#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?

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You Got the Love

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Named after Saint Valentine of Rome who was imprisoned for performing weddings for Christian soldiers in the Roman Empire, February celebrates all things mushy and gushy- true feelings of the heart.

Before you get all “Valentine’s Day sucks- it’s just Singles Awareness Day,” a day created by Hallmark and the candy companies; I want to remind you that you are loved. For a long time- even if I was in a relationship- V-Day was just blah to me. I didn’t understand why there was only one day a year we go out of our ways to express our love for someone. There was always this pressure to be perfect on V-Day, to give the perfect gift or have the perfect date planned out (and with being a perfectionist, everything needed to go right or else). If you’re with someone who loves you, why go through the excess stress? I now understand why.

As a media junkie, I watch/listen to the news every day. I hear about shootings, sick babies and other sadness. Last night as I walked to dinner, I walked by a group of homeless men, asking for handout. These things hurt my heart. I try to fill this balance of bad things vs good things with special moments between my friends and my boyfriend, making them smile. I know that I have a lot of love to share and Valentine’s Day is that universally-recognized day to share that love. If there is any day a year, I drop my anger and hate for a person and try my hardest to treat them well. I remind them all that they are loved and cherished. Sure, I should live by that mindset always but there is something about Valentine’s Day that especially brings it out of me. Whether that love is from your family, your significant other, your friends, your cat, YOURSELF – I want you recognize that you are lovable and that you’re worthy of love. You got the love.

Sending lots of love to you, dear reader- have a great Valentine’s day.

My Health and Taking Action

Health? What is that?

I weigh 185 pounds. I’m overweight, I know. I don’t have the healthiest eating habits. I have a gym membership but I only go once a week to work out with my trainer. Sure, I think about going and hitting the treadmill all the time but by the time I get off work, I’m exhausted and want to sleep. I take vitamins but I admittedly eat my feelings, especially when I’m bored. I do bike around but not that often. Yesterday morning, I found out that I need several cavities filled and a root canal. That’s because I don’t floss. Not flossing means an extra three minutes snuggling under covers. Eating and dining are my third favorite activity  to do with my boyfriend. I gained a lot of weight since dating Steve- almost 20 pounds. I choose to eat like him; Steve is 6’3. I’m a foot shorter than him but I chose to consume as much food as he does. I avoid healthy options (I really don’t like vegetables). I think about loading up my plate with more asparagus but instead, I grab another slice of bread with lots of butter.

I know that I don’t take care of myself. For me, good health means not getting sick (which I don’t get often) and making sure my face is zit-free (and has been for a while). It’s easy to be lazy even if it means the death of my teeth. I know the steps I have to take in order to live a healthier life. I just choose not to take them. Why, I asked myself. Do you not care about your future? Your body? Not about the things you can’t see?

Change is about make the right decisions. Flossing in the morning. Choosing healthier things to eat. Saying “no” when I’m not hungry. Hitting up the gym more. Now that I have insurance, I should go to the doctor more often and get checked out. Change is also about holding yourself accountable. I’m not sure who will read this blog post but I’m announcing to the world about my change. I haven’t decided my final goals (especially when it comes to weight loss) but I’m ready to start taking care of myself. I’m ready to be healthy.

Change happens slowly but it does happen. What do you do to motivate yourself, dear reader, and what are your health tips and goals?

We both got this, SpongeBob! Keep it up!

 

When Things are Crappy…

This is me- yup, I eat while I sob.

Today was one of those days. I woke up feeling like garbage, falling off the wrong side of the bed.  After a morning staff meeting, I became overwhelmed with all the things I have to accomplish in a short amount of time. A weekend at the lake I was really looking forward to was canceled. I embarrassed myself in class later in the afternoon and after a chat with my advisor and even though I’m in my last class of my college career, my GPA isn’t high enough to graduate this Spring and won’t be unless I ace an additional two classes.

I have a lot of days like today, days that feel like the world is ending even though I know it isn’t. My depression and anxiety intensify everything and I will admit- most things in life get me down. But then I remember that I’m just having a moment. I give myself a few minutes to cry (and call my mom) and I pick myself back up. I remind myself that I’m okay and then, try to come up with solutions or tasks that make me feel better- how do I flip that switch?

So… Today was one of those days. I woke up feeling like garbage, falling off the wrong side of the bed. But I still got ready for the day. I curled my hair, giving it cute beach waves and felt pretty. After a morning staff meeting, I became overwhelmed with all the things I have to accomplish in a short amount of time. I took a deep breath, cranked up some Becky G and got to work, pumping myself up with thoughts of accomplishment. A weekend at the lake I was really looking forward to was canceled. Now, I have more time for myself. I’m going to make myself a lasagna and curl up in bed with lots of  blankets and the fourth season of “Buffy.” I embarrassed myself in class later in the afternoon and after a chat with my advisor and even though I’m in my last class of my college career, my GPA isn’t high enough to graduate this spring and won’t be unless I ace an additional two classes. I made an appointment with the General Studies advisor about switching my major/degree so I can graduate with a GS degree in May (not every big editor has a journalism degree). And I’m going to end this shitty day on a high note- I’m going to go to the  gym to kickbox my problems away (yay endorphins!) and grab Pho for dinner with a good friend. And then, I’ll shake it out to Pharrell in the comfort of my bedroom… sans pants.

I hope YOU had a good day, dear reader… And remembered to boogie.

Things sometimes suck- you just have to dance it out!

Things sometimes suck- you just have to dance it out!

Girlfriends, Husbands, BFFs, Whatever… Relationships and Important Questions

My handsome Steve and I

My handsome Steve and I

I’m going to brag for a moment: I have the best boyfriend in the world. While others may disagree, my fellow is a multifaceted, all-encompassing hunk, filled with kindness, adventure, hilarious jokes and intellect. I am incredibly lucky and grateful to have him in my life, not just for his delightful company but because he teaches me a lot of things. Not only have I learned a lot of Black culture from Steve, I also learned more about my feelings and how to connect them with being not just a better girlfriend, but being a better person. We work together as a team and we communicate well with each other.

Last week, I made this list of things I wanted to talk about with him. It was a list of questions that was eating at me for a while and it asked the both of us questions I believe every couple needs to think about every couple of month. Think of this as a kind of check up list. The questions will all have different answers per person, of course, but it’s a good tool to have. It doesn’t matter if you have the “perfect” relationship- these questions and answers matter. Even good things could be better.

Ask your partner and yourself…

1) What do you need in our relationship? A person’s needs are constantly changing and its important to recognize them in each and every state. These needs can range from spending enough time together to adding some fun into the mix. Its important to address them every once in a while.

2) Am I giving you what you need? With those needs, if your partner isn’t giving the things you want, speak up! A good relationship is a little bit of give, a little bit of take. It’s all about the compromise and negotiation. Be willing to work through the tough stuff (a positive attitude helps here- no hard feelings). If you need time alone, say that you do and come up with a better day to hang out. Just make sure to support and respect all decisions made.

3) What feelings and concerns do you have? I have to admit- my relationships are usually the Andrea Show, where I’m the star and no else is. I’m still learning that the world doesn’t revolve around me and that other’s feelings get hurt all the time. So with Steve, I’m asking myself more what he feels. I try my best to listen and respond appropriately. I also take a look at my own feelings and concerns and address them. I do still feel awkward talking about certain things with Steve but I know that I’m being heard and feel better after we chat.

4) Are you truly happy with me? I read an interview with Channing Tatum and how he and his wife developed a number system to measure the happiness in their marriage. They rate their happiness on a 1-to10 scale, with one being horrible and sad and 10 being perfectly blissful. They ask each other during random times what their happiness number is and when things dip below good, they work on it. I think happiness is one of the most important characteristics of a good relationship- duh, of course you want to have and be a happy partner. So, if one of you isn’t happy, what can you do to make things better? Remember, happiness is the key and is the thing both of you deserve.

Loving Your Body Just the Way It Is

Since the middle of last year, I’ve been hitting the gym. It has taken a long time to like that I see in the mirror but I’m just about there. So when I was asked why I go to the gym so often, I say that I just want to be stronger. No need to tone- I like being curvy with soft hips. It’d just be cool to lift really heavy stuff with ease, like a 200 barbell.

Even though I feel better about my body and self image every day, I still get down on myself sometimes for not looking “ideal.” In trying to morph this negative thinking into something positive, I’ve been reading other women’s tips on how to reverse their thoughts. Spark People asked a group of women of all shapes and ages, ”What is one body part you can feel grateful for, love and appreciate, no matter what size and shape it is right now, and why?” This got me thinking about appreciation rather obessession. What if we were thankful for what we have rather than obsessed over what we wanted and didn’t have. Below are some comments from Sparks People women about what they love most about their bodies…

1. ”I love my legs because although they don’t look like anything special, they carry me through my days without fail.”

2. ”I love my smile. People tell me I light up a room with it, and it makes others feel welcome and cared for.”

3. “I love and am grateful for my ears because they allow me to enjoy my greatest passion, which is music and sound!”

4. “I love my stomach. It kept my twin babies warm and secure until they were ready to enter this world.”

5. ”I love my arms. Even at 65 years old, I still wear sleeveless shirts without feeling self-conscious.”

As for me, I’m particularity fond of my nose (it looks especially cute with a stud it in) and smile (I finally like my jagged rows of teeth), my breasts (because boobs are just AWESOME) and fingers (they allow me to type and grip my bicycle handlebars), and my small waist (Sir Mix-A-Lot wrote a song about me) and muscular calves (even though I can’t fit them into tall boots, my legs look damn good in heels and low top Chuck Taylors). I know I don’t look perfect but hey, I’m healthy and pretty happy. And that’s something to be grateful for.

What do you love about your body, dear reader, and how to you celebrate it?

What is YOUR Dawn Wall?

A few couple days ago, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson completed what some say is the most difficult climb in the world. They were the first people to free climb the 3,000 feet Dawn Wall, a side of the El Capitan monolith in Yosemite National Park (free climbing is when one uses only their hands and feet to pull themselves up. Ropes are only used to break a fall). The climb took three weeks and the men’s hands were worn and bloody as they clung on the stone. But when they reached the top, their families and the feeling of accomplishment were there waiting for them- what a reward.

Their climb got me thinking about the things I’m climbing over in my life. What is my Dawn Wall? With the start of school this week, my schedule is going to be overloaded with commitments. I freak out when I have more than a lot to do and I usually set important things like studying aside, until the last minute. So, how am I going to conquer this challenge? I don’t need shoes and climbing powder- I just need a planner and patience. I look at last semester and how much I dreaded studying and how I rather hang out with friends instead. This time, I’m holding myself accountable and letting everyone know it- everyone said it was fine if they saw me less this semester (plus, it helps that most of my friends are taking classes, too). I’m blocking out time to studying during the week and am leaving my weekends for fun. And I will be letting that feeling of accomplishment be my motivation- that and maybe some graduation presents in May (hint, hint).

What is your Dawn Wall, dear reader? What difficulties do you need to climb and how will you conquer them?

Being Financially Responsible

Note: If you know me, you know that I have a bad Ebay habit (I just love bidding). I’m not a banker nor a financial wiz kid. I just know what I know and have done my research.

moneyroll

I have a lot I need to save for this year. There’s Burning Man, a rental deposit for the new place my boyfriend and I haven’t picked out yet, my graduation party, wedding gifts and an autumn trip to NYC. For the longest time, I was that person living from paycheck to paycheck- I love buying new clothes and eating out often. But I do know the costs of not minding your money- you run out of it quick.

I started cooking at home (making a shopping list before I go to the SaveMart, not Whole Foods) and learned to not care about wearing the same pants twice a week. But that still doesn’t make a complete dent into the amount of saving that I wish to achieve. So, I came up with a small list to help me along my being financially smart and responsible journey. Below are some steps I took into to save money and get some funds into my savings account…

1.) I highly recommend meeting with a banker at your local bank. This is definitely the first step to saving. Your banker can explain your options and suggest new ones. I met with Wells Fargo financial planner who suggested a Roth IRA to my closed savings account and also recommended that I finally get a credit card in order to build credit (love her- my banker is a genius!). Also research, research, RESEARCH! There are a lot of great websites out there that will break down complicated banking options into manageable pieces that you can understand. I had no idea what an IRA- but now, I do. Once you explore, you can narrow down your options to fit what is best for you.

2.) Prioritizing your needs. Do you need this? Do you need that? I think about how chilly it has been this winter and how much I love heat. So, I have dedicated some of my paycheck towards that versus a new pair of heels.

3.) Picking cheap hobbies. Doing stuff can be expensive and as much as I love having an adventure or two every week, I know that I need to scale back and not spend a $100 on skydiving every weekend (wouldn’t that be great, though)? Instead, I read a lot- I still check out books from the library- and I sew. I’ve been working on a quilt for the last year made from worn shirts. It’s something cheap to do on nights where I’m especially bored and I have something beautiful when I’m done.

4.) Budget. Budget. Budget. Budgeting is something I’m still working on. I hate looking at my account on the Wells Fargo website every day but it is helpful, especially when you’re trying to figure out trends in your spending.

5.) Looking for sales. If I absolutely need to have a new outfit, I research and try to find a deal. Example: All season, I wanted a pair of suede booties but could never find an inexpensive pair that I liked. When I found a pair on H&M, I noticed that you could get 25% off when you signed up for their email list. BAM- I signed up for their list, got the discount (I just made sure that all my H&M emails are marked as spam now).

6.) Piggy banks. Yes, that’s right. Piggy Banks. I put all my change into one. When I was a sweet treat, I don’t pull out my debit card. Instead, I use all that spare change. If I don’t have the money, I don’t buy the candy. Saves me on both the charge and the calories.

How do you save your money, dear reader? Any tips and tricks?

Hate and Free Speech

By Tome Toles, The Washington Post

By Tome Toles, The Washington Post

On Wednesday, gunmen entered the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and shot 12 dead. Four of the magazine’s well-known cartoonists, including its editor-in-chief, were among those killed. Paris and the rest of the world are shocked and in mourning. The journalism community is completely flabbergasted- yes, plenty of newspapers and magazines have received death threats before but no one has stormed into a publication office with guns, killing people who are only expressing their right to free speech.

By Rob Tornoe, The Philadelphia Inquirer

By Rob Tornoe, The Philadelphia Inquirer

A little less than a month ago, the film company, Sony, pulled the theatrical release of its movie, “The Interview” starring James Franco and Seth Rogen as a television crew assigned to kill the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un. After the North Korean government threatened theatre goers who watched the film and hacked the movie company, Sony made the pull. Fans roared. Hollywood tweeted (my favorite tweet was written by Steve Carrell: Sad day for creative expression. #feareatsthesoul). Sony released the movie anyway, on YouTube (I paid for it and watched it- the movie is hilarious. That James Franco…), and has reported that it has nearly made all its money back (good job, Sony).

By Dave Brown, The Independent

By Dave Brown, The Independent

We, Americans (as well as the French), have the right of free speech. But what happened when that right is threatened? Are we supposed to keep our mouths closed? Online today, I’ve seen cartoonists from all over the world pay their respects to the staff of Charlie Hebdo. It’s comforting to see people who are giving their middle finger to the gunman- they are doing what they love to do and they’re not letting the negative bring them down. I hope that more cartoonists contribute their respects to Charlie Hebdo and the gunman will see that their hate is counteracted with messages of love and recognition.

Long live to Charlie Hebdo and I look forward to reading you in the future.

30 Things Every Woman Should Know by her 30th Birthday

With the new year quickly approaching, I can’t help but think about 2015 and all the great things it will bring. I’ll turn 29 and I hope that the last year of my twenties will bring nothing but excitement and joy. I know that some hardships will be on the horizon (each year, my body acts more and more like it wants me dead) but I’m thrilled about my 30s. From what I hear, the 30s are the best time of one’s life- you finally know who you are and life finally sets into place.

I read Glamour magazine often (especially when Lupita Nyong’o is on the cover) and came across this list of thirty things every woman should know by her 30th birthday. I read over the list and thought it through- despite this being a list for a straight woman in her 30s, I think this list could apply to everyone (fellows included, minus the black lacy bra, unless you’re into that kind of thing. No judgement here)…

By 30, you should have:

  1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come (Andrea’s noteoh man, I have several of the later…)
  2. A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family
  3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour
  4. A purse, a suitcase and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying
  5. A youth you’re content to move beyond
  6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age. (Andrea’s note: I can’t wait to tell my future grandchild all the stories of Granny Andi living it up in New York City)
  7. The realization that you are actually going to have an old age—and some money set aside to help fund it. (Andrea’s note: Hello 401K! Seriously, if you haven’t set one up, do it NOW!)
  8. An e-mail address, a voice mailbox and a bank account—all of which nobody has access to but you
  9. A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded (Andrea’s note: Hell yes- because I’m a bad, hard-working bitch)
  10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry
  11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill and a black lace bra (Andrea’s note: I DO! I DO! I do have all of those things!)
  12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it
  13. The belief that you deserve it
  14. A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30
  15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship and all those other facets of life that do get better

By 30, you should know:

  1. How to fall in love without losing yourself (Andrea’s note: it took a while but I know how to now… finally)
  2. How you feel about having kids
  3. How to quit a job, break up with a man and confront a friend without ruining the friendship
  4. When to try harder and when to walk away
  5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next
  6. The names of: the secretary of state, your great-grandmother and the best tailor in town (Andrea’s note: This is the only one I’m iffy on- sorry, Mom and Dad… I don’t know your grandmas’ names. But I do know of a good tailor in Reno!)
  7. How to live alone, even if you don’t like to
  8. How to take control of your own birthday (Andrea’s note: All I need is tequila and chocolate cake)
  9. That you can’t change the length of your calves, the width of your hips or the nature of your parents
  10. That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over (Andrea’s note: Thank you, Jesus)
  11. What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love
  12. That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs or not flossing for very long
  13. Who you can trust, who you can’t and why you shouldn’t take it personally
  14. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault
  15. Why they say life begins at 30 (Andrea’s note: I CAN’T WAIT!)