My expectations for Day 1 of my new job were insanely high & they were exceeded in every way. See the hearts in my eyes?! All the side hustling & creative struggle for all these years were absolutely worth it. And I’m so grateful. I’ll find a way to pay forward this joy. Thank you to all of you who have been on this ride with me. Your constant support means more to me than I have words to express.
A Year of Yes: A smile really does help
Me: “How’s your day?”
Cashier: “It was so-so. But you have a really beautiful smile and I feel so much better about my day now because of you.” (He said this as he put his hand to his heart and there was something about that gesture that really meant a lot to me.)
This is an interaction I had yesterday after I had a really terrible day. To be honest, I forced myself to smile at this cashier because I was trying to make myself feel better. And the smile did help me, or at least it helped me feel better to make someone else’s day better.
Small gestures make a big impact. Sometimes something as simple as a “hi, how are you?”, meaning it, and smiling really does help. So here’s a smile today if you need one. Pass it on. Let’s work on bringing the light where and when we can to anyone who needs it.
A Year of Yes: It’s in the quiet that you find your voice
“When a great moment knocks on the door of your life, it is often no louder than the beating of your heart, and it is very easy to miss it.” ~Boris Pasternak
I used to wait for big moments, sign posts from the universe, that I was on the right track, doing the right thing, making the right choices. Poor Brian has listened to me prattle on endlessly in my sessions with him about my plans A, B, and C, followed swiftly by the making of plans D, E, and F.
“Because what if I get it wrong?” I would say.
To which he always replies, “You need to trust yourself enough to know that no matter what happens, you’re going to make it work. You always have, and you always will.”
And he’s right. Dammit, he’s always right.
In these many years of trying to figure it all out, I’ve learned exactly one thing—that the big moments are never dressed up as big moments. I have to get very quiet to hear them; I have to stare at them for a long time to really see them for what they are. And I often have to do things that my mind doesn’t understand because my heart knows exactly what needs to be done. And my mind catches up with my heart, eventually.
My hope for you today is that you find a single moment to get very quiet, to hear the beating of your heart so that you can see the tremendously opportunity in this day. And then I hope you make the leap to make the most of it. I’m cheering for you. I’m always cheering for you.
2018: A Year of Yes
My 2018 resolution can be summed up in one word: Yes. My friend, Ria, recently told me about an article she read in which the author explained that when you commit to saying yes, your day ends up in a completely different place than where it started. And I’m all for that. Yes to:
- building a better city, country, & world
- helping others
I’m going to make 2018 the best year of my life so far in every way. And I’m going to lift others as I rise. We’re doing this.
In the pause: Stay close to people who feel like sunshine
“Stay close to people who feel like sunshine.” ~Anonymous
This may just be the secret to a happier, more joyful life. I love those people who lift us up just by their presence, who make us feel more alive, more hopeful, and more empowered to build a better world.
In the pause: I’m the happiest New Yorker
A month ago today I packed my rental car and moved back to New York City. Yesterday while I walked Phin in Central Park, a man I didn’t know stopped me and said, “You’re the happiest person I’ve ever seen in New York.” I think he’s right; I was smiling wide for no reason at all.
Being away from New York for almost three years made me even more grateful for what this city has to offer. Every day I wake up and think anything can happen. Possibility is everywhere. Part of making things happen has to do with my energy and efforts and part of it has to do with the energy of this city. Put them together and something is bound to happen. It always does.
In the pause: Where you find real happiness
“Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination.” ~Roy M. Goodman
So often we’re trying to get to happy rather than realizing that happiness is right here within us. We carry it, and it carries us. It’s in the small moments and in the those small bits of time between the moments. If we can find and promote happiness there, then every day is a win.
