Rachel Discovers Happiness

my life and road to happiness

Archive for the tag “new year”

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?

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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?

Living the Dream

…Or at least Googling pictures of the dream and saving them to my desktop.

That’s how I feel every time Awards Season is upon us. And, of course, it always kicks off with the Golden Globes. As with any awards show, the Red Carpet is a huge part of the show’s broadcast. The fashion is not only talked about over the next few days, but years to come.

Now, some of you might cringe at this, but I tend to care more about the fashion of the night than who actually wins the awards. There is a reason for this, and that is that I am not very well versed in pop culture and movies/TV shows.

  1. I don’t have enough time/money to go to the movies every time something I want to see comes to theaters
  2. I don’t have enough time to watch all the shows I want to want (Revenge, that means you)
  3. Even though I read Glamour and People, watch the TV shows I have time for, pay attention to entertainment news, I STILL can’t remember the names of actors and actresses, who’s dating whom, and who starred in which film. As much as I wish it did, my brain just doesn’t work like that.
This makes it very difficult to contribute to conversations surrounding such topics. Especially when my best friends are so well versed in pop culture that they generally know who in Hollywood broke up, got back together, is engaged, is having a baby, or is starring in which film before the actors themselves even know.

So anyway, although I do watch the full show and see who wins, place my predictions, etc. my preferences are generally unfounded and only come from which movies I have heard about in conversation and which (few) actors I can remember.

I do, however, LOVE the Red Carpet. I love watching the coverage, switching through all the channels that have coverage of the night so as not to miss a single dress, earring, or sequin that makes its way down that carpet. I love reading the best and worst articles that come out over the course of a few days after the event. I love watching the TV specials about who looked surprisingly fantastic, and who completely bombed the night in their attempt to be fashion forward.

Because of this, I tend to develop my own opinions of the best and worst dressed of the night. I am not a fashionista (despite my desire to be) which means that my opinions don’t always parallel those published on sites such as Glamour, E!, and just about every other entertainment website online. That doesn’t stop me, however, from dreaming about wearing any and every dress that appears at an awards show (yes, the good, the bad, or the ugly – I wouldn’t be picky).

Although the fashion at the Golden Globes tends to be known for its fun than it’s elegance (like the Academy Awards), it is still known for its beauty, high end designers, and daring choices.

Alright, how that I’ve written your eyes off, if you will, here are my favorite dresses from the 2012 Golden Globes (not in any particular order).

Charlize Theron (via Glamour)

Didn’t like the big bow (which she always does), but I loved the cut of the dress, shoes, clutch, and the hair/headband.

Shailene Woodley (via Glamour)

Glamour thought this dress looked like a wedding dress. I loved it anyway. I missed her on the runway so every time The Descendants won an award I just wanted her to stand up so I could see the dress in its entirety.

Selma Hayek (via Glamour)

She always looks so beautiful. I wonder how heavy that dress was, though…

Jane Fonda (via The International Business Times)

I don’t know why, but I loved this. She looked fantastic when she was presenting!

Nicole Richie (via Glamour)

I don’t know what it was about this dress, but I though it looked great on her. I loved the back. Also, her hair looked awesome.

Kate Beckinsale (via Glamour)

Pure elegance.

Emma Stone (via Glamour)

Perfect for her age and attitude.

Diane Lane (via Glamour)

I loved the gold color. It was elegant, sexy, and classy all at the same time. Diane looked fantastic.

Claire Danes (via Glamour)

Although I would not choose this dress for myself, I absolutely loved the back of it. Somehow, it just worked for her.

Julianna Margulies (via FabSugar.com)

I just want to say that I love Julianna. At first I wasn’t a fan of the green in the earrings with the purple of the dress, but as I saw her more and more, it began to grow on me.

Jeannie Mai (via MyStyle.com)

Every time they showed Jeannie interviewing somebody, I swooned a bit. She looked fantastic! Too bad I couldn’t find a picture of the back of her dress which was stunning.

Debra Messing (via PurseBlog.com)

Love the dress. Love the hair. Love the makeup. Love the accessories. Love her.

Sarah Hyland (via NY Daily News)

This was a perfect dress choice for Sarah. It made her look sophisticated at her 21 years of age. Too bad her zipper broke as she was walking down the Red Carpet!

Reese Witherspoon (via NY Daily News)

Always a favorite. Need I say more?

Michelle Williams (via NY Daily News)

Although the dress wasn’t necessarily one of my favorites, I loved Michelle’s cute haircut and headband. It tied the outfit together perfectly. I always love her. Not to mention that I think she is so poised and speaks so eloquently. Hello, when she thanked her daughter? Can you say waterworks?!

Laura Dern (via NY Daily News)

Another one that took a bit of time to grow on me. Still not a fan of the belt, but I love everything else about it.

Sofia Vergara (via Glamour)

Of course. Love the cut and the color. To quote LMFAO: Girl, look at that body.

And now for the dresses I didn’t like, or was disappointed by:

Busy Philipps (via TheSimplyLuxuriousLife.com)

Oh come on Audrey (Busy’s character in Dawson’s Creek), what were you thinking? Loved the hair, but the dress?

Tilda Swinton (via NY Daily News)

I never like her. I mean, the dress is one thing, but the hair? Ugh, it makes me upset to look at. Sorry.

Natalie Portman (via NY Daily News)

Now, before you chastise me, I love Natalie Portman. But she can do better than this. She was even pregnant at the 2011 Golden Globes and still managed to be on just about everybody’s “Best Dressed” lists*.

Mila Kunis (via NY Daily News)

Another disappointment. Love Mila, like the dress, but not for the Red Carpet. Don’t get me wrong, I would totally wear that dress, but after last year’s gorgeous green number, this dress made me sad.

Kate Winslet (via NY Daily News)

She always looks pretty, but we all know she has the ability to look stunning. Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of those times.

Jessica Biel (via NY Daily News)

Sorry, but who picked out the doily for Jessica? Not my fave.

Freida Pinto (via NY Daily News)

Beautiful, but not exciting enough!

Dianna Agron (via NY Daily News)

That last dress didn’t have enough excitement, this one has too much. Even though the color was great, I just don’t like everything that the dress has going on! Dianna was another woman who looked stunning last year, but didn’t bring it for me this year.

Amanda Peet (via NY Daily News)

All I can say is: nope.

Other thoughts that crossed my mind as I was watching the broadcast:

And just a bit of Madonna humor:

What are your thoughts on the fashion from the start of the 2012 Awards Season? Do you agree with my selections? Which ones would you have included that I didn’t?

*As a general rule, I think I liked last year’s fashion a lot better for some reason. Don’t know why, but it just spoke to me more.

A Sincere Letter to Cash-Only Businesses

Dear Businesses that Don’t Accept Credit/Debit Cards (yup, I’m talking to you Little Sandwich Place on Union St. in San Francisco),

I want to begin this heart felt letter by saying that, although I understand your side of things, I still feel as though you really suck.

Okay, never mind, I take that back, I don’t understand your side of things. What century do you think you’re in? This isn’t the 18- or 19- hundreds anymore! It is the 21st century!!

I get that having a credit card swiper thing in your place of work means that you have to pay a little bit more when somebody chooses to use that form of payment, but can’t you just raise your prices by a tiny bit? Like, an extra quarter per sandwich? Instead, as your customer, when I can’t pay because I only have cards with me, I have to walk two blocks in order to find an ATM which then, in turn, charges me $2.50 to withdraw my $40. That charge is a 20% increase in the price of my purchase!

As somebody who is trying to follow her 2012 resolutions, I have started using my debit card a lot more because it is easier to track expenses that way. I don’t have to take receipts (which are not environmentally friendly in the first place) because my bank records all my transactions for me.* I don’t have to worry about change – paper or metal. I’m not concerned about my $20 bills blowing away or my change spilling everywhere as I’m crossing the street causing me to have to stop in the middle of the road, block traffic, risk my life, and pick up my measly 63¢. Or what to do with the pennies that are piling up in my car’s center console because a) I don’t have enough space in my wallet to carry all of them b) I can’t use them anywhere – including gumball machines like I could when I was little and c) it bothers me that the penny is bigger than the dime even though it is worth less. But I digress.

Don’t you see how big of an inconvenience this is to all of us? Now, I promise you, the 21st century isn’t as scary as we thought it was going to be a little over 12 years ago. Remember Y2K? When we all thought computers wouldn’t know how to handle the year code (’00 vs. ’99)? Or when we thought, for sure, there was going to be some huge, astronomical change when the clock hit midnight (even though we are on the West Coast of the United States and just about everybody else on earth had already made it safely into the 2000’s), but then it didn’t?

I promise, when you choose to join the rest of us in the world of technology and those small, rectangular, plastic things we all call credit cards, the world will not collapse around you. Yes, the world as you know it will be no more, but I promise, it will be better. It will be a place that doesn’t force people, such as myself, to spend a whole bunch of extra money on things such as sandwiches. The rest of us, who are already in the second decade of the new millenium, will gladly welcome you with open arms (and wallets).

I sincerely hope you take this letter to heart.

Regards,

Rachel

*Please spare me the lecture on how I shouldn’t count on my bank as a means of tracking my finances. I’ve heard it all before. It’s just so easy that way! And i’m not spending/making enough money for there to be any big discrepancy right now. I promise I will start to keep closer tabs on my ATM/credit card purchases in the future.

Photo-a-Day: Week 1

As one of my goals for 2012, I have decided to take a picture a day. I love everything about photographs: colors (or lack thereof), composition, macro, wide angle, panoramic, infinite sky, editing, and everything else that comes along with taking a picture.

Initially I was going to take a picture with my digital SLR every day, but because I don’t carry around my camera everywhere I go, I have decided that my iPhone or small point and shoot camera suffice when the SLR is not an option.

I will experiment with different shooting tactics, flashes, long exposure, editing tools, etc. Some photos will be good, some photos not so much. The point is not to love every single photo I take. The point is to make time to do something I love, and to enjoy doing it – maybe even to learn something along the way.

Every Friday, on my other blog, RachelHelen (wow, I really need to come up with a more creative title than that), I post my favorite Tweets from that week. I figure, instead of posting the same thing on both blogs, I will do my Photo-a-Day post on this blog. It’s stupid for me to write a different post for every photo, so I will just post all 7 (or 6, or 8, depending on whether I’ve taken my Friday photo at the time of publication or not) for that week at one time. I will incorporate some fun Tweets that made me happy throughout the past week in there as well (the links on RachelHelen are mostly professional Tweets… I will try not to have any crossover).

Anyway, here we go. Photo-a-Day, Week 1:

January 1

January 1 - The girls celebrating New Year

January 2 - In-N-Out (Just made it - This photo was taken between 12am and 1am on Jan 2 hehe)

January 3 - Delicious, fresh salad from food in my parents

January 4 - night time books

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?

Now that I’m starting…

I just finished The Happiness Project (literally 2 minutes ago) and am so excited to get started on my own project. I still have a lot of research to do about how I want to set mine up, what my resolutions are going to be, and much more. I need to decide if I’m going to do a major resolution a month, or if I am going to try to improve things at a steady pace throughout the year.

No matter which path I choose, I have a few things that can’t wait for upcoming months. Those things include:

  • Continue to refrain from biting my nails (I’m doing so well right now and I’m very proud of myself)
  • Eat healthier
  • Exercise on a regular basis
  • Take one photo a day (so far so good)
  • Start year 1 in the Q & A a day: 5 Year Journal I got as Christmas presents for myself and my three sisters

Even if I don’t do a resolution a month, I still want to start focusing on my finances more. That is where I am starting this year. I think it makes a lot of sense to start taking better control of my finances starting in January, but then again, I can rationalize starting any of the resolutions I have floating around y head in January.

Just to clarify – this blog is not just a “Happiness Project Blog.” It is not just focused on my path to happiness, but it will definitely include many posts about that journey. In addition, it will include my thoughts on life, different experiences I have, etc. One thing that I am going to try my very best to do, however, is not complain in this blog. I want to keep it upbeat and positive, thus fulfilling one of my resolutions to be more optimistic about the things in my life.

Sorry this post was kind of lame, I have so many thoughts running through my head about what to write about. I wish I had a filing/organizational system up there to help me rearrange and remember my thoughts. I can’t type fast enough to write down everything I think is important to say, but I will do my best.

On that note, how was your New Year’s? What are your resolutions/goals for 2012? How will you be accomplishing them?

Happy New Year!

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