Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts.

Going back to where I ranted about how intial feelings are important, and that devotion to one person is crucial... I feel like I completely missed an important point.  How do you know you're not just wasting your time?

The best thing I can say is this: if you're in the situation where you're wondering about who you are with and you can't figure it out together, figure it out apart... for a while.  When you come back, odds are pretty good that you'll realize you had so much confusion for a reason; that maybe the unnecessary stress didn't cause the lack of feeling, but the lack of feeling caused the unnecessary stress. 

If things work out, they work out.  If they don't, don't dwell... move on.  Find things to do.  I've been in and out of relationships for YEARS and I'm only twenty!  I'm finally taking the time to slow down now... and I've truthfully never been happier in my life.  Maybe some of us are not meant to find that "special person"... and I think it's completely healthy to believe in that.

And another note, I have too many friends that are putting effort into relationships that they should clearly be walking away from.  I wish I could give every single one of them a glimpse of what it's like to walk away and clear your mind.  It's hard, and it takes a little bit of time, but you'll come out stronger than ever... and you'll laugh (or shake your head) and the silly things you put up with and all the time you've spent on something ridiculous.

If someone is treating you some way that you do not like, and it did not stop after acknowledging it once (or MAYBE twice), you can't change the person or the relationship.  It's time to walk away.  During a chat with a friend last night, it was brought up a couple times that an important part of a successful, meaningful relationship is the idea that you would be willing to put that person's needs before your own.  This is true, but NEVER does that ever mean you should put yourself in harms way, emotionally or phsyically.

This is a no-brainer... yet it's such a hard concept to grasp:

If you settle for less than what you want, you appear less valuable.  The girl who stays with someone who treats her disrespectfully is not showing devotion or undying love, she's showing that she can't find something better.........not because she thinks HE is the greatest thing on the face of the planet, but because she thinks she is not. 

You are worth it... and if you believe it, you'll find what you're looking for.

Two years later.

Yesterday I realized lately how happy, calm, and "normal" I've felt for the past few months, despite all of the major changes that have been going on within that timeframe... what a HUGE accomplishment, and I did the majority of it with no assistance, and completely without therapy or prescription drugs.

On the 30th of this month, it will be exactly two years since the majority of my issues with depression and anxiety started.  I started out with full days, day after day, of panic that made me sick to my stomach.  I had to relearn how to be comfortable with ordinary tasks like eating, sleeping, waking up, being alone or with others... and feelings of dizziness, stomach pain, confusion (really anything that felt out of the ordinary... which, at the time, felt like almost everything).  I had to learn to accept that conditions like severe heartburn and constant nausea, lack of appetite, dialated pupils, random smells of ammonia, heart palpitations, numbness, fatigue, insomnia, and sheer hopelessness (among MANY others) were all just symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress.  Mostly, I had to learn that hardly anyone else would ever understand what I was going through.... and I had to do all of this while continuing life like everything was normal.  Panicking just before bed and not calming down until just after 6 in the morning.... NOT good when working full time, especially if its a daily occurance.

The anxiety became a bit easier to manage once I was able to find things that caused it.  The first thing I noticed was that any medicine (presciptions, cold medicines, anti-anxiety, etc.) exacerbated all symptoms, so I cut all of those from my life.  Four months in, I ditched refined sugar and caffeine for the same reason.  Suddenly, feelings of panic went from constant 24/7 to several seperate times a day.  I did a lot of reading on essential minerals and vitamins, herbs, oils... things like that and decided to try fish oil and B vitamins.  Fish oil is said to boost serotonin, and B vitamins promote a general sense of well-being and healthy energy.  After a few days, the fish oil seemed to make things worse, which makes sense, since too much serotonin was what got me here in the first place.  B12 and B6 caused almost an immediate surge of panic, so I set all three aside.  I also tried a multi-vitamin and teas like chamomile at night to help me sleep, but no change. 

I got busy, went to bed earlier, kept my mind full, ate healthy foods, constantly surrounded myself with happy people, attempted stupid self-cognitive-therapy exercises.....

I must have tried a million different things, but I NEVER resorted to prescription drugs like Xanax or any anti-depressants (those things are poison, but that's for another day).  I did, however, use somewhat of a natural replacement for those things.... magnesium!  If you get the right kind, (I use Doctor's Best High Absorption 100% Chelated) and the mineral is as close to fully absorbed as possible, you can say GOODBYE to depression and anxiety, and actually start to feel an immediate sense of well-being and maybe even euphoria!  If you don't believe me, look it up on Google... tons of people will back this up.  Google will also help you find a massive amount of symptoms for magnesium deficiency.  The signs I had that gave this away were anxiety/depression, an abnormal-feeling heart beat, head buzzes (almost like getting an electrical shock - in your brain!!), and a general, constant feeling of mental and physical weakness (confusion, shakiness, feeling faint and fatigued, etc.).  These return for me when I eat too much calcium (calcium cancels out magnesium, magnesium cancels out calcium... there needs to be a balance). 20 minutes after the first one I took, I had a much more positive outlook.  I felt better than I had in over a year. 

I started taking magnesium once a day and never missed a dose for a few months.  If I did miss a dose, I could definitely feel the difference.  One of the biggest problems I had, and the reason magnesium helped so much, was the ability to trigger feelings of panic by just thinking of certain things (this is a characteristic of PTSD or panic disorder).  All I had to do was think of one symptom I had when I was panicking, and in a split second every symptom would appear.  It became a habit.  Instant anxiety all the time.  Magnesium significantly lowered the strength of most of the symptoms, and got rid of the rest completely.  This made me able to think of whatever I wanted without causing a panic attack, which helped me cope with negative/traumatic memories in a natural way.  Eventually, those thoughts were processed normally and pushed to the back like all other normal thoughts are.  Flashbacks from over a year ago that felt like they had happened two seconds ago finally became less vivid.

Later on, in the past several months, I began taking magnesium less and less, to the point where I only took it when things like diet would cause panic.  Now, compared to where I was two years ago, I haven't had any significant feelings of panic in months, I hardly ever take magnesium (maybe a few times a month), I very rarely have any post-traumatic flashbacks, and I feel like I'm getting my life back together.  A couple months ago, I was happy knowing that there were no feelings of panic I couldn't stop within half a second.  Now, I'm happy realizing that the anxiety that would just sit in the back of my mind is finally disappearing, too.

...and the best part of all of it?

Since I did this on my own, without any crutches like anti-depressants, whatever anxiety or depression gets thrown my way, I'll have every single tool to prevent it.  Go me! :0)

-M.

URGENT: For all of you planning on having a love-filled life.

I'm really excited about this one...

I did a quick Google this morning for some psychology articles... psychology is a subject that I've been extremely interested in for a while now, so these are easy (yet thought-provoking) reads for me.  I came across a few good ones about attraction and love, what makes a stable, healthy relationship... but here's a few I liked the best (written by Rebecca Webber); they go hand-in-hand:

"Are You with the Right Mate? | Psychology Today"
 "The Way Things Are | Psychology Today"
"Yes, Virginia, Some Mates Really Are Wrong | Psychology Today"

Do yourself a favor... take a few minutes and read them.  I think these are really emphasising an often overlooked idea about love and relationships -- the idea that those strong initial feelings, and all other positive aspects, should be taken into consideration when the relationship falls on hard times.

