Let’s look at the world a little differently

I first saw this back in June so I am sure you have seen it already too, but it is just too good not to share.  

The news and media around us always focuses on the negative things going on around us. But Coca Cola reminds us that there is good in this world. It doesn’t matter if you prefer Pepsi or Coke; this isn’t about a corporation’s bottom line. This goes beyond advertising genius. These are not actors, they are people who were caught on hidden security cameras being funny, kind-hearted and selfless and doing amazing things.  It renews my faith in humanity.  This video makes you laugh, smile, cry, and tugs at your heart strings. And the song! Supertramp’s “Give A little Bit” is perfection. It is so touching, I tear up every time I watch it.

So Smile. Dance. Sing. Be weird. Help others. Give random hugs. Spread happiness. Thanks for the reminder to look at the world a little differently, Coca Cola.

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Cast Your Own Patronus. Smile. Choose To Be Happy

Choose Happiness

I know I’m not going out on a limb here when I say moods are contagious. It’s pretty obvious, right?  We’ve all been there. One minute you are all full of smiles when suddenly, you sense the Dementor’s presence upon you and all your joy comes to an abrupt halt, thanks to your friend, Mr. CrabbyPants. Just because he is grumpy, doesn’t mean you have to be. While a foul mood is contagious, a good mood is too. Which do you want to spread?

If moods are contagious and have a domino effect on others, can you imagine what this world be like if everyone looked on the positive side of things, smiled more often, and complained less? Look at the people around you. How many people look to be truly happy? People are always frowning, dwelling on the negative and finding something to complain about.

While it is perfectly normal to have blue moments occasionally, and I certainly do not expect you to be happy 100% of the time, constantly being a Debbie Downer, incessantly being a grouch, and endlessly complaining and scouring at people is NOT an attractive look. On anyone. When you are feeling down, you give off an unwelcoming, don’t-come-near-me vibe. When you smile, your whole body smiles. Facial expressions do not just express one’s mood, they contribute to one’s overall feeling. Smiling elevates your mood and makes you feel happier. You are constantly giving off an energy and what energy you choose to share is entirely up to you. When you choose to be happy, when you put that positive vibe into the universe, positive things happen in return.

So whatever it is that you are complaining about today, stop it. Think about what it is and why it is bothering you. Ask yourself,  is this really a serious problem? Is this a battle I really want to fight? Is this worth the stress it is causing me now? Probably not. Instead, think about what you can learn from the situation and what you can be grateful for. There is much to be happy about and thankful for in this world, so dwell on that. Find the positive in the situation. Yes, sometimes it is hard to find, but it is there. Something positive can be drawn out of every situation, even the darkest ones. Being happy doesn’t mean you are ignoring the issue. It means you are electing to see past the imperfections and make the most out of the situation at hand.

I’m a firm believer that you make your own happiness.

If you want to be happy, then do. You have the power to choose how you feel and only you are stopping yourself. You don’t need anything or anyone else to make you happy. Being happy is a conscious choice, but luckily, it is no ones choice but your own. While you cannot control what happens in life, you can control how you react to it and how you let it affect your mood. The only true control you have in life, is the control you have over yourself.

Make a habit out of smiling more often and finding the positive in situations, and it will eventually come natural to you. It is a self-fullfilling prophecy. The path will continue to become clearer, until one day, you will no longer have to think about being happy, you will just BE. As the Dalai Lama tweeted, “Through constant training we can enhance our positive attitudes and thoughts and reduce their opposing negative attitudes.”

We are always told that things will get better in the future, that we’ll be happy when we get graduate, when we get that job, when we get a boyfriend/girlfriend, we get married, when we have children, etc. We are always chasing the future. But spoiler alert – we’ll never catch up to it, that’s why it is called The Future. So stop chasing. Don’t wait for tomorrow to be happy. Be happy today.

Every day you have a choice. You can choose to look at the negative side of things or you can choose to be happy. Life is short and unpredictableDo not wait for happiness to find you or let others dictate your mood. Cast your own Patronus. Make your own happiness. Choose to be happy. Smile.

Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. – Mother Teresa
 

A Little Thank You to YOU

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”  Fredrick Koeing

I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all of you who have taken the time to stop by (and perhaps even comment on) this blog.  I am so thankful that I have had the chance to connect with so many wonderful people and I am truly grateful for all of you. Your support is truly amazing and inspiring to me.  There is so much negative out there, I think it is important to stop and take a moment to reflect on the positive and show our appreciation and gratitude for what we have and for those around us. My goal for this blog is to make it so that when people visit, they feel like they learned something about themselves, the world around them, find a little bit of insight, or perhaps learn a little more about me. When I started blogging, I wasn’t exactly sure of my voice or if I’d have any readers at all and I definitely didn’t know the impact that this blog would have on my life. I didn’t know that it would provide such a loving community, full of support and encouragement. This blog and all you readers have truly enriched and changed my life. So I humbly thank you all from the bottom of my heart, for stopping by, and I hope that you leave a little happier. I am honestly grateful beyond words.

Thank you!

On Saturn Return, Soul Searching and Personal Growth

It wasn’t until I had a conversation with my sister about potential new names for my blog that I learned about the astrological occurrence called Saturn Return. It was then that a light bulb went off and I felt as if everything made sense. While I am not a devout believer in astrology, I do think they are on to something here. Things are aligning just too perfect to ignore.

So what exactly is Saturn Return?

In short, astrologists believe in something called “The Saturn Return”, a period of intense and often turbulent soul-searching that starts around age 27 and continues until the early 30s. It is when the planet Saturn has completed its orbit around the sun and returns to the place it was when you were born – your Saturn Return. This cycle can take up to 29.5 years to complete and can begin as early as age 27. According to astrologists, true adulthood begins at age 29 and not at 21 as we are led to believe. It is said that the 27th year is an intense one, one full of soul-searching, self-reflection, self-discovery and personal growth. It’s a time of endings and new beginnings.

This is the time in your life when you reflect on who you were, re-evaluate who you are, and explore who you desire to become. This process of introspection and self-realization is important in order to grow and reach your full potential. The Saturn Returns every 29 years so these are times of great change and opportunity. They can also be times of crisis. This is when we come into our Self and align with our life’s true path.

It is common for people to make significant career, personal or relationship changes during this time. We’ve all seen people who rushed to get married, or pregnant, or divorced, or change careers, all before they turned 30, only to then stop and question if those were actually the right choices. Is it Saturn Return or are people just impulsive in their early 20’s and have grown up by 30?

After all that has happened for me this year, this Saturn Return cycle really struck a chord and resonated with me. When I turned 27 last Christmas, something inside of me shifted. I suddenly questioned everything I knew, everything I wanted out of life, what my full potential could be, and questioned who I wanted to become. I wondered if I was living my life as I wanted it to be or the life I thought was for me. I questioned my very foundation. Now I’m on a positive path of self-discovery, soul-searching, and personal growth. I am finally becoming more comfortable with and accepting who I am. I had no idea about the astrological significance of what this year, my 27th year, would bring when I unknowingly deemed this year ‘The Year Of Caryn’.

Saturn asks you to imagine yourself at age 80, looking back on your life.  Did you achieve your full potential and live true to yourself? Did you accomplish what you wanted out of life? What will you regret not doing because you were too afraid to take a risk?

The one where I stop making excuses and decide to make shit happen.

“If you could do or be anything you want, what would do?” For as long as I can remember, my answer has always been the same.  I want to give back and help others. I want to start my own charity and volunteer in a less developed country. Ultimately, I want to make a difference in someone’s life.

Then reality struck. I got a job, settled down and prepared for my life as it seemed to be going. My dreams of volunteering and making a difference took a back seat to the hustle bustle of everyday life. I brushed it off as “just a dream” because it just didn’t seem practical or good timing. Then in January, everything I knew got turned upside down and I began to reevaluate my life, who I am (or am not) doing and I declared 2012 The Year Of Caryn.  

Some of my goals for The Year Of Caryn include actually making time to do the things that I’ve always wanted to do but managed to make excuses for as well as focusing on me. Those excuses stopped the second I put up that post. I realized if I really wanted something to change or to do something different, I had to do something about it. No more just sitting on the couch waiting for change. I had to go out and make that shit happen.

So I am done dreaming, done waiting for things to happen to me, done making excuses. I am on a positive path of self improvement and I am making my dreams a reality. So, in September, I am going to Africa! That’s right, I am spending 4 weeks  (FOUR!!!) volunteering in Tanzania! There are three volunteer programs to choose from: Caregiving (caring for kids in orphanages and daycares), Teaching English, (schools are overcrowded and there is a shortage of teachers and resources), or Community Development (women empowerment or helping AIDS patients). Because I have always felt that I was meant to do something big in this world, to give back, to make a difference in someone’s life, I want to be a role model and help educate the children. I want to immerse myself in the culture and make an impact on their lives. I am going with an international volunteer organization called Cross Cultural Solutions.  I am shaking with excitement, I cannot wait!

People ask why Africa? Because it just feels right. Ever since I was little, I have always envisioned myself volunteering in Africa so I want to follow that gut feeling. There is something to be said about following your intuition. Plus, one of my biggest Life List goals is to go on an African Safari. So why not kill two birds with one stone?

I originally planned to go in April but as April is almost over, you can deduce that it didn’t work out. As it turns out, it is rainy season now and it just didn’t give me enough time to prepare. My program runs 9/22 – 10/20 and I’m hoping to catch the return of the Serengeti migration and avoid the second rainy season. The best part? I don’t have to quit my job! I am extremely lucky that my company is supportive of my volunteer dreams and is letting me take this 4 week sabbatical. I have been itching to share this but had to go through proper HR protocol first. I am so excited I want to scream it from the rooftops!

Currently, I am trying to figure out the best flight path to get there that is the most cost efficient/shortest possible route. Looks like it will be 18-24 hours of traveling with a stop in Europe. If I can have my pit stop in Rome, and get to visit Africa and Italy in one trip, I might just be the happiest person on earth. But first, in order to be allowed into the country, I need to apply for a work permit and visa as well as clear all medical requirements. It is a good thing I am not scared of shots because I have a laundry list of shots I need to have done before I leave.

It isn’t required to have the Hep A/B shot series 100% completed before you leave, but because I am a planner like that and am aware of my travel plans so far in advance, I’d rather have everything completed before I leave. There is a lot to be done and anxieties to be calmed which could mean a lot of room for making excuses. But I won’t let happen. This dream will be checked off my list.

Shots I cleared 6 months out: My doctor did a blood test to check for evidence of previous childhood vaccinations. I am all about saving money and not repeating tests. They found remnants of Hep B, mumps, and Rubella in my blood.

Yellow Fever * (March 13) Yellow fever is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito and is not transferable by direct contact. I asked my Dr. of all the shots “I need, which will be the worst?” And the Dr. smiled and said “This one!” as she stabbed the back of my arm with the vaccine. It felt like she was holding the needle in place in my arm even after it had long been removed. It didn’t hurt though, just stung/burned/tingled for about 30 seconds. It has a reputation of being one of the worst shots and often gets people sick with flu-like symptoms and/or swelling at the site of the injection. I luckily didn’t get sick. In fact, I had such a mild reaction, if it weren’t for the stinging, I would have wondered if I actually received the correct shot. It only made my jaw and joints feel stiff that afternoon. I woke up the next day with a pretty bad hangover-like-headache without having had any alcohol the night before. If that was the worst shot, bring on Africa!

Polio (March 13) – done, check!

Hep A(March 27) 2 shot series if not combined with Hep B – 3 shot series if it is. One shot down – one to go! Easy enough, just your average shot.

Hep B booster – (March 27) I had already  have remnants in my blood from when I was child, so the Dr. said a one time shot of Hep B would suffice.

In July I return for the Meningitis, Typhoid and Measles shots and then the week before I leave I finish my Hep A series and pick up my Malaria pills.  These pills supposedly can make you hallucinate, so we’ll see how that goes.

*my mom keeps saying “she got yellow fever” and this cracks me up. I got the yellow fever shot, not the disease, thanks! Oh, semantics.

 

I know there are risks to going to Africa. If I don’t go now, when will I?  I’ve always believed actions speak louder than words. I am putting my words to action and making my dreams come true. I AM GOING TO AFRICA!! NBD. JK. OMG! BFD!

What dreams can you make a reality?

** UPDATE: as of 7/27 all shots complete. I can’t believe how time has gone so quickly.

Typhoid – no big deal. Just your average shot. You have a choice of taking a one time shot that requires a booster dose every two years for those who remain at risk or taking live vaccine pills. I chose the shot as it’s easy. One shot and your done. You just need to get it at least two weeks before travel to allow the vaccine time to work. The other option, taking oral pills, is more complicated. You need to take four doses which are given two days apart for each dose. The last dose needs to be taken at least one week before traveling. The bonus to the pills is that the booster dose is needed every five years for people who continue to travel. I prefer one and done.

MMR (Measles Mumps Rubella) or Meningitis – I don’t know which was which but NO WONDER KIDS CRY when they get shots. I am a pro at shots. They rarely phase me. But this one sucked. It was worse than the Yellow Fever vaccine for sure. I was advised to take advil or that it might swell, neither of which applied to me but it was a beast of a shot.