A Late September Adventure (Day 1: Bend, OR)

At 4:15 a.m. my alarm went off and my eyes blinked slowly open. Waking up seemed impossible, unbearable, illogical, but somehow I dragged myself into the bathroom, turned on the surface of the sun grade light, and brushed my teeth.

It was 6:00 when I got to the airport, and everyone seemed to be thinking the same thing as me: why the hell are we here this early? followed closely by: because the adventure ahead will be worth it.

I boarded my first flight, and almost immediately after my butt hit the seat, my eyes closed. The flight attendant walked by and tapped me on the shoulder, informing me that while I was more than welcome to sleep, I was also sitting next to the emergency exit. Me and the other three people sitting in the row were required to audibly agree to our responsibilities in case of emergency, but judging how fast the lot of us fell mouths open asleep after take off, I’d say the plane was pretty lucky they didn’t need us.

On my second flight, I was sat next to a man who immediately pulled out a laptop and began furiously typing. I pulled out my copy of The Glass Castle and read the last few chapters, all the while feeling my stomach begin to churn and my fingers begin to fidget.

The first day of any vacation is the hardest for me. Expectations run rampant through my mind, promising to be let down. I knew my best friend was waiting patiently for me on the other side of this flight and I worried that the stories I’d been waiting to tell her wouldn’t be interesting or exciting enough. What if the distance between us had made us grow apart? What if this trip wasn’t everything we’d been hoping it would be?

The captain came on the intercom and announced our initial descent into Redmond, Oregon, and for a split second I wished I could stay on the plane forever, free from all the responsibilities to satisfy, impress and succeed that awaited me on the ground. But before I knew it, the wheels hit the pavement and the plane rolled to a stop. I walked through the terminal to the baggage claim, knowing there was no turning back now.

When I stepped outside, I saw my best friend, Allison, waiting by her car, her dog Jersey’s head poking out of the back seat. A wave of relief washed over me as we made a series of nerdy jumps and squeals to close the distance between us and initiate the hug we’d been waiting 6 months for.

“How are you?!” she said, and her voice in my ear was a startling reminder that she was no longer a text message or an email or a late night notification on Instagram, she was a living breathing person that I call my best friend, and we had finally been reunited.

“So we have an interesting afternoon ahead of us,” she said once I got in the car.

“Tell me more.”

Being a producer for a news station in Bend, Oregon, and the girlfriend of an anchor for a rivaling news station, Allison had been challenged to race her boyfriend—and fight for her channel’s honor—in a heated, balls out, tricycle race.

We stopped by her house for a quick change of clothes, she squatted and mimed tricycle riding motions to ensure she’d chosen a good pair of pants, and then we drove into town, where the Bend Oktoberfest—sure, it was September and we were a bit confused, but we won’t talk about it—was in full swing.

Beer steins were in every hand, pretzels crumbs were on every face and there was one very bold man sporting lederhosen. We took a seat on the bleachers that sandwiched the 200ft tricycle course and, alongside Allison’s boyfriend Mike, stared at the incredibly small tricycles, wondering how on earth either of them would not only fit aboard, but operate them in a way that would lead to success.

The first heat of racers left the starting line, giving life to every fear we had. Grown men leaned and wobbled and one woman let out a terrified squeal. Allison and Mike shared a glance, then took their places in line, fitted themselves with a helmet, and shrugged at me with a “here goes nothing.”

In the end, neither of them came out on top. While Allison finished in a close 2nd place, Mike’s long legs proved to be his greatest enemy and a resounding reminder that he was in fact an adult trying to operate a children’s bike. We all shrugged a collective shrug, then agreed that pizza was the obvious next step.

Mod Pizza, which is a build it yourself Pie-ology/PizzaRev equivalent, proved to be the ultimate right choice for our lunching festivities. I ordered a chicken, corn, tomato, red onion and feta masterpiece, then allowed myself to be tempted by the “no name cakes” that sit next to the cash register.

Tip: Always get the No Name Cake. It’s like a freshly made Ding Dong that your taste buds need.

