Monday, August 29, 2011

Merry Monday

Mondays are tough. The lovely, fleeting weekend is over and now we’ve got a whole five days until the next. There’s a reason that our coworkers so sweetly observe that “someone has a case of the Mondays.” In order to tip the scale in favor of happiness, I’m going to start posting three things that I am grateful for, that make me happy, or that make me realize that Mondays aren’t so bad after all. Plus, this can add a bit of regularity to my posts. (I know they’re a bit sporadic*).

To start:
1. Feeling sore after a good work out. Yesterday I participated in the Columbia Muddy Buddy event at Afton**. It may have been the hardest I’ve ever pushed myself and today I’ve got sore muscles to show for it. It’s a good sort of pain though. 
2. Cool temperatures. This morning the grass was dewy, the sun was shining, and there was a light, cool breeze. I definitely drove with the windows down.
3. Puppy noses. This morning I couldn’t find dear Lily, until I spotted a little nose sticking out from underneath the bed. She was hiding from one of fifty things she’s afraid of…cutest thing ever!

This sort of reminds me of 1000 Awesome Things, where Neil Pasricha celebrates the small joys in life (like pressing an elevator button and having the door open immediately).

*I like the word sporadic.
**More on this a different day, when more energy is available.

What gets you through Monday? Whatever it is, I hope it gets your week off to a great start!

Friday, August 26, 2011

A little bit of inspiration

Mr. Lincoln had a lot of great thoughts. This is one of them:

That is all. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mind Over Clutter

It’s difficult to let go of things. I’m not talking about a broken friendship or relationship or anything of that magnitude. Just things. I’ve been almost conscientious about keeping things that might have use or value one day. But as I’m growing and changing and starting new projects and chapters, it’s time create some space and let go of the old. Carrie-friend commented on my last post, “People add value to your life, things add clutter.”

Things I have issues getting rid of because I will use them one day or because they are sentimental or because I’m a hoarder:
  • Grade school schoolwork (Do I really need a spelling test from 5th grade?) (Yes?) (Pretty please?)
  • Office supplies (Well I could use ten million pens at work or at home or…never)
  • Plane ticket stubs (I swear I traveled there! See? But how many can I really scrapbook?)
  • Clothes (I could wear that one day. I might need it. It was a gift. Rule of thumb: if I haven’t worn it in over a year…it’s time for charity!)
  • Jewelry (Those stretchy bead bracelets I made in the 8th grade?)
  • Greeting cards (Yes, I have about half of my high school graduation cards. Yes, some of them only have a signature and no message.)
  • Beanie Babies (Still waiting for the value to skyrocket as it did when I was 12…)

I can’t wait for my upcoming massive-cleaning-marathon where I will unfortunately have to let go of some of the aforementioned objects of my skewed affection. That was a mouthful. Anyway, with a clearer space, I hopefully will have a clearer mind and be able to focus on what brings me joy, not stress.

In my pitiful defense, I’m not the only one with this issue! Ashley-friend wrote about it here. And there’s an entire show about it. So there.

William Morris said, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." No, rusted paperclips, you are not useful nor beautiful.

What can’t you let go of? What helps you let go?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's a Good Thing Things are Just Things.

Earlier today, my dad backed his car out and found that it wouldn't move. He thought the car went on some sort of auto-lock mode, so he hit the gas pedal harder. Turns out the thing preventing his car from moving car.

I surveyed the damage and found a sizable dent accompanied by scratches on my front bumper. I wondered if I should fix it. On one hand, it's pretty ugly. On the other hand, it's just a dent. On the third, odd hand that I don't actually have, it's an addition to a couple of other bumps and bruises the vehicle has endured.

I thought about it and thought about it and eventually put it in the back of my mind.

Then, after work I decided I had no food in the house and needed to make a pit stop at the grocery store. At the exact moment I walked up to my car after shopping, (as I struggled with the bag whose handles just broke off) (did I just personify a bag?), a large truck swiped the passenger side of my car.

The guy was extremely nice and apologized for hitting my car and for taking up my time. (This was much better than when a lady rear-ended me and then wouldn't look at me and was extremely rude and talking about me on the phone). (Or how about the time I rear-ended a deaf person and she wrote on a piece of paper "I'm just glad you're okay." Tear.)

I could have gotten upset and wallowed in self-pity. But then I remembered what I read in Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture. He explained a time when his wife had backed one of their cars into the other car. She hid both cars inside the garage until he got home from work and all day long, she fine-tuned her plan of how she was going to break the news to him. She made his favorite meal and towards the end of it, spilled the beans. His reaction was to wait until they finished eating dinner to go look at it. He told her as long as the cars were running, they were fine. She was shocked that they were going to drive around in dented cars, but he said "If your trashcan or wheelbarrow has a dent in it, you don't buy a new one. Maybe that's because we don't use trashcans and wheelbarrows to communicate our status or identity to others."

