I had seen The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin at the book store a few times and snapped a picture to remember to look it up at the library – in my lifestyle I don’t own too many books – they are heavy to travel with and we don’t have much space for storage where we live. I know, I know, I can always get books on Kindle but I actually like to hold a book. Plus I tend to only read books once – however it would be nice to mark up a book as I read it to make notes of passages that stand out to me. A couple weeks ago I saw it on the shelf at the library and it was perfect timing for me to pour through it.
Gretchen Rubin creates a different resolution each month to explore her own happiness, her own journey of changing her life, without actually “changing her life.” Meaning she didn’t pack up everything she had to go and travel the world or change careers or anything too drastic. She made some simple adjustments to her everyday life.
The last couple months I’ve been really struggling and feeling a general unhappiness. It really hit hardest about the last week of April, 2012 while traveling through Australia. I didn’t know exactly what I was feeling and why I was so emotional. I mean, really, I do have a great life, right? I get to travel, chase summer, do amazingly cool things and don’t “have” to work since my boyfriend earns enough to support this lifestyle. Yet, I found myself in tears on a regular basis, generally frustrated and just not nearly as happy as I “should” be given the circumstances I am in. I won’t get into all of that here and now as I am still processing it all myself and figuring out what I need and want out of my existence here on this wonderful rock. One of the best ways for me to “process” is to read at one of my favorite spots on Kauai.
A few passages stood out to me that I feel are worth jotting down.
~People’s basic psychological needs include the need to feel secure, to feel good at what they do, to be loved, to feel connected to others, and to have strong sense of control.
~It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that if you have something you love or there’s something you want, you’ll be happier with more.
~A sense of growth is so important to happiness that it’s often preferable to be progressing to the summit rather than be at the summit.
~Knowing what you admire in others is a wonderful mirror into your deepest, as yet unborn self.
I wont list them here but she made a list of her own personal 12 commandments. The most recurring one being “Be Gretchen” which, in my opinion should really be all that is needed, right? Another one is “Be polite and be fair” but if “Be Gretchen” encompasses fairness and politeness, doesn’t that cover it? Anyway… I am inspired to make my own commandments – although I’m not sure I’ll come up with twelve.
I am also inspired by her idea to make 12 resolutions. They weren’t “goals”, as she explained at the end of the book, “You hit a goal, you keep a resolution” this, to me goes hand in hand with the idea of growth and reaching the summit – or that the journey really IS the destination. I like the idea of resolutions vs goals when it comes to health and fitness. Instead of making a goal to reach a certain weight to resolve to exercise daily and eat more leafy greens. That way when you reach your “goal” you still have your resolution to stick to!
The monthly resolutions reminded me of something we learned at the Beachbody Coaches Summit in June, 2012. I had the pleasure of hearing Chalene Johnson, creator of TurfoFire and other workouts speak. She encouraged us to pick something to learn or improve on each month. Instead of trying to do everything all at once, spread it out for the 12 months. This, and the 12 resolutions is something I would like to incorporate – although I have NO idea when, or if I’ll actually start. Resolution #1, stop procrastinating…
The book closed with the Four Splendid Truths Gretchen learned from her project, I won’t write those here – you should read the book to learn them yourself. Or maybe check out her blog, www.happiness-project.com.
Have you read this book? I’d love to hear if you took any of her tips or if you followed your own happiness project. Fill me in!
What a what to start a new year.
Earlier this week we ran out of internet.
What? What does that even mean – ran out of internet? Well here on this little island in the Pacific miles and miles from anywhere internet isn’t all you can eat and somehow we managed to make it through 20g of it. What they hell did people do before the internet? Guess I can log into my Kindle acct and download… scratch that, guess it’s off to the library.
