Hey guys.

I have not posted here in a long time, and for that I am very sorry. But I am retiring this blog. I need to start fresh, and I hope you all understand.

If you are interested, I am starting a new blog. It’s going to be about starting life after college, and exploring my new city. My writing style will still be the same, but the content will be more focused and in a different vein. I hope some of you will take a gander, and visit the new site:

That’s all.

Spandy Andy: Making people smile everywhere.

The other day Eric showed me a hilarious video. I thought I’d share it for my Sunday post. It’s of ‘Spandy Andy’ dancing to LMAFO in a sparkly speedo. It definitely made me smile. And if you have time, check out more of his videos online. He’s definitely a character, and all he cares about is making people smile. His motto? “Appreciate the fact that you are alive and use your energy to spread positivityaka: Keep it TIGHT & BRIGHT!!” (I found it on his website). Words to live by right there. It makes me happy to know there are people like Spandy Andy out there! Let me know what you think of him and the video. And while you’re at it, let me know what made you smile this weekend! All for now, Em

That time I smiled

You guys better be ready to say ‘awww’. Maybe even tear up a little. And definitely smile. This post is emotional GOLD.

This week’s guest post is by Justin Plasket, an aspiring TV writer. I only say aspiring because he’s not actually employed by any company. I know he’s written a lot of episodes for multiple shows he wants to create already. At some point I’m sure he’ll succeed in show biz. I’m excited that I will eventually have a friend who writes the new hit TV show. Totally awesome.

Justin is studying creative writing at the University of Iowa and will graduate in May.  He plays the trombone, works at the Apple store, has a very good sense of humor and is generally a very nice person. He talks ALL THE TIME, and usually has something witty to say. I hope you enjoy his post, and please visit his blog “Marginal Chicken Scratch”. He’s a wonderful writer.

All for now — Em


“That time I smiled” — Justin Plasket

Loaded question of the day: Justin Plasket, what makes you smile?

When Em first asked me to write this, I knew I had found an excuse to pull this bad boy out so…

Comics, Cars, Food, Family/Friends, Hugs.  Put it simply, those do it.  At least on the surface, it’s pretty easy to make me smile.  I’m prone to laughter at obnoxious volumes (and at inappropriate times), walking around and smiling at my music, or even smiling because I feel like complete shit and that’s the only way I can seem to snap myself out of it (yes, forcing yourself to smile does have a profound psychological effect on your mood).

(There might be a Dog theme… I love ‘em… deal)

But then there’s that type of smile where your entire body warms up and starts tingling.  I get that one too; not all the time but I have my moments.  Recently, I’ve had a couple more of those moments than I’m used to and it’s a wonderfully terrifying experience.  Who knows?  If things in my life actually keep going certain directions, I might actually smile at random children instead of mentally project them playing in traffic.

I’m perplexed by the awful parenting… and I find this a TAD unsettling… but it illustrates a point.

There’s this ethereal quality to true happiness that comes along with inner peace (as they are, inextricably connected) that causes your entire body to tingle.  I don’t know about anyone else but when it happens to me and when I cut loose and let the smile rip, it feels like I’m flying. So I’m this terrible student; definitely worse now than I was in high school but that’s beside the point.  The fact is that while I am an abysmal representation of “the successful student,” I am relatively intelligent and can feign eloquence when absolutely required.  I also have a lazy streak in me.  All of these things added up to me being slightly “less than my potential” on paper (grades) in High School.

Now, here’s the point when I stop everything and say that I love my mother.  I’m a Momma’s Boy through and through.

Yup… this is kinda how it is… and yes, this is us

She did the work of two parents by herself… and I’m one of those unique individuals who probably should have been raised by a ROOM of parents (“Parent’s Room”  haha it’s like “Writerss Room…” screenwriting pun!) so really, she did the work of 6 parents.  Never missed a single performance (Marching Band, Concert Band, Solo and Ensemble Trombone, Honor Bands, Concert Choir, Show Choir, the middle school show choir I choreographed, Musicals, Theater, One Acts, One Act I directed, etc. etc.), cheered herself hoarse in a silent natatorium as her son recorded the year’s SLOWEST time for the 100m Butterfly (2:47… yup), videotaped the finish of almost every cross country race I was in, and even helped me study and write.  That’s pretty amazing for a single parent and then… this little fact: My mother, one of the most intelligent and highly educated people I know, did all of this “raising me” stuff… while she was IN LAW SCHOOL.  She received her Juris Doctorate the week before I walked across the stage for my high school graduation.

