The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

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This book is the memoir of a woman who basically created a step by step process to becoming a happier person. It is not a good book to just pick up and read, in a way, it requires action. I can’t imagine reading this book without working to create a happiness project of your own. She did a lot of research on happiness and has some good insight on what, throughout time, people have believed would make them happy. She goes through month by month working on specific area of her life.

As everyone has different issues, I did not relate to every chapter of her book. There were some months that I could have skipped altogether except for the quotes from philosophers or transferable tricks she learned that are peppered through the book (http://www.happiness-project.com). I would really consider this a sort of self-help book. She even has a website dedicated to helping people start their own projects. If you find yourself in need of a change of attitude or have ever thought, “I would be happy if only…” then I recommend reading this book and trying out a happiness project of your own. I am going to start mine next month.

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Worrying about Fear

Someone asked me, not terribly long ago, if I was afraid of anything. There was exactly one thing that I could think of: needles. I am and will always be terrified of them. Other than this, I was not afraid of anything. Everything in my life was going well, what was there to fear?

As a child, I was afraid of everything. I couldn’t sleep at night because I thought I would sleep to soundly and not hear the smoke detector go off when my house inevitably caught on fire. I refused to go into haunted houses because it seemed like a really good hiding place for a kidnapper and serial killer to seek out new victims. I hated playing in my basement because of a plethora of fears, not limited to: spiders, the furnace, and anything else that could be lurking in the darkness.

At some point on the path to becoming an adult, I stopped being afraid of anything at all (except needles, of course). Somehow, over the course of the last couple of years, I became afraid again. It has not been an easy few years, the hardest in my life to date. I am just not sure at what point fear crept its way back into my life, or why. Perhaps, when  life becomes unbearable, you start to worry about all of the ways it can get worse. But it is the anxiety that makes it all so difficult. Life is not that bad, it is worrying about future troubles that makes it overwhelming.

So, why worry about things that may or may not happen in the future? Or better yet, things you cannot control? I try to just stop subscribing to fear, but it is easier said than done. I don’t have any major insight to this, maybe once I pull myself back out of this I can share some wisdom. Right now I am just sending out more questions, in hopes that insight will come either through writing this all down or through someone stumbling upon this and respond with the answers.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

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I love to read books written by famously funny people. When I went to read Bossypants by Tina Fey a friend recommended the audiobook read by Tina Fey herself. This was so much better. I am sure I would have loved it regardless, but having a funny book read to you by the funny person who wrote the book and experienced those stories makes it feel like you were just hanging out with Tina Fey for five and a half hours. While I had already bought the paperback of Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? I decided that I would get the audiobook from the library and listen to it first. I was not disappointed.

I already like Mindy Kaling. I think she is super funny and her resume would agree. If you do not like her or her style of humor, don’t read this book. That just seems like common sense. She mostly discusses boys/men , working in comedy, growing up and being kind of weird, body image issues and non-issues, and fashion. These are some of my favorite topics. With all of these topics, she offers insight, humor, and a sense of “WTF” is wrong with the world today. It’s a good read with relatively light subject matter, and great opportunities to laugh out loud (either to yourself or with Mindy if you listen to the audio).

Judging Books By Their Covers

Lately I have been doing a lot of reading. I have a good amount of free time on my hands and reading at least feels slightly productive. Since I have read a good deal of the books that have been sitting next to my bed for months, I have been in the market for new books to read. I have a lengthy list of books I want to read, but most of those books are ones I have been putting off for a long time and I have still not mustered up enough interest to read them yet. I find I often need a deadline (movie release date) to read some of these books.

The market is flooded with books. Barnes and Noble is huge and I cannot always figure out where to find what I am looking for. I was at a book fair the other day looking through used books. I didn’t have much time, but I wanted to be sure to look through all the sections in case there was something cool and wonderful hiding between the 20 copies of Twilight. This is when I realized that I believe you can totally judge a book by it’s cover. I can look at the cover of a book and tell in less than 5 seconds if I will like the book. Mostly I walk around checking for the right shade of pink. Too bright means peppy chicklit, to pale means babies. Neither is really my current cup of tea. If there is a couple  in a passionate embrace, I will pass. Movie tie-in cover, pass. Painting done by a long dead artist, totally worth a read.

