Three Things to Remember Before Voting This November

With only a few weeks until a very important election in November, our TV’s, neighborhood billboards and social media feeds have started to flood with ads and requests for our votes. I’ve even received a few text messages from various candidates and causes hoping they can count on my support come November 8th.

In light of this and all the talk surrounding the anticipated and encouraged outcomes, I think there a few crucial things to remember when you vote, either in person or by mail in ballot.

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1) There is more than one opinion

Social media, namely sites like Twitter, are hubs for conversations on controversial topics. And with algorithms tracking popular topics and their corresponding responses, people are quick to notice the opinions gaining the most favor—a.k.a favorites and retweets. Depending on who you might follow on Twitter (or other social media sites), your feed might become full of these retweets/reposts, so much so that it might seem as if it is the only available to have. It’s important to remember that this is not the case. Every issue has multiple sides and arguments that favor each, so do your research and pursue these sides. It’s the only way you can properly determine where you stand.

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2) You are allowed to hold any opinion you choose

In doing research on the sides of an argument, it’s important to realize that as much as supporters and opposers would like you to believe, there is not one right opinion. Opinions are based on personal values and circumstances, so what might seem clear cut for one person, might not make any sense to another. Figure out where your values align and base your opinions and ultimate votes on those discoveries. Outside opinions are great for research and understanding but they should not dictate your individual vote.

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3) Vote your own vote

I’ve seen a number of celebrities and famous personalities make a special effort to encourage people to vote this year, which is great. Voting is a privilege, one that is so often taken for granted, and as role models in our society, I think it’s so valuable for them to present voting not only as important, but exciting and cool. I myself have a number of people I look up to that constantly post encouragements to make my voice heard, and it stirs something inside me. But here’s the thing, we need to let their encouragements stop once we get to the poles. We cannot cast ballots based on who we think we should vote for and we should never vote to impress celebrities or to further their opinions. This goes back to #1: figure out your own values, and where you stand on issues, because that is the only way to make your vote count.

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The most important thing to remember this election season is to vote. Don’t make an excuse, don’t be lazy, and don’t throw away your chance to make your voice heard. Your vote matters, your opinion matters, and we are blessed to live in a country that allows both of those to be heard. So go out and be part of something bigger than you. It’s important. Plus, you get a sticker.

Strain then Stir (Episode 5): Becoming a Member of the Squash Squad

Honest question: did you know there is more than one kind of squash?

Did you know there are more than ten different types of squash?

Yeah, well, I definitely DID NOT.

But I’m learning. And if I’m learning, than I think you should be learning—if only because squash is a delicious subject that you (and your taste buds) should know more about.

First off, let’s meet the squash family as a whole:

There’s:

  • Butternut Squash (a.k.a B’Nut)
  • Kabocha Squash (a.k.a Kabby)
  • Spaghetti Squash (a.k.a SpaSqua)
  • Acorn Squash (a.k.a Ace)
  • Sweet Dumpling Squash (a.k.a Sweetie D)
  • Sugar Pumpkin (a.k.a Sugar P)
  • Red Kuri Squash (a.k.a Big Red)
  • Delicata Squash (a.k.a DC)
  • Carnival Squash (a.k.a Carnee)
  • Buttercup Squash (a.k.a Baby B)
  • Blue Hubbard Squash (a.k.a Blubby)
  • Banana Squash (a.k.a Lil Nana)

I haven’t met the whole fam yet. In fact, I’ve really only dipped my toe into the squash squad. But if things keep going the way they’re going, I think I’m on track to be invited to Thanksgiving next year.

On that note, let me formally introduce you to the squash I already scheme with. The gourds I’m already getting down with. The—okay no, I think two was enough.

Note: All squash pictures (squash snapshots? squashots?) featured below belong to Food Network. I got them from this article, where you can find more recipes and information about the squash fam—though no cool nicknames!

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First up, Spaghetti Squash.

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SpaSqua was a love of my life I didn’t know existed for far too long. I’ve mentioned him in a previous post, but I feel it’s only fair to bring him back up—because WOW. I even have a folder on my computer marked “Spaghetti Squash recipes” that I fully intend on trying the minute I get my hands on another SpaSqua. In the meantime, here’s old faithful that first proved to me the spaghetti squash’s flavorful worth.

