There’s Always Something

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Some people approach life with a “glass half empty” mentality, believing that there is always something to be upset about. And guess what? There is. From trivial issues- like an unpaid bill or a fight with a friend- to bigger problems- like foreclosure, poverty, or illness- there is always something in life to get down about, fret about, and worry about.

But do you want to live your life constantly focusing on things that could go wrong?

On the flip side, there’s always something to be happy about. Maybe you refer to it as finding the silver lining. Or Pollyannaism {based on the movie character Pollyanna, who played The Glad Game where she found something to be glad about in every circumstance}.

I’m not saying you should sweep your own problems under the rug; trivialize other people’s concerns; or adopt a “who cares” attitude about world issues.

What I am encouraging is acknowledging that you can always see life from two perspectives: generally positive or generally negative. In my experience, approaching is from a negative mindset doesn’t accomplish much except worry, anxiety, and stress.

So how are you going to approach life today?

P.S. A little “glass half full” humor:

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Weekly Check-In: The Rooms of Your Life

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Ever heard of The Nine Rooms of Happiness: Loving Yourself, Finding Your Purpose, and Getting Over Life’s Little Imperfections? The premise of the book is that each room in the house correlates to a different area of your life:

The bedroom for love and intimacy, the family room for grown siblings and parents, the bathroom for body image, health, and vanity, the living room for friends, the office for bills, career and so on.”

I always think of this analogy when I assess my life because it helps ensure that you don’t leave out one critical area!

Whenever I feel overwhelmed {or to prevent feeling overwhelmed} I do a check-in of each “room” of my life.

Financials: Are all my bills paid? Did I stick to my budget this week? Could I cut out any expenses next week?

Health: Do I feel like I exercised enough? Did I infuse exercise into my daily actions? Did I eat healthy, fresh foods? What do I regret eating {usually gluten!} that I can work on next week? Did I get enough sleep?

Relationships: Have I maintained a good balance of my relationships? Have I made an effort to keep in touch with friends and family in other cities? Have I done so even if things are going well for me {I find it’s easier to remember to contact friends when you need support!}? Do I have any interpersonal issues I need to address? Did I apologized when I needed to? Did I make an effort to make new friends or strengthen current friendships? Did I do kind things for friends and family?

Career: Did I put in the necessary hours this week? What did I excel at? What could I have done better? What advice, tips, and feedback can I take in to improve my performance? Did I ask for or take feedback?

Mental health: How do I feel emotionally? How can I maintain or improve my mood? Are things at home organized and clean? Have I pampered myself {painted nails, hair cut, etc}?

Intellectual health: Did I challenge myself intellectually through absorbing new information? Did I stay up-to-date on current events? Did I pursue interests outside of work?

Community: Was I proud of who I was this week? Did I make an effort to brighten the days of people around me with small gestures? Did I make the community better {by volunteering or otherwise?}? Did I take advantage of the city?

P.S. My blog posts have been a bit heavy lately. I’m doing great and having plenty of fun, but thinking a lot about self-improvement and personal growth. I’m not sure the exact catalyst for this, but hopefully these posts help you if you’re experiencing similar sentiments!

Keeping Your Sanity During Hectic Weeks {or Months}

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I’ve been feeling a bit frazzled and I realized why: I have a super hectic next few weeks that I’m starting to gear up for.

Within the next three and a half weeks: 4th of July; my Norwegian family in town for four days; my dad in town for about a week; my birthday; a trip to Hollymead; a trip to DC; and a ton of work stuff, as well as the usual Change the Triangle meetings, tennis dates, kickball games, blogging, etc. Although it’s all great stuff, it’s extra chaotic because some of it overlaps. In addition, a lot of it happens mid-week, which means my work schedule has to be changed around. I am definitely not complaining but sometimes having a flexible work schedule is hard because the only person I’m really accountable to is myself!

Here’s how I plan to keep my sanity over the next few exciting weeks:

  • Use a calendar: I make sure all my events and activities are marked in Google calendar so that I can keep track of everything. I need to make set work hours during the next few weeks to ensure everything gets done.
  • Prioritize: Obviously, work has to be a top priority. But my family from Norway has never been to Raleigh and I don’t see them often, so that will take priority over hanging out with friends for the week, for example. I look ahead at my calendar {see above} and make arrangement for ongoing commitments that I need to skip or reschedule.
  • Have alone time: The only way I keep my sanity is having alone time to breathe and decompress. I read a book, rent a movie, catch up on blogs, watch Friends, or take a walk to keep myself in check.
  • Schedule in exercise: Though exercising might feel like it should be the first thing to go, I try to make time for it. I know it always makes me feel calmer and better about myself. Better yet, I try to combine it with other activities to kill two birds with one stone {i.e. scheduling a tennis date with a friend or taking my family to Umstead for a hike}.
  • Plan meals ahead: I don’t want to buy and waste tons of produce, so I’ll probably eat very simply over the next few weeks. Prep meals {like Mexican casserole or soup} and freeze them. And just for the time being, I force myself not to feel guilty for splurging on convenience foods like snack-sized packages of carrot sticks with ranch.
  • Communicate with others: I try to let everyone who might be affected {friends, coworkers, significant others} know that I have a crazy few weeks ahead of me {or I just make them read my blog!}. Communicating helps prevent hurt feelings and missed obligations.
  • Automate as much as possible: I automate everyday things, like paying bills. I don’t want to have to worry about them as I try to enjoy lounging by the pool or dinner with my family.
  • Realize that sh*t happens: Most likely, I will drop the ball on at least one thing. But I try to remember that the vast majority of things are easy to recover from! Remember the rubber ball analogy 🙂
  • Live it up! It’s not every day, week, or month that I get to celebrate my birthday with friends, take yet another trip to DC and Hollymead, handle top-secret work projects, or see my family. I’m planning to live these next few weeks up!

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Monday Morning Inspiration

When I posted some Monday morning inspiration awhile back, I didn’t realize it would become one of my most popular blog posts {not just on that day, but every day!}. Apparently people really need to be inspired after the weekend!

Hope this helps 🙂

Source: via Cristina on Pinterest

A Look into Codependency

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“Codependency, by definition, means making the relationship more important to you than you are to yourself” – Source

“When we focus so much outside ourselves, we lose touch with what is inside of us: our beliefs, thoughts, feelings, decisions, choices, experiences” – Source

As a very independent person, I have a {probably unwarranted} fear of codependency. For many people, codependency is a very serious issue that often goes hand-in-hand with mental health issues or substance abuse. For me and in this blog post, I just mean a much less serious but still important tendency to over-rely on those around you, like a family member or significant other.

Like feeling the need to ask permission from someone before making a decision. Consulting the other person before making solid plans. Seeking approval and affirmation from the person. Sensitivity to criticism from said person. Maybe feeling like this person should reciprocate the above feelings.

Here’s some tips on how to overcome it codependency if you feel yourself slipping into it:

  • Work on maintaining or establishing your own life: make and keep plans with your own friends; pick up your own hobby; join a team {like kickball!}.
  • Make time for yourself: just because you can hang out with someone doesn’t mean you always should. Making time for yourself is just as important as maintaining your other relationships.
  • Take ownership of your schedule: unless there’s an absolute need to consult the other person, set your own agenda. Don’t leave your schedule open solely in hopes that the other person will want to hang out.
  • Find inner peace or even approval from others: it’s not always enough to know you’re awesome, sometimes you need to hear it. Keep an Evernote of positive things people say to you. If you’re not getting great feedback from the person you feel codependent on, turn to your note as a reminder that other people think highly of you.

Have you ever felt codependent? How did you overcome or mitigate this tendency?

creative {romantic & friend} date ideas, part ii

for part i of creative {romantic & friend} date ideas, click here!

rent sunfish sailboats at lake crabtree

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bring wine and cheese and watch planes from the observation deck at the rdu airport

listen to live music:

jazz at koka booth amphitheater on wednesday evenings

sunday evenings at fred fletcher

music on the porch at carolina theater on friday evenings

seaboard station on friday evenings

*visit the morehead planetarium and science center in chapel hill

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*take a trip to the new wing of the museum of natural sciences

go to an amusement park [carowinds or king’s dominion are manageable from raleigh]

hike at umstead or pilot mountain

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*go rollerskating at jellybeans

ice skate at the raleigh winterfest ice rink

tour the the jc raulston arboretum

do a wine tasting at a vineyard [try hinnant family vineyards]

take a daytrip to the beach

visit tucker lake

feed the ducks at shelley lake

watch an outdoor movie [go to the north carolina museum of art, the summer movie series on hillsborough st, or movies by moonlight at koka booth amphitheatre]

*peruse awesome clothes at thrift stores or vintage stores [check out father and sons]

*spend a rainy afternoon reading at barnes & noble or starbucks

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* = good rainy day activity!

What’s the best date you ever had? What other ideas do you have for a great date? What is your favorite way to spend a day with friends? 

P.S. My birthday is a month from today! See it on my calendar 🙂

creative {romantic & friend} date ideas

I’m always looking for fun, new things to do- both on dates and with friends, so I assume my friends and readers are too! It’s easy to get stuck in a rut [dinner and a movie anyone?], but I always find it enjoyable to branch out, discover new things in my city, and have funny stories to share!

Thank you to Sara Rose for helping me compile this list! 

visit the asheboro zoo

do go-karts, putt putt, laser tag, and/or bumper boats at frankie’s fun park

*visit the museum of life and science

take a segway tour [check out triangle glides]

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try stand-up paddleboarding [check out triangle glides at lake johnson or lake wheeler or ride stride at falls lake]

take a ghost tour [check out tobacco road ghost tours]

go berry picking or apple picking [depending on the season]

visit a corn maze and go on a hayride

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*watch a movie in imax 3d or at blue ridge 14, the $2 movie theatre

rent paddle boats at pullen park [bonus- they have a few gluten-free options at the pullen place cafe!]

attend a hurricanes hockey games or a durham bulls baseball game

go for bike ride and picnic on the capital area greenway trail system or at the raleigh rose garden

*go bowling [try sparians bowling boutique and bistro for a classy date or amf for a more casual experience]

play tennis

fly a kite

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*attend a comedy show [go to goodnights on wednesdays to get a free ticket with the purchase of dinner. or try improv at comedy worx]

take a trip to the farmers’ market [look here for a calendar of events]

attend an event at lafayette village, a cute european style village in raleigh

canoe or kayak at lake johnson

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take coffee and bagels (gluten-free of course) and eat them on the rocking chairs at lake johnson

sit on the deck at boylan bridge brewpub to watch the sunset

* = good rainy day activity!

What’s the best date you ever had? What other ideas do you have for a great date? What is your favorite way to spend a day with friends? 

levels of happiness


You might have gathered from reading my blog that I tend to get antsy in life. It has the benefit of making me push forward and strive more, but it has the drawback of not always allowing me to sit back and take in all life’s little moments.

This tendency got me thinking about happiness and how we create it for ourselves every day through both small and big decisions, actions, and moments.

So what actions do I take to make myself happy? This list will give you an overview but below are actions {non-exhaustive and in no particular order} that I know make me happy- anddd several that I think make me happy but actually don’t!

What never/rarely makes me happy

  • Facebook stalking- being envious of other people’s lives or even feeling superior to them is definitely not a recipe for happiness
  • Eating crappy, unhealthy food
  • Avoiding the gym
  • Spending time with energy-sucking friends
  • Dwelling on negative memories

What sometimes makes me happy

  • Drinking- with the right people and right circumstances, it can be boatloads of fun!
  • Reading blogs- if they are uplifting and inspiring, they make me happy. See more on my philosophy here
  • Vegging out for an entire day- if it’s much-needed, I can savor it with the best of them 🙂
  • Dressing up!

What {almost} always makes me happy

  • Spending times with best friends and meeting new friends
  • Staying in touch with old friends
  • Cooking and eating elaborate, healthy meals
  • Cleaning/having a clean home, car, and office
  • Spending time with my sister
  • Reading silly chick lit or awe-inspiring literature
  • Learning for the sake of learning- like Googling an expression to find out its origin
  • Listening to a favorite or newly-discovered artist
  • Doing cultural activities
  • Being outside- especially if it’s being active, like hiking, walking, or playing tennis
  • Having well-fitting, comfortable, and aesthetically-pleasing clothing
  • Working out- both the action and the positive afterglow!
  • Traveling
  • Driving with music blasting and the windows down
  • Volunteering
  • Savoring my morning coffee
  • Being surrounded by inspiration- whether in the form of people, magazines, cookbooks, etc
  • Rehashing fun memories- generally through Facebook photos and wall posts!
  • Blogging- I can either share positive emotions or I can use it as an outlet for negative emotions
  • Sinking into a just-made bed with freshly washed bedding
  • Having substantive projects to do at work

What do you think makes you happy that actually doesn’t? What genuinely makes you happy? 

“is it for your sorority party?”

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Last Tuesday, my sister and I went shopping for fun, sparkly dresses for our Raleighwood party. As we perused the shoe section, we chatted with the sales guy. We told him we were hosting a big party and he laughingly {deprecatingly, may I add} asked “Is it a sorority party?”

We laughed back and quickly retorted “No, it’s for the business we own.”

A similar thing happened today at the gym- our buddy at the front desk asked where we went to school, so we told her that not only where we no longer in school, we ran a downtown business.

Is it our fresh-faced youthful look that makes people question us? Or perhaps the way we act giddy and silly when we’re together?

One thing’s for sure- I love seeing the look of shock on people’s faces when they hear that two bubbly young adults own a downtown business.

For me, it’s a learning experience: it’s important to strike a balance between being yourself {Valley girl voice inflections and all} and coming across as sophisticated, professional, and put together. I guess it’s a work in progress 😉

blogging boundaries

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The issue of TMI is a constant topic in the blogging world…and the Twitter world…and the Facebook world…Not surprisingly, we discussed it in depth as part of personal branding during our brown bag lunch at The Forum.

There are plenty of bloggers who have a devoted and extensive readership because of the blogger’s openness. Many people value straight shooters who are willing to be blunt- and even at times share intimate details if it means bettering the blogging community. Like Angela, who posts rather openly about her stomach issues for the sake of giving context to why she’s been adding many gluten-free recipes to her blog. And ultimately, this honesty benefits readers because it’s relatable and provides them with valuable content {like gluten-free recipes!}

As I’ve said before, I try to keep the content of this blog optimistic because for me, it’s a place to celebrate when life is great and inspire when life isn’t as wonderful. And I want my readers to have the same positive, uplifting feeling that I get on here. That’s not to say that I don’t allude to a bad day every once in awhile. But I don’t feel obligated or even right giving the entire internet world a detailed account of my woes, illnesses, fights, you name it.

Personal reputation isn’t the only thing on the line here. Research shows 45% of employers look at social media profiles before making a hire. I’ll bet you big money that oversharing has cost someone out there a job or two. Or ever heard how some insurance companies are canceling individuals’ policies based on their Facebook pictures and tweets?

I’m curious of your opinion {especially you, fellow blog girls!}: Where is the boundary between being open and honest and oversharing?

P.S. Enter the Balsamic Vinegar + Olive Oil Gift Set Giveaway over at Savory Simple 🙂 The pumpkin balsamic vinegar sounds amazing!