How to

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

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

How to Change the World with T-Shirts

I love t-shirts.

LOVE.

Like if there was a way to calculate how much affection there is in your heart for tangible things, I think t-shirts would have 85% of mine and sweet potato fries and ice cream would have an even share of the other 15.

I especially love t-shirts if they serve a philanthropic purpose. It’s like the double rainbow of shopping. Not only do you get a t-shirt, but you also give a donation to a good cause, and provide a voice for that platform to grow. That being said, as much as I’d like to buy allllllll the t-shirts, I try to make a point to only buy those I really like and that represent a cause I truly stand behind. That way, when people spot my t-shirt from across the street and risk their lives running through traffic to come ask me about it, I know what’s what and who’s who. Plus, in my desire to know the facts in order to share the facts, I’m inspired to actually learn the facts. And the more I learn about the facts, the more I want to change the facts. And the more I want to change the facts, the more I end up actually getting involved in the cause, which is really what the world needs more of: PARTICIPATION!

All that being said however, it can never be overstated how much the small steps count. And by small steps, I mean t-shirts. Yes, let’s go back to the t-shirts. Because t-shirts f*cking ROCK. And t-shirts can change the world.

So right now, as I sit completely unladylike in my kitchen chair, I’d like to share with you some of the t-shirts I own. The little shout-outs I wear across my chest for companies that I love, and I hope will continue to do big things for this world. In my mind, I’m like a walking boob and back megaphone for their cause, and in some ways, I feel like that’s exactly what they need, but can’t ask for in so many words. So consider this your official invitation to be a BoBaMeg (Boob and Back Megaphone)—which I just made up (clearly) but am kind of proud of it because it sounds like a philanthropic character that got cut from the Star Wars series.

*Note: I tried to take pictures of my own shirts, but it was arguably the saddest attempt at product photography I’ve ever seen, so these photos are not mine. I know this will probably be shocking, especially this first one, but I did not in fact have Josh Groban pose in his own company’s shirt for my blog. I’m sure he would though, you know, since we are actually GREAT friends. (Hey Josh!)

 

findyourlight

Find Your Light Foundation: A company started by Josh Groban that is focused on providing art education for children. I’m actually not sure if they are still selling t-shirts, but it is an amazing organization, and being an art student myself, I completely support and understand the benefits of having access to art education, I don’t know where I’d be without it! Prison maybe. Just kidding, Mom. [fylf.org]

 

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The Elephant Pants: An online store that dedicates a portion of its proceeds to the African Wildlife Foundation. Elephants are my favorite animal, so if you sell a product featuring or benefitting them, the chances of me purchasing it start at around 75%. (And they obvi sell more than just pants.) [theelephantpants.com]

 

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Sgt. Pepper’s Friends: An adoption agency for homeless animals started by Rachel Brathen a.k.a Instagram’s YogaGirl and her husband. I dare you not to adopt one of these adorable animals. [sgtpeppersfriends.com]

 

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Stand Up to Cancer: An initiative aimed at raising money for cancer research. Also, if you’re looking for something to JAM to while wearing your t-shirt, look up “Just Stand Up” on iTunes. It’s a kickass lady jam that was created to raise money for the cause a few years back. I’ve listened to it approximately 200 times, most of which I both danced and cried at the same time. [standup2cancer.org]

 

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FEED: An organization that raises funds to combat hunger. I found this company when it partnered with Target for a bit and they make great products that raise money for an amazing cause. [feedprojects.com]

 

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Children’s Hunger Fund: A Christian organization that packages, compiles, and delivers Food Paks (which can feed a family of 4 for about a week) to impoverished neighborhoods. Great t-shirts and also a great place to volunteer, gasp, in person! It is one of the most enjoyable, rewarding things I’ve ever done. [childrenshungerfund.org]

 

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TOMS: Based on a simple One for One concept where when you buy one pair of shoes you also donate one to a child in need, TOMS now provides a variety of products (including t-shirts!) that give people access to water, sight, and safe child birth. [toms.com]

 

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charity:water: Raises money both by donations directly to the company and through campaigns run by individuals to fund projects that give people access to clean water. I hosted a campaign for my 25th birthday and it was so exciting! They sent me email updates informing me where and when my funds were being allocated and exactly how many people I was able to provide water to. Can you say H2O-mazing! (Sorry, not sorry.) [charitywater.org]

So if you’re looking for a way to change the world but don’t know how, why not start with t-shirts? Buy t-shirts from your favorite charity. Wear t-shirts to promote your favorite charity. Inquire about t-shirts that advertise a charity you’re not familiar with. Take the little steps and roll with them, because the big ones have to start somewhere.

Connection

How to Have Fun at a Wedding

This past Saturday I had the privilege of being a part of my cousin’s wedding. And though I’ve been to quite a few weddings over the years, I can honestly say it was one of my favorites. I won’t get into the specifics of why, but let’s just say I greatly admire the bride and the groom and they gave out gummy bears, so it was really a no lose type of situation.

Depending on who you are, you might love weddings or hate them. But regardless of your stance, there is a large possibility you will find an invitation to one in your mailbox at some point, and, with little reason not to go, you will end up RSVP’ing “yes.” And whether that yes is bursting with or completely lacking enthusiasm, I’m here to provide you with a fool proof plan of how to enjoy the upcoming nuptials.

 

1) Find your happy place between fancy and comfortable

One of the hardest parts of going anywhere (i.e. dinner/the grocery store/anywhere outside the pantsless comfort of your own home) is deciding what to wear. However dressing for weddings should not give you this kind of stress, because for the most part no one will be looking at you. (No offense.) And as long as you don’t choose to wear something completely ridiculous (i.e. a wedding dress) or go naked, hardly anyone is going to notice. So save yourself the trouble of googling what “semi-casual super califragilistic formal wear” means and pick something out that you actually feel good in. Something that makes you feel sexy, cool, comfor-fancy.

 

2) Have a Drink

Chances are, for one reason or another, you’ve earned it and you know why. Maybe the ceremony was emotional, maybe you are clearly the only guest flying solo, or maybe you just want a little extra courage to lead the Cha Cha Slide later. Whatever the reason, jaunt on over to the bar and order yourself something strong. With two straws. Because you’re worth it.

 

3) Constantly tell the newlyweds they look beautiful/handsome.

You know how you lazed around on the couch for most of the day and then hopped in the shower, threw some curls in your hair, slipped on your comfor-fancy clothes and drove over to the venue with 5 minutes to spare? Yeah, that’s not how the newlyweds spent their day. More than likely they’ve been up since the first alarm you snoozed, combing through literal and figurative knots, hoping they can get married without anyone dying. That being said, they deserve some solid pumps to their ego throughout the night. I’d say one compliment per hour is a good rate. That way you’re not overwhelming them to the point that they think it’s fake, and it gives your level of intoxication time to increase, making your compliments much more creative and amusing.

 

4) Take your shoes off

Trust me, your legs will still look great without them and your feet with thank you tomorrow.

 

5) Dance your face off

I’m telling you, there is no better dancing than wedding dancing. I LIVE for wedding dancing. If I could somehow make that my career, I’d do it. Sure, I’d grow weary of the Cupid Shuffle and lifting my hands up to SHOUT! but I’d be in great shape, and I’d get to go to sleep every night knowing that I paid off my student loans by starting conga lines. Wedding dancing is the living, breathing interpretation of “dance like no one’s watching,” only better. When you dance like no one is watching, you flail around freely to the beat of your own drum, but when you dance with everyone while everyone’s watching, you become part of a no judgement flail-for-all and it’s essentially an art form.

 

6) Request Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”

No explanation needed.

 

7) Eat Cake

DEFINITELY no explanation needed. I mean, it’s free cake. And if you think about it, what’s not eaten goes to waste, so honestly you’re a bad person if you don’t take some. Be a good person.

 

8) Shake off the nosy questions

We’ve all had that one relative (related to us or not) approach us at a wedding because they saw the event as a free pass to ask about our personal life.

“So, when are you going to be throwing one of these old things, huh?” Wink wink.

While there’s no real way to prevent the questions from being asked, there is a better way to answer besides the awkward laughing and chugging of wine. How? Well, what is the only thing nosy guests love more than knowing your stance on commitment?

Centerpieces.

“So, you and Billy seem pretty serious, when will you guys be inviting us to your wedding?”

“Not sure, woman I’ve never met before that has no business asking me this, but the centerpieces at this wedding are absolutely to DIE for.”

“OH MY GOSH I know! Let me tell you, from start to finish, my memory of every centerpiece I’ve ever laid eyes on.”

“You now, there is nothing I’d rather do, except maybe join this conga line! See you never!”

 

9) Respect your own pace

One of the easiest things to do at a wedding is judge yourself for where you’re at in your own life. But the purpose of a wedding is not to call you out for what you’re doing “wrong”, it’s to celebrate two people who have found something right. And while it’s easy to get caught up in the madness of it all, remember to take note of what’s happening behind all the flowers and pretty dresses. Getting married is no easy task. It’s not all garter tosses and drunken cheers. They’re forever binding themselves to each other, promising to care for one another in good times and in bad. And maybe you’re just not ready for that right now (or ever), and that’s okay. We all move at our own pace in finding and committing ourselves to a “forever”, so don’t feel like you need to find yours just because someone seemingly everyone you went to college with has already found theirs.

 

10) Admire, don’t envy

In other words, try to look at the couple like the heart eyed emoji, not the green eyed monster. Because as much as it might hurt to see them as in love as you’d like to be one day, being jealous of their love story does nothing to progress your own. So as you clang your knives against your wine glass at the reception to make them kiss for the hundredth time, don’t look at them as a reminder of what you don’t have, but as a reminder of what you will find one day.

How to: See Portland in One Day

So it was 9:14 pm on a Friday and we’d just arrived in Portland, Oregon. It had been a long (fun, beautiful, delirious, 14 ½ hour) drive and we wanted nothing more than sleep.

Why were we here? Pancakes.

If you read any of my posts about my trip to Hawaii last summer (especially this one), you’ll know that in our time there, my family and I came across a restaurant named Slappy Cakes, which is like the Korean BBQ of breakfast. You choose the batter, the fillings and the toppings, and then you cook them in various creative shapes on the griddle installed in your table. A few weeks after we returned home, I found the T-shirt I’d purchased while we were there and decided to Google the chain to see if there was a closer location. Turns out, the only two locations in the United States are Maui, Hawaii, and, you guessed it, Portland, Oregon.

Sure, it was a crazy plan, driving 1000 miles for breakfast, but when it came down to it, it was a trip I couldn’t resist, and luckily, I convinced two other suckers to take it with me.

When we arrived at our hotel, we all agreed we needed sleep, and lots of it. So, we set our alarm for 9:30, and all died beautiful, instant, fluffy pillowed deaths.

10 1/2 hours later we were up, and we were starving. But upon arriving at Slappy Cakes, we were quick to discover that it was not unknown to the people of Portland. There was a line out the door, and the wait time was around an hour. It went quick though. After some walking around, trying our best not to look touristy (though our pointing and aweing did little to make that case) we received a text message that our table was ready, and we all rejoiced.

Once seated we decided that, since we’d come all this way, we might as well go all out on our order. Thus we opted for three different types of batter (buttermilk, chocolate, and peanut butter), six toppings (chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, blueberries, strawberries, bananas and whipped cream), and an order of breakfast potatoes. Here is our attempt at commemorative pancake art  (with some assist from Snapchat):

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Once we were back in the car—and 10 pounds heavier no doubt—we all kind of paused.

“So…where to now?”

In the midst of the long drive and pancake elation, we’d done little in the way of planning what to do with the rest of our day. So, like any smart-phoned humans of the 21st century, we asked the Internet.

Things to do in Portland?

