Tag Archives: Finding Happiness

Happiness: To Me, From Me

This post might make me sound a little pathetic…and maybe I am, a little bit. If you read my super personal post the other day, you’ll know that I rely on the opinion of others a bit too heavily. I also rely on other people as my main source of happiness a bit too much. Not saying that I can’t be happy on my own, but there are definitely times and situations where I feel like I can only be happy if X does Y. Whether it’s a friend inviting me to hang out or texting me back, a family member surprising me for dinner or a crush flirting with me, I’ve gotten into the bad habit of letting my happiness come from someone else, instead of creating it from within myself and letting any other source of happiness be a bonus, a complement, to what I create.

This might not make a lot of sense or it might make me seem like a really weird (which is accurate) and slightly sad (hopefully not true) individual. But considering my heart is a bit confused and not exactly whole at the moment, by being really sad over that, I’ve realized how much happiness came from that person…and I’m struggling a little bit to create my own happiness without them.

I realize this is something I need to work on. No matter what type of relationship you’re in, you should never rely on someone that much; to be the main source of your happiness. It puts too much pressure on them, it hurts you when you lose them and suddenly struggle to be happy and, honestly, it isn’t exactly healthy. Happiness should come from within you. Same goes for self-worth, which I also put in the hands of others too often. A friend told me that my affirmations of worth need to come from within me, not from other people. By doing that, it makes it easier for others to see how much value I truly have, instead of me struggling to find any value at all when relationships and friendships become complicated or confusing. I loved that advice. It was really eye-opening.

Obviously, I won’t be making any big mental changes in a day. I’ve had a lot of eye-opening moments recently and I still have a long way to go in becoming the person I want to be. But I wanted to try and remind myself that I can be happy no matter what life throws at me; no matter how lonely I feel sometimes, wishing I was in a committed relationship or missing my friends and family. So below, I wrote out a list of things that I can do to make me happy. As a reminder that I can, indeed, be happy alone. Might be cheesy, might be weird, that I’m posting this, but if I didn’t write this post, this list would never get written. And I think I need it.

So, without further ado:

Happiness To Me, From Me

  1. Trying out a new recipe.
  2. Cooking in general–and that full feeling you get after eating a good meal.
  3. Reading outside.
  4. Feeling the sweat drip down my face as I run.
  5. Getting my first dog someday.
  6. Buying a house! (I’m oddly really excited to do this.)
  7. Writing.
  8. Creating characters and worlds and challenges.
  9. Leveling up in a video game.
  10. Crossing things off of my To-Do List.
  11. Writing letters.
  12. Listening to a song that perfectly encapsulates your mood.
  13. That perfect fall weather.
  14. Wearing outfits that make me feel like a BAMF.
  15. Getting tattoos.
  16. A really hot bath.
  17. Finally working through that plot hole.
  18. Cliffhanger endings.
  19. Leaving the windows open during a thunderstorm.
  20. A clean house.
  21. Really good smelling candles.
  22. Eating popcorn and ice cream during a good movie.
  23. Buying a new outfit or book.
  24. Sleeping in on the weekend–or waking up feeling totally rested.
  25. Painting my nails.
  26. Nailing the side braid with my hair.
  27. Spending the entire day outside.
  28. Reading by the pool.
  29. Going on a walk without headphones and listening to nature.
  30. Having a really productive day.
  31. Clocking out before the weekend.
  32. Nerding out about Tolkien.
  33. Writing in coffee shops.
  34. Finally beating that boss (in video games) you’ve been stuck on for weeks.
  35. Decorating the home.
  36. Eventually planting my own garden!

I had no idea how long the list would turn out to be–and that’s just a list of things that I can do alone to create happiness for myself. It’s not complete. I’m sure there are other things I’ll think of. And that doesn’t even include things I can do with other people.  Don’t get me wrong: I really, really love hanging out with other people. And I love how much joy I get from spending time with those that mean the most to me. There’s no plan to stop doing that (though, as I’ve gotten a little bit older, I have found that those moments are harder to come by, so I’m alone more often than anything else). But I just wanted to write down something, to remind myself that while loving others and finding happiness with them is fantastic, that can’t be my only source. Instead, my main source has to come from me, so that no matter what I go through in life, I still know how to be happy–even if it’s hard sometimes.

Cheers.

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Quest for Happiness: Week Two

qfh

Let’s jump right into it, shall we?

