How to

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

Tips for Training for a Marathon

This past Sunday I ran the LA Marathon, a feat I never thought possible for myself, and one I will forever be PSYCHED about.

I wrote a blog about the experience, but I wanted to write another one for anyone who might be considering running a marathon, be it this year, next year or whenever. These are the things I learned both going into the race and on the day itself and I hope they can help you!

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1) Follow a training plan or join a group

Before I started training, the only thing I really knew about marathons was that I eventually had to run 26.2 miles. But as far as breaking it down to manageable increments, I had no idea. I didn’t want to undershoot it and leave me unprepared, or overshoot it and leave me exhausted. So, I enlisted the help of the internet and found this training plan that I followed (as well as I could) and I arrived on race day feeling very prepared.

If you are someone who has trouble getting motivated to follow a plan like this on your own, there are a ton of organizations out there that will give you a community to both encourage you and hold you accountable. If you are in the LA area, check out the LA Leggers, Students Run LA, Movement and LA Road Runners.

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2) Train hills

The LA Marathon is known for its hilly course and let me tell you: the rumors are true!  I was very grateful to have paid extra care in training with hills because I didn’t have any issue with them, but I could tell there were a bunch of runners who weren’t prepared for that element of the course and it zapped their energy.

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3) Mix up your routes

Training for a marathon is a long process. I probably did about 60 training runs, which is actually less than my training plan suggested, but was the best I could do in accordance with my schedule. After the first month or so, I had a list of routes I was familiar with and I would rotate them around. For the most part this was totally fine, but when I started having trouble with my IT Band, I read that one common cause of the tightness is running on the same side of the road too often. Since sidewalks are slanted (even if we don’t notice) we will unknowingly distribute our weight to keep ourselves balanced, which in turn can put extra strain on certain muscles. To prevent this, try to run a variety of routes and sometimes run those routes backwards, or on the opposite side of the street.

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4) Figure out your perfect training diet

There are a lot of articles out there that will tell you the “perfect” thing to eat before and after runs, and many of them contradict themselves. The reason is all of our bodies are different, and as such require different things to perform at the best of their ability. For me, I liked to eat pasta the night before a big run, a protein bar or some toast the morning of, and then a fruit smoothie with some protein powder after. I stayed away from dairy and sugar and I drank lots of water for days leading up to the run and afterward.

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5) Don’t skimp on post run care

Trust me when I say that I know the first thing you want to do after a long run is just sit on the couch. I also think it’s important to note that for the first two months of my training I did. It wasn’t until I started getting to the longer training runs that I realized that just wasn’t going to cut it. I was getting really sore and feeling worn down and frustrated. So, I did research on good post-run routines and then I stuck to them. After every run I made sure to stretch. And then I made myself a protein smoothie, drank water, took a cold shower (it’s as awful as it sounds but it seriously helps with sore muscles, I promise!) and then I relaxed on the couch. If my muscles were still sore, I iced them and took Advil.

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6) Find somewhere to put your phone

I personally do not like wearing any accessories when I run. Not even a fanny pack or those bands that strap on your arm to hold your phone. I am just so particular about the way things feel and I have never been able to find a happy medium for how tight or loose those are. SO, I wore a pair of leggings with pockets down the sides. This allowed me to keep energy gels, snacks, my phone, anything I might need during my run without having to hold them, because as I learned the hard way, anything gets heavy in your hand after an hour or so of running.

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7) Keep yourself hydrated

This was another one I learned the hard way. On my first 15-mile training run, I thought I could just go for it like I’d done on all the runs in the past, assuming that having water waiting for me at the end would be enough. It was not enough. I got so dehydrated and  I was all but convinced I was going to pass out on my walk back to my house. After that, I started planning out my runs in loops. I left a water bottle outside my front door that I would loop back to every five miles or so, and I kept energy gels in my pockets that I would take every hour and a half or so. (If you are a runner that is comfortable running with a water backpack or a water bottle this probably won’t apply to you, but it worked for me and might be something to consider.)

