Another Perspective of Gratitude
Here it is again! Happy Thanksgiving! When we were in first grade, we were taught that this is a day to give thanks for everything you have in your life. Spend the day eating and relaxing with your family. As I'm getting older, I'm realizing how much I love this holiday. There's no commercial hype, no stress of buying gifts. It's just a time to be thankful and spend it with the ones you love.
Of course, when we think of being thankful, we think of our family, our friends, our health, our shelter. But what about everything else?
I'm thankful that I'm stressed out during my graduate school application process. It means I'm blessed enough to be able to continue my education to better my future.
I'm thankful for my professor who is giving me a slightly tough time this semester. She's reminding me that college work is challenging and I need to work hard.
I'm thankful for frozen yogurt. No explanation necessary.
I'm thankful that I need to pay for college this year. I'm learning the value of a dollar.
I'm thankful for my calloused feet and bruised knees. It means I'm physically able to play sports.
I'm thankful for my failures. I've learned to grow from them. I'm learned what I like and don't like.
I'm thankful for wifi. Without it, this little blog wouldn't exist.
I'm thankful for my crappy fourth grade teacher. I learned what NOT to do (if I'm ever actually a teacher).
I'm thankful for my alarm clock. I would be late a lot without it.
I'm thankful for that time I got cut from a travel softball team. There are always going to be people out there who are better than you.
I'm thankful for my toothbrush. I wouldn't have many friends without it. Definitely no boyfriend, either.
I'm thankful for for those lectures my mom gives. I've learned some stuff through all the ramblings.
And of course, I'm thankful for all the wonderful people in my life. Whether a coach, a teacher, a parent, sibling, friend, roommate, boyfriend, classmate, or co-worker, I'm thankful for you. You have molded me into the person I am today.
Today, be thankful. Think about every privilege you have in your life and truly appreciate it. Happy Thanksgiving!
Screw Romantic Comedies
Think about the last three romantic comedies you've watched. I bet I can guess the plotline of each:
Girl meets Guy.
Girl is spontaneous and cute. Girl falls (either literally or figuratively).
Guy catches girl (either literally or figuratively).
Guy performs a ridiculous over-the-top stunt typically including either a self-written poem or song and a bouquet of flowers, along with a cliche speech saying "she's changed him and he's waited all his life for a girl like her."
Everything is perfect.
I can't lie. I love a good romantic comedy paired with a cheap glass of white wine every once in a while. But, what are these movies saying about the creation of a romantic relationship? Although it sounds nice to be serenaded by a handsome Ashton Kutcher look alike, it's not real life.
Before I continue, let me remind you that I am happy in my relationship. I am, in no shape or form, one of those bitter girls who hates the idea of Valentine's Day coming around or one who practically gags at the sight of PDA. Nope, I'm an advocate of love. I love love.
But, let's face it. Girls need to stop expecting wild gestures from guys and then getting angry when it doesn't happen. Hollywood films are the reason why a girl gets aggravated if she's not proposed to on top of a beautiful mountain while a plane flies by writing "Marry Me" in the clouds. If he wants to give you flowers (because he really wants to - not because Ryan Gosling told him to), that's great. Good for you - you have a good guy.
Stop expecting starlit treatment. Yes, we are women and deserve to be treated well. But so do guys. If you're going to complain about not finding your prince, ask yourself why you need it so badly. The way I see it, relationships should be about spending time with your best friend, making each other happy, trusting each other, and respecting each other. Maybe this makes me a little bit (or a lot bit) of a cornball. Either way, bring yourself back down to earth if you think your life is destined to turn into "No Strings Attached".
Time is Like Toilet Paper
"Time is like toilet paper."
When my grandfather said this to me a few years ago, I wasn't sure exactly what I meant.
Now, I get it.
Think about life as an elementary school student. The duration of a day was a pretty long time. Recess seemed like it was never going to come when the teacher was taking attendance in the morning. If it was December 1, waiting for Christmas was an eternity. Forget about fantasizing about summer break when it's only September. Time went slowly.
Now think about your freshmen year of high school. All the teachers told you how fast it was going to go. Before you know it, you're starting your senior year. Prom seemed like decades ago. That homecoming dance was even longer.
College is a whole other story. A semester goes by like the blink of an eye (please pardon the overly used cliche). I remember my freshmen year as if it happened minutes ago. My roommate, Meghan, and I would play ridiculous games and laugh until the middle of the night. We spent most of our time on the weekends in the campus cafeteria along with ten of our other friends. All of us wore crappy sweatpants with our lanyard around our necks. Typical freshmen. Breakfast turned into lunch and before we knew it, it was 5:00 at night. Now, I'm about to go on Thanksgiving break for my 5th year of college. 5 years. The last four flew. Like flew.
This brings me back to my point: Time is like toilet paper.
The outside parts go around relatively slowly. If you're looking at it mathematically, it's got a longer radius, taking it longer time to go around. As the roll is used up, it spins faster and faster. Before you know it, you're that sucker that's asking the girl in the stall next to you for extra toilet paper. (Which is never a pleasurable thing to do.)
So what happens after college? It's gone unexplainably fast so far and if my grandpa knows what he's talking about (which he definitely does), we're all screwed. One day, I'm going to wake up and be 54 years old if time continues at this pace.
Slow down. Life goes fast, if we're enjoying it, that is. There's really nothing we can do to stop it (other than to purposefully have a miserable time - that, no one wants). All I can do is to remind myself to appreciate and notice the moments that are flying by. We all know how quickly these moments will soon turn into memories.
Stop...Now Bring It Back.
It's November 18. I'm sitting in a Starbucks and I'm currently procrastinating writing my enormously ridiculous (but to mention, full of BS) 3,000 page paper for my Writing Arts Seminar class. I sit, looking around. What's here? Other than the sweet aroma of coffee beans and faded sound of jazz, there's snowflakes on the walls. There's "Shake Joy" written on a poster surrounded by Christmas-y things. There's even a wreath above the over the top display of gifts all things Starbucks you can "affordably purchase for you or a loved one in this holiday season".
It's not even Thanksgiving. Society decided it was a good idea to fast forward through time and market the most commercial time of the year, which really shouldn't be commercial at all. It happens every year, and every year, it seems earlier than the year before. Christmas time is no longer about what it should be all about. It's about Black Friday. It's about asking for gifts. It's about little kids watching commercials on Saturday morning and saying, "Mommy, I want that!"
Now let's look at weddings. The average cost of a wedding where I'm from in North Jersey is just about $50,000. According to CNNMoney, people spend approximately $2,000 on their FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS. $2,000 for a bunch of flowers. Just say it a few times. Let it sink in. Weddings are about having the most beautiful dress and the most extravagant venue. It's about having the most perfect centerpieces and the most bling-y jewelry.
Special times like Christmas and Weddings are losing focus. Christmas is a celebration. It should be a time when family members get together and enjoy each other's company; not a time to fight over travel plans or why Aunt MarySue can't come this year because she smells weird. Christmas should be about giving and loving; not about asking and wanting. Weddings should be about a celebration of two people who love each other; not brizedillas being featured on the latest episode on TLC. Weddings should unite two families and support the couple making the next big step; not to focus on the mother-in-law who wants a certain color napkin.
Now bring it back.
Bring back the goodness. Let go of the selfishness. Bring back the spirit of giving. Let go of the asking. Bring back the celebration. Let go of the bashing. Bring back the love. Let go of the hate.
Today was the first day word was actually mentioned about moving out of our house. I've known it's been coming, but today was the first day it's been talked about as something that is actually happening in the foreseeable future. Whoa.
For those of you that need a back story, I've lived with some of my best friends for the last two and a half years in a fantastic house right across the street from campus. For two years, it was me and three of my best girlfriends. Living with Courtney, Meghan, and Brielle is something I truly cherish and wouldn't change the opportunity for anything. Brielle graduated in four years (who does that?) and so two boys moved in, which has been awesome in its own funny and wildly entertaining ways.
In the past, I have freaked, like totally freaked, at any sense of oncoming change. It's Saturday night at 1:15. I worked until 11:30 and decided to not go out. Here I am. My heart is starting to race a little at the thought of leaving my "home" so here I sit, typing on my laptop once again.
To start, I need to distinguish "home" from "home home". This is something we've come up with over the years. Our house, 41 Williamsburg, is "home". "Home" is where our best friends are who have quickly turned into family. "Home" is where we have built memories, laughed together, cried together, fought together. "Home home" is where we go to over the holidays. It feels weird to call it our "parents' house" because that gives the sense that we're established adults who don't go home; they go to their parents' place. No way. Not yet. "Home home" is where Mommy and Daddy are. It's where we grew up. It's comfort. But, "home", "home" is this place.
I'm trying a new thing. As I think about it a little more, my heart beats just a little faster knowing I have to learn how to acknowledge and accept change. We all know I'm not the best at this, but who is? I'm looking at the positives...but really looking at them. Moving out of this place is going to be hard, like really hard. I'm dreading the moment I close the front door for the last time.
So, let's look at the positives. Let's think about all the beautiful, fantastic, hysterical memories we've made from this place. Here we go.
Brielle, remember when you and I were the only ones home getting ready to go out blasting Beyonce? You danced on the kitchen counter.
Remember when we all watched Paranormal Activity and then Nick hid in my closet? For some reason I threw a tuna can at him.
Remember when we did No-Shave November and practically clogged the drain on December 1st?
Remember all the times we used each other's closets as our own?
Remember that time I made you guys "apple cider" and put in chocolate wine?
Remember that time the cops came and we talked to him outside wearing our prom dresses?
And when piggy-backs on New Years' Eve seemed appropriate?
Remember when we thought (or maybe just I did) that there was a cat in our walls so we investigated the attic?
Remember that time we played to "roommate game"?
Remember when we played Buzz and made number 8 something we probably shouldn't have?
Remember that time we made really great togas?
Remember our Christmas card?
Remember all those times that the four of us have somehow managed to accidentally match our outfits?
Remember when we painted our chalkboard wall?
Remember our first "formal"?
Remember when we posed like animals at our Christmas party?
And don't forget our super awesome Christmas tree.
And the day you guys threw me my 21st birthday party? That was the best day of my life.
Remember that time Courtney did this...
And then there's this...
And remember when we thought taking pictures like this was normal?
And you can't forget about Brielle...
And say "hello" to Joho...
We would even advertise "41" anywhere we could...
Enough for now. I think you get the picture. Over the years, we've gained quite a few memories. Sometimes I wish I could go back and re-live it all over again. Other times I just remind myself how thankful I am to have these memories with such incredible people. The last two and a half years have gone faster than I could have ever imagined and the idea of leaving in only a little over a month from now kind of freaks the crap out of me. It will happen. Days will pass and so will weeks. The day will come when I close the door for the last time, but I will not be closing the door on my "home", my family, my memories.
Money Should Be Rocks
Money is light; it's paper. It takes little to no effort to carry it around (other than those 4 seconds you spend putting it into your wallet). A $20 bill is virtually the same weight as a $1 bill...which is the same as a $50...which is the same as a $100.
But what if money were rocks? With each increasing value came a heavier weight that you had to carry. You literally would have to work for your money at all times.
In high school, one of my history teachers (who we all joked had a little something extra in his coffee mug) told us that apparently people tried this a long time ago. Quickly, these people realized the inconvenience of the situation. I specifically remember a comic strip of a person pushing around a wagon of rocks as my teacher shouted, "What a BOZOO." He's right. They were bozoos for thinking of using rocks as a symbol of wealth. But maybe they were onto something.
People want to be rich. They want to have the luxury of going out and buying a nice boat. On that boat, they're probably drinking something a little nicer than $5.99 Andre. Sounds nice, right? Luxurious. Convenient. Fun.
Today, people say that the rich one may not do the same amount of work as the middle man. The middle man does the work; the rich one designates that work. How is it fair? Bring in the bozoos. Now, the rich guy is still technically rich with money, but they're constantly working for their wealth.
Immediately, the word "rich" has another connotation. You can still buy a boat, but your tired. You can still go to a beautiful island, but it's pretty hard to get less than a 50 pound carry-on with all your "money". Would people still have a desire to be rich? Probably not. It's now a pain.
The idea of "rich" would shift. What's being "rich" without having to physically carry "it" around all the time? It's happiness. It's relationships. It's making good memories. It's learning. By simply taking out the one element, being convenience, having money is no longer desirable.
Maybe it sounds ridiculous; maybe not. But think about it. When having money becomes inconvenient, people realize the other (and better) ways to become rich.
Happily Ever Right Now
..."And they lived happily ever after."