Furthermore, here are some of the other, also important, ideas I grabbed from these articles:
  • When the relationship becomes more of a burden than a source of happiness, look at YOURSELF to make changes, versus trying to change or blame the other person.  Rebecca gives this as an example of a question to ask yourself: "In what ways are we failing to make one another happy?"  She suggests that maybe something YOU are doing might be the cause of the other person's behavior that you find upsetting.  Or, there may just be something in you that has changed to cause the sudden unhappiness.  Don't jump to blaming anyone (yourself OR the other person), but do explore both sides of the problem before taking any action.  Which leads me to the next idea I gathered...
  • Think a little bit before deciding to "settle or leave".  Relationships are not strictly black and white, "right or wrong".  Explore your available options... the initial feelings were there, they brought you this far, they should be worth the effort, right?
  • A good rebuttal to this point... , Rebecca also brings up drug addictions... don't try to change yourself to accommodate such addictions (or other bad behaviors: cheating, lying, etc.).  The third article does a great job of explaining why.  These are bigger problems in relationships that have less chances of being fixed, or would not be worth the effort.
  • Lack of communication, "drifting apart", or even lack of "compatibility" and common interests are more likely signs that the relationship needs to be IMPROVED than ended.  Rebecca makes a good point here that this is simply both people involved causing the relationship to "deteriorate".  Outside sources of stress, like jobs or family stress, can cause all of these.  Today, we are inspired by independence.  We want to be able to solve problems on our own, or in our own way.  Being in a life-long relationship requires us to devise a way to deal with our individual problems with another person always close by (without letting it negatively affect our feelings or relationship as a whole)... this is just a cold, hard fact.  If you don't want to do this, you're not ready for a relationship.  It's that simple.
  • "Infatuation fades for everyone."  Rebecca pulled this quote from a book called Everybody Marries the Wrong Person by Christine Meinecke, Ph.D.  The title of this book is extremely strong in itself... it brings up another important idea from the articles... There IS no "right" person!  There is no plan for each of us, and there is no perfect match.  There is no "the one" that we're going to find and completely mesh with right off the bat, and just like that for the rest of time.  Every relationship has problems, and every relationship requires two people to learn how to solve them... you cannot go in expecting things to be easy, because the easy things in life are NOT usually the ones most appreciated.  Work for what you want, and it will be worth it!  I can guarantee you every couple that has been married for, let's say, over 30 years will tell you it wasn't always easy.  IT. TAKES. WORK.
  • Coming off of the point above, it takes work, but it also takes TWO that both understand this concept.  Do not expect a relationship to work if you have a partner who is so easy to "throw their hands up" and drop the relationship because stress has caused a series of arguments.  When you're looking for a partner, look for one who is able to see that problems have solutions, and one who is willing to work for them... TRUE love is usually the motivation here.  If the other person can not understand why a relationship should require so much work, maybe his or her beliefs about love shouldn't be questioned, but his or her feelings for you should... I guarantee when that person finds someone worth it, they'll do work to no end to make the relationship go on for as long as possible.
  • "No one is going to get all their needs met in a relationship."  "We're all flawed."  "But consumer culture tells us we should not settle for anything that is not ideal for us."  (These are taken from a book called Take Back Your Marriage by William J. Doherty).  HALLELUJAH!  Again, there is a reason we are so attracted and infatuated in the beginning.  There are also problems like cheating and addictions that should not be excused, BUT we ARE all flawed, and because we all know this, we should come to expect that parts of a relationship WILL be more than difficult or even tolerable.  Magazines, movies, television shows... they are all showing us how we need to find "the one"... even starting in our childhood (Rebecca brings up Cinderella as a reference).  As I've said before, by all means, never settle for things like cheating, drugs, etc.  However, in the case of problems in things such as communication, DO look at your initial feelings.  Look at the things that originally attracted you to this person and brought love, comfort, and trust.  Use THOSE to determine your course of action in the "failing" relationship, not the current problems and emotions at hand
  • In the middle of the first article listed above, Rebecca gives a good list of traits in a person that contribute to a successful relationship, and also traits that might just lead to an end to the relationship (or one not even starting).  These are definitely worth reading... they might give you an idea of some realistic expectations to have when entering a relationship
Overall, I think the biggest idea that can be picked up from these articles is the idea that a good, lasting relationship requires lots of work, effort and understanding.  The ease of the attraction, infatuation and "chemistry" in the beginning is what draws us in, but the ability to work through problems and find solutions TOGETHER is what keeps us there for good. 

A little reiteration....

Don't beat yourself up over a relationship.  Make sure, in the process of finding solutions and getting to know and understand each other, that RESPECT is still there.  Don't let your emotions control your thoughts, words and actions.  You're in the relationship for a reason, and that reason is the person you are looking at.  Remember what that person means to you.

Also, make sure you have the right tools for the job... mostly TWO open minds, love, respect, and devotion.  Without these things on BOTH sides, you will just enter a continuous circle of arguments... which will get ugly.

Make sure the relationship you're fighting for is worth it... this means make sure that it is worth it to BOTH SIDES.  If you are not both committed to making this work, it's time to part ways. 

...and make sure what you want is realistic.  Hopefully the articles or ideas above have emphasised this point already, but take a look at your expectations.  Realize that not one person in this world will ever meet every single one of them.

Ahhh.. what a refreshing abundance of information to fill the mind!  Let's all go forward in remembering how GOOD it feels to BE loved, and how good it feels to love!

...and, of course, that all good, appreciated things in life require effort.

-M.

Edit:  Have any of you ever thought about how each of us usually fall for those who exhibit different traits than us, and these differences are often what make us admire that person?  Then why is it that as a relationship goes on we decide that things must be our way (or the highway)?  Maybe that's the next thought I'll explore.

More progress.

Thought about things today, and finally felt good.  I'm good.

Happy about that.

-M.

Let's talk about trust.

Most people that have been through even just high school will probably say that they won't give it away easily... we've all been stabbed in the back and betrayed before.  I'm not talking about the kind of trust where you'll give someone you're credit card number to purchase tickets online for you (..I hope you'd think about that for a looong while before doing so), because the idea of that is rather understood, I'm talking about the trust you give people when you lean on them with your thoughts and feelings... where you suddenly let yourself depend on someone else for comfort.

I've been there.  Where you lean on someone for many things and one day they're just gone; it's terrible.  We've all been there.  But then I got to thinking... isn't that somewhat my fault?  I've been in this situation a million times, and every time it hurts just as bad.  I KEEP telling myself I won't do it again; and then I do. 

