Are You One of the 9 to 11% of Americans Who…?

…would report feeling “daily worry and stress without a lot of happiness and enjoyment” in your life? Because according to the long-standing Gallup “U.S. Mood” Poll, 9 to 11 percent of Americans feel that way. Apparently and not surprisingly, the numbers were even higher immediately following the 2016 election, reaching a four-year high of 13.1%.

Personally, I fall into that depressing bucket now. But I’m also dealing with a lot of stress – fights with my boyfriend, anxiety about my career not moving forward fast enough (I’m 35), drinking too much to deal with the stress of uncertainty, and the general fear of Trump and losing access to Obamacare.

I used to be a lot more excited about life and my career in my twenties. The upside of the fact that I’m less happy now is that the happiness in my twenties made me somewhat dreamy and complacent, and so I wasn’t working as hard as I should have at my writing. Now, the fire is lit under my a** and I have been writing a ton more to deal with the anger at myself for not being further ahead.

While I don’t always experience daily stress and worries, because I do have amazing days where I feel recharged and refreshed, I do think I’d put myself in the 9 – 11% bucket of Americans who are struggling to find fulfillment.

So, what do you do if, like me, you realize that you would put yourself in that bucket?

Well, for me it’s all about testing variables to improve. Experimenting with your life. Making small changes and tweaks to see if you feel happier or more fulfilled from them.

Here are some things I’ve done and/or plan to do in the future:

  • Really analyzing my interactions with people to see if they uplift me
  • Trying natural anxiety relief supplements, like Omega 3 pills (heavy on the EPA and less on DHA)
  • Spending less time staring at my phone in public places
  • Writing EVERY DAY to push my career forward
  • Exercising at least once a week (wasn’t doing that before, d’oh!)

Would you put yourself in the 9-11% bucket, and if so, how do you plan to change it?

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How Would You Answer This Question?

What would you say if someone asked you if you agreed with the below statement?

“I’m confident that eventually I will get what I want out of life.”

I would say yes. But I happen to be a pretty optimistic person generally (if, anxious).

In a study at Clark University completed by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, 655 thirtysomethings were asked the same question – if they agreed with the above statement.

And guess what percentage said yes? 87%. Not only that, but more than three quarters said they still feel like “anything is possible.”  That’s pretty impressive, especially considering how many thitysomethings feel like they aren’t where they want to be career-wise or personally (That’s my informal, completely un-researched opinion after talking to my friends).

Arnett, the researcher, was surprised by these results, and while he said they are admirable, he also felt they were unrealistic. That’s because he also asked these thirtysomethings if they have gotten as far in their careers as they’d hoped to be by now. And 56% of respondents (born between 1975 and 1984) said they haven’t gotten as far in their careers as they’d have hoped to by now. And 17% said they are not in a relationship now but would like to be.

Maybe it’s because we may not feel like we’re at the ‘destination’ of where we want to be, but we’re enjoying the ‘journey’ a heck of a lot. Personally, I do love the fact that I have more time and freedom right now than people with children or very demanding jobs. That time has allowed me to explore screenwriting and TV writing as a career.

We also might not be settling for less. We’re realizing that it may take a longer time to get exactly what we want, but it’s way better than settling for a mediocre career or relationship situation that society tells us is what we should have in our 30s.

What Are You Waiting For In Your Thirties?

Sorry for the long post delay. I feel like I’ve waited way too long- which is the theme of this post.

Do you ever feel like you’re waiting around for that day when your life will get much better? For that moment you are finally in the shape of your life? For the year you can quit your job and retire? For that future time period when you can travel the world? And then you can be happy?

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Sometimes I catch myself waiting in this way. But what I’ve learned this year is that it’s almost impossible to be happy later if you can’t be happy now. I feel like I’ve spent a lot of my life worrying- it’s my go to habit. I can feel myself clenching up sometimes, preparing for the worst. I guess I’ve always felt like somehow my anxiety helps me to get things done.

However, lately, when I focus on manually taking down my anxiety levels and allowing myself to be happy now, I still get things done. I don’t fall into a valley of hedonism like I’ve been afraid of doing. Nothing falls apart because- god forbid- I haven’t worried about it today. My anxiety hasn’t seemed to be necessary to have a productive day.

This lack-of-waiting-to- be-happy mentality brought up thoughts of another trip with Jane. We haven’t taken a trip together just for fun in over seven years. Last time we went to Austin, so this time we picked the equally bizarre city of Portland, and it was wonderful.

