Saturday, February 1, 2014

New Ventures

This blog has been good to me. However,  I have been a negligent parent. I am staring over beginning on April 1st! I am launching my new blog. "Here, There and Now" 

This blog was only the beginning and sometimes we need a new beginning.

See you on the Eastside!

Betsy Aimee

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Keeping the Resolution

I almost didn't write today. But I think it is quite sad to give up on myself after only one day.  I am physically and emotionally drained today. I don't have anything to say.

But i'm trying to find the best in every day life even with all of it's terrible inertia. My eyes feel so heavy from it all.

Highlight of my day, taking an afternoon nap with my 3 month old son. Yes, I know you hate me. Even in my unemployed status I am still quite privileged.  It was seriously the best thing ever. He just nuzzled up to me and I felt his little fingers wrapped around my hand while the sun shone in through the window. I love these moments of sheer bliss that come with motherhood. These moments give me hope I didn't know I had.

Just before I wrote this, I looked at my phone and saw a photo of my son and his dad. They make me happy. Its nice to have someone other than myself to motivate me to push through the hard days and keep my resolutions.

What keeps you going? What's your happy place?

Betsy Aimee

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Life

2013 was for the books. I had a baby, turned 30, got laid off and had some extreme highs and lows too.However, I didn't write. I just didn't. Which is odd considering that writing is the only thing I ever really wanted to do now that I look back on it. It just always seemed like a far fetched thing, why would anyone care what I have to say? I am so critical of myself I talk myself out of doing things sometimes.

This year I am challenging myself to write something everyday. Hopefully I can publish everyday but if not I bought myself a cute journal for when the days get hectic. Except now, I am not going to worry about who is reading my blog, or where i'm going to get published. I'm going to do it because I love to do it. Oh and because i'm too neurotic not to write out my thoughts. This is really a public service to my  loved ones.

One of the challenges of writing is coming up with fresh ideas and topics that are accessible to a wide audience. I will keep it simple today and stick to listing my new year resolutions.

1) Write Everyday
2) Get a Job-Yeah, this one is high priority for obvious reasons
3) Be More Grateful- I am participating in the #365grateful movement on IG. Works like this, you post  a picture everyday of something you are grateful for in an effort to force yourself to find beauty everyday.
4) Spend More Time Outside- Time I enjoy that California sunshine more often, also I want my child to appreciate the planet.
5) Try Something New Everyday- New foods, new places, new experiences.
6) Make My House Into a Home- Have a great space, I should take advantage
7) Stop Capitalizing Words That Don't Need to be Capitalized- See above for examples.

What are your resolutions? See you soon!
Betsy Aimee

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pregnancy Tips from an Unlikely Mommy to Be

Here I am at 20 weeks. Aka- before people started asking me if i'm having twins
Pregnancy, it is the best of times it is the worst of times. You are creating life! That is absolutely amazing, Congratulations! But then it is also a complete out of body experience. Your body is betraying you, doing weird things, not functioning in the same way it has since you can remember. If you are a control freak like me you are not dealing well with this part. I am in my 8th month of pregnancy. I cannot even begin to describe the roller-coaster of emotions I have been through. Of course if you know me or have read this blog before you are not surprised that I have A LOT of feelings on the matter.

Here’s the quick back story, I fell in love; we moved in and got pregnant in about the same amount of time it takes some people to choose a home to buy. Like all great things in life it was totally not in my grand plan but in our defense we had known each other for 10 years and it was just right. However, this means I most definitely wasn’t “trying” to get pregnant for a long time, and I had not been doing massive amounts of research or prepping my body either. This means that as soon as I got pregnant I realized that I didn’t have a vague idea of what I was getting into. Sure, I work with a lot of women, sure I have a lot of women in my family but there’s just some things I feel no one told me or things that you can’t possibly be prepared for.Here’s how it’s gone for me so far...

First ultrasound photo at 13 weeks. Cute frame was a requirement. Notice it is gender neutral
First Trimester- OMG! You’re pregnant-OMFG! WTF! Etc.

