Chasing Happiness

Many of you know that I identify as a happy person. I jump at chances to thank my parents for giving me a wonderful childhood, for taking me in after I graduated with a Master’s degree and no job, for continuing to supply me with support and love (both financially and emotionally) as I started to embark on the journey of REAL adulthood.

I wasn’t one of those kids who said “Well I’m an adult now, so blah blah blah.” I once told my dad to drop me off a block away from school on the first day at my preppy high school, but he quickly shut that shit down. When I was 18 and home from college during a break, I asked to “throw a party” and when my mom and dad said “sure!” I then tried to push the boundaries and responded “with alcohol?” and again, they shut that shit down.

They gave me the right amount of rules with the right dose of common sense. They let me fail, they let me succeed, and most of all, they made sure that I learned to think on my own. To go out on a limb and try new things. They showed me how to be happy with what life hands you and how to work with it when it’s not quite what you expected. They taught me to love learning and to love a good challenge.

And they taught me to enjoy reading. To this day, a go-to gift for my mom or dad (pending room on their HUGE bookshelf they co-opted from my sister) is a good book. Because of this, I have read SO. Many. Books. (Well, I’ve started reading more than I’ve finished) (and okay, I’ve listened to many more than that–audiobooks are my newest obsession)… (But I digress).

Reading has allowed me to experience other people’s definitions of happiness. It has allowed me to question the possessions in my life… the people in my life… the values I assign to things in my life.

It led me to Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. (A hard copy, might I add!)

Happiness project cover

Why did I pick it up? I wasn’t sad or depressed or lacking happiness in my life. But it called to me. Its happy blue cover with a bluebird flying called to me. I’ve always been a sucker for a good cover. But it was the idea of the book that got me most: that happiness is a project. It’s something you aspire towards and something on which you have to work day in and day out.

I believe we all have a certain amount of innate happiness. Some people are naturally irritable, some naturally entertained (e.g., me) and find joy in small things.

What I wanted from reading this book was to be able to actually recognize all of the things in my life that are good and all of the things that are keeping me from being truly happy. Like I said, I identify as a happy person, but that doesn’t mean that I am happy all of the time. I struggle with anxiety, both social and personal (more generalized), and I live my days in a haze of side effects of ADHD. (Side note: I recently started an ADHD med and I have to say that I can actually finish things by deadlines! And stay focused! It’s GREAT. Why didn’t I cry in a doctor’s office sooner?!?!)

Basically the book has reminded me that you have to fight right. You have to try new things. You have to have an empty shelf. I still don’t, because I just put wedding related mason jars on it… but prior to that moment IT WAS AMAZING (and dusty).

If you haven’t read the book yet, go do it. Pick it up. Listen to it. Get the Happiness Journal that goes along with it. I do week-long journaling episodes where I write down all of the good for one week then get distracted again… so if I ever finish my Journal, it will be hysterical: part angsty teen, part melodramatic grad student, part struggling young adult. It’s an entertaining mix.

Anywho. Sometimes I just feel the need to get these types of literary feelings out. And sometimes I think someone else might benefit from hearing about a “happy” person who still struggles with actually being happy. So there it is.

I’ve begun my own Happiness Project of sorts and might post about it. But for now, I’m going to return to cleaning my apartment… and chasing happiness.

One mess at a time…
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33 Days

That’s how many days (says TheKnot.com) until I get to join my guy as his legally wedded wife and call myself a Mrs. fo’ life. I’ve been crafting up a storm and so many ideas have been running through my head, but in the end, there are things that matter more than the small details… like how many people we get to bring together, celebrate with, and call family. I’ll still worry about the details, but I try to remind myself to focus on the big things. Like getting the marriage certificate, so this nuptial is legal, and filing for a name change (and having to change it in 2.7 million places). But that’ll be fun and worth it.

So, yes, I’m going to take his last name. No I don’t feel contra-feminist for that. It’s kind of like getting a nickname at camp… and since I never really went to camp (well I went to Bible camp, but I don’t think they gave out nicknames… just bibles) it’s my chance to get a new name.

Other ways I know I’m getting married and it’s not just a piece of paper:

  • A colleague made a powerpoint of a presentation we’re doing in August and put “Lindsay Stoddard” as my name
  • A friend asked when we’re going to have kids. (“Soon” isn’t soon enough for people sometimes! And for us, too, sometimes! But don’t worry, we’ll do what’s right for us.)
  • I talk a lot about the future and use cute sayings like always using “We” and referring to us as “best friends.”
  • Brian said we can’t have kids ’til I learn how to clean up after myself (so I’m gonna fake it and lure him into a false sense of security).
  • I read the book “The Magic Art of Tidying Up” (the pop-novel about a Japanese culture of tidying that ANYone can benefit from) and I will say, Brian is happier when I throw clutter out and plan to create space for more fun things to put in their place… I mean…

So, people are right: a lot will change, but a lot won’t.

  • We won’t wake up the next day and have marriage figured out–we’re going to have to work on it every day. Challenge accepted.
  • We will still live on-campus in our very adult apartment in the “dorm” I oversee.
  • We will still bicker over the messes I make and how I “literally don’t see” clutter.
  • We will still like and watch different shows, one of us on the phone with earbuds and one of us on the TV.
  • I will always be too cold in the bedroom and in the car and he will always die of heat in our apartment and mess with the car temperature controls
  • I probably won’t stop using the emergency brake when I park, despite never having lived in a hilly place.
  • He will still call it a documentary a “docu-men-TAREy” when it’s totally a “docu-mentaree.”
  • We will also have to continue to make decisions that benefit us and our future. We’ve always been pretty good on this one.

I’ll have to keep working on not taking my mistakes so seriously (because I’m not that fun to be around when that happens). He’ll have to continue to deal with car/electronic/cooking-related items and I will continue to make the bed, avoid using dishes so I can blame the dirty ones on him, and surprise him by separating whites and colors whenever I do the laundry.

The fun part about us is, he likes the home-y things (my weakness) I purchase for our apartment and I actually have grown used to watching sports and paying ludicrous amounts for MLS games and beers at the stadium, which is his weakness. We share in each other’s triumphs and support each other through our mishaps.

I can’t wait to say “I Do” to a life of challenge, a life of support, a life of adventure, and a life of love with this guy.

I guess this is the part of my blog where I am no longer truly my namesake, “Girl in Like,” but rather, “Girl in Love…” and while I didn’t believe it would happen to me at some points, somewhere deep down I knew it had to… and when I met him almost 3 years ago, he was doomed from the beginning, because I wasn’t letting go.

I’ll post again soon about what it’s actually been like to try and plan a wedding “on-a-budget” — that is a whole other topic that deserves some room.

Miles of smiles,

Girl in Love

p.s. Yes, I’m 12 years old and have already practiced signing my signature with his last name:

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