5 Reasons Why You Should Be a Witchy Woman

You can keep your zombies, Walking Dead. And you can most definitely keep your vampire and werewolf boyfriend, Bella Swan. I’ll keep my brains and heart so that I can trade it for some eye of newt.

That’s because every Halloween, I relish the time that I spend watching witch movies and shows. From Practical Magic to Charmed, witches are a key component of our October festivities, and for good reason. Hollywood has recently portrayed witches as the full feminine package: beautiful and powerful. Who wouldn’t want the ability to turn an ex-boyfriend into a ferret? And then be able to wear a lot of black leather wherever they want? Turns out that women can have it all, as long as they practice the craft. Seems a lot easier than selling your soul to the devil, which witches don’t do, by the way.

So, to pay homage to one of my favorite aspects of Halloween, here are five characteristics that should make you proud to call yourself a little witchy:

1. You’re Probably Different/Beautiful/Cool: You may have heard this version of history: Witches were burnt at the stake when they practiced “magic” in the community. The definition of “magic” might vary from acts of seduction toward other women’s husbands or even to the loss of crops to blight or inclement weather, imaginary or real. In fact, if you read (or most likely spark-noted) The Crucible in high school, you may be nodding in recognition at this description of the witch.

However, in many cases this was not so. More often, cruel women in the community who had  influential hubbies got jealous of other women and forced their spouses to make trouble for their target by deeming them a witch. Usually, the subject of this torment was unusual in some way. Typically, they were beautiful or particularly nice, or had some other beguiling trait that left other husbands in the community wanting to stir her cauldron, if you catch my witchy drift. This did not sit well with their wives, for obvious reasons, and the woman in question was promptly barbecued. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time in history that we feared and killed something that we actually admired. (I’m looking at you, Native Americans.) So, in short, there are two lessons in this: don’t hate on fellow women just because they are prettier/nicer/smarter than you. We must be a united front against the patriarchy. And secondly, if you’re called a witch, you are probably awesome. And better yet, someone has noticed your awesomeness, and wants very much to dethrone you. Don’t let them.

2. Witches Don’t Need a Better Half: Everybody has a friend who dates their significant other simply because they are afraid to be alone. That’s an entirely different blog post subject in itself, but luckily, witches don’t need such creature comforts. In fact, in most Hollywood adaptations, the witch in question has had historically bad relations with men, and have generally rejected the male race in general.

Simultaneously, men typically fear the witch because she is an emblem of pure feminine power: she can take care of herself, and he could fall unwillingly under her spell. If you don’t interact with men, or haven’t tried to take the remote control from them, you should know that they really like to be in control, so you can understand why this role reversal might freak them.

For me, as an extreme feminist, scaring and swearing off men sounds great. To you, a potentially sane person, this might sound a bit lonely in the relationship department. Fear not. Go on to #3.

3. Your Sisters Have Your Back: When you’re in a coven, you can be sure that your witch sisters will always be there for you if you cry or die. All witches have an extensive line of sisters and aunts to raise their daughters and avenge their deaths, or so Hollywood tells us. So, when you grow up witch, you can be sure that you will have plenty of back-up for your highs and lows. Consult the grimoire, and then cry into Aunt Zelda’s shoulder, Sabrina. You will always have the support that you need, and it’ll probably come in 3’s.

4. You’re Not a Cat Lady-You Just Have a Lot of Familiars: Are you worried that the local news will come to your house in about 30 years because you have been eaten by a horde of your “precious kitties” after you ran out of Friskies? You might not need a crystal ball to know if this will be your fate, but that doesn’t mean that you have to turn away animals altogether. Witches often seek the counsel of their furry friends, so why shouldn’t you? Just keep plenty of kitty litter around. Also, remember the party rule: if you can’t see all of your guests at once in one room, there’s too many people. This rule also applies to the number of cats you own at one time.

