Advice From a Dog
I have this theory: People should take some advice from dogs. Dogs know how to live.
What's the point in getting stressed out? Just relax. Find the perfect spot on the couch and curl up. Get someone to pet you if they're around.
When you've got good people around you, don't go anywhere.
3. High Five.
Never pass up a good high five. The worst is leaving someone hanging. People generally get mad if you do this.
4. Greet people with love.
Whenever you see someone for the first time, run up to them and shower with kisses and wagging tails. It will make them happy to feel loved.
5. Take advantage of your "cute face".
Sometimes, people just need to be convinced with a little puppy dog face. It helps, trust me. (But don't abuse it; people won't take you seriously anymore.)
6. When you find good food, eat it.
Maybe it's not so often you find an awesome treat, so when you do, don't pass it up!
7. Wag your tail.
When you're happy and you know it, let other people know it. Happiness is contagious.
8. Chase your tail.
Everyone's gotta play once in a while. Even if you look a little ridiculous doing it, go for it.
9. Go for a walk.
Exercise is important.
Show your love.
At the end of June, my co-workers, who I am lucky enough to call some of my best friends, bought me a present that says "Some Pursue Happiness; Others Create It." I'm looking at it right now on my dresser. (Thank you PROS, I love it). Even though this, literally, is just an 8x3 inch piece of wood with colorful writing on it, it means so much and these words are so important.
I'm going to go on a slight tangent.
"What do you want to be when you grow up?" How many times did we hear this as kids? How many times do we still hear it now? The answer, for kids at least, is typically a baseball player, a doctor, an astronaut, you get the gist. But, why is there such an emphasis put on what you're going to BE when you grow up; not HOW you're going to live. What about that John Lennon quote:
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
Realistically, almost any job can be amazingly fun. Please, if the fish market guys in Seattle can have as much fun throwing around fish as they do, I think anyone can love their job. But, it's up to you to make your job, your life amazingly fun.
My secret is to APPRECIATE and RECOGNIZE the little things in life. It's not every day that someone is going to hit a home or find the cure for cancer or travel to the moon. These hugely momentous events occur rarely, and waiting for something outstanding to happen is a waste of other, perfectly good days.
Last weekend, I overhead a boy talking about the date he was going to take his girlfriend on for their 1-year anniversary. He planned to take her to Central Park and go on a horse-drawn carriage. Though it all sounds lovely, I tried to stop myself from vomiting. Not necessarily because of the actual trip itself, but because it almost seems like people feel like they have to one-up the other person with what they're doing, what they have. Like he was trying to be impressive with his romantic movie date.
The next day, I visited my boyfriend in Long Beach Island. We cooked dinner together, sat on the beach and read a book (Reading? Who am i?), went kayaking, and walked around Bay Village, where I bought nothing but half a pound of fudge. Nothing out of the ordinary. But, I had a FANTASTIC weekend. Why? Because I truly appreciated the little things that we did, that he did for me, and that I did for him.
Guys, it's not rocket science. These "little things" are all around you, all the time. The fact that I'm writing this at 8am and woke up before my alarm is a little thing I'm happy about, and I know my day will be better because of it. I'm playing in a softball tournament tomorrow and I get to see my parents. My boss gave me a one-day extension to sign something because I was busy yesterday. My room is clean. See, look around you. Literally, do it. Think about today and maybe tomorrow and the things about it that make you happy.
I think that the more times we do this, the happier we are. Now, we're looking for brief moments of life that are worthwhile and put a smile on our faces. So if you're having a bad day, or just a day, try to change your perspective just a little and look for those little things.
It All Has To Match Up
On Friday, the Rec Center staff was lucky enough to have Shaun T (Insanity and Hip Hop Abs fitness guy) come talk to us. He's a Rowan Alum, and actually worked at the Rec Center a number of years ago. The professional staff here has kept a great relationship with him and they brought him in just a few days ago! What he said was all very interesting and it comes down to three main points. If you weren't at his presention, do it. Seriously.
1. Define 5 things you're AMAZING at. Like amazing. It could be anything. Are you a good listener? Good friend? Great dancer? Whatever. It was kind of hard for some people to think of these five things. Really, no one's actually asked a question like this before. Write it down.
2. Think of 3 things that makes you excited to wake up. Again, it could be anything. And it can be simple. For him, Shaun loves waking up to his husband kissing him on his forehead. Write it down.
3. What do you WANT? Shaun introduced the idea of "selfish" being a GOOD word. Being selfish is actually important because "you are the nucleus of your whole world" and if YOU are not selfish, YOU will not be happy. SO, what do you WANT? Write it down.
Now, look at your five amazing things, the three things that make you wake up, and what you want. Do they all relate? By this, he means to ask if they all coincide and work together to make you happy.
