#SoThisIsTheNewYear (Finding Purpose and Happiness)

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This is about to get real, deal reader.

I think about death often. My death.

I want to preface this blog entry by writing that I’m not suicidal. If I am anything, I am reflective (although I do think about my funeral and what share of blue my body would turn without oxygen and bloody flow quite often). This death fascination has been especially strong the last couple of weeks, even during my happier moments.

Perhaps I have post-holiday depression. Maybe I need to have my antidepressant increased. I just feel nothing. Two days ago, I sat on the beach in Venice, CA- one of my most favorite places in the world- and I felt nothing. I had a great weekend, exploring, partying and meeting new people. But on that beach, even in moments before, I felt empty. On the plane ride home from Christmas, I sat with my seat leaning back, wishing that the plane would explode during midair. L’appel du vide– I’ve always had that feeling but as each day passes by, the feeling intensifies. I would never kill myself- it would kill my mom- but lately, I don’t feel like my life is worth it. I think about my cousin, Josh, who died two years ago in a terrible accident. He was a really good guy, extremely kind and grateful for his life- why couldn’t have God taken me instead of him?

I have a hard time feeling joy- that lasting moment of happiness that I feel like everyone around me has. They are happy all the time despite whatever they’re going through- they express that happiness physically and emotionally. Their lives aren’t perfect but they love them anyway.  For as long as I can remember, I thought it was my mental illness that kept that feeling away from me. I could never sustain that feeling. Even as a tween, I felt that overall sense of sadness all the time. I slept a lot- good chunks of my day- because of it. In college, one of my professors told me that I’m lazy. I replay that moment over and over in my head. I will never forget Paul’s words. Over Christmas, my father and step-mother called me a narcissist. My previous ex-boyfriend said the same thing. They all said that I don’t think about others and I don’t know my identity; that I chose to be miserable and have had a negative influencer in my life. What they all said they been weighing on my mind, as well as this song which features the lyric, “But people don’t really change.” I think about the times in the past when I tried to change my mindset into thinking happier thoughts or break bad habits. I would do really well for a week or two but then slip back into old ways. I don’t think in a sustainable way. All I do is want to sleep and be sad.

I don’t want to set a New Year’s resolution. Last year, I came up with a simple on: be happy. I was miserable most of it. Right now, I’m on deadline for one of the publications that I write for. I’m writing about spring cleaning your being- getting rid of life’s dead weight. I want to be able to push through this dead weight of my life and be a kinder, more empathetic, happier person by the year’s end. But I’m scared of fucking things up, scared of disappointing others and disappointing myself. I’ve been this way for most of my life- I don’t know what it feels like to be happy most of the time, how to be kinder to myself and others. I’m terrified to step out of my comfort zone. What if I can’t break these bad habits?

I feel like I can be happy when I figure out my purpose in my life. That is something that has been weighing me down. Despite my friends tell me to enjoy being single, I hate it. I’m eager to jump into something when I know that I shouldn’t. I love that feeling of being a girlfriend, though. However, I know that you shouldn’t base your happiness on your title or through another person. I think of how being a girlfriend, and then eventually a wife and a mother (especially being a mom) will give my life meaning. But why do I have to wait for someone to come in my life? Why can’t I find that purpose now? I do good things for my community. I have a great circle of friends who support me. So, how do I let the feeling of lappel du vide morph into something happier?

I’m writing this today with no intentions for you, dear reader, to feel sorry for me. I already feel enough pity for myself. I just want to be real with you and ultimately, myself.  I haven’t been great with being honest about myself and the way that I live my life. Most people read this and think that I’m pretty carefree. I’m not. But I want to be. I really do. So, this is my 2017 journey- to 1) find a reason- a good, solid reason to live, 2) ) figure out exactly who I am and 3) be a better person to others and put myself and their shoes.

Happy 2017, dear reader. Maybe your year be filled with all the good stuff you want and need in your life right now. Join me on this journey, won’t you?

