I have a job interview on Monday! It’s not exactly my dream job, but it’s so much closer than what I’m doing now. I’d be working at a Rental Company, handling their invoicing and accounts receivable, and potentially doing some sales as well. It would be a M-F 9:00-5:00 type of job, with only occasional weekend work and it seems like I would be making enough to only have 1 job. ONE JOB! Can you believe it? I hardly can!
It has caused me a little stress though. If I get the job, I pretty much have to end my career as a wedding planner (for now). I really love the company I work for and I love my brides and grooms, so it’s a tough thing to give up. I’d feel like I was letting so many people down. On the other hand, it would be amazing to leave work at the end of the day and not come home to MORE work. More free time at home means more time for writing, more time for family and friends, and more time for dating. That’s time I can get behind.
I shouldn’t get too caught up. I haven’t been offered the job yet, but it’s impossible not to consider the ramifications. I had planned on taking a photography course at the local community college, but this job would be 20-30 minutes away from my new apartment, so I don’t know if I could make it back to the area in time for the start of the class (6:00). Traffic in the area is not good at rush hour. I realize a new job is way better than a random photography class, but I was looking forward to it.
There’s also the matter of my current day job. While I don’t particularly like it, I do feel like my boss has been very good to me, and I would hate to leave him in a bind. I know (and I’m not saying this out of vanity, but out of pure fact that I do a LOT of stuff that my job description doesn’t require) it would be difficult to replace me quickly, and he’s been having a tough time in the employment department with one assistant having to take a leave of absence/maternity leave when her son was born premature, another assistant about to go on maternity leave, and another employee gave her notice last month. I would really hate to disappoint him.
In the end, I know it’s for the best for me if I get the job, it’s just hard thinking of having to tell those who count on me that they won’t be able to anymore! Okay – I’ll stop worrying until I know if I’ve actually gotten the job!
It took me a while to realize it, but “Saying Yes,” doesn’t mean you always have to wait for someone else to ask the question. Since being dumped by Match.com man, I made a goal to go on at least one date a month for the rest of the year. Great goal, right? I know! Problem is, dating has never come easy to me. Men don’t just fall into my lap. Dates are not easy to come by. I can’t just sit around and wait. In order to meet my goal, I need to get out there and meet new people.
I’ve talked a lot about “saying yes” over the past year. I realized that I need to stop waiting for people to invite me to new experiences. I need to go out and make those new experiences happen. I should be the one inviting my friends out to try new things. I keep saying I want to go back to school, take some classes, learn new things. On Thursday, I received a course catalog from a local community college. I found a beginner’s photography class for only $69 that fits within my work schedule and I’m going to take it. I convinced my writing buddy and her husband to go see a band with me. Okay, maybe I didn’t convince them, but I did invite them and they did go! Last week I invited a couple of friends to go drinking. I’m tired of sitting around being lonely and I’m not going to do it anymore.
Saying yes goes both ways. I’m going to seek out new experiences and I’m going to accept invitations to them. I’m going to live.
It was not easy to be happy today.
I woke up at 7:00, as usual, and as usual, I checked my email first thing. I don’t know why I feel the need to check my email as soon as I wake up, but I do. I had an email from a man I’d been on 3 dates with saying that he didn’t feel a “spark” and that we shouldn’t continue seeing each other. I was utterly baffled, because it had been less than 36 hours ago that we were making out like teenagers on my couch. I’m not sure what happened to the spark, but apparently, it’s gone.
I tried my damndest to be cautious about my feelings for this guy, because I didn’t want to get hurt when it inevitably ended, but our second date was amazing and our rapport seemed so spot on, that I let myself become hopeful. We had just enough in common to keep us talking and just enough not-in-common to keep it interesting. And he was nice. And funny. And shared my devotion to the Oxford comma. And he kissed me first, dammit!
I can’t figure out what went wrong. I don’t think I did anything crazy or desperate or clingy. In fact, I was super careful not to, while still being my amazingly awesome and quirky self. I understand that dates are for “trying people on,” but after that third date, I felt pretty confident that he’d chosen to wear me out of the store. After we watched a movie on my couch, he literally said, “I can’t take this anymore,” and kissed me! He’d been working up the nerve to make a move throughout the ENTIRE movie, then comes back with “There’s no spark.” WTF.
So, yeah, it wasn’t easy to be happy today. I repeated one of the commandments to myself, “Fake it til you make it,” but it didn’t do me much good. All of my co-workers could tell I wasn’t having a good day. I tried to remember, “Laugh more, cry less,” but only succeeded in keeping the tears at bay until 6:00 PM, when I arrived home.
I finally decided to force myself to do something that would make me happy, so I started a new blog. I’m not dropping this one; the new one is under a pseudonym and with a different hosting site and is basically going to be an outlet for my misadventures in dating, love, and (lack-of) sex. I think it’s going to make me very happy. Especially if I can get some readers. Writing the first post made me feel a little better. And writing this makes me feel a little better. Tomorrow I may work on doing some actual writing on my novel. Because that will make me very happy.
I finished The Happiness Project and I’ve been trying really hard to follow my 12 Commandments. I find myself using “Pause. Breathe.” and “Think Friends Before Finances” the most often. I tell myself to “Do it Now” a lot, but I haven’t been great about actually following through on that one yet. So I’m going to try and focus on less frittering and procrastination and more productivity over the next week.
To increase my happiness, in addition to the 12 Commandments, I’ve also decided to focus on being thankful. I wrote a few thank you notes to friends, which I never would have done before, and I made a “Happiness Calendar.” Gretchen talked about doing a one-sentence journal to record things that happened every day, and I loved that idea. I saw on pinterest a calendar in a box with an index card for every day; you use the same cards for several years, writing down a sentence or two about something that happened that day, until your cards are filled up and you have 5-10 years worth of memories. I made my calendar with the plan to use it to record moments that made me happy that day, not just any random thing that happened. Hopefully it will make me more aware of things that make me happy throughout the day.
My boss gave me a $50 Target gift card for my birthday. So, of course, I immediately went to Target and spent more than $50. I’ll talk more about my over-shopping impulses in a minute. On that shopping trip, I bought a book I’d heard about a while ago, “The Happiness Project,” by Gretchen Rubin. I’ve been thinking (or I should have been thinking) about what I need to do to be a happier person. I think for the most part, I’m fairly happy, but there’s a lot of things in my life that I’m disappointed in and this causes me to be grumpy, rude, and a buzzkill at times. The point of The Happiness Project is not to change who you are, but to appreciate who you are and what you have, and this will lead to being happier.
Gretchen divided her happiness project into 11 parts and spent one month focusing on each goal, then the last month evaluating her total progress. She started out by doing a lot of research on happiness and what philosophers, experts, and pop culture personalities believed about happiness. She encourages her readers to take on Happiness Projects of their own and that every individual’s happiness project would be different.
As Gretchen developed her plans for each month, she discovered that (in her words) “some overarching principles started to emerge.” She used these principles to develop her “Twelve Commandments,” or basically the rules she’d let guide her throughout her project.
I probably don’t have the time needed right now to fully develop my own happiness project, but I do want to be happier. I love the idea and so I want to start small, even if I can’t start big. I created my own 12 Commandments and I’m hoping they will help me as I go about my daily life to make better decisions- decisions that will lead to a happier self.
(1) Be Rachel. The first of Gretchen’s commandments was “Be Gretchen,” by which she meant, there’s no point trying to change who you are or what you like, so instead, embrace it! “You can’t choose what you like, but you can choose what you do.” I’m going to follow her example, and Be Rachel. One of my favorite things about myself is the ability to be passionate- about my favorite tv show, amusement parks, orange soda, etc. The essence of “Being Rachel” is being passionate about really random things, so I plan to continue to explore that.
(2) Ask- Do I Need This? I cause myself a lot of unhappiness by spending money on things I want, but don’t really need. I end up broke, struggling to figure out how I’m going to pay rent, or my car payment, or my student loan. It’s okay to splurge on little things every once and a while, but too often, I take that to the extreme. I splurge on one thing, then another, then another, until all of my money’s gone and I’m not even using the things I splurged on. I taped the mantra “Do I need this?” onto my debit card to encourage me to be mindful about every purchase.
(3) Pause. Breathe. I have a bad tendency to roll my eyes and to snap at people. Luckily, I’m not alone in this. Snapping was one of the faults Gretchen most wanted to control in her happiness project, too. From now on, when I get annoyed or find myself losing patience, I’m going to think, “Pause. Breathe.” and hopefully that will save me from doing something I’ll regret later on.
(4) Fake It til you Make It. Gretchen spends a lot of time talking about the concept that if you act happy, you will be happy. I definitely know first hand that this works. I often have to wear a fake smile at work, or use a fake cherry voice, but usually, those fake things fade out and I actually feel happy. Now, whenever I’m having a bad day, I’ll just fake it til I make it.
(5) Move on from mistakes. This is another huge source of unhappiness in my life. I hold on to mistakes for weeks, months. I dwell on them. I feel guilty, I loathe myself. And Gretchen points out that in her research she discovered that other people tend to forget your mistakes rather quickly. So why am I dwelling on them if no one else is? What’s the point? Learn, and move on.
(6) Trust my gut. I recently spent a few weeks texting with a guy who I didn’t really like, but who seemed to really like me. My gut told me that he wasn’t a person I wanted in my life, and he was constantly pressuring me and making me feel guilty about not wanting to do things he wanted me to do. I should have stopped the conversation at the first indication that I didn’t want to be talking to him, but I was flattered by his declarations that I was beautiful and sexy and that he couldn’t stop thinking about me. Now I know, it was also kind of creepy. I deleted his number from my phone.
(7) Think Friends before Finances. This may contradict my earlier commandment to think “Do I Need This?” but actually, it really piggybacks off it. In twenty years, I’ll remember the times I spent with my friends, having fun, experiencing new things, not the fact that I was struggling to pay my bills. Friends are more important than stuff. If I have the opportunity to go out to dinner or to the movies or to a concert, I can spend my money on it, guilt free.
(8) Don’t fritter- Do It Now. “Do It Now” is another of Gretchen’s commandments. I am terrible at “doing it now.” I fritter my time away constantly and then complain that I have no time. I always feel better (and so does Gretchen) when I do something right away, rather than putting it off. For example, I’ve started ironing my work uniforms for the week on Sunday nights. It gives me a few extra minutes in the morning on workdays, which, as I’m not a morning person, is a huge thing. Another example, I’ve left two loads of clean laundry just sitting in my apartment without putting them away. Every time I say, “I’m going to fold and hang my clothes,” I find myself playing on pinterest, or watching TV instead. And the sight of those baskets is a definite source of displeasure in my life. I need to just put the clothes away already!
(9) Say Yes! Obviously this is something I’ve been trying to do for a while now. You can look back at past posts on the blog to see my attempts at “saying yes.” It also ties in with “Think Friends before Finances.”
(10) Food will never make me feel better. I use food as a reward and a source of comfort. But I never feel rewarded or comforted when I eat something bad for me. So I should stop that using food as therapy.
(11) Laugh more. Cry Less. I want to spend more time enjoying life than lamenting it. I love to laugh, but I really don’t do it enough. It’s enough to take pleasure in little things.
(12) Celebrate. It’s important to celebrate even small victories. Life putting away the clothes finally! Or typing a blog post I’ve been putting off for a while. Or actually losing a pound. When I take the time to pat myself on the back for something I’ve achieved, it makes me focus less on things I haven’t achieved. In a strange twist, it also pushes me to do more. “Celebrate” is the capstone of my 12 commandments because when I accomplish any one of them I should celebrate. And celebrations don’t have to be big. They can be as much as doing a little dance, or sharing with a friend that I hit a goal, or taking time to do something that I really enjoy but have been putting off doing because of money (like a massage or a pedicure).
I’m excited to see if these commandments will actually help me lead a happier, more fulfilling life. I’ll let you know.
A writer I really admire said the greatest piece of advice she can give to aspiring writers is to read good literature. And she isn’t the only person I’ve heard/read this piece of advice from. It makes sense: read good literature, learn what works. Read enough good literature and you’ll see patterns, rules, and formulas emerge. When you are first getting started, this is incredibly helpful.
I’ve been a lover of classic literature since my youth. I read Little Women at age 10. Next came Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol. High school introduced me to Pride and Prejudice and my instantaneous love of all things Austen. During college and for several years after, I rarely bought a book unless it was considered a “classic.” (Harry Potter being the obvious exception!) All that changed with those damn Twilight books.
For the record, I read all four books in about a week. Also for the record, I saw immediately the lack of quality in the writing of Twilight, which enhanced my perception of the brilliance of the writing in my beloved classics. To this day, I will tell anyone who asks that, yes, I’ve read Twilight. I will also tell them that I’m not a “fan” of Twilight, but I have to admire Stephanie Myers a little anyways.
The quality of the writing in Twilight is very poor, in my opinion. It’s all adjectives and repetition and teenage angst. However, the plotting- the actual story and the world created- is pretty damn good. I read all four books because even though I was annoyed by the poor writing quality, I was caught up in the story. I wanted to know what happened. It also made me want to write.
Before I read the Twilight books, the only thing I could have compared my own writing to was Austen, Dickens, Eliott, Hardy, etc. How could I compete with such masters of storytelling? I would always find myself lacking. I never even gave writing a thought, and I think that’s why.
But after reading Twilight, I felt confident that I could write something, if not better, than at least AS good. And if Stephanie Myers could write a 4 book series, the least I could do would be to write one book. So I did.
I’m so glad I read the series. It gave me a week’s work of guilty pleasure and a lifetime of satisfaction in knowing that I managed to write a book. My book probably isn’t ever going to be published and while I like it, I can’t testify with any certainty to it’s quality. But that’s not even the point, is it? Knowing that I accomplished something so huge as simply putting the words down on paper and making sense out of them is enough.
I recently started reading another book, which I also find to be lacking in the quality-writing department. Friends kept mentioning the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy to me, insisting that I read it. Like Twilight, I resisted for as long as I could, but eventually my curiosity got the better of me. Unlike Twilight, I was prepared for less-than-stellar writing. I’d read a few reviews and looked up the backstory behind the book (it started out as Twilight Fan Fiction then was self-published. There’s that damn Twilight again). I knew what to expect.
My expectations were met- which isn’t often said for books. The book isn’t bad (so maybe the title of this post should be “Reading Just Okay Books Isn’t a Waste of Time”), it’s just not good. The writing quality is okay, there aren’t any major grammatical errors and it’s easy to read, but it feels forced a lot of the time. The author likes adjectives and repetition, just like Mrs. Myers, and, in my opinion, she likes to sound smart (some of you may question my use of the word “sound” here, maybe you’d like “appear” better?). But in attempting to sound smart, she comes off as the opposite, and frankly it makes me think that she’s trying too hard. Writing should flow, it should feel natural and easy, but as I’m reading it, I can’t help but wonder if she had a dictionary, thesaurus, and medical journal open in front of her at all times so she could find the perfect, intelligent-sounding words for every occasion. I’m only half-way through the book and she’s already used the term “medulla oblongata” TWICE. Really? Is that necessary? I don’t think so (unless you are the Waterboy). Also, her characters “giggle” way too much for 20-somethings.
I worry now that I may be coming off as trying to sound smart, too, so I’ll get to my point. I’m appreciating this book because of it’s writing. I know, that’s confusing, isn’t it? What I mean is, I appreciate seeing all of the things I don’t like because it makes me realize changes I need to make to my own book. I know I still have a long way to go before Twenty-Five is publishable (even self-publishable). I find myself noting similarities between Fifty Shades and Twenty-Five and realizing that I have a lot of editing to do to produce the quality of writing I want representing me.
So I will persevere. I will finish the book. I may even read the whole series. I probably won’t call myself a fan, but I’ll probably like it in the end. Not in the same way I like P&P or Bleak House, but in the same way I like Twilight: as a satisfying-in-the-moment guilty pleasure whose movie(s) will probably be much, much better than the actual book(s). And I’ll continue to allow myself to get talked into reading these trendy books, because just like great literature teaches me how to be great, terrible books teach me how not to be.
in the citizens of my state today. I voted this morning against Amendment 1, and I know a lot of my friends and colleagues did as well, but unfortunately, more people voted for it. When, when America, will you live up to your reputation? When will you stop claiming to be the land of freedom and tolerance and actually become that land?
I’m a single, straight, childless woman. The fact that the passage of this amendment does not directly affect me right now does not make the passage of it any less offensive to me. I’m ashamed. Ashamed to live in a state that would not only consider the creation of such an amendment to our State’s Constitution, but would also pass it in a majority election.
Equality should be for all- not just for those who think and act like one group wants them to.
Have we made no progress since the Civil Rights Movement? Where is our compassion for our fellow man? Our love for him? Our solidarity? What are we so afraid of?