What does that even mean? Did Cinderella and her prince get married, move to the suburbs and have two little blond kids? Maybe Snow White opened a wildly successful culinary school with her prince and slowly worked their way to fame and fortune. Did Ariel marry Eric, open a singing school, and inspire the lives of children forever? What is all this "Happily Ever After" nonsense? What happens after the credits roll at the end of a Disney film?
My idea of a "happily ever after" is marrying my best friend, having three kids, enjoying my job, but putting my family and friends first. Financial security is crucial, but there's no need to be grossly rich. Maybe there will be a boat, maybe not. And that's it. No prince on a noble steed coming to whisk me off into the sunset. No spell needs to be broken. No song and dance - just simple happiness.
Too often, I think people have this idea of "happily ever after" as something that will happen in the future and that they have to wait for it as if it hasn't happened yet. Why isn't it "happily ever right now"? I'm not married and I don't have three kids, but I definitely enjoy my job and still put my family and friends first. Maybe I'm a broke college kid, but that's okay. The boat, that will come. Right now, I'm happy. Tomorrow, I will be happy. In ten years, when my "happily ever after" stuff has come, I will be happy.
What I'm getting at it that people are always waiting for happiness. Appreciate now. We wait all week for the weekend. We wait all December for Christmas. We wait all year for school to be over and for the summer to come. Why wait? "Happily ever after" is great, but "happily ever right now" is what's important.
Here it is again: Monday. As one of my good friends, Steph, explains, Mondays come every week. Human beings should not be surprised with this fact, yet, every Monday, we moan and complain as if we were never expecting this day to come upon us once again.
In fact, it happens 52 times over and over in a year. Multiply that by how many years you've been on this planet. At that point, one would think that human beings would be somewhat capable of handling the inevitable.
I do understand that human beings feel the need to complain once in a while, and Mondays seem like the perfect thing to complain about. But why? Mondays really aren't that bad. I've done some "research".
Mondays are the least rainy day of the week.
Monday Night Football. Duh.
More than 10,000 babies are born on Mondays.
On Mondays, 800,000 Skittles are eaten.
How I Met Your Mother plays on Mondays.
Maybe you missed work or school last week. Monday you'll find out what you missed. Tuesday is when you actually do it.
On Mondays, people generally tell fascinating stories of their weekend.
"I love you" is said over 9 million times on Mondays.
I get it. The weekend is over and the work week begins, but get a grip. We all knew today was going to happen. We will get through it. The weekend will come again. So, let's try to smile a little earlier today (Typically people don't smile until 11:16 am), look on the bright side of things, and know that Monday does have its perks. Eat a Skittle. Watch football. Say "I love you".
Take a look at yourself now. Compare that self to yourself five years ago. Hopefully, some things have changed.
They say if you leave college the same way you went in, you did something wrong.
This concept shouldn't stop with college, though. Every day, we are learning, growing, changing. We learn everything from dealing with spilled milk to dealing with the death of a loved one. Where ever this learning occurs does not matter; what matters is that we are learning.
Thinking about my 18 year old self seems like both forever ago and just yesterday. But, when I think about everything that's happened in those five years, it is quite a handful. Yeah, I've always been a happy-go-lucky girl who has great friends and plays softball, but I have definitely grown up. Five years ago, the thought of going away to school was slightly terrifying. Now, I'm considering graduate school even further away. Five years ago, I could confidently navigate myself around a 20 mile radius in North Jersey. Now, I'm mastering the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway (though I still get lost sometimes). Five years ago, I was blissfully unaware of the diversity that comes from meeting new people and going new places. Now, the people and places that have come into my life have influenced me and inspired me to be who I am today.
So maybe now, I'm able to cut the cord from Mommy and Daddy, drive up and down the good old state of New Jersey, and have diversity in my back pocket. But that's only the surface.
I invite (and encourage) you to think about how you got to be who you are today. Hopefully, the reasons are mostly good. Some are bound to be bad, and that's okay.
Think about the people that make you happy day after day. Keep them around.
Think about the places that inspire you to travel and learn. Go there again and try new places too.
Think about the days you inspired someone else. Do it again. And again. And again.
Think about it all.
Be thankful for these experiences. They've shaped you into being "you".
Five years may seem like a long time. But when you're not thinking about it as a matter of time, but as a matter of experiences, it puts it into a whole different perspective.