Dog-sitting, Taking Classes, and Wrapping Up #100HappyDays

Day 96: Dog-sitting makes me happy. My boyfriend planned an out of town trip, so he asked me to watch his dog while he was away. Luckily his dog and I have lots in common (specifically, a love of snacks and napping). I don’t think I’m ready for a dog of my own yet, but being a temporary dog mom has been fun. Check out a few photos of some of our adventures!

Enjoying a long walk!

Watching a rabbit. See it? (Look in the upper right corner of the picture!)

 

Day 97: Company picnics make me happy. My company goes all out when it comes to our annual picnic. Earlier this week I volunteered to help with pre-picnic stuff (more on that here) and the end result was spectacular! Here are some pics of (just one side!) of our celebration:

Fun activities for the kiddos! (Adult activities were on the other side of the building.)

Food tents!

Day 98: Catching up with friends makes me happy. My friend Judith was in town this weekend, so we met up for brunch at one of my favorite restaurants. We met through a work opportunity and became fast friends! Even though she no longer lives in Madison, we make a point to keep in touch. It was awesome catching up with her in person!

Day 99:  Free lunch makes me happy.  Today was staff meeting day and the wrap (sweet chili tofu) was so good!  It tasted even better because it was free.  🙂

Day 100:  Taking classes makes me happy.  This week, I get to take a class instead of teach a class!  I absolutely love learning and am thrilled to be the one being taught this time around.

Also…today is my last entry for #100HappyDays.  This was a fantastic exercise in gratitude!  Taking a step back and finding something to celebrate in every day–no matter how small–helped me to put my life in perspective and realize I’ve been blessed with an amazing life.  Honestly, some days it was hard for me to come up with something more than “Waking up this morning makes me happy.”  Not every day will be filled with joy–that much is certain.  But I found that the happy moments outweigh the unhappy ones overall, and that’s pretty good to me.

Grateful Dead and Surprise Packages #100HappyDays

Day 90:  Wedding receptions make me happy.  My boyfriend invited me to the reception of one of his good friends.  We had a great time!  My boyfriend was so handsome in his suit and meeting his friends was really fun.

Day 91:  Experiencing new music makes me happy.  My boyfriend is really into the Grateful Dead, and a documentary about the group came out recently on Amazon Prime, so we watched it.  I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.  I never knew too much about the Dead–basically that it was “hippie” music and Jerry Garcia was involved–so I liked learning more about the group and the music they made.

Day 92:  Coaching others makes me happy.  I’m part of a group that helps trainers improve their adult education skills, and I had a 1:1 session with one of my colleagues today.  We focused on determining if trainees “got it”–she really wanted to make sure that trainees were understanding the information she taught them.  It was really fun to look at another class and find ways to make the information stick.

Day 93:  Surprise packages make me happy.  Imagine my surprise when I go to the mailbox and see a package from my friend Kathy!  She sent me a favor from her baby shower and lots of other goodies as an early birthday present.  She’s into fashion and makeup, so I’m excited to try the cosmetics she included in the box.  Yay for great friends!

birthday box.jpg

I can’t wait to try out this stuff!

Surviving, Snacks, and Family Vacations #100HappyDays

Day 80:  Surviving makes me happy.  This was my sixth day in a row of teaching customer class and my voice started going out.  I was able to get through my class anyway though–sometimes you just have to be happy you made it through.

Day 81:  Buying snacks makes me happy.  For our upcoming family vacation (more on that below) I was in charge of buying the snacks.  Who doesn’t like buying snacks?!?  The hardest part was trying not to eat them before the trip (and remembering to load everything into the car).  For the record, I did try to buy healthier snacks…but some s’more ingredients may or may not have made their way into the cart too.

Day 82:  Fridays make me happy.  Especially Fridays before a long weekend!

Days 83-87:  Family vacations make me happy.  My family and I camped near Mammoth Cave for the holiday and it was really fun!  We had the most awesome RV in the park (and that’s not me bragging–people came by multiple times a day to compliment it).  We hiked a trail near the cave, which was somewhat challenging in 90° weather with 1,000,000% humidity.  But we made it–and rewarded ourselves with great food and lots of laughs.  Check out the view from our campsite and my new friend Belle below!

 

Kentucky is so beautiful!

Victory (a.k.a. the baddest RV in the park).

Belle!  She protected us by barking at everyone who walked past our campsite.

 

Days 88-89:  Short work weeks make me happy.  That’s the awesome thing about coming back to work on Thursday–you’re already basically at the weekend!  Is it bad that I’m already counting down the hours until the weekend officially starts?

Throwing Shade, Writing Poems, and Saying Goodbye #100HappyDays

Day 73:  Throwing shade makes me happy.  Two of my very best squirrel friends, Kathy and Julia, love RuPaul’s Drag Race as much as I do.  We have a call every two weeks to throw shade on the current season (and also to catch up on life).  Hearing their opinions on the queens and latest life updates makes me so happy.

Day 74:  Using analogies makes me happy.  As someone who teaches adults every day, I’ve come to realize that the adult brain learns a bit differently than the child brain does.  So, I like to come up with fun analogies to help my trainees learn the new information.  The analogy I used this time?  Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV’s Fixer Upper.  🙂  A lot of my trainees said they had a “light bulb moment” after hearing that analogy, so I think I’ll keep using it!

Day 75: Being creative make me happy.  Speaking of teaching adults, I wrote a haiku for my class because they were so awesome.  They had great question and paid excellent attention during class, so I wrote them a quick poem to express my gratitude.  They really liked it!

Day 76: Weddings make me happy.  My boyfriend invited me to the wedding of one of his coworkers.  It was beautiful!  The weather was perfect for the outdoor ceremony, and the groom cried when the bride walked down the aisle (So sweet!).  I had a great time meeting the groom, bride, and other folks my boyfriend works with–and the cake was delicious!

Day 77: Reliving my childhood makes me happy.  I downloaded a bunch of sweet 90s music and it really took me back to “the good old days.”  You know–the days when I got summers off and didn’t have to pay bills.  Here’s one of the many songs I got–enjoy!

 

Day 78: Getting fit makes me happy. Today was my monthly weigh-in at the gym–and I lost 3.6 lbs!  I’m really working on lowering the number of calories I eat and getting enough protein in my diet.  Hopefully next month I’ll have even better progress!

Day 79: Getting rid of old stuff makes me happy.  Today I sold Raven, my old car. It was a bittersweet moment–that car was my college graduation gift and saw me through my first apartment, a move to Madison, and six snowy Wisconsin winters.  But now that I have Stella (peep this post to meet her) I couldn’t justify keeping Raven too.  The money I got from selling Raven will go toward paying down my credit card. (Not a fun way to spend the cash, I know, but #adulting)  I hope Raven’s new owners enjoy her as much as I did!

Raven

Ride on, Raven! Thanks for nine awesome years!

Roses! #100HappyDays

Day 66: Roses make me happy. Imagine my surprise when my boyfriend walked in with this adorable mini rose bush for me yesterday! He usually brings me cut flowers–which I also love–but they don’t last very long. I’m excited for these roses to stick around for longer than a week (at least I hope they do–I have a tendency to overwater plants). My boo is the bomb! 

Red roses to match my kitchen–my boyfriend is awesome!

New Developments #100HappyDays

Day 60:  Developing new processes makes me happy.  I worked with a few coworkers to improve a process for getting trainer review for updates to our software and I think it’s going to make everybody’s job a lot easier.  No complaints there!

Day 61:  Seeing where my company is going next makes me happy.  I had the opportunity to preview some development coming in the next version of my company’s software, and it was so cool!  I never imagined I’d work in IT–especially healthcare IT–but I truly enjoy what I do.

Day 62-63:  Spending time with my parents makes me happy.  My parents were in Wisconsin for a motorcycle club event and I got to hang out with them!  I know I post a lot about my parents, but they really are the most wonderful people on the planet and any opportunity I have to see them is really special to me.  We went to a fun ’70s themed dinner and dance and then hung out in the RV talking until almost midnight.

Day 64:  Small classes make me happy.  I taught a class of 10 students today.  Most of our customer classes are somewhere between 20-30 students, so having this smaller class was a welcome reprieve.  Also, I feel like I’m able to really connect with each student when the class size is small–I like being able to answer out of scope questions and spend extra time with them one-on-one.

Day 65:  International travel makes me happy.  My sabbatical is in October, so my mom and I will be heading to…Costa Rica!  I had a call with my travel agent today to go over our itinerary and I am PUMPED!  My last jaunt to a foreign land wasn’t the best experience (Long story short:  I was racially profiled by a hotel employee and accused of being a prostitute.) but I’m really looking forward to this trip.  Most of all, I’m looking forward to traveling with my mom!  This chance to take her around the world is the least I can do to thank her for being the best mother ever.

