My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Posts tagged ‘my two cents’

Confessions of an Over-thinker (Who’s Crushing Hard Core)

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It’s no secret that I tend to be one that overthinks thangs *from time to time.

*Read always. I always over-think thangs.

I also tend to turn into a **goober whenever I develop a new crush on someone.

**Read biggest. I turn into the biggest goober ever.

Combine these two stellar qualities and you get me, the World’s Most Awkward Dater everrrrr.

I tried contacting the folks at Guinness but apparently I was barely out-awkwarded by Mr. Avocado. I see you, buddy. And just know that I do not go down without fighting. Challenge accepted.

Here are just some of the things that happen when you’re an over-thinker who is crushing hardcore on someone.

1. Deny, deny, deny. You try to convince yourself you actually don’t. Because crushes are a damn commitment! And you certainly don’t have time for *feelings* and all the worrying that goes along with them. Nope. Noooo. You absolutely do NOT have a crush.

2. ….And then you see that perfect face and your heart is instantly pulverized into a mushy smoothie—Fine. Whatever. You might have a teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy crush.

3. Making eye contact becomes a huge conscious effort. Because there’s some weird part of you that thinks, somehow, they will look at you and just KNOW. Your eyes will totally tell on you—“Hey you. Yeah you in the corner over there drinking PBR while watching the Brewers/Rockies game. I’ve got some juicy gossip. See this person? The one looking at you through me? He/she is soooo totally into you.”

4. You practice conversations in the shower. Or on your drive to work. Or just chilling in bed on a lazy Sunday. Basically any place that you’re guaranteed some privacy. You’re coming up with interesting topics to discuss, things to say to impress him/her, and testing out the perfect tone to casually (but not too casually) say: “Heyyy!”

5. But then you begin to worry that “Heyyy” sounds weirdly excited, “Hi” is too robotic and formal, “Whazzzupppp?!” is too Budweiser and “How are you?” is too invasive. You end up settling on a simple head nod.

6. Arggghh. You gave a fucking head nod??!!??

7. Investigate your crush online. And spend the next hour convinced you accidentally liked an Instagram photo from 56 weeks ago. You consider deleting all traces you ever existed on any social media account. EVER.

8. Orchestrate the perfect way to just accidentally run into this new crush. Oh, you go to this coffee shop/bar/grocery store too? That’s so weird. I had noooo idea.

9. But when you do see your crush, you totally clam up and don’t say anything. Mayyyybe squeak out a “good” when they say “What’s up?” and immediately want to die. Oh. My. God.

10. Realize that you definitely should have gone with “What’s up?” You gave a fucking head nod??!!??

11. You look for any possible sign feelings could be mutual. I mean, seriously, ANY sign. “He DEFINITELY lingered when handing me my coffee cup,” or “He said my name and kind of smiled when he said it, so that for surely means hhe likes me, right?!” 

12. Plan. Plan. Plan. The overthinker is crippled by the thought of anything remotely spontaneous. There needs to be something set in motion. And a Plan B. And C. Because oh my God, what if it all falls through? Many, many nights are just spent thinking and scheming.

13. If you happen to run into your crush while out with your friends, you work EXTRA hard to act cool and collected. Shut up, Wendi, don’t you dare give it away. Don’t giggle. And don’t you even think about doing that weird hair flip thing you do when you’re nervous. THEY WILL KNOW! Everything is fine. It’s easy breezy. Didn’t even seem him over there looking all ridiculously cute. Nope.

14. You create a playlist of songs that you imagine one day listening to together. Like a soundtrack to magically fall in love to. Would you like some macaroni with all that cheesy cheese fest, amiright? 

15. You spend an embarrassing amount of time scoping out anyone attractive who has commented on their pictures. Because it’s probably his sister. It’s his sister. Just tell me it’s his goddamn sister, okay????

16. You remember any little detail they provide. A favorite musician? You stored that info away for good. It’s in the vault. You probably even decided to check if there were going to be any shows in your area. That way you can casually mention it. Oh what? You already got tickets? And you have an extra one? I mean, yeah, it’s not a big deal though…

17. You become paranoid that they can actually hear your heat thump-thump-thumping in your chest. Or see the gigantic butterflies pterodactyls flying around in the pit of your stomach.

