How to Snooze Your Alarm in the Morning

Before we start, I just want to make sure you read the title of this post right, as there is a very important word missing if you are looking to improve your morning routine, balance your sleep pattern, or build healthy habits. Because yes, I am here to give advice on how to snooze your alarm, not how not to.

This is terrible advice, a terrible habit and an overall terrible way to start your morning, but I do it absolutely every day and see no signs of stopping, so, I figured if anyone wants to join me on this (mis)adventure I thought I’d give you some tips:

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1) Set your alarm for at least 30 minutes before you absolutely must wake up. This gives you 30 minutes (or more if you’re feeling dangerous) to press snooze.

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2) If your phone is your alarm clock, get a wireless charger. This prevents you from reaching to turn it off and accidentally pulling the cord out of the wall or the power strip, which could possibly make noise and fully wake you up—a nightmare.

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3) Continually make empty promises to yourself that you’re going to stop pressing snooze, as this will make each time you do feel like you’re working towards something better “one day.”

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4) When your alarm goes off, internally (or externally, should you want to risk that burst of energy) pout that you are required to wake up and convince yourself that you deserve to press snooze “just once.”

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5) Always keep your eyes closed when pressing snooze, this prevents you from accidentally seeing any attention catching notifications on your phone, or the sun, which will likely be almost all the way up, letting you know that it is probably far past the time you should have gotten up.

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6) Decide a random press of snooze is “your last one”, but keep your eyes closed and decide to give yourself a 30 second “countdown” in your head until you have to really get up.

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7) Fall back asleep on second 15 every time.

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8) Occasionally decide to “get up on time” and unlock your phone to scroll through your emails, but always always make sure you remain lying down. Sitting up will guarantee a natural wake up pattern and ultimately derail your entire plan.

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9) On particularly late mornings, tell stories that no one around you believes anymore about you “never hearing your alarm”, or you feeling “so confused by how it got so late so fast”, even though you’re well aware you woke up with your phone in your hand under your pillow.

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10) Once you have reached “crunch time” and slowly open your eyes, knowing your phone will reveal a time that requires you to get ready with particular haste, audibly gasp in shock, and then blame the late hour you went to bed, so as to avoid taking any responsibility first thing in the morning.

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11) Every once in a while, forget to turn your alarm off on the weekends, so you can press snooze with power, authority, and misplaced entitlement that validates this entire process and ensures you continue.

Finding Focus with Your Senses

With so much going on and so many reasons to both worry about the future and get lost thinking about the past, it is easy to lose sight of the present.

I know I have a tendency of focusing on the if/when’s of the future or the “if only’s” of the past, and at times I can think and worry about them until I spiral down to a point of near paralysis. As a result, I often look for ways to reconnect to the present moment, as it’s the only thing I have any control over.

Recently, on an episode of the podcast The Next Right Thing, host Emily P. Freeman shared an exercise geared to get you back into the present moment by focusing on the senses. She said, “senses bring us back to the present moment, reminding us what is rather than what we are afraid could be.”

The exercise asks you to notice and/or write down the following:

Five things you can see

Four things you can hear

Three things you can feel

Two things you can smell

One thing you can taste

As I write this blog in a low sitting chair on the beach, this is how I would go through the exercise:

Five things I can see

  1. The waves moving in and out
  2. A ship far off in the distance
  3. My brother’s sandy feet
  4. The freckles on my knees
  5. A feather stuck in the sand

Four things I can hear

  1. The ocean
  2. Kids playing and laughing
  3. An airplane overhead
  4. A seagull squawking

Three things I can feel

  1. A slight breeze
  2. The sand between my toes
  3. The heat of the late morning sun

Two things I can smell

  1. The ocean
  2. Fresh (non smoky) air

One thing I can taste

  1. The bagel I ate for breakfast

What I love about this exercise is that it can bring you into the present both to diffuse a stressful or anxious situation, or to magnify a good one. It can bring good things into focus so you can appreciate them and it can bring negative things into focus so you can move away from them. It can also act as a good distraction from intrusive or anxious thoughts, and give you something to do for a few minutes besides just breathe—which sometimes just doesn’t cut it.

