And so we've arrived at the final week of pursuing daily happiness through little actions. I have enjoyed this so much! One thing I've learned is that sometimes, when I'm looking to make a life change, I feel like I have to do a huge overhaul right this second. Which in some cases is needed, but in most cases is just overwhelming, frustrating, and leaves me feeling worse off than I did to begin with.
Little changes are easy. They're not stressful. If you want to be happier, sure, you could pack up and move to your favorite city. You could quit your job and start your own business. Or, you could take ten minutes for yourself in the morning. You could go for more walks. You could buy yourself a new candle.
Do I think you can make yourself happier? Absolutely. And I don't think it takes a dramatic change or giant gesture to happen.
On to the final week!
Day Twenty-Two: Think of your "happy places" and see what they say about you. If you're really happy when you're at work, maybe you need more things in your life that give you a sense of accomplishment. If your happy place is the gym (really, though?) maybe you need more activities. If you're happiest on vacation, maybe you need to work on de-stressing your daily life. If your happy place is in the middle of a good book, maybe you need some more creative things in your life. See what I mean?
Day Twenty-Three: Buy new pajamas. This may seem silly, but think about how much time you spend unwinding for the night/actually sleeping/drinking coffee & actually starting your day. We're talking hours and hours! You should spend those non-hectic hours in something insanely comfortable.
Side note: This does not have to be expensive. My favorite pajamas in the world were 12.99 at Target.
Day Twenty-Four: Go somewhere you love and just walk around with no list or agenda. The mall or Target or the library or Hobby Lobby or Home Depot...go through Chick-Fil-A's drive-thru and then browse away while drinking your sweet tea.
Day Twenty-Five: Ask yourself what the biggest thing in your life making you unhappy is. If you know the answer to this, chances are that you can't do anything to completely change it overnight. But you can take little steps to change it. Come up with three tiny steps you can take to make yourself happier in that area, and do those.
Day Twenty-Six: Make a list of the good decisions you've made. We've all made bad decisions, but who cares about those. Let's talk about the good stuff!
Day Twenty-Seven: Print out some of your favorite pictures. Things and people and places that make you happy. Put them places you'll see! On your walls, in your car, at your desk.
Day Twenty-Eight: Go out for ice cream. Or frozen yogurt, or coffee. Grab your husband or boyfriend or best friend or dog (I vote dog!) and go get a treat. Life is short- treat yo'self.
Your turn! What are some small actions you've taken that have made you happier?
When I found out I was pregnant, I was absolutely terrified. Looking back now, I was of course terrified for the obvious reasons-I was going to have a baby, I was going to have to learn how to be a mom, I was going to be responsible for keeping a tiny human alive-but a big part of my fear was that it was a completely unexpected life change. And those are freaking scary.
And then, my tiny little love was born, and I was no longer scared of the life changes, because he just fit right in so perfectly. Instead, I was scared of messing up. Of feeding him wrong or of him getting hurt because I didn't do something right.
And now, I've kept this mini-me alive and happy for seven months. And sure, there are four-thousand and seven things to be afraid of on a daily basis when raising a baby, but all of my first fears? Not true. The way he's changed my life has not only been just fine, it's been amazing (challenging, of course, but amazing). And my worries of doing something wrong and him being hurt because of it haven't come true. Instead, I have the happiest baby on the planet and we're learning about this whole mom thing together.
* * *
When Chris explained to me how the match process worked, and we spent weeks and weeks and weeks trying to balance good programs and good locations with what we wanted and also with the fact that we really didn't have much control at all over the situation, I was so scared. Walking down a path completely blind as to what's going to happen is incredibly unnerving.
And then, things fell into place more beautifully than I could have imagined. The city and the neighborhood and the house, all something straight out of my dreams.
And now, I am constantly overwhelmed with just how good my life is. I have the perfect house. I got to stay in the sunshine state. It's the perfect city for my little family. And all those fears I had about what the outcome of match may be, they're just gone.
* * *
It would be easy to look back and say, there was no reason to be scared! That was stupid! But I don't think that's true. My fears were legitimate to me, and it was okay that I felt them.