18. You stress, daydream, and above all else, remember that having a crush can kind sorta make you feel a little out of your mind—but for all of the right reasons.

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Why We Need to Start Talking

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One of the things I love most about being a writer is the power a story has to start a dialogue, to share experiences and invoke a sense of purpose, of awareness, of hope. As my laptop sat open last night, the cursor blinking over so vigilantly on the screen, my fingers took pause on the keyboard. Usually when it comes to putting thought into words, it’s easy, a natural flow and progression. It’s kind of my MO.

But last night it was different. Last night as I sat with a heavy heart hearing of yet another life taken too soon by suicide, I struggled to describe what it was I was feeling.

Sadness. Confusion. Heartbreak and numbness.

Suicide is not easy to talk about. But it’s something that I feel must be done.

My cousin Nick committed suicide a little over five years ago, a day just short of his 35th birthday. Growing up, I idolized him – everything from the music he listened to and the shoes he wore, to the hockey team he cheered for and the car he drove. He was the epitome of cool and could do no wrong in my eyes.

I think the thing I loved most about him however was his zest for life. He was a source of joy and positivity, something that radiated to everyone who was lucky enough to know him, to love him, to call him son, brother and friend.

When I first heard the news of his passing, I didn’t want to believe it. I couldn’t. How could a person so full of life get to this point? To feel like he had no other option? To be so consumed with hopelessness and darkness that leaving this earth was the only option? His only saving grace?

When someone passes away from old age, we tend to have some preparedness for it. None of us live forever. At the time of their passing, there is an immense sadness from the loss of this person, but our natural response is to channel our attention towards celebrating their life and memories.

When someone passes away from cancer or a terminal illness, we pour every amount of our effort into wanting to diminish any remnant of pain, or defeat, or fear that individual felt at the end of their days, and we vanquish it by adamantly honoring their courage and unwavering bravery. The last thing we would want is to allow ourselves to be disdained by how much their sickness took from them against their will. In response, we contribute to fundraisers, we join advocacy groups, we take a stand against this illness that took our loved one, and we make sure to let their name and legacy be known more than the thing that overcame them.

Why is it then that when someone kills themselves, we tend to not want to acknowledge the disease, the demons, the mindset, or the brokenness that contributed to making it happen? As humans, our instinct is to survive. Our bodies are wired to jump into action and respond to life threatening situations, for instance, it’d be nearly impossible to succumb to drowning. For someone to kill themselves, they must go against every one of those instincts that have been ingrained within their being since birth. It’s unsettling to think of all the invisible antagonists that could cause a person to do such a thing. However, that still doesn’t prevent us from wanting to fault the victim when they lose the fight.

Before anything else is said, perhaps we need to start by admitting that suicide is not easy to talk about.

We tend to not want to dwell on death and dying, in many of the forms that it takes. Whether it’s the sudden kind, like a car accident, or the slow kind, like growing old. We tend to only meet with it for a moment, handle its weight for a mere second, and then hastily retreat into our sheltered world where everything is safe again. Suicide, on the other hand, subjects us to a significantly darker side of death.

There’s a tendency to talk about suicide before as if it’s unheard of. I could never imagine doing such a thing. I wouldn’t have it in me. Not to mention, I would never allow things to get that bad. I would seek help. He/she has so much to live for. Their family is perfect. They do what they love and they’re so good at it.

I don’t blame you. It’s hard to put a feeling to something you have never felt, or a circumstance you have never experienced. It’s like asking someone exactly what they would do if an active shooter ran into their place of work and pointed a gun at them. There are so many ways it could go. It’s not something that daily life prepares you for. You may have an impression of what you’d do, but you’ll never really know until it truly happens.

We talk about suicide after as if it’s reprehensible. It’s never that bad, where it feels like killing yourself is the only way out. They should have asked for help. They threw away a lot. What a waste of a life. How selfish. How could they do this to their family, their friends, their loved ones?

