Life is too short for bad coffee

If you’ve been reading my goals posts, you’ll know that I’m struggling with my brain not liking my waist–I mean I’m human, so who among us does like our bodies more than three days in a row?

So I’m sitting here this morning, a lovely sunny summer Sunday in NYC, and enjoying my coffee.  There is nowhere I have to be today, I do have a few obligations (phone calls), and errands, but nowhere I have to be.  And I’m taking a lovely sip of my French pressed coffee and as I swallow, I’m realizing for the first time in weeks, I’m actually enjoying my coffee.  Its warmth, its nuttyness, its robust but creamy taste; as the warm and and the caffeine hit my system, I’m slowly awakening into, and becoming a part of the world again.  I’m drinking it out of one of my seven favorite mugs–If you’re an original follower you might remember that I’ve moved six times in three years–so I’ve dwindled down my coffee mug collection, so I have exactly the number of cups (that I LOVE) for the number of days in the week.  I’m drinking out of this beautiful oversized bone china tea cup–I can’t get away from working for three years in a fine china shop–all of my dishes HAVE to be quality!  I’d decided to enjoy my coffee and read a little (my roommate loaned me her copy of Warrior Goddess Training to assist my brain realignment with my body issues) as the sun and the breeze stream into my NYC apartment, and the coffee is bringing me into life and bliss, I’m realizing: this cup of coffee is amazing, and life is too short to drink crappy coffee.


Let me back up a little, and bring you to the pinnacle of why this realization is important.  For the past six weeks or so, I’ve been trying to drink alternative coffee.  As in, I like my coffee lightish and sweetish.  I don’t need it to taste like a Werther’s Original, but I don’t need to suck on coffee grounds, either.  The easy way to deal with this is to buy those presweetened flavored creamers.  Which have a lot of sugar.  I’ve been drinking these for years…. but I decided that a good way to cut my sugar intake was to take the flavored cream out of my life.  So I did.  I tried almond milk.  I tried unsweetened almond milk.  I tried cashew milk.  I tried sugar alternatives.  I tried just milk.  I was so unhappy–I tried to make alternative coffee work… but it just wasn’t the same.  Yeah, yeah, first world problems, I totally know… but its a fine line, isn’t it–the difference between taking care of one’s self well, and what we’ve deemed as a first world problem.  I mean, its one thing to complain about creamer when,  I realize, there are people starving in some countries, and I sit here and complain about finding a creamer that tastes good, but won’t add five pounds to my waist whenever I have a serving.  But this is about me taking care of myself.  Which is also a fine line.  When do we treat ourselves well, or when do we “take care of ourselves”.  


I’ve never been starving–I’ve had an extremely low or a negative amount in my bank account many times.  I’ve lived off of, and stretched food because of poor choices.  However, I also have gone the other direction and found myself eating just to try to make myself happy (aka have been extremely overweight because I was eating because I was depressed).

I’m not the most regimented of people–diets just don’t work for me… I find I become very irritable (aka an extreme bitch) and they never have anywhere close to the results I want (my stomach isn’t much flatter, and my thighs didn’t shrink).  However, I am good at moderation–I’ll happily have a handful of chips and stop.  Or one serving of ice cream.  I’ll have the yummy treat, but then be done.

As I get older, I’m seeing my metabolism slow.  I’m witnessing that 10 extra pounds of happiness each decade.  I’m probably more healthy than I’ve ever been, as living in New York makes me move and climb and walk much more than I’ve ever done in my life.  And yes, I actually go back and re-read my own blog on loving the skin I’m in now every three months or so.  But the voices in my head, will loudly remind me that I’m not as skinny as I could and hope to be.  Most of the time, I can tell those voices that I’m beautiful no matter what size I am.  Like Warrior Goddess Training, and other books like it I’ve read, tell me that its the size in the person not the size OF the person that matters.  In other words, confidence is what is beautiful/sexy/attractive.  Shape and size are all just perspective.


So back to my coffee–I’m reminded to return from my tangents to the original thought that started this blog because I just got myself a refill.  My mom was in town visiting me last week, and I bought flavored creamer for her–as I was finishing out my round of caramel flavored almond milk–still not a winner.  This delicious Hazelnut International Delight creamer was left over… and so coming from a “don’t waste food” home, I’m drinking it.  And for the first time in weeks, I’m enjoying the coffee.  The interesting thing is that it was too sweet and creamy on the first sip, so I watered it down with milk–and ultimately making it a little healthier.  A little.

