Tag Archives: happiness

Full Circle


It’s my last night in this little apartment.

Looking back at old journal entries, I realized that it was a year and a week ago that I moved the bulk of my furniture into this place. My bed, my table, my desk, my chairs. No boxes or trimmings, just the bare bones.

I didn’t live there yet. I stayed with my parents until July when I moved in after my trip to Croatia. It still felt empty because my roommate was away at the time.

Now she’s in New York for the summer, and I’m getting married and moving down the street.

This was the first place I paid for. The first little home I made mine. I shared it with a lovely person, and we made some good memories as friends. But now we both are saying goodbye to the first four walls that saw our adulthood. Or our attempts at it.

It was a lovely place.

But it was never home.

I’m not attached to it. I love it here, don’t get me wrong. I love the neighbors and the setting and the floorplan. But i always knew it was a temporary fix. These walls were rented, never owned.

No. My real home is elsewhere.

And I’ll be there soon.




Did I mention I was dating?

Well, now you know. I was dating. I’ve been dating for the last two-ish years. Surprise!

Now, you may ask, how on earth did you manage to keep from talking about that on the blog? How, HOW, Risabella Rambler, oh she who bears her soul in snatches for the internet to peruse at its leisure while you rest behind the protective curtain of anonymity, HOW did you manage to keep your mouth shut on this important subject for so long?

Well, I didn’t. Not really. Those who know me and read the blog knew that something was up, even if they didn’t know details. And some of you may have raised your eyebrows at the ambiguous term “Adventure Buddy” that I assigned to my male friend who followed me to Croatia and back.

My reasons for not discussing my personal life on the internet were fivefold:

  1. Some things just aren’t the internet’s business.
  2. I dislike the term “dating,” for reasons I’ll discuss at a later date. I use the term only because it translates well.
  3. I dislike the terms “boyfriend” and “girlfriend,” for reasons I’ll discuss at a later date.
  4. I was honestly afraid of jinxing the relationship if I talked about it freely on such a permanent medium as a blog.
  5. I wanted to write this blog post in the way that I’m writing it now.

Believe it or not, I’ve dated two young men during The Risible Rambler’s lifespan. I was seeing another fellow for the first year of the blog. We parted ways and we’re both much happier now. The blog never knew. Neither did you.

I met the second fellow while I was dating the first, but we only met. We got to know each other many months after that relationship ended–after my first summer in Croatia. Our first date–which I was not aware was a date–took place on December 3rd, 2012. He became my Adventure Buddy, and my life has been magical ever since.

He started a blog for the intention of wooing me. You can read it here.

After that date, we decided to not let that date stop. We’ve been on one long date (with breaks) since then.

As of yesterday, we are no longer dating. Or perhaps I should say merely dating.

We are engaged.

Lord willing, we will be married in 158 days.

We counted.

And this blog is about to get a lot more interesting.

Two Drifters


I leave for Croatia tomorrow.

All—I repeat all—of my support came in. All of my support, and a little over. The Lord has provided everything I need for the trip, plus a little extra.

The thing about this year’s teaching excursion is that I’m not going alone. I’m taking my adventure buddy with me (he will have a suitable pseudonym as soon as I can come up with one). Having his company on this trip will be awesome because A) traveling abroad alone is lamesauce and B) he’s the awesomest human I know.

Funny story about that—I intended to bring four people with me this year. Three had expressed serious interest in joining the Croatia TEFL team, and were taking steps to come along. I asked AB to come with me (kind of on a whim, kind of not), and he said yes. Woo!

But three of the four I recruited decided not to come. One girl discovered that the Lord wanted her in a camp ministry this summer instead, another needed to complete the internship required for her major, and the third—well, I’m not really sure where he got off to. So that left me and my AB.

Tomorrow, we’re off to see the world. Well, not the world. Just Croatia. But we figure that’s a pretty good start.

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be chronicling our travels from airports and our cozy hotel in the town where we’re teaching. I’ll add the disclaimer that I may not have internet access every day, so I may break my post-a-day goal during our travels. But I’ll write every day, I promise.



P.S.: (In case you’re curious, my Adventure Buddy blogs here. His writing is all kinds of awesome, so you should drop everything you’re doing and go check it out. If nothing else, at least scroll through to find his poems. Seriously. Do this thing.)

Park Rules


If there is a swing set, you must swing on it.

The thing about fields is that they were made to be run through. Forests for exploring. Trees for climbing. Rocks for scaling.

Slides require someone to slide down them. Monkey bars are for monkeying. Don’t deny them their birthright.

