The one where I crash and come back to life

I am one of the happiest most positive people there is. I’m the one that everyone goes to for advice.  I’m honest to a fault, ambitious, and from the outside it looks like I’ve got it all together, got it all figured out, all the time.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret – I don’t.

Sometimes I crash.  And when I crash, I crash hard.

And unfortunately the reality of that is that I have a lot of people in my life that don’t get that.  They don’t get that the perpetually positive always-together person is just…sometimes not.

We were talking at happy hour the other night about how it really shows something about your relationship when you are sick how the person still loves you even when you are a gross mess.  This was in the context of romantic/husband/boyfriend relationships.  But I think I’d say the same for ALL relationships.  It says something when people are able to hold you up through the turmoil.

Through the changes at work, the difficult people, the husband being 3000 miles away for 9 weeks.  It’s those people that hold you up that really matter.

Needless to say, life has thrown a lot of curve balls over the last few months that have left me exhausted.

I am sometimes in complete awe at people’s sickly ability to be so non-productive, non-contributing, non-caring, non-responsible, non-anything.  Their abilities to have not a care in the world while those of us pushers and drivers around them run the hamster wheel of life and work barely taking a moment to step off and take a breath.

Not that the hamster wheel isn’t at least partly our own doing. Our own type-A need to be going all the time.  To be contributing, accomplishing, DOING.

But even if our hamster wheel is our own, that doesn’t make watching the non-hamsters any less stressful.

I’ll tell you what absent husband + intense work stress + overworking it in the gym equals…burnout.  Total mental and physical burnout. The kind of burnout where you nearly pass out teaching zumba and scare your friends to death.  The kind of burnout where migraines become your reality and where your body starts to reject nearly everything you do.  Oh yeah and the kind of burnout where you almost have a panic attack in Target.   That kind.

It hasn’t been a pretty thing, and it’s certainly not a happy thing.  Clearly not matching the intention of this blog…  But you know what is happy about it?

It’s a wake-up call that there’s gotta be some changes ‘round here. 

And not big life-altering I’m going to go be a yogi in India changes either.  But baby step changes that help deal with the insanity in better ways.

I can’t be everything to everyone all the time.  I can’t even be everything in my impossible realm of standards for myself, all the time.

Sometimes I need to skip the gym and watch a marathon of Gilmore Girls.  Sometimes I need to say no.  Sometimes I need to meditate.  Sometimes I need to find me time in a way that re-centers me to the positive.  Sometimes I need to ‘do me’ and let the rest go.    I’m still learning how to do that.

It hasn’t been ALL bad and a lot of it is a temporary state of being.  Chris will come back from this training with a better job and a better future for us.  My work politics will resolve.  Lately, I took these lovely pictures and my friend’s family’s farmhouse, I’m planning bridal showers, I saw some good movies. See: Magic Mike, The Debt and Rock of Ages. And July is sure to be more jam-packed with fun stuff than even the last two months were.

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been the last few months, flying high on energy drinks, hitting the breaking point, breaking down, but coming out on the other side with a newfound sense of doing things for me.

What did you do for yourself today?

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Filling Buckets, Happiness Journals and Being Present

The great thing about reading non-fiction books is that you can read them in pieces, and as quickly or as slowly as you need to.  I recently finished “How Full is Your Bucket.” By Tom Rath.  Such a short little book can make a huge difference.  The concept is simple – every day people either add to our happiness or subtract from it.  Every interaction either fills our bucket, or takes from it.  So every day, you must make a conscious effort to fill others buckets and in turn, fill your own.  And most important of all – don’t surround yourself with those who constantly dip from your bucket.

This is true in work, relationships, friendships, and all of life.  How did you fill up someone else’s bucket today?

I also am compiling many of the ideas and things I have taken away from Gretchen Rubin’s “Happiness Project.”  De-cluttering my whole house this summer is definitely on the list – but for today I want to share that I love her idea of keeping a happiness journal.  Somewhere where you write a few sentences everyday about what the happiest part of your day was.  What better way to remind ourselves of these happy, but fleeting memories?  She also speaks of a gratitude journal, of writing down what we are thankful for.   This reminds me of the little Thanksgiving Trees that we made in my after school program with the kids every year.  Each person would draw a tree and add leaves that said what they were most thankful for.  But just as resolutions should not solely be made at new years, giving thanks does not only belong on Thanksgiving.

I decided that my journal would be part happiness journal, part gratitude journal.  Perhaps if the spirit moves me, I will sometimes share these musings on here.  ; )

I love this quote:

If we aren’t all the epitome of that?  Wondering if we made decisions correctly, wondering how the future is going to pan out.  Speaking from someone who is about to go through a lot of changes, I don’t want to let that present slip by, so I’m going to write down today’s bits of happiness.  What are yours?

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Where I’ve Been

You may have wondered why I disappeared off the blogosphere for a while.  (Or not. 🙂)

There are multiple reasons, number one being that there just isn’t enough time in the day.  I know – biggest cliché in the world.  But sometimes, I really do feel that way.  If there was just one more day in the week, I could get so much more done!

