What do I do with my hands?

•February 7, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I never really realized how much time I waste on facebook in a given day. It’s like a smoker who takes a fiver here and there throughout the day… it’s just something always at my fingertips, something to fidget with, scrolling through and killing a couple minutes at a time. With all this “spare” time on my hands, I’m kind of at a loss as to what to do with them.

I’ve been blogging and working on some business things, in addition to my day job. But I still find myself thinking occasionally, “Oh, I should post that.” It doesn’t help that I get email notifications when someone tags me on facebook. Thankfully I’m not the person that has text notifications set up, because that would drive me crazy all day long. Instead, I’ve taken to compulsively checking my email and once in a while I come across a notice that someone tagged me. I have thus far fought the urge to open it or to see what people are saying to me, but the desire is all too real.

Several studies that I’ve read included information about the addictive properties of electronic devices. They mention that the pleasure centers of the brain light up like a Christmas tree in similar ways to drug use and romantic love. The problem with this is that these feelings are highly addictive and fleeting, leaving the person seeking more and more, not unlike that same drug user. Feeling good is absolutely addictive. This explains quite simply any variety of addiction, from drugs and gambling to sex. Experiencing these pleasures occasionally heightens our lives, but when pleasure seeking BECOMES your life, what is left?

This is kind of what I’ve been exploring in my head, since we logged off facebook. My husband has sort of shifted his attention to other forms of electronic stimulation: Instagram and his old Gameboy. However, even with those distractions, he’s still been a lot more motivated at home. He’s been organizing and reconfiguring the furniture, since we have yet to find an array of these items that A) is comfortable for all of us and B) suits each of our specific needs. Thankfully, we have a modular couch and can assemble and disassemble it in countless configurations. (Shout out to Lovesac) He’s even reconfigured and reorganized his man cave to where it’s more functional.

We decided before the facebook break to remove the carpet in our living room. Fortunately for us, they installed it poorly and it was extremely easy to remove. Now we’ve just got some bare concrete, but it’s a pretty cool orange color, so I’m not complaining. Our baby finds it very fun to run on, instead of the scratchy carpet. It’s definitely a work in progress still.

In addition to the facebook hiatus, we’re rationing our tv consumption. Even though we only watched just over an hour of television together, I still feel like my night whipped by faster than ever. I looked at the clock and it was already 7:30pm. I looked at my husband and was so surprised that our night was almost over. It was crazy how fast the night ended and how quickly I was ready to go to bed. I’m digging that we are doing other things with our time together, but shocked at how fast it went.

Here’s to another day living without social media! Cheers!

Facebook free week

•February 5, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Hello our there my faithful readers. Sorry for the delay in posting, but life. You know?

On top of life rearing its ugly head, I’ve been feeling pretty down lately. So sad and discouraged by the happenings of the world, I’ve generally had a sense of malaise that I’ve not been able to shake. 

Interesting enough, I was driving home from a class I’m taking last night, and my husband text me about a proposed challenge. He suggested we stay off Facebook for an entire week. Of course, he was coming from the angle that we’ve both been spending an awful lot of time on the internet and struggling to connect with one another. After understanding the ground rules, which are really simple- no Facebook for 7 days, I was in. 

There’s been numerous studies suggesting that people who are heavy social media consumers, above something like 2 hours per day, report feeling more depressed and less connected in general. That sort of research further suggests that while we are cultivating some sort of online presence, our real life interpersal relationships suffer the consequences. 

I know in my own life, the more time I spend on social media, the less attention I pay to my husband. My daughter, since she’s so young, pretty much is the only one that gets my undivided attention. And even then, if I’m reading something or responding, sometimes I put her off for a few minutes. This is a serious problem for me. These people are my top priority, and yet I find myself frequently distracted by other, less meangingful, things. 

In addition to the zero Facebook for this week, my husband has also decided that he and the baby will only watch an hour or so of tv, if it’s a movie, they’ll watch a bit more than an hour. When I get home from work in the afternoons, we won’t watch more than two hours together. He’s vowed to not play video games until after me and the little one have gone to bed for the night too. These are pretty clear steps to reconnecting with our little family and while in going to be bored to shit at work all day (I spend an inordinate amount of time surfing at work because I’m too efficient), but the benefits are going to be substantial. 

That said, I’ll have a whole lot more time to write and work on business. This prospect makes me also excited to see what happens. Wish me luck!

Fight or flight

•January 23, 2017 • Leave a Comment

It has become increasingly difficult to focus on my day job. Not only am I bored by the tasks and lack of opportunity for growth, but I also have so many other things in the works. I am working on becoming my own boss and business owner and trying to maintain some shred of hope, given the political climate in this country.

