Happiness

This post is part of my The Alphabet Series project.

happiness couple

I asked him flat-out if he was happy.

He paused for a few moments, thinking over his response. When he finally gave it, silence followed.

He didn’t ask me the same question. At first I was surprised that my rather direct and somewhat invasive personal question wasn’t tossed back at me, but then I realized that maybe he didn’t ask because the answer was self-evident.

I used to think that I needed him to be happy. That my personal happiness was a measure of our successes and failures together, of whether or not I had him in my life. That with him, I had a better sense of what happiness was, of who I was as a person. That without him, I could never truly be happy because there would be a gigantic void in my life that nothing could possibly fill.

I’m sure it’s a surprise to no one that towards the end, I hadn’t been happy for a long time.

I had always been one to put my happiness in others, particularly boys. It never made my life easy, but it took a devastating breakup for me to begin to understand just how foolish that tendency of mine was.

To put it bluntly, it was a stupid habit that came at the expense of my happiness and very often brought me not much else but misery.

My unhappiness had stretched for so long that by the time I was actively trying to get rid of it, I couldn’t fully remember what it was like to not be weighed down by it. It was a terrifying feeling, one that burdened my heart heavily.

Learning how to be truly happy from within for the first time is one of the strangest things. I had been unhappy for what felt like an eternity; I had almost forgotten what it was like to have a heart that wasn’t weighed down by the albatross of a love that was no longer meant to be.

But learn how to be happy I did. And as we sat there on that park bench in the silence that followed, I thought about how freeing it was to no longer feel like I had to bear the sole burden of the wrongs we shared together, the subtly shifting blame, or the misery we had been putting each other through. To know once and for all that I no longer put him or anyone else above my own happiness, that I had learned to look after myself first and foremost before even beginning to consider to care for someone else.

For the first time, it wasn’t just my brain but also my heart that knew I didn’t need him, or any other boy, to be happy. And for a fleeting moment, I was almost grateful for that devastating breakup he put me through because had I not survived it, I wouldn’t have learned what I consider to be one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever known.

It was a liberating feeling.

Travel Tales: Boston

Faneuil Hall

I was in Boston for about 48 hours but it was more than enough time to fall in love quickly and deeply with the city.

statehouse

Ashley and I had an amazing time traipsing around the city eating, shopping and drinking our way through Beantown. From a fantastic night with awesome drinks at Saloon to touring Faneuil Hall, walking along the Freedom Trail to visiting The Old North Church, I saw and experienced so much of what Boston has to offer. And oh, the seafood! THE SEAFOOD! I now know that nowhere does a lobster roll the way New England does, and that New England clam chowder in New England is the best way to have one of my favorite soups. (I came seriously close to eating nothing but lobster rolls and clam chowder all weekend, but I did branch out and have fried scallops my last night. Mmmm.)

revere1

revere2

The thing I loved most about Boston was not only how easy it was to get around the city but how the historical parts were intermixed with the modern ones. One moment, I could be awed by the sight of the Old State House. The next, I’d find myself wandering on Newbury Street popping into one of the many retail stores. I’d enjoy a delicious cannoli from Bova’s in North End and wind up wandering around Paul Revere’s house. It was the best way to enjoy a city, I think; the perfect balance of mixing things up so I wouldn’t get bored of one or the other!

quincy

Since we’re talking about Ashley and me, of course we didn’t just do food and sightseeing. We did some shopping, too! I convinced Ashley to sign up for memberships at both Sephora and The Body Shop, which meant I was a GREAT influence if you ask me ;)

lobstah

tombs

Unfortunately I didn’t document my Boston adventures as well as I could have, but not-so-unfortunately I have zero regrets about that. I was so busy ~fully immersing myself in Boston~ that documenting my experiences were a secondary priority. After all, it’s not like I don’t ever see myself in the city again. I did manage to get a few snaps, though, and haphazardly filmed some vlog footage my second afternoon in Boston that I’ve cobbled together in a semi-disjointed video. I found myself smiling as I waded through the photos and footage; guess that means Ashley will have to hurry up and visit DC soon so we can unleash ourselves upon another city!

Make Way for Ducklings

Travel Tuesday

Link Love, Vol. 56

I’m in the process of working on my Boston travel recap post so I’ve got travel on the brain. Then again, what’s new? I’m ALWAYS dreaming of my next travel destination. In a month I’ll be in Toronto, and then I’ve got some fun summer plans up my sleeve. Then, if all goes well, I think I even have my winter holiday plans sorted — or at least a very, very good idea of how that will shake out. !!!!!

In other non-travel news, I’m off to a Belgian brunch today that I am super excited about because WAFFLES! I’m also falling rapidly in love with The West Wing. It’s still early days as I’ve only just finished season one, but I’m pretty sure if I were a character on that show I’d be CJ.

Life
Alicia advises five things to consider when making a big decision.

Online
Jamie shares how to get the most from your sponsorships.

Rachel’s post on competitiveness in the blogging world hit a little too close to home, as I’m sure would be the case for most bloggers. It’s always good to step back from numbers and the comparison game.

I loved Katie’s tips for how to support a fellow blogger.

Relationships
“The truth is that I miss him. That’s all.” I love Rae’s writing, and her post about love and misadventures is no exception.

Travel
A third culture kid myself, I love, love, LOVE Casey’s ode to third culture kids.

Nicole’s photos showcasing the colors of Italy made me wish I could hop on a plane immediately and fly to the land of pizza, pasta and gelato.

Break the Sky Around the Web

This week’s LXL theme was something exciting, so I talked about getting a new phone (!!!!!!!), my upcoming trip to Toronto and you-heard-it-here-first details about my UPCOMING BOOK!

