Motivation Monday: Happier 2019

Welcome to the first Monday of 2019! By now I bet you’re back to work or school (or maybe not, our undergraduate students don’t return until a week from today), and you’re wondering how the heck you got by before the break happened. Maybe you have no idea how you had so much energy and life at work before when now you constantly feel super burned out. On the flip side, maybe you’re feeling like being home for the holidays was a lot of work and your job is a relief. Either way, I bet one thing felt better the the other. So now what do you do? 

What really helped me was thinking about what made me happy during the holidays. Was I happy to be in lab, even though it was empty and unfamiliar? Or, was I happy sitting at home powering through books trying to reach my 2018 goal? For me, I came back from vacation both ready to work and ready to have a vacation from my vacation. I had really rough time staying in the lab all day long, partially because it was empty and partially because I had been away from home for almost a full week and I couldn’t stop my mind from wandering to things that could get done at home. I’ve finally had enough time to get through everything I wanted (with the exception of a few choice Christmas decorations not making it back to the closet). I am now back at work, and I am feeling great. I showed up for my experiments both Saturday and Sunday and things seem to be going great, but I had to get here somehow.

In my example, it’s clear that it didn’t take me long to realize that reading felt like a chore, but lab felt easy and fluid. It only took a few experiments and a few more books to realize that the rewarding feelings came from an experiment coming to completion (even when a few things seemed amiss) whereas a finished book was just a finished book. I had to realize for myself that lab was where I wanted to be. But what if you’re the exact opposite? What if your side b*tch is where you want to be? GO BE WITH YOUR SIDE B*TCH Y’ALL!

I’m serious, if you do not feel fulfilled at work, figure out what things fulfill you. We live in a wonderful time where you can make money doing just about anything. It might take a lot of work and a lot of time, but I bet if you find happiness you will feel the it was more than worth it. Start making lists of things that bum you out and things that make you really happy.* Try to figure out how to do more of the happy stuffs and less of the bumming stuffs. Once you figure out what makes you happy and is something you can do more of, start researching how to use that to your advantage. Make a vision board if that’s something that will help you. For me, I have a vision board which I am looking t s I type this, but I also have a white board exclusively for my Etsy stuff (ironically, the white board is larger than the vision board). I have a calendar, and an inventory, and ideas. I erase things that I don’t want to pursue as I think more about them, but I write everything down so I have a record. I put a lot of energy into that, but I love my day job, so I really make sure to keep it on the side. For you, the might have to be different. Whatever it is that makes you happy, you need to go for it. Make 2019 the year that you leave fear behind. 

There may be other things that are holding you back from being your most confident self. Have you completely ignored workout plans? Is your holiday waist yelling at you to get yourself together? Are deadlines sneaking up on you and perhaps even sneaking bye you? All of these things are natural. Why you need to know is the you aren’t going through them alone. Even if nobody is willing to talk about it, that doesn’t mean that you’re not in good company. Social media is such a burden in this aspect because you only see the people who didn’t fall victim to these things; you see the people who ate a salad for both lunch and dinner but not the person that got fast food. We hide our authentic selves in favor of sharing the uplifting things. It’s not even that we’re hiding intentionally; we just share what makes us feel good and usually we know that the fast food is “cheating” so we don’t share it because it bums us out. Oh! Look at that phrase that just came back… that means we should do what? LESS OF IT! (I totally said that in a like a happy Andre Johnson voice in my head, and if you don’t watch Black-ish you should start now). 

Moral: Do more of what makes you happy by figuring out what makes you happy and what makes you unhappy. Turn your side b*tch into your main b*tch if you need to. Smile often, and comment on this post with a 2019 goal for being happier!

*You may already have an idea, dream, desire, etc. for what you want to do instead. In this case, go on and do it! I still think lists are useful, particularly because you may find some connections that you didn’t see possible (personal example: book-inspired knitting themes). Still, if this is where you’re starting then your list is going to be different from the person who just needs to do something.

Tip Tuesday: Gratitude and Fulfillment

I recently finished reading “How to be a Bawse” by Lilly Singh (which was ah-making, seriously check it out if you haven’t already!). I listened to the Audiobook on Audible, which was read by ||Superwoman|| herself! I don’t care if you are absolutely in love with her YouTube channel or if you have never heard of her before, this book inspired the sh*t out of me, and without it this post wouldn’t be here.

First off, I listened to this book while struggling to decide upon a topic for NaNoWriMo. I do not definitively know what in the book helped me pick my topic, but I do know that it inspired me to try harder and write more. Hearing her talk about her dedication and love for her work inspired me to find something I was passionate about. It still took some effort, and some ideas that were thrown out, but I never gave up. Now, I have ideas for not one but two books.

I also found somewhat of a second wind at work. I was absolutely dead a couple of weeks ago. Last week I worked extra hours every single day so that I could take Friday off and travel home and spend the weekend with my family without worrying about a thing. Although I did still worry some, I was able to really relax and be present with those that I don’t get to see every day. On top of that, I felt really great about everything I had gotten done, and that was in part because of how hard I tried.