In the pause: Being relentlessly positive
I’ve decided to be relentlessly positive—about my career, about love, about my writing, and about life in general. In the past few weeks, I have seen the power of thinking good thoughts and rolling up my sleeves to make good things happen. With all that’s happening in the world, it’s easy to get bogged down, to fill myself up with anxiety and uncertainty. When the hint of this begins to happen, I tamp down those thoughts. I don’t allow them into my day. I remind myself of how far I’ve come and how far I still have to go. I remember that I literally don’t have time for negativity. The energy is better put toward building a better world, and that’s what I intend to do.
In the pause: Balance the two kinds of happiness
There are two kinds of happiness: the one that comes from instant gratification and the one that comes from the slow slog toward a desired goal. The first makes us happy in the here and now, but it usually doesn’t last long. The second makes us happy when viewed through the arc of life but in the here and now can be difficult and uncomfortable. I’ve found that I need a good balance of both to truly feel good about life.
Art, music, good food, time with my friends, my dog, and working out are all things that make me immediately happy. Writing, working on my entrepreneurial ideas, and learning something new that I’m not yet particularly good at fall into that second bucket. It’s not that I don’t get any joy from them in the near-term; it’s just that to feel truly happy about them I need to look at them through a longer lens and with a goal in mind.
Knowing about this balance helps me figure out how to allocate my time, effort, and energy to be happy at this moment and to ensure I’m happy down the line, too.
Wonder: A look back at my 2016
Today as I travel to the Philadelphia area to ring in the new year, I’m thinking about the wonderful things that happened in 2016. I opened up my wonder jar that I created in January 2016, and this is what I found:
1.) I got a new job through a recruiter on LinkedIn in healthcare working with artificial intelligence. And it came with a promotion in title and a raise to boot!
2.) I went to Cuba, a lifelong dream trip, and met some fabulous people whom I’m sure I will travel with in the future.
3.) I moved into a new apartment in a new neighborhood and discovered a whole new side of D.C.
4.) I went to Puerto Rico for a dear friend’s wedding.
5.) My amazing friends Ken and Tom got married, as did my dear friends Rachael and Jon. I was so thrilled to celebrate them and share in their joy with some of my favorite people in the world. Love wins!
6.) I made new friends, reconnected with others whom I hadn’t connected with in years, and had the best times spending time with so many friends whom I love.
7.) I turned 40, and had one of the very best birthday parties of my life thanks to wonderful friends.
8.) I finished my book Where the Light Enters, and a small press is considering publishing it.
9.) I greatly expanded my freelance writing opportunities, and am looking forward to even more of that in early 2017.
10.) Phineas came through a couple of difficult health challenges like a champ, and is now super healthy at the ripe old age of 7. We took a lot of long and happy walks together all over D.C. and we had plenty of snuggle time. I also found a great daycare / boarding place and a dog walker that take wonderful care of him.
11.) I saved a down payment with the hope of buying my very first home in 2017, and got my finances in order in a better way than ever before.
12.) I attended fun cultural events all over Washington, D.C. all year long.
13.) I had one of my collages accepted and shown at an art gallery in D.C.
14.) I expanded my personal art collection with works from all over the world that inspire me on a daily basis.
15.) I started the Breaking Bread Podcast.
16.) I had the chance to support a number of nonprofits that I admire and that make this world a better place.
17.) I greatly enhanced my cooking and baking skills, churning out some delicious and nutritious meals from my kitchen.
18.) I worked on my first television project as an Associate Producer.
19.) I learned to trust my gut more than ever before. I laughed, I smiled, and I loved.
20.) I saw a ton of great live music in D.C. including Josh Ritter, Andra Day, Elephant Revival, 2 Cellos, Janelle Monae, Rhiannon Giddeons, The American Pops, Ben Harper, and Grace Potter.
21.) I created and taught creative writing workshops for kids at 826DC.
22.) I got to shine a light on creative entrepreneurship, art, and writing through The Relational Economy, American Public Media, the Lits to Lens podcast, and the What’s Next videocast.
I’m sure 2017 will bring many more blessings and learnings. And that wonder jar was a wonderful thing. I plan to start a new one tomorrow in honor of the new year.