Tag Archives: Writing

How to Write

I have often wondered how to write. Ever since I was a little girl, ever since I knew how to read and could consume stories, I wanted to be a writer, an author. But how to do that? There were no instruction manuals, were there? No steps to follow like how to become a vet or an accountant or a gym teacher. Or was there? Authors knew how to write. Why not ask them? They’ve written books about how to write! So I’ve been reading them ever since.

I actually probably haven’t read that many, compared to some aspiring authors. Mostly, I read stories. I couldn’t stay away from stories. Adventuresome stories, funny stories, educational stories. I wanted to be taken to worlds away. I wanted to go there myself. I wanted to bring others with me.

Right now I’m reading Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury because it has found its way into my life from several different angles lately. I was so excited to be inspired by this thin little volume, for it to give me what I needed to be the writer I wanted to be.

So far, I’m disappointed. I haven’t finished it yet, but it is, so far, not what I expected. It seems to be more memoir than writing manual. But! Alas! Maybe that’s what writing IS! It isn’t a skill to be learned through the study of a manual, but a lifestyle to be discovered through living! Zen in the Art of Writing can be a bit repetitive, as it is a collection of essays from over decades, but something that Bradbury mentioned again and again is how he wrote 1,000 words every day.

Monday, he wrote. Tuesday, he wrote. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, he wrote. He mailed off his stories every Saturday to be published in magazines. Sunday he let all of the ideas bubble up and excite him before the next week of writing.

And look at me. Here I am, sitting at my computer (using a typewriter app because no distractions), writing. This is what I need to do. My stories will never be like his. My process won’t be the same as his, either. But the pure passion he writes with… That is inspiring. It doesn’t really matter what he’s saying, I guess, but just the fact that he is saying it with gusto.

My whole life I have wondered how to be a writer, but I’ve done it. I’ve been writing my whole life. Not perfectly consistently, not exactly what I wish I had been writing, but I’ve written. I have this hang-up that to be considered a writer, I have to publish something. Like, professionally, officially publish something. I’ve tried to convince myself that no, that is authorship, not being a writer, but really my head refuses to separate the two.

I am a writer because I write. Have I not “published” things on my own website? Have I not won prizes and recognition with my poetry and short stories? Have I not kept a diary or journal for over 18 years of my life? Have I not entertained and enthralled my mother, husband, and children with my stories? I write so I am a writer.

So, how to write, then? It is akin to asking one how to live. No one answer is the correct answer for everyone. Contrarily, no two answers will probably ever be the same for any two people. We must live each day to live our lives, even if we’re not sure what we are doing as we do it. The same with writing. Write every day. Share it if we want. (Do we find it beneficial to share our lives with friends and family, for example?) As we write, as we live, we discover, we experience, and we figure out how. A new adventure, every day.

Edited later to add:

“Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art, be it acting, writing, painting, or living itself, which is the greatest art of all.” – Ray Bradbury, 1965

The Fear of Downsizing… My Computer

What if it’s not enough? What if I can’t do what I need to do? What if I can’t do what I want to do? Is it even worth the investment? Should I wait for something bigger or better to present itself? What if it’s not what I expect? What if it’s not enough?

I am in need of a new computer and I have made the choice to downsize. And I’m a little scared.

I have owned 2 personal computers in my life. My first experience with a computer was a Gateway desktop, with dial-up internet. Man, I loved playing in that cow-colored box. Next, when I was in high school, my parents bought me my own black Dell desktop that I kept in my room. We got better internet in that era and it was awesome. And finally in January 2006, after a semester of excellent attendance and grades in college, my parents bought me a sleek white MacBook.

I love this MacBook. It has served me very well in the past 11 years and 5 months. And it’s still going! I debate getting rid of it at all, but, truth be told, it’s just getting too outdated. Can I use it for what I need to do? Yes, most of the time.

Here’s the deal.

