What is Making Me Happy this Week

Each week, my favorite NPR podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour ends their program with the question, “What is making me happy this week?” The podcast’s commentators then share the best parts of their lives from Sunday ’til Saturday.  As I’m trying to live a more positive life and focus more on my own happiness, I started asking myself this question,  with hopes that I can happiness everywhere in my world. 

With my busy, always on-the-go schedule, I don’t have a lots of time just to be, time to hang out with just myself. Sunday morning was a treat- I didn’t have anything to do or anywhere to be. Steve was at A Night in the County music festival with friends so I enjoyed an empty house drinking a morning cocktail, painting my nails a deep navy, reading the newest issue of “Vogue” and listening to James Blake and Tété. It was the perfect way to kick off a hectic week. 

What was the best part of your week, dear reader?

Yay for Teachers!

I promise that I'm not this scary when I teach...

I promise that I’m not this scary when I teach…

I never considered myself a teacher. Okay, I taught my little sister how to use a curling iron and a friend the ins and outs of the New York City subway system, but when it comes down to books and tests, I’m as far from a teacher as one could be. So when my supervisor found out that I could understand Spanish, she promoted me to our program’s ESL teacher.

When I was in school, I respected my teachers but I never gave them enough credit. Teaching is hard, especially if you’re a good teacher. I think about all the people I know who teach and I’m surprised they are not the walking dead between the final and first bells. My best friend, Melissa (a special education teacher at a local elementary school), is constantly staying after school, grading papers during coffee dates, spending her own money to get the best materials for her students. What other job requires that much effort? Today, many teachers are blamed for society’s ills- parents cite poor classroom management or a lack of of teacher’s patience. (But is that really the case?) The comedy show, “Key and Peele” just put out a sketch where teachers were treated like professional athletes on draft day. What if we give teachers the same respect and admiration that we give to athletes and celebrities?

The last couple of weeks, I’ve been helping out two Spanish-speaking students. It wasn’t going so well. The ESL book is difficult to understand and teach from (not to mention, it’s boring) and I knew that my students were losing interest (plus, my Spanish speaking isn’t that great. Listening is one thing; writing and talking are another). Time for out-of-the-box teaching: I went on Facebook and showed off my pictures, pointing at colors I was wearing and the locations I was at. My students showed me their own photos and I had them respond in English about their families, homes and backgrounds. We’d talk about our favorite television programs and songs in English and create Spanish/English flashcards so we could learn difficult words from each other. I’m still teaching out of the ESL book (it’s in the curriculum I must follow) but we take 20 minutes away from the text to talk about something we’re all passionate about. We all are learning from each other. We all are the teachers.

Teaching takes courage and a lot of heart. At least, that’s what I’ve learned from teaching ESL the last couple of weeks. It’s scary teaching someone something new- you don’t know how they’re going to react, or if they will even learn the lesson. But then comes the heart- I don’t have a lot of patience (with pretty much everyone) but I try my hardest to kind and understanding when my students struggle. I drop my ego and help them. A few days ago, my oldest student- a gentleman named Ismael- told me that I was the best teacher he ever had, including the ones in his youth. My heart beamed. I never meant to be a teacher but I do love teaching.

The Importance of Being Silly

Silliness is an essential part of my life; otherwise I’d have gone stark raving mad ages ago.
-Erasmus, “The Praise of Folly”

I like to come home at the end of the day and completely let loose- it’s my favorite part of the day (especially on a Friday). After being stuck in an office for a good chunk of time- complete with my professional serious face on- I need to liven up and be a little silly.

I feel like Heath Ledger’s Joker as I write this, but lately I’ve been asking myself, “Why so serious?” I think that a lot people have a difficult with silliness, whether its trying to take a joke or dance their way out of their comfort zone. Sure, there is something childish about acting goofy. It’s a little immature and most of us are definitely past that stage in our lives.

But being silly- that childlike factor- makes our lives and the ones around us better. Imagine the world with more laughter and fun! We’d be in a happy place where positive energy created by everyone- if only everyone forget their ego and just have fun with each other.

I also think it’s important to have fun, silly people in your life. One the qualities I admire the most about my boyfriend, Steve, is his sense of humor. Having humor is more than making each other laugh. This is the first time in any of mine and Steve’s relationships where we can be complete free to be our quirky selves around one another. I can sing Celine Dion tunes at the top of my lungs; Steve tells the most hilarious, vulgar jokes. We quote dialogue from “Check It Out” as if it was Scripture. He goes along with me pretending to be a spy in grocery store and my impromptu dance parties in our kitchen (especially if we’ve had a cocktail… Or four).