I did a lot as a high schooler.  My Modus Operandi has always been “Rush in before I’m ready and do WAY more than I can possibly do” and often, that leads to less than stellar results.  I walked into the gym for graduation with my mom and kissed her good-bye as she took her seat and I went to pick up my cap and gown and get in line with the rest of my class.  I had prepared her the entire way over for me to be outside of the top 15% of my class and that the important thing is that I was graduating.  I was handed a package that had a cap, a gown… and these silver honor cords signifying that I had made the top 10% of my class.

Regardless of whether or not my “potential” should have had me in the top 5% (gold cords… which didn’t look as awesome as the silver accents on the navy blue gown…), I had done something unexpected.  See, mom was proud of me for just getting through it.  High School saw me go through a big dealio with the father (which we don’t talk about and that involved mom as well and a lot of stress for both her and me), coming out, a long period where I just FROZE when it came to applying to colleges, and the usual adolescent struggles.  Most of that all happened senior year.  Mom was simply proud of me for graduating.

So there I stood, waiting for 45 minutes for everyone to get in line, standing in silence (which, for me, is a minor miracle) and beaming from ear to ear while running those silver cords through my fingers.  Fast forward and we’re all lined up outside the Wells Fargo Arena main court (Des Moines).  The band was playing whatever other piece Marcellus had picked out to offset the redundant monotony (see what I did there?  I thought it was clever…) of the Elgar (Pomp and Circumstance).  We all started to file in and as the fluorescent lights beat down on my face, I felt as if I was about to do my best Northstar impression and take off into the sky in a blazing flash of light.

Nerds, let me here you scream!

I looked up and made some crappy cute wave with the silver cords toward my mom and saw her start to cry.  Even the fact that my friends couldn’t believe it (I had them convinced I was like… 16% or something… I’d make a great lawyer if I cared about school now) and were staring, slack jawed, and the odd spectacle this gangly kid was making with his damned silver ropes – even that couldn’t measure up to how I felt knowing that I had done Momma proud. THAT feeling is the same feeling I get whenever….

Well… if anyone’s a Doctor Who fan out there…

I’m Justin Plasket and that’s the story of this one time I smiled.

I’m not a morning person.

Anyone who knows me well can back up that statement. I’m definitely not a morning person. I like any extra wink of sleep I can get. I’ve perfected my morning routine to take a total of (at most) half an hour. Class at 9:30? Great, I’ll get up at 8:45. But WAIT! Look at the time stamp of this post. 8:20? What? I’m up, awake and ready to take on the day. And have been for two hours.

Let me explain. Last weekend Eric and I decided we needed to start leading healthier lives. He started working out in the mornings. Getting up at 6 a.m. and all that. Me? I bought healthier food at the grocery store and tried to find time in my busy day to work out. Unfortunately, I realized fairly quickly that I had absolutely no motivation to turn my now cherished down time into a work out.

6 a.m.: it's much to early for me.

So I did the unthinkable. Last Tuesday I set my alarm for 6 a.m. the next day, and got my roommate to do the same. Together we were going to attempt to get up and make the trek to the gym to work out. I was determined. If Eric could do it, so could I. And besides, if I have a reason to get up, I can. I just really don’t like it.

And I did. Joy and I successfully made it to the gym, and I’ve found I actually really enjoy morning work outs. I don’t feel as rushed in the morning. I am more awake for class. And most of all? I feel really proud of myself. I feel better, healthier and more energetic. Coupled with my healthy eating (which is going really well too!) I’m feeling much better about myself. All it took was a little motivation and encouragement. If I, a notorious anti-morning person can do it, I’m convinced anyone can.

Are you a morning person? What do you do to stay healthy? I’d love to  hear about other’s attempts at being more active!

All for now,

Walrus. (Because Eric couldn’t think of a clever subject.)

You’ve heard stories. Perhaps you even know how we met. Maybe you even know him in real life.

I’m really excited about my second writer in my ‘what makes YOU smile’ series. My beau, Eric Sylvester. If you’ve read my blogs over the past six months you know he’s been a big part of what makes me happy. I am incredibly lucky to have found him (forever thankful, wordpress) and now he’s agreed to write a post for me. Score!

