Communicating Happiness: Whoops, I Guess I Forgot Again

Remember that cute idea I had back in April where I wanted to document positive moments through a 100 Happy Days series? Shockingly, I was not as diligent about this as I hoped, but here we are at the conclusion of the series! I wouldn’t necessarily say that life got in the way or I became too busy; but rather, I just forgot to tell you the happy things that occurred.

I think I actually forgot to tell myself the happy things that occurred.

For the past seven weeks I have been living with my grandma on Long Island while commuting to my internship in Manhattan.

The internship has not been easy.

Living with my grandma, however, has been a gift.

19989555_1541369629218302_7470009235429954627_n

For anyone who has made the comment to themselves about how they need to go visit their grandparents, give them a call, or send them a letter–I highly suggest doing so. And doing so now.

I have always been close to my family, but this summer I am able to have daily conversations with my grandma–rather than seeing her just a couple times a year.

She’ll share stories or make comments about her life as a child, as a mother, and then there are my favorite stories: the one’s about her and my grandpa.

My grandpa passed away the same year I was born, so I never had the opportunity to know him beyond the stories.

This evening, my grandma brought up how today was a near-perfect day. And that it was nice to enjoy it with someone (hi, that someone was me).

She recalled how we leisurely woke up on the Saturday morning. We went to the beach on a beautiful day–my favorite beach day of the summer. We went out for a nice meal, a glass of wine and good conversation. And of course we ended our evening at Carvel because Grandma could never go to bed without ice cream. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from her, it is that you never, ever go to sleep without dessert.

On our way home, she told a story about a day she remembers with my grandpa. It was her idea of a perfect day.

She said they began the day playing a round of golf, and then went to their beach on the south shore of Long Island for a couple hours spent in the ocean. Finally, their day ended at a small restaurant on the water, nothing fancy at all.

This story reminded me of all the days I forget about. The ones that go so seemingly perfect, yet are not the ones I dwell on.

It’s the traumatic days that we can recall minute for minute, but we rarely recall the days we spent smiling.

Those are the ones I want held tight within my memory.

Not the days where I was on edge, upset, stressed, exhausted or sad.

The days full of bliss.

The days like today.

-Rachel

Communicating Happiness: It’s Just Beginning.

I am so beyond ready for my next chapter to begin. It isn’t necessarily that I didn’t like college. After all, I made some amazing memories and learned from wonderful educators at two institutions. Most importantly, I met friends who turned into family and who will be in my life for a long time to come. However, I am one of the recent grads who is extremely happy that college has finished. I understand that many people say that life becomes so difficult from here on out now that we must enter the dreaded “real world.” I understand that what comes next will be plenty of tedious work, financial hardship (paying off those loans), and life struggles that naturally occur when growing older. I firmly believe, though, that what comes next is going to be wonderful.

IMG_0325.JPG

I’ve mentioned this to a few, but I unfortunately associate the last four years with more personal hardship than I hope to experience in the next few years. This makes it somewhat difficult to ever say college was the “best years of my life,” even if I did experience so many blessings along the way. Please see a few of those blessings below.

IMG_0367.JPG

18664680_10207184295164971_3563326921351111812_n

I realize I’m going to be in the workforce and dealing with new “adult” things, but I just think I am going to find a way through all that mess to keep my passions alive–to find new passions, and to excel while maneuvering my way through adulthood.

I’ve heard time and time again that life does not get any better from here, but I just don’t believe that has to be true. It is in no way going to be easy, but that does not mean it is going to be a bad experience.

You can call me naive, but as someone who learned before she even entered college that life is far too short, I know that I’m not going to let money or jobs ruin who I want to become as a person. I only have so much control over what happens in the days to come, and the part that I can control? Well I’m going to design my life exactly the way I want it to be. Let’s not forget, designing is in my degree.

IMG_0385.JPG

My next chapter is going to be full of living. I have so many things I’m passionate about, but haven’t had the resources or time to pursue them. I know that with a demanding career I’m not going to be gaining any more time or free hours in the day; however, I’m going to find the time. I just read a quote shared on LinkedIn that stated how life became much better after this LinkedIn user eliminated the word “busy” from his vocabulary.

That stuck with me.

I don’t want to be too busy for life.

I’m so excited to start my career. But I’m also excited to continue my hobbies and to pick up new ones like photography. I’m excited to travel, which of course is where that career paycheck will come in handy.

I’m going to take so many pieces of the past four years as I move forward. The lessons. The memories. The people. The friends. The family.

Just as I said at the start of this, I couldn’t “hate” the last few years. I just know that what is next is going to be my time.

It’s going to be my time to do even more. To fail even more. To meet even more people. To fall in love with people and places. And to continuously learn–about myself, the world, and this life.

This is my life. I’m only twenty-two years old. The past few years have given me so much perspective into what I want out of my days.

It’s just beginning.

