Tag: Happiness

Scheduling Happiness

On Monday I got the chance to go to an early screening of the new holiday film Love the Coopers.  It’s not a good movie.  In fact, in many ways it is a very terrible film but I had an ok time watching it.  Here’s my review:

One of the things I liked in the film is this idea of scheduling happiness that happens during the holidays.  I’ve felt that a little bit the last few years.  When I was a kid I loved the holidays because they were happening to me and the magic of the season was easy to latch onto.  As an adult that magic usually takes a lot of effort and has to be planned out.  It’s like I am saying “this Thursday I will be happy.  Let’s schedule it in”.  I don’t think during other times of the year I have such a weighted expectation of achieving happiness in all my plans.

It’s not that I expect to be miserable during the rest of the year’s goings-on but usually it’s more a more neutral every day form of happiness that is anticipated.  I go to a movie, meet a friend for lunch, attend a birthday party.  All pleasant experiences but not a highlight of the year.  During the holidays pleasant somehow feels like a letdown.  Does this make sense to any of you?

Last year I was basically alone on Christmas which was a little bit sad.  I am sure there is someone out there that likes to be alone on the holidays but the vast majority of us think of it as a time to be with family/friends.  I did have Christmas Eve with family and Christmas brunch with friends but most of the day I was alone.  The thing is it actually ended up feeling like any other day and you know what- that was a relief.  It was just a day off from work and not that different from 4th of July.  Perhaps it was being so horribly sick the year before I just allowed myself to have an ordinary day on Christmas day.

I think there might be something to this.  Instead of scheduling and planning happiness just allowing Christmas to be more of an ordinary day.  That way when the joys of the season come they feel unexpected and give us even more happiness than if we planned them out.  I know I might miss out on some things that require planning but I feel I have enough of a routine that I’m not going to really miss out. For instance, I go to Christmas Carol at Hale Theater every year.  That’s my routine so it doesn’t require much planning.

The last few holiday seasons have been interesting.  In 2012 I was alone, everything in boxes, and getting ready for the move.  Things were tough in my family that year and it was a stressful time.  In 2013 I got sick as a dog.  It was one of the sickest I have been in years.  It hurt to breathe and I was so miserable I couldn’t even open presents on Christmas day. And then last year I was alone but had a pleasant simple Christmas (again that felt like a little bit of a letdown because it was just another day).

I know people who say Christmas is better for them as adults than as children.  That’s cool for them but definitely not my experience.  Like I said, when you are a kid the magic is presented for you (or at least it was for me) and as an adult it all gets much more muddled.  I feel like sometimes I end up chasing that Christmas of my childhood and am a bit disappointed when I don’t achieve it.

This year I am going to see my family in California for Thanksgiving but not at Christmas.  I am going to try and plan a few things but I am going to try and temper that expectation of happiness and just enjoy the moments for what they are.  Sure I will plan some things but the idea of scheduling ‘I will be happy next thursday’ I don’t think works very well.  It ends up feeling like a cheesy smile in a school photo- kind of hollow version of happiness.  I just want to schedule a few things and if they make me happy that’s awesome!

Do you know what I am saying?  Does that make any sense?  Have any of you felt a little underwhelmed by the holiday season as adults?  What do you think of this idea of scheduling happiness?

1000th Post- First Post Revisited

1000-postsSo it’s here! 1000 posts! Can you believe it? I’ve thought of a lot of different things I could do to celebrate but after sharing my favorite post for 999 I thought I would take a look at my very first post on this blog.

Before I start I will say that I in no means make light of those who are without work and facing the extreme trial of unemployment.  My experience was unique and from the perspective of a young 28 year old girl who finally found a happy spot in her life.

May 12, 2008 I wrote The Freedom of Joblessness.At the time I had been unemployed for 5 months and because I had been so unhappy in my previous job it was not as difficult a time as you might expect.

It was exciting and it felt like I had a renewed lease on life.  I had also just graduated with my MBA in April.  At the time it seemed like I had been set free from a corporate penitentiary and I wanted to blog about it!

“So, this is my first foray into the world of blogging… It is hard to describe my last 6 months but let me just say that I am in the job hunt and I couldn’t be happier. I honestly think I will be a bit sad when I have to go back into the work force”

At my previous job a manager made my life miserable and being free from her influence did so much good for my self confidence and over all happiness.  I think that was a large amount of the freedom I felt.  I said “after a bit of a breakdown last year I needed a change more than anything”…

I then share a quote “I would rather be doing nothing than doing something I hate”

But that sounds so lazy I hear you say. I elaborate

“The thing…is that I haven’t been doing nothing.  When did we get it in our head that the only viable thing for a person to do is work? I have actually been very busy.  In fact, I have been doing things that I actually love that I don’t have time for when I am working including doing some writing, making a cookbook for my mom, and exercising on a regular basis”

I think there is something to that.  Why do we have this assumption that if a person isn’t participating in paid labor they are doing nothing? If I won the lottery and could make it I would quit my job in a heartbeat even though I love my job now.

