February 27, 2017

a belated valentine's date.

let me begin by expressing my LOVE for LOVE DAY !!! i know we should be mindful of the people in our lives every day, but from where i am standing there is not ONE THING WRONG with a day dedicated to remembering !! (i don't get the hate on v day - if you don't have a significant other, use it as a day to celebrate your girlfriends & yourself? it's just a reason to buy reese's hearts and send people cards? like duh?)

i decided this year i would celebrate valentine's a little bigger, and expand it from being just about my husband - so in addition to throwing a galentine's day party, i hand delivered valentine's to my girlfriends the monday before, sent valentine care packages in the mail to my sisters and grandparents, and even handed out sweet notes and chocolate bars at work. i loved the excuse to buy gifts and surprise people who make me happy! i am always taken aback with how gracious everyone is, too. my co-workers especially went ON about how nice i was and how flattered they were. i was just like "guys, chill it's just a giant hershey's bar!" people are the nicest.

monday night before the 14th, jordan came home with flowers and chocolates and sweet notes and i was so impressed ! (also impressed that upon seeing i wasn't home when he arrived, he joined me at the neighbors and patiently waited for FOUR HOURS to bring me upstairs and show me his thoughtfulness. i could not have waited that long.) ahead of the game, a man after my own heart!

tuesday, the whole day felt a little special to me, although it read like a normal day. gym, work, jordan gets home late. but my social media was genuinely uplifting all day, it hasn't been that way in ages. i sincerely gleaned a LOT of happiness from pictures of kisses and flowers and smiles. there is so much happy in the world!!!

because we both worked late into the evening on v day, we celebrated the saturday after - jordan planned a date for me, and then i planned a date for him. the two dates are such perfect examples of how different we are: for my portion of the date, we did a food tour of the ferry building, walked along the water and went to a museum. for jordan's portion of the date we ordered dinner in and watched the byu basketball game at home. big lol's. i love that guy.

February 17, 2017

small things that make me happier.

i am a long time, very devoted  fan of gretchen rubin's. i read "happiness project" years ago, and have since devoured every one of her books. i so ardently admire her self discipline and i love how she uses very simple, practical, applicable examples of things we can do right now, TODAY even, in our quest to live happier lives.

i tried out her podcast months ago & found it dull - i was accustom to true crime podcasts and i felt like it wasn't drawing me in like i wanted. but i gave it another go in january and i have been devouring these podcasts like they are going out of STYLE. they are full of advice that i need and i have been consistently inspired to do little things each day to make my life, as a whole, happier.

one thing that particularly strikes me over and over is how unique gretchen is, for this reason. she is an intellectual - she went to yale law school, she hangs out with pulitzer prize winners. she is incredibly highbrow, and yet here she is on her podcast, spending five minutes talking about the pocket placement on a uniqlo vest and how the ability to have practical placement for both your keys and your phone brings her a lot of joy. doesn't that seem silly that someone like her is focusing on such a trivial thing? why do intellectuals so often feel like they are above small joys? gretchen breaking the mold is such a testament to me that happiness IS in the details and nobody is above noticing and enjoying them!

i spend a lot of time with people who are educated and have worked their way up in tv and they are intellectually sensational. (and it's important to me that i count myself among them.) but a lot of them are cynical & hard. for some reason i feel like this is often a parallel - educated and pessimist, misanthropic. and perhaps they like being that way? but i certainly don't!! and i really think this is the difference - being an optimist & finding joy in the small things. this is a value that i want to keep at the forefront of my life. (i have a strong conviction that optimism is a crucial virtue and i think that the ability to recognize the awful in the world, combat it, and still accentuate on the joyous is the most important skill one can attain as a human. but that's another blogpost sitting in my drafts.)

the thing that is so great about all suggestions in this podcast - it is all so manageable!! if i am having a bad day, or even a bad month i can still focus on small things and finding happiness there. i don't have to change my entire outlook or do a total attitude 180 or turn my life around. i can do little things, day by day, to build more productive habits and happier moments. and eventually, those habits and moments will improve my life in big ways.

so here we go! my list of small things that i do to make myself happier/things i find joy in:

>>> gretchen talks about doing things that your future self will thank you for, so each night before bed i think "what is something i can do tonight that i will be glad i did tomorrow?" usually it's doing a few dishes in the sink (that way they never pile up!) or putting away the laundry or setting out my clothes for the next day so my morning is smooth. it's such a tiny thing, but when done with intention, i wake up the next morning and immediately recognize my efforts and feel great about them!

