Sunday, February 28, 2010

Having It All Together

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Recently I was talking to someone about marriage and relationships. This person was over forty years old but was not ready to get married because he did not “have it all together”. He felt marriage was not currently an option. He seemed rather sad when he said this.

This got me thinking. What does it mean to have it “All Together”? By what age do you need to have it “All Together”? Do I have it “All Together”? Do you have to have it “ALL Together” to pursue marriage, relationships, or even certain friendships? How does having it “All Together” affect or not affect your Joy?

I think having it all together means having accomplished a set of unique personal goals that allow you to have an optimal level of self esteem. I do not think there is a certain age that you need to have it all together by. I think at different ages there are different goals on the list and the complexity of those goals increases with age. For example at age 18 having it all together might mean a high school diploma, driver’s license and part time job. At age 25 having it all together might mean a college degree, a full time job, a car, your own place. At age 45 having it all together might mean having not a job but a career with 401k and benefits, owning your own home, a certain type of car, and maybe even certain hobbies like golf.

I do not think it is necessary to have it all together to pursue marriage, relationships, or certain friendships. However, I do think not having it all together, not having accomplished your personal goals, does affect your self esteem and therefore the types of relationships you feel comfortable pursuing. Since developing meaningful relationships enhances your happiness, not having it all together could make joy even harder to claim.

More important than actually having it all together is the feeling that your personal goals are attainable and progress is being made. Actively working on your personal goals automatically boosts your self esteem and confidence. With self esteem and confidence you are more likely to pursue quality friendships, relationships, and even make you feel an adequate candidate for marriage. Feeling worthy of these valued, meaningful relationships will certainly allow you to firmly grasp joy.

So… Do I have it all together? Not quite. I have achieved some of my personal goals. I have a Bachelors Degree, a career, own a home, own a car, and pay my own bills. But there are a few things I am still working on. I want to be debt free, I’d like to move to a better neighborhood, I’d like to lose some weight and I’d like to be more at peace with my spirituality. I do think not having accomplished some of these goals has impacted the relationships and friendships that I have chosen to pursue as well as the quality of existing relationships.

In recognizing the correlation between having or not having it “All Together” and Joy, I see the importance of identifying personal goals and making it a priority to work on them. So while I may not have it all together. I am moving forward, making progress, getting better, building confidence, boosting self esteem, feeling worthy of meaningful and positive friendships and relationships and diminishing the distance between myself and Joy.

I hope you will take the time to identify the personal goals that would allow you to Have It All Together. Push them to the top of your priority list and grasp Joy for yourself.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Are you friends with Joy???

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Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship. Someone emailed me recently venting over her disappointment in the lack of support she’d received from friends regarding a new endeavor and the difficulty of making new friend after college. My response to her was that I’d had very similar experiences.

This email conversation reminded me of something I’d heard on National Public Radio a few weeks ago. A woman (probably some kind of therapist) was giving people advice on how to avoid getting depressed if they were laid off. She said that having meaningful relationships is the most effective way to prevent depression. I deduced from this, that having more meaningful relationships would lead to more happiness in my life and therefore bring me closer to joy.

Having meaningful relationships takes effort. Do you have meaningful relationships with your friends and family? Do you invest time in these relationships? Are you supportive of your friends and family member’s endeavors’? Honestly I think I can do better in all of these areas.

I do have meaningful relationships with friends and family but I would like more. I’d like to make new friends. This is something that gets harder as you get older. When we are children we are thrust into social settings, primarily school, that forces us to meet new people at regular intervals. New people often equal new friends. After the school years we meet people at work and if we are lucky we make a few friends there but the rotation of new people at work is often not that great, although I have been blessed to have made several good friends at work. One reason for me trying some of the activities I listed in Devil’s Workshop… other than my desire to be more active and get a hobby, is to make new friends.

I am blessed with some meaningful relationships with friends and family. However most of these are relationships are not as meaningful or deep as I would like. I do believe that you often get out of things what you put into them. I have been supportive of friends’ endeavors. But, I have not invested the time and effort to create as deep or meaningful relationship as I would like.

One of the suggestions given to me regarding how to bring more joy to my life was planning events like dinners and movies with friends. This will help me to invest more time and effort into my friendships. As matter of fact I just came home from a girl’s weekend in Atlantic City. Not only did this trip bring some joy to my life by getting me out of the house and rid of some of that idle time. It allowed me to put in some face to face time with a good friend. We were able to really talk, not text, not IM, not Facebook message each other, but really talk. Real conversations, sharing of ideas and plans brings deeper meaning to relationships.

