Rachel Discovers Happiness

my life and road to happiness

Archive for the tag “2012”

2012 Election Results & Happiness

On election day, President Barack Obama’s message to supporters:

I’m about to go speak to the crowd here in Chicago, but I wanted to thank you first.

I want you to know that this wasn’t fate, and it wasn’t an accident. You made this happen.

You organized yourselves block by block. You took ownership of this campaign five and ten dollars at a time. And when it wasn’t easy, you pressed forward.

I will spend the rest of my presidency honoring your support, and doing what I can to finish what we started.

But I want you to take real pride, as I do, in how we got the chance in the first place.

Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests.

There’s a lot more work to do.

But for right now: Thank you.

Barack

“Four years ago voters wanted to make history, today voters wanted to make a difference.”
And I’m so glad we succeeded. Congratulations to President Barack Obama, the rest of the Obama family and Democrats everywhere; looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish in the next four years.

An Elegant Affair

This past weekend I finally got to go down to Southern California to visit my  big sister and stay at her pinspired apartment. Not only that, but I also had the honor of attending her best friend‘s wedding.

mehndi

The wedding was beautiful and Ayesha and E were absolutely stunning. I had never seen anything quite like this event and the only word that comes to mind is “wow.” They both wore traditional Bengali wedding outfits (I apologize for not knowing the correct words to describe the traditions, outfits, etc. but I will do my best) and most of the women in attendance wore beautiful saris. Ayesha’s hands were stained with mehndi – better known as henna in the US – and she wore the most stunning red sari and gold jewelry*.

the stunning bride

Throughout the night I got the opportunity to talk to E at dinner (he is one of the most intelligent people on this earth and just graduated with his masters, he is now looking for a job), dance to Bengali and American music (how those ladies of all ages were dancing so well in their saris I will never know, but I admire them), and generally admire the love that Ayesha and E have for each other and their new families. I won’t go in to all the details about the wedding because you should really read Ayesha and Caitlin’s posts about the event which I’m sure will be a lot more detailed than I can put into words; I will tell you, however, that I seriously felt so loved and blessed that Ayesha thought to invite me to her Bengali wedding.

To Ayesha, thank you so much for inviting me to attend such a magical night. You really did look absolutely beautiful and E looked wonderful in his elegant outfit as well. Seeing him dance with his brother was one of the highlights of my  night – it was so amazing to see how much fun they were having. I hope you enjoyed the night as much as I did. Can’t wait to read/hear about your thoughts now that the weddings are over and you officially get to start your new life. I already told Caitlin that you two (and Dev if she wants a break from med school!) need to find a weekend to come up and visit me in San Francisco so we can do a girls’ weekend together. I can’t wait ❤

Caitlin and Devery

*I tried to take pictures at the wedding but the lighting was very weird and I couldn’t figure out how to get the right color balance. Also, I gave up after a short period of time because I wanted to enjoy the wedding and take everything in without looking through the lens of my camera. I have it on good authority, however, that the photographer they hired is very talented and I’m sure she took some wonderful photos.

Tomorrow

A year ago tomorrow – June 11 – I graduated from college with my degree in journalism, concentration in public relations and minor in Spanish.

I wish I’d known then that, in exactly 366 days – gotta remember Leap Year! – I would be starting a real job at a real public relations agency with real coworkers and real clients and all that cool big-kid-real-life stuff I’ve been prepping for my entire life.

That’s right, you read me correctly, I got hired on a week ago at a PR agency called Horn. Starting tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. I will be at Horn’s San Francisco office for my first day as an Assistant Account Executive. I can’t wait to meet all my coworkers, find out about the clients I will be working with and get into the type of PR I’ve been longing for since starting my education in the industry.

I’m so excited!

This is one of the biggest steps of my entire life. It’s kind of the equivalent of moving away to college and starting out on my own – only with benefits and a 401(k) plan. Eek!

I found out that I got the position a week and a half ago, but I didn’t want to share my big news before signing the contract and all that good stuff.

Wish me luck!!

A little bit about Horn (from the company website):

HORN is a digital communications agency that combines PR, social media and interactive services to help companies build their brand and move their business forward. 

Named “2011 Technology Agency of the Year,” HORN works with Fortune 500 global brands and hot emerging growth companies in technology, media and consumer markets. Established in 1991, the agency is independent, with offices in San Francisco and New York, and is co-founder of the Oriella International Network.

Check out the post I wrote about SXSW for my company’s blog “Slice: Snackable PR” 🙂

Slice

By @rockegan

Every March for the past 20 years, movie buffs, music connoisseurs and tech nerds have taken over Austin, Texas. To some, the 20,000 extra people swarming the streets would be overwhelming. If you look past the lines, crowds and lack of sleep, however, you begin to realize that you are in a world where being called a “geek” or “nerd” is cool and everybody surrounding speaks the same language as you, and that language is Tech. What you experience for that week is nothing that you have ever experienced before or will ever experience again.

South By Southwest (SXSW) is focused on developing and expanding on innovative ideas for new products and services and because the main focus is technology, no two years are the same. With the rapidity at which the tech world advances, the things that were important this year may be considered archaic by next…

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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.

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!

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.

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!!**

Happiness Project: Status Update: January

Wow, I have been epically failing on my schedule to post on at least one of my blogs every day. So, that means that I haven’t been doing well on at least one of my resolutions.

It doesn’t get better from there.

In January I was supposed to focus on my finances – making sure I didn’t spend frivolously, save money, etc. Welp, that didn’t quite happen.

Sorry Mr. Hamilton (image via: DreamsTime.com)

I did manage to save some money, but not as much as I’d hoped. Since I am entering into the work-world, I have had to drastically improve my business-professional clothing collection. It doesn’t help that I loooooove business-professional clothing and that every time I see a cute blazer, pencil skirt or pair of heels my wallet just jumps out of my purse, my credit card swipes itself on the little machine, and I can’t control my hand as it picks up the pen to sign my name on the receipt. It is completely out of my control!

Okay, so I might have a problem. But at least it’s a fun one!

In any case, as you can probably tell, January did not go the way it was supposed to.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I haven’t done well on some of my other goals. If you are a regular reader of my blog (as you should be, hehe) you know that I have taken a picture every single day of January and plan to continue that for the rest of the year. (You should value my dedication to this. It is an even bigger commitment than it would have been last year. Not only do you get to see 365 photos as you would any other year, you actually get 366 photos because it’s a leap year. Lucky you!)

Other things that I have succeeded in are as follows:

  • Eating healthier and spending less money at restaurants than I did before – this is made easier by living at home with my parents who do most to all of my grocery shopping, cooking, paying when we are out, etc.
  • Applying for a job/internship and setting up informational interviews with people who are in positions that I would like to be in some day
  • Spending more time with my parents and attempting to talk to my sisters as often as possible (I could probably do better on the sisters part)
  • Focusing on my friendships with my girl friends rather than getting wrapped up in boy drama (the year started out a little bit rocky, some minor frustrations, but that’s about it thus far)
  • Apartment searching
  • Not biting my nails – I am doing soooooo well on this. It has been something that I have had a problem with for my entire life – you wouldn’t have wanted to see how short my nails were. It was one of my nervous habits, and since I get stressed/anxious really easily, I was always biting my nails. It wasn’t just biting either, I would pick at them as well. Not a good habit. I have not bitten my nails in so long, I keep them painted, I have nail growth stuff, etc.
  • I have started taking vitamins on a regular basis (a multi-vitamin, biotin – for nails and hair, vitamin D and calcium)
  • I have put together a schedule for myself which has helped me manage stress, anxiety, and worry

Even though I haven’t made as much progress as I would have liked thus far, I am really looking forward to the rest of 2012. Normally I start a new year with low expectations – it is just part of my nature. In my attempt to be more optimistic and think more positively, I came into 2012 forcing myself to believe that this year would be better than the rest. So far, I’ve been right. Although it is difficult to change who I am and how I feel about certain things, I am trying my hardest and I think I will be a better person for it.

How ’bout you? What progress have you made with your resolutions and goals? Has your 2012 started out well? What are you looking to improve on this year?

The Most Mundane Day of the Year AKA Change Your Password Day

This article was originally published by Gizmodo, but I loved it so much that I wanted to share it with you all. It is one of the funniest articles I’ve ever read about an immensely boring (and extremely obnoxious) subject: changing your password.

February 1 Is Change Your Password Day

If you are like me—and of course you are, right? we are all gingers inside—you probably have password security that ranges from awful-like-Batman-Forever to thoroughly mediocre.

Also if you are like me, you might’ve bought shoes from Zappos once—Keen Coronados in India In/Black Olive, to be precise—and been informed that some jerk might’ve stolen your password. Which, in my case, means they’ve got one of a series of root passwords that could potentially access one of my other accounts. And, boy, I’ve got a lot of accounts, I realized as I was counting up all the password changes I needed to make. And then, a nanosecond later came the realization that this is going to keep happening, every year, every month, maybe every week. It’s already happened a bunch—a hearty wave to you PSN players and Senatorial Twitter users—so it’s time to get a password managerand give every account a unique, hard-to-crack password.

Anyways, I thought it would be a good idea if we all changed our passwords together. Like positive peer pressure, ’cause it’s pretty goddamn annoying. Sooner is better than later, so I was thinking maybe we should all change our passwords on February 1. I’m not very creative, so I’ve decided to just call it “Change Your Password Day.” Look for some password-y pieces over the next few days leading up to it.

Change Your Password Day is February 1 and we hope you’ll join us in the most boring—but safest!—celebration ever.

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