Sponsor Spotlight

I’ve got sponsor Shelby from Shelby Travels here today to talk a little bit about travel. She’s been to Iceland, which is pretty high up on my near future travel list so I’m incredibly jealous! Although, um, I’m not 100% sold on the fermented shark she mentions in her spotlight below…

Where is your ultimate travel destination?
I can’t WAIT to visit Thailand one day. It looks absolutely beautiful. I would love to ride an elephant and get a yantra tattoo! (oh, and eat lots of delicious Thai food!)

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten on the road? Thing you disliked eating the most?
My favorite thing I’ve eaten on the road is beer cheese soup. When I drove cross-country, I started seeing it on restaurant menus when we reached the Midwest. I had never heard of it before, and when I first tried it, I was hooked! I probably ordered it three or four times in the Pacific Northwest. When I came back home to Virginia, I tried desperately to find it somewhere in the area – but sadly, it doesn’t seem to be an East Coast thing.

Shelby Travels The worst thing I’ve had while traveling is Hákarl, or fermented shark. On my recent trip to Iceland, it was the obligatory tourist thing to try. The cafe gave us two small pieces with a toothpick in each – and even that small portion was overpowering! The rotten odor made it hard to swallow.

What’s your best travel tip?
Be flexible with your schedule, and recognize that things don’t always go as planned. The best stories come from spontaneous adventures or things you didn’t expect to happen, so embrace the moment and try to go with the flow.

Daily Diaries

This post was written as part of the weekly “Daily Diaries” link up hosted by Kate.

Monday: A glorious, glorious start to the week! I broke out a dress to wear for the first time in 2014 and even went bare legged without feeling chilly in the slightest. I almost wish I had taken a selfie to document the occasion but alas, I did not. I also Skyped with my mom for the first time in a week so I had a really nice time catching up with her and filling her in on the latest developments in my life.

Tuesday: This was the day I almost cried because of the weather. That is not an exaggeration. I also feel that my emotional state about the weather was ENTIRELY JUSTIFIABLE because it freakin’ SNOWED on Tuesday. Which, by the way, happened to be April 15, aka halfway through April, aka WELL INTO SPRING. I am SO DONE WITH WINTER.

In an effort to cheer myself up from the epic weather failure, I started watching The West Wing on Netflix for the first time ever. I think it took maybe 15 minutes before I fell in love with the show, as I knew I would. My friends ALL love the show, as evidenced by my inbox after I tweeted about deciding to watch The West Wing for the first time.

Wednesday: It was Wednesday and I forgot to wear pink, but I did wear a coral-y pink-y shirt so my coworkers gave me a pass. (Some of my coworkers and I occasionally coordinate to wear pink on Wednesdays. Ten brownie points to you if you get why.) I also took the plunge and submitted my first piece to Thought Catalog. I really want to work on submitting my writing to other blogs/websites to grow as a writer and to gain more exposure. Here’s to working towards that goal this year!

Thursday: As pathetic as this sounds, I spent most of Thursday deliberating over whether or not I should buy a new phone and annoying the hell out of my coworkers. See, here’s the thing. My smartphone is almost three years old and is not the most reliable anymore. But can I still use it as a phone? Yes. Can I still use it as a smartphone? Mostly yes. Do I want a new phone? Yes. Do I have the money for a new phone? Yes. But do I NEED a new phone? Maybe…? Do I need to be saving money when/where I can for upcoming travel? YES. So… dilemma.

I then went home after work that day and bought the damn phone online, so there’s that.

Friday: Today, I’m going to the dentist bright and early where I’ll be able to see if oil pulling has made any progress on the state of my gums. (I’ve been meaning to do a follow up post on that, but I oil pull sporadically most of the time so I need to get back into a routine before I share an update.) Then I plan on getting lunch with a good friend I haven’t seen in ages, which always makes for a wonderful time. Then if happy hour plans haven’t materialized by the time I leave work, I’ll probably head home for either a quiet night in and continue watching The West Wing or my friends and I will cobble something together at the last minute and I’ll have a fun night out. That is, if I don’t have to work late tonight…!

Daily Diaries with Diaries of an Essex Girl

The Alphabet Series

alphabet

Eons ago, I came across a book blog that was doing a neat little alphabet series of literature. A was for Aesop’s Fables, B was for British Literature, C was for Charles Dickens, etc. I loved the idea of an alphabet series and mulled over that for quite some time before ultimately placing it on the backburner as I couldn’t quite figure out what I wanted to do with it.

While brainstorming my upcoming monthly piece for the Hooray Collective (I post there once a month on the 30th), I thought about how I seem to be very comfortable writing more personal or creative pieces on that site rather than my own blog. I have a few theories about why that might be, but I think it all boils down to wariness about anything too personal or outside of the box getting misinterpreted when it’s posted alongside everything else I share on my blog.

I’ve been wanting to change that for a while, to break out of the own boxes I put myself in when it comes to writing here. I like challenging myself creatively when it comes to writing; it doesn’t even need to be a fictional piece for me to love exploring new ways to write things. I also love a new project (or a challenge) and have recently fallen in love with writing one-word titled pieces as a way to stretch some of my writing muscles.

Add all of that up and you get my latest blog project, The Alphabet Series. (A moment for applause over the creative title, please. ;) )

I’ll be writing a series of one-word titled posts that each represent a letter of the alphabet. I’m not setting any limits or barriers or expectations about what these posts will be about or the format they’ll be in or how often they’ll be posted or even whether or not I’ll be doing it in alphabetical order. The point of this is to just start writing and let whatever happens, happen.

I can’t wait to see what I come up with.