After my cousin’s passing, I was talking to someone who had known him well, and they said to me, “It never gets that bad,” in regard to their frustration towards him ending his life. My breath caught in my throat. Hearing that inspired a very profound thought within me, though I wasn’t about to challenge, or debate what this person was commenting on. They had every right to say that. When it comes to suicide, it’s very natural that the thing you are most angry with for taking your loved one is your loved one. Death by suicide doesn’t alleviate any pain, it simply bestows pain onto those who remain living, and leaves them to grapple with so many questions that will never be answered.

Personally, I could not bring myself to feel anger toward my cousin and what he had done. No matter which perspective I tried to view — he abandoned his family and friends, he made a selfish decision, he didn’t alert me, or any of us, to the way he was feeling, he should have known to get help — I could feel nothing more than wanting to acknowledge his actions, and let him be at peace.

He was not an abandoning person. He didn’t have a selfish bone in his body. He always spilled his heart out to me with the utmost honesty. He tried to get help, but it wasn’t the equivalent of what he truly needed. How could I be angry at him for not being able to defeat this shapeless thing, this psychological and emotional terrorist? Yes, the reason for his death is terribly regrettable, but I can’t stand to let it diminish his existence. His name and legacy will overpower that which overcame him. I’m here to make sure of it.

I also had a retort for the statement: it never gets that bad. What if it does? What if it is that bad? We don’t ask for proof and validation from cancer patients for how bad their diagnosis is. Cancer is tangible; therefore, it is valid, we believe it, and we fear it, regardless of if we have it or not. Death from old age is inevitable, it has a ballpark occurrence that we are aware of years beyond its happening. Suicide and psychosomatic warfare are incomprehensible. We can’t see it, so consequently, we do not have the aptitude to fight against it and, as a result, the battle often becomes invalid.

In pondering the thought, it never gets that bad, it hit me that as a society, we are not only incapable of displaying altruism towards people who are depressed or suicidal, we also feel like we must blame them. The perpetual inevitability is that there are as many ways to blame as there are to take your own life.

On April 19, 2012, I became a suicide survivor. Deceiving as the name may sound, this does not mean I tried to take my own life and was unsuccessful. I am a survivor of someone who took their life by suicide. I have witnessed the physical manifestation of the torture that suicidal thoughts put a person through.

I’m not the only one. I have had close friends lose their members of their family, fiancés, boyfriends and girlfriends. I’ve seen the pain, confusion and despair that they’ve gone through trying to understand, to heal, to move forward. I’ve also had close friends admit to me that they’ve battled suicidal thoughts on occasion, have felt that all-consuming darkness. Suicide affects 1-4 people, yet it still has this negative stigma around it. I am here to try and challenge that. To encourage an open dialogue, to begin a conversation.

I refuse to become complacent, and I refuse to believe that suicide cannot be understood as tangible because I have felt it. I’ve seen others feel it.

I also want to tell anyone out there who is struggling that your feelings are valid, and that you are not alone, you are never alone.  If someone you know is struggling emotionally or having a hard time,  you can be the difference in getting them the help they need.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is here 24/7 to help: 1-800-273-8255.

Let’s begin this conversation, together.

It’s okay to be human

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It’s one of the first pieces of advice I can remember receiving — maybe my dad said it, or maybe I only imagine he did and ascribed the wisdom accordingly because I was little and when you’re little, you live in an insular world like that: “Don’t say you’re bad at something unless you’re going to try to be better at it.”

We live in a society that prides perfectionism as the be-all of virtues, and has bred generation after generation of people succumbing to its pressures. Everyone’s expected to scramble to rise to the top — we just never take the time to tell people which top that’s supposed to be. Of course, the unsaid there is to allow for room to decide exactly what that top is, where it is, what we define ourselves as the best. And when you’re a frustrated little kid who doesn’t understand why you can’t get something right on the first try, you’re bound to let out a few sentiments here and there about how you’re lamentably bad at something.

And as we grow up, we begin to learn that being bad at a few things isn’t awful — it’s human.

It’s refreshing to have flaws, and sometimes, it’s fun to be terrible at things, to revel in ridiculous karaoke sets and botched doodles, to laugh later over that time you tried to make a five course meal and wound up ordering tacos via Seamless as a Hail Mary. Being bad sometimes makes for the best stories. There’s freedom in admitting that your prowess can’t and won’t extend everywhere. There’s something refreshing in an adult who doesn’t just admit their shortcomings, but owns them.

But when kids are little, they’re also shuttled from class to class, sport to sport, extracurricular to playdate, and we begin to form ideas that we’re supposed to be the best at everything. The best friend, the best all-star, the best in science and English and the star of the school play and the kid with whom everyone else wants to trade their lunch. We’re told to excel, to never settle for second place — not just in what we love most of all, but in anything. In everything. Fault isn’t seen as natural strength and weakness, it’s seen as an Achilles’ heel to be rectified. We don’t embrace anything we’re not the best at. We sink in humiliation until we change or feign being at least slightly above average and overall okay. Often, we give up before we have the chance to be better. We write ourselves off before we try to see what we’re capable of.

Being “bad” at something doesn’t take away from the fact that it was your best effort.

Part of owning your flaws is admitting that maybe there’s space to get better. And besides, “bad” is a subjective perception. One person’s “bad” is another person’s extraordinary advancement. Regardless, it’s okay to be at a personal “bad” now and again. Virtuosos are rare, and anyway, they’ve got their own newly heightened standards to live up to and to beat. And for every Beethoven who composed his first masterwork when he was still stringing together how to read words on a page, there are untold hundreds of thousands of people who were crappy at first. Who couldn’t even dream of even so much as touching that sort of rare talent. But no matter how bad they were, they tried over and over. And that is how they got better.

Saying you’re bad at something isn’t the problem. That’s identifying where you have room to grow — so in fact, it’s good to admit it. Especially when what you’re measuring is your own improvement. The problem is getting caught in feeling bad without a desire to change, and what’s worse is having that desire, but not taking the next steps to change. The problem is accepting being “bad” as a limitation. As a sentence. As if there’s nothing in our power to right what we perceive to be “wrong.” And that’s simply not true. Saying you’re bad at something without action is, often enough, little more than wallowing.

Because at the end of the day, the only thing that’s really “bad” is our attitude about how we perceive ourselves.

And if we’re going to call it bad, then we’ve identified what we’d like to change — and it’s now up to us to decide to actually do something about it. To change how we perform, to change how we work, to practice, to change how we structure our day to appropriate our time as needed. Most of all: to change ourselves. And to change our idea of why we’ve been lead to believe “being bad” really is that bad. You can be bad at things sometimes. There’s nothing wrong in that. But dwelling on it will only make it worse. And complaining for the sake of self-pity will get you — and everyone else — absolutely nowhere.

Say you’re bad at something every now and again. Admit to being human. Revel in that if you want to. But don’t declare yourself personally dissatisfied with your ability unless you’re going to personally work to change that. It’s self-respecting at the end of the day, and everybody has to learn to take it for themselves. Or at least, from someone else — as I from my dad, and as, hopefully, you from me.

Thank you for twenty years of magic

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Today marks the 20th anniversary of the publishing of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (or Philosopher’s) Stone, so if you’ll allow me a moment of sappy self indulgence here, I’m about to get real nerdy.

People like to smile indulgently at me now when I say I grew up alongside Harry and his friends, but I’m really not over exaggerating. From the time I was ten years old, through all the misery and trauma and loneliness and heartbreak of childhood and adolescence, they were there. They were a crutch, a comfort, an escape, an identity. As J.K. Rowling once said, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home, and some days that was the place that felt most like home to me.

Whenever I felt lonely or scared or unhappy, I knew I could find comfort in the familiar waterlogged, dog-eared pages of those books, the binding creased and failing in places.

I remember the first time I read them like it was yesterday. I was 10 years old, tiny but precocious. It was hard to tell what I had more of then – hair, brains, or spunk. I was in the library at my elementary school, where I was on first name terms with the librarian, clutching a stack of books half my height and five times my grade level when I spotted it there on the display rack, all blue and red and purple and magic.

In 2000, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was a hot commodity, even in my lower elementary school. It was surprising that it was even in stock, and I couldn’t help but think that it must have been a sign, waiting there just for me to find it.

When I got home from school that afternoon, I retreated to my room and didn’t come out until the third time I was called to dinner. There, laying on my purple and white bedspread, I met my new best friends for the first time. Harry, with his heart of gold and unfailing courage; Ron, always loyal and quick to laugh; and Hermione, who was, to borrow more of Ms. Rowling’s words, my ink and paper twin.

From then on, Harry’s story and mine were intertwined. At age 16, ugly crying over the final chapter of Deathly Hallows at one in the morning. On my 18th birthday, visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal, feeling like I could breathe for the first time in months when I saw the castle I’d inhabited in my head for years.

Sometimes I feel that, even with all the words I’ve learned since age ten, all the things I’ve experienced and felt, I will never be able to adequately describe the bottomless pool of love I have for this series. It isn’t so much a book series, a movie franchise, a set of characters, as it is part of my identity. I truly don’t who or how I’d be today if I hadn’t picked up that worn hardcover book in fifth grade.

It taught me the value of love and loyalty and light and friendship. It taught me that courage is never the same thing as fearlessness. It taught me how to speak my mind, how to stand up for what I believe in, how to fight for those who cannot defend themselves, and how to appreciate the little moments of joy amidst the chaos.

Now, two decades have elapsed since Harry Potter entered our collective lives. Hundreds of thousands of fans and friends have come to love this series. Some have already begun passing it on to their children, the second magical generation.

Harry’s story has come to mean so many things to so many different people. A whole generation who learned to love reading, to stand up for their beliefs, to make their own magic.

I know so many people, personally and by reputation, who have used Harry Potter as a way of coping with the ugliness that reality often throws our way. So many stories of strength and bravery and survival, fueled by the magic of rustling pages, midnight premieres, a common bond that draws us all closer.

Even as I sit here in my sunny corner office at my “big kid” job, my eyes rest on the thin piece of resin and wood, fashioned into a replica of Hermione Granger’s wand. After all these years, she’s still helping me be the woman I always wanted to be. While I’ve come to fall in love with half a dozen other ladies of the wizarding world – Tonks and Luna and Ginny and Lily and Molly – Hermione will always have a special place in my heart.

At ten years old, I was all frizzy hair, big words, and unfettered, self-righteous bossiness. I was what many over the years, both kindly and unkindly, have referred to as an insufferable know-it-all. Hell, at 30, I still am. Because Hermione Granger taught me that being bossy is a good thing, that breaking the rules is okay sometimes when you have a cause you believe in, that books and cleverness are important, but not as important as friendship and bravery.

So what can I say, nearly 20 years later? Thank you seems too trite, but it’s all I have. So thank you, J.K. Rowling, for changing and saving my life in ways I am still only beginning to unravel. Thank you to Harry and Ron and Hermione for teaching an entire generation to be better and braver and bolder.

The other day, I picked up my well-worn 17-year-old copy of the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s been awhile since I took the time to sit down and read it, but as I did, I felt like I was rejoining my ten-year old self. Somewhere, lost in time, she’s always been there, hiding in a blanket fort with a flashlight and a book twice her size. She’s been waiting patiently for me to come find her again, reunited after all these years. It’s been a long time, she says. Sit down. I’ll read you a story about love and dragons and magic and some kids who changed the world. I think they’re friends of yours.

Perfectly Mismatched

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It’s easy to forget that the best combinations in life – the things that are infinitely nicer together than apart – are often the most unlikely.

Everything from food and activities to people and ideas can be infinitely improved by its logical opposite, or just something you never would have thought of in a million bajillion years. Like the Milwaukee Brewers continuing to kick ass…in JUNE! Or peanut butter and jelly and potato chip sandwiches (don’t knock it ‘till you try it, y’all).