A little more about Eric first. (The following will be my best unbiased description of him.) Eric is in his fourth year at the University of Northern Iowa. He’s studying to be a high school social sciences teacher, and at UNI that means he has to complete both the social science major and the education program. That means he’s been a super busy bee. He had his first student teaching experience last semester, and he said he loved it. Imagine that, actually loving high school freshmen! Eric also loves hockey. I mean LOVES it. He switched from playing forward to playing goalie, and says he is FAR better at that. He’s even joined the Waterloo Adult Hockey League. So there ya have it. Eric in a nutshell. He’s the biggest goof I know, and I love it. (And, in case you were wondering, the title of the post was inspired by the email he sent it in.) So finally, he gets his say.

All from me… enjoy!  — Em


“Blog for Emily because she asked me to write one and I’m awesome and totally wrote it.” — Eric Sylvester

I promised myself I wouldn’t do this.  When Em asked me to write about what makes me smile for her blog, I didn’t want to be the sappy boyfriend who writes about how his girlfriend is the moon and the stars and whatever other celestial body the aforementioned boyfriend includes in his lame, three chord, acoustic love song he wrote for some other girlfriend two years earlier and just replaced the name of the girl in the song because he forgot to get his current girlfriend a Valentines…

Well, you get the point.  I didn’t want to be “that guy”.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that… it’s true.  Nothing makes me smile nearly as much as Emily.

Now before you vomit in disgust and close this page, I’ll promise right now to keep this post light and as mush-free as possible.

A couple of weeks ago I was visiting Emily at Creighton, and we (she) decided we should bake cookies.  The problem being that the NHL Skills Competition was going on at the same time.  I’d like to say that I ignored the competition completely, without a moment of hesitation, and we baked cookies and laughed and had some sort of made-for-TV moment where we had a flour fight and it led to a lasting memory that we’ll both cherish for eternity.

Nope.  I turned the competition on my computer and watched it while I made balls out of the pre-made cookie dough we bought at the grocery store.  This led to a few instances where Emily said something that I didn’t hear because I wasn’t paying attention.  It also led to almost zero consistency in cookie dough ball size, which drove Emily nuts.

This isn’t nearly the first time I’ve been incredibly frustrating around Em.  Whenever she yawns, I try to “fish hook” the inside of her mouth with my finger.  Sometimes when she’s talking, I’ll flick her bottom lip with my finger so she makes a babbling sound.  I also love to do what I call the “reverse kangaroo”, in which at random times (often in public), I’ll grab the hemline of my hoodie and try to throw it over Emily’s head, trapping her head and shoulders inside my sweatshirt.  I tickle her relentlessly.  I pretend to be surprised that she has a twin whenever she talks about Rachel.  I do tons of embarrassing things in public with her for the sole purpose of making her blush and bury her head in her hands.  And just last weekend, I ran at a full sprint away from her outside of a grocery store so I could jump into the arms of my buddy half a block away.

So, what does this have to do with making me smile?  Emily has never asked me to change.  She’s never asked me to apologize for being one of the weirdest people she’s ever met.  She doesn’t care that I go to bars in sweatpants or that I own a Hello Kitty toaster.  She doesn’t question that on my dresser right now in my dorm room there is: a Bill Clinton bobblehead, a ceramic pig, and a framed picture of some random girl’s school pictures from Kindergarten to her senior picture that I got at Goodwill.  She doesn’t care that I read comic books and am bummed out that I can’t remember where I put my Pokemon lunch box.

She never makes me feel bad for being me, because she’s my best friend.  And for whatever reason, she fell in love with me.  All of me.  Including all of the weirdness that makes me who I am.

How could anything make me smile more than that?

…Not counting my Hello Kitty toaster.

How do I want you to remember me?

What a doozey of a question. I don’t pretend to have the answer, but I’m definitely thinking about it after watching this video: 

Please take a second and watch it. It put a big smile on my face! The video poses a few important questions, including the one this post is titled for. I want to be remembered as a kind, generous, successful person. The kind of person who smiles a lot… and means it. I want to be able to make others happy, and I want to spread that feeling. It’s not a quantitative goal, but more of a qualitative one. As long as I’m happy, and as long as I can make others smile, I’ll be OK. It’s cheesy, yes. But ultimately I would like to think that just having this goal causes me to be a better person. My (personal) purpose: to spread kindness, smiles and hugs.  I am: Emily, the girl who has a blog called ‘Taking time to smile.’ Or, Emily, the girl who hugs a lot. Or, Emily, the hard-working, dedicated journalist. But mostly: just plain Emily.

