Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Best Job in the World

Photo: CNN.com

Hello Optimists,

Job searching is pretty fierce these days. With unemployment lingering around 10% in the U.S., people are getting pretty desperate when it comes to finding work. But it seems like all hope isn't lost for those looking to find their dream job. You've probably heard last year about Australia's "best job in the world" campaign, in which the Australia Tourism Queensland was searching for someone to spend six months on Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef and blog about it to promote tourism. Yeah, real back-breaking work that must have been. And if you think it couldn't get any better, the person was paid $140,000.

Well it seems that someone is out to bring that job some competition, if that's even possible. I found an article on CNN yesterday that almost topped the Australia project. So how would you feel about being a
Honeymoon Tester? Yes, you heard me, and it's exactly as it sounds. An Irish travel agency has a "job opening" in which the lucky employees will be whisked off to romantic locations for six months and blog about their experiences a few times a week. The couple will be paid $27,000- a mere drop in the bucket compared to the salary of the Australian campaign winner. But I think they'll be able to manage. There is pretty much nothing I'd rather do than be paid to "test" vacation spots...that's like being a permanent fixture in a Corona commercial. I don't exactly know how good "Honeymoon Tester" would look on a resume, but I'd accept this gig in a flash.

I'm pretty sure these employees will never suffer from the Monday Blues or even celebrate T.G.I.F., but I sure bet they will be excited for their job each and every day. But that's the reason this is the best job in the world. Now while we can't all be professional beach bums, we all have the potential to get into a career we love. If what we're doing doesn't excite us, we probably won't get very far. (After reading about this Honeymoon Tester job, I'm sure that nothing will excite us now, but still...) Anyway, I found a great quote that I thought would be the perfect pick-me-up that might help push away some of that jealousy we'll be feeling for those Honeymooners.

I feel sorry for the person who can't get genuinely excited about his work. Not only will he never be satisfied, but he will never achieve anything worthwhile. -Walter Chrysler
This is a really great quote and one that we should keep in mind all the time. If we're not excited about what we do for a living, if we're not happy to be walking into the office everyday, if we can't talk to our friends about the great things that are happening within our company, then we really never will be satisfied nor will we be able to achieve great things. This kind of ties back into my post about passion  from earlier in the week- we've got to give 100% and be confident in what we're doing.

So whether your employed, unemployed, or looking for a job, remember this quote and know how important it is to be excited about what you decide to do in life. We all look for satisfaction and achievement in all aspects of our lives, and being happy with our jobs is the best way to achieve these things in our professional life.

Keep Smiling,




P.S. Think this Honeymoon Tester job sounds too good to be true? Check out the article!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Life is For Living

Photo: willowmtg.com

Hello Optimists,

I was at the gym yesterday, gliding away on the eliptical, and plugged my headphones into the TV jack to watch Oprah. Nothing keeps me from watching Oprah! Usually I don't tune into the TV while I'm at the gym- I usually find it a bit distracting- but I am sure glad I decided to watch yesterday's show. If you didn't catch it, it was all about "Raquel Welch's Secrets to Aging Brilliantly". And boy, has she ever. When she said she was turning 70 this year, I almost fell off the eliptical. No lie. 70?! Are you kidding me? Regaining my composure, I listened intently at what she had to say, and I must admit, she is more than a pretty face...she really had some great things to say.

So besides getting to watch an interview with one of the most beautiful women on the planet, the show featured a bunch of women who are taking their age as nothing more than a number. Though Raquel was the guest of the day, four other women ranging in age from 50's to 90's gave some words of advice to those younger than them on the most important lessons they've learned in life and how to stay "young". First of all, I was blown away at how wonderful they all looked- you wouldn't ever guess their ages if they weren't displayed on the screen- but more importantly, I was really really inspired by what advice they had to offer. 85-year old Irene was interviewed and asked to give her advice to young women and her response really had an impact on me. Her words had insight and true wisdom...I guess what they say is really true: "Wisdom comes with age". I was impressed and I knew that this had to be the featured quote for today's post.
Be like a willow tree. A willow tree will, in storm, bow down to the ground... but after the storm it will come up. An oak tree is rigid and stiff and it can crack. -Irene
A willow tree, huh? Well, I never thought of them that way. I always thought they were quite beautiful, but I can honestly say I have never once thought of comparing them to my disposition. But, thanks to Irene, I can now completely understand this. We need to be able to adapt to our surroundings, to lay low when a "storm" passes through...and then we need to be able to spring back up once the air has cleared. Being  big, strong, and rigid is not always the best; it leaves you with no room to adapt... and eventually, you're going to develop some cracks.

Here's the link to the Words of Wisdom video from yesterday's episode of Oprah. I encourage you to watch it (it's only a minute long) and I hope you are as inspired as I was. If you get nothing else from this piece, take note that the one thing these ladies all have in common is that they know that life is for living. It doesn't matter how old you are or what physical ailments may be holding you back. What matters is that you live each day to the fullest and that you do what makes you happy.

Keep Smiling,
Related Post: Read my It's My Birthday post to learn how to make your years count!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Passionate About Passion


Photo courtesy of L.yric on Flickr
Hello Optimists,

I was reading a blog yesterday called Looking for My Life and I really liked what the author had to say. The post I read, entitled "Passion is Power", describes how being passionate about things makes you motivated to do what you want, gives you energy to pursue that passion, and empowers others to do the same. I couldn't agree more with what this author had to say and I think passion is something we all have buried deep inside of us. But only until we figure out what it is that taps into that passion can we truly be happy. You should check out that post and see what you think.

So this got me thinking more about passion and the important role it plays in our lives. When we think of people that are "passionate" about something, we usually think of those that have dedicated years of their life to something and, usually, are successful in their endeavors. When we think passion, we think devotion, we think drive, we think zeal. These are all great qualities to have and are usually the ones that lead to success...and happiness. When we do the things we are most passionate about, the work that is involved is not "work", the investments spent on improvements are not thought of as expenses, and our constant need to learn more never ceases.