It took me a few days to recover from the shock. I didn’t think I was pregnant so I decided to take a test right before a 3 hour meeting just so I could relax and move on with my day. I sat in the meeting in disbelief for the next 3 hours. I can’t keep secrets so I immediately told a bunch of people. I chose not to make a public announcement till I was about 14 weeks.It takes days/weeks for the shock to wear off. However, there isn’t much time or energy to devote to this because as soon as you go from a state of disbelief to being super excited, anxious and delighted at the thought of your newborn wearing the cutest outfit you could get your internet shopping savvy hands on you are hit with a flood of hormones that will change your life as you know it….

HCG- aka, the pregnancy hormone will soon disrupt your life. Someone said it was like a hangover that never goes away or like that day right before you get sick and feel icky. Except, this day just repeats for weeks like in the movie, Groundhog Day and you are in haze wondering why on earth no one ever told you what this really felt like. I’m sure this isn’t the case for all women. But I was nauseated for weeks, I couldn’t stay awake.  I would go to work, go to sleep and do internet research on being pregnant and baby care oh and of course baby items. I kept pushing my body to do its normal thing, but it wouldn’t. I would lose my shit constantly as a result of how exhausted I was. I had fever like chills at night, which made sleeping even harder. I later found out this symptom is a result of the hormones that begin pumping through your body in these first weeks of pregnancy. The internet is filled with marvelous details such as this.

In the middle of feeling like crap you have to choose a doctor. Choose wisely, I hated mine. I didn’t listen to my first instincts who told me we weren’t a fit. I think she hated me too, she was like a bossy grandmother and I was the rebellious granddaughter. During this time you will be inundated with information about anything that could be wrong and you will hear the names of potential birth defects constantly until they are running through your head at weird times of the day. It is freaking scary and you just want to think about the baby and how you will love it like crazy and here they are scaring you. You need a doctor you are compatible with during these scary times, if it doesn't work, just switch. My doctor made me feel like I was asking too many questions and challenging her caregiver authority. Don’t worry about looking like a crazy person, you’re pregnant it’s allowed. I ended up having a meltdown in her office when I was 30 weeks where I basically told her she sucked. Then I probably looked like a crazy. Whoops, my bad.

But even in the darkest days I was excited.  Just as I began to think I couldn’t take any more of the nausea, food aversions, and sensitivity to familiar smells it went away. I have a theory that there must be some memory loss that occurs after pregnancy otherwise women wouldn’t get pregnant again just to avoid the first trimester symptoms.

Some essentials to make it through this trimester
  1.  Information Sites/Books/Apps-Get the Baby Center App, and sign up for the What to Expect When You’re Expecting emails. They will fill your need for information and will give you something to read when you can’t sleep because you are up wondering how you will first give birth to human life, and then take care of it without messing up. What to Expect When You’re Expecting the book wasn’t my favorite, I found the format weird, and I hate how it assumes everyone is heterosexual and married.
  2.  Crackers -for when you can’t eat anything else, I know there are nutritional considerations to keep in mind. But if the only thing you can keep down is a bowl of cup o’ noodles don’t beat yourself up.  
  3. Ice chips- Will help calm the stomach when you can’t eat anything else and you will need to find a beverage to ease your stomach. For me it was ice chips and ginger ale.
  4. Belly Band-This will help when your clothes start to feel snug, this band will extend the life of your wardrobe. Prices vary but Target ones will do you just fine, my dear. Trust me you don't want to blow the budget as there are many more expenses ahead.
  5. Oil or some product to put on your belly. It will get itchy when your skin starts to stretch and it may get uncomfortable. I bought Burt’s Bees, Mama Bee Body Oil. It smells pretty and doesn’t break the bank.
  6. A partner who is willing to put up with you. One night I was having the fever like chills I mentioned above and just couldn’t deal anymore. My BD rubbed my back and held me till I fell asleep without me even asking him too. So sweet, if I were him I would have run for the hills a long time ago.
  7.  Friends who will listen to you complain. My closest friends don’t have kids, I’m sure it isn’t easy to see your friend transform into a person who only talks about nausea and babies. They have hung in there.
  8. Other moms. You need people who will assure you that you will get through these few weeks.

    Baby announcement we sent out electronically
Second Trimester- I/You can do this!
The 2nd trimester was so much easier and some days I didn’t even feel pregnant and I had a cute little bump that was a physical manifestation of the life growing inside me. Also I could eat again, I was still a bit fatigued but in no way as much as the first trimester.