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Go to the gym. Once.
    • Status: Success! I didn’t leave myself any room for error on this one. Tuesday was the first day I had time to go to the gym. When I got home, in-between jobs, I changed clothes, ate lunch and then headed straight there. By the time I walked in, it was too late to give into anxiety or fear what would happen once I arrived. And I surprised myself by actually loving it…and going two more days, making it three in a row for week one.
  • This Week’s Goal: Four days in a row!
    • Definitely doing babysteps. Eventually, I hope to be going five days a week, 45 minutes a day, and incorporating a healthier diet, counting calories (potentially), tracking water and mixing up my fitness routine. But for now, going one more day to the gym than I did last week is a good step forward.

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit three books, write four new books and query at least one.
  • Last Weeks Goal: Write three times a week on BLOOD PRICE and outline another novel.
    • Status: Partial Success! I did end up writing three times last week (twice for almost an hour when the goal was 30 minutes and once for only 10 minutes but that is better than nothing). And I got to the point where I’ll be doing more new writing and reworking than I will be editing previously written stuff, so I’m really stoked about that. Didn’t outline another novel. So guess what I’m doing this week?
  • This Week’s Goal: Write four times. Outline novel.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Read every night before bed.
    • StatusSorta? I read four days last week, usually during meals and cranking out 60~ pages per session. Yet I never read before bed, because I was just too dang tired once I got off work. Plus, reading Lynch requires my devout attention, not sneaking in a few more pages with heavy eyes.
  • This Week’s Goal: Finish The Lies of Locke Lamora.

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Try out new blogging schedule and see if it works.
    • Status: Partial Success! I do really like the new blogging schedule, but I missed it by one blog post for each blog. I think, as the routine grows, I’ll be able to keep it up, but it was a nice trial run week.
  • This Week’s Goal: Write three blog posts for each blog.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Balance checkbook for the week.
    • StatusFailed. While I did manage to save receipts to track spending, I definitely didn’t write anything down and actually balance my checkbook. I could blame it on forgetting my pen at home and not having one in my purse, but…
  • This Week’s Goal: Actually balance checkbook. Talk to manager at second job about keeping consistent hours.

For the first week, not a bad start! I really like the routine I got going, even though it has me going nonstop Monday through Friday, making it hard to squeeze in anything else. I loved that I was able to jump over some mental hurdles (making it the gym, writing words on the page again) and prove to myself that all of these goals–even the ones I fell short completing last week–are all very, very possible and achievable. It’s simply a quest to get there.

And I’m stoked to be adventuring.

Onward to Week Two!

Cheers.


2017: Questing to Know Myself and Choose Happiness

Christmas is less than a week away, with the New Year skittering close after its heels. Though it might seem a bit early for a resolution-like post, when the mood to write strikes you, you ignore it at your own peril. I say “resolution-like” because I can already tell that I’m not going to have a nice, neat list for of goals I want to accomplish, like I have in the past. Quite frankly, I have one true goal, one resolution. It isn’t a new one, but simply a reaffirmation and a refocusing of something that I always want to strive to achieve. The start of another year is the perfect time to remind myself exactly what I want and how to achieve it.

Happiness and self-love.

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24 is a really weird age. I have more bills than I do fingers. Everything I was “certain” and “planned” to do, I’ve already done, i.e., finish school, go to college and graduate. I’m now in this mixed stage of floundering and survival, where I have goals and dreams, of course, but no longer is my path set in stone like it was whilst I was still in school. Now, more than ever, I have a lot of control in not how how my life is lived, but where my priorities lie, how my time is spent, how my values rank and where I want to steer my life.

That is both liberating and terrifying.

And on an average day, I’m pretty content. I currently average roughly 55-60 hours a week between working two jobs. One job lets me scrape by paying my bills. The other job is strictly going into savings, all of it to be used as funding for my trip to London in the fall with my Mom (and I can already tell you that trip is going to be the highlight of 2017). I’m lucky that I enjoy both jobs and the people that I work with. And though it turns into long days, I’m glad that I am being more proactive, even if my downtime has been cut down and my anxiety of never completing my To-Do List has risen because of it.

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I have two goals to help maximize my happiness surrounding my work life: stay more on top of my finances and create a weekly routine and goal list, and stick with it. I need to order a box of checks (considering the last time I bought checks was in middle school) and get a fresh balance sheet for both my checking and savings account and then form a solid habit of tracking what I spend and earn. I get easily stressed about money. And though I know I’m doing fine–I could definitely be struggling more–this stress certainly takes a hit at my overall happiness. If I was more aware of what was going on with my bank account, I think my stress of not having enough would definitely lessen. Plus, this isn’t a bad habit to form in any sense.