I’ve never felt such a direct and opposite “pulling” force between my fight and flight sides. Part of me wants to try and keep some semblance of the life I lead, to not lose hope, to fight the good fight and create the life I am meant for. But on the other hand, there is something strongly pulling me away from all that, telling me that my family is more important and getting them the hell out of this dumpster before it blows sky high. I just want to run away somewhere safe and hope there’s a life to come back to in four years.

Between social media and the mainstream media, I’m overwhelmed and saddened. The alternative media is equally disheartening. We are living in a very sad time for human rights and social responsibility. It can be paralyzing, and right now, I feel paralyzed with glimmers of motivation and action. It simply weighs heavy on my heart that the world is not shaping up to be a place where people are free to love and marry whomever they choose, that health is only for the wealthy, and that life is largely not affordable for those that work for a living. It is saddening. And those of us that were working toward those things, hoping beyond hope for those things, are devastated. The feeling is real.

Finding happiness in the destruction of everything we hold dear as a nation borders on impossible. The only thing keeping my head above water is my physical and moral obligation to not fuck up for my kid. She knows nothing of the world, of politics. She is content being a toddler and little else. She loves her parents, her pets, eating snacks, and good music. If only everything were that simple. But her smile makes my day worth the struggle. What else is there? My husband, gardening, pets that we care for… they’re the crux of my life. They are the catalyst to happiness, since happiness comes from within. My family makes me want to be a better person, to keep waking up every day, and to be happy when it’s appropriate.

What the what?

•January 11, 2017 • Leave a Comment

First let me begin by saying happy New Year to all of my readers. I appreciate your continued support, and I hope that 2017 finds you happy and healthy.

Next, as many of my long time readers know, I typically do a “year in review” sort of post that outlines some things that I’ve accomplished in terms of my quest for sustained happiness in everyday life. Also in that post I usually mention some goals that I have for the coming year and how I plan to achieve them. I haven’t done that this time, and truthfully, I have no intention of doing so. In hindsight, 2016 was a trying year in a number of ways. It began with my small family being displaced and sleeping on floors and couches. 2015 ended the same way after we sold our former home, but by 2016, it had been more than three months of this, with a small child. It had grown cumbersome and I was quite exhausted. The year was a train wreck to the bitter end in many ways, albeit sprinkled with joys.

I was fortunate to see my daughter take her first steps, say her first words and now, all the things that followed those milestones. We are no longer displaced and I have a comfortable, but at times extremely stressful, job that pays most of the bills. What’s different though is that for the last several months, I’ve lacked motivation to do the things that I’ve been meaning to do, or things that bring me joy. Writing has fallen by the wayside for sure. I don’t like feeling unmotivated and depressed. I’m sure there are some people who relish in their misery, but I am simply not that person.

I am also acutely aware that 100% happiness, 100% of the time is also unattainable and frankly, unwanted. I know that if you’re never unhappy, happiness is no longer special and it then becomes the “norm” by which everything is then measured. If you don’t live up to that new level, unhappiness reigns. However, my quest for daily joys has taken me to interesting places. While I have not been writing as much, I’ve been reading a lot more.

I’ve been reading articles on topics I find interesting. I’ve also been following the disaster that is American politics. Every bit of it makes me sad and angry. I’m disappointed in so many ways that things are as they are, and hope that it rights itself sooner rather than later. I’ve also been reading books and taking on new and challenging, well, challenges. For instance, I finally started the meditation challenge that I’ve been putting off for the better part of nine months. I have to meditate for ten minutes each day, for 30 days. It’s been rather difficult, but that’s mostly due to my own anxiety and insecurity. I’ve also been doing a yoga challenge, since I’ve not had as much time to devote to going to yoga classes as I’d like. Every day I do X amount of sun salutations, increasing throughout the month. It’s been good for the most part, as I do the yoga and then the meditation. The issue is that if I do not do it in the morning when I wake up, I end up falling asleep during the meditation. I’m a very early riser, so trying to meditate in the evening before bed, is not practical. I’ve since gone back to my morning routine.

Since I’ve been doing some reading and listening to audiobooks, my friend recommended an unconventional “self-help” book that I loved based solely on the title. The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck has ultimately changed the way I see my quest and how I will pursue it further. It resonated with me so much that I, in fact, have started listening to it a second time. I listened to the entire book in one day. There are parts of it that resonate a little more strongly than others, obviously, but it was truly refreshing to hear someone say that sometimes, life fucking sucks, and that’s ok.