Becoming a mom is downright terrifying at times. Taking chances is scary. Unexpected life changes can make you shake in your boots. Choosing to walk down a path without answers can be unnerving. And it's okay to let yourself feel all of that. It's okay to be scared.
It's okay to be utterly terrified at times.
Just as long as you don't stay there.
Things always seem to have a way of working themselves out exactly as they're supposed to. Sometimes better than we expected, sometimes not so much. But if our arms are too busy trembling from fear, they won't be steady enough to catch the good things life is sending our way. And trust me, there's a whole lot of good.
In case you're new around here, I'll let you in on a very important fact about me: I start celebrating fall on September first. I love summer. Pool days and fruit and slower days...it's the best. I'm a Florida girl, a summer girl, but fall is the season that holds my heart.
I love this quote, because I really feel that way about August. It's still bright and sunny and hot, but with the back-to-school supplies filling the shelves and the boots and scarfs that start appearing in stores, you can't deny that fall is on it's way.
I'm in the swing forward camp all day long. It's easy for me to say that, of course, because I live in Florida. Summer really only leaves for a few months out of the year. Last year, my mom and I were planning a Halloween party, and we went over our to-do list the day before while laying out in the sun. I wore a sweater to the party and had to change halfway through because I thought it probably wasn't the best if I passed out from overheating while I was pregnant.
So to me, saying hi to fall doesn't really mean saying bye to my favorite things about summer. But if we have to swing, I want to swing forward. To apple cider and boots and pumpkin spice everything. I want to swing to (slightly) cooler weather, to pumpkin carving, to oversized sweaters and hats.
I'm always so excited to welcome fall, but this year I have an extra special reason: Jack.
The thought of getting to do all of my favorite fall things with my tiny little love just makes my heart want to explode. Taking him to a pumpkin patch? Dressing him up in (way too many) costumes? SWOON.
I remember taking this picture so clearly. I was about six months pregnant and we left there talking about how crazy it was that next October, we'd have a real, live baby who was a part of our family.
It is crazy. And perfect and weird and exciting and different and something that's going to make fall a thousand times better.
Summer is wonderful. August is lovely. But if we have to swing? Swing forward, baby. Right into fall.
Near the beginning of the year, when Jack was just a few weeks old, I wrote this post. I was (and still am!) in a season of learning how to measure what's really important and that "if it's not a hell yes, then it's a no."
I was texting my best friend about that Jen Hatmaker quote and told her, this time last year, I was so excited to say yes to everything, ever, and now I just can't wait to say no to everything.
So, six months later, I've said a bunch of no's.
Things I just didn't want to do.
Expectations that I had no business paying attention to.
Comparing myself to other moms.
Going places I didn't want to go.
And because of that, I've gotten to say a bunch of fantastic yes's.
Soaking up all the time I get with Jack.
Enjoying my new home and making it the perfect little place for us.
Just winging it and trying to become good at being a mom.
Putting more time and effort into this blog.
Really, truly being there for the people in my life.
Starting to write again.
And now, looking at this list and my life and these last six months, it's so obvious to me that I was only able to say yes to some things because I said no to others.
Some things are no-brainers. Like, I got to say yes to more time with Jack because I said no to events that I didn't even want to go to. Not going to an event = more time that I got to choose what to do with = more time making memories with my chubby little guy. But some things aren't so obvious.
For example, in order for me to say yes to being happier, it was necessary that I said no to obsessing over my post-baby body. In order for me to say yes to learning how to be the kind of mom I want to be, I had to say no to feeling like I had to explain myself and my choices. I've been able to say yes to devoting more time and energy to my blog because I've said no to spending hours watching Netflix (even though that sometimes sounds way more appealing!)
I could go on and on and on.
I think the amount of things we need to say yes or no to changes in each phase of life. And it's definitely different for each person...some of us crave going out, some of us need alone time, some of us love to be busy, some of us hate it. But for me, it's been so good to look back and see that saying no to things didn't take away from my life. On the contrary, saying no allowed me to say a whole bunch of yes.
A moment of complete honesty: For a myriad of reasons, this has been a hard month. Really, there could not have been a better month to try the experiment of actively making yourself happier.
Halfway through, I can honestly say it's working for me. Tiny little actions add up to make happier days, and a happier life is made up of happier days. So let's keep going with the happier days!