Back at Allison’s house, we took a seat on the couch and let the conversation start flowing. We covered the topics that sat just below the surface, shared a few current music obsessions, and looked out the window at the impending fall weather.

At 5:30, we drove over to see Mike’s 6 o’clock show, where he Ron Burgundy-ed Bend’s latest news. Allison and I sat off camera, a mere 50 feet from him, in fold up chairs. She watched with trained eyes, all too familiar with the format and production of a newscast, and I sat with my hands in tight fists, worried I might accidentally scream or sneeze or pass out and ruin the show.

Afterwards, the three of us drove out to The Bite in Tumalo, which is essentially a corner street park converted into a homey picnic area with food carts, a fire pit, corn hole, and a bar with a ton of beers on tap. We all ate at Ronin Sushi & Japanese Grill, which, bottom line was delicious, but listen to me and listen to me now. Do yourself a favor and order the Bento Box with the Japanese fried chicken. Listen to me when I tell you that anything else is a mistake. Listen to me when I tell you that while I’d previously never heard of Japanese fried chicken, it’s also safe to say I was previously living a dark and dingy life. Also, from the bar, I’d recommend the Atlas Blackberry Cider, it tastes like the mature, has-their-shit-together-cousin of red wine.

Once we were thoroughly full, though not even close to finished harping on the magic that is JFC—Japanese fried chicken, a.k.a the new, improved and as far as I’m concerned ONLY colonel of protein I’d like to associate with—Mike headed back to work to prepare for the late show and Allison and I went to McMenamins.

Now, if I had a way to explain McMenamins briefly, I would, but I feel as though that would be both dishonest to you and a disservice to McMenamins. On their Facebook page, they tag themselves as related to pubs, breweries, historic hotels, concert venues, wineries, distilleries, coffee roasters, movie theaters, golf, and spas, and honestly that should tell you everything you need to know about this place, which is that you’ll probably never know everything there is to know about this place.

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Allison took me through an outdoor cigar lounge and into a building with dark carpet and wood paneled walls.

“We’re going to find the secret bar,” she said, “but first you have to find all the other secret rooms.”

I looked up and down the hallways, seeing nothing out of the ordinary, then I looked back at her.

“The only clue I’m going to give you is blue light,” she said.

And while I’d love to be the spiller of all secrets, Internet, this is the only clue I will leave you with as well. Just know that it is actually a great clue and that there are hidden doors among the wood paneled walls that lead you into rooms like this:

As well as a hidden bar that will give you some major speakeasy feels upon discovery.

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I’d like to say I Sherlocked my way through every puzzle and celebrated with a beer at the top, but unfortunately a handful of people in front of us ended up giving away a bunch of the secrets. So after checking in at the secret bar, we made our back down to the car and over to Bonta Gelato. Allison and I both got waffle cones full of goodness—I recommend the Vanilla Bourbon Pecan!—and cheers-ed to the first day of our adventure. We’d already done so much, and we still had so much to come.

What Prison Break Reminded Me About Myself, Wentworth Miller & Everyone Else

This past month I’ve been watching Prison Break for the first time which, if you’ve ever seen it, you know by “watching” I mean barely leaving my room to participate in society. I’ve been totally consumed by the storyline and the characters and have had ongoing battles of turning my “I need to help the guys from Fox River stay out of trouble” brain off and turning my “I need to focus at work so I can make rent” brain on. One such character that has left me daydreaming, who has undoubtedly left most of the world in a similar state of mind since the show was first released 12 years ago, is Michael Scofield.

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Portrayed by British-American actor Wentworth Miller, Michael Scofield is the heart of Prison Break. It is his mastermind scheme that gets him purposefully arrested and sent to Fox River penitentiary to breakout his brother Lincoln, who was wrongly accused of murder and set to receive the death penalty. Over the five-season story—which I’m only on season 3 of so far, so no spoilers!—we learn about the conspiracy behind Lincoln’s arrest, we watch the exquisite detail of Michael’s plan unfold, and we bite our nails as we watch the aftermath of both.