I think we have been to quick to judge quick judgements. Take this job I was offered last week. I thought I should give it a shot, but my first instincts were right. It was not a good job for me. I would be there right now, knowing that I had made a terrible mistake. A creepy guy you meet in a bar is probably not your future husband. A meeting with a relative stranger anywhere but a well lit and very public place is always a bad idea even if they say they will make you a star (or you met him through an online dating site). A person who contacted you through Craigslist and is coming to look at your apartment or anything in it warrants a friend coming over in case he is a serial killer. Sometimes snap judgements are how we protect ourselves from bad dates, lame books, or ending up the plot of next week’s Law and Order: SVU.

Let’s not be too quick to judge our own judgement. More often than not, your first instinct is the right one.

Choose Your Own Adventure

I have been out of work for about a month now. In the grand scheme of things, I know that is not very long. A lot of people are out of work these days. I am not trying to support a family or make rent for the month. I am just a recent graduate trying to figure out her next move. The issue is knowing what is a step in the right direction and what is not. I believe that there is a path. There is the right path that one is supposed to follow that holds the best possible outcome and then a, not wrong, but different path with a slightly different ending. Much like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. There is the best possible ending where you defeat the monster and save all the people, there is the worst ending where you just die or something awful happens and then there are ok endings. If I am being perfectly honest, I used to cheat and read the end to be sure I made the best choices throughout the book. The issue I have in real life, is that you can’t check the end of the book to make sure you are going the right way.

I have been praying for a job to come along for a while now. I have a very clear picture about what this job should be and have been waiting since March to hear back about this one perfect job. The job does not even begin for another couple of months. There are a few other similar jobs that I would just as happily accept that have had start dates starting over the last two weeks. It is not like the job has been filled and I am waiting for something that no longer exists, they just haven’t even starting hiring yet. Still, I am going crazy.

All this stress came to a head today because I was offered a job today. The job is a short contract, not exactly in my field, and in a city I am not set on moving to. On the other hand it is a job. How do you know what to chose? One way is more of the same, waiting (not very) patiently for the right job to come along. The other is to take a chance on a job that may lead to something better or may keep you from the job you have actually been waiting for and leaving you right back where you started a month later. I wish I could take a peek at my future to see if I made the right choice. I guess I will have to continue to be patient and wait, regardless of my choice.

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

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I am not really into the idea of writing book reviews because as I have learned from years of reading reviews, while everyone is entitled to their opinion, that in no way means that my experience will be the same.

I loved this book. I think it is especially poignant to girls my age going through this particular stage of life (single, in your mid- to late twenties). The book is episodic, which I find makes it easier to read because you can read a chapter and not have to reread it when you pick the book back up a few days later. It focuses on one girl in particular, Isabelle, but also has chapters dedicated to her friends. They have all graduated from college and are now navigating city life, the job market, the world of dating, and being the single girl when all of your friends are in relationships, getting married, having babies, or in law school.

I feel like this book encompasses the issues that many girls are going through. My generation graduated from college with the promise of awesome jobs only to find that the market had tanked and no one could find work. We tend to be career driven with no careers to speak of. Friends are in serious relationships, married, getting married, having kids, and sometimes it seems like that is all they care about. Their “real lives” have started and some of us have been left behind, still waiting for that dream job and wondering when I too will have it all figured out.

I highly recommend this book to anyone in this stage of life, or who can remember how it feels to be an adult, but not quite a grown-up.

Adventures in Unemployment

I have been known to be a workaholic. I am not the type of person to spend 50+ hours a week in an office I can’t stand. I love what I do. I want to be doing it all the time. Granted, my job often consists of reading books, doing research on Pinterest, and playing dress up with really pretty people. Yes, I have an amazing job. I also have a job that often leave me out of work for periods of time. As a workaholic, this is not always awesome. There have been times that I have needed the break to take a breath, read a book, or return the many phone calls from my best friend that I have not had time to return. This is not one of those times.

Four months ago, I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Costume Design. After three years in a difficult program, I needed a break. Now, I have taken a breath, read several books, returned those phone calls, taken that weekend trip, watched every show I have been meaning to watch on Netflix, knitted a blanket and done just about every DIY I could find on Pinterest that has interested me. Now I am a workaholic with NOTHING to do.

I am twenty-seven years old, living with my parents, out of work, and officially have become my greatest fear. Now, I have applied to many jobs in my field and some do not start for another month, so I still have hope that I will have a job soon. Meanwhile I feel like a teenager at the end of summer vacation. Can it please be time for me to go back to work. I am trying to see this all as a blessing in disguise. I may not have time off again for a very long time, I should enjoy it while it lasts. But what do you do when you have done everything you can think to do? At least within your financial means…

If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to send them my way.