Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Optimist Creed


Promise yourself…. 


To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind;

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet;

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them;

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true;

To think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best;

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own;

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future;

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile;

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others;

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear; and too happy to permit the presence of trouble;

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words, but in great deeds;

To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you.


– By Christian D. Larsen
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In My Inspiration Box

When I made my day planner in August (or my Daily Action Plan, as I like to call it– sounds best with a snobby British accent), I included a small box, tucked away between my boxes for Applications and Two Minute Tasks, called Inspiration.

I thought, “Oh hey! I’ll include this little box and fill it will awesome sayings and drawings. It’ll be great!”

But the sad thing is, I’m usually too busy to write anything in that box. I mean, the actual writing part doesn’t ever get done. I read lots of quotes online whenever I need inspiration, but none of them make it into my actual action plan. Which is a shame. I think that little box gets pretty lonely.

Except today. Today I flipped the page to Monday, and lo and behold! Something was sitting there in my tiny inspiration box, just waiting to inspire someone.

It read, “If you don’t take care of the producer, there won’t be a product.”

How fitting. While working for Teach For America in Philadelphia this summer, my manager Molly said that to our team, and it really struck home with me.

I mean, that’s always been me. I’ve always been in the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” camp. Sleep is overrated. Sleep is a waste of time. Yada yada. Blah blah blah.

Who has time to exercise or eat well? Not me. I’m busy writing papers and agendas and stuff. Important stuff. Friends and food and health? Not important. I’ll work on that later.

But really, Virginia (I’ve taken to talking about myself in the third person and it’s quite fun. Kinda shifts the blame away), if you don’t take care of yourself, you aren’t going to be able to take tests or give presentations or attend Christmas parties. You are going to fall into a deep dark pit of despair and greasy pimples. I’ve seen it happen to the best of them.

And with an insanely stressful four days in front of me (and a busy two weeks after that — FINALS!), my little inspiration box couldn’t have raised it’s hand and flagged me down at a better time.

My new challenge to myself is to take my health seriously for the next three weeks.

Goals:
1. Get seven hours of sleep a night. Not six and a half. Seven.
2. No more drinking soda. And no more coffee after eight (unless it’s decaf).
3. If I can’t make it to the gym, at least do jumping jacks or something every day.
4. Try to make it up to ten real push-ups in a row without falling on your face.
5. No more hamburgers.
6. Eat more vegetables. Try to eat more of the green ones.
7. Drink at least three bottles of water every day.

There. That should do it. Now if only the execution were as easy as the typing. I need to find myself one of those “Don’t just dream– Do” quotes for when I get weak and really crave that caffeinated sugary syrupy liquid deliciousness that corrodes your teeth and tastes oh so yummy. Because as you can see, my willpower hasn’t been so great lately. I’m going to need all the help I can get.

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Filed under College Survival Guide, Inspiration, Musings, Senior Year

Open Letter to the Universe

Dear World,

While I’m not entirely positive– and more conclusive evidence/experience is needed– I’m pretty sure the absolute best thing that ever happened to you is the Christmas season. I am convinced.

Laid out below are my most unbiased, objective reasons for this claim.

– Drinking steaming hot chocolate with a giant mound of mini marshmallows while cuddled up by a fire (real or the TV yule log kind) on a lazy evening.

– Driving around and admiring twinkling Christmas lights — especially white icicle lights. They’re my weakness.

– Snowflakes, snow piles, snowboarding, snow angels (especially while hot tubbing)

– “Last Christmas” — especially the Wham! version. YouTube it. You wont be sorry.

– Watching Elf and then quoting it for the rest of December. “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?”

– Reading the “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” editorial. It’s so elegant and inspiring.

– Singing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” in the most seductive voice possible, then debating the song’s creepyness vs. awesomeness with friends.

– Listening to Christmas carols while studying. Josh Groban’s velvety voice will soothe your stress away.

– Tacky Christmas sweaters. My favorite is when people wear them to be ironic, but you know they just really love that thick wool knit.

– My bright red sleigh bell earrings with green bows. You better bet I’m going to wear them to class. And jingle all the way.

After such strong evidence has been laid before you, I trust that you will agree with me on this claim of Christmas’s superior position within the existence of humanity.

And to thank you for this delightful bright spot in the middle of such dark, dreary months, I would present you with a commemorative gift, if I could. As it is, I can only offer you a hearty imaginary handshake to show my appreciation to you for allowing this wonderful season to continue on forever. Which, I trust, always will (*hearty handshake turns into intimidating squeeeeeze*).

Please don’t ever let Christmas disappear, no matter how much some Scrooges like to complain that Christmas is over-commercialized. Don’t listen to them. They have a glass half-empty attitude, and their parents probably didn’t let them believe in Santa Clause. They’re still bitter.

Sincerely,
Discerning Holiday Connoisseur

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Filed under Loving Right Now, Open Letters

On the Road Again

While the break has been relaxing and it has been wonderful to see my relatives again, I’m ready to go home. I’m turning into quite the little homebody, I think.

When I was a freshman, Montana was my home and Oklahoma– the dorms, OU, Norman– was just a temporary place to live, meet people, and keep my stuff. But the opposite is true now. Living with some of the best friends I’ve ever had, it’s the only place I don’t feel restless, really belong, and have my own bed.

The scary part is that I only get to keep this for a year. It’s almost too sad to think about. Because while I am really excited about all the adventures to come after graduation, it’s unnerving to see my comfortable little world be replaced with unsettling newness. I’m going to miss this.