At first it felt weird planning a trip purely for fun, but why wait?And why not? We just got back yesterday night, and we were so happy we’d made the leap, took the trip, and didn’t wait for some ‘better time’ in the future.

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First night in Portland!

You are allowed to enjoy life right now. Choose happiness right this moment. Of course you will feel sad and anxious sometimes, and that’s absolutely okay and actually good and normal. But anxiety doesn’t need to be the status quo. You can feel all the feels. But you don’t have to stay miserable..or anxiously await a better time.The future is uncertain. Choose to be happy now. What are you waiting for?

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Blue Star Donuts!

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Voodoo!

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Portland Love!

The Bowling Ball Leaning Dilemma, or Trying to Control the Uncontrollable

It’s been awhile since I’ve last gone bowling, but it’s been barely any time since I’ve worried about something. Both of these things are connected by a bad habit.

You see, I have a ridiculously useless habit when I go bowling. I throw the ball down the lane (and I seriously mean throw, as I have no technique. I only go bowling for fun or birthday parties). Once I’ve thrown the ball, I watch its trajectory down the lane, and then, very predictably, I lean my entire body in the direction I want the ball to go.

This crazy-looking full body lean is sometimes accompanied by arm waving, pushing an imaginary force that connects me to the ball and will accomplish a strike by telepathy. Astonishingly, my leaning telepathy has zero effectiveness in getting the ball to change course. All the leaning does is scratch my itch to DO something.

Lately, I’ve decided to pay attention to the hum of worry that naturally clouds my mind from the moment I wake up. I vaguely worry that I’ll do something wrong and wind up with people mad at me, or lose friends. I worry that I’ll forget all of the tasks I must do later that day or “some day soon.” I worry that when I’m happy for no reason I’m not being ‘reasonable’ or ‘down to earth enough.’ I worry about being happy in general, because if I’m happy now, then I must have settled.

Take a look at your own life- is there a sheen of mild to medium worry coursing through your moments? Worry might have become so habitual in your life that you barely notice it anymore. Maybe you feel like worry  helps you accomplish something by keeping tasks in the forefront of your mind. On the contrary, think of worry as the equivalent of that bowling lean, where your best effort will always be completely useless. Sometimes when you feel like something is helping, your instincts are actually fooling you.

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A Beautiful Frustum In Your Thirties

Seth Godin, one of my favorite business bloggers, recently wrote a blog about pyramids without a top. In geometry, these types of shapes are called frustums.

We spend our career lives trying to get to the top of our pyramid- we want to be the career elite, the famous, the special, the 1%. And why not? Fantastic career success is a big and beautiful possibility.

However, with the advent of the digital age, more and more of us will find it easier than ever to get our work out there in some form, but harder and harder to gain the fame and well-known 1% type of success (because everyone else is getting their work out too). For example, it’s easier than ever for anyone to publish a book all by themselves, but now there are more books available than ever before. Instead of waiting to get a book published, you can publish your book and sell it on Amazon or multiple other internet sources completely free. You can do the same with music and web tv (webisodes)- you can quickly and easily get your music or webseries online and direct to users all by yourself and for almost no cost.

Will you be the next Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga? The next Stephen King or Tina Fey? Maybe. Maybe not. But can you be a success and make good money and have a powerful, impactful, positive life without being a headliner like the above names? Absolutely.

The hard part isn’t in being in a frustum of an industry- where there’s no real peak, just more and more opportunity for entry- the hard part is in accepting the frustum and knowing you can still make a great life. There’s lots of room in frustums for lots of people to be successes- it’s just a different kind of success.

Even when you’re not well-known or at what you think is the peak of your career pyramid, you can still be a pretty damn good school teacher or time-share seller or yoga instructor or animal shelter manager. You can write amazingly good books or make insanely gorgeous music and get it all out into the world easier than ever because the base of the frustum is wider than ever. If you can accept this shapeshifted new world change, you may just realize that you’re more successful (and happier) than you ever dreamed you could be.