>>> treat yo self - she suggests that occasionally give yourself a treat - buy a book for yourself, get a massage, indulge in a tv show, have a glass of wine, take a nap. (i was immediately was like "DESSERT FOR ME" but if i randomly give myself dessert i end up feeling worse about myself, so i try and steer away from food items in this case) you don't have to earn this treat, you just get it because you deserve it. because you are worth it. i am the queen of treating myself TRUST ME, but when i am intentional about it (instead of it just being the result of bad self control) i enjoy it that much more. i treat myself by giving myself a pass on chores, allow myself a 90's movie before bed, and very often new books. i may do this anyway when i have some down time before bed or have a book recommendation waiting in my amazon cart, but when i mentally categorize it as a "treat" i enjoy it more, and i relish it as a treat that i have given myself. (it's my birthday gift to me! i'm so happy. name that movie.)

>>> the one minute rule - if there is a task that will take one minute or less, do it NOW. like hanging up my towel, bringing the laundry upstairs, replying to an email, stopping and getting gas. (that takes a few minutes but still, i put it off constantly.) not only does it give you a quick burst of that "i just accomplished something" feeling, but when you are on top of the little things, the big things seem so much more manageable. deep cleaning the house is a lot quicker, i cut down on anxiety about taking care of everything (does anyone wake up in a cold sweat sometimes thinking "did i pay the internet this month? or am i just crazy..?) and generally i feel like i have more time to myself.

>>> start the day with affection. again, this is something i feel like we usually do - but now that it is intentional, i relish a kiss and a long hug a little extra each morning and each night. jordan and i are fairly affectionate & i can use those moments to feel connected to him, instead of going through the motions. make sense? monday mornings i leave the house at 5:15am while jordan is still sleeping. this past monday i kissed him on the cheek a few times before i left and the tenderness of that moment (even though he did not remember it lol) stayed with me for the rest of the day. there is something especially sweet about starting and ending the day with a little love.

>>> noticing the little things. i am trying to recognize those small, seemingly insignificant things that bring me joy, open them wide, and let them excitement rush in and permeate my whole bring. like a sunny day or a fabulous song or a good hair day or a small compliment or hitting several green lights in a row. why not squeeze more happiness out of those moments? i am resolving to make note of them, write them down when i can, and compile them here.

>>> and lastly, i just have to recommend that everyone go buy this journal. this is my own personal happiness hack. you make one list a week for a year per their prompts - things like "list the happiest moments of your life so far" and "list all the things that you like to do for fun" and "list all the fictional characters you identify with." they encourage happy thoughts, help me be positively introspective, and then there are goal ideas connected to that week's list. it's been fun to think about who i am, the good in my life so far, and then discuss it with jordan after i make the list. it's brought me a lot of satisfaction and the journal itself is only ten bucks. (and i know it's february, but it won't take long to catch up!)

and if anyone has happiness hacks or ideas about finding joy in the simple - please send them my way!

