The Happiness Project: Solo

I’ve never been a person who’s had problems doing things alone. When I lived with my parents I would go to the movies by myself every week. I don’t mind going to eat by myself or go sit in a coffee shop and write. So I thought this month was going to be a breeze. I went into it with a plan. Both my best friend and my girlfriend were going on vacation at the same time and I thought that would be a great opportunity to take myself on some nice dates. I’d go to the movies, out for dinner, stuff along those lines. 

Then November came around… With Christmas coming around, funds are a little low, not to mention time. I’ve been spending a lot of time working on Christmas gifts and all my money on the rest of them. So dates by myself weren’t exactly going to happen. 

Then there was the other factor. For anyone who listens to my podcast, you’ve probably heard my episode on Favourite People. I’m not going to sum it up here (but I recommend you go listen to that episode if you want to learn more). Anyways, Andrea is my favourite person and I was really struggling with the idea of her going away for a week and a half. Everyone else was so excited and happy for her, and I was too, but underlying it all was an overwhelming sense of panic and abandonment. Yes, I’m aware it was only a week and a half. I know most people would think I’m being completely unreasonable, but it was a big deal to me. I was talking to another woman with BPD beforehand and she completely got it. 

Anyways, before Andrea left she made sure to remind me that there are other people who love me and that I should leave the house every once in a while. I like to think I succeeded. I went to my friend’s Caffe one night, went to a show with one friend, out for coffee with one, for lunch with one, and I even hung out with a few friends to watch a movie. And yes, I did end up taking myself out for dinner one night too. I also let someone help me when I was having a really hard day. She came over and really lifted my spirit. It’s hard for me to admit when I need help, so I’m really proud of myself for admitting that. 

I’ve really been working on expanding my support system. Reaching out to more people, taking on a lot more myself. It’s hard but therapy, DBT, and CBT are working wonders.

I thought this month was going to be about me doing things by myself, but it wasn’t at all. It ended up being about doing things without Andrea and also accepting help. The theme of the month may have been solo but even my childhood hero Han Solo needed help sometimes. He had Luke and Leia and I have my friends too. Now, I don’t need validation for doing this. I needed to do it for myself. 

Join me next month for joy. Yes, an appropriate theme for December, I’m aware. 

The Happiness Project: Passion

Let me just start by saying that this month didn’t go exactly as planned. I love October and I love Halloween so I had planned to dress spooky all month and live my best witchy life. I tried but over the course of the month, I had a bad migraine, the flu (well, flu-like symptoms from my flu shot), and food poisoning. So, I spent a lot of time at home in bed instead. 

My love of Halloween stressed me out this year. The past few have kind of sucked so I decided to go all out this year but it just ended up putting too much pressure on it. I found myself getting upset if things didn’t work out my way. My costume, spooky makeup, making my rats’ cage spooky (they destroyed that real quick). I’m writing this before October 31, so I’m not sure how actual Halloween is going to go yet, but so far I’m disappointed. I was having way too much social anxiety to enjoy the Halloween party this year, and I couldn’t help but be disappointed with my costume. It was fine, I guess, but everyone else had far better costumes. I’m a cosplayer, you think I could up my Halloween game a bit. That’s fine, I’m not going to give up and you won’t believe what I have planned for Halloween next year.

Okay, that’s enough of me sounding petty and bitter. I promise there were good things this month too. I decided to watch as many fun Halloween movies as I could and even though I didn’t completely get through my list, I watched a lot of them and got to live my best witchy life. 

Now the real highlight of my month was how many books I read this month. I love reading and I wanted to read 50 books this year. Well, after I passed that number, I had a new goal. I wanted to pass the 100 books mark during October since it’s passion month and I am very passionate about my reading. I am happy to say that as I write this I have officially read 117 books so far this year. 

Another thing that happened this month was a couple of blog posts of mine got published. I finally published the first of my own makeup dupe blog posts on my blog: Cult Classics vs. Dupes: Skin. Even more exciting, I had an article on Disneybound makeup for Halloween published on the Sartorial Geek website. I was so excited when I got accepted to be a contributor for the website and I’m even more excited now that I have an article published. You can read it here

Anyways. It wasn’t the best month but it’s behind me now. Onto Solo month. 

Bonus Adventure: Rats

I mentioned in my September Adventure blog post that I got rats. I intended to talk more about them in that post but then getting them ended up being such an adventure in itself that I knew they needed their own blog post. 

