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.

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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

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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.

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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

And Then I Remember My Memories

I’m jealous of the girls whose fathers will walk them down the aisle.
I’m jealous of the girls whose dads will see them graduate college.
I’m jealous of the girls who got to crack open a beer with their dads when they turned 21.
I’m jealous of the girls who get to introduce the man of their dreams to their dads.
I’m jealous of the girls whose children will grow up with grandpas.
I’m jealous of the girls whose relationship with their dads didn’t change at age 16 after a disease stole that relationship from them.

And then I remember my memories. 

I remember looking over at the sidelines and seeing my dad at every single game after a long day of work.
I remember the ice skating trips, and my dad skating up behind me and lifting me in the air.
I remember the vacations—all the vacations with the five of us.
I remember the car rides and the hours stuck in traffic, testing every member of our family’s patience.
I remember my favorite movies being interrupted by a man on a mission with a vacuum cleaner.
I remember the bike rides around our hometown and being scared to ride down the big hills.
I remember the long, very long drives around that same hometown.
I remember going to church every Sunday and never missing breakfast right after.
I remember the Christmases where I was spoiled with gifts because my dad worked hard each and every day to give our family a comfortable life.
I remember the laugh.

And then I am no longer jealous.

I am sad, yes.
But I was blessed with a dad who placed his wife up on a pedestal and tucked his kids away in his heart with immense pride.

My dad was everything a girl could dream her dad to be.

Although he was taken from us far too soon, and the effects of an awful disease took pieces of him years earlier, he was and always will be the strongest, best man I will ever know.

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Father’s Day, 2014

-Rachel

Don’t Plan the Memories, Go Make Them

Two months later and I finally have time to write again. To say it’s been a busy semester would be an understatement. One of the reasons I haven’t blogged is because I just haven’t had the energy to put life into words right now. There hasn’t been anything exciting happening. Nothing new, fun or interesting. And definitely nothing worth mentioning to the world.

I haven’t written in a while because I haven’t wanted to. I haven’t wanted to even try to put any part of my life into words for the public to read.

And to be honest, I still don’t really want to. I do, however, feel like I always return to blogging because it’s what frees me from keeping everything inside, the way I would if I didn’t have the written word.

My close friends and family know that I’m really good at creating unnecessary stress for myself because I tend to put pressure on everything I do. I like to plan and prepare for my future, and I take steps in my personal and professional life in order to follow through on those plans. I study hard to keep up in college. I try to maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle. I’m about to start working an internship to prepare for post-grad. And most importantly, I make plans to spend time with friends and family.

However, there are some things in life you just cannot plan for.

You cannot plan for the adversities life hits you with. And sometimes, life hits you hard.

I haven’t written in a while because I haven’t wanted to talk about everything that has occurred the last few months–the last few years if I’m really being honest.

This last month, I’ve dealt with the typical finals season that every college student goes through. These are the weeks that keep you up into the early hours of the morning. The weeks that make you feel like your future actually depends on getting an A.

Simultaneously, I’ve been witnessing the detrimental effects of an awful disease. I’ve been stressing far too much over getting good grades, yet at the same time learning just how precious life is. I’ve been learning how you don’t know what the future holds, so you shouldn’t worry about the things that don’t actually matter–like getting an A.

What should you worry about? Making the trip to see your relatives. Waking up a few hours earlier to make breakfast for your parents. Calling up your best friends, or the friends you might have lost touch with, just to say hello. You should worry about going on the vacation you’ve always wanted to. Work can wait, memories can’t. Life cannot wait. 

What new lesson has the past few months brought to me? Don’t plan the memories you want to make–instead, go out and actually make them.

-Rachel

“I Can’t Wait For…”

I can’t wait for summer. I can’t wait to be a senior. I can’t wait for college. I can’t wait for Friday. I can’t wait for break. I can’t wait to transfer. I can’t wait to graduate. I can’t wait for grad school. I can’t wait for my career to begin. I can’t wait to live in a city.

And the list goes on.

These are all statements that I’ve found myself saying far too many times throughout my life, for years. And I don’t think I am the only one who finds herself wishing away the present and hoping for the better day to come around.

Every single time something goes slightly off in my life, I inevitably start saying these same four words followed by one of my future goals. Yes it’s great to have goals, and great to look forward to moments, but this shouldn’t become a regular thing in our lives–we shouldn’t be wishing away our lives.

Things go wrong. Stuff happens (yeah, I censored myself there). This is a part of our lives. Our experiences—the good and the bad—are the stepping stones to those future moments that we are wishing will come far sooner than they actually should and will.

I know it’s a month early for New Year’s resolutions, but I think I have mine:

Live in the present.

I focus so much on both the good and bad moments of the past and I worry about the future. No matter how hard I try to convince myself this is no big deal, worrying about things that have passed and worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet does interfere with enjoying everyday in the moment.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to shut off my computer now and go live in the present. And by that I mean I’m going to work on final presentations because for me right now, the present is Finals Week. And you know what, I’m not even going to say I can’t wait for Winter Break….

-Rachel

“Do Not, Whatever You Do, Let It Take Away Your Sunshine”

It’s funny what social media can do for you. Thanks to new applications like TimeHop, we can be transported back in time to see and read exactly what we shared with the world in years past.

It’s amazing. You can be brought back to an exact day and relive the same emotions. All from one status update.

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Although I have reminders everyday, TimeHop showed me again today how 2013 was by far the worst year of my life. I say this because I can only pray that I, nor anyone else, ever go through a year like this again. It was the year I graduated from high school with my best friends and the time when I concluded what I now know was a near-perfect childhood in my small town. Following graduation, I had the chance to move to one of the most beautiful cities in the country—Boston.

In between those big milestones though, my life was changed. And not just the “growing up” and “moving out” kind of change, but in the way that could make a positive person who was ready to go out into the big world into a slightly more cynical person. A girl who then had to work hard to believe she was perfectly happy moving to a different state during an extremely difficult time, but just couldn’t make it work any longer.

This reminds me of the first post I ever wrote for my blog. It was the piece sharing my news of my decision to transfer to Ithaca College. I shared how I truly believed (and still believe) that transferring was not due to “failing” at BU, but due to the fact that I had to make a choice for myself. One that was far from easy, but necessary for my personal health and happiness.

The point of this side tangent is that I could go through life focusing on the struggles, but there isn’t one person in this world who is not hurting—who is not dealing with some sort of hardship. There is no comparison between peoples’ hurt. You cannot compare your struggles to a person next to you because you have NO IDEA what that person may be going through.

And that’s when perspective becomes everything in this life. We have the choice to change our lives. It’s not going to be easy, and yes it may be easier for different people. However, life can make you so harsh, so bitter. It’s up to YOU to decide if you want to stay bitter forever.

Everyone I know who has dealt with hardships understands how there are good and bad days. Depending on the circumstances, there may only be a few good days, but just attempting to make those good days outnumber the bad days is the first step in turning your perspective on life right around.

My first step was deciding to transfer schools. It hasn’t been easy in any way; however, I am learning to transform any negative aspect of this experience into a positive. Adjusting is difficult. Adjusting to any change is difficult. But this change is that first step—the first step in making the good days outweigh the bad.

Returning to the actual point of this rambling post–life is damn difficult. It throws us curveballs every single day. And sometimes these hardships cannot be reversed, we cannot take the pain away, but we can make sure we continue living our lives in the most positive way that is possible.

I want people to know I am speaking from my own experiences and circumstances. I am not ignorant to the heartbreaking pain I witness other people, including my own loved ones go through every single day. I can sit here and preach about how we can’t be cynical and we have to keep living. However, I do understand how it is not a quick fix, and cannot be the case for every person. You can’t just snap yourself into forgetting about pain, but you can take a small first step.

With this understanding, I still do believe there is always beauty in this world (as cliché as this sounds). Even if it’s beautiful memories that we live for, this is still beauty. And I do believe that in our daily lives we cannot let the small things get to us and cannot continue to carry the weight of pain with us at every single moment.

Just look for the good. Know that tomorrow is going to be a better day, but without wishing today away. I am far too guilty of wishing my life away–for always looking ahead for the weekend, for the next vacation or holiday, and creating expectations for myself without even appreciating the present. Not living in the present is something that does limit our happiness.

With this long post you’re probably wondering where this is coming from and what I am actually going to do now? Or at least attempt to do…

I’m not going to be bitter, no matter what I am dealt in this life. I’m going to try and share a little positivity to every person I come into contact with no matter how hard life may feel that day. I’m going to put a smile on my face when I walk out the door each morning and I’m NOT going to let anything take away my own sunshine.

-Rachel

Because It’s Not Just Coffee.

~Will happily accept all judgments for this post because I am in fact a coffee addict~

In case you haven’t been on any social media today, let me give you a very late heads up: today, September 29th is National Coffee Day–a day dedicated to a beverage that holds far too much importance in far too many people’s lives. And as you can probably tell by the title of my blog, I am no exception.

I couldn’t tell you when I first became obsessed with this perfect beverage, but I can tell you that without it, I would not be the person I am today–stressed, busy, sleep-deprived and yet, still awake.

The non-coffee drinkers are probably scrolling through their news feeds confused and annoyed as to how people can be praising coffee. It’s just a drink. However, it’s not just a drink. How many times has someone asked you to go “grab a cup of coffee?” Coffee is the universal symbol of camaraderie. It has this way about it that brings people together. Whether catching up with an old friend, meeting a client or colleague, or spending the morning with a loved one in the comfort of your own home.

It’s just a drink. But it’s used for so much more than just to stay awake through the work day. Now don’t get me wrong, I would not be a fully-functioning human without my morning cup of coffee, but caffeine isn’t always the only purpose for the hot (or cold) beverage.

At home on college breaks when my mom and I both have the morning off, we get to use our time drinking coffee just to hang out together. Or we make specific dates to go to the local coffee shop. Yeah we spend plenty of time together without coffee in the mix, but these moments are some of my favorite times.

I may be overanalyzing the idea of coffee and camaraderie. Okay, I’m DEFINITELY overanalyzing it, but I can’t help it. All my friends know I would love to open up a coffee shop one day and it’s not just because I love coffee, lattes, biscotti and breakfast. It’s because I love the coziness I feel while curled up to a warm mug. I love the amount of work I can accomplish on a busy afternoon in a coffee shop. I love watching people come and go, meeting friends for just a quick moment during their chaotic workday, all under one coffee shop roof.

So to me, it’s not JUST the caffeine and taste that drives my love of coffee, although there are many days where this may be the case.

And with all this, I hope everyone is having a lovely (and rainy) National Coffee Day.

-Rachel