How to

Allow me to teach you a few things and I’ll allow you to completely ignore me.

Summer 2017 Charity Walks

Have you ever been driving around running errands, minding your own business, and wanted to stop by your favorite donut shop, when suddenly you come across a big orange construction sign saying, ROAD CLOSED, and you feel like your whole day is ruined. Then, to make matters worse, you find out the reason the road is closed is because there are hundreds (or thousands) of people participating in a Walk/Run event that benefits a super amazing charity, so you drive home and feel doubly bad 1) because you didn’t participate in such a great event and 2) because even though it’s clearly an important event that will benefit many, you’re still pretty upset your route was blocked and you didn’t get a donut.

I’ll admit it, I have.

HOWEVER, I’ve also been amongst the crowds, running and/or walking for a great charity that I care about, and I can honestly say it is way more satisfying than any donut. (Which is saying something, because, you know, #donutsarelife)

With the arrival of summer right around the corner, we’re in for a season of beautiful mornings, perfect for both donuts and charity walks—and if you are living life to fullest: both—and since one of the hardest parts about signing up for a walk/run is knowing which ones are available to sign up for, I figured I’d do the work for you.

WARNING: this does take away the “I had no idea this was happening!” excuse you might have planned to use to not sign up. Sorry about that.

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Relay for Life

Who you’re walking for: American Cancer Society

Distance: varies

Find more information here

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Light the Night

Who you’re walking for: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Distance: About 3 miles

Find more information here

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Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Who you’re walking for: Alzheimer’s Association

Distance: 2-3 miles

Find more information here

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AIDs Walk

Who you’re walking for: multiple AID’s related charities

Distance: 6.2 miles (a 10k course)

Find more information here

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Strut Your Mutt

Who you’re walking for: Best Friends Animal Society

Distance: varies

Find more information here

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March of Dimes

Who you’re walking for: March of Dimes Foundation

Distance: About 3 miles

Find more information here

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Walk for Wishes

Who you’re walking for: The Make A Wish Foundation

Distance: 3.1 miles (5k course)

Find more information here

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Walk MS

Who you’re walking for: National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Distance: 1-3 miles

Find more information here

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Buddy Walk

Who you’re walking for: National Down Syndrome Society

Distance: varies based on location

Find more information here

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Race

Breast Cancer 3-day

Who you’re walking for: Susan G Komen for the Cure

Distance: 60 miles over 3 days

Find more information here

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I’d recommend any and all of these and any others you can find. There’s truly no greater feeling than helping someone, and being a part of events like these where you can see and feel the direct impact of the difference you are making is unbelievable.

So I challenge you this summer to get out there and be a part of something bigger. Walk, run, sit down and cry, I’ve done all three at a variety of different races and I’m a better person because of it.

Also, be sure to check out this website to find more charity walks near you, and if you know of any other upcoming runs/walks that benefit great charities, please share them below!

How to Go to a Concert

This past weekend my roommates and I went to KROQ’s 25th annual Weenie Roast & Fiesta. It’s an all day celebration of food, friends and amazing music. This year’s lineup included The Revivalists, New Politics, Judah & the Lion, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, DREAMCAR, Lana Del Rey, Paramore, 311, Cage the Elephant, Imagine Dragons, Incubus, and Lorde.

To be brief: we went, we saw, we danced, we sang and we didn’t get sunburned, so it’s safe to say we conquered! And since the coming summer offers plenty of concerts and festivals alike, I thought I’d give you some tips, based both on what we did right, what we did wrong, and what we’ll do better on next time.

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1) Hydrate!

I know this may sound like a cliché mom lesson, but you can never underestimate the value of some high quality H20. When you’re going to be in the sun all day and you’re going to want to drink a beer and dance and let some troubles of a long week melt away, you’re going to need some water to have your back. It will keep you healthy, it will keep you moving, it will keep you—quite literally—alive. You don’t want to be the person that passes out from dehydration and requires the hot EMT to wheel you away in pity, you want to be the one getting free cardio jumping up and down to your favorite band and catching the lead singer’s guitar pick so you can tell the story for the rest of time.

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2) Wear Sunscreen

Long story short: I sunburn like it’s my job. And during the summer my nose, shoulders and thighs fall victim to the sun like Kel does orange soda.

