There are people who are happier with less than you have

Tonight, Matt and I volunteered at a dance for the “developmentally disabled.” We served snacks and danced with perfect strangers, kids and adults, all with varying degrees of disabilities. I started to realize that I felt a bit shy, hesitant to approach people I didn’t know and start dancing… but they weren’t. If I stood and smiled they came over and joked and laughed and danced and told me stories about their hobbies. They may have been disabled but they weren’t lacking any of the qualities that matter. They were big on kindness, joy and love. Watching how much excitement they felt dancing to oldies, some of them from their wheelchairs, I was reminded again about how good we have it. Happiness is a measure of attitude, not circumstance and I am reminded of that every time I do charity work.

There was a beautiful,  wheel-chair bound woman named Perlita (“little angel”) who could not speak or control her movements very well; but when a song came on that moved her, man did she know how to smile. Her smile lit up the room while she bobbed and waved her arms. Sometimes she would reach out for Matt’s hand or for mine and we would bend down, dance with her and be infected by her beauty, bravery and contagious energy. Perlita’s husband sat by her side all night, smiling watching her have fun and giving her sips of Fanta through a straw. Real love perseveres.

There was a sweet man named William who asked me to dance and kissed my hand. He was in his 30’s but his parents, who were not disabled but rather elderly, had accompanied him to the dance and hung out with him. Halfway through, his father told me that William doesn’t have any friends and asked if Matt and I would be willing to be friends with them and go for a “soda pop.” Of course, I said “sure!” and then he asked how much I would charge them to spend some time with him… charge them? Hanging out with people like William is not a service or even a favor, but rather a privilege. Unfortunately, sometimes society measures a persons “worth” by the job they have, or the college they get into and these “challenged” people may never be doctors or lawyers but I can tell you that they were some of the most honest and genuine people I have ever met… and to me, that’s priceless. I think society has it backwards. These are the people we should admire… the people who struggle every day and still have a zest and enthusiasm for life; The people that throw on a blue velvet tuxedo jacket to take their girlfriend on a date (like one of the sweet autistic couples we met); The people who are so passionate about their DVD collection that they are bursting to talk about it; the people, like David, who invite you to their birthday party within the first 5 minutes of meeting you because they want everyone to have fun and be included, the people who can walk up to perfect strangers and do impersonations of Yoda and make us laugh, and the people like Perlita- who aren’t afraid to reach for a stranger’s hand and change the whole world with a big smile.


The Now List

A few weeks ago I got to thinking about the popular concept of a Bucket List. It seems the trendy thing to do to make a list of the all places you want go and all the things you want to do before you die. I, like most people, have a list of aspirations. However, as I was reading a book about visualization that urged me to write a bucket list to materialize the things I want in my life… I really got to thinking about just how odd of a concept it is.

A list with a deadline as finite as death but simultaneously as open ended as sometime before I’m dead. We don’t know when we are going to die. It could be tomorrow or it could be 70 years from now… so there is no pressing deadline on this Bucket List, especially not for the young and healthy- who automatically assume they’ll live forever… but the reality is, the deadline could be sooner than you think.

The problem with the concept of the Bucket List, for me, was that it made me way too aware of my mortality; Like I was racing against the grim reaper to go skydiving. I think the concept is good, a list of things to do in your life; it’s the open ended nature of it, the “sometime before death” part, that wasn’t sitting right for me. 

So, I created an alternative. A more “why procrastinate? live this life RIGHT NOW type of list.” I decided I would only put things on it that I could conceivably accomplish in the next 12 months. I think this will be more effective in getting me to actually do the things I want to do. It also helps keep my list from being bogged down and from having me pining over a home I want to buy (that I know I won’t realistically care to purchase for several years) and stuff like that. Instead I can focus on the things I want to do, right now, today, as a 26.5 year old woman.

One of the problems for me is that I dislike the word “someday.” I don’t know why but it always has sounded to me like “never.” I don’t have much patience for waiting around for things to show up. I like to decide what I’d like to do or have and get moving towards that goal right now, as opposed to someday. Below is the (tentative) list I have established of the things I’d like to do this year.

1. Get Involved in more charities again

2. run a half marathon (the nike women’s marathon, to be precise)

3. read more books (at least 1-2 a month)

4.Travel more. I don’t care where to really.. just travel even more than last year.

5. Plan an entire wedding under 10 thousand dollars (bc im thrifty)

6. Double my income from last year

I kept it to those 6 things because they are very time consuming endeavors and I don’t want to be spread too thin. I want to enjoy the process of accomplishing these things and be able to relish in the act of checking them off the list.

Since I had this revelation, about 2.5 weeks ago I have already begun to make strides in checking these things off. I went to Amazon, the only reasonable place to purchase books, and ordered 3 books I have had my eye on for some time. On a side note, the books should have totaled $50.00 but I saved $40.00 by ordering them off Amazon and got all 3 plus shipping for $10.00! I am already 1/3 of the way through Blink, my first book of the month. Man, I love a bargain.

I also registered with a charity website and went to feed the homeless in downtown LA while Matt was out of town. I feel very passionately about charity, because I feel very passionate about gratitude. I think a lot of people talk about gratitude, but you never understand the word thankful until you give back. Its hard to understand how good your life is until you are face to face with those who have less. I have met the most inspirational people while doing charity work. People with positive hearts and unfettered spirits in the face of the most grim seeming circumstance. I have learned to love and appreciate life and not to sweat the small stuff. I get back just as much as I give when I volunteer. I also strongly believe that the most important thing in this life is what we can do for others; How we can contribute to the lives of those around us. Its the most gratifying thing to help and to comfort and be empathetic and make a difference in someone’s day. In the coming month I have signed up to chaperone a school dance for adults and children with down syndrome, autism and other disabilities; I will be running a 5k for pancreatic cancer, volunteering for an afternoon at an animal shelter  and continuing to serve food to the homeless at St. Francis. As long as I have extra hours in the day, I am happy to spend them serving others.

Matt and I have also found a great wedding venue! With a lot of diligent searching I was able to find a place thats a great value AND its a tented reception like I have always wanted! With some creative do-it-yourself projects I think I can definitely keep the whole event well under my budget.


Today was my first day of training for the 1/2 marathon (13.something miles) and I shocked myself. I am NOT a runner, not by any stretch of the imagination. The most I ran as a kid was from the refrigerator to the couch so I didn’t miss my show after the commercial break (this was before TiVO kids.) Today I ran 3 miles in under 40 minutes, like it was nothing. I could have done 4. I ran one mile in around 12 minutes, which I am told is pretty good. I am excited to keep pushing towards this goal and to do something I have never done before. I want to try something that is way outside my comfort zone. Something that will take my stamina and fitness to the next level and I think this is just the ticket. Now, to stay within my 1 year time limit I will run any half marathon if it comes down to it.. but my goal is the coveted Nike Women’s Marathon. I like the idea of being surrounded by other powerful women and of course the idea of a firefighter in a tuxedo handing me a Tiffany necklace at the end of the whole thing haha.

I will use this blog to keep you posted on these upcoming projects and let you know how it all pans out. Stay tuned 🙂