Also this is when you get to find out if you’re having a boy or a girl! We found out it was a boy, Baby Daddy (BD) got (secretly) teary eyed I’m sure. I had a feeling all along it was a boy so I just said, ‘” I told you so!” I still can’t believe it; I’m going to have a little man. My cup runneth over. I still wore heels but towards the end I started losing my balance and started feeling like I couldn’t get off the couch.  I could still wear most of my clothes, with the use of a belly band.

Things you should do this trimester:
  1. Sign up for your Classes- hospital tour, maternity classes, baby care classes. They fill up quickly and I found myself scrambling to get everything scheduled. Your hospital probably offers some but there are private classes that you can choose to invest in as well. If you know you want a hypnobirth or want to use a doula you should look into that  right way to find the right classes and the right person to work with. 
  2. Choose Your Baby Gear- it is definitely overwhelming. You will soon become immersed in a world of swaddlers, co-sleepers and all these other objects that once seemed like things women living on other planets needed because you were too busy at happy hour. I remember going to Babies r’ Us with my older sister the stay at home mom and I took one look at all the crap they sell and thought, there’s no way babies need this and get me out of here I am bored. Clearly, I had a lot of research to do on this front. In order to get acquainted with the baby gear, I looked at prego bloggers who were stylish as I figured they would know about all the cool baby gear. I like Veronika Blushing and she frequently links to other moms. Scary Mommy is funny too!  I looked at what they bought, I looked at registries my friends put together to compare and contrast prices, best products etc. Mine is on Babies r’ Us and it took extensive research and planning. I like to shop so I will admit this part was fun for me. There’s a ton of info you don’t have to start from scratch. I did the registry not necessarily because I think everyone is going to buy it all for me but because it was a way to keep inventory of what I want/need.
    essential Kate Spade diaper bag
    First Baby Boy Gift! True story, didn't know what these were. They are tipee cups! To avoid from having your baby boy pee on you. Yes, it's a whole new world.
  3.  Invest in Pillows- I’m cheap about random things, pillows being one these things. But don’t try to save on this end. You will need pillows to find comfort for your growing belly. Pillows between your legs help, extra pillows on your back will help get you comfortable. When all else fails you have something to throw at the wall when you are in your third trimester and you cannot sleep in any position.
  4. Read some baby books- I didn’t read a ton but I read a few that caught my attention. Raising Bebe was an interesting read, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child has good information on how to get your baby to sleep etc. and what do if you get a fussy baby. Frankly it is very overwhelming but you have to figure out how to take care of the baby eventually. Still need to check out Happiest Baby on the Block as I hear it has great techniques. See above where I recommend you to sign up for baby care classes this trimester. The classes help put it all together for you.
  5. Research and Make Some Decisions- I don’t subscribe to theory that you need to figure this all out ASAP. But you have to put some thoughts into certain things such as: will you breastfeed? What type of birth do you want? You are entitled to change your mind about this but think about it and read up on everything as it will help inform what’s on your registry, what type of child birth classes you take etc. For me some of these things were instinctual. I knew I wanted to breastfeed and I knew I wanted to plan to have the least amount of interventions during childbirth (let’s see how that goes!) Talk to your partner about all this. I am not the kind of person to reach out for help, I realize that needs to change. Talk to other moms, read the message boards if you need to. This is not the time to turn inward.
  6. Just make a to-do list- start to tackle it one at a time. Trust me when your third trimester comes you will not be up for furniture moving to accommodate for the baby. What, you don’t know where your baby will sleep? Think about it now.
Stay Tuned for Updates on my 3rd Trimester! Yay! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lessons from The Turbulent, Roaring 20’s

Part 1 (The Early 20’s)

A few days ago I turned 30. I cannot even believe it. Where did the time go? If you want to know hold that is look at all these other things that are turning 30 this year. There’s so many things that have been written lately about your 20’s some argue it’s a time for self-discovery, while others argue that it is a time to study, work hard, and maybe even find a life partner.  It’s different for everyone and it’s hard to summarize the events of the past 10 years in one blog post.  In a recent TED talk Meg Jay, author of “The Defining Decade” states that the 30’s are not the 20’s and that we all need to stop thinking our lives are an episode of GIRLS and get our shit together. I happen to like GIRLS and I think that even if you have it together in one area very rarely do we all have together in every area at the same time. But in my early 20’s I put a lot of pressure to “have it all together” and frankly it just led me to drive myself a little bit insane and to rush into milestones of adulthood.  I would say that my 20’s were like The Tale of Two Cities, “it was the best of times it was the worst of times.”