Day Fifteen: Make a to-do list of everything you have to get done this week. When you get overwhelmed, look at this list. Sometimes being unhappy comes from being stressed, and forgetting what you have to do and spending your time getting distracted by things that aren't totally necessary is most definitely stressful.
Day Sixteen: Get outside. Make an effort to spend more time breathing fresh air and less time cooped up inside. Really, just five minutes of sunshine can make a huge difference in your mood.
Day Seventeen: Read a chapter in book instead of watching television when unwinding for bed.
Day Eighteen: Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and spend ten minutes just drinking it. No phone, no TV, no email, no to-do list...just you.
Day Nineteen: Forgive someone. Don't drudge up the past, don't invite new drama into your life...just decide to forgive them, and move on. No need to involve anyone else.
Day Twenty: Make a list of things you really, truly like about yourself. Hang it on your mirror.
Day Twenty-One: Take a humor break. Spend five or ten or twenty minutes browsing the humor section on Pinterest, watching your favorite stand up comedy, watching funny youtube clips..whatever it is that makes you laugh!
You've been in this world for seven months now. That's two-hundred and twelve days. Two-hundred and twelve days of you bringing joy and purpose into my life. Two-hundred and twelve days that have been brighter because of you, more full because of you, filled with more love and light and, okay, sleepless nights, because of you.
This month has been a challenging one. Between teething and not sleeping and Chris working some insane hours, I've felt less like a Pinterest-perfect, has it all together, savors every second kind of mom and more like a slightly crazed, sort of holding it together, really needs to wash her hair kind of mom.
But the beautiful thing is that you don't care. You don't care that I haven't managed to do a monthly photo shoot of you with cute props, you don't care that your nursery doesn't look like something straight off of Pinterest, you don't care that I consider a Target run a fun outing for us. Your face still lights up when you see me. You still want to snuggle up to me when you're sleepy.
Because all you know is that I'm your mom. And no matter how hard things seem or how sleepy I am or how messy things get, you love me just the same. There are no words to describe how great of a gift that is.
You have two little teeth, are suddenly very ticklish, and have a lot to scream say. I wouldn't be surprised if, by the time I write your eight-month letter, you can say mama.
You're my best little buddy and I just adore you and your sweet little giggles and snuggles and babbles. There may have been grumpy teething days and what felt like zero-sleep nights, but these have been the best seven months of my whole entire life.
Happy seven months, little Sneebles. Love you forever.
I think that deep down, we're all suckers for fresh starts. There's a reason we throw ourselves into creating resolutions and goals when the calendar turns over at the new year. There's a reason why we get the itch to move to a new city after going through a bad breakup. Why we think that if we abandon that half-full journal and buy a new, blank notebook then our journaling habit will finally stick this time.
Moving here has felt like the ultimate fresh start. It was an ending chapter to so many things, and a completely new beginning. A new city, a new house, a new phase of life. I remember talking to my best friend and telling her, No one knows me here. No one has any expectations of me. I can be anything I want to be, and that is exhilarating.
That fresh start has made me view things with such renewed optimism. I'll be able to make friends who have never known me before I was a mom. I can introduce myself as a blogger and not feel weird about it. I can wear an outfit that's outside of my comfort zone and not worry about someone thinking that I don't look like myself. There are no unspoken standards to adhere to and no expectations I feel pressured to meet.
It has truly been wonderful to feel that way. It's also been a scary and uncomfortable amount of new, but it's been so, so good.
It makes me think...if I hadn't left Orlando, would I ever have let myself feel this way? I don't know, and that's a little sad.
So wherever you are, whatever phase of life you're in...give yourself the gift of a new start. Big or little. Public or private. Just start fresh.
You don't have to go out every weekend just because that's just what you've always done. If you aren't super into it anymore, don't go. Suggest something else instead.
You don't have to refrain from speaking up just because everyone knows you as the quiet one.
You don't have to be embarrassed of your new hobby.
You don't have to adhere to the characteristics of the person you were five years ago, or last year, or last month.
You can be whoever you want to be, say whatever you want to say, wear whatever you want to wear. Because YOU are in charge of if you get a fresh start or not.
And a random Thursday in August seems like a pretty good time to start over to me, wouldn't you say?