  • I don’t have much storage space. I store all of my music on an external hard drive because there is no room on my actual computer. Same for photos. So then I just started storing all documents on the external hard drive, too. All of the storage space on this computer is basically used in a way so the computer itself will function — it’s not storing any of my personal files anymore.
  • The battery is pretty much dead. I need to keep this computer plugged in all the time when I am using it. It will stay on for a few minutes between outlets if I need to move it, but that’s it. This has essentially made my laptop into a desktop for the last 5 years. I just never got around to replacing the battery and now it seems too late.
  • I always need to keep this laptop open. I mean, physically keep the screen up. There is some sort of loose wire in the hinge and whenever I close the laptop, it is very, very, difficult to open it again and still see the screen. I can see an extremely faint outline of items on the screen, but it is essentially black. It can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes to finagle the screen back up with a back-lit picture showing. So I just leave it open all the time to avoid that hassle. But that creates other hassles, like dust collecting in the keyboard and cats stepping on it and opening unexpected windows and menus.
  • It just can’t handle another update. I needed to update my operating system about 2 years ago to be able to connect to our wireless printer. This took up even more storage space and was not compatible with a lot of my software, such as Microsoft Office. I’ve been able to get along just fine without the software, thanks to things like Google Docs and online photo editors. But even though I just updated the operating system, this system is not supported for many other updates, including, most importantly for me, Google Chrome. Sadly, the hardware of this system just can’t support another operating system update and it doesn’t seem worth the money to essentially rebuild it with components that will.

I would love to replace this MacBook with the current equivalent, but now that the money is coming out of my pocket, I think, that starting at around $1,200, it’s too expensive. We have student loan debt and a mortgage and home repair debt. We could take some of our income and put it towards a new MacBook, but it just doesn’t make sense to me if it’s going to slow down our debt repayments. Even if we had no debt… well, maybe I would buy a MacBook then… but really I would want to do even more home improvements — like finish our attic and basement to better utilize the space we already have.

So I decided not to buy another MacBook. Thus began my quest to find a suitable replacement. One that didn’t run Windows (I really dislike the Windows operating system). Eventually, for $214, I decided on getting a Chromebook… And that’s where the major downsizing came in.

I am losing some functionality, but I think I can make it work. (I hope it works!) It satisfies 3 out of the 4 problems listed above with my current MacBook — it’ll have a new battery with a long life, it will be mobile, and it will technologically up-to-date. The thing is, it still doesn’t have much storage space.

Chromebooks are designed to have most, if not all, digital matter stored in the Cloud. I’m a little weary of storing everything on the internet, but I do still have my external hard drive to store back-ups and super personal files. My husband has a Toshiba laptop running Windows to which I will transfer my iTunes account, since one cannot run iTunes on an Chromebook at all. I fear that not having my very own iTunes will be the thing I miss the most — after all, I’ve already been dealing with no storage space and loss of software for a few years now — but it will definitely be manageable.

There’s probably a lot more that even my current obsolete MacBook can do that a Chromebook cannot, but when I really thought about it, I decided I didn’t really need it. I asked myself “What do I use my computer for on a day-today basis?” and “What do I want to use it for in the future?”

Right now, I basically use my computer for the internet — things like online banking, email, domestic shopping, connecting to the library, searching for information, reading blogs, etc. — and a Chromebook should be ace at allowing me to do all that.

In the future, I want to do more writing. It certainly does not take a powerful computer to do word processing, so a Chromebook should manage fine. I will have to give up Scrivener, but as much as I like Scrivener, I am looking forward to the simplicity of writing without all the bells and whistles. Like, a typewriter has been seeming very appealing to me lately — no distractions. A Chromebook will be full of internet distractions, but I can also just physically disconnect from that for a while.

There are lots of other things that I’ve used a computer for in the past, like editing videos and photos, but I’ve grown away from them and have no desire to go back to it. I have a family now and want to spend more time with them and less time in front of a screen. And since I’ll be sharing iTunes with my husband, maybe that’ll bring us closer, too, ha. I’m diving in — the Chromebook should arrive in the mail sometime next week — and I’ll just see how it goes.

Hopefully it’s enough.

Dealing With Overwhelm

I get overwhelmed sometimes and I must admit that I’m not always the greatest at dealing with it. But I’m working on it. I have identified where some of my weaknesses are, and I’m trying new things to better handle it.

