29 for 29: Things That Make Me Happy, Birthday Edition

“We’re going to a party. It’s a birthday party. It’s your birthday party. Happy birthday darling! We love you very, very, very, very, very much!”

twenty-nine years. as i told the 'gram, being this close to thirty just makes me want to take myspace pics.

twenty-nine years old. as i told the ‘gram, being this close to thirty just makes me want to take myspace pics.

Today is the beginning of the last year of my 20’s! I’m drawing inspiration from my fellow Aquarian-sister, Sayward, who just did a birthday post offering “33 [Little] Things [she] Loves at Age 33.” Because I tend to do mini love-lists/things that make me happy lists on Fridays anyway, I thought I’d do a special birthday post providing 29 Things That Make Me Happy. Not just from the week, but from this wonderful era of 20-something-dom. Enjoy. xoxo

1. Yoga.

First thing that came to mind, of course. It changed me profoundly and I honestly can’t imagine my life without it. I fell in love with it at age 24 (first it was Bikram, then hot Vinyasa), and never looked back.

2. Pop-punk/folk-punk and other music that is made by the kinds of bands that play dirty basement house shows with a bunch of punk rock kids drinking PBR and finger-pointing.

This kind of music first stirred my soul in my teenage years, but it never ceases to make me feel young and posi and alive in the best ways. Here are some of my faves.

3. Female Friendship.

Sorry to hit you over the head with it a la Girls, but this shit is real, yo. Being catty towards other ladies is terribly anti-feminist and gets us nowhere. I am *so* grateful for my lady-friendships, and even though I don’t believe in the gender binary and have amazing friendships with men and gender-variant folks, there is something special about lady-identified people sharing friendtime with other lady-identified people. (Extra points if it’s a bunch of femme-identified ladies!). I am absurdly lucky to have some of the most amazing women in my life from all four of my homes.

4. Having Many “Homes.”

I’ve talked about this as something that makes me very sad, but truth be told, it’s also something that makes me happy. The fact that I have pockets of love in so many different zip codes just makes me feel like the world is smaller in a good way. (I love you Cleveland, Chicago, Minneapolis, and, yes, even Boston.)

5. Music That Makes Me Want to Dirty Dance.

This song, for example.

6. Poetry.

There was this thing going around on facebook that encouraged people to post poems, then assign poets to friends, and it led to my feed being full of so many beautiful words.  This site is kind of a greatest hits collection.

7. Theory.

To quote bell hooks: “I came to theory because I was hurting – the pain within me was so intense that I could not go on living. I came to theory desperate, wanting to comprehend – to grasp what was happening around and within me. Most importantly, I wanted to make the hurt go away. I saw in theory then a location for healing.” Real talk. Thank goodness I found my way to the academy and to activism. I can’t imagine a life without the kind of critical framework I’ve adapted through school and political organizing.

8. Resistance.

I do it as a woman, as a queer woman, and a working-class woman. And I’m surrounded by amazing people who do it everyday, navigating a society that disenfranchises queer people, people of color, immigrants, and all the other social locations of oppression.  I’m so grateful to see people fighting back on a daily basis, structurally and interpersonally. <3powertothepeople<3

9. Smoothies and Juices (and my Vita-Mix and my Juicer).

This might seem shallow, but I can’t imagine mornings without a smoothie or a juice, and when my (very generous) ex gifted me a juicer and vita-mix, it was kind of life changing. Very grateful and happy about these additions to my 20s.

10. Hippie Vegan Restaurants.

I know where they are in each of my cities. Shout-outs to Tao, Life Alive, Karyn’s Raw, and Mustard Seed, to name a few. Thanks for feeding me noms that are cruelty-free and don’t make my tummy upset!

11. Bodies of Water.

Bodies of water do things to me. Living in walking or running distance to the Lake in Chicago was one of the biggest reasons that Chicago is and always will be my favorite city. Growing up by Lake Eerie in Cleveland meant more to me than I realized. Having lakes to run around (and skate on!) in Minnesota kept me sane. Sadly, I’m not in walking distance to any water in Boston, but every time I go downtown and pass the river, I just feel moved.

11. Baby Rory

I’ve talked about my first-best-friend’s baby, Rory, on the blog before, and he definitely deserves a place on this list. I cannot be around this child without being completely full of joy. He is a delight and I am so happy I get to be his auntie!


12. Blog friends.

It sounds kind of silly, but I really love the gal pals I’ve made through this blog. This means you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you (and so many more!). Not only has it been fun to keep this blog for myself, but it’s been such a wonderful way to connect with people who have common interests/feelings/thoughts. It makes you feel less alone, you know? Luff. <3

13. Teaching.

I love teaching yoga, of course, but my real calling is teaching college. Just in this first week of classes, I’ve already had students come up to me to say I’ve changed their perspective and that the class is “so exciting” (not always an adjective given to school, right?). We’ve already had conversations about how to dismantle white supremacy and the importance of understanding our positionalities in relations to systems of power. They’ve analyzed commercials to point out cissexism and shared stories of when they first realized they embodied a particular (socially constructed) racial category. All in week one! Whew! I live for this stuff. I think it might actually make a teeny tiny dent in making the world better. And, more selfishly, it’s so damn fun!

14. Pets.

I have to keep this one short, because at the current moment, I do not have custody of my kitty, so I’m typing this with a lump in my throat as thick as a rock. But all my pets—from childhood on to my first cats as a quasi-adult in college through my last sweet baby girl cat—have enhanced my life tenfold. That’s all I can muster about that right now, but they sure do make me happy in general.