I also want to create a routine/schedule that I follow Monday through Friday, probably pretty rigidly. On top of two jobs, I also have freelance editing work, an internship and two free 14-week online classes over Tolkien to balance. And we’re not even factoring in normal health routines (showering, eating, etc.), my personal writing or editing, or my commitment to working out. Life is busy. And I get pretty bummed when I get into writing funks or don’t go to the gym or don’t read for a few days and I know it’s simply because I haven’t managed my time properly. So this week, I plan to map out a schedule that I stick to, with work and eating and things, and a weekly goal list of other things I’d like to accomplish not at a set time; and tape both up by my calendar, so I see them every day. By staying on top of everything during the week, my weekends will be guilt-free days for general laziness, video games or socializing (if this soul stuck in a work cave can actually navigate back to the sunlight that is having a life).

I’m also happiest when I’m writing. Not only writing, but writing consistently. If anything positive came out of 2016, it is definitely that I learned that no matter how busy I am, I can always make time to write and when I do, the results are stunning. I have a lot of projects I need to edit and new ones I want to write next year (but that will be a separate blog post, coming your way soon). These past two months, any excuse I’ve found to not put writing first, I’ve used. There’s no better time than January 1st to recommit to my craft and fall in love with writing again.

Speaking of falling in love, that’s also something I wouldn’t mind doing–both with someone else and with myself. But I can only control one of those and that is my attitude towards myself. Which, honestly, is my biggest focus for 2017–even more so than writing, which shows you how serious I am about this. The biggest way I know I can help myself learn to love myself fully is to pick up working out regularly again. During the fall, I ran for five weeks straight and it felt amazing. And even with so little time, I saw how much my body was changing and I loved it. I could look in the mirror and not cringe (compared to the four weeks after that spurt where every time I pass the mirror, I try to avoid catching my reflection). Even if my body wasn’t changing, I generally just feel happier, more accomplished and proud on days where I work out compared to days that I don’t. This week, I bought a pass to the gym–another sign of how serious of a commitment this is to me, because that pass, while I can afford, I can barely do so. It’s right across the street from where I live and I can squeeze in a workout in-between jobs. So after the holidays, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

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Of course, then there’s all the little things I hope to do throughout the year. Like rebuild my wardrobe to reflect my personality and style better. Get one or two more tattoos before London. Read a lot more books. Amp up my blog commitments to the three blogs that I contribute to and/or run. Query by the summer. Get my haircut regularly. After London, depending on the job, financial and timing situations, I want to look into renting my first little house, save up for a puppy and potentially getting back into the dating scene, if I’m not in it already. Do more weekend roadtrips. Collect more nerdy decor for whatever home I’m in. Find a single job that’s full-time.

And on and on and on and on…

Basically, for 2017, though this phrasing is going to make it sound pretentious, selfish or even potentially arrogant, I want it to be a year about me. Not in the I’m-the-center-of-the-universe-watch-me-flaunt-it kind of way, but in the I-recognize-my-own-value-and-worth-and-am-putting-that-first kind of way. I’m looking to grow, to discover and explore my own personality, to improve yet also be content with exactly the person I’ve crafted myself to be. Because if there was any time in my life where I had control to be exactly who I wanted and shape myself to be exactly the person I desire to be, the time is now. And I’d love your support along the way. 🙂

Wrap-Up List:

  • Start balancing checkbook regularly.
  • Create a weekly routine and stick with it.
  • Recommit to writing goals and stick with them.
  • Workout for 45 minutes 5 days a week.
  • Take care of me.

Well look at that. Apparently I came up with a goals list, after all.

Any goals, mindset changes, reaffirmations or new risks that you’d like me to cheer you on regarding? Hit me up in the comments about what these are and exactly how I can best support you and let’s hit 2017 with grins, positivity and the determination to not only love ourselves, but also change the freakin’ world.

Cheers.


Thankful for Failure: A Change in Life Paths

I’m not very good at the whole timing thing. I meant to write a Thanksgiving post and be cheesy in declaring what I had been thankful for this year. Of course, it is now December and I have completely switched gears to Christmas (only 21 days!). But it doesn’t change what I’m thankful for, especially as this year, it is a little bit different than my usual list.

This year, I’m thankful for failure.

I know, it’s a weird thing to say after I graduated from my dream university and then got into grad school last minute. And, in a week, I’ll be able to say that I officially survived a semester in grad school. However, in a week, I will also be able to say that I am no longer in grad school.

