My Night Brain

I have always been more of a night owl than an early bird. When I was a teenager, there was rarely a night I was asleep before midnight. I liked the freedom of nighttime. It made me feel *dangerous* even though all I was doing was religiously watching romantic comedies and designing my Myspace profile.

As I’ve gotten older, my desire to stay up late has waned. I look forward to sleep, and I start to panic when the clock ticks into the wee hours of the morning, leaving me with a smaller and smaller window to get that sleep. Also, since I am VERY cool, I tend to get nauseous if I stay up too late. It’s that weird middle ground of my body saying, I am absolutely done eating for today, but it’s also been too long since we ate so maybe we’re starving? Idk your call but I feel like we should start freaking out.

When I get in bed, I’ll either scroll around on my phone or read a book until I am on the verge of sleep, and then I will turn over, hopeful that I won’t wake up again until morning. And I will do everything in my power to make that happen. I’ll stop drinking water an hour or two before bed to ensure I don’t wake up to pee, I’ll try and make my room the perfect temperature with just the right amount of air flow so I won’t wake up cold or overheated or feeling like I’m suffocating, I try to exercise every day to burn extra energy—like an adult might have a child do so they’ll crash sooner rather than later. I like to go to bed exhausted, and I like to sleep hard.

The truth is, I am doing everything in my power to avoid my night brain. My night brain is a bitch. My night brain knows exactly what to say to scare me, make me feel worthless, and spiral me into an endless stream of thought that will keep me awake for hours. My night brain waits patiently under the veil of sleep, hoping, praying something will wake me up, so she can put on a performance sure to rattle me to my bones.

It goes something like this.

2:30 a.m. I roll over in my bed and inexplicably open my eyes—awake.

Night brain: *smirk*

Me: Hmm. That’s weird. It’s not nearly time to wake up, let’s roll over and go to back to sleep. Maybe we’ll have a super cute dream!

Night brain: Or maybe you’re awake for a reason. Maybe someone is about to break into the house and attack you.

Me: I—what? Why would you even say that?

Night brain: It happens all the time. You listen to true crime. You know.

Me: Yes, but everything is locked. I am safe. I am fine.

Night brain: The same thing countless people have thought before they were attacked.

Me: Okay, you know what? No. I’m not hearing this. I’m falling back asleep.

Night brain: ……..

Me: *drifts*

Night brain: So you know how sometimes you feel entirely unlovable? Do you think that’s because you are?

Me: *closed eye, eye roll* Can you just…

Night brain: You don’t make enough money.

Me: What?

Night brain: Shouldn’t you be exercising more?

Me: I exercise enough, thanks.

Night brain: What about that pimple on your chin? Aren’t you too old to get breakouts? Aren’t you worried that you’re, like, hideous?

Me: *sighs and rolls over*

Night brain: Have you considered that maybe one day you’ll be completely alone? Or that everyone secretly hates you? Maybe none of the relationships you have with people are genuine. Maybe everyone wishes you would move to Antarctica and only send the occasional picture with a penguin.

Me: Now you’re just being ridiculous. I know full well that my family—

Night Brain: —ARE WE NAUSEOUS?  

Me: What? No?

Night Brain: WE MIGHT BE NAUSEOUS. You’re going to throw up! You’re going to throw up!

Me: I’m NOT going to throw up………………..am I?

Night Brain: Do you remember that time you embarrassed yourself in front of the entire high school baseball team and they all whispered behind your back for weeks?

Me: *grits teeth* ……yes, though I’m not sure why that’s relevant here.

Night Brain: When do you think your biological clock will, like, stop ticking? Soon?

Me: I—

Night Brain: Do you worry that most people find you boring? Or are you comfortable with that being who you are?

Night Brain: Why did you wear your hair like that in the ninth grade?

Night Brain: Remember all those horrific Facebook statuses you posted?

Night Brain: Have you considered that maybe you waste all of your time and are not doing anything useful?

Me: *turns over, this time aggressively, as if my night brain is a loud snorer beside me that I’m trying to quiet down*

Night Brain: *long sigh* I just wish you were worth anyone’s time. Or that you never owned those hot pink capri pants. Or that you wouldn’t have IM-ed the boy you liked “haha idk wbu?” in the 10th grade like a Frat Guy on a dating app.

Me: ENOUGH. It is 3:30 a.m. now. We have been at this for an hour. I am fine. I am safe. I am loved. I have plenty of genuine friends. I do regret speaking in IM abbreviations and sounding like a cave man, and I can still hear the whispers of the baseball boys behind my back. I don’t regret the capri pants because they were comfy as hell but I can’t explain to you why I wore my hair like that, it was ridiculous.