How do you let loose, dear reader?

Lazy in Love

I’m finishing up a four-part fitness series, and in my latest entry, I wrote about being lazy when it comes to working out. Honestly, I’m lazy in every aspect of my life. I procrastinate when it comes to exercising. I avoid homework and my freelance pieces (even when I’m getting paid to write). I idly take the people in my life for granted, especially my boyfriend.

Growing up, I always thought adult life was supposed to easy. You went to your job and earned some money, hung out with your family on the weekends. I realized later, of course, life is hard. Sure, you can coast by but some people want to experience life to fullest and try their best to do so. They work hard, making their fantasies come true, finding the person of their dreams. When I was little, all I wanted was a fun job and a bunch of stamps in my passport. I didn’t imagine myself ever getting married- I wanted to travel (still do). Maybe it was my parents’ divorce that slowly solidified this belief. Believe me, I had severe crushes (hi, TR!) but I never pictured myself being married. Being single always seemed to be the easy way out.

When I lived in New York, I dated a lot. For me, dating was easier than maintaining a relationship- especially in a city where people had no time to commit to a stable relationship. But I’m human and I soon wanted connection. The easy version of connection. Well, there is no easy button to push when it comes to love.

Looking back at my past relationships, I often took the easy way out. Breaking up was always easier than staying together. My lazy ass wanted to hang out on the couch all day and not put any of the work in. I found it was easier being single. But I was single and lonely… I’m learning now how to love. It’s not sunshine and rainbows all the time. Love is about the tears you cry and disappointments.

But love is is not all about that (but if the love you feel is all about the negative stuff, maybe you need to end your relationship). I’m finding that love is not just a feeling, but a decision. It is a choice that you helps you keep going. During tough moments with my boyfriend, I make the choice to stay in love and work hard at making us better. There are definitely some times when I want to be lazy (examples: holding in feelings and not working them out; not putting any effort into compliments, kind gestures or tokens of affections) but I chose not to.

When it comes to love, like many other things in life, you always know in your heart what the right thing to do is. It’s all a matter of having the courage to do it. Dormancy, laziness, negligence- they are all the sisters of fear. We must be brave in love, and step into the dark void with a bright hope. It’s time to get off the couch and leap into your lover’s arm… Then, you can both snuggle.

Oh, Big and Carrie...

Oh, Big and Carrie…

Dealing with Disappointment

A couple weeks ago, I applied for my dream job. The position was with a respected local company, and I’d be doing work I love and knew I’d rock at. I revamped my resume, wrote a stellar cover letter and landed an interview. Despite a whole lot of jitters, I nailed the interview (quoting “The Big Lebowski,” upping my hip factor just a tad) and was invited to participate in the next step of the interview process, writing mock pitches to future clients. I researched for hours and wrote content that I was extremely proud of. But then I received an email from my correspondent, saying that the company is restructuring and they decided to not hire anyone at all. Major sad face.

I don’t deal with disappointment very well. When bad news strikes, I cry and sink into my deep corner of despair. I started seeing a therapist about dealing with such reactions and been reading a lot about behavior modifications on how to deal with disappointments. I know it’s okay to cry (since I cry at pretty everything) but we must be our own ladders and pull ourselves out of that deep pit.

Putting perspective on problems is key. With my own problems, I’m starting to ask myself, will this matter a week from now? A month from now? How about a year from now? I think about real problems others have- natural disasters, serious illnesses- and know that what I’m facing doesn’t compares… And I’m grateful for that. That feeling of thankfulness; that’s key, as well. Sure, it would have been a cool job but I’m working at great place now with kind people (and I am thankful for that paycheck). Also in the perspective vein, ask yourself about your expectations. This is where I fall sort because I demand too much from myself and others. I’m impatient, especially with results and I make assumptions about everything.  Real life isn’t an expectation- it’s reality.

How do you deal with disappointment, dear reader?

A Slice of Courage: Gavin Aung Than of ZEN PENCILS

Gavin Aung Than is a freelance cartoonist and creator of ZEN PENCILS, a website where inspirational quotes from famous people are adapted into cartoons. Than uses the words from Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Amy Poehler and many others to encourage readers to think outside the box and be brave.

I have a few of his pieces saved on my computers’ desktops. They are a visual reminder to be the best person I can be. Below are some of my favorite cartoons (I can’t wait for the next one to be published!)…