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Come on, get happy October 4, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — hollyleber @ 5:37 pm
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Originally published Sept. 28, 2012 in the Chattanooga Times Free Press


Are you happy?

It’s a seemingly simple question.

But think about it. Are you happy? Not: Are you surviving? Or: Are you all right? Or: Would your station in life make you seem vulgar and ungrateful if you complained?

Simply: Are you happy?

I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately. It’s not really viewed as enough of a necessity, is it? I feel like we have this attitude that if you’re not in bed surviving on saltines and Capri Sun, washing your hair every three weeks, you’re A-OK.

According to a 2011 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 percent of Americans over age 12 are on antidepressants.

That seems excessive. I feel like “depressed” is probably a term that’s used too liberally these days, like “sexual harassment” or “awesome.”

“Happy” might also be a word that’s used not too liberally, perhaps, but too thoughtlessly.

Suffice to say I do not think admirably of the attitude that we need nothing more than the ability to simply survive the day.

I feel I have the right to think ill of this attitude because it’s one I’m trying to adjust in myself. I also recognize that I’m pretty well set for simple survival. But if you’re taking the time to read this column, you probably are, too.

Oh, sure, there are bigger problems in the world than whiny middle-class Americans being “happy.” Congress doesn’t need to pass laws granting our inalienable right to happiness.

But we can give ourselves permission to pursue it, right? It’s in the Declaration of Independence: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

But the right is only to seek it, not to have it. We have to find it ourselves.

I’m reading Gretchen Rubin’s book “The Happiness Project.” I’ve only just started, but here’s one thing she establishes right away: She is not someone who, by society’s standards, should be unhappy.

Married with two young daughters, Rubin was living in her favorite city, in the midst of a successful second career, healthy and attractive with close friends and good family ties.

And yet, she writes, she could be happier.

I get that. I have a good job, a loving family, my health, a roof over my head and a man who adores me.

But am I happy? Genuinely happy?

Honestly? Not as often as I’d like to be.

I suspect a lot of you probably feel the same way. And you know who’s probably to blame?

We are.

So I’ve been thinking about what I can do to change that. What small things, in my day-to-day life, can I do to make me feel more satisfied? How do I need to adjust my perspective, my routine, my surroundings?

Oh, I’m not looking to become Pollyanna Sunshine. I kind of like my snark, and besides, I’m not looking to change who I am. I’m just seeking to feel a little better.

What about you? What can you do to increase your own happiness? Or, looking at it from another way, what are you doing that is getting in the way of your happiness?

I’ll go first. I have a tendency to want to change the past. I do a lot of “if I’d done XYZ at point 123, I could be doing ABC now.” And it’s a waste of time because, drum roll please, you can’t change the past.

So that’s No. 1 on the list of how I get in the way of my own happiness.

What’s on your list? You don’t have to tell me, just think about it for yourself. But if you want to share, well … see below.


An introduction August 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — hollyleber @ 10:34 pm

This project will be one of three things: a success, a failure, a little bit of both.

I suspect it’s most likely to be the third.

So, here’s the deal: I am about the world’s worst worker-outer. I hate the gym. I have no attention span to spend an hour on an elliptical machine, and I think those of you who do must be insane. I’ve been known to refer to the perfectly toned ladies who climb Stairwells in the sports bras as twinkies, and I have no plans to stop. I’m wary of anyone who does anything called a “squat thrust” in public. That just seems wrong.

I also have terrible stamina. Even in the best shape of my life, I would run out of breath quickly. I’m not a sexy exerciser. I get red-faced, sweaty, gross, panting, frizzy… it happens way too fast; it’s really just unattractive. And it hurts. So that, combined with the fact that I now live in the revoltingly humid South, does not really encourage me to be terribly active.

Oh, and my attitude sucks. Let’s just get that out there. I’ve never been inclined to try new things unless everyone else around me is also brand new at it. I don’t like feeling like the remedial kid. I’ve never liked to make a fool of myself. So there’s a lot that I don’t do.

But here’s what’s really what: I’m thirty. I have no kids, yet, but I want to be able to have healthy pregnancies. I have no reliable exercise routine. I’m actually in a normal weight range for the first time in about… six or seven years, maybe? No, probably more than that. Anyway, the point is, I was fat. Before that, however, I was skinny. Too skinny. Then I got fat. Now I’m healthy. And I’m actually at least quasi-satisfied with how I look.

And so… my goals:

1) To establish a healthy exercise routine

2) To learn to not hate exercise

3) To achieve and maintain my weight in the high 120’s, not below 126 lbs (I’ll track that each week).

4) To look good naked (and also clothed, but Spanx were not invented for naked people)

5) To one day be a hot momma, because really, who doesn’t want to be MILF-y?

To this end, I will do my best to:

1) Follow a prescribed exercise training routine (I found one in Self magazine and that’s as good a source as any, so why the hell not?)

2) Honestly record my efforts, including all setbacks.

3) Eat healthfully, putting to use what I’ve learned as a member of Weight Watchers (I recommend this program)

4) Develop healthy eating and exercise habits, in a manner that I can maintain as a lifestyle, not as a diet.

5) Have a good attitude about all of this, because really I’m doing it for myself, so if I don’t proceed with at least a modicum of positivity, why should I expect anyone else to give a damn?

However, I will not:

1) Deprive myself. Dried fruit and lemon water is not a meal. I love chocolate. I have a sweet tooth. I’ve recently discovered an affection for Irish cheddar cheese. I eat carbs. Deal with it.

2) Run a half-marathon. God knows when these became so trendy, but suddenly everyone and his brother is running a half-marathon. If I can run one mile without feeling like I’m going to throw up, that’ll be a success.

3) Acquire a “bikini body.” I hate bikinis. They’re undignified. You’re wearing your bra and underwear in public. I’m a lady. I don’t do that. I could weigh 95 pounds and I wouldn’t wear one.

4) Adapt any irritating 1980’s sporting mentalities like “push it” or “no pain, no gain” or “feel the burn.” Listen, if something hurts, I’m stopping, slowing down, going back, changing it up. The goal here is to establish a healthier lifestyle, not give myself shin splints and dry heaves.

So tomorrow begins day one. And frankly, I am feeling neither “pumped” nor “psyched” nor any other steroid-induced colloquialism conveying eagerness. Which tells me I probably need to get this thing started.

Well, all right then.


Hello world! August 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — hollyleber @ 4:32 am

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!



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