true I’m sure. But I’d like to think that I’m more than just a gawker. I don’t see myself as someone who sees a bunch of really cool ideas and doesn’t do anything with them. I also would like to think that I don’t just snake other people’s ideas to take credit for it. No. My creations become a sort of amalgamation of many sources of inspiration: Pinterest, my environment, needs, wants, materials on hand, etc.

Having said that, a lot of the things I make are simply born out of wanting or needing something, but not having the money it would cost to buy it myself. I find myself out at stores sometimes, looking at cool furniture or decor…whatever, and I think to myself, “Why would I pay (insert stupid amount of money here) when this is totally something I can make?” I don’t know if this makes me weird or what, but it’s the way I think. Sue me.

Regardless this Makin’ it Monday is indeed one of those projects born out of not being  willing to pay a bunch of money for something that I could build myself. And besides, this was something my best friend had been wanting for a long time…so we made like a pair of Nikes and just did it.

Here are the supplies, minus the paint, but you get the picture. (Hahaha, see what I did there?) The pallets were free. The sander, the paint brushes and the paint were things we already had laying around. I’m not sure if this makes us weirdo, but whatever.

P.S. I highly recommend that if you’re building something out of pallets and you’re planning on sitting on it….sand first.

Don’t let anyone make you feel like you have to buy a bunch of crap to make you happy. Yes, we spent a little money on this project, I’m not gonna lie. But there’s really no comparison to what we could have spent. And on top of that, every time we sit on it, we always remember the very first time we tried it out: No one was really sure if our craftsmanship was good enough for grown humans to sit on it and not end up on the ground; or worse, end up bringing down the entire frame of the deck we attached it to. It was a blast, and created memories. That’s priceless in my Kelly Blue Book of Life.

There it is. A porch swing out of 2 pallets for the price of some chain, “I” hooks and screws, and a few cushions. Not a bad little Saturday project, I think.

WRECK IT WEDNESDAY!!! (Issue No. 7)

10 Oct

I don’t have any children. A good friend of mine got knocked up and so we began discussing options for nursery decor. The usual came up: Baby Animals, Zoo, etc… I had an idea. Why spend money decorating a room that the baby will quickly out grow? The idea we all settled on was Super Mario Bros. We all love parkin’ our rears on the big comfy couch to play for hours. Sure, I suck big time at Mario Kart, but who cares?

Anyway, being the best friend, I set out to plan the shower. Unfortunately, planning a baby shower and nursery decor with a theme like this is not easy. Things are not, how you say, ready-made and on the shelf at your local Babies-R-Us.

No anything we found was a little too geared for much older children. But that didn’t stop us. Despite the challenge of basically creating everything custom by hand, we refused to be constrained by the meager, run-of-the mill standard offered by baby stores. We hopped right out of that box for this week’s Wreck!

Now, I’m not going to go through these photos and give detailed step by step instructions. That would defeat the purpose of this Wreck.  I want you all to be inspired to not be pigeonholed into a certain way of thinking. After all, that’s why we Wreck in the first place, right? Right. If you would like any information or tips on how these things were constructed and how you might be able to go about doing something similar, I would be very happy to guide you and answer any questions. Just leave me a comment at the end of this post.

THE BABY SHOWER:

The Invitations

I’d just like to add a couple small side notes on these invitations…First, aside from everything excluding the type is hand-made. The triangular shading on those hills were done in sharpie. For 35 invites. 7 lime green sharpies later….

Finally done.

The Shower Decor, etc.

Italian Cream Soda Bar. Genius. Really, if you ever have an Italian themed party, I highly suggest it.

Arts & Crafts time. I set up a table for the guests to decorate onesies. Onesies, puffy paint and iron-ons provided.

The result: Pure Gold.

THE NURSERY DECOR:

Two things here. My mommy made the bumper. She created that wonderful brick pattern and I love her for it. The quilt is my baby. fabric, ribbon and puffy paint (for the faces on the clouds).

I’d like to direct your attention to the bricks on the wall. My pregnant friend did a really great job!

As you can see from the center  of this mobile, it used to have a jungle animal theme. My friend purchased this on Craigslist and I went to work making the characters our of felt, floss and puffy paint…converting it into a SMB masterpiece. (I later switched out the picture for a Mario one)

Everything you see on the wall was hand-made by us.

She even added her own black-out curtains to match  the walls and quilt.

So you can see, with a little creativity and a whole lot of stubbornness, you can create the nursery you’ve always dreamed of. You don’t have to settle for what the stores have all picked out for you.

I sure hope that you enjoyed the Wreck, and I hope it sparks just a little bit of imagination in your life.

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