And with a few key sites jotted down we set off, hopeful to see as much as we could, but completely uninhibited by plans or time schedules. We were going to window shop Portland, stopping anywhere and everywhere we felt like and this is what we found:

 

1) The Pittock Mansion

A home consisting of 46 rooms that was originally built in 1909 for Henry Pittock and his wife, this was by far the highest rated attraction in Portland. People Yelped their hearts out for old Henry. And after taking the $10 tour of the grounds, it was not hard to understand why.FullSizeRender

 

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2) The South Waterfront

This was an accidental find provoked by our seeing a green sign with an animation of water on it. (I’m serious) It was a, “Let’s see where these arrows lead” type of thing. And lucky for us, the arrows led us to one of the most beautiful views we would come across.

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http://www.southwaterfront.com/

 

3) Portland Aerial Tram

This was another point and find. While we were admiring the miraculously clear sky, we saw a pod floating above us, headed into the face of a mountain. I mean, how do you not seek that out? Better yet, how can you pass up a $4 ride that gets you a view like this:

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http://www.gobytram.com/

 

4) Tilikum Crossing

While oohing and aweing at the city from OTTSU (the tram’s drop off point) I saw what appeared to be a group of red balloons and for no good reason, became obsessed with them. I could not go on without knowing what they were. So, after taking the tram back down, we finagled our way over to them, only to discover they happened to be at the entrance of this exquisite pedestrian bridge. And, going with the theme of the day, we said, “What the hell, let’s cross it.”

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This is me finding my beloved “balloons”

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5) The USS Blueback

Across the bridge we found a few fun tidbits of Oregon history, including this submarine, which served in the Vietnam War. We didn’t get a chance to go inside, but it was a humbling reminder of how lucky we were to be living such a joyous, spontaneous day.

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https://www.omsi.edu/submarine

 

6) Saint Cupcake

When you’ve been driving around all day and you’re hungry but not, you know, hungry hungry, a dainty cupcake shop is practically irresistible. Especially when the pastries are this adorable.

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7) Multnomah Whiskey Library

Besides Slappy Cakes, this was our only other must see destination going into our road trip. And in case you’re wondering, yes, we did hear about this place on The Bachelor, but the 5 minute slot on ABC did little to prepare us. For one thing, the place is HARD to find. We did about 5 trips around the block before we noticed its small, understated door. Also, the wait time was 2 hours, so we put our name in and gave the host our phone number before leaving to find something to eat.  We were warned however, that when he called we had 10 minutes to show up or they would move on to the next party. Harsh.

 

A few extra notes on MWL: The menu is practically as big as the Bible, which makes sense after you look at the literal wall of whiskeys to choose from. Also, the bartenders know EVERYTHING, including how to not shoot a dirty look at someone like me, who flips through the vast menu quickly, and then orders a beer.

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8) Pok Pok

This was one of the highest rated eateries in Portland, thus making it our first choice after we put our name in at the whiskey library. We thought we’d just pop over for a quick bite, check another big name off the list, but, if you’ve ever been to Portland, you’ll know this was a hilarious thought. The wait time was 2 1/2 hours, so we politely smiled and moved on. (I’ll be back for you Pok Pok!)

http://pokpokpdx.com/

8.5) Wicked ‘Witches Food Truck

Down the street from Pok Pok was a group of food trucks, a food truck gathering if you will, and we opted for the stylings of this sandwich truck. I got the Cuban, and long story short it was a beautifully crafted high five for my tongue.

http://www.wickedwiches.com/

 

9) Voodoo Doughnuts

This was another highly recommended, must try Portland local. And since we had a long drive back on Sunday*, it was the perfect way to start our morning. Just look at these masterpieces:

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http://voodoodoughnut.com/

(*In case you’re keeping track, we woke up at 7:30 on Sunday, and since we woke up at 10:30 on Saturday, the whole “Seeing Portland in One Day” thing still stands. HA. If you weren’t keeping track, just take this note as further proof that I am an honest and trustworthy tour guide.)

 

10) “Keep Portland Weird” Wall

This is located right across the street from Voodoo Doughnuts. That being said, there’s not much else to cover except that, 1) it’s awesome, and 2) you simply must take a picture in front of it, especially if it’s a little too early for your liking and you didn’t get a lot of sleep last night and you have a 14 ½ hour drive ahead of you. The weirder you already feel, the better the picture will turn out. Proof:

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Overall, my review of Portland is 40 thumbs up. This may sound weird, as I am only one person with only two thumbs, but it deserves more than that. So just picture me and 18 other people sitting around talking, when suddenly Ryan Seacrest pops out and asks us what we think of Portland. Then picture Ryan agreeing with us, offering up his own thumbs and then signing off with, “Goodnight America, especially you Portland.”