5. You Can Be Yourself: Aside from pretending that you are normal and not a witch so that people will not suspect you of being what you are, you can be exactly who you are. And even then, people will probably figure it out, so why hide it? You should always express yourself, witch or not. So, dance naked under the moonlight, and do you.

Want to read more about witchcraft? Check out this Huffington Post article!

What It Really Means To Be From New Jersey

On the eve of the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy (we’ve got an anniversary theme going on this week), I wanted to take some time to honor the people that were lost to that horrific storm, but also the homes that were washed away. Truly, a way of life was demolished when Hurricane Sandy came ashore.

Yet, in the same breath, I want to celebrate the lifestyle that New Jersey still harbors despite the many casualties we endured, such as our beloved shore.

The problem is that we are being told who we are. We are told that we are over-crowded, polluted, rude and most recently, “stronger than the storm.” And in some ways, as in all stereotypes, these monikers are true. Yet, the latter was only a clever marketing slogan at the outset. It conveyed to outsiders that we have ripped off the band-aid, and only bear a small scar in the place of Sandy’s destruction. However, in many cases, we are not fully healed. We will get there, we always do, but we haven’t yet.

So, here’s a reminder of who we are:

We are the “garden state.” When we say that our produce is “Jersey Fresh,” that denotes a standard unparalleled in any other state. We are the best of so many worlds. We are nestled in between some of the greatest places on the East Coast. We are densely packed, but we are neighborly. We are skyscrapers alongside mom and pop shops.

We are long stretches of highway, with the windows down. We are small cul-de-sacs, with children playing basketball at dusk. We are as mysterious as the Jersey Devil. We are as vast as the Atlantic Ocean. We are the sunny days at the shore. We are camping trips under the stars. We are loud and persistent because we know what we want. We are as warm and generous as a bowl of Campbell’s soup. We are a breed all our own. We won’t give up and we won’t give in. We are New Jersey. And we are getting somewhere.

I am proud to be from New Jersey.

Tell me in the comments what it means to from New Jersey to YOU!

Happy Anniversary, Gallbladder

I apologize for not posting last Wednesday or Thursday. I was unfortunately distracted by what normal people call a “life.” This is a topic that I would have talked about then. So, without further, ado…a blog post.


An Anatomy Lesson

Most people don’t know what a gallbladder is, let alone how it functions. But about 500,000 to 700,000 people will be told every year that theirs will have to come out (source.) Last year, I became one of the ranks of the happy, but slightly scarred people who live a day to day existence without their gallbladder.

Your gallbladder actually aids in fat digestion, which is primarily the liver’s job. The liver can do it by itself, but it could always use the help. Think of it like when your spouse/mom/dad tells you to set the table. They are probably fully capable of doing it themselves, but they’d love it if you would help them. Just be glad they don’t decide to cut you out when you stop pulling your own weight.

So, why did mine have to come out? Let’s rewind back to about 6 months earlier when I was eating gobs of Nutella because I was living in Ireland by my lonesome and was feeling especially homesick. I forwent the bread in this venture and took to eating the stuff right out of the jar. Comfort food is quite effective in relieving you of your fears and worries, and also of your internal organs. After a few days of bingeing on the popular hazelnut spread, I had what I now understand was a gallbladder attack in my friends’ bedroom. We Skyped their parents (not mine) and asked what we should do. They were insistent. I should go to the emergency room. I was also insistent. I would not go. I was loath to venture to a hospital in a foreign country for obvious reasons. So, I channelled my inner James Joyce and stiffened my upper lip. In a few hours, the pain eased.

A Day That Will Live in Inflamed Infamy

Then, on October 25, 2012, surgeons removed my inflamed gallbladder because it was being blocked by a gallstone that was the size of a golf ball. This made sense. I was in excruciating pain, and had been pumped full of Dilaudid, and had just started to feel as if I was floating.

A few hours earlier than this, I had been rolled into a ball on the floor, complaining of stomach pain. After an hour of this, I then found myself being rolled into a hospital by my college roommates. Apparently, I was interrupting their studying with my moans and crying. They stood in a semi-circle around me and looked on.

