Climbing

Over the last couple of weeks I have taken a big break from the blog to try and prioritize my life, get organized and even relax a little. This summer I have started a part-time job, a few home projects, traveled, planned more trips and began training for a half-marathon. (Insert shocked emoticon here). Plus, it’s summer and I can’t help but want time to swim, go to the park, drink iced coffee and spend as much time outdoors with Luna as possible. It’s been a great summer, no complaints here, it’s just been a challenge to do it ALL. I just read an article about happiness and how happiness isn’t any achievement we reach, but working towards those achievements. It’s apparently more important to set goals, work hard and dream…or as Miley once said “It ain’t about how fast I get there, ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side, it’s the climb”. (Too cheesy? Anyone gag?)

So, I’m climbing. Some days I feel as if the peak is in reach and the next day I feel as if the mountain grew another 500 feet. It’s challenging and I learn a bit more about climbing as each day passes, but the best part is when I pause for a second and look away from the mountain. It’s when I look out and around me. I get glimpses of not only what I have accomplished, but of the people around me, supporting me and making memories with me. It’s quite a sight. I’ve done a lot of pausing over the last couple of weeks.

Here’s a few pics of my journey that you may have missed lately.

I got to pet a baby deer by our house!
I got to pet a baby deer by our house!
Our third wedding anniversary night out. We clean up nice.
Our third wedding anniversary night out. We clean up nice.
Husband and I went through a VERY old box of photos one night and uncovered this gem from our first international trip to the Dominican Republic. #thathair
Husband and I went through a VERY old box of photos one night and uncovered this gem from our first international trip to the Dominican Republic. #thathair #circa2007
Luna's favorite zoo animal.
Luna’s favorite zoo animal.
Baby's first canoe trip.
Baby’s first canoe trip.
Her new fav pastime...walking around in Mommy and Daddy's shoes.
Her new fav pastime…walking around in Mommy and Daddy’s shoes.
The library, Luna's idea of heaven.
The library, Luna’s idea of heaven.
This little diva refused to drink her milk unless served in a Starbucks cup.
This little diva refused to drink her milk unless served in a Starbucks cup.

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Playing at the splash park with friends.
Playing at the splash park with friends.

Take a look around and enjoy your view too. Keep climbing! I swear I figure out this whole juggling act out someday.

Cheers!

Results of Being Kind

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For Lent this year I decided to do 40 days of kindness instead of giving up something I love. I planned to do one small (or large) act of kindness every day until Easter. I thought I’d send out letters, help anyone who needed an extra hand, volunteer and whatever else I could think of during the 40 days. My plan did not go at all how I expected. I missed days and opportunities, but ultimately learned a very valuable lesson.

Like all grand and exciting new plans, I started off with a bang. I was constantly looking for a chance to do something nice for someone and very excited when an opportunity came my way. After a couple of weeks, the excitement wore off, and I began slacking on my daily acts. It also began feeling stressful. Sometimes I forgot and other times I just found it difficult.

I quickly ran out of ideas and could only think of acts that costs money. After a few days of struggling I decided to lower my expectations for kind acts and to ask for help. I began looking for anything that might be considered kind. I held the door open for people, let cars get in front of me while driving, made breakfast for Husband, picked up other people’s trash and messes, called friends I haven’t spoke to in a while, stopped participating in small arguments, visited the neighbors, helped family with their projects and so on and so on. At first, many of these attempts seemed too small to make a difference, but after a week I noticed a change in myself.

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First, I was happier. Being extra polite and helpful to those around me put me in a much better mood. It’s amazing how helping someone can help you so much in return. Then, I realized it made the people around me happier. While grocery shopping one busy afternoon, everyone (myself included) seemed agitated and in a hurry. In line, I let the woman with hardly any groceries get in front of me and my very full cart. I was happy to do it, she was thrilled to get out faster and even the cashier seemed to be in a better mood. Also, I think being kind is contagious. Soon, I realized that everyone around me was acting kinder towards one another. It may be that I just noticed the acts of kindness more, but either way, it made me a heck of a lot happier to see so much kindness being spread.

What’s really paid off is that this whole “being kind” thing has become a habit. I’m not delusional enough to believe I’m always kind, but I am certainly more aware of how I am behaving towards others and still noticing little opportunities to help someone. Once again, participating in Lent has proven to be meaningful and make a positive difference in my life.

