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Archive for the tag “happiness”

No Ma’am, Birthdays After 30 Are So Worth Celebrating

A co-worker of mine recently had a birthday. I consider her a peer in a lot of ways. She is also a young thirty-something like me. She started at the company about a year or two before I did. And we both worked very hard, were early adopters to switching hats from straight up writing and editing to the tech side of publishing and I think she’s a super cool person. I admire her grind. Sometimes we just give each other a knowing sigh on days folks are acting a plum fool.

She also celebrated a birthday this month, and I wished her a happy birthday and asked her if she did anything fun.

And with a straight sad face, she said, “After 30, there’s not much to celebrate.”

The “urban” side of me was wanting to say, “Girl, bye.”

Or:

“Lies you tell.”

tamar braxton the braxtons gif from theofficialstacey.tumblr.com

However, I simply smiled and said, “Girl, what are you talking about? The 30s are great!” We were walking and parting ways to our desks by then.

But the look of defeat on her face, and such words of defeat made me sad for her.

Here she is, this pretty girl, who is married to a well-off man, seems to be a doting step mom, very physically fit and has accomplished really difficult grueling physical activities like marathons and such, who seems to be so unhappy.

Just because you are pretty and fit and well off, doesn’t mean you have bad days. I totally get that. But right in that moment, I said a little prayer for her.

I thought about a conversation with one of my dearest best friends and we discussed getting older and said we looked forward to being senior citizens traveling together and sexually harassing young waiters when we’d go out to eat. We were looking forward to when it’s socially acceptable to talk that ish and folks let it slide.

But for now, warts and all, we agreed our lives so far have been filled with blessings and opportunity. We were relieved we’ve learned from our mistakes. And while we both traded stories about being single and how we can’t seem to find men who suit us, there was still a quiet confidence we shared about being grown women that we can be proud of and that our families can be proud of too.

We may have had a regret or two, but overall we were blessed to catch the lessons that accompanied our not so wise decisions. And that’s cool. That’s the silver lining of bad decisions, the lesson, the scar that reminds us, “girl, don’t do that again.” The reminder of our pain and consequences gives us a knowing twinge in our tummy when we are about to enter dangerous territory. As someone past 30, I appreciate developing that sixth sense through the dumb mistakes of my 20s.

You all know, that for some reason this year I really wanted to celebrate my birthday and I’m not one of those people who want to do something every year. But I felt good about who I am and where I am, and I wanted some friends around to have a good time. And we did just that. I wore something that made me feel good and we had a blast.

Every birthday is worth celebrating, whether it’s a quiet observance at the house, spa day or moments of reflection or flinging yourself out of an airplane, or buying a bottle at the club.

Everyday is worth celebrating. Even if you are past 30. Girl, get your life! I’ve never felt so self-aware, EVER. I’m so excited that I’m really getting to know me, and that I’m less and less afraid to say no to others and say yes more and more to myself.

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A Person’s Definition About Success Says Soooo Much

I’m obsessed with a song called, “Happy” by Pharell. It’s off of the “Despicable Me 2” soundtrack.

I heard it and saw the video for the very first time over at my parents on Thanksgiving. I instantly fell in love with it. Like you listen, and it does make you happy. You want to dance. And Pharell sounds really good!

It’s crazy, because I’ve been in conversations with people lately about success and some people’s answers disturbed me.

One guy asked me what I thought success was. He said, “What, you want a big house in Bowie, don’t you?”

Gag.

I told him, big house or small house, I want it to be a place that feels warm and feels like love and feels like home.

I’ve known people with too much house and just delinquent and deficient in love.

I’ve known people with studio apartments that were filled with joy.

When I was a kid, my little mind told me success was being rich and famous.

When I was a teenager, success was getting good grades, getting into college, passing my driver’s test and straight up independence and having my own pocket change.

I got to college, and the hill got steeper. Success was completing my degree and then gulp, actually getting a job in the field I spent the last four years studying.

After college, it was getting the job and working my way up. Where up was, it was supposed to be a large newspaper or magazine, where I became the editor, and had a nice office and being able to walk into a room and people be impressed by me.

I’m 31. I became a reporter, I became an editor. I live independently and I’ve got a list of things to complain about, but at the same time I know I’m blessed. I recognize it every day. But the biggest thing I learned this year is that dreams change, definitions of success change and that what? It’s actually ok. You didn’t abandon who you are, instead you are listening and listening more carefully.

I think there’s a big difference in people who haven’t found themselves and switch jobs every six months. You have to be grown and responsible. But if you take certain other risks, and you were a doctor for 10 years and decide you want to fly planes or build furniture, and you’d been taking lessons for a while and loved how you felt in the air, and long for that feeling when you see your patients or on weekends people admired a table you build, then why the hell not? The seeds had been planted. This may in fact, be who you are.