Anyway, lack of time aside – I am also now a contributing writer to Girls on the Grid.  Yay!  I love the Sacramento local vibe over there and am happy to join the crew. See a recent article about Zumba in Sac here.  Look for a few future travel posts in the works as well as one about SactoMofo4!

Another reason for my absence is my complete obsession with addiction to planning.  Planning everything– to the point that I occasionally set myself up for failure/disappointment. 

It’s a problem.  

But alas, it’s who I am.  So of course I have stickie notes and scraps scattered all over my desk and tucked into notebooks about all of these IDEAS I have for the blog.  Fabulous ideas, mind you.  But the lack of time to follow through on them has proven tricky.

During this little hiatus, I’ve also had some time to read some GREAT books.  I started “The Happiness Project” by Gretchin Rubin back in January  – but the Hunger Games series kind of took over my reading capacities in February/March.  I have started reading “The Happiness Advantage: Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work” by Shawn Achor for work.  I’m about a ¼ of the way through and I LOVE it.  I also just picked up “How Full is Your Bucket” by Tom Rath at the library.  I know, it sounds like Happiness overload – but it is awesome, and I promise to have so many great things to share with you as a culmination of these great reads! 

That being said, they have already got me thinking about a lot of changes I can make to my happiness and reminded me the reasons why I began this blog and titled it the way that I did.  I’m here to share happiness with you – and hopefully share tips or inspiration for bringing that happiness into your own life.  And I believe the only way to do that, is to post when something really strikes a heartstring for me.  Not in some formulaic way, but in sporadic bursts of happiness and good things to share.

So what I can promise you – at least in the foreseeable future:

  • Some informative and inspiring posts about happiness and happiness theories …occasionally  with a local spin.
  • Things that make ME happy that will hopefully inspire you to create your own happiness.
  • Things I am doing or changing in my life to help influence my own happiness.
  • Links to other posts of similarly awesome happiness driven content. 🙂
  • That sometimes I will post 5 times a week, and sometimes I will post 5 times a month.  Because holding myself to some crazy blogging schedule defeats the purpose for me.
Hopefully we can all live with that.  More soon!
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Music Monday: Have a Little Faith

I just spent the last five days off from work. But I can’t say I’m entirely ready to and raring to start another long week. Perhaps that could be the stress that’s going on at work these days.  Or it could be that I am slightly OCD and only completed most of my To-Do lists for the weekend.  The unfinished dishes, the half done crafts.  The nearly-but-not-quite empty laundry basket.  But ready or not, here Monday comes.

And I did do a lot with those days off, went to visit my parents Wednesday and Thursday to see Lady Antebellum and then spent our Caesar Chavez holiday off on Friday having a lovely, quick Bodega Bay trip with Chris. (More on that and why every weekend should be a 3-day weekend later on.)  A lil’ gym time, countless amounts of chores, grocery shopping, meal planning and errands. Lots of cooking via Pinterest. Some TV, a movie, a good friend’s birthday party.  It was a jam packed long weekend with not a lot of rest.

I sent Chris off last night to Oregon for one of the more not-fun Amtrak runs and was a little melancholy heading off to bed with just Bertie and I.  The usual “there just isn’t enough time in the day(s)/ week(s)” and typical missing my husband went through my head.

But then I thought about the homeless woman that Chris pointed out on our way home from my friend’s birthday on Sunday.  He was commenting on how there seems to be a lot more homeless people in the last few years.  We both agreed that it was sad and a definite sign of the economy.  But we also both agreed that it really makes you think. About how good you DO have it.

I started thinking about the hard times we’ve had lately. The money problems, my illnesses, the stress of the state of change and adjustment that we seem to be constantly trudging through. I started thinking about the things we’ve said we’ve wished we had or can’t wait to be able to afford/make happen.  About some of the petty things that have been irking me lately.   And I realized, even with it’s problems, stresses, worries, and hard times – some people would KILL to have what I have.  And I need learn to be more thankful for it.

I am a big proponent of “problems are relative” and I’m not saying when you are going through a hard time to think “well at least I have both my legs” or “At least I’m not living in a gutter” – but I think it’s also important to put things into perspective.  You have the choice to find the good…

And to “Have a Little Faith” – in yourself, in the fact that whether a moment is happy or sad, it’s going to be over before you know it.  Have faith, and above all, be thankful.

So on this Music Monday – I leave you with Michael Franti’s  “Have a Little Faith.”

Happy Monday, Happy April, and Enjoy.

Make the choice for happiness today.

“When the rain comes down, the flowers gonna bloom, when the hard times come, you know the teacher’s in the room…you’re not alone…”

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Slowing Down

I feel like I’ve been in quite the anti-social and exhausted mood recently.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve been dealing with complicated medical problems and a lot of stress at work as of late and there just isn’t a smidge of energy left to be social and up.

Which is saying something coming from me who typically is manically up and overtly social.  The ultimate party planner, the friend who always calls to make plans, the person who’s always up to hang out.