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I’m already brainstorming a new idea for next Lent, although my excitement for being kind may wear off by then and then I can just start the whole 40 days over again!

As Ellen always says, “Be kind to one another!”

Cheers!

What about Glinda?

The most popular movies, tv shows, books, etc are loved and successful because we, the fans, relate to them. It’s why young girls adore Taylor Swift’s music, why we are all currently obsessed with Frozen and even why we can’t get enough of The Walking Dead. It also explains why Wicked is Broadway’s’ biggest success. Everyone knows that Elphaba is the green girl who never fits in, rises above her enemies and learns to stand-up for herself and for what’s right. We have all felt like an outsider at some point in our lives; we have all been Elphaba, but what about Glinda?

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Glinda is the pretty “pink girl”. She’s practically perfect…she’s bubbly, cute, rich, popular and has all the self-confidence in the world. Glinda is the girl the that everyone wants to be and the girl that everyone hated and envied in high school. But, is that all? Does the depth of her character and her role in the musical end there? At first glance, I wold have said “yes”. We watch Wicked and see her as the head cheerleader we loved to hate or the co-worker who seems to have it all. She’s the one we strive to beat at the game of life. However, after all this time of being obsessed with Wicked, I’ve come to see Glinda in a different light.

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Sure, she begins the play as a ditzy egotistical self-absorbed  teenager, but as the story progresses so does Glinda. She learns to stop judging others, she befriends Elphaba and even learns to put others before herself. But, what I find most interesting and valuable in Glinda’s growth is that she realizes that what you want in life is often not what you need and most importantly, that getting what you want does not equal happiness.

At the end of the play she sings a song with her fellow Ozians called “Thank Goodness”. They are singing about how grateful they are that Elphaba (the wicked witch) is out of sight and celebrating Glinda’s promotion to “Glinda the Good, officially”. The citizens are singing about how horrible and scary Elphaba, but Glinda knows the truth…that Elphaba is far from wicked, and only hiding so she can continue to fight for the rights of others. Anyways, in this scene Glinda sings of her happiness, or what should be her happiness.

That’s why I couldn’t be happier
No, I couldn’t be happier
Though it is, I admit
The tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated

How many of us strive so hard to reach some goal, date some person or buy some specific outfit only to find it’s not what we thought it would be. How many times have we thought, “If only I had this…then I’d be happy.” After we get what we wanted so desperately does it truly satisfy? Or do we just want for something else? And at what cost are willing to pay to get these things?

‘Cause getting your dreams
It’s strange, but it seems
A little – well – complicated
There’s a kind of a sort of a cost
There’s a couple of things get: lost
There are bridges you cross
You didn’t know you crossed
Until you’ve crossed
And if that joy, that thrill
Doesn’t thrill you like you think it will

Like Glinda, we have all gone a bit too far at times to get what we will think will make us happy. We have paid too much money, risked friendships, lost sleep, missed job opportunities… reaching that dream of ours always has its costs. We often stay so focused on it that we fail to recognize the life happening on the road to our success. Then, once we make it, it’s not what we thought it would be. I can’t tell you how many times I reached some goal… new job, new degree, new dress, etc and thought “This is it? This what I’ve worked towards for the past year…shouldn’t I feel happier or more fulfilled?”

Because happy is what happens
When all your dreams come true
Well, isn’t it?

Is it? I think that’s the question Glinda poses for all of us. When we finally get our dream job, marry that perfect person, start a family, make tons of money or whatever it is we dream will bring us happiness it often fails to do so. Not that those things can’t or don’t bring happiness…they do, but if we are depending on these wants and dreams to bring us happiness we are sure to be disappointed. We must learn to be happy with ourselves first, find happiness in the road to our successes and appreciate the small victories and people we meet along that road. Then, when and if are dreams come true we can truly enjoy them or not be devastated when they don’t meet our every expectation.

Wicked

I love when I hear this song because it always seems to play at the exact moment that I need it. I have a bad habit of building up very high expectations for just about everything, which means I am easily disappointed. Glinda reminds me that my happiness shouldn’t depend on my house, my Husband, my child, my career or my wardrobe. My happiness depends on me, how I live my life, how I handle each situation and how I treat those I care most about in my life.