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Happy With Less (Emotionally)

If you read this blog with any regularity, you probably know that I’m a screenwriter and TV writer. Which means I scour and devour (yay, rhyming!) all things screenwriting related. One of the blogs I love is called Screenwriting from Iowa. It’s worth a read even if you’re not a writer. Two days ago, the author referenced a quote from Robert Rodriguez, a director/writer best known for his films Sin City, From Dusk Till Dawn, and tons of others. His career took off when he directed/produced/wrote the super low budget El Mariachi. Rodriguez basically took the reins of his career and catapulted himself into Hollywood. Here’s the quote:

“I say when you want to do anything you need to reduce your ‘I need list’ to very little. Because if you start going, ‘Well, I need a crew first. I need a budget. I need a set…’—the longer that list gets, the further away you’re going to accomplish that. So you need to shrink that down to ‘I need nothing. I’ve got everything here.’ If you can do that you’re off and running.”
-Robert Rodriguez

When I read that quote, I thought, damn – that’s applicable to life too, isn’t it? In the same way this current craze of “de-cluttering” and minimalism in terms of material items seems to be dominating our collective unconscious, why not look for ways to de-clutter our mental plates?  What if you could be happy without an amazing job, marriage, or a child (examples of so many things on the mind of a typical 30-something)?

I’m trying to think about that myself. Right now I’ve hit none of the ‘typical’ benchmarks a 30-something might have achieved in our society. I have amazing friends and parents. And whatever happens in my external career, I do have a passion for stories and writing, and that passion is my beacon when times are challenging.

So, I guess the point is – maybe there’s something to the idea of ‘de-cluttering’ your idea of what makes you happy.

“She turned to the sunlight And shook her

Are You At Your Income Happiness Cap?

I’ve known for awhile that there’ve been scientific studies showing that your income correlates with your level of happiness only up to a certain amount and then caps off.  This is an interesting tidbit to remember in your thirties, as your income possibly grows more than it has when you were younger.

A study in 2010 found the income level happiness cap to be $75,000. So according to this research, you’d get progressively happier up to $75,000 in income and then your happiness level would remain consistent. Let’s adjust this for 2015 inflation and then adjust it once again for a major city like New York, San Francisco, or LA, plus let’s be generous, so we’ll make the number $120,000.

Now, $120,000 a year is a good chunk of money for someone in their thirties, and nothing to scoff about even in New York, especially for one person and not a household. If you made $120,000, do you think you’d be significantly happier making $140,000?

I guess it depends on who you are, and how well you know yourself. I believe happiness  definitely caps at a certain income level… that level might just be different for different people, but it’ll still work the same way.

I believe there’s a Maslow’s pyramid of needs associated with income. If you don’t know about this pyramid, click the link above…Maslow’s pyramid is a very clear way to view how our goals are naturally set up in life.

Ok, here’s a stab what I think the income pyramid of needs is:

1. Providing basic security items such as paying rent and buying food.

This is the basic bottom level of what money needs to provide- food and shelter.

2. Adding personal touches to our basic needs

At this level, you don’t only eat and pay rent, you can also buy a specific soap you like for your home, and buy a nicer can of beans than Goya.

3. Some disposable income

Once you get to this level, you can move beyond simple food and shelter and possibly go see a movie, or have dinner with friends

4. A good amount of disposable income

Here’s where you can purchase bigger items such as higher education, a vehicle, and a big screen tv. Of course, this is where a lot of people get into trouble and get stuck. Debt occurs the most at this level.

4. Money for the future and savings

This is a major jump that some people never get to.  At this level, you’re mostly out of debt or on a good payment plan, and are setting aside money in a savings account and a retirement fund.

5. Money to give away

At this level, you have all the money you need, and your future accounts are funded. Now you can really help others. This is a nice, happy level to be at.

Beyond the last level, I guess you can give even MORE to others, or sock even more money away or buy a ranch and a bunch of ponies or something, but it’s all extra from there.

So maybe it’s actually not a yearly income thing- maybe people simply need to make enough money to climb to the top of the pyramid, and then more money doesn’t really bring more joy.

What do you think?

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Where’s Your Happy Place?

Firstly, thank you Laura for your honest post yesterday. When you’re bombarded with happy Facebook posts and people’s gorgeous Instagram pictures that look like they’ve been professionally creatively directed, it’s refreshing to hear someone talk about their struggles.

I’ve been in a kind of crappy mood this last week. Mainly, it’s because I graduated from my MFA program and have no set path going forward. I also feel alone in my city, LA, which still feels new after almost two years. But on the bright side, today I went to Santa Barbara to accompany my boyfriend to his doctor’s appointment. Since my schedule is pretty flexible – um, completely flexible now – I thought I’d take advantage of my ability to be free and take spontaneous road trips.

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One of the Santa Barbara court rooms

It was pretty glorious. Santa Barbara is a city (town?) that always makes me feel connected to myself. While I can’t articulate exactly why or how, it feels like me.  The three times I’ve been there, I feel like I’m glowing and happy. Do you have places like that? I can’t say I have many, so when I find them, I’m always intrigued and grateful.

When I’m in Santa Barbara, I love wandering the main stretch on State Street, having a very affordable and amazing massage at the Relaxation Station, eating delicious things (deep dish pizza today), and wandering the Santa Barbara Courthouse (which is gorgeous and also a working courthouse during the weekdays).

Here are some pictures from the adventure today.

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Me at the Santa Barbara Courthouse. Not on trial (thankfully).

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View from SB to the Mountains

 

How Harmonious Does Your Life Feel?

One of my favorite email newsletters is Jason Hirschhorn’s @MediaREDEF, which offers a daily curated collection of great media and tech related articles. At the top of each newsletter, there’s normally a quote, and today’s quote really resonated:

“But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?”
– Albert Camus

What does that mean exactly? What is that simple harmony in one’s life? I definitely know the opposite of harmony, so I suppose that’s a start. The most glaring example from my own life experience is that terrible feeling you get when you work at a 9-5 job that doesn’t seem to suit you or fit within your values. I’ve had two such jobs that each lasted about a year, and I remember how awful I would feel day-in and day-out, completely mis-understood and under-utilized. I would have to find small ways to cope, like finding delicious but overpriced and unhealthy lunch spots.

I also feel that horrible lack of harmony when I find myself spending time with someone who makes me feel kind of icky or unhappy inside – more lonely than I would be spending time alone. Thankfully, that’s a very rare feeling these days, as I’ve learned to keep those people out of my life. Reflecting on it now, I actually can’t remember the last time that happened.

How does one find harmony in his/her life? What does a harmonious life look like? I imagine it’s when you find yourself feeling like you’re in the right place at the right time in your life. Kind of like deja vu, but more all-encompassing.

Are There New Feelings In Your Thirties?

Do you ever feel like you’ve experienced the full spectrum of your feelings by the time you’re in your thirties?

You may not know how you’re going to feel in every scenario, but when a feeling arises, you’ve probably felt it before. After all, once you’re in your thirties, you start recognizing different versions of the same scenarios repeating again and again…so you start to get familiar with the feelings that come up again and again…like a familiar mix and match.

I never consciously felt like I’d experienced the full gamut of my feelings, but unconsciously, I thought that there were no new feelings under the sun for me.

Then today a wonderful and very exciting thing happened and I sort of couldn’t believe it. Afterwards, I almost went into shock. I felt all tingly and almost exhausted, but also sort of glowing and dreamy and unreal. It was a new feeling, which I dubbed ‘happy shock.’ I didn’t remember feeling it before. I knew ‘bad, unhappy shock’ or just plain ‘shock’ but ‘happy shock’ was a new one. And it was really exciting.

Later, I saw a play that a friend of mine wrote. It was extremely sad, and I couldn’t stop crying throughout most of it. Usually, even when plays are sad, it’s very rare that I cry and feel so connected to and affected by what’s happening. The play was extremely well-written, so that was definitely a part of it, but I think the new ‘happy shock’ feeling earlier just opened me up to my emotions in general. Perhaps one new feeling can start a bunch more.

Do you ever experience feelings you’ve never had before? Are there multiple ones yet to discover?

I’d Give Up Being Happy To Be Happy

Tonight a friend of mine drunkenly called me after hitting up a bar too many (or maybe it was the perfect number of bars).

We were having a pretty funny and awesome one-sided drunk conversation for awhile (I was unfortunately just sitting soberly at my desk), when the tone turned slightly negative. It was a still pretty awesome conversation, the way one sided drunk and negative conversations can often be (admit it), and things were said such as ‘sometimes people can just suck! Why?? Why do they suck??’ Rambling rants commenced.

Then my friend suddenly said “I just want to be happy. I’d give up being happy to be happy.”

I laughed and asked what in the world that meant.

“I don’t know,” was the reply, “I’m drunk. I’m rambling.”

“Haha, I see.”

“But I just want to be happy now. Not just later.”

My friend made an offhand drunk comment, but it got me thinking about long term happiness vs short term happiness- or long term happiness vs short term pleasure.  Right now, I’m kind of down and I just want everything to be okay. When I’m feeling upset,  sometimes I just want the shortest road to feeling better. Even though I know what will lead to happiness in the long term, there are times I just want things to satisfy me now.

Wanting pleasurable experience after pleasurable experience without sacrificing for the long term is called the hedonistic treadmill. Some people spend their whole lives on it. That short term patchwork feel-better “happiness” is actually just pleasure, whereas deeper and true lasting happiness is something far different. A good example is eating platters of nachos on the couch instead of exercising, when your goal is to get fit. The platters of nachos may be delicious and give you short term “happiness” (pleasure), but seeing results from your workout regime would give you way more long term happiness.

Right now I find myself grappling with this a lot, in much less obvious ways than the nacho example. I see the hedonistic treadmill issue pop up when I’d rather stay in a non-ideal situation rather than go through the discomfort of demanding better things in my life. Or when I want to feel peaceful all the time and can’t face occasionally upsetting but natural feelings in order to work through them.

Do you recognize a pleasure-addiction syndrome in your life- even a subtle one? What can you do to better face occasional unpleasantness and sometimes very scary feelings in order to have greater happiness in the long run?

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The Occasional Inspiration of Social Media

I wrote a bit about social media and how it can get you down in my post “That Time You Hated Positivity in Your Thirties.”

Sometimes I attempt to take breaks from Facebook (this is hard) because it can occasionally get me down. Seeing too many selfies on my Newsfeed can be the emotional equivalent to eating handfuls of Doritos…I just feel kind of queasy afterwards. Workout selfies especially bother me- they just feel icky somehow.. exceptionally self-involved…and I even enjoy working out.

In my thirties, I am now super aware of the time suck that can be social media. As powerful a tool as social media can be, it can also be the junk food of our adult lives. I’ve had Facebook as a part of my days during all of my twenties, and have regretted countless addicted hours spent there. :p

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But to each their own. I understand that some people want to take pictures of themselves sweating off their weight in the gym. And other people love to “#hashtagblessed” everything that happens in their lives. And sometimes when I’m shaking in -6 degree weather, I hate that people love to post dozens of photos of their tropical vacations. However, I know that I post a lot of travel updates, and sometimes a bunch of happy warm weather trips too, and am possibly annoying a bunch of acquaintances accidentally. I know I can’t censor everything I want to say for fear it’ll upset someone- EVERYTHING will upset SOMEONE.

Also, since I can easily block annoying posts from my feed, I’m usually quiet about them. I’m only writing about them here because this is my blog, and I feel like I can secretly tell you about all the things that bother me :p

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But I’ll also tell you about the social media posts that don’t bother me. My friend Tiffanay posts a lot of inspirational quotes that never seem to drip with phony positivity. They always ring extremely genuine and honest. It’s hard to put my finger on why they inspire me. Maybe it’s because I know her and I know how honest and genuine she is personally. But her Facebook posts always make me feel peaceful inside and calm me down.

I’ll copy a few here. Let me know what you think. Do you get annoyed by social media? Or do you have a passion for it?

And thanks, Tiffanay!

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That Time You Hated Positivity In Your Thirties

Have you ever had someone say “cheer up” or “smile” to you? Did it annoy you at the time?

Have you ever wondered why you can’t constantly be happy and peaceful? Why do circumstances always come at you and change your happy perspective for a bit? Why can’t you get back that peace you felt a minute ago or yesterday or last week or last year?

I used to think, “all I want is to be strong all the time. And I feel strong when I’m positive and happy. So I want to be positive and happy all the time. I wish I could figure out how to always be peaceful and happy every moment of every day.”

Or I’d think, “I don’t know how so-and-so does it. He/She seems so peaceful/happy/blessed/lucky all the time on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter. How is He/She always so happy/magical/overjoyed in His/Her status updates? If only I could be stronger, I could hold onto this kind of happiness/blessedness/unicorn-ness all the time!”

The older I get, the more I have moments of clarity about this kind of happiness and strength. I actually think that true strength doesn’t lie in holding onto smiles and cheer all the time, but in recognizing that feelings come and go in waves. And waves go both up and down.

The other day, I was saying to a friend of mine “I just want to be strong, and I’ve been so happy lately. But today I feel shaken by outside circumstances, and I can’t hold onto the strength I felt yesterday. What do I do?” But as I said it, I realized that in a way I was stronger than ever. And I didn’t really need to do anything. I’ve begun to recognize the waves and ride them, even when they’re occasionally jarring and scary.

