Rachel Discovers Happiness

my life and road to happiness

Archive for the tag “leap year”

Not Another Cliché Leap Day Post

Happy Leap Day everyone!

I wasn’t going to write today, but I figure, since February 29 only comes around once every four years (as we are all well aware) I have to write because, well, not every day is Leap Day. Then I was going to write about the nostalgia of childhood because I’ve been feeling it lately, but that didn’t seem to be enough.

Morning bun from Starbucks trip #2 (see bottom of post for more details)

You see, today isn’t just Leap Day… today is my very dear Aunt Judy’s birthday. She would have been 56 (or 14) today had she not died from cancer 11 years ago. I miss her every day.

Aunt Judy was unique. I’m not talking the way we are each our own people and different in our own right simply by existing or having variances in our DNA or whatever; I mean that Aunt Judy was a really special and amazing human being. She genuinely cared for every person she came in contact with every day.

I wish I had a photo to share with you, but I don’t have any on my computer. She passed away before digital cameras were a “thing”.

She lived across the country so we only saw her once or twice a year when we went to visit her or she came out here to visit us, but those visits were full of exciting adventures and parties. Tea parties, beanie baby parties, scavenger hunts, pool parties, picnics – you name it, she made it incredible. She couldn’t have children of her own so she treated her nieces like princesses. She would have been a wonderful mother – her child would have been the luckiest kid in the entire world. Unfortunately, she never had that chance.

When my grandmother stood up at my aunt’s funeral and spoke about her daughter, it broke my heart. I couldn’t tell you what she said (I was a wreck and hardly remember anything that anybody said to me that day), but what I can tell you is that my grandparents’ hearts break every single day from the loss of their daughter.

beautiful leap image (via vi.sualize.us)

The past few days have reminded my family, in very real ways, how short life can be. Yesterday, my step mom got news that her step sister passed away from a bad case of pneumonia (sadly, my family members are no strangers to how devastating pneumonia can be – and how awful the ICU can be for months on end). Last night was the first time my step mom had ever heard her step dad cry. Talking to her about it this morning broke my heart.

No parent should ever have to bury a child – no matter how young or old that person is.

Losing people who are close to you really makes you value how important every single day is – sometimes things happen that really make us open our eyes and take a good hard look at the world around us and realize how incredible this world is. Sometimes those things are good (like getting an apartment and a job all in the same day), and sometimes those things are devastating (like losing a loved one – especially when their life is cut short by tragedy); What’s important, though, is that we don’t take life for granted and that we really appreciate everything that surrounds us.

That is why I have spent today being thankful that I have one more day – one extra day – to appreciate the people in my life. Even though it seemed like just any other Wednesday – I got up, went to work, stressed about deadlines, came home, ate dinner, and now I’m sitting in bed – it really was so much more than that. It was one more chance, 24 more hours, to hold my head high and live life the way my Aunt Judy lived it all 45 years of her life – with passion, excitement, love, and hope that I can (somehow) make the world a better place.

Of course, now I’ve turned my “Happy Leap Day” post into a rather sad post, but sometimes that just has to be done. Because I made this post so intense, here are some happier Leap Year thoughts to end you with:

Leap Year Fact #1: Did you know that, because we have Leap Years, the calendar year and the solar year are just about a half a minute off. At that rate, it takes 3,300 years for the calendar year and solar year to diverge by a day. That should help you sleep at night 😉

Leap Year Fact #2: A New Jersey woman and her daughter were both born on Leap Day. The odds of that are 2 million to 1. That’s pretty crazy, huh?

Leap Year Fact #3: All of us in my mom’s immediate family were born in Leap Years. Pretty crazy, huh? What are the chances of that? 

  • Piffy – 1952
  • Prey – 1956
  • Philo – 1980
  • MJD – 1984
  • Me – 1988
  • Pookie – 1992
  • MJ – 2008

(To see which name corresponds with which person, visit the Characters page)

Besides valuing the extra day, I celebrated in a few other ways as well:

First I went to Starbucks three times before noon. Can you say addicted?! (Soy latte, morning bun, and iced coffee with nutmeg…. YUM!)

Then the Cupcake Fairy came to work today – something that only happens once every 4 years – and we were all pretty excited.

Present from the Cupcake Fairy

And, as if today wasn’t unique enough, there were actually open seats on my bus ride home. That is unheard of at 5pm on a Wednesday in San Francisco.

Empty bus seats 🙂

How did you spend your Leap Day? Did you do anything special?

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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?

Finances – Step 1

Hello again! How are your 2012 resolutions coming along? Mine are okay, although I haven’t really had a chance to focus on finances because I haven’t gone anywhere that have had to spend money.

Celebrating 2012 with friends (and a weird guy behind us...)

I have, however, started to figure out how much money I want to spend on each category each month. I’m so glad that my friend Christine introduced me to Mint – an online financial tracking system that helps you stick to your budget. There is also an app for your smart phone. It develops a budget for you, but you can also change the amount of money in each category. My categories include Movies & DVDs, Alcohol & Bars, Coffee Shops, Fast Food, Restaurants, Groceries, Gas & Fuel, and Clothing.

I won’t get into the details of it because honestly, it would probably bore you (and me) but I will tell you that I have taken to using Mint, as well as Excel in order to organize my cash flow. I’m hoping to save at least 30% of every pay check I receive, which is pretty easy now because I’m living at home, but once I move out I’m expecting it to get a lot more difficult.

As for my other, more fun resolutions, I’m doing pretty well! I’ve taken a photograph every day (although last night I forgot until I got into bed, so I took one of my reading material). I’ve updated my 5 year blog every day. I have been reading. I have been eating healthier and tracking my food intake (not calories, just intake). I have been trying to relax more. I even started exercising.

I’ve been organized, productive, social, and happy. I’ve been reading books, magazines, blogs, and articles. I even went job searching today! I’ve been (mostly) following the schedule I developed last week. It’s pretty packed, but sticking to a schedule helps me get things done and feel more accomplished.

my weekly schedule

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Wow, congratulations,” as you roll your eyes. “You’ve made it a grand total of five days. I’m sooooo proud of you. Not.” But seriously, five days is a great start! Think on the positive side – five days is five days of forming a habit. That leaves only 361 days left to make my resolutions habit and complete my goals. (Yes, 361 days – 2012 is a Leap Year!*)

I’m excited to get even more organized and figure out other ways in which I can work towards my resolution to make myself happier. Thus far, 2012 has started out well – I’ve had a smile on my face every day!

How are your 2012 resolutions coming along? What are they? Do you have goals for each month?

*Quick Fact: Everybody in my immediate family on my mom’s side was born in a Leap Year. That includes: me, my little sister, my two older step-brothers, my mom, my step-dad, and my niece. Pretty cool, huh?

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