If You Cannot Be Unafraid

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This week I learned:

If you cannot be unafraid, be afraid and happy.

Quote taken from this beautiful book.

It’s so simple, and goes along with what I want for my life, which is to worry less, be in the moment more, and yet it’s something I’ve never seen articulated so well until now.

I’m afraid all the time. Of disease, of growing old, of losing someone I love, of terrorism, of screwing up, of never becoming successful, of what other people think of me or say about me, of missing opportunities, of choosing the wrong thing, of choosing the right thing and then somehow squandering it. Of writing the wrong thing, of choosing the wrong life, of being the wrong person.

I worry too much. I know this. I try and stop. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I don’t.

But if I can’t not worry–and I can’t, not at all the time–I can worry and at the same time be happy about other things. Like a new blue chair in the corner of my living room, and the basil plant I just bought. How when watering it last night on my deck, I finally made friends with my neighbor, who is a delightfully sweet Russian girl who wants to become friends. How much I am really liking my work in progress at the moment. That there are bagels in the office today. Little things.

This week I am:

Reading This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. I’ve read her other two books, and they were both super sweet, well-written YA romances, and this is proving to be much of the same. The only complaint I would have is that these books aren’t really ones that stay with you; I end up forgetting the characters’ names and a lot of the plot the moment I finish the book.

Writing The Play Story. 55K words in and somewhere between the first and second turning points. It’s going to be too long, but then my first drafts always are.

Watching I am hooked on this ridiculous, implausible, unrealistic television show. It is the perfect thing to have on when you want to be distracted or entertained, which is all I’m really looking for from TV these days.

Listening to The Spotify top 100 Punk Songs playlist is top-notch.

Cooking We figured out how to use our communal grills in our apartment’s courtyard and have been grilling chicken (him) and polenta (me) with asparagus, onions, peppers, and tomatoes, and it is the perfect simple nutritious delicious summer dinner.

Have a great weekend and I hope you can be afraid and happy too.

Image found here

To Be Happy

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I recently came across this article. I know these kind of things are becoming somewhat cliché, but to summarize, a girl gave up a high-paying job and NYC lifestyle to move to St. John and work in the service industry (aka bartend and scoop ice cream).

I always have a carousel of feelings when reading stories like this.

Reaction 1: I should do this.

Reaction 2: I’m not 22 anymore, I want things like a house and a family and to have those things I need things like a job and health insurance and a 401K. This type of existence would be temporary at best.

Reaction 3: Maybe it would give me more time to write. Maybe it would give me more interesting things to write about.

Reaction 4: But what if it doesn’t?

Reaction 5: BUT I HATE SITTING IN A WINDOWLESS CUBICLE ALL DAY

Reaction 6: But the money is good and my job isn’t that bad….

Reaction 7: I’m such a coward, why don’t I just DO IT?!?!?!?!

Reaction 8: … because all the reasons I thought of before….

… and repeat.

I remember reading somewhere that you need to write down the top 3 things you want in life, and if any of them conflict with each other, you’re destined to be unhappy. My top 3 are:

1. To be a novelist.
2. To live in a happy home with/near people I love.
3. My health.

The things I’m doing to achieve this are:

1. Writing every day (and reading, and interacting with writerly people on the internet, etc.)
2. Ensuring I’m not too busy to make time for my boyfriend and friends. Saving money so I can someday move to somewhere with a backyard and afford to make it a place that feels like home.
3. Eating right and exercising.

So I’m pretty sure I’m on the right path, right where I am. If I were to expand my “things I want” list, it would include traveling more, spending more time outdoors, having more time to write, working at a job I’m more passionate about. Moving to an island could help with some of those goals (outdoors! travel!); but it would also conflict with the “happy home” one, in that I’d be nowhere near most of my loved ones, and likely not saving money for a house/family. And who knows how much writing time I’d have if I was busy bartending or scooping ice cream all day?

Life is about choices. You give up one thing so you can get something else. Unless you’re incredibly lucky and/or incredibly rich, you can’t get everything you want all at once. And escaping to St. John (as lovely as it is) wouldn’t get me any closer to the things I really want.

What are the top three things you want in life, and what are you doing to get yourself there?

Above photo taken by me at the Beach Bar in St. John, June 2012