Happy Thoughts: Here Are the Things Proven To Make You Happier

MutantSupermodel:

I was going to write about something different today, something not entirely different. I was going to write about changes. But I read this and this is SO good, I had to share.

It turns out that happiness is easy but depression is easier, especially if you have made it your habit. I really hope you find this as informative as I did. I want to wallpaper my home with it.

Originally posted on TIME:

What’s the secret to a head full of happy thoughts?

Time to round up the research on living a happy life to see what we can use.

First, yeah, a good chunk of happiness is controlled by your genes but there’s a lot you can do to make yourself happier. Many of these techniques have been repeatedly tested and even worked with the clinically depressed.

Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude

I can’t emphasize this one enough. Showing gratitude for the good things you have is the most powerful happiness boosting activity there is.

It will make you happier.

It will improve your relationships.

It can make you a better person.

It can make life better for everyone around you.

Bronze medalists are happier than silver medalists. Why? They feel grateful to get a medal at all.

Every night before you go to bed write three good things that…

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The time has come

To leave WordPress.com and be my own independent little blog. So here’s the deal. I have signed up for webhosting and will be attempting to transfer from here to there some time between tonight and Sunday. Once transferred, I will make a post saying so. If Monday rolls around and you haven’t seen a post after this one in whatever way you choose to read little ol’ me, you have somehow lost me which makes me sad. I don’t think this will be an issue because I think many of you are subscribed to www.mutantsupermodel.com and not mutantsupermodel.wordpress.com. That being said, if you’re subscribed to that last one, I am definitely going to lose you so please make sure you update. And if you’re subscribed to the first one and you don’t see me by Monday, please try signing up with me again. If any of you amazing people link to me in your blogrolls, now is the time to double-check the link you have for me is that first one, not that last one.

OK, here goes nothing. Wish me luck!!

ETA: The transfer is complete. If you haven’t seen the I DID IT post, you’re feed is not working. Email me if you are lost and confused!

The Latest…

I’m having a hard time braining together sentences and paragraphs today. So… updates.

A child support payment came in today. I don’t think it’s the IRS garnishment, I think it’s the paycheck garnishment. I hope that’s what it is, because I’m anxious to create a budget.

Monday I saw the counselor. She was super nice. She suggested I ask the kids lots of open-ended questions about their lives away from home. She thinks this will actually make them feel better about spending time away from me. Maybe by not talking to them about what they do with their dad, I’m inadvertently sending out the message that I don’t like when they’re away. Also, she thinks I’m too in the dark about basics– how they’re eating and being cared for, what their interactions are with the people they spend most of the time with, etc. She says it’s important to know those things and just because he’s their father doesn’t mean I should just accept that everything is ok.

As we were wrapping up, I missed a call from my mom and from my office. I got a text from my Office Manager telling me to call her. I told the counselor to give me a moment and called. The OM informed me I had to call my mom. When I asked if everything was alright she said no, my mom sounded really nervous. I called my mom, who was obviously panicked and starting to calm down, and she explained the kids did not show up at school that day and K-Fat had just now started responding to her. K-Fat told my mother he and his girlfriend had stomach viruses and were unable to take the kids to school.

He did not answer my calls and attempted to brush me off with a text explaining he was sleeping and that he had spoken to my mom already. Long story short, on the advice of the counselor AND the OM, I left work to go pick them up at his house. I told him he needed to communicate. This wasn’t right. There were lots of people he could have contacted. When I got into the car, I asked the kids what happened like the counselor suggested. They told me K-Fat was really sick and couldn’t take them to school. I asked about the girl and they said no she was fine. I told them K-Fat had told us both of them were sick and that’s why we were so anxious to pick them up. When I asked why she couldn’t take them to school they explained she was too busy taking care of K-Fat.

I then told the kids, like the counselor told me to, that in the future if this sort of thing happens they need to call me. They all know my number. There was a protest about how K-Fat’s mom called him too much to let them use the phone, I told them this was an emergency situation and they could get a call in. It also debunked K-Fat’s texts to me saying he couldn’t answer my phone calls because he had no reception. I asked what they had eaten for breakfast and they said Pop Tarts. What about lunch? Nothing. Or snack, Baby added. It was almost 2 in the afternoon. So yeah, drama. I’m going to see the counselor again in two weeks. She thinks the kids don’t need anything extra right now but if bad behavior is sustained, that might be different.

My midterm was yesterday. I think I did pretty badly. I tried my best, I really did. But I just don’t think it was good enough. I felt in the dark on many questions. And I took longer than an hour and he said no way should it take that long. I’m SO frustrated with the class and the professor. At least the class is free for me because if I was paying for it, I’d be PISSED. Better to just buy the textbook and teach yourself is what it seems like. I got home and decided to just start doing my own things. So I designed and wrote a Random Shakespearean Insult Generator. Spring Break is next week for us and I’m going to use the time to go hog wild with the textbook and teach myself as much as possible. I really like the textbook. It’s called Building Java Programs. Right now Amazon has it for $98 but I bought it two Mondays ago for only $37 so keep an eye on it. I think if you add it to cart they email you when the price changes. It has LOTS of exercises and the answers for all of them. The style is conversational and easy to understand. If you’re interested in learning Java programming, pick it up.

Speaking of books, I got a TON of awesome suggestions on Google+ for books for Eldest. In my browsing, I came across The Ranger’s Apprentice series and got the whole thing at the library. It’s ten books long and he is loving them. He started Book 1 Monday and finished it yesterday. He started Book 2 yesterday and was halfway through by this morning so he grabbed Book 3 to take with him to his Dad’s house. When he saw the stacks I brought home from the library, he hugged me so hard. And he keeps thanking me for bringing them because he really likes them. I love that my little boy loves books so much. I also got some of the ones people recommended like Peter and the Shadow Thieves, Inkheart, and The Boy in the Dress which my Mom took for herself to read. I am still reading Nell Gwynn: Mistress to a King but I don’t know how much reading I’ll be doing now that I feel so behind in class.

I won tickets at the Gala to see the ballet this Sunday. Daughter and I will be watching the Miami City Ballet perform Program III at the Adrienne Arsht Center. I am really looking forward to it. I’ve never been to a show like this. And they’ll be performing The Steadfast Tin Soldier which I’m dying to see. Who am I kidding, I’m dying to see all the numbers they’re doing.

My OM told me this morning she feels it in her bones that things are going to start turning around for me. I hope she’s right. I turned this quote into a little poster and pinned it at my desk.

JK_Rowling_Quote_Rock_BottomDo you have any updates??

 

 

So many questions

Do you ever get the feeling you should be feeling something, and yet you’re feeling something completely different?

Last year for Mother’s Day my brothers spoiled me. MutantPirate gave me a gift certificate for a manicure/pedicure at a little spa close to my house and MutantWino got me a gift certificate for an hour massage at a different little spa by my house.

I never used them.

I’m strange with “nice things” and am guilty of the “save it for something special” as often as I’m guilty of the “use it right now” method. I found the gift certificates again a month or so ago and realized the massage one has an expiration date of March 16, 2013. I didn’t book the appointment right then but I kept telling myself, “As soon as I have money for tip I must book this. And the mani/pedi too.”

My kids’ school is having a gala this year at Fairchild Tropical Garden. Tickets are $85 a person and out of my league. I have become friendly with a lot of the moms there and some of them are aware of the situation at home. But still, they asked if I was going. “No, I can’t.” “You have the kids that weekend?” they would sweetly ask. “No actually, I just can’t afford it,” I’d reply. Which really sucks to say out loud, especially to people who are several levels of wealth above you. It’s awkward for everyone. One of the room moms for Daughter’s class pulled me aside and told me she had a family that wanted to donate a pair of tickets for someone to go to the Gala and would I be interested? YES! And so it is that suddenly I was going to the gala.

The thing with the gala is that in my mind I kept putting it off as a thing that was happening far away and suddenly, it became a thing that was happening this weekend, today in fact. So on Wednesday the light bulb went off and I made my appointment for my mani/pedi and got my nails done yesterday.

manipedi

OPI Thrill of Brazil is the color

It. Was. Amazing! They gave me a glass of wine. And they were sweet to me. And the lady that did my nails didn’t barrage me with questions or small talk which is nice because I usually just like to sit and be quiet and enjoy the fact that I am being taken care of. I came home feeling all pretty and lovely and stuff. And then I got stressed out about what on earth to wear because I have nothing for this event and the dress I had planned on wearing, I realized is missing the belt that came with it because I lent it to a bridesmaid. My mom had the idea of calling MutantWino’s fiancee and so Stallion finished up bedtime so I could run over to their house and try on dresses.

I left with a pretty ivory lace sheath dress which I will be pairing with an awesome vintage red swing coat I’ve had in my closet for a couple years that I got for free when my friend was doing a garage sale.  And I will be wearing that with these really pretty black and grey peep toe heels my cousin gave me from her last Purging of the Shoes. And I will be carrying a really cute red clutch my BFF gave me for my birthday. Funny, I just realized my outfit will cost me zero dollars. Oh wait, I did buy the knockoff Spanx thing I’m going to wear under the dress but I bought that several months ago– does it still count?

Oh yeah, and my massage is booked for next Wednesday night after work.

So all of this awesome and I am feeling… completely exhausted, drained, and worried. Baby is going through something and I’m stuck. He wet the bed again last night and yesterday he got in trouble at school. My mom told me he was absolutely wild with her yesterday. This morning he was absolutely crazy with me too. On Monday I have an appointment with a counselor. My job gives free counseling on-campus and they also give referrals. I’m going to talk to them about the situation I am in with the kids and their father and also explore the possibility of the kids going to therapy. I have a FSA I contribute to so the money is there, and it looks like they need it. It can’t hurt.

On top of all that I’ve been dealing with this coughing, congesting, voice hoarsening thing for a week now. The NyQuil is making a mess out of my mornings. I keep passing out on the couch. I have a midterm on Tuesday. I really need to see my friends more often because I’m feeling lonely and too dependent on Stallion. I’m anxious about tonight because I’ve never been to a gala so will I be overdressed or underdressed and I don’t even know where they ended up seating me so I have no idea who will be chatting with me and big things make me anxious these days and  seriously aren’t I too old to be caring about this crap anyways?

So there you go. Trying to shift from Eeyore into Jem (she knows how to have a good time, right? SYNERGY!) is not easy. But I am trying. And hopefully I will enjoy my awesome weekend and accomplish everything I want to– enjoy the gala, crochet, hang out with the BFF, do the Google+ hangout I have planned, study, see my other friends, build Baby’s bike, ride my bike, and enjoy alone time with Stallion (yes pervs, that’s exactly what I’m hinting at).

What are YOUR plans this weekend? How can I make an extra $25 a month so every other month I can get pampered with an awesome mani/pedi? Why don’t my nails look like that when I do them myself? Have you ever put your kids in therapy? What’s it like when kids get therapy? Am I being silly and stressed for nothing? What do you do when you’re being silly and stressed for nothing? Am I asking too many questions? Do you ask this many questions? This is too many questions isn’t it?

Moving On Random Style

Right!?

Right!?

Ok just to get the soap opera stuff out of the way, yes K-Fat did reply to my response to his request for the child support. I did not get it until Monday morning so my plan worked. I was going to paraphrase but why?

I too am shocked and disappointed that you are acting as if I did not want to contribute to my kids upbringing. This was not a choice. You may have forgotten but I was unemployed during that period (I can send you the unemployment statement). Prior to that came hell or high water child support was paid, despite making a fraction of what I used to.

I expected you to respond this way but I still thought you were somewhat decent and could understand that it hasn’t been easy for me and the kids here either. Remember I do have time with them too.

Sent from my iPhone

So there you go. Now the whole thing has been documented here for prosperity. I had promised myself that although I would reply to the request for the funds, I wouldn’t respond to anything else and sure enough that’s what I’ve done. I could go line by line on this one, but why? I fact checked in my head because I really like to make sure I’m not completely insane and because I like to make sure that I am acting in good faith when I am taking a stern position on something and there’s basically nothing in that email that has any truth to it– except the iPhone bit.

Moving On!

My weekend was great, it really was. I hung out with friends, the kids hung out with friends, I cleaned up a bit more and rearranged my living room, and we were pretty good on the 80′s weekend thing with an exception made for when their friends came over on Saturday but that was it.

Oh and get this! I don’t remember if I mentioned it here, but my grandmother gave me money to buy Baby a new bike since he has outgrown his and the one my Dad bought him on Craigslist never really worked properly. I didn’t ask for it by the way. Baby was complaining about the kids teasing him at Bike Safety Day and Abuela demanded I buy the kid a bike, with her money, or else. Cuban Abuelas are very scary when they protect their great-grandkids. Fair warning.

We looked online and Baby fell in love with a really pretty Skylanders bike but the Toys R Us website said it wouldn’t available until February 22. So on Saturday, I looked online and it was sort of confusing but it looked like a Babies R Us right by my parents’ house had it. So we went.

They didn’t. No one in Miami had it. Baby cried. We went to my parents’  house to hang out and get over it. While we were there my dad is talking to me about biking. And I tell him I’m saving money so I can buy myself a bike and we can all go biking together.

My Dad is a serious biker these days. He rides miles and miles and miles on the weekend. So he gets this look in his eye, “Take mine!” he says. WHAT!? When my dad started biking regularly and found out how much he enjoyed it, he got himself a gorgeous cruiser bike called an Amsterdam. But he is totally beyond the cruiser bike’s capabilities now and doesn’t use it anymore. So he strapped an old bike rack on my car and mounted the Amsterdam on it and now I have a bike that is exactly the kind of bike that I wanted!!

On Sunday, the kids and I went out for a bike ride– Baby took his old Big Wheels type and chugged along. It was immediately obvious we need to do this more often and now I can! And my bike is so pretty!!! I feel like this on it:

By the way, Toys R Us made Baby’s bike available to order on the website and I did and it should come in tomorrow. Which is only kind of awesome because they’re with their dad this weekend but at least it will be here and I will have accomplished something awesome. Gracias Abuela!

My tax refund came in on Monday so I was able to fill up the Camp Savings Account, pay my parents back for a couple of things they had footed me for, made sure my account had enough money for the month, and stuck $500 in the mini emergency fund. Huge. Giant. Relief.

There still hasn’t been a child support payment made, the garnishment hasn’t posted and no paycheck deduction has been done either, but that money is extra anyways and will come in when it comes in. I’m actually on the phone now to request they follow up with the company the way my senior case analyst advised me to do a couple weeks ago.

By the way, here is the best video I saw on the Internet this week

Watch it. Make your kids watch it. Send it to your kids’ teachers and principals. Send it to the people you know who are teachers and principals. Make sure you show it to the girls in your life, as I think they will feel nicely represented here. And then, check out the website Code.org for resources on how how to learn and teach coding. Don’t be scared! We can do this! We should do this. That video totally gets me hyped, can you tell?

That about does it for my silly blathering today. I’m still on hold with the Child Support Office…. I wonder if they’ll pick up before I get my first comment on this one. What do you think?

By the way, I know it’s Wednesday so it’s a little late to be asking but how was your weekend? And is it too early to ask if you have something great planned for this weekend?

The Shock that Shouldn’t Have Been

shocked woman computer

I often debate with myself on what’s right to share on a public platform and what isn’t especially after one of my Aunts told me she worried about our generation’s penchant for “oversharing” and the trouble that causes. And she’s right, you know?

There are things that come up that I want to talk about but I don’t because I feel like it’s too much, too private. And there are things that come up that I do share because even though I do feel they are pretty private, they’re important to talk about, especially in regards to single parenting. It’s those posts that vary– some are easier for me to write and share than others. I have written, and deleted before publishing, many posts on this blog.

I was going to write this post on Wednesday when it happened. Instead, I reminisced about my childhood and at the same time I made a private post on Google+ and got some support and encouragement that way which helped deal with the initial sting of it. But the situation is having longer lasting effects than I thought it would and is, although difficult, worthy of being discussed publicly.

On Wednesday, an email came in from K-Fat (Kids’ Father).

Hey, I’ve been waiting on my tax return for a couple weeks now and I called to check on it again today and I was told my entire refund was taken for child services.

Mute, I’ve been counting on this money to get back on my feet with rent, car payment, bills, etc… and get you sorted out. Can we please split the refund. I need this money to survive. I appreciate it.

K-Fat

The email triggered a tsunami of reactions. I had actually just finished when one of my closest co-workers happened to walk into my office, took one look at me, and said, “What’s wrong? What happened?”

In December, I got a letter from the IRS telling me they had gone ahead and received the notice from Child Services to proceed with this method of enforcement. They also told me the letter I got was a copy of the notice that was sent to K-Fat. When I read the letter, I had two thoughts in my head: 1) He’ll probably have his tax return rigged so he gets nothing back OR 2) He will ignore this letter and when they do garnish his tax return he will ask me to return it. He has asked for child support payments before when they were ones he had not planned for.

Even though I had gone through that thought process in December, my stomach dropped to the floor when the email came in. Not only that but, I haven’t gotten any kind of payment from Child Support and when I checked the account online, the only payment they show as being received is the infamous $100 payment from January. I didn’t see it coming.

I could not reply to the email. I dragged it to the folder I keep all the emails from him and left it there. I’d occasionally go back and read it because I am masochistic that way but for the most part, I just let it sit and discussed the email and what my response should be with those close to me.

He texted me yesterday informing me he had sent an email. I still didn’t reply.

This morning, when I started writing this post, he texted me again

You’re not even going to respond?

I am. I’m just really not sure how because that email really gets my emotions cooking.

My dad has given me, what I think the best response is. It pays to have a psychologist in the family. He suggested I respond with something along the lines of:

It has taken me some time to respond because I am surprised and disappointed by your request. Child Support has not sent the kids a payment since June with the exception of a $100 check in January. If the IRS did garnish the return, the kids have not received it. I would think that someone who has been unable to contribute to their children’s well-being in a dependable and meaningful way for eight months would be relieved and happy to finally have the chance to do so. No, I will not violate the court orders and return any part of any child support payment.

I dread responding. I know that I am right. I do not feel an ounce of guilt in using every cent of that money, whatever amount it may turn out to be, for my kids and my kids alone. And yet, I dread it because I fear what his response to my response may be. And maybe I dread for nothing. At this point, gauging from his last text message, he must know the answer will be no. But I feel like he has become even more desperate, more irrational. I fear this may come out to the kids and that they will lay the blame at my feet. Like they did with the thermoses.

On Wednesday morning, I packed the kids’ lunch boxes with a sandwich and  snacks and, as a treat, chocolate milk boxes my mom had sent just for them. Usually I send my kids with thermoses filled with ice cold water. So hooray treats! That day, their father picked them up and took them home. The next day, he took them to school. My mother was told after school by Daughter that they were not given anything to drink for lunch that day. “Oh? What happened?” my mother asked. “Mommy forgot to pack the thermoses,” Daughter replied.

Mommy. Forgot.

Later that night, the kids were with my Dad and it came up again– Mommy forgot the thermoses. My dad said, “Wait a minute. Mommy packed your lunch boxes?” He basically went on to explain that when the kids are with my parents, my parents are responsible for caring them. That if they are at my parents’ house for a sleepover and I didn’t send the lunch boxes, my parents have to figure out how to fix that problem. They could call me and ask me to bring them, they could find a different way to send the lunches, or they could give them money so they could buy lunch at the cafeteria. It’d be their responsibility to take care of the lunches, not mine and if they did not send the lunchboxes, it would not be my fault, it would be theirs. He explained the same thing applied when the kids were at my house. Their dad is not responsible for something I do or don’t do. Eldest objected to this way of thinking at first insisting that if I had sent the bottles, their father would have sent them drinks. My dad kept talking with them and when it seemed like they understood, he asked them if they understood that, if they were ok with that and they said yes.

Eldest apparently wasn’t.

Last night during dinner I was telling the kids how I saw this cute thing I wanted to do where you dye the bottom tips of your hair a pretty color like pink or blue or purple. Eldest got very angry. Plugged his fingers into his ears, balled up, and covered his eyes with his knees. I tried to get him to stop and to just talk about what was bothering him. Daughter and Baby were looking at the pictures I had pulled up on the Nexus to show them what I was talking about and they were exclaiming about how awesome they were which made him angrier and before I knew it, big fat tears were rolling down his cheeks, he was refusing to talk to me, refusing to look at me and I sent him to his room. We kept having a huge back and forth as I had to go in there to get Baby’s things for the bath and it was just not good.

Later when I had calmed down, and talked with my dad some more (if he charged me, I’d be bankrupt) I went back to his room. I basically told him there was no way he was so upset about something like hair. And to prove my point we drilled it back with a bunch of questions. Ok he doesn’t like funky hair colors and he’s not thrilled that his mom wants to do something to her hair he doesn’t like but that was not the reason for the tantrum. He said it was the only thing that he really hates that has happened in his life and it’s the divorce. He hates that it happened and some times things happen that make him think about it and he can’t help it and starts to cry because he never really cried about it when it happened. And that’s why he cries so easily. He said his dad and I don’t even talk to each other. That we could at least be friends. He said it doesn’t seem right that I was with his dad and now I’m with somebody else. He said he doesn’t like that he doesn’t see his dad that often.

Speechless. I tried clobbering together some inane responses that felt so hollow to a kid in such deep hurt. I also asked if maybe he’d like to speak to someone about the whole thing. I explained what therapists were and what they did. He was weirded out by the idea because, as he put it, They would be a stranger. But he warmed up to it and I did mention his grandfather does that for a living and he could always talk to him. His grandfather doesn’t tell me what they talk about. So, I don’t know. Maybe my dad will talk with him and evaluate the need for an actual professional to step in.

And this is what is playing in the background as I have this email pending in my inbox. My kids know their father and I are not on good terms because we don’t speak to each other on the phone. They probably feel the tension acutely when he and I are forced to be in the same room together no matter how much I think we’re hiding it.

And this came on the heels of Baby getting upset because he asked me if I loved Daddy and I honestly responded, “No.” I explained that we were parents and it was different but there wasn’t love there and boy did that go wrong. It was in the car and Eldest and Daughter were there. They didn’t say anything, but they were there listening and seeing their little brother cry.

Why does it feel like things are falling apart now? This has been something we have been dealing with for five years. Why now?

Could it be the finances? That’s the only thing I can figure. There must be some really crazy tension on both ends because of finances. And maybe they are thinking things would not be so stressful if their mom and dad were together instead of apart. Which I know that isn’t true, but how could they? Especially the youngest two who have very little memory of a life with both parents together.

And now I’ve been put in this ridiculous situation by their father with this ridiculous email and I’ve got my kids on my mind and I swear to god that I really wish, I just really really wish, that I could say “Keep your f@%^&# money” and be done with it.

But I can’t. And even if I could, I just shouldn’t. The money, it’s the kids’ money. It’s their money and they have a right to it plain and simple.

In classic avoidance style, I am going to wait until 4:59 PM to send the email from my work address which I do not have access to until Monday. Not that it will stop him from responding to me in other ways but at least it delays one until Monday. If he responds at all. Which I doubt he will.

And so there you have, my overshare of the year. Internet, give me strength.