Yes, this is also (well, mainly) an announcement post that I’m withdrawing from grad school. Some people know, but now, anyone who wants to know can find out (and read so much more than they would ever care to know about it).

I have a lot of mixed emotions concerning this decision. I was super stoked to get into grad school. I got into a quaint–but very well run and awesome–university at a small town in the middle of nowhere, roughly 12 hours from home. I got accepted in late June, so I had to scramble to get enrolled, find an apartment, get everything figured out to teach a freshmen comp course, along with everything else that went into it. It was stressful, but I was excited. Finally getting everything arranged near the deadlines was a relief and the move itself was fun, even if it had bumps along the way. I moved into my first apartment, which, like so many aspects of my life, had character (that character being it was located between a trailer park and a truck stop, it didn’t have a/c or heat or a stove, it was 300 square feet, etc., etc.). I did have a killer landlord, though, and it was relatively quiet. My parents helped a ton to get it decorated and feel as close to homey as a box could feel. My Dad left, I went through colloquium to prepare for teaching and then grad school got underway.

It started out fine; stressful, but fine. But as the semester went on, the things got tougher, eventually to the point where I decided to withdraw. But before I describe my reasons behind this decision, I do want to say that this was the most terrifying and hard decision that I’ve made in a long time. I thought that by “quitting” or “dropping out” (notice how I always say withdrawing instead of dropping out? The term itself makes me cringe) that I had become a failure. And the worse part was, I was so concerned how everyone else would react. I worried about the disappointment of my family and friends, the whispers from my colleagues and cohort and the university, and the labels that would suddenly be placed upon me: failure; dropout; quitter; as well as the rumors that would start: “She’s just not cut out for it,” “She quit because it was too difficult,” “This decision will be a huge setback in her life.” Funny thing is, when I told a few people of my decision, I was met with nothing but support. Quite often, actually, I was labeled as having courage to recognize my own needs and take a leap of faith by withdrawing, instead of sticking it out for the next two years. Courage: me! That, honestly, shocked me. And this doesn’t reflect that I misjudged those people in my life, but instead, the high, impossible standards that I hold myself to. All of those fears I had about people’s reactions, were only present because they were beliefs I already held about myself. In my decision, I knew I was a failure. How could everyone else not see the same thing?

I was wrong.

I have a lot of reasons for leaving. A major one is that I sorta freaked as graduation crept up. I didn’t have a plan as to what I wanted to do next. The plan was always: go to college, graduate. Afterwards? I’d deal with it once it reached me. Well, it did, and I still wasn’t prepared. So I frantically applied to grad schools. I didn’t know where I wanted to work or what job I wanted, but I knew I was good at school. Why not just keep going? I loved to learn. Why not try my hand at teaching? Everyone said I would be good at it. I think getting accepted late–after getting rejected everywhere else–wasn’t be best first step, especially as I originally got rejected into this school, as well. Everything felt rushed, I was so unprepared, and I was one of only a small handful of students that hadn’t already met and connected through orientation. Because all the spots were filled, I lived on the outskirts of town instead of being close to campus, like most others. And, frankly, because I stayed pretty reserved during the beginning as I transitioned, I didn’t make the effort necessary to truly become great friends with the awesome people of my cohort. And that is something that, regardless of where I am heading now, I do truly regret. That opportunity was truly missed and the blame for it falls completely on my shoulders.

But, as the semester continued on, I realized that I hadn’t understood what I signed up for. I thought that, with my Masters, I could teach at a university (which, if I did teach, I would much rather teach at the university level than the high school level). Wrong: you really need a Doctorate for that. At best, you can be an adjunct and get shitty benefits (if any), terrible pay in regards to the workload and not as much respect from your peers. I have no interest in a Doctorate. At all. And it was quickly becoming apparent that a Masters is slowly becoming more of a stepping stone for a Doctorate than its own credible degree. Then, with the courses I was taking, pedagogy and theory were on the list, neither of which I was interested in at all. And, through my own lack of research, I realized that my new university might not have been the best place to go to study my particular field and interest, as the entire year lacked any specifics of what I wanted to learn. Looking towards the future, I also realized that I didn’t want to deal with the politics I was discovering, that surrounds the life in academia. Perhaps selfishly, perhaps naively, I didn’t want to be required to publish scholarly articles to deem myself as “credible” in the eyes of my peers and a university. All I wanted was to teach students to love literature and learn from it; be an inspiration to students like so many teachers and professors had been to me. I wanted to be a nerd and use my passion to ignite a joy of learning in others. That’s it. None of the bullshit that surrounding teaching. I just wanted to teach. But the loopholes and the politics blocking the path to that goal was, frankly, just too much for me to handle at this point in my life.