This exercise can be a great go-to on anxious days, long trips to the DMV, stressful family gatherings, slow moving traffic, mornings when it’s hard to get out of bed, nights when it’s hard to fall asleep—really any time when your mind needs something to focus on…other than what it’s currently focusing on. Or, on good days, it can be used to focus and perhaps memorize the things around you that make this moment perfect so that you can remember it forever.

How My Family Watches Postseason Baseball

Postseason baseball is in full swing (pun intended), and in my family that means there is a lot of pacing, a lot of swearing, and a lot of yelling that makes our dog hide under the table.

And since I can’t invite you over to watch baseball with us because playoff sports are a borderline intimate experience that not everyone can (or should) experience together, I thought I’d give an inside look (and listen) at the goings on inside our house when our favorite team is in pursuit of a championship.

Superstition

  • At the start of the game we all choose a seat, and though it’s unspoken, it’s a well-known rule that these are our seats for the rest of the game—no matter how long it may last.
  • Rally caps are a must when we need to score runs. Generally this means turning our Dodger hats backwards, but depending on the need or the overall intensity of the game, creativity with and interpretation of “rally cap” may reach unexplored territory.
  • “Nervous pee” is a thing, as is “lucky pee” and “unlucky pee” and it is up to the owner of the bladder in question to determine what decision can most benefit the team.

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Trash talk

  • This is a full family effort, and often builds into full fledged bullying, which I only condone because it takes place inside the walls of our house, never to be repeated…until the next game, upon which we only build off our ruthless ~creativity~ and whittle you down to your very bones.

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Friendly fire

  • When our boys are performing poorly, it is not uncommon for us to begin trash talking them in our best not mad but disappointed, or at times not disappointed but furious tones of voice, because it is important for us groaning couch blobs to let the elite athletes competing at the highest level know they could try harder. And honestly I think they would agree.

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Unexpected affection

  • This is mostly my mom and I. While brutally loyal to our team, if you put an underdog, a comeback story, or just a kind humble man in front of us, a small part of our heart will melt and we will mumble good luck to them—not in this moment or this game, but in the future, far away from us and our championship, where we hope they will thrive and be happy.

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Endless jabbering, clapping and apologizing to the dog

  • At a certain point encouraging anecdotes like “let’s go” or “you got this” become as easy and mindless as breathing. If given a nickel for every time one of us mumbled a cheer to ourselves, the room, or to a player by their first name, we might be able to buy season tickets for life.   
  • Our dog, Meeka, is not a fan of yelling or even minor bursts of enthusiasm that aren’t directed towards her, so there is a good portion of time dedicated to calling her over to apologize for all the screaming—only to scream again a few minutes later. As a result, she usually spends games under the table or outside barking at passing dogs, probably saying things like, “my family is crazy!” or “please take me with you on your walk, baseball is on again!” or maybe “Go Dodgers! All other teams are inferior!!”

No matter what, every game is an emotional nightmare journey, one which I’m sure will turn us all grey before our time—but I love every minute of it. 

My 500th Blog Post

Almost seven years ago, on a random Sunday night, I posted a rambling blog post, which to this day has only been viewed eight times. I didn’t tell anyone I posted it, and I didn’t know what to expect from it. I wrote it because I could—because I couldn’t seem not to—and because I wanted to know what it felt like to click publish. More than anything, that post was a dare to myself, fueled by late night confidence, to give blogging a shot. And even though I didn’t post another blog until almost seven months later, this dare hung in the air, it crawled into my thoughts and it wiggled out the tips of my fingers. Write, it said. Until eventually, I did.

Thinking back to the beginning, I won’t deny that I was dreaming big. Fresh off a semester abroad, during which I wrote weekly posts (on a different website) to update those back home, I had a pocketful of compliments from friends and family that gave me a big head and an expectation to turn my talents into a career—fast. You can hear it in my early blog posts. The I am so funny tone. I am so casually hilarious and knowledgeable and relatable. Feel free to make me famous.