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8) Bring chapstick

When you are out there running for long periods of time, your lips get very dry. I constantly forgot to put on chapstick and I paid for it, both with cracked, dry lips, and sunburned lips. So, if you can, apply a bunch before your run. Also, I’d recommend bringing some with you on race day since you’re going to be out in the sun for so long. There are people who stand on the sidelines with poster boards covered in Vaseline, but I thought that was…kind of gross? It’s really a personal opinion here, if you have no qualms about germs/sweaty hands/melty Vaseline, then go ham on those poster boards. I kept some Chapstick in my pocket and took each poster I saw as a reminder to apply.

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9) Be patient

Training is a long journey. Give yourself time to improve and don’t get down on yourself if that process is slow. Just keep getting out there and keep moving forward.

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10) Listen to your body

There is a fine line between pushing yourself and hurting yourself. Aches and pains are a part of the process, but they shouldn’t all be brushed off as collateral. You know your body, so when it tells you something is wrong, pay attention.

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11) Go for it

Get pumped. Go all in. Believe you can do it and listen to the people around you who believe it too. Let that positivity fuel you. YOU CAN DO THIS!

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12) Push through the wall

In the blog I wrote about my own marathon experience, I talked about hitting the infamous “wall”. It was around mile 21 and I wholeheartedly considered quitting. My self-esteem had plummeted and my body was so tired I wanted to cry, so the thought of having to go five more miles seemed impossible. Prepare yourself for the possibility of this feeling. It is hell, but it is what makes a marathon a marathon. Take a break, breathe in and out, picture yourself at the finish line, and put encouraging words on repeat. I probably muttered, “I can do this” one hundred times after I passed the mile 21 marker, trying to muster up some inspiration from deep inside myself. And though it hurt like hell and seemed like an absolutely ridiculous idea, I started running again, and with each step I let those words sing louder than the doubt. I can do this I can do this I can do this I can do this.

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13) Be proud of yourself

Two days after I ran the marathon, I ordered myself a cake and had the bakery attach at note on top that said: “Never stop believing in yourself.”

There is no shame in being proud of yourself. There is no reason not to celebrate your own accomplishments. You are a badass and it’s most important that you know that. Once you do, you’ll be unstoppable!

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YOU. CAN. DO. THIS.

You can do anything.

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If you’d like some information on marathons happening this year, check out this article.

5 (More) Easy Ways to Save the World

A few months ago for Earth Day, I posted this blog that listed 5 ways we could all lend a hand in the rescue of our damsel in distress planet. Today, I come to you with 5 more! Let’s dive right in!

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1) Say no to straws

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Straws are one of the most wasteful plastics out there. If you think about it, you use a straw for about 10-15 minutes (or 5 minutes, if you’re like me and have a binge-sipping problem) and then you throw it away, never to be used again. According to Ecocycle.org about 500 million straws are used EVERY DAY which is enough to fill 127 school buses EVERY DAY. Those straws then end up in a landfill and eventually the ocean where they break down into particles marine life mistake as food. Good news is, we are—as were generations upon generations before us—completely and totally capable of enjoying our beverages sans straw. OR if you prefer to live the straw life, there are tons of reusable straws out there calling your name (like these ones!)

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2) Use a cloth makeup remover

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One of my favorite parts of the day is getting home from work and wiping my makeup off—and taking my pants off, but that’s beside the point—and for a long time I used both big name and knock-off brands of makeup wipes to accomplish this afternoon feat. However, I recently started using a reusable cloth makeup remover (which I got for super cheap on Amazon) and it has worked better than anything else I’ve ever bought before. PLUS, as an added bonus, it creates no trash, it only uses water so it can never dry out, and it can be washed with a load of towels to start anew every couple weeks! I think this is what you call a win win win.

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3) Recycle

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I know, this one seems obvious. How long have we been told to recycle? And yet, how long have we not been recycling to our fullest potential?! Recently I came to the end of a bottle of face wash and out of habit, I chucked it in the trash, then opened the new bottle I bought at the store. I’d just got back from my trip to Hawaii where I learned a lot about new and easy lifestyle changes that benefit the environment, so after a few minutes, I reached down and pulled the bottle out of the trash, turned it over and found the familiar black-universal-recycling-symbol_267b symbol. An immediate pit formed in my stomach. I’d been throwing away these bottles for years! This got me thinking, how many other things have I not been recycling correctly? So, next time you’re getting ready to throw something away, double check the label. If you find this guy: black-universal-recycling-symbol_267b, throw it in with the recycling.

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4) Shop & Upcycle

Another thing I was shocked to recently find out is that the fashion industry is one of the most wasteful in the world. An article published on Ecowatch.com stated that in 2015 it was the second dirtiest industry in the world, outmatched only by big oil. Can you imagine?! But while suppliers in the fashion industry are taking a variety of steps to reduce their carbon footprint, we can help right now, by both shopping at our local donation houses such as Goodwill or Salvation Army and/or upcycling old clothes into something new.

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One of my goals for 2017 is to make this DIY rug with old jeans, which is just one of thousands of other projects floating around Pinterest and the like. So even though it is an amazing thing to donate clothes and I am in no way saying to stop, it is also the sad truth that thousands of pounds of old clothes are ending up in landfills. All I’m saying is it can’t hurt to do some research, or to spend a few hours perusing Pinterest, or to stop by your local donation house as a customer once in a while. There are always some great finds to be found.

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5) Pick up trash

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One of my favorite things about my cousin a.k.a the female Indiana Jones a.k.a the leader of our weeklong adventure in Hawaii, Alison, is that she practices what she preaches. Being an environmentalist who has literally swam through trash to showcase the malpractice of human waste, you’d think that she must take extra care in, well, taking care of the earth in her own day to day life, and I’m happy to report she does! In the week I spent with her in Hawaii I saw her collect trash off the beach and put it in her backpack and I sat buckled in the back seat as she pulled the car over to collect cans rolling down the side of the road. At first I was a little shocked, thinking, woah, she’s really putting in some extra work here. But then I started to realize that while yes, it might have taken a couple extra seconds out of her day, it wasn’t actually hard. And if we all lent a few extra seconds each day to get some trash to a trashcan or recycling bin, our world could be a much prettier and cleaner place.

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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How to Kill a Word

This past week as I was making a delivery for work, I was listening to Eric Church’s song, “Kill a Word.” In it he brings up a number of individual words, primarily those with negative connotations, and discusses his desire to destroy them.

In the first verse he mentions: never, goodbye, regret, fear, lonely, and hate.

In the second: brokenness, heartbreak, upset, disgrace, and over.

And in the third: temptation, evil, wicked, vice, vile, and hostile.

As I listened to this song, I thought about all the times I’d let words like these control me. They’ve controlled my thoughts, my actions, and my choices; at times it felt as if they all but suffocated me.

Single words can be powerful, often far more than we realize. In my last post, I mentioned me and my mom’s tradition of focusing on a single word for an entire year. In 2016, my word was”give”, this year, it is “patience.” And similar to those mentioned by Eric Church, I have no doubts that other words will try and take over. Words like doubt, greed, fear, and failure. They’re all going to be sitting there on the sidelines, offering a hand when things get hard.

I’ve seen myself fall victim before. I’ve seen “achievement” swerve towards “disappointment” and land in “heartbreak.” For along with every positive word we can focus on, there will always be a countering negative.

In the chorus of the song, Eric Church sings, “if it were up to me to change, I’d turn lies and hate to love and truth. If I could only kill a word.”

Yes, if only.

Because no, we can’t kill words. But we can kill their power over us. We can’t prevent finding them, but we can navigate around them.

So this year, whether you set an intention to focus on one word, or find a number of words to focus on along the way, know that you can hold on to them. And just as there is always a negative to counter a positive, there are bigger and better positives to combat that negative.

When I think about like that, I like to imagine we actually can kill words, not with our hands but with other words. Hello can kill goodbye. Time can heal brokenness. Hope can kill despair. Inspiration can kill disappointment. Love can kill hate.

Conventional Wisdom