The Greatest Lessons of 2015

This last year was tough on my health (mental and physical), so I was forced to look really hard in the mirror and learn to accept a lot of things. It’s a heavy word, “acceptance.” Is it easy? No. It’s taken me 24 and a half years to finally realize it, so I don’t expect it to be easy for you either, but it’s those idiotically simple truths that are the hardest to really accept. Earlier in the fall I started to realize that I was getting nowhere by constantly trying to remake myself. In fact, I was digging myself deeper… So I took a real, hard, excruciating look at myself in a way I’ve never done before (I “take a look at myself” quite often).

In a way, I guess you could say I gave up. I gave up the constant self-criticism and downgraded to occasional self-criticism. I gave up trying to be someone I’m not. I gave up thinking I’ll never be happy. I gave up a lot of negativity. I looked at myself in the mirror and faced the facts: I’m overweight, I’m on a tight budget that I’m constantly pushing, I don’t have the social life I thought I’d have, my job is extremely stressful… I’m pretty, I’m experiencing my mid-20s exactly the way I should be, I have two awesome roommates and a number of good friends, I’m independent, and I have my entire life ahead of me in an ever-changing world.

This December was a series of seemingly unrelated events that caused me to realize those latter facts- the positive ones. Once again, God/the universe/the Great Spirit has thrown me some hints and I’ve picked up a lot from them. To save you time I’ll jump over the explanations of each event and instead offer, as we face the New Year in just a couple days, what I have learned:

  1. I’m not fat. You’re not fat. Fat is what you cut off your chicken before you cook it. Fat intake is something you monitor when you’re trying to be healthy. Fat is a part of the body just as muscle, bones, and flesh are, and you, therefore, cannot BE fat, because YOU ARE NOTHING ELSE BUT YOU.
  2. Being attractive means being the kind of person that others want to be around. It means being a good person, kind to others, and always thoughtful of your impact on the world. It means making people laugh. It means being able to laugh at yourself.
  3. We have limits. We must recognize when something or someone we love dearly and deeply is no longer right for us.
  4. Boondock Saints is one of the greatest movies ever made.
  5. Miracles do happen.
  6. There is much hate in this world, but there is greater love, and the moment we give up on love is the moment we lose. And the people who love us- our family, our friends- are the ones who will comfort us and cry with us when we feel there is too much bad, when we think hate has won. They will save us in our endeavor to save the world.
  7. We must never give up on saving the world.
  8. While it is important to take note of ways we can improve ourselves, we cannot do so without first taking inventory of the ways in which we should never change. If we are forever focusing on what’s missing or wrong with our lives, how in the world do we expect to one day be happy?
  9. Tight budget, big appetite? Pasta, hot dogs, frozen veggies, alfredo sauce, all mixed together. It’s where childhood and adulthood meet in perfect harmony… in your mouth.
  10. Laughter, as always, is everything. Be a goof.

So this New Year’s, please remember to smile, to laugh, to love, to let the bad roll off and the good sink in, and to look hard in the mirror. Watch good movies. Spend time with friends. Remember that everything changes- the hardest thing we can ever accept. Make your resolutions, but knowing first that you are already a wonderful and beautiful creature to begin with. Be a Calvin (see cartoon below).

Laugh on, my friends.



Pardon My French

Pardon my French, but…

Let that shit go, bro.

It’s a strange way of trying to be zen, maybe not necessarily Buddhist, but still it’s true.

Do you want to spend the rest of your life worrying? Letting fear, embarrassment, and paranoia take over your life with every trip on the sidewalk, Freudian word slip, or spilled cup of coffee? Which… if you’re a caffeine addict I guess is actually quite disastrous… but still… Would you rather worry? Or would you rather let the negativity roll off you like rain on a gore tex jacket and move on, happily looking for the sunshine through the clouds?

Some things we can’t change. Most things we can’t change, actually, but we can still be happy, if only refuse to let the pessimist inside us win.


Why Do I [You] Write

This isn’t a widely read blog and many of my followers are friends of mine, so I found myself asking “Why do I write this?” You know, what? Good question. Why do you?

Is it because you have a lifelong dream of being a journalist? Is it because you write poetry? Short stories? Are you an activist? Photographer? Traveler?