Reading through some of my old posts, I cringe at the way I wrote, the way I rambled, the way I *clearly* didn’t proofread as well as I should have. I didn’t have a schedule, didn’t have a direction or a defined voice. I was very much just posting to gain a following, to get attention, to get numbers, and to move forward into what was sure to be a lucrative career. I spoke as a knower, as someone who was here to teach you something or to make you laugh or to change your life because of things I could tell you.

But then, little by little, I started to shake off that identity—as it didn’t fit very well—and started to write from the much more honest perspective of a learner. As someone who doesn’t know it all. As someone who is just trying her best and learning what she can along the way. And in finding that authentic voice, I found a much more comfortable, fun, and co-beneficial blogging process and experience, and grew a very genuine and caring audience that allows me to write without a defined theme—something every blogging advice columns suggests you find (#rulebreaker)—and who learns and grows right alongside me.

So as I write this post, my 500th post if you can believe it, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has supported me thus far and who is strapping in to see where we go from here! This blog is a safe place for me, something that is consistently fulfilling and comforting—even amongst the craziest and scariest of times. So thank you for helping me create this space! And if you’re new, welcome to this space! We’re happy to have you.

To celebrate the big 5-0-0, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite blog posts, but first, in case there are any other data nerds out there, here are some fun facts:

  • I have posted a blog on every single day of the week, the most on Monday (178) and the least on Saturday (9).
  • My total word count (including this post) is: 390,606 words, which is the equivalent of almost five books.
  • My blog has been read in 165 countries
  • My best day ever for views was December 15, 2015, when I posted this blog about Gina Rodriguez and she shared it on social media.
  • My most viewed blog of all time is this one about How to Recreate the Princes Diaries Painting.
  • The most used search terms that helped people find my blog was “things that happened in 2018” which led them to my All the Good Things series.
  • The first post I ever had published on another website was this one.

Now to name a few favorites. This was nearly an impossible task, because narrowing it down to a reasonable number leaves so many behind. But in a quick scroll down the list, these ones jumped out at me:

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1) The Mt. Whitney series

This is slightly cheating, since it refers to five posts that cover my experience of hiking Mt. Whitney, but this was the first series I ever wrote for my blog and the first thing that made me feel like a “blogger“. I was so thankful to have a place where I could document what turned out to be a big turning point in my life.

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2) The Simplest Kind of Happy

This post gives me the warm fuzzies. It was such a simple moment of an ordinary day, but it was pure and it was happy and the song I mention in the post can still take me back to that day.

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3) A Literally Sick Rap Song

I wrote this post when I was on day 3 or 4 of being home sick with the flu and it was one of the only things that made me feel better. I spent almost an entire fever filled day rewriting the lyrics to Tupac & Dr. Dre’s “California Love”, renaming it “Day&NyQuil Love” and I laughed so incredibly hard. I will never not think of this post when I’m sick.

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4) To My Fellow Tough Eggs

Some of the hardest blogs to post are the ones that feel like I’m sharing my journal or the innermost workings of my brain. This post was meant to be encouraging to all but especially to myself. It also stands out because shortly after posting it someone mentioned it to me by name and thanked me for posting it and that meant the world to me.

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5) A Lesson in Love from Mr. & Mrs. Day

This is not only one of my favorite posts on my blog, but one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. In 2015, my Grammie was moved into a nursing home, where we met Mr. Day and his wife, Mrs. Day, who was in the bed next to my Grammie. Their love story will inspire me always.

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6) The Year of Give

This was the start of a series I do at the end of every year where I recap the word that defined my year. It put me out of my comfort zone to post, but I’m so glad to have shared it because I love having a place to go back and read what I’ve learned from each year and each word.

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7) The Butterfly

In late 2015, my Grammie passed away, and I wrote this post, which ended up being distributed at her funeral. I felt very lucky to be able to honor her, and I think about this post often.

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8) I Ran a Damn Marathon

This had to be on this list because I still can’t believe it actually happened.