Night brain: Isn’t it wild that ANYONE you come across could be the person that kills you?

Me: OMG STOP.

Typically, it takes some deep breathing or the creation of an entirely fake (but happy!) scenario in my head to quiet my night brain down. Sometimes I have to start my nighttime routine over, picking up my Kindle or phone and waiting until I get tired again. And sometimes I get up to pee, in the hopes that somehow my night brain will also get flushed down the toilet.

At some point, I fall back asleep, and then, mercifully, the sun comes back up, officially exiling my night brain to its (literal) dark corners.  But I know she’s always there, waiting, and so I always spend the next day doing whatever I can to keep her quiet.

My Sister Got Married, Obviously

On Saturday, my sister Natalee got married in a very small ceremony in our parents’ backyard.

After getting engaged in March, Natalee and her fiancé, Will, booked a wedding venue for March 2023 that will host about 250 guests when the time comes. But after some thought, they decided they wanted to exchange their vows in front of immediate family and start their married life a little earlier.

So, we planned a wedding.  We planned it over text messages, shared iPhone notes and pen drawings on computer paper, and when the day came, everyone knew what to do and where they were needed most.

On Saturday morning, I sat beside Natalee on the couch eating a cinnamon roll. There had been some stressful days leading up to the day, and there had been details both big and small that we’d meticulously, and sometimes literally ironed out, but on the morning of the actual wedding, I felt calm.

As we handmade the flower arrangements and fought with the wooden arch in the backyard; when our hair appointments ran long and then I stood out in the 90 degree heat sprinkling rose petals on the grass; as I watched my baby sister put on her wedding dress and get her picture taken with her bouquet, and then heard Elvis play over the speaker as she walked down the aisle with my dad; as she stood up on the wooden platform and held hands with the man of her dreams, and then turned to face us as our pastor introduced, for the first time, husband and wife, I felt calm.

Have you ever had that self-conscious feeling that you should be more emotional? When you think to yourself, shouldn’t I be crying right now? I didn’t even have that feeling. I just floated through the day, without a tear shed, or a shuddering breath taken. I was just happy. I was just calm. My one consuming thought of the day was: well, obviously.

When Will and Natalee first started dating, when she was nervous to tell him how she felt, I thought, he feels the same way, obviously.

When Will celebrated Christmas with our family for the first time and said he felt right at home, I thought, because you are, obviously.

And when Natalee came walking down the aisle, looking at Will, smiling ear to ear, I thought, this is how it was always meant to be, obviously.

There has never been a doubt in my mind. I’ve had a front seat to their relationship from the very beginning and seen how happy they make each other. Will appreciates and loves my sister for everything that she is and in every way she deserves, and Natalee does the same for him.

So even though I felt all of those feelings that might make me emotional. Even though I had all those words buzzing around inside me, the ones I’d barely be able to share as I held my sister’s hands and told her how much she deserves a love like this—how much she always has—or as I sat down next to Will for hours, trying to explain all the ways I love, appreciate, and value him, and how happy I am to start calling him my brother. Even though our backyard ceremony was designed to be a one-way ticket to Sob City, to me it felt more like a place to relax. Because it felt like the only place in the world there was.

There aren’t a lot of “obvious” days. Most of the time, we don’t know what’s going to happen or when. We don’t know where we’ll be or who we’ll be with and we don’t know what we’ll say or do. But on that day, everything was as it should be. Everything was right. There was no reason to worry, no questions left to ask. That day, that marriage, that moment, it was obvious.

May & June Favorites

Happy Fourth of July to all of my American friends!

This is one of my favorite holidays of the year, so I thought it was pretty fitting to talk about some other favorites!

Podcasts

I have been on a true crime kick lately, which is out of character for me. I tend to shy away from true crime because I feel like I’m already terrified enough of the world and I don’t need new ideas. BUT I do love me some justice. And I love how the advancements in technology are bringing long awaiting justice to victims and families. So I listen sometimes. And when I do, I usually go hard.

First, The Deck. Produced and hosted by Ashley Flowers (creator of Crime Junkie) this podcast tells the story of a new, unsolved crime each episode. What makes it interesting is that the victims of the crimes have had their picture put on playing cards that are currently circulating through jails and prisons. The hope is that having the faces of these victims shown around in a casual way might spark memories, inspire new information, or even provoke confessions. Check out the episode Bonus: James Foote – 7 of Clubs, Florida to hear how the deck helped solve a longstanding cold case!

Secondly, CounterClock. I mentioned this podcast in a past favorites post, but with a new season out it is once again worth binge listening to. My mom, sister, and I dive hard into this podcast and always like to discuss our opinions after we finish.

.

