Ed. note — It’s the holidays and sometimes it can be joyful; sometimes sad. A perfect time for this piece!
Did you know a Me&Ro bracelet could inspire a friendship? Apparently, it can. About five years ago, I emailed Giving Tree Jewelry co-owner Rachel Leigh Smith trying to decide on a color – black or red – of a bracelet I was perusing on her web site which led to an interchange via email. She’d mentioned on the site that she’d written a book, “How to Avoid Being Sad.” Her enthusiasm about it leapt off the screen; I inquired how I could read it. Voilà! Next thing I knew, the pocket-sized volume appeared having made its way from Cape Cod to my mailbox in Brooklyn.
“How to Avoid Being Sad, Volume I” is the book you pick up and it immediately becomes your friend. The wisdom within it is witty, thoughtful, and comforting. The book was inspired by Rachel’s own chance encounter with a young man named Max she met at the LAX ticket counter. She was about to head out on a red eye flight from Los Angeles (where she had stayed at the Chateau Marmont!) to Boston. They sat next to each other on the plane and talked “straight without stop for the next 6 hours.” (She does not like to fly so meeting Max – along with some red wine – was a fortuitous encounter, in more ways than one .) Due to a travel mix-up, Max ended up coming back with her to Cape Cod until he could depart the next morning to his next destination. Those discussions with Max were the inspiration for the first book. I spoke to Rachel recently as she was driving from NYC (where she now lives) back to Cape Cod.
“How to Avoid Being Sad,” which was sold in her gallery and given to her “favorite customers,” would have ended with Volume I, if not for a customer, N.B., who became a great friend. N.B. (to whom Volume II is dedicated; Volume I was for Max) pushed Rachel to embark on publishing Volume II. With that encouragement, knowing “at least one person” would be interested, she moved forward on making it happen. As Volume I had, the idea was calling to her.
She embarked on a successful Kickstarter campaign (she told me I introduced her to the concept of Kickstarter) earlier this year to raise some funds to print Volume II and develop some web site ideas.
The How To Avoid Being Sad website is now operational and offers “sadness fighting” tips each day.
The best way to understand how great “How to Avoid Being Sad” (both volumes) is to share some gems from Volume II:
1. BE A KINDER, MORE CONSIDERATE, MORE SELFLESS HUMAN BEING.
“There is only one rule I know of, Goddammit. You’ve got to be Kind.” – Kurt Vonnegut
6. PRACTICE GRATITUDE EVERYDAY, FOR EVERYTHING.
The good the bad and the ugly. A tall order, but the lack of sadness you will feel in trying to fulfill it, is worth the effort.
8B. AT LEAST CONSIDER DOING THE THING THAT SCARES YOU THE MOST.
I love this one. Whatever option you go with, I think it leads to a lot of exhilaration, and that is not sad!
For me, the thing that always scared me the most was living in New York City. I was terrified because I was certain I would be overwhelmed every day and that the city would swallow me.
I live in New York City now and it is true, I am often terrified, always overwhelmed, and sometimes swallowed. But I am still here and the mix of fear and exhilaration leaves little time for sadness.
9. SADNESS STICKS TO STILL THINGS.
You gotta move baby move!
10. KNOW THIS TRUTH: LIFE IS ALWAYS RIGHT.
I am learning to make life and its totally beautiful, non-sensical, fucked up randomness my friend and not my enemy.
You can’t win. You can’t force the experience of your life to look the way you want or need it to. I have tried and trust me the fight is exhausting. And sadness loves a tired spirit.
96. FAIL. FAIL AGAIN. FAIL HARDER, FAIL WITH MORE BELLS AND WHISTLES AND CUSTOM DESIGNED LOGOS. FAIL. BUT KEEP GOING.
In this regard, I am the least sad person on the planet! No one matches me with failure! Below is a list of just some of my failed businesses in the last 2 years.
BGG Ed. Note: Okay, I’m not going to give them all away, you have to read the book ! They’re pretty great in the range of ideas the author has had – and tried.
197. IF YOU FIND THAT YOU ARE SAD, GO WITH IT. TRUST THAT IT WILL PASS.
I personally promise it will.
“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.” – Rilke
There are 206 tips within Volume II. Even if you are rarely sad, the life-encouraging wisdom within both Volumes makes them happy additions to your library, to carry in your purse or keep by your computer.
Rachel told me she’s been “dreaming of all these kindness revolutions” and considers her move to NYC something that “scares me but it’s necessary.” And she’s found, like many of us know, that, “there’s this code. People look out for you.” And that’s so true. It’s not that Rachel is always happy as she pointed out to me when I asked but what’s apparent is that she perseveres and keeps a sense of play in her attitude.
I was thinking about this fact … she didn’t call her books “How to Avoid Feeling Sad” because sometimes we will feel sad.. it’s just how it is … but it doesn’t mean we have to BE sad.
Rachel’s two books are about “sadness fighting” but they are also about living your life in the fullest way possible. I wonder… maybe one is not possible without the other?
You can visit HowtoAvoidBeingSad.com (updated every day) and order “How to Avoid Being Sad” Volume I and/or II. One of Rachel’s upcoming projects – sure not to fail – is a children’s book, “Strange and Wonderful Creatures.” She’s also working on two other web-based projects which surely are part of “kindness revolutions.”
p.s. The Me & Ro bracelet was an earlier version of this although it used to be offered in black and red and was a bit less expensive when I bought it but it’s been a few years. It’s the same style. I highly recommend it! You will not feel sad wearing it.