Rachel Discovers Happiness

my life and road to happiness

Archive for the category “Resolutions”

Photo-A-Day 2012: Week 11

Happy day after Saint Patrick’s Day!

Yesterday was a long day of craziness.

But this post isn’t about that.

Nor is this post about SXSW which I still haven’t had a chance to write about.

This post is just another boring photo-a-day post. But I hope you enjoy it anyway 🙂

March 10 - flying Southwest to SXSW. Remember when you were a little kid and you used to be able to go visit the pilot AND he gave you the little metal wings? Man, times have changed.

March 11 - so true!

March 12 - taken in my SXSW photo camp 🙂

March 13 - Austin, Texas

March 14 - red velvet cupcakes at work to celebrate birthdays

March 15

March 16 - who says going to work can't be beautiful?

March 17 - the only way to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day... Jameson!

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun to celebrate the holiday?

Photo-A-Day 2012: Week 10

You are going to have to just bear with me as I update my blog 18 times a day until Wednesday.

Sorry about that 🙂 but not really hehe

Here are my photos from the past week (and some extras just because it’s spring time and the world was beautiful this week):

March 4 - wandering around Downtown Danville

March 5 - I loved my outfit this day (and I'm so humble about it too...) - I got a lot of compliments at work which is an even BIGGER compliment, especially considering the women at work are some of the best dressed people I have ever met 🙂

March 6 - "5 o'clock" - March Photo-A-Day hosted by @fatmumslim on Instagram

March 7 - coffee catch-up chat with Kevin Hines 🙂

March 8 - flower stand in San Francisco

Note: I took a picture on March 9, but it was terrible and I didn’t like it so I deleted it. My bad.

March 10 - waiting for the bus, the first leg of my trip to SXSWi in Austin!

Macaroons at La Boulange - so pretty

yummy! Patries at Madeline's

Spring has sprung in Walnut Creek

Roses for my cousin - she wrote a play and it was performed at Stanford this past weekend 🙂 so proud of her

Cabbage leaves from my dad and step mom's garden

snail friend from said garden 🙂

All photos were taken with my iPhone.

SXSW Dilemma

Okay, so here’s the scoop:

I won tickets to a convention called South By Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) in Austin, TX. I entered a contest on Twitter* not thinking that I would win, but I did.

The ticket only covers the entrance (something that I could never afford on my own), which means that I’d have to purchase a plane ticket – I have a friend who lives in Austin, the lovely Nikol over at Who’s Austin, which means that I would stay with her and not have to worry about a hotel.

It’s going to be expensive (plane ticket and food), but would it be totally worth it? It sounds like the kind of thing I would absolutely love – start-ups, tech presentations, networking, social media – all things I love!

A few thoughts:

  • I would be going alone, which means I would be completely out of my comfort zone.
  • I never do anything spontaneous which means that this would be kind of a first for me.
  • I made a decision that I want to be more outgoing and likable.
  • I never win anything, so to win something this big is kind of intense.
  • I’ve never been to Texas.

Would it be crazy if I went? Would it be crazy if I didn’t go? Thoughts?

*The contest I entered and the company I won from are completely unrelated to any clients I work with.

Photo-A-Day 2012: Week 9

And, once again, I am late on my Friday “Photo-A-Day” post. Would you expect anything less?

On that note, I have decided that I will no longer limit myself to writing my Photo-A-Day posts on Fridays.. Instead, I will just say that it will happen during the weekend sometime. Maybe Friday, or Saturday… or even Sunday! You’ve just gotta have an open mind and read it when it comes 🙂

February 28 - it was a tough day so I stopped on my way home and got Oreos and peanut butter (don't pretend like you didn't try that and love it when the Lindsay Lohan Parent Trap came out)

February 29 - Happy Leap Day!

March 1 - I showed up at the office before anybody else did... it was eerily quiet

March 2 - I came home for the weekend so I met my dad at his office in Oakland so we could drive home together. Saw this on my walk from BART to his office building. Kind of cool.

March 3 - I was shopping today and there were flowers everywhere! This is just one of the many pictures I took as I was wandering around.

Anyway, I already told you I was home for the weekend (lots of stuff – seeing my dad and step mom, my little sister came home for spring break, my other little sister came home for dinner, I went to my cousin’s play, taking Pookie and my mom to see the apartment tomorrow….) but more on that later.

What plans did you have for this weekend? Were you going to try to accomplish anything big? Did you get done what you had planned? Did you get to relax a bit?

Photo-A-Day 2012: Week 8

Normally I don’t post twice in one day, but earlier today I said that I would do my Picture-A-Day post that I neglected last week. I wasn’t about to go back on that commitment.

