My Life

Does the vague name make it sound more edgy?

An (Understandably) Interrupted Weekend at Spring Training

Last year my family and I took our first trip to Spring Training in Arizona. Almost immediately upon arriving home, we started researching details for our second (and hopefully yearly) trip. By July, we had our Airbnb booked, by January we had all of our game tickets purchased, and by February I had a countdown written on the refrigerator.

39 days to go!

And for 39 looong days, I counted down, one by one, erasing and rewriting until we were finally walking out the door to make our Wednesday night flight.

In our Uber ride to the airport, the conversation centered heavily on COVID-19, and the toll it was taking on both the health and sanity of the world at large. We told our driver we were happy to be getting away from the hysteria for a little while, and he nodded enthusiastically, saying that focusing on the people you love is important in times like these.

When we landed in Phoenix a few hours later, my sister, Natalee, and I could hardly contain our excitement. We walked into the doors of our AirBnb and hugged our parents, and our friends Darryl, DeeDee and Cody, each of us buzzing about finally making it back here, together, a year later.

The next morning, we all walked out in our gear—my family repping the Dodgers, and the Beliel’s repping the Mariners. Our initial fears were that it might rain, but when notifications started to come in about the NBA pausing their season, and then the NHL, there was an entirely new concern hovering over us.

Still, we piled into the car and drove to Surprise Stadium to watch the Mariners play the Royals. We arrived about a half hour early, which gave us some time to pace, and play a few rounds of Heads Up! before hearing the rumblings that the game was going to be cancelled. But then, at 11:30 a.m. the gates opened, we walked inside and immediately shifted our thoughts to lunch. Before we could all decide on anything however, an announcement came over the loud speaker to inform us that the game had been cancelled—along with the remainder of all Spring Training games.

Not fully accepting what that meant for us, we got back in the car and went to Top Golf to try and make something of the day. When we got there, it appeared that everyone in a 20-mile radius (and baseball gear) had had the same thought, making the wait time over two hours. So, we put our name in and went out to lunch, where we all took tequila shots, watched a basketball game from the 1996 March Madness tournament (because all current sports were cancelled) and I spilled most of my drink on me, Cody and our booth bench, making our day (which had started out as hopeful and exciting) go from sad to sticky (and cold).

Sorry.

Around 3 o’clock, our bay at Top Golf was ready, so we headed back to golf for a few hours, which was both fun and difficult, especially when we decided to each try and hit a few balls wearing my sister’s glasses, which could make anyone dizzy. For me personally, they made my left eye feel like it was in the center of my forehead, which made the waiting golf ball split into two. Miraculously, I still hit it, where it landed however, I couldn’t tell you.

On our way back to the Airbnb, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up some supplies for dinner, and then settled in for the night. Aside from dinner, my sister had put together plans to celebrate the 30th wedding anniversary of both our parents and Darryl and DeeDee—we had even stopped at the airport gift shop to find the strangest most wonderful trinkets that could act as prizes for the winners.

During the three rounds of the game, Natalee acted as host, and Cody and I acted as her judges and color commentators. And though it wasn’t necessary,  we went by aliases—Laura, Lisa & Lance—which we decided on solely because we saw this Dick’s Sporting Goods commercial, and then took a hard tangent into researching the inventors of the first sports bra. (Fun fact: it was invented in 1977 by Lisa Lindahl—hence our “L” named alter egos—Polly Smith, and Hinda Miller, by sewing two jock straps together, and was initially called the “jogbra.”) It should also be noted that my parents won the game, though not before one question revealed that my mother would be the first to eat my dad in order to survive on a desert island. So there’s that.