Maybe my enjoyment comes from the fact that I’m drinking something I really like. Maybe my enjoyment comes from the fact that two weeks ago, I threw up my arms, went out and bought fat shorts and decided not to give a fuck about my weight.  Maybe the realization comes from the conversation I had with my roommate last night about “overweight” being the line of discomfort that you cross, and not the size of your clothing.  Maybe it comes from the price of happiness is worth wearing a size larger shorts this summer (and the understanding that the last two summers I was doing a lot of hiking and walking for my jobs, so I was more active albeit a smaller waist size). Maybe its something entirely different.  But this morning, in my one size larger shorts, I’m enjoying this cup of coffee and not caring about anything else.  And that’s the point of living, isn’t it–to deal with the ups and downs, and to enjoy and revel in as many moments of goodness as you can.

I’m going to finish this cup of coffee.  Let me know what you like to enjoy and revel in!

–Clare

 

 

 

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Six Tips on Avoiding Singledom Despiration

“Mawidge. A bwessed awangement that bwings us togever todayy”…a very often quoted moment from A Princess Bride. Always cracks me up, but today, its making me wonder….Why isn’t it my time yet?

So, folks, I’m having an issue…well, it’s ongoing, so maybe it’s more of a subscription. “Oh dear god, when will the right man come along so I can have a partner in life, and get married?”  Sadly, this is such a common thought these days for many of us.  We think it as if our lives aren’t complete, or can’t begin until we are partnered.

Social media isn’t making it any easier, because it’s in our face immediately when people are experiencing joyful times. Friends who are getting married and having babies and getting new cats: I’m so happy for you. I’m jealous of you. My heart flips from joy to ache in about three seconds of reading your post or seeing your pictures. I’m flip-flopping from one way of dating to the next, this month is Tinder; last month was minor bar hopping.  Its not like I’m not trying.
The weird thing is, I’m feeling mildly desperate–yup, I’ll admit the desperation. I’m a strong, driven, beautiful woman. With tomorrow being my 37th birthday, I’m not feeling my biological clock tick. Instead I have this anticipation of my expiration date approaching–and there really is a difference. Its a need to start something, instead of needing to create offspring.  So, disclaimer: I’m not one of those who NEEDS to have kids. It’s a possibility, but not a burning desire. However, I’ve lived almost half my life now–that is assuming I’ll live into my 80s as most of my grandparents did, and the thought creeps in from time to time that it might be too late.  In my current sanity, and also my current “research” via my online profile tell me that it’s never too late. My mother was remarried at 36. My father remarried at 40 and at 51. Matches are out there.  But lately this sense of “too late” is in my brain.

But what is “too late”?  Really?  Medically, its not super safe to have kids after 45… but adoption is always a possibility.  I know friends who have gotten married for the first time in their 40s and 50s…  I know many people who are single and fabulous.  So, this encroaching deadline to get married and have kids, this feeling that the parade might have passed me by–it doesn’t mean shit.  Its all in my head.

I thought about this for a bit, and came up with a few thoughts about “life starting” and why it feels like we’re waiting for a partner before that happens.  These thoughts might be helpful to you, too.

  1. Life has already started.  Move forward, or sit and watch it go by, its your choice.  But I’m much more like Tris in the Divergent series–I’m gonna jump on that train–its scary, but its better then staying where I’m sitting.
  2. Your life is your life.  There may be rules.  There may be an order.  Yours may or may not follow exactly along the path of everyone else’s… If it was supposed to, we would all get the same education, we would all have the same job, we would all have the same thoughts.  You are different, and that’s ok.
  3. Embrace the difference.  Love who you are.  Be the best you that you can be.  Figure out yourself.  Love that about you.  You are an ever changing, evolving entity.  That is a beautiful thing.
  4. Know you have choices.  If you really really really really wanted to, you could have the thing you think you most desire.  But for some reason you’re choosing something else that is more important.  Like, I could have a family and a house–but those weren’t my focus.   Being an actress was.  So I chose that.  I gave that my focus.  I’m proud of that.
  5. Maybe what you most desire isn’t really what you most desire.  I thought about the house and the car and the husband and the babies.  But the sparkle of the theater just kept distracting me, and the rest got put on the back burner.  I REALLY want to be here, in New York, acting.  But it took me a little while to see that.  I thought I needed to be like “everyone else” and go the family route first.  But after a few years, I went the career direction on the Life board game first.  There are many gloomy days.  But there are more happy days.
  6. Focus on what makes you happy.  Without hurting others, what would you do if there were no limits?  Why aren’t you pursuing that?  Seriously–go!!  Now!