February 18 - our first home made meal at the apartment (of course it was spaghetti)

That is something I’m trying to work on – sticking to things that I say I’m going to do. Now, I’m not a complete flake, in my professional life I’m very good at getting things done by a deadline. I’m dedicated to my work, and I come by that naturally (both of my parents are very dedicated to their jobs – it’s genetics). But in my personal life, sometimes I say I’m going to do something and then end up getting too tired, or I forget, or whatever, but I’m trying to work on that. It’s something that bothers me about other people, so I feel as though I should change it in myself as well.

February 19 - my receipt.. I've never seen my name spelled like that... ever.

Here’s another confession, as if I haven’t revealed enough of my shortcomings today, I didn’t take a picture one day last week – February 20 to be exact. I could come up with some sort of excuse about being ridiculously busy and having a bunch of other stuff to finish (like finally getting my apartment completely set up and worked out), but the fact is, I simply forgot.

So sue me.

There’s no reason to beat myself up for missing the photo opp. In order to make up for it, though, I tried to take more pictures throughout the rest of the week. I’m disappointed in myself that I broke my new year’s resolution, but it was just one day and the point of the exercise isn’t necessarily to take a picture every single day – it’s more to use a camera more, whether it be my Canon Rebel or my iPhone.

February 21 - a rip in my tights 😦 and I love those tights! oh well

February 22 - I decided to walk to work and took pictures along the way

February 22 - China Town

February 22

February 23 - the staircase in my building

February 23 - one of my favorite buildings in San Francisco

February 23 - view of Alcatraz from Union St

February 24 - my new friend on my desk at work

February 25 - "breakfast" at Ikea (before we went shopping to finish decorating our apartment)

February 26 - meet Teddy, I've had him since I was 25 days old 🙂

February 27 - "because the best monsters are actually good on the inside" (makes me think of Monster's Inc.)

And a bonus one from my wanderings around San Francisco.. just because I like this one 🙂

How was your weekend? Did you do anything special?

I hope your Monday went well!

A Change

I’ve decided to make a change to my blogging strategy.

If you are a normal reader and have followed me since I started this blog (only about 2 months ago), you know that I had all these grand blogging goals set up for myself coming into 2012. You also know that I haven’t been doing a very good job at accomplishing those goals. I’m trying to do everything at once, but I think I just put too much on my plate.

Sometimes I feel like this (stock image)

One of the main things I’m struggling with is the fact that I have two blogs running at the same time. I have one for my personal life (this one) and one for my professional thoughts (RachelHelen). I didn’t want to have a combination blog because I wanted to cater to everybody’s interests, speak to my demographic, all that good stuff.

That just didn’t work for me. I didn’t even get my Photo-A-Day post out last week! (It will come soon… hopefully tonight…)

I have tried scheduling certain days to write in one vs the other, I have tried duplicating posts, I have tried just about everything. One of the main reasons this doesn’t work is because I am no longer working from home – I have a real job, in a real office that I go to every morning at a specific time and come home at a specific time (generally exhausted from that day’s work and not wanting to look at the computer anymore). Because of this, I have decided that I will no longer have two blogs.

Instead, I will be keeping this blog and discontinuing the other one. This means, I’m sorry to say, that even if you are not interested in public relations/social media/the internet world, I will be blogging a bit about that here. I don’t want to lose any of my readers, but I also want to be able to update on a regular basis and updating TWO blogs instead of one just seems so daunting. Right now, instead of keeping up with one or two, I’m keeping up with none.

This is just not okay in my overly-dedicated, perfectionist and multitasking-driven mind.

I would absolutely love any input you can give me on my writing, what you would like to hear more about, and what you could do without.

This blog isn’t just for me, it is for you, and for all the other readers out there who haven’t yet discovered my awesomeness (kidding… kinda. But share with your friends! The more the merrier also works in the blogging world.)

Anyway, so those are my thoughts on this subject matter. I will be trying to combine the two blogs (AKA import my posts from my other blog to this blog…) and write more frequently.

I hope to see more of you as I continue to write here.

Have a wonderful Monday!!!

Photo-A-Day 2012: Week 7

Wow, I haven’t been doing too well on this whole “post every Friday” thing… but to be fair, I was going to post my weekly photos yesterday, but I am still trying to get the internet in my new apartment figured out (the apartment is set up down a long hallway and I am on the opposite side of the apartment from the modem which doesn’t make for very fast connection speeds).

Anyway, this week was my first full week at work. I actually had my own responsibilities, figured out how to do certain things in the industry, and learned a lot from my coworkers. I won’t get into everything from my week, but if you want to read about it, you can check out my post here: Things I Like About My Job, part 1.

Because so much was going on this week I took more pictures than my normal one-a-day. Well, let me rephrase that – I always take more than one picture a day, but I don’t always like them. This week it’s different – I like more of the pictures I took. It was kind of exciting. Not to mention the fact that my obsession with Instagram has gone from the minor leagues to the major leagues (if you have the app, follow me – my screen name is rockegan 🙂

February 12 - my old room... now a guest room at my dad's house (that kind of made me sad to type)

February 13 - basically tells you how my Monday morning went - (don't worry, only one of them was a latte, the other was a peppermint soy hot chocolate)

February 14

February 14 - Happy Valentine's Day! (can you tell where the Valentine's cards are located?)

February 15 - bagels and lattes for breakfast 🙂 two of my favorite things!

February 16 - my new bedding! red sheets with a red and white patterned comforter (it's gonna take some getting used to - so girly!)

February 17 - cool 80's style boombox left on the sidewalk

February 17 - awesome graffiti art in SOMA

February 17 - happy hour with my coworkers at Sens

I hope your week was wonderful.

What are your plans for the long weekend? Do you have anything exciting going on?

Effects of Empathy

Empathy is a wonderful quality. It allows you to really connect with others. It allows you to feel their emotions, understand where they are coming from, and really take relationships to the next step.

Of the qualities I value in myself, empathy is at the top of the list. I think I’m a good friend. I listen to people and genuinely understand where they are coming from. I am able to comfort people because I can honestly say that I know how they feel.

On the other hand, empathy is an awful emotion. It allows you to feel other people’s emotions.

Although I value my ability to empathize with others, sometimes it makes my life really difficult. Especially with negative emotions. When somebody is happy, it makes me happy too, but only to a certain extent. When somebody is sad, however, I feel those emotions much more intensely. If somebody is crying or upset about something, it physically makes my heart tighten. I feel like my chest is closing in, and often times I am able to hold myself together just as long as it takes for me to get out of their proximity before I break down in tears myself.

Yup, that’s right, I feel other people’s emotions so extremely that their tears bring me to tears.

The reason I am writing about this right now is because today, a family friend of mine passed away. I got an email from my step mom earlier in the day telling me that his mother found his body this morning. Although I have heard his name, I didn’t know him personally. He went to church with my step mom and my step sisters and he graduated from high school with my older sister. My step mom has nothing but nice things to say about his family. When she told me about his passing, I instantly replied, telling her that she had a huge hug waiting for her when she got home.

When she walked in the door at 7:45, that’s exactly what she got. A huge hug. My step mom is a big hugger so I’m used to her comforting arms, but this was a different hug. This time, I was the one supporting her. It felt like she was holding on to me and didn’t want to let go. She had tears streaming down her face. She was sobbing. And through the sobs she gasped “his mom found him with the needle still in her arm.”

My stomach dropped. My heart constricted. I didn’t know what to say.

I gave her one more squeeze and when she went over to my dad, I went to my room and broke down. I sat on the floor up against my bed, with tears streaming down my face, and cried. I cried for the lost life of somebody so young, for his family and friends, and for my step mom who I rarely see that upset.

She doesn’t know I cried. Most people don’t. (And shhhh, don’t tell her. Although being empathetic is difficult at times, like I said, it’s one of my favorite qualities in myself.)

As I was sitting there with tears streaming down my face, although my mind never went off of the young man and his family, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I am that my family doesn’t struggle with things like hard drug addiction, drunk driving, or teen pregnancy (knock on wood… Pookie still has 8 months until she is officially out of the teen years).

Although we do have our struggles, we are pretty tight knit and support each other. We take care of each other, and make sure that we stay on the right track. This young man’s family did everything that mine would do in their situation, everything they could think of to try to help him through his addiction – rehab, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, praying, etc.

Through all of this, my mind has jumped from person to person who has passed away since my high school years. All of the young people I know who have died have been from one sort of substance abuse or another. I had a friend named Andy who died at 17 from drinking and driving. A boy a year or two older than me OD’d on oxycotton. A young man I graduated with was shot in a dispute over drugs. This makes me extremely sad.

What will it take for people to realize that doing those things doesn’t make you cool?  Calling your parents for a ride home won’t make them as mad at you as drinking, driving and killing somebody would. Shooting heroin won’t make people like you more – and if they do, you probably don’t really want to be hanging out with them in the first place. Selling drugs may be a good source of income, but it’s dangerous and you are contributing to issues in so many other people’s lives.

My step mom, kind of regretfully, told me that she kind of went off on her students today. She was crying and lectured them to never try drugs. Never get into those types things because they are dangerous. She told them that she didn’t want to go another funeral – that it was so painful to watch young people pass away when they had so much more life to live. That not only would they be hurting themselves when they tried things like drugs or drinking and driving, but they hurt their families and friends too. She was kind of sad that she lectured them like that – I think it is extremely important that she did. If even one kid chooses to say “no” because of that lecture, she has made a positive difference (as she does every day in the lives of her students).