How to: Road Trip

Have you ever watched one of those movies with an epic road trip and suddenly felt like there was piece of you missing that could only be discovered on the open road?

Are you someone that, even with that deep seeded desire, has no idea where to start so you just hit the pine and whine loop on your couch?

If you said yes to either of those questions, just know that I totally get it, BUT there is little time to waste. So, let’s step away from the “why you can’t” and move into the “how you will.” Because the fact of the matter is: you can.

You can stick your head out the window and let the warm breeze hit your face.

You can lie on the hood of your car and stare endlessly at the night sky.

You can sneak out of your dad’s house in the middle of the night with your two ex-best friends on a quest to meet your mother (a.k.a Samantha Jones) and then fall in love with that guy from Hell on Wheels.

Okay, so maybe that last one was just Britney Spears in Crossroads…but you never know.  And while the best part of any road trip is its unpredictability, here are 6 steps aimed to help steer you into that craveable unknown:

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1) Pick a destination

Don’t panic, this isn’t as intimidating as it seems, though it is more important than you might think. Sure, the prospect of driving off into the sunset, unconfined by “a direction” or “a plan” sounds enticing. But after the hours start adding up, you might find yourself yearning for a goal. So, pick a state line, a landmark, a restaurant, a giant rock, anything you can plug into Google maps, then start being spontaneous. Because as frustrated as Siri should get by the constant *recalculating*, she’ll always have your back. And with that “big” destination in the back of your mind, you’ll have the freedom to find little ones along the way.

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2) Pick your travel companions

This is a big one, possibly even bigger than choosing a destination. Maybe I should have made this step one…oh well. But seriously, stop for a second and really think about who you are locking yourself in a wheeled box with for countless hours. Seeing as I don’t know you personally, I can’t really tell you who you should bring, that’s on you, but just know this: at some point or another you’re going to want, no, need to play Aaron Carter’s debut album, Aarons Party (Come Get It), and if you’ve surrounded yourself with people that won’t belt out, “That’s How I Beat Shaq”, you will always regret it. #makegoodchoices

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3) Buy Snacks

I’m sure there is some formula for choosing snacks in both a healthy and financially responsible way, but let’s face it, when you’re in the middle of nowhere and there is a lull in conversation, you’re going to get hungry and it’s going to be for straight garbage. So, my suggestion to you is to, at some point leading up to your trip, stay up an hour or two later than you normally would, then go to your local grocery store and grab everything that sounds good in that moment. No matter what it is. And don’t take too long. A rushed, exhausted mind will most definitely make choices a hangry road tripper will appreciate. “Oh my gosh, we have cheese balls and licorice in here! Who wants some!?!”

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4) Pick your music

Now we’ve already established that Aaron’s Party (Come Get It) is a must. But that album only runs about 40 minutes, so chances are you’ll need other options. The radio, like a student enrolled in an 8:00 am college class, will only come in sporadically, thus making it an unreliable source of tunes. You’ll need a playlist, or a handful of CD’s. If you’re feeling particularly daring, grab a few of those burned CD’s you made in high school that are now sitting in a dark corner of your bedroom. If the title you’ve scribbled across the front in sharpie isn’t entertainment enough, just wait until you get 4 or 5 tracks deep and hear that song that you dedicated to an old crush. When that happens, take a few seconds to cringe, and then let it go and sing your heart out.

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5) Let Go, Open Up, and Look Around

One of the best things the open road has to offer is time. Time to think, time to talk, and time to stay silent. As the miles go by you might find unhealed wounds or unanswered questions, and there is no better time to bring them up.  Be honest, reveal your oddities, let go of the inhibitions the outside world has pushed upon you. There is no better place to truly express yourself. Well, except for maybe therapy, but I’ve never heard of a therapist that allows you to break for beers, ice cream or dance parties in the dessert.

