Saturday, January 28, 2012


Despite there being a few days left in this month, I've decided to take today to look back at this month through the eyes of The Happiness Project.  I have to admit that I am really proud of myself for all that I accomplished this month and I'd like to share that with you.

This month's focus was vitality and to help achieve this, there were five main suggestions given by the author, whom I will from now on refer to as just 'Gretchen.'  They were go to sleep earlier, exercise better, organize, tackle nagging tasks, and act more energetic.  Now, I'll give you the rundown on how and what I did.

Go to Sleep Earlier
Lol... I think I went to sleep later this past month.  My son goes to sleep around 7:30 which is a great because it gives me a good amount of "free time" each night.  However, between cleaning, picking up, doing other household chores, chatting with friends/family, blogging, and sometimes just relaxing, that time goes by soo fast.  I added go to sleep before 11:00 on my list of things to do, but I rarely check it off.  This is one area that I do want to strive to achieve because I have noticed that it effects me in the morning and prevents me from checking off things that I want to achieve in the morning to start off my day on the right foot.  Like, I would really like to sit down and eat breakfast each day with my son.  Most days I skip breakfast, so I want to actually eat breakfast for health reasons and I would like to do it with my son just for that extra time together.  However, I have a bad habit of snoozing too much.  If I went to bed earlier, I wouldn't have to snooze, I'd have more time to eat breakfast with my son, and I would have time to quick pick up before (not rushing) to work!  That would make me so much happier!!

Exercise Better
Yay!  This one I actually was successful at and I have incorporated it into my weekly routines.  I'm talking about going to they gym exercise, ugh.  Atleast that's how I used to feel.  I am taking two classes at the gym, Pilate's and Yoga Stretch.  I find both of them to be very relaxing.  I love the core and lengthening work of Pilate's and I end my week with a Yoga Stretch which just feels unbelievable. Yup, it's that good.  I also do some lighter cardio on those two days and on the third day that I go, it's straight running.  Thanks to babysitting, I am able to make it to the gym three times a week, and I feel more energetic, more confident, and even a bit more sexy.

I am not going to say too much about this one since I have already dedicated a whole posting to it.  I'll just say that organizing has helped me to feel more relaxed and comfortable in my home.  I feel that being uncluttered has helped me to spend less time picking up, which is great because it gives me more time to do other things!

Nagging Tasks
I started this month off with about 10 nagging tasks and I am going to end it with about three.  Being able to cross off seven of these tasks has been such a big relief.  Many of these tasks had been some loose ends that I needed to take care of since my husband's passing and it feels good to not have to worry about them anymore.
I won't go into details on all of my tasks, but one in particular that brought me a great amount of relief was the making of my will.  My husband and I didn't have one and it would have helped make things much easier for me when I had to take care of personal matters.  Now, making out a will was all about my son.  I wanted to make sure he is taken care of physically, emotionally, and financially and I am assured now that he will be.  It's weird, hand choosing the people you want to raise your child in your absence.  In some ways it was a difficult decision, in some ways it was very easy.  This was an area that my husband and I did discuss and I have decided to leave my son to the people that we had decided on together.  Despite having siblings, we had decided to leave our son to my best friend from high school and her husband.  All things considered, I believe at this time, they are the best people to raise my son.  I am comfortable with this decision.  I am happy with this decision.  I just hope that it will never have to come to this.  But should it, I know I will be able to rest peacefully.

Act More Energetic
I didn't really do anything specifically to tackle this one.  I figured that if I was spending so much time and energy exercising, organizing, and running around taking care of my nagging tasks then that in itself was acting more energetic.  And since I feel like this month was a success and that Gretchen would have given me a pat on the back, I would say I did good here too.

All in all, I feel like I accomplished most of what I set out to do this month.  There are a few things that will just have to roll over into the next month and there will always be a list of things to do.  However, I do feel like I am happier and I am looking forward to becoming even more happy as I continue on with this book in the remaining 11 months of the year.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I have been lacking in words as it has been nearly a week since I last posted.  This past week had just been a tough one, and I needed to just be.  One thing that I learned is that you need to feel your feelings so that they don't get trapped within, especially the bad ones, and can then be released.  Enough time has passed so that most of my feelings come quickly and go quickly and I am able to move on with my day without any real disturbance.  This past week, the feelings came, but didn't go quickly, and I have to admit that I got a little stuck in them.  I was able to still function and carry on with my day, but there were thoughts in the back of my head that were distracting me from doing things, such a blog, that have helped me to move on in a positive way.

Words... Words are very powerful.  Call me old-fashioned, but I find such a romantic element to little notes and letters that come from someone's mind rather than a mass produced card or a text message that's read in between checking a Facebook status, driving, and talking to a BFF. 

My treasure that I found while rummaging through all of our "stuff" were words.  My husband had saved letters, notes, and cards (with personal notes inside) that I had given to him from the very beginning of us.  I also have my share of the same that I saved as well and those were just the things that I had been searching for.  Words are powerful.  I found that reading these exchanges brought back a genuine memory, even more so than a picture.  The words described how we were feeling and our thoughts in that moment and nothing is more authentic than that. 

I also came across journals.  Journals from years ago, both mine and his.  Neither one of us was into journaling so much, so most of the books were left blank, but there were some intimate thoughts that were shared from time to time.  These journals were what got me stuck.  My journals posted back from 1999 and I had written about both good and bad things that were happening in our relationship at the time.  It's funny what can be a trigger and what emotions that trigger can release. The journals released in me, an enormous amount of confusion.  Why? Why? Why? 

These are questions that can never be completely answered.  People are always looking for answers and for closure when they lose someone that they love.  I don't think we are able to completely and absolutely accept their loss so to some extent these thoughts are never completely settled.  However, they do need to be addressed and they do need to be put at bay in order to move on in a healthy way.  Right now, I am learning how to accept my confusion and my unanswered questions and to move on with the things that I do know.  This is what I know... I loved my husband and he loved me and I am happy for the time in this life that I had with him.  I am blessed that I have our son to love and to carry on with into a future that is ours. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Organization = Happiness!?!

The Happiness Project focus for January is Vitality.  Vitality... to live, to develop, to endure.  I feel that this focus sets the bar for finding much happiness in this new year.  To feel alive, to grow, and to persevere are all omnipotent not only in living, but in living happily... well done Gretchen (Rubin).

One of the suggestions given to boost your energy, is to organize.  I wholeheartedly agree that feeling organized creates a sense of peace.  I have been trying to organize for months and months now.  When my husband passed, it seemed as though my apartment had suddenly become this monster of papers and stuff that I found to be suffocating.  I decided that I wanted simplicity in my life.  We had accumulated too much "stuff" over the years and it was time to let that all go.

It was not easy.  I first started with papers.  Funny, how in this technology age, the papers and junk mail still continue to pour in.  However, I have managed to sort, file, and shred.  I have even made shredding a task on my list of... "Daily Routines that Will Make Me Happier."  And you know what, it has.  I feel so much more organized in this area and it really has made me feel more peaceful and happier! 

My next big task, I actually did over the summer, and that was to go through our storage site.  Before moving to New York City, my husband and I had been married for six years, we had owned a home, we had alotta stuff.  We got rid of a good amount when we downsized from a big, old, single family house to a New York City apartment.  However, our plan was to eventually move out of city and into another house of our own, so we stored boxes and boxes of books from our library, a dining room set, garden furniture, etc, etc, etc. 

When he left, he took away that "dream" that was ours.  It was extremely difficult, but most of that "stuff" had to be let go.  Going through that storage site was like taking a walk through the past thirteen years of my life.  I kept things that were sentimental to me.  I kept things for my son that I felt represented his father in a way that I wanted my son to know.  The rest... I sold a bit at a yard sale, but the rest was donated to various charities.  Just this past week, the antique dining room set we had was given to a family that had just lost everything they had to a house fire.  So as hard as it was to get rid of my "life", it did feel good that most of it did go to places where it was truly appreciated and needed.  And I do realized that it was not my "life", only reminders of my past, my life with my husband. 

I also took on the daunting task of going through my husband's things.  I went through his dresser and his closet.  I did not do that right away.  But it was something that I knew would eventually have to be done and I decided that it was never going to be easy.  I did this on a day when my son was at day care and I had the apartment to myself.  I took my time, I reminisced, I cried.  I did it though.  It has been a few months since I did this, but I am glad I did.  I think if I hadn't, that task would have gotten heavier.  I have no regrets in getting rid of most of his attire and donating it. He would have wanted that.  And, if I wasn't sure about something, I saved it.  

I feel as though I have come off topic.  Although, I think what I am getting at is that I have been working on this January topic for quite some time now.  I know that everyone grieves in their own way.  Some people may be thinking I went through things and got rid of things too quickly, some may be thinking "good for you."  Some of you may be completely indifferent, especially if you have never experienced a great loss.  I tackled some of these hard issues rather early because I realized that everything that I did get rid of was really just stuff.  In the midst of rummaging through all that stuff, I did find my treasures (which I will share later). 

I know that I will have to work hard to keep myself organized, but after months of trying to accomplish this great feat, I finally feel like I have organized my things and my life in such a way that I do feel more comfortable and more at peace.  I feel like I am in a good spot now and with the close of this month, I will be ready to move on to the next chapter of The Happiness Project and my life.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Happiness Project

With the beginning of this new year, I decided to start The Happiness Project.  In case you are not familiar, it's a book/guide that focuses on a different topic each month for a whole year. These topics are meant to help you polish up your life and make you more appreciative for what you have and to improve upon the areas that are lacking or bothersome so that they no longer influence you in a way that takes away from what is important and what essentially makes you happy.