The fact is it's very hard to find genuine people.  That's what makes genuine people so special and hard to lose!  Even being able to back your friendship or relationship up with X amount of years might not mean you can trust that person.  Be careful.  Not overly-cautious to the point where you're becoming anti-social and not trusting a single person, but be careful.  Take the time to understand exactly who it is you are becoming close with. 

But here's another alternative... which is rather obvious; strengthen yourself!  Leaning on someone else obviously makes life a lot easier.  We are social creatures, it's part of our nature to do so, so we should!  BUT if that person becomes someone who we cannot trust any longer, we need to be able to walk away as unscathed as possible... because that sort of thing can happen out of the blue for any reason.

This is what makes break-ups and heated ends to friendships so hard... I saw this idea on a picture someone shared on Facebook today: it's not always the PERSON you miss, it might just be the feelings.  So, be strong, and be able to walk away happy knowing that you can always meet other people to provide you that comfort... and if all else fails, you have yourself.

Enjoy life, and fill it with people who help you do so, but stay strong.  The only person you can ever trust completely is yourself.. so use that to your advantage!

-M.

101 Important Questions to Ask Yourself.

Before answering: I want to think about this as some sort of digital time capsule... I'll fill this out now, then revisit it every once and a while.  I'd love to keep comparing my responses to see what kind of changes I make in my life.  It asks some pretty good questions.  Looks very thought provoking.

After Answering: Let me tell you... while doing this questionnaire, I realized (or maybe just remembered) a LOT of things about myself that I really admire.  I even went back over my answers because as I answered each question, my thoughts kept going and going.  LOVE IT.  To try this for yourself, click here.  Make sure you have some time to put into each answer -- it pays off; you'll be happy with how you feel afterwards! 

 ---

101 Important Questions to Ask Yourself

1.Who are you?
I am an executive assistant, a good friend, and someone who wants to help others.  Someone with big ambitions that just needs to find the right source of motivation.  I am a young person who is probably trying to run through life too quickly, and isn't taking enough time to "stop and smell the roses".

2.What are you passionate about?
Music.  I love listening to it, writing it, and performing it.  My mood can change from one extreme to the other just from a song that moves me.  Love.  Definitely love.

3.What are the achievements you are most proud of?
Getting up and moving out of state, and landing a GREAT job.  Also, learning everything about life that I've learned so far.  I want to add many, many more things to this list.

4.What are you most grateful for in life?
The family and friends that I have, and the ability I have to find something I want to do and get it done.  I'm grateful for everything that I have, especially the opportunities I've been given.

5.What are the most important things to you in life?
Love, respect, honesty.  Family and friends.  Goals and ambitions.  Life lessons.  Beliefs.  Health and emotional well-being.

6.How would you describe yourself?
Overly ambitious and eager to learn.  An over-thinker for sure.  Someone who makes decisions based on thoughts and feelings.  Spontaneous, but overly-cautious. Easily excitable, but also sometimes easily hurt.  A negative thinker trying to be a positive thinker.

7.What are your values? What do you represent?
I believe in family and good relationships.  I believe in treating others with respect and kindness, learning from everything you can, and finding every reason possible to love life... of course these are things I also have to work on..

8.Do you love yourself?
Most of the time.

9.… Why or Why not?
I am the only self I will ever have, so I have to love myself!  But every now and then everyone has reasons to feel like they could be better.

10.How can you love yourself more today?
Easy.  Remember who I am.  Look at where I am today and compare that to where I was before... I would realize how much I'm changing as a person for the better.  Who knows where I'll be even months from now!

11.What is your ideal self? What does it mean to be your highest self?
I want to be someone who puts others before herself.  Someone who is successful and knowledgeable.  I want to be the kind of person who takes the time to think about things based on facts AS WELL as thoughts and feelings.  I also want to be able to control how quickly I get my hopes up so I don't fall as hard.  I want to be someone who has a lot of people around her, but not someone who NEEDS the support; I want to be independent.

12.Look at your life now. Are you living the life of your dreams?

Not even close, but I'm young.  I've got to build up to that.  It wouldn't be the life of my dreams if I didn't spend a while working for it.

13.If you have one year left to live, what would you do?
14.If you have one month left to live, what would you do?
15.If you have one week left to live, what would you do?

For the above three...
Everything I'm afraid of!  Get on a plane, jump in a big body of water, stand at the edge of a huge cliff or a tall building, ride in a helicopter... most of those things are scary because I feel like they're dangerous... but if I'm going to die anyways, who cares about danger?!

16.If you have one day left to live, what would you do?
17.If you have an hour left to live, what would you do?
18.If you have one minute left to live, what would you do? 

I would spend every last second with my family... because they would be who I would miss the most.

19.What would you do today if there is no more tomorrow?
Isn't that kind of the same question?

20.What are the biggest things you’ve learned in life to date?
- To not let anyone affect how I feel about myself, although I still need to work on this. 
- You need to work for what you want in life... including love and respect.
- Treat others the way you want to be treated.
- Moving out when you're young is a huge emotional roller coaster, but it'll be worth it in the end.
- It could ALWAYS be worse.
- EVERYONE is different, which means everyone has different beliefs and there will be disagreements. We just need to understand how to respect that.
- Do not give your heart away freely, but don't be overly scared of giving people your trust either.  Just be careful.
- Responsibilities are definitely important, but so is having fun and enjoying yourself. 
- It's important to be a good planner and take all things into consideration.  Don't jump too quickly at an opportunity without thinking about it FULLY.
- No regrets, what's done is done, and live in the present.
- Worry about things ONLY where it would be beneficial, which most of the time it's not.
- Get over your fears, it'll make life more worth living.

Definitely one of the biggest... worrying about things will not prevent them from happening... at the very least its a waste of time, but it can also just make the situation worse.  OR cause whatever you were trying to prevent to actually happen.

There are a lot.  I'm sure if I spent all day on this question I could come up with more.

21.What advice would you give to yourself 3 years ago?
To relax and take time to appreciate what I have.  Sloooow down.... and do better in school.  Prioritize!  Keep friends close.  Protect your heart, you're young. 

22.If you are yourself 1 year from the future, how would you advise the you now?
Well, assuming that I'll be where I want to be in a year by then, I would tell myself there's no use in letting ANYTHING get me down, because things would turn out exactly how I planned in the end.

23.Is there something you’re still holding on to? Is it time to let it go?
One, I already have, and to my surprise, I feel refreshed and ready to take on a million things at once!
The other, its been a couple years and it's still taking some time.  But I've made great progress, and I love that.

24.What are you busy with today? Will this matter 1 year from now? 3 years? 5 years?
My job, adjusting to the new location.  I guess it would depend on if I move again in those increments, but my job will always matter.

I'm always busy worrying about stupid things, and a majority of those stupid things never mattered in the first place, so of course they won't later on.

26.What opportunities are you looking for?I want an opportunity to meet a ton of new people and get out and explore the new area... and I want to do things I haven't done before.  Get over my fears.

27.How can you create these opportunities?
I have ideas... joining classes/clubs?  just get in the car and go places?  I'll figure something out I'm sure, I just need to stop procrastinating.

