Previous month:
June 2009
Next month:
August 2009

happiness and the city


I heart New York City -- and lucky for me I'm going to be going there for two whole days! Okay, I'm going for work so it's not all that cool, but it will be exciting to be in a new-yet-familiar place, surrounded by all kinds of interesting people. Ever since I was a child I've loved New York City. There's a hustle and bustle, an excitement, in the city that you just don't find anywhere else. The lyrics I've posted here come from one of my absolute favorite songs of all time -- "Nowhere and Everywhere" by Michelle Lewis -- that always and forever reminds me of a fall day in New York City. Since the day I heard the song in the film Practical Magic (which, by the way, is based on an amazing book of the same name), I've been in love with it. To me, the song's about soul-searching, about looking for (and finding) yourself in a big city. Here, check out the lyrics and see what you think:


She's been traveling the sidewalks for hours
Stopping as every moment of the truth wanders past
Window shopping for religion or something harder
Than the coins in her pocket

She is way too pretty for prime time New York
She gets the business every time she takes a walk
Amid the shark-smile porno scenes
But they can't ever touch her, their disappearing queen

She is...
Nowhere and everywhere
Nowhere and everywhere
Nowhere and everywhere
at the same time

She's as shady as cheap sunglasses
But as perfect as this October Monday passes
To a draggin'-your-soul-around-town rhythm
Always in such a hurry, but never too fast
Playing chicken with delivery boys
And tag with the subways
Searchin' alleys for proper company
She's jumping in and out of cracks
And she's got everything that you lack
Well she entered unnoticed
You will feel it when she leaves

She is...
Nowhere and everywhere
Nowhere and everywhere
Nowhere and everywhere
at the same time

We gutters and glittering lobbies
We a street lamp flickering out
We absolutely nothing

Getting out of a taxi the other day
My heart fell out of my backpack and into a puddle
And so my chest was empty but it felt okay
I just fished out the pieces and walked away into...

Nowhere and everywhere
Nowhere and everywhere
Nowhere and everywhere
at the same time

We are nowhere and everywhere
You're feeling close but nothing's there
We are nowhere and everywhere
at the same time


When I read the words (or listen to the song), I think about being lost in a city, searching for all that is nowhere and everywhere. I suppose the song talks about some sort of truth that we're all looking for. It's everywhere yet it's so intangible that we can never touch it. It's all around us yet it's nowhere to be found. When I listen to this song, I cannot help but think of New York and feel this burning desire to get in the car and drive there. I often feel, for whatever reason, that I've left something in that great city. I feel like pieces of me are there, though I've never been there for more than a few days at a time. There is something about that place that just sticks with you -- either in a good or a bad way -- and never really seems to let you go. While many have left their hearts in San Francisco, I do believe that mine lies somewhere in Manhattan.

The last time I was in New York it was October. I was there, I recall, on an October Monday in fact and I was so thrilled to be listening to the song "Nowhere and Everywhere," feeling just like the girl Michelle sings about. I felt like I was looking desperately for something and I was on the verge of finding it back then, in the last  of my sad autumns. It was fall, I was on the verge of falling. It was only a matter of weeks from that day -- that soul-searching, autumn day -- that I began to uncover what it was that I'd always been looking for all of those years: myself. I, like the girl in the song, was walking around with an empty chest; my heart had fallen into a puddle. It wasn't until later, after I'd left the city, that I'd picked up the pieces out of the puddle and walked away from that searching, sad girl that was me. It wasn't until a few months later that I would fall so hard that I would bounce back up in a way that I never had before. And a few months after that I would start the blog and begin the journey to a happier me.