On Friday, the group of us woke up with a noticeable weight on our shoulders. While it was clear we were all trying to make the best of the weekend, the widespread panic regarding COVID-19, and our mostly unspoken worries of what the situation would be like back home, were heavy in the air. Conversation was quiet at lunch, even as we sat in a BBQ restaurant that had a 60,000 gallon aquarium inside—though I did take a few moments to name one of the sharks “Luke.” To top it all off, it was a very rainy, dreary day, so after leaving the restaurant, we nixed our plans of visiting the zoo next door and instead went back home. After that, the day mostly consisted of lounging, napping, and quiet conversations. And while I think it made us all a little sad, frustrated even that the weekend wasn’t turning out quite how we hoped it would, I also think we knew were lucky to have each other.

This only became more apparent when we went back to the grocery store that night. We went thinking we could grab some wine and a few ingredients to make cookies for dessert, only to find that, on top of the now infamously empty toilet paper shelves, there was also no flour, and only a couple cartons of eggs—one of which we ended up taking, but only after discarding the broken eggs inside. In fact, many aisles lay bare, some hard to make sense of. Walking through the grocery store, it was obvious that the panic we had previously only heard about on the news, was now right in front of us, slowly surrounding us everywhere we went. I started to think about the supplies I had back home, and whether they would suffice for the coming weeks. I started texting friends, asking how they were, trying to squash the anxiety that started to flutter at the bottom of my stomach. We still had a couple days left in Arizona, but the discomfort that had dawned with the morning had only multiplied as the day went on.

As we stood in line at the grocery store, I noticed how everyone still remained in somewhat organized lines, no matter how long, and that we were still, for the most part, kind and polite. I hoped that we’d all remain aware and respectful of our fellow man in the weeks to come, and that we wouldn’t let this panic turn into chaos. Then, in the cart in front of us, a baby smiled at me and my mom, and for a moment I forgot about absolutely everything.

The next day, we got up bright and early to head back to the zoo. And while the grounds were still a little muddy from the day before, we got to take our time walking from exhibit to exhibit, soaking in some Vitamin D, and learning about the surprisingly diverse animal population at Litchfield Park’s Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium.

Afterward, we headed to lunch at the Arrogant Butcher, which would serve as our last sit down meal as a group. Later that afternoon, Cody would fly home, and the next morning, after dropping Darryl and DeeDee off at the airport to do the same, my family and I would make the six hour drive back to California in my dad’s truck.

By the time we all arrived home, it was obvious that the weekend was not quite what we had hoped. While there were some great parts, overall, we lacked the magic (and Mel) that had made the previous year so perfect. Going into it, we’d hoped to put the troubles of the world aside, but it quickly became clear that we couldn’t do that. Unlike most vacations, where the responsibilities of the world can fade into the background, this trip was riddled with calls (and texts and emails and news reports) from the real world, demanding we hear them no matter where we were. So as we all went our separate ways and tried prepare for the week ahead, we agreed that we would try again next year.

As I sit here, writing about the weekend, I have no idea what to expect going into this workweek. I don’t know what the state of the world will look like in a month, let alone next March when, if we’re lucky, we might find ourselves counting down for another trip to Spring Training. What I do know is that I am very fortunate.  Times like these make you realize how much you take for granted, and how much you already have, regardless of your dwindling supply of toilet paper. So let’s not lose sight of that as we step into these unknown few months.

Let us remember how lucky we are to have people who love us. Let us hold tight to the world we know, and fight not with each other but for each other, to get back to that world. Let us take it one day at a time, never allowing the fear to overshadow our innate human goodness.

We can get through this together if we go through it together. So let’s take a deep breath, take the necessary cautionary steps, help each other where we can, and get through it.

My First Dollar

There comes a time in every mogul’s life when they realize that they’ve made it.

It’s the moment when things start to change. When the finer things in life become the average, every day things, and when price tags become less of a barrier and more of a formality.

For some, reaching this milestone is not only a point of pride, but a reason to look back. To reach out and share what they’ve learned with others on a similar path. After all, they know what that path was like, how long and winding. And now that they are in the place their mentors once stood, they want to take on that role. They want to be the one reaching their hand out to help, both literally, and via shareable quotes on Instagram.

And so friends, that’s why I’m here today.

Because I, unbelievably, once stood exactly where you are.

