Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Years Resolutions

I have found the arrival of a new year to be on my mind a lot lately.  As someone that reads several blogs I have come across a variety of opinions in regards to making resolutions.  One that struck me was someone who said that making a resolution just because it was the new year wasn’t a legitimate reason to do so.  On the one hand I felt a little bit of satisfaction in that I started my Happiness Project in September a couple week’s after I read Gretchen Rubin’s book and therefore I did not fall into her category of jumping on the band wagon of January 1st life changers.

At the same time I wasn’t sure why she looked down on people who do make resolutions for the new year.  For the most part I think she was referring to people who make them with no real plan to execute or intention of being successful for any extended period of time.  And yes, I think that people should make resolutions at whatever time of the year highlights a need for change and not postpone making changes for some future date such as January 1st.

New Years resolutions get a bad rap because people regularly fail.  Maybe instead of starting your fitness goals in January you do them in the spring or start of summer when you can take advantage or the nice weather to motivate you work out consistently enough to make a habit of it.  Maybe people aren’t specific enough about what steps they need to take to make the changes they want, maybe they aren’t ready to change and make a big resolution because that’s what you do at the start of a new year.

I still think that making a new years resolution is a good thing.  It shows self reflection, acknowledging our flaws/shortcomings and a plan to change ourselves for the better.  I think it’s admirable to be able to say I don’t like this about myself and here’s what I’m going to do to about it.  It’s even more impressive when it’s successful.

I already have my resolutions for next month, and the month after that, etc. but I thought it would be fun to think of a few extra little things that I want change because sometimes little things don’t always fit in with the monthly theme.  My extra resolution is sugar.  I consume a lot of sugar on a daily basis.  First, I want to eliminate as much soda from my diet as possible.  Flash argues that diet coke doesn’t have any sugar which is why it’s okay for him to have 3 a day.  Even without the sugar there are a lot of chemicals and who knows what they do.  I also eat an obscene amount of candy.  I cut back when I started my project but it seems to have picked up.  I think afternoons at work are the biggest culprit.  I’ve had a lot of really slow afternoons at my job and mindlessly eating a entire bad of candy helps.  I’ve developed a reputation for being a sugar addict at work.  If a couple days go by without sugar on my desk someone usually comments.  I’m not about to go nuts and eliminate white sugar and flour from my diet and eat only organic produce and free range chicken.  Those are the kinds of unreasonable things that cause resolutions to fail. 

I’m curious to see how cutting back on sugar affects me.  I’m a really moody person and I like to see if that changes without sugar highs and crashes.  Another thing I notice is that I have a hard time falling asleep.  I have always been a night owl and struggled with mornings, but I have also always been a candy nut.  My grandma used to tell me I was going to get diabetes from all the candy I ate.  Maybe I could fall asleep faster and get up earlier if I detoxed. 

Sugar, can it be that you are the source of all my joy and my sorrow?

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Social State of Mind

I’ve been thinking about what I need to go out to a social event and have a good time.  In a perfect world I’d like to go places where I was friends with or at least comfortable with no less than half of the group.  I would like to have at least one person that I know is going to stick with me most of the night that I can talk to.  I like to have an estimate of the nights schedule, when we’re going, where we’re going, are we driving or taking a cab, etc.  These things all help, but the number one thing that contributes to me enjoying myself is knowing well in advance that I will be attending a social event.

Flash and I sometimes butt heads over spending time with his friends.  With the exception of the odd guys’ night he wants me to come out with him and his friends.  Being a guy and incapable of making plans in advance they often make ‘game time decisions’ also known as last minute plans.  This makes me crazy because Flash doesn’t seem to understand that many girls, like me, can’t be ready to go out in 15 minutes.  If I’m sitting on the couch, haven’t showered so my hair isn’t washed or dried or straightened, I have no makeup on and I’m wearing sweat pants, we’re looking at an hour to get ready, minimum.  Now, had I known I was going out that evening I would’ve been physically ready to go out, dressed with hair and makeup done, but more importantly I would’ve been mentally prepared to go out.  I would have kept my energy up and my mood in check.  Knowing I would be going out allows me to put myself in a social state of mind.

