Happy New Year

31 Dec

As it is the last day of 2010 (as well as my friend Megan’s birthday), I am refraining from a post about getting happy or doing good. Instead, lets reflect on this year, shall we?

2010 was probably one of the more turbulent of the 24 years I have been on this earth. So, here’s to hoping 2011 is not a repeat. 🙂

What follows are purely my opinions and recommendations for this year: music, movie, and memories (obviously my own). The ranking is in no particular order, just as they popped into my head.

MUSIC (singles + cds)

  1. Bruno Mars, Doo-woops and Hooligans: standout songs- “Grenade” and “The Other Side” (which features Cee-Lo and B.o.B.)
  2. Drake, So Far Gone & Thank Me Later : let’s be in agreement that Drake has been everywhere this past year and half. Favorite songs: “Show Me A Good Time”, “Houstatlantavegas” and “Fireworks” (with Alicia Keys)
  3. Rihanna, Loud: this girl got her thing on and recovered quite well from the publicized incident with C-breezy (Chris Brown).  Her cd is quite the grown-up tone (sex, drinking, killing a guy) but its catchy. Standouts: “Love the Way you Lie Pt. II”, “Fading”, and “Cheers (drink to that)”.
  4. Taylor Swift, Speak Now: If I could be friends with Taylor, I would be pretty happy. Plain and simple, I just think she is amazing. After Shay burned me this cd, it was in heavy rotation in my car and on my computer. It is hard to choose a couple songs but they are: “Long Live”, “Haunted”, and “Enchanted”.
  5. Glee Christmas cd: clear standout on here is “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
  6. Diddy-Dirty Money and Skylar Grey, “Coming Home”. Absolutely love, love, love this song.
  7. Katy Perry, “Firework”. Just motivational and inspirational. 🙂
  8. Pink, “Glitter”. Pink is just amazing- whether  it is a ballady song or rock-esque song.


  1. Toy Story 3 (plain and simple…its a classic)
  2. The Town (literally on the edge of my seat the entire time)
  3. The Social Network (funny, intense, dramatic…who knew facebook was so interesting?!)
  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows  (minus that odd Harry/Hermione scene)
  5. Valentines Day (super cheesy, yes, but also super cute)


2010 was exciting as I skiied for the first time (terrible), made two trips back to Pittsburgh, and went to a Pumpkin Patch in Las Vegas. 🙂 Below are some of my favorite images from the year.

*huge margs with Megs in Breckenridge

*at Daydream pool

…and lunch break from skiing

*spy on vegas night with some pals

…and back at home with some of my friends

*Elle and Laur came to visit. 

*My wonderful TFA Sped Cohort with the best PD ever…

Happy New Year! I hope you have a wonderful (safe) evening & that 2011 is a blessed, joyful, and fun year!

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
– Anne Frank


#21 attend at least one religious service this week

30 Dec

Yes, I did skip ahead. Todays way to be happy is in chapter 2. There are a total of 20 chapters in my book, so I am going to do 7 from each chapter and then move on. Chapter 2 is SEEK MEANING & PURPOSE TO HAVE A HAPPY LIFE.

Research has suggested that participating and belief in some sort of religious faith or spiritual tradition is vital for a purposeful, meaningful, happy life. The author, as I do too, recoginizes that some people do not have a specific faith. In this case, create some sort of ritual to do once a week on your own: read inspirational quotes, or maybe reflect upon your week and special things that happened.

I grew up with a church up the street. Then, I attended Saint Vincent College, which as you can imagine had a student chapel, in addition to the b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l Basilica. See it below.

I would say that in college,I generally attended mass at the student chapel once a week. This was especially true the second half of sophomore year, right up until graduation. We had one of the best priests: Fr. Brian Boosel. He was lively, friendly, and gave sermons that we as college students could understand and relate to. He always had a classic story he told at finals time (he slept through one of his finals freshmen year).

When I moved to Vegas, Shay and I went on adventures to find a church. We went to a terrible place in that there were flat screens, prayers omitted, and other I guess “modern” adjustments. Finally, we found St. Thomas More, which is great. The priests too tell jokes, make sermons interesting, plus the church community is great. There are several donations to kids and elderly (angel trees, back to school drives- which I blogged about earlier), pancake breakfasts (by the Mens Club…yum), and a Thanksgiving meal delivery program (which I also blogged about earlier).

So all in all, even though I don’t consider myself the most religious person, I like to attend mass. I find that when I do attend, I can clear my mind for an hour and feel apart of something that is bigger than me (in this case, God). I also find that when I am having stressful times, the readings and/or the songs are often applicable to my struggle in some way. Whatever your belief is, find something to do once a week….until tomorrow (New Years Eve! and my friend Megan’s birthday!)

My quote today comes from the Bible. It is from a reading that I first (and only) heard at SVC as a sophomore during the Lent season. The sentences resounded with me, and while I remembered part of it, I never heard the reading again. I always looked for it in the missilettes when Lent came around, but never found it again…until this past Christmas Eve. I was looking ahead and found the reading passage. I was so happy.  So here it is 🙂

“Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people.  He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.”

– John 2: 23-25

#7 praise yourself

29 Dec

I like to often take the time to praise my friends, family, collegaues, and students. I feel that when someone does something awesome or unexpected, they should recieve the recognition. But, as the author said, I am not one to praise myself. However, here it goes, in a list of ten (because lists are good in 10’s)

  1. I am praising myself for working two jobs in college, while maintaining a 3.76 average GPA and graduating with high honors. 🙂
  2. As a result of working two jobs, I praise myself for paying for SVC on my own.
  3. My best buy card is paid off (from my laptop purchase last year)
  4. I usually go to mass every week
  5. I created my writing unit plan, which I am pumped about
  6. I organized the most recent proficiency data into an excel sheet for all the students in special ed. at school
  7. I have big ambitions (hello to my own charter school…one day)
  8. Getting accepted by Teach for America is a pretty big deal
  9. Accepting the position and remaining committed to it is pretty awesome too
  10. Overcoming the fear of cooking at the age of 24 (at last!)