A few weeks ago we headed out to a BBQ at a friends house. You know those days you just don’t feel like going out? This was one of those days, but we had said we were coming and I knew sitting at home on my couch wasn’t going to be any better. Towards the end I started chatting with this guy and he mentioned that he read a book called Yes Man by Danny Wallace and really enjoyed it. I knew the movie but didn’t know it was a book and added it to my requests at the library. Fortunately it came in when the internet went out so I had plenty of time to devour it.
Did you see the movie? It’s been a long time since I saw it but I remember thinking it was fun and cool. From what I remember about the movie it sure isn’t a remake of the book it but took the major theme of it – obviously.
I loved how funny it was. Maybe I was just in the mood to laugh but I honestly did laugh out loud. I think it is one of the things that drives Chris crazy when I read. We are normally together so he is victim of my random giggles while curled up on the couch.
I loved that it took me on an adventure. Danny kept it fun and there were a couple of main events that you definitely wanted to know what happens at the end. I enjoyed his nemesis and love interest.
I loved how while Danny was changing his life and saying yes more it was changing others lives and of course can change the lives of people who read the book. It reminded me of the times chance meetings have changed the course of my life. How saying Yes has already changed my life.
I consider myself a Yes Girl a lot of the time. I remember a time while traveling in Australia and met a guy traveling who invited me to spend some time sailing around the Whitsunday Islands. I declined because I already had an onward ticket. I still wonder what would have happened if I had said yes. I don’t like to have things like that in my life – where I wonder “what if”. For the most part I believe I would regret things more that I don’t do than things that I do.
As I read this book I think about the things I say no to and would I be able to do this challenge. I don’t like beer or coffee and am currently on 30 days of not eating cookies, cakes etc. Needless to say, saying yes to all of that would go against a lot of my goals, but it might also mean I say yes to all those gadgets on tv for the ab chair and spanx – could balance itself out…
Anyway… as I read books when passages stand out for me I do love to jot them down, so here they are:
~pg 142 – “The only time you have no opportunies is when you decide to stop taking them.”
Life is full of opportunities. You just never know. Give it a shot, at least then you’ll know.
~pg 168 – “I’m just saying that maybe sometimes it’s riskier not to take a risk. Sometimes all you’re guaranteeing is that things will stay the same. Sometimes it’s more important to say yes to things than it is to say no.”
You’ll probably notice that many of the passages that stood out to me focused on regrets. Saying yes to Chris and the opportunity he offered to me was WAY more important than saying no and staying the same.
~pg 242 “So maybe Yeses are meant to be shared. Maybe life’s about finding opportunities to share with someone. That’s all it is, when you think about it. A series of opportunities to share.”
It is so much more fun to say yes with someone. Chris has the means and wanted a Yesser to enjoy life with.
~pg 253 “And what do I mean ‘No was best?’ I mean No is power. No says ‘I’m in charge.’ Think about how many times you’ve said yes in the past year, and how many times you would’ve liked to have said No instead. Maybe being able to say No is the one thing that keeps us sane. Some people go through their whole lives saying yes over an over again- yes to things they don’t want to do but feel obliged to, Yes to things that allow other people to take advantage of them, just because that’s the way things are, the way things have always been. Some people need to learn how to say No. Because every time they say Yes, they say No to themselves.”
It was really refreshing to see him really struggle with his challenge and want to throw in the towel and just say NO! As a Beachbody Coach I do encourage people to say NO more. Especially the women/mothers who are so used to taking care of others that they no longer take care of themselves and it shows.
~pg 292 “When you think about it, probably some of the best things that have ever happened to you in life, happened because you said Yes to something. Otherwise, things just sort of stay the same.”
Chris often says “When you are lying on your death bead I doubt you’ll say ‘I wish I hadn’t traveled to Croatia/bought that kite/learned to spin fire/etc.’” I think he has a pretty valid point.
~pg 388 “Maybe I was reading all this wrong, but suddenly, not having said Yes to something that would have been great seemed worse than having said Yes to something that could have been bad.”
