I’M WRITING A BOOK (LULU.COM)

Dear Reader,

A few weeks ago, I found out about the website “Lulu.com” and I can’t believe I didn’t know about it sooner. So I’m sharing it with all of you.

Lulu is a company that allows you to self publish books and ebooks. You can sell your work through their website and others, but that’s not quite what I’m intending to do.

I started a novel last spring and wrote like crazy for almost three weeks, managing to rack up almost 26,000 words. And then I just kind of stopped. I planned on working on it over the summer, but I kind of forgot about it. And I thought about finishing it up and revising it like crazy and then get serious about getting it published. Maybe I’d look for an agent or start going to writing conventions, I don’t know.

But then I remembered why I wrote it in the first place. I feel like a broken record, but I write for clarity. I take things that happen in my life and try to make sense of them. And last winter, I started feeling really sad. I felt ultimately alone, and I found myself easily aggravated at the few people who I constantly found myself around. And all I wanted to know was why. Why was I, a privileged girl from the suburbs who has the world at her fingertips, feeling depressed?

So I sought out therapy (you can read more about that in my recent post here), but it didn’t help like I thought it would. Then again, I might’ve had unrealistic expectations since I thought there was no way possible that he would actually think I was depressed. Even didn’t think it.

And then more stuff happened and I started to feel better, which made me think it was just seasonal, but then it got worse, which just made me feel helpless, really.

So I started writing a book.

A new book.

I started with a character that I largely based off of myself. She was a freshman in college, at a college very similar to Miami, and she was sad for seemingly no reason. But then the story started writing itself, and the girl suddenly wasn’t me anymore. It was a girl who had a traumatic experience, went through multiple therapists, and finally found one who she trusted–someone who actually understood her. And she fell in love.

So it was no longer my story, but it still helped me to write it. I still related to her, sure, and I loved finally working on something that I couldn’t stop thinking about. It was my own therapy, in a way.

And now I’m back at school, and it’s weird. I have so many good memories from last year, but I had so many bad thoughts as well. And I’ll listen to my playlist from J-Term and feel overwhelmingly sad again. Just because the music will bring me back to that place in my life.

So, long story short, I suppose, I’m going to finish this book and I’m going to publish it using Lulu. I’m going to have a hard copy of something I created, and I’m going to see my own name in print.

I’m going to have this goal I’m working towards–a goal that I so desperately want to reach. Not because I have dreams of being rich and famous and seeing my name in bookstores and signing over rights for the movie version. But because of the whole reason I like writing in the first place–it helps.

So these big dreams can be put on hold momentarily. I’m helping myself first.

Sincerely,

Sammy

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MY NEW MANTRA

Dear Reader,

The other night, I was thinking about the “WWBD” acronym and all of its variations. I thought, that might be an interesting mantra to live by. To go about everything after first thinking about what someone else would do.

But who should be this person?

I don’t think I should live by “What Would Batman Do,” because that probably wouldn’t make much sense in my every day life. And I’ve seen “What Would Blair Waldorf Do,” but that seems extremely problematic. Don’t get me wrong–I love Blair and recognize her as a powerful, headstrong, admirable (although fictional) character, but I don’t know that I should aspire to be just like her. She certainly has her flaws.

And then I realized, if I’m really going to live by this “WW_D” mantra, I’d have to pick someone that I want to be exactly.

Which is why my new mantra is “What Would Sammy Do?”

Sounds dumb, right?

Well it is sort of dumb. Because throughout my days (I decided this a few nights ago), I’ve been repeating that question in my head and answering with, “Sammy would check her email immediately instead of putting it off.” “Sammy would do the dishes as soon as she gets home.” “Sammy would not spend hours watching YouTube videos.” When, in reality, Sammy does all of these things.

But not the Sammy that I want to be. I’ve struggled with the idea of loving myself–I know I’m supposed to. I know that’s the first logical step to solve many of my problems. But I can’t do it (fully). Not while there are so many things about myself that I hate. That I wish to change.

Because I know that somewhere deep down, at the root of my being, is someone who I love. There are certainly things I love about myself, and I’m going to play them up with this mantra, but it’s sometimes hard to see them when I just see everything I’m doing wrong and all of the mistakes I’m making. The procrastinating. The laziness. The poor health habits. Even the self-hating is an awful thing I do!