A Conversation with Clarissa

I met Clarissa on my first day of college. 11 years ago, we sat together in Deidre Pike’s Journalism 101 class, trying to peer over other’s heads. Over the last decade, we’ve seen each other through major life milestones and personal victories: writing for our college paper, trying to come up with witty jokes for UNR’s first (and last) semester of “The Daily Show,” first boyfriends and difficult break ups, spontaneous dance parties by the river, moving across country to New York City, getting lost together in Brooklyn on route to the Botanical Gardens…
I believe that everyone needs someone like Clarissa in their life. She has been that one friend who always keeps it real with me and tells it to me straight. She knows when I’m being a dumbass and keeps me in check. Last week, we had good chat over Gmail. I wasn’t having the best day- I was feeling rather depressed- and Clarissa talked me through it, giving me the “tough it out, you got this” advice I needed. Below was a snippet of our conversation- I’m keeping it on file to read when I get stressed about turning 30… Do you, dear reader, have a friend like this?
Clarissa: …Better to have that busyness than not.
 
Andrea: Is it sad if I say I just want to lay in bed all day and watch “Dexter?”
 
Clarissa: Not really sad but I think you might be trying to hide from something and you might be depressed…
 
Andrea: That is true.
 
Clarissa: So, it is not sad but you might be sad.
 
Andrea: Both. I don’t want to be an adult.
 
 Clarissa: Oh really, why not? Why do you think that?
 
Andrea: I’m just tired of trying to the best thing and the right thing all the time…
 
Clarissa: Yeah, it’s an uphill battle being on your own but it does sound as if you’re putting unnecessary pressures on yourself. Your idea of being an adult doesn’t have to be a checklist of milestones from society’s standards. You can do what you want – that’s also being an adult. And you can also make sure you have fun, too.
 
Andrea: I don’t have a lot of fun. My fun is sleeping…
 
Clarissa: I think you need to take some time out for yourself -you know – go grab a cup of coffee for 15. It’s tough right now but I think you’re doing the things that will lead to greater happiness in the end.
 
Andrea: It’s not even that things are tough. My life isn’t particularly difficult right now. I’m just feeling lazy. Plus, I keep on thinking about all this other stuff I want to be doing with my time…
 
Clarissa: So you’re preoccupied with not experiencing something that isn’t even happening… and it’s bumming you out? I mean, I see that. But, you can’t focus on what’s NOT happening. You’ll drive yourself crazy – miserable – you got to enjoy what’s happening NOW and then make sure you are taking steps to get to that point later. External factors won’t really get you motivated – or happy – just internal ones because you control the internal.
 
Andrea: I just feel like being so close 30 without accomplishing much is such a let down.
Clarissa: Yeah, well, just get up and realize that the worst thing you can do right now is make yourself unhappy for something that’s not about to change. It is what it is, so fuck it – just get over yourself and see that you have another few decades to get what you want.
 
Andrea: You don’t think 30 feels/seems too old?
 
Clarissa: Um, of course I do but I’m not going to get myself all upset about it. Shit happened. I didn’t quite get what I wanted, oh well, try again.. took me a while to figure out that it’s only me that’s making me upset – not everybody else. Plus, we’re not 30 YET. Put on some happy music. And stop watching “Dexter.”

The Wonderful World of ASMR

I have trouble sleeping, both falling asleep and staying asleep. With my anxiety and the recent influx of nightmares I’ve been having (zombies are not real, Andi. Zombies are NOT real), bedtime is not longer my favorite time of the day. Until a couple months ago, I would lie in bed and let my head race. I’d try listening to music or watch an old episode of “Will and Grace” but both never seemed to help. I don’t know what I was doing on YouTube that I discovered my first ASMR video- it was of a young Russian woman, whispering gently about her jewelry. I watched the video for five minutes before failing asleep.

Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a little hard to describe. It is a positive reaction one experiences in response to a certain sound you hear. Think about a cat’s purr and how relaxing it sounds. You dive deeper into its melody and vibration and makes you feel warm and comforted- that is ASMR. The sole purpose of ASMR is to relax people. Ideally, ASMR videos are meant to give the viewer a relaxing tingle at the back of their head or spine (not everyone experiences that sensation, though). ASMR videos usually involve whispering, relaxing hand movements, smacking of the lips, nail tapping, scratching on hard surfaces such as tables or books and brushing sounds.

Everyone’s tingles vary and their reactions are different. For me, the sounds of tapping and paper shuffling are the most comforting (maybe it’s because I’m a writer). I love the sound of a sweet whisper and am especially fond of role-play videos (ASMR artists make up different scenarios from cutting hair to pretending to be a witch). I don’t necessarily get tingles- the feeling I get is this warm almost-blanket feeling. I experience this big bear hug that covers me, clearing the bees buzzing in my head and letting me feel relaxation for the first time all day. Then I can finally sleep.