I will admit being in your 20’s is rough and towards the end I was really glad they were coming to an end. The ages of 20-25 were particularly confusing, and awkward. If I was on TV, viewers would have watched how my arrogance and naiveté got me into the most uncomfortable positions:  

“Watch in this week’s episode as Betsy ruins her credit score and makes really bad wardrobe choices.”
“Next week on the Betsy Show watch as Betsy loses all self-respect for her latest crush”
“In the season finale watch as Betsy’s vehicle gets towed for unpaid parking tickets while she is out getting drunk and cries at a concert because the ugly fat guy she had lowered herself to date over the summer was pursuing her “best friend.”

Of course these are all hypothetical (any similarity to actual events is purely coincidental)

From a young age I just had a sense that ordinary life would never be enough. There was also a paralyzing fear that this sense of adventure and risk would also be my demise. It wasn’t surprising that I hit my 20’s like a bat out of hell taking everything by storm. At times it seemed as though there weren’t enough nights of debauchery to ease the feeling that life was happening and that the time to declare my independence was now!  It was amazing. Too bad I was basically still an infant.

Through college and the years immediately after I was confronted with a few harsh realities and you will to here they go: 1) Things are never as easy as they seem and everything you thought you knew was wrong 2) Your degree didn’t teach me how to get/keep a job 2) 3) If you’re lucky you have more money but you still aren’t vacationing in the Hamptons every year 4) Working life can suck even in the best of circumstances.

 But somehow it seems that we are expected to function like “adults” from the age of 18 or at least right after college and then you have to put up the semblance that have your shit together. Because no one wants to end up the poster child for one of those articles that talks about how Millennials all suck and are never going to do anything worthwhile with their lives except build an impressive stock of Instagram photos of all the cool places they have gone to for happy hour.

How is one to survive this awful time? Here’s what I learned:

1)      You Will Make Mistakes- Even the best of you will mess up and that is a beautiful thing as this is the only way you will grow as a person. This is how you will know that certain things are not acceptable to you and most importantly after thriving and surviving you will that you can wither any storm that comes your way.

2)      Your Life May Not Go According to Plan-  Accept that the things you want now will change and that even you achieve the perfect -job, relationship, life- you may find that it’s not as great as you thought it would be and that its time to move on to other things.  The sooner you let go of “the plan” the sooner you can figure out who you really are and where you want to go next.

3)      Your Friends will Change- I’m not saying you won’t all keep your high school bff’s. But you will meet new friends and lose some friends. Don’t be threatened by the new friends that come into everyone’s life and don’t linger too long over the friends you lose. Sometimes friendships are toxic and you need to let them go and other times people just change and that is just life, get used to it, it will be good practice for your late 20’s when all of your friends meet their soulmate/investment bankers, have babies or move away for graduate school or a fabulous job.

4)      You Will Need a Support System- In your 20’s (especially in your early 20’s) your life is imploding on weekly basis. One week it is your love life, another week your parents are being annoying, another week your boss is being a psycho, and then there’s finals week. Believe me that YOU WILL NOT MAKE IT OUT ALIVE without a support system. Preferably other 20’s somethings as they will commiserate with your problems.  Last week I thanked my bff because I wouldn’t have survived my 20’s without her and she said I sounded like I wouldn’t have made it out alive without her. I’m sure I would have survived I’m just not sure how or how I large my therapy bills would have been. Think of all the effort we put into our romantic relationships our friendships also need nurturing and maintenance. Friendships are challenging, because your friends know all your issues and frankly they are probably tired of hearing about them and your inability to deal with them. That's normal but it doesn't mean they don't love and appreciate you. Friendships evolve and go through different phases but the love remains and you need that type of love and understanding right now.

