Why this time might be different.

Anyone who knows me well is familiar with the intensity of my organizational habits. Which is a polite way of saying that I'm fairy sure, if I bothered to be diagnosed, I'm functioning with a considerable degree of OCD. It works for me though. I don't know anything else and I've maintained this intensity since I was a toddler; long before it was a conscious decision. With that information in hand, one might assume I live for new year's resolutions, for progress charts and gold stars. I don't. Not in my personal life anyway. My career is intense and I tend to like a chill atmosphere at home (yes, mom, I am aware that my chill is still a frequency most couldn't reach if they tried on their most manic day). 

Yet, here I was, rounding the corner into 2013 on my laptop generating 21 Evernotes related to The Happiness Project. Before I left for Europe I created a Facebook event inviting 20 or so friends to my condo for monthly brunches and conversations about happiness. Before creating the event I was in Hawaii reading Gretchen Rubin's book poolside. Before diving into her text, something was gnawing at me that prompted me to buy the book sight unseen from the airport bookshop in the first place. So, somewhere between Point A and Point B, I realized something has to give. 

OCD, meet The Happiness Project.

The genius of Rubin's thesis is that happiness is exactly no more and no less than you define it to be. If you decide you would be happier going to bed an hour earlier, do it. Happy. Done. She has no grand delusions of nirvana. I appreciate that. Neither do I. I may have a dormant romantic streak, but at the end of the day I'm pretty practical about it all. That practicality exploded into Evernote and snowballed through a series of reflections, mind maps, photographs, songs, and finally...The List. 

If I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it right. And by "right" I mean intensely. At first I thought I would create a theme for each month, as Rubin did. But the more I got into it, the more my list reflected goals that I wanted to accomplish daily, weekly, monthly, and long-term. For the first 4 months of this year I laid out a schedule of sorts (re-learn the guitar for one hour per week, send six Postcrossing cards per month, one photowalk adventure per month, etc). It's nothing earth shattering, but it led me to admit a truth I'd only vaguely acknowledged until now. 

My college textbook. I'm old.

I'm still living with a grad school hangover. Furthermore, what's extra lame, I'm only living with that hangover because I'm choosing to. It's been 18 months. Snap out of it already. But 'it' was the devil I know and...its own version of comfortable. In grad school I consciously shut down life, even breaking up with my hopelessly-devoted and apparently-distracting boyfriend just before classes started. Healthy or not, I focused only on career, school, travel. To be fair, working full-time as a new administrator, taking a full-time load of graduate classes, and traveling all over the country for work every 3 weeks was plenty to deal with. What this meant however, is that the stuff I love doing, the stuff that I wake up on an unplanned Saturday and choose to do, has been dormant for over three years now. Not entirely dormant, that's not accurate, but dormant to a degree that I acutely feel a deficit in my life. No more. 

I know myself, though. I know myself all too well. Since I'm not keen on resolutions, I've invited 20 friends over for brunch to ask me if I'm still playing the guitar. It's not entirely selfish. I'm genuinely excited to hear about everyone's version of a Happiness Project. I'm also genuinely excited about the creative space and the progressive energy this will generate. I live for that. I just forgot for a while. 

Photo Series: Budapest