I’ve seen my friends and my family and other folks go through a number of life changes. Some folks got married, got divorced, had babies, lost loved ones, buy homes, launch businesses, go back to school and change ish up completely. I’ve seen people leave behind “dream jobs” to find peace of mind. I’ve seen people up and leave the country to seek themselves and new adventures.

I’ve seen friends on Facebook who I’ve gone to high school with defend being stay-at-home mothers and say it’s the best thing they’ve ever done.

I’ve seen friends on Facebook climb the ladder, gaining big promotions and going on lavish trips.

Who is the most successful of the two?

If both are happy with their lives as they are, right now, then both of them are. No contest.

We cannot define or dictate success to anyone else but ourselves.

There are a few people me and my friends joke about and sometimes say not so nice things about in terms of their life choices and where they are today. And one day, I asked a friend if the person we dogged so much was actually more free than any of us. My friend thought I was joking, but I wasn’t.

We considered him a loser for a number of reasons, and he kind of is. But if he is genuinely happy with his life, by my definition, he may very well be successful. It’s not up to me.

The older I get, the more I hate folks who aren’t genuine, and who are stuck on appearances and material things. You’ve read the blog. I love clothes and I swear before the good Lord, if I managed to increase my earnings, I would shop at high-end stores. I just would.

But at the same time, over and over, I’ve heard from friends who “seemed” to have it all complain over and over, that those bags and shoes and houses weren’t all they were cracked up to be, or they were still unhappy because they weren’t in a relationship, or they didn’t have kids, or someone they know on Facebook appears to be doing better than them.

If you are lucky, you can learn how to think for yourself. It’s not always easy. And maybe my risk-taking, bleeding heart, creative friends, and not growing up rich, but with a lot of love, makes it a bit easier to see the world this way.

Lately, I’ve had a really big desire to live my life fully, beyond the illusion, to seek beauty and wisdom and knowledge. I don’t want to be trapped in my thinking, or in my living. We have this huge gift of life and just one and the ability to love and feel and be.

There are moments I just want to be a hippie making music and art and love and to not worry about anything else. I want to sit in a cabin and drink tea and write or design tee shirts.

Then there are moments I want to be an academic, speaking and giving lectures. I want to pour over documents and find connections and be a part of some major think tank and lead thought to societal problems.

There are times I want to cook, and let the sweet smells fill my house and fill people’s bellies. I want to set beautiful tables and burn sweet smelling oils and drink from beautiful wine glasses with the people I love, well-dressed, healthy and happy.

There are times I want to be someplace beautiful on the other side of the world and be amazed by its wonder and let my mind wander. I want to be in crystal blue water, floating on my back and letting the sun warm my face and just look up at the sky.

The idealist in me is mad there is racism, and classism, and that smart, poor people may not ever get a chance to rise from their circumstances.

The older I get, and the more I think I’ve changed, the more I realize all of these things, these moments where I want to be those various things, that’s all me. It’s all of me. And I don’t have to be just one of them. And I can’t be. I’ll never be.

I told someone success is living the way you want to live with peace of mind despite outside forces. Success is understanding your power and beauty and what it is you bring to the world and having the humility to know you are such a tiny piece of the puzzle, but still essential to it.

When you know all of those things and you understand it, that’s huge.

When the stay at home mom says she has the most important job on the planet, I can’t knock it if that’s what she knows to be true in her heart. Same thing for a cop, the president, a baker, a butcher, candle stick maker, crossing guard, or teacher or grave digger or janitor or the CEO of Walmart (well that’s controversial) but still. Honestly, I want most of the people doing any job to all feel like it is important and bring pride to it.

Success is being able to sleep at night, knowing you did everything you could that day. Me and my boy talked once about what we would want people to say about us when we died. I hate the thought of dying. It scares me. It really does. But I did say this.

I want people to say that I was real, that I was genuine and that when I loved people, I meant it and I told them so and I showed them. I want people to say that I was funny and silly and gave what I could, whenever I could. I want people to say I was creative and loved creativity and being inspired by art and music and that to me nothing is greater than creative expression except God, who is the ultimate creator. He made the creative process so powerful on purpose, I believe to give us a glimpse on a micro-ist of micro levels to see what it’s like to be like Him. Watch any great singer or dancer or artist work. You can’t tell me it isn’t spiritual the place they go, the way they give themselves up. I want people to say I was appreciative and grateful, and gracious, and classy, and kind of mischevious, but I still had high expectations. I want people to say I believed in thinking and growing and learning and education and access and exposure.

Weird way to end. But that’s how I felt. Thanks for sticking till the end.

Whatever It Is You Want…

A co-worker of mine told me this morning that she prays that I get whatever it is I want.