I decided while we were in Powell River that I was going to get rats so I started researching and found three little girls from the Vancouver SPCA that I was going to adopt. I’ve been wanting a pet for a long time, I just had to wait for payday and I was going to make this all happen. 

So I found a cage for $75 on FB marketplace and Saturday morning  Andrea offered to go to Aldergrove to get it. After retrieving the cage she came over to my place and we set it up and headed to the Vancouver SPCA to pick up the girls. Here’s where we ran into the first roadblock of the day (literally) and we got stuck in traffic. When we finally got there we found out they were adopted 15 minutes before we arrived. I was on a mission and I’m really stubborn when I make my mind up about something, so we searched on the website and found out Surrey had some. 

Not only did we get stuck in traffic on the way to Surrey, we got stuck behind a truck that had caught on fire. Because of course, we did. I called up the SPCA and said that even though I know you can’t reserve or put a hold on animals, I wanted to make sure that they still had rats there. They did. As soon as I walked in there and saw them, I fell in love with three girls. I filled out the paperwork and we were good to go. Except for the fact that we had to catch them. Two were difficult enough but the third one was fast and sneaky and she escaped from the cage and Andrea had to catch her (and traumatize her slightly in the process) from running around the floor of the SPCA. 

We brought them back to my place and set them up in the cage and left to pick up a few things. We left them for less than an hour and when we got back I saw one of the girls sitting ON TOP OF THE CAGE. Great. We caught her and a second one and put them back in the cage and started looking for the third. Meanwhile, the first two CLIMBED BETWEEN THE BARS again. So we put them back in the cardboard box from the SPCA and hunted for the third girl. Finally, we found her in my closet. So we went back to the pet store and bought another cage. $200 later and half an hour of assembly later the girls are safe in a new cage. So yup adventure.

Anyways, I love the girls dearly. I named them after the Schuyler sisters from Hamilton. The bravest of rats is Angelica. The shy one (yes the one that escaped in the SPCA and hid in my closet) is Eliza. The other one is And Peggy. No, not Peggy–And Peggy. 

You can follow the girls on Instagram @Hamil_Rats

The Happiness Project: Adventure

I tend to play it safe and lead a kind of boring life so I thought a month of adventures would be fantastic and my friends were more than happy to comply. 

We started the month by going away for the long weekend on a wine trip to the Okanagan. I can’t even express how excited I was for this. I grew up in the Okanagan but since I moved away from the interior when I was nineteen, I never got to experience all the wonderful wineries and tasting rooms. This was the year we were finally going to change that. Myself and three friends did a 4 day trip over labour day long weekend and went to 29 different wineries and 4 different distilleries. Friday was Summerland and the Naramata bench and then we went back to the hotel for a dip in the pool before we went for dinner. Saturday we covered Penticton and Okanagan Falls as well as doing the market. That evening we ended up in a lovely little pub where karaoke was happening. Sunday was Oliver, and I got drunk off red wine (oops?) before we headed to a friend’s place in Naramata for dinner. Monday was Osoyoos and then we headed home. I learned a couple of things over the weekend as well. Before this, I had no idea that winery dogs were a thing and I was so happy to discover this. I can’t remember how many of them there was or what all their breeds and names were but I got to pet A LOT of dogs so I was very happy. I also discovered my love of a couple of wines I didn’t know I loved. Apparently I really like Syrahs and Viogniers. It was so lovely to get to see parts of my province that I hadn’t really seen before and it was even lovelier to get away for a few days. Between good wine, great friends, good food, beautiful views, and amazing winery dogs, it was an all-around great weekend. 

The beauty of adventure is it doesn’t necessarily need to be a big trip like the wine trip was. Sometimes adventures can just be little things in the everyday. Not long after the wine trip, my girlfriend was coming over for a wine and pizza night that led to an accidental adventure. She told me she was going to pay for the pizza but she only had too big of a bill for delivery. So instead we decided to go pick it up since Panago isn’t that far from my apartment. So we get halfway there and realize that Angela left the money back at my place. At that point, we didn’t want to turn back so she said we could pay for it with her credit card and we kept going. When we got there we discovered that they had messed one of our pizzas up so they offered to give us one for free and make us a new one. While we were waiting, the bright sunny sky turned into pouring rain and naturally we didn’t have any umbrellas with us. So Angela decided to call a cab on her phone and when she couldn’t get an answer, she decided to call another one on my phone as well. After waiting on the phone with two cab companies for over half an hour, the rain started to let up enough that we decided to give up and book it back to my place. I mean, I would’ve walked from the get-go, but I can’t deny that this made for a better story.  I also argue that the pizza was extra worth it by the time we got to my place, warmed it up in the oven, and finally got to eat it. 

