My Life

Does the vague name make it sound more edgy?

5 Square Pegs I’m Thankful For

It’s Thanksgiving time again, which means we have reached that point in the year where there is an entire day dedicated to something we should all strive to do a little more of: be grateful. I personally feel like I could talk for hours about all that I am thankful for, but that’s not to brag, it’s more to criticize myself for all the moments I let trivial things make me forget.

This year has been a trying one for our world. Fear and hate have tried their best to dictate who we are and what we do. But among this darkness has also been the constant presence of love. There are people helping people and loving people and saving people. There is still an ever presence of light that is trying it’s best to bleed out the dark.

Here on my blog, I’ve been doing my best to highlight the good things that have been happening amongst the bad in a monthly segment called “All the Good Things.” It’s a list of positive minded and/or inspiring actions/events that happen during a specific month, the length being equal to the number of days in that month. Come December, I’ll have done 11 “episodes” which equivalate to 334 good things that have happened so far this year! (And that’s only the ones I included on the list!) For me, making this list each month has given me a constant source of hope and positivity. It’s inspiring to know how many good hearts are out there in the world!

Speaking of good hearts. Last year for Thanksgiving, I wrote a post about 8 badass women I was (and still am) thankful for. Starting with my girl, Gina Rodriguez, the list showcased 8 women who had truly inspired me that year with their character, courageousness and all around badass-ery. This year I have a new list, and while they are not all women, they are all people who I’ve looked up to this year . For amongst all the repetition and imitation found in this age of social media, these 5 people are paving their own way with passion, innovation, inspiration and kindness. These are the square pegs challenging all the round holes—don’t make it weird. They are the ones standing out for good reason, showing the true benefit of being yourself and standing up for what you believe in.

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1) Ellen DeGeneres

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If you’re ever looking for a smile or a safe place to laugh, Ellen is your go-to girl. With her unwavering positivity and message of kindness, she is a constant source of joy for anyone and everyone, especially those who watch her show. I am constantly inspired by the goodness she brings to television and social media and I can only hope to be part of projects with such a positive impact one day.

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2) Malala

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Honestly, I don’t even think there are words I can say that could possibly describe the magic that is Malala. But maybe that’s the point. After all, it is not only her voice but her actions and her unshakable bravery that make her someone I continue to look up to. If you don’t know her story, I highly you suggest you look it up in its entirety, but here’s a sneak peek:

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3) Gal Gadot

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A small part of me wishes Wonder Woman would have come out last year so that Gal Gadot could have been properly featured on my list of badass women, but the rest of me is glad it came out this year, because she is the superhero we all needed. It’s no secret she’s a badass, but it’s also no secret that she’s humble and kind and an incredible role model for young (and old and any age really) girls and boys alike.

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4) Chance the Rapper

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I don’t like being behind the times, so when I started hearing everyone talk about Chance the Rapper’s album Coloring Book, and then realized I could only listen to it on Spotify, I almost immediately handed over my $7/month so I could see what this guy was all about. After doing so, let me just say that regardless of whether or not you like his music—which I do—you can never be too late to the party that is Chance the Rapper. Bottom line, he’s just a great person that is so full of life and love that it makes you want to be full of life and love.

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5) Lin-Manuel Miranda

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A few months back I had the opportunity to see Hamilton when it came to LA, which was everything I wanted/hoped it would be times 1000. Afterwards, I more or less love-ranted my way into a blog post called “5 Lessons I Learned from Hamilton & Lin-Manuel Miranda,” which says pretty much everything I want to say here, save for a few more thank you’s. As someone who’s constantly exhausted by what I find on social media, Lin-Manuel Miranda is always a breath of fresh air.

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Sometimes I have to remind myself that these tweets are not written directly to me. But then again, maybe they are. Maybe they are exactly what I need to read in order to get me where I need to go, which in a perfect world, is a place where I can write something that is exactly what someone needs to read in order to get them where they need to go. I’m all for this assembly line of inspiration, kindness and productivity, Lin. Let’s keep it moving!

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Thank you to all these square pegs and to the many more that are out there making a positive difference in the world. I have so many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and you are all among them!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Blogging Tips that Helped Me (& Can Hopefully Help You Too)

By no means do I consider myself a professional in any capacity when it comes to writing, however, I have done (at least one) lap around the block, as they say. 

This past month marked my 4-year blogging anniversary, which made me feel a lot of feels and sent me on one of those oh, how far I’ve come type mind rants. And while I’ll spare you the details of that I thought it might be nice to give a list of different tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

The way I see it, this is an ever evolving medium that will always have new things to learn, and it can never hurt to share!

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1) Beyond Your Blog

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If you’re a writer looking for places to submit your work this is essentially the MECCA of opportunities. I owe almost every publishing credit I have to this website, so I could never recommend it enough. Unfortunately, I think it is closing down soon, but before it does, do yourself a favor and take some notes!

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2) Submittable Newsletter

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When sending work to different publications, I often come into contact with Submittable as the platform used for submissions. And while I’m not sure when exactly I found out/signed up for their newsletter, I’m glad I did. Once a week the Submishmash Newsletter sends me two emails, the first of which gives a list of a bunch of publications and competitions that are open to submissions and the second gives you a list of top stories you can read for inspiration! It’s a win win!

You can sign up for the newsletter here.

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3) Unsplash

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This is my go-to place for all things pictures! When I’m writing a new blog I often try to find a nice/appropriate picture to go along with it and this website is stocked with absolutely GORGEOUS, free photos. You heard me right: FREE! Just type in a couple keywords and browse around the incredible gallery and voila your blog is looking professional.

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4) #MondayBlogs

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On the average week, I try to post two blogs, one on Mondays and one on Thursdays. (HEYOO, she’s on it this week!) In keeping to this schedule, I eventually came across #MondayBlogs on Twitter, which is a tag tracked by the account @MondayBlogs. They go through and retweet a ton of blogs posted on Mondays, which is great because it can both give your blog more publicity and give you access to a bunch of new reading material!

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5) Daily Post/Community Pool

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If you’re a WordPress blogger, you gotta jump on these trains!

The Daily Post publishes a prompt every single day to both give you inspiration and provide you a place to share your work! I love going through and reading the posts and have made more than a few blogging friends doing so.

The Community Pool is another place you can share your work with the WordPress community. It’s give you the opportunity to post a link to either a recent post or your blog as a whole and ask for feedback from your fellow bloggers!

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6) The Paper Kites

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Feel free to disagree with me on this one, but I have yet to find an artist that gets my creative juices flowing like The Paper Kites. I don’t know what it is, they just get me in the zone, you know? I’ve probably listened to their album twelvefour over one hundred times, so if you’re looking for some high quality writing music, I recommend it!

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That’s all I have for now, I hope that any/all of these can be of some assistance!

Have any tips/tricks/go-to writing music of your own you are willing to share? Please do!

Ideas that Never Became Blog Posts (For Good Reason)

Even though it may be IMPOSSIBLE to imagine, sometimes I have bad ideas for blog posts.

What? You mean you’re not always a genius lyrical angel?!

At the risk of shattering your universe…no.

But while we all occasionally have bad ideas or plans that don’t work out quite how we imagined, I feel that as a writer—who writes every idea/random thought/passing emotion downI’m often subjected to physical evidence of these plans and ideas, and the results consistently leave me scratching my head.

So, in the hopes of garnering a few smiles and giving a few shout outs to the crazies like me, I’d like to share some of these failed ideas with you. These are notes I’ve written on my phone, on post-it’s, in the moleskin notebooks I carry around in my purse, these are even ideas I tried to flesh out in a Word document on my computer, only to come across it months later and think: Where the hell was I going with this?

Enjoy!

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“Balloon: blowing it up, leaving you light headed?”

Yes, blowing balloons up does leave you lightheaded…and? What’s the metaphor here, Kim? Why did you feel the need to write down something you’ve known since you were 5? And why is it a question rather than a statement?


 

“2 grey jackets”

Am I buying the jackets? Are the jackets a code word for human beings I admired/hated? Am I one of the jackets? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?! 


 

“0 –> velociraptor REAL QUICK”

This, of course, is a parody of Drake’s lyrics: “Zero to one hundred, real quick”, though I’m not sure what my rewording is in response to, or the party involved. Had I met someone whose persona switches from zero (a.k.a normal) to velociraptor (a.k.a ???) at an expedited speed? Was I the person that did this? Did I write this whilst in velociraptor mode?


 

“Life is like a puzzle. We are the piece among thousands that make up the world and we collect pieces to complete our own. Some pieces are easy to find. The edges make sense and the patterns match—

Okay I’m not even going to finish that one. Stop it, Kim. Just stop it. You’ve taken this metaphor too far. You’re trying to be too deep. This was clearly written on an iPhone note at 2 a.m. You should have just rolled over and went to sleep. 


 

This next one was found in a document entitled “The Three Little Pigs & the Big Bad Trust Issue.” Again, this was CLEARLY written late at night, when thoughts really shouldn’t be written down for the morning brain to find. This one, however, is too funny not to share in its entirety.

Pigs don’t need houses: Farmer john is the one taking all the shit, seeing and shielding all the bad

Pigs get threatened (we get hurt)

Our house is blown down. We’re a little shaken up, we go out and find sticks, we’ll obviously need something stronger to protect us, not as easy to break down but also not as easy to get inside

House blows down. Now we are thoroughly convinced of the impending bad. We expect it, and refuse to be surprised, so we build a home of bricks. One sure to keep us safe. The only people worth trusting are those already inside. A knock at the door means danger, so it’s best to shake off any new introductions.

It’s just like the story, except there’s only one pig, and we keep getting tricked.

Please do yourself a favor and read that last line a few times and have a good laugh. “It’s just like the story, except there’s only one pig, and we keep getting tricked.” So, yeah. In case you were a little confused about the way life works, I pretty much spelled it out for you there. We are (apparently) all naïve pigs, the end.


 

And for the grand finale, here are a bunch of snippets from a long winded metaphor I typed up about…SANDWICHES.

I wish I was kidding.

A sandwich is a small part of the food chain we’ve grown familiar with, but then again so are we.

I make myself a sandwich every morning. The ingredients are basic, safe. I don’t venture far into creative combinations. The innovation isn’t appealing enough to risk the stomach ache or the bad taste.

Like any good food metaphor, this one takes a moment of self-reflection. Are you the sandwich, hoping to satisfy? Or are you an ingredient, hoping to be made into something bigger and better? Are you the butter knife? The bread? The extra avocado?

I was bread. Lying in a pile of others just like me, wondering when I’d get my chance to make something of myself.

All I’m certain of, is he is the cheese. Of his own sandwich or mine, I’m not sure.


 

Honestly, why do you even listen to a word I say?

I mean, I’d like to blame all of these on staying up too late, but some of these ideas float by during working hours. Should we be worried? Should I be worried? Maybe I am just a naïve pig after all.

Thank You, Dodgers. Thank You, Baseball.

When I was little my grandparents had season tickets to Dodger Stadium. There were four tickets, two for my grandma and grandpa, and then two for the lucky duo they brought with them. Oftentimes I went with my cousin, Spenser, or my sister, Natalee. Other times the tickets were given to my parents and my whole family would go.

We’d always get there early to watch batting practice, and then we’d grab a Dodger Dog right before game time so it could digest before we got chocolate malts in the 6th inning. I loved sitting next to my grandma and keeping score inside the program and always tried to catch the beach balls bouncing around the crowd so I could hand them off to our favorite usher, Ilene, to make her job a little easier. The sounds of the stadium, of Vinny, of Nancy Bea on the organ, all became lyrics to a song I could sing in my sleep.

As I grew up, my grandparents eventually gave up the season tickets, but this did little to lessen my passion for the game or the team I grew up watching. If anything, it deepened. With a better sense of baseball and all it entailed, I started to really get to know the boys in blue, no matter what variety a season would present them in. I began keeping track of stats, giving commentary on recommended lineups, and most importantly, dreaming of the World Series.

In my 27 years as a Dodger fan, there have been many seasons when I’ve had that feeling. The one that keeps quiet in public, but at home whispers, maybe. Maybe this is the year. Maybe this is the team. But year after year, at some point that maybe would turn into a no. It always hurt, but come April, the hurt was always replaced by possibility, by a new maybe.

This year, I got that feeling. Even at the first night game I attended in April, I felt like there was something special about this team. That night I scanned my ticket and grabbed a Dodger Dog and a beer and took my seat, anxious for another April, hopeful for another October. Six months later, I was scanning another ticket, taking another seat, and ordering another Dodger Dog, but this time it was Game 6 of the World Series.

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For weeks I had rushed home from work and drove over to my parents’ house to watch the Dodgers climb their way to the Fall Classic, and suddenly I was there, in the flesh. My sister and I walked up the stairs in a sea of blue. Friends and family hugged and strangers high fived and everyone smiled in anxious anticipation.

When we won the game 4 hours later, the stadium erupted. Friends and family and neighbors and strangers and hugged and high fived and cheered and teared up. The crowd moved in waves of blue and white, singing and chanting and smiling. I thought of my grandma and grandpa and the first game I could remember attending and I felt that same feeling of pure magic.

The next day, as I sat on my parents’ couch, watching the last few outs of Game 7 tick off the scoreboard, submitting my Dodgers to a season just shy of the ultimate finish line, I tried my best to remain solely heartbroken. The loss hurt, but there was something else stirring inside me that I couldn’t quite shake.

As I watched the sea of blue and white (and orange) file up the rows and out to the parking lot, I saw families and friends like mine feeling the same heartbreak we felt in our living room. And suddenly I realized how many other living rooms and bars and hotel lobbies and restaurants held other families and friends either mourning or celebrating. This game, these teams, my team, had brought us all together. And with all the bad going on in the world, we were able to find something to root for.

When my sister and I stepped inside the gates for Game 6, I felt the weight of where we were, but in many ways felt the same way I always do when I walk up the stairs to Blue Heaven: at home. I heard the same sounds, smelled the same smells and looked down at the same view.

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After Game 7, when the confetti started flying and it wasn’t the color I was hoping for, my stomach sank. After the most exciting season of my life, this year’s maybe had officially turned into a no.

When I got home that night, I got a text from a friend, “see you next season.” And even though the wound was still fresh, I couldn’t help but smile. “Always,” I thought, “there’s always next season.” And I know come April I’ll be there, with a ticket, a Dodger Dog, and a maybe.

How Your Kids Awakened the Future Mom in Me

I’m not a parent, but I used to play one in the morning. Five days a week I would drive over to a family friend’s house to pick up their 10-year-old twins and take them to school.

I didn’t do any of the hard work. When I showed up the kids were awake and dressed and fed. Their parents greeted me kindly and I did the same, well aware I wasn’t the one tired from staying up late doing homework, wishing away bad dreams, or calming down a tantrum whose root is unidentifiable. No, I was just the one who asked the kids to put their shoes on, and reminded them to grab their backpacks and a jacket, and led us on our merry way.

The car ride was short. 10-15 minutes tops. Some drives were filled with jokes and comments and stories, some were quiet, and some were a mix of both. The front seat, back seat and trunk donned different props depending on the day. Be it a science fair presentation, a flower for the teacher, a still wet art project, birthday desserts or a bag of canned goods for donation. We tried to organize them neatly so we could all be comfortable, then we worked together to give the right what to the right who, so all of it could get to the right where.

When we got to the front of the carline, the teacher said hello and the kids said goodbye and I said I’d see them tomorrow and then I drove to work.

The next morning, we’d start all over again.

As I sat at the dining room table, keeping an eye on when the clock hit 7:35—our time to leave—I smiled at the things the twins brought to show me. They walked up and took a seat, opened a book and read me a chapter or showed off a drawing that lent itself to a lazy weekend afternoon. “You have to check this out,” they’d say, and no part of me was capable of saying “no”.

At 7:30, I’d give them their warning. “Okay guys,” I’d say, trying to find a balance between serious and calm, “we’re going to leave in about five minutes.” This usually provoked some sort of response, be it a nod, a groan, or, on good days, a fully formed, “okay.” I’d pack up my purse and walk around the house switching off lights, and they’d gather their last minute needs, which ranged anywhere from a book for the car ride to a hand-knitted scarf they just realized would make the perfect accessory.

As we walked side by side to the car, the questions began. Sometimes they were simple. A basic “would you rather” or “have you ever” or “did you know?” While other times they were harder, heavier, and more complicated. On these days I’d slow my pace, hoping age and experience would take the real answer and simplify it. Purify it. Maintain its truth while avoiding as many associated evils as possible. “Well…” I’d start, and they’d go silent, waiting for an explanation.

When we got in the car, one, two, three of us were seated, and then one, two, three of us were buckled. I’d start the engine, put us in drive and pull away from the curb. The radio is a messy combination in the morning. Loose conversation threatens to spill information not suitable for young ears, so I’d fervently skim, my own ears analyzing like a central intelligence agent.

“I like this one,” I’d hear from the backseat. I’d let go of the knob, lean back in my seat and in my rearview mirror, I’d see a head begin to bob. A small high-pitched voice would fill the air of the car and I’d smile.

One winter day, I noticed one of the twins take her jacket off in the car. This puzzled me, as I was sitting far closer to the heater and yet still shivering. But even after removing her jacket, she rolled up her sleeves.

“It’s hot in here,” she said casually, then continued telling me a story about some girls from school. When we pulled into the carline, she put her jacket back on, preparing for the cold air that waited on the other side of the door. We pulled up to the curb and the woman opened the door with a smile. A breeze seeped in, sending a shiver down my spine. “See you tomorrow,” they both said, and I smiled and waved goodbye.

The next day, I decided not to turn on the heater. When we got in and got buckled, I turned on the ignition and shivered at the cold air that snuck through the vents. I pulled my sleeves down and tucked my hands inside, gripping the cold leather steering wheel through the cotton, surprised I couldn’t see my breath.

“Did I tell you about the park we went to over the weekend?” she said from the backseat. I looked in the mirror to meet her gaze and found her sitting there, comfortable. Her jacket was still buttoned and she was leaning into the window, fogging up the surface with her breath.

By the time we got to school, I was convinced my fingers must be blue. I pulled into the carline and let the teacher open the door. The kids waved to me and I waved back with a sleeved fist. Once they were inside the gate, I pulled away and immediately cranked up the heat. After a minute or so, my fingers twitched back to life and my body relaxed.

In this renewed state of comfort, I awaited the train of thought that promised I wouldn’t put myself through that again the next day. I was miserable, wasn’t I? I was freezing. I couldn’t let this happen again. I waited patiently for the survivalist game plan to formulate, but it never came. Instead, I heard their voices echoing in my head.

“Would you rather,” they said. There was a single giggle that always came before the question and then a pair that came after. “Would you rather be so cold you froze your fingers off, or so hot you melted?” A smile formed on my lips. “Both,” I thought to myself, “as long as it meant you were comfortable.”

On the last day I took them to school, we went through our usual routine. I sat at the kitchen table and rounded us up at 7:30, we buckled our seatbelts and found a good song on the radio, we asked questions and answered questions and we waved goodbye. But this time there was no “see you tomorrow.” I knew that I’d go to work that day and I’d come home and I’d officially retire from being a mom in the mornings. What I didn’t know is that I’d start to dream about the days I’d be a mom in the afternoons and the evenings too. I dreamed about the days I’d be the one tired from staying up late doing homework or wishing away a bad dream or calming down a tantrum with an unidentifiable root. I dreamed about being lucky enough to have kids like yours one day, and oh what a dream that would be.

How to be Me for Halloween

With only about two weeks left until Halloween we’ve officially reached that point where you’re either going to have to suck it up and overspend on a costume at an outlet, pull a clever one together at a thrift shop, or cut holes in a trusty white sheet.

I personally am not a huge Halloween person, but I also refuse to be the party pooper in the corner that came as a disgruntled version of myself. So, I’ve got something in the works that hopefully doesn’t turn out terrible. (That’s the spirit!)

When I was brainstorming my costume this year, I scrolled through a bunch of articles online and saw a variety of clever ideas. Television characters and famous personalities, punny collaborations and comically literal depictions of pop culture. In looking through the costumes of athletes and movie stars and TV characters, I started thinking about how funny it is that we love to dress up in “costumes” that depict the casual dress of a character or real-life person. In doing so, I thought about what someone might use to fashion a costume representative of me.

This is what I came up with:

What You’ll Need

  • Black leggings
  • A t-shirt and a maroon zip up hoodie OR a crewneck sweatshirt
  • No-show socks
  • Black converse
  • A birthmark on the middle finger of your left hand
  • A Fitbit
  • A broken-in hair tie on your left wrist
  • A hydroflask water bottle
  • A medium sized purse containing a Mary Poppins assortment of practical things
  • A casual blend of awkward, anxious, and confident
  • Well timed bad jokes
  • Well timed laughter to back up the jokes

How to Pull Off the Character

  • Be nice to most everyone, but don’t be afraid to give the occasional dirty look and/or refusal of laughter to a clear cut asshole
  • Whenever there is an awkward silence, look at your nails
  • Whenever you’re trying to fill an awkward silence, overuse finger guns for no reason and then regret it for hours afterwards.
  • Try to work Chopped into almost every conversation
  • Squirm around desperately whenever given a compliment
  • Consistently be cold, regardless of the weather.
  • Constantly mention how much you’re craving ice cream
  • Cry after almost every commercial
  • Resist making any decisions regarding dinner choices
  • Follow all the rules without shame

Key Vocabulary Words/Phrases

  • “Dude”
  • “Oh my gosh!”
  • “What a day”
  • “Shitty”
  • “I’m about it”
  • “Truth”
  • “Honestly, though!”

Did I just invent some sort of psychological “know thyself” exercise? Because I feel like I just explored the inner depths of my psyche. Credit me in the textbooks, folks.

In the meantime, what would a Halloween costume of you look like? I might need some backup ideas…

2017 Goals Check In #3

You know that old “glass half full/half empty” argument that determines whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist? Well I was recently thinking about 2017, and the fact that it’s now ¾ of the way over, and I was thinking that we can look at it two ways:

1) We let it fill us: We started with an empty glass and allowed all the lessons we learned and experiences we had to slowly fill our cup.

2) We let it drain us: We started with a full glass and then watched as the stress and anxieties of the year slowly emptied our cup, leaving us with almost nothing left.

But while it’s easy to identify which is optimistic vs. pessimistic on paper, it’s harder to admit, or even more, to correct how we’ve been thinking about our year. For me personally, I set a lofty list of goals this year, and there have been many times when I’ve sat down on my couch exhausted, loathing every single one of them. And while I think it’s perfectly normal and necessary to have those moments once in a while, it would be a shame to let them overshadow all the good ones. That being said, let us focus on the good moments. The badass moments that continue to bring us closer to the goals we’ve set for ourselves. I wish you luck on yours, here’s how I’m doing on mine:

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1) See Star Wars

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 3/8 (37.50%)

Current Progress: 3/8 (37.50%)

In a way I feel like my lack of progress here is a strategy of sorts. With the new Star Wars movie coming out in 2 months, I have the opportunity to walk into the theater having just seen the last few movies. So this excuses me from waiting so long to watch the rest of them, right? RIGHT?

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2) See 5 WLRA’s

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 3/5 (60%)

Current Progress: 4/5 (80%)

At the end of August my family drove up north to drop my brother off at college. And since my eyes are alwaaays open for WRLAs, I quickly figured out that the World’s Largest Monk was only 20 minutes away from his school. Thankfully, my family understands and supports my crazy mind, so after a somewhat emotional weekend, we pulled off the freeway to check this one off the list.

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3) Try this jean rug DIY

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 25%

Current Progress: 75%

I officially have all the pieces cut and they are patiently waiting to be sewed together. In other words, I’ve done everything I can do before all that’s left for me to do is use my sewing machine…

I’m still slightly terrified, and I’m minorly convinced this is where I’ll ruin the rug, but hey, the goal specifically states to try, right? It doesn’t say make an award winning rug sure to be included in the National History Museum upon your death. So I’m going to give it my best shot. Stay tuned.

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4) Run 1,000 miles

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 474.01 miles (47.42%)

Current Progress: 743.23 miles (74.32%)

GUYS. I’M KIND OF TIRED OF RUNNING. Do I love the way it makes me feel? Yes. Am I continually proud of myself for pursuing this goal? Yes. But am I ready for it to be over? YES. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent calculating miles and scheduling routes. And while it’s obviously paid off, as I’m only about 250 miles away from the Promised Land, I’M READY TO BE IN THE FREAKING PROMISED LAND, OKAY? Wish me and my legs luck as we run these last few hundred miles.

5) Complete The Ultimate Fit Bit Week

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 100%!

This. Was. A. TASK. Read about it here.

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6) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 2/5 (40%)

Current Progress: 5/5 (100%)!

In case anyone is curious, these are the places I volunteered to fulfill this requirement:

While I’m so glad I was able to complete the (minimum) requirement for this goal, I also find it funny that I did so in 5 months. I totally slacked the first half of the year, and I can’t help but think if I had gotten on the ball sooner, I’d have double the volunteer shifts under my belt. This past weekend, as my mom and I were volunteering at Children’s Hunger Fund, I realized how much of a privilege it is to volunteer and I really want to make a better effort to do it as often as I can.

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7) Go to a sporting event of “every” kind (i.e. baseball, football, hockey, basketball, & soccer)

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 1/5 (20%)

Current Progress: 2/5 (40%)

With football officially kicked off, hockey season fully underway, and basketball season only a few weeks out, I have no excuse not to get my butt to a game! If you see a brunette holding a hot dog with way too much ketchup and mustard, animatedly screaming at a group of grown men chasing a ball/puck, there’s probably a 5% chance it’s not me.

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8) Try every class at the gym

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

I know, I know. I’ve given excuse after excuse after excuse on this one, but this is the last one, I promise! For the past few months I’ve been consistently behind on my running goal, making that my #1 priority. As a result, I haven’t had time/energy/will to make it to the gym and have my ass further kicked by physical activity. However, I’m finally gaining some ground and will most likely start showing my (probably panicked) face at the gym again this month.

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9) Do The Princess Diaries painting

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 100%!

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I’m not sure how many 26 year olds would ask to spend their 27th birthday throwing darts at water balloons full of paint, but I’m glad I’m one of them, and I highly recommend you look into it as well, no matter what number awaits you at your next birthday. You can read all about how we did it here.

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10) Find and try the “Best of” restaurants in LA

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 4/5 (80%)

I’d like to officially issue a THANK YOU to my roommates for helping me out with this goal because without them, I have no doubts I’d still be sitting on a goose egg. In the last few months, we’ve tried LA’s best pizza (Pizzeria Mozza), sandwich (Mendocino Farms), ice cream (Salt & Straw) and burger, the quest for the burger probably being the most fun. We went to the first inaugural Battle of the Burgers, which was an event that brought 11 of LA’s best burger vendors to a park downtown and charged $20 for three beers, a burger from each place, and a yellow ticket to vote on your favorite, thus making it the BEST DAY EVER. My roommates voted for Grill ‘Em All, I voted for Everson Royce Bar, and the winner—who we had all counted as our 2nd place choice—was Beacon Echo Park. If you’re in the LA area, check them out!

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11) Watch every film that has ever won Best Picture

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 11/89 (12.36%)

Current Progress: 28 (31.46%)

This is a slowly but surely, turtle and hare type situation. The turtle being me and the hare being time. I fully realize that my needing to watch 60 movies in 3 months, all of which are riddled with holidays, seems like kind of a shot in the dark, but I have a feeling my competitive spirit will find a way to get this thing done. In the meantime, I’m receiving a mean movie education (or movie-cation for all my Pitch Perfect peeps), and have been talking everyone’s ear off in the process. My top 5 favorite movies that I’ve watched so far (not including the handful I’d seen prior to this year) are: Gentleman’s Agreement, Annie Hall, Rain Man, Driving Miss Daisy, and Slumdog Millionaire.

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12) Learn to Longboard

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

The only excuse I have for not making progress on this one is I’m a little scared I’ll more or less break my body. (You know, casual fears.) However, just as my DIY rug doesn’t have to be worthy of museum display, my skateboarding skills don’t have to resemble those you might find on Tony Hawk Pro-Skater. SO, I’m going to suck it up and do it. Stay tuned.

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13) Learn to do a headband braid

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 20%

Current Progress: 40%

To be honest, I’m not even sure how I’m gaging my progress on this one. At the end of the year, it’s either a can or can’t do it type of situation. Sure, I know more about it than when I started, but is that exactly 40% more? Who knows? What I do know is I could use a few alternative hairstyles, especially with all of the holiday family pictures headed my way, so hopefully I’ll find that missing 60% in the next few months.

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14) Reach the 100,000-mile mark on my car

COMPLETED

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Read all about Jeffrey’s (my car) big milestone here.

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15) Do a bar/pub crawl

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Yeahhhhhhh, about this one. I kind of keep forgetting about it. Good news is, the upcoming months should feature a handful of themed bar crawls I can check out. Look for me in a tacky sweater tavern or a pumpkin spiced lounge or a ghoul-ful pub. Or, if none of those exist, look for me opening a tacky sweater tavern, a pumpkin spiced lounge or a ghoul-ful pub.

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16) Sing Karaoke

COMPLETED

Much to the surprise of my pre-2017 self, I’ve actually done karaoke 4 separate times now, all of which have been about 100 times more fun than I ever thought karaoke could be. That being said, while I’d never pressure anyone into doing something they didn’t want to do, I highly recommend you give karaoke a shot. There are few things more freeing than belting out a Backstreet Boys song, knowing you’re hitting exactly zero notes, and yet not caring one bit.

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17) Complete Project Lightbulb

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 25%

After it became clear that this goal would be impossible to complete this year, I decided that as long as we made steps towards planning and booking it for next year, I’d call it a win. That being said, we finally made our first step in that direction, as we opened a savings account where we can slowly save up enough money to make this thing happen! Iceland here we come!

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As a whole, I’m just under 58% finished, which again, I’m deciding to take on a half-full mindset about. There’s no use in letting what I haven’t done take the focus away from what I have. I will continue to work my butt off and hopefully come the end of December, I’ll be sitting behind this computer writing up the 4th and final update, feeling filled up with pride for the crazy, hard, and amazing year that was 2017. See you then!

Swipe-tember: What I Learned from Spending a Month on Dating Apps

After recently turning 27 I had the normal rush of emotions, as well as a few new, introduced-in-the-late-twenties specific ones. For example: ARE MY EGGS DYING?

This was more or less a ticking time bomb. With friends in every direction getting married and having babies and then more babies, as I sit on my couch watching Food Network eating another re-microwaved meal for one, I was destined to start hearing the clock tick. And if that didn’t do it, the now normal tendency of family, friends, and acquaintances alike to graze over the “are you seeing anyone?” territory as often as they can, just in case a two week period we go without seeing each other might provide me a husband and vicious fertility, surely would.

I consider myself to be kind of old fashioned. With a string of well-set examples in my family, I fully believe there is someone wandering around the world that is meant for me. It’s also fair to say that while I’m not against dating apps, I often doubt their credibility, mostly because I assume everyone on the Internet is a serial killer. Amongst this paranoia however, also lies curiosity. Multiple friends have asked me why I won’t give dating apps a try, and while the “everyone’s a catfish waiting in the wings to kill me” excuse usually ends the conversation, there have been a few that remain persistent, quoting some form of the “don’t knock it til you try it” variety.

So, I decided to try it. “One month”, I said. “I’ll log on and sell out for one month, just to see what it’s all about.” Thus, on September 1st I downloaded Bumble, giving life to an experiment I was calling “Swipe-tember.”

While creating my profile, I felt like I was back in 9th grade creating a Myspace. Back then, besides AIM, Myspace was the best way to showcase who you were both to strangers and, more commonly, the classmates you saw all day, every day. Being an awkward kid with wiry braces and low self esteem, I was desperate to create an impressive profile, so I dove headfirst into the world of coding, providing myself the skills to add music, graphics, and a well written, well organized, yet fittingly brief autobiography.

On Bumble, while I had less creative freedom in terms of profile design, I had just as much responsibility to present an impressive introduction. This time around however, I felt the responsibility was reversed. No longer did I have as much interest in presenting what I felt was expected or desired, as I did to express an honest depiction of the person doing the presenting.

High school, college, and the corresponding years of self-discovery had provided me with a much more balanced sense of who I was, what I wanted and what I deserved. I had no interest in creating a veiled version of myself, only to meet an Internet stranger in person using a matador style “ta-da!” with who I really was. If I was actually going to do this, even if I didn’t necessarily expect or intend to go on many (if any) dates, I was going to be up front about it. So when it came to profile pictures, I chose a handful that represented the different parts of my personality i.e. a travel hungry, family oriented, Los Angeles Dodger loving fisherman.

And for my bio, I lasagna-ed in a few more.

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In the end, I was happy with who I presented, because at the very least, I knew it was me, and even if this materialized into nothing more than the experiment it started as, I’d walk away regret free.

Next came the swiping.

While I knew the general principle of the act, as I’d seen friends do it to pass the time, determining fates with their thumbs, there was a different kind of pressure associated with being the one behind the screen. If I swiped right, I essentially gave someone the chance to be the love of my life, but if I swiped left, I was banishing them to the confines of an existence separate from my own for the remainder of time. (It sounds dramatic, but it’s true if you think about it.)

In determining who I would offer that fateful right swipe to, I did my best to overanalyze. I understood that it was supposed to be a glance, choose and go type of situation, but the only way I’d been convinced to join the app in the first place was to remove the association I made with people on the internet as devious catfish, thus forcing myself to see them as people, just like me, and in doing so I felt they at least deserved a glance at the entire person they chose to present.

Over the course of the month, I flipped through hundreds of profiles, “meeting” all kinds of guys. Oftentimes I’d swipe through a few batches of profiles, then close the app, only to return a few hours later to find my inbox full of matches. On Bumble, it is the girl’s “job” to make the first move, so as I would scroll through this list of strangers I’d opened the lines of communication with, I realized that I now had the responsibility of entertaining them.

No. Not responsibility. Opportunity.

More than anything, dating and meeting new people is an opportunity, and it’s important to ensure that it is beneficial to both parties. As I sat wondering what I should say to this group of strangers, I realized that unless I wanted to lead with a Google suggested witty comment or joke or internet meme, I didn’t have to. I didn’t have to do anything. And the more I thought about it, the more I started to realize the parallels between both on and offline dating. For no matter what app I was logged into or in-person conversation I was starting with a stranger, I was in control. It didn’t have to be written in the rules, it didn’t have to coincide with the narrative I thought would be most desirable. I have the power to start a conversation and I have the power to stop it. I have the opportunity to let someone get to know me and I have the right to walk away.

I’ve always been very shy when it comes to new people, and as a result have walked away from many conversations feeling like a failure. Oftentimes I’ve felt as if it were my responsibility to keep a conversation going and if I couldn’t, I assumed I wasn’t interesting or worthy of a meaningful relationship with that person.

Talking to the guys on Bumble, I realized how much I relied on them to give back what I offered them, even if that just meant politeness. I didn’t have to accept aggressive sexual innuendos or overly personal questions, and letting those conversations peter out didn’t make me less interesting or worthy of finding a meaningful connection. We were all people looking for something, and it was okay if I didn’t want the same things.

I’ll admit, it’s been a couple weeks since I logged into the app. After making a diligent effort for the first half of September, my busy schedule consumed most of my time and I often didn’t think about Bumble until right before I fell asleep. But while I didn’t put in the time and effort one might need in order to find the rare, yet meaningful connection the online world may have to offer, I’m still glad I gave it a shot. If anything, it was a great reminder that I’ve grown up a lot since high school and I am more prepared now than I ever was then to wander my way into a love story.

And while I don’t know if I’ll continue to pursue the world of online dating, I won’t count it out either, because I think the most important thing to remember when it comes to dating is to be open and honest. Open, that is, to the opportunity to find love anywhere, in a variety of different scenarios, even ones that might seem impossible. And honest in that no matter where you are or who you’re talking to, you are being yourself. Because in many cases, the people you meet on and offline are just like you. They have friends getting married and having babies, they have family members pressuring them to do the same, and they may or may not have eggs that they fear are dying. So give them a chance. Give you a chance. Take a swipe at love and see where you end up.

How to Recreate the Princess Diaries Painting

This is Mia Thermopolis:

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In 2001, during a casual visit from her grandma, she learned she was the heir to the throne of Genovia. Some things happened, Mia got a makeover and made her grandma try a hot dog, and then she made out with her best friend’s brother at a royal ball.

Amidst all these intense life changes, Mia and her mom did one of the greatest art projects of all time, and this past weekend, my friends and I aimed to recreate it.

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First order of business, we needed a location. Unlike Mia and her mother, I, like many others, don’t live in an old firehouse, meaning I don’t have a corner of said firehouse to drape drop cloths over and start going to town. Also, I’m pretty sure “dart painting” isn’t covered in any sort of renter’s insurance. So, I turned to my parents who not only support my crazy ideas, but also tend to have a few of their own, and they were gracious enough to offer up their backyard. My dad set up two EZ-up shades, hung three tarps, and lay one big patch of canvas on the ground, giving us shelter from the sun and the yard shelter from collateral paint splatter.

Speaking of paint, how the hell do you get paint in balloons? 

We tried a few different techniques, with varying levels of success, but all in all this was the best:

Next was the issue of hanging the canvas. In the movie, Mia and her mom have a huge canvas propped up against an easel. But when I first looked into this project, I almost immediately nixed the idea of doing the piece to size. I was thinking more a series of smaller, wrapped canvases. If you’ve ever worked with wrapped canvas, however, you’ll know that it’s relatively thin. So if we were to simply prop it up on an easel and throw darts at it, we would almost certainly end up with a ripped canvas and a dart in the sliding glass door, neither of which I was interested in.

In my research to combat this, I read a few different suggestions including cardboard and styrofoam backings, and while I’m sure they are completely viable options, I think the real key here is to have a machinist father. After getting wind of this project, my dad’s mind went to work creating and calculating a simple setup. Long story short, it ain’t that simple. Well, it is but more in the way that fractions are simple when you see your teacher do them in class and you assume you can just go home and do them no problem. Or, in this case, when you suggest that wood might be a good backer for the canvas and then your dad casually creates a six foot high apparatus with perfectly sized wood cutouts and detachable tabs to lock your canvas in place.

Note: the following picture was taken after we’d done a few rounds, but please just take a second to appreciate mastermind dad-stermind of this thing: 

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I realize I’m a terrible DIY-er because I don’t have a tutorial on how to make this wood apparatus, but I feel like the only way to truly explain how this was done would be to give you my dad’s brain and I just don’t feel like diving into the black market at this point. Apologies.

Besides I’m sure there are a lot of different ways this can be done, and I encourage you to pursue any and all of them because once you get the setup out of the way, LIFE. GETS. EXCITING.

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I swear to you, after you throw your first dart, every problem besides hitting a balloon with that dart immediately melts away.  My friends and I were standing out there in the 90 degree heat, literally dripping sweat and probably teetering on dehydration, but nothing and I mean NOTHING was going to stop us from popping those damn balloons. And it never got boring. With every successful hit, we cheered just as long and loud as if it were the first. It was essentially two straight hours of this:

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As an added bonus, after doing a few canvases we noticed that the splash zone on the ground below provided it’s own template of sorts. So every time we hung a new canvas on the wall, we also placed one on the floor to collect some residual splatter, which gave us pieces like these:

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Overall, we probably made about 12 different pieces (my dad found a really good deal on canvases here) which allowed everyone to take home their favorite. On the last piece, we had a few stubborn balloons that none of us could seem to hit, so we teamed up and fired at will.

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I would recommend this project to anyone and everyone. It’s the perfect way to feel 12 years old again, except this time you get to drink beer and listen to music with the occasional explicit lyric and aren’t crippled by the awkwardness of puberty. It’s a win win win win.

If I were to sum this up DIY-blogger style, I’d give you this list of ingredients:

  • canvases (we used 16×20)
  • water balloons
  • push pins
  • any kind of paint (we used acrylic & satin)
  • water bottles with spouts (see above video)
  • a dad-stermind wood apparatus or acceptable equivalent
  • beer or an acceptably refreshing equivalent
  • a good group of people
  • patience
  • good music

Then I’d leave you with this last image of a few of our masterpieces to stir up a healthy combination of jealousy and inspiration inside you:

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But seeing as I’m not really known for my DIY blogging, I’m instead going to close with this picture, which is the aftermath of my sister hitting a sizable balloon dead-on and turning around to show us a near perfect square of paint that shot out and landed on her lip. I think it better captures the theme of the whole day which was quite simply: anything is a canvas. By the end of our day, alongside our 12 canvases, we’d also painted the detachable wooden tabs, we’d marveled at the colors on the drop cloths, and we’d laughed at the paint all over our hands and feet. Throughout the project, everything had become art, including us, and I walked away feeling inspired to create more. I encourage you to do the same, be it with water balloons full of paint or anything else you can get your hands, eyes, or feet on. Just get out there and get dirty! …with inspiration! …you know what I mean.

I Completed Every Daily Fitbit Challenge for a Week & This is What Happened

About a year ago I got a Fitbit for my birthday, and like most people I spent the first few months OBSESSED with getting 10,000 steps each day. It was all very exciting. Once you hit it, your Fitbit vibrates and puts up a graphic of fireworks and congratulates you and you basically feel like the most athletic person ever.

But then, at about 4 months in, I kind of stopped caring. Sure, I still checked in with the weekly reports sent to your email, and when a friend checked their steps, I checked mine, but the initial allure wore off.

After that I went through spurts of achiever/non-achiever mind set.

“I will hit 10,000 steps EVERY DAY THIS WEEK!”

“I got two out of seven, that’s good enough for me.”

And from there, I went completely nuts and decided I needed to achieve everything for no apparent reason. Enter The Ultimate Fit Bit Week, a challenge I—to the best of my knowledge—invented essentially just to torture myself. Allow me to explain.

This is the home screen of the Fitbit mobile app:

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As you can see it’s broken into 4* main categories: steps, miles, calories burned, and active minutes, followed by weekly exercise and steps per hour. There is also sleep and weight change, but since those are on the more unpredictable side, for this challenge I decided to ignore them.

(*Note: I’m using an Alta, if you have a newer Fitbit, there’s a 5th main category for floors)

When you buy a Fitbit, you create a profile that determines a good target goal for each of the categories, and when you reach it, the section lights up green.

My target goals for each day are: 10,000 steps, 5 miles, 2184 calories, and 30 active minutes.

I’ve hit all of these before and seen all the circles turn green, especially in those first few months. I’ve also achieved 5 of 5 days in the “weekly exercise” category, which I fondly refer to as “pentagon-ing,”and gotten 9 of 9 hours with 250+ steps, which I call “making a step rainbow.” (I’m very adult.) However, I’ve never hit every single one of these, every day of the week.  So, similar to Mirror Mode—shout out to all my fellow Mario Kart junkies out there—I wanted to know if anything happened if you completed them all for an entire week. This is how it went:

Day 1

At 9:50 Monday morning, my Fitbit vibrated on my wrist, indicating I had 10 minutes left to get 250 steps in the 9 o’clock hour. I work in an office and spend most of my day sitting at my desk, so usually when I get this hourly reminder I just look at it, shrug, then go back to typing. Today however, I knew that even one missed hour would result in a failed attempt at this challenge, so I dragged my butt out of my seat and up the stairs to inventory.

Working in a very small, family owned company, the boss of which is my dad, I have somewhat of an advantage when it comes to workday mobility. So when I got up without warning and paced around the upstairs storage room until my Fitbit vibrated again with a “you did it!” notification, no one in the office blinked an eye. Regardless, when the 10:50 and 11:50 reminders came around, I still felt a little self-conscious, so I tip-toed up the stairs and treaded lightly on the second story, hopeful I didn’t bother anyone using the last 10 minutes of their hour to, you know, work.

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At 2:50, I did my final upstairs lap of the day because I leave at 3 o’clock to make my daily 3:30 delivery to a customer downtown. I worried about my commute home. It always took me a solid 20-30 minutes, which would mean that the 3:50 reminder would most likely come while I was still in the car. One hour later, when my theory proved to be correct, I flipped through the radio, found Taylor Swift’s new single “Look What You Made Me Do” and I danced a little harder than usual. We’re talking intense hand gestures. I assume surrounding patrons probably thought I was either lecturing someone on a hands-free device or certifiably insane. You can call this cheating if you want, I call it working with what I had.

One thing I wasn’t worried about each day was the total steps and miles. Since I’m currently in training for an entirely different goal I set for myself, I run about 5 miles each day, making those two milestones easy to reach. The calories were another story. Sure, I’d burn a lot while running, but 2,184 is a strange number, and exercise is a stingy bitch, so when I still had 300 calories left to burn and 0 plans of anymore physical activity Monday night, I was a little worried. As a result, when a few friends came over, I made sure to talk with a subtle increase in animation. I also took longer routes to the refrigerator and the bathroom, and danced while I was brushing my teeth.

When I lay down in bed, I opened my Fitbit app and was excited to find 5 green circles, a fully formed step rainbow, and the first notch in my pentagon. Soon after, I fell hard asleep, but not before groaning that I had to do all of this again, for six more days. What the hell was I thinking?

Day 2

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You know those Snapchats you take on a night out that seem like a great idea at the time, but then the next day you rewatch them and curse yourself for ever hitting record? That’s kind of how I felt when the 9:50 reminder vibrated on my wrist Tuesday morning. I was already over being a slave to my Fitbit and was completely annoyed with myself for setting this goal in the first place. Who cared if I did this anyway? I could give up, no one would know the difference. Before I could commit to the quit however, I was upstairs, pacing.

After work, I was at my parents’ house, visiting with my mom. We were slouched in recliners, cursing the 107° heat, when my 4:50 reminder went off. In an instant I was out of my chair, walking frantically around the living room. “Don’t mind me,” I said, “just trying to get my steps in.” I’d told her what I was trying to do, so after a blink or two, she continued our conversation, completely unfazed, unlike the two dogs, who watched with palpable concern.

Day 3

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Since I was already growing tired of the storage room, I decided I’d try a few new routes on Wednesday. At 11:50, when my just-before-lunch reminder went off on my Fitbit, I decided to walk to the bathroom, pee, wash my hands, and then pace around until I got my victory notification.

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This would prove to be a terrible idea, as our bathroom is probably about 6ft x 6ft, which leaves absolutely no space to pace. I felt like I was in a prison cell trying to walk off a mental breakdown. I also got self-conscious that I was in the bathroom too long, which might lead my coworkers to think I was working through some other issues. This led my mind on a fictitious tangent where I reasoned with them, saying hey, everyone poops and there shouldn’t be any shame in that, but upon realizing where my brain had wandered as I continued to pace, I laughed out loud which in turn made me realize, maybe I really was working through some issues, just not the second kind, if you catch my drift.

Day 4

IMG_2515At 10:56 I looked down at my wrist and realized that I hadn’t received a step reminder. I was sitting at my desk sorting through bills, knee deep in removed staples and residual pen ink, and I jumped up and started pacing. Had I missed it? Had I subconsciously ignored it? How many steps did I need?  WAS I GOING TO FAIL THIS DAMN CHALLENGE BECAUSE OF A $15 INVOICE FROM UPS?!? I frantically opened the Fitbit app on my phone and swiped down to make it sync with the Alta on my wrist. 10:57. COME ON DAMNIT. I calculated how fast I could run up the stairs and do suicide sprints up and back on the inventory floor. 10:58. I stared hard at the step rainbow which, being only one hour into the day, was merely a dot. The 9 o’clock dot glowed pink, while 10 o’clock blinked gray. 10:59. The page shifted up, signaling a successful sync, and suddenly the dot turned pink. I put my head down on the desk and exhaled hard and long. Then I scooted my rolling chair back into place, and continued working through my stack of bills with an abnormally elevated heart rate.

Day 5

IMG_2516This morning I woke up with a baby headache behind my eye which, for me, is not a good sign. My body has a way of turning baby headaches into full grown adult with a Ph. D and a husband headaches in no time at all. As a result, I took my morning pretty slow, calculating whether the Excedrin I took with my breakfast was going to be enough for me to make it into work rather than use one of my sick days. A day off sounds nice, I thought. I pictured myself bathing in a constant flow of movies and A/C. I could stay in my pajamas and nap off and on all day long. The image had me all but convinced and my fingers hovering above an iMessage draft.  But then the other part of my brain kicked in. The determined part. The part that didn’t want to forfeit this stupid challenge and have to start again—because let’s be honest, I would. So, I told myself the headache wasn’t that bad. It would pass. I just had to give it time. Then I had to get back to business, and by business I meant aimless pacing on the second floor until the slave driver attached to my wrist cleared me for another hour of service. Thankfully, the headache did pass around 10, giving me enough brain capacity to count the number of laps needed to get those 250 steps. (FYI to my fellow Fitbit-ted coworkers: it’s 13.)

Day 6

You’d think a member of my family’s life hung on the completion of this challenge the way I slept Friday night. I woke up again and again, sure I’d slept past the 9:50 step reminder, even though I set not one, not two, but THREE separate alarms to ensure that I didn’t. When I finally did get up—at 9:00 am—I quickly got a text from my mom asking if I wanted to go to breakfast. This ended up being a set up for my brother—who just recently went away to college—to surprise me for my upcoming birthday. It was all great fun, until the 10:50 reminder vibrated on my wrist and I had to briefly check out of conversation and wiggle my wrist under the table until I got the follow up “way to go!” notification. Again, you can call this cheating if you want, I call it not making a (big) scene at the restaurant that your brother lurked the perimeter of to find the right angle to surprise you in.

IMG_2517The rest of the day went pretty smoothly. It was my first day of the challenge spent at home rather than work, but I was still diligent in getting up and getting my steps in every hour. That night, I went out to dinner with my family and arrived home around 9:45 feeling about as fat and happy as one can get. Then I remembered I hadn’t run that day, meaning I didn’t automatically have my 5 miles logged, my 10,000 steps clocked, or my 2184 calories burned. I opened the app in a panic and found that I needed 1,500 steps, 1.2 miles, and 300 calories. So, I got to work. I kicked off the boots I wore to dinner and started running, yes running around my living room. It was quite the upgrade from my inventory pace, not only because I got to do it barefoot while watching Prison Break, but also because I realized if you were to look at the quasi jogging path—a.k.a the trail that started at the living room TV, wrapped around the coffee table and the couch then went through the dining room to the front door—from an aerial view, I was pretty sure it resembled a T-rex, and so I was all for it.

Day 7

As irreverent as this may seem, I was partially relieved to have church on my agenda for Sunday morning because it guaranteed I’d be up in time for the 9:50 reminder. I did my best not to think about it too much during service however, for I feared that would be too clear a sign that I really had become a slave to this thing. After service, as I was saying my usual hellos, how are yous and have a good Sundays, I felt the 11:50 reminder vibrate and my entire mood shifted. I subconsciously started to lean towards the door, something I wouldn’t notice until a conversation ended and I would nearly lose my footing as I carried on towards the parking lot. I also walked at an alarming pace. “I have to keep moving!” I said in a panicked whisper to my sister as she slowed to say hello to a friend holding a newborn. “Very cute baby,” I said in passing, something I knew I’d be ashamed of later when I realized my tone resembled that of an acquaintance commenting on your new curtains rather than a longtime friend complimenting your living, breathing infant son.

IMG_2518After I got my run in for the day, I sat down to eat lunch and looked longingly at the clock. It was 2:30, meaning I only had 3 hours left of this thing. I turned on Food Network and settled into the recliner, relieved I’d already met the step requirement for the 2 o’clock hour. As I continued to sit however, I felt my eyes get heavy. My body had sunk deep into the soft fabric of the chair and the sun had moved behind a cloud, making my living room darker than usual. A nap sounds good, I thought. Just a tiny one. But just as my eyes began to submit to sleep, my brain screamed itself awake. WE CAN NAP LATER, BITCH. I opened one eye and looked up at the clock on the wall. Somehow it was already 3:15, a mere 35 minutes from the 3:50 step reminder. With the way I nap, I have no doubts I would have slept right through it, leaving the challenge a mere 98% completed and requiring me to start over. Thankfully, I’m a neurotic crazy person whose dreams consisted of little else than this damn challenge for 7 straight days. So, I got up, I made myself busy, and when, at 5:54, I got the “way to go!” notification that officially marked this challenge complete, I cheersed myself with a beer and took a nice long swig, vowing I’d never do this again.

fit bit week

fun fact: when you get your active minutes for all seven days, you *heptagon* which is far superior to pentagon-ing, if I do say so myself. 

All in all, I think I’d file this experience in the “glad I did it, but don’t need to do it again” category. Putting aside the aforementioned cons, one of the biggest pros was how much better I felt at the end of the work day because I forced myself to get up and move around every hour. While I know we all don’t have an inventory room to pace around, I would recommend finding a balance between sitting and moving during the work day. Just take a few moments to remind your legs that they’re legs, you know?

Oh, and for those of you who are wondering, nothing actually happens when you complete this challenge. There’s no mirror mode. There’s no Fitbit executive waiting in the wings to congratulate you for being the best Fitbit-er EVER. No, there’s just you, a beer, an overwhelming sense of relief, and the freedom to take the best damn nap of your life.