28.What are your biggest goals and dreams?
To be successful, generally speaking, not just financially.  I really just want to feel fulfilled.

29.What’s stopping you from pursuing them? …Why? How can you overcome them?
I think I'm doing a pretty good job of pursuing them in most areas, and I think the key to that has been understanding that it will take some time.

30.If you are to do something for free for the rest of your life, what would you want to do?
Any transportation for free.  I want to go everywhere and see a million things, but driving and flying are ridiculously expensive.  Plus, that would give me much more availability to see my family and friends back in Michigan.

31.What would you do if you cannot fail; if there are no limitations in money, resources, time or networks?
I wouldn't work, I'd travel.  And I'd take good company with me.  I'd spend as much time as I could Maybe I'd start my own business just for kicks... or maybe I'd just find everything there is in life to make people happy and help them get there.
I'd probably go to school for psychology... or maybe something else that is health related.  I'd go to school for a ton of things.  I'd learn multiple languages and everything about the human brain and how the mind and emotions work... I want to learn a lot.  THAT would be amazing.

32.What do you want to achieve 1 year from now?
Be comfortable with where I'm at and be excellent at my job.  Have a great network of friends.

33.… 3 years?
34.… 5 years?
Same answer, maybe be married. 

35.… 10 years?
Have a family on my own that I'm able to support.  I want to be able to look back in ten years and be glad for making the decisions that I made that I feel like I regret right now.  And, honestly, have a lot of money.  One less worry.. ha!  Go back to school and get done as much as I can.

For any of these increments, I'd like to have a solid plan of where I want to be in my life.. career-wise especially.  Maybe even already have that in place.

36.How important are these goals to you?
Pretty important!! It's what would make me feel like I did what I'm supposed to to be successful.

37.What if these goals are doubled? Tripled? Magnified by 10? How would you feel? Would you prefer to achieve these or your previous goals?
Not sure how you can magnify and of those.

38.Who are the people who have achieved similar goals? … What can you learn from them?A lot of people.  Looking around, I have already learned that to get there, and to actually feel fulfilled, I have to work for what I want and not get it the easy way.  What makes us feel so proud of ourselves is not where we are or what we have, but what we did to get there.

39.Are you putting any parts of your life on hold? … Why?
School, finding a relationship. 

Priorities!  Right now I have a great job that doesn't require me to finish my degree, although it is something I want to do.  I'm in a position where I'm able to pursue a lot of my goals while holding others aside and still feeling like I'm heading in the right direction at the right pace.

40.What’s the top priority in your life right now?
To do well at my job, and learn a lot doing it.

41.What are you doing about it?
Asking questions, observing, and taking on challenges.

42.If you were to die tomorrow, what would be your biggest regret? What can you do now to make sure that doesn’t happen?
I don't think I would have many huge regrets... everything happens for a reason.  I would go knowing that whatever I decided, or where ever I was that day, happened because I had a purpose there.  If anything felt unfinished or incomplete, it would be because my time ended unexpectedly, not because I had anything to spend time regretting.

43.For every experience you get: What are the biggest things you have learned?
To have patience and understanding.  Keep calm and carry on! 

And especially, there is no reason to worry about things you cannot do anything about.

44.How can you do this better the next time?
Realize that no matter how bad things are, they always have a way of getting better.  Everything, negative and positive, has an end, so why worry?  Every day is a new day.

45.If you had 1 million dollars, what would you do with it?
I'd buy a better car that didn't have problems for one.... and I'd probably find a better apartment to live in.  Where I live and what surrounds me is important.  I'd probably at least once in my life, since this would give me the opportunity, make a big, big contribution to something for others because that would make me feel pretty good!

46.Do you love your job?
Yep!

47.What is your ideal career?
This is kind of a difficult question to answer, maybe because I'm young... I'm not sure where I want to take my career.  Right now, I like the position I'm currently in.

48.How can you start creating your ideal career starting today?
Networking.  Where I'm at right now, I could do that easily.  Asking questions and learning the business.

49.What is your ideal diet?
No sugar, caffeine, mostly natural things.  Food I cook myself.

50.What do you need to do to achieve your ideal diet?
More time!!!  Cooking lessons... and lessons on how to grocery shop on a budget.  Maybe a coupon clipping class?!

51.What is your ideal home like?
Natural colors, calm and quiet, warm and cozy.  Not necessarily big, but NOT small.  Organized.  Furniture on angles... I'm not sure why, but I kind of like the occasional unexpected arrangement of a rug... or a table or something.  A fireplace.  Tall ceilings.  Somewhere where I feel like I can hide away for a while if I need to.  AND.. the yard has to be spectacular.  Something about the outdoors gives me a spark of motivation... if I could see something amazing outside my window every morning, I could take on ANY situation with a solid mind.

52.What do you need to do to achieve your ideal home?
Ha... make more money.  BUT, I have done a few things for the other piece, which is putting together interior design portfolios... I took a class!  But yeah, sounds like I MIGHT have to be a millionaire to achieve some of this... especially the amazing yard... with a mountain and ocean view, and maybe a waterfall and some palm trees...

53.What is your ideal physical look?
Something where I'm happy with myself, as natural as possible.  I'm happy with most things, I wouldn't say I'm overly confident, but I have confidence because I know I can't change them... or I guess I always could but plastic surgery isn't really my thing.. SO, I chose the easy way out and decided to be happy with it all.

54.What do you need to do to achieve your ideal physical look?
I've actually been sporting it pretty well lately, less makeup is so much nicer in the morning.

55.What is your ideal life?
Lots of friends, a close relationship with my family.  Lots of good, true LOVE.  I love love.  A job where I'm doing what I'm passionate about.  Lots of activities and places to go.  A happy life is ideal for me.

56.What can you do to start living your ideal life?
Meet new people, get out and explore.  Improve my general mindset.  Time will tell!

57.What would you want to say to yourself 1 year in the future?
58.… 3 years?
59.… 5 years?
60.… 10 years?

I don't know what I'd really say... because I think if I was thinking about saying anything, my future self would probably already know what it is.  I would ASK myself probably a million and one things though, but I guess (looking at this as positively as I can now..) what is the fun of finding out where you're going to be? 

61.What do you fear most in life?
Stupid things like throwing up and lakes.  I'm not really scared of dying, because if it happens... there really wasn't much you could do about it, so, although it would suck, its probably not something to exactly be SCARED of. 

I guess my biggest fear of all is losing the people that are close to me, like my family.  Once someone gets close to me, it's hard for me to let them go even if things go terribly wrong... close relationships are valuable to me.

62.Is there anything you are running away from?
Good question... I don't know if 'running away' is the right terminology, but there are definitely things I'm holding myself back from.  DEFINITELY.  I let my fears get the best of me and my life.  Unfortunately.

63.Are you settling for less than what you are worth? … Why?
Yes. Yes, yes, yes.  In some situations.  I've always known this about myself.  I'm afraid of aiming too high.. I don't want to get my hopes up.  After answering this.... I think I'll be changing that.  I can definitely achieve more without question... glad this was on here, I needed to remind myself of that.