Right now, when I get overwhelmed, I don’t know where to start and it practically paralyzes me. So when I start to feel overwhelmed and stressed, I immediately take a step back and decide to take some time to relax instead. Letting my body rest and relax is better than accumulating the negative affects of stress, right?

Except, relaxing in the face of overwhelm is just a form of avoidance and it makes the problem worse in the long run. I need to relax, of course, but I need to be mindful about it, too. I can’t just relax when things get too hectic because then I would just relax more and more while the chore pile grew and grew to ever more unmanageable heights. I need to take steps toward the top of my to-do mountain with realistic mental-health breaks along the way.

I’ve tried scheduling things out during the week to help spread the busyness. Budget balancing on Mondays, vacuuming on Tuesdays, appointments on Wednesday, laundry day, etc. But I had trouble sticking with it. In reality, the circumstances of my life right now are just too unpredictable to fit in daily boxes. So I created weekly task-lists instead.

I find using a Bullet Journal helps in determining what is really important. If it gets written down, it is priority. (I only allow 1 page for my weekly to-do list, with items written on every other line. That creates a max of 15 tasks per week, or an average of 3 per day.) This helps clear some of the mental clutter. If something doesn’t make the list, it’s easier for me to remember that I don’t have to give it any mental thought power — at least until a later date. This gives structure, but isn’t too rigid. A rigid structure is inherently fragile; When there is more room for improvisation, there is more room to succeed.

When things get to be just too too much, and I find my frazzled mind is affecting my mood, I find stream-of-consciousness journaling helps a lot, too. I’ll take some time — maybe 20 to 30 minutes — to just write about how I’m feeling. I’m not consciously trying to figure out why I’m feeling a certain way, but sometimes it emerges on its own. I mostly just complain. I write about how things are (not great) and how I want them to be instead (wonderful). Just getting those concerns (complaints) out somewhere helps me get past them and move on. I no longer feel bogged down by the weight of the suckiness and feel free enough to do something, anything, and that sets me on my way to a more productive day.

I must say, though, that I don’t only journal to complain. I probably complain for a few pages once every few months. But I compile a list of daily gratitude every night before I go to sleep. I think this is important to note as gratitude journaling is also beneficial. If complaints are the only thing we’re writing into our expressive universe, our energy is unbalanced. Daily thankfulness (or other affirmative expression) tips our expressive energy scale to the positive, making it more likely for the wonderful to come into our lives.

Learning how to successfully deal with overwhelm will be a lifelong feat. As we grow, we learn, we change. It is important to adapt as we realize certain practices are no longer serving us and continually explore ways to cultivate the best lives for ourselves.

My Bullet Journal

I don’t even know if I can call it a Bullet Journal (or BuJo) because I don’t use the bullets. Not anymore. But that’s how it works for me. It was inspired by Bullet Journaling, but I guess it’s really just like a homemade calendar with some assorted lists.

I tried traditional Bullet Journaling, but it seemed too rigid to me. I know it’s not really rigid, but I dunno… I didn’t like the index page. The bullet points seemed cool, but just kinda like more work for me than I needed. The whole thing was more structured than I needed.

Also, I felt like I wasn’t doing it right if it wasn’t beautiful. I wanted it to be beautiful, but I just ain’t got the time! Seeing things like this and this and this made me feel like, why bother?

But then I saw Ariel Bissett’s video on her Bullet Journal and I was like yes! I love how she only uses a single pen and leaves it to stickers and washi tape to simply beautify her book. I don’t have any stickers or washi tape, so I use a color-mash crayon to add lots of color with simple doodles.

I also love her little supplemental to-do list book, so I just added mine right into my “Bullet” Journal and use that as a weekly snap-shot. I also added some random lists to the back for things I would like to do long term (i.e. home improvements or writing ideas) or that don’t have priority (i.e. books, music, and movies I want to check out).

It’s not gorgeous, I’ll tell you that, but it has been working for me. It’s simple enough for me to keep up with, and it’s detailed enough to keep me up with what needs to get done — during the week or scheduled throughout the month.