I wanted to feature a great quote today about passion, and I had to look no further than the post from Looking for My Life. I think it is perfect for this topic and I wanted to share it with you today...
Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion. -Hebbel
Sure, we can open a business just for the profits, or we can get college degrees in majors that get us jobs with the highest salaries, but if we're not passionate about those things, nothing great will come of it. Okay, so your pockets might be nice and full, but if you're not standing behind that, proud as can be that you are a part of something that makes your heart tick, then what good has it done? In order to accomplish something really great, we need to have that drive to fuel our energy. Not only will we feel alive, but we will inspire and motivate others to find what they are most passionate about. 

But what if we don't really have something we're passionate about? What if we're trying hard to find something but just can't quite figure out what it is? Well then, we need to be passionate about finding our passion. We shouldn't just settle with what we have if it doesn't give us something to look forward to every day. If we don't wake up excited and looking forward to the things we have to do in the day, then maybe we haven't yet tapped into that inner passion. So take some time today and think about what really makes you feel alive and try to incorporate ways to make that part of your every day life. 

Keep Smiling,



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Friday, March 26, 2010

The Simple Things

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Hello Optimists,

I try as often as I can to appreciate the little things in life...and I have found that the things we often overlook and take for granted are some of the most beautiful things life has to offer. It was to my surprise that I found a post the other day about this very subject: enjoying the small pleasures in life. The author listed 101 of her favorite "small pleasures", things we normally don't take into consideration on a daily basis, but are nonetheless, directly related to our happiness. It was quite a long list, but as I scanned through it, I found many things that I too find to be the greatest simple pleasures we encounter throughout our lives. Take for instance, #62: Green lights all the way home, #48 Singing along to the radio and knowing all the words, #77 The cold side of a pillow, or how about the ever-so-appropriate #30 Inspiring blogs. These things, though not essential to existence, are guaranteed to always put us in a good mood and put a smile on our faces. They have nothing to do with buying things, spending/earning money, or being recognized for something...they are just little things that make us smile.

I began to think of some things that I would put on my own list, though there wasn't much left to think of after reading through 101 in that article. But I did come up with a few that, for me personally, are small pleasures that I try to never overlook...so in no particular order, here's my little list:

1. Puppy's breath
2. Capturing the perfect candid photo
3. Seeing your reflection in the mirror and, for a moment, thinking it was your mom/dad
4. The warmth of the sun on your skin
5. A baby's laugh
6. The smell of a library book
7. The sound of someone's cannon ball splash in the pool
8. Laundry straight out of the dryer
9. Turning to a new month on the calendar
10. Silence (or should I say "silence")

I think what's so great about this is that though we may find that we have some things in common, I bet all of our lists would have many different things on them. And if you're having a hard time thinking of the little things to write down or that you don't have time to acknowledge these stupid little things, what you may find is that you need to simplify your life. Step away from your laptop, put away your iPhone, put your work on hold for just a few minutes....and think about the simple pleasures that life is giving us. After doing some thinking of my own and coming up with the list above, I remembered a quote about simplifying life and the difference it can make. It's like that relaxing and rejuvenating feeling we get when we go to get a massage or take a nap in a hammock; taking out all of the chaos leaves us with a raw view of the world...with no strings attached.
As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness. -Henry David Thoreau
So take a moment today to simplify your life...it is Friday after all, so what better a time to do that?! Unwind from the long week and forget about all the complicated stuff that takes up too much of your time. Keep this quote in mind the next time you're feeling a bit too busy, a bit too rushed, and when you come to the realization that life is merely passing you by. When this happens, don't think about what you should write on your To-Do list, or what to add to the grocery list. Rather, this is when you need to take the time to make a list of your own 101 simple pleasures. It feels good to just sit down and write about what makes you smile.

What would be on your list?

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

P.S. Read the original article here

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pledge for Better Health


Hello Optimists,

Yesterday I came across a great little thing: The GE Pledge for Better Health in honor of National Women's Health Week. It's such a simple yet uplifting little thing to do to pledge your commitment to a better and healthier life- for you or your family. All you have to do is enter your pledge and your first name and zip code and your submission is instantly entered into their interactive map of pledges. Then, for some fun, you can check out the pledges of other people all around the nation to see what inspiring things they're up to!

Most people think of "better health" in the context of fitness and diet, but health is also associated with mental and emotional health. So while there were pledges to "eat the right foods", "walk every day", and "hit the gym more often", there were also several pledges that concerned mental health. I read pledges to "smile more", "be a better mommy", "laugh with my friends".....they were all great! I of course, pledged to be an optimist, and I know you might be thinking that's nothing new, it is something I work on every day. It's so uplifting to see that people all around the nation are promising to doing little things to improve their life, as this commitment is the first step toward achieving their goal. After reading through a couple pledges on the map, I remembered a quote about commitments that I had once read and thought it would be perfect to share in today's post.
A total commitment is paramount to reaching the ultimate performance. -Tom Flores
Well then, I think all of those who pledged are on their way to reaching their ultimate performance. But this quote really is true; unless we can make a total commitment- I'm talking 100% here- then we can't expect to perform at our best. We have to make sure that we can give it all we've got and be aware of the things we need to improve on to be able to be out best.

So I encourage you to follow that link and make a Pledge for Better Health. Taking that first step towards the commitment will motivate you to keep it going and follow through until you've reached your goal. Spread the word...send your friends this link to get them involved!

Well, I've told you my pledge...what's yours? Leave some comments to get a list going of all of our Pledges for Better Health!

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Has Sprung


Hello Optimists,

It's official; spring has sprung. And thank goodness for that! You all know how much I was anticipating the arrival of this glorious season (or at least, the departure of winter!) but I think we are all welcoming spring in with open arms. It's just great to listen to the birds chirp, to wear sunglasses to actually shade the sun and not the reflection of the snow, and most of all, to have a day of free Rita's Ice! I don't think there is a better way to kick off the season that to get some free Italian ice. In fact, I was so excited that I accompanied my sister and her husband this weekend on a 12.5 mile bike ride just to get our hands on some ice...and let me tell you, all that riding was totally worth it. That Swedish Fish ice is to. die. for.