I'm still going to get my car fixed, especially because something about the door handle function isn't proper. But it was a good reminder: things are just things.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hold the Phone.

Today I committed one of the biggest crimes. I talked on the phone, I set the phone down, I did some stuff, I left to pick my sister up from the car dealer in an area I was unfamiliar with, I reached for my phone to look for directions, and realized: I forgot my phone at home.

Since I was already too far into my drive, I forged ahead for what felt like forever. First of all, traffic in the morning was just that: traffic. So after feeling a little bit of panic for each slow mile I drove, I tapped into my memory to try and figure out where this place could be. Suprisingly, I got there to find my sister in the waiting room, ready to kill greet me. 

For the rest of the day, I lived without my phone.  No checking for texts from the boyf, no playing phone cribbage on break, no looking at my email even though I already checked it on the computer. What's worse is that I wanted to meet my friend at her new place, so I had to find her on gmail and get her phone number because, yeah right, like I remember a phone number that has an out-of-town area code. Then I had to write the number down (with a pen! on paper! OMGah) and borrow phones and the calls didn't go through and I didn't end up meeting her.

I couldn't even send illegal texts if I wanted to. And this frustrated me almost all day long. Even though I spent the majority of my day plugged into my computer for work, I still felt deprived. 

So is being plugged in all of the time a good thing or a bad thing or somewhere in the middle? I am constantly checking all of my seven-thousand social media sites and finding that not much has changed. Even more, when the internet tubes are tied up and not properly operating at the speed of light, I mildly freak out. Do you stay plugged in for most of the day? Do you ever find yourself checking your phone when you can barely lift your eyelids? Why?

Technology is only advancing and soon we're going to have chips in our brain that read our thoughts and post to Twitter. Just kidding. Kind of.

But honestly, how much is too much? Is there such a thing?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

You are Possible.

Every time a friend's blog starts, Jennifer's heart sings.

I have an overwhelming sense of happiness when I hear that one of my friends has entered the blogosphere. Sometimes, I literally jump up and down. I know I'm still a rookie, but it's awesome to hear that I have played even a little role in someone else's adventure. What's even more excellent is when a friend tells me I inspired her to start a blog, and then her friend is inspired by her to start a blog, and then and then and then.

As you may know, I have a special spot in my heart for writing. Writing is its own therapy and allows us to articulate whatever emotion or thought is bubbling inside us. It's amazing how far back it dates (someone look this up for me) and how it preserves thoughts, events, and feelings. (I don't like the mushy connotation that the word "feelings" has). Writing is a spectacular form of communication, like I gushed about here, and it's pretty amazing that humans developed it in the first place. Don't even get me started on language itself.

Back to the part about my friends being awesome-I assume that since you're blogging, you're okay with it being publicized. So here you/they are in birth order:   

If you are living life to the fullest and enjoying every little bit: then you should Know I Lived.
If you appreciate life and want to cook delicious meals: plan a trip to Spicyland.
If your thoughts are on design and style, inside and out: mind your head and Pear of Hearts.
If you wonder how it's possible to leave your career for your passion: you ought to be Stumbling Towards Bakery.
If you like philosophy and making your life happier: close your eyes and Imagine Rappy Happy.

One last tidbit before I get off the internet for crying out loud: 
My heart is so full, it just may burst. We. Are. All. Possible.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Main Attraction

I have officially decided that St. Anthony Main is one of my favorite places. Tonight I had my first taste of Wilde Roast Cafe, which was as fantastic as I imagined it to be. I started out with a sweet wine, had a turkey BLT with fries (sprinkled with shredded parmesan) (I thought I was supposed to give up fries) (Never), and topped it off with Summit Pilsner gelato. You heard me. The only thing that could have made it better was if it was a Summit Oatmeal Stout gelato.

If you are opposed to water in mason jars, something may be wrong with you.

Besides my lovely experience tonight, I have spent a fair amount of time at St. Anthony Main. In college, I used to run across the Stone Arch Bridge as part of my workout routine. Then, I discovered Pracna,
the oldest restaurant on the oldest street in Minneapolis. Who doesn't love history?! Pracna is awesome because of the happy hour, the good food, the patio, and the friendly and knowledgeable bartenders who serve a good list of craft beer.

Then there is Tuggs Tavern, which is a nice place for a drink on the patio. Vic's is delicious. I hear great things about
The Aster Cafe. (An amazing patio?) Oh, and throw in a cute theater with character and you've got an awesome spaot to hang out.

Besides the restaurants, there is also that whole look-at-the-breathtaking-view thing going on. I probably take a picture of the river every time I am down there. Maybe we should talk about the free concerts. Or that the Lifetime Fitness Torchlight 5K is going to start and end there this year.

