Thursday, November 29, 2012

3 Intriguing Articles About Nostalgia

When I think about nostalgia I am reminded of the Milan Kundera quotation that reads: "The Greek word for "return" is nostos. Algos means "suffering." So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return." I think that describes it very well. Here are the links to three articles on the topic that examine it a little deeper.

1) Nostalgia: On the Wistful Presence of Absence

This article says that the longing from nostalgia comes from "the indefinable sadness of life's finite essence slowly slipping away from us. Each look back subconsciously reminds us that there's that much less to look forward to—the sand in our hourglass trickling ever lower. Our lives that much more "used up." I suppose this is part of aging and something we will all experience more of as we become older. I do think that although nostalgia is natural we should never allow it to cause us to miss out on the life we are experiencing now. I believe that at any age there are new adventures to be had, new experiences to treasure, and new people to meet. In other words, this is a well written article, but don't let it depress you too much!

2) Nostalgia: Why we think things were better in the past

This article brings up a couple of really great points. First, it points out that nostalgia is so powerful that a large number of products have been created to appeal to our 'nostalgic tendencies.' Just looking around my room I know this is true, for I can see several items that I purchased primarily because they reminded me of something else! However, the article did reassure me that being vulnerable to such things does not mean I'm a weak person. It actually shares that "Research in 2008 showed nostalgia to be a feature common to the most resilient people" and "Sociable, emotional and motivated people are more likely to relish some reminiscence." A very interesting and surprising find indeed!

3) Nostalgia is Good Medicine

This article suggests that the reason we might be so prone to nostalgia is because it "promotes psychological well-being" and "fosters feelings of belongingness." Definitely worth a read!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why I'm Not Sure I Really Want To Win The Lottery

The Powerball jackpot is once again ridiculously high, which means that I, like millions of others, will rush off to buy a ticket with dreams of winning tons of money. There’s a part of me that gets excited about all of the possibilities and opportunities having that much money would bring. However, if I’m being honest, there is also a part of me that thinks winning wouldn’t be such a grand thing after all. The truth of the matter is, I know the odds of winning the jackpot but I’m not sure I know what the odds are of me being happier in the long run if I win. I’m wise enough to know that it certainly isn’t 100%, but is it even 50%? Gambling a couple of dollars is one thing, but gambling my entire life as I know it is quite another.

Some people have a lot of financial stress and hardship in their lives that winning the lottery could save them from. Others are stuck at jobs they hate that money could free them from. For some of these people, the question of whether winning the lottery would make them happier might be a very likely yes. But although I am not very wealthy, I have very little financial stress and am doing the job that I love. So for me, the question is a bit tougher.

For one, I’m afraid if I were to be extraordinarily rich, I would feel like I’d never really know who my true friends were. I’d be forever trying to figure out if people were being nice to me and wanting to spend time with me because they like me or because of what I could do for them. I think that this issue alone could have the potential to make me depressed and lonely. I once experienced the pain of being betrayed and used by someone I loved and it’s a terrible situation to be in. I think that if I won that much money the possibility of that happening again would be almost certain. It wouldn’t be a matter of if I’m being used, only a matter of who is using me and who isn’t. The truth of the matter is, it would be terribly hard for me to be able to truly trust anyone’s intentions, and I’m honestly not the most trusting person to begin with. Feeling like I know who my true friends are is a priceless luxury that I’m not sure I want to risk giving up.

Also, I want the opportunity to be successful in my career, to make something of myself, to have a positive influence on people, to know that all of my hard work, dedication, and sacrifices paid off. If I won the jackpot things would change. People would no longer respect my ambitions, they would laugh at them. “You don’t need the money,” they would say, “let someone else have your job that needs it.” Everything I’m currently pursuing might start to seem selfish and silly. Any true talent or ability to add unique value that I might possess would likely be overshadowed or perhaps even ignored by the fact that I’m just incredibly lucky. Victory just isn’t the same if you feel, or other people feel, that you’ve had an unfair advantage. It’s like if you trained your entire life for an Olympic marathon and then on the big day you were allowed to have someone drive you to the finish line. You’d likely realize that it was never gold medal that you wanted, only the chance to prove that you deserved it.

Of course, those reasons to fear winning the lottery are a bit selfish. Think about all of the good I could do. Wouldn’t the ability to give so much to so many people bring me great joy? Perhaps, but even here there is the risk that it wouldn’t. The thing is, with great power and great wealth comes great responsibility. I’m afraid I would crumble under the weight of this responsibility. I’m afraid I’d stress about spending foolishly, about not doing enough, about spending too much on myself and too little on others. I’m afraid I’d end up like the man in the movie “Schindler’s List,” who saved many lives, but was still heartbroken in the end by the guilt that he could have done more.

So why will I even buy a ticket at all? I guess in the end, in spite of all the fears I have about winning, and the risk that having that much money would not make me happier, there are so many good opportunities and experiences it would give me. I don’t want to be the type of person that allows fear, uncertainty, or my own self-doubts, keep me from embracing opportunity. However, when the numbers roll out, and they are not mine, it’s not very likely that I’ll cry about it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Is Your Favorite Holiday Movie Scene?

I want to put a list together of 10 of the best holiday movie scenes, and since I'm sure there are some great movies I haven't seen, I'd love your help! Below are two of my favorite scenes (from "Love Actually" and "When Harry Met Sally") that will probably make the list:) Send me your responses by the end of the week if you can. Thanks so much!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Some of My Favorite Lines From "Sex and the City"

"Better alone than badly accompanied."

"Maybe some women aren't meant to be tamed. Maybe they just need to run free until they find someone just as wild to run with them."

"That's the key to having it all: stop expecting it to look like what you thought it was going to look like."

 "It's infuriating! Women sit around, obsessing about what went wrong, while men just say 'alrighty' and move on."

"I used to think those people who sat alone at Starbucks writing on their laptops were pretentious posers. Now I know: they are people who have recently moved in with someone."

 "People go to casinos for the same reason they go on blind dates: hoping to hit the jackpot. But mostly, you just wind up broke or alone in a bar."

"I will never be the woman with the perfect hair, who can wear white and not spill on it."

Rereading "The Little Prince"

There’s nothing like rereading one of your favorite books years after first discovering it to make you realize how life’s experiences have inevitability changed your perspective on things. I first read “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry during the summer I was seventeen. It immediately became one of my favorite books and still is. However, there are a few messages about love, friendship, and responsibility that I absolutely loved the first time that now seem like they are missing an important “but…” Maybe this means I’m more pessimistic and jaded now or maybe it simply means that somewhere in past 10 years I just grew up.

The first such passage goes like this, “People have forgotten this truth," the fox said. "But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.” This basically says that you are responsible for the people that love you. Forever is such an idealistic word. What it doesn’t say is that sometimes part of growing up is learning to let people go. It doesn’t warn about what can happen if you let that responsibility weigh you down so much that you become a much worse version of yourself. It doesn’t tell you that there is a difference between loving someone and being good for someone, and that you shouldn’t feel guilty for walking away from something that might not be in your power to fix.

There is another passage that says, “If you love a flower that lives on a star, it is sweet to look at the sky at night. All the stars are a-bloom with flowers...” But what if loving the flower doesn’t make it sweet to look at the sky? What if it just makes you terribly sad? What if your whole life becomes bitter as you dearly desire and miss something that you cannot have and will never have again? We all learn eventually that memories can be both a blessing and a curse.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think that this is a brilliant book and makes a lot of great points. I still enjoy reading it and reflecting on all of the messages that it contains. If you have never read it, I would certainly recommend that you do. The fact that I can no longer read it with the innocence that I once did, does not mean that I don’t appreciate it, I just think that life has taught me that love and relationships are not as simple as I once may have thought.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

50 Simple Pleasures!

Thank you to everyone who sent me a few of the simple pleasures in life that they are thankful for this year. Here is a list of 50 of my favorites along with a few of my own!

1. a really good cup of coffee
2. silent, rainy mornings
3. good memories
4. a clear conscious
5. a book that takes your breath away
6. chicken fried steak
7. surviving cancer
8. falling in love
9. new friends
10. an ice cold beer
11. cats
12. writing a poem
13. sunny days
14. bike rides
15. a long distance phone call from someone you love
16. hearing the laughter of a small child
17. fresh garden vegetables
18. having a job in this economy
19. large dogs
20. smell of a bonfire on a crisp, fall evening
21. being able to afford groceries
22. sunrise
24. owning a reliable car
25. flower gardens
26. having the finances to sponsor a child in Zambia
27. laughing uncontrollably
28. falling autumn leaves
29. the fresh smell after rain
30. hugging your children
31. chocolate cake
32. cups of tea
33. sarcasm
34. pink clouds
35. hot candlelit bath
36. a glass of wine at the end of a long day
37. warm oatmeal cookies
38. roses
39. smelling the perfume/cologne of someone you love
40. blueberries
41. sleeping in
42. dancing
43. kisses
44. discovering something you forgot you had
45. rainbows
46. listening to music
47. vanilla candles
48. buying a new lipstick
49. walking on the beach
50. popcorn and a movie

Cherish Life

Never forget
That it costs something to be who you are
Don’t learn this lesson too late

Know that there is difference
Between loving someone and missing them

Remember that life is a mystery
You won’t always know all the answers
Learn to live with uncertainty
Embrace the moment

Learn to love many things
Do as much as possible out of love

Meet new people
In new places
Learn from them
Have stimulating conversations
Surprise yourself sometimes

Be brave
Be kind
Be patient
Be grateful
Be strong
Be passionate
Be compassionate
Be beautiful
In your own way

Don’t take anyone too seriously
Don’t take yourself too seriously
Don’t take life too seriously

Cherish life

Monday, November 19, 2012

What Are 5 Simple Pleasures You Are Thankful For?

As most of you know, it is Thanksgiving in the United States this week, a great time to reflect on our many blessings. Most of us are thankful for the things that are most important to us, such as our family, our health, our home,etc. However, I want to know what some of the simple things are you are thankful for, maybe a certain treat you reward yourself with at the end of a long day, a scent you love, or a place that always seems to lift your spirit. Please send me around 5 of your simplest pleasures if you'd like and by the end of the week I'll put a list together and share my favorite responses on here with everyone! You can email responses to with "Simple Pleasures" as the subject. Please share this with anyone you think might be interested in participating. Hopefully we can remind each other of all of the little things in which we can find joy. I can't wait to get your responses!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My 12 Favorite Quotations on Gratitude

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”  -Marcel Proust

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
-A.A. Milne

“Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. It liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation.”
 -John Ortberg

"Maintain an attitude of gratitude, not for what was lost by moving on, but for what was gained by having been there." -Michael Rawls

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” -Marcus Tullius Cicero

“One can never pay in gratitude: one can only pay 'in kind' somewhere else in life.”
-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." Oprah Winfrey

“Gratitude is medicine for a heart devastated by tragedy. If you can only be thankful for the blue sky, then do so. ” -Richelle E. Goodrich

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." -Albert Schweitzer

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”  -Meister Eckhart

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”
 -G.K. Chesterton

"Gratitude is the sign of noble souls." -Aesop

Friday, November 16, 2012

How Well Can We Really Understand Another Person?

I’ve always had an incurable curiosity about people, constantly being fascinated by individual personalities, how we grow and evolve throughout our lives, and how much the perspective we have of the world defines us. Those of us that are readers, writers, filmmakers, storytellers, etc. are constantly thinking about these things from the standpoint of fictional characters. Having a deep understanding of people and characters is something that all truly great story tellers seem to share.

But if we move away from the world of fiction, and think about the real people we actually know, especially those who are closest to us, how well can we really understand each other? Personally, I think, that for even the best judges of human nature among us, the answer is not very well at all. People are complicated.

In most of our relationships we often only get to know one version of someone. We only know who they are when they are with us. There are so many other versions of them, in different times, in different places, with different people, that we will never know. We are also hindered in our ability to truly understand another person, by the fact that we tend to see them how we want them to be. It’s human nature. We are especially prone to do this in romantic relationships. I like the line in the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert where she says, “In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding they be what we need of them, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place.” It’s so true that we tend to create roles for people to play in our lives, and this ultimately limits our ability to understand who they truly are. Perhaps this is why we sometimes feel like certain strangers can see us more clearly than some of the people we have known for years. 

Another reason that understanding one other is so difficult is because people are always changing. People are constantly growing and evolving, sometimes gradually over time, and sometimes much more suddenly than we might think. It is often impossible for us to understand what is happening deep inside someone, and how that is impacting who they are, and who they will become.

One might say, if we can never really get to know each other, than what’s the point of even trying to get close to someone? But we must not forget that we don’t need to completely understand someone in order to love them, or be happy with them, or learn from them, or help them. There is a quote from a Philip Roth book that says, “Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride.” I think that there is some truth to this. Sometimes the best thing things in life, and in love, come when we learn to embrace the mystery. Maybe it’s okay to accept what we can’t understand and allow people to surprise us.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Favorite Scene From "Alfie"

This is one of my favorite movies and I like to watch this scene from time to time because it always makes me think. I just had to share it! I hope you enjoy it and if you haven't seen the movie I would certainly recommend it (especially if you're a Jude Law or Sienna Miller fan!)

Thanks for Sharing Your Favorite Quotations!

Last week, I asked readers the question "What is your favorite quotation?" I received a lot of responses, which as an undeniable quote junkie, I absolutely loved reading. Thanks to everyone that sent something! Out of all the quotations that I received I want to share three of my favorite.

“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool.”
 -Lester Bangs

"It isn't what we say or think that defines us, but what we do."
-Jane Austen

"Certainly one response is laughter... it is the soul seeking some relief."
-Kurt Vonnegut

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Favorite Movie Scene From "Love Actually"

This a great scene about someone expressing their unconditional yet unrequited love. It's sad and beautiful at the same time.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Favorite Passage From "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"

I wanted to share a passage from The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera that in essence suggests that we all need to feel important somehow the only difference is to whom. I think that there is a lot of truth to this. In my opinion, Kundera has moments in his work where he shows a brilliant understanding of human nature and this is one such example.