I have to admit that January's topic has kept me pretty busy and I haven't posted as much as I have wanted to basically because there just aren't enough hours in a day.  But January's topic is for another day.  Today, I want to create a list.  One of the things that the author, Gretchen Rubin, did in the beginning of her book was to create a list of 12 commandments.  I really like that idea of creating a list of things that I truly believe.  One of the purposes of this blog is for me to put myself out there, even if I am anonymous, my thoughts are genuine and I feel that once they are shared, they come to life

So here it is, my list...

1.  Trust your gut.

2.  Surround yourself with good people.

3.  Let go.

4.  Smile.

5.  Live in and enjoy the moment.

6.  You are stronger than you think you are.

7.  Find beauty in the small.

8.  Hold your head high, with confidence and grace.

9.  There are always two sides.

10.  Share your thoughts with tact and dignity.

11.  Just be.

12.   If you always choose the rational, you may miss out on the extraordinary.

Friday, January 13, 2012

After A While

After a while
you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul 
and you learn that love doesn't mean leaning and company doesn't 
always mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts and presents aren't 
always promises 
and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes
ahead with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.  
And you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow's ground
is too uncertain for plans and futures have a way of falling down mid-
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of
waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure, that you really are strong and 
you really do have worth and you learn and you learn
with every good-bye you learn.

~Veronica A. Shoffstall

Just a Girl

In my last post, I shared some of my future plans and my excitement towards those future plans.  Well, plans have a way of falling apart some times.  My trip to Florida did just that.  It's amazing how timing can make such a difference.

I procrastinated.  I think I waited too long to book my trip to Florida and the prices really shot up.  However, procrastination isn't always a bad thing.  Earlier this week, I got a quote on some dental work that I need to have done, and its a pretty hefty balance even after insurance.  So, then I was left with the dilemma of what to do about this trip.  It's the least important to me of my "big three."  But it is also the only time I have planned to take a little getaway without my son (and with free care for him!).  My procrastination gave me the opportunity to think financially and to consider options, which is a good thing.  However, sometimes options can be overwhelming.  So I thought and thought all week about what to do.  And last night, a different option popped into my head.  Its a compromise, but I am still getting away and I am really excited about it...

I'm going to Vegas baby!!!


I'm just a girl and I have rationally decided to visit Sin City all by myself, lol.  I'm a little nervous, but I have three things going for me.  One, I'm a New Yorker.  I now live by myself and am raising a child by myself in New York City.  I think I can handle Las Vegas.  Two, my friends who have been there before validated number one.  And three, I am not a night person.  I have planned a day at a spa, a day excursion to the Grand Canyon, and day #3... probably window shopping and quarter slot machines.?.  I will be there for only a few days and that's just about all I want from Vegas.

You may be asking yourself, what's wrong with this girl?  Is she a weirdo?  A loner?  Doesn't she have any friends?  Is she depressed?  Well, I may be a bit weird (in a charismatic way :)) but the answer to the rest are all no.  I've learned how to function alone and I am comfortable being with myself.  Would I rather have someone to travel with?  Definitely.  But my winter break comes at a time when most people don't have off.  And most of my friends have families of their own they are either traveling with or can't leave to join me.  So I could choose to not go because of their reasons or I could just go myself.

There is a wonderful, beautiful poem called "After A While."  I absolutely love it and I am going to post it next as its own posting because it deserves its own page.  But one of the lines from this poem reads, "You plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers."  I love that line.  You can't wait.  I can't wait.  Otherwise, life is going to pass us both by.  So I will cross Las Vegas off of my list of places to go.  I will experience two of the many wonders of the world (The Grand Canyon and The Hoover Dam).  And I will just enjoy whatever other opportunities come my way in Vegas, especially the pampering of the day spa.

I'm just a girl, trying to make the best out of what life throws at me.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Looking Ahead

Keeping busy is a good thing.  Let me rephrase that, keeping busy with things you enjoy doing is a good thing, a very good thing.  I have even designated a whole notebook in which I entitled, "A To Do List of Things I Actually Want to Do."  Cheesy, I know.  However, I'm a cheesy person, I love lists, and I have healed enough to plan ahead and to look forward to those things to come.

Today, I just made plans with my brother to go to California this summer.  I'm super excited.  We'll be spending some time in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.  Since the idea of this trip just popped out today, I don't have too many specific plans as to what I'll be doing once I am there.  However, I am definitely planning on taking my son to Sea World, the beach, a baseball game, and Napa Valley (okay, that one is for me!).

