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How to get out of a bad mood

10 Apr

Pinterest won't let you feel blue! (From; via Sonya Greenhalgh's Pinterest board

Here are my best no-fail tricks for getting out of a terrible mood, overcoming an uninspired rut, or recovering from a bad morning:

  1. Music, music, music. It depends on the particular variety of bad mood, but the second movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major works for me in most cases.
  2. Look at pictures of beautiful things on Flickr or Pinterest.
  3. Read old emails, postcards, and letters from friends and family. I keep a collection for just such occasions.
  4. Make something. Even if it’s just a terrible drawing, it usually gets me out of a creative rut.
  5. Take a nap. Being sad or mad is exhausting, but sleeping is awesome!
  6. Look at pictures of my friends’ babies on Facebook. I think there have been studies that show that this is actually supposed to make me feel worse about my life, but I swear it doesn’t. I really really like doing this.
  7. Solve a puzzle. It engages your brain in a different way, and allows your subconscious to problem solve.
  8. Do something nice for someone else. This is like magic. Works equally well with friends and strangers.
  9. Sink into it. Sometimes I have to admit that I just want to feel bad. And when that happens, the only thing I can do is feel the feeling all the way through. This allows me to move past it.
  10. Bake something. Then eat it.

What are your tricks?


Top 10 Awesome Jobs

4 Mar

From NASA Goddard Photo and Video

When I think about what I want to be when I grow up, my list sounds like something an 8-year-old would come up with. Am I doing it wrong?

  1. Astronaut
  2. Cowgirl
  3. Inventor
  4. Secret Agent
  5. Novelist
  6. Chef
  7. Puzzler
  8. Rock star
  9. Doctor
  10. Ringmaster

What’s on your list?

Leap Day

28 Feb

I remember seeing a tweet awhile back (I can’t remember whose) about how the author’s life was completely different than it had been one year prior. That strikes me as a worthy goal. Of course, I like a lot of things about my life right now so I wouldn’t want to change everything, but it’s interesting to consider how many big changes you could possibly make in a year. There are the obvious things like moving to a new place, changing jobs, or getting out of a relationship that’s no longer working. There are also more subtle, but equally powerful, changes – you could become the type of person who reads non-fiction, you could go vegetarian, or you could finally cross “run a marathon” off your list.

by Flickr user jhf

Leap Day seems like the perfect starting point for a transformative year. I’m going to challenge myself to identify three big opportunities to “leap without a net” in 2012. Three Big Risks. I don’t know exactly what they’ll be yet, but I’m going to be looking out for them so I notice them when they’re in front of me.

And at the same time, I’d like to be more mindful of the subtle changes that will happen gradually over the course of this year. Maybe I will become more expressive (a personal goal). Or maybe I’ll become a more visual person (another goal). Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally become a good joke-teller (serious life dream).

I think the combination of these two things – intentional risk-taking, and being mindful of smaller personal changes – could result in me feeling that my life is completely different one year from now. I can’t think of anything more exciting. Seriously. I can’t do it.


24 Feb

by Flickr user carolinabio

I’m going to break out my lab coat and my beakers and try some of these experiments:

  1. Think of something that you assume to be true about yourself, and spend a day as if it were not true.
  2. Go out to dinner by yourself and see how it feels.
  3. Make a list of important people in your life. Think of one thing you truly appreciate about each person, and then tell them. See how it affects them. See how it affects you.
  4. Change all of your news sources for a week.
  5. Do something that you haven’t done in years, but that you used to love.

Any to add?

Puzzle Surprise

14 Feb

I got home about an hour ago, and checked my mail. I had a small package from my aunt and uncle. Fun!

The warning was useful, because it did sound like broken glass.

Inside I found a Clearly Puzzled 3D Green Apple Puzzle from the Great American Puzzle Factory.

The end result is supposed to look this delicious.

Of course I immediately got to work. The pieces are reminiscent of green apple Jolly Ranchers, don’t you think?

I spent the last hour working on it, but didn’t get too far. I’ll probably be working on it for the next few days. I hope no one was expecting me to go to work or anything.

Thanks, Hilary and Len! What a nice surprise.

Good Advice

6 Feb

When I turned 24, I was going through a period of transition. I was graduating from college, moving from Boston to New York City, and entering the world of full-time work. I’ve always had a difficult time dealing with change, even when I’m excited about it, and that discomfort usually results in an awful lot of introspection. I’ve filled thousands of journal pages during those times of flux (I have big handwriting).

During this particular time, I had an idea that I believed would help me deal with the transition, without being quite so “in my head.” In fact, it would give me an excuse to connect with others. I decided to ask certain people in my life, mostly older family members and friends of family, to send me their best piece of advice. I asked them, “What is the most valuable piece of advice you ever received, or what do you wish you had known when you were 24?”

Soon after, I received an influx of good advice. Emails and letters, quotes and poems, anecdotes and jokes, I got it all! It’s amazing what wisdom you can find within the life experience of the people around you. I liked being in the position of collecting and curating this wisdom, deciding which pieces were going to be most relevant to me, which pieces resonated the most.

I’m not going to share the advice I received here (because it was meant specifically for me!), but I do want to recommend this as a useful practice if you’re feeling contemplative, indecisive, or overwhelmed. When you ask people a question like this, it affords them an opportunity to reflect on their own lives, so, in a way, you’re giving them a small gift as well.

As a wise friend reminded me recently, we are social beings, dependent on one another in so many ways. We might as well get out of our own heads every once in awhile, and take some good advice from others.

What do you think? Would you try something like this? Is there anything holding you back?


8 Jan

I’ve been thinking a lot about art recently. I’ve never been much of an artist, unless you count stick figures, but I have a lot of ideas for art and design projects that I wish I could do. Isn’t it so frustrating to have plenty of ideas but not the necessary skills to execute them? After thinking long and hard about this problem, I’ve come up with this two-step plan for overcoming my lack of natural artistic talent:

  1. Ask for help.
  2. Do it anyway.

What do you think?

In the meantime, I’ve been seeing some cool art projects around the web recently, and I thought I’d share some of my favorites:

  • The Monster Engine is artist Dave DeVries’ collection of paintings based on children’s drawings. I think they’re fun and sort of scary at the same time. Plus they remind me of a 7-year-old boy I used to tutor who wrote and illustrated a book called “Criminal Sugarpie” that I absolutely love.
  • The Obliteration Room is what happens when you let people put brightly colored sticker dots all over a white room. It feels like a friendly explosion. The artist is Yayoi Kusama.
  • My mom pointed me to the Advanced Style blog which features fun photographs of stylish older people by photographer Ari Seth Cohen. It’s like The Sartorialist for septuagenarians.
  • Photographer Frieke Janssens has put together a bizarre collection of portraits of children smoking (she used chalk and cheese rather than real cigarettes for the portraits). I find it disturbing, not just because of the smoking, but because the children have such adult-like facial expressions and mannerisms.
  •  I freaking love National Geographic‘s list of the best space photographs of 2011. They’re just mind-blowing.

What art has inspired you recently? And how do you close the gap between your own artistic vision and your skillset?

p.s. If you’re looking for some creative inspiration, check out Brain Pickings awesome roundup of activity books for grown-ups. I want everything on the list!