The city is probably different now, just as I am. It will look different, feel different, I know. Everything does when you are looking at it through a frame of positive thinking. It's going to be so interesting to see how it has changed -- how I will recognize the changes in myself -- when I step off that train and into the hustling, bustling Penn Station. You must be wondering, "What's the big deal? Are you going to be a different person there? How is it really that different from your every day life?" And to that I have to shake my head and say, "It's hard to explain." There's something about the city that cannot really be put into words (though so many have tried) and I've always felt right at home there. Everyone moves quickly. Everyone is in a hurry. There's a ebb and flow to the place that suits me. But, for whatever reason, I feel that it will be much different this time around. For whatever reason, I feel like the new me, the happier me, will be more pronounced there. It's as if the colors that are be become brighter, louder, when I'm in New York. Everything is louder there.

It's almost unsettling to think about going back there now, after so much has happened, after I have changed so much. New York only knows the old me. The old me is the only one who has been to New York. I feel so changed, so much stronger, since I was last there. I wonder, now, if the city will feel as overwhelming and exciting as it once did. I wonder if I will feel the way I once did there or if all of that will have changed now. I'm looking forward to visiting but I am wary as well. I feel like New York City is wild and dangerous and not necessarily happy. I know that I, myself, have not necessarily been happy there in the past. But I also know now what I didn't know back then, the last time I was there -- that happiness comes from within and no matter where I am -- nowhere or everywhere -- the choice to be happy is mine.

stop wanting and start being


As I was sifting through my childhood journals recently I came across a poem of sorts that my cousin gave to me years ago. I'm not sure exactly who wrote it (I have "Oriah Mountain Dreamer" written beneath the title which is a bit cryptic at best), but apparently it's called "The Invitation." Re-reading it, I remembered just why I wrote it down. It has such a great, positive, true message behind it. Here, read for yourself:

"The Invitation"

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's desire.

It doesn't interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.


It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow,
if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become
shriveled and closed from the fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with your pain -- mine or ours --
without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy -- mine or ours --
and if you can dance with the wildness and let the ecstasy
fill you to the tips of your fingertips and toes without cautioning us
to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

 It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint others to be true to yourself,
if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul,
if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty,
and if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure and still stand at the edge
of the lake and shout to the silver moon, "Yes!"

 It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair,
weary and bruised, and do what needs to be done.

It doesn't interest me who you are or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand with me at the center
of the fire and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what you studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.


Isn't that so interesting and, honestly, amazing? Of course it was probably meant to be written toward a significant other, but I believe it can be used in any relationship with anyone. When I read it, I begin to think, "What is it that I want to know about the people in my life? What is it that matters to me most?" Another thing that came to mind was how bloggers, and anyone who uses social media online, "meet" new people all of the time yet don't really know anything about them. I have what I call "online friends," but I don't know any of these people really. I don't know what they do for a living, how much money they make, or what they really look like. All I know is what they write here in the comments section and what they write on their own blogs (if they have them). Yet I feel like I know them better than some of the people in my office -- people I could tell you a lot about like how much they make, what they look like, how many kids they have, what kind of car they drive. So, after thinking about it, I came up with a big question mark in my mind, above which was written, "What really matter most when it comes to knowing someone else?"

Another important question that be coming to your mind right now as a reader is, "Why does it matter?" It matters because we are in the habit of getting to know people, or thinking that we know people, or wanting to know people. Knowing someone is a way for us to connect with others, but it's not always as straightforward as being able to pick someone out of a lineup. For example, I know most people I work with, but do I really know them? A few of them, yes, but not more than that. The rest of them, though their faces are known, are virtually unknown. However, I know a lot of people online, but do I really know them? I certainly couldn't pick them out of a crowd, but do I know what some of their inner most thoughts are? Do I know their hopes and dreams? Do I know, to some degree, that they know me? (Another question that comes to mind is: How much does someone else knowing you affect how much you know them?)