64.What is your inner dialogue like?
Depends on the situation... when I'm calm it is clear and concise, to the point, organized... tolerable.  When I'm anxious or excited, in love, it's absolutely all over the place.  But when I'm at work and under pressure, it's at it's best.

65.What limiting beliefs are you holding on to?
That I'm not good enough I think.  But that's quickly subsiding after some recent realizations!

66.Are they helping you achieve your goals?
Hell no!

67.If not, is it time to let them go?
Hell yes!!

68.What empowering beliefs can you take on to help you achieve your goals?
That anything is possible if you give it some determination. 

69.What bad habits do you want to break?
Worrying and blowing things out of proportion.  Being late... and going to bed late.

70.What good habits do you want to cultivate?
The opposite of the above for one... I want to make a habit of taking the high road in situations and not letting things get me down for stupid reasons... that also includes controlling my reactions and realizing that it's always better not to sink down to someone else's level.  Maybe this is an ability not a habit... but I want to be able to choose which battles are worth fighting, and what is actually worth arguing about.

71.What are the biggest actions you can take now to create the biggest results in your life?
Do things to improve my self confidence, learn from every situation.

72.Where are you living right now – the past, future or present?
Definitely everywhere BUT the present.  I spend a lot of time thinking about the past, and way too much time worrying about the future.  I hardly EVER spend my time thinking about now, unless I'm at work or involved in some other activity that I enjoy.  If I had known to do this a while ago (or even if I finally let this sink in now), my life would be MUCH different.

73.Are you living your life to the fullest right now?
I don't think so.

74.What is the meaning of life?
If you asked me a few months ago, and I think I posted this on here before... I thought the meaning of life was to find love... but I think the meaning of life is to find happiness and positive feelings no matter what happens.  I think we were given life, and all of the things it includes, to take out of it as much as we can, and maybe loving someone else is just ONE of those things, and not necessarily a necessity.

75.What is your purpose in life? Why do you exist? What is your mission?
Hmm.. it's easier to answer this one in a generally-speaking fashion... I think, including the above and taking my personality into focus, my purpose is to find ways to be a better person, and then to help others do the same.

76.How can you make your life more meaningful, starting today?
I think changing at least one person's life for the better... making some sort of huge impact.. that would do it for me.

77.What drives you?
Depends on the situation.  A lot of times I'm driven to do something just because I know I have to and I have no other choice.  Other times, it's the fact that there are some things I get over-excited about that I would work day and night, a mile a minute for until they're achieved or acquired.  Mostly everything I do is thought and feeling driven, not driven by facts and actualities, unfortunately... but I guess this might be okay in some situations.

78.What are the times you are most inspired, most motivated, most charged up?
After seeing myself or someone else accomplish something amazing.  If it's me, I want to do more.  If it's someone else, I can't wait to get started.

79.What did you do during those times? How can you do more of that starting today?
Not as much as I should, I kind of just daydream.  I need to actually get out and do something... I could probably do a lot... when I get fired up, I get fired up!!

80.How can you change someone’s life for the better today?
I feel like I could give someone a serious pep talk with all the things I've learned recently... I don't know what else I could do at this point.  Maybe just listen.  Listening is key.

81.Who are the 5 people you spend the most time with?
Family, a couple friends.

82.Are these people enabling you or holding you back?
Some are very influential.  Others are not.  But I think the idea here is to understand that no one should be able to hold you back, or maybe just that if they're holding me back (if that's their intention... or maybe even if it's not) maybe we shouldn't be friends.

83.What qualities do you want to embody?  Where can you meet people who embody these qualities?
Selflessness, organization, motivation.  I want to be more frugal and independent.  DEFINITELY more independent.  I want to be a strong, sturdy, rock (in terms of emotions) and not let anything shake me, but still be compassionate and empathetic. 

84.Who inspires you the most?
I'm not sure about this.  We just talked about this in the EA training session I attended.  When we were little, we used to have role models, but now as adults.. we really don't focus on them that much.  I think I need to think hard about this and find one.

85.How can you be like him/her?
See above answer.

86.What is your ideal life partner like?
Someone that I'm completely comfortable with... which is extremely hard to find.  Someone who has a lot of the same beliefs that I do.  I want to be able to disagree, but still get along and love each other unconditionally.  Someone who will accept me, flaws and all, and forgive me when I mess up (within reason).  A person with whom I can have thought provoking conversations... someone who challenges me a little bit and helps me learn new things.  Somebody who isn't afraid to tell me their opinion.  Self confidence and an ability to stand up for himself is key.  Someone who will try to fix things when they're broken or in disarray.  I want to be with someone who is sure about what it is they want, through it all. 

87.Where can you find him/her?
Probably just about anywhere.

88.How can you get to know him/her?
Conversation... time and patience.  Good judgement.  And, when I do feel like I've found that person, base my decisions on facts and actualities... and not feelings!!

89.Are you afraid of letting others get close to you?
Yep.

90.… Why?
Same story as everyone else, I've been hurt.  The only person with thoughts and intentions that I can be sure of is myself.  Every relationship feels like a huge risk, all of them in some way or another, have proven to be.

91.Who is/are the most important person(s) to you in the world?
My family.

92.Are you giving them the attention you want to give?
I'm trying, but it's kind of hard form this far away.

93.How can you spend more time with them starting today?
Go home for more weekends?  I talk to my mom a lot :)

94.What kind of person do you enjoy spending time with?
Someone honest, with good intentions, who isn't judgemental.  Anyone with whom I can have a seriously good, long laugh... that ends up being the make-or-break-it thing, in any friendship or relationship.

95.How can you be this person to others?
Be more comfortable with myself. 

96.Who do you want to be like in 1 year?
97.… 3 years?
98.… 5 years?
99.… 10 years?

The above.  Someone who is comfortable and happy with herself.  Absolutely.


100.Who are your mentors in life? (formal or informal)
My parent's are usually the ones to help point me in the right direction... I'm definitely thankful for that.

101.What is one thing you’re going to do differently after reading this article?
I didn't read the article... BUT after doing this questionnaire, I'm definitely going to resort my priorities in life and start realizing what's important.  I'm already somewhat in the process, but this really put it into perspective.
---

PHEW!  You have to try this.

-M.

Ray LaMontagne's "Be Here Now"

This is by far one of my favorite songs; it's absolutely beautiful.  

The lyrics of this song (below) remind all of us exactly what we should already know so well... we all have strength and courage, we all have love for ourselves, we just forget about it sometimes when things get rough.  We don't need to rely on other things for that.  Most importantly, he reminds us to live in the moment and enjoy life as it goes, and to put trust only on things that are stable and true.

Listen to this one when you're down.  I guarantee it will pick you right back up.

Be Here Now - Ray LaMontagne

Don't let your mind get weary and confused
Your will be still, don't try
Don't let your heart get heavy child
Inside you there's a strength that lies

Don't let your soul get lonely child
It's only time, it will go by
Don't look for love in faces, places
It's in you, that's where you'll find kindness

Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now

Don't lose your faith in me
And I will try not to lose faith in you
Don't put your trust in walls
'Cause walls will only crush you when they fall

Be here now, here now

Be here now, here now




Edit: The Happiness Switch.