I kind of feel like an old lady writing this.  What about spontaneity!?  What about those super fun unplanned nights from my youth?  The novelty and rush of spur of the moment plans, the thrill of being included, the excitement of the unknown.  Listen bitch, I am 26 years old.  I am not in high school anymore; a case of beer, a pickup truck and someone’s garage isn’t going to cut it.  Going out is a lot of work and money and I need a considerable heads up.

This month I have found myself going out to social events every weekend and the odd night during the week and for the most part it’s been good.  A lot were holiday parties that I was aware of many days in advance.  For one of the parties Flash was feeling tired and unenthusiastic about going and I, who was dressed and ready, turned to him and said “Well it’s friend month so we’re going.”  Normally I would’ve thought hooray let’s watch a movie in bed, but I had mentally committed to these plans and prepared myself to go.  So I went.

So in short, if you wanna be friends I’m going to need at least 24 hours notice.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Reflecting Back on 2010 – One Word Resolution

I found this site called Reverb 10, and for the month of December they give a prompt (idea to think about in regards to the past year) for every day of the month.  The very first prompt is called One Word.  What you do is think of a single word or very short phrase that encapsulates the past year and then you choose one that you want be your 2011 word.  For example I have seen some people use RELAX, or FREE TIME as their 2011 word.  It’s kind of like a new years resolution but just one word, like an overall intention.  Nicoleisbetter, a blogger I follow decided that her word for 2010 would be OWNERSHIP, and her word for 2011 would be INTENTION.  Gretchen also did this on her blog and her word for 2011 was BIGGER.  So I started thinking about what my word would be.

For 2010 my word would be LIMBO.  The definition for it is a state of uncertainty.  I spent most of the year waiting for things to happen.  Waiting for my job to get busier and be more enjoyable.  Waiting for Flash’s job to do the same.  Waiting for answers, waiting for change, waiting for opportunities.  A state of uncertainty sums it up perfectly and so does this: limbo sucks balls. 

So what about next year.  I thought about QUEST, or BE HERE NOW (to get out of my head and live in the moment), I debated using FOLLOW THROUGH (to drive me to a high standard of completion on happiness project ideas), another word I thought was TRY (to put more effort in whatever I’m doing and to try new things) and my runner up word was CONSISTENCY.  I’m going to make a list of these words as personal commandments.

I’ve decided my word for 2011 is going to be CREATE.  I like it because it works on several levels.  To me its overall meaning is create your life.  On a smaller scale I want to literally make stuff.  I am a creative person at heart and pursued a design degree.  Even though I work in a design office I find the bulk of my work doesn’t feel very creative.  I do a lot of architectural drafting and to me that’s more technical than creative.  I want to incorporate creativity back into my life.  I used to really enjoy making things when I was younger but my stressful and competitive university experience didn’t leave me a lot of free time to pursue non-school related projects.  I feel like my creative side is a missing part of me and I want to get back into sketching and become better at certain computer programs.  Making cool shit = happier.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I’ve been thinking a lot today about organization. Particularly in how I organize my thoughts, goals and ideas in regards to my Happiness Project. The way that I seem to like to do things is make lists on random bits of paper. I noticed this habit back in university when I found I was rarely using my sketchbook to work out my ideas. I was always putting my ideas on pieces of scrap paper.

There’s something really valuable in keeping a collective record of something all in one place. I seem to enjoy lists, point form lists of the to do nature. This is good except that I write them on post its, pages from those tiny lined notebooks or a piece of paper ripped out of a notebook. I write myself a new list every few days. Once I cross most of the tasks off the paper is discarded.

Why’s this a problem? Well, in school it was because I couldn’t present a cohesive collection of my thoughts and ideas to show my process, but lately it’s been bothering me because I feel like I could be doing better on my happiness project if I had a organization system in place. I have a notebook in which I wrote out all the months and goals I had for each of them. Now whenever I add to the book I simply write on the next available page. Nothing is grouped together. Perhaps a bigger notebook, like one of those ones with sections would be better. I also think that having a system for organizing would help make me more accountable. If I had everything in one place I think I could more clearly set up ways to track my progress, set mini goals, work through ideas in a more clearly defined way… but maybe not.

