Well, we made it through 12/12/12 and as I can see, the world didn’t end. Sorry to everyone who had their canned goods and extra water stored in their basement, ready for Armageddon and the end of the world. When we sit and think about the future, what we are afraid of, and then look at our past, we can’t help but blame ourselves for poor choices we made.

It is difficult for me to look back on the past two years of my life. They definitely weren’t a cake walk. Yes, there were some wonderful memories made, for instance seeing James Taylor with the people I love most in this world this 4th of July, but for the most part the past two years were extremely challenging and taxing on me. They made me question who I am, who I was and made me question my judgment. For an entire year beginning in February 2011 and ending in March 2012 I completely lost myself. I had no idea who I was, I lost sight of my goals and I spent the entire time focusing on someone else, trying to save them. Around December 2011 I realized that I cannot save someone else, nor can anyone save me, we all have to make the decision to take responsibility and save ourselves. I learned extremely valuable lessons during that time, however there are so many things that I wish had turned out differently, so many mistakes made that clouded my judgment, threw me off my path and I ended up burying myself amongst the ruins of another person.

As I look back I think, who was I? Why did I make such terrible decisions? Why did I hold on to something so toxic for so long? Then I think about control, how much control do we really have over our own lives? For me, that time was full of pressure. Pressure to support and monitor someone else when I was only 22 years old. I felt pressure from my family to make a certain decision I wasn’t necessarily comfortable making because I was terrified of what might follow once I made that decision. Even now, people tell me that I have control over what I am doing and the choices that I’m making and yes, to a certain extent I know that at the end of the day I have ultimate control over the choices that I make, but at the same time aren’t we all factoring in external pressures when it comes to making decisions? When I try to take control of a situation I feel that if I disagree with what the majority feels then I am making the wrong choice, but my intuition is telling me to trust my instincts and follow my gut, or my heart. I realized recently that I am a people pleaser. I tend to go with the flow even if I don’t want to necessarily do something, because I would rather put up with my own unhappiness than disappoint someone I love.

When it comes down to it, how much control does one really have over their own life? We want to achieve certain goals, but we are forced to follow certain rules that society has laid out for us, whether we like it or not. When we attempt to make a decision, how much of that decision is truly our own? We always factor in someone else, or family members’ opinions or we worry about how people will perceive us if we go left instead of right. In the end, do we really control our own fate or do our surroundings and the people in our lives tend to guide us to make certain choices?

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Since moving across the country I came to realize very quickly that I didn’t know much about anything. Yes I went to college and received a Bachelor’s degree in writing, literature and publishing so that should count for something right? Not necessarily. While searching for jobs I soon found out what I didn’t want to do but I still can’t quite figure out what it is I want to do with my life. We graduate high school at 18, go to college and in our freshman or sophomore year we are forced to choose a certain path for our lives, but at 19 years old how do you know what you want to do with your life? What have you experienced thus far that has made you understand the complexities, the disappointments, the ecstasy, the fascination and the sometimes disillusionment that you will inevitably face as you mature.

I did various internships for two years straight in my last years of college, all in some form within the communications field, thinking that is a “successful and safe” career path to follow. When it comes right down to it I just don’t want to do that. For some people it is creative and it is their passion and that is wonderful, but it’s not for me. So where does that leave me? I went to Berklee College of Music for two years before eventually transferring to Emerson College exploring different passions in my life, music, writing and literature. It’s quite funny looking at that now and saying, wow those are risky endeavors. You pursue your true passions and they aren’t necessarily stable or “safe” and they may not buy you a mansion or even offer health insurance but at what point do we decide in our lives to play it safe or take some risks?

At 23 years old I don’t have a high-paying job with benefits but is that what I even want? And who or what is forcing us to play it safe? Isn’t life about taking chances or making wrong decisions and learning from those experiences? It doesn’t matter if you take a risk and fail, at least you know you failed, so you can never look back and ask yourself “what if?”. Maybe you aren’t where you thought you’d be at your specific age but who is telling you that you should be there? Who is telling us that around age 30 we should be married with a child or expecting and why are “they” the ones to decide this? I am attempting to reclaim my individuality within society to be able to choose my own unique path, not one that society has bullied me into thinking I need or else I will be desolate and unfulfilled.

Everyone needs to find their meaning in life, what makes them wake up every day and get out of bed because without that what do we have? Some people’s lives may be filled with detours and obstacles that the average person may not face and you are allowed to ask “why me?” but isn’t it the challenge that makes life most exciting? Without challenge we would never feel accomplishment. Without loss we would never appreciate love. Sometimes you have to take a step back and become an observer of your life and ask yourself what it is you really want and then figure out how you are going to make it work, because you can. It probably won’t be easy, but if that’s what you want you should be willing to work hard enough to hold on to it.

