A Few Sunburned Themed Thank You Notes

While it may seem obvious to even the most distant of onlooker, and while I should be well versed and well informed as I have lived with this knowledge my entire life, sometimes I still forget that I am a pale, pale white girl. And even on days when I am reminded of this, say, when I step into a bathing suit and the whitest parts my body squint at the daylight they don’t usually see, I still manage to forget that my skin is to the sun what a peace of bread is to a toaster: ready to get burned.

But alas, the sun is always there to set me straight. It is always there to cook me to the perfect pink of a medium rare steak, leaving me feeling the way I feel when I eat a perfectly pink steak too fast, and with too big a helping of mashed potatoes on the side: sad and regretful. 

So as I sit here today, in the last stages of healing from a weekend sunburn, still diligently applying aloe vera, and patiently waiting for the itching phase of healing to pass, I thought I’d write some thank you notes a la Jimmy Fallon, to the sun, to my sunburn, and to keep my hands busy so I don’t physically scratch my skin off.

I’ll keep my oven mitts close just in case.

*ahem*

Cue the piano, James.

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Thank you, Mr. Sun,

For teaching me what it feels like to be slow cooked. I can now empathize with everything I’ve ever put in a crock-pot.   

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Thank you, SPF,

For undoubtedly standing for Sun’ll Probably still Fry you.

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Thank you, Google,

For teaching me that the itching phase of a sunburn is called “hell’s itch”, making anything I was going to call it seem way less dramatic.

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Thank you, skin,

For always burning and then peeling and then going back immediately to pale. It has always been my worst nightmare to feel like a bronzed beach goddess, so I appreciate you keeping me from that misery.

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Thank you, fall in Southern California,

For actually being Summer: the Sequel.

Find the Things that Fill You Up

At the beginning of the year I set out on a quest to find a morning routine. And while that process has been and might forever remain a process, I have recently found myself in need of an afternoon routine as well.

Seeing as many things are still closed and many activities are still limited, I often find my afternoons and evenings in need of filling. Unlike my morning routine however, I can’t necessarily say, “oops, I overslept, guess I’ll try again tomorrow.” I often get home at 4:00 p.m., and while occasionally a nap seems necessary, I’m not looking to become nocturnal and/or nap off the possibility of a great night’s sleep.

Still, it’s hard after a long day of work to find the motivation to do a lot. Sometimes I want to take a nap. Sometimes I want to watch a movie. Sometimes I want to clean. Sometimes I want to exercise. Sometimes I want to talk to friends. And sometimes I want to stay cooped up in my room and ponder the state of my life and/or the world.

In this mishmash of wants and hopes and goals and laziness, I have found that the number one thing to remember when setting yourself a routine—for any time of day, really—is to find things that fill you up.

Emphasis on the you.

For a long time I was putting so much pressure on myself to be productive, to be active, to only do things that would drive me forward. I was trying to check off boxes of successful people, and do things that would in turn make me (or at least make me sound) successful.  And sometimes I felt so overwhelmed by this pressure that I wouldn’t know where to start, and so I would just scroll on my phone for hours and do nothing, which made me feel worse, and would make the pressure to do “big” things the next day even greater, thus making the chances of me laying on my phone even greater.

It was a vicious cycle.

And so, I decided that my only goal for every afternoon and evening was to do things that make me feel good. Things that filled me up. Me. Not those I saw on social media. Not those who might ask me how my day was. Me. What made me feel like I had a good, enjoyable, and productive afternoon?

As of now, this:

When I get home from work, (time willing) I give myself about an hour to decompress on my bed. That might mean scrolling on my phone. That might mean taking a nap. That might mean finishing an episode of a podcast or TV show that I started earlier in the day. Then I will get up, roll out my mat, and do some yoga.  Then I’ll sit down at my desk and do a section of my prayer journal (right now I’m working through The Between Places by Stephanie May Wilson). Then I’ll grab whichever book I’m reading (right now it’s Fortitude by Dan Crenshaw) and I’ll read one chapter before heading into the kitchen to make dinner.

During dinner, I’ll watch an episode of a TV show (right now I’m watching The Boys on Amazon Prime) and then I’ll take a shower, get into some comfy clothes, and sit down on the couch to do some writing, or work on my counted cross-stitch (don’t come for me and my grandma ways).

Again that’s:

  • Decompress
  • Yoga
  • Prayer Journal
  • Read 1 chapter of a book
  • Dinner + TV
  • Shower
  • Write and/or counted cross-stitch

Obviously this isn’t carved in stone. Sometimes I’m not in the mood for everything on this list, sometimes I’m in the mood for none of it, sometimes I’m in the mood for more. The point is, each of these things fill me up. Each of these things provide me with a little boost of something good. And so when I have the time, I am motivated to do them because I know I will enjoy them.

So if you’re in need for some structure in your day—be that the morning, the afternoon, the evening, weekdays or weekends, look for the things that fill you up. Look for the things that make you excited to do them. Look for the things that help you pass the time rather than allowing the time to pass you.

The Summer Smells

I have a very good (and very sensitive) sense of smell. There have been times my mom has referred to my nose as “a pregnant nose” because of my inane ability to pick up even the smallest scents, and my inability to go down certain aisles in the grocery store (I’m looking at you laundry detergent) because of the scents being too strong.

I am also good at identifying smells. I like to pinpoint it down to the finest detail. For example, I might say something like, “does it smell like blue raspberry jolly ranchers in here to you?” or “why does this soup smell like Christmas?”

Scents are big memory keepers for me. And sometimes when I smell something familiar it stops me in my tracks, and I am taken back to wherever or with whomever the scent pertains to. And while most of the scents outside, and even inside right now, are sadly riddled with smoke, there have still been summer smells that have brought back some good (and minorly traumatic) memories:

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1) Wet grass

The other day I walked across a wet lawn and I was immediately taken back to an early morning soccer game. I could hear the rustling of kids and parents trying to find which field they had to be on, and I could feel the damp blades of grass being kicked up with each passing pair of feet. I hated playing soccer, but I loved putting on my uniform and cleats and feeling official. I also loved the coupon for a free snack bar Popsicle we got at the end of every game.

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2) Chlorine

Whenever I smell chlorine I think of myself as a 10 (and then 11, 12, and 13) year old girl trying to learn how to dive off a family friend’s diving board, and never quite figuring out how. I can feel the water in my nose, hear the splash of other kids doing cannonballs, see the fluttering toes of my sister doing a handstand in the shallow end, and hear the encouraging words from my parents and their friends asking me to try again. Which I did, again, and again, and again, to no avail.

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3) Barbecues

There are few things that give me an immediate, cozy, summery feeling than the smell of a backyard barbecue. When I was little and my family would go over to friends’ houses to swim or have game nights, there was always something on the grill. And being a girl with mostly simple pleasures when it comes to food—especially when I was young—I love a homemade cheeseburger that you awkwardly eat off a paper plate in your lap, while trying to keep track of your fork so you can eventually transition into your helping of macaroni salad, all the while ensuring you leave enough room in your stomach to have a homemade cookie later.

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4) Sunscreen

I have competing memories when it comes to sunscreen. On the one hand, there is the beach. There are the long days spent swimming in the ocean, trying my hand at boogie boarding and getting womped by the waves enough times to retire from boogie boarding at age 12. There is the sound the ice chest made when you dragged it through the sand and the wonder at how good the snacks inside the ice chest tasted after you’d be out in the sun for a few hours. There are sandcastles and digging for sand crabs, and there are sandy walks to the showers and drives home with wet hair. On the other hand, there is pure trauma. When I was around seven or eight, I got sunburned on my shoulders so bad that they bubbled and blistered; when I was 17, I got sunburned on the back of my calves so bad that they peeled for an entire month afterward; and my personal favorite, when I was 13 I went water skiing and didn’t put any sunscreen down the center part of my hair and burned my scalp, making it look like I had thick, mutant dandruff for weeks to follow. So while sunscreen smells like fun in the sun and overall sun safety, it also smells like a lesson I learned the hard way—more than once.

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5) A summer night

This smell is hard to describe but without a doubt one of my favorite smells in the whole world. It’s that combination of the warm weather, the slight cool breeze that starts to sneak in the screen door after dusk, and the hint of water from the neighbors’ sprinklers that just kicked on. Plus there’s the wide open night sky, the quiet swishes of the ceiling fan, the distant chatter of neighbors sitting on their back patios, and, when you’re little, the knowledge that you don’t have any homework to do. To this day summer nights feel so light and free, even when I know I have to get up for work, or take my trash barrels out, or do my laundry, just as I would at any other time of year. Summer nights just have that magic about them that makes you feel like you might end up anywhere. Maybe you buy a spontaneous ticket to a baseball game, maybe you drive down to the beach just to watch the sunset, maybe you see a movie and then walk down the street eating a double scoop ice cream cone.

This summer, obviously, is a little different than most, and for many it is impossibly tough and completely void of those special nostalgic smells. If that’s you, I hope this post can find you and not only remind you of some good things, but encourage you toward the good things awaiting you on the other side of this hard season.

Hands & Words & What They Can Do

The other day I was thinking about hands.

So often we look down at our hands, sometimes nervously, sometimes mindlessly, sometimes in shock or amazement. I recently painted a bookshelf and each day as I was cleaning up I would look down at my hands, covered in white paint, and be proud of the work I accomplished—and ­annoyed at how long it was going to take me to get my hands clean.

Hands can build. And we’ve seen them build. They create things from the ground up and we look at them, amazed that what we see before us came from these hands.

In the same way, hands can hurt. And we’ve seen them hurt. In movies, it’s common to see heroes and villains alike look down at their hands, wondering how—how could these hands have done such a thing? 

Hands leave their mark, good or bad, building or destroying, often stopping us in our tracks to look at the wake of their work.

But the same isn’t always true for words.

When we speak, when we talk or scream or whisper or mention or mumble or demand or inquire or refuse or agree, we use our words. But we don’t always see what our words do. Oftentimes our words leave our mouths and we never know where they land or how far they reach.  We don’t know if they fall on deaf ears or vulnerable ones. We don’t know if they are quickly forgotten or remembered forever.

Our words can build. They can inspire people. They can stay with people. They can shape people. In the same way, our words can hurt. They can tear people down. They can send people into darkness. They can shape people.

Our words leave marks, but oftentimes we don’t see them, especially when so many of our words are spoken online these days. We text and tweet and caption and comment and share and shout into the void of the internet and social media, assuming no one can hear us. We post and repost, sometimes solely to protect ourselves from judgment, and often without regard for those who might be hurt by what we say. We forget that people are people, even people that are different from us, even people who disagree with us. We forget that our words can build twice as high as our hands and can cut twice as fast.

I’m not here to tell you what to say, how to say it, or to infringe at all upon your right to say it. I just think we all could use a reminder that words matter. Our words matter. Whether we have one follower or millions. And what we say can change the world, for better or for worse. In this moment and in the infinity to follow. So let’s take our time. Let’s think about what we say and how we’re saying it. Let’s focus on echoing the good in what we’re fighting for rather than the hate for those we feel we’re fighting against. Let’s use our words (and our hands) to build and then watch as a new world takes shape.

A Whole Lot of Oooooh-tah! (Day 3&4)

 August 22, 2020

There are some vacations that sit you in front of your suitcase each morning, agonizing over what to wear, wondering how fashionable you should go, how formal, how casual, how comfortable, how functional, whether you should bring a jacket, or an umbrella, or an extra pair of shoes. But my favorite part about a vacation that centers around nature, hiking, fishing, and just being outside, is that your outfit just has to go, and by that I mean it just has to move with you wherever you might go and support you in whatever you might do—including keeping you out of jail for indecent exposure. So when I woke up Saturday morning knowing I was headed into another day of adventuring, I slipped into another pair of leggings and a t-shirt, along with some tennis shoes, and I was ready to go.

Just after 9:30 a.m., we walked in the door of a gas station in Kamas, to try their infamously delicious donuts.  I picked out a sprinkle donut, and Natalee chose some sort of twist that was as big as her arm—because obviously.

Then we carried on to Mill Hollow to fish, where I took exactly three pictures, the last three pictures I would take the entire trip. (This still bums me out, but it also makes sense when you hear the rest.)

We fished for a couple hours, only managing to catch a couple, but the time went quick as we took in the lake and watched families enjoy their afternoons swimming, stand up paddle boarding, and kayaking.

Around 12:00 p.m. we made the drive back home, where we planned to eat some lunch, rally, and make the most of our afternoon before we had to get back and get ready for our dinner reservation.

Thus, over some countertop sandwiches, we made this plan:

We would rent e-bikes from a park down the street, take the bike path downtown, and then walk around the shops for a little while.

I’d love to have pictures that accompany this plan and its unfolding, but I never took my phone out of my purse, because a) I was “being in the moment” and “looking at the scenery,” and (more accurately) b) I am a level 0 bike rider who was not prepared for the kick of an e-bike, thus I “rode” the bike path in the way a baby giraffe might walk.  I wobbled, I panicked, I spoke to the bike as if it were a person who might understand commands like “slow down”, and at one point, when a bump approached, my foot slipped off the pedal and it jammed into the back of my leg, which birthed a bruise I am still sporting two weeks later.

So it’s safe to say I won’t be signing up for the Tour de France any time soon.

But you gotta love a bike that does the work for you when you’re going uphill in high elevation. And in the end, we made it to town and were able to walk around and check out some awesome shops and boutiques, including Create Park City, which is a collection of work from local artists that I would highly recommend checking out if you’re ever in the area!

We then headed back to take some quick showers and head to Silver Star for dinner, where I ate my first ever elk burger, and drank two glasses of red wine, which eased the sting of the trip almost coming to a close, and made me forget about the bruise on my leg, which by morning would look like a dragon egg.

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August 23, 2020

On our final morning in Utah, I woke up to the familiar sun shining on my now familiar pillow under my now familiar blanket. It was all as it should be and had been for the last four days—though there was something else in the air too.

FEAR.

Sorry, I should have eased us into that.  I should have said, the sweet aroma of French toast being cooked downstairs for breakfast, or the ache of missing this trip and these people before we’d even left. But while those both hung in the air as well, sweetly and neatly, there was also fear.

Our plan for the day was to float the Weber River and I. Was. Terrified.

You see, similar to my skill level of riding bikes, my confidence level in water is low. Can I swim? Yes. Can I tread water if my life depends on it? Yes. Can I sit in a slow moving tube and confidently navigate small rapids without immediately assuming I’m on the verge of drowning? No.

And I have no good reason why.

I have no previous trauma involving water, especially not with a tube involved, but I have always been someone who just does better on land. If I go to the beach, I read on a towel in the sand. If I go to a pool, I wade in the shallow end. I like being on solid ground. So sitting in a tube with my legs up, unable to touch the ground, immediately sends off warning signs for me. Thus, what looks like a minor rapid to most, looks like a slide into the pits of doom to me.

I laughed out loud writing that. Both because it’s ridiculous and because it’s true.

There were about 10 of us in our group, and after we arrived at the entry point to the Weber River, we each put our tube in the water and tried to acclimate our legs to the temperature of the river. Then, on the count of three, we hopped into our tubes and started our float. And because water is a mischievous monster who can sense fear, my tube somehow caught a current that immediately sent me about a football field length ahead of everyone else.

So there I was. Alone. Floating. Shivering. Wondering if I had everything in order back home in case I drowned. I made friends with a man who was leisurely floating the river with his girlfriend, both of whom thought I was some bold, independent woman, when I was in fact a terrified baby who was gripping onto her tube as if it was my only source of oxygen.

Luckily, eventually, the group caught up to me, and when they did I gripped so hard onto the arm of a boy I’d just met earlier that day, that it had to look (and feel, I imagine) like I was trying to absorb some of his calm demeanor through my forearm a la the science of Space Jam.

In the two hours or so we floated the river, I never ended up falling out of my tube, which I consider a success, both for me and for anyone who might have had to witness me panicking as if I were being dragged underneath the rapids by Poseidon himself rather than just being bumped out of an inner tube in hip deep water. And while I can’t say I particularly loved the experience, as it just isn’t my thing, I was proud of myself for doing it. I’m also thankful for the random woman who applauded me at the finish, and for the hug I received from our friend Kelly. Both solidified the pride I felt and the assumption I had that my fear was as easy to read as my pale, white legs were easy to spot.

On the drive home, we stopped for burgers and fries, and then it was a quick shower and drive to the airport so that we could make our flight home. Sitting in the terminal, with damp hair, a bag of gummy worms I was eating underneath my mask, and a sweatshirt I’d just impulse bought in the gift shop sitting in my lap, I let the trip wash over me. While it had gone fast, I felt like we’d made the most of each day, which in turn made the trip feel long—in a good way. It had felt like a true breakaway from everything and it was hard to reconcile going back.

But now, even after being home for over two weeks, I can still look at the picture of our fishing spot and remember the peace and the space and I can reconnect to that moment of just relaxing and thinking about the good things the future might hold. And while I’m already ready for our next adventure, I don’t think I’ll forget this one anytime soon—both emotionally and physically, as I still have that bruise on my leg, and a bruise on both butt cheeks that a few sneaky rocks in the river gave me as souvenirs. #survivor.


Read Day 1 & 2 here.

A Whole Lot of Oooooh-tah! (Day 1&2)

Note: Throughout the entirety of this mini vacation all rules were followed, restrictions were taken seriously, and masks were worn when required, so please don’t come at me. I just want to tell you about a pretty place I went and how I ended up with bruises on both of my butt cheeks.

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August 20, 2020

After being picked up at the Salt Lake City airport late Wednesday night, I woke up on Thursday morning to a Park City sun shining on the pillow of a comfy bed, tucked under a warm blanket as a cool breeze came in through my open window. If you’re from Southern California (like me) or somewhere else where words like “breeze”, “blanket”, or “open window” are completely foreign and borderline triggering during this onslaught of August & September heat, you’ll know how much happiness these things brought to even the earliest moments of my day.

Having planned this trip to Utah over two months earlier, unsure of the potential travel restrictions or outside access we might have, my sister and I felt blessed to simply be somewhere other than our living room. Honestly, we would have embraced just sitting in a different living room if the laws prevented us from doing anything else. But, thankfully and mercifully, we were allowed to go exploring outside. Before we did that however, I did one of the inside things I’d wanted to do for oh. so. long.

I got a haircut.

Sitting in the chair at the salon, I asked the stylist to chop off the four or five inches that had grown down my shoulders since March. And as she went to work, talking on and off about the anxiety she was feeling about her daughter returning to school that morning, I couldn’t tell who was more excited about the haircut.

“Oh my gosh, this is happening, this is so exciting!” she said as my brown hair began to fall on the floor around me. I think it was therapeutic for both of us. I felt like I was chopping off the mop that quarantine built, and she was chopping at her anxiety snip by snip.

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Next on the agenda, we piled into the car and headed to Willow Heights Trail, which would not only serve as a welcome to Utah but a welcome to *elevation*. Having spent a good amount of time in elevation while training for Whitney, I was less nervous than I might have been otherwise, but that didn’t mean 8,000 feet didn’t make itself known.

Hello, it said, take your time.

And so we did.

After walking a mile or so to the lake at the top, we sat down on a few rocks to enjoy the lunches we packed. Within a few seconds however, a female duck and her eight ducklings came swimming and then charging up the bank towards us, squeaking and quacking and opening their beaks, waiting for us to toss them some scraps.

Were they cute? Yes.

Was it weird and strange and utterly delightful to be approached so closely by ducks? Yes.

But did it get old pretty fast, especially when they started pecking at our shoes and following us around in a way that suggested that at any minute they might go into attack mode and kill us? YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT.

This is when they gave up on us and returned to the water to commence hiding in plain sight until their next victim arrived.

After our hike, we stopped in on a waterfall, and the headed to Normal Club ice cream to have our lives casually changed forever.

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To finish off the day, we headed to a spot on the Weber River to fish. And while we gave it our best effort, our perseverance, our sweat, and, in my case, a little bit of blood thanks to my biggest catch of the day being my own finger, all but one of us came up empty. But it’s hard to be mad when this is your view.

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August 21, 2020

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

It’s me, elevation!

First thing Friday morning we headed to the Uintas (pronounced you-in-tuhs) to hike Bald Mountain, which had a starting elevation of 10,500 feet. I felt a little nervous heading into the hike, wondering if perhaps my sea-level life was going to catch up to me eventually, but aside from a few friendly reminders from my lungs not to laugh too hard, talk too loud, or burst into occasional song as I like to do, the hike went relatively well. The trail was rocky, and at times felt like walking up a long flight of uneven stairs, but small steps—and for the faint of heart or fearing of heights, a close eye on the ground rather than the long way down—were the key. I got to the top feeling very accomplished, and a little mischievous. Which is perhaps why, alongside this photo of the view:

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I also took this picture, while saying, out loud, “my dad is going to hate this”:

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From Bald Mountain we drove to Trial Lake and set up camp on the muddy banks to spend the afternoon fishing. Feeling a little let down by the previous day’s success, I threw a line in without big expectations, and instead stared off into the distance and let myself think.

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Throughout the day we had been talking a lot about the future. What we want to do, and where we might want to live (other than California). And with everything going on in the world and in my own life, I felt like I hadn’t had time to consider questions like these in a long time. But with the quiet of the lake and the tangible space offered up by the trees and water and sky—not to mention the complete lack of cell service—I felt like I finally had the time. Not about what I had to do today or what I should do tomorrow, but what I was doing and how I was feeling in that very moment. It was almost overwhelming—having the freedom to just exist—and it stirred up a lot inside me that I hadn’t even known was there. It also brought back some of my luck. In the three or so hours we were there, I caught seven fish, including this guy, who is the prettiest fish I ever did catch.

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On the way home, we stopped at “The Notch” for dinner, where we ate burgers and sandwiches, had some wine and beer and Kentucky mules, and talked about the day, about some favorite memories, and about how small this great big world is sometimes. Then we drove back and went to bed early, all of us spent in the way only a good, full day can make you.


Read Day 3 & 4 here.

13 Going on 30 Going on…

We are officially on the clock folks!

Come midnight (or 7:39 pm tomorrow if you want to get technical) I will turn 30! I am setting off into a new decade, a new chapter, a new adventure, and I am 97% sure I’m excited about it!

To commemorate this milestone, I watched the cinematic masterpiece 13 Going on 30. If you haven’t seen the movie, honestly, shame on you, and if you have, you’ll recall that it follows Jenna Rink, a 13 year old who is dissatisfied with the state of her life and wishes she could be thirty, flirty and thriving—a wish that comes true thanks to some wishing dust, causing her to wake up 17 years in the future, in the body of Jennifer Garner (bless) with *almost* everything she hoped for.

Ironically, 13 Going on 30 was released when I actually was 13. So as I watched the movie, it got me wondering what I (and the world) were like back in that fateful year of 2004.

To take us back, let me give you some highlights:

  • Justin Timberlake & Janet Jackson (ahem) performed at the Super Bowl.
  • Michael Phelps won 8 medals at the Athens Summer Olympic Games.
  • Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook—for Harvard students only at the time.
  • Friends aired its final episode.
  • The number one song of the year (and my longest running Myspace profile song) was Yeah! By Usher & Ludacris
  • And the highest grossing film was Shrek 2

Unlike Jenna Rink, I wasn’t necessarily in a hurry to grow up. I was in a hurry to not feel dramatic. To not feel like everything was the end of the world. But I was more or less okay with taking things step by step.

I almost always wore my hair in a ponytail—sometimes gelled back—and was obsessed with my hair straightener. I exclusively wore PacSun t-shirts and Vans tennis shoes, and I had one denim skirt that I wore when I wanted to feel fancy. I didn’t own a cellphone, but I texted my friends (and played Snake) on my mom’s blocky, Nokia phone. I owned a CD player on which I played Simple Plan and Ashlee Simpson albums on repeat, desperate for the world to know how misunderstood I was, and I spent hours on my computer coding my Myspace profile so it looked just right. I was quiet, timid, and very prone to copying personality traits from other people that I thought were cool. I was also very naïve and optimistic, very much thriving in what I have grown to call “the bubble,” that would very soon be popped.

Even in hindsight, having lived through it and come out the other side of 13, I can openly admit it was awful. It was scary, awkward, confusing, dramatic, honest, and embarrassing. Funny thing is, at (nearly) 30, I don’t find those adjectives unfamiliar. Life, at any stage is scary in its own right, awkward in its own right, confusing in its own right, etc. But there is a noticeable difference between the fears and struggles I had at 13 and those I have now. One could say the obstacles we face at 30 are tougher, they’re deeper, they hold more consequences, but they also (for the most part) have more structure, more foundation. In the face of controversy at 30, we have such an elaborate tool belt compared to when we are 13. And while that doesn’t necessarily make life easy, it makes it seem survivable, it makes it seem worth it, because we’ve learned that there are good things beyond the bad things, and lessons behind the losses.

In a way, it feels like I’ve blinked and found myself here, the same way Jenna Rink closed her eyes at 13 and opened them at 30. Like Jenna, when I look around, I can see my world is markedly different—that I am markedly different. I’ve accomplished things I would have never imagined and survived pain and loss I didn’t know existed.  Also, Mark Ruffalo is here, and isn’t that a marvelous thing?

It is hard to believe I’m going to be 30, but then it’s also hard to believe that I was once 13.

I don’t envy 13-year-old me. I don’t envy all that she had to walk through and learn and figure out. But I give her credit for making it through. For walking me, step by step, to this very day. And I’d like to believe that 40 or 50 or 80 year old me would have 30 year old me do the exact same thing. To take the days, the moments, the ups, downs, successes, and failures, one step at a time.

So as the clock counts down my final hours and minutes of 29, of my 20’s, of the first third(ish) of my life, I’m going to take a deep breath, reflect on some good memories, cringe at some awkward ones, and set off to make some new ones. I feel very lucky to be where I am, very proud of who I am and very grateful for who I have around me, and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next. 

31 Good Things that Happened in August

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) This miner in Tanzania sold a gem for over $2 million and announced plans to use the money to build a school and health facility in his community

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2) This:

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3) People working from home gave their office chairs an upgrade

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4) This dog visited hard working firefighters

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5) Three men were rescued after writing SOS in the sand

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6) Olympian Katie Ledecky swam across the pool with a glass of chocolate milk on her head

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7) This 7 year old sewed and sold masks to raise money for her local Boys & Girls club

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8) This man posted a hilarious review of what appeared to be a very strange dish

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9) This family rescued a dog they found swimming 4 miles offshore in Lake Michigan

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10) This man showed off his garden haul picked for his wife

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11) Actor Dennis Quaid adopted a rescue cat named Dennis Quaid

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12) Andrew McCutchen had fun with the (cardboard) fans

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13) This Chihuahua was reunited with its owner after saving his life

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14) This rookie was put to work

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15) This Australian man saved his wife by punching a shark

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16) These moose went for a stroll

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17) This restaurant owner gave out free meals to storm victims

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18) This woman was found alive at a funeral home hours after being pronounced dead

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19) These twins went viral for hearing Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” for the first time

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20) And then quickly (and rightly) went viral again with this video of their reaction to hearing “Jolene” for the first time

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21) Wolverines were found in Mt. Rainier Park for the first time in over 100 years

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22) This girl landed a trick

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23) LEGO announced it is launching a line of braille bricks

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24) This unsold beer was turned into renewable energy

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25) These zookeepers showed a penguin Pingu to help him feel less lonely

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26) This brother was willing to risk it all

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27) Africa was declared free of polio

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28) These 2,000 year old redwoods survived the Northern California wildfires

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29) This man in Ohio built a “nut bar” for the neighborhood squirrels

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30) Dave Grohl had a remote drum battle with a 10 year old

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31) And finally, this girl got a new pair of glasses

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

I can’t wait to see what September brings!

You can view the last edition of this series here.

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July/August Favorites

Hello and welcome back to another edition of favorites!

I have officially given up on creative introductions.

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Podcasts

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I haven’t been in a huge podcast mood these past couple months, so not only am I behind on most of the shows that I already listen to, I haven’t been actively hunting for new ones either. That being said however, I did come across The Next Right Thing, which is a short, faith based podcast that, like the song in Frozen 2 (even though this podcast pre-dates the movie) encourages you to take one positive step forward. Almost all of the episode are less than 15 minutes, giving you a little burst of inspiration each week. Highly recommend!

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Books

What I’ve been lacking in podcast motivation, I’ve definitely made up for in good books. First off, This is Going to Hurt, written by (now) TV writer Adam Kay. It chronicles his 6 years as a doctor and is full of hilarious, terrifying, and heart wrenching stories. As soon as I started it I recommended it to my mom so we could laugh and cringe our way through it together and we both loved it!

Next, A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost. This is truly one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. I already loved Colin Jost from Saturday Night Live, but his wit and sense of humor shine in this memoir, and it was exactly what I needed during this crazy year. I listened to the audiobook which was fantastic, but if you are able, I’d recommend reading the eBook/physical copy, as there are tons of hilarious stories that have accompanying photographs I wish I could have seen.

And finally, Black Widow by Leslie Gray Streeter. The full title of the book is Black Widow: A Sad-Funny Journey Through Grief for People Who Normally Avoid Books with Words Like Journey in the Title, which is long, but accurate. After suddenly losing her husband to a heart attack, the author documents the next year of her life, somehow finding humor that can make you laugh out loud. As a writer, I greatly admired her ability to turn to writing during such a hard time, and then to have the courage to share it, it was a very inspiring, heartbreaking and heartwarming read.

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TV Shows

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I don’t know how many times my brother recommended Community before I finally started watching it, but I’d like to formally apologize for waiting so long. It is so funny, so smart, so clever, and it never fails to make me laugh. I’m genuinely bummed I didn’t watch this show when it was on the air, but I’m so glad I’m watching it now! (find it on Netflix)

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Movies

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I have been trading movie recommendations with a friend of mine and Enemy came up a couple weeks ago and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. What is it about, you might ask? I can’t tell you. Because 1) it’s really, truly, a you need to see it to believe it type of movie and 2) I’m still not really sure. I will say though, I found this article really helpful in the aftermath. (find it on Amazon)

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Music

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I don’t think I’m alone when I say that the main album that stole my heart over these last couple months is folklore by Taylor Swift. It was such a great surprise and a welcome comfort in this crazy times. I have fully embraced its rainy day attitude, even on the hottest of days in Southern California.

Alongside that, I have also had a handful of songs I’ve been playing on repeat, some summery, some sad, some comforting. A little bit of everything:

  • MadHappySad by BabyJake
  • Pretty Please by Dua Lipa
  • Catching Feelings by Drax Project & SIX60
  • Famous For (I Believe) by Tauren Wells & Jenn Johnson
  • Hurting by Kygo & Rhys Lewis
  • Closer by POWERS
  • Rager teenager! by Troye Sivan
  • Passerby by Patrick Droney
  • Waste of a Lime by Ingrid Andress
  • Fighting for Me by Riley Clemmons

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These Amazon Shelves

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I am a collector of vintage cameras, and I have long been looking for a way to properly display them and so I was very excited to find these frames on Amazon. They are affordable, easy to hang, and sturdy enough that I could set up my cameras without fear. I would also recommend some Museum Putty, which I used to stick the cameras to the shelves (and the wall) since California seems to be a little earthquake happy at the moment. (find them here)

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Face Mask Applicators

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I had heard rumblings about these guys around social media, but wasn’t sure if they were really worth the money. But upon finding a cheap two pack on Amazon, I pulled the trigger and can honestly say they are WORTH IT. They save product, help you apply masks more evenly, and make you feel like you are painting a masterpiece on your face, which is delightful. (find them here)

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See my previous favorites post here.

I Love Me (Part 2)

A couple years ago I posted this blog, where I was inspired by a blogging friend to challenge both myself and some of my favorite ladies to write out things that we love about ourselves. It was uncomfortable, a little difficult, and almost felt…wrong—which is exactly why I’m back to do it again with some of my friends.

There is a lot of hard in the world right now, and there is a lot of hate. So I thought it was the perfect time to circulate some love into the picture. Personally, I could write pages and pages about how wonderful each of these ladies are, but I think that would make them even more uncomfortable. So I’ll stick to their words.

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Sam

I love that I can see the good in all people. Even though I’ve been hurt by some I know that we all deserve love.

I love that I have grown to be a more understanding and compassionate person.

I love that I can admit to myself that I am not perfect and I have often been wrong. I use that to keep a light heart and forgive myself and others.

I love that I love all beings and creatures and try my best to cause as little harm as possible.

I love that I have had the courage to travel the world and make friends who have taught me so much.

And I love that I truly believe we are all here for a reason and anything is possible in this life.

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Nicole

I love my dorky sense of humor and that I am quick to laugh.

I love that I am athletic and an adventurer… a cautious adventurer but still an adventurer at heart

I love how I how much I care for my own

I love that I am into “old lady crafts” such a knitting

I love that I am not afraid to be childish (ex. My love for Harry Potter, Disney and LOTR)

I love that I am a fisher woman and will show up them boys!

I love how much I care for our planet. Proud planet citizen over here!

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Natalee

I love my brain. I love that I am always trying to learn and research and analyze, and I love that learning itself brings me joy.

I love my career. I love that I am challenged every day by my clients and my coworkers, and that I can genuinely see the difference my work makes in the lives of others.

I love my roots. I love that I learned at a young age, it really is Family. Over. Everything.

I love that I am a good friend. I am active about trying to make the people in my life feel loved, valued, and supported, and I am really proud (and grateful!) for the strong friendships that I have in my life.

I love how much I love sports, and I love that I can keep up with almost any sports-related conversation. I also love the sass that sports bring out of me, because Lord knows it’s real.

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Taylor

I love myself because I am independent and strong willed.

I love myself because I can accomplish anything I set my sights on, without anyone there pushing me to do so. (Like getting my phlebotomy license, then choosing to go to through flight attendant interviews…almost becoming a flight attendant, to then choosing to go back to school and finish with my BA degree)

I love myself because I wear my heart on my sleeve and am true to my heart.

I love myself because I am caring towards others feelings and needs.

I love myself because I am a damn great cook and not afraid to add spices without following a recipe!

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Rachel

I love that I believe life shouldn’t always be easy. I welcome challenges while doing everyday things and find that they keep life more interesting.

I love that I can always be the first one to laugh at myself.

I love that I am both gentle and tough though I don’t always show either.

I love that I am a newly converted early bird. I was wasting so much time sleeping in!

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Allison

I love that I can push myself to be outgoing when I need to be. I am naturally very introverted and even though it’s a challenge, I’m never disappointed when I step out of my shell.

I love that I’m an extremely loyal person and that I fiercely protect the people I love.

I love that I am a strong woman who has surrounded myself with other strong women.

I love that I’m spontaneous and adventurous because an unplanned road trip is always worth it. And I love that I  keep snacks in my car for said unplanned road trips.

I love that I’m constantly learning about myself and how to be more comfortable in my own skin