In addition to all of this, the one thing from the book that has stuck with me the most is how often we take things for granted. I’m sitting here typing this with a Bluetooth keyboard onto my 2018 iPad while watching the Green Bay Packers game on TV and the Milwaukee Brewers game on my phone. My house has a roof and heat, light and internet. I had a great dinner and bought foods that we eat just because we want to at the grocery store today. I have a husband that loves me and made sure the house was spotless before I got home. Even in my darkest times, they really aren’t that dark in comparison. It’s really hard to remember this, but taking the time to think about all the good and practice gratitude goes a long way.

You can have it all, just not all at once -Oprah

Another thing that has really stuck with me, was her discussion of discipline. I still feel like I don’t have enough time for everything that I want to do, but I also feel like I am fulfilled in the things that I have to do. I know that I could rearrange my day; I could try to figure out how to get by on less sleep. I also know that it’s not that big of a deal to me. If it really and truly mattered that I fit everything in every single day, then I would find a way. The important thing now is that I learn not to complain about not being able to fit everything in, when it would be nothing more than a different sacrifice if I decided to try. I need to be grateful.

Sensing a theme here? Gratitude and Fulfillment. I’ve written about gratitude in the past, but I haven’t really written about fulfillment much. At the end of the day, all of the little suggestions about finding gratitude in every day, ties into feeling fulfilled in your life. You cannot control every situation, but you can control your reaction. You can take the baby steps to work towards your goals. You can create a vision board with the things that will truly fulfill you. And, you can find happiness at each step. Understand that your journey is (1) yours and (2) a journey. Take pride in the fact that you are on a journey and keep going.

Have you read anything truly inspiring lately? Do you have a way to practice gratitude? Do you feel fulfilled most or every day?

WIP Wednesday: Love Languages

WIP: Learning our love languages to better serve one another

Since I’m on my honeymoon this week, I thought it would be fun to investigate our love languages! I actually do not know my love language(s) so this is a completely new experience for me. Don’t get me wrong, I have an amazing husband and I feel like we are really in tune. This morning we even had a conversation about reading each other’s minds so easily. We are a great couple, but that in no way means we can’t be better.

After completing the quiz on http://www.5lovelanguages.com I discovered that I had a three-way tie!

• Acts of Service

• Physical Touch

• Quality Time

My other two were (in order): words of affirmation and receiving gifts. My results surprised me! I definitely think of myself who takes pleasure in receiving gifts, however, I also know that I am not huge on material items as a show of affection, so I guess it isn’t too surprising after all! To get a better idea of what these languages mean for me and my relationship, I quickly picked up the ebook and settled in to read.

At the time that I write this, I’ve only just begun the book. However, this isn’t a book review so that shouldn’t be an issue at all. The book does begin with an anecdote about a man who never learns to speak his partners love language, and commentary that this isn’t unusual. Immediately. I am happy that I have multiple languages. I feel that this gives me the ability to adapt to my partner and speak to him. But what does this mean for him speaking to me? As of now, this is still an unanswered question, but I am exited to find the answer!

Do you know what your love language is? Do you feel like it is an accurate depiction of yourself? Let me know in the comments, I love hearing from you!

Fueled by Coffee

Yes, how bad can it be?

Today I learned that there are a lot of quotes about coffee in City of Ashes, and even though it wasn’t on my reading list, I may have to add it because coffee is a special language that I speak fluently. Coffee is a drink of love. Coffee gets me moving and keeps me moving. With coffee in hand I feel invincible! I wish I was better able to convey the superhero image that flew around my head while I was typing those thoughts. Ironically, as I sit typing this post I’m sipping on pomegranate green tea! In addition to professing my love for caffeinated beverages, this post also professes to the Motivation Monday trend we’ve all hopped on.

“As long as there is coffee in the world, how bad can things be?” – Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes

Today I want to motivate you to enjoy what you have in front of you. If you saw my post from last week (Bullet Journal Updates *WIP Wednesday*), you would have seen that I have been doing a gratitude log in my bullet journal. This month, my gratitude is focused on the morning. I have been logging what I am thankful for in those first 5-10 minutes after I wake up. Honestly, without the day behind me it’s a little difficult to come up with things. But my brain is always moving, it’s just a matter of focusing it in on what I want to focus on. Most days my gratitude has been related to my health- I’m happy to wake up each and every day and be able to tackle a to-do list. However, I also sprained my foot recently, which had me on crutches for almost a full week and I’m still limping around, albeit it is diminishing. This means that a project that I wanted to tackle over four weekend days, actually only got one day of work. It’s definitely half done, and as annoying as that might be for me, I also know that I did what I could and I just have to be okay with that.

As a newlywed, I am also constantly happy to have found somebody who loves me for me. I am quirky and weird and annoying, but I have a partner who understand all of that and matches it with his own version of this blend. We’re leaving for our honeymoon in 12 short hours and I am beyond excited to get away and be alone with the company of another, to explore new places, and make new memories. Being away for a week also stresses me out though- all of the what ifs have been pounding through my head for days and I cannot seem to quiet them down. Even so, I know that if I get up and do my best in each and every day then whatever comes will come and I can deal with it when I must. I already have a great lineup of posts for this week, partially outlined, so hopefully you won’t get too much silence from me despite all of my fun! The posts are largely focused on harnessing your happiness, including looking for it in the right places if you feel like it is lost.