So here’s the thing… we’re rounding the corner once again into wedding and baby seasons… and no matter where you are on the scale of relationships and babies and generally being happy, the truth is, your life is the accumulation of all of the choices you have made.  I chose to be an actress.  I chose to move to New York.  I chose a hard career in an insane city.  I don’t have babies or a partner, but I have an AMAZING Urban Family.  I am a nanny to a young man who will never forget me.  I am an auntie to some adorable doggies.  I am an Urban Sister to some of the most amazing, talented, giving people.  And I am in a city that always has something intriguing to distract and divert attention.  There are so many reasons I’m just “not there;” just not on the same track as everyone else.  The irony is that currently I work for an event planner–so my life is filled with weddings!

Congratulations to all of my family and friends across the globe who have been getting married and having babies!  I really am so happy and proud for you. Really and truly.

For those of you who aren’t–listen, its just not time yet, or its not the plan for you.  If you need a little pick me up or a little help in the “everyone is getting married BUT me and I don’t know how to handle it” department, I wrote a blog on that last year.

Know that its all going to be ok.  Focus on what makes you happy.  Life is messy and full of choices, but its also great and silly and fun.  Ultimately, its all going to work out.  I promise.

–Clare

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5 Steps to Dreaming Big

We want to make our mark on the world in some individual way. Even more we want to be known.  We make friends. While engaging in relationships we find ourselves changing, or even worse, awaken one day to find we have changed into someone who has veered away from the path we thought ourselves originally on. Sometimes we like who we have become; who our relationships and experiences have made us. And sometimes we don’t.

At times these traits are obvious to us and at others they are not. When I first started this post, I realized that week that I’d become a pushover and a scaredy cat. (We often delay our blogs to protect the innocent–which is usually ourselves!) Anyway. At the time I was afraid to leave my job. For many ridiculous reasons that at the time seemed important and true. One: my life feels like a delicate balance and I don’t want to disrupt it. Two: my job was pretty easy and it paid me reasonably. Three: they know me. I’d been at the job for over three years. Four: they seemed willing to work with my crazy schedule.

All of these are bullshit. My life is a delicate balance, but living is about how you deal with obstacles while pursuing your passion. No job (or relationship, for that matter) is “easy” when you’re not being treated right–and sadly, I didn’t  feel like I was being treated well. Which leads to three–obviously they didn’t know me if they felt they could mistreat me. And my schedule isn’t so crazy and it’s not that I’m not accommodating when needed if possible.


Life is a delicate balance, but living is about how you deal with obstacles

while pursuing a passion.


Well, I woke up a week after writing the above. Went into work like a good worker bee, determined to keep my head down and keep working.  During my shift, I found out I was denied my request for time off to perform the show I was already cast in. I lost it. In what feels like the “Hulk smash” version of myself, I decided I didn’t need a job that told me I couldn’t put myself first, and I quit.

I hold myself in high esteem. I’m a calculated person and I very rarely make snap judgements, uninformed choices, or un-researched plans. For better or for worse, I rarely walk into a big decision without a plan. Quitting a job is just not something I do. This was a big decision, and I had talked myself out of it so many times, but when the thing I am most passionate about was put on the table, I didn’t think twice.


When the thing I am most passionate about was put on the table, I didn’t think twice.


Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics: “stop worrying where you’re going. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ve gone. Just keep moving on.”  These lyrics always reassure me, no matter what I’m in the middle of. In other words, stop thinking about it and just go. Just make the choice. If you are that passionate about making the change happen, things will fall into place. If I hadn’t quit, I probably would have gotten let go, because I was going to do those performances. It was also time to leave that job. But I sat in it for too long because I didn’t value myself enough.