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Glinda and Elphaba are both waiting for something to bring them happiness, the perfect guy, the right skin color, etc, and in the end they realize happiness is far more complicated. In the end, they discover that they had each taught each other how to be a better person. The person they thought they hated most, the thing they thought they would never need was one thing they needed most, and isn’t that something we can all relate to?

Cheers!

Learning Something From the Men

So there’s this blog going viral that everyone is up in arms about, rightfully so I should add. Typically, I wouldn’t want to give a negative and hurtful article any attention, but this one has bothered me, and what’s bothering me, no one else seems to be discussing. The article in on thoughtcatalog.com and it’s called  I Look Down on Young Women With Husbands and Kids and I’m Not Sorry.

To be honest, I thought this was going to be a humorous post, maybe even satirical, but it comes off mean, a little ignorant and very arrogant. The most shocking of lines are..

You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids.

The rest of the post is basically saying that having kids and getting married is super easy, and we should stop acting like it’s worth anything. Before, I get into what bothers me most about this post, I’ll give my opinion on the piece in general.

It sounds like a young girl who is unhappy with her own life. Those who shame other people’s “accomplishments” and “happiness” are clearly unhappy with themselves. It’s wonderful that this woman can choose to not be married, not have kids and live a life with a fulfilling career, but what she fails to recognize is that not everyone finds happiness in their job. We do not all feel accomplished because we got a promotion, the same way we do not all feel accomplished after bathing and feeding 3 kids. Everyone defines success and happiness differently, and that is okay. It’s not fair to assume that your way is the right way.

I have traveled the world, got multiple degrees, worked great jobs, been promoted, received tenure, yada yada yada and, uh…didn’t feel “fulfilled”. I felt great, yes, proud even, but it was not what filled my cup.

She may also want to consider the fact that most career “accomplished” women were raised by dedicated mothers, who are often married. Let’s not even get started on the fact that countless women are happy and successful at being married, raising kids and working. My pediatrician actually has 5 kids and opened up her own practice 15 years ago. Or, what about people who choose not to have kids or fancy-paying jobs? What about the people who love life living like a vagabond and just enjoy life itself? This is why I think this must be a young author with little life experiences. She doesn’t quite grasp the vast variety of values and lifestyles in our world.

Okay, but now what really bothers me is this line…

I hear women talk about how “hard” it is to raise kids and manage a household all the time. I never hear men talk about this…Men don’t care to “manage a household.” They aren’t conditioned to think stupid things like that are “important.”

If men never speak of this, it is because they do not do the housework, aren’t married or do not have children. There are many men who are stay-at-home-fathers who actually blog about these exact things every day. This got me thinking though… one thing men do not do or talk about is how much other men suck. There are no “daddy wars” happening today, only “mommy wars”.

I am so sick of all the Mom vs. Mom, breastfeeding vs. formula, stay-at-home vs. working, kids vs. no kids, vegan/gluten-free/dairy free/soy free/gmo free vs. whatever-the-hell-my-kids-want-to-eat Mom fights going on everyday. What are we doing to each other? Why? Why are we so obsessed with wanting every other Mom or woman to live, think and behave just as we do? Are we so afraid that what we are doing is wrong we must prove that every other women is actually doing it wrong? Does that make us right?

Of course not. We have to accept the fact that mothering, like teaching, or like living, does not have a “right-way”. There are many different paths and styles that lead to success. We must not all be alike to be successful. So, today, and perhaps today only, we take note of what the men are doing and stop bashing other women. The happier we are for each other, the more love and support we show one another the better off we will all be in the end.

Cheers!

 

If You’re Happy and You Know It….

The other night, while taking a shower, I yelled something along the lines of “I just wish we had a bathtub! ALL I WANT is a bathtub” Husband popped his head in the bathroom, and responded with “You need to be happy with what you have.”

Excuse me?

That is not the response I expected. Typically my comments like that receive either a sarcastic reply or a complimentary “yeah, sure” I’m-just-pretending-to-listen answer. So, as I towel-dried my hair I looked at him and asked, “Just what exactly did you mean by that?” I’m not used to hearing such deep and serious comments from my usual jokey Husband.