ASMR is bit controversial as it has not been researched much. Honestly, I rather admit to watching porn than ASMR videos. I try to explain the power of watching someone fold towels but I think they look at me like I have a weird fetish. I tell people to think of hearing your favorite sounds over and over again and how relaxing it can be. People love hearing James Earl Jones’ voice- that deep calmness- or Bob Ross exclaim how happy his little tree is. That’s what ASMR is to me- a piece of audible heaven.

I don’t mean to sound like a crazy sales person trying to sell you a used car at the auto dealer but ASMR works. It has done wonders for me. If you are like me, dear reader, heavy with anxiety and sleeping problems, I recommend checking out some ASMR videos and find a content creator who works for you. They can only help. Happy sleeping and relaxation!

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SpringBok is one of the many great ASMR content creators- she’s amazing!

You’re Doing Just Fine

Freaking-out

Who here feels like they are going to freak out at any second? ME (my hand raised high)! I like to stress out about every single little thing- think of me as the female Woody Allen, neurotic to the bone.

This past weekend was a sour one and I spent the latter portion of it in my room, writing down all my problems (it was quite the list). With the list, I looked at each entry and thought, “Man, how am I going to do this- how am I going to fix these issues? How am I going to fix myself?” Trying to figure out the answers to these questions made me have a panic attack and I went to bed Sunday, feeling worse than I did in the morning. I laid in bed and kept on thinking, “Why can’t I just be happy?”

I often to go to my co-workers for advice and most of the time, they are spot on with their words. One co-worker, Jennifer, consistently tells me to let things be- my life is great so I don’t need to worry about anything. And she’s right- I have a roof over my house; kind friends and family; a terrific boyfriend; a job that I enjoy and grants me to live comfortably; my health and a body that allows me to do squats and pull-ups every morning. I just have trouble seeing that goodness. I assume everything is going to be wrong when in all reality, everything is going to be just fine.

I found this stellar list on online that reminded me that I’m doing okay and that I will be okay in the near and far futures. Reading this was comforting and put my mind at great ease. Below, I included some of my favorite signs that put things in perspective for me (I suggest reading the full list of 29 signs). Maybe these be a comfort to you, too…

1) You have the freedom to live your life the way you want to live it. – If you often worry about what you’re going to do with your life – your career, your family, the next step, etc., be grateful. All details aside, this means you have ambition, passion, drive, and the freedom to make your own decisions.

2) You are courageously walking your own path. – When people argue with you and challenge your decisions, remind yourself that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. You’ve got to do what’s right for you, even if some people disagree.

3) You see obstacles in front of you because you are not settling. – If you settle for just anything, there wouldn’t be any obstacles in your way, but then you would never know what you are capable of either. Because your obstacles are your opportunities. Obstacles are put in your way to help you determine if what you want is really worth fighting for.

4) You have come a long way. – Do not judge your failed attempts and mistakes as an indication of your future potential, but as part of your growth process. Your past has given you the strength and wisdom you have today, so celebrate it and use the knowledge you’ve gained. Don’t let it haunt you and hold you back.

5) You haven’t let fear get in your way. – You have to wonder how many people are afraid to die, in part, because they often realize too late that they were afraid to live.

6) You still believe in the possibilities that lie ahead. – Accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what could be. Remember, life does not have to be anywhere near perfect to be wonderful.

7) You are doing what you can with what you have. – The secret to living the life of your dreams is to start living the life of your dreams, right now, to any degree that you already can.

8) You are doing your best to provide value. – No one is entitled to success. To remain successful, you must constantly find new ways to add value. Keep putting your heart, mind and soul into even your smallest acts. This is one of the great secrets of lasting success.

9) You continue to make a difference. – Have you ever thought about how much your actions mean to others? Maybe that smile you gave to a stranger today made their bad day better. Maybe that hello you gave to a colleague today made them realize people actually notice them and care. Maybe that money you gave to a homeless man today gave him hope. Maybe spending time with someone special today made them forget their problems for a while. Keep it up.