Aside from the return of spring and summer's wonderful edible treats, I also noticed that another non-edible treat was brought in with the start of spring: blooming flowers. Though I am not quite sure if I have the "green thumb", I do appreciate the beauty of flowers. My mom is the one who wants to be a farmer when she grows up, so she was especially excited to see the little stems poking through the soil this past week. And I have to hand it to my parents; our yard looks so beautiful every year when the flowers are in full bloom...but it's an awful lot of work! Gardening is usually considered to be a pastime, just a hobby that people pick up. But if you think about it, the gardeners are the reason the flowers blossom and why spring is always so beautiful.

As I was thinking about all of this, I remembered a quote about gardeners that spoke not only of the flowers that they help to grow in the garden, but also about the "flowers" they help to grow in all of our lives.
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. -Marcel Proust
This is truly a beautiful quote. We must always be grateful for the people in our lives who make us happy, those who make us smile, and those who really make our souls blossom. There's a difference between being comfortable associating with people and truly being happy with the people you share you life with. You can really tell when you're around someone who makes your soul smile....and most likely, those are the people who have planted a seed in your soul and have helped it to grow. We need to be thankful for these people each and every day, because without all of their hard work, your flowers might not be breaking through that soil at the first sign of spring.

So as you look out into your garden this week and watch the flowers grow, keep in mind the flowers that we all have inside and be thankful to those that make our day the best and happiest we could have hoped for.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Good Habit


Hello Optimists,

I was reading an article yesterday about making optimism a habit. The overall message was to consciously monitor your thoughts, and every time you notice a negative thought floating through your mind, erase it. I know, easier said than done. But our thoughts are the one thing that no one can take away from us, that no one can reject, and we get the opportunity to have them all to ourselves. So why not make the best of them? Instead of letting those negative things take hold of a situation, switch your thoughts to the positive and think of the good things that can come out of it. Practice this until you start thinking like an optimist...

Now, I'm usually one to try to break free of routine, but this is one area that I think we should make a habit of. I think it helps us see things more clearly and it helps to broaden our perspective on things. It certainly takes some work to think like this, but as they say, practice makes perfect.

I came across today's quote a few days ago and thought it would be perfect to feature for today's post. I've come across many great quotes from this person but this one in particular made an impression on me, and I hope it will make an impression on you too.
I am an optimist. It does not seem of too much use to be anything else. -Winston Churchill
I think Sir Winston was quite right. It really isn't worth it to be anything else...think about it: the life of an optimist is pretty great. With all of the crazy things going on in the world, the economic downturn, difficult personal and health issues, and all of the depressing stories we hear on the news, optimists have the mindset to acknowledge these problems while staying positive about all of these situations. We all want to be happy in life, to look at things in a new light and be an inspiration to others. And who better to do this than optimists?

If it's so easy to make a habit out of other things like smoking, biting your nails, talking with your mouth full, or watching TV before bed, why not make a habit out of something you can benefit from...like positive thinking? Seems to me like that's an easy choice, but doing it is where the hard work comes in. Make the choice to be an optimist. I bet you'll be surprised at how differently you view things, and before you know it, you'll agree with Winston Churchill in that it's not of much use to be anything else.


Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist


P.S. Here's the link to the article I read about how to make optimism a habit 

Monday, March 22, 2010

It's My 100th Post!


Hello Optimists,

Today is my 100th post! I can't believe I have already written so much, and to be honest, I thought I might run out of steam somewhere along the way here... but here I am, already 100 posts in. I must say that I'm pretty excited about it- so thank you for reading and for all of your thoughtful comments and feedback!

Just a few months ago this blog was just an idea in my head, something I'd been thinking about for a while,  but for some reason, I was too afraid to give it a try. I didn't think I knew enough about blogging, or that my writing and content would be appealing to many people... but sometimes you've just got to give things a try. And I sure am glad that I did. Not only have I made a lot of blogger friends, I've learned that there are a lot of others out there who I have many things in common with and share my thoughts and ideas. But most of all, I am happy because I am achieving a goal that I set for myself. Even though this isn't my job and I'm not getting paid for it, I have made a commitment to writing a new post every weekday. I started out small with my first post, just some thoughts typed out on a page with the hopes of making a difference in someone's day, and now, 99 posts later, I have really learned so much and have established a style of writing, an interest in reading other blogs, and a sincere passion for this little hobby of mine. It makes me smile when I read the lovely comments I get on some of my posts because it reminds me that I am really making a difference.

So I wanted today's quote to be a very special one, a quote that makes us realize that by committing to something and putting your mind to it, we can accomplish the things we set out to do and feel proud that we've made a difference. I think this quote does just that...
When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better. 
This is very true. In my case in particular, before I started writing (when I was doing nothing to put my blog idea to work), I had several doubts about starting a blog and honestly felt overwhelmed and powerless when it came to the topic. But when I finally sat down and just did it (got involved) I was instantly filled with a sense of hope and accomplishment. I really was doing something, I was letting my voice be heard...and before I knew it, I had new friends and followers who reminded me that I really was working to make things better.

So sometimes we choose to ignore that little voice inside our heads that is telling us to go for it but we're too busy thinking about what could go wrong and why it won't work to really allow our idea to shine through. Sometimes we just need to jump in and get involved in the things we're passionate about...those feelings of confusion and powerlessness will float away...and the rest will take care of itself.

Thank you again for reading and for sharing your thoughts with me along the way. Here's to 100 more!

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pieces of Me


Hello Optimists,

Happy Friday! I always look forward to Fridays, mainly because I know the fun of the weekend is about to begin, but also because as a Blogger, there are always Friday Follows, Friday Blog Hops, and Aloha Fridays to help give us Bloggers the opportunity to connect with others and read some new material. I wish I had found out about this earlier because I think it's really great! Every Friday I look forward to scrolling through the hundreds of new blogs posted and finding new ones to read and new people to connect with. It's like having a block party over the internet.

I initially found out about this while trying to find new ways to get the word out about my blog. I've read dozens of articles about blog marketing, SEO, and other computer-geek posts. I tried to write posts that I thought other people would like, things that would attract other readers. I struggled to produce posts because I wasn't writing for me, I was writing for my readers...readers I wasn't even sure existed.

