Smiley Things (Or: Let’s Talk About Blogging)

You may have noticed that I haven’t updated this blog in a while.

Or maybe you haven’t, maybe you were just passing through, read a post, and moved on.  That is okay, too.

It turns out that blogging has the capacity to stress me out, particularly if any of my posts become popular in any way (popularity to me equals a hundred or more people reading any given post, because that’s a lot of people, even if it doesn’t translate to massive, worldwide, Gangnam Style success).  I get stuck inside my own head.  What if the next thing I post doesn’t inspire anyone?  What if people are rubbed the wrong way, what if no one likes what I have to say?  And who am I to say things, anyway?  Just another voice on the massive expanse of Internets.

I gave my blog a theme, and then immediately froze.  I ran out of ideas, or the ideas I had weren’t good enough, or I didn’t think my mood was appropriate for updating a blog that I started as a way of helping/inspiring/motivating others. 

So what do I do?

Simplify. 

Quit talking myself in circles. 

Every post doesn’t have to be a sweeping, epic, moving analysis of the human condition.  It doesn’t have to address any deep fears, solve any problems, or change any lives. 

I just have to enjoy writing it.  Blogs are, at their core, an outward expression of the person writing them.  And no person is just one thing all the time. 

Most of my posts are about being happy, changing your attitude, getting healthy, etc.  But me, the person, has had a rough several months in all of those areas.  I want to post, but I don’t want to bring everyone down.

So what do I post about?

The little things that make me smile.

For the next indefinite amount of time, my posts here will consist of things in my day that made me smile.  Even if those things are silly or small. 

Recognizing the smiles might help me realize I’m smiling more than I may think.

So to start, here’s what’s made me smile so far today:

What’s made you smile today?

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The Happiness Project


(source)

I recently finished reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. The book was my reward to myself for not quitting my job in January. It didn’t quite live up to what I was expecting. I certainly liked the CONCEPT of the book (taking a year to explore happiness and what that means to the individual, and how to create more of it), but I really didn’t like the author and the things she chose to work on for her happiness project. I read the whole thing (despite wanting to give up because it was making me more upset than happy at times), and while I enjoyed the chapter where she focused on writing and books (clearly her passion, so it made for the most interesting reading), and some of her conclusions at the end of the project, I didn’t enjoy her overall tone and default attitude about things. Particularly the way she acted as if it were such a huge task to not yell at her husband all the time. *shakes head*

Regardless, the project is a good idea, and like Gretchen says repeatedly in the book, “Everyone’s happiness project is unique.” That is very true. I am definitely NOT Gretchen Rubin (I probably wouldn’t even be friends with her), but I do know what makes me happy.

I also know that recently, due in large part to working behind a desk, something I swore I’d never again do, I haven’t been the happiest person in the world. I haven’t been the happiest me I can be, and I know, because I have experienced real happiness, and this ain’t it.

I’m working behind a desk in an effort to save up for the Bikram Yoga Teacher Training I’ve wanted to attend so badly for so many years. I’m working behind a desk in an attempt to earn a job that will help me keep my promise to myself to never work behind a desk again.

In an ironic twist of fate, I am sitting in a chair (which is horrible for your body) eight hours a day, answering phones and directing calls for the healthcare system. A system I myself constantly buck in favor of doing yoga and eating healthy.

The job has made me so miserable that I hadn’t been going to yoga, I’ve barely touched veggies, and I’m pretty sure I’ve gained at least fifteen pounds since being here. (They said I would, too. With an almost bizarre sense of pride, while showing off their fitness equipment, even, they laughed as they mentioned that we new hires would likely gain the “company fifteen”.)

In other words, I’m in danger of succumbing to the system I’m working for but otherwise carefully avoid. It’s a battle with my conscience on a daily basis, that’s for sure.

I keep telling myself that if I can just stick it out, the reward will be so wonderful and I will be so proud, but the cost is a year of misery.

Reading The Happiness Project reminded me of something I already knew: That I could not settle for a year of misery, I had to figure out how to get and STAY happy during this time. I can’t just wait for happiness until I get to teacher training. I have to BE happy when I get there. Or else it won’t make me happy, either.

I had started a new 60 day yoga challenge on January 11th, and I realized I’d inadvertantly started my own happiness project. I’ll be approaching mine differently from Gretchen. Instead of picking a whole bunch of things to focus on each month, I’m picking one. One thing, for thirty days. The goal is to have each thing carry over into the next month, so that by the end of the year, I’ll be more in tune with my own happiness. And instead of doing it each month, I’ll do each thing in thirty day chunks.

Included in this happiness project is blogging, because I’ve realized just how much I gain by blogging, even if no one reads it. Whether I like it or not, there is a writer living in my head that won’t leave me be. When I was a kid, it would narrate everything I was doing for a future novel. These days, it narrates everything I think for a future blog post.

