We Were Here; We Are Here

Hello beautiful WordPress editor. Hello beautiful laptop and Photoshop and Chrome and all the other ingredients needed to craft a blog. I know it’s only been a month, but I’ve missed you like crazy. I’ve missed coming up with Inklings designed as trail heads to guide my lovely audience down their path to a complete piece. I’ve missed compiling my thoughts into introspective essays about my own life journey. And most importantly, I’ve missed you — my blogging family — and the always-encouraging remarks we all share with each other.

I’m a fan of short reintroductions, so instead of dwelling on the tamper-proof past, I’d prefer to jump right in, flip all the switches back to their online mode, and get to work!

What is it like to truly know a place completely and move away, only to come back later by choice? When we moved from Montgomery, Alabama to St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., I knew almost everything about the “Gump,” as it were. That’s the coolest nickname for Montgomery of a city fraught with uncool nicknames, so that will be its frequent designation on Normal Happenings. The history, the culture, the roads, and the geography of the place were second-nature to me, even if I spent most moments pushing against them with stubborn resilience. I never caught an American Southern accent — honestly my syntax fits far closer to that of an STL-native.

Still, the rolling topography of Central Alabama was my home, and among the historical infamy of the place, I also had history with the people. Family and friends had built their lives, core values, and houses upon the green hills, and, it seems, so did I despite myself. Before I knew it, I had become respected nonconformist who questioned established norms. I’ve been reminded frequently of late how “liked” I was — something I couldn’t really validate in the moment.

I carried those feelings with me to STL; but honestly being away from it all was a breath of fresh air to me. Sure, it took a while to find my footing in STL, but once I did I enjoyed being away from everyone I knew. We began making friends, and found ourselves being appreciated much quicker than before.

So, when this opportunity in Alabama came up, we were notably torn. On the one hand, this was a solid career-move for me, with better benefits and markedly lower cost of living. On the other, it would require us to leave the place we loved — STL offered us a place to heal from past wounds, and we did so with us much grace as we could muster.

Oh, and, it was the birthplace of Normal Happenings… so there’s that.

There is one thing about Alabama, however, that makes things not-so-bad anymore — and it’s not about the state. At the end of the day, home is not a place. Humans have moved beyond the need for the protection of a village, and the world is a lot smaller than it was even a century ago. Home is your values, your experiences, and the people you bring with you. Home, for me, is making an impact in people’s experiences and spreading positivity to those you meet as travelers through this life.

And so, though I would honestly rather be in St. Louis, I can say with sincerity that it’s good to be home.

That’s a wrap! | Completed 7/29/19 11:07 P.M.

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Positivity By Force

💬 Highlights:

  • Positivity is a learned skill, but it has become my new default.
  • It takes a lot of energy to be positive.
  • Often tools are required to be optimistic in situations not ideal.

Part of my pursuit of removing pretentiousness and bloat from my own writing. Sometimes simple messages are best told simply.

“Positivity By Force”

Volume 2, Number 3

I am an optimist, but I was not born one. I am positive by default, but it is a learned skill. I do it because I feel it increases the quality of life of myself and those around me. The funny thing about positivity — it doesn’t come as easily as negativity. Like how it takes more effort to smile than to frown, it seems reasonable to set my default state of being to within a standard deviation of neutral. The day determines if I fall to the left or right of that baseline — a slight push towards negative or positive is determined by the weather, the daily commute, or the current level of caffeine consumption. That type of life does not work for me, however. I want to be more than the sum of my reactions.

Continue reading “Positivity By Force”

Be Happy for the Success of Others

Human nature is that of competition, from the ancient plains of the savannas in the past, to the girders and steel of corporate metropolises on the present, and likely the far-flung future of asteroid mining and space colonization. Because of this drive for dominance, I’m about to say something that runs counter to culture and common sense. It’s an uncomfortable request – a plea completely unnatural when intersecting with the human condition:

You should be genuinely happy for the success of others.

Normal Happenings isn’t about telling you what to do – it’s more about the exploration of concepts that can lead to a bigger appreciation for life. However, in this particular case, I’m asking you: please try to be happy when good things happen to others. It will lead you to a better life. Continue reading “Be Happy for the Success of Others”

Happiness Isn’t a Limited Resource (But It Sure Is Rare)

The topic of happiness has been on my mind lately, and so I’d like to spend the next two blog posts discussing its purpose in appreciating everyday life.

Small, quiet elements of the human experience confuse me far more than they should. Why do 20% of people, myself included, automatically sneeze when they go out into the sun? What is with people’s obsessive fascination with finding beauty in symmetrical faces and patterns? And why do people continue to imagine doing repetitive tasks long after they’re done?

Then there are the things that move beyond simple curiosities and can cause real negative effects in society. To me, one of the most egregious of these is the human nature to shoot down the happiness of others.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, or this has become such a part of daily life where you don’t even notice when it happens, I urge you to keep an ear to the ground on the daily conversations surrounding you. Listen to the ebb and flow of discourse when one person mentions a truly positive event in their life that makes them happy. Unless the other person has specifically trained themselves to take joy in the happiness of others, their automatic instinct is normally to attempt to balance the scales and introduce negative repercussions into the circumstances of the happy person.

Continue reading “Happiness Isn’t a Limited Resource (But It Sure Is Rare)”


– By Nikki –

I hear a voice more harsh than a gunshot whispering in my ear.

“No one will understand, listen, or care about you,” it claims, wrapping it’s arms around my neck and dragging me out of the existing moment I am participating in. I struggle against the weight of the constricting arms that are slowly choking me to death. I try to to verbalize what is going on, but all that I see is your hard face not noticing me.

I close my eyes and allow the darkness to overtake me.

I don’t feel anything.
I don’t have an opinion. Continue reading “Light”

The Courage of Stars: Finding Personal Truth in an Unsupportive World


This post contains two mild trigger warnings:
First, I briefly talk about my own panic attacks, particularly in regards to self-doubt. Proceed with caution if you’re prone to anxiety. Second, I delve into my own spiritual beliefs as part of my own identity, but I have no desire to push those on other people.

This post is best read along with the song “Saturn” by Sleeping at Last. However, if you haven’t heard it, I recommend experiencing it for the first time with the music video. You can always hit restart while you’re reading through this post. Trust me, you’ll want to.


You taught me the courage of stars /
before you left 

Continue reading “The Courage of Stars: Finding Personal Truth in an Unsupportive World”

A Romanticized Notion

You’ve been here before, and here you’ve returned to this very spot. At a crossroads in life, you find yourself unhappy with what you’re becoming and the places you’re headed. You stare out, deep into the night, and waves of discontentment suddenly come rolling in like breakers into the side of a cliff. You’ve traveled the same roads over and over again, wearing them down along with you. You’re ready for a change.

As you look up at the blue sky that you used to love, you think of how you once found happiness, but it was so long ago you can hardly remember how it felt. You were in love once, with a person or a place or a calling. Your future was so bright. But now responsibility doesn’t feel as grand as it used to be, and neither do the people you feel compelled to be responsible for. Looking for an escape, your mind suddenly opens to the possibilities. There’s a great big world out there, you think, rife with opportunities to take away the pain and give me something I can appreciate. I can find peace and comfort, abandoning this drudgery of a life for something I truly love. I don’t have to take this anymore. Continue reading “A Romanticized Notion”