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So lather it up. Lather, lather, and repeat. That way you’ll be able to wake up the next morning without feeling like someone snuck into your room overnight and lit you on fire.

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3) Dress Smart

I get it. You just bought a new dress, or jacket, or pair of shoes. They’re unique and adorable and have strategically placed cutouts, and you want to show them off. Don’t let me stop you. But please take into account a few factors from this poem:

It’s going to be hot as hell.

You’re going to sweat something swell.

And think of how long you’ll be there, please consider that as well.

Because I get it: fashion

You’re living your passion

But just think of your skin and how it will be…rashin’

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4) Be Patient

One of the best parts of any concert or festival is the food and drinks. At Weenie Roast, the object of my sister’s affection was tacos. Unfortunately, the restaurant hired to provide such had, shall we say, sub-par service. They were severely understaffed and intensely overwhelmed by the demand, causing the line to move incredibly slow. It took some serious strategy for us to get what we so desired to eat while not missing any artists we so desired to hear. And while the tacos and carne asada fries ended up being INCREDIBLE, it was hard not to feel justifiably frustrated by the whole thing. That being said however, it’s important to remember that the vendors at these kinds of events do not show up with the intent to ruin your day. They’re not behind the counter plotting, mischievously calculating how they can make your experience worse than you hoped. So be patient. Don’t yell, don’t heckle, don’t assume you’re more important than anyone else. Because we all want tacos, and if we’re patient, they will come.

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4) Sing

Key point to remember: you paid money to come see your favorite artists. So don’t do yourself the disservice of submitting to your inhibitions. Sing you heart out. Loudly and terribly. It’s worth it.

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(actual footage of my friends and I this weekend)

This goes hand in hand with #4. Move! Move yourself in every direction, whichever direction your body wishes. I don’t care if people are watching. I don’t care if people are laughing. The way I see it, if people are wasting their time watching/judging me have the time of my life, there’s only one loser in that situation, and it’s not the person whipping their hair back and forth to an Imagine Dragons song.

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6) Keep an Open Mind

There were 12 artists at Weenie Roast, which meant there were a number of songs played that I didn’t know. And while not every artist was necessarily someone I’d listen to on a regular basis, it was still a treat to see someone in their element, doing something that they love. So don’t count out the bands you don’t know. Don’t shut down and tune out until an artist you do know comes on stage. Give the new guys a chance, they might just blow your mind!

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7) Listen to the Lyrics

One of the best parts of seeing someone live is getting to experience them as people, not just sounds on the radio. It helps you connect to the artists as just that: artists. Music is one of the most beautiful mediums artists have to express themselves and sometimes even the simplest lyric can change your outlook on life. During Incubus’ set, I found myself overwhelmingly inspired by a lyric that I’ve heard upwards of a thousand times over the years:

Whatever tomorrow brings I’ll be there, with open arms and open eyes, yeah.

It’s from “Drive”, one of the band’s most well known songs, and as he sang it, I couldn’t help but get goosebumps. He’s making a promise to life. To be ready for the tomorrow it brings, even if that includes hardships. He’s promising to live for tomorrow, because appreciates the value of getting the chance to live it. The lyric stuck with me for the rest of the show and still sits with me now as I write this. It makes me excited about tomorrow and reminds me to appreciate it, now matter what it may bring.

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8) Go!

I know the excuses: it will be hot, it will be long, it will be dusty, it will be crowded. And while I have agreed with all of these at some point, and have used (and will continue to use) them willingly, I can’t deny the magic in going. Sometimes you just need to get out there and dance and sing and laugh and eat terribly good food. So go for it! You won’t regret it.

Snacks to Pack for a Road Trip

So I’ve been talking to a lot of different friends recently, and they’ve been telling me about all of the exciting trips they have coming up in the summer months. And while I’m jealous, and the tiniest bit bitter, I’m also genuinely excited for them, and would love to help out on arguably the most important part of any trip: snacks.

You see, my sister and I just recently went on a long road trip, and in order to survive it, it was vital that I excelled in snack shopping. The way I saw it, we were going to be spending most of our time in the car, and often wouldn’t have a grocery store cookie/cracker/chip aisle at our beck and call, so we needed to more or less turn our backseat into a mobile Am/Pm.