One day not so long ago (as in two weeks ago), I too was looking every which way, wondering how I could move up, move forward, do more, be more, be worth more.

But then, with some steadfast research (and a small fee) I upgraded my blogging account, okayed the additions of advertisements at the bottom of each of my posts, and just like that, I was on the road to wealth.

I knew it could take time, but I didn’t anticipate dinero knocking at my door so soon.

Oh, but it did.

Yes friends, as of yesterday, I have officially earned my first dollar.

What once was dust and a dream, is now one hundredth of one hundred dollars.

So be not discouraged, young Padawans, for I was once just like you, and now look at me—not directly, though, I’ve heard the reflection off diamonds and gold can be quite harsh on the eyes.

While I seem to have dove headfirst into glitz and glamour, I swear to you, friends, family, fans, admirers, mentees, etc., I won’t let wealth and fame change me. I will always remember where I came from. And I will always remember who scrolled to the bottom of each post to see the ads they had no interest in clicking on, thus earning me a fraction of a fraction of a penny.

Thank you for your scrolling.

Thank you for reading.

And thank you for this lush life I now get to call my own.

They say you shouldn’t spend all of your money in one place, but I’ve worked long and hard to get here, and I’ve got my eye on a pack of gum. So what the hell?

My Quest to Find a Morning Routine (Part 1)

I am not a morning person.

Well, I shouldn’t say that. I am not a weekday morning person. I am a weekend morning person—but that’s only because I often get to wake up without an alarm and do anything I want with my day.

Those weekdays though. They are brutal.

Even when I put in the effort to get a good night’s sleep beforehand, when my work alarm goes off, I feel like death—often provoking me to press snooze. And while yes, I know it’s been scientifically proven that pressing snooze is not good for you and ultimately makes you feel more tired, I do it anyway. And when I wake up 15 minutes later feeling 100% more tired than I did before, I press snooze again, and again, until I have left exactly enough time (as long as there are no missteps or tangents) for me to get ready, make my lunch and get to work on time.

It’s a viscous cycle, my friends. One that I’ve been wanting to break for a long time now.

And so, finally, that is what I am setting out to do.

For the month of March, I’ve decided that I am going to try to find a morning routine that will encourage me to break my snoozing habit and start each morning on a better note. I want to find the energy for weekdays that I have on weekends when I wake up with the sun and blast old Marah Carey songs on Spotify. I want Saturday morning Kim to become every day Kim. It is a lofty goal, but I am willing to try.

Before I dive in, I thought it would be helpful to write out the “routine” I have now, so I can get a realistic idea of if/how much time I have to fit in anything new, or if perhaps my real goal should simply be to figure out how I can do what I already do, without pressing snooze and forcing myself to get ready at a near jogging pace.

So, as of now, this is what my average morning routine looks like:

-6:30 a.m. Work alarm goes off.

-Snooze alarm (twice) until 6:55 a.m. (Oops.)

-Make bed

-Brush teeth.

-Wash Face.

-Apply Moisturizer.

-Turn on a podcast.

-Get dressed (I’m just realizing I always put my socks on first, is that weird?)

-Put on makeup and try my best with my hair

-7:20 a.m. (on a GOOD DAY) Head downstairs to make lunch, fill water bottle, take vitamins and grab a breakfast to go.

-7:30 a.m. Leave for work.

Okay, so it’s clear that I consistently leave myself time to do the necessities and absolutely nothing else. Thus, if I even want to have a chance at adding anything new (or making any corrections) I first need to stop snoozing my alarm. This comes as no real surprise, but I was also secretly hoping I would determine I was perfect and call it a day.

I have often tried to correct my snoozing habit by grabbing my phone to scroll through social media (while still laying down), thinking it will wake me up. But this almost always puts me back to sleep—phone in hand—until my alarm goes off again. For the last few months however, I have been using Downtime on my phone (which I mentioned in this favorites post) and that keeps almost all of my apps locked until 7:20 a.m. As a result, with little ability to check anything except my email and the weather, I just hit snooze and go right back to sleep. Then, when I ultimately wake up late, I feel frustrated with myself, and when I follow that up with 30 minutes of frantically getting ready, I don’t really give myself a fair shot at starting the day off right.

Which brings me to the Internet.

I currently have about 10 windows open, each primed with tips on how to perfect your morning routine. In skimming through them, I’ve found that most recommend a combination of the following:

-Eat a good breakfast

-Exercise

-Meditate

-Recite affirmations and/or set intentions

-Connect to gratitude

-Read and/or journal

Of these, I only consistently (read: ever) do two.

I love this overnight oat recipe and almost always have a few made ahead in my refrigerator—making the “grab breakfast on the go” portion of my morning much easier. I also always turn on a podcast to listen to while I’m getting ready. But while the other suggestions are wonderful, and undoubtedly beneficial to some, to be honest, most of them don’t interest me.

To quickly run through them: I personally prefer to exercise in the afternoon and journal/gratitude check at night, I would 100% fall asleep while meditating and/or reading first thing after I woke up, and though intentions and affirmations are wonderful, my brain (especially my weekday brain) needs time to warm up.

Some other suggestions included having a cup of coffee or tea (neither of which I drink) and talking to a friend or loved one (which I sometimes actively avoid first thing in the morning.) So while I’m looking for some advice, I’m also trying to be realistic about what would benefit me and what wouldn’t.

I’m also trying to avoid giving myself a to-do list. As a lover of lists, I know the pressure I would put on myself to complete one, and the regret and devastation I would feel each morning when I didn’t get it done. So instead of giving myself a list of chores to complete, I am really trying to hone in on the word routine. I want to find a routine that feels natural, that flows, makes me feel good, and doesn’t make me yell threatening things at other morning drivers—or, ideally, makes me do this less.

With that in mind, rather than trying to convert my routine into one that is identical to those that are “scientifically backed” or “used by successful billionaires” I only wrote down ideas (especially from this article) that interested me, and I’m going to see if/how they can fit into my already established “routine”.

Here are a few ideas that I liked:

Dream journal: I am prone to strange and vivid dreams, and I have often wanted to keep better track of them, both because I’m curious and because maybe I should be studied.

Stretch: I often feel stiff once I get to work, and then I spend the day sitting at my computer, making me feel more stiff. So I’m thinking a low-key stretch routine that I can do in my pajamas might help start me the day on the right foot.

Review your schedule/to-do list for the day: For this one, it is recommended to write out a schedule or ideal to-list for your day the night before and then review it when you wake up. I like this idea because it takes a little while for my brain to warm up in the morning, and oftentimes I’ll find myself scrambling through my mind for things I may have forgotten. This could serve as my own personal recap, similar to the way television shows replay scenes from the previous week’s episode. Previously on Kim’s thought process…

Do a crossword puzzle: The New York Times app has a small, daily crossword puzzle that I like but often forget about, and I think it could be a good way to get my brain working—as long as I sit up to do it.

Try SmartWake: I often wear my FitBit Versa to bed, and it has a setting called SmartWake that you can turn on with any alarm. Once set, it will wake you up between sleep cycles within a half hour of your desired wake up time, making it less likely for you to wake up groggy and tired.

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So, this is my jumping off point.

Over the next month, I will try out these ideas/strategies and see if/how they affect my morning routine. I will also continue to do research to see what other ideas are out there.

Here’s hoping one of them can get me up without hitting snooze and, finally, let me (at least kind of) take my time in the morning.

I’ll keep you posted.

I Can’t Believe You Kept This

I have a scrapbook in my room filled with paper souvenirs that I’ve collected both from vacations, events, and the average, seemingly ordinary days. I have wristbands from concerts and boarding passes from flights. I have a sticker from the first time I gave blood and a parking ticket from the City of Vancouver. I have birthday cards, receipts from fun bars and ticket stubs from nearly every movie I’ve seen in theaters. But my favorite things, and the ones I collect most, are notes.

I don’t just mean the heartfelt, emotional letters, or the funny, memory filled anecdotes— some of my most prized possessions are the simple scribbles, written on post it notes, scraps of paper, or whatever happened to be in reach. I love the way that notes can bring simple moments back to life, and the way someone’s handwriting can give their words a voice, no matter how long it may have been since you’ve heard it.

By all accounts, I am a hoarder of notes. I’ll keep them whether they say “I love you” or “we’re out of milk.” I have notes written on napkins, drawings from hotel notepads, and a birthday message written on the back of an envelope. On one page in my scrapbook, I have a few sheets of paper covered in check marks, hearts, and the letter w, that came from a night when my roommates and I sat at the kitchen table together, fascinated by the different mechanics of our handwriting.

Each of the notes can take me back to when I got it. Sometimes in vivid detail, other times with only blurry recollection. I might not remember what I was wearing or what else might have happened that day, but I can connect to that moment and to the feeling I had when the note was written. And I love being able to share those moments with my friends and family, and watching as their faces light up in recognition.

“I can’t believe you kept this,” they say.

But as we reconnect all the dots surrounding the day and moment in question, and we smile and laugh as we unlock the memories that had long faded into the background, I think we both realize that this is why.

So don’t mind me as I steal this paper menu from your wedding, or this napkin we doodled on at dinner, or this map from the day we spent at the zoo. It just means I found a little goodness here and I want to keep that goodness.

For Laycee

This past weekend my family lost our dog, Laycee, who was a vibrant, beautiful member of our family for nine years. It was a hard day, one that we’d dreaded, but ultimately knew had to come, and we are happy to know that she lived a good life, full of love, both given and received.

When thinking about how I could honor Laycee, and the love that we all receive from pets that come into our lives at just the right time, I knew I had to turn to my sister Natalee. She had such a special relationship with Laycee, that my mom often interchanged their names in conversation. They were destined for each other, and just as any love story changes the world, so too did theirs. And so, as a final goodbye to our pretty girl, I wanted Natalee to tell their story.

This is what she wrote:

 

To My Perfect Angel,

It was a chilly day in early December of 2010. My whole family piled in to the car and set out on what ended up being a long, confusing drive. I don’t even remember the story my parents told us about where we were going, but I do remember feeling slightly concerned that the deserted, off the beaten path location we eventually found ourselves in might be the place of the Koehn family’s demise. I later found out Kim and our brother Troy were feeling the same way. Much to our delight, however, we soon learned that our parents had pulled a fast one on us! We hadn’t driven out there to meet our doom, we had driven out there to get our first family dog!

Soon we were flooded with the exciting and overwhelming scene of dogs barking, tails wagging and eyes begging to be chosen. I remember being in total disbelief. I had wanted and asked for a dog for SO long. I couldn’t believe we were actually getting one! We immediately dispersed and started looking for the one we would take home with us. Troy liked a black lab with giant paws and an even bigger personality. Kim loved all of them. I had no idea how I would ever walk out of there with just one.

 Until you walked over to me.

 With your head slumped down and your whole body shaking, you walked up to me, you let me pet you, and you stole my heart. My whole family saw the instant connection, and not 10 minutes later we were walking back to the car with you in my arms.

I know it sounds cliché, but that day changed my life. It was the beginning of winter break in my senior year of high school, and those days were truly some of my worst. I was in a dark place, and the punches were only just starting to be thrown my way. But you made all the difference. No matter what happened during the day, I had a loyal, loving, anxious little angel waiting for me at home, never questioning my character or making me feel like I wasn’t worth anything. I had a companion. Trust wasn’t an easy thing for either of us, but I had yours, and you had mine.

As it turns out, my parents knew what they were doing all those years they said no to letting me have a dog. They knew the right time, and the right pup, would come along. And for me, that was and will always be you. See you soon my precious angel. I’ll love you forever.

I Got My Wisdom Teeth Out (Again)

Fun fact about me: I have wonky teeth.

I wore braces throughout most of high school, and then after getting them off, I had one tooth go so rogue that I had to put them back on for a year in college.

When I was about 15 years old, I went in to get my wisdom teeth removed. While I had four, the dentist decided it was best to only remove the bottom two, because they were drilling a hole in the roof of my mouth to pull one of my teeth down from somewhere I can only describe as oblivion. (That’s another story.)

At the time, I can imagine they thought they were saving me from total mouth trauma, but I kind of wish they would have just gone for it. If they had, maybe I wouldn’t have found myself back at the dentist, almost 15 years later, hearing that my top two wisdom teeth were coming in (sideways, I might add) and that I needed to get them removed as soon as possible.

Sitting in the chair before the surgery this past Tuesday, I was nervous, but trying my best to look calm. I clutched onto my sweatshirt, which I’d been required to take off so they could put a blood pressure monitor on one arm and an IV in the other. The nurse told me I could keep the sweatshirt on my lap, so that after I woke up I could slip it right back on.

“Okay,” I said, trying my best to sound nonchalant. She seemed convinced, that is until she put a heart rate monitor on my pointer finger and it alerted the entire room that my pulse was over 100. Still, I took some deep breaths and tried to smile.

WHAT IF I DIE IN THIS CHAIR? my darkest fears wondered.

“Yes, I had a good holiday,” I said aloud to the nurse.

The doctor then told me he was going to give me the medicine that would put me to sleep, and that I would probably feel lightheaded and a little groggy. I nodded, blinked a few times at the bright light above me, and then looked down at my watch, curious how close we were to the 1:30 p.m. start time, so I could see how long the surgery took to finish. My fingers fumbled with my watch a few times, but when I was finally able to read it, I saw the time said 2:20 p.m.

I also noticed I was now in a wheelchair.

And my sweatshirt was back on.

And my mom was there.

Oh, so…I guess we’re done?

Speaking to her the day after my appointment, my mom said I looked calm, peaceful even. She said I wasn’t pale, and aside from the swollen cheeks and mounds of gauze in my mouth, my coloring and overall demeanor suggested that I was doing remarkably well.

On the drive home, we stopped at McDonald’s to get me a vanilla shake (and a spoon) so I could put something in my stomach before I started taking my medication. Going through the drive thru, I widely praised my mother’s sense of direction for choosing a McDonald’s so close to the pharmacy. I also gave her a recap of what had happened, most of which surrounded the mystery of how my sweatshirt was put back on without my noticing.

“Also,” I said, disappointed and full of sass, “I can’t believe the nurse didn’t go over the post-op instructions with me.” Because even high on laughing gas and pain medication, my priorities were rules.

“She did,” my mom said, “I think you were just distracted and you didn’t hear her.”

When we pulled into the parking lot at the pharmacy, I was holding my vanilla shake.

“I’ll be right back,” my mom said, and then I nodded, watched her walk inside, and then sat there, staring forward for about 10 minutes.

Now, I don’t remember seeing anyone else in that parking lot, but I can tell you that if someone saw me, sitting stiffly and staring unflinchingly, all while holding a vanilla shake in her left hand like a prisoner, I can imagine they probably kept walking, quickly.

While sitting there, I texted my sister: “I am out and alive and everything is moving in slow motion. Also I have a vanilla shake.” 

A summary in its purest form.

Shortly after, I arrived home, where my sister was waiting with ice packs, water, and Top Ramen. After a few hours, I asked if I looked swollen.

“Only a little,” she said, maybe truthfully, maybe kindly, but then she added, “When you first got home you were very swollen.” Which only brought new life to my vanilla clad serial killer persona in the pharmacy parking lot.