I came to realize that I’m writing for me. Sounds a little weird, I know. Why not just keep a diary? Well… when I was younger, I had a mentor who inspired me so much that I decided that I wanted to inspire others and what I’ve found is that what I need to hear, everyone needs to hear. We need reminders everyday to smile, to laugh, to cry when you need to cry. We need reminders of what makes this world worth saving, what we can do for others, what makes us wonderful people. For a while I thought I’d make a pretty dope public speaker and I wanted to be able to reach and inspire large numbers of people, but that might be a stretch goal. This questioning has caused me to really think about what I can do- both for myself and for others. I need a laugh to keep myself going and I know that sometimes you, whoever you are, need to as well.

So I challenge you to question yourself. Not for self-doubt, but for personal insight. Get to know yourself and the reason behind why you do what you do. Maybe, just maybe, it will help you do it better.

And because I started this endeavor of blogging because I wanted to make people smile, here’s a little humor for you.



I’ve already posted this one a while ago, but it’s so relevant.

Laughing at Myself

Posing a deeply philosophical question here…

What’s the harm of laughing at yourself?

No, really, think about it. I am totally 100% not perfect and I do some pretty idiotic things sometimes. I’ve said things that I immediately regret on account of their aloofness. Is aloofness a word? And there have been so many times that I could have beaten myself up and left myself feeling like a stupid asshole, and sometimes I do, but I instead try very hard to just laugh it off.

Today I realized that in making a Christmas present, a piece of bottle cap art on a bulletin board I bought from Target, I realized that I did it upside down (according to where the holes are drilled in for hanging)… And I was like… super stressed about doing that project right…

For a long time, because I was born and raised and still live around the Boston accent, I thought that Daenerys Targaryen’s husband’s name from Season 1 of Game of Thrones was Carl Drogo, not Kahl Drogo… and I remember thinking “well that’s a stupid name”…

I once walked head first into a parking meter on one of the most heavily populated streets of Boston in broad daylight…

I STILL will jump from my doorway into my bed after shutting off the light to avoid getting grabbed by whatever creatures may be lurking from beneath it (even though there is so much crap stuffed under there a mouse couldn’t fit)…

So what’s the harm in laughing at myself?

I argue that not only is there no harm, but there are immense benefits. A laugh or smile can have an immediate reaction in your brain, drastically improving your mood. Having a lighthearted attitude attracts positive people into your life (and makes you more attractive to others). Letting go of petty problems leaves room in your life for… well… pretty much anything… while regret, dwelling, and overall distraction leaves little room for any other positive thoughts, dreams, relationships, or motivation.

So do yourselves a favor… laugh on, my friends.

There’s power in looking silly and not caring that you do.
-Amy Poehler

I know it seems backward, but…

We all have those days.

We all have those “oh, God it’s Monday,” “why do I have to go to work,” or “can’t I catch a break?!” kind of days. Even if you LOVE your job. Having one right now? I feel ya.

I just got back from vacation where I spent Thanksgiving in North Carolina at my parents’ house, during which I got to spend a few days spoiling my 2 year old nephew, found out my brother is [finally] engaged, see one of the coolest Christmas lights festivals EVER, and made the bold decision to start reinventing myself…. starting with chopping off 10 inches of hair….

I did not want to leave.

So when I got to work yesterday and started trying to play catch up, interrupted every so often by another issue popping up or remembering a task that I had forgotten, I started getting EXTREMELY frustrated. Like one of those stereotypical “your job’s a joke, your broke, your love life’s DOA” moments. I had to take a step back and more than a few breaths. But when I decided to be a little more mindful instead of letting myself get caught up in all those emotions I realized how GRATEFUL I am for yesterday and all it’s obstacles.

It may seem backwards, but…
I’m pretty excited to have a day like that…

When I was 18, I was never able to imagine a future for myself. I didn’t believe I had a place in the “real world.” I never had a handle on my emotions, refused to accept or admit I could even possibly MAYBE have a mental illness/disorder, and truly thought that I wouldn’t even survive college. It was terrifying to think of myself trying to hold a “real job” living in a “real apartment” trying to pay “real bills” and filing “real taxes.” But this is real. My job, my apartment, my roommates, student loans, car loan, car insurance, electric bill, gas bill, conferences and conference calls, and out-of-state business trips, and even a work trip to ICELAND. That I’m IN CHARGE OF. It’s all as real as the keys under my fingertips as I type. I’m doing it, folks. I’m living in the “real world,” struggles and all. When I go home from work and unlock the doors to my apartment not once have I failed to think “this ain’t my parents’ place. This is MY place.”