Without further ado, here are some pictures:

Opening page
Monthly Layout
Blog and Writing Ideas
Home Improvements and Media to Check Out
Weekly To-Do List
Last Week’s To-Do List
Another Monthly Layout

I want to thank everyone else who has posted a blog or vlog about their Bullet Journal to help spread ideas to inspire and calm. I’ve learned much from you.

Night Out – A Short Story

It was Friday night and Natalie’s husband stayed home with their children while she went out with a couple of her old friends from college. They went to bar on the river with outdoor seating and dancing.

There were four of them all together, but Natalie was the only one yet married. Soon enough, after they all caught up with one another, the others were off talking and dancing with men, and Natalie was left alone.

She walked up to the bar and bought a drink. Seltzer with a splash of cranberry and a twist of lime. A man walked up beside her and they started chatting. He was nice and funny, just like Natalie. It wasn’t long before he noticed the ring on the third finger of her left hand. The plain silver band contrasted starkly with her dark skin.

“Oh, you’re married?” He asked.

“Yes,” Natalie said.

He bent his head down gravely, “Is it serious?”

Natalie couldn’t help herself and laughter bubbled up and out. “Would you like to dance?” She asked the man, Dustin.

“Uh… sure,” he said. He put his glass down on the bar and she did the same.

They walked to the open area next to the band. The band played jazz that warmed the cool air off the river, jazz as smooth as the wooden boards beneath their feet, jazz as bubbly as Natalie’s laughter.

They held hands and kicked and twisted. Dustin couldn’t remember the last time he danced with anyone like that. Maybe never.

“You’re good,” he said.

“Hmm?” she looked as him again. Most of the time, her head was lost in the music and the movement.

“Do you like to dance?”

“Oh, I love it,” she said.

“I can tell.”

“Almost as much as I love my husband.”

Dustin’s smile faltered for only a moment. Natalie didn’t see it because she had dipped her head back and around.

They danced a while longer, to a song even faster than the one before.

“Then why are you here dancing with me?” Dustin asked.

Natalie did a move that seemed almost a shrug. “You’re here and you’re fun.”

“Yeah?”

He seemed to be waiting for more.

“That’s it,” she said.

Dustin had never encountered a woman such as this before. She was charming and he was charmed. He had gone out for beers and distraction and stumbled upon magic. He knew that magic and he missed it.

The night couldn’t last forever. Natalie’s friends found her so they could all walk back to their cars together. Natalie laughed at the tales her friends recounted as they took out their keys in the parking garage.

She put her high-heeled shoes on the passenger seat and drove home barefoot. She walked still barefoot up the front path to her house.

Her husband loved tasting the lime on her breath when she got home, the children fast asleep. They danced in the living room, after she left her shoes on the floor by the couch. They danced down the hallway to their bedroom, where they danced some more, the sheets dancing above them.

Dustin had had a few beers, but drove home anyway. He was used to it. He was, however, more focused than even he expected. He parked in the street in front of his house and slipped his wedding ring back on as he walked to the door. He was used to that, too. But he wasn’t used to this feeling of floating.

He floated in the door, kissed his wife who was barely awake on the couch, a magazine open on her chest.

“What was that for?” She asked, suspicious.

“Oh, did you want to sleep on the couch all night?” He asked lightly, with a smile.

“No…” His wife said. She had gotten used to a nudge.

He took her hand and he pulled her close.

“You seem… happy,” she said.

“I am happy.”

“Why?”

“I am happy with you,” he kissed her. “You make me happy. You’ve made me happy for a long time.” He had almost forgotten.

He kissed her again and the heaviness of her sleep lifted away from her. They floated up the stairs, floated into their bedroom, and floated some more, the sheets floating above them.

Why I’m Fine With the Song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

I’m a feminist and I’m fine with the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and here’s why:

(And please note that I’m only analyzing the song as it was intended — as in, which part was female and which was for the male. Switch it around, and it no longer fits in its original historical context. I am also assuming that the characters are at least 18 years old, which seems likely.)

I understand that the song was written in 1944 and thus has some social context that doesn’t really fit in with today’s social interactions anymore. I mean, thank goodness that we live in a culture now where it’s okay and normal for a woman to be alone with a man.