Today I have a lot of questions, questions about knowing. As "The Invitation" says above, I want to know those who are of good character, who can celebrate joy and deal with pain and be alone with themselves because they love themselves. Do I know these people? Yes. Do I know only these people? I'm not so sure. Surrounding ourselves with people who are good for us (and this, of course, will vary from person to person) is so important. I almost want to pass out that poem to all of my family, friends, and say, "Here. This is what I want in my life. This is what I deserve. And this is what you deserve too." We all deserve to be surrounded by people who are strong, people who are supportive. And what's one of the best ways to do that? To make sure you are all of those things. I'm going to flip the poem around a bit and see what it looks like when I change from what I want from others to what I myself can be.


"The Invitation" (Revised)

I know what I ache for and I dare to dream of meeting my heart's desire.

I will risk looking like a fool for love, for my dream, for the adventure of being alive.

I have touched the center of my own sorrow, and I have been opened by life's betrayals.

I can sit with pain -- mine or ours -- without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I can be with joy -- mine or ours -- and can dance with the wildness and let the ecstasy fill me to the tips of my fingertips and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
I can disappoint others to be true to myself, I can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray my own soul,
and I can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I can see beauty even when it is not pretty, and I can source your own life from its presence.

I can live with failure and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver moon, "Yes!"

I can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised, and do what needs to be done.

I will stand with you at the center of the fire and not shrink back.

I know what sustains me from the inside when all else falls away.

I can be alone with myself and I truly like the company I keep in the empty moments.


When I think about it that way, I think about things differently. Of course we're going to want things from others -- how could we not? -- but we should first think what we want for ourselves. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, all of the things mentioned above. However, I want to be. I would love to be all of those things and I believe that someday I will. But for now I will work on them. I will recognize that I want to find these things in others and, therefore, must have them within myself. Amidst all of the questions and the drawn out sentences of this post, I think it comes down to one key thing: change the "I want" to the "I am." When it comes down to it, you can't expect to get things you're not giving out. If you want something in someone else -- kindness, strength, happiness, whatever -- you have to be that thing yourself. You have to change that "I want" into "I am." You have to be instead of just want. It sounds hard and it sounds like it might not necessarily work, but give it a try. If you work on the qualities you want from others in yourself, you might be surprised by how quickly you start seeing those qualities in people around you.


Is there anything that you want others to be that you're not?
Is there anything you're asking for from others that you're not giving them in return?
What do you think of "The Invitation"? Like me, do you want those things for yourself too?

how to be happy when your heart is breaking



Watchin' the time go, the second hand is movin' too fast
Whoever thought that it ever really would last
And if your conscience weighs a little heavy tonight
Maybe you'll find it, maybe you'll find...
Nobody told you that nothing plays out like it seems
Twenty years now, runnin' scared of all your dreams
Is it everything you thought it would be?

When you come back, I'll be alright
On your own again, back where it all began
The phone don't ring, and the tears they fall
But you carry on and on and on and on

Past is past; you never really gave it a shot
To survive with your one last shot in the dark
And if your conscience weighs a little heavy tonight
Maybe you'll find...
Empty boxes on the stairs
Remind you that there's no one there
Is it everything you thought it would be?
You'll see...

When you come back, I'll be alright
On your own again, back where it all began
The phone don't ring, and the tears they fall
But you carry on and on and on and on 

You gotta go, you never know
just how it'll all turn out
Forget what's done, the western sun
leaves no doubt

When you come back, I'll be alright
On your own again, back where it all began
The phone don't ring, and the tears they fall
But you carry on and on and on and on

"On Your Own"
Green River Ordinance

Though I'm not suffering from a broken heart right now, I've been there. Man, have I been there. Many, many times. More times than I'd like to admit I've been broken hearted by breaking someone else's heart. It always seems as if it'd be better to be the one ending things, but it's not. It still hurts. Like hell. But you didn't come by to hear all about the heartaches of Dani, did you? Nope, you came by some for a Dani-sized dash of positivity and that's what I'm gonna give you. What's spurred me to write about heartache when my own heart's not aching? Lately I've been receiving a lot of questions about how to be happy even when your heart is breaking from my readers, and, though I must admit that in the past I haven't been the best at dealing with my personal pain, I think I have a new outlook on how one might deal with a broken heart and I want to share my advice with you (and store it for myself for later should I ever be faced with a broken heart myself!).

So, those of you suffering from a broken heart (or anyone who has suffered from one) knows that it's probably one of the worst feelings in the world. When you're down in the depths of heartache it feels like nothing in the world will bring you out of your pain. It feels like nothing you do, nothing anyone else says, can make you feel better. I know that feel. It flat out sucks. I'm not going pretend I have a cure all for getting rid of that terrible feeling in the pit of your stomach. I'm not going to sit here and claim I have a solution that will make all of your sadness go away. But here's the deal. You have a choice. You can either continue to be miserable (which, let's face it, isn't exactly bringing him or her back to you, is it?) or you can pull yourself together and move on. So what's it gonna be? It's totally up to you. Believe me, I know first hand that you can wallow in that self-pity for as long as you please. Days, weeks, months can go by before you even realize that you're wasting your life away, completely consumed by your sadness. Is that what you really want? To be sad? To be feeling sorry for yourself? I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure most of us want to be happy. It's not at all easy to be happy when it feels like your heart has been splintered into a million little pieces, but it's up to you. Cheesy as it might sound, you can be anything you want to be. You want to be sad? Be sad. But if you want to be happy, read on...


How To Be Happy When Your Heart Feels Like Someone Smashed It With A Hammer

Accept the fact that you feel terrible, alone, and worthless. Yes, you feel like your heart and mind have been beaten. You feel defeated. You feel alone. You feel, for brief moments, like just throwing in the towel and giving up. It's okay to feel bad. You're supposed to. It's normal. One of the most important things I've learned in my path to positivity is that you can't just brush the bad emotions aside. Sure, it would be fabulous if we could be oh-so-happy all the time, but that's not life. Life sucks sometimes. Really sucks. We get mad, we get sad, we get hurt. That's just how it is. I used to try to avoid any of the bad feelings. I used to just drink or distract myself with other unhealthy pastimes, but that only caused the feelings to hide out in the back of my mind, building up on one another until they became this big, horrible mess of sadness and anger. It was not good. You don't want that to happen to you so deal with your pain and sadness. You're experiencing a loss and that hurts. It's okay for it to hurt. Sit with your sadness for a bit and allow yourself to feel how you feel.


Drag yourself out of that puddle of self pity. Okay, it's one thing to let yourself experience your emotions, but enough with the cartons of ice cream, the bags of chips, and the endless reruns of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Pull yourself together. It is, no matter what you feel like, completely unacceptable to sit around in your PJs for days, doing nothing but crying and watching Lifetime movies. It might sound harsh, but you have to get a grip. It feels awful, yes, but life goes on. It has to. You won't spend the rest of your life wallowing (even though right now it feels like you might) so you might as well get a jump start on your new, exciting, single life right now. Get up. Get dressed. Get going. Do something -- anything -- other than sitting around feeling sorry for yourself. Sadness in small doses is fine. Sadness is large quantities is just selfish. Get out there and do something productive, happy, and fun. Think about it like this: This is your life. Right now. What if today were your last day? Would you want to spend in wallowing in sadness? I think not!


Gather up your best friends and do something fabulous. Whenever you're going through a rough time, one of the best things you can do is surround yourself with the people who love you (and, yes, this is different from the people youlove). Surround yourself with positive, happy, loving people and you'll instantly start to feel better. Think about something you really love to do (maybe something that your ex didn't ever want to do) and do it. Take your friends and get going on a fabulous adventure, even if that adventure is just a night of dining out. (Remember: Anything can be an adventure if you make it into one!) The key to going out and doing something fun with friends is not to think about and dwell on your sadness. Yes, you might want to bring it up, but don't. You probably discussed it plenty when it first happened, so leave it behind for your fabulous adventure of fun. Your wonderful friends are making an effort to spend time with you -- they love you! -- so don't bring everyone down by being a huge downer. Distract yourself. Ask them about their lives (and don't you dare make a face when they bring up their wonderful significant others!). Engage people (maybe even strangers!) in a random conversation about an interesting topic. Don't go out and sit in a corner and mope. Go out and have fun!