Maybe I’m just changing and finding solo activities or activities with my husband or the best friend more enjoyable these days.  Perhaps it’s a combination of all of the above.

I liked the way Chris put it the other night when I was expressing my frustration at my constant exhaustion and inability to make it through two gym classes without feeling like I’m gonna pass out.   He said it’s like I was running from a lion before (what he means by this was I was working 2 and 3 jobs, driving all over Sacramento teaching piano lessons, going to school full-time, and also going to the gym for close to 8 hours a week.)  And doing most of it just to get by.  Keeping myself busy while he went through the job change, keeping my energy up during the stress of school, etc. But now the lion is gone and I’m still trying to keep up that speed.  But my body is just not having it.

I’m still convinced that it has something to do with the medical stuff…which I’m sure part of it does.   But I think he’s on to something too.   My priorities have shifted – in a big way – over the last several months.  Working full time has it’s own stresses – I do have a commitment of two zumba classes per week plus softball.  But it was like once I lost my students in December, I lost that impetus to be out for 12 hours a day (almost everyday).  Before I did it beacause I HAD TO.  Now I get off from a stressful, long day at work and most of the time I’d choose going home over 3 hours at the gym and a host of social commitments.

Most weekends I’d be much more content to be at home – Pandora setting the mood – learning to cook something new, reading a great book,  spending time writing, and even cleaning my house.  That last one may sound weird, but order is serenity to me.  (Some may call it OCD, but that’s okay.)

But the sad thing is instead of enjoying these newfound simple happinesses, I’m always in a state of panic that there is more that I need TO DO.  When sometimes the only thing to do is just be.  Just do whatever.  Just relax.

Maybe I just need more practice at this.  At embracing this new form of enjoyment.  Because it is so important not to get burnt out on life.  And I think that’s what I was verging on before.

How do you avoid burn out??  Any tips?

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New Year’s Resolutions 1st Quarter Progress Report

It’s not a good sign when I scratch my head and start thinking “Crap, what were those New Year’s Resolutions again?” 🙂

I have a lovely calendar at work that is separated into 3 months at a time – also known as 4 quarters.  Being that I am about to cross off the last few days of March and flip to a new page, I realized it’s almost the end of the 1st quarter of the year. ¼ of 2012 is almost done, can you believe it?? I have to say though, a teensy part of me says good riddance – this first quarter is my least favorite of the year – Although it includes my Birthday, the San Francisco Writers Conference, and Valentine’s Day – it also includes the post holiday let-down, perpetual diet and exercise ads and as I mentioned in my last seven sentiments post, I suffer from self-proclaimed “seasonal melancholy” this time of year.

Anyway, as we enter the ‘spring quarter’, I thought it would be nice to do a little “First Quarter 2012 Goals Progress Report” to see how excellent, good-ish I’ve been doing.  😉

Recap of 2012 Goals here.

1) Read at least 12 Books

Well, thanks to the super fast reads of the Hunger Games series, I am halfway through book #4 and #5 for the year so far. Four almost five out of twelve in the first quarter? I’d say is pretty darn on track! And my Goodreads queue just keeps filling up with more books that I am excited to tackle!

2) Start learning Italian

For this, I am waiting for April to come around so that the rest of the community colleges can post their course schedules for the summer. (Sierra College didn’t help me out there…) I am hoping I’ll be able to work out taking an Italian class and a Photography class during the upcoming warmer months. (the “Summer Quarter” if you will) Especially considering my husband may be 3000 miles away training in Delaware. I’ll need a few things to keep myself busy….

3) Take an Art Class

Thanks to a birthday gift certificate from my lovely friend Sarah, I am planning to take an “Acrylics and Collage” art class at the end of April via the learning exchange. Gotta register still!

4) Make writing a HABIT, not just a goal.

I don’t think I get a gold star for this necessarily, but I am at least finding the time to write more blogs if nothing else. 20ish blogs in the first quarter of the year, what does that come out to, like 7 a month? I’d be happier with 12 a month as a goal… But thanks to some other freelance opportunities and submissions I am planning on attempting, the writing is bound to ratchet up in the spring quarter.

5) Add variation to my healthy lifestyle.

This one, again I can’t say I’m entirely succeeding in either…after a long hiatus, I’ve managed to add body pump back into my seriously zumba-filled schedule.  I’m taking more time to rest when my body says so…squeezing in a few yoga classes here and there…and adding in an extra night of softball for the spring.  Goals for spring: More Yoga, More Walking, More Outside.

I’d say I’m on the right track! Look for a future post on Spring and Summer Quarter goals and plans!

Happy Spring!!

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Music Mondays: Brokenhearted, Wild Ones, Call Me Maybe

Happy Monday Everyone!  Lots of FUN blog posts coming your way soon! 🙂

Lots of positivity, everything happens for a reason, new opportunities and excitement to share!

But for today, just a short post, I have THREE Music Monday’s for ya!

These three songs are just super fun and upbeat and happy and have absolutely been stuck in my head/ on repeat this last week.  Future Zumba songs possibly? 😉


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