-Rachel

Communicating Happiness: A Work in Progress

They can’t all be ideal weeks, but that’s not to say I can’t find the positives in Week Four of the Happiness Challenge. First and foremost, I was reminded of my support system. I strongly believe that for any chance of happiness, you need your support system close, and you need to be honest with those who are in that circle. This does not mean you have to share every detail of what’s going on in your head and in your life with every single one of your friends; however, I have found that when I share what I’m able to, the true friends show up and do not leave.

Those in my support system have reminded me that as I make my way through life, I am a work in progress. As someone who tends to be pretty critical of herself, it’s important to have people who bring me back to the reality of how mistakes are meant to learn from–not to dwell on.

This is exactly what I needed to be reminded of during the past week of my Happiness Challenge. It’s not always going to be easy. Just because I continue to try and focus on all the positive aspects of my life, it doesn’t mean there aren’t moments, days, even weeks that are too hard to handle alone. Hence, the support system–the people that keep me happy when I’m not too good at it by myself.

I’m lucky I found my people. I’m lucky I have the family that I do. I wish nothing more than for every person who needs happiness reminders to have the same support.

This week’s Happiness Challenge post is basically a big thank you. It’s a thank you to anyone who has witnessed my not-so-happy moments, but stick with me through them until the happy moments come back around.

Thanks Fam.

-Rachel

 

 

 

Communicating Happiness: The Moments I Won’t Get Back

It’s week two and my hope to post a blog each week on the same day has already failed. Not without some effort though! Last night, I opened up my laptop to write, and couldn’t find any words. Apparently after a packed day, I just wasn’t too inspired. Instead of throwing something together just to keep to my “schedule,” I decided I might have better luck waking up and writing alongside a nice cup of (iced) coffee.

Which is where I am at right now. Two weeks into my Happiness Challenge, two weeks into my social media cleanse, and two weeks left of undergrad. It’s quite an eventful time! Over the past week, again no life-changing lessons or moments occurred. However, I had a pretty solid week. Mainly because I was back at home with my family–my entire family! For the first time in four months I saw my sister who was visiting for the weekend from Boston. It was a weekend filled with birthday celebrations, wedding planning, and of course good food and good wine.

With this in mind, I’d consider it a pretty happy week–give or take some super busy days at school. The next couple weeks though? These are going to be good. My school work looks to be pretty manageable, and I’m down to my final weeks in Ithaca. My goal is to hit every hiking trail I can while I still have the chance, and spend as much time as I can with my friends before we head off to our new cities.

It’s hard when everyone likes to ask what we are doing after graduation, when really all I want to do is savor the moments I have while still a student. I don’t want to focus on my internship (which is coming up super fast), but rather on the day-to-day moments that I won’t ever get back.

These are the moments I pass my friends on campus and it’s a nice surprise to my day. They are the moments I finish a stressful project and feel accomplished with the hours spent in front of my computer. The moments I’m laughing too hard around a kitchen table with my best friends. The 70 degree days where I can really appreciate how beautiful this campus is. The moments I remember that I’m graduating from a wonderful college and have earned an education that many people may not even have access to. These are the moments I remember I’m only a college senior, and I have every opportunity still in front of me.

I’m not worried quite yet about my summer internship because I know it’s going to be a huge learning experience, one where I’m going to have to work hard and learn as I go. For now, I’m going to try not to worry. I’m going to have fun. A lot of fun. Because I graduate in 24 days. And I’m not going to get these days back.

-Rachel

Communicating Happiness: A Week Without Social Media

As a college senior, I do go out on the weekends with my friends; however, there are plenty of weekends where I choose to stay in–often curled up under the covers with Netflix on my screen and a mug of tea in my hands. Although I choose to spend my night like this, happily, I can never seem to avoid opening up Snapchat or Instagram and seeing friends and acquaintances having a “college” night out. This is at least what I did until I started my social media cleanse.

This past weekend made me remember what it was like before Snapchat–when I chose to do something with my life and didn’t worry about coming across a post shared by friends who must be having a better time than I am. This never really was the case though–others were never really having a better time because remember, I chose to stay in, or I chose to go home and spend time with my family. However, checking Snapchat was such an instinct to see what everyone else was up to, that I would disregard how it was impacting what I was up to.

For instance, this weekend I was able to be home to celebrate a late birthday dinner with my family. It was a Friday night, one where my closest friends were enjoying a night out at school. Without Snapchat, I had absolutely no idea what they were doing. What bar were they at? Were they having a good time? Was it more fun than we had the previous weekend?

These are all questions I could’ve had answered, or at least made assumptions of, had I been able to open up my Snapchat. And you know what this would have done? It would have distracted me from my mom, my grandma, my aunt and my brother who were right in front of me.

This may sound so trivial to someone who has never experienced insecurity over “missing out” after seeing something posted on social media. As a girl who lived through college with full access to social media, I experienced this too often over the past couple years, and I don’t believe it’s the healthiest use of social media. As much as I have tried convincing myself that what other people are doing doesn’t affect me–even though this has improved with age and maturity–I still realize it is easier said than done.