But what does this actually entail? Is it just holding the door open for people? Is it following the golden rule? Or is it all of that, and more? For me, I think the answer lies in what we do that is both integrated into our daily routine, but also above and beyond our ‘to-do’ lists. Like when the guy in Berlin bought me credit for my phone. Or when a car actually stopped and let me cross at the crosswalk. Or even just holding the elevator for someone. Moments like those can either stand out in a day, or they can blend in. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you did it. You were kind. And at the end of the day, you know it. And the person you held the elevator for might too. Kindness speaks for itself. It’s both quiet and loud. It’s a truly amazing thing.

But what did I do today that was kind? Well, I finally mailed a letter to my friend Max. It will take a week and a half (tops), but that letter, and the pictures inside will (hopefully) make Max smile. And, as he pointed out, be mail that is NOT a bill. Always good, right?

What did you do today that was kind? And, if you watched it, what did you think of the video?

All for now,

p.s. go listen to my favorite Mozart aria!

Relaxing, and the smiles it brings.

As I promised, I am going to start updating more. I’m trying to post on both Thursdays and Sundays, one of which is ideally partially a guest post. But as I don’t have a guest post to publish today,  you’ll get another cheery, upbeat blog from yours truly.

In my last post I talked about the large amount of free time I now have. Today, I want to share what I did with that free time this weekend. Mostly because these past few days rocked. It was a wonderful weekend, which was (of course) full of smiles. I thoroughly enjoyed my free time, and didn’t worry about homework, job hunting or anything! It was a great feeling. So here is a list of what made me smile this weekend!

– Baking cookies, making dinner and cooking a frittata, all with Eric (he’s a great help in the kitchen… we make a great team!).
– Watching the NHL All-Star Weekend Skills competition (at Eric’s request).
– Going out with friends that I hadn’t seen in a while… and going out with friends I see all the time. (Both nights were wonderful.)
– Relaxing… and making delicious coffee.
– Cleaning my room while listening to the recording of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. (I may have teared up at a particularly sad part…)

But most of all it was feeling how good it is NOT to be stressed. Not having a million worries weighing down on your mind is amazing. I’m sure my homework load will pick up soon enough, but right now I am going to listen to HP, bake cookies and watch movies.

What did you do this weekend that lifted your spirits? Is there anything you’re looking forward to this week?

All for now,

Hitting the brakes and filling up the time.

For the majority of the past three years I lived life at about 1000 miles per hour. It was tiring, but exhilarating. I did everything I could, and left no time to spare. Everything — from working on the paper to hanging out with my friends — kept me so busy I hardly had time to stop and think. All that has changed this semester.

For the first time  in my college career I am taking the minimum number of classes needed to be full time. I am not working on the paper. I don’t even have work study. I only go into my internship twice a week, and I have minimal homework. My workload nowhere near as large as last semester.

I actually have free time. I have time to write my friends letters. I have time to keep my room tidy. I have time to make myself tea, sit down with a book/movie/TV show and just relax. And most of all, I have more time to spend with the friends I have here. It’s really quite a treat, and I’m glad it worked out this way for my last semester.

But as wonderful as it is, I’m getting a little stir-crazy. I have SO MUCH TIME! I don’t know what to do with it all. I’m so used to being productive, I don’t know how to sit down and enjoy my free time without the nagging feeling I’m avoiding or forgetting something. I’m working on trying to get rid of that feeling, but when you’re used to traveling at 1000 miles per hour, 100 miles per hour seems dreadfully slow.

Today, though, I was walking around with a huge smile on my face. I’m not worried about the homework I have to do — I have plenty of time. I’m not worried about whatever little detail has gone awry with the paper — it’s not my job. But I AM smiling. Eric is visiting this weekend; I’ve been talking to my sister more; I’ve been hanging out with my friends more; and I’ve even started cooking more! Life is great. It’s nice to be able to sit still, even if it takes getting used to. Who knows when I’ll have another time in my life like this? I need to just sit back, relax and enjoy my last semester in college.

It’ll be quite the ride.
All for now,

A young boy’s smile.

I’m very excited for my first guest author, Micah Yamamoto. He’s a very good friend of mine, so it was easy to convince him to write something. I met him freshman year of college, and have been really good friends with him ever since. Micah and his girlfriend, Kylie, are two friends I know will always be there for me, no matter what. They make me smile all the time.

There are a few things you should know about Micah. He is fiercely loyal to his friends; he wants to be a contract lawyer; he grew up in Hawaii; he appreciates a good cigar; and he loves the Yankees. Talking to him is always interesting, especially when he gets into ‘lawyer mode’. Part of the reason I love being friends with Micah is he isn’t afraid to voice his opinion, and he definitely isn’t afraid to challenge your beliefs.