I don’t get a date-rapey vibe from the song because it is clear to me that the woman wants to stay and spend some intimate time with this guy. She’s just playing a game. And, yes, it is annoying for women to play games like that. But at that time in history, it was pretty much necessary for her to keep her reputation intact.

She is only playing the game because of the outside pressures that society is placing on her. I don’t have a problem with this song, I have a problem with misogynistic sex-discrimination against women in the 1940s… but it’s 2016 and we’re (mostly) beyond that now, right?

Today, if a woman was planning on spending an evening with a charming guy she liked, she would bring her own bottle of her fave alcohol to share and a purse full of condoms. She wouldn’t even have to tell her family, “Don’t wait up,” because she wouldn’t be so accountable to them. I believe it is a rare occasion these days for an entire family to be worrying, pacing, suspicious, and waiting at the door when a young woman goes out to drop in on her beau.

Here are some lines that I think may be commonly misunderstood:

  • “I ought to say no… at least I’m gonna say that I tried.” Spoiler alert: she really wants to say yes, but knows it wouldn’t be “proper” during this strict 1940s dating scene. Hey neighbors, why don’t you mind your own business and let a woman do what she wants?
  • “Say, what’s in this drink?” Not a rufi — you can’t taste a rufi! Probably just alcohol, people.
  • “My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious.”  Does anyone even know what a maiden aunt is? I looked it up. It’s an unmarried aunt. The point is, it’s not relevant anymore. Collins Dictionary clarified it is “old-fashioned”.
  • “You’ve really been grand (I thrill when you touch my hand)… But don’t you see?… There’s bound to be talk tomorrow.” This poor woman can’t do what she wants for fear of societal backlash and losing her good reputation, back in the days when a reputation was all a woman could have.
  • Think of my lifelong sorrow… If you got pneumonia and died.” Yeah, he’s playing the game, too. Oh, you’re hurtin’ me soooo much! But at least he’s still being humorous about it — i.e. he’s not serious. Neither of them are. It’s supposed to be a fun song!

I hope by now we all know that consent is an important thing. A very important thing. But I also hope that we can live in a world with some subtle nuances, where some witty tête à tête is allowed, and where there’s room for humor between the lines. I hope we can live in a world where art can just be enjoyed.

And we should take the context of the art into consideration. Because in the 1940s, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was actually seen as empowering for women — she was having a drink with a man who wasn’t her husband, she didn’t want to be judged for her actions, and ultimately she makes her own decision. And I don’t see a problem with that.

Songs are art. Art is expression. They need not be, nor should be, public service announcements.

Feel free to enjoy that song if you like it.

Heidi, Exploding

After pursuing minimalism for a few years now, I want to shift my attention from focusing on less (stress, clutter, to-do items, goals, appointments, clothes, gadgets, etc.) and start focusing on MORE. Specifically, more joy. I want to celebrate each day with the reckless abandon of a child. To fully live in each day instead of seeing it as a mundane drudgery to get through. To have fun and be silly. To be creative and not worry about what that means.

I am currently listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and am loving it. She is really inspiring me to let myself be inspired. By life, you know? To have fun with my creativity, my writing, without the fear of getting it published or what other people may think. To let the genius work through me. To not stifle myself to conform to what I think I’ve grown up into.

I have been very careful on this blog, trying not to offend anyone. One of the biggest joys in my life has been my journal. I’ve written about it before. It’s had such a huge impact on my life, maybe because the habit of writing about my days put me in the habit of thinking about my days and living my days, instead of my days rushing by or even idly floating by. I wrote about angst and events and interesting thoughts and, what I thought were, insanely witty observations. It was so much fun.

I want to let my inner self explode again. I want to let my creativity flow. I want it to burst. I want to write everyday. And, this time,  I want to share it. Aaaaaaaaaaa!

Life Update and My Plans for November 2016

My life has been thrown a little out of whack recently due to a car crash. The whole family was involved, but Andrew is the only one to have a major injury — a fractured sternum, which is, thankfully, still pretty minor. However, it will take his body 6 to 8 weeks to fully heal. I’m happy to announce that he is healing quite well so far.

