Tuesday, February 19, 2013

love.this.life. -- february edition

Periodically, I will post on how my life is going.  Thoughts I have had about my life, the things that I have been doing.  These posts will be titled "love.this.life" and will be more journal-esque.

An update on Maizy: She is FANTASTIC!  Her transition into the family has been a miracle.  Usually dogs have a rough transition, especially when another dog is involved, but I think, through her past fostering, she is a pro at transitioning.  She and Opie get along great and my friend Holly noted that Maizy acts as if I have had her all along.  It really is that way.  It's like Maizy was the missing piece to my life.  She has filled a hole in my heart that I thought was supposed to be filled with something else... my heart is full.

I have to say to all the skeptics out there - having two dogs (in terms of burden) is really no different than having one.  I believe this.  When I walk my dog(s), I use one leash.  Two dogs just happen to be at the end of it.  It doesn't matter how much poop I have to clean up, I still have to pick up the poop.  Yes, another dog is another body.  Another personality to deal with, another mouth to feed... BUT!  The amount of joy that comes from having a second dog (if you are a real dog-lover like me) completely outweighs any extra work you have to do.  Twice the mouths to feed, twice the poop to clean up, twice the vet bills, but also twice the tails wagging when you walk in the door, twice the kisses, twice the warm, furry bodies cuddled next to you on the couch or in bed, twice the cute faces, twice the puppy eyes -- one hundred times the love, the joy, and the happiness.

Life has been good and it is only going to get better.  Come March 1st, my dear friend Kristin will be here with me.  She has never been to BG, no big loss, but she has never seen me or my life here.  I look forward to introducing her to so many of my lovelies and favorite places and favorite BG foods. I also look forward to introducing her to Maizy.  Opie loves Kristin, so this will be a great surprise for him.

Then, just a few days later, I leave for Cali.  So very excited.  My plan is that I have no plan.  I want this to be as organic an experience as possible.  My base will be reading novels on the beach.  If anything else comes up or if I feel the need to explore Hollywood, I will do it.  I know this will not be the last time I will be in Cali so I don't feel the need to plan my days away.  I want to relax and have a true vacation.  I will be there for a week, so there is time to do things, but I just want to absorb the environment and enjoy the peace of my first, non-service project, non-going home, destination spring break.  I just want to BE there.  Recently, Angie and I were in Oxford, that wonderful place, and we were just busy BEing there.  It was like we were in college again.  And it was perfect.  I want this trip to be perfect also.

Aside from really focusing on all the coding and paperwriting and dissertation-researching that I am supposed to be doing (it all gets done, promise), I have really been focusing on my happiness.  I have been thinking a lot about happiness, in general, but I am really focused on my happiness, what makes me happy, and how to get that done.  This list will grow, but this is what I have found makes me happy.

Decluttering.  I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have cleaned and reorganized my apartment.  I have made countless trips to Goodwill.  I've been doing this for months.  In realizing that I want to live a more simple life (simple in materials, not experiences per se), I noticed all the clutter around me, a result of trying to make myself happy with materials in the past.  I don't want to be materialistic.  It doesn't make me feel good.  Retail therapy is dangerous.  It feels good at the time, but what good does it do?  The feeling doesn't last and you are buried under a pile of temporal happiness.  If you are a neat-freak like me... this is not good.  I realized, I have too much flipping crap.

Cleaning is a great DE-stressor.  I am THAT person.  When I get stressed out, or if I want to really procrastinate, I take to cleaning and organizing.  I have had a LOT of stress built up in my life, so I decided to tackle it head-first by cleaning and decluttering.  You should try it.  It's physical.  It occupies your mind.  I cannot recall obsessing over graduate school while trying to scrub the crap out of a pot that has four-day-old-food stuck to it or while trying to re-organize my food pantry, or even when trying to decide if I really need these Vera Bradley purses.

Decluttering gets rid of stuff.  Well, duh.  But what does that mean?  My closet can be organized how I like it to be.  I don't have things in random places because there is no room where I want it to be.  My apartment begins to take on the look of a page spread in my beloved Real Simple magazine (okay, maybe-not-really, but those page spreads never advertise clutter).  I also realize how much clutter stresses me out so that extra stuff that I feel guilty for not using - out the window.  No more guilt because...

Donating feels good!  Now I know that all that stuff that I bought and don't need, someone can buy for dirt-cheap and possibly really need it.  I haven't just been donating to Goodwill.  I have given a lot of stuff away to my friends (especially those with children).  Let's face it - when children are involved the life span of a product cuts in half, at least!  A lot of times, what I am getting rid of fulfills the need of a friend just at the right time.  And this stuff is not crap.  It's good stuff, but I've just realized I can live without it.  It contributes NOTHING to my happiness.  If it doesn't contribute to my happiness, maybe it isn't worth it - this is the conclusion I have come to.

I'm looking around my apartment right now and it just seems bigger and cleaner ONLY because I have gotten rid of things.  That contributes to my happiness and my peace.

Music.  I have been exploring new artists and downloading music like crazy.  I am a music-lover.  I always have been, but as of late, its presence in my life has been crucial to my happiness.  Some artists that I have come to love recently: The Avett Brothers, The Head and the Heart, Walk the Moon (Cincinnati!!!), She & Him, The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons.

I have also expanded my spiritual music collection.  Don't get me wrong, I love the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  They have amazing voices, and it does move me, but... churchy-sounding music isn't my style.  The organ doesn't hit me quite like a guitar can.  I like acoustic, earthy, folksy music.  For a while, I've worn out my Nearer album.  I absolutely love it.  It hits me.  It moves me.  I feel the spirit.  So I've been searching for more of that kind of music.  Hymns, but embracing every bit of beautiful simplicity that the gospel is.  Yes, the gospel is amazing and can be celebrated with grandiose performance that moves many people, but I prefer the most organic, raw expressions.  Enter The Lower Lights.