Books

I’ve been working through the Fighting Words devotional as part of a bible study with Proverbs 31 and I LOVE it. If you are looking for an encouraging, easy to understand, powerful devotional, I can’t recommend this book enough.

I don’t think there will ever be a time that I don’t recommend a new Emily Henry book. I discovered her earlier this year and read Beach Reach and People You Meet on Vacation back to back, and then anxiously awaited the release of Book Lovers. Book Lovers follows two sisters, Nora and Libby, as they take a vacation to a small town made famous by a book. Nora, a literary agent and New Yorker through and through, has trouble adjusting to the small town pace until she is reunited with a book editor whom she vehemently disliked after meeting him a few years earlier. The book is sweet and funny and doesn’t shy away from the hard emotions that we all experience. I loved it!

And finally The Gifts of Imperfection. As a perfectionist myself, this was a very convicting read. The book goes through ten guideposts that are aimed to help you do more “wholehearted living.” Some guideposts I felt were particularly relevant to me were, “letting go of what other people think”, “letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth” (which I inspired me to write this post) and “letting go of self doubt and ‘supposed to’.” I think there is something for everyone in this book and it is a great tool to help us unlearn some of the things we’ve been taught (perhaps inadvertently) throughout our lives.

.

Movies

One of my goals for 2022 is to see a movie in theaters every single month, and my mom has been helping me do that. In May, we saw Downton Abbey: A New Era and loved it. I have never seen the show (though it is on my very long list to watch) and I still loved it. It is so sweet and funny and I almost went home and started the show from the beginning that night. But alas, it still sits on my to-watch list—however it is much higher up now.

And in June we saw Top Gun: Maverick and Elvis, both of which were fantastic. Top Gun: Maverick is such a fun ride, and is a movie MADE to watch in theaters. My seat rumbled as the planes took off, and there were a few times I was so nervous I literally held on. And Elvis is a wonderful tribute to a true icon. Elvis Presley holds sentimental value in my family, so we bought our tickets as soon as they were available. It is a sad story, but one that highlights how talented Elvis was, and how destined he was for greatness.

.

TV Shows

Our Great National Parks is arguably one of the most beautiful shows I’ve ever seen. Similar to Planet Earth, this nature documentary explores the stunning National Parks around the world. I initially thought I might just put this on in the background, but I continually stopped what I was doing—jaw open—to marvel at the gorgeous plant and wildlife. If given a dollar for every time I said, “OH MY GOSH” or “WOW” someone could have started a trust fund. (find it on Netflix)

In a completely unexpected but entirely delightful surprise, my parents got me hooked on Wicked Tuna, a National Geographic show that follows fisherman in Massachusetts. While I initially watched because it was just on, I now have a favorite team, regularly quote some of the show’s signature phrases, and look forward to new episodes every Sunday night. Having grown up fishing with my dad, it is wild to see the kinds of fish these people reel in. I think the biggest fish I’ve ever caught is what they regularly to use for bait. (find it on National Geographic or Disney+)

And finally, The Time Traveler’s Wife. I never saw the movie with Rachel McAdams so I don’t know how the show compares, but it is truly one of the most interesting shows I’ve ever watched. It’s clever and they find a way to make it easy to follow even though the timelines could (and should) be confusing. It follows a woman who falls in love with a man who can, as you might guess, time travel. It’s weird and it’s sweet and it always keeps me guessing. It hasn’t got amazing reviews from the critics but I like it and I hope it gets renewed for a second season. (find it on HBO Max)

.

Music

Harry’s House by Harry Styles

Party for One by Devin Cole

Leanna Crawford – EP by Leanna Crawford

.

JVN Air Dry Cream

I have forever been and forever will be someone that wants to put little to no effort into my hair and have it dry perfect. This, I realize, is a big ask, but I have been on the hunt for products that might make this a possibility and this is one of the best ones I’ve found. I comb it into damp hair with my fingers and then I just let it be. It’s lightweight, it smells good, and has drastically helped my hair air-dry without frizz. (find it here)

.

The Conqueror Challenges

A few months ago I got a text from my friend Nicole asking if I wanted to do a Lord of the Rings Conqueror Challenge with her. I admitted up front that I’d never seen* the films, but would gladly join the challenge anyway! Our mission: walk/bike/run/etc. from the Shire to Mordor. The steps and/or miles we put in each day, count towards our overall total. I was able to connect my FitBit and she connected her Apple Watch, making the transfer of steps and miles automatic at the end of each day.