“We all need someone to look at us. we can be divided into four categories according to the kind of look we wish to live under. The first category longs for the look of an infinite number of anonymous eyes, in other words, for the look of the public. The second category is made up of people who have a vital need to be looked at by many known eyes. They are the tireless hosts of cocktail parties and dinners. they are happier than the people in the first category, who, when they lose their public, have the feeling that the lights have gone out in the room of their lives. This happens to nearly all of them sooner or later. People in the second category, on the other hand, can always come up with the eyes they need. Then there is the third category, the category of people who need to be constantly before the eyes of the person they love. Their situation is as dangerous as the situation of people in the first category. One day the eyes of their beloved will close, and the room will go dark. And finally there is the fourth category, the rarest, the category of people who live in the imaginary eyes of those who are not present. They are the dreamers.”

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Response To The Question: What Good Is Art?

A couple of weeks ago, I asked readers to answer this question, “What Good is Art?” and received some wonderful responses. Now, it’s time to share my answer to the question.

Art, in its various forms, literature, music, film, photography, etc., is immensely valuable to the human soul. I honestly believe that it is what gives life meaning for a lot of people myself included. One might question this, saying, “What about God, or love, or the people you care about? Aren’t those things more important?” But you see, to me, art is a way to feel connected with the spiritual world. Even prayer, one could argue, is a form of it, and to be honest, certain music has made me feel closer to God than anything else ever could. As far as love and relationships, the painter Vincent van Gogh once said, "I tell you, the more I think the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people." I believe that he was right.

Although there are many different ways in which art can be meaningful, I believe that truly valuable art is significant for one of three reasons. It provides an escape, it teaches you something, or it helps allow you to heal.

Escape art is what we experience when we become so absorbed in a book or a film, in the lives of the characters or the story, that for a moment we are able to forget our own. It allows us to experience vicariously places, events, and emotions that we may never have felt otherwise. It helps us to forget, even if just momentarily, our own problems, struggles, and pain. I am a firm believer that escape art is good for the mind, good for the body, and especially good for the soul. It is sometimes almost like medicine to me, I honestly cannot imagine living without it.

Art also provides value when it teaches us something. Sometimes the lesson is obvious, other times we learn through stories or metaphors. Some art forces us to think about things in a completely new way or opens our minds to new perspectives or possibilities. Sometimes art has the ability to convey a message in a way that nothing else can, and has the ability to make all of us better, wiser, and more compassionate.

Last, but not least, art can help us to heal. We can pour our hearts into the creative process and turn suffering and painful experiences into something positive. Art isn't always about the end result; sometimes the value is in the making of it, the intense emotions it allows us to express, and the things we learn about ourselves in the process.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Answer The Question: What is Your Favorite Quotation?

As anyone that follows either my blog or twitter account already knows I am a quotes junkie. I absolutely love discovering, reading, collecting, and sharing great quotations! In a blog post a couple of weeks ago, I asked readers to answer the question, "What Good is Art?" and posted my favorite responses (My Favorite Responses to the Question "What Good is Art?"). I received so many great answers and enjoyed reading them so much that I want to do the same thing, except this time the question is, "What is Your Favorite Quotation and Why?" Please email responses to using the subject "Favorite Quote" by November 11, 2012 and I will post my favorite answers on my blog next week. I can't wait to hear your answers! Please share this with anyone you think may be interested in participating. Thanks!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My 7 Favorite Anne Morrow Lindbergh Quotations

1) “One writes not to be read but to writes to think, to pray, to analyze. One writes to clear one's mind, to dissipate one's fears, to face one's doubts, to look at one's mistakes--in order to retrieve them. One writes to capture and crystallize one's joy, but also to disperse one's gloom. Like prayer--you go to it in sorrow more than joy, for help, a road back to 'grace'."

2) “If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.”

3) “One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can only collect a few. One moon shell is more impressive than three. There is only one moon in the sky.”

4) “When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits - islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.”

5) “I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living."

6) “Him that I love, I wish to be free -- even from me.”

7) “Parting is inevitably painful, even for a short time. It's like an amputation, I feel a limb is being torn off, without which I shall be unable to function. And yet, once it is done... life rushes back into the void, richer, more vivid and fuller than before. ”

Friday, November 2, 2012

I Can't Stop Listening to "I'll Hold My Breath"

Is anyone else addicted to this Ellie Goulding song? I just can't stop listening to it. So catchy and I love the lyrics.