When the surgeon came in, he told me that I would be having surgery the next day. It might happen anywhere between 7am or 7pm. At this time, I can’t say that I was “with it.” So, I looked up at the surgeon with tears in my eyes and asked, “Can I go home?” He chuckled at me, something that I hear is rare at a hospital, and informed me that he would have to watch my condition over night. Simply put, I wasn’t going anywhere.

I spent a restless night being poked with needles. They took my blood and blood pressure about every 3 hours. The only solace I had was the fact that my best friend’s mom was doing the poking. She had heard through the grapevine that I was on the floor, and had made sure that she had fully monopolized me for her shift. To say that I was comforted by her, would be a horrible understatement. It would be like saying that Tom Hanks was merely comforted by Wilson in Castaway.

Hyper Hypochondriac

I’m a hypochondriac at the best of times. And I’m fairly certain every day that today will be my last day on Earth. So, you can begin to imagine my panic at being told that I would actually need surgery for what I thought might be another phantom pain. Coupled with the fact that I might go into surgery without anyone there to see me off into the great beyond, I was completely beside myself and a little to the left.

That is why you might think that having my boyfriend slip through the curtain around 6am made me sigh a heavy sigh of relief. Yes, you would think that if you didn’t know my boyfriend. My knight in shining armor came through the door after working a full shift at a bar, getting off at 3am, and driving 2 hours to my school. He promptly took the nearest chair, put his feet on my hospital bed, and said, “wake me up if you leave.” Chivalry may have taken a bigger hit than me that morning, but I was glad for his presence.

My family filed in not too long after that. The surgery itself was unremarkable, thank god. I only remember the nurse saying, “Do you feel sleepy yet, Bailey?” I replied, “no” and woke up in the recovery room without a gallbladder.

Even though my organ cut out early, I still feel whole. I’m happily down a gallbladder, and up a few small scars that make me feel a bit like a bad ass. Although I do have some trouble eating some fatty foods, it’s probably for the best that I don’t eat them. So, remember to look for blessings in disguise, and that everything is beneficial in moderation. Especially Nutella.

 

By All Means, Do Drugs

Quoth the Raven, “Get a Life”
Edgar Allan Poe, a role model in probably no way but his writing, once offered: “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” And it seems that Poe encountered hours and hours of sanity, if his death is to serve as any evidence. So, what can we learn from both his tortured life and his equally tragic death? The same things that we can learn from any great existence. What Poe teaches us, and what anyone pursuing their dream might be able to tell you, is that if you accept “reality” in any form than you will never be happy. If you hear someone say any of the following:

  • be realistic, get straight
  • grow up, be an adult
  • stop dreaming

Then start running. Preferably now. And if that person is your mom, dad, sibling, boyfriend, girlfriend, closest friend, then I am even more sorry. But you’ll have to kill them.

Just kidding. But if you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, or if you’ve never graduated with an English degree, then here is a version of the “reality” I’m talking about and advising you to avoid:

You tell yourself that you have to take the job because it will pay the bills. You don’t go out for drinks on a Friday night because you didn’t plan for it. You decide that you want to go back to school because your current profession is a dead-end and a pipe-dream. You don’t believe in magic, angels, miracles, mermaids, unicorns, fairies, or even love. You tell yourself to “be realistic” or “sensible.” You refrain from laughing too loudly, and have perfected the quiet chortle behind your napkin. You scream into a pillow when you are angry. You don’t entertain the notion of “what ifs,” you simply accept the world as it is.

And I pity you.

Hobbits and Big Macs
Here’s how I disregard reality. When I was a young lass, my father read to my sister and I every night. After a time, fairy tales graduated into The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. A love for mysteries stuck with my sister because since she still seeks out crime and cop shows on the regular. But for me, it was simply an obsession with reading that outlasted my childhood. I would read to myself out loud or silently. I would read books, signs, shampoo bottles (I love long ingredients) post-it notes, newspapers, and occasionally, tea-leaves. You can argue that I was pre-wired to love words, as nature might, or that the nurturing hand of my father reading transformed me into the bookworm that I am today. Either way, reading satisfies something in me that can’t be satiated in any other way. An itch that can only be scratched by the repertoire of Neil Gaiman, lately.

But it doesn’t matter what I read. What is important now is that I have learned to escape reality, and that I do. I read books, particularly fantasy and science fiction, because I am not at all concerned with “reality.” I am actually most happy when I am contemplating the civilization on a fallen leaf or what seas do mermaids enjoy the most or even what Hobbits would order at McDonald’s.

So, when the time comes to be “serious” or “adult” or “realistic,” well. I’m not.

A Hit of Reality
Because, without reality, people are filled with dreams and what-ifs. When individuals aren’t constrained or inhibited by their own beliefs or limitations, they are an altogether different breed. Occasionally, we see small glimpses of this type of human being. They ride trains to their mundane jobs and daydream about if their car began to fly into the air. They wish fully for a black hole to swallow them up when they are embarrassed. They imagine having the ability to shoot laser beams from their eyes to fry their boss or their ex. The point is, their imaginations run wild at these times, and their emotions flare, and they are alive.

As a result, my message is to avoid reality at all costs, whatever that means for you. If it’s drugs, alcohol and dark vices that allow you to escape for awhile, then by all means. But know that there are other ways to let yourself rise above the fray without doing as much damage to yourself and to those around you. There is reading, writing, math, art, running, walking, believing, swimming, hiking, loving, breathing or any other matter of activity. But no, I will not condemn your feints to preserve your sanity in the end, whatever you choose. I will never tell you to grow up or be more logical. And the truth is, what we need is not less addicts or problems in the world.

It is less people telling us no, less people saying that we can’t achieve all that we can be, and less people demanding that we need to be “realistic.”

In the end, if you must engage with reality, take a dose and let the effects wear off forever.

Every Idea is a Good Idea: Part 2

Here’s that excerpt I promised. For your added convenience, my snarky comments have been peppered throughout. You can tell them apart because they are coherent. Also, they are in parentheses. 

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Here’s part 1.

Part 6-The Mermaid (Where’s parts 1-5?)

Gwen cried at her desk, Why did it have to be this way? Why can’t “Elizabeth” or whoever just go away? Will is going to be mine. I need him… (Oh, great. Scary, jealous tendencies showing from an early age.)

Her thoughts were interrupted by Arianna and Anastasia. They had crashed through the seaweed curtain and now lay on the floor looking up at her. “GWEN! WE GOTTA GET TO CLASS!!!” Arianna shouted. (Caps lock was used in original manuscript). “Oh, right. I forgot!”exclaimed Gwenivere. She went about collecting her books and putting them into her seal skin bag. Yes, I know it’s cruel! (Please, PETA, I didn’t know what I was talking about when I was 13…I’m sure mermaids just use the skins of seals that have died of natural causes.) She stopped and looked at her friends. They were standing up now brushing themselves off. (How are they standing!? Aren’t they mermaids???) “What happened to you guys?”

They both looked down shyly. Then looked back at Gwen. “Well, I made out with a MAN!” they said in unison. (Oh, dear lord. Both of them? I guess I was advanced for my age?) Gwen gasped then smiled. She folded her arms. “What was he like?” They stopped staring at each other and said dreamily with their eyes to the ceiling, “Oh! He was wonderful!” They had done it again. They said it at the same, exact time. Gwen giggled.

Anastasia said confidently, “Mine was better.” Arianna scowled and pointed an accusatory finger at Anastasia, “You probably stole him from ME!” (As you can see, I’ve really captured the feminine psyche. At 13, I understood that women would fight about men, and that’s really the whole of it.) Anastasia was before turned to the wall, but at this last statement she turned around. “HOW DARE YOU?” 

Gwen didn’t know the time, but she knew they were late. “C’mon girls!” She pushed them out the door, still arguing, and off to class.