This is exactly why my 100 Happy Days begins with a social media cleanse. In order to focus on my happiness, I want to give myself the opportunity to really live for the now–to live for what’s right in front of me, not what I think is happening 100 miles away.

Without social media, I even decided to completely turn my phone off a few times this weekend, something I probably would not have done had I not deleted my apps. I went out to lunch with my mom and left my phone in my car. There was zero chance that I would even check my phone and become distracted from our conversations and delicious meal. This is something I hope I continue long after my cleanse finishes.

Yesterday, the sunset was beautiful and I didn’t once think to pull out my phone and send the image to someone else. Rather, I just took it all in. No social media post necessary.

With just a few days into the cleanse, I’ve remembered how life does not stop when you don’t have access to the internet for a few hours. I may have lost all my Snap Streaks with my best friends, but you know what I haven’t lost? Connection to my best friends. If I want to know how their weekend was, I make plans to meet up and hear all about it. If I want to show them a picture of something, I send it old school via text message (which my friends were witness to this weekend when the Snap withdrawals were real).

My first week of Communicating Happiness did not have any major life-changing moments in it, but it was a great reminder that this project is going to be positive. I’ve been journaling in my Happiness Planner every night and have focused on becoming more aware of how I am reacting to life around me. One item it asks everyday is to write down what I am grateful for. Every single day I have written: my family and my support system. I’m pretty sure this is going to be repeated another 93 more times too. Just another reminder that no matter what circumstances occur next, I have a pretty cool group of people around me to keep me smiling when I need it.

-Rachel

A Few Deep Breaths

Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

I can hear my dad’s voice now. In order to explain what this means I have a short, well semi-short, story to share.

I used to be a basketball player. Pretty amusing to think about as I am 5 foot 2 with zero capability of sprinting up and down a court at the moment. Basketball was never my favorite sport. Soccer held that role in my life; however, for a while prior to a few injuries, I played all the sports my friends played. Basketball happened to be included on that list. I was usually a point guard, shockingly not a post I know. Before almost every game I would get rather worked up with nerves. Who knows why I was so scared to go out and play a sport for my high school; nevertheless, it happened.

I recall when I would get this worked up, my dad would occasionally hit me with the “you need to relax, Rachie.” My parents were never competitive when it came to my sports, only supportive, so I never felt forced play them. This is why there was zero pushback on their end when I did choose to prematurely quit basketball and forgo my inevitable WNBA career.

As I mentioned, my dad would tell me on many pregame car rides, “you need to relax.” He always told me, “just breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.” He would repeat it until I was actually back on track, breathing calmly.

This was one of my dad’s “phrases.” Whenever I would get anxious whether for my school assignments, sporting events or theatre performances, I could always hear him saying “breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.” It never mattered if he was actually reciting it to me, I always heard it.

img_8519

Now, in February of 2017, I still hear it. When I feel myself getting overwhelmed, I hear my dad’s voice in my head: breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. I may not be instantly relaxed, but I definitely get on my way to it.

It is something I know that I will hear forever. And forever in his voice.

Okay, so I occasionally overreact to situations. I over think far too much, and with that comes anxiety at times. When I reach these moments, Dad’s voice will always be there to calm me down: Rachie, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. And of course when I actually am overreacting to a minor situation I’ll hear the just chill out, you need to relax. It will remind me to breathe. Because what I am making into a big deal, is really no big deal at all. At least not something that cannot be fixed with a few deep breaths.

-Rachel

Communicate for Good: Finding a Cure for PCA

Some of the best advice I have received in my undergraduate career was in my Media Relations course at Boston University. Our professor shared plenty of knowledge and advice from both his professional and life experiences. On the last day he told us about his charitable endeavors, and continued to explain to us that once we learn all these communication skills and become experts in the field, we have the chance to do so much good with these skills.

That is what solidified my goal of one day establishing a foundation to raise money and awareness for a cause that has affected my family firsthand—Posterior Cortical Atrophy (PCA).

In class, I am taught how to communicate, how to share messages and persuade people to act. These skills do not have to only be used to sell products; although let’s face it, that is what’s going to pay the bills. In my spare time I plan to do good. And with this goal of doing good, I choose to begin with something very close to my heart, Posterior Cortical Atrophy.

I do not have a talent that will make me famous. I will not become a celebrity of sport or entertainment to place myself in the media on a large public scale. However, I do have a computer, this blog, and the ability to publish my thoughts. With this platform, I choose to communicate something far bigger than my daily complaints and random lessons. Today I choose to communicate a call to action: please join my family’s PCA awareness campaign and donate to PCA research.

It is not a foundation quite yet, but it is a step in the right direction. This amazing cause, which can be supported through my family’s new fundraising page, is intended to one day find a cure for an awful neurological disease that lacks awareness and funding.

Even a single dollar donation may not seem like a lot, but added together it could keep these doctors running the labs and studies that may find medicines, treatment and one day a cure for PCA.

Thank you.

PCA-Instagram

-Rachel