Trails should be walked upon. Songs must be sung, so sing them.

Such activities cost nothing. All you spend is energy, and yet all you reap is happiness.


The Best Medicine


Do you ever just…laugh?

My father told me once that men who never laugh often think far too highly of themselves. They’re afraid to be noticed. They’re afraid of betraying emotion of any kind, much less a spontaneous outburst of joy.

Of course, this comes from a man who laughs freely. All of us Ramblers laugh unabashedly. We have loud laughs. Mine sounds something like an asthmatic seal doing a kookaburra impression. Mother twitters like a bird, and father only blasts.

Sometimes it’s best to laugh for no reason.

Well, not no reason. It’s perfectly wonderful to laugh at something that occurs within you, instead of something you observe around you.

I laugh when I feel the seasons changing. But only when they change from summer to autumn and from winter to spring. I smell and hear and taste and feel the change. It tickles, so I laugh.

I laugh when I remember something hilarious. My friends are funny people who do funny things, so I think back on the good times and I laugh out loud. You know who you are, fun friends.

Of course, this habit of spontaneous laughter may arouse suspicion among your onlookers. After all, displaying your feelings makes you weird. Immature. Foolish. Ridiculous. Possibly crazy. My tongue is buried so far in my cheek it’s practically nonexistent.

It does the soul good to laugh. I would not have survived most of my college experience without ample doses of both prayer and laughter.

Laughing freely doesn’t mean you don’t take life seriously. It just means you know enough of yourself not to take yourself too seriously.

Laughter, then, comes from a willingness to be happy…of only for the space of a breath. 

Condensed Thought


Today I scribbled down some rhymes, them left them to ripen in my journal for the rest of the day. I thought I’ve have a poem by tonight, but it didn’t happen. 

Today was a poetical day. Very warm and breezy. I wore bright colors by way of celebration. I thought I should write something about it, so I am. 

Today I slept in late and was very awake for the rest of the day. That may not be true tomorrow. Oh well, today was a good day to be wakeful. 

Today was good. I hope it was a good day for you. And if not…there’s always tomorrow. 

Flight of Fiction (21)


Two days on the road, and the Troupe was getting closer and closer to the foot of the Mountains. The long shadow of those craggy hills stretched over them as they marched through the forest. Though they had begun their journey rather jollily, talking and laughing amongst themselves, now they were quiet. All that could be heard was the sound of their feet sliding through the fallen leaves.

Zon was at the head of the line, Ameryn close behind. Enilor loped along beside Narina, taking two hops to every one of the Sprite girl’s long strides. The others followed in the single file, Zon’s brother and the giant Loui bringing up the rear, walking backwards, covering their tracks.

The sun set behind the Mountains, making them look even darker and more sinister, a feat Ameryn had hardly imagined possible. Zon put up his hand, and they came to a halt, silently setting up camp in the shadow of silence that loomed over them. Enilor quickly busied herself with making a fire, but its small red light seemed too weak to illuminate the gathering dark.

They sat in silence around the fire, eating salted meat and dried fruit and hardly daring to look at each other. Ameryn noticed that Narina would not touch her rations. She sat with her knees up under her chin, staring into the shadows with her back to the fire.

Suddenly, Zon’s voice broke the silence.

“We should rehearse,” he said.

There was a pause.

“D’you think it’s safe, Zon?” asked Enilor. It was not much of a question; her paws were already hovering over the clasps on her fiddlebox.

“Listen,” he replied. “It’s utterly silent. Nothing lives at the foot of these hills. Nothing dares.”

“They fear what’s in the Moutains,” Loui mumbled.

“I say the greater evil lies beyond them,” Zon answered. “No evil could be greater than the evil that holds sway over Nanduvar. And unless we rehearse,” he said, his eyes sparkling, “we won’t beat him.”

“Not a chance,” said Enilor with a wicked little smile, her fiddle already tucked under her chin.”

There was a rattle and a clatter of wood on wood, with some noncommittal low booming noises as the troupe pulled out drums and tambourines and pipes and who knows what other instruments from their bags and their tents. In seconds, every musician was ready, each poised with their fingers to their instruments and their eyes watching Zon. With a quick inhale and a flick of his wrist, they began.

Ameryn had never heard anything like it. The music was wild, rhythmic—as untamable as those that played it. Enilor skipped around the fire, sawing away on a song that sounded like every lark was singing at once. Loui’s drums made the earth throb, and the taurlin twins whistled out lively harmony on their panpipes. Zon strummed at his lute, his sister plucked a harp, his brother took to the bells and other percussive things Ameryn had never seen before. Narina closed her eyes to the dark and spun around the fire in the otterling’s tracks, her light palm beating the tambourine as she danced to rival the flicker of the flames.