10) You have enough right now to live comfortably. – You didn’t go to sleep hungry last night. You awoke this morning with a roof over your head. You had a choice of what clothes to wear. You have access to clean drinking water and electricity. You are online right now. You have plenty to be comfortable. Being wealthy is a mindset. Want less and appreciate more.

11) You know deep down that you are not alone. – Next time you feel all alone, remember, again, that you are not.

12) You have great people in your life who are standing beside you. – Know that it’s less important to have more friends and more important to have real ones. And remember, it’s during the toughest times of your life that you’ll get to see the true colors of the people who say they care about you. Don’t take these people for granted. Look around and appreciate them, right now.

Problems are always going to be there, dear reader. Life can be difficult at times but you are strong and smart and well, awesome- you got this! Remember, you’re doing fine- just fine.

Be a Doer, Not a Dreamer

  • Get my driver’s license by the end of the summer
  • Make a short film with my friends
  • Go skydiving with my boyfriend
  • Finish hand sewing a quilt before it gets too cold outside
  • Send out pitches to international magazines
  • Learn how to do a move seen in an episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”
  • Host a fancy dinner party where I cook for hours and hours to feed friends’ bellies

These are some of the things that I’ve wanted to do lately but just haven’t had the time to do so. But then I spent some nights, wake in my bed, thinking about the great things I could be doing right now, right at this moment (perhaps those late night think fests are one of the reasons I’m so tired a good chunk of the time). I’ve been using a lot of excuses lately- I have no time. I have no money. I work too much, need to sleep. All that is such bullshit.

In this graduation season, I listened to two really good speeches- one by Shondra Rhimes delivered at Dartmouth College and the other by Jim Carey at Maharishi University of Management in Iowa. Both speeches had stellar advice (one- about not being an asshole and two- the illusion of having it all) but they both focused on one central theme: Doing, not dreaming.

“Dreams are lovely. But they don’t come true just by dreaming. Ditch the dream; ditch that blue sky dream. Be a doer. Do something until you can do something else.”

“You can spend your whole life swatting away ghosts, scared of the future… You can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

My life is full- there is lots of love, positivity and satification- but sometimes, I think it could have just a bit more. Like, what would happen if I didn’t spend so much time on Facebook or Reddit? What would happen if I put all the self-doubt aside; all the negative outer judgment from others? How much could I get done if I managed my time better; budgeted my finances better? A whole lot of things would happen. In my last post, I wrote about legacy and what I’m doing to better the world. But what about the legacy I want to leave and live for myself? Those stories I can tell the grandchildren when I’m all wrinkly? Those moments I’m especially proud of and hold in the deepest corners of my memory? Those are the things that I want to do and focus on- not on a stinkin’ Facebook post. I want to come home at the end of the day so exhausted from being incredibly busy (and not just busy because I spent six hours online shopping). I want to mobile and see different things and meet new people. I want to have memory cards filled with photos of adventures. I want to live. So, I’ll be doing so.

It’s time to start doing not sit around in my room, dreaming. There is a bucket list waiting. There is a life waiting.

So, dear reader, if you don’t hear from me in a while…

You got this, A! Go kick some ass!

You got this, A! Go kick some ass!

Enough: An Existential Crisis

I started re-watching “Buffy the Vampire Series.” It’s one of the few times during my packed day where I can enjoy some alone time while I clean my room or close my eyes for a brief moment. It’s funny- with each time I watch the series, I feel closer to Sarah Michelle Gellar-Prinze’s character. I’m on season five, the season where her mother dies and Buffy is feeling the world on her shoulders. She feels conflicted, trying to protect the world and the ones she loves with very little sleep and feeling like she’s losing her compassion and humanity. “I feel like stone, Giles,” Buff says in one episode.

Dearest Buffy- I know what you mean.

I get pulled in so many directions. I work 40+ a week, on the weekends, take projects home with me and still, I don’t everything done. The things I do get done weren’t done correctly. When I get home, I’m exhausted. It’s bad- all I want to do is lay down and sleep for the rest of the day. And that’s what I do- or that what I at least try to do. Most days, I lay awake in bed, eyes wide open, thinking about what I’m not doing. I have homework, chores, writing inquires that I could be sending out… I’m organizing a SlutWalk for this fall that I need to dedicate more attention to- but I don’t. I’ve been talking about finally getting my driver’s license for the past two months but I’m too drained to pick up the permit manual and study.

