Thursday, 19 December 2013

The pursuit of happiness

Welcome back to The Google Year in Review! Today we're talking Happiness.

When I started this blog I realised that of the four challenge areas, Happiness would be the hardest to measure. The other stuff is a little easier to prove, right? You can count adventures on your fingers. And we all know whether we've fallen in love or not. And while the perfect pair of jeans is most certainly a challenge, it's pretty easy to see if your wardrobe has made improvements.

But happiness? It's so fickle! It changes moment to moment, day to day. Really, it's unrealistic to believe that you'd come to the end of 365.242 days and decide that Yes. I have achieved it. Happiness, forever. 

Nonetheless, I feel like I've made a progress in this tricky business of happiness so let's see how we did:

Give up junk food for a week
See a career advisor
Enrol in a writing course
Go to bikram yoga every day for a week
Be calm(er)
Pay off old debts and set up a budget
Volunteer for a cause that's close to my heart
Disconnect for a week
Identify long term goals for career, home and relationships and start working toward them
Make and sell softies
See a dietician/nutritionist
Hang out with some sharks
Donate something special to a special cause
Go to a personal trainer
No complaining for a week
Keep a list of things I'm grateful for
Plan a weekend escape with the girls
Have one day completely free from spending
Download Zombies! Run! and run for your life!
Give my career a boost....apply to start studying Masters in 2013

Check out those gaps! Man, I have a whole lot of catching up to do.

But am I happier than I was a year ago? Yes. And some days No. But for the most part, Definitely (particularly when it's a 40 degree day outside and I've just had lunch with friends and we're flirting with old Italian men while buying granita for the long hot walk back to work). 

It's not necessarily that I have more things that make me happy, or that I've cracked some secret code. I just know more clearly what makes me happy and what doesn't. And of course it helps that by sheer luck, I live a life in which I'm safe from war and persecution, in which I don't have to seek refuge in countries that refuse me, where I have been afforded the luxury of a good education and career and where I never have to wonder where my next meal will come from or where I'll sleep. That sure helps.

For me happiness is showing compassion. It's being thankful the good things (and people) in our world. It's celebrating beauty. It's taking the good with the bad.  It's being inspired. It's refusing to be nice. It's feeling healthy and exercising. It's waking up and looking for the good in each day (which admittedly is an ongoing struggle, especially when your first hot chocolate of the day isn't super hot).

And oddly - a key part of happiness for me is sadness. I've always thought there's something exquisite about heartbreak. Those moments where you'll see something on the street, or in a book or even in a movie, that cracks your heart. Call me crazy, but I love those moments.

But mostly I've come to realise that happiness is my friends. Brace yourself for some mush.  

I'm not quite sure where I'd be without them. But I do know that whenever we spend time together, no matter how sad or stressed or worried I am, I leave knowing that everything is going to be okay.

This one always reminds me of my friends. I'm so very lucky.

So Happiness in 365.242 days? Achieved. Someone remind me of this the next time I'm complaining about that hot chocolate. 

What's your happiness secret?


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have tea first?

Welcome back to The Google Year in Review! Today we're talking my favourite thing:


Ahh my old friend. Travelling, exploring, riding the scary rides, discovering a new talent, scary yourself silly - what faster way to patch a broken heart?

As you might recall, Rule 1 of The Google Year was to say Yes. Being an introvert I'm inclined to hang back a little, and with a broken heart I'm even worse, so I decided from the beginning that this would be the Year of Yes.

How did it go? Follow the links and see!


Try a new sport
Ski a black run (eek!!) - Complete!
Explore a new city by bike - 1st attempt FAIL
Participate in a flashmob - 1st attempt FAIL 2nd attempt Complete!
Perform a burlesque routine
Go on a cycling tour of Melbourne
Join the Cannonball Read Challenge and review one book per week - Kinda Complete...
Do one thing that scares me every day for a week
Learn a new language and test it out
Learn how to cook something really challenging (and delicious!)
Ride a rollercoaster until I'm sick
Plan a big holiday - Complete!
Enrol in circus school
Eat a lobster - 1st attempt FAIL
Go on a roadtrip
Start a blog - Complete!
Find a brand new hobby that is physically challenging and slightly scary - Complete!
Sign up for a new course - Complete!
Run the Colour Run! - Complete!

Weellll. There's a gap or two in there. And just a couple of failures.

I guess I could count that roadtrip that Bill and I took to Seattle, but as we didn't play this song, or wear scarves in our hair, it just doesn't feel legitimate.

And I did ride a roller coaster in Vegas but it was so old, slow and rickety that all it did was give me a headache. 

But all in all, did I find adventure in The Google Year? Hell, yes. Reading back over those stories makes me laugh. The scary flashmob, skiing a black run, trying out new hobbies, almost barfing while eating my first lobster roll. Good time, good times.

And when I think about it, there were so many more adventures on top of these. Watching the most amazing 4th of July fireworks in Boston with old friends, sweating through an insanely hot summer in New York, dancing down Swanston Street with Guru Dudu, falling over in Chapel Street...multiple times (I maintain it was the shoes, not the sparkling). It's been quite the year!

So what's the big lesson? What did this girl learn from pursuing Adventure for 365.242 days?

Say Yes more. Sure sometimes it'll lead you down a terrifying mountain full of moguls, but sometimes, just sometimes, it'll put you to a room with Geoffrey Rush and Deborah Mailman burning up the dancefloor with one of your best friends. 

Reviewing all of the things we got up to is making me realise something. The past year was pretty tough. Broken hearts are never easy. But somewhere in amongst all of that, I had a crazy good time. So here's to a little more adventure in 2014....

 This tune never fails to get me in the mood for a little adventure (and usually leads to some sort of debauchery. Enjoy!).

See you tomorrow for our Happiness review!


Monday, 16 December 2013

It's the end of the world (as we know it)...

Is anyone else completely flummoxed by how fast this year has gone? We're a week from Christmas (gah!) but I feel like I'm still somewhere in the middle of June (ridiculously cold "summer" weather in Melbourne is probably adding to this problem).

The older I get, the faster it goes. Remember when summer holidays lasted forever?

Not so much anymore. Now a year - 365.242 days, an entire Google Year - is over before you know it.

You read that correctly. We've passed the deadline! 365.242 days since I wrote that very first (truly tragic) post. 

It's been quite the year, no? This week we'll be reviewing the spectacular ups, the not so great downs and finding out whether it's possible for a girl to really find Adventure, Happiness, Love and the Perfect Wardrobe in just one Google Year...

So settle in. We've a lot to discuss. And to get us started, here's a little tune - appropriate for a Monday and how I was feeling on that gloomy Sunday one year ago.


Thursday, 14 November 2013

Radio silence


It's been a long time, no? It's a funny thing - lately I've just been a little lacking in inspiration.

I don't know what's going on. Maybe I'm just tired. Maybe I'm distracted. Maybe the end of The Google Year is nigh and I'm not quite sure just how to feel about that.


Anyway. In the past week I've noticed something. I'm really irritated. Snarky, snide, weepy and just plain mad. I'm Mean. 

At first I blamed the weather, then watching too much news, then the stress of work and then, as I stumbled around on a crowded train, one hand on a pole and the other frantically checking Facebook, it hit me. 

Social media.

I'm addicted.

And it's making me crazy.

Here's a typical Facebook day for me. Wake up to go to the bathroom at 2 am. Retrieve phone from charger and check Facebook. Catch the train at 7 am, check Facebook. Get into work at 7:30 am, sip hot chocolate, check Facebook. 12 pm, check Facebook over lunch. 5 pm, check Facebook on the train. 7 pm, check Facebook - leave it on in the background so that I can write snarky updates about the latest news bulletins.

No, no, no. This is not good. Especially as I'm not one of those really witty people who you love to see an update from. Nope. I'm becoming one of those sanctimonious people that shares six-page articles and political opinions. Yesterday I shared a recipe. For a toasted sandwich. I'm combining all of the 7 ways to be insufferable on Facebook. Frankly, we should be grateful that I don't have kids, because at this point I'd totally be sharing poop stories.

So I'm putting myself on a Facebook detox. I'm going to start with one week, just to test myself, just to see if this little break will make a difference to my frame of mind. I need to remind myself that there is a real world out there. That I can call my friends. That people don't need to know my every high-horsed opinion on every major issue. That my life isn't going to end if I miss posting the latest trends in toasted sandwiches (though seriously, this toastie will change your life).

Two minutes in and I'm already coming up with excuses "But can't I check for international messages?" "But what if friends need me?", "But what if I need to do a Google Year update?"...

One week.

Can I do it? Any tips on how you got through your own social media blackout? I could try a new hobby...

...or maybe not.

Wish me luck!


Friday, 11 October 2013

Happy Friday....?

Morning everyone!

So we've got a bit of a Friday tragedy...

A glitch on my laptop last night meant that I lost all of our Friday Love links. And our Handsome Men doing Handsome Things.

But those gifs of awesome people saying no makes you feel better, right?



The good news is that I can at least manage a sing-really-loud-with-dramatic-arm-gestures Friday song:

Have a great weekend out there - we'll be back with regular programming next week.