You’ve Got to Let it Go…

Clarity.  It’s ironic how the idea of feeling so sure about something can also be clouded in vacuity.  I recently made a decision, and although it’s not life-changing, it is certainly something that will make its own impact in the present and in the long run.  Although right now I feel sort of stoic about it all, I’m hoping to gain a resurgence of energy and really appreciate that it’s for the better in the end—in fact, I know it will be for the better, it’s now all just contingent on timing.

Since this writing canvass is meant for positive thoughts and ideas, I’m not going to place too much emphasis on the negative, but I will say that for an extended length of time, I haven’t been feeling quite right about all of these changes happening in my life, particularly the one focused on finding what I am meant to do with my “career path” (whatever that silly phrase really means anyway).  I guess I’ve been a pretty good actress, painting the face of someone who is content and fulfilled with the day-to-day, mulling over the prospect of what those days might foretell, when really I come home in confusion and sulk, wishing I had the energy and mental thrill I had before.

I’m no expert in decision-making, but what I do know is that if something is feeling off, you’ve got to let it go…

I’m young, and albeit, still learning, I am sure that I have so much to offer, and despite what others may think/say, I am certain that the idea of being stuck somewhere at this point in my life that isn’t quite clicking in my heart of hearts just isn’t worth it.

Scream it to the rooftops: IT”S JUST NOT WORTH IT!!!

You’ve got to be happy, that’s the number one priority.

Everything happens for a reason?  Maybe.  They’re all just stepping stones, guiding me on the path to where I’m meant to be and what I’m supposed to be a part of.  Thankfully, I have a handful of different options already within my reach, and although they may not all entail money-in-the-bank, there is at least the potential for that to develop.  For now, I’ll thank my great Jew-raising genes that I’ve got ample savings to hold me over, and in the meantime, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief, and smile.

*Smile Tip #9:*
Do not ever take advantage of the feeling you get when you experience true happiness with what you are doing.  It’s super easy to feign this feeling in appearance, but it’s truly something special whenit’s real—when you’re smiling for yourself, and nobody else.

Half-Baked, without the Spoon

My boyfriend makes me smile (most of the time).  He’s a big reason why Chicago was our current destination of choice.  Having lived here twice before with persistent dreams of making it big in the world of improvisational comedy, the second city continued to beckon his name way out in the Colorado Rockies.  With a little extra push from me, he was able to return to the Midwestern metropolitan, but this time, he had a sidekick to support him on the journey.

While the improv world is very much centered on performance, there are also other avenues that supplement this ultimate ambition.  One of these paths involves exploring the writing side of comedic expression.  Aptly, my poetic beau has been known to woo me with his words on many occasions, so this pursuit was completely second-nature for him.  With a degree in History, my creative aspirer found a way to merge his thrill for the Civil War and world antiquity with his passion for acerbic absurdity, and what emerged was a self-published book titled Half-Baked History.

I’ve kind of turned into his editor/PR rep, not only because I love him, but because it’s really that good!  If you own a Kindle and enjoy the likes of Colbert with a touch of scholarly satire thrown into the mix, then you have no excuse not to check out his first endeavor as an Amazon-accredited author.  The gist is this: there are “myths,” which, for the not-as-quick readers such as myself, are actually historical truths; and then there are “facts,” which are essentially a clever hodge-podge of fictional fabrications thought up by the ingeniousness of the self-proclaimed “Professor Bagnall.”

The following is an excerpt from the e-book regarding the highly misunderstood legacy of the prophet we refer to today as “Buddha”:

Fact:  Siddhartha Gautama, or Buddha, was in fact one of the most materialistic and shallow false prophets of his day.  Born in Nepal to an upper-middle class family living in the suburbs of Kathmandu, he received a private education at The Tibetan Country Day School – an elite boarding school located in nearby Tibet.  Even at that early age, Buddha’s hypocritical and pedantic nature could be viewed on a day-to-day basis.  

One fellow student remarked about an incident during their senior year: “I was carrying numerous books to class and had to rid myself of a Luna Bar wrapper, so like any sane person, I threw the wrapper in a nearby trash can.  All of a sudden, I noticed the roar of a Range Rover engine as Buddha skidded to a stop in front of me.  He began screaming at me about the fact that a local recycling bin was located some 45 miles from where I was standing, and grilled me as to why I hadn’t walked there to dispose of my Luna Bar wrapper.  I tried to point out the fact that he was driving a Range Rover, but Buddha quickly changed subjects and made a remark about the sweatshop-made Target shirt I was wearing.  He then promptly told me to ‘F**k off,’ flicked a burning joint into my face, and drove off.  I was simply in awe.” 

