happy

I think it’s probably an understatement to say I’ve flirted with depression and have an ongoing relationship with anxiety. I call it being “high-strung,” mostly because that sounds prettier than “I’m a wreck.” My boss and I joked today about how my insomnia is directly related to all the things I can stay up at night worrying about. It’s a fact.

I’m always looking for ways to find my joy.

That’s another one of those phrases I’ve coined. A person, every last one of us, should work to be happy. Research shows that people who keep gratitude journals were way more awesome, and successful, and etc. Enjoy a book–take a moment and recognize that. Puppies are cute? Take a moment, enjoy the puppy. Find those moments of joy, doesn’t matter what it is, and recognize those feelings. Bask in them. Share them, even.

That’s where Happier comes in.

It’s an app that you download and just share those small moments. The app offers to let you follow the moments of those you already know from Facebook (and other social media). And then, when you read the moments of other people, there’s this warmth that fills you up, and it’s… nice. Others can tap and let you know that your moment made them happier. One of mine got on their featured page, so I made lots of contacts with other people trying to be happier.

Couldn’t you be a little happier?

Go read some of the things people have submitted because, well, they chose the best of them. And they’re best is better than mine. But, please, try the app. Let me know what you think about it. I don’t know how to let you add me, but, hey: Lori Sizemore. Look me up.

What do the things in the title have in common? Me, getting sentimental. And overusing Kleenexes.

Over at Heart-Shaped Glasses today, I’m blogging about (reflecting on, actually, since that’s our theme this month) the tradition I started for my girls when they were little nearly nineteen years ago. Of course, I got sappy. Because, hello? I cry over commercials. Does anyone remember the Kodak one, with the little girl dancing on her dad’s shoes and then they’re dancing at her wedding? I still remember the song. I think Michael Bolton sung it, but don’t hold that against me.

(Tried to embed the video above, but if it’s not showing up, try this.)

Anyway, a little comment love over there wouldn’t hurt my feelings any. And you could win a book. As in more than one chance to win…

I’ll be back here next week. And even I don’t know what I might say.

siglori

Part of the reason I’ve struggled with this blog is because this a blog for potential fans. Potentially, I’ll sell a book*. Potentially, people will come here to learn about me. And potentially, I’ll have shared enough of me to be interesting and compel them to buy potential books, without offending a single person into saying, “I will never read any of her potential books.”

So, that’s not working for me. I have a thing, in life, to be real. That may be ridiculously amusing or crushingly sad or even desperately terrifying–but it’s real. I’ve learned that being fake to please the people around me makes me miserable. So, I’m private, but I’m the real me.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I became worried about being really me on this blog. I’m not an easy person. I’m socially awkward, for one. I have an odd sense of humor that, hopefully, seems snarky and clever in my writing but can be a little off-putting in real life. And I have opinions. Strong ones.

I’m a Christian, and I hate the fundamental God-only-loves-people-like-me attitude that many Christians espouse. I am an Unfundamental Christian.

With that out of the way, I hate rape culture, the way society and the media makes women hate their bodies, and victim-blaming. I detest bullying and, while I suspect that everyone says so, not nearly enough people are teaching their children to be decent human beings. Finally, I fully support gay marriage. I write about happy endings and love overcoming obstacles and that’s not just lip-service. I can’t imagine what impact the gender of the couple has to do with anything.

Blogging to be real vs. #blogging to be likable. Click To Tweet

This is me. Sometimes, I will write about these things. I won’t be militant, I won’t be mean. I won’t make fun of people or attack anyone. But, I am going to be me.

I leave you with this: a beautiful flash-mob proposal. *sigh* (Sometimes the video works, and sometimes it doesn’t, so here’s the link on Youtube.)

*Let’s all just pretend this blog hasn’t been going on for years with the same potential hope. It’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen.

Photo used with permission from Pixel Perfect Digital.

Related posts:

No, seriously. Life is a giant jigsaw puzzle.

There’s no picture to guide me (because life doesn’t come all neat, in a box, with a promised finished product), but I’m pretty sure it looks like happy.

I took a pass last week on blogging. Life has become very wonderful, and chaotic, for me lately as I try to fit in all the new responsibilities I’ve taken on.