Work in itself was a little bit of an adventure this month. We were an office of three people and my coworker just moved to Edmonton and my boss went off to get married and go on her honeymoon. Luckily we did hire someone before they both left but I was still going to be holding down the fort more or less by myself. That didn’t worry me too much since I’ve handled it before and I know what I’m doing at work. However, there was going to be an event while my boss was gone and I was going to have to handle a table by myself. We have a funding partners program at work where we fund projects that focus on women going into STEM careers and one of those projects was a film screening of four short films about women in science. I’m a pretty anxious person so the idea that I was going to have to sit at a table and tell people who we are and what we do all by myself terrified me. I survived though. I had a really good time watching the films and I even networked with people at the table. The scariest part was during the q and a session when someone asked how we can encourage women and girls to go into STEM careers and I was handed a microphone because that is exactly the mission statement of the non-profit I work for. I think I answered it pretty well and I didn’t pass out in front of a room full of people, so hey, big win for Alicen!

I don’t know if anyone else would consider this an adventure or not but I got to go to a lot of things this month which I consider adventures. I went to Bard on the Beach twice for both Shakespeare in Love and Taming of the Shrew and both were lovely. I’m a big Shakespeare fan and a fan of live theatre so I’m always eager to go to Bard. I also ended up going to the White Caps charity soccer game for the second year in a row. For those of you who know me, you know that sports aren’t my thing at all, but a friend invited me and we had a good time anyway. This month was also the beginning of the Broadway Across Canada season and the first show was Rent. I personally really enjoyed it because I’m familiar with the show, but I know others that were less than thrilled because there was a lot of sound issues and sometimes you couldn’t hear what the actors were singing or saying over the music. 

Another thing that happened this month was a surprise birthday party for a friend. He and his wife live in Powell River (which is two ferries away from where I live so that was a whole adventure in itself) so a group of us went over to surprise Peter for his 40th birthday. It was so nice having him show us around the town and give us his version of a tour. I love all the random little facts he’d throw in whenever we went anywhere. It was also just so nice to see the two of them because I really miss them. Plus, I got to hang out with their cats. Another mini-adventure that happened during the weekend was I went mini-golfing for the first time and I even got a hole in one! Now, I’m not saying I’m good, I’m definitely terrible at it, but I had a lot of fun which is what matters. We also went to a market and a few thrift stores and I definitely came home with even more yarn and some new clothes. 

I’m not going to get too into this right now because I’m going to elaborate next month, but I’ll tease you a little bit first. Next month I’m launching a passion project (how appropriate for passion month of my happiness project) but this month I got to do all the research for it which was quite the adventure and also made me very happy. I won’t say anything else except that there might be makeup involved. 

I made a big decision this year. I decided to get rats. I’ve been wanting to get pets for ages, and rats were my best option. My roommate isn’t allergic to them like he is cats. They’re smaller and less work than dogs–not to mention they’d actually fit in my apartment, unlike a dog. They’re small, cute, affectionate… And it’s something for me to take care of. So that is going to be an adventure in itself that carries on longer than just adventure month. 

Join me again next month where my theme will be “passion”. You can find the full list of all the wineries and distilleries we went to, here: 

Summerland:
Alchemist Distiller
8th Generation Vineyard

Naramata Bench:
Legend Distilling
Van Westen Vineyards
Lake Breeze Vineyards
Moraine Estate Winery
Lock&Worth Winery
Ruby Blues Winery
La Frenz Winery
Poplar Grove Winery
Monster Vineyards

Penticton/OK Falls:
Pentage
Crescent Hill
Blasted Church Vineyards
Liquidity Wines
Blue Mountain
See Ya Later Ranch
Nighthawk Vineyards
The Dubh Glas Distillery

Oliver:
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery
Desert Hills Estate Winery
Platinum Bench Estate Winery
Maverick Estate Winery
Kismet Estate Winery
Rust Wine Co
Road 13 Vineyards
Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery
Intersection Estate Winery
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
Oliver Twist Estate Winery

Osoyoos:
Nk’mip Cellars
Moon Curser Vineyards
Tumbleweed Spirits

The Happiness Project: Pride

Anyone who knows me knows that I tend to jump in with both feet. When I first learned how to sew, I started by making a ball gown. When I first learned how to crochet, I opened an Etsy store to sell my products. When I first learned how to knit, I decided to knit a sweater. So, it should be no surprise that I would jump into this happiness project with a challenging month first. 