There were other factors, too. Though it sounds silly, living in a place where it snows all the time and has consistent frigid temperatures (plus a winter season that lasts longer than any I’ve ever heard of) isn’t the ideal place for me. While appearing trivial, I think it does matter. Living 12 hours away from home was a lot harder than I originally thought. Though I still do plan to move out of Kansas eventually (living abroad for an extended amount of time is still one of my dreams/plans), right now, I think being close to home will help. Not to mention my mental health deteriorated to the worst point it has been at since I was in high school–and those were some dark times, for me. I was experiencing bouts of loneliness and depression and self-loathing that I had kept at bay for a long time. Their return honestly frightened me, especially because of their strength. And, quite bluntly, I realized that I was just tired of school. I was tired of the ridiculous amounts of homework and feeling guilty for playing on the PS3 when I should have been reading Berlin. I was tired of writing papers (academic papers; my creative writing is in full swing) and stressing about grades. I had already graduated with a 3.75 GPA. Hadn’t I proven myself enough?

Also, I hated feeling like I “wasn’t a writer.” I got rejected to every MFA (Masters of Fine Arts, i.e., creative writing) program I applied to and I barely got into this MA program. But I didn’t want to be labeled as an academic over a writer, yet almost always, that was the case. And when I called myself a writer, sometimes I was met with disdain or scorn, as if I was stepping into territory I didn’t belong. Except that I do. I’m a writer first, foremost and always. I will never need a degree to prove that. Frankly, I don’t need to be published, either.

Of course, there were things that I loved, too: after getting over my fears and stresses of teaching, I absolutely loved it. I was blessed with a great class filled with amazing, bright, hilarious, awesome students. If not for them, I would have left grad school back when I made this decision, over a month ago. My kids–as I have nicknamed them–kept me here and they will be the connection I always have with this university. There are good memories I have with some of the friends I made: going to see a friend play in a band; ranting about 1010 issues; friends meeting with me at a bar so I could see the Royals game (as I lacked cable); the parties we had earlier in the semester where everyone got to know one another; connecting with the amazing family I dogsit for (and that pup…goodness).

I wasn’t miserable all of the time, not at all. But I was miserable enough, and in such large doses, that I realized that despite my fears, despite what others may think or how they may respond or label me, that the best move, right now, was to leave and change paths. Ever since I made that decision, I don’t think I’ve cried myself to sleep a single night. That definitely wasn’t the case prior. Of course, I’ve questioned if I made the right call, especially on the good days. But I have to be confident with it. I have to trust myself and my gut.

So yes, I’m leaving grad school. Knowing me, I’ll prolly end up with my Masters degree eventually. Who knows when (or if) or from where. As far as the next step goes, I’m not 100% sure. But I am certain of one thing: the goal that I have always carried with me has not changed. Whatever I do, happiness is the #1 priority. I got a degree in Creative Writing and Film not for the financial benefits (Lord, no) or because of the potential job market. I pursued my degree because I loved it. Writing and film are my passions. I pursued them. Getting a job can’t be different. Not for me. I know too many people who are miserable in their jobs and they can’t get out. And many of them, the sacrifices they make working those jobs are some that I will always respect and never repay. But I want to be happy. If that means I’m poor and work three jobs at different bookstores, then so be it. If that means I have to continue jumping between different life paths, then so be it. I’ve battled too hard and too long to end up being miserable.

This year, I’m thankful for failure. In my semester of grad school, I failed–legitimately–more times than I can recount in living memory, both in school and in my job and in adjusting to living on my own and in my writing. But I learned a lot from it, too. I learned that I can survive: I made it through a semester of grad school, despite battling demons and failing often. One professor told me, upon learning that I was leaving, to not abandon it forever. I definitely had the chops for it (which meant a lot, coming from him, as his class was my absolute hardest). I successfully taught (taught being a debatable term, here) a freshmen English class. A librarian told me, after giving a presentation to my students and I, that he had never seen a grad student connect so well with their students yet still remain an air of professionalism and control. That meant the world. And my students have always had my back, which I can also never express my gratitude for. I lived on my own for a semester: paid bills, lived paycheck to paycheck, attempted to learn how to cook. I survived.

I learned a lot about myself through this experience. In many ways, I need to improve and grow. But in plenty of other ways, too, I’m doing just fine. Thanks for the memories and the hardships, grad school. Up next? I definitely don’t know. But I am utterly stoked to find out.

Cheers.