While crazy and often underrated, the following are things that shouldn’t go together (but somehow fit perfectly).

  1. Laughing so hard, you cry. Probably my favorite emotion of all time.
  2. … and when someone makes the perfect joke right when things are at their most sad, and you can do nothing but laugh really, really hard. I’m convinced there’s nothing a good ugly snort-laugh can cure.
  3. Being attracted to people’s imperfections, and the way they combine to make someone more interesting than conventionally pretty (and all the more beautiful for it).
  4. Breakfast for dinner. One word: waffles and bacon. Okay, that was three words, but one amazing combo.
  5. … and dessert for breakfast. (Life is short. Sometimes you have to make sure you eat your fill of all the cake.)
  6. Sleeping all day, and then staying up all night and seeing the sun rise from the other side. Repeat as needed.
  7. Having the kind of friendship where you can sit together in absolute silence or even be half a world away but you still never feel bored, lonely, or alone. To those people in my life, you know you who are and I love you.
  8. Chocolate. Covered. Potato. Chips.
  9. The knowledge that sometimes, things have to come to an end — loved ones die, relationships come to a close, you graduate from school or leave a job — and yes, you’ll be sad, but that this happens so that you appreciate the time you did have all the more.
  10. Polka dots and stripes. Plaid and leopard print. Gingham and seersucker. Leather and lace. Mix patterns and textures until you can’t anymore, and then mix them again.
  11. Remembering that asking for help is sometimes a bigger sign of strength than struggling through something on your own.
  12. The rush of satisfaction that comes with doing something you know you shouldn’t be doing — but the end result is better and more wonderful than you could have ever imagined.
  13. Indulging in childhood favorites (like rereading Harry Potter in your blanket fort even though you are a full-blown adult). You’re never too old.
  14. Dancing in the rain. Go ahead. Do it one day. See how it feels.
  15. Opposing colors. Black and white is timeless, and few things can make you feel as festive as red and green.
  16. Calling green juice and a cookie a well-balanced meal. Because if those two combined don’t equal net zero, then I really don’t know what does.
  17. Everyone thinks that when you go into a hospital, life stops. But it’s just the 
 Life starts.

QOTD: What are some of your favorite combos that shouldn’t go together but fabulously do?

Questions I’d Like to Ask Future Me

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What was your career like?

Did you ever figure out what you wanted to do, and if so, did you do it? How important did the money end up being, did you take dreams over paychecks and struggle to follow your passion? Did you create something you loved? Did you work with integrity and honesty and drive? Were you a good mentor, and did you remember to give back to the people who looked up to you? Did anyone look up to you?

Did you take risks?

Did you ever climb that mountain? Did you eat the dessert whenever you wanted to? Did you see the movies you wanted to see? Which books were your favorites? What was your favorite ritual, your alone time, your just-for-myself thing? Did you remember to put yourself first sometimes, not for the sake of being selfish, but for the sake of your own sanity?

Are there people who take care of you now?

Do you have kids? Did you ever decide whether or not you wanted to have kids, and if so, how did you know? Was it a light bulb moment or was it gradual? Did you see some little girl on the light rail one afternoon and realize the pang in your heart was real and telling you that you wanted kids after all? Did you know you were ready or were you scared the whole way? And what were their names? What are they like? Are you proud of them? You must be proud of them, I imagine, the way most parents are proud of their kids, should be proud of their kids. Do they look like you? Do they love you? Were you a good mother? Do they think you were a good mother?

And if you didn’t have kids, how’d you decide? How’d you know they weren’t for you? Was there backlash when you made that choice? Was it even your choice?

Did you travel the world?

Did you explore your city as often as you could? Did you ever move back home? Or was homesickness just a comfortable constant? Was it just a small memento, and a reminder of your roots?

How did you meet the love of your life?

Did you ever have one? Or were there many, and if there were, did one stand out? How did they act? What were they like? What did they do, how did they take their coffee, and did they prefer pancakes or bacon and eggs? What color were their eyes and did you feel safe in their arms? How and when did you know that you loved them? Who said it first?