Not only does life sometimes suck a whole lot, and not only is that ok, but feeling crappy about things is sometimes ok too. Too often these writers gloss over the fact that we are humans and we grow from adversity and suffering. If we do not allow ourselves to experience these negatives to the fullest, we will never achieve the kind of happiness we so desperately seek. And not only that, but if we “seek” it with such drive and ferocity, we are unlikely to actually attain what we’re looking for. It’s kind of like that old adage about finding your keys when you stop looking for them, or they’re in the last place you look (because who would keep looking after they found them?). You find them because you’re both fucking over it and give up, or you come to grips with the fact that you’ve looked everywhere and you just might have to walk. That’s when they pop up and usually in a place that you’ve already inspected.

The point is this: Stop looking so damn hard for happiness. And furthermore, once you’ve stopped looking so intently for a moving target, look deeper at the metric by which you measure your happiness, and with some perspective shifting, you may actually come to see you’re closer than you thought.

For instance, I’ve been feeling rather unhappy at my job. Yes, there are really great aspects about it, but I am still left feeling like I want to move on. I’ve got incredible flexibility and almost zero oversight by my bosses. I’ve got a practically nonexistent dress code, and long stretches in which I stare blankly at my computer screen while listening to music, or in this case, audiobooks, and surfing the internet. The people I work with are pretty exceptional and we typically work well together. There’s nobody I particularly dislike, which is incredibly rare. Yet, there’s a sense of unease and malaise.

Part of it is because, while extremely stressful at times, it’s not challenging. I do not feel as though I am solving real problems, but rather doing busy work and nothing of real consequence. The other problem is that the corporate culture is that of “Old Boy’s Club”, where many people have been here for decades and the vast majority of them are middle-aged white men. There are few women in positions of authority, and virtually none of them are in the department where I reside. I’m the only woman in my department in this city. So, it is exceptionally difficult for me to move up within my department, because there are few opportunities and there’s this idea that women are not meant for this department, due to the nature of the work. I do not work outside in the warehouse, but they are the folks I support in my position.

And I recognize, after listening to this most recent book, that I carry with me a bit of entitlement. I am well educated, but I am in basically the same position I’ve been in for more than the last decade. Granted I’m making a slightly larger salary and have a few more responsibilities, the functions are essentially the same. This frustrates me. I feel entitled to a better role, people taking me more seriously than they do, and ultimately Master’s level compensation for my time. I also am keenly aware that I rock at doing my job. I know that and have been told that time and again. But I don’t feel as though I’m valued beyond lip service. I am not given truly important responsibilities or compensated to an amount that I feel I should be. This is pure entitlement. I feel like I spent so much time and an ungodly amount of money on my education, I should be doing more for myself. And of course, my line of work and my education are completely dissimilar. Getting into my field has proven to be impossible through conventional means, and truthfully, I’ve given up on that battle.

Instead, I’ve allowed myself to become bitter, entitled and indignant. This has gotten to the point in which I would rather bitch about my lack of opportunities than to find something more aligned with my values. I half-heartedly started a business with a friend, but got so discouraged because she wasn’t nearly as motivated as I was. She started out saying she was motivated, but when the time came, her values and mine just don’t seem to line up. That doesn’t mean she’s wrong or to blame, we just don’t seem to be on the same page. She’s got an extremely full plate, and I feel like I perhaps pushed her into this venture a bit too fast for her comfort. And I’m sorry and wrong for overstepping that boundary. I certainly can’t be mad at her for not wanting to just jump in with both feet into a dream that she might not necessarily share.

So I feel stuck. I feel stuck as the breadwinner of my household, unable and unwilling to make changes because of fear and financial stress. And what’s worse is that I’ve not been taking responsibility for those feelings until now. I’ve been blaming the job market, my husband being lazy, my friend not being motivated “enough”, and many more excuses. I’ve been an entitled ass. That’s a tough pill to swallow. I hate being wrong, and more importantly, I hate being unaware of my truth (my truth being the reality of my feelings and behaviors, and how I allow myself to interact with those around me). What’s worse is that aside from being painfully unaware of reality, I’ve also been kind of a dick to myself, my friends, and my family.

Now the options in front of me are as follows 1) keep doing the same thing, while knowing the truth, 2) make small, but meaningful changes to right the ship, or 3) just say fuck it and jump based on my newfound understanding of things. This is what I have been marinating on since yesterday and still have not come to a resolution. Part of me desperately wants each of those options, for conflicting reasons. So we shall see what I come up with.

Thanks for reading this long ass post. J

You only get one shot- A Year of Happiness Blog year in review

•January 4, 2017 • Leave a Comment

It seems like 2016 was pretty much one of the hardest years for everyone that I’ve talked to. We have all collectively decided that it was a dumpster fire (as seen by the numerous memes of such) that skidded to the end like a slow motion train wreck that we couldn’t stop looking at. I mean, any year that starts off with David Bowie dying is pretty much going to suck.