My theme for August was pride, which has a lot of meanings to me. First of all, Vancouver Pride is the first weekend of August. Even though I’ve lived in Vancouver for five years and am openly bisexual, I’ve still never been to a pride parade. This was going to be the year that changed. My girlfriend has been begging me to go for months but I was hesitant. I don’t really like parades, I hate the heat, and I’m terrified of crowds. Therefore, it really doesn’t sound like my thing. The purpose of this happiness project is to challenge myself to be happier though, so, despite my fears, I was going to go to pride this year with my girlfriend and her roommate, but you know what they say about good intentions…

In my defence, it’s not that I decided I didn’t want to go anymore, we all just decided to celebrate pride in a different way. My girlfriend was going through a bit of a rough time and her roommate didn’t have a good time at Pride last year so they asked me how I would feel about a beach day instead and I jumped at that. All the people would be hanging out downtown at English Bay, so we decided to go to Ambleside in West Van instead and it was pretty quiet which was great. So no, I didn’t go to the parade, but I thought three bisexuals having a great day at the beach was a lovely way to celebrate pride. 

I’m usually pretty hard on myself so this month I decided to try to take as much pride in my accomplishments as I could. I challenged myself to post about something I’ve proud of every day on social media. I’ll admit that I didn’t actually complete this challenge. I got about three weeks into it and then I got so busy and overwhelmed that I stopped posting the last week. That doesn’t mean I’m not proud of myself though. It was hard to come up with something every day and yet I still did. Now they weren’t always the deepest thing, because the stuff I was really proud of could be hard to post. I’m proud of the days I got out of bed even when I didn’t want to. I’m proud of every time I chose to eat healthily or work out. I’m proud of so much more than I can even say here. So even though I didn’t manage to post a picture every day, I did reach my goal because it got me to think about all the things I’m proud of myself for. 

Another thing I wanted to make sure I did this month was frame a couple of my certificates and hang them on my wall. I have a certificate saying I completed Nanowrimo last year (a challenge where I had to write 50k words in a month) as well as a certificate for completing a cognitive behavioural therapy practitioner course. I didn’t think they meant much, but then I hung them on my wall and realized what big accomplishments they were. 

The biggest thing I did this month was to allow myself to take pride in myself and my cosplays. I’m not a big birthday party person, I tend to ignore my birthday, but this year I was turning 25 on the 25th and I figured if there was any birthday I should celebrate, it was that one. So not only did I plan a birthday party, I planned a masquerade cosplay ball. Cosplay is something I love but I tend to shrug it off as if my costumes I make are no big deal. I made Emma Swan’s red ball gown from the season three finale of Once Upon a Time in a week by myself and I wanted to finally show it off and be allowed to brag about it. So I did, and I am so proud of it. 

This challenge may have been hard but I think it was necessary to start with it. Being proud of myself gave me the confidence to throw myself into the next eleven months of this project. Join me next month when I explore my September theme: adventure. 

If you want to see any of the “pride” pictures I posted this month you can follow me on Instagram at @alicenricard

The Happiness Project

There’s a reason self-help books are one of the highest selling genres of books. I know a lot of people frown upon them and think that people who read them are “weak” or “desperate” but it’s just not true. There are self-help books for everything, and I think that’s fantastic. I personally love anything motivational and inspirational and that’s why I’ve started reading more of these books. 

Earlier this year I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and was so inspired by it that I decided to create my own Happiness Project. Now for those of you who haven’t read the book what Gretchen did was dedicate a year of her life to being happier. She had a different theme for every month and within those themes she had goals.

I’m not a huge fan of starting things on January 1 because it feels too much like a New Years Resolution to me, and I tend to always break those. So instead, because my year of rejections has ended, I decided to make this a birthday year, starting in August,  instead of a calendar year. 

I’m not going to get too much into what I’m doing every month since I’m going to write a blog post at the end of each month, however, I’m going to give you a sneak peek of the theme for every month. 

  • August: Pride
  • September: Adventure
  • October: Passion
  • November: Solo
  • December: Joy
  • January: Power
  • February: Remembrance
  • March: Play 
  • April: Humour
  • May: Advocacy 
  • June: Fear
  • July: Explore

I hope you’ll all enjoy my journey for the next year I’m finding my own happiness and trying new things. Subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss out on any of my adventures for the next year.