After swimming down Mermaid Plaza, they finally got to the Academy. Unfortunately, Anastasia and Arianna were still fighting. “ME?” Anastasia shrieked. “Yes, you! You…you…” “Girls, shut up, we’re late to class!” Gwen shouted as she reached for the shell shaped handle on the door. They folded their arms against their chest and glared daggers at each other, but fell silent. Gwen sighed as she opened the door. The hallways were eerily silent. No one was even at their shockers. Shockers are lockers made of shells, no it’s not a typo. (Sassy!) 

Bad sign. Really bad sign. “Come on!” Gwen hissed shouldering her bag and taking her friends by the hands. She dragged the girls down the hallway for their first night-class, Geography. They slipped into class and slowly turned around. “YOU’RE LATE. NOW SIT DOWN.”

“Yes, yes, Mr. Codd,” sputtered Gwen. 
“We will take our seats now, sir.” Arianna said nervously. 
“Won’t happen again!” added Anastasia.

“SEE THAT IT DOESN’T!” Mr. Codd demanded. “Now as I was saying, sirens sing all around the world…” They took their seats quickly. Gwen tried to pay attention, but drifted into a day-dream. About her and Will. She drifted from reality to dream-world throughout the class. Finally, the bell rang and they all filed to the door. Finally, Gwen thought. Her next class was singing. Her favorite. Arianna, Anastasia, and Gwenivere were considered the best in the class. They swam down the corridor shouldering people. (What?) They rounded a corner and entered the chorus room. “Mrs. Bass, how are you?” Anastasia asked sweetly. “Oh, fine dear, just fine!” Mrs. Bass was a dark-skinned mermaid with a wide girth. (What, too much sushi? What is fattening in the sea? Isn’t she swimming all the time?) She wore large necklaces and colorful shirts. Her hair was curled in taut, dark curls. Her spectacles sat curtly on her nose. “Take a seat, ladies!” called Mrs. Bass. Many more girls flowed into the room, but at once took their seats. If you wanted to be a siren you needed above all to sing so every one got down to work in chorus class. “Now let’s begin!” Mrs. Bass called tapping a shell stand with a thin piece of driftwood.

You’re still here? Well, there you have it. Check again for cringe-worthy pieces of my childhood!

Every Idea is a Good Idea: Part 1

That's me with the bow. Yup, all these great ideas issue forth from that huge noggin of mine.
That’s me with the bow. Yup, all these great ideas issue forth from that huge noggin of mine.

Forgive me, dear readers. I have completely and utterly neglected you. I didn’t post last Thursday. I was happily celebrating my grandmother’s longevity, (she’s 80!) and I could not push myself away from the cake served fast enough to write a blog post. So, here is two in one day.

Every writer (and hoarder) is inclined to keep their old writings. Stacks upon stacks of failed start-ups or inspired scribbles that went nowhere fill and pad my room. Prompted by a conversation with my co-workers, I decided to go deep-sea junk diving and find my old stories. And promptly laugh at them. Unfortunately (or rather fortunately) much of my earlier writings have been lost. This happened when we updated our computer from an archaic model to a mediocre one. I didn’t think to save them from their fate.

And to build upon that, I was never really a novelist when I was younger. I read many, many books during my childhood, but I figured I would leave the beautiful story-telling to the professionals. So, I came up with a lot of ideas and a lot of poems. What follows are a few of those ideas (with snarky commentary) and even an attempt at a fuller novel? story? Er…let’s call it an excerpt in the next part. Let’s giggle together, shall we?

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES ARE TERRIBLE. AND REPRODUCED VERBATIM FROM MY OLD JOURNALS. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

STORY IDEA #784: A girl dies with her braces still on. Now she must find someone who will take them off and discover who killed her.

23-YEAR-OLD COMMENTARY: An orthodontic mystery! How clever, younger Bailey. The absolute horror that someone might die with their braces still on will give you insight into how much I hated my own. The best part of this little premise is that not only does this young heroine need to undergo another orthodontic appointment in death, but she has to avenge herself! I would say grab your popcorn because this ending is going to be a doozy, but my dentist says the kernels will get stuck in my teeth…

STORY IDEA #785: A normal girl lives with her parents. A mutant becomes a foreign exchange student, who is trying to find out more about the human race.

More details:
-Mutant girl.
-Lives on a star.
-Doesn’t know much English.
-Can’t control her power.
-What’s her power? Starbolts???

23-YEAR-OLD COMMENTARY: I wonder if I was watching a lot of the Disney channel at this time to come up with this plot? And, is she a regular mutant? Like X-Men? Such freshly baked ideas, frosted with originality!

And finally, an attempt at a poem:

The Apple of my Eye

You’re my favorite
You’re the one
You’re my happiness
My sweet honeybun

You are the one I run to
My flower in the snow
You’re different from the rest
Like a big sore toe

You’re my ray of sunshine
You light the way near and far
But one thing really troubles me
I want to know just who you are!

23-YEAR-OLD COMMENTARY: Wouldn’t you love to be my boyfriend? Just when you thought it was really sweet of me to write a poem for you, I call you a big sore toe. That is romance, gentlemen. Soak it up.

The point of this is to remind you to laugh at yourself, and to not take yourself too seriously! If you need something to laugh at, just scroll up. We all have to start somewhere, right? (write?)

My Grandfather Kissed Me on the Mouth

Author’s Note:

I’m a little pressed for time this week, so I will be reposting some of my favorite blog posts from over the years. Today, I would like to take the time to celebrate my grandfather’s birthday with this blog post. I hope you enjoy him as much I did. 

The Man, The Legend

My grandfather was a stately, diplomatic man. He was once mayor of my small town, but always a lover of politics and knowledge. In an age before the internet, he was our Google and our Wikipedia. The dinner table would always fall silent when he would begin to talk about a particular topic. We’d always lean a little closer to hear what gem might spill out.

He was robust in appearance and in life. He was a great man, and an even better grandfather. Not only because he would slip $20 bills into our hands and call it “gas money” before we could drive, but because we respected him and admired him thoroughly.

Except for one thing that irked me. Every time we would leave his house, he would kiss my sister and I directly on the lips. Yes, you read that right: on. the. lips. When I asked my mother for an explanation for this behavior, because I was suddenly 16 and had already been kissed by my Pop-Pop, (oh my god, he might have been my first…) she simply shrugged and said, “It’s always been like that.” So, reluctant to ruffle his well-poised feathers, I puckered up for peck after peck, all the while hoping that I didn’t accidentally linger too long.

Maserati, Please?

But my grandfather was always teaching me something, always helping me to learn and to grow.

And I only recently realized that in this uncomfortable memory was a valuable lesson about love.

He kissed us on the lips because he didn’t want us to be confused about how he felt about us. He refused to give us social “air kisses” as friends might, and thankfully he did not put his tongue down our throat like a romantic partner could (try another blog for that kind of action.) He simply desired to convey his love in an unmistakable manner.

Sure, he could have bought us a Maserati (or two?) to produce the same effect. Such an effort would have eliminated any adult weirdness I may feel about the situation now. But that wasn’t his style and it isn’t mine. His intimacy as a no-nonsense man was meaningful in a way that a new car is not.

The Kicker in the Kisser

And really, when was the last time that YOU showed someone or something that you loved them that much? When was the last time you defied an awkward moment to remind someone that they meant something to you? (I’m looking at you, teenage boys, who hang up the phone without telling your mom you love her when you’re out with your friends.)

And when was the last time you knew how someone felt about you, without any worrying or questioning for hours after about their true feelings?

The problem is that we beat around the bush, tree, and lots of other foliage simply to avoid being vulnerable or too personal with others. Days fold in and out and we forget to tell the people who matter most that we appreciate them. That we love them. We don’t think about not being able to see that person who we see everyday. But I assure you, that day will come when you can’t. And you will wish you loved them harder, held them closer and told them what they meant to you. I know I do. I miss my Pop-Pop everyday. Even his kisses.

So, here’s your chance. Get off this blog. And kiss the nearest person to you on the lips. Oh, it’s your mom? Good. She deserves your love the most.

Remember, be candid with your affection and you will never regret anything in this life.

Three Things That Optimism Isn’t

Ever since the play “Annie” came out, I think people are confused about the concept of optimism. If you haven’t seen the play, or you avoid it at all costs in order to not get the songs stuck in your head accidentally, it’s about a young orphan who is so infectiously cheerful that she actually sings when she completes her house chores. (Seriously. Who does that?) Through the twists and turns of the play, she is adopted by an exceedingly rich man and lives a happily ever after that even Hans Christian Andersen would have to applaud. And what is her constant, literal refrain throughout the darkness and gloom in her life?

The sun will come out tomorrow…

And yes, there is something in that song about betting your bottom dollar (why is she promoting gambling?) along with a generally nice message. But anyone watching the news and the over-paid meteorologists every night will know that Annie is in way over her head by attempting to predict the weather.

However, her optimism is clear, although perhaps misguided. If one has hope and believes things will turn out right, they eventually will. Maybe the sun won’t come out tomorrow, but if you allow yourself to feel it’s warm rays, you’ll feel a bit brighter.

So, why does this idea accurate in Annie’s life, but not in the weatherman’s? Mostly because it is a fictional play. But that isn’t to say that optimism doesn’t have it’s uses. It’s only that we’ve been wielding it wrong. It’s because optimism isn’t:

1. A panacea or cure-all. Sure, it will help you to feel better about your situation, which will in turn encourage you to forge ahead, but simply being optimistic about something does not guarantee that you will achieve your goals. A little cheerfulness coupled with a plan can certainly go a long way, but optimism without hard work is like a cupcake with beautiful frosting: nice to look at, but all empty calories.

2. Being happy all of the time. Some people have this view of optimism that suggests that they are always happy and full of glee and rainbows. But really, the most optimistic person in your life might be the one who is dealing with the most problems. It’s not the smile on their face that denotes a sense of optimism; it’s the amount of drive and determination they exert when faced with a challenge that appears insurmountable. I offer you my absolute favorite quote of all time by Mary Anne Radmacher for evidence of this:

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”

3. Always looking on the bright side. Optimism doesn’t always mean that you should see the grass as greener on the other side immediately. It only means that you should definitely pick yourself up by your bootstraps once you’ve had a chance to process. Sometimes optimism means moving on, or letting things go, rather than simply grinning and bearing it. The universe won’t be fooled by you trying to believe that there is a silver lining to that catastrophic event that totally devastated you, but it does know that you will be alright in the end. And so should you. Eventually, and in due time. Remember, you can be both optimistic and clueless about what to do next. Just never be “realistic.” It doesn’t help anyone.

And there you have it. Optimism certainly worked for a little red-head orphan girl. Make it work for you.

Is There Such a Thing as a Selfish Act?

When I began to think about writing this blog post, I wanted to impress upon my readers the idea of doing something solely for yourself. I don’t necessarily mean doing something that satisfies you, such as taking a bubble bath or buying a new suit, but rather completing a task that is you. An act that comes from within you and that is not soiled on the way out by niceties, courtesy or filters. The problem, I thought, is that we live such confined lives at work, school, etc. We rarely express or experience ourselves in our unadulterated forms. Perhaps, because we call our true instincts and desires “selfish.”

But riding along this thought train, I pulled into a station that I wasn’t prepared to stop at. I was at a loss for a perceived “selfish, self-indulgent” activity that did not, in one way or another, impact others in a possibly positive light. This completely inverted my idea that we occasionally should live “selfishly.”

Selfishness is imaginary, I realized.