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9) This Blog Was Written By My Dog

This was such a fun, silly post I wrote from the perspective of our family dog, Laycee, who was the cutest, most loving dog I’ve ever known. Unfortunately, only about a year after I posted it, Laycee passed away, but I’m so thankful to have this encapsulation of what an important, special member of our family she was and always will be.

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10) Just Live the Day

I have written many posts describing a struggle of staying present, but I feel like this one really hit straight to the point. It was inspired by The Grapes of Wrath, and offers advice that I try to carry with me at all times.

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Thank you again for all your support through these 500 posts, here’s to 500 more!

30 Good Things that Happened in September

Hello and welcome back to another edition of All the Good Things, a monthly series where I highlight all the good things (get it?) that happen in each 30-day (or so) span. I hope it can be a reminder that amongst all the well known bad, there is a lot of undercover good happening in our world.

Let’s dive right in.

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1) This Kroger employee helped a woman turn her life around

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2) This rat won an award for detecting landmines in Cambodia

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3) This man helped save a baby swan

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4) A treatment that slows the spread of ALS (and was partially funded by the Ice Bucket challenge) was announced.

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5) This:

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6) This rescue dog adopted three rescue kittens.

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7) Steve Martin solved a pressing problem

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8) The founder of Jelly Belly announced a Willy Wonka type treasure hunt.

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9) This man raised money to give a huge tip to his favorite 89-year old pizza delivery man.

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10) This cartoon:

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11) The finalists for the comedy wildlife photography awards were announced.

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12) Zendaya’s costar on Euphoria had an amazing reaction to her Emmy win.

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13) This incredible story was shared about 9/11

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14) This man got an amazing surprise

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15) This fourth grader’s drawing about kindness won the Google Doodle contest

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16) And the winners from other states and territories showed some seriously impressive work.

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17) This five year old gave a special gift to hardworking firefighters

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18) This Wisconsin farmer planted 2 million sunflowers to spread some happiness to his customers.

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19) The 6th annual Fat Bear Week began.

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20) Dodgers infielder Justin Turner got his cleats decorated by a very special artist

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21) This postcard was finally delivered, 100 years after it was sent.

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22) This man was able to play the piano for the first time in 20 years

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23) This boy got a huge surprise from his favorite garbage truck drivers on his third birthday.

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24) This:

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25) This man played music on a speed bag

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26) This nun ran a marathon on a treadmill in her basement to raise money for the poor.

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27) This dog gave out hugs

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28) This girl swam with a guide dog to help her prepare for the Tokyo Paralympic Games

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29) This kid made solved a math problem

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30) And finally, this toddler made a new best friend: a five foot tall skeleton.

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

I can’t wait to see what October brings!

You can view the last edition of this series here.

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91 Birthdays and Now I’m Counting Too

This past weekend we celebrated my grandpa’s 91st birthday.

It was a happy day filled with good food, lots of sunshine, and a big reminder of the many good things (and especially good people) I have in my life.

The most important person of the day, the ever handsome, ever lovable birthday boy, pulled up to the party in one of his most stylish (and one of my favorite) Dodger themed button down shirts, some nice pants, and a pair of shades. Throughout the day, I couldn’t help but look over at him, sometimes catching him looking at me, maybe to wave or stick his tongue out, and wonder how he was feeling.

When asked how he is doing, his go-to answer most days is that he’s doing okay. He says he feels old, and on some days, on especially good and sassy days, he’ll slick his hair back and tell you he feels oh, just as wonderful as ever. And while I know there are lots of hard layers to his answers—that he’s tired, his knees hurt, he misses my grandma, he’s not sure how much longer he wants to stick around—there are also good ones—he’s proud of the family he’s built, he’s always excited to hear what we’re up to, and he’s curious to see what another day holds. Still, I can’t help but feel like there is so much I don’t understand and can’t understand until I (or IF I) am lucky enough to reach the age of 91.

It’s hard to believe that I’d have to live the life I’ve lived twice more to reach my grandpa’s age. And if I do, it’s hard to comprehend how much I will see and learn and experience in that time. Not to mention, how different the world (my world and the world at large) will look in 61 years. It’s startling and overwhelming, but also inspiring because it makes me realize how much life my grandpa has lived.

I would consider myself very lucky to be sitting in a backyard on a Sunday afternoon 61 years from now, looking out at a family I built, and eating a cake they made just for me. And I’d like to think in that moment I’ll think of my grandpa. I’ll think of how perfect the weather was at his 91st birthday and how lucky I felt to be a part of it. I’ll remember the sound of the excited chatter and the laughter and the clinking of drinks. And then maybe I’ll look over at a certain granddaughter or grandson who I catch looking at me and I’ll stick my tongue out.

A Few Sunburned Themed Thank You Notes

While it may seem obvious to even the most distant of onlooker, and while I should be well versed and well informed as I have lived with this knowledge my entire life, sometimes I still forget that I am a pale, pale white girl. And even on days when I am reminded of this, say, when I step into a bathing suit and the whitest parts my body squint at the daylight they don’t usually see, I still manage to forget that my skin is to the sun what a peace of bread is to a toaster: ready to get burned.

But alas, the sun is always there to set me straight. It is always there to cook me to the perfect pink of a medium rare steak, leaving me feeling the way I feel when I eat a perfectly pink steak too fast, and with too big a helping of mashed potatoes on the side: sad and regretful. 

So as I sit here today, in the last stages of healing from a weekend sunburn, still diligently applying aloe vera, and patiently waiting for the itching phase of healing to pass, I thought I’d write some thank you notes a la Jimmy Fallon, to the sun, to my sunburn, and to keep my hands busy so I don’t physically scratch my skin off.

I’ll keep my oven mitts close just in case.

*ahem*

Cue the piano, James.

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Thank you, Mr. Sun,

For teaching me what it feels like to be slow cooked. I can now empathize with everything I’ve ever put in a crock-pot.   

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Thank you, SPF,

For undoubtedly standing for Sun’ll Probably still Fry you.

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Thank you, Google,

For teaching me that the itching phase of a sunburn is called “hell’s itch”, making anything I was going to call it seem way less dramatic.

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Thank you, skin,

For always burning and then peeling and then going back immediately to pale. It has always been my worst nightmare to feel like a bronzed beach goddess, so I appreciate you keeping me from that misery.

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Thank you, fall in Southern California,

For actually being Summer: the Sequel.

Find the Things that Fill You Up

At the beginning of the year I set out on a quest to find a morning routine. And while that process has been and might forever remain a process, I have recently found myself in need of an afternoon routine as well.

Seeing as many things are still closed and many activities are still limited, I often find my afternoons and evenings in need of filling. Unlike my morning routine however, I can’t necessarily say, “oops, I overslept, guess I’ll try again tomorrow.” I often get home at 4:00 p.m., and while occasionally a nap seems necessary, I’m not looking to become nocturnal and/or nap off the possibility of a great night’s sleep.

Still, it’s hard after a long day of work to find the motivation to do a lot. Sometimes I want to take a nap. Sometimes I want to watch a movie. Sometimes I want to clean. Sometimes I want to exercise. Sometimes I want to talk to friends. And sometimes I want to stay cooped up in my room and ponder the state of my life and/or the world.

In this mishmash of wants and hopes and goals and laziness, I have found that the number one thing to remember when setting yourself a routine—for any time of day, really—is to find things that fill you up.

Emphasis on the you.

For a long time I was putting so much pressure on myself to be productive, to be active, to only do things that would drive me forward. I was trying to check off boxes of successful people, and do things that would in turn make me (or at least make me sound) successful.  And sometimes I felt so overwhelmed by this pressure that I wouldn’t know where to start, and so I would just scroll on my phone for hours and do nothing, which made me feel worse, and would make the pressure to do “big” things the next day even greater, thus making the chances of me laying on my phone even greater.

It was a vicious cycle.