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6) Remember, Relive, Redo

Whether you like it or not, that box on wheels you call a car will eventually start to feel like a home. It will become a little bubble where nothing can go wrong and no one can hurt you. I’ll admit, when you finally reach your destination it almost feels weird to get out and explore the world outside your windows. But with each step outside the car, you remember all the miles spent inside it and you feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and surprise. You’ll sit down on that rock or in that restaurant or on that beach and you’ll think to yourself, “why didn’t I do this sooner?” followed by, “where can I go next?” And with a deep breath of fresh air, you’ll realize the answer is: anywhere you want.

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Opening the BIFC Door

As many of you know, my family and I climbed a mountain last year. A MOUNTAIN. It was one of those, “did I really do that?” type of moments that was immediately followed by, “we definitely deserve cake for that.” Let’s just say I opened the BIFC (scientifically pronounced Bifsee) door.

We all have this door. Some people kick it open Kool-Aid man style, without fear or hesitation, while others fiddle with the keys and hide from the moth living on the screen before we even attempt to push it ajar.

koolaid

This past October, I came across an ad for the LA Big 5k, an event held the day before the LA Marathon as both a challenge for the general public and a warm up for the Marathon runners.

I’ve never been a runner, ever. The last time I remember running for sport was 6th grade when I was trying to keep up with the boys and get an A on my physical fitness test. (Side note: I got a B because I couldn’t do a shoulder roll. I was convinced I’d shatter my shoulder blade and have to learn to cook with my feet.) I don’t really know what made me click the link, maybe it was the inspiration of my brother signing up to run the marathon, or maybe it was because I’d watched Thor the night before. Either way, I clicked the link, filled out a form and before I knew it I was signed up to run 3.1 miles in the middle of March.

My first reaction was panic. WTF was I thinking? What if my lungs dissolve into a puddle of blood and weakness and I die amongst thousands of 6-packed super humans? Would they use my clothes as sweat rags and my tears as a hydration refresher?

January marked the official start of my self-training. My regimen was extremely detailed: run until you might die, then stop and walk for like, a long time.

My first trip out I made it about a half mile before my lungs went to war with my ribs and my heart tried to out do the drum solo in Whiplash. I walked it off, panting wildly, and half-heartedly waving to neighbors as I slobbered my way back to a realistic breathing pattern. I picked the speed back up, much to the displeasure of my shins, and then I walked again, waving and slobbering like I was an out of shape record on repeat.

For the first month, not a single time was fun. Every time I started to run I dreamed of the moment I got to stop. I would pick a pole, an intersection, a tweaked out squirrel, anything up ahead that I could will myself to keep running towards, stopping on a dime when I got there and cursing myself for this entire process.

Over the course of the second month, I used the same process, but eventually I would pick a pole, reach it, and then tell myself to run passed it to the next one and then the next one and then the next one.

In a blink, it was race day. I was standing amongst 5000 of my sweatiest acquaintances, when at 8:00 a.m. on the dot, the MC gave us the green light, shouting, “GO! GO! GO!” into the microphone.

I had long decided to set my own pace. I was not racing, I was running and the only person I had to beat was the one inside my own head, telling me to quit.

When I reached Mile 1, I was both discouraged and excited. It was: “Woohoo 1 mile gone!” and “THAT WAS ONLY 1 MILE?!”

The 2nd mile marker sat at the bottom of a hill, which, on any other day would invite me in to spend the afternoon eating hot dogs and watching my favorite team play baseball, but today it only offered a challenge.

At the top the path flattened out, only to curve and dip and loop around to yet another hill, seemingly steeper than the last. I could see the Mile 3 sign at the top and I knew that the finish line was waiting just beyond it. So with a deep breath, I pushed myself up that hill like Thor himself was waiting on the other side. Once I reached the top, I could see the arch marking the finish and was overwhelmed at the amount of people lining the path, cheering. I picked up my pace, suddenly unhindered by anything, and against every assumption my negative brain had made over the last 12 years, I finished my first 5k without a stitch of walking.

Why?

Because I F*cking Can.

Find your own BIFC door, then Kool-Aid man that thing and never look back!