Last week, I had to actively stop myself from approaching two teenage girls in Starbucks who I overheard chatting about The Bachelor. I was two sips of chai tea away from sauntering over to say “Hey little girls…you should read my blog” before I realized that they might mistake me for a child predator. Especially since I’d just been a spray tanned and looked remarkably similar to David Hasselhoff.

David Hasselhoff tan

Oh, spray tans. The things I’ll do for this blog. If you appreciate the fact that I don’t look like Morticia Addams in the slider photos for this new Generation grannY website, you may thank Sun Buni Airbrush Tanning Studio of Virginia Beach. And Callie Hardman Photography for not backing out of the photo session after I sent her this inspiring picture of my bare face with the text “Here’s the pretty model you can look forward to working with tomorrow!”

bare face

pretty pretty

I should probably be ashamed of sharing such a picture, but I feel surprisingly good about it.

Anyway, life as a full-time blogger is pretty weird, in case you haven’t noticed by things I’ve shared on social media. There’s a whole different crowd at the gym at 11 a.m. on a week day, let me tell you. And I feel a strong desire to strike up conversations with strangers because I have no built-in social interactions during daylight hours. I also find myself staring at people for extended periods of time, which could explain why the tables to the left and right of me are the only empty seats in Starbucks at the moment.

Part of why I’m a writer is that my mind holds an alarming amount of useless information and obscure questions, like “Is the POTUS issued a military ID?” He has to show it to get on a military base, right? Rules are rules. (I’ve wondered about this more than I care to admit.)

Questions like these circulate in my mind until one pops up that is worthy of an entire blog post. The rest are put in a bank for me to ask my husband when he gets home, which provides him with much amusement– and me with a lot of confidence that he’ll love me no matter what. Recently, I’ve realized that if my blog-worthy ideas start to run dry, it’s probably because I have not had enough interaction with the world.

Conversations and observations are the only way for us to stretch our minds and feel inspired. When your life seems stale, ask yourself, “What have I done lately to engage my brain?” You don’t have to go to a third world country or do something remarkable to trigger brainwaves (though monumental experiences are certainly rewarding). Generally, you’d be amazed at how simple social interactions can greatly benefit your life-satisfaction level.

Personally, I try to have plans four nights a week– even when I’m tempted to lay in bed watching The Mindy Project with my trusty companions: a wheel of brie and the 25 water bottles on my nightstand. Engaging with real, live human beings is key when it comes to stimulating the mind.

During babble with my friends at girls night, they tell me stories about their crazy customers and annoying coworkers. When I have dinner with my fellow military wives/girlfriends, they tell me about struggles in their relationships– some of which are foreign to me, and some to which I can strongly relate. When I have one-on-one time with an old pageant friend, she’ll open up about her dating life, battles with body-image, and other issues that make this decade of life both riveting and exhausting. When I have a Skype or phone date with a long distance friend, I’m reminded of the many beautiful chapters of my life and the extraordinary people I’ve met along the way.

After these interactions, I usually find myself contemplating a topic that came up in conversation, or something I observed about their offhand comments and/or demeanor. Why is my friend’s coworker so desperate for attention? Should I invest in cuter socks to wear under my boots? What would it be like to be married to a guy who is a hot head? Should couples work together professionally? Why does my friend think people notice her underarm fat? Why does our appearance so heavily affect how we feel, even though we don’t even regularly see our own reflection? How did my friend save the money to buy a house? How does she have such good hair? Is ombre in style or on its way out? Is anyone actually happy in their job? Bras without underwiring still exist? Is life insurance really important? Is it weird that I’ve never opened the oven in my house? Is something possibly living in there? Wow, am I not the only Republican my age?? Why do people still smoke? Why do people not care about the environment? Why is God such a taboo topic? Am I allowed to not know how I feel about gun rights?

anna kendrick thoughts gif

Somewhere in the 100 questions raised by talking to other people, I find a blog post. But more importantly, I don’t just drift through life aimlessly. My brain isn’t turning to mush. I’m learning how to be happier in life, a kinder person, and more open-minded. I’m challenging my priorities, adjusting perspectives, and acknowledging blessings. Simply by spending time with other people, my life is deeply enriched. Or sometimes shallowly enriched. But why would I turn down useful hair tips?

Don’t become bored with life. Don’t waste opportunities to engage, think, and change. Life is for living! You don’t need to always be doing something “extraordinary” in order to feel alive and interested in the world around you. So I urge you– don’t shrink into an unfulfilled existence. Split a bottle of wine with a friend on half price wine night at [name your favorite watering hole], and start enjoying the humor, excitement, inspiration, and opportunities for self-growth in every day life.