I know it seems weird, but it’s the same kind of feeling you get when you’re able to travel to a country you never thought you’d actually get to and when you step off that plane and look around and realize you’re really there, it’s this surreal emotion, like the most realistic dream you’ve ever had. Only you won’t wake up, because you’re really there.

I’m really here. And I don’t want to forget that or overlook that and I don’t think ANYONE should. No matter how tough a day you’re having. This is me. This is my life. This is real.

Every bad day is also a good day. Don’t focus on the negative parts of it, but focus on the fact that you survived it, that you are strong enough to survive the next one, and that better days WILL come, especially if you focus on the positive. Your energy will change and soon you’ll find that every day has potential, even through the struggles, to be your best day yet. Now excuse me while I power through today so that I can go home, pour myself a glass of wine, get in the bath, and melt my stresses away while I listen to some festive and uplifting Christmas music and count the days until I can see my family again.


“I Never Knew”

I want to share this experience I had last night:

After ordering my sub at D’angelo’s, the young man behind the counter asked, “So are you like a Girl Scout?” After a moment I recovered from my confusion, realizing I was in my Scout uniform, and I said “Actually the Boy Scouts. I’m a professional with the Boy Scouts of America.” The normal questioning expression fell over his face, followed by surprise as I explained that, actually, a lot of women are involved, especially considering we have a co-ed program called Venturing. What he asked next really surprised and pleased me.

Instead of asking, “So what do you do?” he asked, “So what do the Boy Scouts do then? Like, as their mission?”

I was SO happy to hear someone ask that! I summarized the mission of the BSA, the Scout Oath and Law, and explained all the different kinds of programs and activities we use in order to accomplish that (thank you training for drilling the Aims and Methods of Scouting into my brain). And when I finished, his reaction gave me so much hope! In everything- the youth in this country, the world, humanity as a whole, why I do what I do.

He said, “You know, I always thought of the Boy Scouts as those kids that just go camping and learn how to tie knots, but I never realized how many different important life skills and lessons you guys taught. I REALLY could have benefited from that as a kid, and if I ever have a son he’s totally going to join the scouts. I bet this world would be a whole lot more caring if everyone was a scout.”

People care. People care about their children growing up to be responsible, caring, upstanding citizens who can take care of themselves and others. People care about character development. People care about the effect they have on the world. And considering how much hatred we are trying to fight right now, I’m starting to believe more and more in the value of Scouting for our youth. People say to only surround yourself with caring, positive people with good intentions, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that 90% of those people in my life are those I know through the Boy Scouts (for Pete’s sake, both my roommates are Eagle Scouts!). They are the funniest, most caring young men and women I’ve ever met. They keep me laughing, and hopeful, which, as you know is pretty much the entire point of this blog here.

I’ve been saying that I need to figure out a way to change the world, not realizing that all along I was doing it just by going to work everyday. It’s an incredibly stressful job and sometimes my exhaustion tears right through me, down to my core, but the Boy Scouts is,when you get down to it, a program that can change the world. And I’m pretty darn proud to be a part of an organization that can help with that.

“You Will Not Have My Hatred”

Two posts in one day?! Madness!

But seriously, I had to share this:

The husband of one of the victims of the attacks in Paris sent a message to those terrorists that murdered his wife that I find incredibly moving, that gives me hope in humanity, and that echoes what I’ve been trying to say:

You asked for it, you wanted it, but responding to hatred with anger would mean falling victim to the same ignorance that has made you what you are. You want me to be scared, to view my countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my liberty for my security. You lost. Better luck next time.

That is from the middle of the message, and below is the link to the article in which I first heard about it.

This man lost the love of his life, the mother of his child, only 17 months old, and yet he refuses to hate the men who took her from him and he vows to raise his child freely and lovingly so that his young boy will not hate them either. I do believe that there is nothing more I can say that he did not ever so perfectly articulate other than: I truly believe that if we all can adopt this point of view, we all can triumph over hatred. Please pass the love on.

So now that I’ve posted a gazillion times about why we should love and not hate, I feel it necessary to question myself on how the heck I am supposed to proceed in changing the world in the wake of these events; I don’t have an answer right now. I suppose keeping these posts going, in the hopes that many will read them and in turn take home the message to treat everyone they encounter, and I mean EVERYONE, with equal love and respect so that the world may learn tolerance and acceptance to prevent attacks such as these…. I suppose that’s all I can do for now…

…key words being FOR NOW…

Fight hatred. Choose love.