15. Laughing.

This is best when shared with friends you’ve known forever, often reminiscing about something ridiculous you adventured in the past. But I’ll take it in any form—(including really stupid comedies; speaking of, someone PLEASE go see Anchorman 2 with me, stat!).

16. Public Transportation.

I spent my formative years falling in and out of love on the El-train in Chicago. There is nothing more romantic than experiencing life’s superlatives on a urine-soaked subway, wheels rattling against the tracks below you, with strangers by your side. That’s not sarcasm. Urine-stink or not, public transit taught me about non-separation long before yoga and opened me up to the grittiest kind of empathy. You really see people on those train rides….Plus, I hate driving and they are good for the environment. So many wins.

17. Lipstick.

Yes, the difference between pitbulls and hockey moms sort of makes my day. Just look how many selfies I take of my mouth when I’m done up in my favorite red.



18. Family.

It’s pretty simple: my family is great and supportive and I love all of them dearly.

19. Going to the Movies.

I like this best with my mom. It was a big part of my childhood, movie-going. I like the popcorn-reeking, Vegas-style megaplexes in the suburbs as much as the cute, old-fashioned indie theaters in the city. I like the previews. I like the anticipation. I like two-ish hours that I’m not distracted by my phone. I like the stories. I like how they move me.

20. Greens.

Kale, spinach, arugula, and dandelion greens are among my favorite, but really any giant bowl of leafy greens make me happy and make me feel oh-so-good.

21. Holidays (& Theme-Appropriateness).

If you know me IRL or have been reading the blog, you know exactly what I mean and how real it is.

22. Coffee Shops.

Specifically, doing my academic work at coffee shops. I wouldn’t have been able to finish my dissertation without having a place to write where I could drink tea and be around other people. Like the El, coffee shops make me fall in love with basically everyone (and not in the sexy way—in the, like, “I am overwhelmed with gratitude to be a part of this earth that I share with these humans who are just like me in so many ways, even when they are so very different.”).

20140124-160400.jpg23. Book Clubs.

Grad school was in itself kind of a giant book club—we read a ton of shit then discuss it—but there is something so adorable and wonderful about actual book clubs. I’m in two right now. One that is yoga-centric and the other is 20-something ladies with feminist-orientations-centric.

24. Routine.

I just wrote about how much this means to me. In addition to food prep, I don’t know what I’d do without my exercise and yoga routine, morning lemon water routine, and cleaning the house routine. It’s just so nice to have a constant when so many things….aren’t.

25. My Heart.

It is an Aquarius heart.  Covered with walls, but intensely vulnerable. More than anything, it is resilient. And I’m so thankful. <3

26. Snail Mail.

I am tickled both sending and receiving things from the under-appreciated USPS. Be my pen-pal?

27. Skylines.

Chicago wins, hands down, but I’ve come to appreciate the skyline in all of my cities. If you couldn’t tell, I’m kind of a city-girl through and through. (I always loved this Jane Jacobs quote: “Our songs and our cities are the best things about us. Songs and cities are so indispensable.”)

28. Those Times When Things Go Your Way.

Like when you find parking in the busiest part of Cambridge, or find the last quarter you need for laundry in your couch cushion, or when you are wearing your cutest outfit on the day you end up in the background of some news story. I just love those moments. : )

29. High-Waisted Shorts.



What’s making you happy lately? xoox

16 thoughts on “29 for 29: Things That Make Me Happy, Birthday Edition

  1. lacy j davis says:

    I can’t help but think that we should definitely meet in IRL some day. yoga! dirty punk rock! theory! we’re teachers! we’re feminists! we’re vegan! WE LOVE HIGH WAISTED SHORTS!

    this list made me feel great to read, and i am going to write you a letter ASAP. I’ll be asking for your address soon!

  2. Sayward Rebhal says:

    Wow! What’s making me happy lately is this list! Holy moly lady. You quote bell hooks, I swoon! This whole list is amazing and I am so happy I followed the trackback and found your blog. =)

    Oh, and happy birthday!

    Oh and also, do you by any chance listen to citizen radio?

    • raechel says:

      Oh thank you so much, Sayward! I could always tell we’d have a lot in common if we ever had a chance to hang out in real life. Maybe it will happen someday!

      I hadn’t listened to Citizen Radio, but I just went to the website to check it out and I’m already kind of obsessed! Thank you for mentioning it!!!!! : )

  3. Jess says:

    Hope you’re having a great birthday. Haha I totally hear you about the myspace pics! One of the many reasons I’m so happy to have gotten to know you through blogging. This is such a wonderful list, and I also love that you opened with a line from that song!

    Another little thing making me happy: contentedly drinking ginger kombucha as I make red lentil chili in my tiny studio kitchen on a cold night. Also, knowing that I am putting bourbon in said chili ups the happy factor even more.

  4. Natalia says:

    I am so late to the party Raechel, but I hope you had a lovely bday and your 29th year on this planet brings you All The Good Things! And I am so grateful to blogging too for bringing more great women into my life :) xoxo

  5. angela says:

    I am extra late to the party but I wanted to wish you a very happy belated! Thanks for the mention, you are incredibly sweet! I agree with so many of these loves on your list. I wish I could be your college student! I’m sure your class(es) are amazing <3

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s