Spaghetti Squash

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On my to-do list:

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Next, Acorn Squash

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Ace was a squash I never thought I’d ever meet, but now that I have, I hope we never grow apart. Like any squash, I had to research what Ace was all about. How do I cut her? How do I cook her? How do I help her reach her maximum YUM? Enter this recipe stage right, which made all of my dreams come true. I made it without ground beef—because I forgot to buy it—but it was still delicious and filling and hey I feel healthy and not gross after I finished it. And I mean, what else can you ask for?

Stuffed Acorn Squash

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On my to-do list:

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And finally, Butternut Squash!

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I think it’s safe to say B’nut got his name because of his similarity in shape to a p’nut peanut. It’s also safe to say their similarities stop there—except if you count that they both have a hard exterior and a delicious surprise in the center, but other than that, they’re really totally different. After sifting through a bunch of different B’nut recipes, I ended up deciding on this pancake recipe, because I was in a breakfast for dinner type of mood, and I was pleasantly surprised at how moist and delicious they were! The recipe was super easy to follow, especially after I followed this advice on how to get a quick and easy “butternut squash mash” for the batter, and I personally thought the pancakes were great with honey on top.

Butternut Squash Pancakes

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On my to-do list:

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Y’all, just trust me on this: your world is better with squash in it. With allll the squash in it. And with fall officially here, it’s the perfect time to meet a squash you never met before. Tell them Kim sent you—some of them will know me.


 

Read the previous episode of Strain then Stir here.

Some Suggestions for Netflix

You know that weird thing we all do? The thing where we sit down to watch a movie on Netflix and then spend 45 minutes scrolling and sighing and shaking our heads.

“No.”

“I’m not in the mood.”

“Maybe next time.” 

Then we look through the list of movies we’ve previously saved with the intention of making this scrolling process easier, only to hate every suggestion from our past selves, which in turn leads us to turn on a movie we’ve already seen far too many times.

Then, we wake up the next day wondering why we’re not more cultured and can’t keep up with conversations about all the great movies Netflix has to offer.

I have lived this life for a long time. It’s the reason why I have to set goals that require me to broaden my horizons. Otherwise I’d just watch The Fundamentals of Caring over and over and over again, all the while making the excuse that I would watch something else, even something I’ve seen before, if only Netflix added ______ to their catalog.

All that being said, I recently found out that you can submit suggestions to Netflix for what movies and TV shows they should add to their catalog.

Can you imagine?! Such power! At our fingertips!

You better believe I took advantage of it. Here were some of my suggestions:

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1) The Mary Kate & Ashley Movies

I see you, Netflix. Double, Double, Toil and Trouble. New York Minute. You’re not completely depriving me of Olsen twin goodness. But can we get some Billboard Dad up in here? Switching Goals, maybe? Or how about a few (or all, let’s be real) of the You’re Invited episodes? I haven’t been invited anywhere by the Olsen twins since VHS’s were in fashion and it’s depressing.

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2) Spice World

I’ve actually never seen Spice World, which I realize is a crime of sorts. And with the girls going back on tour next year, this movie could very well become a common topic of conversation again, and I’ll just be standing there, shrugging, with no idea how to contribute. Save me from the shrugging, Netflix! I want to fit in!

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3) Legends of the Hidden Temple

There has never been a game show that has infuriated me more than Legends of the Hidden Temple. It just never seemed like any of the kids on the show were trying. I mean, they were walking from obstacle to obstacle. WALKING. As if it wasn’t a COMPETITION. Actually, now that I think about it, it might be healthy for me not to rewatch this series…but I’m still suggesting it, just because I feel like it might be a good way to get out some aggression after a long day.

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4) Say Anything…

I looked it up, and apparently this was on Netflix and taken off in November of 2014, but I think it should come back. Sure, I’m a little biased because it’s my favorite movie of all time and includes one of the most iconic scenes—John Cusack holding a boombox over his head—in cinematic history and I want everyone to watch it so we can all sit around talking about it for hours, but this isn’t just for me. It’s for everyone.