5)      Deal with your Issues Now, Ignore this at your Own Peril- I read this quote in Thought Catalog about your 20’s that rang very true: “In your twenties, if you have any amount of complexity in your childhood, or any trauma that you haven’t dealt with, it comes out. “Every awkward Sally Draper moment in which you realized your parents were human and quite possibly flawed or every unresolved instance of lost innocence comes crashing down on you.  You the find yourself sitting in front of a therapist answering the questions like, “So how did you feel when that happened with your parents?” Just remember that being confused about all that is normal and having unresolved issues is too. It’s important you recognize whatever “your” issues are and you start working on them now.  At 20 I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and it took me very long to not feel any shame in that and to start finding ways to manage the feelings that overcame me rather than trying to pretend they didn’t exist.

6)      Enjoy Your Body- I hated my body when I was a thin teenager so clearly the problem is internal, not external. Like any normal woman coming of age in the era of Photoshop and airbrushing I used to spend about 70 percent of the time hating my body. But be advised keeping off the fat and looking good after staying up all night will never happen to you again. Sometime after age 25 you will notice a decline and getting drunk won’t seem as fun when your hangovers last 48 hours. I will never forget the first under eye line I saw at around 27 under the fluorescent lighting at Forever 21.  Enjoy your body now! (Also can someone tell me at what age it becomes unacceptable to even walk into Forever 21? My friends and I can’t seem to come to an agreement on this issue.)

7)      Keep Your Financial House in Order- One day you are just a kid and all of a sudden you’re in college and there’s these things called FAFSA and they are asking you to decide what kind of loans to take out. Meanwhile, depending on how you were raised you don’t even know your social security number. This is the time to start educating yourself on these issues, it is also a good time to learn how to make a budget and stick to it. I of course didn’t do these things and at 25 had the credit score to prove it. The car my dad had purchased for me broke down suddenly and I learned very quickly that with my credit score I didn’t really qualify for a loan that didn’t come with a very high interest rate.  I hope you make better decisions than I did. Look at sites like and that help you make a budget and teach you about personal finance issues like how to build a good credit score.

8)      A Word on Romance- Yikes, I could write a book on all the things I did wrong in this department. From infidelity, to chasing the wrong boys, to holding on to the ones I didn’t like for my own selfish needs- I pretty much covered a lot of territory in a short amount of time. It’s hard to capture any “advice” because really we all learn and evolve differently on these matters.  Here’s what I can tell you, when we are young we fail to consider that the things we thought we wanted are not the things we need to feel content. We are too young to know that things that at first were non-issues or could be easily overlooked can become deal breakers or far worse we don’t realize that when we are in relationships that don’t suit us and we ignore that inner voice that tells us that something is not right.  I don’t consider any of the things I did mistakes, instead I like to think that everyone we meet has a purpose in our life and that every person that touches our life leaves us with a lesson. Maybe we don't see that lesson at first but eventually we see the gift they left us with.

9)      Enjoy this time- I sound like one of “those” old people now. But really enjoy this time. You are only in college and right out of college once in your life. Have fun, stay out late, please do your work but don’t take yourself so seriously you don’t enjoy this phase of life.  It’s hard because the future seems uncertain and there is a sense that things will be okay once you figure it all out and so you want to figure it all out NOW.  Allow yourself to feel the pangs of the uncertain; these feelings let you know that you’re alive.  Those feelings of uncertainty never fade and if they do it means you are being too safe and that is no way to live my dear young 20 something.

While I don’t entirely agree that your 20’s need to be when you figure it all out I do agree that they are turbulent and transformative. The fabulous ladies of Refinery 29 (one of my favorites sites) did a reaction piece to Dr. Jays TED talk and I loved what their Deputy Editor, Nena Ghandi had to say, “I stayed out late and drank too much and made my fair share of mistakes in my 20s. But I also worked hard, and cared deeply about my future. The two aren't mutually exclusive.

You leave your teen years carrying a lot of baggage and carrying the expectations of your well intentioned parents and at some points it’s hard to distinguish between what we want for ourselves and what others want.  Almost equally painful there’s the things we thought we wanted and the moment we realize that we were wrong about wanting those things and they don’t bring us the satisfaction we thought they would. We want to things to look a certain way or work out in a way that makes it easier for us. This way we don't have to keep searching and we don't have to deal with the inner turmoil lurking inside us.  Your 20’s are all about growing pains and becoming an independent individual and no one ever said this would be an easy transition.  