A while ago I wrote a blog on self-worth. This is a gigantic topic that we as a society don’t talk about enough. Therefore we question our worth, and what we want fights a battle against what we can offer. Which determines our worth.  If you continually think down on yourself, hold yourself back, or tell yourself that you’re not worth it, you never will be.


Maybe you continually beat yourself up because you don’t know how to do anything else. And if you pick on your own weaknesses, it won’t hurt as much when someone else does it.


I don’t know you. I don’t know your situation. I do know that I’ve been in both types of situations: the ones where I succumbed and stuck with something I didn’t want to do, and I’ve stuck up for myself and went my own way. Both choices have led to both good and bad outcomes. However, most times I’m  much happier standing up for myself, even though I might have to work harder, give up things, ask for help or money, and suffer a little.

How do you begin? Here is a place where lists will help you.

  1. Figure out why you dislike where you are–and “being you” doesn’t count. Is it because of hours you don’t like, not able to have a creative outlet?
  2. Can you change this by staying in your current situation but by just rearranging things?
  3. What is more important: comfort or creative? Heads up–pursuing the creative or the passion isn’t always easy. Generally it’s twice as tough because if you fail at even the smallest parts of your plan, it’s painful.
  4. Figure out your financials–this isn’t to say “don’t leap until you can afford to” but instead, “understand what downgrades and adjustments will need to be made, so it’s not so harsh a reality later.”
  5. Breathe deep and leap.

Just know that if you’re meant to do whatever your passion is, you’ll find the support. My gal Angie Atkinson is a huge example of this (outside of LL and I). Angie started her path to rock stardom three years ago, and isn’t famous yet, but you’ll hear about her soon. Angie started out wanting to move to NYC to be an actress.  That dream (and her amazing acting prowess) brought her to the city.  However, she decided it wasn’t the path for her anymore, and instead wanted to write and perform music.  She has been working on this in her spare time; writing, rehearsing; performing; and making an album–which she just released–go to iTunes or Amazon to buy it!!  For now check out a video or two.

Remember, whatever mark you want to make, you’re probably already on the path either to make it–just take a look around, what are you happiest doing?  What do you spend the most of your time doing?  Are they similar?  Why not?

We only get one life, so live it large.

Clare

If you have a comment scroll down past the tags below (or up, if you’re on the main page), or email us at liveclarelesley@gmail.com We LOVE your feedback!! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for DAILY inspiration!

 

How to Let It Go

I am lucky to work with people on a daily basis. Actually an hourly basis. I hear their joys, wows, and the dreaded “I can’t…” I don’t mind a good mental download. Sometimes you just have to unload.  But, how many times have you had the dame complaint? How many times have you complained about that today or this week?  Even worse or even how many years have you had the same complaint?

I have caught myself playing the complaint game, many times. Woe-ing over what is happening with a certain person, place, or thing.  Acting as if it is all happening to me, personally. That I have no control over any of it.  But, then the Universe, or Clare, or my Husband knock some good loving sense into me.  They help me see the big picture, or the other side to the story.  With this new adjusted view, I actually have to let go of said complaint and own my role in the situation.  When I step back I see that I have to then control my control-ables.

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I know, I just made that seem easy-peasy.  Truth… it’s not so easy to let go over the issue that is bothering you.  For example, a friend of mine years ago and I both worked together. He would complain on the daily and sometimes find me a few times in one day to complain about his job.  First, it was too easy, then too boring.  Then his company wanted him to do things he was uncomfortable with or he didn’t feel was in his job description.  Next, he would complain the job was suffocating him.  For months I had to listen to his complaining.  Until, one day I didn’t.

I grabbed his shoulders in a loving way.  Looked him in the eye and said: “This isn’t the only job in the world. If it’s not lighting your fire then go, find a job that does. But for heavens sake, and my ears, do not let another negative thing about your job come out of your mouth. You do not have to do this job.”

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He was shocked.  I was too.  It was the first time I took someone and was so direct; I could have lost our friendship all together.  Or worse, been head butted!Of course after this harsh reality check, I hugged him and told him I loved him no matter what. But, he is the only one who can make himself happy.  No job would.


You are the only one who can make you happy. 


A week later he had made a decision to leave the job.  It’s been 3 years since his decision and, I have to say, he looks happier with every year.  His last day he almost floated out to his car.  Did I miss working with my friend on the daily?  Yes.  But did I really miss the friend he was when he was working with me?  NOPE!  Our friendship is even better now.  He took ownership over his own life. He went on a path truer to him and his goals.

You can too!  I know you think it’s too late, too much money, or you’re too invested in the path you are on.  Go read Clare’s Blog on her feelings about the usage of the word “too.”  But seriously, we are living longer and longer these days.  Don’t you want to?  It’s been proven more times than Google has pages, that happier people live longer and healthier lives.  If you’re unhappy ask yourself why.  Then take changes to turn that frown upside down.

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If you’re job is causing you stress, angst, displeasure:

  • What exactly is the stressor?
  • Can you pinpoint it?  Narrow it down to one or two or three things.
  • If its your commute then you don’t need to change your job.  Change the commute or how you spend time commuting.
  • If it’s your co-deskmate ask you boss to switch your desk, or invest in the top of the line headphones and rock on (or not but let people think you are).
  • Boss…what about your boss? Is it how they talk to you? How they treat you? Or just that you have a boss?  If it’s how they talk to you go to HR. Or have a meeting with them, and politely express how they are making you feel. Bosses can often change too. If you just don’t like working for a boss then take the steps to work for yourself!

If the stress is coming from a relationship with a friend, family member, or significant other, figure out:

  • Is it how they treat you?  Just be straight up.  Tell them: When you say or do this _______ it makes me feel like this______.  If they don’t get it, understand what you’re saying, or refuse to change, then you can remove yourself from the situation for a time period.
  • Is it how they treat themselves.  Tell them!  Seriously, people put themselves down all the time and it can be so hard to stand next to that. What kind of friend are we if we don’t help them see how awesome they are!

Maybe it’s your home, apartment or car:

  • What exactly is it about your abode that you don’t like?  If you really sit down and think about it, maybe a new rug or lamp will fix the inside.  Or a quick search online you might find your perfect haven.  If the problem is larger, work out what you might need to do to fix your frustration with your living situation.   Sitting around complaining about it and doing nothing to change it seems pretty silly don’t you think?  Unless you do something to change your situation, nothing will change.

If something is bothering you, or you hear yourself on repeat, figure out exactly what is the bother. Narrow it down. Then, ask yourself if it’s something you can fix or if you need to make a get away plan.  You are (or should be) the conductor of your train. Take back the control. Stop relinquishing it by blaming another person, place or thing. Go and do!

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I am currently taking steps to rid a complaint from my life. The moment I made my game plan the moment a felt a huge weight off my shoulders and have found excess time in my busy schedule. I want that for each of you. Please feel free to share your experiences with Clare and me, either in the comments, or email us.  We’d love to help you rid that woe.

Xx~LL

If you have a comment scroll down past the tags below (or up, if you’re on the main page), or email us at liveclarelesley@gmail.com   We LOVE your feedback!!   Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for DAILY inspiration!

Photo Credits: Alan Cleaver (stress eraser), Bernard Goldbach (eggs), !unite (strongman).

How to deal with the barrage of green grass

The Grass is so much greener on the other side. Isn’t it? Pictures other people post on Facebook showing how gloriously happy they are; the status updates. Everyone of your friends seem to shout to the rooftops and around the world how amazing their life is…well, can be.


But is it? Is it actually greener?


Before I get to deep into this post, let me just say that I am not green with envy at anyone at this moment. I hope not to be ever. Honestly…it’s way too much energy and time wasted. However, I realize that many people are learning to get through this very thing. For the people who are struggling with this issue of jealousy, you need to hear that what you see isn’t always better.

I remember growing up and being jealous of my best friends. They got cars from their parents before I did. They didn’t have to pay for them, either. Their allowances were more than mine. As a teenager I couldn’t think of anything worse in the world than having to ask for a ride. I had to get a job at 15 to have extra money so I could hang out at the mall, too.

So, let’s chat about this greener pasture you’re hung up on. Whose is it? What’s it look like to you? Why is it different than your own pasture? Or for you city folk, why is it better than your own balcony?

 

It’s easy with all the social media to constantly compare your grass (or balcony) to someone else’s. They post a picture of themselves at a gorgeous beach and it’s a Monday. You’re on your way into work and no beautiful beaches in site. Every person’s post is a potential comparison starter.

How do you deal with the barrage of green?

First, check yourself. Are you making choices in your life that are in line with your goals? Or someone else’s?

If it’s someone’s vacation you’re envying: plan your own. Even if it’s a stay-cation! After all their beach pictures could be stunning, but rarely does anyone pick up and go off to Aruba. They planned and treated themselves to a trip. You can do the same thing. That’s a choice.

If it’s weddings and babies you’re envying, remind yourself what it is you really want: a partner, best friend, and a family. You know deep down you want to marry the right person for you. Not just anyone…right?

Also, remember we don’t see the negative side from those exciting and very green pictures. That gorgeous beach picture isn’t showing the crappy hotel in the background or the credit card bill that is inching closer to the limit. People post their best selves, or what they think others want to see. The pictures showing a fantastic night out doesn’t show the evidence of the next morning. Check out Clare’s blog post on “over sharing” for tips on acceptable social media behavior.

It’s interesting looking back at my jealous years, and realizing how lucky I was. How all those experiences got me to where I am today. I had to work hard, and found how to value the things I had instead of wishing for what everyone else had.

Sometimes, because I am human, I find myself checking out others grass. If the hue of green seems to shine brighter I ask myself why? Is it because I want that exact grass? That exact grass means giving up parts of my current life. It means giving up my own grass. So, I remind myself that I live in California. It’s in a drought. There are more things in life worth having than green grass. Succulents are stunning too!


Wouldn’t you rather be your own original story? Knockoffs and remakes are rarely as exciting as the original.


Whose grass have you been envying? What is it about their grass that’s drawing your attention away from your own?

Xx~LL

If you have a comment scroll down past the tags below (or up, if you’re on the main page), or email us at liveclarelesley@gmail.com We LOVE your feedback!! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for DAILY inspiration!

Labels are for soup, not people

I have fallen into a trap.  I have measured my value in a relationship.  Many people go through this when you’re at a certain point in a relationship and you’re trying to decide if its time to put a label on what the two of you are.  You know what I’m talking about; you’ve been seeing someone for a while, you do like each other a lot, but is it time to go to that next level?  Do you put a label on the relationship?

But really, what is the point of a label?  As humans we need to know what we are dealing with.  We love a definition.  We love a regularity.  We automatically lean towards anything that can delineate life and quell the questions.  But in reality, a label gives us a false sense of security.  Humans should be called Questionables, because we constantly question what we are and what we’re doing and where we are going.  Inversely, we dislike change, but we are continually changing.  The thing is, someone you are close to can completely surprise you one day because they have changed or are showing you a side you have never seen before.  We truly never know anyone.


Humans should be called Questionables because we constantly question.


And to bring a whole different level to this post, I’ve tried to label a friendship.  Its a terrible rabbit hole… because it shouldn’t matter how important you are to your friends… but for some reason quantifying it matters.  Its kind of like sitting around asking yourself if you and your significant other are ready for the label “boyfriend/girlfriend”… it kind of just happens.  and putting a label or a measure on something only creates pressure on that relationship to be a certain way.  Its like putting “best” in front of “friend” requires a whole separate list of needs/wants/desires/requirements.

Sometimes I think the only point of Live ClareLesley is so I can air my ridiculous notions out for the blogosphere to see, to suffer through with me, and when I get the realization then we can all walk away changed or at least inspired to stop wallowing.  I feel utterly ridiculous that I can’t get this one off my mind.  Its been weeks that I’m walking thorough this.  I have five people in my life that I consider my “best friends” and usually reach for the phone to tell one of them, if not all when something happens to me.  Recently, I went into a really dark place, and wondered if I was the one that people reach for the phone to tell me something.  I’ve been thinking about this, and belaboring the topic with several friends, trying to work out my feelings on the subject… and the answer that is continual is: why does it matter?  Why do I need to be “the first” or “best friend” or any label of friend?

The whole point of labels is security.  But what we don’t realize or remember when we demand a label is that it is a false sense of security.  Why does it matter if a person has a definition in our lives?  Tomorrow they might not still fit that definition.  Tomorrow you might not want them to fit that decision.

So, the thing is, I want, no actually I need to solidify that other people feel the same way about me that I feel about them.  The same is true about any relationship:  in a friendship, you want to get to the level of dependability and achieve that “best” title;  in a romantic relationship you want “boy/girl” in front of friend; in a job you want a title of importance to show your co-workers and other people in your field that you’re capable of the job, and should get the respect that goes with it.


We label because we need to solidify how we feel about others, and how they feel about us. 


Here’s the thing… we only want a label because we are human.  We want parameters for ourselves and others, to understand and realize what we are and what we mean in the world.  A label on a can of soup, or a bottle of water, or a box of crackers leads you to believe that something is of better quality.  But a lot of times, in taste tests, you don’t taste much difference, or you might even prefer the lower quality.  The point is a label only leads us to believe a different set of truths.  It requires a different set of rules.  We should rejoice in the time we don’t have a label—it requires so much less pressure.

The new roommate and I are spending a lot of time together.  We have been going on walks and cooking together, and many times, I pick up my phone and she is one of the people I want to tell my breaking news to… but I don’t consider her a best friend… but in a way, she is.  Our relationship is easy because we don’t have a label on it.  If I forget to tell her something, its fine.  If I text her too many times in a day, its fine.

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I need to treat all of my relationships like this.  Live day by day.  If I offend or hurt or damage something, I’ll make amends and do my best to fix it.  If I am upset, I just bring it up.  Relationships of any kind, are so much better when they are easy, and have no pressure.  Labels create a sense of false security.  It’s a person, not a can of soup.  Love the person, leave the label off, and let your expectations and demands on a relationship fall away.  You’ll be much happier.  Really, you’ll be much happier.

–Clare

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Happiness

There are some days that being happy seems like the worst chore. It should be easy—laughter, happy moments, smiles; when not forced seem to just happen automatically when the moment is right. But, when it is forced, when you’re just trying to find a modicum of hope, its more frustrating than sorting quinoa by hand, kernel by kernel.

However, happiness is really just an adjusted perspective. No, really, it is. The way or the view you have of something today can be different tomorrow. You like your job and are happy in it one day, but through a chain of events, your perspective is changed and you’re not a fan tomorrow. Maybe it’s something simple like a co-worker that you thought was an ally is now a questionable foe. Maybe you failed to complete an assignment, and got a slap on the wrist for it. Maybe you realized that you’ve got a higher calling in life and this job feels like its holding you back. Or any number of other things and combinations of factors. The point is, today your perspective of something that made you happy, has now been altered. You’ve shifted. Now that a kernel of doubt is seeding in your head, it starts to grow—for better or for worse. Sometimes you think and analyze the thing that happened, and sometimes you let it go, and it quietly changes within you. It creates unrest—and in my experience, unrest is never a happy feeling. Nothing is “wrong,” per se, but its no longer “right.” You can feel a crossroads coming—but you’re not quite there yet. I think because we start to feel the brink of change, that we feel this unrest. To give you a visual, you’ve been walking along your path for a while, somewhat blindly, because it has just a slight incline—one that makes you think that you’re going in the right direction, because a road that leads uphill must lead to something that will better you. As you feel yourself starting to edge up and over the top, you see—still off in the distance—but a change or a crossroads where you have to change or adapt. Well, I guess you don’t have to… you could turn around and go back down the way you came. But, it is my belief that even if you choose the wrong road, you’ll eventually wind your way back around to where you’re meant to go. But I digress.

If you’re looking for more on change, I wrote about that earlier here. Back to happiness. Change has happened causing unease and possibly anxiety. Anxiety, not sadness, is the opposite of happiness. This seems to be true in my life. I would wager it’s the same in yours. The thing is, whereas happiness seems like the easiest fixes to make, it is one of the hardest things to continually achieve. Partially because its an emotion open to interpretation. Partially because human beings tend to like things like answers, closure, and reasons. Because of this, the question we ask most is: Why? (Second only to asking where the closest bathroom is. Too many years of customer service have led me to live that statistic.)

Happiness, although we would like to believe it is simple, really isn’t as easy to achieve. Its not like it prepackaged at the local drug store—although the big pharmaceutical companies would like to tell you that it is. (By the way, I would like to pause for a moment and say that if you find yourself unchangingly depressed—GO SEEK HELP. There is nothing to be ashamed of, especially during these cold, depressing wintry months. Please seek out someone to talk to you. There are programs for low income therapy, and life coaching out there—just an internet search away.)

Back to the point: Some days you might just find yourselves visiting the doldrums. You know the feeling of unhappiness. Sometimes you find yourself there—nothing is specifically wrong or caused unhappiness, but something is just… off. Whatever this momentary feeling is, it’s been a few hours or a few days and you know that you’re the only one who can solve your unhappiness. This is a general rule. You’re the only one who can truly make yourself happy or unhappy. Again, it’s a perspective. How other people affect this is your view point of their actions. Its not that he didn’t call, its how you feel about him not calling and letting it affect you. Its not about the asshat at work who threw you under the bus, its that you let the asshat get under your skin. Happiness is ALWAYS a perspective.

I wrote this part in a green notebook on the subway on my way to my survival job. The train keeps making long stops at every station causing anxiety, unrest, and yes, unhappiness: I’ll probably be late, even though I left enough time. Today it’s a bigger deal that I’m on time, but there really isn’t much I can do. My happiness doesn’t depend on the train performing as it should, but instead rests in my brain. As an adult and a high functioning human, I have already made all of the connections in my brain which are this: Oh no! this train will make me late; my boss is in today and will be paying attention to my arrival time and will think that I regularly coast in like this every day when normally I’m on time, if not early, and I might get reprimanded, or even fired; and then I’d have no money and no place to live and I can’t take that Cancun vacation I had planned and I’ll have to move back in with my mother who will ask me daily about any number of my life choices from underwear, to detergent, to men and will point out that I’m doing it all wrong!

Woooooooah, Tiger!! Its JUST a train. Just a few minutes. And my mother isn’t that bad—actually my mother just recently turned in her application for sainthood, but that sounds like I’m bragging, and anyway I digress. Again… Lets go step by step backwards. I won’t have to live with my mom. There are other people I can live with, plus my roommate is super understanding, and we can call the landlord if needed. But it won’t be needed, because I won’t lose my job over a few minutes.   And even if I did, I will just apply for unemployment and other jobs in the interim. But really, my boss isn’t that bad, and is less stressed about time than I am. Deep breath. And once again the train is moving. (I actually was only two minutes late that day, and my boss wasn’t even there, so the point was moot).

Again, was all of this train nonsense a reality? Nope, it was perspective. Once I stepped back and told myself that all was ok, and took a breath, I was fine. Actually, I was happy to have an extra few minutes to write out my thoughts in my notebook, so I could get this inspiration written.

In those moments of unhappiness, step back. Go from the craziest thought first and debunk it. Breathe. Take it one step at a time, and come back from that negative ledge. All will be right again.

You deserve to be happy. You also control your happiness. Yup. Go ahead, read that again. You DESERVE to be HAPPY and are IN CONTROL of your OWN HAPPINESS. Stop the madness. When you feel your brain spiraling out of control, take it step by step backwards through the muck. Rationalize all of those thoughts. Most won’t happen. And for the ones that have a good chance, make a plan or two or three to give yourself the strength to deal with it. I don’t know each of you individually, but I’m sure you have some sort of resources at your disposal. If you’re reading this you’re already on the internet… just internet search some ideas!

Now, for the things that make you continually unhappy, think about how you can change them. Stop the idea that you can change another person—that DOESN’T work. However you can express to the other person your needs or concerns. Recently, a good friend of mine approached her boyfriend because she needed more communication… she asked if he would text and call her at least once a day, and that she needed some sort of reply to the texts she sent him. She wasn’t trying to change him, she was just expressing a need. Just because you express the need doesn’t mean you’ll get it, however in just saying it out loud to another person, you might also find that you don’t actually have that need, or it isn’t as big of a need as it seems. I am learning to ask for help when needed.  To read about it, go here.

You’ll find the moment you start to take control of your own happiness, you’ll actually find happiness. What a freaking mind blowing concept!?! Make your own happiness. Again—you deserve to be happy. So, go out, Live ClareLesley, and make your own happiness.   You’ll find that you’ll actually attract more happiness and will double your own return!

Clare