Whenever I get heavily involved in a television show, I like to look up the associated actors and actresses so I can get a better idea of where they came from. So you can imagine it took me all of about 20 seconds to want to know everything about Wentworth Miller. But what started as a joyful, heart-eyed exploration of my new TV crush, quickly turned into an eyebrow furrowing discovery of heart wrenching facts and fictions.

I found a post from 2016 on his Facebook page addressing a meme that had been created in light of a paparazzi photo captured of him hiking. I read through articles discussing his battle with depression, attempts at suicide, and the long road he took to come to terms with his sexuality. Comments flooded every post, many of them positive, praising Miller for his honesty and his activism. I sat teary eyed, reading through the words of strangers, wondering how much they would have helped Miller or any of the millions of others who have struggled with self-acceptance, during a time when they believed suicide was a viable option.

I thought of myself who, at the age of 14, while not struggling with thoughts of suicide, made a list of things I needed to change about myself in order to be attractive, well liked, and ultimately, happy. Little did I know, self-love is not intrinsic on a set of terms and conditions. You don’t have to look a certain way, you don’t have to hold a certain opinion, you don’t have to hide the things that make you different.

As I read up on Wentworth Miller and learned about everything he’s been through, all the successes and failures, triumphs and struggles, I began to appreciate and relate to him on an entirely new level. For it is what he’s gone through that made him the perfect person to portray Michael Scofield. It is who he is at his core that gave him the ability to make the character resonate with audiences for years to come. Without the true Wentworth Miller, Michael Scofield doesn’t exist.

We as human beings are all characters that make up this thing called life. And when we aren’t true to those characters, when we try to change them or prevent them from being exactly who they are meant to be, we rid the world of what they have to offer and the world is worse because of it.

In the simplest sense, a world without uniqueness and originality is a world without any of us. It is a world without color or beauty or wonder. It is a world without love or inspiration or compassion. It is a world without Wentworth Miller or Michael Scofield, and if there’s one thing I know for sure, I never want to live in that world.

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.

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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.

30 Things I Want to Do Before I’m 30

Yesterday I turned 27 years old which was you know, cool. Though it kind of felt like 26, to be honest. That is, except for the fact that I’ve officially entered my “late twenties.”

YIKES.

What is life?!

Note: I took a break from writing this blog post to figure that out, then I came back and SPOILER: I still have no idea.

But anyways, yes, I’m officially 27 years old now, and as one of my friends pointed out to me yesterday: 30 is right around the corner. And while I could (and might, occasionally) spend the next three years freaking out about that, I also thought I’d put the milestone to use and make it a deadline for some long terms goals I have bouncing around in my mind.

Thus, I bring you 30 Things I’d Like to Do Before I’m 30:

