Monday, June 25, 2018

What makes you happy?

It’s that day when Beckah and I post things to our blogs. I have roughly 8 different drafts of things to post, but none of them are done and as for those that are close, the timing doesn’t seem right.

So after searching “blog post prompts,” Pinterest gave me a bunch of suggestions. And the one that kept sticking in my head was the simple question, “What makes you happy?”

Maybe it’s because I’ve had a tenuous relationship with happiness over the past year or so. I mean, all of us have a kind of tenuous relationship with happiness all of the time, but a year ago, if you had asked me, “Are you happy?” I wouldn’t have been able to say “yes” with much confidence. I had happy moments. But the general over-arching sense I had about life wasn’t happiness.

I knew time just had to pass for some of the happiness to return. But there are things, both small and big things, that make me happy. So I’ll spend this blog entry telling you about them.

Summer makes me happy. I love stepping out onto the pavement at nine o’clock at night, and feeling the heat underneath my bare feet, and watching the sun set and seeing the first few stars come out. I like seeing Jupiter and Venus and the moon, and the Big Dipper almost exactly overhead. I love popsicles and fresh fruit, and campfires, and parks.

Babies make me happy. With their stupid cute little hands and sneezes and laughter and cuddles. And the way they slowly learn to walk and talk and surprise you with how much they’re learning.

Hell, learning makes me happy. I think I might get a sort of extra big dopamine burst when I learn something new. It’s a high I’ll keep chasing for the rest of my life.

Theatre makes me happy. Dear goddess above, theatre makes me happy. It’s this beautiful combination of so many things I love. Literature. Acting. Sound and music. Lights and painting. Community. Design. A live connection between the creators of the art and the audience. And somehow it all combines to become something greater than the sum of its parts. (Wondrous mathematics.)

Patrick makes me happy. The way his blue eyes look at me, the way he makes me laugh, the way we can talk about anything. The way he shares my love of learning new things and the way we geek out about outer space and the human brain together. I love how almost every time I walk up the stairs to his apartment, I can hear him singing along to something playing on his laptop. The kindness and patience and honesty with which he lives his life makes me happy.

The incredible television that’s being made nowadays makes me happy. Handmaid’s Tale. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Love. Orange is the New Black. High Maintenance. Stories that are funny and beautiful and thought-provoking, that break with the traditions of the past, that put women and people of color and people of all shapes and sizes and levels of attraction at the center of their own stories. (There’s an entire episode of Easy about a teenage girl and her relationship with her parents’ Christianity, and the role was played by a big* actress, and NOT ONCE was her weight a plot point. Not in her relationship with her parents, not in her relationship with her boyfriend, not in her relationship with herself. Because while those stories are interesting and good to tell, it’s not the only story that fat people have to tell.)

Then there are little, deeply satisfying things that bring me happiness. Writing with a Uni-ball Jet Stream medium-point pen. Cross stitching. Organizing things—getting rid of things that aren’t needed anymore and finding places for what’s left. Food. Sleep. Kissing.

I know there are a million ways to measure happiness. To define happiness. I guess I’m just aware of the fact that the happy moments seem to outnumber the unhappy ones nowadays. There are still a lot of question marks about my life, and plenty of stresses, and plenty of sad moments. But I just feel happy lately. I’m grateful.

* I never quite know how to talk about weight. I’m all about fat acceptance, because I don’t think our society’s prejudice against fatness actually has much to do with health. (Going into detail would be a whole ‘nother blog post.) But here’s the reality. I’ve always been fairly skinny/average (through very little action on my part). So I don’t always know which terms are best. Overweight? Fat? Big? I want to de-stigmatize these words, but I also want to be sensitive to other people’s experiences, which are not always mine. Anyway. Feel free to hit me up in the DMs if you have insight.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Goals, a belated report

Those of you who know me well and/or follow this blog, know that I'm a goal and list oriented person. I've been doing this thing for the past few years, where instead of New Year's resolutions, I make goals at my birthday. This "31 Things" report is well overdue, but I was sort of preoccupied with other things until now. So here it is.

Okay, look. So this was the year I got divorced. I was just in survival mode for a lot of this year, so I'm going to cut myself some slack. 

As of September 9, 2017:
1 complete

1. Read 1 script per month 
I want to write more scripts, and I'm a big believer that you should read the types of things you want to write. And I know there are thousands (TENS OF THOUSANDS) of amazing scripts out there that I just haven't gotten to yet. I want to have read 12 new scripts by the time I'm 32. They can be TV episodes, screenplays, plays, etc.