And so, I decided that my only goal for every afternoon and evening was to do things that make me feel good. Things that filled me up. Me. Not those I saw on social media. Not those who might ask me how my day was. Me. What made me feel like I had a good, enjoyable, and productive afternoon?

As of now, this:

When I get home from work, (time willing) I give myself about an hour to decompress on my bed. That might mean scrolling on my phone. That might mean taking a nap. That might mean finishing an episode of a podcast or TV show that I started earlier in the day. Then I will get up, roll out my mat, and do some yoga.  Then I’ll sit down at my desk and do a section of my prayer journal (right now I’m working through The Between Places by Stephanie May Wilson). Then I’ll grab whichever book I’m reading (right now it’s Fortitude by Dan Crenshaw) and I’ll read one chapter before heading into the kitchen to make dinner.

During dinner, I’ll watch an episode of a TV show (right now I’m watching The Boys on Amazon Prime) and then I’ll take a shower, get into some comfy clothes, and sit down on the couch to do some writing, or work on my counted cross-stitch (don’t come for me and my grandma ways).

Again that’s:

  • Decompress
  • Yoga
  • Prayer Journal
  • Read 1 chapter of a book
  • Dinner + TV
  • Shower
  • Write and/or counted cross-stitch

Obviously this isn’t carved in stone. Sometimes I’m not in the mood for everything on this list, sometimes I’m in the mood for none of it, sometimes I’m in the mood for more. The point is, each of these things fill me up. Each of these things provide me with a little boost of something good. And so when I have the time, I am motivated to do them because I know I will enjoy them.

So if you’re in need for some structure in your day—be that the morning, the afternoon, the evening, weekdays or weekends, look for the things that fill you up. Look for the things that make you excited to do them. Look for the things that help you pass the time rather than allowing the time to pass you.

The Summer Smells

I have a very good (and very sensitive) sense of smell. There have been times my mom has referred to my nose as “a pregnant nose” because of my inane ability to pick up even the smallest scents, and my inability to go down certain aisles in the grocery store (I’m looking at you laundry detergent) because of the scents being too strong.

I am also good at identifying smells. I like to pinpoint it down to the finest detail. For example, I might say something like, “does it smell like blue raspberry jolly ranchers in here to you?” or “why does this soup smell like Christmas?”

Scents are big memory keepers for me. And sometimes when I smell something familiar it stops me in my tracks, and I am taken back to wherever or with whomever the scent pertains to. And while most of the scents outside, and even inside right now, are sadly riddled with smoke, there have still been summer smells that have brought back some good (and minorly traumatic) memories:

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1) Wet grass

The other day I walked across a wet lawn and I was immediately taken back to an early morning soccer game. I could hear the rustling of kids and parents trying to find which field they had to be on, and I could feel the damp blades of grass being kicked up with each passing pair of feet. I hated playing soccer, but I loved putting on my uniform and cleats and feeling official. I also loved the coupon for a free snack bar Popsicle we got at the end of every game.

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2) Chlorine

Whenever I smell chlorine I think of myself as a 10 (and then 11, 12, and 13) year old girl trying to learn how to dive off a family friend’s diving board, and never quite figuring out how. I can feel the water in my nose, hear the splash of other kids doing cannonballs, see the fluttering toes of my sister doing a handstand in the shallow end, and hear the encouraging words from my parents and their friends asking me to try again. Which I did, again, and again, and again, to no avail.

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3) Barbecues

There are few things that give me an immediate, cozy, summery feeling than the smell of a backyard barbecue. When I was little and my family would go over to friends’ houses to swim or have game nights, there was always something on the grill. And being a girl with mostly simple pleasures when it comes to food—especially when I was young—I love a homemade cheeseburger that you awkwardly eat off a paper plate in your lap, while trying to keep track of your fork so you can eventually transition into your helping of macaroni salad, all the while ensuring you leave enough room in your stomach to have a homemade cookie later.

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4) Sunscreen

I have competing memories when it comes to sunscreen. On the one hand, there is the beach. There are the long days spent swimming in the ocean, trying my hand at boogie boarding and getting womped by the waves enough times to retire from boogie boarding at age 12. There is the sound the ice chest made when you dragged it through the sand and the wonder at how good the snacks inside the ice chest tasted after you’d be out in the sun for a few hours. There are sandcastles and digging for sand crabs, and there are sandy walks to the showers and drives home with wet hair. On the other hand, there is pure trauma. When I was around seven or eight, I got sunburned on my shoulders so bad that they bubbled and blistered; when I was 17, I got sunburned on the back of my calves so bad that they peeled for an entire month afterward; and my personal favorite, when I was 13 I went water skiing and didn’t put any sunscreen down the center part of my hair and burned my scalp, making it look like I had thick, mutant dandruff for weeks to follow. So while sunscreen smells like fun in the sun and overall sun safety, it also smells like a lesson I learned the hard way—more than once.

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5) A summer night

This smell is hard to describe but without a doubt one of my favorite smells in the whole world. It’s that combination of the warm weather, the slight cool breeze that starts to sneak in the screen door after dusk, and the hint of water from the neighbors’ sprinklers that just kicked on. Plus there’s the wide open night sky, the quiet swishes of the ceiling fan, the distant chatter of neighbors sitting on their back patios, and, when you’re little, the knowledge that you don’t have any homework to do. To this day summer nights feel so light and free, even when I know I have to get up for work, or take my trash barrels out, or do my laundry, just as I would at any other time of year. Summer nights just have that magic about them that makes you feel like you might end up anywhere. Maybe you buy a spontaneous ticket to a baseball game, maybe you drive down to the beach just to watch the sunset, maybe you see a movie and then walk down the street eating a double scoop ice cream cone.

This summer, obviously, is a little different than most, and for many it is impossibly tough and completely void of those special nostalgic smells. If that’s you, I hope this post can find you and not only remind you of some good things, but encourage you toward the good things awaiting you on the other side of this hard season.

Hands & Words & What They Can Do

The other day I was thinking about hands.

So often we look down at our hands, sometimes nervously, sometimes mindlessly, sometimes in shock or amazement. I recently painted a bookshelf and each day as I was cleaning up I would look down at my hands, covered in white paint, and be proud of the work I accomplished—and ­annoyed at how long it was going to take me to get my hands clean.

Hands can build. And we’ve seen them build. They create things from the ground up and we look at them, amazed that what we see before us came from these hands.

In the same way, hands can hurt. And we’ve seen them hurt. In movies, it’s common to see heroes and villains alike look down at their hands, wondering how—how could these hands have done such a thing? 

Hands leave their mark, good or bad, building or destroying, often stopping us in our tracks to look at the wake of their work.

But the same isn’t always true for words.

When we speak, when we talk or scream or whisper or mention or mumble or demand or inquire or refuse or agree, we use our words. But we don’t always see what our words do. Oftentimes our words leave our mouths and we never know where they land or how far they reach.  We don’t know if they fall on deaf ears or vulnerable ones. We don’t know if they are quickly forgotten or remembered forever.

Our words can build. They can inspire people. They can stay with people. They can shape people. In the same way, our words can hurt. They can tear people down. They can send people into darkness. They can shape people.

Our words leave marks, but oftentimes we don’t see them, especially when so many of our words are spoken online these days. We text and tweet and caption and comment and share and shout into the void of the internet and social media, assuming no one can hear us. We post and repost, sometimes solely to protect ourselves from judgment, and often without regard for those who might be hurt by what we say. We forget that people are people, even people that are different from us, even people who disagree with us. We forget that our words can build twice as high as our hands and can cut twice as fast.

I’m not here to tell you what to say, how to say it, or to infringe at all upon your right to say it. I just think we all could use a reminder that words matter. Our words matter. Whether we have one follower or millions. And what we say can change the world, for better or for worse. In this moment and in the infinity to follow. So let’s take our time. Let’s think about what we say and how we’re saying it. Let’s focus on echoing the good in what we’re fighting for rather than the hate for those we feel we’re fighting against. Let’s use our words (and our hands) to build and then watch as a new world takes shape.