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Writing a Novel: Day 12

Status: Trudging Along
Word Count: 10,061

My pace has slowed down. Having the holiday break has been nice and I’ve been able to write a lot, but I’m starting to lose focus with my story. It’s meandering and the conversations between my characters are putting me to sleep. Seriously. I fell asleep typing last night.

And there are only so many ways for one character to express her annoyance at the other handsome, pompous character. She’s exasperated, irriatated, irked and annoyed. Repeat.

Bleh.

I think I am going to take a little time and do a few character sketches so I can really map out who my characters are, where they come from, etc, so I can get a better feel for their personalities and motivations. Right now, they too closely resemble the originial book (I’m writing a modern adaptation). Except that they aren’t as cool as the characters in the original book. They’re booooring.

The reason I didn’t do this earlier is because I was on a deadline. A time crunch. There was no time.

But now I can, because I have a confession to make. I’ve decided to not stress about finishing my novel by November 30th. Because, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, there are only four days left until then. Four days and forty thousand words to go. That would equal writing exactly 10,000 words A DAY starting tomorrow.

Which actually really sounds like it’d be fun– if I didn’t have other things to do (that have non-negitiable deadlines and very real consequences for not doing them). So all these very real, very pressing deadlines mean that I can’t possibly push them aside for even one day. Real life doesn’t stop for creative kinds of things, no matter how much I wish it would.

But don’t worry. This definitely does NOT mean that I’m giving up on my novel. I’m plugging away. The new plan is to finish the novel by Christmas. That gives me four weeks. I think I can manage 10,000 words a week.

On the bright side, I have officially written more words on this story than I’ve ever written on any story before. And I’m exactly one-fifth of the way done! Woo-hoo! I can see the end in sight!

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My Thankful List

Disclaimer: This post is uncharacteristically sappy. Reading not recommended after a hearty meal of turkey leftovers. The sentimental/tryptophan combo could be lethal.


The other day, I was cleaning up a pile of papers, and I found one of the many running lists I’d made while on shift at work last year. It was a list counting my blessings (perfect timing, with Thanksgiving right around the corner). For those of you who weren’t around for that part of my life, I used to be a cocktail waitress at a bar. It was the worst (though best paying) job I’ve ever had.

When people ask me why I quit, my standard response is that the job sucked my soul. I kinda think it’s funny to say it that way, but I guess it’s too dramatic for most people because I usually just get a blank stare from them. Anyway, while that reason is obviously an exaggeration, it wasn’t too far off at times.

The job constantly dragged me down. I was working in an environment where, in order to make money, I had to pander to/smile at/flirt with people who looked at me like I was less than them (just because I was a waitress). I wasn’t used to people treating me that way, and sometimes it was downright humiliating. To this day, I’m amazed I stuck it out for so long. If it hadn’t been for my strengthening friendship with good ol’ Lincoln, Jackson, and Franklin, I’d have quit the day after football season ended.

One day when the job was particularly bad, I flipped over one of the waitressing notepads in my apron and on the back I started a running list of all the things in my life that I was grateful for. The list started small, but by the end of the night, I had over a hundred tiny bulleted points. What started as a ‘Hail Mary’ ended up being critical to maintaing my sanity that night. Just taking the time to acknowledge my blessings did wonders to my “poor me” attitude and grumpy spirit. Because truly, I have a lot to be thankful for.

The landscape of my life has changed considerably since the time when I wrote that note a year ago. Aside from still being a college student and having the same core group of wonderful friends, so much of what is around me has shifted. I have a niece. My family looks different. I am hunting for post-college opportunities and preparing for living in the real world. I have been single for the longest stretch I can remember since I started dating way back in high school, and I’m loving it. I don’t have to work at a bar anymore, and instead I get to reclaim my Friday nights for friends and my Saturday mornings for painting. I’m looking at pursuing other careers besides film (though loving films will always ben ingrained in me — and if someone asked me to produce their film, I wouldn’t say no).

So that is the first thing on my Thankful List this year. I am thankful that my life is in a good place right now.

In no particular order, I am grateful for:

1. My neice Isabella and the fact that, while I may be light years away from being ready to have my own kids, someone else is not. And that particular someone (my gorgeous sister) was kind enough to grace the world with something as precious as that little bubble of light.

2. The opportunity to live in a nice house (within walking distance to campus) with my closest friends — whom I have gotten to know so much better and have appreciated so much more over the course of this semester.

3. The chance to stretch myself by working on a business team that’s creating a software company. While this isn’t a project that I would normally have pursued otherwise, I’ve really enjoyed learning what it means to belong to a start-up company. Also, I have a fun team, which one should always have if one can help it.

4. The existence of Saturday mornings, which I can fill with painting and not feel guitly about it. And I’m grateful that my roommates actually let me put my paintings up on the wall. That’s cool too.

5. Having a clear enough schedule this November to try my hand at writing a novel (and having people who support my creative whims — where would I be without you?).

6. The growing readership on my blog and the fact that I’m not just writing for my immediate family anymore (though I’ll always love you).

7. And last but not least, I’m grateful for the opportunity to write and share my Thankful List (which is considerably more fun than a New Years Resolutions list — much more positive and far less critical).

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

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Filed under Memories, Musings, Nostalgia, Senior Year

. . .

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” 

~Melody Beattie



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