Seriously. You made it up in your head a long time ago to punish yourself for absolutely nothing. Or some other masochist did. Probably the Puritans. (They were a hateful breed. What did they hate most? Themselves. And happiness.)

So, let’s look at the evidence and at some “self-indulgent” endeavors that should be actually named “self-resplendent”:

1. Taking a bubble bath.
-It makes you smell good.
-It rejuvenates you. (And so, allows you to work harder for those around you because you have taken care of yourself.)

2. Buying something new for yourself.
-It makes you feel good.
-It rejuvenates you/can make your self-esteem rise. (See #1).

3. Taking that last piece of chocolate cake.
-It tastes good.
-You are saving someone else from eating too many calories.
-You are complimenting the chef, (even if the chef is Little Debbie).

4. Saying “No” to a favor.
-You are being true to yourself.
-The person that asked you for the favor will not feel your frustration over being obligated, thus not ruining their own time.

5. Leaving a family/friend/relationship behind.
-It could be toxic. You should love yourself enough to recognize when you are being hurt.
-It will be a favor to them in the long run. They will ultimately understand that your interactions with them were not good for either of you.

And the list goes on. So, the next time you are feeling dejected that you have been “selfish/self-indulgent” in some way, you have to remember that we are all connected as humans and that there will always be consequences. But that should be liberating knowledge, not confining. Every action we take has a re-action, and there is always a positive and negative side to those responses. What you choose to focus on is your “selfish” business.

But next time, try to look for the lighter side of your selfish act and you may find that it is actually a selfless one. (In other words, buy a puppy. That’ll keep everyone happy.)

The Joys of Job Hunting

“As a recent college graduate, I am enthusiastic to begin working for your company” is how some of my cover letters start. In bitter disappointment and dejected sadness do many of my applications end. Almost everyone above the age of 18 understands the “joys” of job hunting. And if you forget those pleasantries, let me remind you:

Every day I wake up with something bright, and shiny throbbing in my chest. It’s called hope (I’m not Iron Man). Hope brings me down the stairs and on to the computer. From there, I log onto numerous job websites; hoping, wishing, pleading that there will be an entry-level writing position open. And every day, when I realize there are no new opportunities, or there is a listing, and it has been open for 3 days (might as well be 3 years in my field because it is already closed), I start to feel defeated. Hope whispers kindly that we will try again tomorrow, after we have spent hours on one cover letter with no results.

And usually, at this point, I punch hope in the face.

Because with hope concussed, I don’t have to think about the long-awaited rejection letter, the horror you feel when you find a typo long after you’ve hit “send,” the feeling that all of your materials are being fed to a monster that thrives on resumes and dreams, and can be the only reason that you receive no reply from a particular company. (Maybe Monster.com is named after that same creature?)

But in reality, we have made it so much easier on ourselves. In a way, hope is right to egg me on and encourage me because technology has made the job hunting process wildly simple.

We can write the one page cover letter that we need to apply to our future careers in our pajamas and in bed. And we can type that aforementioned page in about 5 minutes flat. That is, if we do not repeatedly revise and judge ourselves and cry. We don’t need white out, we have backspace. We have websites for our personal industries, and to create personal connections with potential companies. Everything is electronic for our convenience, and while we may find it maddening when we apply to a job that has been posted for 2 days but is already filled, we still have it better than our grandparents and the generations that came before us.

In this economy, all we can ask for is an interview after we’ve sent in our resume. Before computers, all the unemployed could ask for was that they might stumble across an opportunity by accident, or in the newspaper, which can be even more of a gamble.

In some ways, we are strained as a society. In others, we are completely comfortable.

So, the next time you are begrudgingly answering situation questions after situation question just remember: you’re allowed to hope. Actually, I encourage it. Because when the resume-eating-monster under your bed comes calling, you’ll be able to feed it something other than your dignity.

Don’t worry. Hope can take a hit.

A WORD FROM YOUR BLOGGER:

HIRE ME!

Okay, fine. I know, it’s two. I haven’t always been eloquent…