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April 26, 2010

On Bravery, Happiness and Cold Medicine

Kate Hart
Yesterday, laying around in bed with my latest cold, I clicked a random Twitter link and found Rowdy Kitten's Ultimate Simple Living Guide. I rolled my eyes at one title-- "The only guide to happiness you'll ever need"-- but I clicked it.

It was like the universe said, "To hell with subtlety!" and whacked me on the head.
     "Take action to do the things that make you happy, with the people who make you happy, and to be happy with the person you are now."

Or in the immortal words of Garth, "Live in the now!"

(at 2:18)

Since I started writing again, people say I seem happier. It makes sense-- just like in that article, I'm immersed in work I love, surrounded by people I love, and I make an effort to be grateful for my blessings. This paragraph in particular summed up a philosophy I try very hard to maintain:
"Learn to accept. One of the challenges for people like me — people who want to improve themselves and change the world — is learning to accept things as they are. Sometimes it’s better to learn to accept, and to love, the world as it is, and people as they are, rather than to try to make everything and everyone conform to an impossible ideal. I’m not saying you should accept cruelty and injustice, but learn to love things when they are less than 'perfect.'"

It's like I'm always telling my four-year-old. "Worry about yourself." You can't control the actions of other people-- and as all parents know, if you don't pick your battles, you'll never win any of them.

But I fail at taking my own advice lately. I worry about myself, sure, but in the wrong ways. I still struggle with "less than perfect." Author Jane Friedman might as well be talking directly about me:
"...some of us use perfectionism as an excuse, which results in self-sabotage—when we fear the result of putting our work out there, when we fear being rejected, when we fear failing."

And Dave Navarro (not the one from Jane's Addiction, sadly) might be living in my head:
"We get caught up in rehearsing all the things that can go wrong, all the ways that we can fail and all those “worst case scenarios” and we freak out so hard we just can’t bring ourselves to take action.  Our focus is so strong that the “we’re doomed!” reflex is stronger than the “Just do it” reflex in our brains.

Great job, brain.  Way to screw the pooch."

Still, I took the plunge and sent my queries. I even admitted to people that I did it, and they keep saying I'm "brave." A friend who's applying to a master's program hears the same thing: She's "brave" for changing careers. And in a way, I guess we are. But what's the alternative? If you don't try, the answer will always be no. So why wouldn't we try? Nobody's going to do it for us.

But nobody's going to take the rejection for us, either, which is why the rest of that happiness article hit home. I may have been a little, shall we say, preoccupied lately. I don't feel brave at all, busily obsessing over things outside of my control, in direct opposition to my own advice. My husband suggested perhaps I should take care of myself. "You know, like eat. And go outside." That's a direct quote.

There has to be some balance. Finding this article while I'm sidelined with a cold just drove it home. Exercise! Slow down! And yes, go outside! Not to mention this:
"Be present. Don’t think about how great things will be in the future. Don’t dwell on what did or didn’t happen in the past. Learn to be in the here and now, and experience life as it’s happening, and appreciate the world for the beauty that it is, right now."

And this.
"Notice the small things. Instead of waiting for the big things to happen — marriage, kids, house, nice car, big promotion, winning the lottery — find happiness in the small things that happen every day."

Small things. Like blog articles. And massive bonks on the head from the universe.

P.S. Garth may have said "Live in the now," but eventually he had to face his fears and go for it too. In the end, he and Wayne both got the mega happy ending. You know, after the Scooby Doo ending. So there's that.


  1. Awesome post, Kate. It can be really difficult to find balance when what you are doing is your passion. It often takes the caring (and/or blunt) words of people around me to make me realize that, as much as I'd love to stay up one, two, twelve more hours writing or obsessing over something, I need to sit back and just enjoy life once in a while.

    Often it's the simplest words that have the biggest impact. Thanks for sharing the awesome reminder :)

  2. Wonderful advice. My husband is constantly telling me, "You are who you want to be."

    Whenever I feel like I'm getting lost in the fear, I try to remember what I overcame with my deafness.

    That first step is always the hardest. (Hugs)Indigo

  3. Such good advice. I felt the same paralysis and it is a tough, tough thing to overcome. I am in badly need of a trip outside meself.

    Just keep swimming!

  4. Remind me of your post when I start querying again, okay? :)

  5. Love love LOVE this post. The Bohemian Rhapsody video ups the awesomeness ;)

  6. Thanks for such a great post! What a nice reminder that I need to just chill out and do it!

  7. Writing makes me happier also. I mean who wouldn't like to have a vacation everyday, become someone else, create a world especially for your own purpose and live it out. Hum, that would be a writer :-D

  8. I'm glad you guys liked it-- I'm always afraid I'll look back at a cold medicine-induced post and die of embarrassment. LOL Thanks for reading, everyone!

  9. You should take cold medicine more often. No, wait. That doesn't sound right. I do like it when you speak from the heart. Great post!


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