Last week, I got into arguments with some friends, who said I have been treating them poorly, putting them on the backburner. For me, it’s easy to do so especially lately when I’ve been questioning myself why I’m friends with certain people. Why do I try so hard to make others happy when doing so doesn’t make me happy myself? With some people, I feel like I don’t get any words in; my opinion isn’t valued. With others, I’m just simply ignored (I’ve been trying to volunteer at this artist workspace for a while, sending messages after messages but no one gets back to me. That hurts because I really want to volunteer what little time I have there). There are some friends I have  who I don’t know anything about anymore. Is it weird when you don’t like your friends anymore? I’m expected to be available to hang out all the time but I’m not. When I hang out with friends, I’m expected to be the perky, quirky Andrea. But I’m not. And it’s exhausting living this way. I don’t feel like I’m appreciated by a lot of my friends and family members. Part of me wants to shut the world out completely- friends, my boyfriend, parents, sisters and all. I think to myself, how wonderful it would be to be completely alone for an entire week, tucked away in my bedroom without any human interaction. Perhaps only then I could get a proper night of sleep and complete all the things on my ever growing to-do list.

I’m not writing now and it hurts not to (I don’t have much time to even blog- this is the first thing I’ve posted in almost a month). Even though I really like my job, it doesn’t fulfill me the way that writing does. I’m so scared that I’ll be sucked into my current position so deep that I will never leave- not that it would be a bad thing but I have different dreams for myself. The job I have right now is a step-stone, not a grave marker. Two weeks ago, my boyfriend and I were in San Francisco, waiting for the bus outside the SF Chronicle office on Mission Street. I looked at that building like a little girl peeking into a toy store with wide eyes filled with hope. But then, this rock sank into the pit of stomach, as if it was holding me down, telling me that I’m not going anywhere. I spoke to a co-worker about this feeling of wanting more. She told me that I need to I let things be- I have a good job in this little town, live in a cute house, live in a decent life here. This is all true but I just can’t let things be. I can’t. I want something so much bigger for myself. I have a vision. I’ve had this vision since I was 15 years old. I want to be an editor at a magazine in a big city. I want to travel the world and experience new cultures, eat different foods. I want nice things and not owe anyone money (here’s looking at you, student loans). I want to be a wife. I want to adopt a huge family.  I want all these wonderful things- I just don’t know how I go about getting them. I think about high school and how I really wanted to be a Broadway actress- I didn’t think I was pretty nor skinny enough to become one. I remember how crushed I was when people told me that my dreams of singing and dancing on stage would never happen. I don’t want the same thing to happen with my dream of writing. When I worked at this medical office in New Jersey, there were employees who were with the company for years. I understand that they liked their jobs and the benefits they had but that sense of complacency and not always wanting something better for yourself- that’s what I never understand about the people I worked with.

I feel like I’m the human boulder. Cemented. Cold. The existing not living rock.

I know that things can change, though. Things can be better. They may not be better tomorrow but the far future can always be a bit brighter. Reflection is always a good thing- every dark cloud has a silver lining (even my stormy ones). I like lists and being able to check things off- when I think about the things I need to do in order to make myself feel better, I have this list to check off…

I am going to try to find a mentor- someone who can help guide along the path to a great journalistic career. I’m smart and I’m driven- I want to write about politics and global issues like the illegal sex trade and the American debt (and perhaps where to find a good couple of coffee in Prague). I want to be published in international magazine and travel the world, interviewing people and learning about their problems in life. I want to write pieces that inspire strangers, people from the mother reading her favorite news website to the President of the United States. I don’t know how to get there, how to accomplish this dream, but I am going to ask someone (and many ones!) to help and for their advice.

I don’t put a lot of effort into my journalism career. I fear rejection more than anything else- but I need to learn how to embrace it- take the rejection letters and try again; if not at that publication, there are always other ones. I need to start channeling fear into motivation. A year ago, I printed out the emails of editors of magazines I want to write for. As I cleaned out my bookshelf a few days ago, I found this pile, getting dirty and torn. It’s time to start pitching ideas. My friend, Stacey, said that the bed should only be used for sleeping in and sex. Since I can’t sleep most nights anyway, I might as well sit at the dining room table (not in bed) and try to something done during the morning hours when I can’t sleep (note to self: research sleeping medication). Stop crying in the middle of the night and stop with the complex overthinking- that is insanity. Just try something new. Be brave. Be bold. Fortune favors it.