It was also important to note the snack ratio. We figured there was no way around eating junk food. And since we’d be out on the road, almost completely devoid of human contact, we should have at least some of our favorite comfort snacks on hand, if only to be reminded of a time when the world around us was more than just dirt, cows and random building-ish structures that almost certainly contained a dead body (or 10). However, as much as we would have liked to deny it, we knew there would undoubtedly come a time when our bodies would want something else. Like fruit, or vegetables, or something that isn’t made out of grease and dentist tears.

Thus we have the ratio.

While shopping for our trip, I tried my best to find a balance of delicious and healthy (and the rare combo of both), so as to keep my sister and I both alive and satisfied—at least until we could find a Subway or a Chipotle.

These are the snacks I packed for us:
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Overall, it ended up being a pretty good combination. We finished everything except the carrots and the craisins, and never got into any hangry screaming matches that included insults like “next time you hand me a carrot I’m Thelma & Louise-ing this bitch” or “I’d rather eat that dead possum we just saw on the side of the road than look at you again,” so I’d chalk that up to a win.

To you and all my friends heading out on trips this summer, I wish you good luck, great memories & happy snacking!

5 Easy Ways to Save the World

With Earth Day coming up this Saturday there’s going to be a lot of talk about the environment and, well, the way we as humans are essentially destroying it. These conversations can often be tense because while yes, we do love and care for the environment, not everyone is into reusable everything. But while we’re not all eco super heroes, we all have the potential to be their sidekicks, and today I have some easy ways to help you reach that potential.

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1) Take advantage of Tupperware

When my sister and I first moved into our own place, one of the first gifts we were given was a sh*tload of Tupperware from a few generous family members. And while I used the occasional box for leftovers, I was much more apt to grab a plastic bag for whatever needed storing, including the sandwich and apple slices I put in my lunch every day. Now, call it divine intervention—or laziness—but when I ran out of plastic bags, instead of going to the store, I used a Tupperware to store the sandwich, and one for the apple slices. Call it a change of heart—or recurring laziness—but I’ve yet to go back. I’ve been using Tupperware for about 2 months now in place of plastic bags, and when you run the numbers that equates to over 100 plastic bags I haven’t put in the trash. This may not seem like a lot, but you figure if everyone in my office made the same switch, we would probably save upwards of 300 bags in that same time period, and if that habit spread outward to other offices, well, you get it.

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2) Use Less Paper Towels

I’m a creature of habit, so when I use a public bathroom I will almost always grab three paper towels to dry my hands after washing. I don’t have a reason for landing on this number, I don’t have a compulsive need to maintain this number and I only recently noticed it was a consistency, so I figured it might be an easy thing to change. And while its only a small change (I take 2 now), again it all goes back to the if I do it and then someone else does it and then someone else and then someone else. Little tweaks to normal behavior can make a big difference.

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3) Carry a Reusable Water BottleThis is a two-fer because it eliminates the use of plastic water bottles, and it helps you stay hydrated. Have you ever been at a party holding a water bottle, only to put it down, walk away and try to come back to it, only to realize that 20 other people have open water bottles, so instead of doing a DNA test on each and every one, you just decide to open a new one? Very anti-eco super hero move there, my friend. When you bring your own water bottle, like this giant I haul almost everywhere with me, you never have to worry about orphaning a water bottle again. And while sure, you might get the occasional mocking of your super cool, super giant and bulky hip hydration station, you can always hit them with this awesome come back, “Yeah, this bottle isn’t the most attractive thing around, but you know what is attractive? My unstoppable, indescribable, hardworking kidneys that reap the benefits*.”

*Note: This comment might provoke more mocking than aweing, thus, a third use for your reusable water bottle is a weapon to ward off haters. Just one swift swing to the stomach should get the point across.

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4) Support the Superheroes

Like I said before, we’re not all cutout to be superheroes, but there are a handful that are. And it’s those people that are recycling and up-cycling and bicycling (probably) their hearts out. So when you see products made from recycled goods and it catches your eye, buy it! Help keep those superheroes in business! (Here’s a list of some cool places to check out!)

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5) Carpool

I think we’ve all heard this one time and time again, but I figured I’d throw it on here anyways because I firmly believe it can save the world in more ways than one. First and foremost, carpooling obviously reduces carbon emissions. Second and (still kind of) foremost, carpooling cuts down the physical number of cars on the road, thus reducing traffic, thus reducing the number of people planning to murder other people. So buddy up and carpool, you just might save a life and the environment, and five minutes on the way to work.