Ameryn sat with her knees held to her chest, her eyes wide in awe. She had never seen anyone so happy as these vagabonds, each of them lost in the world of their own, but somehow producing the most joyous sound she had ever heard in her life.

Suddenly she found herself pulled to her feet. Zon had grabbed ahold of her hands, and was grinning at her.

“Do you dance?”

“Er—ah—well,” Ameryn stuttered, her face feeling very warm, “court dances, yes, but, uh, nothing that would go with this sort of—music.”

“Try,” Enilor yelled over the din. “T’ain’t too hard—just skip, girlie!” The rest cheered encouragingly.

“Come on,” said Zon, “see what you can do.”

He pulled her with him, leaping in time to the music. Ameryn fumbled along behind, gasping for air, and laughing. Laughing at herself, laughing at him, laughing with all of them as they cheered her on. She didn’t get the hang of it until Zon launched her into a spin that sent her flying a few feet. She landed, looked down at her dusty, red feet, and realized she hadn’t fallen.

“This isn’t—half—bad!” she gasped. She was not used to laughing.

“Told you so!” Zon yelled. Narina caught Ameryn’s hands and spun with her, then passed her to Claritas, then to one then the other of Zon’s siblings, and at last again to the man himself, who took her around twice, three times again. The song ended, and they all collapsed into laughter and applause.

“There!” Zon said, “That’ll put the darkness to shame!”

They laughed and cheered some more, and played a song or two, some soft, some loud, some joyful, some heart-wrenching. At last, the instruments were put away, and every musician crawled into the comfort of tent and blanket. Ameryn drifted off to sleep in Claritas’ tent, her head throbbing with the wildness of the music and the newfound gift of laughter.



All or Nothing

Today is my two-year blogiversary.

I have written and published a post every day for 731 days.

WordPress gave me a special notification and everything.


Incidentally, today is “National All or Nothing Day.” Appropriate, I think, for a day like today. You see, at the beginning of this project, I informed anyone who might be reading that if I missed one day of blogging, that would be it. I’d never post again. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I would keep forgetting, or it would no longer be a priority, or because missing that one day would drain all of my will to continue the writing habit. Every day, or not at all. All, or nothing.

And I have written every day. I’m not sure if my writing has improved at all. I’m not even sure if I as a person have improved at all. But this experience–it’s been lovely. There are no words for how glad I am to be here.

I said I would try to write every day for a year. I blinked, and it’s been two.

Let’s make it three.

Wonderful Things


I love old movies. There are many reasons why I love old movies, but the greatest reason is probably because the oldest movies have the best things to say. From the dual meaning of “As you wish” to something as simple yet enduring as “There’s no place like home,” old movies really had something they wanted to communicate. New movies, more often than not, leave me cold. There’s nothing to quote. For a girl who abandoned speaking in English for speaking in movie quotes years ago, if I come away from a movie unable to repeat any of its dialogue, the movie was a waste of time.

There’s a particular old favorite of mine called Hello Dolly, based off of the Thornton Wilder play The Matchmaker. It’s about a woman who it a vibrant, energetic, and strong—yet almost allows life to pass her by. At one point, after a gloriously colorful and energetic dance number involving half the city of New York, Dolly collapses onto a bench and a girl who’s just met the love of her life runs up to Dolly, grabs her hands, and says “Isn’t the world full of wonderful things?”

Dolly cannot agree. She can only smile and squeeze her friend’s hands before letting her flit off with the boy who’s found her. She watches them go, and her smile fades. In an apostrophe to her dear departed husband, she tells him: “For years I haven’t shed one tear, nor have I for one moment been outrageously happy.” She has forgotten how to live life fully.

We can’t live every moment of our lives being outrageously happy. If we did, the moments of ridiculous happiness would become monotonous and lose their sparkle. But a life without moments of exceptional, uninhibited happiness can hardly be called a life. Where does this happiness come from? Happiness is a fleeting thing—unlike joy, which is a steady stream of contentment that comes only with divine grace and practiced care—and is tied to fleeting pleasures. But happiness (the exceptional, uninhibited kind) comes from a wide-eyed, appreciative delight in the fact that the world, in fact, is full of wonderful things.

For example: there is nothing particularly exceptional about the concept of a firework. It’s gunpowder (or a similar substance) stuffed into a tube and then set on fire. Fireworks are no more than really big, synchronized sparks. But they’re wonderful. They’re not only pretty, but powerful. Flowers fired from a cannon. Comets in a bottle. They world’s only beautiful bombs. Watching them explode above your head makes you feel like the whole planet is celebrating. And tonight, at the conclusion of a long and exciting day, watching the sparks fly and the hearing the rockets boom, I was happy. Exceptionally, uninhibitedly, outrageously happy.

It is possible. It is real. Happiness still exists. It has not gone the way of the dinosaur and the dodo bird. While happiness is not a lasting sensation, it does burst into our lives on occasion, yellow, bright, and glowing.

God knows we need it.


A Little Fall of Rain


Not all of the world’s lovely music is in a major key. Some music rests in minor, passing over our senses subtly, smoothly. It does not call of attention or demand a change of mood. But to the listener whose heart is predisposed to sadness, the ebb and flow of music in a minor key frees up knots of emotion that would have remained tied otherwise.

There is a place for sadness in everyone’s life. Normally I talk about happiness on this blog, but tonight I’d like to take a break and give due credit to sadness, especially sadness without a cause.

Normally we feel sad for a definite reason: a death in the family, a breakup, a national crisis, a failed interview, or even something small like not doing well on a quiz. But every so often, sadness creeps into our lives unbidden and seemingly without motive.

This sadness does not feel the same way that the other kinds do. Other kinds of sadness roar into our lives, shackle us, and drag us into inescapable tar pits of unpleasant emotions. No, this is a gentle sadness, like a misting rain. It casts a grey shadow over you for a day or two, softly laying down a coat of dampness that slows your thinking ever so slightly, as though you were watching the world from behind a foggy window. This sadness does not make you want to cry, but only to think while curled up in a blanket and listening to the softest or most profound of your favorite songs.

Far from torturous, this soft sadness does not bring to mind all of the mistakes you’ve made or all the people you miss. It reminds you of nothing but itself, becoming a memory in and of itself. It is a productive sadness: it drives you to think of word combinations or images you had never even dreamed of before, and soon the cup of herbal tea that had occupied your hands is replaced by a pen and paper. Before long, you find yourself drawing with words or pictures, moved by the tide of sadness and the sound of music.

When the rain clouds pass, their work complete, they leave the air fresher and the grass greener. Likewise, when this causeless sadness passes—whether after a long nap or a long time alone—we are left a little fresher and more joyful for having a reprieve from endless exuberance. All sunshine and no rain, the grass will never grow. All happiness and no interludes of sadness, and neither will we.

This inexplicable sadness passes quickly, like a minor line in a passage of music that is mostly major. It winds itself around us for a moment, reminding us that sadness can be beautiful, before resolving itself in a major chord.


Friday for the Win


Even though school is technically out, my week is still crammed by summer school, work, exercise, and prepping for my trip to Croatia.

So when I reach Friday, I still have the same amount of satisfying relief when I sink into the sofa and realize that I don’t have to do any studying for another two days. I look forward to sleeping in a little and eating more than I do during the week. I treat myself to a little dark chocolate, since I noticed today that I’m starting to slim down a bit.

It’s Friday. Celebration is always in order on a Friday. In the dorms at UU, Friday was the one night we could visit other people’s rooms after 11, so I would be down in my friend Lizzie’s room until twelve, laughing about nothing and annoying her roommates. Then I’d finally collapse into bed, to be awakened by my roommate’s alarm clock somewhere around 7:30 in the morning.

But now I’m home.

Home. With my bed. No noise, no hustle, no alarm clocks, and my parents and my cats to keep me company.

Fridays are awesome.

Happiness Is




Yes, yes it is. Happiness is illusive. Real. Beautiful. Bright. But illusive, transient, fragile—like a soap bubble. Round and clear and perfect—until it pops.


What makes people happy? Where I come from, it’s good grades. Finding out your team won. Getting a project completed. Hanging out with friends. Reading a good book. A stellar Broadway performance. A trip to the circus. A blockbuster movie. Winning a video game. Christmas.

Big things. Right?

People tend to snigger at individuals who are—and I quote—“easily amused.” By “easily amused” they mean the people who can stare for long times at a piece of string, or contentedly fill fifteen minutes of down time just by swinging a keychain around on a finger. It is often assumed that these people simply have nervous habits, are fidgety, or, as is most often implied, are a little bit dim.

This is an unfair assumption. But this unfair assumption stems from the heinous and widespread idea that in order to be happy, one must gain much.

Think about it. People equate money with happiness. Fame with happiness. Beauty with happiness. They think that if only they could have this, do that, go here, experience that—then they will be truly happy.

Now look at history. Marilyn Monroe had the big three: fame, money, and looks. But was she happy? Do happy people kill themselves?

But when I look at really happy people—genuinely happy people—they are the people who are, to borrow a phrase, “easily amused.”

They grin into their coffee cups because they love the taste so much. They reach out their hands to the rain to feel the raindrops tickling their skin. They stop in their tracks to watch a butterfly drink from an azalea blossom and that is easily the high point of the day. They can hold a cheap plastic fake crystal keychain up to the light and smile because the way the light hits it, shattering the sunlight into a thousand rainbow shards, is truly beautiful.

“Easily amused” people are not simpletons—they are content. Content with the little things. And they have the extraordinary ability to enjoy all of the little beautiful things that add up to make the one big beautiful thing that’s called LIFE.

Without contentedness, a person will give their lifeblood to getting what they think they want, sacrificing people, relationships, love, and life itself along the way.Too many people are blind to the reality that everything they need to be happy is already right in front of them. Too many people can’t see past the ends of their noses. And they snub those who can as being just too “easily amused.”

So. Happiness. Is it attainable? Yes. Does it last? No.

But if we open our eyes, open our ears, reach out our hands, breathe deeply, open our mouths and taste and see that the Lord is good…

Then happiness is ours for the taking.

Happiness and lasting joy.

A Bolt from the Blue


There are times when I feel like blogging has become an extension of my being. On a typical day, I feel like I’m spending my little spare moments thinking of interesting things to write about. Usually when an idea strikes me, I’m in the middle of a conversation and can’t pause to write it down—so of the ten ideas I get during the day, only one, if any, survives long enough in my long-term memory to make it to the blog page. I don’t know if this counts as a hobby or a lifestyle—I suppose it depends on how obsessive I become.

But every once in a while, it’s like God hands me something to write about. A bolt from the blue. One sentence, one word, one hysterical moment that gets my thoughts rolling and BOOM: essay.

Today my topic came in the comments of Wednesday’s post.

The lovely writer of the blog Truth About Mornings awarded me and six other people the Versatile Blogger Award.

This award comes with very little fanfare and certainly no cash benefits. The trophy consists of a bright green, copy-and-pasted button that you can display somewhere on your home page. The award comes with the responsibility of passing the award along to a few other bloggers who you feel need a little recognition.

It’s a virtual pat on the back. It’s a “good job, your blog makes my day, keep at it” sort of award. There’s nothing pretentious or lofty about it, but it’s a brilliant way to make fellow bloggers feel appreciated.

So thank you, Truth About Mornings, for leaving me this beautiful little bolt from the blue. I had no idea you were even reading my blog, but I’m glad it can bring you joy.

I would also like to pass along the award to these seven bloggers who bring me smiles, challenging thoughts, and encouraging words through their escapades in blogging:

Jonel Fernando.com

Solarpowered Kate

Dramatic Lyric

A LEGO a Day

Jonesin’ After 40

Not A New Yorker

My Other Book Is A Tolstoy

Once you receive the award, you must also share with the world seven things about yourself. As I am attempting to keep my identity under wraps, you all will get nothing about where I currently live or look like—just generic things about my preferences and/or past. I will try to include things that most of my readers probably don’t know already.

  1. I lived in Europe for a year and a half. Contrary to popular opinion, Parisians can’t cook worth beans.
  2. I love music—especially Broadway and film soundtracks. Or any song that makes my soul want to get up and dance.
  3. I am not, repeat not, a morning person. Divine intervention (including coffee) is the only thing that helps me pretend that I am…occasionally.
  4. My favorite actor is Sean Astin. Why? Because he’s a devoted dad who adores his wife and kids. The only wife he’s ever had, mind you. That, and he played my favorite character in The Lord of the Rings. My childhood crush was Samwise Gamgee.
  5. If I were an animal, I would be a white tiger. But a nice cuddly one that doesn’t eat people.
  6. I collect copies of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. So far I have fourteen copies, not including movie adaptations.
  7. When asked to list a certain number of things or facts, I always get stuck on the last one. This includes facts on tests and lists of interesting things about myself. I think I’m interesting until I have to make a list of why I am, and then I forget it all.

Thank you all for reading! A writer is not a writer without an audience.

P.S. to those of you who got the award: you can find more information on this award and what all the rules are at their site.