Anyway – I hope I encouraged you to check this book out. After reading it I bought two copies. One for me and one to give to a friend – seems like it would be a perfect gift. Here is is on Amazon or just check out Danny’s website. Oh – and let me know if you end up saying yes to something that you might normally have said no to
When I left my job on February 21st, 2010 I realized I would still get asked “so, what do you do?” when meeting someone new.
A few months ago I asked someone the same question and his reply was fantastic – it was “hike, read, spend time with my wife”. He and I both know that what I was really asking was what do you do (or did you do) to earn money to live the life you live? Do you have an interesting job, background, education, story?
Isn’t it easy to place people in a box based on our notions of what it means to us be an accountant, pilot, actress, janitor or nurse?
Do I miss working?
Yes and no.
~I miss having something I am proud of. I had a great job, a “cool” job, an unique job. When I told people what I did they wanted to know more and it was fun to share what I did.
~I miss working with and being around creative and talented people. I worked with amazing athletes, singers with “velvet throats”, funny people, dramatic people, needy people, talented people. People with dreams, goals, passion, and desire to do MORE, push harder, be more.
~I miss growth, change and movement. I see people on facebook commenting on their new gig, promotion, or congragulating a show for passing 2 years, 3000 performances or opening night.
~I miss my work family. The people I would see at least 40 hours a week that had to put up with me cranky or happy, giggly or broken hearted. These people became my closest friends. We celebrated birthdays, holidays (no such thing as off for the holidays in show business), weddings, even leaving for new adventures.
~I miss challenging my mind and using my skills on a regular basis (although, I’ll be honest, my last job didn’t challenge me on a regular basis).
~I do miss my paychecks – knowing it was MY money, being able to be generous with it.
So would I go back. Probably not.
~I don’t miss the stress. My life is simpler now. I don’t have a house. I don’t have a dog (but I do miss her). I don’t have bills, I don’t have a tight schedule.
~I don’t miss not being able to do things because I was working 6 nights a week, 50 weeks a year.
~I don’t miss my paychecks because I am taken care of financially.
So what do I DO?
I pole dance, cook, hike, bike, workout, read, chat with friends on facebook, plan our next adventures. I work on my Beachbody business but find it hard when we move every few months to keep up with it.
I think I feel like I need to explain myself to people. I’m not a gold digger. I didn’t seek out a man who would ask me to quit my job and be with him full time – if that were the case I probably would have quit my job the first time he asked me to! It took a year.
I’m not really sure where I am trying to go with this.
I’m super thankful for my Beachbody “work”. I LOVE connecting with people. I love that I make a few hundred bucks of my own each week based on MY schedule. I am proud of what I have done with it and would like to do more.
It’s crazy because you always hear the expression “no one on their death bed wishes that they spent more time in the office”. So it is a weird feeling to have. I don’t think it is just about WORK – it is about expressing myself, sharing, growing, learning, being apart of something…
So what about you? If your partner had the funds so that you didn’t have to work would you quit? What would you do with your time? What do you think you would miss about your job?
Part of me thinks that if I quit and then there is something I want to buy or do that I could do a part time job to earn some of my own money. I think about what type of part time gig I could get, in a shop, waiting tables, etc. After having a career and making a salary I think it would be hard for me to go back to doing what I was doing in college just to make a few bucks. I wouldn’t want to work for less than $25 an hour because then why did I quit when I was making such good money, I could work for a day instead of a week and have enough money to buy the new pair of shoes I want. Part of me thinks that if I really wanted something that bad that Chris would probably rather just foot the bill than to loose me to a job 20-40 hours a week, unless it was something that I really want to do.
It is hard to think about leaving and then getting back into the work force. I was very fortunate that when I started Stage Managing professionally I got some really, really good gigs. I spent 5 years at Cirque and have been at Jersey Boys about a year and half now. So really, if you look at my resume I have really only had a couple of professional gigs. I feel like I wouldn’t know the first thing about finding a job. I would be so scared that I don’t have enough experience to go out and find something else if I needed to. But I guess I won’t know that until the time comes. I do know a fair amount of people and with facebook it does make it very easy to keep in touch with them, and maybe, hopefully always have some contacts. Something freelance would be amazing.
I wrote my second entry on July 4th, 2009
Funny that it is Independence Day. Lately, I’ve been thinking about what this whole independent attitude is. I think something kind of clicked the other day with it. I guess to me my independence is about doing what I want to. Chris and I went hiking in the Narrows on the 1st with another friend of ours. About an hour or so into the hike I decided that I was tired and really didn’t have much interest in hiking anymore. I told them that I was tired and wanted to stay back while they went on ahead and that I would wait for them on the nice sandy beach I found. It was perfect and exactly what I wanted. I know some girls if hiking with their boyfriend or husband would either want their other half to turn around and stop hiking or wait with them. Or they wouldn’t want to stay there by themselves.
I’ve always considered myself independent yet sometimes struggle to really define it.
After the house issue is taken care of it opens up a few more options for Chris and I to be able to live a different life together. He does make enough to support both of us, and it helps that we both have a frugal mentality to most things in life, inexpensive taste in cars, clothes, material possessions, etc. At the same time we realize that you can’t take it with you and that life is made for living, and sometimes that costs money.
I haven’t lived off of anyone since I was a teenager. I think I have always had fairly inexpensive tastes. Sure we grew up in a nice area of Colorado where kids got new fancy cars if they got an “A” in math. I never had the Guess? jeans or lots of name brand clothes. We shopped at Target for the most part. I still do now and spending a lot of money on clothes still doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. My dad made enough money but he drove his car into the ground, always wore a simple pair of jeans and plain top. My mom enjoyed garage sales and thrift stores. I remember graduating from college and not picking a very expensive restaurant because I didn’t want it to be too expensive for my parents.
I’ve been earning, saving and spending my own money for about 10 years now and I am challenged to think about what it would be like to going back to living off of someone else. Chris and I both love to travel and work gets in the way of travel.
The ironic thing about it is I wonder if I am really as independent as I think I am. The “what if” questions go through my mind all the time and I try to compare what I have and am missing now vs what I would have and what I would be missing later.
I wonder if I will lose some of my independence because I wont have my own money, but then I wonder if I have lost some of it now because I am so tied down to the current situation of house, job, dog, etc. I can’t quit my job tomorrow and go travel the world because I don’t have enough money, I don’t have enough money because I have to shell out $2500 a month to pay for my mortgages, and that doesn’t even count bills. So I’ll get rid of the houses as planned. Now I’ll have all this money to save and be able to afford to go and travel. But I only have two weeks off a year and one day off a week. That really doesn’t give a lot of time to go anywhere. So I save up for 5 years and have enough money to quit my job and travel for a year. That was actually my original idea before I met Chris, have enough saved by the time I was 35-40 to do just that. Of course it is scary, thinking about quitting a good paying job and not sure what can happen when you come back and need to find work. But who knows what would happen on that magical year off of work, I could find a new passion for something that maybe doesn’t pay as well but fulfills me more, or I get to use my mind more, or I make enough to support myself but have a flexible schedule.
One of my big questions is how the money division would work between the two of us. If I wasn’t earning any income how to I contribute to the relationship? It wouldn’t be like a stay at home mom situation who is raising the kids, which is a full time “job”. If I wanted to go back to school, or take a class in something that interested me would he pay for it? If I went out to drinks with “the girls” would I have to ask for $20? What if it was my turn to buy a round for my friends, is it actually him buying a round? What about my $80 haircuts? Or if I wanted a new pair of jeans? How much to I have to give up of what I am used to to live the lifestyle?