February 10, 2017

galentines day!

i have been SO blessed with such incredible female influences here in SF. the girls here are tight-knit, loyal to each other, they are all smart and witty and informed - and they are such an incredible balance of being righteous & christ-centered but not totally boring and personality-less. (if you're mormon, you know what i mean and you know that this can sometimes be hard to find.) 

last sunday i was thinking out loud to my downstairs neighbor that it would be fun to host a galentines day party. i usually shy away from hosting because our living room is so tiny with minimal seating - but i just made myself go for it. we ALL live in small spaces and i don't know why i think my small space is so much worse! 

i went into a complete frenzy for four days, (another reason why i don't host often, i can't help myself!!!) driving all around the peninsula so i could provide the *cutest* card-making supplies and serve the *most* delicious treats northern california had to offer. i bought an obscene amount of balloons and flowers - it looks like cupid barfed all over my mantle. i was a little high strung all week but putting together a party and over-doing holidays decorations is my art. it was so fun. 

i ordered my "love" letter balloons over the phone and since they were fairly inexpensive, i expected them to be small. when i showed up to pick them up, there was this giant plastic bag in the middle of the store the size of a sofa....lol. it took some finagling and lots of tape, but i made the giant balloons work and ended up LOVING how over the top they were!

i had a photo-shoot with my fireplace decorations before the party started, and then told myself that i would not worry about pictures for the rest of the night. i held true and i don't have one single photo of a human - but i promise they exist and they showed up and we had a fabulous time! 

February 4, 2017

on alone time.

as i grow older, i *think* i am a shy extrovert. i love having close friends, i love group gatherings, but i am highly energized by my alone time. i know massive amounts of time to themselves isn't for everyone, but i think it's really healthy to be a little selfish with your time, at least occasionally. hear me out.

we have 24/7 access to each other by text, phone call, facebook, instagram, snapchat, etc etc. a little time to take your guard down and not have to express yourself or entertain someone or even just form complete sentences is .....nice. our world is so overcome with MORE social interactions and MORE friends and i think it's nice to just turn it off occasionally. we use social interactions and our phones as a crutch, as filler. sometimes it's not necessary, it's extra, it's fluff.

i think it's good to like yourself enough to "hang out" with yourself. does that make sense? i had a roommate in college that was truly incapable of spending time alone - grocery shopping or studying or going to the gym or even preparing a meal always had to be done with someone else. i don't think it's entirely disconnected that she was always a reflection of the people around her and deep down, (IMHO) she was not rooted or inherently kind - she was just mirroring those around her. LOTS of alone time can get lonely, but it's so healthy to be enough for yourself. 

i could write a frickin book on the importance of being independent - how it brings you inner happiness and helps you add to the lives of those around you instead of just taking taking taking. we always talk about being enough for our spouses or our friends, but are we enough for ourselves?

but i'll just say this: alone time helps me master my independence - by learning to be productive with alone time, taking on projects and solving problems without help, & by learning how to fill my time with things that make me happy. the payoff from gaining more independence is HUGE !!

i try to segment my alone time (of which i have plenty as i am a child-less investment banking widow) into three categories - 1. tasks i don't find enjoyable, (paying my bridge toll by phone, getting the oil in the car changed, grocery shopping) 2. tasks i do find enjoyable, (reading my scriptures, planning my schedule, tidying the house) and 3. luxury time. (reading, watching movies, painting, wandering neighborhoods and taking photos, pampering myself) if i have a long stretch of alone time (like a morning alone before an afternoon shift) i try to do something in all three categories - i end up feel accomplished but also refreshed. however, if i am feeling especially depleted and empty i try to focus my alone time on 2 and 3. self-care comes first. 

quite often, my evenings are spent alone as jordan rarely returns home before i go to sleep. i would always prefer coming home to a husband or having a girls night to look forward to, but i sincerely enjoy my alone time! i really look forward to coming home, turning on a movie, putting a face mask on, water coloring, and then maybe adding a few items to our SF bucket list. it fills me up & that time has become precious to me. 

it's not about being selfish or getting what you want (though, that is nice) but it's about realizing you have the power to make the most of your time yourself. that you have the power to bring joy into your life yourself. 

at the core of it, alone time just helps you be more present & more aware - instead of constantly being swept up in constant conversation and buzzing with new information. (if i am making it sound like i am not social, i can assure you i LOVE being around other people! but all things in moderation.) being present with yourself will push you to be present around others, and i think you'll find yourself embracing yourself and your relationships with a better, fresher perspective. 
~ Norway ~: