Starbucks, Springtime, and Real Happiness

This has been an amazing week for the following reasons:

  1. I attended a roundtable lunch with the VP of Global Coffee Category Brand Management for Starbucks, Kim Spalding, and got to learn all about Starbucks’ marketing strategy. My favorite coffee brand + brand management + lunch = perfection. It was also amazing to get to speak with someone who is an accomplished career woman and has a family. It inspires me and shows that you can do both. (If you want to know how much I love Starbucks, see here.)
  2. I won $120 worth of Calvin Klein fragrance from a Macy’s info session on campus. I love free things. And now I’m in love with their new fragrance, Endless Euphoria (I talk about it here.)
  3. Being Freshly Pressed by WordPress drew an insane amount of traffic here. I’ve been inundated with views and comments from you lovely readers. And some of you stuck around and decided to follow me on WordPress. I appreciate each and every one of you, and I feel the love!
  4. Springtime is finally here in Philadelphia (sort of). It’s been on and off but at least today I’m seeing sunshine, and two days ago I could go out without a jacket, although yesterday it rained again. Boo. But at least some days are warm. Springtime always puts me in a better mood!

In addition to these, I realized something this week.

I’m really, really happy.

This academic year started out a little rocky for me. For those of you that recently started following me, fall semester was hard. I had to face some long-standing issues with anxiety, and that caused me to do a lot of self-reflection about who I was, who I wanted to be, and how I was seeing myself. I wouldn’t have said before the fall that I was an unhappy person. In fact, I’ve always been known to be pretty upbeat and optimistic.

But after six months of what I would call personal growth, I think I’m happier than I ever have been. I’ve already spoken about about how having learned to manage my anxiety has helped me find happiness. But I realized yesterday, as I walked down the street and saw myself in the reflection of a store window, that I’ve also learned to love myself more than I ever had before.

The issue of appearance and weight has always been a difficult one (it was the subject of my first ever post). I’ve always been happy with myself on the whole, but at the same time, I’ve always subconsciously felt like I was a work in progress. I always felt like “getting fit” and losing weight was a prerequisite with being completely happy with myself. I think I believed that it was wrong to be happy with the way I was because I was “unhealthy.”

Well, that is BS.

I am not obese or in any medical danger. Would I be healthier if I went to the gym every day? Yes. Do I plan to do that? Eventually. But that does not mean I can’t be happy with myself right now. My appearance has not changed substantially this past year, but what’s inside has. I just feel better about being me and about the way I look. People come in all shapes and sizes and my shape is not “bad” or “wrong” but different. Not everyone is made for low-rise jeans and bikinis, and that is okay. Not only am I okay with this, I feel great about the way I look now. I look good! Go me!

I am so excited for the future, and I’m not letting self-doubt stop me from going after what I want in life and being really, truly happy, because happiness isn’t measured in inches, pounds, or dress sizes.

What made you happy this week? I’d love it if you shared.

Xoxo, Taylor




The “Bored Bag”

As children, my sister and I learned never to say the phrase, “Mom, I’m bored.” Why? Because being “bored” and complaining about being bored led Mom to pull out the “Bored Bag.” An ingenious invention in parenting, the Bored Bag hung menacingly in the pantry, and was full of slips of paper. If Mom pulled out the Bored Bag, it meant you had to draw a slip of paper and do whatever undesirable chore Mom had written inside. Needless to say, Sister and I quickly learned to entertain ourselves, as to never have to receive a boredom-killer from Mom’s “Bored Bag.”

While at the time I believed this was simply to keep us from complaining, and I think that was probably Mom’s intent (we had way too many toys to be “bored”), I think the dreaded Bored Bag served another purpose. We learned at an early age that we were responsible for our own entertainment. While Mom of course enjoyed spending time with us, our boredom – or conversely, our entertainment, – was something we had control over. We could choose to be happy doing nothing or to be “bored” doing nothing, and to put that in Mom’s hands was not only a little bothersome to her, but painful to us when we found ourselves scrubbing baseboards or sweeping floors.

I bring up the Bored Bag for the reason that I think I – and others – could still use the lesson, long after the Bored Bag has become obsolete.

Like our entertainment, It’s easy to outsource our happiness to those around us. It’s easy to put the burden of cheerfulness on our friends, family, or significant other. If I’m having a bad day, it seems almost automatic to go to a friend with my grievances, expecting to hear a word of encouragement or a funny story to cheer me up. And when she does, great. My mood has improved and life is good. But when she doesn’t, I almost feel gypped. “What the heck?” I think. “Why weren’t you super sun-shiney? Tell me I’m pretty! Remind me of how awesome I am! Do you REALLY expect me to cheer myself up?”

Yes, Taylor. It is your job to cheer yourself up. Oh, right. I’m an adult with responsibility over my own feelings.

It’s easy to forget that we each have our own things going on, our own sets of feelings, mishaps, joys, and thoughts. Some days, things match up. I’m sad, my friend is happy, and he’s able to bring me up. But other days, I’m sad, my friend is sad, my family is stressed, and none of us have the mental capacity to be smiles and sunshine for the other. And that is when I see the unfortunate reality that I myself am responsible for how I feel. It’s not my boyfriend’s job, not my family’s job, not my friends’ job to know when I’m upset and to throw everything aside and ask the right questions and make the right comments to quell my anger/sadness/other icky emotion.

When it comes down to it, we are all responsible for how we choose to interpret the events that happen in our lives and concurrently, the emotions that they give us. Even if it’s subconscious, making someone in our lives responsible for our emotions not only gives that person a heavy, unmanageable burden, but causes us disappointment and frustration when they don’t deliver. It also strains our relationships. It’s hard to keep the peace when you’re expecting them to deliver the world all day, every day, and they can’t possibly keep up.

So while I no longer require or receive the treatment of the “Bored Bag,” I think I could still use the “Sad Bag” or the “Angry Bag or the “Had a Bad Day Bag.” Those would be quite similar to the Bored Bag of old, except for all of the slips of paper would read the same: You’re responsible. And while this at first might seem as bad as scrubbing baseboards, I think it’s a message we all need to hear.