The amazing thing is about 10 days after this post my Dad asked me to start working managing his rentals.  I did that for about a year working from home.  Before I knew it I was working for Grabber part time.  Then full time and then over to Poler, Now Kobayashi  All working from home!

When I look at everything good in my life including this blog it all started with the tough decision to quit my job.  To place my happiness above all the other factors and go for it. That joy felt freeing and peaceful and it still does and perhaps that’s why I keep blogging.  It was liberating then and it is liberating now!

To 1000 more posts!

Thoughts on Quiet

On such a night, or such a night,
Would anybody care
If such a little figure
Slipped quiet from its chair —
So quiet — Oh how quiet,
That nobody might know
But that the little figure
Rocked softer — to and fro —
On such a dawn, or such a dawn —
Would anybody sigh
That such a little figure
Too sound asleep did lieEmily Dickinson

I haven’t shared with you all any poetry in a long time but I found myself thinking of this verse today. You see, my house was empty and I was trying to recover from this darn cold and I couldn’t think of anything to watch so I found myself sitting and thinking.  In the words of Gaston ‘a dangerous pastime…’ It’s just so quiet sometimes when you are alone.

And I know you Moms are probably thinking ‘I would love nothing more than a quiet house all to myself for the day’ and there is some truth to that.  But I bet you wouldn’t find the quiet so refreshing if you knew those little voices weren’t ever coming back…

This is not an ‘oh feel sorry for me’ post.  It really isn’t.  It’s just a ‘today  I was alone and I noticed’.  What’s wrong with admitting that?  We all have our lonely moments, sometimes when we are surrounded by people.  It’s part of being human.  After all, if we never felt alone why would we need to turn to God?

But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish for a companion to share these kind of experiences with.  Yeah, yeah I can hear you all saying ‘marriage is hard’ and ‘grass is always greener’.  Well, it is also ‘not meant for man to be alone’. Humans need companionship and sometimes I wish I had it. But I know God has His plan for me and I am doing my best to humbly follow His timeline for my life.  That doesn’t mean I don’t feel a little sad on those days when the house feels extra quiet. Again I’m only human…

I saw The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel this week and it is not a great movie but I liked it.  One of the things that I stood out to me is Maggie Smith’s character is a single woman who has never married.  However, she has found this place to live where she has an urban tribe of other seniors and a ‘child’ to help nurture in the Dev Patel character.  I had more of that in my 20s when sociability and friendshipping was so much easier but I hope I can get it again.  If I never meet Mr Sunshine I hope I can find an urban tribe like she does and maybe even a young person to help mentor.

In my 20’s I also had much younger siblings who looked to me for advice and guidance and family that lived nearby.  Now they are all grown up and my nieces are far away.  It makes me a little sad sometimes.

But again I am not trying to make anyone feel sorry for me.  I am greatly blessed. Mostly I have the miracle of all of you who are there to share in my silly life. Goodness knows why you have all read all these years but I am sure grateful.  I have a job I love, a social media presence that I think helps people, hobbies I love, great friends, a beautiful home and most importantly a faith in Jesus Christ that ensures I am never really alone.  That is never forgotten.

Thanks for letting me share and I love you all.  Can any of you relate to the quiet times when maybe it feels a little lonely in life? I’m sure I am not alone.  God bless.

Busy Valentines Day

ValentineHappy Valentines Day!  I hope you all had a happy time either with people you love or thinking about the many blessings God has given you.  We are all richly blessed and if nothing else I love every person reading these words (it’s really true!).

I had an interesting experience today.  Valentines can be a little bit hard for us single folk who are without a valentine in their life.  Yes, yes, I know lots of couples don’t celebrate Valentines including my own parents.  However, at least you know if you were going to celebrate it you have someone to do it with.  As far as my life companion I haven’t found him yet.  He’s still hiding (come out! come out! Where ever you are!).

Mothers Day is actually the hardest holiday for me because I feel like I am not fulfilling my spiritual calling and purpose for being a woman not having a family.  It is all laid on so thick on Mothers Day that typically I do not go to church.  The Mothers deserve having their day but it is just too painful for me.