But I like my creative side. I like that I’m a dreamer and I like that I have big plans for my future. I like having a blog and a journal and being able to express myself through my writing. I like the majority of the thoughts that pass through my head each day, and I like the random things I notice and (some of) the little quirks I have. I’m not setting out to change all of that, because I feel that’s part of what makes me who I am.

It’s all the other bad habits I could do without.

So, I’ve decided to just be who I want to be. And it sounds dumb when I talk about myself in the third person like that, but it’s really helped so far. Just by thinking, “Sammy doesn’t procrastinate,” “Sammy is responsible,” and “Sammy cleans up after herself,” I’ve noticed an, albeit small, difference.

It gives me hope that one day I’ll be exactly who I want to be.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. This picture basically sums it up.

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LET’S TALK ABOUT MINDFULNESS (and what really happened my freshman year)

Dear Reader,

I came across a video yesterday that I felt I needed to share. I can’t fully describe what I felt as I watched it, except that it sort of gave me the answers that I wasn’t fully aware I was looking for yet. Does that make sense?

Well, anyway, I need to share it. So here it is:

And now I’ll tell you why.

I’ve mentioned before how difficult freshman year was for me and how challenging the transition was, but I haven’t gone into much depth about it. I felt very overwhelmingly sad a lot, but I never thought it was depression. I know what depression is–I know it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. Even more, I know it requires more than just “thinking happy thoughts” to be resolved. But this sadness that I was feeling didn’t feel like that.

It felt like loneliness. And self hatred. And extreme, unbearable laziness.

So I did some research, called the health center, and scheduled an appointment with a therapist.

I could write an entirely separate post about that therapy session, because it brought out so many emotions and was such a terrifying and new experience for me, but I’ll keep it short for now. I went and talked to a very nice middle-aged man, and he basically told me straight off the bat that he thought I was depressed.

I don’t know how valid this diagnosis was, or if he was just speculating or assuming or what, but I’m still coming to terms with that. Because I still don’t know that I fully believe that it was depression. I still don’t want to label it as something that can be so serious, when, for me, it felt like I was just wallowing in my room all day being sad and lonely–which is not the same.

Here’s another video I found this week that perfectly describes what I was feeling this year–better than I can, at least.

So, that’s where I was at. Faking happiness. Not sure what I was going through. Not sure who was even there that I could talk to about it.

And that kind of brings us up to date all the way to today. I’ve been thinking about this concept of happiness a lot lately. I’ve tried to reflect on times when I feel the most happy and I try to repeat them in my mind over and over, so I can remind myself what it feels like. I’ve read The Happiness Project and made lists of resolutions for myself to keep. I’ve decided to go with the mindset: you are not happy now, but you will be once again. You just have to work for it.

Because that’s my biggest downfall. I am overwhelmingly lazy, and I think that maybe if I had just tried harder this past spring to make myself happy–to create more situations that bring authentic happiness, instead of anxiety and discomfort–then I would have been happy.

But I don’t know how true that thought really is. Because, sure, I can create beautiful scenarios where I’m at ease and I can live these happy memories, and store them to replay at night when I need to remind myself. But what am I supposed to do when I find myself in uncomfortable situations?

Because that’s what college really did to me. Speaking up in class, going to parties, interacting with strangers, praying people will like me–this all gave me anxiety. And I’m using this term lightly–again, I know how serious anxiety can be and these feelings I had may certainly be lesser when compared to others. I never had panic attacks or sought medication or anything like that. I would just feel extreme discomfort. My face would grow hot, I’d feel sick to my stomach, my hands would shake, I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything else, I’d get head rushes–all of that stuff.

So what happens when I feel like that? I can’t just create these perfect scenarios all the time in hopes that I would remain happy. No matter how hard I work, I can’t do that.

Which is where mindfulness comes in–and where I urge you, if you haven’t already, to watch that first video.

They bring up a lot of good points and insight that I never saw before. Everyone just wants to feel safe. That’s what we crave. It’s what we need. And I so strongly relate to Ashley when she talks about talking to the barista (anyone who knows me can vouch for my awful–and inevitable–drive-thru interactions) and not only thinks about how she’s about to make a fool of herself, but how bizarre it is that this is a problem. And how does this not happen to normal people? Why me?

Wow, I feel like I’ve been writing for too long now.

But that’s where I’m at right now. This is how I’m feeling, and mindfulness is definitely something I’m going to look into. Because reminding yourself to be in the moment, and using simple tricks that mindfulness can teach (such as taking deep breaths and thinking about exactly what is in your control–such as how you are feeling at any possible moment) can really help curb the overwhelming feelings of terror and sadness and all of that.

I think it’s just the next step, and a very important step, that I need to take as I work towards being happier.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. Please let me know if you have any information or resources on mindfulness, as well as personal experiences with it. I would love to hear any and all takes on this concept, and it would be great to embark on this together.

10 REASONS WHY I LOVE BEING A NANNY

Dear Reader,

For the past two summers, I have spent my days with multiple kids between the ages of 5 and 14. And yes, sometimes the hours go by slowly, and some days I think to myself, I am not getting paid enough for this, but at the end of the summer, I’m happy with my choice. And it certainly beats any alternative that I can imagine.

So, here are 10 reasons why I’m happy to call myself a nanny.

1) NO UNIFORM

Sure, I have to wake up earlier than I do for school when I’m a nanny, but possibly the best thing about my job is that I get to wear whatever I want (and look as gross as I want). So, for me, that means shorts and t-shirt every day, paired with messy hair and baseball hats.

2) I GET TO WATCH DISNEY SHOWS

Ah, my guilty pleasure. Liv and Maddie. The Amazing World of Gumball. Sofia the First. Gravity Falls. It may not seem “socially acceptable” to know as much about these shows as I do, but when I pull the “nanny” card, I’m in the clear. (Sidenote: the new Descendants movie is awesome.)

3) AND SOMETIMES I GET TO DO NOTHING AT ALL

I’m currently watching two older boys while the rest of their family is in Greece. Because I’m here 24/7, there are many times when they’re in the basement playing Fifa and Minecraft, while I get to stay upstairs and watch Netflix, make myself some food, play with their dog, read, or sometimes even nap. But I’m getting paid regardless.

4) CASH MONAAAY

And money is money. Sure, I have to deal with the temper tantrums and squash the occasional squabbles, but on pay day, it’s all worth it.

5) KIDS ARE FUNNY

They really do say the darndest things. My favorite quote from this summer is when the 5-year-old I’m babysitting told me: “He’s in love with me, I just don’t think he knows it yet.”

Girl is preaching to the choir.

6) HUGS FOR DAYS

This summer, I had the greatest pleasure of babysitting two girls (a rarity for me). And while they were more troublesome than the boys I watch, they were also more cuddly and affectionate. And there really is nothing quite like tight hugs from little kids.

7) SO MANY ACTIVITIES

The zoo. Mini golf. Our town pool. Ice cream shops. Sky Zone (trampolines 4 dayz). Imagination Station. Cedar Point. And, best of all, it’s always the parent’s treat.

8) EXERCISE

I definitely benefited the most from the boys I had last summer. From playing games in the pool to the ones they created on their trampoline to whiffle ball in their front yard, there was never a day that I wasted just sitting on the couch.

9) I’M A ROLE MODEL

From answering their questions about high school and college to giving random advice about life (“yes, even used to fight with my sister, but now we’re best friends!”), I feel like I’m, in a small way, helping mold some of these children. Or at least helping open their eyes by offering advice. And kids can be surprising good listeners (because they actually care about the answers I’m giving them and the stories I’m telling).

10) I GET TO ACT LIKE A KID AGAIN

The world just seems brighter through the eyes of a kid. And with nannying I get to have karaoke contests and dance parties and baking competitions and play let’s pretend and create things with play doh and make games of my own. I get to laugh out loud daily and be goofy and weird 24/7. What more could I ask for, really?

Sincerely,

Sammy

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{ESC} BOOK THIRTEEN: NINETEEN MINUTES

Dear Reader,

This book took FOREVER to finish. Yeah it’s almost 500 pages and it’s not always the most action-packed reading, but it’s more than that. It’s a lot different than the books I normally blow through. I mean, if you look at my most recent books, I’ve read about happiness and road trips and memoirs of people living out their dreams.

This book is about a school shooting.

I’m not going to give away more than that, but I’m going to be honest. It was hard for me to get through. If I read it before bed, I’d often dream about guns and violence or sometimes not be able to sleep (this was during my second semester of college, as well). And then I wasn’t particularly eager to make time in my day to read it, but I did want to finish it. Mostly because my sister said she read it and it “messed her up,” but she still highly recommended it.

And I’m glad I finished it. It was a really good story, and the first book of Jodi Picoult’s I read–and I’ll definitely read more. She’s an amazing writer, but all of her books are about such heavy topics. Still, they’re worth it to read. They make you think and figure out more about yourself, as you notice your own reactions and feelings towards these characters and their story.