Things fall to the side, balls are dropped. I made a decision that I can beat myself up for that or I can decide life is like a puzzle.

When you get a puzzle (those of you that work puzzles or know someone who does), you don’t rush to put it together. A person who enjoys puzzles, much as I enjoy the new challenges in my life lately, will savor piecing it together. They’ll take their time. Study it. Find the right place for every piece. Then, eventually, they step back and look at a beautiful finished product and enjoy a sense of accomplishment.

I’m prioritizing those pieces right now, like pulling out the border pieces. Generally, it’s best to put in those pieces that guide you so that you can find where the other pieces go.

Instead of fretting that I’m not working the puzzle fast enough, I’m going to focus on celebrating how full my life is and making sure each piece fits perfectly.

We can get caught up making “to-do” or “to-dont” lists, but have you considered making a “Why Im Awesome” list?

via Catherine Chen, Ph.D.: Why Youre Awesome: A 3-Step Guide to Celebrating You.

“Finding balance in my life by comparing it to jigsaw puzzles. Which I hate. Yet, it works.” ~ Click to Tweet

Photo used with permission from stock.xchng. Photo by: sanja gjenero.

Last night, my oldest daughter was looking for an episode of Black Butler (an anime show). This is how the conversation went:

C: How do you spell terrorist?

Me: What? I’m not telling you how to spell terrorist… Two Rs then one R. (Note: the you-know-what will now monitor my site for the next five years or so).

C: But… I don’t know the rest.

Me, assuming she’s a smart kid, she can get the -ist ending: You can’t spell a word that consists of 6 letters and half of them are R?

C: If you write that word in school, you get ten days detention. I’ve never written it.

Me: Just watch. In ten years, something will happen, and journalists will all be sitting around the room, asking someone to spell terrorist, because they weren’t allowed to learn.


But, seriously? A word is banned from school? From being learned? Do they think if they don’t write it, no one can grow up to become it? Because terrorists don’t think they’re terrorists. (I am so going on a watch list somewhere.) They think they’re good people, righting wrongs, or punishing the evildoers, or some other naive and fanciful and ridiculous thing. But they don’t think they’re the bad people.

It just smacks of 1984 andNewspeak–and I’m not okay with that. We need all the words. We need all of them because people will always do terrible things, and without the words, how do we shine a light on that?

“It just smacks of 1984 and Newspeak–and I’m not okay with that. We need all the words.” ~ Click to Tweet

Photo used with permission from stock.xchng. Photo by: Sebastian Danon.

So, it’s anti-bullying month and today is Unity Day, according to the National Bullying Prevention Center. This is an issue I feel strongly about, so I’m blogging today to share my experiences.

I don’t specifically remember being bullied in school. I know I had low self-esteem, and I was overweight, and if people were mean to me about that, I guess I sort of believed I deserved it. So, maybe I was and people didn’t talk about it.

I remember once a friend of my cousin and a family member (of hers) visiting from out of town rode by me. I was, maybe, eight. We all rode bicycles then. Small town and you could go out all day, come home for dinner, and no one worried. As they passed me, this boy said, “Move it, Miss Piggy.” It hurt, of course. But, worse, it shamed me. I remember going home for dinner, and my dad telling me how pretty I was and all the boys would be after me soon (as dads do), and wanting to keep it from him, so I wouldn’t disappoint him. I remember swallowing around the lump in my throat, struggling to keep the tears from falling. If I cried, they’d ask why. What parent wouldn’t? And I was too ashamed that I’d made someone say that, to call me fat, to hurl an insult at me like I didn’t matter.

I remember the summer before I started high school, I was at a friend’s house with my best friend. This boy, a sophomore, had called his brother and spoke to me on the phone. And later, I picked up the phone to call my mom to come get me, and I heard the brother tell him how huge my thighs were and he didn’t want to waste time talking to me. And I was hurt. And I hated myself, for not being thin and perfect. I deserved to be minimalized, because I couldn’t magically make myself a better me.

I remember in my twenties, after years of not-good-enough and you’d-be-so-pretty-if-you-lost-that-weight that I got mad. It took me twenty-eight years to get angry. It took me twenty-years to realize that if it hadn’t been my weight, it would’ve been my nose, or my hair, or my clothes, or the books I always read. Because mean people just want to be mean.

If we could change ourselves, be more thin, or prettier, or less socially awkward, or more straight–it wouldn’t matter. And, really, why would you want to? To shut up the voices that say you’re not good enough? They don’t get to decide that. The truth is, only you get to decide that.

So, please, if you take anything from this and you are being bullied, say something. It does matter. It isn’t okay. You don’t deserve it. You are awesome. Exactly the way you are. You wake up tomorrow, and you rock that day as you. Perfectly, deeply, brilliantly you. Click To Tweet And, the next day, do the same thing. Those people will fall away. They’ll matter less. Your parents or a teacher will help you. Somebody loves you more than the air they breathe. Let that be enough, for now. And tomorrow, try to love yourself just as much.

@WhenALionSleeps and @thegoodbloggess inspired me to blog about this topic. Visit Rachel @ When a Lion Sleeps, Let it Sleep and write your own!

Why-remembering-our-experiences-during-anti-bullying-month-mattersj

This is a conversation between my husband and I, and the inspiration for this new series of posts.


rules1

H: We should buy a boat.

Me: We’re not buying a boat.

H: You need to sell a book.

Me: That’s true. But we won’t be able to buy a boat.

H: We could get a sleeper. I don’t think you’d want any other kind, because they don’t have bathrooms.

Me: You got that right. So, it’s like camping?

H: On the water. [Said with the reverence one might use to say, “On the sun.”]

Me: And they lock? Because what if someone tries to break in?

H: Well, they do. But, it’s on the water. Who would try to break in?

Me: Pirates.

H: [Scoffs]

Me: That’s still a thing now.

H: Not in West Virginia.

Me: That’s why I won’t camp in a tent. There’s no locking the door. If someone wanted to kill you, all they’d have to do is split the tent with a knife.

H: [Gives me that look, like after 16 years, he’s still just realizing how messed up I really am.]

Me: In my head, I’m always serial killer bait.

H: I can see that.

An amusing story about getting my dog fixed. And about how I'm a crazy lady.He wasn’t broken. He was a good dog. Well, no, it’s okay. He’s still a good dog.

What I mean is, he is a sweet dog. He always came home. He was never aggressive. He never peed on anything in the house. In fact, I think he’d let his bladder burst first. (Ew, I know). He never tried to get intimate with anyone’s legs.

But, I got a girl dog. And she matured sooner than expected. And hadn’t been fixed. So, I decided to “fix” them both. Him, first. Her, in a month or so. When she’s not still maturing all over the place.

I drive the dog to the vet. It’s an hour away, but takes like an hour and forty-five minutes since I go slow so as not to alarm him. I talked to him the whole way. And not like, “Yes, well, this is going to be a lovely morning, I believe.” No, it was things like:

  • “I promise, after this, we’re going to treat you like a king. Totally.”
  • “Just think, things are going to be better after this. Well, not immediately after this. This is going to suck. But, this is like the first step in things being better. Just think of it that way.”

And let me reiterate: he’s a dog. He has no idea what I’m saying. Likely, my voice was comforting. But, really? He doesn’t care if it’s the first step. He cares that those people at the place with all the cool smells castrated him. Click To Tweet And he’s sore. Actually, I’ve read that dogs live in the now, so he probably doesn’t even remember he used to be… more masculine. Down there. He just knows it doesn’t feel good. Probably.

Boy, am I losing the trail of this story.

The point is, he’s fixed. And I’m the crazy dog lady.

siglori

I grew up, and still live, in a small town.  Not small town like less than 5000.  Small town like… 265 people live in my town.  Not that it’s much of a town.  I have to drive 5-10 miles to the nearest 7-11.  Another 40 to Wal-Mart or McDonald’s. It’s 55 miles to the nearest book store–a chain.  An indie bookstore? That would be 91 miles away.  Sure, we have a library.  Only barbarians don’t have libraries.  But… if I had to guess, I’d say we might have 500-1000 books.  Total.

So, I think you feel me now.  Growing up and as an adult, I read whatever I could get my hands on.  I couldn’t afford to be picky.  Later, I discovered Amazon (I’m sorry indie stores!) and Booksfree and Paperback Swap.  Still, there was time and effort and hard-earned money involved in all of those ventures.  Don’t get me wrong.  It was worth it.  I wouldn’t trade the pleasure and escape I’ve gotten from reading for anything.

When I got my Kindle for Christmas–that all changed.  It was no longer a matter of driving an hour or more to buy a book (and you know, I didn’t just buy any book–I wanted my money’s worth).  I could browse whenever I wanted for a book, buy it, and be reading it in less than a minute.

Oh, sure, that’s awesome, you say.  But think about it for a minute.  Reading books was something I worked for.  I planned trips to the Book Exchange or the mall for days.  Called around to make sure they had the book I was looking for or saved up to buy several because it wasn’t a convenient trip to make.  Even with Amazon, I took my time, finding enough books to earn free shipping ($25) and, believe me, I got really good at getting the right books to total just over that amount.  And then there was packaging and shipping time.  I worked for the privilege of reading.

To suddenly be able to read anything I wanted any time I wanted, it was like being given the keys to Eden.  It was my happy place, that’s for sure.

For a while, I read lots of books I never would’ve tried before.  I’d send a sample and if I was hooked by the end, I bought it.  I combed through the free books trying to find one that might interest me.  Then I found sites like Kindle Obsessed, with reviews and recommended free titles, and Smart Bitches Trashy Books and Dear Author, who have high standards in their reviews.

It became so easy.  So, so easy.  I’d read the review, and if it sounded awesome, I’d download the free ones and sample the not-so-free ones.  Except now?  I have 42 books in my T0-Be-Read collection and 42 samples in my Fiction Samples collection.  84 books, at my fingertips, I feel confident I’ll really enjoy.  I’m overwhelmed by my stellar, easily accessible choices.

I know, I know.  It’s a poor-little-rich (in books)-girl whine.  Shameful, really.  I’m very fortunate to have access to so many books.  Even as hard as it was in the years pre-Kindle, when I had to work for my fictional fun, I was still luckier than many.

In recognition of that and to share what reading has meant to me, I’ve made a donation to The Lisa Libraries, which:

…donates new children’s books and small libraries to organizations that work with kids in poor and under-served areas.

I hope you’ll think about making a donation or sending new children’s/YA books their way as well.  And I hope everyone is cursed with so many ways and opportunities to read.

There was a time when “the Internet” was synonymous with anonymity. You’d read comments like: “Dude, it’s the internet. Who cares?” or “What difference does it make? It’s just the internet.” Usually this was in response to some outrageous bit of flaming or trolling.

That world no longer exists. Nowadays, with Facebook, the ability to Google into anyone’s deep, dark past, and online privacy at war with companies’ desires to gather every personal bit of info so they can serve you better ads, we live under a microscope. People lose their jobs because of pictures someone else tagged them in. We check in with our phones and leave a digital trail of breadcrumbs to become the mayor of Burger Palace. We pay our bills online, read our papers online, and search for new jobs online.

And, somewhere, there’s a record of every bit of it.

We need to be aware of 1.) protecting our privacy and 2.) what sort of image we project online.

This post will deal with number one. We’ll address number two later.

First, beware of tracking cookies. You can’t do much online without enabling cookies in your browser. So find a good program to rid yourself of the pests. While you’re at it, lose the spyware, too.

Next, make sure your privacy options are at a safe level. Here’s how to do it on Facebook, email, and just in general.

Third, in the shutting the barn door after the horse escapes category, always enable security on your wireless router. You can always buy a dual-band router, make use of an old router, or download a free program to allow cafe-style guest access.

Parting tips:

  • Discuss online privacy with your kids. I know I keep banging heads with my 14-year-old, not about privacy settings but about assuming any level of privacy when sharing.
  • Never use the password you use around the web as the same password for your email. It’s a sad fact, but when a hacker gets your password for Facebook or ANY site you use, he can usually use that same password to log into your email address. Once that happens, you’re just a few lost password requests away from financial ruin.
  • Consider using a program like LastPass to generate random passwords for sites and store them in an encrypted file on your computer.
  • Never, ever assume your data is safe. Every site, every program we trust, we are taking a gamble. Hedge your bets by being knowledgeable about the risks.