But after finding out about Friday Follow and learning about all the other great blogs and bloggers out there, I realized that it's not just about getting noticed. It's about producing quality content, connecting with others who share the same ideas, and writing about the things you are passionate about. After all, your writing is a reflection of your thoughts, your feelings and your beliefs, and being true to yourself in these areas is what matters most. This is what will get a blog noticed, not using the right keywords or paying for advertisements.

Of course, I found the perfect quote to go along with this realization and I'm excited to share it with you today...
Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. -Cyril Connolly
I think the same goes for not only blogs, but really for anything in life. We've got to put ourselves first and be sure to recognize the reflection of our being in all of our projects. Whether it be at work, in school, or while writing a new blog post, we have to stop thinking about what others will be thinking about and concentrate on what it means to us. Doing things because it appeals to a larger audience but not to ourselves won't really benefit us....it might work well for a while, but after that, you will find that there's something important missing. We should do things that appeal to us first, and then worry about who else it is being noticed by. I guarantee that your work will be better, more sincere, and be of more worth to you than it would be if you were just writing to write. I certainly found this out, and I've been really happy with what I've been writing because it has little pieces of me in it.

So whether you're a fellow blogger or not, make sure that everything you do in life is first done because you are passionate about it and you want to do it.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Laying Your Foundation


Hello Optimists,

I was watching The View yesterday and Kate Gosselin was joining the ladies as a guest host. It seems like just yesterday she was the mom in "Jon and Kate Plus Eight", but more recently, she has been in the spotlight for her recent divorce, her hair 'do (or hair don't) and her new "celeb" status. Now she's set to be on this season's Dancing with the Stars...and I'm still trying to figure out why. But that's a different story. 

The ladies on The View got to talking about how the media and paparazzi are not scrutinizing every little detail of her life and how difficult it is now for her to even go out in public. As I watched, I was thinking about how crazy it must be to have your every little action photographed and be followed by people looking to "dig up some dirt". But then again, isn't all of this what made her "famous"? I guess I have to hand it to her then, because despite all that's happened, her face is still being plastered all over magazines and on E!, plus she's a "star" on DWTS. Not such a bad deal after all. After everything that has gone on in her life and all the bad press she's gotten over the last few years, she has managed to turn that all around and make a name for herself. Of course, we won't discuss the ethics behind all of this, because we know for sure that's up for debate. But her ability to turn the bad into the good reminded me of a quote I once read about that very thing, and I thought it would be perfect for today's post...
A successful man is one who can lay a foundation with the bricks that others have thrown at him. -David Brinkley
Ok, so maybe Kate Gosselin isn't the best example of this, but you have to admit, she has built a solid foundation for herself. This goes to show that sometimes life can be harsh and we need to learn to deal with some things that aren't exactly working out the way we had planned. Some people are going to be try to take us down and do everything in their power to keep us from reaching our highest potential. But, we've got to be able to recognize who these people are, and take the negative things that they are adding to our lives and turn them into positive things. We've got to lay the foundation with the bricks they've thrown at us. This certainly isn't an easy job, but we have to learn how to do it.

I think it's easy for us all to be hurt by someone or something in our lives, and that one little thing is all it takes for that confidence to be sucked right out of us. It's just natural. But overcoming that feeling of doubt brought on by others and learning to use it to our advantage is where we can truly become successful. Like it's always said, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" or the one I like, "When life gives you tomatoes, make a bloody Mary"...same message. It's up to you to make the decision to turn the bad into the good- so make a promise that instead of dodging those bricks, you'll start laying your foundation.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Born To Be a Billionaire? We're on the Right Track!


Hello Optimists,

I read an article today that really surprised me...but in a good way. I was reading through some headlines on news websites and came across one that said, "Are You Born To Be A Billionaire?". So of course, I clicked on it. Who wouldn't want to know if they were born to be a billionaire? Thinking I would find indicators like "Started a franchise business before getting a driver's license" or "Born into royalty" as the characteristics that set someone up for billionaire status, I was reading the article merely to humor myself. But, as I continued through a few sentences, what I found brought a huge smile to my face. Here's what I read: "People who are very successful have an incredible sense of optimism...they don't have the sense of limitations that other people have"....and that's all it took for me to grin from ear to ear.

Well, I think I've got quite a ways to go before I can rub elbows with the world's richest people, but it reassured me that optimism is a very powerful quality to have. Optimists have an undeniable positive outlook that allows them to persevere and achieve the things that otherwise would never be followed through with. Hopefully I am helping you along your journey to becoming an optimal optimist just as much as I am helping myself along my journey. It's not easy; like the article says, it takes a lot of risk taking and confidence despite many failures, but these elements are the keys to success.

That article was certainly uplifting, and I wanted to make sure today's feature quote was just as inspirational while showing the importance of optimism. I think I found the perfect one...
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. -Helen Keller
This is a really great quote. Helen Keller was right on when she said that optimism is what leads to achievement...maybe she ghost-wrote this article!? But where she was also right is in the second part of the quote: nothing can be done without hope and confidence. We've got to believe in every single thing we're doing and have the hope in our hearts that we will succeed. Without that, we're not giving 100% and it will make it that much more difficult to achieve our dreams.

I realize that being a billionaire is a long shot, but hey, why not aim high? It's good to read some fact-based information about optimism...just knowing the power behind positive thinking really lifts my spirits and gives me an extra boost to my day, and I hope it will do the same for you. So if in the next week or so, you happen to strike it rich, don't put it off to chance...it may just be because of all of that positive thinking we've been doing here. Oh, and I'll take 30%. Thanks.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist


Want to read that article? Check it out here: Forbes: Born To Be A Billionaire?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Philly Gets Some Air Time


Hello Optimists,

The other night I was watching some late night TV, just browsing through my favorite channels, you know...HGTV, E!, The Food Network, and The Travel Channel. As luck would have it, I clicked over to The Travel Channel and a new episode of Man vs. Food was just beginning and it was being filmed in Philadelphia. Normally this kind of show makes me feel sick after watching, as the host always consumes a disgustingly unhealthy and enormous amount of food, but I thought I'd watch since Philly was getting some air time.

Well not to my surprise, he did end up engaging in a cheesesteak eating contest- he consumed 6 pounds of cheesesteak on a 20 inch roll with cheese and onions in less than an hour. Disgusting. But at least he picked Tony Luke's which is way better than Pat's or Gino's in my opinion. But I know that comment can be argued to the death, so again, just my opinion.

But the cool thing about this episode was all of the people that gathered around to cheer him on and encourage him in this total pig out. Sure, each city has it's iconic food symbol, and Philadelphia's is no doubt the cheesesteak, but it was about more than just the food. It was showing the friendships, the loyalty to the region, the culture that is formed around this food. It was more than just eating cheesesteaks, it was about being a Philadelphian...if only for a gut-busting hour. The whole time as it was playing, all I could think about was this one quote I read that seemed to sum this situation up perfectly...
A hot dog at the ballpark beats a roast beef at The Ritz. -Humphrey Bogart 
When I first came across this quote, I really liked it, but doubted I would ever be able to use it in a post. Well, never say never, I guess.  This is a really great thing to remember. It's not always about the glitz and glamour, though who wouldn't want a dinner at The Ritz? But sometimes, even ordinary foods, like hot dogs and cheesesteaks, can mean more than a silver-plated dinner that you're too nervous to enjoy because you might be using the wrong fork, because of the special moments built around it. It's not just about the food, it's about the good times you spend with people, the memories you build and the way these things bring everyone together.

So next time you choose to dine out, remember to enjoy not only the featured specials on the menu, but the time you're spending with your friends and family- this is way more important than the food that is brought to the table.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

P.S. If you'd like to see some clips of the places in Philly that were visited in this episode, check out Man vs. Food Philadelphia.

Monday, March 15, 2010

(Un)Intelligence


Hello Optimists,

Hope you had a great weekend! While I was out and about this weekend, I had a run in with a rather unpleasant lady with a serious case of road rage. Without going into detail here, let me just say that because of an error she made, her car came within a few inches of bumping into the car I was in. What could have been easily avoided if she had taken better judgement and even taken a second to pull back a few feet to avoid this close call, she felt the need to roll down her window and yell about how "%*#&!@* ignorant" we were. Now, I understand that people get all excited when others do things that interfere with their "well-being" but keep in mind that there was no car-to-car contact, no one got hurt, no serious issues....no, this lady was just inconvenienced for a split second and felt the need to express her feelings in an incredibly rude way.

I will admit that my first reaction was to go on the defensive; my face flushed with rage, I said way too many bad words in my head, and it took all I had to keep a certain finger from rising from my clenched fists. But after all was said and done, I realized that this lady's poor judgement and immaturity had taken control of me, and I was pretty close to stooping down to her level of thinking. As my internal temperature dropped back down to a healthy level, it occurred to me that we are all too easily stirred. It takes just one minor thing for us to lose all control and lash out, saying really offensive things to prove that....well actually, it doesn't prove anything. What good did it do for that lady to yell out her window at us? What difference would it have made if she just gave us "the look" and kept on driving? Was there a need for all of the theatrics? No. But what was most important about this whole situation was the reaction (or lack thereof) from the people I was riding with. Though, like I said before, I'm sure we all shot back pretty nasty things in our head, we remained calm and didn't really utter a word until all the "action" had passed.

This whole incident was still in my mind a few hours later, and it wasn't until then that I remembered a quote that would apply perfectly to this situation.
Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment. -Lao Tzu
This is something we must always keep in mind. We don't need to be yelling like crazy people or throwing a tantrum every time someone does something "stupid" or inconveniences us in some way. And we also need to learn not to respond to this treatment in a way that puts us on the same level that we were so offended by in the first place. We need to stop being so uptight about everything, and realize that sometimes people make poor decisions and sometimes (or a lot of times) we won't agree with decisions that other people are making. That's just how it goes.

So remember that we need to "keep our cool", remain calm, and be respectful to people (even if you do think they did something really dumb). Unfortunately people do not always respond intelligently to certain situations and have the tendency to take things a little too far. But we can learn to fix that by changing our response to it, and hopefully they can see how foolishly they reacted.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Gym Rat



Hello Optimists,

Well it's finally the weekend and it's officially spring break. I couldn't be happier to have a few days off,  relax and unwind after the past few weeks which have been quite busy. No, I'm not jetting off to any warm tropical islands (though I would give anything to be going there right now) but I am looking forward to being back at home and having some time to do whatever it is I want to do. I never like having to pack and unpack all of my things for just a few days and then have to pack and unpack them again, but I suppose that comes with the territory of living away from home. 

In an attempt to pack as lightly as possible, I only take the necessities...with the exception of shoes. You never know when you're going to need heels, sneakers, black boots, brown boots, rain boots, Chucks, or slippers, so I needed to bring them all with me. But one thing I hardly ever pack is pajamas. I figure I can always toil through my closet and find something random to wear...usually a mismatching pair of sweatpants and an old tee shirt from a school field trip. That's pretty much what I ended up with this time, but instead of a field trip tee, I dug up a shirt from a gymnastics meet I had competed in back in 2000. The only reason it has lasted this long is because it was three sizes too big for me at the time, and I never really had the chance to wear it. Don't you just hate that free shirts are never the right size?! Anyway, after reliving some great memories of my gym days, the fact that the year 2000, a whole DECADE ago, slapped me right in the face. Ten years ago?? Seems like it was just yesterday that I was swinging from the bars and flying over the vault like it was a walk in the park. I don't know why or how I was so fearless, but now just the thought of performing those elements makes me feel uneasy.

But back in the day gymnastics was my life...seriously, I was a gym rat. It took up many many years of my life and I spent hours perfecting flips over a four-inch wide beam, enduring the most intense physical workouts, and learning not to get upset when the kids at school made fun of me because I "had bigger muscles than the boys". But it was all totally worth it- I learned so much about hard work, determination and self-control all before I was 15. Plus I got to do some really awesome stuff. Besides competing in meets all over the place, I got the chance to see some great things, including seeing the 1996 women's U.S. Olympic team practice. That was one of the greatest memories I have from my childhood- those ladies were my inspiration and my biggest role models. 