Constant happy-joy-joy positivity, especially on social media, annoys me because it seems fake. There’s a notion that ‘putting on a happy face all the time’ is the absolute best thing to do. I don’t really agree.

Not that I think being negative is good. But as I enter my thirties, I think the best spot to be is ‘positive but honest.’ You can still be positive and admit you’re scared. You can still be positive and feel weak. You can still be positive and cry. And you can also be positive and happy.

Life happens. Circumstances outside you happen. It’s okay to admit they get to you sometimes.

Ironically, the more you can ride the low feelings and let them be, the better you’ll ride the high…and the happier you’ll be anyway.

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Have You Found Yourself Not Going Out Much After You Turned 30?

It’s a funny thing- a day or two before New Years Eve, my roommates asked me if I was going to any kind of party or bar or would watch the ball drop on the big day and I was immediately just like ‘no.’

I didn’t feel at all bad about it. In fact, I didn’t feel one teeny weeny eentsy weentsy bit bad. I was actually relieved. I liked the idea of doing nothing on New Years Eve.

And both of them agreed. ‘No one seems to be doing anything for New Years,’ they said happily. They both had no particular plans- one of them was going to a friends house where they’d have some wine, but that was it. It was almost a gleeful realization- we don’t necessarily have to do anything for New Years and we’re still happy.

I actually ended up working a small but well-paying event on New Years Eve and then spending the rest of the night (the last 15 minutes of 2014) with my mom. We stayed in and watched the ball drop on tv. It was peaceful.

At first I thought it was a ‘being single on New Years Eve’ thing but that didn’t seem to be it at all. Many of my other friends who were in relationships or even married had a similar experience. ‘I stayed in. It was nice.’ was the most popular answer to the New Years Eve question.

And I wondered, ‘does this come with the territory of the 30s?’

For me, it doesn’t really have anything to do with the 30s. It started in my 20s. I’ve never been a huge clubber. I love house parties and chill bars, and can definitely throw back a few drinks, but even when I was 21, I was never a major partier. But perhaps it’s easier to admit that in the 30s.

Our awesome blogger friend Karen over at Confetti and Curves (she’s a sweetheart and has an incredible beauty blog) interviews other bloggers all the time with multiple questions- but my favorite is always: Describe your ideal Saturday night. The answers are just about always in favor of staying in, or going out but keeping things chill:

“At the ripe old age of 32, I’d rather spend the night in then go out. My Husband and I may just go to the bookstore and hang out, play video games, and order take out. I like to keep it low key since my weeks between school and work are so hectic.” -Jamie, http://www.sincerelymissdesign.com

Casual dinner and a movie out (with a GIANT bucket of buttered popcorn), followed by relaxing on the couch with more TV. (I love TV, what can I say?)” –Amber, https://amberunglamor.wordpress.com/ (I love this answer!)

“Pyjamas + Duvet + My Boyfriend + Chinese takeaway = Perfect Night in.” -Amy, www.blondeamy.wordpress.com

“Takeaway, a great film & a bottle of Prosecco.” -Laura, www.littlelauras.com

“On an ideal Saturday night, the kids are getting along with each other and agree to help me clean up our messes before we all sit down and watch a movie together.” -Ashley, www.phytopretty.com

“A night in with food, comfort and a good conversation.” -Hajara, https://chocolatefrosst.wordpress.com

And the list goes on. It’s fascinating.

Sometimes I wonder- Is it just more acceptable now to stay in more often than go out? Are people just more comfortable admitting it when they’re older? Or does it just seem like a trend to me but actually isn’t one at all?

Are you guys going out less in your 30s? And are you happy about it? Or do you feel like you’re missing out?

Or are you out partying right this second and way too drunk to even read this post? It is Friday night, after all.

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Last year I actually did go to a party on New Years Eve with some coworkers in Indianapolis (we traveled there for work). After working all day, it ended up being lot of fun after all. For sure, staying in isn’t always the best answer 😉

When I See A Starbucks Red Cup, I Go There

I was thinking the other day of what Jane said about beverages. She was writing about ways to save money in your thirties and she mentioned that her major indulgences were beverages of all kinds. A glass of wine or fancy coffee here or there can add up, but they truly brought moments of happiness, so it was difficult to reconcile stopping them to save money.