Happiness is a habit.  The best way to start the habit is to flip on the switch!  We choose how we feel, and today I chose to be happy from here on out.

We all need to realize what it is that makes us happy, and what it is that doesn't.  Pull the happy things to the front, and push the unhappy things to the back.  As cliche as the statement is, life is short!  The best way to appreciate it and experience it to the fullest is to fill it with the things that make you feel the most fulfilled.  Find out what's important to you, what works for you, and what is best for you, and focus on that.  Make a lesson out of everything.... find the positive in everything!

Here's to deciding how we feel for ourselves, and not letting our thoughts or emotions decide that for us.

Edit:  Take a little bit every once in a while to remember who you are and how wonderful and beautiful you are as an individual.  All you need to be happy is faith in yourself.  This is something everyone should learn early; I wish I had!

-M.


2012, a year through brighter eyes: Revisited.

We are halfway into 2012 already, unbelievable how quickly that went by right?! 

On the 2nd of January this year, I put together a list of resolutions to follow.  I wish I would have reflected on this more often… looking at them now, I didn’t follow them nearly as closely as I wanted to.

“My first new year’s resolution for 2012 is to look at each conflict in my life with clearer eyes.  I want to learn to base my decisions on honesty, respect, and kindness, and not react out of feelings like anger or jealousy.  I want to stay strong, calm, and rational through all situations.”

Boy, did I fail at this one badly.  With all the moving stress, I did nothing but focus on problems and worst case scenarios.  I completely let go and let the anger and frustration get the best of me at the absolute worst times.  Instead of looking around with ‘clearer eyes’ and basing my decisions on things like honesty and kindness, I freaked out and made every bad situation MUCH worse.  I can only imagine how smoothly everything could have gone if I were working with a clear, calm and controlled mind… in fact, I can only imagine how much better most aspects of my life would be if I had acted differently.  Maybe a good way to work on this would be to realize that even small negative reactions can make for HUGE unfavorable outcomes, even much later on.

“…another new year’s resolution on my list is something I've been focusing on already for a while, and I've found it's one of the easiest ways to build a strong foundation to a happier life.  I want to continue to discover the great things about myself, and stop focusing on all of the negative aspects -- or the things that just I believe are negative aspects.”

I actually did pretty well with this for a long time, my self-image was pretty high up there, but recently it’s taken a tumble.  I took on quite a bit in the past few months, but I keep looking back and thinking that I could have done it all in a million better ways… it doesn’t really make me think to highly of myself.  But, going forward, I can choose to remember the good parts of the last few months, like how I landed a killer job in another state and moved within a month, and I can choose to learn from the mistakes I made instead of dwelling on them.

“I want to focus on the things I love to do.  I want to pick my camera up more.  I want to go back to sitting at an electric piano for hours endlessly writing bits of music... and maybe actually turn those bits of music into something outstanding.  I also want to find new talents, and I want to improve in areas where I feel I'm not doing as well as I should be.  I don't want anything to do with trying to fit in. I want to find myself.”

I’m somewhat split on whether I followed this one closely or not.  I still have not gotten back to any hobbies of mine like music, but recently I’ve been trying to get into some newer ones.  I also haven’t really explored any new talents.  I have barely even touched my camera besides moving it from Michigan to Maryland.  I have, however, started a new job that really lets me exhibit my professional strengths as an Executive Assistant, which makes me feel great about myself, and it’s a great learning experience every single day.

I think from here on out, since I’ve got the job in check, I’m going to focus a little more on what I want to do for fun.  I need to pick a few hobbies and actually stick to them!

“Another new year’s resolution I feel strongly about is trying to create a life without unnecessary fear and worry.”

I absolutely did not follow this one at all.  Living a life without anxiety is going to require me to break a HUGE habit… it’s going to take some time.  However, even though I understand this, I still wish I would have made a little more progress… but this doesn’t mean I can’t fix it now.  As I mentioned in my last post, going forward, I’ll have an activity right at hand to block out any worrying. 

“Overall, I want to replace as much negativity in my life with happiness; because... what a life that would be.”

And, of course, this one is still my overall goal, and will be until I feel like I’ve got it on lock for the rest of my life.  Happiness is a habit I want to learn....unhappiness is the habit I wish to break.

I do want to add an additional resolution for 2012.  I'm not sure why I hadn't included this originally, at least not on its own.

For the rest of 2012 and going forward, I want to make sure to never let my emotions affect my relationships.

I learned the hard way recently that any nearly perfect relationship can come to a screeching halt when you pump enough negativity into it (obvious, right?).  It is obvious.  And I should have kept this in mind instead of taking advantage of everyone I had around me.  I think we live in a world nowadays with people who learn to just EXPECT things instead of having to earn them (lately, I am extremely guilty of this).  Respect is earned.  Love can be unconditional, but never take it for granted.  Friends are an important part of life, and it's important to remind them and yourself of their value once in a while.  I've hurt people recently, and in turn I am hurting myself tremendously.  From this point on, I want to fix as much as I can from the past, and prevent as much of it as I can from happening again in the future.

Remember- it is extremely true that a lot of times you will never realize what you have until it's gone.  Take a minute every once and I while to think about (and appreciate) all of the things or people you have in your life to be thankful for.  A good way to do this is to imagine how your life would be without them.

Sounds like a good habit to build, right?  One step closer to a happy life.

-M

Progress.


Hello all!  Long time no write.

I'm still on a journey to finding happiness (or maybe creating my own version).  I've made some significant improvements, but I've also had a lot of stumbles, too.  Part of this being because I moved out of state and ran into a lot of issues along the way.  I definitely did NOT mentally prepare myself to handle any of it, which was my mistake.

Lately I've been focusing on making a routine.  I adopted a cute little puppy to help with this.  Every hour almost on the dot, this puppy has to go out to go potty... or else the carpet becomes the potty place.  This has really helped me build the foundation for creating a routine with all other things in my day. 

I think my biggest problem has always been that I don't fill my day enough.  I figured this out when I noticed that during my work day is when I'm the most happy and worry free, believe it or not (when I'm extremely busy, especially).  My work day stresses me out, but this means I'm focusing on other things... things that actually matter and are worth worrying about because the worrying inspires productivity, and, the productivity in the end makes me feel happier and more fulfilled.  However, my second problem, which doesn't help this, is that when I DO find something to take up my time, I find that my worrying ruins my mood and I get bored easily... thus, my day becomes empty again.  So, for the past few days, I've been testing out what I think is the solution to both of these problems of mine.  I've made a list of readily available activities I can do when I start to worry or realize I have nothing to do including: jogging, taking the puppy for a walk, cooking/baking, playing video games, cleaning, writing, scrapbooking, decorating, etc.  Even though these things aren't extremely exciting or out of the ordinary, I realized that I had to aim low to make sure they were things I could pick up and do at the drop of a hat.  Things like scrapbooking and decorating are my favorites.  Activities like this show results, and they remind me of why I should feel good about myself.