With the most serious voice he could muster he told me that I have been complaining A LOT lately about things I do not have, and using the phrases “if only” an “I JUST want” far too often. Very quickly I responded with a “pfft have not!” but I was secretly thinking, “Hmmm, maybe he has a point”, although best not to say that out loud.

The next day I thought long and hard about being happy. Being obsessive-compulsive forces me to obsess over any criticism I receive. Seriously, a complete stranger might tell me my eyebrows are uneven and I will spend days examining them in the mirror questioning the exact proportions of my brows. In elementary school one kid made fun of my most favorite pair of pants, and I refused to ever wear those pants again. I couldn’t look at those pants without thinking about that bratty girl’s comment.

So after Husband’s remark I thought, Am I happy? What makes me happy? What keeps me happy? What is happy? Do I have to always be happy? Should I even be happy with what I have? Shouldn’t I want more? Isn’t it good to want more and therefore work harder for a better life???

All this thinking and questioning led to lots of doubting. Why am I not completely happy? I have a great life, and I am basically a pretty healthy person. I have a job that I enjoy, a family that loves me, the best friends I could imagine, and I have gotten to do travel, read, dance, and create more often than most people I know. Yet…nothing seems enough.

I still want so much. I still want a baby, more money, a better paying job (teachers deserve so much more $), a house, a yard, ducks, a cat, a clear complexion, perfect abs, a garden, a trip to every country in the world, more time to dance, a spot on dancing with the stars, to NEVER feel anxious and panicky again, and the list goes on and on. My day of questioning turned into a messy tear-fest.

I had an ugly cry. The kind of cry that requires you to hide in the bathroom so no one has to look at that ugly cry face, hear those deep sobs, and worst of all… the snot. The kind of cry that scares husbands and boyfriends because they have absolutely no idea what can cause a woman to cry like this out of what appears to be nowhere. It’s the kind of cry that I can’t even explain.

So I let myself cry it out on the bathroom rug. I allowed myself to feel sad, scared, and angry. I even let myself think about all the things I am so very afraid of, the stuff that threatens my happiness the most:  disease, infertility, job loss, husband loss, and panic.

I cried until I felt better because sometimes that’s what I need. I am obviously a very emotional person. Kristen Bell once said, “If I am not between a 3 and a 7 on the emotional scale, I’m crying.” I know how she feels. When I find something really funny I laugh until it hurts, but basically everything else makes me cry. It might be a Wal-Mart commercial, Ellen, a dog video on YouTube, a cute baby and their father at the grocery store, or a Taylor Swift song, it doesn’t matter, they all make me cry like a baby.

For years I kept myself from crying because I assumed it made me look weak and vulnerable. I became pretty good at holding back my tears until I could find the closest bathroom to hide and cry, but I don’t care anymore. It feels good to let it out. Sometimes it even prevents a panic attack, or maybe it is a form of panic? I don’t know.

After all the crying and emotional mess, I finally found an answer. I AM happy with my life. I am NOT happy everyday. That’s okay. It’s okay to not carpe diem, and it’s okay to not always be happy. Sometimes life sucks, and on those sucky days, I will not make myself feel guilty for not “being happy”.

The things that I want will bring me more joy, but they will not determine my happiness. Husband is right that I need to be happy with what I have, because well, it’s all I have. I don’t have a baby or live on a farm (which I apparently want after re-reading that wish list) and I can’t wait until I have these things to be happy.

Mostly, I need to complain less. It’s good to vent, it’s not good to whine. Husband, I’ll do my best to stop whining and wanting SO much. Although, I would like to mention that I still would like a bathtub so let’s keep that at the top of our list when looking for new places to live. Thanks.

Cheers and Happy Thoughts

Tranquility at Tiffany’s

Great news everybody! Husband and I get to stay in our apartment until next summer!!! After lots of looking, debating, and talking with our landlord, he finally told us to just stay until July. I think he is having a lot of trouble selling the apartment, and he’d prefer to have a tenant paying rent then have nothing at all. Yay us!

I cannot even begin to tell you what a relief it was to hear this news. Even though all of the hundreds of hours I spent trying to find a new home turned out to be in vain, I don’t care. I am just so thrilled to not have to pack and physically move…again.