It was an odd experience being so thrown off of our schedule. I am so thankful that my parents and Andrew’s parents were around to help out with my children at the scene, the hospital, and the week right after when Andrew and I were in the most pain. I felt a bit lost and sad and worried there for a while, but after two weeks, we’re getting back to normal. Insurance paperwork is dealt with, hospital and doctor visits are over, Andrew and I are back to work, and I am able to take care of pretty much all of the day-to-day things again.

It’s not over yet, though. There is still more paperwork to sort, medical bills to pay, and the process of searching for, finding, and buying another car. Andrew is still on “light duty” when it comes to taking care of the children and the house so I need to handle the slack. This means that I am not participating in NaNoWriMo this November.

Writing a novel in a month takes a huge commitment and I usually depend on Andrew to take over some of my responsibilities around the house while I hide out and write write write in big chunks and spare moments during Novembers. Due to our circumstances this year, that obviously won’t be possible.

It’s only 3 days in and I already miss the community, excitement, and creative fervor that occurs ever November over at the NaNoWriMo community. But I am still happy with my decision to skip this year because I believe it is the best choice for my family and, ultimately, me.

Part of me wants to give it a crazy shot and try to write 50,000 words in one day or something (I saw on Twitter that someone already did that this year!), but another part keeps reminding myself of the 5 or so manuscripts I already have written that are still waiting to be edited. I have yet to even look at the novel I wrote last year since typing out the last word.

My plan, though, is to keep it simple. I will not attempt to write a novel this month. I will take care of my family by pulling some extra weight to make sure Andrew heals properly. I will take care of the loose ends of this car crash so we can put it behind us. And I will focus on writing every day [in a slightly less manic manner] this month. Maybe I’ll even get some editing done!

Ah yes, simple. That sounds pleasant. Much better than trying to do too much.

Stop Trying To Be Perfect

The title is a reminder for myself.

I used to make having fun top priority. After my childhood, when I was trying to really figure out how to be in this world, but before college, when I decided okay, now I have to really be in this world. Teenager-y years, I guess. Don’t we all go through a phase like that? Rebel a bit. We just want to party. I did. I had capital-F Fun.

Somewhere along the line, towards the more recent part of my 29 years (holy shit, I’m 29…), I got the idea in my head that people care about what I do, say, and think. Where did this idea come from? Probably from the fact that people have been telling me exactly that my whole life and it finally sunk in. (Sure, I’ve heard some stuff to counter that, but it’s not nearly as prolific.) Whether it was parents telling me not to do or say certain things because they were rude, teachers scolding me for breaking the rules (I hardly ever broke rules, but teachers are very good at preventive scolding), or hearing people talk passionately about their different views… the general message was that other people DO care about what I do, say, and think.

As I got better at being a person, I got better at accommodating this reasoning into my everyday actions. But this idea only really applies to a certain extent. I believe it does matter to have tact, be mindful of others (especially in shared spaces), and be open-minded, but pleasing others should not be the main goal of anyone’s life.

This “stop trying to be perfect” reminder for myself is a measure of self-preservation — so I don’t drive myself crazy living a life around others (who may or may not even notice my existence). And also to not live my life for my own ideas of what others may or may not be thinking. It’s a huge guessing game which only makes everyone stressed, and is rarely worth the effort.

Also, I have control over the bar I hold up for myself. We cannot control others. It is a waste of time and usually destructive. (Side note: instead of worrying about offending other people, work on not letting yourself be [easily] offended. Why should you do all that work, you may ask? Think about how pleasant the world would be if everyone worked on being less offendable. We’d be living in Easy-Going Get-Along-Ville. End side note.)

For example, I used to have a lot of fun with language. My diaries and journals were riddles with run-on sentences, incomplete sentences (I quite like incomplete sentences. They’re all like Bam! Ba. Am.), and made-up words. Those were the fun parts. There was also spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, but nobody else was reading it so I didn’t care.