  1. Pay off my student loans
    • Two down, three to go!
  2. Get a book published
    • If you ever see my name on a book cover, please buy a copy (or 10)!
  3. Pay off current credit card
  4. Open a new credit card & start earning airline miles
  5. Donate blood
  6. Hike the Narrows
    • I found out about this a few years back and have never been able to put aside the time to do it, hopefully this will be a good motivating factor!
    • In case you’re curious, read about it here.
  7. Hike Half Dome
    • This is another hike high on my list that I feel like I just need to make happen
    • Read about it here.
  8. Hike Mt. Langley
    • About three years ago, I was given the option to climb either Mt. Langley or Mt. Whitney and I went the route of Mt. Whitney. The experience ended up changing my life (you can read all about it here) and so I figure it’s only necessary to finally make the time to climb the other.
  9. Learn to play the ukulele
    • When I was in high school I was given a ukulele for my birthday by a close friend and after all this time, I’ve only ever taught myself “Happy Birthday,” and I’ve even forgotten that by now. So, neighbors, forgive me as I struggle my way to success on this one.
  10. Go to Harry Potter World in Orlando
    • I don’t really feel like this needs further explanation…I mean…it’s Harry Potter World! *packs wand*
  11. Take a cooking class
  12. Take a Yes Man trip
    • In case you haven’t seen the Jim Carrey film this is referring to, there is a scene when the two main characters walk up to the counter at an airport and book the first flight out without question. Me, being a fervent planner, will need to mentally prepare to be this spontaneous, but I think it will be a great adventure.
  13. Make my family tree
    • I’ve never gone into it that much, but my family is BIG, and I think it’s about time I pieced it all together and see where I fit into this crazy, beautiful, chaotic picture.
  14. See a Broadway play
    • Fingers crossed Lin Manuel Miranda’s next smash hit is running in New York by the time I save up enough money to get there.
  15. Go out for a really expensive dinner
    • “Yes, I would like another glass of wine AND a dessert menu, thank you.”
  16. Go camping
    • The only time I’ve ever gone camping was while we were climbing Mt. Whitney, which I feel was a very extreme, sink or swim, type of situation, so I’m hoping for something a little more relaxed than that.
  17. Stay at a 5-star hotel
    • “Yes, front desk? Do you have any extra robes?”
  18. Buy a bunch of plants and keep them alive
    • The second part of this goal being KEY.
  19. Go to a bottomless mimosa brunch
    • See, I’ve gone to brunch, but I’ve never gone to an almost too long brunch that involves your closest friends, story after story after story, and too many mimosa refills to count, culminating in a much needed taxi ride home and a good long nap to commemorate a Sunday well spent. Is this a weird thing to aspire too? Yes. Am I ashamed of it? Not even a little bit.
  20. Go on an LA staycation
    • I’m arguably the worst LA resident there is. Since I’m so jaded by the constant traffic, I almost never go downtown and do the touristy things someone who has lived here all their life should have done countless times and should have knowledge of when out of town visitors come seeking knowledge. So, I consider this both a goal for me and a service to everyone who has ever asked me for directions or vacation tips and was met with little more than a shrug and a smile.
  21. Know at least 20 recipes by heart
  22. Read every book on Time’s 100 greatest books of all time
  23. Fall in Love
    • I mean this in a lot of ways. I think we have the opportunity to fall in love over and over again in our lives, be it with experiences, things, or people, however, we are only able to do so if we open ourselves up to the possibility. So, I want to encourage myself to do just that.
  24. Make a time capsule to open when I’m 40
    • *pictures Crossroads*
  25. Learn to drive a stick shift
    • I once watched an episode of The Amazing Race where a team got eliminated because neither member knew how to drive a stick shift. While I don’t foresee myself in a situation like this, I’m not taking any chanced.
  26. Go curling
    • This one is for me, but also for my mom, who is one of the biggest curling fans I know. I can barely stand to watch it on television, but I’m up for trying it out in person.
  27. Stomp grapes and make wine
    • Just so I can offer someone a glass and, while pouring it, say, “You know my feet have touched every ounce of this.”
  28. Blow glass
    • To be honest this just looks AWESOME, and I could always use an extra trinket to add to my desk.
  29. Go to a championship game (World Series, Stanley Cup, etc.)
    • Of course, I’d prefer them to involve one of my teams (a.k.a the LA Dodgers, LA Kings, NY Giants, etc.) but I’d be happy with a ticket regardless, and I’d probably end up crying from the excitement in the atmosphere regardless.
  30. Run a marathon (maybe)
    • I say maybe because I’ve been running ALL. DAMN. YEAR. to try and complete the 1000 mile goal I set for myself, and committing to something of this magnitude sounds exhausting. However, I’ve always thought it would be an amazing accomplishment and have never truly ruled it out.

Here’s to the last three years of my twenties! May they be just as crazy and confusing and stressful and wonderful as the first seven. And for those of you also approaching the milestone of 30, those who are still a ways from it, and those who are a ways past it, may you always know that you have the power to do anything you set your mind do. Age really is just a number, and you can kickass no matter what that number may be.

31 Good Things That Happened in August

I have good news and good news. I have only good news!

As mentioned in this blog post, at the end of every month I’m going to highlight all the good things that happened in that 30-day (or so) span, to give ourselves a break from the well known bad.

You can find last month’s here.

Happy August to you!

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1) This baby and this dog made us all jealous with their friendship

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2) This girl turned her skin disease into art

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3) This boy scored a touchdown

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4) These couples played a life size version of Hungry Hungry Hippos at a marriage retreat

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5) Phil Lewis a.k.a Mr. Moseby from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody got to reminisce

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PRNDL

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6) This man proved that size truly does not define strength

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7) Taylor Swift went to court to stand up for sexual assault victims everywhere

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8) This father and son connected

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9) This daughter was reminded how much mother’s care

PRNDL

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10) David Beckham showcased a dad’s love by staying up late building a Disney Lego castleFullSizeRender

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11) After sending a text to the wrong number, this guy got an amazing response

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12) This woman adopted a dog who has waited patiently for a home

dog adoption

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13) Delish introduced us to s’mores sushi

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14) This girl posted an amazing Tinder bio

tinder bio

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15) This girl continued to inspire the world with her story

tinder bio

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cancer free

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16) This bird found a new passion

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17) These Tough Mudder competitors displayed the true definition of a team

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18) This woman showed us her incredible dog

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19) These boys gave their grandpa one last gift (via Love What Matters)

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“My grandfather was in the hospital last week and while admitted he was having intermittent episodes of confusion. Some of it was related to his mild dementia and some of it was the pain medicine. At one point, he asked, ‘Have they given me the go ahead to play?’ I said, ‘The go ahead to play?’ He said, ‘Yes, did the doctor give me my permit to play?’ I said, ‘Play what??’ He said, (in a somewhat annoyed tone) ‘Lindsay, I want to play ball with the boys.’ He was referring to my two sons. They are 11 and 8. Choking back tears, I just smiled and said, ‘Of course you can play.’ Now, here we are exactly one week later. My grandfather was cremated this morning at 10am. All on their own my sweet boys decided to put this in the casket with him. It says “Come play anytime. Love, Chase and Trav.”

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20) The solar eclipse brought some wonder to the world…

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21) …and served up some grade-A puns

moon blocks sun

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22) Neighbors and strangers alike came together to help one another

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23) JJ Watt, defensive end for the Houston Texans, started a campaign to raise $200,000 for victims of hurricane Harvey…and has currently raised almost 10 million dollars!! (You can donate here)

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24) John Cena was surprised by a few of his fans

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25) Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo donated money to a cause close to his heart

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26) Rapper Logic released and performed his new song “1-800-273-6255”—the number for the National Suicide Prevention Line—on the VMA’s, and the organization saw a huge influx in calls. (via Buzzfeed)

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27) This couple achieved their dream of visiting every Cracker Barrel in the US

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28) This cartoonist captured what it’s like for parents to watch their kids grow up fast (via Huffington Post)

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29) This sister shared some serious love

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30) This mom & son started school (via Huffington Post)

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31) This important reminder was shared

good internet

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Wanna know the best part? There is SO much I didn’t include.

I can’t wait to see what September brings!

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July/August Favorites

Well friends, we have reached—by school standards—the end of summer. Those of you who are still in school have begun to begrudgingly wake up to an alarm again, and those who are out of school are now sitting nervously in traffic behind those who slept past that alarm and are charging down the streets like a crazy person.

To all parties involved, I apologize.

As a token of my dearest sympathies, I offer you this new edition of favorites. Hopefully you will find things to love among the things that I love so that we can all focus on things we love rather than the things we hate—like the end of summer.

Let us begin!


 

If I Were You Podcast

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For those of you familiar with CollegeHumor.com, this podcast is run by popular comedy duo Jake and Amir. Each episode they read questions sent in by fans via email and answer them by giving advice on what they would do if they were you. Questions range anywhere from relationships to starting college to crappy bosses to crazy roommates. This podcast always cracks me up, making me look like an absolute crazy person while I’m running, but I like to think of it as my core workout for the day. (Find it here)


 

Kayla Itsines’ Cookbook

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As some of you may have seen, this month I started a bi-monthly cooking series where I hope to spend as much time learning how to cook as I do avoiding burning my house down or poisoning my family. You can check out the first post here, it’s all about workout guru Kayla Itsines’ new cookbook, The 28-Day Bikini Body Healthy Eating & Lifestyle Guide. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how easy and delicious the recipes are, and have already shuffled them into the my (very limited) memory bank of things I can make on the fly, which is saying something, because usually that space is filled with old ‘NSYNC lyrics and directions to a friend’s house that I haven’t visited since elementary school. (Find it here)


 

Honey Vanilla Bourbon Pecans

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I don’t care who you are—unless you’re my sister or someone with a similarly dangerous allergy to pecans—you need to try these pecans. They are so good. So good. I bought them on a whim at the grocery store figuring they would be a healthy(ish) snack, but once I tried them, I didn’t really care if they were healthy or not. They were that good. Throw them in a bowl with some grapes and you’ve got yourself a hall of fame worthy snack. (I’ve only found these at Ralph’s but I would check every grocery store around you to try these guys, again, they’re that good.)


 

The Hard Cuts by Needtobreathe & Something to Tell You by HAIM

As you know, I have no idea how to give commentary on music besides, “it’s good!” so, as always, let’s turn this one over to the abundant adjectivers over on iTunes:

The Hard Cuts by Needtobreathe: “musical chicken soup for the soul” (Find it here)

Something to Tell You by HAIM: “all sweet melodies, catchy rock and pop hooks, and gonna-work-it-out feels.”  (Find it here)


 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck & Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy

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As if the bright orange book jacket wasn’t enough to catch my attention, the title of Mark Manson’s book made it all but impossible not to buy. I mean, how do you not buy a book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Tell me how you walk by that book! Actually, don’t tell me, because if I did than I wouldn’t have read it, which would be a tragedy, because I LOVED this book. It was such a unique take on a self-help book, mostly because it demanded action rather than positive thoughts towards action. To explain the title, it teaches you to give a f*ck about the right things and to stop giving a f*ck about the wrong things.  (Find it here)

 

51GVRV55InL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Speaking of worth the read, if you’re a Dodger fan, Sandy Koufax fan, or just a baseball fan in general, I highly recommend Jane Leavy’s biography Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy. It is jam packed—and I mean JAM. PACKED.—with all things baseball, pop culture, and racial relations of 1950s-1960s baseball and has them intertwined in the telling of Sandy Koufax’s 1965 perfect game. I for one was absolutely sucked in by the story and found myself walking away with a much deeper knowledge of baseball, and a big fat crush on Sandy Koufax. (Find it here)

 

 


 

@JunkBanter

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Honestly, this account made me so furious that I HAD to follow it. Why did it make me furious, you ask? BECAUSE I DIDN’T THINK OF THIS. It’s an account based solely around talking about snacks. Classic snacks, new snacks, limited edition snacks. It’s all snacks, all the time, and I just don’t think I’ll ever get over not starting this conversation. However, since the important thing is that this conversation exists in the first place, I highly recommend you go check them out. They are constantly filling me in with crucial snack-toids, such as the upcoming release of 7 new Halo Top ice cream flavors, which is a company I mentioned a few favorites ago, thus making any new releases a TOP PRIORITY. (Find it here)


 

Charity Miles

Charity-Mile

This app was recommended to me by my cousin, who is well versed in my mission to run 1000 miles this year. The way he saw it, I was going to be putting in the miles regardless, so why not do some extra good in the process? And I couldn’t agree more! This app is super straightforward and easy to use and has a ton of different charities you can run (or walk) for. All you have to do is choose a charity (which you can change anytime you want) and then get moving! The miles you put in will be converted into donations from sponsors of the app, making your hard work payoff again and again. (Find it here)


 

Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know! My Amazon cart is always open…

See my previous favorites post here.

5 Lessons I Learned from Hamilton & Lin-Manuel Miranda

Yesterday I saw Hamilton at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles and it’s safe to say my jaw has yet to stop hanging open. It lived up to all the hype and was somehow able to be better than I expected. For amongst the talent of the actors and actresses, the incredible music provided by the orchestra and the simple yet beautiful choreography and set design, the pure genius of the lyrics is what truly left me speechless. And while I could probably write an entire essay about the lessons I learned from the historical content of the play, I think that’s something you can only appreciate if you have the pleasure of seeing it in person. I did however walk away with a handful of lessons about the play itself, where it came from, what inspired it, and how it came to a city near me.

1) Consume Everything

Lin-Manuel Miranda first got the inspiration for Hamilton after picking up a copy of Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton titled, Alexander Hamilton. After reading it, he started to envision the story being told as a musical. Now, clearly this idea turned out, you know, decent. But just think what would have happened if Lin-Manuel Miranda never picked up a copy of that book. Or rather, think what wouldn’t have happened. All those critical accolades, all those sold out Broadway shows, even this very blog post wouldn’t exist if he hadn’t grabbed a copy of ole A. Ham at the airport. That being said, it’s important to consume as much of anything and everything as we can. You never know where you’re going to find a new inspiration or a new passion that could completely change your life. So read books, see movies, get out in the world and take in what it has to offer, then (preferably) write a kickass musical about what you find so I can have something to do on Tuesday nights.

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2) Pursue the Crazy

“Honestly, Lin, a musical about Alexander Hamilton?” I have no proof of anyone ever saying this to him, but I think it’s safe to assume that at least one person was on team doubt during this endeavor. But Lin-Manuel Miranda had an idea, a vision, and he pursued it, no matter how many people gave him the “Honestly, Lin” speech. And in the end, it didn’t matter how many people told him he was crazy, because that quickly became far outnumbered by the people telling him he was a genius, and probably overshadowed by a vast number of people asking him to sign their baby. Regardless, Team Doubt is looking pretty bad these days.

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3) Be Bold

In my post-show stalking of Lin-Manuel Miranda, I also learned that his first performance of what would eventually become the opening number of Hamilton, was at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music and the Spoken Word. You know, a casual venue…where he had been invited to perform a different song! At the time he was starring in the Broadway show In the Heights—which he also wrote the music and lyrics for, isn’t it a shame this guy has no talent?—and was invited to perform music from that show, but instead he showed up with a song about Alexander Hamilton, thus treating the White House stage as the birthing room for what would go on to become one of the most successful shows in Broadway history. The man doesn’t go halfway, people.

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4) Do it Your Way

“A musical about a key segment of American history, great! Wait—what do you mean it features a lot of hip hop music?” Again, I have no proof of this conversation taking place because I wasn’t in the room when it happened, but I’m just spitballing here. Lin-Manuel Miranda could have showed up with a very proper, classical musical with beautiful gowns and elaborate choreography and a few tangent storylines that were only included as people pleasers. Instead, he created this musical mastermind of a history lesson that somehow makes you want to dance and go back to 11th grade to pay closer attention at the same time. There is no recipe written anywhere that told him this would work, but he believed in it, and sometimes that’s the hardest part of any pursuit.

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5) Go Out and Do It!

Whatever it is. Whatever idea you have bouncing around in your head. Whatever you find yourself daydreaming about during the workday. Go after it! Write it down. Start taking the small steps. Put a plan into motion. Because just as Hamilton probably wouldn’t have existed if Lin-Manuel Miranda hadn’t grabbed that copy of Alexander Hamilton at the airport, it also wouldn’t exist if he didn’t dig deeper into the inspiration he found in its pages. So stop throwing away your shot. Stop letting those ideas and dreams simmer out. Believe in them, chase them, write a historical hip-hop monologue about them, you never know where it might take you.

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If You’re Willing to Start from the Ground, You Can Build Anything

Can I have a show of hands for anyone who has been personally victimized by country duo, Dan & Shay’s song “From the Ground Up?”

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Right, okay, that’s what I thought. Let it be known that my hand it also up.

In case you’re unfamiliar with this song, have a listen:

Or, if you want the short version: it’s a painfully adorable ballad about finding true love and building a life with someone.

The first verse of the song starts like this:

Grandma and grandpa painted a picture of sixty-five years
And one little house
More than a memory
More than saying I do
Kiss you goodnight’s and I love you’s
 

And then the chorus goes like this:

And we’ll build this love from the ground up
Now ’til forever it’s all of me, all of you
Just take my hand
And I’ll be the man your dad hoped that I’d be

It’s the kind of song that gives you all the feels and makes you yell at the ceiling of your car in the middle of traffic—or at least that’s what it does to me.

When I was little, I dreamed about finding the one. The person all the Disney movies and romantic comedies promised me. The person that would make everything make sense. Now, as I grew up, I figured out that you don’t actually need someone else to make your life make sense. I figured out you can do that all on your own. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t wish for someone to stand beside. Someone to laugh and cry and get all crotchety with. Someone who, when this song comes on the radio in the middle of dead stop traffic, you realize is so noticeably absent that it provokes you to yell at the aforementioned ceiling. BUT I DIGRESS.

The key point to note in this song is that the singer proposes he and his true love build their life together from the ground up. When he brings up the love story of his grandparents, he isn’t saying, “we have that,” or “it will be easy to have that,” rather he’s saying, “if we work hard, we could have that.”

In our lives, we will wish for a lot of things that will require us to build from the ground up. Be it a love story, a career, a legacy or a home. But no matter what we’re building or the various tools we’ll need to do so, every bout of architecture starts with a Day One. A commitment to the desire. And one of the marvels about life is that we often don’t know when that Day One will be.

You never know when you’re going to find your true passion. You never know when you’re going to meet that person the romantic comedies promised you. But isn’t it a wonder to know that every day you wake up with an open heart, every day you meet someone new or try something you never thought you would, it could be the start of something that changes your life forever?

So even though there may be songs or movies or coworkers or couples walking down the street that sometimes make you want to jealous road rage your way off the (literal or metaphorical) freeway, it’s important we don’t take advantage of these days. We never know what they might be teaching us, or the Day Ones they might be leading us towards.

And hey, you never know, Day 1 could be today.

Fighting Hate With Love

Female. White/Caucasian. Middle Class.

On any given form, this is how I would be identified. These are the statistics I would represent if I participated in a poll. These are the bubbles I filled in for every standardized test I took in school. But for anyone who’s ever met me, known me, or ever even seen me in passing, I’m obviously much more than that.

I’m curious. I’m quiet. I’m friendly and tough and a terrible liar. I love to write and read and be outside in the fresh air. I love sweet potatoes and hate peanut butter and will try to make anything into a quesadilla. I’m funny, or at least I try to be, and I’m smart, determined and constantly pushing myself to be better.

These are the things that forms don’t tell you. These are the things that statistics don’t tell you. These are the things that stereotypes, discrimination and bigotry don’t tell you. Not about me, or anyone else.

In the real world, where people are living, breathing things, checked boxes and filled bubbles don’t matter. They will never tell you about the morals of a person or whether or not you will relate to them, get along with them, like, or even love them. Only conversation can do that. Only time, patience and mutual respect can do that. But our world seems to have forgotten that.

Recently, it seems that people believe the only mediums of expression available to them are hate and violence. Aggression and disrespect. I watch and I’m not only hurt, but confused.

How? I want to ask. How can you feel this way?

No, I don’t want to know when you started feeling this way, I don’t want to know why you started feeling this way, and I don’t want to know who you believe made you feel it. I want to know how.

How in this world built by so many beautiful, unique, hardworking people. How in this world of deep oceans, vast forests, tall mountains and endless skies. How in this world of kindness, compassion and understanding. How can you possibly believe that hate offers you more than love? How can you believe that someone is less important, less valuable, or less worthy than you are? How can you live each day hating the statistic filled inside the bubbles and boxes, rather than taking the time to get to know the person doing the filling?

Don’t you know what a big world we live in? Don’t you understand how much life you deprive yourself of? How much beauty and depth and color? Can’t you hear the hate in your voice? Can’t you feel it killing you? Will you ever realize that you don’t have power, never will have power or anything close to it, not when love exists, and it always will?

Well, hear this. Know this. Understand this: I do not and will not meet your hate with hate. But I will not concede. I will not watch idly as you spread it day by day. I will fight, I will love, not to tear you down but to drown you out. Your voices will only make my voice louder. Your darkness will only make my light brighter. And your hate will only make my love stronger.