One major example that kind of put things in perspective for me was what if a close friend is getting married or having a baby and I want to attend. Or what if I just want to go home to see my mom for a while and help her around the house, is he going to foot the bill for the plane ticket? How much control does he have over what I get to do? Then I thought about what would happen if I wanted to do that NOW, while I am working a 6 day a week job with only two weeks off a year. I have 3 personal days for weddings, reunions, etc. So taking the same example, of a good friend getting married. Sure right now I have my own money but I don’t really have the time to go unless I still have vacation left and haven’t allotted it to travel, or still have my unpaid personal days left. And all of this is assuming they let me off of work to go. Forget going over the holidays, or if someone else has already asked for the time off, or I am in the middle of tech. So how “free” and “independent” am I? I might have the means to do what I want but not the time. I felt stuck in my choice to work, to buy a house, to have my dog. All things that I was very excited about when I first got them. (And I still LOVE my dog and will have a really, really hard time getting rid of her).
I wish Chris would answer my questions but I guess he might not have the answers yet. I know that I will need them before I put in my notice. It worries me.
Does he “win” every time because it is his money? What if I want to join a gym, take a class? What if my mom is sick and I want to visit her? What about visiting friends? I want to hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim, how do I save up for that if I’m not making any money? There are places I want to go to as well, will I get to see any of those places?
What if things don’t work out between us ~ will I have a cushion for getting back on my feet? I think that is one of the big questions that a lot of people would have but then I kind of think about the line of work that I am in and although I have been really lucky it can be very volatile and nothing is certain. The show I am working on could close tomorrow and I could be out of a job. Sure I have some savings, but it wouldn’t last me long, and the way the economy is there aren’t a lot of people leaving their jobs right now. I wonder how fair it is to expect to be taken care of if things don’t work out when my job could change and I have no control over that. I can still have a cushion for either situation.
I started writing what was going on on June 26, 2009 but Chris really started asking me about walking away from my two houses (paid $400,00 total, work about $170,000 total) in May of 2009.
In my opinion the questions came out of the blue (I don’t live in his mind) Although he gave it A LOT of thought before bringing it up to me it seemed like all of sudden he was saying “What would happen if you stopped paying your mortgage”. I was angry. How can you just ask me to walk away from everything I worked so hard for? It’s morally wrong! I signed the papers! It would ruin my credit! I would lose my house!
We did talk about some options, renting them out didn’t make any sense financially. I would be out of pocket at least $800 a month to cover the HOAs and mortgage. We looked at short sales and actually got pretty far in that process.
Our plan was that HE would buy both of my houses off of me in a short sale. The problem with this idea was that I had 3 loans and only one of them would actually be forgiven – the other two the banks *could* come after me for up to six years! I decided I needed to get some more advice on short sales. “What IF” the bank comes after me? What if I get issued a 1099 for $100,000 for the deficiency that was now considered income?
How do I fill you in briefly to explain what this category is in a few sentences.
Here is the short story. In February of 2008 I met my boyfriend Chris in New Zealand. He is a successful business owner who offered me the opportunity to quit my job and be with him full time in New Zealand, Hawaii, Thailand, or wherever we wanted. Sounds fantastic? Who wouldn’t put in their notice the NEXT day? I had a lot of roots, ties, baggage. Two houses – which I was a quarter of a million dollars upside down in, a beagle, furniture, car, mementos, friends, a 6 figure income, health insurance and gym memberships. Those were the physical items on my list. There was a whole series of emotional items, like how does it work if Chris is the only one with the money. What “say” do I have? What does he expect from me? What if I want to buy my mom a present? What if I want to donate to charity? What if I want to go back to work? What about my retirement savings? Is he comfortable providing for me – does he know what I spend my money on? Bras, books, computer, bikes, movies, health food, etc. Do I have an allowance? What is my role? What if I want to go somewhere he doesn’t want to go? What if he wants to do something I don’t want to do?
I started writing major events, how we have dealt with them, my feelings on them and what I have learned. There are MANY women who have left their career to care for a family or a child, but we are not having kids. Chris doesn’t “work” either, so we have a lot of time together, probably more than any couple I know.
So there you have it. If that summary intrigues you, read on.