With that being said, I had the best intentions for 2016. I was hoping that politically, this country would move toward human rights, helping people out of poverty, and electing one of my favorite political figures of at least the last decade (I pretty much bleed Bernie). However, America went the completely opposite way, and those proverbial chickens are going to be coming home to roost in just a few short days. But all that political turmoil and the joke that was our election cycle wasn’t even the worst part of the year. There’s been so much vitriol and hate circulating that it’s been extraordinarily difficult to keep a level head for an empath like me.

2016 has been challenging at best, to put it mildly. Personally, I was hoping to focus more on the things that matter to me, like working fewer hours and spending more time with my young daughter and husband. I changed jobs to facilitate that happening, but I ended up working just as many hours as with my previous job, but thankfully in a better environment. Yes, my job is still stressful and riddled with nonsense and adult children, its closer to home, and a variety of other plusses. My big great plan for 2016 was to start my own business and to begin the process of working for myself. Yet again, 2016 was the year that wouldn’t quit. All of those plans stalled in their infancy and have almost become an albatross instead of uplifting me.  I’ve taken numerous steps toward my dream of being self-employed once again, but it simply hasn’t come to pass.

I’m truly hopeful that 2017 will be different.

I think that’s one of my main switches recently is that even though everything has gone to hell in a handbasket throughout this year, I’m still hopeful that 2017 will be better. That’s not to say we aren’t in for a bumpy ride, because we are, given the state of politics and social concerns as of late. Yet, I still believe that I’ve just got this one life to live right now and bogging myself down to the point of paralysis isn’t doing me any favors. Every day I wake up and do everything I can to make sure that my family is taken care of and that I remain as healthy as possible.

I’ve been letting my mental and physical health slip a little this last year and I’ve already started making changes to get back on track. I’m doing yoga and meditating in the mornings now, so I can start my days off right. If only the holidays were a distant memory, so I could go back to working at 6am, instead of 5. That would be swell. Only one more week of these early hours until I go back to the regularly scheduled programming.

Anyway, I hope that 2017 finds you and yours happy and healthy. More to come this year from me so don’t worry. Writing is definitely on my agenda for this year, lots of it. Thanks for reading and I hope this year works out for all of us.

This week is testing me

•October 28, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Everything that could have gone wrong, has gone wrong this week. From the moment my coworker and I decided to ‘Fuck it’, we’ve both been tested, at home and at work. 

Her brother was in a crash 3000 miles away from her, I had to leave my car and rush home because it wouldn’t start and my daughter needed me. She had to cover the desk of another coworker and got reamed for that person’s mistakes, while I had to deal with one of my bosses getting pissed because I didn’t know how to do something he thought I should have been taking responsibility for. 

This whole week has been a hot mess, but I’m so glad it’s Friday. I am so fortunate and grateful for so many things. But I’ll be the first to admit that it’s been extremely challenging and throwing up my hands when I’ve got to hurry up and be somewhere- after wasting 25 minutes trying to start my car- is easier said than done. 

So, in the spirit of this project and of the week people seem to be having, fuck it. It’s Friday and almost time to go home and spend the night hanging out with my baby. That’s what matters. The rest of it means so little. 

The F*ck it Project

•October 26, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I have a coworker that lovingly said to me the other day that I’m like the twin she ate in the womb. I took that as we are weirdly similar. And we are. We share many similar experiences and as it turns out, know some of the same people. Our birthdays are even within a week of one another. It’s strange how much in common we have. But I digress. 

We were eating lunch together yesterday, which is fairly uncommon. I’m usually tethered to my desk or her to hers. But during our lunch, she was talking about her week and last weekend and some things that came up. We’ve both been experiencing stress from a variety of sources regarding things that are either A) completely out of our control or B) really not that important when it comes down to it. So she proposed a fuck it project. 

The idea is this: whenever we are feeling stress, anxiety, apprehension, or just a general lack of enjoyment in a situation that comes up, we will say fuck it, and do what we want or at least remove the attachment to the outcome. This is a very Buddhist approach and I immediately said yes. 

Surely we can’t do this type of thing at work, righ? Wrong. We are both still expected to perform our jobs pretty much flawlessly. We each have very demanding positions that require a lot of patience and dedication. We don’t do the same functions at our office, but they’re equally important. Because of the importance we are often overloaded, overworked, and simply over it. So instead of stressing out over a project or expectation, we are going to say fuck it, and remember that we are only human and that we can only do so much. We will not be guilted, harassed, or otherwise by ourselves or our bosses. Instead, fuck it. We will do our best, and that’s what will happen. 

We are doing this just for a week to see how we feel about it. But we will reconvene next week about the results. We will also hold each other accountable throughout the experience, since our work stations are very close together and we can see each other all day. I’m excited and a little nervous, since we both have the tendency to bear the weight of the world. But it’s heavy and I’m sick of carrying it. So fuck it.