Success is defined in many different ways. Some people find power and money to define their success, others creating a family, but however you define success is all that matters, not any one else’s definition.

Viktor Frankl once wrote, “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.”

You never will lose your freedom to choose.

There have been many many changes in my life in the past month… and I know they are all for the better. When I take a look back on the past few months I realize that I lost myself, completely, and now is the time to find myself again.

I plan to do many things to better myself (those I’d rather not share), and now is the time. So why aren’t you doing it? What is holding you back? Is it a person, a job, an emotion or maybe just the feeling that you are stuck? All of these things are excuses that we hide behind in order to not do the hard work: taking a good REAL look at ourselves and changing what makes us unhappy. If you want to lose weight, start walking daily, you don’t need a gym membership, just get outside and breathe in the fresh air. If you are unhappy in your relationship, get out of it. If you are unhappy at work, start looking for a new job. Avoid the negativity… we don’t need it in our lives and there’s no reason to remain stuck. No time like the present to change.

Why do we always feel that we have to compromise our own happiness? And for what exactly? Take a break from your day and begin to think about what you want to change. Take a second for you and I guarantee you will begin to feel happier.

It has been almost a year since my last post on this blog and I want to change that. I guess I needed to step away from it for a while to be able to come back reinvigorated. Coincidentally, I had to step away from Boston to come back reinvigorated as well.

California has become my haven. Each time I visit I come home with a renewed sense of self and a confidence that is steady and strong. During my visit I have been able to spend quality time with people I love and meet new people along the way that inspire me and have propelled me to want to achieve more. On this particular visit I was able to meet and spend time with a couture handbag designer with a passion and drive that washes over you and becomes contagious. I also met a published author and booze writer who will potentially have a sitcom based on his most recent book. He is such an intelligent and talented individual who has motivated me to focus on my writing and my career. Aside from the new people I met, I was also able to spend time with two amazing women who inspire me each day. My best friend is a world champion vaulter and a wonderful, intelligent and talented writer. My other friend is also an extremely talented writer and has an energy that is infectious.

All of these people have re-energized and motivated me to focus solely on myself and my needs and wants. Without this trip I am not sure where I would be mentally or physically for that matter. I felt stuck in a slump that I desperately needed to get out of and all of them in their own unique way pulled me out. I am extremely thankful that I was able to come out to California and shake the stress and clear my mind.

Well… at least in my opinion it is. I have experienced more than three days in a row of sunny 80 degree weather, been able to go outside and eat dinner and I have a tan so in my mind… Summer. Is. Here.

One amazing aspect of summer is the endless possibility of spending the entire day outside. My family put up a gazebo (not the easiest task, especially when all the parts are marked incorrectly!) so we can eat dinner outside without having to deal with pesky mosquitos. My Mom and I were inspired to put a table outside when we were looking at this month’s Crate & Barrel… a beautiful table, chairs and maybe even a padded bench? Sounded perfect to us.

Our next venture is to set up our badminton net so we can have badminton tournaments (it got serious two summers ago) and play volleyball of course. However, volleyball always takes a backseat to badminton at our house.

The perfect summer day at the Green household: coffee and breakfast on the deck, badminton, hiking or another outdoor activity, cocktails and appetizers at 5:00 on the deck, dinner outside (perhaps a hot tub?) and playing music on the deck with the family.

What is your favorite summer activity?

Whatever it is you love to do in the summer just get outside and do it because if you are an East Coaster like me summer time is ticking away!

my cat basking in the summer sun

Hey Everyone!

I have spent the past week in sunny northern California with my best friend from college who lives in Aptos. What a great week it has been already. I have spent the week in the sun, watching my best friend vault (an amazing sport) and do what she loves, and getting to see all the hard work she puts into the sport and has done in the past to become a world champion. I also read a very inspiring story at Huffington Post online (click here for the story). One of the quotes I loved from this story was when Rocky Clark said:

“There’s always someone who’s got it worse than you,” he says. And yet, he adds: “There are people who are not in my situation and they take life for granted. They have no determination. They don’t know things can take a turn for the worse in the blink of an eye.” (Rocky Clark, Huffington Post)

I have found an array of inspiring quotes (some cheesy, some actually inspirational) but I felt that this one has made my top five now. Rocky is completely paralyzed from the neck down and yet he is still insisting that someone has it worse off than him, which is an incredible notion. He has learned the important lesson of not taking anything for granted, trying to live each day as if it is your last, cliché notions but perhaps cliché for a reason?

A wise Russian masseuse told me and my sister that the only person that matters is you. Outside forces will come into your life (people, jobs, etc) that are going to cause negativity and stress but you have the power to control how you will allow those forces to affect you. Yes we all get down and stressed out but I believe that if you can re-channel your energy and attempt to be a positive and optimistic person as best you can you will ultimately be happy. No one can control your happiness but you. People can help add to your happiness but if you are a truly positive person on the inside, without any help, that is all that matters. We only have one life and one chance so you might as well make the most of it.

