“Mama I Made it”… on the Importance of My Accomplishments Jar

21 04 2015
A peek at my jar...

A peek at my jar…

This New Year’s Eve, I decided to try something a little different to set myself up for the new year. I didn’t make resolutions; I made an accomplishments jar courtesy of an idea from Buzzfeed.

The basic idea behind the jar was that we all spend so much time focusing on getting to the completion of our goals (a BIG problem of mine, sometimes) that we miss out on the beauty of when we actually accomplish those goals — big and small.

So essentially (to use one example of mine), I should take the time to be excited about completing my query letter for my book instead of running past that achievement and only concerning myself with the completion of getting my book deal. And thing is, every time you complete something, whether silly or serious, publicly important or just something you silently said to yourself, you’re supposed to write it on the piece of paper, date it, and place it in the jar. When the year is over, you go back to the jar and re-read everything you did to remind yourself how much you did over the year.

There are so many reasons why this has been good for me so far, but here are just a few of them.

1. It forces to me to “stop and smell the roses.” I can be very focused and ambitious at times and sometimes lose sight of the small achievements that have to take place before I get to the big ones. Writing a note every time I complete a goal makes it that much more real for me.

2. It puts my gratitude on fleek! You know what happens, or at least what has happened with me, when you’re constantly writing out things you’ve done on even on a micro-level? You begin to realize just how much of it is not your doing. I find myself thanking God all the time now, for like… everything.

3. Which, in turn, keeps me faithful about the larger goals. I read recently that one of the best ways to stay faithful during a waiting period in your life is to constantly be thankful for what’s already in your life. I read this after I’d started on this accomplishments jar journey, and it was like confirmation to what I’d been feeling, and how much less stressed I’ve been.

4. It’s like the Twitter version of my journal, and it makes me commit to the feeling of accomplishment. You know how so often we look up and wonder what we’re doing with our lives? Folks start going through mid-quarter life crises and things? Well, this is a written account of what has been important to me in this year, what I sought out, when I was happy about a specific event, etc… but because it’s done on post it notes or small scraps of paper, it has to be in short and small details. No full out journal postings that start getting into rambling about how I completed something, but now I still have all this left to do. Nope. It’s short and simple. “I lost 20 pounds.” “I paid for someone’s lunch today.” “I woke up without snoozing my alarm sixteen times before getting out of the bed.”

5. It makes me happy. I haven’t even gone back and read anything yet (because technically, you’re supposed to wait until the end of the year lol), but when I see those notes piling up in my jar when I get home, I get a sense of joy. It tells me that no matter how hectic work might have been or if I feel like I didn’t finish something I wanted to complete, I’ve accomplished a lot just in the past four months.

I can’t wait to see what it looks like in December.


Being Happy With Me

7 03 2014

Last September, I attended a work conference in Louisville, KY. And while the conference was not at all about finding your own happiness, for some reason, when I looked at the schedule, I noticed that’s what the final speaker would be talking about.

Now, when I initially saw this, I balked at it. “What does this have to do with what we are here for,” I thought. And then, “great — just what I want to hear… some more pseudo-psych talk about loving yourself for an hour and a half.”

Quick side note — I’m not sure why I was so angry about this, but there I was, really upset that they would slide this into the schedule. Probably says something about where I was in life, but that’s for another blog post.

Anyway, I was initially quite reluctant to take anything away from this speaker. But as she talked and gave some pretty amazing examples and stories, I grew more and more interested in what she was saying. And what she was saying was that we are basically a bunch of hurt people going around either hurting others or pretending like we’re not.

That’s not exactly something I’d never heard before. I mean, I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying, “Hurt people hurt people.” But I think what struck me was that she took the ambiguity out of it by not allowing anyone to point fingers and pretend like they were not included in that statement. That meant when you talked about hurt people, it wasn’t your cousin, your best friend, your sister/brother, or the last guy who rejected you. It meant you.

YOU are a hurt person. And YOU are out here hurting others.

That was a lot for me to take in, because I generally consider myself a giver in all of my relationships, and I tend to take on the characteristics of being a giver (the good and the bad). So to acknowledge that yes, me – the giver, was hurting other people… it was a lot.

But it was true. And it was true because, as she said, I hadn’t taken the time to forgive myself and others for things they’d (I’d) done to me in the past. And without that forgiveness, I could be happy, but not reaaaaally happy. Or as the old church folks say, I could be happy but not have joy.

So what did the speaker suggest? Well, honestly, a bunch of pseudo-psych stuff like I initially thought, but some of it was actually kind of good. Like, singing love songs to yourself ¹ and finding the things that de-stress you that don’t make you dependent on anything or anyone (yes, this includes things like wine, drugs, and sex).

But the most important thing I thought she said was that in order to really be happy, you had to be selfish sometimes. You had to take time to yourself. Take energy to yourself. Spend time loving you and replenishing in you, and you’d find that your happiness will become less and less dependent on others.

Again, that was nothing ground-breaking. But it was affirming of several messages I’d been getting all year.

That to truly be happy, I had to focus on me sometimes. And then, and only then, could I walk around and provide happiness to others. Then, and only then, could I stop being a hurt person that hurts people.

What do you all think? And have you come to any recent revelations about what brings you happiness in your life?