Valentines Day I have a tradition of designing my own valentine and this year was no exception.  This helps me have fun with the holiday and focus on my many blessings.

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But an interesting thing happened today. I haven’t been feeling well and been sleeping even worse lately. This has made it hard to get everything done including keeping up both blogs and my youtube channel. I ended up going 10 days without a video. Yikes! I had filmed 2 but the sound didn’t work so they had to be discarded. Then today I decided to make up for lost time and filmed 6 different videos and because of audio and other problems I had to film them each 3 times!!! I ended up working on videos for 11 hours!

Here’s how they all turned out.

This is a really fun one with my Top 10 Romantic Comedies (just in time for Valentines Day!).

This one gave me my first youtube crying moment! It’s a very special movie Song of the Sea. Read my review on the blog as well. http://wp.me/p4VRGy-13p

And then some unboxings

They aren’t perfect videos but I’m proud of them especially the movie posts.  I’ve certainly come a long way in the last year and will continue to improve.

But the interesting thing about making the videos is it took all day.  All of the sudden it was 10 pm and I finished my videos and sat back exhausted and happy.  It is probably the happiest I have been on Valentines Day in a long time.  It made me realize while we are often overbusy in this world there are moments where that comes in handy!  Where the best thing you can do is put your head down and get lost in creating something.  Forget about your problems, fears, anxieties and loneliness and just work hard on something you love.

In that sense making silly videos that probably not many people will see is quite powerful.  It made me happy and if I’m lucky it might make a few other people happy who get to see them.  I got a tweet from Song of the Sea director and creator Tomm Moore today thanking me for my review.  That made me feel like a million bucks!

tweetThat’s the Valentine I needed. It reminds me of President Hinckley’s Dad saying “forget yourself and go to work”.  Isn’t it the truth!

I hope you all had a great day too.  Sure love ya!

RIP Tom from Car Talk

car-talk-banner

I don’t normally get overly emotional when a famous person or celebrity dies but every once in a while someone who has touched my life, celebrity or not, will pass away and it makes me feel sad.  Today my Saturday morning friend over on NPR, Tom Magliozzi, passed away from alzheimers and it made me feel very sad.

He and his brother Ray were the hosts of NPR’s Car Talk and were better known as Click and Clack the Tappett Brothers.

Here is a tribute done on NPR today.

The thing is anyone who knows me knows I hate cars.  I hate driving.  If I could live in Manhattan and never own a car I would be a happy lady.  They are a necessary evil in my life and a royal pain in the neck.  As my Dad knows I even hate cleaning cars.  I just don’t care about cars.

And yet I liked Car Talk.  I first discovered them around 2006.  At the time I was very unhappy working as a receptionist where I would do long stretches of data entry, sometimes days of data entry.  One regular project I had was 35 pages of data for the monthly car account.

That was just one of the mindnumbingly boring chores I did for that job.  When there wasn’t a call I could put an ear bud in one ear and play some music or a podcast, so I downloaded just about everyone I could put my hands on. That is also when I started my audible account so I’ve had that for 8 years!

In fact, I preferred podcasts to music because it was less distracting and made me feel like I was having some human contact in my cubicle cell.  I could be doing the most boring task imaginable and listening to a podcast on books or science and feel like my brain was getting some aerobics in the day.

In all those podcasts I discovered Car Talk and the first episode that really made me laugh was when Tom told the story of Tanya the Trainer.  I posted this on my blog years ago and it still makes me laugh every time I read it.

I was hooked.  Tom and Ray were the embodiment of cheerfulness and joy.  Every Saturday I would turn in and laugh and smile and then I would listen to the podcast again a couple of times throughout the week.  Just a few months ago I tweeted during stopped traffic ‘thank you for Car Talk. It makes traffic liveable”.  Joyfulness and a love of life will have that effect no matter what they are talking about.

Another funny bit that was a favorite of mine is the operation vowel drop.  I’ve listened to this about a hundred times and it still cracks me up.

A recurring bit on the show was that Tom could never remember the puzzler from the previous week.  Little did we know for at least some of the years he literally could not remember.

Here was a bit where the two laughing at dementia and foreign accent syndrome.  Even though I didn’t know him his laughter was infectious and I’m sure he would want to be remembered for it.

It’s interesting that I would find Car Talk when I was so unhappy at work and listening to all those podcasts while grinding through all that data entry because Tom was somewhat of a crusader of anti-work.  He said he had an epiphany one day after commuting 45 minutes to work and almost being in a dangerous accident:

“He had a revelation that he was wasting his life. Upon arriving at work, he walked into his boss’ office and quit on the spot. He hated putting on a suit and working in the 9-to-5 world.