Here's a note to jot down, from experience... when you spend your day worrying about nothing, by the time a task or problem comes along that requires (or at the very least just comes along with) worry, the task/problem will seem utterly impossible to handle.  The worry will spiral out of control, and you will react accordingly.  Spend your day taking part in activities that make you happy or are in some way productive.  That way, when bigger situations come along, you can handle them with ease because you're mind has been relaxed (and thus, prepared), and you won't humiliate yourself by acting like a baby.

Another thing I've known for a while, but never really put into place until now, is the idea of faking it until you make it.  This meaning, of course, to fake happiness until it becomes a reality.... or in other words, almost forcing yourself to be happy.  We must all remember that sadness isn't an emotion that we need to dwell upon... or even experience much at all.  Happiness can be found in most situations, and we should do our best to find it.  Take a break-up, for example.  Look at it as a chance to grow and learn to be happy with yourself.  Or, look at it as an opportunity to step back and re-evalutate your relationship and what it is you're looking to get out of it.  If all else fails, including the relationship, maybe even look at it as a time to find someone new... whether that's yourself or someone else.

Surely we must all find it to be common sense that sadness is brought on by thinking of things that make us sad, correct?  So, in that way, we almost make ourselves feel that way, am I right?  Then it should be easy for us to turn that around and realize if it is so easy to make ourselves sad with a thought, we can also make ourselves happy in the same way.

I've said it before (and thought it a million times), and I'll say it again.  Being unhappy is a habit, and being happy is as well.  And what is it that smoker's try to remember when quitting?  The same idea that is taught for anyone trying to erase an old, bad habit.  In fact, I just had this brought up again in an Executive Assistant training session I took part in recently.  You cannot ERASE an old habit, you must REPLACE it with a new one.  The brain needs to follow a new pathway to forget the old, unwanted pathway.  So, when the feeling of boredom, worry, negativity, etc. comes about, create a new pathway.  Instead of worrying, go for a walk.  Start a new craft or project.  By all means, get a punching bag and blow off some steam!  Replace the old habit, because that's all it is.  After doing this for a while, your brain will remember the process, and it will become second nature. 

If you are like me, you'll need to push yourself to stick to the new habit.  I was sitting down last night playing a video game, and every time a worry came up I wanted to stop and focus on the worry... but I didn't let myself.  When I was out for a run, every time my mind brought up a negative thought, I pushed myself harder.  When we were kids, we never said "I'm going to stop playing and go inside so I can worry about the grade I'm going to get on my homework tomorrow".  We did what we wanted... what made us happy (until our parents told us to come in for the night, of course).  Why should we be any different now?  If I have the time to be sitting around playing Kirby's Avalanche for a couple hours at night, I should be happy about that and completely involved until the next responsibility arises -- because it's FUN! 

So, on to that point, my next objective is to allow myself to have fun.  I notice a lot of the time that I don't laugh as loudly as I used to.  I've never been one to get really involved in any activity... so I'm going to now!  I'm creating a list of things I want to try and places I want to visit.  One of the things I've discovered is geocaching (http://www.geocaching.com/).  This is an activity that I can do on my own time, it'll get me out and about a little more, and there's a way to network with MANY people who are all over the world doing the same thing.  I also want to get involved in volunteer work (double duty... makes you happy, and makes others happy, which makes you happier!) and join a couple aerobics classes.  I've been interested in many things, I've known they are fun to do, but I've never pushed myself enough to get involved.  Now I'm going to.  I've always wanted to get happier and know myself better, but how am I going to know who I am if I don't explore what I like doing and what I'm capable of?

Cheers to staying strong... and busy.  Remember, no matter how bad you are feeling, everything must come to an end; even the negative things.

-M

Decorating.

I want to start decorating.  When it comes to shopping, whether it be for clothes, household items, books... I tend to pick up things that I want, but somehow before checking out I manage to put them down and only walk out with the things I need, if anything.  I like that I do this, especially when it comes to clothing, but I've found that because of this habit, my apartment isn't really as 'me' as I pictured it would be.  I often pick up candles, picture frames, and other little knick-knacks, but I put them down and walk out with only the spatula and mixing bowl I need to make pancakes the next morning.

When you walk into someone's home, a lot of what you notice are things that make the home a home; the little things.  These little things are treasures that have been collected over the years.  They are what bring out the personality of the people that live in the home.  I have a quirky, yet easy-going personality and I want it to be showcased.  I want it to be easy to tell that this is my special place when you walk through the door.

My Dream Home


Olentangy Falls ~ Delaware, OH contemporary kitchen


I love earthy colors and textures.  The color palette in my dream home would be a mix of natural greens, beiges and browns, creams, yellows... all colors that you can find simply by looking out the window, contrasted with dark wood furniture.  My dream home would be filled with sunlight, the smell of sandalwood, and life in the form of fresh, green plants.  I want to display pieces of art that express happiness and warmth, photos of my family and my favorite places.  I also want to fill my home with little unique treasures from antique shops and thrift shops that I feel define who I am and what my life means to me.

My perfect home would be a place where I can easily find peace and tranquility.  I want visitors in my home to immediately feel that they are in a relaxing and refreshing environment.  The kitchen will not only be a place to make different foods, but a place to gather and make memories.  My family room will be warm and inviting, and my bedroom will be my little quiet retreat.  The backyard will hold a serene little garden where I grow my herbs and fresh vegetables... but overall, my home will be a place where I relax, feel like myself, and feel at home.

I believe that one of the best ways to find yourself is to surround yourself with little bits and pieces of your personality.  Every time you wake up in the morning, or you walk in from a rough day at work, you have the opportunity to look around and remember who you are and why you are so unique... how great is that?

To see what images I've compiled to visualize my dream home, and other collections of images I've put together to define my personality, please visit my Pinterest page at http://pinterest.com/thehappylife.

Photo drive.

I went on a photo drive today... but had so much fun just driving and singing to music that I forgot to take many photos.  It happens.

But, it just made me realize how much more I want to make something spectacular of my life.  I want to get out and do more things that I like.  Getting into a car and just driving feels so liberating; it's a quick route to happiness for me.  I have so many plans popping into my head right now!  I can't wait to get started... if only there were more time in the day!



Next time I do this I'll be sure to actually get out of the car and take some photos :)

A song from my drive today:



<3

Photos - kitties!

I woke up to quite the cat fight at the foot of my bed this morning. :)




Photos - Pink and Silver series.

These were some of the photos I took today while taking down the Christmas tree... yes, my tree did have VS Pink dogs on it!

I'll be editing and posting more later on.






Taking the Christmas Tree Down.

It seems like I just put my Christmas tree up only a few days ago... even though it's been up since before Thanksgiving, and I've probably had to fix the ornaments a million times from the cats thinking it's their play place.





I remember waiting and waiting for Christmas when I was little, to the point where it felt like it took years for it to get here every year. The anticipation was so strong and I could never find enough activities to fill the time until the day finally arrived. Suddenly now, especially this year, it seems like there is no where near enough time to get everything done! Now it almost feels as though we decorate one day, and take it all down the next. School used to become so carefree and easy right before Christmas break, but now in college, finals are in progress around this time, and at work, projects need to be finished before the end of the year. Everything is such a rush!

 But, every year, even if the excitement I had as a little girl for Santa to come and to see presents under the tree is more and more short lived, the excitement of seeing my family together having fun and happily celebrating the holidays takes it's place and becomes the source of my anticipation. This year, my family and I got together to play games, watch movies, and enjoy each other's company.


I can't wait for next year! ...and, to my cats' dismay, I'll be taking my Christmas tree down tonight.

The meaning of life.

This is that question that is so cliche... what is the meaning of life?

Although it seems like this is such an impossible question to answer, is it really?  Maybe there is a meaning to each of our individual lives.  What is it we were given this life to accomplish?  I've always had the idea that there is a deeper meaning to every part of life, and that everything happens for a reason, but because of this my mind is constantly wandering around in circles trying to answer every single question that these two ideas create.  Maybe there is a deeper meaning to each of our lives and everything we are put through, but maybe the best thing to do is sit back once in a while and not try so hard to decipher the meaning of everything going on around us.  Maybe then there would be more opportunities to relax and enjoy life the way it is.


Don't forget to breathe.

Let it be me.

Waiting for Spring.

Although this hasn't been the worst winter, and actually it's been quite nice, I am still waiting for spring to return.  Waking up to cold days with limited sunshine, and the feeling of being held indoors day after day eats away at me until the warm weather comes back.

I want to be able to open my windows and breathe fresh, comfortable air.  I want to be able to fit as many things as possible into a long span of available sunlight during the day.






Until then, I'll be keeping warm indoors.

2012, a year through brighter eyes.

Welcome, 2012.

I'm a day late, or maybe even later since most people plan these things early, but today I've been thinking about New Years resolutions. I've never been one to list any, and if I did, I've never been one to stick to them.  I'm sure there are many things that I could improve on.  Although school is finally merging higher and higher on my list of priorities, it's still not exactly where it should be.  I did not do nearly as well in my classes as I planned on doing this semester.  I also, like most people, need to focus more on saving and not spending.  I need to eat better, I'd like to pay off my car... and win the lottery...

Over the past year or so, I've found a greater strength in myself that I never thought I had before.  I know I haven't reached my new strength's full potential, and because of the happiness feeling stronger has brought to me, I won't stop until I do.  This idea is what has helped me build my list of resolutions for 2012 and beyond.  I want this to be a better, happier year... and the beginning of a better, happier life.

My focus at the beginning of this new year is to become a genuinely better person.  I believe that the happiness we feel partly stems from the happiness we cause others to feel.  Every one of us has had many times where take anger out on someone or something else; I know I have.  But, I can't think of any of those times where getting so angry made me feel better about anything.  I also can't think of one time where I didn't feel guilty and regret the words I've said or things I've done.  Regret and guilt are terrible feelings that hold us back, but they are also feelings that can sometimes be prevented.  My first new years resolution for 2012 is to look at each conflict in my life with clearer eyes.  I want to learn to base my decisions on honesty, respect, and kindness, and not react out of feelings like anger or jealousy.  I want to stay strong, calm, and rational through all situations.

This new years resolutions seems like it could stand alone, but a strong backbone to being better to others is being happy with yourself.  So, another new years resolution on my list is something I've been focusing on already for a while, and I've found it's one of the easiest ways to build a strong foundation to a happier life.  I want to continue to discover the great things about myself, and stop focusing on all of the negative aspects -- or the things that just I believe are negative aspects.

It seems like we all start off believing that there is some mold that we need to fill to be "accepted".  Sadly, I can remember this being the case even as far back as kindergarten.  I remember knowing exactly which kids in the class were "cool".  These were the ones you wanted to be seen with... they were the ones who constantly had all the other kids flocking to them for their attention, and if you got their attention, suddenly you had this great feeling of acceptance.  I also remember knowing which ones to stay away from, unless you had no intention of being in the circle of accepted kids.  I guess I always stayed in the middle.  The cool kids were "cool", the one or two of them at the top that everyone else followed... but all of the ones who were following them were like their clones, or at least they were attempting to be.  I never remember feeling any desire to have such boring people as friends.  They were constantly worried about making the right impression and saying the right things.  I'm talking about kids who are four and five years old, already caring about how they appear to others and what that makes others think of them!  This age is where most of us acquire this habit, and unfortunately we carry it on our shoulders for the rest of our lives.

For some reason, on the other side of the spectrum, the kids who weren't as accepted were the ones who actually held on to their own personalities and what made them unique.  Sure, some of them might be considered weird, but at least they kept true to who they were, and I think that's what makes someone worth knowing.  Even through high school, and now working and going to college, I'll take a conversation with someone who knows who he is over someone who is trying to fit in any day.  I want to be that person that people have conversations with because they enjoy what makes me unique,  I also want to be able easily walk away from  those who feel like I'm not worth their time.  I want to be able to do this without getting hurt and without wasting time worrying about why they think so negatively about me.   After all, why would I want to act like someone I am not just to get someone's attention?  I want to draw people into my life who are "real", and the only way to do that is to be the real me.

Just like some people don't like some foods or activities, some people do not like other people, but this does not mean those people are in some way corrupt.  This does not mean hearts should be broken or tears should be shed.  We should all be able to be satisfied knowing that there are people who love us for who we really are... and we should all be satisfied by this enough to move on from those who don't like what makes us unique... no harm done.

I really wish others could realize the importance of this idea.  To find true happiness, true friends, you need to be you.

For this new years resolution, I want to focus on the things I love to do.  I want to pick my camera up more.  I want to go back to sitting at an electric piano for hours endlessly writing bits of music... and maybe actually turn those bits of music into something outstanding.  I also want to find new talents, and I want to improve in areas where I feel I'm not doing as well as I should be.  I don't want anything to do with trying to fit in. I want to find myself.

Another new years resolution I feel strongly about is trying to create a life without unnecessary fear and worry.  There are many things I'm scared of... heights, water, pain.  Now, I'm not saying I'm going to go skydiving because I absolutely need to get rid of my fear of heights, but I want to get rid of the fears that are not so rational.  Being so consumed in fear and anxiety is what has kept me from trying new things and living an exciting life.  I want to be able to better understand that things like failure or pain are inevitably going to happen and some points of life, but that the worry we feel over these things is often worse than the actual event that occurs.  I want to live by the idea that there is no real reason to worry about things that we cannot control.

Overall, I want to replace as much negativity in my life with happiness; because... what a life that would be.

I saw someone post a status on Facebook recently about how announcing "here's the new me!" is kind of a way of introducing a "you" that isn't really you.  I agree with this.  So, for 2012, I will be going back to the original me.  The one that is who I actually am... and who I always want to be.