The Lord of the Rings challenge is broken into five parts: The Shire (145 miles), The Fellowship (98 miles), Mines of Moria (40 miles), Eye of Sauron (95 miles), and Mordor (282 miles). You have to complete them one by one in order to unlock them all, and each time you complete a section, they send you a medal! It’s been a super fun challenge, both individually, and as a team, especially because Nicole lives a few hours away, so it’s been fun to see our individual efforts contribute to the team as a whole. We just finished the Eye of Sauron challenge so we only have Mordor left! Once we finish we will have traveled (either by bike or by foot) 660 miles, which would be the equivalent of walking from Los Angeles, CA to the Oregon border. How cool is that?! (find it here)

Also, if you are interested in this kind of fitness challenge but are not a Lord of the Rings fan, there are TONS of other options available! We are already looking at options for our next challenge!

*Fear not! While going through this challenge I’ve begun watching the movies. They are very good!

Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know!

See my previous favorites post here.

Your Kindness is Never Small

Sometimes when I think about how big the world is and how many people are in it, and then how big the universe is and how much left there is to discover, I feel very small. I am just one person, in one place on one planet, in one galaxy in the universe. And when I focus too hard on being that small, it’s easy to feel powerless and inconsequential, as if what I do on a day-to-day basis doesn’t have a huge impact on everything else.

When I think this way, it’s hard to find inspiration to do good things, to show kindness, to dig deep and find empathy, or to reach out to someone who needs help. When you feel small, it’s easy to want to live small. It’s easy to let opportunities for kindness and compassion pass us by. Because what’s the point?

Thankfully, there is always a point. Always a purpose.

And I got a good reminder of that in a recent episode of the podcast, My Unsung Hero.

In the episode titled: Brenda Arnold’s Story, Brenda tells us about a time in the 1980’s when she went to visit her sister in Germany. She arrived on a weekday morning, and got to her sister’s house only to realize that she was at work. Without a cellphone or any knowledge about where she was, Brenda realized she was stuck. She sat down on the front porch, figuring she’d just have to wait there until her sister got home that evening.

As she sat, a few people walked by, asking her questions in German. She shook her head, as she didn’t know any of the language, and continued to sit there, nervous. Then a woman approached her, first speaking in German, but when Brenda again shook her head the woman changed course and asked, in English, if she was alright. Brenda was relieved and explained to the woman her situation.

“Oh no!” the woman said, “Well, would you like to come home with me? I’ll fix you something to eat.”

Brenda was taken aback by her kindness, but graciously accepted.

As they walked, the woman told Brenda that her husband had fought in World War II, and was captured and held in Louisiana as a POW for two years. While there, he was put to work on a farm but was treated very well and given plenty to eat. So when he came home, he told his wife that whenever they came into contact with an American, they would be kind to them.

So Brenda, who had come to Germany almost forty years after this man had come back from the war, reaped the benefit of this kindness. And not just any kindness, but kindness shown to him during an incredibly dark time in history. Kindness that was rare and perhaps unheard of in the throes of war.

And then, that kindness, shown to Brenda forty years ago, inspired me when I heard it on a podcast.

So that one act of kindness, 80 years ago, continues to stretch it arms and dig its roots. It mattered then and it still mattered. Everything we do, every small act of kindness matters.

The world is big, yes, the universe is nearly inconceivable, yes, but you are never small. Your life is never small. Your kindness is never small.

Merry (Half) Christmas!

Every year, come December, a large portion of the world is set ablaze by the joy and terror of Christmas shopping.

We make our lists, we check them 45 times, and then we often procrastinate until the last minute.

Christmas shopping is about finding special gifts for special someones, or perhaps buying gifts for people who you had no idea were going to buy you a gift, and now you feel like a jerk.

Ahhhhh, the magic of Christmas.

All that being said, you may have noticed that today is NOT Christmas. It’s not even almost Christmas—which department stores start to celebrate about mid-September these days.

BUT, it is almost half Christmas.

That’s right folks, this Saturday, June 25th, is indeed half Christmas, which is a very special holiday in my house.

Half Christmas, as we celebrate it, is when you buy a few gifts for yourself.  

Christmas shopping can be stressful. It’s hard to find the perfect gift and it’s even harder to find it on sale, in stock, and available within an appropriate shipping window. And even when we find the right gift, it’s hard to know if it fully expresses how special someone is to us or how thankful we are to have them in our lives.

Half Christmas shopping is the opposite.

It is never hard for me to pick out a few gifts for myself. I know what I like, I know what I’ve had my eye on, and I know I can return something *without* guilt if it doesn’t turn out the way I hoped.

Half Christmas is about me. It’s about you. It’s about thanking yourself, treating yourself, and celebrating yourself for all the hard work you do.

So it is my hope that you celebrate this year.

Buy that thing you’ve been wanting. Splurge a little. Get yourself something shiny or soft or pretty or powerful. Buy something that makes you want to call your friends and family and say, “look what I got!”

In case you are curious, here are a few things I’ve been considering for my half Christmas.

These shoes from Adidas (which are on major sale!)

These sunglasses from Sunski.

This book about Lost Objects.

And this shear bag (since they are required now at many sports stadiums and concert arenas).

.

I am wishing you a very merry half Christmas!

Get something fun! You deserve it 😎

My Weekend Without Context

I went to visit one of my best friends in San Diego last weekend. It was relaxing, fun, cozy, and very much needed, but when I sat down to write about it, I was having trouble figuring out how.

Our days were full, maybe not from going this way and that, but from talking, laughing, and just enjoying each other’s company, so while I couldn’t write one of my usual *travel* type blogs about it, I still felt like it was one I wanted to document. One I felt like you could relate to, or benefit from, even if you weren’t there.

That’s when I realized that I didn’t need to give you specific details, or even context, in order for you to understand or experience it. Because when I thought about the weekend, I saw it in a string of moments that we might all know. Moments that make you sigh wistfully, nod enthusiastically, and say, “YES” understandingly.

So I hope that as I walk you through my weekend in a rather unconventional way, your senses can be awakened, and a few ideas might come to mind, making you think, man, I should do that.

.

When the ETA on your GPS goes down by an HOUR.

The full body stretch after you arrive at your destination.

A shy smile from a little kid.

A hug from a friend you missed.

A comfy couch.

The perfect sandwich.

Easy conversation that can start anywhere.

Detailed daydreaming about future vacations.

Having lots of time to sit down and relax.

Looking at a friend and saying, “I do that TOO!”

The smell of a barbeque.

The feeling of a smile pulling across your lips.

A satisfied sigh at the dinner table.

Turning off all the lights to watch a movie.

Fresh popcorn out of the microwave.

Licking salt off your fingertips.

Cuddling up with a blanket.

Falling asleep hard and fast.

Waking up to the sun rather than an alarm.

Fresh fruit on a slow morning.

A deep belly baby laugh

A breeze on a hot day.

Cold beer.

Finding a seat in the shade.

Hot French fries.

Comfortable quiet.

A long relaxing breath.

Binge watching a tv show that makes you smile.

A sunset hike on the beach.

Pasta.

A fluffy pillow.

An easy Sunday morning.

A bright blue sky.

Inside jokes.

Cozy hugs.

Promises of “see you soon!”

Good music.

An easy drive.

Home.

Take a Nap on the Floor

Yesterday, as I drove home from church, I began to map out the rest of my Sunday in my head.

It was 11:45 a.m. and I was trying to plan my day out by the hour. I thought about going for a walk, or even a run. I wanted to get some chores done, to write for a few hours, to try on the dresses I bought and decide which ones I need to take back, to finish a report, to start doing peer reviews in my writing class, to plan the next big vacation I want to take, to buy a friend’s birthday gift, to book flights for an upcoming wedding—and about 10 more things.

If I did all these things, I thought, it would be a successful Sunday, and I would feel good.

But even as I planned, I knew I already didn’t feel good. I’d had trouble falling asleep the night before and woke up feeling anxious. And with this to-do list buzzing through my head, I felt, for the most part, like I wanted to burst into tears.

I am someone who has often believed that being productive makes me a better person. That living “right”—exercising, eating healthy, achieving things in a timely and efficient manner, checking off life events in time with everyone else—means I am living a successful life. And on the flip side of that, when I am not getting things done, when I’m not doing everything “right”, I feel like a failure, or like I’ve wasted time/days/etc.  I am quick to beat myself up over not getting things done or doing things right, and I am quick to assume that other people are judging me just as hard.

For example, I have an alarm set on my phone on weekends—weekends. This is partially because I like to get up at a decent hour and have time to take the morning slow and fully embrace my day off. But up until recently, I never fully admitted to myself that this alarm was also to ensure that I would not sleep in late and be deemed as lazy by other people.

This is a habit I am trying to break, it is a mindset I am trying to unlearn, it is an alarm I’m trying to turn off. I like to call this process untangling knots, and this is one that’s been double and triple tied for a long time. Having an unproductive day feels like making a mistake, being lazy feels like making a mistake, and I don’t give myself a lot of grace when it comes to “making mistakes.”

But yesterday, after I got home from church, and as I sat on the couch, feeling anxious and overwhelmed, I decided to do yoga.

My body was tired, my mind was tired. I had so much I wanted to do, so much on my mind, so much that was saying “if you don’t do this, you will WASTE your day!” But I rolled out my mat.