*censored due to the innocuously wholesome nature of *Simply Smile*—but do know that all of the stories are no holds barred through and through.

*Smile Tip #6:* Hands-down, once you get your hands on some half-baked humor, you will have a permanent grin on your face through even the most mundane of days.  Additionally, for less than it costs to buy a grande latte at Starbucks that merely gives you a caffeine kick for a few hours, you can buy an everlasting outlet to hilarity; and better yet, you’ll feel good knowing that you’re supporting a starving (and deserving) artist—there’s really nothing more smile-inducing than that!

Breaking the Bubble

I am generally the type who prefers to keep to myself.  Although I am palpably outgoing and bubbly, deep down inside, the introverted self that hovers always feels most comfortable in its own company.  Even as a child, I remember being painfully shy.  Throughout my youth and into adulthood, I pretty much kept enough close friends to count on one hand, though I usually entertained about two handfuls of noteworthy acquaintances.  A lot of these characteristics are innate – my mom’s side of the genes – though I also believe that a measurable amount of it is simply habit-forming.  If you start doing/knowing one way of experiencing life, these ingrained notions form a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The more you get stuck in the box, the more it’s hard to break free.

(I’m the lucky lil’ rascal holding the sign)

Life in-the-bubble really isn’t that bad since, overall, I am pretty content with myself and the close few that fill my pint-sized world.  I tend to be a particular person when it comes to finding and embracing those I care about; it’s truly about quality over quantity.  Nevertheless, with this whole starting anew sentiment that the lively Chicago air has sprung upon me, it turns out that I’ve really been making strides to disentangle myself from this typical staying-in-the bubble cycle.  And oddly enough, it’s kind of come naturally.

I guess that’s a funny thing about getting older—your personality and priorities are constantly shifting, developing a new and improved you in a gradual and comfortable way, every single day.  I am so grateful to have opened up my barriers enough to begin forming some amazing friendships out here, bonds that I can envision growing to be invaluable and everlasting.  And for a self-proclaimed hermit, that certainly speaks volumes.

*Smile Tip #4:* When meeting someone for the very first time, it is really incredible how a warm smile goes a long way.  Upon initial encounter with some of the girls I make reference to above, their approachable nature is very much what drew me to them—the first trait that stood out was an authentically earnest smile, and from there, I knew we’d become fast friends 🙂

Resurrection

After exactly 3 years and 2 months, I’ve decided to breathe life back into this neglected little creation.  So much has happened since its inception, and with my newfound stimulation, now seems like the perfect time to find little bits of inspiration to further me (and others) on the path of growth and discovery.

I guess this entry calls for a little update; an official introduction, even.  When I first approached the idea of having some sort of online written identity, I was an aspiring magazine editor.  I was obsessed with the idea of one day having a byline in an Oprah’s magazine (or the likes of), and thanks to tons of networking within the field and various internship experiences, I was on an effective path to one day reaching my goal.  However, somewhere along the way—okay, I can pretty much pinpoint that it was between the time I graduated and the time I met my now roomie/boyfriend of 3+ years a few weeks later,  my path sort of took a detour.  I fell out of dreams of freelancing from my bedroom and fell into concocting fun flavor twists for bejeweled walls of frozen yogurt.

Yes, self-serve fro-yo shops became the center of my existence.  I mean, it was pretty perfect – I got to cut up deliciously fresh fruit all day, be around some ridiculously awesome people, and delay growing up for little while more.  Really, I wouldn’t take any of it back for the world.  Though, after three years of being in food management, and even considering the idea of birthing my own “Simple Sweetness for the Soul” yogurt shop, I realized I was finally ready to dig back into my bag of passions and move on.

Actually, that’s been the trend for a little bit now—in addition to acquiring a male sidekick, I have apparently developed the ability to become a world traveler—or even just a national wanderer.  I’ve moved more than halfway across the country from my comfortable little bubble in New Jersey, and after a semi-short stint near the Rocky Mountains, journeyed a bit back east, now residing in the Windy City.  I suppose I’ve really adapted to this whole “change”  thing fairly seamlessly, with only a handful of bumps and scrapes along the way (which, of course, is inevitable).

So what now?  I guess we shall soon find out.  I came back to this because it felt right, just like the search for happiness should be!  And now, being just a bit older and wiser (at least I’d like to think so), I’ll probably be adding a bit more dimension to the simplicity of this blog’s theme—while still keeping it filled with positivity and butterflies and flowers, naturally 😉

I look forward to the journey ahead, and hope you will join me!

*Smile Tip #3:* This might be TMI and slightly off-topic, but I am finally becoming accustomed to, and oddly sort of enjoying, my newly fitted mouthguard.  I’m a gum chewer – it helps me focus, though I realize it could be a not-so-great habit – so I’ve started substituting it with some daytime molded plastic clenching instead—I know, I told you it was weird.