It’s strange that I don’t have a better system for this. I think I have a mild case of OCD. I count things with my feet. My left foot is one, my right is two, the left is three, etc. I have this weird compulsion to count certain types of things as even multiples of 5. If I count window panes along the front of a house and I come to the last one and I end on my left foot at the number 15 I have to recount them, continuing on until I reach thirty (even multiple of 5). I also have this weird need to have things be in their place, any prolonged clutter makes me crazy. I’ve stopped being compulsive about these things but I still do them. You’d think that this kind of ordered thinking would lend itself well to organizing this project.  Right now I have a journal that I’ve abandoned for the blog, a secondary journal in which I sometimes write quotes and to do lists, a big notebook at work that I was trying to write in work related stuff like notes from design books and hours logged on online tutorials and I also have my Happiness Project notebook that has my original ideas for every month and some random lists and ideas.

My plan is to get a new five section notebook and try to do everything Happiness Project related in this one book. It needs to be something that will fit comfortably in my purse so that I will always have it with me when I have a thought or need to make a list. My plan is to start making smaller resolution charts and putting them in this notebook. Right now I plot out a big 18” x 36” resolution chart that I put on my wall. I liked the idea of a big visual to keep me on track, but my walls are filling up with charts, affirmations, notes, etc. It’s becoming clutter and that just won’t do. Originally I thought Melissa and I would both put up big charts and we would be accountable to each other by putting our progress out in the open but Melissa works in a more unstructured way. She doesn’t chart her progress, she sets a goal and aims for it but doesn’t mark yes or no every day. This means that my chart is 100% for my benefit only so I’m ready to try something different. I like the idea of a notebook that has a scrapbook quality to it that I can go back and read through once I’ve filled it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

You’ve Got A Friend In Me

Friend month, so far so good.  I have sent a lengthy email to some of my friends, others cards, others texts.  My birthday was this past Tuesday so between texting and Facebook I briefly made contact with a ton of people.  I spoke to my grandparents and parents on the phone and went out for dinner with 5 of my friends, one of which I rarely ever see even though we live in the same city.  Emailing has been good, I feel more connected with several people.  This was a good month to do friends and family because between birthdays, holiday parties and the actual holiday itself I haven’t had to go out of my way to plan social events, I’ve simply had to agree to go to them. 

Also, this month I attended a housewarming get together for a friend of Flash, tonight I am going to a birthday party for another of Flash’s friends and tomorrow I am attending a Christmas party in which a lot of Flash’s friends will be attending.  This is me being very social.  Next weekend I have another Christmas get together with girls, I’ll be spending Christmas at home with my family (I will be doing the 11 hour drive home with a friend of mine), on boxing day there is a big social in my hometown that most everyone who’s home goes to, and shortly after that is New Years. I think my friends and family goals will be more of a challenge in the new year when big events aren’t so frequent and I have to make the plans.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Greeting Cards, It’s What Good Friends Do

I sent a friend of mine a card when she moved into her first home last week.  The front is a sparkly winter wonderland scene and inside it has a generic congratulations.  So I added a more personal touch with this note:

OMFG you better like this g dang card. Do you know how hard
it is to find a good ‘new home’ card? It’s f**king hard.
I spent countless minutes searching through multiple card stores for this.
You know why it’s so hard? It’s because they are all filled with
newlywed crap and Christianity paraphernalia.

(Cue dry heaving noises)

And I was all like, this is bullshit, step your game up Hallmark,
don’t you know atheists buy greeting cards too?
So then I thought, maybe I’ll buy a goofy Christian card and draw a
little devil peaking out from behind the corner of the house like where’s Waldo.
Then I thought, whoa, what if that little devil becomes an evil portal,
like a little Hallmark voodoo doll? What if it brings some satanic shit into
your new house and suddenly it is 3:00am and you’re standing in a
trance beside the bed staring down at Justin all possessed and shit
and things start moving on their own and no one wants to come to your
house because it scares them and then one of you mysteriously dies and well…
I just don’t think I could live with that.

Congrats on your first home.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Beware of: Friend

I have been thinking a lot about what makes a good friend and inevitably I started thinking about bad friends.  I can think back to multiple conversations with friends of mine in which they were frustrated with one of their friends and after having a few of these conversations with the person I turned to them and said, “Remind me again why you’re friends with this person?”. 

