Category: life advice

Tell Them

A few weeks ago, a close friend lost her father to cancer.

Familial relationships aren’t always easy. If we’re really, really fortunate, we luck into family that loves and supports us and ‘gets’ us in a way that others might not. We might even like our family members in addition to loving them out of genetic obligation!And even into the best relationships, a little rain must fall. Certainly, we’ve all had yelling matches about why can’t I wear that belly shirt to church! Stop stifling me! You can’t choose your family, but you can choose how you interact with them and how you express your love for them.

At the risk of going all existential on you, your parents aren’t going to be around forever. And neither are you. The world is rife with speeding trains and cancer-causing fumes and open manholes. Accidents happen. Don’t be the person who regrets a fractured, tenuous relationship, when a well-placed email or phone call could mend those bridges.Tell your family you love them.

Dear Mom,

I like you so hard. If we were co-workers instead of family members, I’d still want to hang out with you. It might take me a while to look past your cargo shorts and see your dry sense of humor, adventurous spirit and love for books – but once I got past those thematic earrings? We’d be sitting in the break room talking about Arrested Development every.blessed.lunchbreak.I am so, so lucky to share DNA with you. I want to be you when I grow up. Except for the Larson jawline. But you know how I feel about that. I love you.

Dear Dad,
I have so much respect for your love of nature and your commitment to family. I love that you’re so proud of us and all we’ve accomplished. I can’t thank you enough for teaching me the value of a dollar, showing me how to stack wood and change my oil and how to skin a squirrel – though I hope to never do the latter ever, ever again.
You’ve passed on a great last name, a love of travel and two crooked pinkies. I love you.

Dear Little Sister,

I have so much admiration for your determination to make it on your own. You take care of everyone around you, you give thoughtful gifts and you’ve got some of the best hair I’ve ever seen. You put up with all the dance recitals and plays that I forced you into and built fort after fort with me.I wish we lived in the same time zone, but it gives me comfort to know that you’re living life on your own terms someplace warm with someone you love. I love you.

You guys. Do it. Now! Gogogogo! Make that phone call/send that email/write that letter.

Why you need a ‘smile file’

Need some help cheering up? In a bad mood? You need a smile file! Click through to find out what that is and how to make your own!
Does the title of this post make you cringe a little bit? Are you quietly rolling your eyes? Because I certainly am.

I very nearly renamed this post something clever/witty/slightly snarky but then the rhyming overcame my sense of self awareness and well, here we are.

One of the benefits to being a teacher (I mean, besides all the dry erase markers and luxurious salary of $2) is that occasionally students make things for me. Drawings of other students picking their noses. Really misshapen pictures of horses that look like clouds. Notes thanking me for helping bring over their husbands.
And being a blogger and nearly professional internet surfer has its benefits as well – the occasional kind email from you guys, tear-jerking videos about Christian the Lion and awesome pictures of hedgehogs.
Yesterday, after my fifth failed attempt to teach the difference between “fifty” and ‘”fifteen,” I dug through my emails to find one of the above mentioned kind messages to get me through the rest of the day.
And it occurred to me that perhaps I needed to create a file of all these feel good things – the kind emails, the letters from students, my favorite writing clippings, the postcard from my grandma telling me how proud she is. Maybe this would change my mood faster than processed carbs and butter?
You can't necessarily keep happiness on tap, but you can certainly make it easier to access. Click To Tweet

What would go in your smile file – college acceptance letters? foreign currency? the invoice from your first freelance job? The ticket stub from your first date?

P.S. How to figure out what makes you happy so you can add more of it to your life!

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

21 Things You Don’t Have To Do

Did you know there a jillion things you don't have to do? Maybe you think you have to do them, but you don't. Let's start with these 21. >>
I know you know this but I’m reminding you anyway.

If you don’t want to, you don’t have to:

  • aim for the corner office
  • ever own a car again
  • apologize for putting yourself first
  • shave your legs
  • care about The Bachelor/Transparent/Scandal
  • feel guilty for caring about The Bachelor/Transparent/Scandal
  • go to the bridal shower of that co-worker you don’t really know
  • get married
  • have kids
  • do anything other than be a fantastic wife and mother
  • go out on Saturday night
  • invest in real estate
  • cook
  • feel guilty about sleeping late
  • go to grad school
  • find your dream job immediately following college
  • “follow your bliss”
  • work at a job you hate
  • go to college
  • tie your ego up in your possessions
  • You don't need to make excuses for living a life that works for you Click To Tweet
P.S. If you need 1-on-1 help with stuff like this, I can do that!
photo credit: kari shea // cc

How To Write Yourself a ‘Happiness Prescription’

Want to be happier? Looking for happiness tips? You can start by writing yourself a Happiness Prescription. Click through to find out how!
Like most people in the northern half of the northern hemisphere, I am rather non-plussed by post-holiday Winter.
Maybe non-plussed is an understatement.
Last weekend, I found myself trundling around a third-ring suburb, lost between the overcast sky and beige housing developments. I stopped in a Wal-mart to pick up a few things and while standing in line behind a screaming child, I had an overwhelming moment of “Oh, good lord. What. is. the. point? No, really. What’s the point.”

And maybe getting lost in the suburbs and enduring auditory assault from a kiddo who REALLY WANTS GUM! is enough to drive anyone to an existential crisis. But I knew that this was the beginning of my yearly bout with the Winter Blues.

And of course I know how to work myself out of a funk (dance to Shakira! cuddle the cat! try something new!) but when you’re a two weeks into your January-sulkathon, it’s hard to work up any interest in doing things other than watching Hulu and eating carbs.

However! Being the internet hound that I am, I remembered hearing about this study. Essentially, it points out that when doctors give patients vague, over-arching suggestions about exercise and diet, these suggestions are largely ignored.

But when the doctor gets out her prescription pad and actually writes out a specific, tailored plan for these things (“30 minutes of walking, after evening meal, 4 times a week”) the patient is much more likely to do these things.

So what if I applied this method to myself? Instead of knowing (and mostly ignoring) all of the things that I know I can do to pull myself out of funk, what if I viewed these things as the treatment for my Mid-Winter Sulk?

Post-haste, I wrote myself a Happiness Prescription

  • 30 minutes of fresh air and sunshine, to be applied daily at 7 am and 3 pm
  • 25 minutes of aerobic activity, 4 x a week
  • Skype video chats with various friends around the globe, 1 x a week
  • Thrifting (as needed)
  • Over-priced, out-of-season fruit (as needed)
And you know what? I think it’s working. All that air and sun and sweat makes me feel better. Of course it does – I knew it would.
But viewing all these activities as non-negotiable has changed my mindset. You wouldn’t willfully forget to take your allergy medicine or to wear your mouth guard while playing hockey. Why shouldn’t we treat our minds and hearts the same way?
What would your prescription for happy be?
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash