List-cember

December…but with lists!

17 (More) Things that Inspired Me This Year (List-cember #2)

About halfway through the year I posted this blog that listed a bunch of things that had inspired me so far in 2018. I felt bad holding them hostage until December when they might be just the burst of inspiration someone was looking for in July.

Now, as we’re (already!!) making our way through December, I’m hoping this list will give you all warm fuzzies and encouragement you need to close out this year and welcome the New Year.

2019 is going to full of good things, y’all. I promise.

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1) Girl, Wash Your Face

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  • “Comparison is the death of joy, and the only person you need to be better than is the one you were yesterday.”
  • “The only thing worse than giving up is wishing that you hadn’t.”
  • “There are hundreds of ways to lose yourself, but the easiest of them all is refusing to acknowledge who you truly are in the first place.”

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2) This little act of kindness

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3) The Monday Club

This is a newsletter I subscribed to about halfway through this year. It comes every Monday with inspiring words that aim to get your week off to a good start. This is a snippet from one of my favorite ones:

“When your dreams go unfulfilled because you didn’t start the work, the world won’t even know how to be heartbroken by the loss of things that would have made them better people. That’s the thing about the things you don’t do: you carry the loss.”

(find it here)

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4) The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

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  • Be brave. Be amazing. Be worthy. And every single time you get the chance? Stand up in front of people. Let them see you. Speak. Be heard.
  • Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.

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5) This documentary

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6) The School of Greatness Podcast

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My favorite line (from Episode 721):

“Fear can be:  Fear Everything and Run or Face Everything and Rise”

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7) Teen Vogue’s “Compliment Battles”

It’s just such a wholesome segment. We should all compliment each other more.

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8) My Life (So Far) in Song by Sara Bareilles

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I highly recommend this book, especially the audiobook. Each chapter starts with Sara Bareilles (BEAUTIFULLY) singing a portion of one of her songs and then she talks about how that song applies to a specific part of her life.

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9) #Last90DaysChallenge

I talked a little about this challenge in the most recent edition of My Google Search History. The challenge was started by Rachel Hollis (see inspiring thing #1) and it essentially dares you to be as aggressively passionate and optimistic about the last 90 days of the year as you normally would about the first 30 days of a new year. I love the concept and it has help me scare off that “I’ll start that next year” mindset that always tends to sneak in during this time of year.

(find it here)

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10) This milkshake from the Ventura County Fair that showed me no culinary dream is too small

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11) Tuesdays with Morrie

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Read. This. Book. It will make you smile, it will make you cry, it will make you think.

I could have highlighted, underlined and dog-eared the entire thing.

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12) “Don’t let anyone rent space in your head or heart unless they’re a good tenant.” – Anna Faris Unqualified

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13) Francesca Battistelli’s album Own It

I love the ENTIRE thing.

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14) This:

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15) The White Helmets

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16) Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, who inspired me to write this blog post.

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17) And finally, this:

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Inspiration is all around us, all the time. Sometimes it gets hidden by frustration and discouragement, but if we look closely, there’s always something there to make us smile, or laugh, or cry (in a good way) or just feel.

Keep your eyes open for all the magic around you and I promise I’ll do the same. heavy-black-heart_2764

 


 

Find more List-cember posts here

20 Popular Christmas Decorations: Ranked (List-cember #1)

It’s officially December! Which means it’s also officially List-cember!

In case you have no idea what that means, List-cember is an annual blogging tradition I have where all the posts in December are centered around lists!

It’s fun. It’s organized. It’s has pictures. I love it!

Let’s jump right in.

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For the true purists out there who wait alllll the way until December 1st to embrace the Christmas spirit, I can imagine you spent your weekend pulling down boxes and putting up decorations.

My roommates and I decorated a little early these year. We didn’t even wait until Thanksgiving…but SHH don’t tell my mom, she didn’t raise me like that.

After decorating our house, and then my grandpa’s house, and then my parents’ house, you could say I’m well-versed in the world of decorations, though I’ve never really taken the time to choose a favorite. I usually just say, “pretty!” over and over again until everything is hung up.

So this year I decided dig deep into my psyche and figure out which decorations are the best decorations. Because nothing says “holiday spirit” like pitting inanimate objects against each other, am I right?

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20) Nutcracker Dolls

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Let’s be real, these things are creepy. Are they traditional? Sure. But are they comforting to look at when it’s cold outside and you’re snuggling up with a mug of hot chocolate? Absolutely not.

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19) Elf on a Shelf

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These also fall into the creepy category for me. I know it’s a tradition in some families and I mean no disrespect, but as an adult who already has a hard enough time pretending she’s not scared to be home alone, the concept of having a doll watch me and wander around my house at night while I’m sleeping is a hard pass.

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18) Lawn Inflatables

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Photo credit: Walmart

I’ll admit, these are fun to look at for like, a minute, but then they just turn into hazards. With the wind and rain (and snow for you non-Southern Californians), these guys are just waiting for the right gust to send them soaring through the neighborhood.

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17) Nativity Scene

This is probably asking for trouble, seeing as this showcases (at least what I believe to be) the actual purpose of Christmas. It’s main reason for being so low on the list is its breakability. Some years the pieces simply weren’t wrapped good enough, so when you pull them down in the fall the stable’s roof is falling apart or the donkey is missing a leg. There’s also the chance you’ll have someone like me put in charge of setting it up, who takes advantage of that responsibility by making everyone look as if they are worshipping one of my baby pictures.

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16) Poinsettias

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Photo credit: The Home Depot

Bottom line: no one pronounces these the same and it’s frustrating and confusing.

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15) Scented Candles

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Photo credit: Yankee Candle

I have what my family calls a “pregnant nose”, meaning it’s as sensitive to smells in its everyday life as an average nose would only be during months of, you know, baby growing. So stepping into houses during the holiday season and being assaulted by smells of Cinnamon or Holiday Frost or Wooded Cottage or Rudolph’s Kitchen is just a bit much for me.

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14) Garland

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One of the decoration staples in my parents’ house is a long strand of garland that sits on top of the fireplace. I think it looks great, but it’s heavy duty and has a mind of its own and sometimes decides to jump off the ledge for no apparent reason, taking anything and everything else on the ledge with it. Points deducted, my friend.

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13) Mistletoe

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To be honest, I rarely see mistletoe outside of Hallmark movies. And while I love a cheesy well well well looks like you have to kiss and fall in love movie moment, I can’t say I’ve seen or would overly enjoy being placed in that situation in real life.

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12) Snowmen

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Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Frosty. But I feel like snowmen are quite possibly the most overdone decoration of the holiday season. People make snowmen out of EVERYTHING. Sometimes a jar just wants to be a jar, you know?

Also, I’m bitter because I hardly ever get to see snow…

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11) Wreath

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I feel bad for placing these so low on the list because I genuinely love wreaths and think they add so much holiday spirit. But man, are they a HASSLE. (At least in my experience.) They always make the door hard to close and then if you have a screen door it just kind of leans there, awkwardly open. I don’t know, unless you hang them inside or have giant front doors that make average sized humans feel small to walk through, I think they might be more trouble than they’re worth.

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10) Bells

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I love the sound of bells, both the ding and jingle type—because that’s how they’re categorized right? I mean, have you ever watched people play the hand bells? It’s incredible. So really my only reason to mark them down is that I think they shouldn’t be restricted to holiday months. #justiceforbells

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9) Angels

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I think angels take the place of Santa in our eyes when we grow up. They become the source of Christmas miracles after we’re told that a grown man doesn’t actually climb down our chimney and leave us gifts. I like this transition, since I sincerely believe in angels and their capability to perform miracles, and I like that the Christmas season displays them in abundance.

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8) Advent Calendars

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When my siblings and I were little, our aunts used to put together advent calendars to open during the month of December. They wrapped little gifts in tissue paper and tied them to pretty gold rope that we hung up in the living room. The three of us then took turns opening gifts each day. It was fun and magical and remains to be one of my favorite Christmas memories growing up.

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7) Santa

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If you ever want to see a fantastic collection of Santas, you need not look any farther than my grandpa’s house. He has a western Santa that moves his hips like Luke Bryan, he has one that raps, he has one that is attached to a serving tray that is always filled with chocolates. So honestly, I’m here for whatever portrayal you’re willing to give me.

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6) Tree Topper

I think this would have less of a special place in my heart if my roommates and I didn’t have the greatest topper of all time.

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Yes, that’s right, folks, it is a cheeseburger with legs and it cannot and will not…be topped.

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5) Snow Globes

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My sister collects snow globes, something she got from my parents who also have more than a few to display every holiday season. To me, snow globes are one of those undeniably charming things, always ready to give you a little taste of magic whenever you pick one up and shake it.

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4) Christmas Lights

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There’s nothing like a decoration that brings literal light into the world! Last year my sister and I spent an entire evening driving aimlessly around our neighborhood looking at lights. They never fail to make me smile.

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3) Christmas Tree

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Come on, you know this guy has to be near the top. There’s almost nothing more Christmassy than a tree—unless maybe…

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2) Ornaments

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…THE ORNAMENTS YOU HANG ON ITS MAJESTIC BRANCHES. Y’all know I love ornaments and may or may not be surprised that they didn’t top out this list. I mean, ornaments can be anything (as demonstrated by my family’s ever growing collection) and they are some of the best memory keepers. That being said, the only thing that could have possibly beaten them out for the top spot are…

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1) Stockings

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I don’t know if you can tell, but one of these stockings is homemade.

It’s also our favorite stocking.

Stockings are just so homey and I love seeing them hanging above the fireplace, showcasing all of the members of a family—be that human and/or animal members. And in my opinion, finding the smallest little gift in your stocking, even if it’s just candy or a fuzzy pair of socks, can be more magical than opening the biggest present under the tree.

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However you decorate your house during the holiday season, I hope it makes you smile and brings you all the joy that this month is made of.

Merry Christmas and Happy List-cember everyone!

 


 

You can check out last year’s List-cember posts here.

17 Goals for 2018 (List-cember #9)

If you followed along with my blog this past year, you’ll know that I set 17 goals for 2017.  A brief summary of the experience would be: it almost brought me to my death, but a more in depth summary can be found in my final goal update which I will be posting next week.

Even though this year’s goals proved to be tough however, that didn’t stop me from creating 17 more goals for myself for 2018. (Note: I know 18 for 2018 would have rolled off the tongue better, but 17 is still my lucky number and I don’t want to be on the hook for 45 in 2045, you know?)

I’d like to think these goals are a little less intense, though somehow, I also thought the list I made last December wasn’t totally ulcer inducing, so I’m thinking maybe I just shouldn’t be trusted. Regardless, I am back with a new list of goals for a brand new year.

Let’s dive right in!

1) Do a handstand in yoga

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When we were little, my sister and I both took dance lessons. I took tap, she took jazz/hip hop. As a result, I got really good with my feet and she got good at everything else. She could do the splits, she could do cartwheels, she could do handstands, she could even do these things called coffee grinders, which you’ll have to Google because I can’t demonstrate. Years later, when we both got into yoga and saw people doing headstands and handstands and a numerous other “stands” that seemed physically impossible, my sister was much more of a go-getter. In her mind, she figured she’d get it eventually. In my mind, I figured I’d eventually break in half.  However, in the spirit of doing things I never thought I could do (like run 1000 miles in one year, which I did this year and you can read about here) I’ve decided to get back into yoga (which I’m not mad about) and finally go for a handstand. I’m not talking up for two seconds and then falling over. I want an arms extended, blood rushing to the brain, awkwardly long high five to the ground type of handstand.

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2) Take a kickboxing class

In a similar pursuit of strength and overall badassery, I want to take a kickboxing class this year. Because as much as I love yoga, and will love getting back into it, sometimes I just want a workout that involves hitting things, you know?

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3) Visit (at least) 20 museums in Los Angeles

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So my original goal here was going to be “visit ALL the museums in Los Angeles” but that was before I found out there are 50! I’m not saying it would be impossible to visit all 50, but you figure, that’s about four museums per month and that’s only if I stuck to it, which let’s face it, I’d more than likely fall behind and wind up in November with 45 museums left to see and no time to see them. So, in the spirit of setting obtainable goals, I’m shooting for 20.

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4) Get CPR Certified

For a long time my mom, aunt and sister worked at a preschool which required them to be CPR certified. Every two years they would take a class to get educated on the newest skills/tactics associated with CPR so they would be best prepared in case an emergency situation came about. Since I never went with them, we always decided that should any combination of us be together in an emergency situation, they would do all the hard work and I’d call 911. They even taught me the script associated with the person who calls 911, because yes, that’s a thing. (MY JOB IS IMPORTANT TOO, OKAY?) But while having this “job” gave me a small sense of purpose, it also left me feeling helpless and overall useless should I not be with them in the case of a CPR emergency. So, this year I’m upping my usefulness. Watch out world, a double threat is headed your way. (In case you’re interested, you can find information on how you can get CPR certified here)

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5) Shoot (at least) one roll of film per month

Another thing you might not know about me is I love taking pictures. I actually majored in photography in college and probably spent 80% of my time in the photo lab developing film and printing pictures. It was my happy place. Since then however, I’ve shot almost zero film. With all the advances in the iPhone cameras and the implied need for instant results, I’ve been more or less consumed by all things digital. So this year I’m hoping to go back to my roots a little bit. I want to shoot at least one roll of film per month. I have a collection of old cameras I want to shoot them on and then hopefully develop and share the results. I’m also not barring the possibility of shooting with a disposable camera. I just want to get back to appreciating picture taking and not caring about getting a perfect result right away.

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6) Complete the 104 things to Photograph book

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On the same token as shooting with film, I thought this book would be a really cool way to get my creative juices flowing. Similar to an outline of an assignment I might have gotten back in college, I’m hoping the freedom to photograph the listed image in my own way will give me all those inspirational feels. (If you’re interested, you can find the book here)

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7) Visit the sea glass beach in Fort Bragg, CA

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I’ve always wanted to visit a sea glass beach and I’m lucky to live relatively close to one. This year I’m hoping to finally pay it a visit and hopefully take home a souvenir or two. Stay tuned. (Find other sea glass beaches here)

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8) Go to the dentist

I’m almost ashamed of this one, but I figure this is the best way to hold myself accountable. Let’s just say it’s been a while since I paid my neighborhood dentist a visit and I feel like I should probably get over there before my teeth start falling out.

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9) Watch 20 documentaries on Netflix

If there’s one thing I consistently miss the mark on, it’s keeping up with new additions to Netflix. Granted, they seemingly add about 300 things every month, but I still manage to be a solid two or three months (MINIMUM) behind even the most popular contributions. Among those I am always behind on are documentaries, which are arguably the most beneficial pieces of work available. Not only do they educate you, but they expand your mind and help you get to know yourself and your opinions a little bit better. This past year I watched a grand total of two documentaries: Lady Gaga: Five Foot Two and Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, both of which I loved. I’m hoping that this coming year I’ll find some more good ones based on all kinds of subject matter. If you have any suggestions, let me know!

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10) Perfect an omelet

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You know that whole cooking initiative I started a few months back where I decided that I wanted to make myself a better cook/overall human being? Do you remember episode two where I talked about learning how to best utilize leftovers? (If you do, great! If not, you can check it out here.)  Well, of all the 2nd or 3rd day uses for leftovers, omelets are probably one of my favorites. Similar to pizza, you can pretty much throw anything inside an omelet. The only problem I have is I SUCK at making omelets. I never get the flip right and it always tears apart and so my “kitchen sink omelets” are always more of a “leftover ingredient smorgasbord with a side of ripped eggs.” Let’s improve that.

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11) See (at least) one movie in theaters per month

One of my goals for 2017 was to watch every movie that won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and while I could go on and on about those movies, I could sum up the experience simply by saying that I LOVE movies. This isn’t necessarily a new discovery about myself, however, in watching all of those amazing films, I realized how many I let slip through my fingers while they were in theaters. So, in an attempt to stay more in the know, I’m making it a goal to see at least one movie in theaters per month, because other than lying in bed on a Saturday morning, there’s really no better way to see them.

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12) Read 20 books off the Time’s 100 List

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As you may recall, on my 27th birthday I posted a list of 30 things I want to accomplish before I’m 30—because yes, I’m a crazy person with multiple to-do lists. On that list was “read every book on Time’s 100 List.” This goal is kind of already a stretch to begin with, but in the interest of trying, I’m breaking it up into segments. We’ll see how far I get.

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13) Pay off my credit card

Another goal on my 30 Before 30 list is to pay off my current credit card and open a new one that can start earning me airline miles. So I figure I might as well get a jump start on that goal and get this thing good and paid.

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14) See 3 WRLA’s

Ah yes, an old friend! As mentioned in this post a while back, a WRLA (pronounced wool-rha) is short for “World’s Largest Roadside Attraction” and I hope to one day see them all. Last year I made it a goal to see five on the list, and this year I’m shooting for three. I figure since I’ve already seen most of the WRLA’s closest to me, I’m going to have to do a little traveling to find the others which might be a little more difficult. (You can find a complete list WRLA’s here)

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15) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

Another old friend! This exact goal was on the list last year and I’m planning to keep it on my list every year! It just feels so good to donate your time to something that matters and I think we could all stand to lend a helping hand these days. (Find places you can volunteer here)

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16) Donate Blood

This has been on my to-do list for a very long time, but has always been put on hold due to fear. I’m not the best with needles, so the prospect of signing up for a voluntary appointment with one isn’t exactly at the top of my list. This year, however, I’m going to give it a shot. (HA) Worst case scenario: I pass out and embarrass myself in front of a few overworked nurses and then never have to do it again. Best case scenario: everything goes smoothly and I can start donating on a regular basis. (For information on how you can donate blood here)

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17) Do the 1 second per day video challenge

Being an avid watcher of YouTube, I’ve seen a handful of people make these videos where they record snippets of their day, every day, for an entire year, then compile it into a video at the end, showing one second from every day. They always make me smile and I think it will be a good challenge! Here is an example of one:

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There you have it! 17 new goals for a new year. I’m already excited and nervous!

Do you have any specific goals for the upcoming year? Let me know! We’re all in this together!

How I Ran 1000 Miles in One Year (List-cember #8)

Of all the goals I set for 2017, the one that most worried me—both in questioning my sanity for setting it, and questioning my ability to complete it—was to run 1000 miles.

As someone who has hated running for the majority of her life, it was definitely what you would call a wild card. Most people I told thought I was crazy and the rest thought I was actually insane. I would have been right there with them if I hadn’t climbed Mt. Whitney a few years ago and gotten a big ole’ taste of “I CAN.” That experience inspired me to run my first 5k, two 10k’s and three half marathons, and ultimately led me to setting this goal for this year.

So, with the BIFC door wide open, I laced up my shoes and went on my first run. It was only three miles, but it was hard and I had to stop multiple times to catch my breath. Fast forward 369 days and 226 runs later, I finished my 1000th mile, winded only from all the celebratory screams I made throughout the final five miles.

Now that I’m finished, I’ve had multiple people ask me how I did it. And while a truthful summary would be: “I have no idea,” I broke it down to a few key aids. So, in case you’re among the curious or perhaps inspired to try this goal yourself, here are seven things that helped me run 1000 miles:

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1) Be Crazy

I’ve kind of already said this, but it’s worth mentioning twice that to achieve a goal like this, you need to become slightly insane. You have to be willing to put yourself out of your comfort zone over and over and make sacrifices over and over. Over the course of this year, I ran on almost every surface: asphalt, grass, dirt and concrete; I ran indoors, outdoors, and sometimes a combination of both in one day; I ran early in the morning and late at night, wearing jackets in 40 degrees, wearing shorts in 90 degrees and wearing hoods and hats in the wind and rain. My schedule was dictated by running, whether it was an average workday, a weekend or even a vacation day, and I had absolutely no time to get sick. When I look back at it now, I want to laugh because I really was, by all accounts, crazy. But then again, I know if I hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have finished.

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2) Listen to Those Around You

After the first few months of running, my friends and family started to realize that I was actually serious about this goal. As a result, it became a very popular topic of conversation. When we would get together, they would always check in on my progress. Near the end of the year, when I reached the 900 mile mark, I started posting Instagram videos to track my last 100 miles and a number of people messaged me with both encouragement and graciousness, saying that my quest for crazy was inspiring them. It was an important reminder of how my actions, even though they felt small and meaningless in the grand scheme of things, could not only affect but also inspire others. This was a huge motivating factor for me. I wanted to inspire them as much as I wanted to inspire myself.

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3) Don’t Listen to Those Around You

Amongst all the encouragement, there was also a lot of implied doubt and protective paranoia. My friends and family didn’t want to see me fail. They didn’t want to find me at the end of the year burdened with discouragement. Not to mention, this year happened to be a very busy one for me, so there were many points when I found myself far behind the pace I needed to finish on time. At one point in August, I was almost 60 miles behind, which equates to almost 22 days off pace. “Are you—do you think you’ll be able to finish?” people would say. And while I knew it was rooted in genuine worry, there were parts of me that absorbed the negative connotations—They don’t think you can do it. You’re way too far behind. You should just quit—so I had to learn to block that out. Because in the end I was the one who knew if I could do it. I was the one who had to decide if I could make up the ground I had lost. I was the one who knew I wouldn’t and couldn’t quit.

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4) Be Consistently Patient

Before I started this goal, I had this vision that once I made it through the first month I’d be in incredible shape and I’d never get winded or have leg cramps or feel like I was going to pass out—which is how I’ve felt for most of my running career. To my unfortunate surprise however, even in these last few months I still had days when I’d leave my house to run a route I’d run countless times before, only to find myself so short of breath I thought I might pass out. “HOW CAN THIS BE HAPPENING?!” I would think as I slowed myself to a walk. On these days I’d get so down on myself, and I’d wonder why I ever thought I could do something like this. But then I’d wake up the next day and feel so good on my run that I’d go two or three miles more than I intended. Thus, I had to learn that running will always be a learning curve, and I can’t let a few bad days get me down.

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5) Expect Injuries and Work Through Them

I have never been someone you would consider “injury prone.” I’d like to say it’s because I’m lucky/indestructible, but the truth is, I’ve never really pushed my body to its limits before. And while I have a high tolerance for pain, I just wasn’t a “work through the pain” type of person. For this goal however, “if it hurts, stop” wasn’t really an option. I strained the Iliotibial Band in my left leg, I got shin splints in my left leg, I had two toes on my right foot split open, and I worked through sore muscles in seemingly every part of my body. And while every single one of these SUCKED, none of them took me out of the game. I iced when I needed to, I took days off when I needed to, and most importantly, I got right back out there.

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6) Feed Your Senses

Before the start of the year, I spent a lot of time formulating the perfect running playlist. I scrolled through my entire iTunes library and I did a good amount of Googling to find songs that would (ideally) make me forget how hard running is. A few months into the goal however, I was already sick of this playlist. And not only that, I was sick of the routes I was running. I was getting bored of the songs and the scenery, which made it exponentially harder to motivate myself to run. So, I spiced up my routes. I took turns I never made before, and ran familiar routes backwards. As for ear food, I started alternating in podcasts. It was a nice break from hearing the same songs over and over, and I was surprised how easy it was to get sucked into other people’s conversations. If you’re looking for suggestions, some of my favorite podcasts were: Serial, Happy Sad Confused and Modern Love. Also, during the summer, I spent an entire month on the treadmill, binge watching Prison Break, so if you’re an indoor runner looking for some eye candy, Wentworth Miller is there for you. As far as songs go, I made this playlist, aptly titled, “These Songs Helped Me Run 1000 Miles” which you are welcome to listen to whether you’re running 1000 miles, 1 mile, or are just needing some pumped up tunes to drive to.

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7) Keep Track

As some of you may know already, I’m an avid spreadsheet maker. Thus, when the opportunity arose to track my running progress, I went all out. Here is a screen shot of my year of running, the yellow being days I went on a run, the blue being days I went on two runs—one outside in the early morning and one on the treadmill in the afternoon to try and work around the triple digit degree days in the summer.

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This spreadsheet proved to be both motivated and discouraging as it showed me both my progress and how far behind I was. In the end however, it gave me one less stress, as I never had to worry about losing track of where I was on this quest.

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There are probably a bunch of other things that helped me, both big and small, some I might not even realize. For example, to everyone that ever asked me, “How’s your running going,” you are one of those things! As of now, I’m very proud of myself, and even more, I’m excited to see what the future holds. Inspiration and adrenaline are as addicting as they come, and now that I’ve unlocked another level of “I can” in myself, I’m already craving what’s next.

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A mantra I gave myself this year was, “if it’s still only a daydream, the answer is no, but if you’re out there trying and failing, the answer is not yet.” I’ve wanted to be a runner for a long time, but until this year, was never able to break the barriers that surrounded that goal. Now I’m ready to see what else I’m capable of, and turn another “no” into a “not yet.”

How to Keep Your Christmas Decorations Up All Year Round (List-cember #7)

My least favorite part of Christmas is the moment it ends. Right after that clock strikes midnight, everything is over. All the planning, all the stress and anxiety, (probably) all the Christmas cookies. Like the day itself, they vanish into thin air, leaving only the memories behind.

Tonight, as I wrapped presents for my family and friends, I sat on my couch, basking in the season. I took a good look around my house, marveling at all the decorations we’ve hung up, dreading the day we’ll have to take them down and leave the walls plain again.

Decorations have always been one of my favorite parts of Christmas. I love the lights and the sparkles and all the red. I love the pride people take in filling their houses/cars/desks/etc. with Christmas spirit and the tradition of strangers coming together to marvel at that pride. It makes me wish Christmas lasted all year long. Though I suppose that would take away the novelty of it all, wouldn’t it? Then again, should we really need to consider pride, spirit and community a novelty? Shouldn’t these actually last all year long?

This got me thinking. What if when we took down our decorations, we took what they represent with us? For example:

1) Christmas Lights

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These quite simply make people look and awe. Whether it be with their colors, their arrangement, or their uniqueness. In many ways, even though we look at Christmas lights our whole lives, every year it feels like we’re seeing them for the first time. This is the same way I feel about people when they show unwarranted kindness or unthinkable bravery. It’s not that I forget these qualities exist, it’s just a pleasant and inspiring surprise when I come across them. So in this upcoming year, what if we made an effort to be these displays of light? I think it’s safe to say, especially in today’s society, the world could always use some more light.

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2) Ornaments

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I love ornaments. (So much so that I hand out superlatives every year.) I love that—at least the way my family does it—they are all unique and have a different story and memory associated with them, and that after all this time we still tell them. Pictures have this same quality. Unfortunately in this digital age we so often exile photos to the Internet and never think of them again. We need to print more pictures. We need to put them on display and remember the memories they capture. That way, in the moments we’re feeling low or nostalgic, we don’t have to scroll through our phones and try to dodge the pressures of comparison, we can simply look up at our wall or on our desk or bedside table and remember a moment that meant a lot to us.

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3) Paper Chains

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By now this might be a rather outdated decoration, but I still love me some paper chains. More than anything, they remind me that I can make things with my hands and they don’t have to be perfect. These days with the constant access to websites and services that will do practically everything for you, it’s easy to forget that we have hands of our own built for crafting. Then again, with all the Pinterest wizards dominating the Internet, it’s easy to get discouraged when we try. But, like a paper chain, things we make by hand, whether it be home improvement projects, gifts, or a hot meal from scratch, it feels good to sit back and realize that you made it; that you put in the time and did it yourself.

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4) Snow Globes

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My sister collects Christmas snow globes and is always one to walk over and shake them in a store. I think they give her, and me, and most of the general population a minute or two just to breathe. With a few shakes we stand and watch the snow or glitter fall, listening to the song that winds down, and for a moment we’re transported somewhere far away. While this might be harder to do in the general chaos of life, we can always take a second to stop and breathe; to take in the sights and sounds and smells around us and just be in that moment, completely as it is, just as we would until the song ended and we put the snow globe back on the shelf.

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5) Christmas Music

I know, I know, this isn’t technically a decoration. But when you consider that Christmas music is playing from every speaker, everywhere you go, for almost two straight months, it kind of turns into one. Call it an atmosphere decoration if you will. Granted, this “atmosphere decoration” technically exists all year round, chameleoning to fit the designated atmosphere (i.e. “elevator music”). But there seems to be this general agreement that in November and December you only listen to Christmas music and in January-October you listen to everything but. As I elaborated in this post however, I say listen to whatever you want, whenever you want. Decorate your atmosphere with music that makes you feel good no matter what time of year it is and no matter what anyone else thinks.

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So, as you start to de-decorate your house in the coming weeks, try to remember what it is about the decorations that draw you to them. Is it the light? Is it the color? Is it the associated memories? Then go out and find it in the confines of an average day, or create it yourself. Magic is not dictated by a calendar, and neither is goodness or glitter for that matter. So spread it around and soak it in, no matter the season.

How to Start Your 2018 Off Right (Before it Starts) (List-cember #6)

With the New Year RAPIDLY approaching I have been going through my usual routine—which mostly consists of muted panicking. January 1st comes with a lot of nerves and pressure, as well as excitement and freedom. And while it’s important and fun to embrace the New Year after the clock strikes midnight, there are also a few things things you can do beforehand that can make that tick tock more relaxing than taxing. Wink_Emoji_grande

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1) Unsubscribe

If you spend a lot of time online, whether it be for work or leisure, or if you’ve done a lot of your Christmas shopping from the comfort of an internet window, chances are you’ve found yourself subscribed to a lot of newsletters/company coupon strands that you have no interest in. And while it’s easy to just delete these and move on with your day, there is real benefit in taking a few extra seconds and unsubscribing. Not only will it declutter your email, but it will also remove the temptation that comes with all those FLASH SALE emails. Trust me on this one, just scroll to the bottom of the email, click unsubscribe and regain some of your freedom.

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2) Clean!

I am very much like my mom in that few things leave me quite as satisfied as a clean house. And with the holidays in full swing I have some upcoming days off, so I’ll most likely spend a good chunk of those days doing all the cleaning I’ve been procrastinating on. But what if I did it early? What if I put aside some extra time on these days leading up to the off days, so that when the off days arrive I can spend far more time sitting on the couch in my sweatpants? Call me crazy but more time in sweatpants = a more satisfying holiday = a better attitude upon returning to work after the holidays = a better employee = endless raises, etc. etc. I’m just spitballing here.

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3) Trash/Donate

This can more or less go alongside cleaning, as it’s possible it might happen organically if you get into one of those intense cleaning modes. But don’t just clean everything, go through it. Go through your closet and your bookshelves and your desk. Clean out your refrigerator and your garage and your car. Then trash the broken and old and donate what’s ready to be loved by someone else.

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4) Change Your Alarm

I admit it. I am a huge “hit snooze-er” when it comes to my alarm in the mornings. Over the last few months, I don’t think there’s been a single day that I didn’t do it at least once. That being said however, it has been brought to my attention that you actually wake up more tired when you hit snooze. Not to mention you (or maybe just I) usually end up hitting snooze a few more times than you (I) should, so you (I) end up rushing around the house trying to get to work on time. SO, in the interest of being honest with myself (i.e. accepting the fact that I’ll probably never kick the habit of hitting snooze) but still hoping to make an improvement, I am going to set a second, different, alarm that gives a “HEY KIM, YOU CAN’T CLICK SNOOZE ANYMORE” type of signal. That way I can at least keep track of where I am in snooze time, and will have to try a little harder to oversleep.

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5) Stock Up

You know how lines at department stores and grocery stores tend to grow at the speed of Pinnocchio’s nose around the holidays? You know how spending time in those lines is arguably one of the worst ways to spend your holidays? Right, so let’s do our best to avoid that. Let’s stock up on the necessities: toilet paper, laundry soap, Oreos, etc. This will save us from the early morning/late night “can you go to the store real quick, pleeeeease” arguments and include us in more of the “how many marshmallows should we put in our hot chocolate?” debates.

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6) Set Goals

More than anything, a new year gives us a fresh start. We get a new calendar year, with holidays waiting to be celebrated and seasons to waiting to take shape. It’s hard not to feel inspired to make some changes. So I encourage you, go with that inspiration! Make a list! Be daring, be creative and be specific. It’s so easy to make vague resolutions that are ultimately unsatisfying because they have no framework. Use numbers, details, and blueprints. Give your self time limits and then go for it!

(Also, if you’re interested, you can check out this post for some tips on setting goals, and this post to see the 17 goals I set for myself this year)

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I wish you a wonderful end to your 2017 and an inspirational start to your 2018!

10 Christmas Gifts I Loved/Hated (As Told By Photos) (List-cember #5)

If you count today, there are officially 11 shopping days left until Christmas! Isn’t that crazy? Isn’t that disgusting? Isn’t that reason enough to start panicking?! Sharpen your pencils ladies and gents, because the answer is D: ALL OF THE ABOVE.

Yes, we are closing in on that day which—along with school picture day—we put away our pride and let a camera snap unflattering photos of us because we know it will make our parents happy. Is there a more awkward brand of picture than a gift opening picture? I think not. Is there a more honest picture than a gift opening picture taken early on Christmas morning? Again, I think NOT.

So, in the spirit of “can you just look at me and smile PLEASE,” let’s dive into a second edition of: Christmas Gifts I Loved/Hated (As Told By Photos)…hopefully by next year I’ll have a catchier title.

You can read last year’s here

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Okay now THIS—THIS RIGHT HERE IS AN OUTFIT. Listen Mom and Dad, I know it’s Christmas morning and all, but I can’t just sit around in this outfit at home. I have to get out there and start a dance crew. I’m gonna call up that guy Vanilla Ice Cream and see if he wants to collab.

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What (Probably) Happened Here:

Dad: I’m going to take a picture of the tree.

Me: Did you want a picture of my bracelet?

Dad: In a minute.

Me: Here it is.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: I’m not ready to be a mother.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Eat your heart out, Laura Ingalls. I’m about to sport the HECK out of this denim.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: HELP! HELP ME. SOS. FLARE GUN FLARE GUN FLARE GUN. THIS BABY IS A DEMON AND IT HAS TAKEN MY MIND HOSTAGE. CALL THE POLICE. THE FIRE MARSHALL. THE PARK RANGERS. EVERYONE.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: HEY, SLEEPYHEADS! I got myself out of bed. I dressed myself. I sat myself nicely on this wooden stool so you can photograph me. I even set the camera up on a tripod because this is my best angle. The LEAST you can do is get up so we can open some of these presents.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: What? Like you’ve never slept in a stocking to try and get a peak at the big man.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Okay so the little hand counts minutes? No. Wait. The little hand counts hours. So if the little hand is pointing at 12, it’s 12 o’clock. Wait, but it seems like the big hand is also pointing at 12 when it’s 12 o’clock. So does the big hand count hours? I’m screwed.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: This is a cool bike. I can totally ride this bike, right? This is a great gift. An amazing gift. A gift for the ages. And I’m excited, right? I’m totally excited.

What My Sister is (Probably) Thinking Here: She’s scared sh*tless of that thing.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: I’m super stoked about this jump rope I just got, but to be honest, I’m still raving about these sick pajamas I got for my birthday. Why is no one talking about The Lion King II? I thought it was a high quality film. And don’t even get me started on the music, I mean “One of Us?” “He Lives in You?” Talk about chills. But yeah, this jump rope is also pretty cool.

25 Things that Inspired Me this Year (List-cember #4)

You know those moments when you hear/read/see/taste/experience something that gives you butterflies and fills you up with something you can’t quite explain, except for the fact that you not only want to feel more of it, but you want to pass that feeling on to others?

One of the greatest gifts in life is that you can experience these moments, even in the darkest of times in the most unexpected of places. What’s even better is that we all have the opportunity to encompass that light, even if this simply means passing on the light given to you by someone (or something) else. So, in the spirit of passing the torch, here are 25 things that inspired me this year. From quotes to songs to photos to videos to small ideas to big accomplishments and the like. Anything that gave me that light or opened that new door in my mind.

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1) All the Good Things

This is a segment on my blog that I do at the end of each month, highlighting the good things that happened amongst the easier to find/well known bad. I am proud of this segment, but the reason I’m including it on this list is because of all the brave, kindhearted individuals that keep it going each month. Thank you for your continuing kindness and love, the world always needs it!

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2) This moment:IMG_3084

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3) Hard Love by Needtobreathe

“There’s a reason why the road is long, it takes some time to make your courage strong.”

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4) “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller

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5) Booksgiving

This an event held in February by The Bloggess, which encourages readers to gift each other books. This year I received When Breathe Becomes Air, which ended up being one of my favorite books of the year.

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6) “You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.” – Paul Kalanithi, When Breathe Becomes Air

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7) Eva Igo on World of Dance 

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8) We Are the Kingdom by Francesca Battistelli

“Not to gain the world but make a difference.”

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9) How to Be a Bawse by Lilly Singh

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Honestly, I could probably just say ALL OF IT, but here are some of my favorite reasons why:

Take the first page, for example:

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And then insights like THESE:

  • “Not being able to control people and situations doesn’t make you powerless; it just means you have to exercise your power in a different way.”
  • “Think of discomfort as currency—it’s the price you pay to learn some pretty crucial things.”
  • “There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs. An escalator can go out of service at any time, but the stairs are always there.”
  • “Don’t let disappointment blind you to potential.”
  • “You are a product of your environment, so decide wisely what kind of factory you want to be built in.”
  • “If you stay true to your values only when things are going well, then those aren’t values; they’re hobbies.”

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10) The #MeToo movement and it’s recognition by TIME

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11) This artist who utilized ripped paper as a medium:

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12) And this artist who did the same with legos

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13) “We can be truly successful only at something we’re willing to fail at. If we’re unwilling to fail, then we’re unwilling to succeed.” – Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

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14) Happy People by Little Big Town

“If you wanna know the secret, can’t buy it gotta make it. You ain’t ever gonna be it by taking someone else’s away.”

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15) Will Darbyshire

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16) “Don’t fear being afraid.” – Connor Franta, Note to Self

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17) My adventure with Alison Teal

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It put me wayyy out of my comfort zone, but I’m thankful for every second of it. You can read about it here.

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17) This piece of advice:

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18) Which goes right alongside this one:

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19) Rudy Mancuso

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20) “Sometimes you just have to pick a direction and make mistakes. Then you use what you learn from your failure to pick new, better directions so you can make more mistakes and keep learning.” – Matthew Quick, Every Exquisite Thing

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21) Whatever it Takes by Imagine Dragons

“I do whatever it takes, ’cause I love how it feels when I break the chains”

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22) Move Beyond Tour

In June of this year, my mom, sister and I attended Move Beyond, a show put on by Julianne and Derek Hough, and I was absolutely floored. I actually wrote a blog post about it that I never published, but to give you an idea of how much the inspiration was bubbling inside me after seeing the show, here’s an excerpt:

When the three of us walked out of the theater that night, I had no doubts of what Move Beyond meant, and understood it was different for everyone. For me, it was a request—or rather, a demand—to move beyond the walls of the day to day. To move beyond the bounds of my limits. To move beyond the minimum, the maximum and the unthinkable. To become someone beyond who I’d imagined. To love, and create and discover beyond the realm of possibility. It was an encouragement to do more, to be more. It was proof that you can move beyond anything, if only you have the courage.

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23) This:IMG_3067

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24) Seeing this dream be manifested*:

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*Note: the first tweet was posted in January of 2014. This year he’s nominated for five Grammy’s. 

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25) And finally this:

Which quite honestly, still leaves me speechless.

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There is always inspiration to be found, and I’m thankful for the bright lights that have proven that to me this year and in years’ past. Thank you for filling me up when I’m feeling empty and opening doors I didn’t even realize were there. Here’s to a continuing cycle of inspiration, kindness and love!

 

 

 

Books I Read This Year (List-cember #3)

In 2016 I set a goal to read 30 books and while it was challenging, I succeeded and commemorated the victory with this book tower:

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It was a cool way to physically showcase the feat, though, I wouldn’t exactly recommend it as it was much heavier than I anticipated. I’m pretty sure I almost pulled a muscle and I’m entirely sure I committed brief verbal assault on my sister for not taking the picture fast enough. (Sorry, Natalee.)

This year, I had no set goal for how many books I wanted to read, but that didn’t stop me from reading incessantly. There are just too many good books out there these days, it’s overwhelming! As of now I’ve finished 22 books and am about halfway through John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down, which, due to the crazy schedule December holds for me, will probably be my last book of the year.

Overall, I was very satisfied with the selection of books I read this year. I dipped my toe into a variety of different genres and experienced an endless array of emotions, which is really all you can ask for. If I were to pick a favorite or a top 3 or a you should 100% buy these as Christmas presents type list, I think I’d go with:

  1. How to be a Bawse by Lilly Singh
  2. Brain on Fire by Susannah Calahan
  3. The Sun is Also a Star by Niccola Yoon

They are three very different books in three very different genres but they all had me glued to their pages and recommending them to everyone. With that being said however, I think I’d recommend just about every book on this list.  I actually considered ranking them from best to “worst” but couldn’t bring myself to do it, so instead I just listed them in the order I read them. So, in case you’re a bookworm like me or just looking for a suggestion or two, here are the books I read this year:

Note: I considered writing a brief bio to go with each book, but it turns out “brief bio” is an oxymoron to me. So, I’ve instead provided an Amazon link where you can find descriptions written by paid professionals and given you the genre to help you better sort out which ones you might be drawn to. Enjoy!

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  1. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum: Teen/Young Adult (find it here)
  2. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick: Biography/Humor (find it here)
  3. The Sun is Also a Star by Niccola Yoon: Teen/Young Adult (find it here)
  4. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanthi: Memoir/Social Sciences(find it here)
  5. OCD, the Dude & Me by Lauren Roedy: Teen/Young Adult (find it here)
  6. This is a Book by Demetri Martin: Humor/Entertainment (find it here)
  7. How to be a Bawse by Lilly Singh: Biography/Self-Help (find it here)
  8. Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick: Teen/Young Adult (find it here)
  9. Brain on Fire by Susannah Calahan: Memoir/Medicine (find it here)
  10. The Great Passage by Shion Miura: Fiction/Japanese Culture (find it here)
  11. This is Really Happening by Erin Chack: Nonfiction/Humor (find it here)
  12. Crank by Ellen Hopkins: Poetry/Young Adult (find it here)
  13. Glass by Ellen Hopkins: Poetry/Young Adult (find it here)
  14. Note to Self by Connor Franta: Nonfiction/Poetry (find it here)
  15. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver: Teen/Young Adult (find it here)
  16. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson: Self-Help (find it here)
  17. Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy by Jane Leavy: Baseball/Biography (find it here)
  18. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: Biography/Memoir (find it here)
  19. How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky: Essays/Humor (find it here)
  20. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut: Fiction/Science Fiction (find it here)
  21. The Sun & Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur: Poetry (find it here)
  22. Harry Potter & the Cursed Child by JK Rowling: Fantasy/Fiction (find it here)
  23. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green: Teen/Young Adult (find it here)

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Did you have any books you were particularly drawn to/borderline obsessed with this year? Let me know! I’m always looking for suggestions 🙂

2017 Ornament Superlatives (List-cember #2)

Last year I introduced you to a few of my family’s noteworthy Christmas ornaments by handing out superlatives reminiscent of a high school yearbook. And since I went over to decorate my parents’ house last night, I thought it was only fitting to introduce you to a few more.

Thus, here is the second installment of Ornament Superlatives, enjoy!

(Also, in case you missed it, you can check out the first installment here.)

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Most Likely to be Missing a Piece

(or be some sort of break dancing angel baby)

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Most Likely to Have Eaten a Compromised Cookie

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Most Likely to Peek-At-Choo Gifts Under the Tree

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Most Likely to Have Just Found Out it’s an Ornament

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Most Likely to Have Glued a Beard on His Face to Try and Blend In

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Most Likely to be an Extra from Santa’s Vogue Photoshoot

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Most Likely to be Santa’s Mode of Travel When the Reindeer Get Old and Tired

(Hint: Foot Propeller)

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Most Likely to Give You Nightmares

(Note: This dethrones last year’s previous winner)

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Most Likely to Have Previously Topped a Cupcake

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ALSO: Most Likely to Make You Want a Cupcake

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Most Likely to Make You Wonder What a Llama Has to do with Christmas, then Make You Wish You Had a Christmas Llama of Your Own

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