I think its best to have three or four really good friends instead of a dozen of mediocre ones. Sure, I can have the friends that I can catch up with everyone couple of months but I need to stop putting so much emphasis on pleasing absolutely everyone. I’m not happy when I do it. That’s what makes me feel like I’m Stretch Armstrong, being pulled so far. I know how to say “no,” but I need to be comfortable with that choice and stand firm behind it, not letting my emotions get in the way of it. I have to remind myself that I can’t please everyone even though it pains me not to. Focus on the people that really matter- I am one of those people that really matter. And I am enough.

And instead of crawling into bed right when I come home from work, I’m going to throw on my running shoes and jog. My lungs deserve more fresh air.

These changes… I can do. I need to remind myself that my life has value. I am worth something to myself and I can get the life I want- living in a big city again (whether it’s London, Brooklyn, San Francisco, whatever), writing for a living and opening eyes with my words, debt-free with a motorcycle licence, with an eventual family and cute little corgi puppy to come home to.

Above all else, I have to remind myself that I’m Andrea and that I can do almost anything (even pee neatly while standing up).

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Today is International Happiness Day

“I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite!” -Buddy the elf (from the motion picture, Elf)

Happiness is in the air- okay, maybe that flourish is the start of Spring. But really, I have a lot to be happy about lately. So far, 28 is shaping up to be an awesome year- it’s been about two weeks since my birthday and a lot of positive change has happened: I was offered a full-time position with a local arts organization. The employees are kind; I believe in their mission and I’ll eventually get health benefits! With a heavy heart, I turned my two-weeks notice at the newspaper. I was upset that I won’t be writing at the journalistic level but some friends reminded that I can still freelance- good idea! I decided to one-up their suggestion and start pitching to national magazines (I’m working on a portfolio for “Afar,” a travel magazine based in San Francisco). I found someone to replace my roommate when she moves out this summer (I’m sad to see her go but am excited for my friend to move in). I’m dating this incredible guy who makes me feel like the prettiest girl in the world. School is going great- who would have thunk that I would have an “A” in a class that I stressed so hard over even before the semester started? Life is good- and I am pretty damn happy.

Today is International Happiness Day. While, I think that every day should be a “Happiness Day,” I know that some days just suck. Happiness is a fleeting emotion- I certainly have my ups and downs. But I feel better when I’m overjoyed. I was emailing a friend a few days ago, as him about what makes him happy. He didn’t have a clear answer for me. I found that heartbreaking.

I hope that you, dear reader, know what makes you happy. If not, I stress that you find that one thing that brings you joy. Is it music? Is it riding your bike? Is it enjoying the company of your kids? Is it simply just playing video games all day? I’m happiest when I’m being silly (and dancing). As simple as that sounds, learning what truly makes me happy took a long time. I had to sit down and figure out where my values lie- I think that a key factor for your source of happiness. I taught myself that my happiness isn’t necessarily someone else’s happiness and that you shouldn’t base your happiness on other people. It’s best when it ring purely your heart. Happiness is in there somewhere- sometime you just have to dig it out. Force a smile on your face until that smile is real and legit.

I think about my early 20s when I was plagued with depression and major anxiety- I thought I would never be happy at all in my life. But the biggest lesson that I learned is that happiness is there. If you don’t feel it now, I promise that you will soon- have that faith (I have it for you). Happy Happy Day, dear reader.

(And if you need an instant dose of happiness… Clap along.)

Happy Groundhog’s Day

"Bread feeds the body, indeed... But flowers feed the soul."  -the Koran

“Bread feeds the body, indeed… But flowers feed the soul.” -the Koran

Did anyone catch what Punxsutawney Phil had to say this morning? Do we get six more weeks of ice and snow? What about the Super Bowl- who do you think is going to win tonight? (I’m personally more excited about seeing Bruno Mars sing during Halftime.)

Things have been going good and I’ve been on riding a week-long wave of happiness, full of friendship, success and adventures. That feeling was crushed this morning by the news of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death. I’m usually not the one to get upset over the passing of someone I don’t know (especially a celebrity) but this untimely event stirred something in me. He was a talented man. I don’t know what was going on his life for him to result into drug use but it is unfortunate. I hope he knew how many lives he touched with his tremendous acting abilities.

