Tag Archives: holidays

The Happiness List

chalkboard-801266_640I refuse to make another New Year’s resolution.

I fail at resolutions worse than I do at speaking Spanish. In my 24 years of life, I’ve never accomplished a single goal that was set on January 1st. The 50 extra pounds are still there. I still drink wine and complain about my job(s). And no, I still haven’t finished that novel.

New Year’s resolutions make me feel like a failure, which in my opinion defeats the point of having one in the first place. We go into each new year with unrealistic expectations as to how much we can accomplish in 365 days. When we inevitably fail, we assume that means the goal is forever unattainable.

When you add RA or any other debilitating disease to the mix, New Year’s resolutions make you feel even crappier. You begin thinking that if you didn’t have that one flare, or if it had rained less during the year, then you’d be living the dream life right now. Nothing made me feel more hopeless than the idea that my RA was going to prevent me from finding that “thing” that would make me happier.

It’s been a rough few months for me. I’ve been feeling directionless and unmotivated, physically healthier yet no more successful than I was when I was flaring every day. Then by some unplanned glitch in the universe, I stumbled upon the Passion Planner (which you need in your life, just sayin’). In the first part of the planner, you’re asked to use mind maps to jot down all of your goals and dreams. Then you take those smaller goals and build them into your daily schedule.

This was harder than I thought it would be, but the payoff was worth it. I have a better idea of where I want to go in life and how to get there. Instead of broad and generalized goals like “lose 50 pounds” or “become a better writer,” my goals are broken up into multiple moving parts. Each step will bring me closer to accomplishing the bigger goal. No more faulty or generalized New Year’s resolutions.

I didn’t stop with the mind mapping though. I took the maps and put them into list form, that way I’ll have the pleasure of crossing things off as I do them. I don’t want to call it a “bucket list” because I don’t think that’s an accurate name. It’s not a list of things I need to do before I die. Instead, my list contains a bunch of things I want to do that will bring me closer to living the happiest life possible. It’s going to let me explore the things I’m passionate about with greater depth. They are all small things that are leading to the fulfillment of a larger dream. Even if I don’t get through the whole list, I’ll know that I took the steps to being a happier person. That’s a lot less daunting.

RA taught me that sometimes we need to take baby steps. Maybe it should have helped me to realize that the rest of my life works in the same way.

No one expects us to get out of bed in the middle of a flareup and run a marathon, so why do we pressure ourselves into accomplishing a hefty goal in a single year? Slow down, enjoy the journey. Moving slowly towards happiness is better than not moving at all. No one will judge you if your New Year’s resolution is to stop making more resolutions.

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Thanksgiving Tips

Courtesy of Google Images

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I know I have an extremely long list of things that I’m grateful for, and though I’d love to share them with you, that’s not my intention for this post. Instead, I want to focus on giving you some tips to make the holidays easier. You can keep these in mind for next year.

Mom and I are in charge of cooking dinner every year, and we know that sometimes it’s more challenging for us. We want to enjoy the holidays too, without pain and without feeling completely wiped out. We only have to cook for 6 people this year, but you can use these tips no matter what size your family is.
Make sure you get some help. Mom and I have to work together to get things done. If either one of us had to do everything by ourselves then there wouldn’t be a dinner at all. As much of a Type A personality as you might have, admit to yourself that you can’t do it alone. Get some helpers that can take care of chopping onions, mixing cake batter or pie fillings, or even just handle the cleanup.

Get a head start. We always begin our food prep the night before. For example, I make stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer every year. I make the stuffing the night before and keep it in the fridge until the next day when I’m ready to bake the mushrooms. We also make the pies, blanch the cauliflower, and peel the turnips. This way, we can take more breaks in between cooking to rest and don’t have to worry about running around like lunatics to get everything done.

Alternate tasks. After standing over a stove for long periods of time, the pain in my back becomes unbearable. To prevent this, I keep switching tasks. Alternate between things that require you to be in front of the stove and things that can be done while sitting. For me, this meant working on the cooking part of a cheesecake and then sitting down and taking the stems off of my mushrooms. If you’re done with food prep and have a high stool, it’s sometimes helpful to sit by the stove while you’re cooking.

Use cooking gadgets. Everyone makes fun of me for having a Slap Chop, but it’s honestly the

Courtesy of Google Images

greatest invention ever. My fingers begin to lock up if I try to mince garlic or onions for longer than 5 minutes. Plus, the arthritis is bad in my fingers and makes chopping things more awkward. Get pans that have two handles so that you can lift with both hands and take weight off your joints. User blenders and food processors whenever possible. Get knives specifically designed for people with arthritis. Electric can opens are essential as well. There are many stores that sell these gadgets, but you can check here as well.

Don’t stress. I always have a flare when I’m stressed out. Know you’re limits, and don’t panic if you can’t do “better” than them. If cooking is too much for you, opt to go elsewhere for dinner instead of taking on the responsibility yourself. The point of a holiday is to enjoy time with friends and family, and you won’t be able to do that if you tire yourself out before dinner even begins.


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