This activity wasn't necessarily easy for me. First of all, it is definitely kind of weird to write down five things I'm amazing at because I almost feel like I'm bragging. Then, it weird to think of three things that make me excited to get up. People, me included, sometimes get stuck in the daily grind of life. Sometimes it just happens. But Shaun's point was to remember what makes you happy to be awake. Lastly, it was strange to think of what I want in such a broad term. I want to be a teacher. I want to have a family. I want to get married. But what SPECIFICALLY do I want? And not only that, how do I write it down in a short sentence that makes sense? Even after writing down what I want, "I want to be a role model and make others happy", I still feel like it could use some work.
Ultimately, it's hard to define yourself or your life in three short answers. But, what Shaun T explained is that they all need to be intertwined. One leads to the other, which leads to the other.
College teaches you a lot. Yeah, I go to classes and yeah, I learn from those classes. But, the things I learned OUTSIDE of the classroom is more than anything I could have imagined.
1. Make yourself comfortably uncomfortable. This could be applied to almost everything. Step outside of your comfort zone. Go talk to someone. Or maybe just smile at them. Maybe this person wanted to talk to you, but they were just too nervous to do so. You never know what doors this could open for you.
2. Buy a planner and fill it up. I know this sounds like the headline of a freshmen orientation brochure, but it's so true on so many levels. On the most literal level, it keeps you organized. Organization is absolutely key in college and in life. On the next level, making yourself busy each day teaches you tons. Time management is a skill many people do not have, but is something that is SO crucial. Master it.
3. Work Hard, Play Hard. Go to class. Duh. Go to work. Duh. Do homework, go to meetings, blah blah blah. BUT - HAVE FUN! Spend time with friends. Although college is predominantly about getting a degree, some of the people you meet in college are going to be in your life forever. I've met my bridesmaids in college, and if I didn't purposefully make time to spend with them, I would be walking down an aisle with no girls in cheesy dresses next to me. Laugh with your friends. Go out with them. Create memories.
4. Sleep. At night. Refer to #2. You'll need it. Stay away from naps. Typically, you'll wake up sleepy and confused thinking it's 6am, not knowing what day it is.
5. Say "YES". Some of the most beneficial things I'm involved in at Rowan are the things I had NO idea what they were. Example - my graduate school thing. If I didn't blindly go into this organization, I would not be going to grad school. Say "yes" when you're unsure, when you think you might not have enough time, when you're nervous. You won't regret it.
6. Say "NO". Sometimes, we need to learn when to say "no" too. This is actually something I'm STILL, as an almost-23-year-old, working on. Although helping people is awesome and getting involved is important, don't completely overload yourself.
7. Find an outlet. This is something else I'm still working on. Stress happens. People get overwhelmed. It's natural. What's important is to find a way to deal with that stress. Sometimes, it might unfortunately mean crying on my boyfriend's shoulder as I pathetically utter words he can barely understand. I'm trying to steer away from doing this. His shirts get wet and booger-y. It's gross. I'm learning that writing is actually very helpful. Or working out. Maybe your outlet for stress isn't writing or exercise. Whatever it is, find it, and use it.
8. Treat yourself. You deserve it. If this means treating yourself to an ice cream cone on the way out of the Cafe, do it. Maybe it's just having a relaxing night in. A bath. A manicure. A new outfit.
9. Call your parents. My mom always tells me that I'm always allowed to complain and brag to them. Take full advantage of it. You can't complain and brag to most people; they'll stop talking to you. On top of the complaining and bragging, make sure you also THANK them. They're part of the reason why you're where you are right now. They deserve to know how grateful you are for them.
10. Remember your family. My family, for example, is all over the US. I have people in Jersey, but a lot are in Colorado, Florida, and Nevada. We don't see each other a lot, so remember to call them to say "hi". Family is forever. On that note, family doesn't have to be blood. In my case, family is also my roommates, my co-workers, and my team. I'm blessed to have this many people that I love. Whoever your "family" is, remember to love them.
Passion for Passion
About four months ago, I went to a motivational speaker. I'm not sure what his name was; they all kind of blur together at this point. I feel like I've been to a million. Regardless of who he was, he said something that I've been thinking about for the last four months.
He asked, "What are three things you are passionate about?" And he waited. No one raised their hand. But that's what he was expecting. In fact, the looks of slight terror and the "Oh-my-god, I'm-in-college-and-I-don't-know-the-three-things-I'm-passionate-about; what-am-I-doing-with-my-life?"-looks were actually what he wanted. What 20-year old can list three things he or she is truly passionate about in life? If you can, I'm jealous. What 40 or 50 year old for, for that matter, can? Sure, people have likes, dislikes, things they hate, and things the love, but to be passionate about something is a different story.