Most importantly, though, it made me think about how I’m going to be when I’m a teacher. This shooting was done by someone on the inside–a kid who had obviously been struggling. And as someone who’s going into education, I’ve learned about school shootings, and I’ve been taught how to prepare and how to act not “if” it happens, but “when.” That’s how teachers these days must be taught, because school shootings seem to be happening more often these days.

And I know it’ll be my job to teach students about “The Great Gatsby” and prepare them for the ACT, but a bigger, debatably more important, part of my job will be to be there for the students. Every one of them. In the best way that I can.

And I’m determined to learn how to do that to the best of my ability.

So. This book. I say 5 stars, and I say take the time to read it. Make the effort, because it’s worth it.

Sincerely,

Sammy

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{TOP 5} IF I WERE RICH…

Dear Reader,

I’ve never been filthy rich, but I’ve always liked to think that I’d be pretty good at it. And since entering college, I’ve realized how much there is out there that I have no hopes of buying. Don’t get me wrong–I’m fortunate enough to afford things like college, and I work hard for my money at school and in the summer, but with sites like Pinterest and Wanelo, it’s hard for a girl not to dream.

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So here are five things that I really wish I had the money to buy:

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The Barisieur

This product is an alarm clock that wakes you up with a fresh cup of coffee. Genius, right? Whereas I have to wake up every day to the obnoxious “alarm” sound on my iPhone (and even still, I often sleep through it), I could wake up to the smell of coffee. Plus, it would prohibit me from sleeping in because I obviously wouldn’t want my coffee to get cold!

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Desk Treadmill

I probably spend over 5 hours every day on the computer–some days way more. I mean, between schoolwork, writing, my blog, my journal (which is on my Google drive) and then things like YouTube and Pinterest, this laptop gets a lot of use. But if I had this desk, I swear I’d be so in shape. Maybe $950 isn’t so pricey after all…

(Just kidding, I’m still broke)

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A Bus

Okay this one doesn’t have a link because I have no idea how to even go about buying a bus, but I have always wanted to buy an old school bus, take out some of the seats and pimp it out, and then just drive across the country with really cool people. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll make this dream a reality (but probably not because paying for the gas alone would wipe out my bank account).

 

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The Right Arm

Yes, I know how lazy I am, but this would come in so handy! (Is that a pun?) It’s  $100 though and I don’t even have an iPad of my own, so this won’t be in my virtual shopping cart any time soon.

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Sheepskin Beanbag

And the most expensive thing I found a price for: a sheepskin beanbag (it’s $1,200 you guys). If only I had that kind of money to blow. I’d watch netflix on the iPad for hours before bed, sleep all night on this thing, wake up to a delicious cup of coffee, spend the day getting well over the recommended 10,000 steps while simultaneously completely all of my work, and then my sister and I would tour the country on a tricked out bus.

If only I were rich.

Sincerely,

Sammy

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(Bonus): Backyard Roller Coaster

Alright, I don’t care that I’m almost 19 and don’t even have a backyard to put this in–you have to admit that this is pretty cool.

{ESC} BOOK TWELVE: THE HAPPINESS PROJECT (and intro to my own Happiness Project)

Dear Reader,

I adore this book. I picked it up at a bookstore in Columbus (post about that road trip coming soon) and immediately started reading it when I got home. And I don’t mark in every book I buy, but about four pages in, I knew I would have to for this.

Whether or not you want to start your own happiness project, I would recommend that you read this book. It’s full of awesome quotes, really cool resources (how did I not know about the website lulu.com???), and good tips on how you should go about making yourself happier. I finished this book last night and I already have a mental list of people I want to lend this to to read, as well as an actual list of resolutions I want to start implementing in my life.

In 16 days, I go back to school. And while I’m extremely excited, I’m also kind of nervous as well. I haven’t talked about it on here yet (though I’m sure I alluded to it), but freshman year was really hard for me. I found myself struggling with feelings of unhappiness and signs of depression–which was very new to me. But this year, I’m determined to be better.

So today, on August 1st, 2015, I am starting my own Happiness Project. I may not be as prepared as Gretchen was when she started hers, and it may seem kind of weird to start a year-long project in August, but waiting until January seems dumb to me. I don’t want to wait. I can’t wait.

So today, it begins.

Sincerely,

Sammy

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