Morcom Amphitheater of Roses

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” Dale Carnegie

When I think of my ultimate “room with a view,” it usually involves pictures I’ve seen on Pinterest of

Just search “palm trees” and
Pinterest shows you the good stuff

beach views with palm trees or city skylines.  Actually, this view has been my personal measurement for success since I could remember. Anyone who knows me knows my one goal in life – to own a house with a palm tree in the front yard.

Sometimes, reality strikes in and I see my real view from the patio sliding doors: it’s 15 ft. away from another building looking at the window of another apartment. And it’s also part of a sound tunnel where I can hear everything that moves outside (or during the summer when windows are open) as well as conversations inside other people’s apartments.

Even though this view sounds quite city-life dismal, I like it. Because right now, I have a private patio with an urban jungle of hanging plants and I also have a rose garden. 

Morcom Amphitheater of Roses

Exactly two blocks away, tucked deep into the depths of North Oakland, there’s Morcom Rose Amphitheater. It’s en route to Safeway, and each time I walk through the garden I almost feel like I’m a princess in a fairy tale. And also a princess who exercises – those steps are no joke. It’s not the front yard palm tree I so desire, but it’s a great alternative in the meantime!

My Safeway

Steps and steps and steps

Enjoy Those Roses or Die (as advised by a Rare Dame)

Once I have “X,Y,Z” then I’ll finally be happy…
It’s common practice that once we achieve X,Y & Z, we’ll be happy and can to start living life. So we set unattainable goals and make sacrifices for awhile, but ultimately quit because we hate the journey. And here’s a secret: happiness after achieving “X,Y & Z” is like a rainbow – it’s only to be seen and never to be caught. The effect of us constantly chasing something that doesn’t exist and hating life while doing it contaminates our thoughts. Slowly, like a frog in water that increasingly becomes hot, these negative thoughts will kill us inside.

Why do we reach for these unattainable goals?
Whether it’s the E! channel reality shows we watch, the magazines we read. or the next door neighbor’s car that we’re jealous of…we want things. And these things will make us happy. And once we’re happy, we can finally start enjoying life.

For example, I want to be rich. Well, when you think of the world as a whole, I actually am rich. I live in America, have clean water and a safe place to live filled with stuff I don’t use everyday. But no, I want to be independently rich, travel the world and not have a care in the world. So to achieve this goal, I create a strict budget to stick to, work hard to get promoted and only purchase the necessities until I achieve my “independent wealthiness.” But how much is enough? When do I stop? And btw, sticking to a budget sucks. This whole process has quite a few side effects.

Possible effects of reaching for a rainbow and setting unattainable goals.
    a) If you’re not working towards your goal, you feel guilty, and then you feel bad, then you give up. This is followed by overcompensation and spending more than you did before you began. Re-start the cycle again.
    b) You go into perfection overdrive, annoying all those around you. You achieve the goal (yeah!) and then eventually hate the life you thought was going to make you happy. And then you feel lost. And complacent. Aaanndd, this is where the heavy drinking starts…
    c) You try really hard but give up too early, then start hating on those who actually do achieve the same goal. You feel embarrassed and like a failure. You end up bitter and cold on the inside.
    All of the above) All throughout the process, you take things for granted and start seeing all of the bad, none of the good.

5 Ways to Enjoy Life Everyday

1. Set realistic goals that are attainable yet challenging. Work on them everyday, even if it’s for 5 minutes. For example, I want to be out of debt in 5 years (this is a better place to start before the “independent wealthiness” dream).
2. Have a system to keep you on track. For example, get an accountability partner/life coach to discuss challenges with and encourage you along the way. Or use a “swear jar” to help correct bad habits and put the money in a savings account. Work hard to figure out what system works for you!
3. Appreciate where you are today and how far you’ve come. At this step, most days you’re happy & confident about this goal. Yes, some days are harder than others but you’re making strides towards freedom.
4. Remind yourself of why you’re doing this everyday with a vision board, life mission or quote you put on the bathroom mirror. Look forward to where you’re going, but enjoy every step along the way!
5. Change course if these 4 things don’t work. It’s ok – just know this plan is not for you. Either re-adjust or abandon it completely then create a new plan. Who cares? At least you tried and there’s no regrets!

(FYI, this process is how I became debt-free after 4 years and eventually able to save enough cash to enjoy a summer vacation in Europe. However, I’m not quite independently wealthy yet…)

In closing, don’t forget to appreciate where you are today by practicing gratitude. Aim for where you want to be tomorrow by making plans. And of course, a few grumpy days are still ahead, but choose to be grateful despite the grumpiness. And that will help you enjoy the roses and lighten your mood along the way. 

Tell me. What’s your “rose garden?”