X-Files: Season 3, Episode 3 "D.P.O." by Howard Gordon
The Nerd by Larry Shue

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Simon Stephens (adapted from the book by Mark Haddon)
Trifles by Susan Glaspell
The Stronger by August Strindberg

Okay, so I didn't quite read one entire script this month. But it was because I was busy memorizing one, writing another, and workshopping a dozen more. So I'm gonna still count that, because I was surrounded by scripts all month. 


To Kill A Mockingbird by Christopher Sergel, based on the novel by Harper Lee



Punxsutawney by Larry West
The Heart of Robin Hood by David Farr


A Bundle of Trouble by Ruth Hale


The Red Bike by Caridad Svitch



2. Write a spec script
I have zero intention of publishing or sending out said spec script. I consider it purely an exercise in writing. It's a good way to start--it's kind of like fan fiction. The characters, world, and format already exist...I'm just creating a different story. I'm bowling with the gutter bumpers up, so to speak. I'm thinking "The X-Files"? I'll keep you posted.

3. Complete 1 painting
I've had this on my list before, and I've had a few different ideas for paintings floating around in my head lately. I think I'd like to make one of them a reality this year.
DONE! A few times, actually. Painting of an anatomical heart, a big pink jellyfish, an abstract painting about wonder. 

And as for my new goals...

Something a little different this time around! Because the next chapter of my life is fairly uncertain, I'm going to work on one big goal over the next two years. Here it is: by the time I turn 35, on September 8, 2020, the goal is to have read, watched, or participated in all 37 of Shakespeare's plays. (Note: I'm not starting from the beginning--I'm counting the ones I'm already familiar with

as of June 18, 2018

All's Well That Ends Well

As You Like It

Comedy of Errors

DONE! Played a servant in a production at BYU-Idaho

Love's Labour's Lost

Measure for Measure

Merchant of Venice

DONE! Read during undergrad at BYU-Idaho

Merry Wives of Windsor

Midsummer Night's Dream

DONE! Played Mustardseed in a production at South Medford High School

Much Ado about Nothing
DONE! Watched the film in high school

Taming of the Shrew

DONE! Watched multiple productions and films


DONE! Watched a production in high school, played Caliban and designed sound for a children's production at BYU-Idaho, played Gonzalo in a production at BYU-Idaho

Twelfth Night
DONE! Watched the film

Two Gentlemen of Verona

Winter's Tale

Henry IV, Part I

Henry IV, Part II

Henry V

Henry VI, Part I

Henry VI, Part II

Henry VI, Part III

Henry VIII

King John


Richard II

Richard III

Antony and Cleopatra




DONE! Watched lots of films and productions, read lots of times

Julius Caesar

King Lear


DONE! Watched a handful of productions, played a Witch in a production at BYU-Idaho


DONE! Read in high school, played Bianca in a production in Salt Lake City

Romeo and Juliet
DONE! Read lots and lots, seen a few productions

Timon of Athens

Titus Andronicus

DONE! Watched a film version

Troilus and Cressida

Monday, June 11, 2018

Self-Care: An Incomplete List

I had another essay in the works that I was planning on posting today—a venom-filled indictment of those who say “men have to be so careful in this age of #MeToo.” But the time doesn’t feel right for that post. A lot of people are aching right now. (Let’s be honest—a lot of people are aching all of the time.) But I’m just aware of the sadness people are feeling about the loss of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, and I’m aware of the private battles of a handful of close friends. So I felt that something tender would be better for today.

I’ve been thinking a lot about self-care lately. The need to be patient and kind with ourselves. I once heard saw on Pinterest that the Buddha taught that if your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. And the fact is that we all just need a little extra TLC sometimes, whether we’re suffering extra work stress or a recent illness/injury or a deeply broken heart or good ole pedestrian clinical depression.

But the phrase “self-care” doesn’t really include specific details or instructions. So, I’ve crowd-sourced some ideas, and included things from my own list. Because when you’re in crisis, it’s hard to brainstorm ways to care for yourself. If you already have a list made, it’s a little easier to just take a look at it and find a good way to hug your own heart.

So feel free to use this list to create your own—exclude the things that don’t work for you (because of interests or budget), and include some things of your own. Some items on this list are distractions from spiraling thought loops, and some are ways to address the hurts you’re feeling, and some are a little bit of both.