At the end, as I lay in savasana—which is just lying flat on your back with your eyes closed—I got tired. I told myself I should get up, I should get things done, I needed to get a move on my to-list or risk wasting the entire day. But instead, I grabbed a pillow and went to sleep, right there, on the floor. And when I woke up, I felt so much better.

Afterward, I walked into the living room and sat on the couch and watched the Dodger game. I did my daily bible study and then wrote this blog post. I ate dinner and then made banana bread.

A lot of my to-do list went unfinished, but I still felt good because I did things that served my soul. Things that helped me slow down and rest. Things that make the more traditionally productive days possible.

There are times when we need to buckle down and get things done. There are times when we can push ourselves to do things we never thought we could do. But what I’m trying to remind myself, is that the value of a day is not based on its productivity. My value is not based on my productivity. And neither is yours. Some days we can muster up the strength to check every single thing off our to-do list, and other days we might need to put the whole list aside and rest.

Both days are important. Both days will add value to your life. It is okay to make mistakes, it is okay to take days off, it is okay to sleep in on the weekends (or whenever your schedule allows.)

The only way to waste a day is to spend it in the past, regretting what you could have done, rather than spending it in the present, taking advantage of what you can do—even if that’s taking a nap on the floor.

10 Things You Might Hear While Fishing With Us

I grew up fishing.

There are so many Saturday’s and Sunday’s I can remember waking up early at my family’s mountain cabin, anxious to get out on the lake. We would stop at 7-eleven and buy mini donuts, we’d rent one of the bright orange boats at the dock, and then we’d start our loop around the lake, knowing where and when the best bites should hit.

These days, while the Saturday’s and Sunday’s spent fishing are much fewer and farther between, we still try to get out as much as we can. And when we’re lucky, we fish with some friends in some of the most beautiful places.

But no matter where we are or who we’re with, there are some things you’re bound to hear if you happened to walk by. We have our own kind of language when we fish, one that I had to actively pull myself out of in order to write this post. I had to imagine myself out on the lake, or in my seat on the shore, listening to the people around me say things that might not make sense to someone that’s never fished before—or maybe just someone that’s never fished with us.

Here are some of those things:

.

1) Fish On!

No, this isn’t a chant for the downtrodden, encouraging all those who have been shut out to keep going, to FISH. ON! This is a victory cry that announces you, quite literally, have a fish on your line. Usually we’ll pick up our pole and wait until we’ve successfully set the hook, and then yell “fish on!” It’s fun to watch our group cheer as surrounding groups slump in jealousy.

.

2) How did this even happen?

I can think of a number of different circumstances in which I’ve said this exact thing in a non-fishing context. Like when I followed the instructions of a recipe and ended up with something scary. Or when I tripped and fell in grand fashion for no discernable reason. Sometimes things just become a disaster and we have no idea why. In fishing, this usually involves your line becoming a rat’s nest in the blink of an eye. Or perhaps the time I hooked a fish by the tail. Or when I reeled in my pole to rebait, only to mysteriously hook my shoe in the process.

.

3) I’ve lost everything.

This is perhaps the saddest thing you can hear while fishing. Sure, you’ll lose the occasional fish. You’ll lose your bait, hook, swivel, jig, lure, or bobber. But sometimes, whether it be during a fight with a fish, or by reeling your line through a patch of seaweed, over a rock or under a log, you will, in fact, lose everything. In an instant your pole will go slack, and you know that when you reel in the rest of the line, there will be absolutely nothing there. Sometimes even the pole breaks too. *sigh*

.

4) Bitch stole my bait.

Our most common moniker for fish is *ahem* bitch. And if you ever fished, you know why. Fish can be slimy, shady little…well, bitches. They can tangle up your line, they can swim under a rock or log and make you lose everything, they can get your hopes up only to send them crashing down. Sometimes fish can be clever. They figure out that the shiny, sparkly Powerbait (or worm or mosquito or salmon egg) is a trap, and will nibble them off the hook without a trace. So when you reel in your line, curious why you haven’t gotten a bite, you find nothing but a hook, licked clean like a plate on Thanksgiving. And so, the only natural thing to say is, that bitch stole my bait.  

.

5) *Zelda noises*

When my siblings and I were little, we got Zelda: Ocarina of Time for our Nintendo 64. To this day, it is probably our favorite game of all time, and thus, the sights, sounds, bosses, challenges, etc. are firmly engrained in all of our memories. One of which is the unforgettable sound Link makes while swinging his sword, which is a high pitched “HaaaAAAA” noise. In time, it has become one of the most hilarious noises in the world. ESPECIALLY, when we’ve been fishing for hours, haven’t caught much, and have slipped into a delirium that encourages us to use these sword fighting sounds to help us cast.

.

6) Do you have tinkage?

While trolling (fishing on a slow-moving boat) my family and I often use lures—mainly Thomas Bouyants and Super Dupers. These lures will “swim” around in the water, swaying back and forth, to attract the attention of the fish and ideally get them to bite. As a result, the swaying motion causes the tip of our fishing poles to twitch, or, as we like to call it, “tink.” If your pole is “tinking” it means the lure is swimming right. Thus, do you have tinkage? means “everything look good over there?” And responses to this range, from: “yup” to “oh, MAJOR tinkage.”

.

7) We need the Koehn death grip over here.

Over the years, I have gotten pretty good at removing hooks from fish we’ve caught. To do this however, I need to keep the fish still. And so, I’ve figured out the kind of hand strength I need to make that happen. In our circle of friends, this has become known as “the Koehn death grip.” Koehn (pronounced “cane”) being my last name.  Fish have been known to gurgle while I hold them in my hand, and once I squeezed a bigger fish so hard that a salmon egg (which we were not fishing with) popped out of the fish’s mouth. Oops.

.

8) I need STANK.

One of my sister’s biggest superstitions while shore fishing is to add a Powerbait attractant to her bait. It adds scent and flavor to your bait so that fish will find it and bite. While making this list, I had to actively search for what this stuff is actually called because for decades we have only ever called it “stank” or “stinky stuff.” At any given time while fishing, my sister will say, “I need STANK,” and as I write this I am giggling, knowing how completely unfazed we are by this request. We just toss her the bottle and move on.

.

9) Should we do a fish call?

I HESITATE to tell you this because it feels like a trade secret. But then, I don’t know if there’s a single person we’ve taken fishing that we haven’t told this to, so, perhaps it’s not a secret at all. At the start of any fishing trip (morning, afternoon, or evening) we like to do a “fish call.” This makes us feel like the fishing has started and, we like to believe, summons the fish toward us. To do a fish call*, you simply make a fist, count to three, and then blow into your fist the way you might if your hands were cold. But you elongate that exhale, that way the call can reach even the biggest fish at the deepest depths. Then, you open your hand and push the call into the open.

*Shout out to everyone who just did a fish call at their desk, in their bedroom, on their couch or wherever else you might be reading this.

.

10) Seems like it’s time for a beer.

And finally, this one. Do I need to explain this one? I feel like I don’t. When you’re fishing, it’s almost always time for a beer.

To the Families in Uvalde: I Hope the Sea Splits for You

There are a lot of important conversations happening in the wake of the absolutely monstrous tragedy that took place at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday.

The weight of the lives lost—the where and how—is unbearable, and the why remains so far beyond understanding, I have trouble even asking the question out loud.

We all want to fix it, to say something that will take the events of that day back, or, at the very least, ensure that something like this will never and could never happen again.

I understand that want and that need, and I will continue to listen and contribute to the conversations and elections that hopefully will make that difference.

But when I was reflecting on what happened in Texas. When I thought of the families and the children and the teachers. As I bared a fraction of the pain that they are carrying right now, I kept having one image come to mind: The ocean.

I kept imagining being in the middle of the ocean, with no idea where to go or how to stay afloat, all while the waves raged and crashed. That’s how I imagine grief like this—like losing your child to senseless violence, like seeing an unspeakable tragedy unfold in your backyard—must feel. Like unendurable chaos. Like drowning.

While many of us will read about this tragedy online, waiting for the chance to vote or advocate or donate to causes or laws that aim to prevent this from ever happening again, there are people and families that will continue to feel like they are actively drowning. Amongst all of the arguments and social media posts and anger and hatred and blame and desperation, these people will still be feeling the full weight of this grief, holding on for dear life.

And so I’m thinking about them today—thinking about you.

I know that “thoughts and prayers” is practically a cliché at this point. So I want to be clear that when I say I’m thinking about you and that I’m praying for you, it’s not vague and it’s not impersonal.

I am hopeful that I can somehow pray to exactly where you are—right there in the water.

There is a story in the bible when Moses, who is freeing slaves from Egypt, parts the Red Sea so that they can get across. It is perhaps one of the most well-known bible stories, and one that shook me as a kid. I liked to imagine walls of fish higher than the Israelites heads, swimming around like nothing was out of the ordinary, like the sea hadn’t just split in half and humans were walking through it.

And while this notion of “splitting the sea” only literally happened once, the metaphorical experience is referenced a lot in the community of faith.

In the song “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music, there is the lyric: “you split the sea so I could walk right through it.” And in the song “Graves into Gardens” by Elevation Worship, there is one that says: “You turn seas into highways.”