Rosey, Devon, and I had an interesting conversation over dinner at this little Greek restaurant the other night and Rosey said that she would rather die young, but feel that she was living her life and having amazing experiences, than play it safe and live to be an old woman. (I am horribly misquoting her but you get the idea.) I think we all need to take a step back to realize what is important in our lives. What do we want? What and who ultimately makes us the most happy? Why do we allow negative influences in our life if we have the control to get rid of them? Start living for YOU and no one else.

Crazy. I had to come to California for all of this to begin to really set in, and for me to begin to take it seriously, but I believe that if you live for YOU that is what matters. Surround yourself with people you love, take the job you love, do the activities that you love, and forget the rest because it doesn’t matter. Be around people who love you, inspire you, and support you so that you can achieve what you want in life no matter what that is.

Here’s a link to Rosey’s USA Team because I am sure that many of you don’t know what vaulting is (I didn’t until I met her). The video’s commentary is in German… but they are World Champions! Rosey is the one in the middle of the video around the 2:30-3:00 minute mark with Devon Maitozo alone on the horse

World Equestrian Games Vaulting held in Kentucky

To see more videos of Rosey check out her website you won’t regret it!

Adios from sunny California!

Vaulting Competition 5/14/11

In a recent article on msnbc.com they have found that a recent study at San Francisco State University says extroverts are happier than introverts. Well, that’s a surprise isn’t it? We all knew this correct? But don’t jump to conclusions just yet… interestingly enough, these psychologists believe they have found the root of why this is. They found that extroverts are happier because they view their memories with rose-tinted glasses. Study researcher Ryan Howell said, “We found that highly extroverted people are happier with their lives because they tend to hold a positive, nostalgic view of the past and are less likely to have negative thoughts and regrets. People high on the neurotic scale essentially have the exact opposite view of the past and are less happy as a result.” In the study the extroverted people were found to recall the happier moments in their past and downplay the bad moments. This more positive view of the past explained 45 percent of the link between extroversion and greater life satisfaction as well as happiness level and personality link.

All hope is not lost for the introverts though. Howell suggests “savoring happy memories or recasting sad ones in an optimistic light could help.” He said: “You may be able to alter your view of time and boost your happiness.” Now personality doesn’t 100% affect your happiness so just because you may be an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean you are unhappy. However, new studies are emerging that people may have the ability to make subtle changes to their personality.

In another article on the website they give you 5 tips that can help you change your mood when you’re down:

1. Be Grateful

Write letters of gratitude to people who have helped you in your life. Even if you don’t send the letter, writing it down will remind you that people care and help you and people reported feeling better afterwards. “The study found that these people reported a lasting increase in happiness – over weeks and even months – after implementing the habit.”

2. Be Optimistic:

Practice optimistic thinking. Visualize an ideal for the future and describe the image in a journal entry. “After doing this for a few weeks, these people too reported increased feelings of well-being.”

3. Count Your Blessings:

Write down three good things that happened to you during the week. “It seems the act of focusing on the positive helps people remember reasons to be glad.”

4. Use Your Strengths:

Identify your greatest strength and then figure out new ways to utilize this strength. “For example, someone who says they have a good sense of humor could try telling jokes to lighten up business meetings or cheer up sad friends.”

5. Commit Acts of Kindness:

“It turns out helping others also helps ourselves. People who donate time or money to charity, or who altruistically assist people in need, report improvements in their own happiness.”

 

 Try out some of these things they can only help! And summer is  right around the corner sunshine, swimming and barbecues  should bring some light back into everyone’s life!

My sister knows that I haven’t been having the best week so this morning I wake up to an e-mail from her titled “meow.”

Now I know that this e-mail MUST contain something amazing because it is titled “meow” and it definitely did because it contained this website: Cute Roulette. If you love animals and cuteness definitely click on that link right this second.

Just something to brighten everyone’s day because it brightened mine 🙂

In the April 2011 issue of Self, there is an article called Who is Checking Your Status? (written by Jessica Girdwain). The article tells the story of a girl named Nathalie Blanchard, a 30-year-old who was on disability for depression. Her doctor (as would other doctors treating a patient with depression) encouraged socializing to help her combat her depression. However, Manulife, her insurance company at the time, checked Nathalie’s Facebook page to make sure she was still in need of her disability payments. What they saw in her photo albums and on her status updates made them question whether Nathalie was being truthful about her depression, and they felt the need to hire a private investigator to follow her. After all of the evidence came back to Manulife regarding Nathalie’s socialization and her nights out with friends, they refused her disability and told her it was time to go back to work because she seemed healthy enough. Nathalie has since sued Manulife, and the article quotes a health care lawyer David Harlow who says, “after all, depressed people smile.” Her trial is currently pending.