Remember who you are and embrace that person. You are you. No matter how close you were with your ex, you are not a product of the relationship you were in. You were you before you met that person and you are still you now. And, you know what? You're pretty awesome. No one else can be you. No one will ever be. And that's pretty cool, right? So let's think about you. What are you? Who are you? What do you like to do? What are your favorite songs? Favorite activities? Favorite movies? Think about these things (write them down if you want) and remember that no one -- no matter how bad they might make you feel in a moment of heartache -- can take you away from you. No matter what happens in life, you always have yourself so you better work on loving that person and celebrating how awesome he or she is. If you really love yourself, really believe that you are great, no one can take that away from you. People will hurt you, yes, but that's okay. It's okay to be hurt and to feel shitty, but it's not okay to let those feelings take away from your self worth. You are an awesome person -- we all are -- and you deserve to be happy. Since you can't be happy with someone else right now, you better be happy with yourself. Take this heartache and see it as a reminder to celebrate all of the great things about you -- the you that is just you, not the you that is half of a pair.


Learn from the heartbreak and let it go. Every heartbreak hurts. It really does. Even when you go out with your friends and tell yourself you're great and do all of the things you loved to do before you met that other person, you're probably going to still feel pretty bad at times. Let yourself feel bad (but not for too long!) and think about how you can learn from the pain you're feeling. I really do believe that there's a lesson in everything and every painful experience I've gone through has proved that to me. Even when I've felt like giving up, like just screaming until my lungs collapsed, I was learning. Even though it didn't feel like it at the time, I was becoming stronger and better and learning more about myself and the world. I've always had a hard time letting the pain and sadness go. As I've mentioned to you before, I identified myself with being the downer, with being sad and sarcastic. It's hard for me to look at my pain from a distance and say, "Oh, you again. Go away!" I'm much more tempted to say, "Oh, hello old friend! Please come in!" But it does no good to hang on to pain and sadness. It's okay to experience it, to learn from it, but it doesn't do anyone (especially you!) any good to hang on to it. It's not a raft. It's an anchor. And it will drag you straight to the bottom of the ocean of self pity if you cling to it. My advice? Accept it. Learn from it. Let it go.


And that's pretty much what I'd say to sum up this post: Accept it. Learn from it. Let it go. It doesn't work to pretend it's not happening and it doesn't really help you in the long run if you don't try to learn from it and it certainly doesn't do any good to cling to your heartache like a drowning, desperate crazy person. Not only are sadness, desperation, and anger unattractive qualities (should you ever feel like dating again), but they are pretty damaging to any attempts you're making to live a positive life. As I said before, I'm pretty sure we all want to be happy. It's a pretty basic, human desire. And, as you know, I do believe that happiness is a choice. When you're battling a broken heart, choosing happiness is far from easy, but it is still possible. Remember that it's up to you. No one else is going to make you feel better. No one else is going to truly be able to pull yourself out of your sadness. It's up to you. Choose to accept it, learn from it, and let it go. Choose to be happy.

If this post didn't do it for you, you might enjoy checking out some of these articles:

Healing a Broken Heart
Broken Heart's Guide
How to Mend a Broken Heart
Heal My Broken Heart 
Healing Your Heartbreak

[Note: You might not be suffering from heartache right now, but do you hate your job? If you do, I have just the thing for you! I wrote a guest post for The Journal of Cultural Conversation called "Hate Your Job, But Still Love Your Life: How To Be Happy No Matter Where You Work." Check it out!]