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5) Rescue 911

This show went off the air when I was 6, but I still remember it vividly. Each episode showcased real life 911 calls. The corresponding situations were simulated to demonstrate when/why the calls were made and sometimes actual tape from the call was played to give you the full experience. I loved this show because it was essentially all about people helping people and in every episode the paramedics would come to the rescue. In another life, I might have taken my passion for this show and turned it into a career, but instead I’m just writing about it while I sit on the couch eating macaroni and cheese…

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I’m sure there are a lot more—too many more—that I’d also like to request, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head. However, now that I know I have the power to request, I’ll make sure to start writing them down the minute I can’t find them and the disappointment sets in and I click play on The Fundamentals of Caring again. Consider me a soon-to-be frequent requester, Netflix. I look forward to our time together.

2018 Goals Check-In #3

Dear Fall,

Where are you? It’s October, which means we’re starting the last quarter of the year, but I’m still kind of sweating so…what’s the deal? I mean, I’m just ready for some sweater weather, you know?

Speaking of none of that, let’s check in on some goals.

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1) Do a handstand in yoga

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 33.33%

Current Progress: 33.33%

I’ve been a bit up and down with this goal, especially in these last few months because things got so insanely busy. But as stated before, my biggest obstacle here is myself. I’ve just got to start trying. Wish me luck!

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2) Take a kickboxing class

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

I really didn’t expect for this goal to be one I put off for so long, but here I am in the (almost) middle of October and I’ve yet to throw a punch (or kick) at anything. (Or anyone) (Anyone in a kickboxing class that is.) (Not that I’ve punched or kicked anyone outside of a class) (How many side conversation parentheses is too many?)

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3) Visit (at least) 20 museums in Los Angeles

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 4/20 (5%)

Current Progress: 7/20 (35%)

While I haven’t made as much progress as I’d like on this one, I’ve loved every single museum I’ve gone to so far. These past few months I went to the Annenberg Space for Photography, the La Brea Tar Pits and LACMA, which had ACTUAL PICASSO PAINTINGS, Y’ALL. *heavy art nerd breathing*

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4) Get CPR certified

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Things fell through on this one a little bit, as the class I planned on taking ended up being on a day that was packed with too many other things. But I’m getting myself signed up for a new one, and before you know it, I’ll be ready to save your life at the drop of hat.

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5) Shoot (at least) 1 roll of film per month

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 6/12 (50%)

Current Progress: 9/12 (75%)

Seeing as I majored in photography, it shouldn’t come as a surprise for me to love this goal, but it kind of does. After I graduated, taking pictures became more stressful and robotic than it was fun, which kind of made it lose its spark for me. But having my film camera back in my hand has made me feel like I’m back in college again, shooting too many rolls of film and spending too many hours in the darkroom getting them developed.

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6) Complete the 104 things to Photograph book

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 23/104 (22.12%)

Current Progress: 52/104 (50%)

I think this one is going to end up being somewhat of a big reveal at the end of the year because I still haven’t gotten my film developed or gone through the book to really study what I have and haven’t taken a picture of yet. I think we can safely estimate that I’m (at least) half way through, but I really have no idea. #lessthanidealupdate

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7) Visit the sea glass beach in Fort Bragg, CA

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

I’ve done my research on the what’s and how’s of getting to this glass beach and it is my hope to get a weekend getaway with my roommates on the calendar before the end of the year. But I’m also going to count is as a win if I can get it officially on the calendar for next year, as long as it’s on there by the end of this year…you know?

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8) Go to the dentist

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 100%

Yes, I went to the dentist. No, it was not fun.

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9) Watch 20 documentaries on Netflix

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 4/20 (20%)

Current Progress: 10/20 (50%)

I honestly wish I would have set this goal a long time ago. There are so many good/crazy/emotional/incredible stories being told out there and I’m happy I’m finally getting around to hearing them! Some of my favorites that I’ve watched recently are Icarus and The White Helmets. (Both are on Netflix!)

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10) Perfect an omelet

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

An omelet? No. A fried egg? A hard boiled egg? Yes! I’m moving up in the egg world, guys, I just don’t have a pan non-sticky enough to make an omelet yet. But I have heard something about making an omelet in a bag? Stay tuned.

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11) See (at least) one movie in theaters per month

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 6/12 (50%)

Current Progress: 9/12 (75%)

There’s been a few last minute (i.e. September 30th) movie watching over the last few months, but I still have yet to miss one! Here’s a list of all the ones I’ve seen so far:

  1. I, Tonya
  2. Call Me By Your Name
  3. Maze Runner: The Death Cure
  4. 50 Shades Freed
  5. Red Sparrow
  6. I Can Only Imagine
  7. A Quiet Place
  8. Book Club
  9. Incredibles 2
  10. Won’t You Be My Neighbor
  11. Three Identical Strangers
  12. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again
  13. Eighth Grade
  14. Skate Kitchen
  15. Crazy Rich Asians
  16. A Star is Born

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12) Read 20 books off the Time’s 100 List

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 6/20 (30%)

Current Progress: 12/20 (60%)

PSA: If you ever plan on setting a goal like this, invest some time in audiobooks! I’ve gotten through a good handful of books in the last few months because I’ve been listening to them. It’s made the stories more engaging and really helped me appreciate/understand them more than I would have just trying to sit down and read them on my own. My favorite one I’ve listened to so far is To Kill a Mockingbird.

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13) Pay off credit card

Current Progress: Progress

Yeah so, let’s just say progress has slowed on this one. It hasn’t stopped, which is what counts. But these past few months have held *expenses* and I’ve had to crutch a little. I’m not worried about it though, I’ll get there.

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14) See 3 WRLA’s – COMPLETED!

While on a trip to Seattle and Canada this past March, I was unexpectedly able to complete this goal, seeing the World’s Largest Cowboy Hat & Boots in Seattle, WA, the World’s Largest Paper Airplane in Mukilteo, WA, and the World’s Largest Tin Solider in New Westminster, BC, Canada!

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15) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 2/5 (40%)

Current Progress: 4/5 (80%)

Gonna give myself a pat on the back for not putting this one off until the last minute like last year! I’ve got my fifth volunteer slot lined up for this month, so I might even get in a few extra dates before the end of the year. *pats back to the tune of the Cha Cha Slide*

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16) Donate Blood

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 100% (not really)

Current Progress: 100% (for real!)

After getting a no go due to low iron the first time I tried to donate blood I made an effort to add iron rich foods to my diet (for example: spinach, which I put in breakfast smoothies) and I decided to try again. This time, I did it! Was it my favorite thing ever? No. But will I do it again because it’s an easy way to help out? Definitely!

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17) Do the 1 second/day video challenge

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 185/365 (50.68%)

Current Progress: 283/365 (77.53%)

Every time I update my collection of one-second clips, I get so excited to see the final product! But while I’ve peeped the progress, I won’t be giving any spoilers until the year’s over. Stay tuned! 🙂

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When we add that all together, my total progress is about 52%. Again, I’m a little behind, but I’m ready to give these last few months all I’ve got!

If you set goals this year, I hope things are going well for you, and if you didn’t, it’s never too late to start! 🙂

Throw Away Your Old Car Keys

I recently listened to Bryan Cranston’s memoir, Life in Parts, on audiobook. Not only does he have an incredible reading voice, but his stories are fun and fascinating and consistently engaging. I loved the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for an easy read (or listen).

One particular story that stuck out in my mind was that of the passing of his aunt Sunday and uncle Eddie, and the process of his family going through their belongings afterwards. He noted how they found a box marked “keys to the old cars”, which turned out to be exactly that: keys for cars they previously owned.

As someone who is very sentimental, I can understand the act of keeping things that hold a special place in your heart. But as Cranston went onto explain, this box was one of many. The couple were definitely hoarders, finding value in keeping absolutely everything. As someone who hates clutter, I can’t really relate to this notion.

Or at least I thought I couldn’t.

Cranston noted, “None of the keys fit the car in the garage or the abandoned vehicles parked on the dead grass in the backyard. So. They kept keys to cars they hadn’t owned in years.”

That’s when I thought to myself: isn’t that kind of like holding on to grudges/pain/anger/etc. from the past?

When I thought about it like that, I realized we all probably have a “keys to the old cars box.” We are all holding onto things that will never do us any good. We are all keeping keys that belong to cars we’ve long stopped driving.

For me personally, I know I tend to hold onto things because in a way it makes me feel safe. Tangible things, like pictures or ticket stubs or knick knacks, make me feel like I’m keeping good memories safe, preserving everything I loved about that day or days in a single object that I can always go back to. Going off of this, my mind likes to pretend that holding onto anger and sadness and pain has the same benefit. It promises that remembering these things, these moments that still sting, will help keep me safe in the future. They will keep me from getting hurt or from failing or from making a fool out of myself. They will help me trust the right people and love the right people and stay away from the wrong people.