Stay Tuned for Part II of this series!
Betsy Aimee 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Lessons from an Absent Blogger

I started my blog in August of 2011 after years of thinking about it and making up lame excuses like,“oh well I should really learn HTML before I can start this.” One night I decided I was going to do it and I did. I was on anti-depressants then so I think it was easier for me to focus on things.Then when I finally started, I couldn't stop.  I took a few writing courses and realized that although at heart I always felt like a writer who just hadn't gotten around to writing. I had some successes and I was even published on Forbes Magazine! Well the online version, but still that was quite a feat for someone who had only been writing a few months.

Then my old demons reared their ugly head.  You see I am incredibly inconsistent with things. Once I have gotten into the habit of something it takes about a day of not doing it for me to just abandon the habit all together. While this means I am not a particularly good addict, it also means I am a horrible blogger.

Then my life got a little murky and confusing and rather than have to explain to all of my readers (I mean all 5 of you) what was going on with my life it was easier for me to retreat into a sea of excuses.  Some of these ranged from the delusional, “Well I will never be as witty as Mindy Kaling so what is the point?” to the more rational such as, “well you need to engage readers often so you probably already lost them.”

Alas I have spent the last few months pitching a few stories every so often to websites that refuse to publish me. (You know who you are!)  Okay I only did that twice but you get my point. I have a bunch of unfinished, garbled products living in my computer and in my brain.

However, it is getting really crowded in my head so here I am today.  Last time I wrote and published on my blog it was August of 2012. Here’s what I have learned since:

1)    I Write to Stay Sane Not for Other People
Writing for me was more of a therapeutic activity, because “like OMG, I have SO MANY feelings”.  Also there was finally a way to channel all the personal information I am constantly putting out there, I’m sure my friends were relieved that they no longer had to read my lengthy texts because alas I had moved on to a bigger audience. When I stopped blogging it was like an accumulation of thought and ideas started to block rational thinking. Everything was overanalyzed in my head, in actual time and eventually I would sit and write something and feel better but then I felt unproductive because I hadn't published it.

2)  Perfect is the Enemy of the Good
I have written about this before but please indulge me. Writing is an art form so you are never really done with a piece; it’s more like you publish a draft. I consistently tell myself pieces need to be perfect to be published.  In the meantime, I stopped writing all together because I stress myself out over the process.  You just have to keep doing it and not get discouraged

3) Writing is Essential When You Are Going Through Major Life Transitions
Last year I was I afraid to write about a major life transition and the feelings that led me to it so instead I would write about clothes, or Cinco De Mayo. The whole time I was avoiding the issue even with my therapist, and I kept thinking about my writing instructor who said we should write about whatever scares us the most.  Then somehow through that whole mess I got incredibly lucky and fell in love. To make a very long and complicated story short, we moved in together, now I am pregnant. Then I really knew I was way behind on my blogging and so then it became harder to start writing again.  I really wish I wouldn't have stopped.

As you can imagine that was all grand and I was too busy living these things to tell you about it, but now I feel like I missed so many opportunities to capture the very raw emotions that came with all of these transitions.  Don’t worry I captured some of them but mostly for my personal reflection.  Now I want to blog all about it but I keep thinking that too much has happened and that people will have absolutely no idea what I am talking about.  I hope I just caught you up!

4)   Once you stop you Realize that Maybe you did Touch a Few People
Once I stopped blogging I hoped that no one would notice.  My friends commented on it but they are my safety zone so I wasn't particularly ashamed. Then I ran into a work acquaintance and she said, “I really hope you continue to write, because you do it so beautifully.” I was shocked by the response and then a few weeks later I received an email from someone who read a piece I had written months before asking me for advice. What?!  It was the first time I realized people who aren't in my inner circle actually read what I write.

5) It’s Never Too Late to Do What You Want

You know what? I decided that today was the day I was going to start again. Is there something you have been avoiding? What is holding you back, is it your own neurosis?  Mine, holds me back all the time. But the beauty of life is that every day is a new opportunity to work towards the life you want. This is day 1 for me!