Over the years I’ve also not always been very open about my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. That is something that writing this Blog has helped me with. While many of you reading today do not know me, some of you are also good friends and are gaining a little insight as to what’s going on in my head. Since starting this blog, I’ve already had several friends express interest in exploring the activities I’m trying in pursuit of joy and have given me motivation to keep writing.

So putting a little more time and effort with my friendships while being more open will help me to be a better friend. Better friend equals more meaningful relationships and result in my getting even closer to closing the gap between myself and Joy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Who Do You Love???

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Valentine’s Day has just passed and for many people love is in the air. For others it was just another day. Some people really dislike the holiday claiming it is too commercial. I happen to like Valentine’s Day. Yes, it is too commercial, but so are most of our holidays. Thanksgiving tops the list for me. Instead of enjoying quality time with our loved ones and focusing on what we are thankful for many of us are shoveling in tremendous amounts of food and cutting the day short to get to bed so we can wake up at 2 am to get in line for an early bird special on Black Friday. Despite the commercialism of Valentine’s Day I like the concept behind it. Why not take a day to show some love? We may say I love you but really, how often do we SHOW others that we love them? We are busy working, taking care of our families, and pursuing our interests and often don’t have time or make time to do something special.

Most emphasis for Valentine’s Day is put on Romantic love. That is not the only type of love that I am talking about. I am all for showing your significant other how you feel. But there are other loving relationships that are just as important and over looked just as often. I’m talking about love between a parent and child, between friends, between siblings and other family and even love for yourself. That’s right, you are special too and should show yourself some love as well. To be clear, when I say show love, I am not talking about going out and buying someone a gift although that is fine if that is what’s in your heart (I love both giving and receiving gifts :-0 ) I’m simply talking about doing something nice for someone else or even yourself.

All this is to say that the intent behind Valentine’s Day is beautiful. However, the spirit is lost due to commercialization and the focus on only romantic love, turning what should be a pleasant day into something negative for those fed up with the commercialization, not in relationship, or who may have recently lost their significant other. So let’s broaden our focus a bit. We all have someone to love (friends, family, and even pets). And don’t forget to love yourself. That’s what my quest for Joy is really all about. Loving myself enough to look for happiness and realizing that a happier me puts me in a better place to Love others.

I Love you all.

P.S. God Loves You Too.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Am Worth The Cheese Dip.

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A few weeks ago I posted a Facebook status update stating that I was not happy and having a hard time being my usual upbeat self due to a death in my family and a failed relationship. I asked my Facebook friends what kinds of things do they do that makes them happy. I got several suggestions that helped me compile the list of activities in my post Devil’s Workshop Going Out of Business…. Everything Inspired by Negativity Must Go!!! One of the more unique suggestions I received was from a good friend. Her suggestion was to “Wash your favorite sheets, mix ½ block of Velveeta with 1 can of Rotel, turn on comedy central, sit in bed and laugh at off color jokes all day”. When I first read my friends reply to my status I laughed because her suggestion came with a disclaimer that it was not for the calorie conscious and something about it leading to a large ass. While I am somewhat calorie conscious I decided to try it anyway.

First I had to make a few adjustments to my friend’s suggestion. I have brand new 600 thread count sheets that I’m sure will be my new favorite sheets. However I did not feel like changing the bedding plus I’m not a big fan of eating in bed. So my first adjustment was to clear the junk from my couch and get a comfy cover that I could get all cozy in. Second adjustment, the dip, I have an aversion to Velveeta. I don’t think I’ve ever had Velveeta but it does not fit my category “real cheese”. But I did have some salsa and a spinach dip on hand. Third adjustment, what to watch? I do enjoy Comedy Central and am rarely offended by off color jokes. But, I had about 80 episodes of the Office recorded on my DVR. Adjustments made I got comfortable for an evening of baked scoops, salsa and spinach dip on my comfy couch laughing at the shenanigans of Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute on The Office.

This was a pleasurable experience although I cannot say lounging on my couch snacking filled me with joy. However I did learn something that will definitely bring me closer to joy. Even something as routine as watching TV on the couch can be fun when you make it special. Normally I do not like to be home alone with no one to talk to. Knowing that I was going to try my friend’s suggestion almost made me look forward to this alone time. I would not just be watching TV because I did not have anything better to do. I’d be watching something that I’d planned with snacks that I’d saved for the occasion in a setting that I’d made comfortable just for me.