What I particularly appreciate about Micah is how much he values his family. I’ve heard so much about his family and his home in Hawaii I feel like I’ve been there! So, without further ado, I give you Micah’s answer to the question, ‘what makes you smile’.


“A young boy’s smile” by Micah Yamamoto 

Isn’t it funny how the seemingly mundane events we stroll through in life end up as the most profound?  A simple midsummer afternoon, a small 10-year-old boy and a child sized golf set slung over his left shoulder with his favorite club, his T-Rex driver home in his left hand while he firmly but subtly grips his grandfather’s hand, little brother laying in grandma’s arms in tow behind; the perfect day indeed.  The cool Hawaiian breeze kissing the boy’s cheeks, a feeling held too familiar to be significant.  Birds’ songs in the branches of evergreen trees above making the boy strain his neck to find them.

“Micah how many buckets today?”

“I don’t know Grandpa, how many did we hit last time?”

“I’ll just get two, one for you one for brother.”  Grandpa did always seem to find a way to lay equality between my brother and me.

“Sparky, Toto is a too tired to golf today.”  Grandma cared so much about us.

“No I’m not grandma!  If Micah gets to I get to.”

Grandpa buys the buckets of bright yellow Mililani golf balls and we make our way to the tees.  We sit for a while resting and practicing our swings.  The sun beats down, a relaxing sensation, like being wrapped in a warm blanket fresh out of the dryer.  The smell of the grass in harmonious company to the sensation of the dirt and mist from the sprinklers seems to paint the already majestic canvas that is the Mililani Golf Course the perfect shade of caring that I can only describe by the feeling I felt and still hold for my grandparents.

Now I stand beside my grandpa as he sits in the chair just next to my grandmother’s bed at the nursing home that she now resides, just like he does morning till night everyday now.  No smells of grass, no cool breeze, only the smell of artificial cleaners can be found here, a scene only describable as bleak.  But somehow it is all still perfect.  I am with my grandparents, those who love me unconditionally and whom I love the same.  The company we keep garners the emotions we experience.  Although I can’t smell all those familiar things from the Mililani Golf Course driving range, although I can’t hit those small yellow golf balls, I still have my grandparents; somehow, I feel as if I always will.

The little things that I experienced in the early days of my youth have become the most significant and have shaped who I am today.  My grandparents, the memory of the golf course, my grandpa teaching me to swing a club, the feeling of the grass beneath my feet, the mist on my face, the ache in my neck from trying to find the birds, the sound of my grandmothers voice intertwined with my brothers, those memories from my childhood can always turn the bleakest of settings into something worthy of a smile.  My grandparents will never be forgotten. No matter what events transpire in my future, the events of my past will forever be with me. Isn’t it funny how the seemingly mundane events we stroll through in life end up as the most profound?

I love you both, grandpa and grandma, you will always be remembered in the fondest corner of my heart.

New year, new goals and an unknown road ahead

So it’s been a while since I posted. I went home for Christmas break fully intending to write some insightful posts. But instead, I just hung out with my family and friends. It was one of the best breaks I have ever had. I love my family, and it was beyond amazing to have everyone together again. My brother was back from Japan, and everyone was happy. 

It may also have been the last Christmas we all have together for a long time. In the year 2012 a lot of things will change. Things I’m prepared for, and things I’m not. I will get my first job. My grandma will move to California. I’ll graduate college. It will be a roller coaster. 

One of the first things that will change is this blog. My goal for 2011 was to successfully finish the post a week challenge, which I did. I’m very proud of myself. It was a crazy year, and I’m glad I got to share a lot of it with my readers, whom I love. But for 2012 my goal is to make “Taking time to smile” more focused, with consistent content. 

I will be posting Thursdays and Sundays, and hopefully each week will bring a new interesting story. From the beginning, my goal for this blog was to bring smiles to people’s faces. This year I’m going to refine that goal. I am going to start sharing what makes people besides myself smile. The goal is to have a guest poster each week. I will write a short introduction that will explain who they are, and then they will answer the simple question ‘what makes you smile’. I’m really excited to hear what people have to say. In addition, I will continue to post stories about my life that make me smile and my ‘lists of smiles’, but I hope that “Taking time to smile” will become a better, stronger blog with more unique content. 

Let me know what you think! And look for a post on Sunday.
All for now,