Betsy Aimee 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stop Getting in the Way of Your Own Happiness

Source: via Rachel on Pinterest

I have made big changes to my life these past few months that have brought me back to a place where I can marvel over what each day will bring and lately I look to the future with wide eyed wonder. This whole summer I have seen the beauty of my City of Angels with fresh eyes and have a new found appreciation for the people who wander its streets every day. Every face has a story and every street has been witness to a kiss, a tear or an embrace that has marked some one's existence. Life can be mundane and routine and it is moments such as these that make us who we are and if we are lucky they transform us and bring us closer to becoming the people we were meant to be. If we are too busy worrying about the superfluous nuisances of  life we will cease to exist in the moment and before long we will stop appreciating the beauty that is all around us.

I am saying this to myself because I have difficulties enjoying the moment. It has always felt like living in the moment was a dangerous way to exist after all it was planning for the future that helped me survive the insanity that followed my parents divorce and the instability of my teens and early 20's. I always looked to a brighter future when things weren't great because at times it felt like it was the only way to get through the uncertainty of life. The problem is that I became stuck there in a mindset that can only look to the future, and while hope is definitely what sustained me in difficult time it also made me unable to enjoy the present. I know im not the only one that suffers from this mentality, it plagues many of us. I call it the glass half empty problem, It goes something like this- "when I have that degree I will be happy," "when I buy that new gadget I will be happy," "when I get that promotion I will be happy." It took me a long time to accept that this is my life, LIKE RIGHT NOW! It's not starting tomorrow or when I lose 20 pounds.

Here are my tips to discovering bits of hapiness everyday:

1) Talk to Strangers- I know it goes against everything we were told when we were kids. But trust me every person you encounter has a story to tell, I just met a girl who visited Cancun and fell in love with the people and the place. She wasn't unhappy with her life here in the U.S but she had stopped enjoying herself and was in "the safety zone" with her job and in everything else. She saved up some many and moved to Cancun within a few months of visiting. She told me how in her new life everyday is an adventure and she feels more alive than she had in a long time. She took a leap of faith that inspired me to make sure that I find something to be amazed by everyday even within the boundaries of my hometown. On the plus side she also fell in love with a local four months after arriving there! People want to share their story you just have to ask them about it and you will be surprised at what you can learn from them and how it can inspire your own life. On the flip side, people want to hear what you have to say too, when is the last time you spoke to a new person? Made a new friend or even re-connected with an old one?

2) Look Around You- Yeah, that means look away from your phone and up at the sky, a tree, a sunset whatever. It sounds stupid but once you start to think about it you realize how we hardly every do that.  I think I went years without appreciating the peacefulness of a summer night. Even in the grand city that is LA we can find bits of nature that help us connect with the part of our humanity that can get lost in the urban jungle. I sat on a swing set in a park a few weeks ago and looked up at the trees and the few stars that the pollution allows to come through and had the most amazing time sitting there contemplating where I have been and for the first time ever appreciating not having a flow chart to map where i'm going next.

3) See the World Through the Eyes of Another- If you're as lucky as I am you already have special people in your life that can help you appreciate things that you may not notice on your own. It can be music, it can be a piece of art, or even a funny commercial. Observe the passions of others and you may find beauty in unexpected places. I was in West Hollywood recently and caught a glimpse of this magnficient mural by Shepard Fairey.

You've seen his work as he is the creative force behind the now widely know Barack Obama "HOPE" poster. but then thanks to the person I was with I actually went up close and actually took a moment to appreciate it and noticed the slight imperfections that made the piece authentic and I couldn't help but admire the countless hours that are put into a piece of this magnitude. My ephiphany for that moment was that even the most beautiful things have slight flaws that dont necessarily make them any less amazing but they do make them unique.

4) Find "Your Thing"- Writing has helped me see the world through different eyes and to look within to answer the questions that at first I thought would be answered by external sources. When I first started writing I was overly concerned with my audience and my writing had to have a purpose and my lack of posts this summer is a testament to said insecurity. I now realize that writing for me is much more selfish pursuit as it allows me to make sense of my thoughts and actions. I have since started journaling much more often and writing down thoughts or a even a music lyric that touches me in a particular way. We aren't all writers but we all have "our outlet." I encourage you to find yours and it will change your life.

Lets all stop waiting for our lives to begin and stop getting in the way of our own hapiness. I am trying something new lately, I am letting my heart lead the way.
Wish me Luck!

Betsy Aimee