Blog posts I’m not writing.

Hopefully blogging again will help clear up some of the mental clutter I’ve gathered since having this job, and also inspire me to think thoughts that would inspire (in turn inspiring me) others rather than depress them (or myself). Blogging regularly, though, is not on the schedule until May. Before that, I’ll be working on some other projects (and blogging when I can make myself).

My happiness project is as follows:

Jan 11th – Feb 9th: Yoga – Go to yoga every day. (completed)

Feb 10th – March 10th: Gratitude – Write down things I am grateful for in my life as it is every day, to remind myself how lucky I am and that everything is perfect as it is. (in progress)

March 11th – April 9th: Food – Re-introduce veggies and juicing into my eating habits.

April 10th – May 9th: Hooping – Hoop every day, and post videos at least once a week.

May 10th – June 9th: Blogging – Blog daily.

June 10th – July 8th: Meditation – Meditate for fifteen minutes daily.

July 9th – Aug 7th: Hug Nation – Watch back episodes of Hug Nation daily, download Halcyon’s Morning Meditation and listen to it in the morning.

Aug 8th – Sept 6th: Creativity – Start and work on This is Not a Book daily.

Sept 7th – Oct 6th: Friends/Socializing – Go to Open Stage every week, make efforts to attend other social gatherings.

Oct 7th – Nov 5th: Writing – Write every day, participate in LJ Idol.

Nov 6th – Dec 5th: Knitting – Start a new sweater, and/or work on the Masters Knitting Program from the Knitting Guild Association.

Dec 6th – Jan 4th: Singing – Sing every day. Possibly in front of people.

Hahahaha, No Internet

So I made all this noise about making a blog post every day for a billion days and then promptly proceeded to move into an apartment that won’t have the Internet until Thursday*. You can tell that I truly THOUGHT THIS THING THROUGH THOROUGHLY.

EDIT:** We found out today that the Thursday prediction was a BRAZEN LIE, we will not have Internet in our new place until the 20th. So rather than stress myself out over finding a connection every day until then, I’m just going to put the blogathon on hold until we’re set up.**

Hopefully we’ll get somewhere with Internet access soon so I can post this. I’m writing it in Notepad on my Internetless computer at home. According to my connection information, ten of my neighbors have wireless networks in range. A couple of them even named them clever things like “Unicorn” and “Juicebox”, but did a single one of them leave their network unsecured for me to piggyback off of? No. None of them care.

I remember the days when it was no problem whatsoever to borrow someone else’s connection. It’s how I used the Internet for years. But these days, everyone’s all hip to folks like me and locking that shit down. I’m on to you, people cleverly locking your Internet connections. I know what you’re up to. And I don’t like it.

In other news, moving has been quite the adventure. We officially signed our lease on Friday, after loading most of our junk into our cars and driving over to the new place. We still had our mattresses and a handful of other stuff at Green’s parents’ place, and we planned on spending a final night there, but we wanted to get as much stuff as possible in our new home so we’d have less to worry about the next day.

While we sat in the office waiting to sign our lease, Green made the mistake of invoking demons of mischief by uttering the following comment: “Once we sign the lease and unload all of our stuff, we can just go home and do nothing for the rest of the day.”

FANTASTIC. WAY TO TOTALLY SUMMON SOME STUPID AND INCONVENIENT OCCURRENCE. I didn’t tell him that, though, I continued to think positively, because it was really hot out and I was more than happy to get in and get out.

Things seemed to be fine as we did the actual signing, the office manager was all helpful and polite as we initialed forty-seven times. Then, she handed us our keys, and we were ready to visit our new home.

Which would have worked out fantastically if the keys she handed us actually unlocked our new front door. But they didn’t.

So we walked back to the office (passing, as we went, our four hundred new neighbors, all of whom seem to enjoy spending their copious free time hanging out at the base of our stairs), and informed the office manager of our dilemma. She promptly called maintenance for us.

Maintenance is a long word, so from now on I’m going to call the Maintenance Man “Mr. Lou” because I don’t know his real name and “Mr. Lou” is short.

Mr. Lou insisted on trying our keys himself, because obviously we might not be able to tell if our own efforts to use them on our door had, in fact, actually unlocked it without our knowledge. Needless to say, they didn’t work any better when he tried them.

So Mr. Lou grumbled and bitched a bit, then went back to the office to get the master key.

Which also did not work.

So Mr. Lou informed us that he needed to install a new lock on our door, and he would be right back.

Meanwhile, we’re waiting outside our new place, peering through the blinds in an effort to see what it looks like in there. Green was able to see more thanks to his lack of glasses, which allowed him to tilt his head at a sharper angle.

“Look, we have some of those hanging blinds to separate the living room from the sleeping area!” He informed me. “Oh, and we have saloon doors on our closet!”

Saloon doors were indeed exciting. I couldn’t wait to see them from inside the apartment.

We hung out, exploring the outside of where we would soon be living, waiting for Mr. Lou to return. I might mention at this point that the day ended up being the hottest day of the summer thus far, at 105 degrees. By the time Mr. Lou came back with our new lock, we were beginning to wilt.

Mr. Lou attacked the lock with wild abandon, drilling it madly, whacking away at it with his handy man hammer. The lock, however, remained stubbornly in place.

“It’s reassuring to know it’s difficult to break in,” I said, hoping to lighten the mood.

“Well, sometimes it’s really easy and they just fall right off,” Mr. Lou said. “Not this one, though.”

I wasn’t sure if Mr. Lou’s comment made me feel less reassured about possibly being robbed, knowing how easy it could be to break off a lock, or more irritated that this current process was taking so long, knowing how easy it could be to break off a lock.

Much struggle by Mr. Lou and a few tweets by me later, Mr. Lou finally defeated the lock, and we got to take our first look at our new digs. We ran around investigating, speculating where we would put what and what we would do where. Mostly, we were just grateful to be out of the heat, however briefly, and to begin the process of unloading the car.

And I’ve gotta tell you. The saloon doors ARE, in fact, awesome.

Camp NaNoWriMo and a WHOLE LOTTA BLOGGIN’.

The point of this post is that I’m going to blog every day until the end of August and I’m taking suggestions for topics, but I take a while to get to it, so I thought I’d add this italicized bit at the top. Please KEEP READING for my fascinating explanation!

I realize I already posted today but I went for a run and drank a nice coconut water* and took a nice shower and in that shower I had an IDEA so I wanted to make another post.

As you may or may not know (but you really should because it’s kind of important), every year I participate in National Novel Writing Month, a journey through the month of November in which people attempt to write 50,000 words of fiction in 30 days. It is oodles and oodles of fun, but in recent years, I’ve found myself attempting to use it to write grand, sweeping, epic works of non-fiction, which the rules clearly state you’re not allowed to do (fiction only, bub).

While I know deep down in my heart that writing non-fiction for NaNoWriMo will not actually cause me to be carted off to jail or drown in a terrible boating “accident”, the guilt monkeys still eat me alive until I concede to start over on a work of fiction. Sometimes I still make it to the finish line. Sometimes I don’t.

HOWEVER, the NaNoing gods have deemed the months of July and August CAMP NaNoWriMo, two more months to attempt the same stupid feat.

This fills me with an odd sense of writerly freedom. This is CAMP, for crying out loud, and what is camp for if not to run around in stuff that’s new, unexplored, dipping your toe into a little bit of each various activity just for the heck of it? To shoot a bow and arrow even though you’re terrified of sharp things? To go on long, arduous hikes through mountains when you’d normally be inside watching YouTube videos? To ride in a canoe and flip it over just to say you did??

Anyway, the point is, I’ve been trying to decide what I’d like to write for Camp. And the truth is, I mostly just want to use it as an excuse to write a LOT. But after searching my feelings like a good Jedi, I’ve realized that what I’d most like to write are more blog posts. A lot more. Say, a post every day until the end of August?

Yes, I realize I’ve already missed the first week of July, but you know what, I’ve been moving and also giving up a substance researchers have found to be just as addictive as cocaine and heroin, so I’m forgiving myself that slight.

HOWEVER. I’m opening the floor up to post topics. If you have something you’d like me to blog about, LET ME KNOW. You are limited ONLY by the trappings of your own imagination. Is there something I’ve blogged about before that you’d like to hear more about? Something you like that you want to hear my take on? Something completely random and off the cuff, yet oddly specific, like, “I want you to blog about what happens to a capuchin monkey when they don’t get enough to eat for five days, please write this from the point of view of the monkey”? SUGGEST IT. You can even suggest fiction if you want, but if you do, at least give me a starting point.

Listen, I’m going to be blogging every damn day for the next fifty-four days whether you like it or not, and you can either give me a topic you’d actually be interested in reading about, or leave it up to me to decide if that’s the day I want to talk about how horrible my lady cramps are. (And they ARE. But I’m not blogging about that. Yet.)

UNLESS YOU SPECIFICALLY TELL ME NOT TO, I’ll credit you as the grand suggester of the topic for the day. I’m giving myself veto-power over topics, but I’ll try to use it sparingly. I want this to be fun for EVERYONE. Mostly me. All you have to do to suggest a topic is leave a comment.

Pretend you are at camp, too! A camp where someone decides to hand you their creative process for two months so that they don’t have to worry about it anymore! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand GO!!!

*If you have never had a coconut water after some type of physical activity I HIGHLY suggest you give it a try, just don’t get Zico, the stuff tastes like feet and has added crap in it, go with Naked, IT IS DELICIOUS.