Let me tell, it’s nice to praise yourself and think about things you do daily, weekly, monthly, whenever that others may not appreciate or that you yourself don’t appreciate. Not bragging- just praising yourself…like an unsung hero if you will. So make your list of ten praise-worthy things about you and be happy! Next time you do something awesome, recognize yourself…even if no one else does! 🙂

It’s almost 2011 and that means its time for New Year Resolutions… generally I think it is safe to say that 1 in 3 people will say eating healthy and/or going to the gym will be a resolution. So I am going to think outside that realm and think you should too! I’ll be sure to post my 2-3 resolutions on here. Until next…..

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else,  and for everything you gain, you lose something else.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

#6 cultivate hope when disaster hits

28 Dec

The disaster above is a picture from the earthquake from last year in Haiti

Hope being cultivated by Red Cross volunteers 🙂

Hope is defined as: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best (noun) or to believe, desire, or trust (verb). We have all lived through some sort of disaster or tough situation. When a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina or the oil spill or the earthquake in Haiti occurs, the better parts of humanity shine through. People band together and create hope: hope that there are more survivors than thought, hope that they can make a difference. With these disasters, hope is cultivated through volunteers, donations, and prayers.

Thankfully, such disasters are not as prevelant as our own personal disasters are. A lot of times it is easy simply to give up and cave in to the feelings of despair, anger, and frustration. However, we all know that those feelings aren’t beneficial and do not alleviate the situation. In these situations, it is easy to think “why me” and/or “great something else goes wrong in my life”- I know I have done that… but it’s best to hope for the best of the situation… Maybe that minor car accident can lead to you getting a new paint job on your car- or overdrawing your bank account will allow you to really assess where you are spending your money! Like the age old mantra “everything happens for a reason”- even though that is sometimes annoying to think or have other people tell you, I truly think it is true.

“What seems to us are bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.”

-Oscar Wilde

#5 don’t harbor a grudge

25 Dec

grudge: a feeling of illwill or resentment

I would think it’s safe to say that at one point in our lives we have held a grudge against someone…I know I have. Grudges can be held for as short as a few hours, or sadly, can last lifetimes. As today is Christmas (FELIZ NAVIDAD), let go of illwill, anger, resentment, and hostility. What benefit is there to you for harboring these feelings? It will only continue to hurt you mentally, emotionally, and eventually physically too. Who wants that? 

Recognize your feelings and recognize whom they are too…apologize and let it be. You will feel much better, believe me. Or, if you can’t apologize (i.e. you weren’t in the wrong), find a book that relates to you. There are tons of books in the self-help section at a bookstore! Everything from relationships to anger issues to happiness. It’s wonderful to peruse every now and then. 🙂

As it is the holiday season, I hope everyone has had a blessed season thus far.  I have been blessed with two wonderful “material” gifts: a Rachel Ray subscription + a nice digital camera (thanks Mom), but even moreso, I have been blessed to spend time with my friends and family. I hadn’t seen several of my friends for over two years (including my brother Brian) and have had the opportunities to already see them. Until next time! 🙂

“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

–Calvin Coolidge–

#4 change one of your faults

19 Dec

No one is perfect right? Hopefully you are in agreement with me. While it is easy to recognize that first statement is true, it is often much harder to recognize that we ourselves have faults. Even moreso, it is even harder to begin and sustain change with these faults…at least in my opinion.

I think one of my faults is that I sometimes have a quick temper. This is especially true when I am driving. Sometimes this happens with certain kids too, and when it does, I always end up feeling bad about it after. I have been trying to be more patient all around and to be honest, it has taken a lot of stress out of my life. Which has been wonderful 🙂 Another fault is that I try to please everyone all the time- at first one may not think it is a fault, but really it causes one to be overburdened, burnt out, tired, and stressed. Not fun. So one thing I need to practice is saying “No” and planning my time better.

Maybe you don’t have a quick temper or a pleasing personality- maybe you gossip, procrastinate, or blame others. Whatever it is, be honest with yourself…even if you know you aren’t going to like hearing it. If you have a great relationship with someone, you can always ask them too. Whatever you want to change, do it. See the good in you and see the good in others.

“Insist on yourself. Never imitate.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

#3 set out a bowl of freshly crushed lavender

17 Dec

I have plenty of ways to live happy today my friends. It was the last day of school before break AND there are only four days until I am back in Pittsburgh for two weeks. YES!!!

I got a Christmas card and homemade cookies from one of my favorite kiddos Noah and a huge hug from another favorite, Aquba. The kids were hyped up on sugar, but still managed to get their make- up work done. I walked out of school at 2 pm and made it home in time to catch Ellen. Oh, pure happiness.

Today’s activity to be happy involves lavender (see below)

Scents like lavender, citrus, rose, and sandalwood can trigger thoughts to bring serenity. I also feel that lighting candles work well too: right now,  I am loving cinnamon candles. It’s a warm, brightening smell and brings happy thoughts to my mind. Whatever scent brings you happiness, find a way to enjoy it when you’re down…with the exception of gasoline ( a smell I have always secretly enjoyed since my youth). Have a happy day 🙂

“Allow the scent to lift your mood and remember you never have to live a bad day over again.”

-Meera Leester