It it times like this remind me to be kind to everyone I meet. It’s that saying goes, “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Their battle may be small or seem insignificant- maybe this person just missed their bus this morning- but it still counts. We don’t know what everyone is facing and assumptions make asses of ourselves. So, it’s best to be considerate and compassionate to all you run into. I’m disappointed in myself- it takes someone’s death for me to remind myself to be sweeter to people but let this be the lesson to all of us. Give everyone a smile. Better yet, give everyone a hug.

My terrific roommate, Brianna, stood in line at the local Trader Joe’s yesterday, waiting to buy her goodies. The woman standing in front of her, handed her a beautiful bouquet of pink tulips. No explanation. Just a little token to brighten up a particular Saturday. Just imagine if the entire world handed a stranger some flowers. How different, better would the world be?

Remember to be kind to one another, dear reader. And most importantly, don’t forget to be kind to yourself.

Now back to my all day Bill Murray marathon as I work on Valentine’s Day gifts. Happy February, everyone.

The War of Women Against Women

Two nights ago, I hosted a discussion group where we talked about slut shaming. The evening was amazing as participants of all ages, backgrounds and sexual orientations talked about their experience being shamed. It was pretty incredible to hear everyone’s stories but it was heartbreaking at the same time- especially to hear all the negativity. We talked about recent events- more specifically, the whole Miley Cyrus twerking incident. A participant mentioned that the majority of negative responses about Ms. Cyrus were from women while her many of her supporters were men (NOTE: I’m not stating this as fact as Miley received negative and positive reactions from both genders. This is something I’m going to research. I’ll share that information with you readers as soon as I find creditable results). We talked about why women bashed other women- whatever happened to ‘Girl Power?’ Did it die out with 90s pop music and platformed-sneakers? We agreed that other women are simply jealous- with Miley, you see a beautiful young girl who has freedom- the freedom to be sexually-open and the freedom to express herself however she wants to. I understand what some of the backlash said- she is a role model for little girls; she is attention seeking; etc, etc… My thoughts on that is she can do whatever she wants. She seems like a smart girl who knows what she’s doing. She’s young, too- I look at my early twenties and at all the so-called mistakes and poor decisions I made. I’m not saying that Miley made a bad choice for her infamous dance moves. I’ve just been there. Who am I to judge someone when I’m far from being perfect myself?

Slut-shaming. Nah, how about just “shaming?” Judging is more like it. I see this most on the college campus. School started this week and people are eager to get an education- or at least, I think they are. I haven’t been in a classroom in about three years and I feel like things took a 180 from when I was in school (seriously- how hard is it to “pardon me” when bumping into someone or “thank you” as someone holds open a door for you?). One of the things I noticed on the first day of school is that every girl who walks by you looks you up and down. Walk to into the campus Starbucks and everyone’s head lifts up. I understand if these girls want to check out a hot outfit (I love clothes as much as the next girl) but I feel like these eyes are filled with judgment. I am being sized up and labeled simply based on the way I look. I understand this is the way society works- we put as so much emphasis on the way we wear out hair and the clothes we put on our backs- but I would think on a college campus that women would be smart enough to overlook appearances. We’re in college- shouldn’t we be more competitive with the grades we want to received rather than what purse we’re carrying?

Yes! Yes! YES!

Yes! Yes! YES!

I just finished reading Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” (thanks for the amazing Christmas present, Bima and Dad!). Sheryl doesn’t address the Miley Cyrus twerk-off but she does mention something about women helping women. We should be encouraging each other, lifting each other up, helping each other accomplish our dreams (whether those dreams are to dance on stage at the VMAs or to be your state’s first minority female Senator). When we gossip about each other, stare at each other with judgment-filled eyes, or even laugh at one struggling (yes, I’m talking about you girls in my Spanish class on the first day of school), we aren’t only bringing ourselves down but we’re dragging the rest of womenhood down as well. While equality between men and women may never been truly seen in my lifetime, I hope that women would be able to rise up, hand in hand, to support each other- whether that support comes through achievements at work or school, relationships such marriages or one’s family, or even just through a goofy exploration time in their life. No judging. Not hating. Just kindness, acceptance and support. And that’s something to twerk about.