Apparently I may grind my teeth while I’m asleep, according to the dentist I acquired while living in Boulder, which is why I had a succession of fillings (whose cost could have easily gone towards a used craigslist car, if I needed one), and he suggested I get a mouth guard to prevent my teeth from developing any more holes/grinding-related erosion that may happen overnight.  Just the idea of that freaks me out, since I literally have nightmares about my teeth falling out; so I invested in a really expensive plastic molding of my teeth, even though I thought the whole thing was kind of ridiculous (mind you, this is coming from a girl who never had to wear braces, or a retainer, or any sort of foreign metal in my mouth through my awkward pre-teen years).

It was super uncomfortable at first, and I really thought I didn’t even need it (wouldn’t the guy who sleeps next to me every night notice a funny noise coming from my side of the bed?  I mean, I know he’s practically a brick when he’s asleep, but still…).  Though, I was told it needed to be broken in like a new shoe, so I wore it around our Colorado home while reading, watching TV, and packing for our second move.  In between departing and settling more into or colorful Lincoln Square apartment, I took my first visit back to New Jersey since leaving in the winter.  It was then that my rigid mouth contraption had a little tune-up by my childhood dentist.  Soon after, it finally felt right, and I was hooked.

In conclusion, if you cherish your teeth as much as I do, make sure you see a dentist before a small problem gets significantly worse and much more exorbitantly priced.  Your smile is precious—make sure it stays brilliant and strong for a lifetime!

Embrace change

Change can be scary.  Yes, I know, I am stating the obvious, but for someone who thrives off of order and stability, this scariness is maximized to the nth degree (depending on my frame of mind on the chosen day and what subcategory the particular change falls under).

I will consciously admit that sometimes (okay, often times) my meticulousness can be overkill, but it provides a certain comfort, a safety, that nothing else can guarantee.  Any sort of diversion from the confines of the “known” creeps into the realm of the “unknown,” and that is where things begin to get nebulous.  If I had to choose between the clearest of clear-blue skies and a hazy, mysterious twilight, I’d pick the former any day.

Now don’t get me wrong, a little mystery can be fun, even exciting; though I prefer my fun and excitement in small quantities (boring much?).  Despite this obsession with certainty, I have recently been guilty of overdosing on the not-so-certain—but only because it just happens to be unavoidable.

I’m a graduate.  I have officially moved onto the next stage in life.  My life; my choice…but how do I choose?

On 43 Things a community-based site dedicated to making lists of goals and getting inspiration from others to find the best way to achieve them, 225 people want to “change” and only 2 people want to “stay the same.”  I know that going through change is very different than changing who we are, but the question is: doesn’t being in a state of flux eventually lead to this anyway?

That proposition is probably the scariest part of all.  I know myself to be who I am right now, this second.  Of course, over the years the Jen in me has gradually metamorphosed into more of a Jenny, and the girl behind the name will always continue to do so.  But being at this current juncture on the journey in this thing called life, I feel like I’m at my last bout of the cocoon stage, and soon enough, I’m going to be this colorful creature with wings, except I have nowhere in particular to fly.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
      
Then I think to myself: embrace it—no expectations necessary, and suddenly, all (alright, maybe 75%) of the worries melt away.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          *Smile Tip #2:* “Change is the elixir of life.  Stating a simple truth, happiness is ours when we respond and adapt with enthusiasm to change when they appear.”

Express yourself

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Growing up a dancer, my body was trained to breathe life into emotions.  Even though we were expected to strive for technical perfection, the punctuating effect always rested on the power of passion.  Movement was an interpretation of a song’s energy.  Expression was a reflection of movement.  Each year when it was time to perform for audiences of judges (at competitions) and family/friends (at recitals), we had the opportunity to spread the spirit of our dance symphony.  The feelings and emotions that we developed a connection to over the months were finally able to be passed on to others.

The bulk of these dancing days have slowly faded away, but my interest in the impact of emotion has not.  Since so much of who we are rests on what we feel – or what I like to call “vibes” – I wanted to find an outlet where I could explore these positive vibes, and find out how they can be strengthened.  Whether emerging in planned special moments or random acts of kindness, by reactions to others or through self-reflection, these emotional spurts of cheer are both infectious and addicting.  There’s that old saying, “Frown and you frown alone, but smile and whole world smiles with you.”

To kick off this blog, I’ll get down to the crux of what it’s all about: simply smile.  Seek optimism.  Laugh—a lot.  Find your joy.

*Smile Tip #1:* Show that you’re genuine—don’t just smile with your mouth; smile with your eyes.