I, of course, was one of the people in the audience with the "Help-me, I'm-lost" face. So, at lunch, I took advantage of the question and got some help. I sat across from him. Let's call him Chris. I said, "Chris, what are your three things?" He smiled and charmingly asked the same question back. I mumbled off some generic answer that I thought someone would want to hear when they ask a question like this. He wasn't impressed, and I asked him again, "No, really! I want to know what your three passions are!" He replied with very good answers: Developing REAL relationships with people, communicating, and reading. I didn't think the first two were "acceptable" answers, but that's when I realized it; ANYTHING is an acceptable answer.
So, I've been thinking. What am I truly passionate about?
To start, I definitely LOVE creating actual, real relationships with people. Relationships that matter. At this point, I would rather have a few awesome people in my life who I know I can count on and who love me than a million "friends". People are important in my life. I have always been happier when I was around people.
Another thing I am passionate about is being PRESENT. This is something sort of new that I'm trying...which I shouldn't even need to think about. Realistically, people should be present at every moment of the day. But now we have smart phones and this happening and that happening and yada yada yada. So, my newest idea is to be completely present in the moment. If I'm out to dinner, my phone is away and I'm making the most of the conversation. If I'm at a conference, I'm networking, making myself "uncomfortable", putting myself "out there" to benefit as much as possible from my time. Because really, time is limited, so why not be completely present in every moment of it?
The third thing is a little harder. I could say that I love my jobs on campus like working at the REC and Orientation, but are they things I am passionate about? I'm not sure. I like food. And dogs. Definitely not passion, though.
So maybe I need some more time to think about this last thing. But in my mind, that's okay. It's not like someone is going to test me on these three things one day, and if I don't have an answer, I fail at life. Instead, I think it's important to be thinking of these things. It helps you guide your life in a way that will make you truly happiest.
Now, I challenge you! I challenge you to start thinking about the three things in life you are passionate about.
Taking A Second Swing At Senior Year
Well, here we go again. Senior Year. Round Two. Maybe if I didn't change my major seventeen times, I would be onto Graduate School or working somewhere as a teacher. But, let's be serious. I don't really want to leave Rowan, my home for the last four years of my life.
It really does sound cliche. How could a college be a "home"? How are my roommates my family? How are my co-workers by family? How has joining a few clubs taught more than I could EVER have imagined learning in all of my classes combined? Somehow, it all has come together in such a beautiful way and I am reminded each and every day of just how lucky I am to be in my shoes.
Sometimes I get weirdly reflective at things. It doesn't happen much. Once a month, at most. But it is outstanding to have to imagine my life at another university, like Muhlenberg College - a college in a small town in Pennsylvania. Where would I be? I definitely would have not met some of the most fantastic, inspirational people that I've met here in good old Glassboro. I wouldn't have met the love of my life. I definitely wouldn't be planning to go to Grad School next year as a Graduate Assistant in a Recreation Center.
My mom likes to say that life is all about geography and timing. She couldn't have been more right.
I'm about to start my 9th semester of classes here at Rowan University in just a few days. Thinking about schoolwork again kind of makes me want to run for the hills. But my stress doesn't come from my academics. I'm basically a genius and have perfected the art of bullcrapping my way through lots of things, so I've managed to maintain a respectable GPA. (Don't worry Mom and Dad - I do study and work hard.) My stress lies in everything else I do outside of the classroom.
REC Center Sport Club Supervisor
NIRSA Student State Representative
PROS Member/Orientation Assistant
Community Service Member
IM Special Events Coordinator
Club Softball Member
Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentor
I LOVE everything I do and I am confident when I say that I would be NO WHERE near where I am if I didn't do each one of these things. But every once in a while, I lose my mind. My planner book has ink almost completely covering it, and I am overwhelmed. Usually it deals with a small hyperventilating session to my poor boyfriend who has gotten very good at rubbing my back and saying "If anyone can do it, you can." But sometimes, I can't help it. And as much as I'm looking forward to this upcoming semester and all of the joys, learning experiences, new friends, professional development, and laughter associated with it, I can't help but be a little nervous that I'm going to fill my plate a little too full...once again.
It also doesn't make it any better that my two best friends for the last four years are no longer by my side. Brielle, who I'm still calling my roommate, has graduated and moved to Jacksonville, FL for a year long program. Ryan, my boyfriend and best friend for four years also graduated and is currently looking for a job. These two suckers graduated in four years. Come on. And I'm here. I'm ready to grow up and move on and have Rowan in my back pocket with all of the experiences I've gained over the years. The emotions are all very confusing. I'm not even one to have or show many emotions. But, feeling stuck, feeling overwhelmed, feeling excited, feeling loved, feeling lonely, feeling blessed.
I've always been a glass-half-full-kind-of-girl and I plan to stick to that forever. So, I remind myself every day how TRULY BLESSED I am and how the future holds fantastic things for me.