“He actually hated working in any world,” says his brother Ray. “Later on, when we were doing Car Talk, he would come in late and leave early. We used to warn him that if he left work any earlier, he’d pass himself coming in.”

As Tom once described his own attitude to his listeners, “Don’t be afraid of work.  Make work afraid of you. I did such a fabulous job of making work afraid of me that it has avoided me my whole life so far.”

I love that. Just when I was so miserable in my work I found a joyful spirit in someone who had found freedom from it.  Do what you have to do and do it with joy and ‘work’ in it’s 4 letter sense will leave you be.

This is another caller I love who they talked off the edge from destroying her car.  They just made you happy when you listened to them.

A friend of mine told me she didn’t like their show and I found it astounding because they are so cheerful and happy.  It’s like not liking a babies grin or dimples on a little girl.  They are so joyful.

Anyway, I just wanted to put my thoughts out there and say thanks to Tom and Ray for cheering me up all these years.  RIP Tom and my comforts to Ray and the entire Magliozzi clan.

It just shows what good a human being can do when he or she finds their calling.

They were immortalized by the Pixar folks with Ray a Volkswagen van and Tom his fabled Dodge Dart.

 

Depression, Anxiety, Robin Williams

I hesitated to do this post because like when Whitney Houston died I didn’t want to just be one more maudlin grab at attention from tragedy.  Everyone probably knows that Robin Williams died yesterday of an apparent suicide.

It’s strange because if you had asked me if I was a Robin Williams fan before yesterday I would have said ‘not any more’.  His comedic riffs seemed outdated and I was not a fan of his recent show The Crazy One’s.

And yet, when I heard about it I started to cry.  I’m not sure I can even explain it but it impacted me.

The 90’s were golden for Williams and that was when I grew up. Just like with Houston I seemed to have outgrown Robin Williams but when something like this happens you remember and mourn for a little bit of that innocence which is lost.

3 of his films really stand out- Dead Poets Society, Aladdin and Mrs Doubtfire.

These movies all seem very different but they all contain varying degrees of his manic comedic riffing but also had a lot of heart.

Mrs Doubtfire

Along with Home Alone I can’t remember a movie making me laugh more as a younger person but it had real heart too.

Dead Poets Society came out when I was only 8 so I learned about it from friends when I was in high school and it is one of the first tragedies I remember responding too.  Before that the movies were for fantasy, laughter and entertainment.

Dead Poets Society

It’s interesting a few weeks ago I did my Disney Tag and I mentioned thinking Aladdin was a bit overrated but since I made the video I’ve actually been thinking about it.  I was going to watch it and see what I thought.  I remember seeing it and laughing at all the jokes and great songs.  I don’t know if those jokes bear frequent repetition but I’m going to watch an old VHS and see.

I did say in that video if I could pick any person from a Disney movie to be my friend it would be Genie. After all ‘you aint never had a friend like’ him.

But even Aladdin had a moment of heart for our Genie

I guess I just want to say one more thing.  I think the reason why I cried yesterday doesn’t really have to do with movies at all.  I have seen addiction and depression wreak havoc on my extended family and I think most of us can say the same.

In fact, I have not been immune from depression and anxiety myself.  I’ve spoken about it many times on this blog.  I had a period of my life where I was so unhappy that I honestly doubted whether I could feel happiness again.  I seemed to be presented with happy things but never felt any real joy from them.

I remember my mother asked me ‘why is this so hard? You’ve faced a lot of hard things.  Why is this so tough for you?’

I said ‘because every other time I could see the out.  I could see the ending but I don’t any more.  I feel like there is a black cloud over my life and it won’t go away’.

It took a nervous breakdown to wake me up and make the changes I needed so I could rescue myself.  I will never forget staring at a plate of spaghetti and thinking ‘why isn’t the rest of my life this good?’ It was really scary to jump into the unknown but it was either that or I hate to think what I would have done further down that road.

Life presented me with a way to rescue myself and just after I quit my job I was unemployed for 6 months.  People kept asking if I was bored and I’d say ‘no way’.  What I didn’t tell them is I was healing.  I was remembering what made me special and happy.

And that was when I started this blog because I was smiling again.

I was rescued and it makes me sad when others are not.  Please try to reach out to those you love and tell them you are there for them.  If someone is going through depression don’t judge, just hug them and help them rescue themselves.  Pray for them.

Anyway, I don’t mean to be sad but it was on my mind and I wanted to share it with you.  God is there for you.  He loves all of us and He wants us to be happy.

 I am donating to St Jude’s hospital in honor of Robin Williams. stjude.org/donate