We tend to save special things for others. We have plates and towels for company, special foods for holidays, even special underwear and lingerie for that extra special person. Why don’t we have special things just for us? If I plan some special things for me and only me to do, wear, experience when I’m alone then I’ve just made my alone time special time instead of that nasty idle time that leads to negativity. (See Devil’s Workshop Going Out of Business…. Everything Inspired by Negativity Must Go!!!). I’m special enough for the good plates, towels, food, etc…

So thank you my friend, you know who you are, for showing me that I am worth the Velveeta and Rotel Dip. :-)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Closer Than I Thought

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Today I watched a TV show called What I Hate About Me. The person featured on the show lists ten things they hate about themselves. I was immediately turned off by the title and assumed the show would be stupid and filled with women talking negatively about their bodies. I was wrong. The show was good it just has a stupid title. The woman featured listed the ten things she hated about her life. Some were physical things about her and some were not. She hated that she had no curves and was built like a boy, she did not have enough bedroom time with her husband, her house smelled like dog pee (yuck!!!), she could not bake a cake, her eyelashes were thin, her skin was oily, she had too much clutter from mail, she had to wear stockings to work, her hair weave was terrible. During the hour long show experts helped her make some changes that improved her quality of life. That’s what the show was really about, how to improve your quality of life, not how to focus on all your negative qualities. They really should consider a new title.

When I first started to watch this show I was thinking I don’t even have ten things that I hate about me. I love me. I really like who I am as a person. I am pretty, smart, kind, generous, honest, funny, and even sexy at times. Sure I’d like to lose some weight for health and vanity reasons, not because I look bad now because I could look better and feel better. But overall I’m a very good package. In watching this show I realized I’m not as far from joy as I thought. A big part of being happy is being happy with yourself and I can say that I do like me. In fact it really upsets me anytime I feel someone is telling me I need to change who I am.

As I got more into the show and realized that the point was to help the person improve the quality of his or her life by taking action to change the things they are unhappy about I thought about my quest for joy. I’ve already focused on the types of activities I can do to have a better quality of personal time and claim some of my desires, but what other things could I do to have a better quality of life and therefore more Joy??? Here’s what I came up with

Become a better house keeper
Continue to work on treating my body like my temple
Work on my anxiety regarding Church
Make new friends
Get out of debt
Improve my wardrobe

What about you? What are some things you’d like to work on to improve your quality of life? As I keep you posted on how I’m do with these things as well as my list of activities to improve my downtime, I hope you’ll share with me some of the things you are doing on your personal quest for joy. I’m sure I’m not the only person chasing after it.

My quest for joy continues although I realize I’m a little closer to it than I thought.

Monday, February 8, 2010

My Body My Temple…Or My Body My Minimally Maintained Shelter???

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I know we’ve all heard this before and have probably even said it a time or two. Usually this is said in the context of morality specifically when and with whom it is appropriate to be intimate with. But fear not, that’s not what this post is about. I’m talking about how you treat your body every day. People have designed beautiful Temples, done the hard work to maintain them and filed them with beauty. We’ve often brought our very best selves through the temple doors. Is this how we’ve treated our bodies? Have we given our very best selves to ourselves? Do we fill our bodies with the best stuff on earth (no, I do not mean Snapple) and put in the time to keep our bodies in the best condition possible. Or do we fill our bodies with all kinds of junk and do only what is minimally necessary to keep it standing???

Unfortunately I cannot say I’ve treated my body like a temple. I’ve not given my very best self to myself. However, I can say I’ve put in more than just minimal maintenance. I fall somewhere in the middle trying to follow a healthy diet but getting distracted by junk, scheduling regular workouts but having some lazy days. I consider myself a work in progress. I’m under construction but the blueprints detail Temple specifications. And just what are the details of these blueprints? The basics – regular exercise, fruit, veggies, whole grains, low fat protein, water, sleep, and support/ inspiration (Shouts out to PNP and Corrine’s Blog).

So what does this have to do with my chasing joy? If I’m tired, out of shape, and malnourished I’ll never be able to grasp joy. I will not being able to do things If my body is rundown. I’ll be intimidated to try new things because I’ll know I’m not at my best (see Ready For My Tutu). Also, let’s review, part of the definition of joy is the prospect of possessing what one desires. Several of the things I desire are directly related to me being good to myself and treating my body as my temple. Do I really want to take a boudoir picture of a body that I’ve only done minimal maintenance on? I don’t think so. Following my temple blueprint will also give me a foundation toward possessing several of my other desires, wearing a single digit dress size, doing men’s pushups, and being able to jog 3 miles nonstop.

Joy I’m on my way temple blueprints in hand.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Stop Lying!!!

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In talking to friends, family, co-workers and reading different magazine articles, blogs, and books I’ve noticed a trend that is disturbing to me. No I’m not talking about fashion trends or music trends. I’m talking about this trend of lying to ourselves about how we feel. You know what I’m talking about you hate your job and someone says you should be grateful to have work in this economy. Yes you should be grateful to have work and I’m sure you are. However people are complex and definitely capable of have more than one emotion at a time. You can both Hate your job and also be grateful for the income that it provides. And you should be allowed to say it without feeling guilty and unappreciative. You should NOT however be allowed to say you hate it every day to the same person and then proceed to do nothing about it. That is called complaining. There is a difference between complaining and merely expressing how you feel and complaining takes the joy away from others. Don’t be a joy thief!!!

Life does really suck some time, not all the time or even most of the time… but some time it just sucks. And I am giving you permission to say it. The key is to realize why and then figure out what you can do to make it suck a little less each day until the suckiness has passed. You don’t have to try and trick yourself into thinking you feel differently. If you are lonely it is ok to say it (again not to the same person all the time). You do not have to try and convince yourself you are not lonely by listing all the wonderful virtues of having time to yourself. Instead try listing all of the things you can do to meet people.

If you hate your job don’t waste your time thinking up all the good things about it and how lucky you are to have work. Instead acknowledge how you really feel and focus on figuring out what kind of work you’d like to do and what it’ll take for you to get that type of job.

If you are disappointed that you are not married or in a relationship don’t try and convince yourself that single life is better and focus on all the negative aspects of your friends relationships. Instead give some thought to the type of person you’d want to be with and to the types of activities you can do to meet that type of person. Also give some thought as to if you have all the qualities you want to offer to that man or women of your dreams and put sometime into improving yourself.

If you recently got laid off don’t try and convince yourself that it does not suck by thinking of all the reasons your old job sucked and why you’re glad to be unemployed. Instead acknowledge how you may feel (afraid, angry, powerless, etc…) then focus on what you can do to fill your time in a way that prepares you for the next job opportunity or what you can do to make the most of your unemployment compensation (cost cutting, budgeting, etc.)

Let’s not lie to ourselves and pretend we are ok if we really are not. Let’s be real about how we feel and then figure out how to make it better. That’s what this blog is for me. I’ve recently experienced the death of a loved one and had some relationship experiences that have not gone the way I wanted. These things suck. I am not happy and I miss the joy that these relationships brought to my life. But, I’m not going to wallow in the suckiness of it all. What I am going to do is focus on how I can bring some happiness to my life to replace what is missing… And therefore I’ll continue running full speed ahead chasing joy until I can grab it and make it mine.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ready For My Tutu

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The first thing I decided to try on my list was Ballet. I’ve always wanted to try it. I did not have the opportunity to do it as a little girl. I knew there were adult classes available but until now I’d not had the courage to try it. As you see from my list of potential Joy invoking activities one of my desires is to fit into a single digit dress size (size 9 would do). So obviously I do not resemble your typical ballerina. I’d imagined myself walking into an adult class and having the instructor take one look at me, refund my registration fee and confiscating my ballet slippers. Since the definition of Joy does not include word Fear I decided afraid or not, I’d try it.

The first hurdle I had to get over was purchasing my Ballet Slippers. As I drove to the Prima Soft store my stomach was in knots as I imagined the sales person refusing to sell me the shoes and telling me I clearly could never be a ballerina. I knew it was in irrational thought but I still had to get passed it. I got my Ballet Slippers. She fit me for my Slippers and even sold me some tights and tried to sell me a leotard assuring me everything would fit. The tights did not fit. But I realized I already had some that were almost the same as the ones real ballerinas wear.

The first class was a couple nights later. Again, I ignored my irrational fears and went to class. It was a very positive experience. It was both challenging and rewarding. Ballet is all about controlling every part of your body as you move and being aware of your posture and body position all the time. There were only three of us in the class so we got a good amount of individual attention. We learned the 1st through 5th positions for the feet and arms, Plie, Tendu, Rond de Jambe, Degage, Fouette, Grand Battement, releve, and a few other moves whose names escape me. These positions and movements exercised totally different muscles than my normal treadmill or strength training workout. As a matter of fact I was just a little bit sore the next day. Ballet turned out to be a good workout. But more importantly I felt graceful, feminine, strong, and most importantly fulfilled for having stepped out of my comfort zone, faced my fears, and tried something I’ve always wanted to do. Joy… I’m closing the gap soon I’ll have chased you down.

This post was linked up to Flashback Friday.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Devil’s workshop going out of Business…. Everything Inspired by Negativity Must go!!!

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After giving some thought about what I desire out of my everyday life, right now, present tense I realize it’s not so much what I want as what I don’t want. I don’t want so much idle time. Having more quality time with family friends and myself is what would make my tomorrow a better day.

I am fortunate enough to have a job that provides an awesome work life balance. I get off at a reasonable time. I don’t work weekends or holidays. Also, the only persons I have to tend to are my pets, two cats and a dog (ok I know they are not people but they definitely have lots of personality just look at there pictures).

So this gives me lots and lots of free time that I am really thankful for. The problem is free time quickly turns to idle time when you do not have quality activities to keep you occupied. If an idle mind is the devil’s workshop than I alone am solely responsible for the crafting of numerous and very very evil insecurity benches, loneliness tables, negativity chairs, resentment ladders, and other assorted pessimistic furnishings.

So I’ll narrow the distance between myself and joy by bringing some quality to my free time. I do spend quality time with friends and family but here I want to focus on what I have complete control of, spending more QUALITY time with myself. During this quality time I will explore the things I’ve always wanted to do but never had the time, opportunity, money, or courage to do. My list thus far is as follows:

Take Ballet
Go to a Hockey game
Volunteer
Visit Bermuda (I want to see the peach sand)
Bet on horses at the race track
Take a boudoir picture
Write a book
Go to Disney world
Go to the Oprah show
Dye my hair red
Be able to jog 3 miles non stop
Do men’s pushups.
Fit into a single digit size

I will also explore ideas I receive from others. So feel free to comment on what activities fill you with joy? What hobbies bring quality to your life? Suggestions I’ve received so far include:

Checking out new exercises
Planning events like dinners and movies with friends
Reading
Music
A good laugh
Take a nice walk
Wash your favorite sheets, mix ½ block of Velveeta with 1 can of Rotel , turn on comedy central, sit in bed and laugh at off color jokes all day
Set a goal…and reach it
Dance in the mirror naked or with just underwear
Put on a fashion show for myself
Helping someone

I look forward to finding out how you spend quality time with yourself and find your joy.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Joy, Joy, Where Art Thou, or What are Thou?

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I figure it’s better to focus on chasing joy than just escaping boredom. If I just wanted to escape boredom there are lots of things I could do but they would not necessarily make me joyous. I could get into a fight with my neighbor over my recycle bin that I suspect they “borrowed”; I could go to the Laundromat and wait for someone to leave their clothes unattended and then steal one sock from every pair; I could cut my dog’s hair into a Mohawk (really considering this one); or alphabetize my cookbooks. I wouldn’t be bored but I also wouldn’t be any closer to my destination, Joyland (except maybe the Mohawk thing). So I will chase joy and hope to escape my boredom in the process.

If I’m going to chase joy its best I know how to identify it. That way I’ll know it when I catch it. Who knows maybe I’ve already caught it, didn’t know it and am chasing after it for no reason. The Merriam Webster definition of Joy is the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. I’d say overall I’m in a pretty good state. Not filled with joy but not headed for the bridge either so I’d say well-being… Check! I have found a career that I like and have received promotions and accomplished some of my goals. I also own my own home. Success…. Check! God has blessed me in more ways than I can count including my health, family, friends, and the aforementioned career and home. Good Fortune….Check!

So, that only leaves the prospect of possessing what one desires. Ding ding ding ding… that’s what’s missing. I don’t know what my desires are so how can I feel confident that I will posses them. I know my long term desires marriage, kids, retirement, etc… But what do I desire out of my everyday life, right now, in the present????

So In my quest for joy I’ll start by exploring what it is I truly want out of my life right now? What would make tomorrow a better day? Hmmmmm….this will take some thought.

This post was linked up for Flashback Friday.

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