Mail call! #100HappyDays

Day 59: Getting things in the mail makes me happy. 

Quick clarification: Getting things in the mail that aren’t bills makes me happy. 😉 I ordered some pictures to hang up in my home and they finally arrived! For so long, my walls have been bare. But my boyfriend’s recent home decorating inspired me to do a little decorating myself. Family, friends, travels, and of course my favorite drag queens–I’m covering the walls with them! 

Looks like I’m gonna need to do some thrifting to find frames for all these (and the ones I still need to order)…

Yes, the picture of me with RuPaul is an 8×10. To quote Queen B, “And I don’t feel bad about it.”

Movies, Flea Markets, and Parental Advice #100HappyDays

Day 54: Curriculum design makes me happy. I spent most of the day working on new stuff for work, and it was…kind of awesome. Most people wouldn’t be geeked to spend a whole day in front of Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, but putting together this new program to help people learn our software better makes this geeky gal pretty happy. 

Day 55: Movies make me happy. Especially when you can watch them in the comfort of your own home–DVDs from the library for the win! 

Day 56: Flea markets make me happy. Yes, you read that right:  flea markets. My daddy and I used to go to the flea market all the time when I was little; I loved seeing all the cool stuff for sale. So, when I found out a flea market was going on near my house I definitely wanted to check it out. I didn’t buy anything, but I did see some interesting stuff–I’d love to go to more flea markets now that the weather is nice. 

Day 57: Parental advice makes me happy. At least once a week, I call my parents to catch up…and also ask for advice (usually about basic adult stuff that I should probably know already, but don’t). Lucky for me, they are always willing to give it andddd it’s always great advice! Win-win!

Day 58: Being in a supportive relationship makes me happy.  My boyfriend is there for me whenever I need him, and I am so lucky (and happy) because of it. 

Money in the Bank #100HappyDays

Day 46:  Having available funds makes me happy.

In my last post, I mentioned that my garage door wouldn’t open.  Well, a repairman is solving that problem literally as I type this…for the (not really) low, low price of $425.  It turns out I needed both tension springs replaced (one of them broke, which is why the door wouldn’t open) as well as new cables and rollers (because mine were corroded–yuck).  The parts are originals, and my house is almost 20 years old, so it makes sense that they failed.  But damn Gina!  They can’t make indestructible garage parts yet? #homeownerproblems #goodlawdthatsalotofmoney

Now, please don’t think I’m jumping for joy at paying damn near five hundos for this repair job.  Y’all know I’d rather spend that money on makeup and snacks!  But I am thankful that I had the funds to cover this unexpected expense.  I worry about money constantly, but my worries aren’t nearly as severe as they could be.

There are plenty of people here in America today who are struggling to find money to get their next meal or clothes and shoes for their kids.  Across the globe, people are walking miles for clean water and dying from curable diseases because they don’t have access to basic healthcare.  So, I’m happy that I had the funds in my bank account to cover this expense.  I’m not rich, but I do have enough, and that’s a lot more than some have.

(And for the record, if anyone wants to donate to the “Ashley Loves Makeup and Snacks Fund” you are more than welcome to PayPal/Venmo/Chase QuickPay me anytime!)

Colored Pictures, Classes, and The Wheel #100HappyDays

Day 37:  Wheel of Fortune makes me happy.  Yes, I’m serious.  My boyfriend and I try to have dinner together at least once during the week, and every single time we do we end up watching The Wheel.  If anyone knows how to get on the show, let me know–based on the number of correct answers I shout at the TV, I’m pretty sure I’d do well on the actual show.  🙂

Day 38:  Pictures from kids make me happy.  On occasion I’ll babysit my officemate’s kids, and the oldest colored these awesome pictures for me!  The last time I babysat them was in February, so I brought some Valentine’s Day and Black History Month pictures for us to color together.  Apparently they are still fun to color even in May (and she even told her mommy the story of Rosa Parks as she was coloring it)!

Pictures from Kids

Look at these cute pictures! She did a great job staying in the lines.

Day 39:  Finishing a class makes me happy.  Today was the last day of a three-day course I was teaching.  Wrapping up a class is always bittersweet; I love getting to know new trainees and so it is kind of sad to see them head home.  However, I know they are ready to see their families and sleep in their own beds, so I’m happy they get to go back to everyday life.  Luckily, all of them will be coming back for another class in early June so we’ll get to have a “class reunion.”