Although empathy sometimes makes things difficult for me, I wouldn’t trade it for any other qualities (except, maybe, confidence…) My breakdown after that hug was painful, but it allowed me to look at my family and realized how blessed (or lucky, depending on your religious views) I am and how amazing my family and friends are.

My heart goes out to those who are affected by drugs and alcohol. What my step mom said to her students today is spot on – don’t even start with things like cocaine, heroin, etc. You aren’t just hurting yourself, you are hurting all those whose lives you have touched, and a bunch of people you didn’t even know you had an effect on.

As my step mom just said to me (literally, 3 seconds ago):

It really puts it into perspective that we get ourselves all worked up and nervous about things that really aren’t important.

I Would Make a Damn Good City Girl

AKA Save Me San Francisco

You’ve been sitting there with bated breath, waiting for me to write about the big things that have been happening over the past few weeks. I’ve been so secretive, keeping you in suspense, driving you crazy with all the mind games. (Just go with it…)

Bay Bridge

The past few weeks I have been spending a lot of time in San Francisco. I have been driving out there (and BARTing out there) at least 3 times a week for many different reasons – coffee with friends, doctor’s appointments, apartment showings, meetings, interviews.  I have been applying for jobs, talking to companies, scheduling informational interviews, and a whole lot more. It has been getting exhausting, not to mention expensive.

Baby, whatcha doing today
What are you doing later?
I don’t know my way through a maze
Of gray skyscrapers
But I’m willing to learn

-“Manhattan from the Sky” by Kate Voegele

But as of last week, all of my hard work paid off. In a matter of 24 hours I not only got a call that the apartment we saw on Sunday was ours if we wanted it, but I also got a job offer! On Thursday I signed a lease to an apartment in Russian Hill and then, on my drive home, I got a call that SHIFT Communications wanted to hire me for their three month internship position. It was the best day of my life. (My dad argues that the best day of my life was the day I was born, my counter argument was that Thursday was the best day of my memorable life.) By Friday I had signed a lease, signed my offer letter, and started packing for my new apartment on the fourth floor of a 1920’s style building with no elevator.

Yesterday we got the keys to the apartment, showed Christine’s parents and my mom and step dad, and moved some boxes in. We will get all of our furniture into the apartment next weekend. I can’t wait!

Every day’s so caffeinated
I wish they were Golden Gated
Fillmore couldn’t feel more miles away
So, wrap me up return to sender
Let’s forget this 5 year bender
Take me to my city by the Bay

-“Save Me, San Francisco” by Train

I can’t wait to move to The City! My mom saw my apartment on Saturday and a) didn’t have anything bad to say about it (which was  a HUGE deal) and b) she almost cried because she was so nostalgic about the nine months she lived in San Francisco. She said that she absolutely loved living in San Francisco and she was so happy that I was going to live there now. I was shocked.

If I could wish upon a star, I would hitch a cable car to the place that I can always call my own. - Train

Since I’ve been in San Francisco so much lately (and permanently starting this upcoming weekend!) I have been able to take a lot of pictures on my iPhone. Some are of pretty views, some are from Christine and my accidental trip into the Marina, some are from walking around, and others are just random. Here are some that I’ve been saving up to share with you, they all make me so happy.

I sent this picture to my friend Kara telling her that our apartment is right over this club.. she believed me. Nope, it's definitely not.

BART on my way to my interview!

Take me to my city by the bay - Train

I can’t believe I will be a City Girl in less than a week! I have never lived in a big city like San Francisco, and I just can’t wait to move in and figure out what the city life is all about.

Now the big question: to match or not to match my bedside tables. (I know, I know, really? That’s my big issue now? Life is pretty great!!)

But in all seriousness, should I match my bedside tables or not? Different colors and different styles? Same color but different styles? Same style but different colors? What do you think? Seriously.

Photo-A-Day 2012: Week 5

This week was pretty crazy! I’m still not ready to share all the news with everybody out in Cyber Land… but I promise I will fill you in this weekend or on Monday. I promise.

But before my photos and Tweets from week 5, something adorable:

And now for the photos:

January 29 - the touristy part of San Francisco

January 30 - sometimes Target has the coolest pillows

January 31 - basketball game at my high school alma mater, things sure have changed

February 1 - my dad brought my Aunt Judy's Tiffany engagement ring back from Pennsylvania. She passed away 11 years ago. (No, I'm not engaged)

February 2 - I love arm chairs. They are so stylish and comfy. At a café at Polk and Washington

February 3 - tea time at Sideboard Coffee

And finally….

**Squeals!!**

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