While this is good, as it’s important to constantly learn and grow and mature, there comes a point when this “protection” becomes clutter. Learning from failures is different than holding onto them. And working through pain is different than pushing it aside. For Cranston’s aunt and uncle, they were always going to have the memories of those old cars, even after they left their driveway. So while those keys might have promised to further those memories, in reality they were just reminders of the past taking up space in the present. And the same goes for all that anger and pain and sadness that is bogging us down.

It’s never easy to let go, but it’s necessary. I know for me, it might take a while. It might even be a one key at a time process, but that’s okay. As the saying goes, “the first step is admitting you have a box of old car keys.” After that, it’s just making room for the good things.

30 Good Things that Happened in September

Hello and welcome back to another edition of All the Good Things, a monthly series where I highlight all the good things (get it?) that happen in each 30-day (or so) span. I hope it can be a reminder that amongst all the well known bad, there is a lot of undercover good happening in our world.

Let’s dive right in!

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1) These kids got ready for Halloween with some incredible costumes

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2) These people shared hilarious stories about what they believed as kids

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3) John Legend EGOT-ed!

2018 Creative Arts Emmy Awards - Day 2 - Press Room

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4) This kangaroo took its first hops

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5) This man walked 6 miles to see his wife

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6) This dog got his (pretend) medicine

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7) These strangers helped each other

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8) Missy Elliot sang backup

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9) This Cosby show actor turned ridicule into inspiration

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10) Actress Nina Dobrev got a surprise visit from her former Vampire Diaries costar

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11) By going undercover, this boss was able to save one of his employees from homelessness

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12) This husband reminded his wife of the real reasons he loves her body

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13) These parents become grandparents

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14) The finalists for the Comedy Wildlife Photography competition were revealed

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15) This 9 year old found a cure for loneliness at recess

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16) This boy thanked a helpful police officer

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17) After hearing the Harry Potter books helped saved this prematurely born baby’s life, author JK Rowling took it one step further

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18) This dog had a birthday party

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19) These students raised money to send their always upbeat janitor on the vacation he deserved

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20) Jimmy Fallon and Shawn Mendes tested their knowledge of song lyrics

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21) This little sister tried to ease her brother’s bad days

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22) This man saved over 60 animals during Hurricane Florence

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23) And these people lined up to foster affected animals

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24) Ellen helped this boy pay it forward

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25) These paralyzed patients walked again

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26) Fans of YouTuber Jenna Marbles helped give her an amazing birthday gift

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27) Stranger Things favorite, David Harbour, officiated a fan’s wedding

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28) This girl spotted her dad

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29) This girl kept trying

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30) And this 2 year old boy with terminal cancer was given an early Christmas present by his neighborhood

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Wanna know the best part? There is SO much I didn’t include.

I can’t wait to see what October brings!

You can view last month’s post here.

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Happy Birthday, Grandpa

It was a Saturday afternoon, right when the Camarillo breeze started to creep its way through the trees, when my dad pulled up in front of my grandpa’s house. We made sure not to park in front of the mailbox—that was one of grandma’s biggest rules—and then we open and shut our doors, carrying in some groceries, the mail and most importantly, lunch, up the pathway to the front door.

I stood on the porch, peeking through the black mesh of the screen at my grandpa sitting in his chair, as I waited for my dad, who was a few steps and a free hand behind me, to open the door. That’s when I saw a sign taped to the wall.

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“Ding dong!” I yelled.

“Well, hello there,” my grandpa said with a laugh. “I see you like my new doorbell.”

“I love it,” I said as we walked in.

He smiled.

Growing up, I was told by many people—frequently—how much they loved my grandpa.

Howard is the best.

Howard is my favorite.

Your grandpa is truly one of the best men I’ve ever known.

As I got older, these compliments were passed down to my dad.

Your dad is the best.

Your dad is my favorite.

Your dad is truly one of the best men I’ve ever known.  

And then to my brother.

Troy is just the best.

Troy is my favorite.

Troy is one of the best guys I know.

While nice to hear—albeit annoying at times because, like, don’t you know how great I am?!—it wasn’t new information for me. It was no secret I was growing up surrounded by incredibly strong, kind and caring men. To be honest, it kind of ruined me. Because if I know there are men like them around, why waste my time with anything less, you know?

My grandpa taught my dad who taught me (and my sister and my brother) how to love. How to care for people and make them feel like they matter. He taught us by reminding us that we matter.

In college, when I studied abroad in Australia, my grandpa sent me postcards and letters, giving me a sense of home when I was scared and needed it most. And to this day, whenever we get together as a family, my grandpa always goes out of his way to ask each and every one of his grandchildren (and children and great-grandchildren), “What’s new?”

When I think of my grandpa, I think of love. Of joy and fun and safety. I think of the mini donut holes he always had out on the kitchen table when my family moved in with him and my grandma.

I think of going to Dodger games, of eating hot dogs and singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, and of the time my cousin Spenser was wildly booed for popping a beach ball that was being passed around, because my grandparents knew the usher and didn’t want her to have to chase it—which he never did again, by the way.

I think of sitting around in he and my grandma’s living room with one arm leaning on a cousin, the other on an aunt or an uncle, and my legs propped up on my brother’s shoulders as we all sat close and opened presents on Christmas Day.

I think of going to the mall during the summer to walk around, just so we weren’t cooped up in the house, and how occasionally we would convince grandpa to buy us a blizzard from Dairy Queen.

I think of bowling on Thursdays, watching golf on Sundays, and eating pizza on Friday nights after sitting in the bleachers at my parents’ softball game, learning how to keep score next to my grandma. (When someone would ask who was winning, my grandpa would either say “good guys” or “bad guys”—monikers I still use to this day.)

When I think about these things, it’s no wonder why people go out of their way to tell me how great my grandpa is. But oftentimes I wonder if they really know how great.

It takes a special kind of man (and a badass lady partner in crime) to raise the kind of family I grew up in. And it would be one of the greatest successes of my life to find a partner worthy of our traditions and to raise children with as much kindness and compassion as was given to me.

I can only hope that one day I have grandchildren looking at me the way we all look at you, grandpa—and I hope I’ll stick my tongue out and make them laugh the way you’ve done my whole life.

We’re so very lucky to have you by our sides—and there are a lot of us, so that’s a lot of sides, but you still manage to make each one of us feel just as important and cared for, and I pray we make you feel that way too.

Happy (one day early) birthday, Grandpa.

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P.S.- Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone I’m your favorite.

Start with Sweeping the Floor

Lately I’ve been feeling a little disoriented. There are so many things on my mind that I’d like to get accomplished and so many steps forward that I’m feeling motivated to take, that my brain has become somewhat of a chaotic mess, wondering where to even start.

Amongst this chaos, even going so far as to walk hand in hand with it most of the time, is exhaustion and frustration. I’ll get home from work with a laundry list of to-dos and my mind spirals, convinced it can’t do any of it, so I’ll end up stressing the hours away until I fall into bed, incredibly disappointed that I didn’t get anything done.

“I didn’t even sweep the floor,” I’ll think.

For among all the big goals I have, there are also little chores around the house that I want to get done. I want to clean my bathroom and do my laundry. I want to organize my desk and change the batteries in my clock. I want to sweep the floor. Having these chores done puts my mind at ease and makes room for other problems to be solved. 

Yesterday, while feeling a particularly cloudy shade of bleh, I got home from work wanting to go for a run, but didn’t feel like I had it in me.

Then you should probably sit down and write, I thought.

Or finish that project siting on your desk.

Or run through the to-do list you have written in your notebook.

Or research future blog posts

Or!

Or!

Or!

 Instead, I took a nap. My head was pounding and with a busy few weeks ahead, it felt like the healthiest thing to do.

When I woke up, I didn’t feel like writing, or working on unfinished projects, or going through to-do lists. But after eating dinner I did have a burst of inspiration to sweep the floor. Which then led to me cleaning my bathroom, doing some laundry and organizing my desk.

I ended up having a very productive evening. And even though I might not have gotten to all (or most) of the things on my to-do list, I got to some, which sometimes is all you can ask for from yourself.

When given the chance, our minds will choose a path to weed through the chaos, and when they do, the best thing to do is follow it. Trying to swim against the current and force yourself to work on projects that your brain isn’t ready for will often result in more days filled with stilted productivity. So go with the flow, and take things one at a time. Get done what you can get done and don’t beat yourself up with timelines and expectations.

At the end of the day, the hardest thing to do is move forward, and sometimes taking the smallest steps to prove yourself wrong will make all the difference. Those steps will get you moving, giving you the momentum you need to take the big ones. Plus, at the end of a long day, when your mind starts to swirl its way into an insomniac stress ball, you can quiet it.

At least I swept the floor.

Stay at the Table, the Chips Will Come

While accepting the first award of the night this past Monday—and the first Primetime Emmy of his career—Henry Winkler quoted something he was once told by a friend in Hollywood:

“If you sit at the table long enough, the chips will come to you.”

I’ve never been much of a poker player myself, but I still liked this phrase. It’s both simple and complicated.

On the one hand, it’s saying that all you have to do is stay in the game and patience will pay off. But on the other hand, anyone who’s played or watched poker before knows that “staying in the game” isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes luck and risk, sometimes the blind and irresponsible kind, to save your spot at that table, and not every game guarantees the luck will eventually turn your way.

Sometimes it takes game after game, risk after risk, trip after trip to that table before those chips start to come your way. And even then, you’re always at the risk of losing what you won, right after you won it.

Looking up at the teleprompter, Henry Winkler said in regards to his speech, “I only have 37 seconds, but I wrote this 43 years ago.”

That’s a lot of games. A lot of lost hands. A lot of waiting and losing. A lot of unrewarded risk. And yet…

“If you stay at the table long enough, the chips come to you,” he said, “and tonight I got to clear the table.

Risk, patience, and perseverance will pay off.

Sometimes it might not be in the way you think/hope it will, and sometimes it will take way longer than you might like. But don’t let that scare or discourage you.

Stay at the table. Keep playing the game. Because those chips are most certainly coming your way.

Also, it should be noted that my very first thought after hearing Henry Winkler share this anecdote was of a kitchen table and tortilla chips…

I think the phrase works either way though, if you think about it.

Why My Roommate Should be the Next Host of Jeopardy

Greetings people of the Internet, I’m here to discuss something incredibly important.

It has recently been brought to my attention that Alex Trebek is on his (be it, long and slow) way out from the Jeopardy hosting position. Word on the street is that he will abdicate his all knowing thrown in the year 2020. And while I’m sure there are ideas in circulation and contracts in negotiation, none could possibly measure up to this forthcoming submission: my roommate, Rachel.

How? You might ask. How could I possibly know she could cut it, especially in comparison to other candidates, the caliber of which I am yet to know?

To put it simply, and to emulate the words of so many bended knee proposal speeches, regretful gut feelings, and completed newlywed house hunts, sometimes you just know. And in this case, I just know.

Having watched hours of Jeopardy with Rachel by my side, I can first and foremost verify her genuine interest in the show. She enjoys the creatively phrased questions and would undoubtedly deliver them in that familiar, engaged and excited, while completely controlled manner.

She would challenge the contestants, willing them to dig deep into their studies as she delivered riddles and word problems with a confidence that dared them to answer no matter the cost.

On a Daily Double, when the competition teetered between nail biting and cake taking, she’d encourage risk. Listing the facts of the contestant’s fate, while simultaneously (and inconspicuously) teasing them to tempt it.

Are you worried about the key pronunciation of a book, movie, television show or other pop culture reference? Well, worry no more. Rachel is well versed in many genres, giving her a solid foundation of valuable knowledge, the likes of which she could utilize both as quizmaster and friendly interviewer.

Rachel is witty, clever and unique, sure to make contestants and audiences alike laugh, think, and double-take, all while creating an encouraging and welcoming environment capable of fostering healthy and compelling competition.

Not to mention, she’s got an incredible sense of style. The kind that would inspire conversations not only regarding her presence and professionalism, but her cute ass shoes as well. She would become a strong and powerful female figure in the media—that can rock a warm pallet like no other; a go-to, “I love it!” Halloween costume; an obvious choice for an elementary worksheet “who do you want to be when you grow up” fill in.

So, ABC, while I imagine the search for this replacement (understandably) seems like an impossible task, I hope you’ll now realize that it’s not. Because when it comes down to it, there’s only one right choice, and she’s currently sitting next to me eating pulled pork.