Anyway, this is one of the things that makes me happy--a place that I love.

What places make you happy?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gaga for Lolla

This past weekend was one of the best weekends of my life. Let me explain.

Have you ever wanted to do something so bad for years and years and finally decide that you have enough time and money and want for it that you actually take the plunge and do it? This is what Lollapalooza 2011 was for me. Ever since I was in high school, I have wanted to make the trek to Chicago for this music festival. I’ve been enamored by music festivals for a long time [read: Coachella, SXSW, Bonnaroo] but have coveted Lollapalooza most. It has never quite worked out though—until now.

On Friday I left my house at 4:30am (I was half hour late, dang!) to round up the troops and make the drive to Chicago. (Yes, I slept for most of it. I just can’t stand car rides!) We arrived a little too late to see the Naked and Famous but still had time to decompress before seeing Foster the People. The rest of the lineup that I saw that weekend included: Cults, A Perfect Circle, OK GO, Coldplay, Grouplove, Maps & Atlases, Fitz & The Tantrums, Mayer Hawthorne & The CountyLocal NativesCee LoAtmosphere, Beirut, Noah & The Whale, City and ColourThe CarsCage The Elephant, Foo Fighters, Kid Cudi, Cold War Kids and Deadmau5.

I also saw "Show me your tips" and "Just the tip" and many more.


Coldplay and the famous balloons.

Grouplove was definitely one of my favorites.

We left the festival to get a real drink, since they only served Budweiser, Bud Lite and Bud Lite with Lime. (Oh, and wine in sports bottles).

Light up the night.

It was like my iTunes came to life. I missed some bands I wanted to see and went to some bands I only half-cared for, but I was just lucky to be there so it didn’t even matter. The best part of it all was that on the last day of what had so far been a scorching-dehydration-festival, the clouds shifted, the winds started and the rain poured. And poured. We decided to go back to our hotel for a bit to reenergize, but not before hearing Cage the Elephant sing, "Even on a cloudy day...even on a cloudy day..." 

When we came back for the headliners, we stepped into a huge mud puddle because it was empty space no one else wanted to stand in. And then it started to pour, and pour, and pour. And we danced, and danced, and danced.

Since I didn’t face any nasty repercussions of playing in the foul-smelling mud, that carefree night is one I will always have fond memories of. Now I can’t wait to go back next year. Ladies and Gentlemen, mark your calendars for August 3-5!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Do the Write Thing.

I have a strong sense for nostalgia. One of the things I will not let go of is writing letters. I'm not living in the ice age; I spend quite a bit of my time on the computer and a lot of my conversations happen via internet tubes, but I still believe in handwritten letters.

My "grandma" is a woman who lives in Atlantic, Iowa who had the heart and the home to sponsor my parents when they came from Vietnam with little education and a huge language barrier. She opened her life to them and gave them a place to start in an intimidating whole new world.  And this was not a whole new world in the Aladdin-Jasmine sense. This was a cold place where speaking Vietnamese didn't get you far. (Imagine coming from the tropics to Iowa, then Minnesota).

My grandma loves to write letters. Ever since my parents got back up on their feet and ended up relocating to Minnesota, I have seen letters from my grandma on a regular basis. My parents rarely write back to her because they're not the writing type and would rather have a phone conversation, yet she still sends letters, cards and photos. When I learned to write letters, I often sent them to her. Part of me sent letters to make up for what my parents lacked in correspondence, but part of it was because I liked to share thoughts and the idea of receiving something in the mail always appealed to me.

Since my start in writing to my grandma, I've had penpals and written notes in grade school, sent cards to my high school friends when we went off to college, sent cards to my college friends when we went off to real life, and kept in touch with my friends who moved away or who I met in Hong Kong when I studied abroad. (Here's to you, E, J, and D).

There's something about opening the mailbox and seeing a piece of mail that isn't a bill, a credit card offer, a plea for your money, or an inappropriately-sent advertisement for pre-teen clothing. Seriously, Justice, stop sending me discounts. People have a foggy view of what snail mail is. It doesn't take long to write a letter, it doesn't take a lot of money to put it in an envelope and stamp it, and it only takes a few days for most letters to arrive.  The US Postal Service also has a nice way of making sure things actually get to their intended destinations, whereas shipping overseas increases the likelihood that something gets lost occasionally. It's funny too that most people like to receive mail, but most people don't send mail. So where does this mail come from?

It could start with you. One of my resolutions for my Happiness Project (that I started in response to reading the aforementioned The Happiness Project book) is to write a letter once a week. It may seem like a lot, but if I go through my rotation of people I write to, that means each of them might get a handful of letters or cards a year.

Go ahead, do the write thing.