As we sat sipping margaritas one day, another good friend of mine who follows the blog brought up that same beverage conundrum Jane wrote about. “I love my nice coffees or glasses of wine or margaritas. These little things make me so happy… I like saving money but I’d lose so much happiness now if I deprived myself of occasional nice drinks.”

And random acts of drinkable kindness do indeed bring me joy as well. Here we are in winter, and the need for cheer runs strong. Whenever it’s cold outside and I see a red Starbucks cup, my Pavlovian-trained mind snaps into action, and I feel the strongest urge for the happiest latte. I not only want to go into Starbucks, but I want to buy the sweetest, warmest, most holiday cheer themed beverage that I can hold in my chilled fingers. Better yet, if that drink was bottomless and refilled automatically, I could hold it all day as a warm fixture of my waking hours.

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Starbucks does a great job with their red winter cups- they’re a signal to my psyche that something nice is in the air. I mean, it’s definitely really good branding, and I won’t deny that they’ve trained people well…but I just let myself fall for it. The advent of the holiday cups invites time for ease, comfort, and celebration during a cold and occasionally stressful time of year. Getting myself an occasional holiday red cup coffee from Starbucks transports me to a cozy state of mind.

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I fight so many habits in my life, and I’m always trying to make the “right” food, money, and job decisions. Having a coffee or a glass of wine or even a smoothie or sparkling water with a friend is an indulgence I’m willing to embrace. A happy red cup of coffee can leave me transported. As long as they’re not in total excess, small indulgences can be bonds shared with others or with yourself. As much as I talk about how I love to save money, certain sweet moments of now I don’t want to save for later.

Also, this article was not sponsored by Starbucks. I wish.

We All Have the Same Amount of Time

Dear Ones,

Haha, I only started this out by calling you guys ‘Dear Ones’ because it’s something Elizabeth Gilbert, author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ does in her Facebook posts all the time… And honestly, it sort of annoys me. Did it annoy you when I called you a ‘Dear One’? Or did you like it? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I actually LOVE Elizabeth Gilbert, and her Facebook posts just about always make me very happy, but the ‘Dear Ones’ thing just seems…patronizing? Old fashioned? I’m sure she doesn’t mean it that way AT ALL, because she seems like the sweetest person, but it rubs me the wrong way every time I hear it.

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BUT if I can get past that (and I can), she writes some very inspiring mini essays on Facebook. Today she wrote a thought-provoking little post about not giving up the great for the good. She was recounting how there’s always the same amount of time in a day and we usually fill that time with GOOD things- important things that we need to do- such as emails, holiday shopping, jobs, housecleaning, etc. Most of these things are, of course, necessary to life. But then she said that there are GREAT things we can be doing with our days as well, and that we have time for them too.

Now, at this point in her post, I thought Ms. Gilbert was going to go on to explain great things to be ‘travel to Indonesia,’ or ‘learn to code,’or ‘go windsurfing’ or ‘‘volunteer at soup kitchens everywhere,’ or other major activities in a similar vein. Elizabeth Gilbert’s a travel writer and an inspirational speaker after all. I expected great things to equate to major goals I guiltily feel I SHOULD GET TO or want to get around to doing ‘some day.’

But instead her GREAT THINGS were the exact opposite. They included:

  • Going for a long walk or a run alone on the beach, or in the woods, or in the city. (I LOVE doing this! This is, indeed, great!)
  • Going to Target with my best friend for absolutely no reason (YES! I love going to department stores or even grocery stores with my best friend for absolutely no reason. Great!
  • Sitting down at the end of the day with a glass of wine (I do this! I love this! Easy!)
  • Calling my mom just to say hello (So simple. So doable. Yet I don’t always do it.)

 

Sometimes just walking the street can be so happy-making!

Sometimes just walking the street can be so happy-making!

Or spending time with my friend and wandering through stores and to bus stops..

Or spending time with my best friend and wandering through stores …and from bus stop to bus stop

Elizabeth Gilbert’s personal list consisted of activities that…were easy to do. And they provoked simple, easy joy because they were basic little things. And they blew my mind because I already did them! I’d just never considered them ‘great things’ before. But they are. And I don’t recognize them.

Many days, my ‘great things’ slip through the cracks while I anxiously check off a never-ending to do list.

We all have the same amount of time in a day…and we can fit great things into our lives in such doable ways. The requirement is only to recognize those teeny moments of joy and allow ourselves to live them.

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