What fuels you? Are you a coffee/tea drinker or do you thrive on your love of life? Let me know what gets you going in the morning or on Monday (or Monday morning, ha!). 

What Nobody Tells You About 4th Grade

Warning: Potential Tear-Jerker

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Cardinals appear when angels are near.

Fifteen years ago this summer I lost my best friend. Last week I saw my first cardinal of 2017. Every time I see a cardinal, I make sure to say “hi Holly” out loud. I know it might sound crazy, but her mom taught me that cardinals appear when angels are near. So no matter how many angels I gain in my life, she will forever be on my heart.

At some point every year, usually many times a year, I wonder where we would be today. I wonder if we would even still be friends. I think the answer is certainly yes. I didn’t stay close with anybody from that class, but the older I get and the more experiences I have with other people, I realize how precious those early years are. I realize how much we absorb without realizing it, and how much that shapes our decisions later in life. I look back and I could definitely see us staying really close friends. Even now, when I see her best friend’s Facebook posts, and her mom and dad smiling at the wonderful baby girl who is her niece, I know that we could have made it through life together. I know we would have shared a lot of love for each other. But knowing this makes it so much harder.

The worst part about memories is that they can never be remade.

She was the first person close to me to die. But let me tell you about the year she died- this is something I always have an easy time talking about because I think it sounds almost fictional, and I think that it really puts things into perspective for people. Right before school started, we found out our teacher had been diagnosed with brain cancer and would not be starting the school year with us. She died three short months later in November. About one month into school, the twin towers went down. At the time we had a long-term substitute teacher. I’ll spare you the “I remember where I was story” but I swear to you, the image of his face is burned into my head forever. And then after all of this we had to deal with one of our peers being sick. Really sick. She declined way too fast for my little brain to process. I remember what my birthday party was that year. Why? Because she was really excited about it, but then she was too sick to come. I remember conversations that we had after she had to leave school. I have so many memories, but the worst part about memories is that they can never be remade. They can never happen again. They’re stuck up in my brain forever.

She loved Winnie the Pooh, every time I see something with Pooh on it I think of her instantly. I still have a necklace and a set of earrings, one from her mom and one from my mom (and I don’t know which is from whom anymore) that I’ll wear whenever I really miss her. The necklace barely fits anymore, but I don’t care. I will keep it forever. Maybe one day I’ll pass it on to my daughter and tell her how much I loved my dear friend, but for now it’s mine and ours.

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The holly tree doesn’t lose its needles or color when the days get shorter and the nights get longer. It always looks amazing and beautiful, and that is how I will forever remember my friend.

I guess I have no idea why I started writing this tonight other than to share my thoughts and feelings with my readers. Losing somebody is never easy, but if you’re one of those left on earth, there’s nothing to do except to move on. Especially when you’re ten years old. I have lived more of my life without my dear friend compared to the years we spent together. And I didn’t even know her for all of those ten years, although it feels like I did. I realized a couple of paragraphs ago that I wasn’t using her name, I think that made it easier to go on and keep writing. But she is not a nameless person, she is not just another angel in heaven, her name is Holly. The holly tree is an evergreen. It doesn’t lose its needles or color when the days get shorter and the nights get longer. It always looks amazing and beautiful, and that is how I will forever remember my friend.

 

 

 

New Year New Yo- no that’s BS

Day 15 of the new year, how often have you heard “new year, new you”? Now divide those into two categories: “Yeah! I can totally do this! New me for 2016!” or “What a load of crap, I’m still the same me I was last year.”

Having a January birthday actually strongly influences my feelings on the matter. I rarely make my new year resolutions by January 1st (and as of this moment they still haven’t actually been recorded). However, having a birthday really makes me think about what I want the next year of my life to be. What milestones do I want to achieve? What do I want to do? Who do I want to be?

So, I guess, either way you look at it, I’m entering a new year with a fresh perspective. It’s this fresh look that I believe we should really be focusing on not the “new you.” I think it is fair to assume that anybody who is reading this is at an age where their personality, thoughts, feelings, values, etc. are pretty well established. Therefore, there is no new you. It’s the same you doing different things! So, you don’t need to change yourself, but rather your outlook.

Personal plug: I finally accepted that it was too damn cold to keep running outside so I finally started going to the gym. I look like one of the resolutioners that will be gone in a  month or two. Of course I hope to be gone in a month or two because I need nature. I’m already going stir crazy with the scenery. However, this is the first year since I began running that I have gone to the gym in winter to maintain all the hard work I put in. I consider that a new perspective, not a change of person.

The point is, whatever you do and however you look at it, whether it is the same as yesterday, last month, or five years ago, you should be satisfied with that. The whole reason we have these new year resolutions is to become someone we are happy with. For myself, I try to frame my resolutions around bettering myself, which ultimately, will translate to happiness. However, I do not go forth in search of happiness. Embark on a journey of discovery, open your eyes to things new and old and find whatever it is that completes you. This year.