I know that some of these things are extra difficult when you’re dealing with clinical depression, and I’m in no way suggesting that any of these things will fix your problems, or be an adequate replacement for medication, therapy, etc. But a list of self-care strategies is just another tool to add to your toolbox. Consider it a first aid kit—sometimes a bandaid really is helpful.


Watch a great movie or TV show
This can be an old favorite, a comedy to make you forget your troubles, or something sad or romantic to give you a good cry. Or you can splurge and take yourself out to the movies. Get a giant popcorn and sit in one of those luxury loungers. Or just queue up Netflix and let that next episode play.

Go on a walk
The left-right movement of walking actually calms the brain, and makes difficult emotions a little easier to process. Movement in general is pretty good for brains, unhappy or otherwise. Find a good podcast or put on a good playlist, and just explore your neighborhood.

Because endorphins. It doesn’t have to be much—you can find a short, easy work out video on youtube and do it in your living room.

Paint or do art of some kind
Says the girl with the art therapist. The process is more important than the product. It doesn’t have to look good—just smear some paint. Fill a whole piece of paper with crayon scribbles. Get a coloring book and some colored pencils and have at it.

Take yourself out to eat
Someplace yummy, that you really love. Don’t count calories. And yes, order dessert.

Read a good book
An old favorite, or discover something new via Goodreads or your local library.

Shave your legs
Really really really well. Be meticulous. Use shaving cream. Use a new razor. Exfoliate and moisturize.

Either professionally, or at home.

Get a massage
If you can afford it, this is AMAZING.

Connect with someone you care about
Send a text/snapchat/Marco Polo/Facebook message. Spend some time in conversation with another person. Human connections are powerful and healing.

This is another one where process is more important than product. Just write what you’re thinking/feeling.

Reorganize something
How’s your bathroom closet look? Your bookshelf? Your Tupperware drawer? Sit down and go through and tidy it up. Sometimes your thoughts and emotions get tidied in the process.

Deep clean something
When’s the last time you wiped down your kitchen cupboards, inside and out? Just like tidying, a good deep clean can be cathartic.

Do a jigsaw puzzle
Just something simple that takes a little movement and a little thought.

Cook something new
Try a new recipe. Bonus if there’s chocolate involved.

Jerk off
Yeah, I said it.

Cuddle/kiss/make out/have sex with someone you care about
Physical touch can be so so so healing. There’s a phenomenon called “skin hunger,” where the human body and mind suffers if it doesn’t experience touch. If you have a friend or significant other who’s into this, ask them for some loving.

I’m a huge fan of YouTube karaoke.

YouTube Party
Speaking of YouTube, get on there and watch the things that make you smile. Favorite themes of mine include: babies laughing, cat/dog fails, dance videos, and bloopers. Watch your favorites and find some new ones.

Impromptu Emergency Dance Party
I have a specific playlist for this purpose. The exercise releases endorphins, and the music perks my heart up. And a lot of us just don’t dance like we used to!

Take a warm bath/hot shower
Water is healing, somehow.

Sometimes it’s helpful to just take a moment to breathe and BE in the moment. There are lots of apps and YouTube guides to help you if you’re a novice.

Spend time in nature/get outside
Whether it’s a public park or a hiking trail, just being outdoors and surrounded by green can work wonders. Or just move a kitchen chair to your front porch and sit in the sun.

An exploratory drive
Hop in your car and explore a part of town you’ve never been in before. Take a moment to appreciate the architecture of the houses.

Retail therapy
Listen, use this one sparingly. But sometimes a stroll through Target or Barnes & Noble really is lovely.

Just give yourself permission to feel
I often subconsciously go numb when I’m feeling distress. While it’s uncomfortable, the best way to deal with that distress is to just give myself time to feel it. I’ll usually do this while journaling or going on a walk or a drive, or having a conversation with a loved one.

Listen to awesome music
Sometimes I’ll go through my iTunes, and think “Oh yeah! I effing LOVE Franz Ferdinand! I wanna listen to this album!” Revisit some old favorites. Find some new ones.

Hang out with some animals
Visit the pet store or humane society and cuddle kitties and puppies.

Take care of yourselves, everyone.

If you or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide, or dealing with a moment of crisis in clinical depression, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also chat with them online at They are open 24/7 and also provide services for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. You can also google "Suicide or Crisis Hotline" and see what resources are available in your area.