It's great to have something like that to look forward too.  However, August is a long ways away.  There are many days between then and now.  Many more opportunities for great moments.  In July, my parents, my sister and her family, my brother, and my son and I are also going on a little family getaway in upstate New York.  We'll be staying in a little town with a great lake and lots of green.  Since I live in New York City, I fully appreciate the green!  It will be a nice mini-vacation to just relax and to enjoy my family.

However, there are many days between then and now.  Many more opportunities for great moments.  In February, I am going to Florida for a few days.  This trip is a solo one however.  I will be leaving my son with my parents and I will be gone for four nights without the little guy.  It was a long holiday season.  Winter can be long here in New York as well.  I am looking forward to some bright sunshine and warm weather.  This is going to my little break to just completely relax and to sleep in!  I have never left my son before, but I think that it will be a good thing for both of us.  So as much as I know I will miss him, I have to admit, I'm looking forward to this mommy getaway!

However, there are many days between then and now.  Many more opportunities for great moments.  I don't have any other "big" plans, however in this upcoming month, I will be taking my son to a wonderful children's museum (tomorrow), we have a play date set up with some great friends next weekend, and in a few weeks, we will be going to see a Sesame Street performance at Madison Square Garden.

These special events that I have planned are important to me because it is part of the healing process, being able to look ahead.  I am very excited and am very much looking forward to them.  However, they will come quickly and go just as quickly.  I will enjoy each of those days, but I will also enjoy all of those days in between, the ones that do not have a special event written down on the calendar.  I am feeling very optimistic today... so who knows what those days will bring.  :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I'm not a feminist.  I applaud both women and men who are strong, independent, hard working, and grounded with integrity, generosity, and kindness.  However, there are times when I do rejoice in being a woman.  I may hear a story, read a poem, or am touched by someone personally that truly inspires me.  I last posted the poem "Phenomenal Woman" by Maya Angelou.  I can't help but to feel confident and empowered after reading it.  It reminds me to be proud of who I am and how that can be one of the most captivating characteristics one can possess.

But this post is not about me.  It's about someone in my life that I find to be simply amazing.  That person, that woman, is my grandma.

My grandma is the type of person who says what is on her mind.  Oh, it can be quite embarrassing at times, but she is not obnoxious or rude.  But, I admire that aspect of her because that is a quality I do not possess and it is one that I have to make a great effort in doing, making my thoughts known.

When my grandmother was just a few years older than I was, my grandfather passed away.  She was only 34 and she had two children, my father and my aunt.  They were very young, but they were old enough to understand what had happened to their father and to truly miss his presence in their lives.  Unfortunately, I now understand the anguish of losing not only a husband, but the father to your child as well.  It's very difficult.  It was difficult for my grandmother too.  However, she found happiness again when she met my step-grandfather.  It wasn't long after my grandfather's passing that she actually met him, it was less than a year.  But he was understanding and loving to her, my father, and my aunt.

It was wonderful to talk with her after my husband died.  She had an understanding that no one else that I knew had.  What was probably one of the best gifts that she could have given me was her optimism.  She told me how she had been blessed with two husbands.  They were each different and unique, but they both loved her dearly and brought her great joy in life.  She assured me that I would find that again too.

She also assured me that its okay to do what you have to do.  When my grandmother remarried, my grandfather's family pretty much wrote her off because they felt it was too soon.  As a result, my father and aunt were the ones who lost out on getting to know their father's family.  I don't worry so much about that happening to me, but I have thought about when is the appropriate time to get back out there.  But my grandmother is right, I have to do what I have to do.  I have decided with the beginning of this new year that I would put myself back out there.  Is it too soon?  I don't know and I won't know until I'm actually out there.  All that I do know is that life is moving on whether or not I like it or am ready for it.  It is hard and its is lonely being a single mom.  Life passes by quickly and I don't want it to pass by me.

I have never met either of my grandfathers.  My step-grandfather died when I was only a year old, so I have no recollection of him.  What I do know is that my father is an amazing man.  And I know that he was influenced by his own father, his step-father, the man who raised him the majority of his life, and of course my grandmother who was the constant loving presence in his life.  That gives me so much hope for my future and the future for my son.

Last week, I was visiting my family for the holidays and I took my grandma out for dinner one night.  As I dropped her off back home, I asked if I could help her find her keys, walk her to the door, etc. (her vision is very poor) she replied, "No.  Don't be offended, but I am going to do for myself and be as independent as I can for as long as I can."  And with that we said out goodbyes and as I watched her open the door to her house, the house she has lived in alone for over thirty years, and walk in, I couldn't have been more appreciative and inspired by her.  Love her.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size.
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
They swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need of my care.
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

-Maya Angelou