So what does this mean for the rest of us? It means that we need to be much more careful with our Facebook pages. Even though Nathalie was technically doing what the doctor ordered, her insurance company did not see it that way. Legally, an insurance company has the right to search your Facebook page because you have shared this information with others online.

Not only are insurance companies stalking our Facebook pages but so are employers. They use Facebook as a way to screen candidates for jobs and an employee can be fired for any reason the company deems unsuitable. The article cites posts about drinking or “missing too much work for migraines or in vitro fertilization” as reasons why companies have fired employees. The shocking news is this: all of it is legal because YOU are putting this information online where the public has access to it. Insurers and employers feel it would be negligent of them not to check your social media sites because they must protect themselves financially and cruising social media sites is part of their research.

How do you keep yourself safe from insurance companies and employers? Look to your privacy and application settings. The article suggests:

1. Adjust your privacy settings to find out what “Everyone,” “Friends of Friends,” and “Friends Only” can see and change those settings so that no one but “Friends Only” can view your full profile. That way if someone is not your friend they can only see your basic information.

2. Google yourself to find out if your Facebook profile appears on the search. If it does, go to the Apps and Websites page within Privacy Settings and hide your page from search engines.

3. Set up alerts for strange activity on your account. To do this go to Account Settings and then Account Security.

 

All in all, having your Facebook profile completely public is probably not the smartest idea. When applying for jobs or when you are insured you should be more careful about what you post and also what the general public has access to. You’ve been warned!

Some of these tips came from the March issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine. Now I am not a huge reader of Cosmo but I bought it because one of my favorite singers was on the cover, and the fact that I felt the need to explain myself for reading Cosmo is a problem. That said, I came across this short little article titled, “Decorating Tricks Under $50” by Korin Miller, that I knew would be perfect for my blog. I’m a huge proponent of saving money since I always seem to be strapped for cash, but I am also restless and am always feeling the need to re-decorate or do something new.

March 2011 Issue of Cosmopolitan

Here are some of the tips that came from the book titled Small Space Solutions by Libby Langdon (I chose ones I have not previously come across):

Turn Your Bathroom Into Something Funky: Langdon suggests swapping out the lame fuzzy mats for smaller area rugs and adding quirky touches to spice up your bathroom and make it less generic.

From Old Lamp to New: Langdon shows us how to take a busted old lamp and make it glamorous by spray-painting the base with a high-gloss spray in the color of your choice and ditching the white shade for a darker one to make “a bold graphic statement.” I know that there are some spray-paints that are high-gloss but also have a touch of glitter if you wanted to add glamour.

Your Own Personal Gallery: Group together various photos, pictures, or paintings to make a small gallery on one of your walls. Langdon says to aim for a an odd number for a more original feel and also to aim for a common theme. I don’t think that you necessarily need a common theme as long as your gallery somehow ties together and looks fantastic. No need to match–get creative!

Graffiti: Use fabric paint to stencil on the backs of different pieces of furniture. If you are like me and don’t want to get so permanent with your design I think you should buy cheap slip covers for your chairs, couch–(what have you) and stencil on those so they can be easily removed when you tire of the design.

Temporary Wallpaper: Use silver or gold thumbtacks to hang wallpaper without committing to the wallpaper permanently. Langdon says patterned wrapping paper works as a cheap alternative (I don’t believe you should do this in large pieces–it would look too cheap). I think you could cut different designs you like into shapes and hang them on one wall in a collage manner.

Channel Your Inner 5-Year-Old: Apply chalkboard paint somewhere in your home. Langdon suggests on your bedroom door. My sister and I have a chalkboard in our kitchen, which is fantastic because we (and our friends) write funny sayings all over it, or we leave little notes to each other, and it’s a nice way to make your home about you. My friend Chelsea also once sprayed a large section of one of her bedroom walls with this and we definitely had fun with that. You could also spray a fun shape onto a wall rather than a door.

Collection-ista?: If you have collections Langdon suggests arranging them in an unusual way and showcasing them somewhere in your home, or displaying them in a crystal bowl etc. My Dad displays his match-holder collection on a few shelves in his office and it is a great conversation starter let me tell you!

*Another great way to cherish small memories while decorating is drying out flowers and then buying a small funky vase to display them in. My Mom does this with white lilacs that grow on a tree in front of our house, and I am attempting to do this with white roses that my boyfriend recently bought me. No need to throw out those beautiful flowers!*

Those are just a few ideas that Langdon came up with in her book Small Space Solutions and there are always more out there. Get creative, take the ones you like and change them to suit you. After all your living space should be a reflection of you no?