And if it ended, how did it end? Was it violent and bitter, or two friends saying one last good bye? I hope it was the latter.

Do you regret anything?

What do you regret? And if you do, do your regrets outweigh your good memories?

I hope they don’t. I hope the good far outweighs the bad.

And most of all, were you happy?

Maybe not all the time, because that’s the impossible goal, but overall, were you happy? Are you happy now? Did the things you did and the places you saw and the people you loved… did all those things bring you joy and give you meaning and fuel your drive and determination to make the world a better place?

But I guess that last answer lies in me. Current me. Present day. Right here and now.


Because the things you do now, and the people you love, and the dreams you chase determine whether or not you feel fulfilled in this moment. The risks you take build up to larger rewards, and the things you choose not to do in the here and now determine your biggest regrets.

So chase after what you love now.

And take your risks and leap off those cliffs and book those tickets to that new city and read as much as you can and love as hard as it is humanly possible.

Make the answers you’ll give when you’re older the best they can possibly be.

Laughter Looks Good on You

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I love my laugh. It’s probably one of my favorite things about me.

(I know, in a society that values modesty above all other things, that’s not exactly something that you’re supposed to say. You’re not supposed to have favorite things about yourself; other people can have favorite things about you and give you compliments and you take them graciously, but you never admit that you agree. Well, I think that’s kind of silly, because if you love something about yourself, you should own it. But I digress.)

Someone once told me that my laugh is the kind of thing people know they’ve earned, that makes them feel good about themselves, because they feel like they were genuinely funny enough to earn such a reaction. It’s a loud laugh, obnoxious at times and certainly the direct opposite of sexy (boy, I’m really selling this thing, aren’t I?) because I’ve never been able to learn how to make it quieter and I’ve never bothered to try. I’ll giggle when I’m nervous — because I can never keep a straight face when I’m really freaked out — or I’ll text a polite ‘lol’ when I don’t know what else to say, but when I laugh, I laugh real. Ugly-snort-laugh real. I think everyone should.

Life’s too short for fake laughter when you find something really funny.

After all, why shouldn’t you react accordingly when you find something funny? I don’t mean the harmful-to-other-people, at-the-expense-of-others funny, but rather just flat-out humorous. And there are tons of scientific reasons why you should laugh – from stress relief, to combatting depression, to making yourself feel closer to the person with whom you’re laughing, to the fact that it works like a domino, and is bound to make people around you feel happier, too.

With the untold number of tragedies that keep piling up this year alone, it feels sometimes like the world is growing a little darker, a little sadder, a little more cold. It’s hard to see the positive when everything seems to be pointing in the opposite direction. It’s hard to find the good (which there is so very much of) when it gets overshadowed on a daily basis by an influx of bad news.

It’s in the moment when we begin to feel the heaviness that we need laughter the most.

If only to get through all that bleakness to the next bright spot, even if it feels like it might never come.

You have to believe it will, though. And you get there by laughing. Even if it feels false at first. But laugh at your own jokes (because I know there are moments when you say something that you think is really funny–can I get a holla for all the fellow dad joke and/or puns connoisseurs out there) and laugh at the jokes your friends tell, and go out late at night and laugh about the things you did and said and strangers you flirted with the next morning.

Make memories.

Laugh until you cry. Make lame jokes and witty jokes, sarcastic one-liners and corny comments that make people look at you sideways. Laugh anyway. Laugh despite their looks. Laugh in spite of them.

Laugh every day if you can.

Even if you feel sad. Even if some tragedy struck you. (Sometimes that’s when we need laughter most.) And don’t feel guilty for it, either. The people who love you would want you to be happy, and would want you to laugh. Surround yourself with people who you think are funny. Laugh honestly, and you’ll be surprised how many people will think you’re funny too, just by virtue of the fact that you’re laughing. And you’ll feel better. Even if it’s just for that night, about a joke you won’t remember five years from now, but you’ll remember how you felt and hopefully that was happy.

Laughter brings happiness.

And the world could always use more of that.

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