I’m pretty sure she’s particularly alluding to a new job/career that will make me insanely happy and feel fulfilled. That is something I want.

I’m still waiting on my fate on that end…

I replied that I appreciated that prayer, and that my prayer for myself is if I get what I want, I’ll still want it when I’ve got it.

As we all know, sometimes what we think we want is not at all what we thought it would be once we’ve gotten it and then we think we are stuck with it.

I’m still figuring out what I want and what I don’t want. I think that’s a good thing.

We should all be revising this list all of the time, because that means we are growing and we should be continuously growing and we should be able to look back and see our growth.

I have been thinking a lot about 2012. I’m sure you all have been too, or if you haven’t, you’ll be thinking about it more.

It’s been an interesting year. I decided to go natural and shocked myself by actually liking it. And I finally really for real let go of my ex-fiance, and I shocked myself by not feeling guilty about it because of all of his problems and his dependence on me.

I opened myself up to online dating, had some serious disasters, but ended up meeting someone refreshing, smart, considerate and kind who may mess around and have a major role in my 2013.

I talked to God a lot more in 2012. And in a real, honest way. Like, I started being a lot less formal, and really talked to him like he was a close friend.

What do I want?

I want to be happy, I want to continue to be grateful for my life and the family and friends in it. I want to feel like I’m contributing to others in a positive way. I want to be bigger than me. Meaning, less selfish, more giving. I want the love in my life in all it’s manifestations between me and the people in my life to be real, to be lasting. I want good health and a sound mind for myself and my loved ones. And I’ve included this in my prayers recently, “God, there is someone who I may not know at all who is crying out to you, who really needs you, who really wants you to do something major in their life, who is about to give up. They might pray every day, or this is their first prayer ever. If nothing else, please let that person know you are listening. Will them to not give up.”

I hope you all really want what you want, and will be satisfied and happy when you get it, for the remainder of this year and going into the next.

Staying In the Yellow

There’s a marvelous song by India.Arie simply titled, “Yellow.”

I was first drawn to this song when I was in a relationship, and it resonated with me even more when I got engaged.

In the song, she refers to different colors that represents the ups and downs of relationships: making her see red, being green with envy. Together,  she and her love are royal and purple.

Over and over in the chorus, she asks that they stay in the yellow.

I interpret staying in the yellow as, maintaining balance in love and life. Returning to center, even when you are shaken temporarily. Coming back to home base.

That was the hope and prayer for my future marriage. That despite the ups and downs, as long as we got back to yellow and kept coming back to yellow, we’d make it.

It didn’t work out.

I see certain things coming together in my life. I’m appreciative of the real friendships and I’m appreciative of the understanding that comes with letting folks go.

I’m thankful for this renewal of creative energy that’s been happening over the last several months and a surge of passion for myself and for my life and the things that mean something to me.

I’m single now, but the song takes on a new meaning.

I want to stay in the yellow.

I don’t need things to be perfect. That would be unrealistic and scary.

But I do know what life is like when you are so down, you can’t smile and you aren’t sure you’ll ever smile again.

I understand the paralyzing grip of depression, and what it is to feel so lost, everyday is like looking into one of those infinity mirrors. You see the same thing over and over, and there is no end. It confuses you, it scares you, you hurt your brain by trying to figure out how it works and you wear yourself out in hopes of being able to see something else if you squint and look just a little  harder.

Yellow is just fine. “Daisies in a meadow.”

Some people may think daisies are simple and not the most stunning flowers, but there is something beautiful and warm, genuine and subtle in its simplicity. It’s still pretty, it still gets the job done.

I’m happy today. Not crazy, super happy, but a subtle content happy. That’s yellow to me.

I’m going at my own pace, I’m doing things for me.

Yellow.

I want to lose weight. I’m going to keep going to Zumba at least twice a week, and try to eat better. Every time I jump on the scale I’m not going to lose 4 pounds. Some days I may even gain three, but I’m going to keep going and not beat myself up.

Yellow.

I’m moving forward with the business I’m launching, step by step. I’m not going to rush, I’m going to follow my gut, my heart and my standards and not settle. Even if it takes me longer. It’s not a race.

Yellow.

I don’t know what’s going to happen for me in the love department.

Sometimes I get lonely. I know I still love my ex and I can’t shake it and I can’t help it. I often hate myself for holding out hope, still. But it’s best I’m by myself right now.

Yellow.

I’m planning wonderful trips this summer. I’m going to go to places I’ve never been and see things I’ve never seen. I’m going to take it all in.

Financially, people try to get out of the red (debts and deficits), and get into the black (free and clear with a surplus).

All of that is cool.

But emotionally, for someone like me, who had been struggling in the grey all of last year, yellow is a fine fit.

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