My favorite is the song played last in the video, Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy.

Good-bye Facebook.  Yes, that's right... I deleted my Facebook account, so that little icon at the top of my blog is now useless, haha.  I thought about removing it, but I like it as a reminder of why I gave it up.  Part of my happiness process has been purging my life of negativity and replacing it with positivity.  Facebook was definitely a negative force in my life.  It wasted my time and contributed very little to my life.  Some of the things I read on Facebook birthed some very negative feelings that would follow me around for days.  I came to the conclusion that I could live without it, and I have.  And I love it.  I feel free from Facebook.  I am no longer a slave to Mark Zuckerberg.

Going Green.  I have had many positive influences in my life that have encouraged me to live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle.  Recently, staying with my dear friends, the Richardsons, I've been inspired to step it up a notch.  So I replaced my paper towels with microfiber cloths and cloth napkins.  I replaced my plastics with glass.  I got serious about recycling.  I said goodbye to brands like Lysol and Clorox and Tide and hello to Seventh Generation, Grab Green, Mrs. Meyer's and Method.  I feel like I am doing a good thing and supporting a good cause, but I am also simplifying and cleansing my life.  It's made such a difference.  At the very least, green cleaning products smell very pleasant and do not make you feel as if you will faint.

Growing up, my family was not environmentally conscious.  As close as they got was to not waste water, but that was more about the water bill than preserving natural resources.  I left my family of origin completely environmentally un-conscious.  It has been a dream of mine to buy organic, all natural foods and to be as "green" as I can afford to be.  I am starting to make that happen.  I am not my family.  I am a pioneer, paving a positive lifestyle for my future family.  Speaking of family, I switched from brand name dog food to all natural.  I can totally tell the difference.

Photographing life.  I have never been one for pictures, but I have always admired those who have a penchant and talent for visual documentation.  With my handy-dandy iPhone, and awesome apps like Day One and Instagram, I have increased my photography and I'm really pleased at the result.  I don't necessarily have any talent, but I appreciate capturing moments of my life that I would otherwise forget.  I do more photo-journaling than anything.  After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.  If I don't have the picture, I don't have the words.

Adopting animals.  I am ridiculous.  I am THAT girl.  I have 1 betta fish, 1 Russian tortoise, and 2 dogs.  If I had it my way, I would have more animals, but I am just a grad student who lives in a one-bedroom apartment.  I've said a lot about Maizy and Opie in this post, as well as the past few posts, so I won't say much more.

Blogging.  Grad school really takes the love out of writing.  Well, I'm taking it back!!!

These things make me happy.  What makes you happy?


  1. Very inspiring! Thank you for all your wonderful donations here we are loving them. (Especially the Vera ;) I'm with you-I love love green cleaning products too. Mrs. Meyers is my favourite. Basil makes me the happiest but it's so hard to find it. (I have been using the basil detergent-grab it at TJMaxx while it's there!! and it works great!) When we are done with all your donated products ;) I am re-committed to going back to all Mrs. Meyers, it is a little thing that has always made me happy-in fact I wrote a blog post about that a few years ago :)

    Good for you on making the switch-microfiber cloths work so much more effectively than paper towels (we keep the paper towels for cleaning up the bunny
    situation") but I much prefer microfiber for cleaning, it just works sooo much better and there is no guilt and much less expense.

    Since my BEAUITFUL glass water bottle came into my life ;) I have decided to recommit to the idea of phasing out plastic. I started doing so about a year ago just before Gracie's surgery, but I got derailed by the expense of it. Now I'm going to continue just one piece at a time.

    Music-I am with you on the soulful stuff. I am loving the Sugarman album (I downloaded it after watching that documentary) it makes me happy and inspires me. I am rediscovering some favourite Beatles songs lately too.

    Decluttering makes me happy too :) Now that I have lots of fun beautiful NEW things thanks to a very generous grad student who recently adopted a second dog, I am enjoying donating the old. It's definitely a happy/serenity maker for me. Exercise makes me happy and eating beautiful, clean, colourful fresh healthy food makes me much happier than eating crap.

    Fresh flowers make me happy. I try to always have some in the house. Tulips are my most favourite and I have lots of them right now. They give me great joy.

    Finishing a project makes me happy.

    Facing a fear and taking a leap of faith makes me happy. I've been doing a lot of that lately and it is really paying off! It gets easier with practice and I am starting to enjoy the little adrenalin rush I do when I do something I have feared.

    Constantly having new goals and plans makes me happy and motivated. Mixing up my routine, doing things in different ways. Writing thank you notes. Random acts of Kindness. Creating something beautiful.

    Having celebrations on ordinary days. Setting a beautiful table, decorating my home in new ways with things I already have. Being around enthusiastic people. Making my kids laugh. doing something unexpected and fun for my husband. Cuddling my dog and taking her for an extra walk.
    Making lists of things that make me happy makes me happy! Reading lists of things that make my friends happy makes me happy :) Thank you!

  2. Your writing is so melodic. It's like a bedtime story with a moral ending to it. I love reading your reflections on life. I stayed away from writing for a long time because I felt it became too much of a process and clouded my ability to enjoy life as it was happening. But reading about the good changes you have made in your life make me want to revamp and get back to that self that loved writing because it reminded me of what I got out of life's experiences. Love you, and your life!