As I’ve gotten older I have begun to notice a pattern among women that are bad friends.  The one thing that seems to be consistent is that they haven’t been able to keep or maintain any female friendships from their past.  Now the past is going to be relative depending on how old you are, but for me at 25 from your past means from high school or university/college.  Lots of people lose touch with high school friends, I get that, but if you haven’t made and kept any genuine friends from the past 10 years then there’s a reason.

I find that women who don’t have girlfriends fall into two main categories: they are either relationship freaks or bitches.  Relationship girls are the ones whose boyfriend is their entire life, they move in together too fast and become each other’s world.  This girl is often a sort of chameleon, she becomes whoever she needs to be to fit into her boyfriends life and usually has low self esteem and very little sense of who she is.  This girl’s friends consist of her boyfriend’s friends and their girlfriends.  When the relationship ends the girl not only loses her boyfriend but all of his friends as well.  This girl is never single for long and jumps from serious relationship to serious relationship.  If you have been this girl’s friend before you were either a friend of her boyfriend or someone that only ever hung out with her during the few weeks that she was in between relationships. 

The other girl is the bitch.  This girl has a what’s in it for me attitude.  She’s one of the stereotypical cool kids, acting like she’s better than most people, tricking you into feeling special for being worthy enough to be included in her life.  She’s a lot of fun, very social, seems to be constantly making new friends.  She’s only interested in your hot single guy friends, connections at bars and restaurants, discounts through your job or friend’s jobs, a cottage on the lake and asks for a lot of favors – in other words she’s using you.  This friend just wants to have fun.  If you were friends with this girl at some point you may have mysteriously grown apart but still hear from her randomly when someone you know is throwing a big party or to see if your friend is working at the bar tonight and could he get her in.  You may also never speak to this person anymore because there is a very good chance that she hooked up with your boyfriend, your ex boyfriend, several of your crushes or all of the above because she only cares about herself.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December – Friends and Family

I love my friends and have always felt like we had a special kind of relationship with each other.  I have had my best friend since I was in pre school and we have maintained that close friendship for 20 years.  Another big group of my friends are my girlfriends from high school.  I was always so proud of the fact that we all stayed friends even though it’s been several years since high school ended.  We’re low maintenance friends.  I feel like we have an understanding that we are all in different places, both geographically and in our lives, and that when we need each other we’ll be there, but we don’t have to call each other all the time.  When we’re both at home or in the same city, we’ll get together, we try to plan a girl’s weekend once a year, and I know if I ever really needed any of them they would be there.  Another group of my friends are the post high school friends.  This is probably the smallest group of friends but they are special because they are the most recent genuine friends I’ve made.  In many ways I could argue that they almost know me better than some of the friends I’ve had for 10+ years because I’ve spent a lot of one on one time with them in recent years.

Even though I’ve been glad to have low maintenance friends, I sometimes take that for granted.  I think I’m a good friend, I’ll definitely be there in a crisis, but as far as being involved in my friends regular day to day lives I don’t make much of an effort.  I would hate to wake up one day and realize that we’ve become strangers.

This month is going to be a bit different from the others.  My resolutions are not going to follow my daily checklist type tasks.  I’m not looking to be obsessively calling or emailing my friends every day.

My resolutions are to try and maintain more regular contact with my friends/cousins/grandparents.  For almost all of them I plan on doing this primarily through email.  I think my goal will be to send a substantial email every other month.  At first I thought monthly but I’m pretty boring and I’m not sure if I could write an interesting enough email every month.  For my best friend I am going to make the effort to call her instead of her always calling me.  I haven’t had a long distance plan since I lived in my parents house so we have developed this system where she calls me.  It’s really not fair and I should make more of an effort in initiating conversations.

I also want to keep better track of important events in my friends lives: a course they are taking for work, a sick relative, a party they were throwing or trip they were taking.  I feel like these things will be mentioned to me and then a couple weeks will pass and I’ll forget about them and then won’t follow up with my friend on it.  I think I need to write these things down on my calendar and then later I can send them a quick message asking how something went.

I also want to be more open to the possibility of new friends.  I have been very closed off to meeting new people for the past year and a half.  Friendships require a lot of time and energy and I’m guarded about making these kinds of commitments.  I don’t believe that more is more, I am only interested in genuine friends.

So my goals are:

  • email friends and family at least every other month
  • keep track of, and follow up on important events in friend’s lives
  • be more open to new friendships