As of now, I am still a little swollen, and still eat a little bit like the squirrel I appear to be, but I am on the mend. I am spending my days mostly on the couch, watching murder documentaries and a series on YouTube where celebrities get interviewed while eating hot wings, and I spend my nights dreaming about crunchy foods and the ability to open my mouth past the halfway point. By this time next week, I imagine I will be back to nearly tip top shape, though I can’t say if I’ll ever figure out who put my sweatshirt back on.

About My Closet

I own a lot of jackets.

I realize this is ridiculous because I live in Southern California where our four seasons are spring, summer, subtler summer, and summer feat. wind and occasional rain, but alas, I’m a baby, I’m always cold, and so I continue to buy jackets.

I continue to buy jackets and yet I constantly stand helpless in front of my closet convinced I don’t have the right jacket for anywhere and everywhere I might be going that needs a jacket.

While getting dressed, the internal monologue usually goes a little something like this:

Is this warm enough?

What if the wind blows and I need something thicker?

What if it rains and I need something waterproof?

Is this fancy enough?

Is this too fancy?

What kind of jacket am I supposed to wear with a dress?

Will this be too warm once we’re inside?

What if we go outside?

I mean, how cold is it?

Should I bring two jackets?

Can I layer these?

Does layering these make me look pathetic?

How worried am I about looking pathetic?

Would I rather be pathetic or warm?

Why can’t I ever be warm and cool?

Why are all the cool jackets thin and terrible?

Also, why can some people wear said thin, terrible jackets, look cool and not be popsicles?

Does this match?

Has this jacket ever matched anything?

Will anyone notice or care if I just wear the same jacket I always wear?

Screw it, I’m doing that.

For next time though, I need a new jacket.

 

And so the cycle goes continues.

A Celebratory Massage (Adventures at the Spa: Part 4)

My sister just passed her comprehensive exams for grad school, making her a certified Speech-Language Pathologist.

*pause for much deserved applause*

To celebrate her accomplishment and combat the years of hard work leading up to it, as well as the weeks and weeks of stress she went through studying for the exam, I booked massage appointments for her, my mom and I.

If you’ve been around this blog for a little while, you might know that I have had an aversion/borderline fear of massages in the past, which is why on our previous trip to the spa I opted for being swaddled in a cocoon—which you can read about here. This time around however, I was determined to go all in.

Seeing as this year has been chockFULL of calendar events, and I had been sipping on secondhand stress for my sister, I was actually in a place where a massage sounded useful. Necessary, even. So as we sat at the spa that afternoon, clad in our luxurious white robes, and already relaxed after having spent a couple hours checking out the sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi, I was only slightly nervous. And when my name was called and I was led back to the room and asked to disrobe by my very nice masseuse, Rochelle, I only awkwardly giggled once.

Then it began.

After lying on my stomach and tucking myself under the sheet, Rochelle walked back into the room and promptly pulled the sheet all the way over my head. This immediately made me feel like a corpse, which wasn’t exactly relaxing, but then I thought, is there anything more relaxing than being dead? So I went full rigor mortis and let her go to work.

Looking back at my first massage, I compared the work of the masseuse to that of a baker kneading bread. I remembered this as Rochelle started massaging my back, and I had a sudden realization that I was the bread. And when I accepted that, I realized the true key to surviving and thriving your way through a massage.

Be dead. Be bread. Get read.

That is: allow yourself to melt into the table and, for lack of a better word, DIE. Then embrace your temporary identity as a batch of dough needing…kneading. And then let the masseuse read you, i.e. go hunting for everywhere you’ve been hiding and holding stress, anxiety, and those cringy, awkward moments you’ve been trying to forget about.

Be dead. Be bread. Get read.

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Following this mantra, it was no time at all before Rochelle was telling me our 50 minutes were up. As a testament to her work, when I stood up, my legs felt like jello and my hair was sticking out in seemingly every direction. And since I was still naked, I realized I was the perfect embodiment of a troll doll.

But alas, with a smile on my face, my rubber band back in my hair, and my robe securely fastened, I walked back into the waiting room a new woman. I was relaxed, I was moisturized, and I was now a massage person.

From One to Ninety (And Beyond)

It was 12:30 p.m. and I was sitting at a table, breaking a cookie into a bite-sized pieces as I sang happy birthday to the man of the hour. With big eyes, he looked out at all of us, not sure what to think or what to do. His mom held a candle in her hand, the small flame flickering in the afternoon breeze, and she and his dad stood in front of him, encouraging him with puffed cheeks to blow. Instead he reached for the candle, noticing when we laughed, and again when his mom blew out the candle for him and we clapped. Then his eyes shifted to the cake before him and he dug in.

At 4:30 p.m. I was sitting on a couch, spooning my way through a hot fudge sundae as I talked baseball with the man of the hour. He donned a Dodger hat, and the rest of us wore jerseys, shirts, and hats to match as we all watched our favorite team play their final game of the regular season. A cool breeze snuck in the back door, making it easy for us to sit close to one another as we whispered stories or shared them with the whole room, the light and easy conversation the kind that Sunday dreams are made of. Then, with timers set and everyone in their place, we took a group picture to commemorate the day.

It was a one-year-old birthday party and a 90-year-old birthday party, back to back. My sister and I attended both, with a minor costume change in between.

As we celebrated Berkley, we watched as he pointed at balloons and curiously poked his bare feet into the grass in the backyard. We told him all the reasons there were to celebrate and looked into his beautiful eyes, excited for all that they were destined to see.

As we celebrated our grandpa, we barbequed Dodger dogs and passed around Cracker Jacks, recreating one home inside another. We glanced from cousin to aunt to sister to parent, thankful for all that my grandma and grandpa have built, and hopeful that it will only continue to grow. We hugged my grandpa, knowing 90 is not nearly as easy as one or 20 or 40 or even 89, and we looked into his beautiful eyes knowing that they’d seen so much.

I myself have had 29 birthday parties. Some have been small, some have been slightly bigger than small. Some years I feel pressure to do something special, something exciting, while other years I’m perfectly content doing absolutely nothing. All that I hope for, all that we can ever hope for, is exactly what I found at both of these birthday parties: love.

For birthdays mark both an end and a beginning, and we want that transition to be shared with people, in places, surrounded by all that we love. Over time, those people, places and things may change, but if we’re lucky, we’ll always have that love. From the time we’re only one year old and we aren’t even sure what love is, to when we’re 90 years old and we know that love is all there is.

So, to you on your birthday (whenever that may be) I wish you love. For your first birthday, Berkley, I offer you love. And for your 90th birthday, grandpa, I thank you for love. For you’ve given it to me, to all of us, and each and every year, we watch it grow.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation September Challenge

Hello and Happy September!

Hopefully you are at home or on vacation or somewhere other than work right now, blissfully living out your three day weekend and pretending that it’s going to last forever. (Fingers crossed it does.)

Personally I think September is the best month of the year, not only because I was born in it, but because it marks the start of fall—or, in Southern California, the beginning of summer part 2.

In the past, I’ve done of a few things to commemorate my birthday, and this year I’ve found something really fun. I recently came across a charity called Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. It was started by a little girl named Alex who was diagnosed with childhood cancer just after her first birthday. When she was four, she setup a lemonade stand with the mission to raise money to find a cure. Now, her legacy lives on with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation or ALSF.

For the month of September the ALSF is holding a fundraiser called the Million Mile Challenge where they are encouraging people to run, walk or bike as many miles as they can throughout the month while raising money and awareness for the charity.

I, along with some family and friends have put together a team and will be participating in the challenge. I think it will be such a fun and inspiring way to motivate us to get out and exercise while bringing awareness to such a great cause.

If you are interested in joining the challenge, you can register here.

Or, if you feel inspired to donate to our team, that would be amazing and you can do that here.

With all that being said, I hope you have a wonderful rest of your (hopefully) long weekend, pour yourself a glass of lemonade and take a nap. You’ve earned it.

As for me, I’ve got to get moving! I’ve got miles to log!