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Happy (almost) Earth Day everyone!

(Figuratively) Cheesy Gift Ideas for Valentines Day

Growing up, my parents were never big on celebrating Valentines Day, which, in turn, rubbed off on me. I get the hype however, the grand gestures and big confessions and all that. I understand the courage that comes alongside enormous teddy bears and cheesy balloons. But I also understand my parents’ theory, and I whole-heartedly believe that you should always make an effort to show people that you love them, and it doesn’t have to be on a specific day of the year, in a fancy restaurant, sweating, and wondering how you’re going to afford anything you order.

That being said, if you are someone who loves celebrating Valentines Day, or someone who is in a relationship with someone who loves celebrating Valentines Day, making you a participant by default, here are some gift ideas. The way I see it, every gift can be made better with cheese. Not physical, edible cheese (though I don’t see how that could make any gift worse), more the emotional, “awwwww” type of cheese. The metaphorical mozzarella, if you will. So, I’ve come up with 4 gift ideas full of cheese, in case you’re in an inspirational pinch.

Disclaimer: As stated before, these are cheesy and cliché and more than a little dumb. But, if executed correctly, on a party that loves and cares about you, they should undoubtedly receive an eye roll, an attempted glare, and then a damnit-I-can’t-help-it-I-love-you smile. (The best kind.)

 

1) The Apple

You know the old phrase, “You are the apple of my eye”? (I told you we were getting cliché.) Well, that’s where we’re going with this one.

What you will need:

  • 2 apples*
  • 2 bows

Execution: After applying the bows, hold the apples behind your back as you approach your loved one. When they become confused enough to say, “what do you have behind your back?” reveal the apples, place them in front of your eyes and proclaim the cliché in all its glory.

For added effect: Do it on one knee. This will spark an initial, “wtf are you doing right now?!” Making your actual gift a healthy combination of relief and the eye roll + glare + damnit-I-can’t-help-it-I-love-you (DICHILY, pronounced ditch-illy) smile sandwich.

*You have two options when it comes to the apples: real or fake. Real ones will provide each of you with a tasty snack post-gift, and fake ones will instantly be immortalized as cheesy, yet helplessly adored paper weights/relationship trinkets. Your call on that one.

 

2) The Gesture

What you’ll need:

  • A card, preferably homemade
  • A good stretch, probably.

Execution: First, you need to make the card, as its contents are crucial. Don’t get too crazy over it being perfect. Just find a nice piece of cardstock and fold it in half. Now, on the front, write, “I’d bend over backwards to make you smile…” and on the inside, write, “Literally.” Now, stretch those legs, and those arms, and that back, breathe in and out a few times, and then deliver the card to your loved one. When they read the front, take another deep breath. Then, as they open it, say a small prayer and all at once Simone Biles yourself into a full on backwards swan dive/possibly injury induced back flop (depending on your flexibility). It’s the effort that counts.

 

3) The Substitute

Sometimes things get crazy, be it work, school, or any number of other uncontrollable factors, and you are unable to have that special night with your loved one. Fear not, there is a cliché for that.

What you’ll need:

  • A cake (store bought or homemade, your choice)
  • Readable penmanship (or that which you can purchase)

Execution: Depending on the time you have available to you, either make or buy a cake and have it iced with a very specific message. One that will let the person know they deserve it all: “You can have it & eat it too.”

For added effect: Add some Seuss mozzarella (a rare brand): “You can have it & eat it too, see you soon, I love you.” (Apologies to the lactose intolerant community, even I felt the after effects of that one.)

 

4) The Big Move

If you happen to be one of those people who are hoping to use this Valentine’s Day to pop the question, this one’s for you.

What you’ll need:

  • A sample of turf
  • A diamond ring

Execution: When the moment is right, get down on one knee and reach into your pocket, where you’ve stored the turf sample, and present it to your loved one on a flat palm. This will probably confuse them, but don’t fret. Now reach into your other pocket, where you’ve stored the ring, and place it atop the turf sample. This will probably make them go back to their initial plan: crying, though the confusion will still linger in their eyes, which is where the big line comes in: “You are a diamond in the rough,” followed by an array of personal anecdotes that can be concluded with the ultimate question.

For added effect: Ensure your significant other will understand a good golf pun. Or, as an alternative: just watch Aladdin the day before and explain the whole turf thing later.

 

However, whenever and if-ever you celebrate it, I wish you a Happy Valentines Day. May the DICHILY smiles run strong.

How to Feel Gorgeous

One of my favorite albums of 2016 was X Ambassadors’ VHS 2.0. I had been a fan of “Renegades” when it was released as a single in 2015, but didn’t hear the full album until its re-release in June the following year.

My favorite song off the record is “Gorgeous.” Not only because it is impossible not to dance to, but also because its lyrics are extremely positive.

The chorus is as follows:

You’re so gorgeous
‘Cause you make me feel gorgeous
Oh, so gorgeous
‘Cause you make me feel gorgeous
 

Now, this is probably one of those songs that can be understood in a number of different ways, but for me, it’s simple: be kind.

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to fully convince yourself you are beautiful?

Have you ever taken the time to notice the magic in making someone else feel beautiful?

Have you ever realized how much more beautiful you feel after making someone else feel beautiful?

To me, this is what this song is about. The lead singer is amazed at the girl’s ability to make anyone around her feel gorgeous, and in turn notices how gorgeous she is as well.

With all the beauty standards going around these days, I think it’s important to note the unique beauty found in raw kindness. For unlike clothes, makeup, or shoes, which highlight a specific area of an individual, kindness showcases the entire person. It radiates out of them, benefiting anyone around to see it.

So if you’re ever struggling to find beauty in yourself, turn to kindness. Make someone else feel gorgeous, and watch as it reflects back onto you.

How to Use these Emojis

This past December Apple released some revitalized, and some brand new emojis, many of which may have left you scratching your head. 

What context would I even use this in?

Enter me, stage right.

I’m here, I have advice, let’s get to it. Here’s how to use these 10 emojis:

“Female/Male Sleuth”

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This one can be used in a few different ways:

  1. If you have some gossip but don’t know where the friend on the receiving end might be or if they are ready/able to participate in such gossip, so you use this to warn them to prepare themselves.
  2. If your friend says, “I met someone online and they seem great!” but you are thoroughly convinced they’re probably a murderer and you’re not about to be an aiding and abetting bystander.
  3. If you are in charge of deciding “what are we doing tonight?!” and you already know what you want to do, but are sure that saying so outright will result in rejection and/or endless deliberation, so you send this to pretend you’re thinking about it.

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“Woman/Man Juggling”

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Use this when a day is throwing an unfathomable amount of (figurative, not literal) balls at you and you can no longer juggle them, so you’re essentially just standing there, letting them hit you, and completely going insane. This will alert the receiving party to have the necessary recovery snacks and/or alcohol in place when you get home.

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“Woman/Man Astronaut”

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Use this when you’re feeling so completely anti-social that you might as well be in space. This will prevent you from having to hand out “maybe’s” or “we’ll see’s” when it comes to potential plans, as it will act as a hard “no”, but in the nicest way possible.

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“Woman/Man Singer”

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Use this to warn your roommates you have it in your plans to come home, get drunk, and blast a guilty pleasure album. They can either take this as an invitation to join or a reason to be out of the house for the evening.

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“Woman/Man Farmer”

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Use this to let your family and friends know that you are an incredibly functional, mature adult because, against all odds, you’re still managing to keep your houseplant alive.

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“Speaker High Volume”

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Use this as a warning for someone who isn’t responding to you, letting them know they only have a little while longer before you start alerting authorities they might be dead in a ditch somewhere.

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“Roasted Sweet Potato”

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Use this to let your roommates know you’re at the grocery store and it’s going to be a while because all you had left was half of a sweet potato wrapped in foil that you felt kind of unsafe eating.

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“Dragon Face”

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Use this after you were nothing short of a jerk to someone and you don’t have a good reason why, so you want to apologize, but also blame it on something, so you blame your inner dragon.

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“Unicorn Face”

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Use this when you’ve just seen the hottest person in the entire world, but while you didn’t talk to them, you’ve already planned your future together.

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“Deciduous Tree”

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Use this in place of the overused b1923d25f9b3a9e78692230f1935b976, as a peace offering or a sign off, because trees are beautiful and relaxing and inspiring and you wish all those feelings on the person you’re talking to.

Good luck and happy emoji-ing!

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