All the talk of moving, got me and Husband seriously discussing our future: Where do we want to settle down? When should we buy a home? How long do we want to live in Manhattan? When do we want to have kids?

We never answered any of these questions, just thought and talked A LOT about them. We love NYC, but probably won’t raise kids here. We want kids, but I want them sooner than Husband. We don’t ever want to settle down, but it would be nice to have an actual home to care about, decorate, and fill with large comfy furniture. Thankfully, we’ve been given extra time to make these decisions.

On a related note, I just read Breakfast at Tiffany’s and I came across a great passage where Holly and Fred discuss her anxiety and her strategy for finding a home. Holly begins by trying to explain to Fred why she refuses to name her cat. She claims they are both independents; she doesn’t want to own anything until she finds the place where she belongs…I’ll let you read the rest…

“You know those days when you’ve got the mean reds?”

 “Same as the blues?”

 “No, No the blues are because you’re getting fat or maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re sad, that’s all. But the mean reds are horrible. You’re afraid and you sweat like hell, but you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Except something bad is going to happen, only you don’t know what it is. You’ve had that feeling?”

“Quite often. Some people call it angst.”

“All right. Angst. But what do you do about it?

“Well a drink helps.”

“I’ve tried that. I’ve tried aspirin too. Rusty thinks I should smoke marijuana, and I did for a while, but it only makes me giggle. What I’ve found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany’s. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets. If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany’s, then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name.”

I never knew I had so much in common with Miss Holly Golightly. She makes a very good point of deciding that she wants her home to feel like the one place that makes her feel safe and serene. Don’t we all want that? Is this even possible for someone who suffers panic attacks?

After reading this passage I thought hard about what my “Tiffany’s” is; what specific place brings me calmness and peacefulness…if any place does.

I suppose Sephora brings me lots of happiness. I love that I can walk into Sephora looking like I just rolled out of bed, and walk out looking like the paparazzi should be following me. The ladies working are so friendly, always giving away samples and applying new products to my skin. I can spend hours playing with all the make-up, bronzers, hair style-ers, nail polishes, and perfumes; I don’t think I’ve ever had a panic attack in Sephora. Although, my pulse does race when I hear the total at the register.

Starbucks is another place that immediately relaxes me. In fact, anytime I’m having a rough day I tend to find myself ordering a tall iced soy latte and making friendly conversation with a barista. I’m sure much of this has to do with my caffeine addiction, but there is also something very comforting about being in a Starbucks, like being home…(Although, it does feel less comfy and homey since they’ve all taken out my favorite big comfy chairs.) Sometimes, I sit in Starbucks with my laptop just to get some work done. I tend to focus and work harder there than when I’m home. Even while traveling the world, we ALWAYS stop at a Starbucks, if we come across one, for a little taste of home.

Another place is the beach. How original, right? I guess the beach just makes all of us feel peaceful and relaxed. I could sit in the sand and read, do cartwheels down the beach, or play in the waves forever and ever. If I lived on the beach I’d be warm and carefree, but probably never get anything of value done.

Gilmore Girls is something else that immediately takes the “mean reds” away. I know this TV show isn’t a location, but it saves me from numerous panic attacks. If I wake up in the middle of the night sweating and in a panic I just have to pop in an episode with Lorelei and Rory to make me forget what was driving me nuts in the first place. Their dramatic lives and quick wit keeps me distracted and happy.

Then there’s dancing. I’ve never been the best dancer, but I have danced for years. I’ve taken dance since I was a little girl, and I’ve taught for about 5 years now. When the right song comes on, and I’m able to move to it, it’s like I’m free. I’m free of worry, free of to-do lists, free of deadlines, I’m just there to dance, and it feels right. I guess dancing is my anti-panic.

Like Holly, I am not really sure what I am looking for or where I’ll eventually call home. Right now, the plan is to have a house that comes with a dancing barista who can do my make-up on my private beach while watching Gilmore Girls. Husband would have to be there too. It would not be home without Husband.

Until then, I’ll be constantly reminding myself how lucky and thankful we are to stay in our teeny Upper East Side apartment (which is walking distance from 5 Starbucks and a Sephora BTW) for another year. Thankful, thankful, thankful, I love you apartment!

Cheers!