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.
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?
3/17/12 St. Patrick’s Day weekend with my sister and brother-in-law in Charlotte. Had an amazing time drinking and walking around all day (2 things I never do!)
3/19/12 My nephew, Lane, was born! He was a really big baby- 9 lbs 10 oz!
3/24/12 My Brookie got married! Above is the Bridesmaids’ (and Bridesman’s) luncheon. Below is the happy couple.
3/31/12 Altar Ego Fashion Show which featured some gorgeous table designs by your’s truly and a brilliant team of event professionals.
4/3-6/12 Seattle, Baby! My old college buddy, Brittany, and I went to visit my old college roommate, Brad. We saw all the main touristy-type sites, plus Brad knew the best local places to visit to get the true Seattle experience. It was really refreshing to be able to spend time with these people I haven’t seen in years and still feel like we were close. I think that’s something you have with college friends that you don’t really have with people from other times in your life. In college everyone is growing and changing, so it never seems weird that they’ve evolved, you know?
More Seattle pics:
3/31/12 I got the keys to my new apartment! Yay! Finally a place of my own. I didn’t really move into it until after I got back from Seattle, though, and I’m still steadily working on making it a home. There’s a lot of stuff I need/want, but the best part about it is my brand new, grown up bed!
I’ve also been busy planning weddings and my sister’s baby shower:
So I hope you’ll forgive me for being MIA!
Days keep passing. My life moves on every moment. And I feel like I’m missing out. I feel like I’m missing out on THE fundamental experiences of life.
I’ll turn 28 years old in three months. It sounds young, but it doesn’t feel young- especially not for a woman. Think about it- the potential for pregnancy complications and birth defects increases dramatically at age 35, which means I need to have children in the next seven years. And even though that sounds like a fairly decent amount of time, you have to consider the time necessary to meeting, dating, and marrying the man who would be the father of my children. Because, I’m sorry, but I’m not a person who would be strong enough to raise a child on my own. Suddenly, seven years doesn’t feel like that much time, does it? I think about my sister and her husband. They started dating in high school and got married when they were 21. He turned 30 this past November and she’ll turn 30 in four days. They are expecting their first child in June. Nine years of marriage, and almost 12 years together- that’s what they got before they had children. And they still have plenty of time to have more kids if they want to.
But I’ll never have that. It’s impossible. I know not all relationships are the same. Every person is different- no one has the same path in life. I don’t know exactly how to put it, but it makes me sad – that kind of relationship was NEVER a possibility for me. It’s unfair.
I’m turning 28 in three months and I’m not just upset that I haven’t had kids or a long term relationship. What bothers me the most is never loving at all. And never being loved. In Twenty-Five, Abigail told Ben that no one had ever made her feel pretty, that no one had ever cared about her, or even liked her. That’s me. It’s a true for me now as it was three years ago when I wrote it. I can’t figure out why. It seems so incredibly unfair to me. I can’t understand what I’ve done to deserve going through life completely alone. Unless you’ve gone 28 (or more) years completely single- you have no idea, no idea whatsoever how it feels. I can’t even describe it really. Some days I’m fine. It doesn’t even register on my radar that I’m a single person. Other days, everything reminds me that no one loves me, and at this point, the likelihood that anyone ever will seems to be steadily decreasing. You can’t imagine how that kind of thing affects your self-worth and overall happiness.
The absolute worst part of it is that I have no one I can really talk to about it. The few people I have in my life who do genuinely care about me don’t understand, no matter how much they try to. Comments like, “It’s better to be with nobody than with the wrong person,” are not helpful. Getting advice on dealing with being single from a person who hasn’t been single since they hit puberty is not helpful. I appreciate the thought, but it doesn’t make me feel any better.
So many instances have happened recently to bring on this onslaught of self-pity. I’ll mention the two that are most prominent in my mind. I was at a meeting a couple of days ago with a couple and their officiant, planning their wedding ceremony. The officiant asked them to share something personal about themselves to be included in the address and they mentioned their belief that one of the great things about marriage is having someone who is always your fan: someone who cheers you on and supports you no matter what. The officiant likened it to being each other’s # 1 fan. I teared up a little during the meeting, it was so sweet. Then later, thinking back on it, I teared up again, realizing that I had no one who could claim to be my biggest fan, and no one I could claim to be their biggest fan.
The second instance happened during the St. Patrick’s Day Bar Crawl I went on with my (other) sister and her husband. At some point in the evening, my brother-in-law told a story about how he once almost punched a guy my sister hugged while they were out at a bar. Apparently, she used to date the guy, and my bro-in-law was drunk and jealous. I know girls aren’t supposed to want their men to be jealous, but a little bit of envy shows passion. And once again, no one has ever felt that kind of passion for me (nor have I felt it for anyone else).
This post probably makes me sound crazy. At least, if you are a guy, you are jumping to that conclusion. I don’t know- maybe I am a little insane, but I don’t think I am in a bad way, and truth be told, I think guys like to use the “crazy woman” explanation any time a woman behaves in ways they can’t (or won’t try to) understand.
I don’t expect to accomplish anything by writing this, except maybe a little relief. I know it’s not the first time I’ve indulged my sadness and bemoaned singledom via the blog, so for those of you who have read through it more than once, thank you and I’m sorry.
If my life were a movie, here’s how last weekend would have gone:
I would have dreaded going to the 3-day conference about the unique technology we use at the office where I work in a job I’m way over-qualified for. Because the conference really had nothing to offer me- I’d be leaving this job I’m way over-qualified for soon. But I’d put a smile on my face and cheer in my voice and go along with the seemingly pointless classes and group activities. At the end of the first day, I’d carefully curl my hair, apply fresh makeup, and slip into my brand new dress to attend the opening night welcome reception along with my co-workers. While saving a table in the over-crowded hotel restaurant, I’d spot two very cute young men at the next table over, and being bold, would walk over and introduce myself. We’d laugh, flirt a little, then I’d rejoin my party and the cute boys would have spent the rest of the evening thinking what a cool chick they’d just met.
The next day, I’d go to more classes, say fabulously witty things to all the conference presenters, and get an email from one of the graduate schools I’d applied to saying they’d made a decision regarding my application. I’d bite the nails for the rest of the day, just waiting until we had a long enough break for me to check the school’s graduate website to see if I’d been accepted. Finally, finally! the classes would be over for the day- I’d rush up to my room, log into the site and Yes! I got in! They wanted me! Armed with new confidence and excitement for the future- I’d get ready for the huge sports-themed party the conference was throwing. Hair curled again, makeup re-applied again, and skinny jeans plus totally awesome black and pink Bowling shirt. I’d enter the party with my co-workers, head held high, wondering when it would be appropriate to tell my boss that I’d be leaving for school in August. The first person I see is one of the cute boys from the night before. He’s dressed as an old-timey football player, complete with leather helmet, and he looks adorable. He slyly makes his way over, looks at me with that “Hey, I recognize you,” look, and slowly says, “Rachel?” I grin, and say back, “Joshua?”
Somehow, Joshua and I end up talking away from my group. He offers to get me a drink. We spend most of the party talking and dancing and as things are winding down, he walks me to my room and kisses me goodnight. I can’t believe this is happening- the best news of my life on the same day as the best kiss of my life.
The next day, we spend as much time talking together as conference demands will allow. He’s working, I’m attending. I tell him about getting into school, and he’s impressed by my intelligence. When the conference ends later that day, he insists on getting my number and email address- the long distance doesn’t matter, he wants to keep getting to know me. A few days later, he’d show up unexpectedly in North Carolina at my office with a bouquet of flowers and the insistence that he knew we had a once-in-a-lifetime connection.
My life is not a movie.
What actually happened:
I was kinda looking forward to the conference. I’d never been to Dallas (where it was being held), and hey, anything is better than answering the phone all day long. And for the record- I didn’t have to answer the phone a single time while I was at the conference. Also for the record- we didn’t leave the hotel once while we were in Dallas. So I might as well have been in North Carolina.
At the end of the first day, I did indeed curl my hair, re-apply my makeup, and put on a brand new dress I actually bought for a rehearsal dinner for my friend’s wedding, but wanted to test out somewhere not as important to make sure I actually liked the way it looked and was comfortable enough to wear all night. When we got to the reception, I did hold a table for our group, and I did introduce myself to the two cute guys at the table behind ours. We talked for a few minutes, the other guy, Jason, was the one I was initially attracted to, but the next night, he seemed kinda douche-baggy. But anyways. After a few minutes of (probably badly-executed on my part) flirting, I returned to my group and the boys returned to theirs. I wondered for the rest of the evening if I’d get to talk to them again, they joined a table of “Woohoo” drunk girls who insisted on shouting and singing random songs for the remainder of the reception. Joshua did shake my hand again and say it was nice meeting me as we (my group and I) were leaving.
The next day, as I sat waiting for the first class of the day to start, I checked my email and saw a new message from one of the schools I applied to: a decision had been made about my application and could be found on their website. I couldn’t check the website on my phone because the password I needed was upstairs in my hotel room. So, I had to sit through 6 or 7 hours of classes just waiting, waiting, waiting. When I was finally dismissed, I went straight to my room, located the password in my red notebook, logged on and… Found rejection. A form letter. I didn’t get in. I figured I should check the other schools’ websites while I was at it, even though they hadn’t sent me any kind of notification. Another rejection from the second school. I didn’t get in. And the third school hadn’t posted anything. I started crying while my roommate showered. I laid down on my bed and cried and cried. When I heard the water shut off, I sat up, wiped my face, and tried to compose myself. I started ironing my awesome bowling shirt, then offered to iron hers. I curled my hair. She left to help one of our co-workers with makeup. I cried some more. Then re-applied my makeup and changed into my outfit. By the time I went downstairs to meet the rest of my group, I managed to pull myself together and my eyes weren’t nearly as bloodshot as they could have been.
Joshua did approach me when we entered the party. He was an adorable old-time football player with adorable leather helmet. But he never offered to get me a drink, and while we did talk away from my group for a few minutes and we did dance for a few minutes, he spent just as much time with me as he did with everyone else there. He certainly didn’t walk me to my hotel room and he most definitely didn’t kiss me goodnight.
The next morning, he was moderating the very first class I walked into. I did not know he’d be there- I didn’t choose that class because I thought he’d be there. He greeted me by name again, but then he had to work and I had to listen. We kept running into each other throughout the day and it felt flirty and nice and I thought, maybe- maybe he likes me. I also thought, maybe he’s just really good at networking. At the end of the conference, we shook hands, said it was nice to meet each other, and “hey, maybe I’ll see you at next year’s conference.” We didn’t exchange any contact information.
When I arrived back in North Carolina, my bag did not. It decided to stay in Dallas.
I tried to find Joshua on facebook, but couldn’t.
I still haven’t heard back from school # 3, but I’m not keeping my hopes up.
I like the movie version a lot better.
I’ve been thinking about this off and on for the last several months. The nice guy. Why does he get such a tough break in the dating scene? I was recently an audience member at a comedy club and the opening comedian talked about this- how he often was rejected by women and given the explanation, “You’re just too nice.” He asked the crowd if that is really possible. My immediate reaction? YES.
How is it possible to be too nice? It seems like a ridiculous thing to say, I know, but I can’t help but feel it’s truth. And here’s why. In my (limited, I’ll grant) experience, a lot of guys are nice, but I don’t refer to them all as “nice guys.” If the only way I can think to describe a man is “nice,” then he is just too nice. If nice is the only descriptor I can come up with, then he isn’t showing me anything else. He isn’t displaying any passions or any flaws. And those are two very critical things I need in a man. I personally don’t want to be with a guy I feel I’m always going to get along with, or who always lets me have my way. Guys who are “too nice” present absolutely no challenge, and therefore, no fun.
And that doesn’t mean I’m not looking for a nice guy, because believe me, I am, but a nice guy (as opposed to too nice) is someone who treats women with respect, honesty, and consideration WHILE ALSO holding his own ground in opinions, interests, and other relationships.
So, for all the guys out there living with that “too nice” cloud hovering over your heads, my advice to you is to think about what a woman is really saying when she gives you that reason. It doesn’t mean she wants you to ignore her phone calls and texts, call her mean names, break plans, and sleep with other women. It means she needs a man who can speak for himself. Who isn’t afraid to disagree, who lives his own life with his own hobbies and friends. She wants a nice guy who is also an interesting guy. You may be those things, but you probably aren’t showing them. And if you are, and she’s still not feeling it, then the chemistry just isn’t there, and she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings (but at least she gave you a reason, instead of not returning your last phone call).
I continued my Saying Yes to Life campaign last night by spending the Halloween weekend in Charlotte with my sisters and their husbands. Here’s my costume- it was definitely outside of my comfort zone!
And yes, in case you were wondering, I did have a few people actually pay me for kisses, and I gave some away for free! I’ve never been the type of girl to go all slutty on Halloween, and I think this was a great compromise! I had a blast hanging out with my sisters and bros-in-law; I always forget how much I laugh when I’m around them.
So, here’s to kissing strangers and spending time with family, and laughing my ass off. Saying yes is working
It drags along
Behind its brothers
Wanting to give assistance
But unable to
Yet is neglected
When its brothers
It tries to
Pull some weight
But is never successful
Its brothers cry,
“We don’t need your help
So just enjoy the ride.”
But it doesn’t
Enjoy the ride
Feels left out