1 As crazy as this idea sounds on the surface, it’s actually quite fun! Take your favorite love song and sing it to yourself all day long for just one day. I guarantee you’ll be in a pretty damn good mood by the end of the day.

On Kanye and Choosing to be Happy

25 11 2013

Unless you rarely pay attention to pop culture at all, you’re probably aware of Kanye Wests’ rants on Twitter about the sketch Jimmy Kimmel did mocking his BBC interview. While I’ve heard a bevy of commentary about whether Jimmy Kimmel was at fault or if Kanye is officially off his rocker, I’ve been more concerned with what seems to be an increasing sense of unhappiness in his actions (and no – the subsequent interview with Kimmel didn’t change that).

To be clear, I’m not debating what was said in the BBC interview or whether Kimmel was wrong for mocking said interview. I’m saying that when you’re truly happy within yourself, while folks mocking you may bother you (because, well you’re human), it probably won’t bother you so damn much!

Listen, I get it. It’s probably really frustrating to have paparazzi following him around at all times, especially now that he has a baby. And then to have Kimmel (!) mock him like Kanye was one of those folks on Hollywood Boulevard! The nerve! Especially when he has so much creativity flowing through him that he obviously wants to impart upon the world. But c’mon, dude seems to be lashing out all the time these days.

I guess the real question here is — when was the last time we saw footage or even a photo of Kanye looking legitimately happy? Having fun? Enjoying this life he’s created for himself? Outside of the David Blaine clip where he looked surprisingly amazed at the trick that had occurred, I can’t remember. Can you? Now, granted, we don’t see this man all the time (and he certainly doesn’t owe us any perfunctory smiles), but if every time you saw someone, he or she had a scowl on his or her face, and you saw that person a lot, you’d probably become a bit concerned. No?

Regardless — Kanye West is just an example here (albeit a pretty famous one) of a larger problem I think we all experience at times.  We don’t choose our own happiness. I don’t know Kanye (even though we all probably feel like we do at times). What I do know, though, is that being happy involves making the choice to do so, and crazy as it sounds, sometimes that’s not the easiest choice to make. It’s not something that just falls into your lap one day. You don’t get it by waiting for others to acknowledge your accomplishments (although, of course that helps sometimes lol). You don’t get it by relying on the happiness of others to make you feel fulfilled. And you certainly don’t get it by waiting for the gatekeepers around the world to recognize that what you do is important and needed on this earth.

No, you choose — every day, every minute of that day — to seek happiness instead of pain and instead of frustrations. To not let the negativity sink in for too long. To determine that no matter what is going on in your life, there is always something to be grateful for.

As we draw closer to a day where millions of people take a moment to give thanks for the people and things in their lives, I just want to encourage everyone to also take those small moments on other days as well. Find what makes you truly happy and go for that with every fiber of your being. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it. I’ll be joining too, so you won’t be alone.

And hopefully, just hopefully, it’ll also stop you from knocking out any potential paparazzi that pop up in your life.

No Other High Like It

15 08 2012

Photo: lindaandharriett.blogspot.com

Have you ever gone on a really amazing date?

I mean, like call your friends right after it’s over, stand at your front door and just smile taking in the moment, dance around your place because you’re so excited, amazing kind of date? I have. On a few occasions.

And I have to tell you – there’s something about going on a date like that that just invigorates you and makes you feel like there’s nothing you can’t do and nowhere you can’t go. You feel like your smile will never go away, like the world is in the palm of your hands, like rainbows and butterflies are following you with every step you take. You feel like, to quote the great Whitney Houston, a million dollar bill.

And I think you might even feel like you’re on the greatest high ever. Now, granted, the closest I’ve ever been to being high (outside of being drunk, which I think is different) was when they gave me laughing gas for my dental procedures last year. I was high high high y’all. I mean, you know you’re high when you envision yourself as a cartoon, ballroom dancing with a cartooned version of the guy you’re dating, and it’s all set in the library scene from Beauty and the Beast.

Yea, that happened.

But the thing is, that’s how you feel after an amazing date too! Well, at least that’s how I feel. I feel like I could ballroom dance in someone’s big library all night long! And I’ve never really ballroom danced, like ever. But after an amazing date, I feel like I can do anything I put my mind to.

And the crazy thing is that on the few occasions when this has happened, it hasn’t been because the actual date was so stunningly creative or fantastic. I’ve never taken a private jet to Paris just to kiss underneath the Eiffel Tower or trotted off to the Grand Canyon to see one of the wonders of the Americas. No, my dates have been simple (some extremely romantic, some not necessarily intended to be), but mostly they were amazing just because in that time with that guy, I felt like we ruled the world. Our connection was so on point that if the date had gone on for 15 more hours, I don’t think I would have been tired of being around him. And that’s maybe not so much about the date and more about the guy… but right afterward, all I could think about was that date with that guy.

My friends will tell you how obvious it is when I’ve had an amazing date. I sound like the happiest, girliest girl in the universe. I can’t stop telling little details, like “and then he said ‘hi.’ agggggghhhhh, I almost fainted right there!” I become quite possibly every cliched stereotype of a girl in-like, and at that moment, I don’t care one bit. I’m enjoying myself. I’m enjoying my high.

It’s the best feeling – that moment right after an amazing date. Have you had a chance to experience it yet?