Enter this blog. Other people are reading it. Should I start to care? Only, I didn’t ask myself that question. I just assumed that they (you) did. I fussed over grammar and structure and if I was being a rambling idiot (circa my ’00s journals… man, they were fun to write). Even for this post title (and every post title) I wonder if it’s the most succinct title (does succinct even mean what I think it means?) and WHICH WORDS ARE CAPITALIZED AND WHICH AREN’T??? I never know. Should the “to” be capitalized? Should the “be”? I don’t know. I never know. But I’m just now deciding…

I don’t care! As long as I’m being clear, I’m not going to fuss about grammar technicalities (of course I will avoid the egregious ones, but something’s gotta be said for colloquial-ality) or if I’m rambling or whatever. I’m going to have fun.

My example is quite niche, but it’s an idea to be embraced. Stop trying to be perfect. Try to be the best, try to be good, but don’t let perfectionism be the enemy of the good. Don’t let hypothetical worries spoil my fun.

I knew it before, as a teenager (there is so much we can learn from teenagers). I explode creatively if I don’t keep myself in a box. I’m happy when I do things I like for myself. I shine when I let myself shine.

I think I can tell when I’m consuming something created by someone else embracing this idea. It radiates through their work. Maybe I’m wrong, but it’s just a feeling I get. And from this end, I’d rather do whatever I can to cultivate that energy of happiness and wonder. It will sure improve my side of things. If it shines through for others, all the better.

I Believe in a Thing Called Positivity

I’ve been through a couple rough patches in the last weeks. Being depressed and tired and moody and just… bleh. More than bleh. Ugh. Even mmmmbblllleuggghhhhh.

I wanted to get out of that funk. A mood funk is not like music funk. Music funk is fun. Mood funks are… mmmmbbllleeuuggghhhhh.

I thought a good way to get out of it would be to… how do I say this? Find some religion. No. But nurture my spiritual side. Everyday life is mundane. We eat and sleep and poop and take care of all that needs to be taken care of to survive, but we often neglect our higher self or spiritual well-being.

I explored a few avenues of spirituality that I believed was best suited to my lifestyle, but they didn’t end up working for me. I won’t go into it to much, but instead will just jump right to the conclusions.

jump to conclusions

I’m not good with idols or gurus or talismans. I like nature — I feel at peace when “communing” with nature, i.e. doing nothing while just being near or in it. But living a life in the modern world, I don’t always have the time or situational circumstances to be out in nature when I need a little connection to the universe.

So I started a journal. (Again.) One where I can complain without burdening my family and friends (especially my huz), wonder and blather on about things that no one else I know will find interesting (which is the better pencil? Dixon Ticonderoga or Staedtler Norica? This guy knows. And cares.), and, most of all, where I can appreciate all the good stuff in my life. Because there is always good stuff, no matter how crappy I’m feeling.

I don’t always complain or commiserate, but every day I practice gratitude. Every day I make a list of any simply nice or extravagantly wonderful thing that graced my day. I don’t think I’ve every thought of less than three in a day. Usually I can think of more, but I just get tired and want to sleep rather than continue the list. Depends on the day.

But this practice of gratitude, of being grateful for anything (not even near everything) has helped improve my mood exponentially. It’s a personal reminder to just think positively about my life. Daily.

Taking the time to think of things to be grateful for everyday puts me in the practice of thinking that way all the time. Instead of being a pessimistic naysayer, I begin to automatically look on the bright side of things. And even if there are that many bright things, or they’re not that bright, but putting my focus on them puts the crap things in the background. So then they don’t bother me as much.

Gratitude and positivity are a way of life for me. I did it a lot in more years ago (before adult life got in the way) and it affected myself and others in a positive way. I made life better! For myself and others. It’s contagious. When I was a teenager working as a pizza delivery driver, one regular customer told me if I could bottle my happiness, I’d be a very rich person. I remember that compliment because it was one of the best I’d ever received. Not because of riches, but because he saw in me a potential to spread happiness. Who doesn’t want happiness? Everyone wants to be happy. And I could help propagate it!

Getting back to that way of thinking and appreciating has done wonders. It’s such a small and simple act, but that’s the great thing about it — it’s so easy! My mood has improved. My energy as increased. My love flows more freely. It’s a wonderful feeling. I recommend it to one and all.

Be positive and grateful and you will create your own happiness.

Enjoy.