So I thought today I would share a piece of my memories with you and feature a quote from one of the girls that I admired most on that '96 olympic team. It's easy to see why I looked up to these girls so much after reading this quote...
It’s human nature to be timid in the face of obstacles, but I have learned to believe that challenges are opportunities for genius to shine. In order to feel alive, we have to accomplish things that we once believed we could not." -Dominique Moceanu 
This is so inspiring, and it comes from someone who has really accomplished some great things. Life is for living, and if we don't feel "alive" each and every day, then we know that we are not living life to the fullest. Sometimes it takes a challenge for us to stay on our toes, to keep us motivated and challenged, and to allow us to accomplish the things that we thought were impossible. It's easy to go through each day by taking the easy way out, but the only way to spark that fire within us is to go out and do the things we never had the confidence to do. Challenges are the opportunity for genius to shine, but unless we are willing to face those challenges, we can never experience that great feeling of accomplishment. So let's take a word of advice from an Olympic gold medalist and make a promise to believe in ourselves and to feel alive each and every day.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thumbing Through


Hello Optimists,

President Obama has been pictured lately with a copy of Theodore Roosevelt's biography in tote and yesterday during a visit to a college in Pennsylvania (yay!) he referred to the book in part of his speech. It turns out that a lot of presidents have turned to Teddy for some advice; Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Regan, Bill Clinton, and even G.W. Bush have taken a look back on to the policies and practices of our 26th president.

Well, it seems to me that if some of the greatest leaders of the world have found inspiration from Teddy, we all could probably learn a bit from him too, so I decided to see what all of the fuss was about. Turns out this Nobel Peace Prize winner, conservationist and foreign policy leader did a lot of good for our nation and the world and continues to be an inspiration to this day. I guess I can see why so many are thumbing through the pages of his biography.

I thought it would only be appropriate to feature a quote from him today, and it wasn't hard to find a good one. What was hard was to pick just one from my list of favorites. In the end, I chose one that I hope you will enjoy as much as I did...
Believe that you can and you're halfway there. -Theodore Roosevelt
I hope this was in his biography, because it's great advice. Believing that you can do something is half the battle, and putting that belief to action is what makes it become a reality.  The hardest part about doing something is not the act itself (though it may be quite strenuous) but rather, it is convincing yourself that you can do it. There are so many things I'd like to do and so many new things I'd like to try my hand at, but what's holding me back is not believing that I can be successful at it. Now I realize that just having that confidence alone will bring me so much closer to achieving my goals.

I think I'll have to put his bio on my reading list. But if you're not up for reading a whole book about this man's life, I hope that you can at least take something away from this little piece that you got today. Just remember that believing that you can do whatever it is you want to do is the key to making it happen.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Return to Sender


Hello Optimists,

My mom sent me a few birthday cards last week, yes a few:  one from her, one from both of my parents, one from the dog...and even though they were sent out at the same time, they were delivered to me several days apart. I'd call my mom for our nightly chat and she'd nonchalantly ask if I'd checked my mail, trying her hardest not to reveal that she'd sent me something. After a few days of "I got another card today" she was getting anxious as to where the others could have ended up. "That's why I don't send any money through the mail, you just never know where it could end up" is what I would hear until all of the envelopes were safely in my hands.

Though it is quite frustrating to know that your mail or packages might not have been delivered in a timely manner, we have to give some credit to the postal service. The mail routes may be scattered and unless you get a tracking number, you'll have no idea where your beloved birthday card is en route to its destination- but the fact is, it always gets there. That's because of that little sticky stamp on the right corner of the package; as long as that's there, you're good to go. That mini post-it is like a validated train ticket or a car with an unending supply of gas; once it's sent out, it will get to the place it is supposed to be. Sure it might take some detours, but at some point, it will end up in the hands of whom it belongs. (In my mom's case, it was in the hands of the birthday girl, and was she ever glad when they all arrived!)

Anyway, I found it to be quite ironic when I came across today's quote just a few days after this all happened, and I thought it would be perfect for a post.
Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there. -Josh Billings
This is really great advice. We should all be like a postage stamp- we need to concentrate on doing one thing until that job is done. It's pretty easy to get side-tracked with the million other things that are going on in our lives, but we don't want to end up being a lost card. Even if we've got the "wrong address" or we're on the wrong track, the stamp will ensure a safe return to sender. And then we get another chance to reach our destination. We've got to make sure that our stamp is displayed and that we ride out the journey until our recipient happily tears through the envelope to see what's inside. Then, and only then, should our job be done. Keep this in mind the next time you've filled up your to-do list, and remember how important it is to cross every one of those off.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Perfect Pout


Hello Optimists,

I read an article last week entitled "8 Things I Wish I Knew About Health and Happiness When I Was 21" and I found it to be quite interesting. It's fun to look back and think about all of the things we would change if only "we knew then what we know now". How many times have you said that? I've certainly thought about that a lot...but that's life, right? We're not supposed to know what's best for us all the time- where's the fun in figuring it all out?

But when we're thinking about health and happiness, those are the two things people want to get right right from the start, so having a heads-up in this department certainly wouldn't hurt. Tips like "Learn to let go of toxic people, but learn to forgive them" and "Realize that it's not all about you" are two things on that list in particular that can definitely be applied to anyone, but I suppose the earlier the better.

The 8 things that were featured were pretty good pieces of advice, but I think there is one more I'd like to add to that list....
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. -Audrey Hepburn
Now there's good advice. I know what you're thinking: Easy for her to say, Audrey was beautiful. And she was, for certain. But part of that beauty came from the wonderful things she thought about..and eventually spoke about. I think this is something that we can (and should!) learn right from the start. We shouldn't be worried about scheduling our next Botox appointment to get that perfect pout, or picking up the newest long-lasting shade of lipstick in the makeup aisle, or even dreaming about making our kissers more "Angelina Jolie-like". All of those things won't make a bit of difference if the words coming out of those beautiful lips aren't attractive. The words you speak count for something, and those words can make even the most picture perfect lips seem tight and dry. Remember that while people may at first be attracted by what they see, it is what comes from within that really seals the deal.

So next time you catch yourself gazing into the mirror and picking out all of the things you would like to be different, take a minute to acknowledge how you can change those things by changing what comes from inside.

Here's the article about Things I Wish I Knew for you to read if you'd like. What things would be on your list?

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Monday, March 8, 2010

When the Stars Come Out


Hello Optimists,

I hope you had a great weekend! Did you watch the Oscars last night? I know I sure did. Awards season is always my favorite; I love to see all the stars looking gorgeous on the red carpet, the endless coverage by E! and the fashion police shows afterward. It's ok, you can admit it, you know you love it too. We all do...when the stars come out, everyone's watching.

It's kind of funny to think about though. All of this hooplah because people in movies are coming together to get awards? Yeah, it's a big deal in the movie biz, but I know there are lesser-known people in this world doing even greater things. So why can't we all be driven around in limos, have our outfits talked about for days and have thousands of people yelling our name and taking our picture on a huge red carpet? Doesn't anyone want a picture of me in my new Gap jeans?? Obviously not. So then, what makes a star a star, and why can't we all be one?

Well, in the midst of my thoughts of "how cool would it be to be famous!?" I came across a quote by probably the biggest star there ever was, and it turns out, she had some good advice to share on this very topic.
Everyone is a star and deserves a chance to shine. -Marilyn Monroe
Well said, Marilyn. As you already know, Marilyn Monroe is the epitome of Hollywood glamour, the face that comes to mind when we think of a "star". But she recognized that being in a movie or on the front page of a magazine is not the only way to be noticed or to really shine. A "star" isn't just defined as someone who walks the red carpet with ease, whose pictures are plastered all over the tabloids, or whose every article of clothing is analyzed down to the last stitch. No, everyone is a star. We all do really great things on a daily basis, and though they are not usually put on the big screen for millions of people to see, they are nonetheless very important. Heck, some of us "non-stars" are the reasons the A-listers are who they are. Where would they be without us common folk, picking out their clothes, doing their hair, picking up the garbage in front of their mansions? What about the doctors that are saving lives every day or the teachers who are helping to educate a future Nobel Prize winner? People around the world may not know our faces in an instant, but what we're doing has an impact. That's why we're all stars. And that's why we all deserve a chance to shine.

Okayyy, so even though I know that if I showed up on the red carpet, the photogs would probably push me over in order to get a good shot of Meryl Streep, at least I still know that I'm a star in my own right. And I hope you can realize that too. We don't need to be wishing we were one of them, because we are one of them. So take it from the "star of the stars", Marilyn Monroe - she really knew what she was talking about. I think it's time for a new generation of "stars" to emerge...watch out, George Clooney, we're comin' after you.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Friday, March 5, 2010

How to Add 7 Years to Your Life


Hello Optimists,

The other day I read an article about the benefits of optimism, and I must say, I was quite excited about the results of the studies- and I think you will be too. So I thought, who better to share it with than my fellow optimists? Well, here's what I found: a study from Yale University revealed that optimism adds seven (yes, seven!) years to your life. That's 2,555 days to add on to your life! We'd give almost anything for just one more day with those we've lost, think about being able to be spend thousands more than that with the ones you love! And a study by Seligman and Buchanan found that optimism can be learned. This is really important; it means anyone can change their thoughts, anyone can be a the face of positivity for others, anyone can be an optimist. Even the pessimists can be optimists, and they too can reap the benefits of this positive force and live longer, healthier lives.

Reading about all of this really made me happy. Since I began this blog back in November, I've always hoped that my words could make a difference in my readers' lives and that what I am writing can be helpful, enlightening and inspirational to at least one person...and now this study is proof that it really can be! We all can be optimists! 

I wanted today's quote to be a reflection of the great things that optimism brings. Though I couldn't find anything more motivational than adding seven years onto someone's life, I did find a good quote about an advantage that optimists carry with them all the time...
A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.  -Winston Churchill
So not only will our life expectancies go up by being optimists, but we also have the natural ability and thought pattern to take every challenge placed before us and seize the opportunity within it. We have the knack for taking a tough situation and finding the good in it, for facing an obstacle head on, for finding the hope when all others doubt. We are standing tall and waving the flags reading "Carpe Diem" and encouraging others to look at things in a new light.

So let's join forces and spread the word about optimism. I hope you continue to take the journey with me through this blog and invite others to come along for the ride....what we're doing can really change lives.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

P.S. If you'd like to read more about the studies in today's posts, here are the links to the sources I found:
Benefits of learned optimism article   
Discovery Health article 
The Worry Free Life blog 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Types of Humor


Hello Optimists,

Anyone who knows me well knows that one thing I love to do is laugh...it's the only time where intense pain in my abs and the inability to breathe is welcomed. Whether it's watching SNL, joking with my friends or going to a comedy club, I never feel better than when I'm laughing. But it's a certain humor I like- some things make me laugh more than others. But I think everyone's like this, right? We all have that certain type of humor that really gets us going, that type that makes us laugh so hard we double over and (gasp!) let out a little snort in an effort to regain a regular breathing pattern. But despite that momentary lapse in oxygen, laughter is good for us; I have heard that it's the best medicine. So I think it's extremely important that we all get in a good "belly-laugh" as often as possible.

I found it to be quite ironic that I was thinking about this very subject the other day when I came across a headline about the 4 types of humor. Intrigued, I immediately clicked on the link and was pleasantly surprised to learn what it had to say. According to the original source, Psychology Today, there are four distinct types of humor that we are attracted to: laughing at life, making yourself the butt of the joke, putting others down, and bonding through jokes. Then, the four types are broken down further and personified with a name we can all associate with...I won't ruin all the fun for you, so go check it out. Anyway, in light of this theme, I thought I would feature a quote today about humor.
A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It gets jolted by every pebble on the road. -Henry Wary Beecher
Ah, and quite true this is. I guess it doesn't really matter what type of humor we like, but just that we can find things in life that make us smile and laugh. Sometimes we've just got to stop taking things so seriously and just enjoy the things that are happening in our lives. Besides, no one likes a Mr. Grumpers. Otherwise, our days will seem mundane and uneventful and we'll look back and our memories will be filled not with joy and happiness, but stress and frustration. This quote reminds me that sometimes we've just got to let things roll off our shoulders and laugh about it.

So whether you're a fan of Ellen, Chris Rock, or Dane Cook, remember to keep your sense of humor alive. After reading that article, I think I'm a "bonding through jokes" kinda girl. What kind are you?

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's My Birthday!


Hello Optimists,

Well, today's a great day for a celebration; it's my birthday! I wish I could still have those big parties where I invite all of my classmates to the roller skating rink and and we play, eat cake and drink soda all night. Unfortunately, I don't think that will be happening this year. And I'm pretty sure no one really wants to wear party hats anymore, though I think it would be pretty funny. But that's fine by me. All I ask for is to spend my day with some great friends and family.

I've been trying to think of the perfect quote to feature for today... something that reminds us (even if we've turned the same age for a few years in a row now) that getting older is nothing to fear. In fact, we should look forward to it. Each new year marks a milestone that we've reached which is a reflection of all the great things we've accomplished and all the new things we've learned. I think it's a cultural thing; we Americans value the "youthful" appearance, energy and styles. Think about how many anti-aging and anti-wrinkle creams are out there, and the large market for Botox and hair dyes. Notice our commercials on television and ads in magazines- they all are headlined by those with a youthful and energetic appeal. There's certainly nothing wrong with wanting to stay, as Bruce Springsteen would say it, "forever young", but at the same time, we shouldn't be so opposed to aging.

Personally, I think it's a lot more exciting to be turning twenty-something that to be turning twelve because I know that I've done a lot of great things this past year and I have some more things on the radar for the next few years. It's exciting to know that I have something in the future to look forward to. That's why when I found today's quote, I knew it would be perfect to feature for today as it captures my thoughts about marking yet another birthday...
Don't just count your years, make your years count. -George Meredith
So it's not about just counting your years and dreading the thought of adding one more candle to the already crowded cake next year, but more about making that time the best it could be. It's incredible how fast time goes by (ugh, and just by that statement alone you can really tell I'm getting old) so we've got to make sure that we live each day to its fullest. So, whether it's your birthday or not, make a promise to yourself to make sure you're doing all you can to make your days, weeks, months, and years count, because we don't have time for regrets. And don't worry about how many candles are on your cake, just look at it as another opportunity to make a wish for all of the things you want your new year to bring you.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Here's To You, Dr. Seuss


Hello Optimists,

I've written some posts in the past featuring quotes from Dr. Seuss...whether spoken from the man himself or from one of his many entertaining books, they have always been and will continue to be some of my favorite quotes of all time. I will be sure to keep posting my favorites in order to spread his words to as many of my readers as I can- I think you'll be surprised to see how much you can learn from a children's author. Today I will feature one of my favorites in honor of this special day...it is Dr. Seuss's birthday!

I've read his biography which is quite an interesting tale, highlighting his beginnings in Springfield, MA and his studies at Dartmouth and Oxford to his days of cartooning for Life, Vanity Fair, and The Saturday Evening Post. What is most interesting is that his first submission for publication passed through 27 (yes, 27!) publishing companies before being picked up by Vanguard Press. Little did he know that his writing and illustrations in 44 books would go on to be translated into more than 15 different languages with over 200 million copies distributed around the world. Pretty amazing.

So it is with enthusiasm that I use a quote from one of my favorite Seuss books, Oh, The Places You'll Go! to honor the birthday of one of America's greatest authors. Here's to you, Dr. Seuss!
You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed. You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
This is so inspiring! This is why I love his books even to this day. I think it's important for us to keep his words in mind...they just have a way of making us smile. It's easy to feel like we're never doing the right thing, like we couldn't putt a golf ball into a hole the size of the moon, or that we'll just never measure up to the others. What's hard is to change your thinking about all of this...but lucky for us, Dr. Seuss has come up with some of the most inspirational and motivational words ever written. And, he's placed them in children's books in order to get the message across as early as possible. But are we listening to them? If not, I think you have a few books to add to your reading list...

So next time you're feeling down and out, dust off a copy of your favorite childhood story from Dr. Seuss and I'm sure it will brighten your day. I know I would reach for Oh, The Places You'll Go!...which would you reach for?

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Monday, March 1, 2010

Flowers at Your Feet


Hello Optimists,

Yesterday I went to the Philadelphia International Flower Show...have you ever seen it? Well if you haven't, it's certainly something to see. This year's theme was "Passport to the World" and there were exhibits featuring exotic plants and flowers from all over the world- Singapore, New Zealand, Brazil, Asia, Africa...it was beautiful! Even the balloon you see in the picture above is made of flowers- that's at the entrance of the show and is covered with over 80,000 flowers! It was quite exhausting though; the show covered over 10 acres of displays, vendors and demonstrations.

There were some truly amazing things to see there and it makes you realize what great things there are all over the world. After browsing through all of the exhibits, finishing with Brazil, (and feeling like I had just walked all the way there) I was really happy that I had the chance to see the show- and I think I'll be a returning customer next year. So with flowers on the brain, I was reminded of a quote that I had once read and I thought it would be perfect to feature for today's post.
Stretching his hand up to the stars, often a man forgets the flowers at his feet. -Jeremy Bentham
This is a really good one. We're always told to "reach for the stars" and "aim high", but sometimes once we've made it that far, we tend to forget what got us there and where we came from. It's important to try to be the best we can be and it's great if we can make it to the top, but what's most important is to always remember those people who gave you the courage and confidence to become the person you have become.

Those who have always been there supporting your every move are the "flowers" that allowed you to break through the dirt and up into the sky. It's important that while we may be a long ways away from the soil where we sprouted from and may look very different than the seed we once were, that we remember those who have always encouraged us to reach for the stars.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist