A Little Inspiration

Leaning into FEAR

I was going through my notebook the other day and I found a quote I wrote down a while back. I mentioned it in this post almost a year ago, but it hit me hard when I saw it again and I wanted to share it.

It is from The School of Greatness podcast, episode 721.

“FEAR can be:

Fear Everything And Run,

or Face Everything And Rise.”

I’ve always been a bit of a fearer. I’m afraid of, well, most things, and I have found it very easy over the course of my life to run from those which are particularly scary.

It’s easy to run. Fun too. Running keeps you safe. It carries you away from all that can hurt you, thus ensuring that you can’t be hurt. But running is also quite tiring. It’s exhausting, really. And it gets old. Especially if you’re running in circles.

I don’t know where you are in your life, today or this week or in general, and I don’t know what kind of FEAR you are leaning into. But I want to encourage you, and me, the group of us together really, to stop running. And I don’t mean that solely in the sense that we should stop avoiding hard things or fearing good and vulnerable things. I just think we could all benefit from receiving the permission to stop moving.

We don’t always have to be doing something or achieving something or reaching and reaching and reaching. I think those things are important, and I think setting goals and working towards them is one of the most rewarding things you can do. But it’s not the only thing.

We are still important if we are sitting still. We still hold value if we aren’t setting new records and reaching new heights. We matter, no matter what.

I remember when I first heard this quote I took it as motivation to keep moving up. To rise. To be bigger and better. But I think I underestimated how far you can move forward simply by standing still. For to rise is not simply to ascend, it is also to acknowledge the steps that helped you do so. It is to face the things, good and bad, that have formed you into the person you are, and to accept them as part of your story.

I am who I am because of my story, and you are you because of yours. So let’s appreciate those stories for all that they are, and rise.

Don’t Suffer

A fun fact about me is that I’m cold—all the time.

I have two sweaters on my office chair at work and I almost never leave the house without some sort of extra layer, even in the dead of summer. My friends and family have (mostly) come to accept this—they only mock me half of the time now—and some even go out of their way to let me know when we (meaning only me) should bring a jacket to wherever we’re going.

If I were a teenager, I might try to spin this whole thing as a cute quirk. A way to get the boy to lend me his jacket because I’m just so cold teeheehee. But alas, I’m not 16, and I don’t even think it’s cute. I would love to confidently walk out the front door without wondering if I will catch hypothermia at the movies or grapple over what I should say to convince everyone to sit outside even though it’s hot and we might sweat all of our makeup off.

This past weekend a big group of my family got together at a house on the beach and the moment we pulled in I felt the ocean breeze shiver down my spine.

Shit. I thought. We just got here and I’m already cold.

I paced around a bit, trying to get my blood flowing so I didn’t have to look completely pathetic, but after a few minutes I leaned into my mom and said, “I really think I have to put my sweater on already.”

My mom nodded, nonjudgmental, then put her hand on my arm and said, “Like my yoga teacher says, ‘Don’t suffer.’”

At first I just smiled, thanking her for the words and for not, you know, pointing and laughing at me like I assume everyone should. But as I pulled on my jacket and then walked back around to the kitchen to lean back into the conversation I’d left, the real meaning of the words sunk in deep.

Don’t suffer.

It’s really simple on the surface, isn’t it? But let it sink in for a second.

Don’t suffer.

In the context of yoga, it reminds you not to stay in a pose that causes too much pain.

When you apply it to every day life—like whether or not I should be ashamed to put a sweater on at a family reunion—it acts a reminder to just let yourself be. Maybe that means saying no to party you don’t want to go to, or putting down a book you don’t have any interest in finishing, or taking a nap instead of going to the gym today, or whatever it may be.

Don’t suffer. Especially with the little things. Give yourself the freedom to be comfortable and it will give you the opportunity to thrive.

Needless to say I put the jacket it on, instantly felt better, and wouldn’t you know it, I had an amazing afternoon.

What’s the Point?

Have you ever been so caught up in the monotony of the day-to-day routines and stresses that you found yourself frustrated and exhausted and wondering what are we even doing here? Or, and not necessarily as dark as this sounds, but, what’s the point?

It’s that, is this it? feeling. Is life just alarm snoozing and work and bills and debt and general frustration?

Deep down we know it’s not. We know there’s more. We know this thing has purpose. But some days that truth is a little cloudy, and others it seems downright hidden.

But then there are days or sometimes just moments when it shines bright.

Like when you see someone do something so kind that it makes you want to cry.

Or when you see people look at each other with such unconditional love that you feel it too.

When you stay up late talking to your sister about nothing and everything at the same time.

When you watch the sunset on the beach and that warm glow makes everything slow down.

When you eat something so good it makes you (want to or actually) dance.

When you do something you never thought you could.

When you get butterflies in your stomach because someone or something is so overwhelmingly exciting.

When you tell a friend something you’re struggling with and they lift a little piece of that burden off your shoulders.

When you lose track of time laughing and then trying not to laugh and then after a while laughing just to laugh.

Among millions more.

The way I see it, life is about finding things that make it easier. Easier for you, easier for someone you love, or even easier for someone you’ve never met. It’s about finding people and places and experiences that make you take deep, purposeful breaths. And on the hard days, it’s about believing that ease exists, and working your way forward one step at a time to find it again.

Life is not meant to be easy, but it’s full of impossible ease, and you owe it to yourself to find it. So whether you’re having the best day ever or a cloudy one at best, I encourage you to seek it. Open yourself up to the good things in this life, let them give you breath and breathe breathe breathe.

Everything in Moderation

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” – Oscar Wilde

 

I heard this quote for the first time recently and it really hit home.

While balance is often preached as the secret to life, sometimes it’s the balance that leaves me so worn out. Day in and day out I’m trying to make sure I find time for goal setting, self care, loving others, eating right, being productive, etc. I try to achieve that balance, but by the time I’m getting into bed each night I’m feeling more overwhelmed than I did that morning.

I end up lying there wondering what I could have done better, what I shouldn’t have done at all, and how I can improve the next day. I promise to pursue that balance, but I’m also wondering how I’ll ever be able to do it.

So maybe, that’s not the answer.

As this quote suggests, maybe it’s not about finding and maintaining that balance every. single. day. But striving for a balance—whatever that means for you. That means knowing when you need more or less of something. It means giving yourself a break when you can’t find time to do much of anything at all.

Moderation is healthy. And it’s a good standard for living, but it shouldn’t be your only standard. Be wild sometimes. Break the rules. Change the rules. Know when you need to be disciplined. Know when you need a nap or a snack—or two snacks. Respect when you need to be quiet and when you need to scream. Find your balance, and don’t be ashamed if it doesn’t look like everyone else’s.

BAWAGA: A New Mindset

I talk a lot about inspiration on this blog. Whether it be my own ideas, lessons I’ve learned from others, or words and phrases I’ve picked up anywhere and everywhere else. I’ve talked about mantras and mottos that carry me through rougher days (i.e. It’s Not Time to Worry Yet and Just Live the Day) and I’ve talked about mindsets that motivate me to push myself forward (i.e. Shout Your Strong and Opening the BIFC Door)

Today, I bring you yet another mindset, that comes straight from the first baseline of Dodger Stadium.

It was a hot afternoon in May and a small group of us were there to see the Dodgers play the Mets. Seated in field level seats right next to the foul pole, we were very close to Dodgers’ right fielder, Cody Bellinger, who, in case you haven’t heard, is having the season of his life.

“He’s such a badass,” my sister said as he warmed up after hitting another homerun.

“You might even say he’s…a badass with a great ass.

Badass with a great ass. (BAWAGA, if you will)

Obvious thirst aside, this stuck with me. Not necessarily as a quality we should give to others (sorry, Cody), but as a mindset we should take on for ourselves.

Let’s face it, sometimes it’s hard to like—let alone love—ourselves all at once. For me personally, I have moments of love, sparks of that hey, I dig that about myself, but very rarely (if ever) am I walking around thinking, “man I love my brain and my spirit and my body, I am just the total package.”

But what if I did? What if we did?

What if we pursued that total self-acceptance on a daily basis? What if we woke up thinking and believing, I am a badass with a great ass, I can do anything and then went about our day? How would that change the way we viewed our world? How would it change the way we treated others? How would it change the way we approached obstacles?

For athletes like Cody Bellinger, they need to take the field with a BAWAGA mindset, even on days when they don’t feel like it. If they don’t, they leave room for both doubt and the confidence of all of the other players to stand in front of them. And when all of that is blurring your vision, it’s impossible to play to the best of your ability because you don’t believe it exists.

The same goes for us regular (non-professional baseball playing, MLB record breaking) humans. We all have the ability to “play” at our best ability, but first we need to believe that our best exists. We need to go into each day with positivity and motivation and we need to look in the mirror with love and admiration. We need to appreciate all sides of ourselves—including the backside ayyyy—and remind ourselves that we can do anything. Why? Because we’re badasses. And not only that, we’re badasses with great asses.

Is it corny? Yes.

Is it cringy?  A little.

But does it secretly motivate me to go out there and kick some ass? Sure does.

17 Things that Have Inspired Me (So Far) This Year

During List-cember—a series of list based posts I do in December—I usually post a blog that lists 25 things that have inspired me throughout the year. I used to only post it once a year, but in July of last year, I realized that there is never really a wrong time to share inspirational things.

So, I’ve made it a biannual thing. And since it’s already July (lol, what?) it’s that time of year! Let’s dive on in.

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1) This 2019 game plan by @hannahbrencher

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2) This song by Maren Morris

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3) This line from the movie Unicorn Store:

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4) The Dawn Wall & Free Solo (and pretty much rock climbing in general)

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5) This #10YearChallenge post by Julianne Hough about finding your authentic self:

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6) This video by Liza Koshy that was equal parts hilarious as it was a fun celebration of peoples’ (weird, but impressive) talents:

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7) The Rise Podcast

I got into this podcast last year, but some episodes from this year have really hit me in the feels. 1200x630bb

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8) You’re a Badass by Jen Sincero

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Some of my favorite quotes from the book are:

“How you do one thing is how you do everything.”

“Put yourself out there and you never know what you might learn that will inform your next move, or whom you might meet that will present you with your next opportunity.”

“Do your best wherever you’re at.”

“Everything you do along your journey contributes to where you’re going.”

“Get to the point where you have both unwavering faith and unwavering gratitude for that which you desire.”

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9) This reminder:

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10) The 30 for 30 podcast

(Especially the episode “Six Who Sat” which got me fired up for the marathon.)

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11) The LA Marathon

I wrote an entire blog post to commemorate my experience running the LA Marathon this year and I could probably write 10 more.

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12) Jenna Marbles

She makes videos on YouTube just doing things she likes/has always wanted to try/thought might be funny, etc. and I love it! Here are two of my favorites:

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13) This:

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14) Booksmart

Namely the friendship between the two main characters and the fact that they talk to each other like this:

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15) “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

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16) The US Women’s National Soccer Team

Because, obviously.

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(Photo credit: Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

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17) This flow chart from Girl, Stop Apologizing

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Here’s to another six months of inspiration heavy-black-heart_2764

A Lesson from Claire Wineland: Love Your Life Your Way

Last month my sister and I went to see the movie Five Feet Apart in theaters. It follows two people with cystic fibrosis, who fall in love but are forced to keep their distance from one another.

The director of the film, Justin Baldoni, recently posted a video on his Instagram (that you can find here) where he introduced his main inspiration for the film: Claire Wineland. She lived her entire life with cystic fibrosis before passing away at the age of 21. In the video (taken in 2015), Claire gives a short speech, and it’s immediately clear why she changed so many peoples’ lives, and why her legacy is sure to live on.

She said:

I’m 18 years old and I have something called cystic fibrosis. I do only have a few years left to live. I mean, that’s how the doctors see it. Let’s get the whole like death thing out on the table, right?

Like all of us could get hit by a meteorite, so let’s stop thinking about the death part of it because that doesn’t matter to me. We have no control over it. But we do have control over whether or not we are proud of our lives. I mean, that’s something we have complete say over.

I am genuinely proud of my life. I am so proud to be alive. I’m not saying I don’t feel pain. I’m not saying I don’t feel sadness and suffering, and loneliness, because that’s what it means to be a human being. But I’m saying that that pain and that loneliness and that sadness is beautiful.

We live in a society that benefits off of us continuously looking for happiness and dreams and goals out here. Right? If we say, “No. We are not going to go looking out there for a happiness. We are alive and that is all we need.” We are beating the system. Right? And we’re living lives that we’re proud of. We’re living lives that make us happy!

You have to look at all of it. All of the pain, all of the loneliness, all of the beauty, all of the friendship and the family, and the sickness and the health. You have to lay it all in front of you and you have to say, “Okay. That is what I have and it is all wonderful. What can I make with it?”

Woah, right?

It really made me stop and think.

So often I am someone that puts an immense amount of pressure on myself to live a life that other people can be proud of. Sure, I take pride in what I do, but when I’m lying awake at night stressing, it is because I’m worried I’m not doing enough, not being enough. I’m worried people are judging me or pitying me or just wondering what the hell is she doing?

When we focus on the eyes of others, it’s hard to accept “all of it”. It’s hard to see all of the pain and sadness and beauty and family and friendship and sickness and health, and consider it “wonderful”. We can see the wonder in some of it, sure, namely the parts that might impress or connect us to others, but it’s hard to see all of it as the wonderful combination that makes us, us. It’s hard to realize that our unique combination of all of those elements is what makes our lives beautiful and special and important.

So today, I am going to take a look around, and I encourage you to do the same. Look at all of it. Everything you’ve been given, and find the meaning in it. Find the wonder. Stop living your life by other peoples’ standards and start living a life that you are proud of.

I Ran A Damn Marathon

Two years ago, just after my 27th birthday, I made this list to give myself 30 things to strive for before I turned 30. The very last item on that list, was an ellipses-ed, maybe, kinda, but I don’t know item: Run a Marathon.

I didn’t want to commit to the task, but I also wanted to keep it in mind. I love challenging myself, and I especially love proving I can do things I never would have believed I could, so I put it on the list and let the curiosity fester.

Then, in September of last year, the curiosity bubbled over.

I did some research and I looked up training plans, and I decided to commit to this one, which would have me marathon ready in six months. I would start my training in October, making it so I finished training just before the 2019 LA Marathon.

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The training was tough, and long, and sometimes just plain frustrating, but I got through it, and this past Saturday, as I sat eating my now traditional pre-run pasta dinner, I hoped it had been enough. Then my alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. the next morning, and there was no more wondering, there was no more waiting, it. was. time.

The starting line was at Dodger Stadium and the start time was 6:55 a.m. So after pinning on my bib, jumping around and stretching, and hugging my family goodbye, I got in line, loaded up my playlist, got herded into the corrals, and then…the gun went off.

I was in the zone y’all.

The first mile flew by and when I saw that first mile marker, I lifted my hands up the air, confident, excited and ready. Only 25.2 more to go!

It wasn’t going to be easy. This was a marathon after all, and everyone running that race was running against something that had nothing to do with the course. For me, besides the emotional obstacles of doubt and contemplating my potential insanity and all that fun stuff, I had recently been struggling with the IT band on my right leg.

It began in the last few weeks of training, and though I’d been as diligent as I could to ice it, rest it and pray sweet blessings over it, the muscle still, for lack of a better word, twanged. And unfortunately, after that first strong mile, I felt that twang.

Okay, I thought. We’re okay. We can do this. PLEASE, LORD, HELP. We can do this.

For the next 10 miles or so, I did do it. I powered through. The uphills were tough and the downhills were worse, but I breathed and I focused and I powered through.

We can rest later, I said, talking to my IT band like a person, just keep your shit together for ONE. MORE. DAY.

Thankfully (I guess), by mile 15, the arch of my left foot started to ache, which more or less cancelled out the pain in my leg, giving me a nice, uniform discomfort that was manageable.

And so came mile 16, and then 17, 18 and 19, and just as I approached the mile marker for mile 20, I slapped my hand on a sign being held by a little boy on the sideline that said “tap here for a power up!”

Only 6.2 miles left! I thought. We do this all the time. We got this.

That’s when I hit the wall.

Not a physical, actual wall. No, the infamous, figurative marathon wall. It’s the point when your strength suddenly plummets, the trail suddenly stretches, and time suddenly slows way down.

I came around a corner to the hill that led to the mile 21 marker and I suddenly just felt done.

By this point both of my legs were aching, the bottoms of my feet felt like I was running on broken glass, and my knees were just plain tired of being knees. I stopped running for the first time and I wobbled my way up that hill, feeling as broken and discouraged as I did during my first training run for my very first 5k all those years ago.

Mile 22 wasn’t any easier.

I took turns running and walking, neither one feeling particularly easier than the other, and I stopped making eye contact with fans cheering on the sidelines. What if I can’t make it?

Just then, a text came in from a friend who was tracking my progress online: “Keep it up Kim! Almost there!” I thought briefly about curling into a ball and crying, but instead I decided to start running again. It was a slower pace than I’d kept my first 20 miles, but it was something.

I jogged and I breathed and I tried to stay focused on the songs playing in my headphones, assuming that if self confidence could take me 80% of the way, an up-tempo song with some inspiring attitude could take me the other 20.

Then I saw mile 23. And 24. And then, finally, mile 25.

“Only one mile left!!” someone on the sidelines yelled into a megaphone.

I took a deep breath and I buckled down. My entire body hurt but I didn’t care. I could f*cking do this and I was going to prove it.

I came down the last hill and saw the ocean, and then the road wrapped around and there was the finish line. It was a straight shot. A far, long, seemingly ENDLESS straight shot. But it was there, and each step got me closer, until suddenly my feet were on the final platform and the finish line was moving into my rearview.

I had done it. I RAN A DAMN MARATHON. And the moment I saw my family and they ran out from behind the sideline to give me a hug, I burst into tears.

This was undoubtedly the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was also the most rewarding. At the end of mile 20, as I came around the corner under an overpass and looked ahead at the mile 21 marker at the top of the hill, I wanted to quit.

There’s just no way I can make it. I’m in over my head. I can’t do this.

But the moment those words crossed my mind, I was determined to shut them out. To prove them wrong. So I took this picture:

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I wanted to remember this spot. This moment when I could have let doubt and discouragement win. So that when I crossed that finish line, when I got my medal and my free banana, I could always remember that I kept going. That instead of quitting, I went 5 more miles.

We can do anything we put our mind to.

Go the extra five miles. You can do it.

You Keep Following Your Dreams & I’ll Keep Following Mine

In August of 2016, me, my sister, and my best friend Allison (except I spell it Alleeson because of a whole Kimberlee double-e solidarity thing) went to dinner at Islands. As we sat laboring over which hamburger to choose from the menu, Alleeson put her hands on the table and took a deep breath.

“I have news,” she said.

I put my menu down and looked across the table at her, trying to gage whether this was good news or bad news based on the tone of her voice.

“I got a job.”

“That’s great!” I said, relieved.

“It’s for a news station in Oregon.”

Not even a month later, she was moving into a house 12 hours away and I was both heartbroken for me and unfathomably excited for her. She was nervous, I could tell. But she was also excited and curious and determined to give herself the big break she’d been waiting for.

In November of that year, I was able to visit her. She took me on a tour around her studio and showed me where they filmed the show and the things she was in charge of. I even got to watch a live taping of the evening show and witness her talent in action.

Back home, I was trying to catch some of the fire Alleeson had left behind. I was in awe of her bravery and her ability to just go for it. She made it look easy, even though I know almost no part of it was. She made me want to fight the battles that had long been easier to stay out of.

As the months went on, even though we were now hundreds of miles apart, I noticed how we still managed to mirror each other. Since we both come from creative backgrounds, we are constantly looking to do more, make more, be more, and so we both have our ups filled with confidence and our downs filled with doubt.

One night, as we were both lamenting over where we were and where we wanted to be, we made a pact. We decided that since the paths to our ultimate dreams were somewhat blurry, the best first step would be to hone in the destination.

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In the last year, I’ve seen Alleeson dive even deeper into her work. Putting in day after day, constantly pushing herself and trying new things, trying to be more. And yesterday, just as I was getting home from work, I got a message.

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She called me and I screamed into the phone. I tried to tell her how proud I was, how excited I was, how much she deserved it. Because she did. She does. She took that big risk; she’s put in all that work. She’s carving that path towards her dream no matter what anyone has to say about it.

It would be easy to be jealous, but that would be a waste of time. Instead, I’m going to take this as a reminder of what we set out to. What we intend to do, no matter how hard it is or how long it takes.

So as I celebrate this huge step she’s made, I’m going to take a few more of my own. For we started this together and always planned to kick ass side by side from there.

Congratulations Alleeson! (And good luck at the 2018 Regional Emmy’s!) Keep following your dream and I’ll keep following mine, and may we continue to follow each other’s fire.

You Won’t Win Unless You’re Willing to Lose

In October of 2017, as he was training for the 2018 Winter Olympics, Shaun White had a horrible crash that resulted in 62 stitches in his face. In an interview a few months later, he was asked whether the crash gave him doubts about his ability or willingness to continue, especially in pursuit of a spot on the Olympic team. He nodded his head, saying that while he looked in the mirror at his nearly unrecognizable face, he realized that by agreeing to continue, agreeing to step back out there and try again, he was more or less accepting that this could happen all over again.

At first, this statement seemed obvious to me. Being a complete outsider to the sport, the corresponding danger is constantly at the forefront of my attention. I mean, they are literally throwing themselves through the air, flipping and spinning and twisting at high speeds, all the while hoping they’ll land flat on a thin piece of fiberglass. With that in mind, of course it could happen again, Shaun! Honestly it seems like it should happen more.

But as the weeks went on and the Olympics came and went, the quote sat with me, churning around in my brain the way all lessons waiting to be learned tend to. Eventually I started thinking about the risks I take in my own life. Both small and big. I thought about my writing, both on this blog and outside it in pursuit of other projects, accolades, etc. Every time I write a blog post, I accept the fact that people might not like it, or that it might not do well. Every time I submit a piece to a contest or a magazine or a publisher, I accept the fact that it might lose or get rejected. Every time I try to succeed, I accept the fact I can fail.

After a while, I realized this mindset can apply to almost every aspect of our lives.

In relationships, every time you make yourself vulnerable you accept the fact that you could get hurt.

In finances, every time you make an investment you accept the fact that it could fall through.

Plans can fail. Accidents can happen. Hearts can break.

In this world, there is a lot to be afraid of, there is a lot that can go wrong, and there are a lot of opportunities to fail. But every day we get up, every day we step outside, every time we accept those fears and try again, we give ourselves the change to succeed, to win.

On February 14th, after spending months both recovering from his injury and working his way back into the physical and mental shape needed to make the Olympic team, Shaun White won the gold medal in the Snowboard Halfpipe event, making him the most decorated snowboarder of all time.

In many ways it was expected, hoped for, anticipated, both by Shaun White and the millions of people tuning in to the competition. But the only guarantee would have come from him not trying, not taking that risk, not stepping back into the sport all those months ago. The same goes for anything you hope for, I dream of, we all aim to accomplish. So even though failure is hard, vulnerability is terrifying and losing sucks, it’s worth the risk. Not only because it brings you one step closer to success, but because it makes you stronger, braver and smarter than you were before. And although it might not feel like it, trying and failing will always show more courage than avoiding failure all together. So take the risk, make the try and see where it takes you.