And so my prayer is that through the support of your family, your friends, your community, our country, and the world, you will find something to grab onto, something to help keep you afloat as you mourn. I pray that you would not focus on the why—for nothing, no answer, no reason will take this pain away or make it make sense—but rather on the who. Who you lost. Who they were and how not just their death but their life changed the world.

I pray that in time the sea will split for you. That these raging waters will turn into solid ground. That you will find a path—not out, not away, but through. Right through the center, between the high walls of fish. And I pray that you’ll find freedom on the other side. Not from the memory of those you’ve lost, but from the darkness that would gladly hold you captive forever. I pray there’s a sunrise, and every color imaginable, I pray there is good where evil thought there could be none, and I pray there is hope when it once seemed impossible.

I am thinking of you, and I am praying for you. May faith find you, right there in the water.  

10 More Newsletters You Should Add to Your Inbox

A couple years ago I posted this blog about the newsletters you might want to consider adding to your inbox. And since I am a (self proclaimed) newsletter addict, I thought I’d do another round.

I am always on the hunt for a good newsletter. I love the short format, the concise information, and the often thought-provoking content.

They add some happy things to my inbox, and perhaps give me the smallest freedom to *curate* it.

So, if you’re looking for something new, here are a few suggestions:

.

1) Half Baked Harvest

Frequency: Depends on which emails you sign up for

I am subscribed to both her new recipe posts (which come a few times a week), and her “Nine Favorite Things” post that comes in on Sundays. Her recipes are easy to follow and the pictures she posts alongside them are GORGEOUS. I can also confirm that her food is delicious. I made these cauliflower pizzas and loved them. Her “Nine Favorite Things” post is a fun assortment of beauty, clothing, travel and podcast recommendations. I love both!

Find it here.

.

2) The Art of Noticing

Frequency: Every Monday

I mentioned this one is a previous favorites post, but I had to include it on this list too. It encourages you—just likes the name implies—to notice the world around you. Both the big things and the small things. I love this one and I always set aside time to read and absorb it each week.

Find it here.

.

3) More to That

Frequency: Sporadic

This is another one previously recommended but again, it is worth re-mentioning. This is not so much a newsletter as it is an occasional, long form blog. Each issue has a specific theme and message, along with cute and informative animations that act as visual aids. These posts always leave me thoughtful and reflective and I feel better having read them.

Find it here.

.

4) Book Freak

Frequency: About every other week

This newsletter chooses one self help book per issue and gives you quotes and/or advice from that particular book. I like it because it gives you a glimpse into what you will get if you choose to read that book, and it gives you access to some meaningful quotes that, alone, might leave you filled up and inspired.

Find it here.

.

5)  What’s in my…?

Frequency: Weekly

This one is for everyone out there (like me) who is NOSEY. Each week someone sends a list of things that they have in their purse/on their desk/in their office/in their refrigerator, etc., and I love it. I feel like people are letting me peek into their lives without feeling intrusive, and I am always up for a product recommendation or two.

Find it here.

.

6) A Thing or Two

Frequency: Every Monday

Speaking of product recommendations, this newsletter always has me opening up 15 internet tabs, as it’s full of everything you could imagine. There are recommendations ranging from art, home décor, podcasts, albums, plants, flowers, jewelry, clothing, anything and everything Clare and Erica (the writers) are loving that week. Big fan.

Find it here.

.

7) We Like L.A.

Frequency: Mondays & Thursdays

This one unfortunately only applies to my friends who live in the LA area, but that’s not to say there isn’t one out there for your city too. Each week and weekend it sends a list of activities, opportunities, etc. going on in the area, and while I don’t always have time to check everything (or, at times, anything) out, I like being in the know. I like hearing about all the fun things people are planning and doing, especially after going through two years when neither of those things were happening.

Find it here.

.

8) USPS Informed Delivery

Frequency: Everyday (except Sunday)

For all of my US friends, you might already know this, but I did not until a couple years ago. You can sign up to have the post office send you a digital preview of your mail each day! It doesn’t show you what is in the envelope, obviously, but it shows you the front of the envelope so you can get an idea of who it’s from and whether or not you have to make a trip to the mailbox that day. This can be especially helpful if you live in an apartment or condo and your mailbox isn’t right outside your door.

Find it here.

.

9) Vulture Crossword

Frequency: Every weekday

This is my most recent find and I have been loving it. I have always loved crossword puzzles and this is a super fun, relatively easy daily puzzle that is based in pop culture trivia. It’s been a fun addition to my morning routine and helps wake my brain up.

Find it here.

.

10) All the -rdle’s

Frequency: Daily

And finally, this one isn’t a newsletter but can act like one if you work it into your morning routine. You may or may not have heard of Wordle, the word game that asks you to guess a five letter word each day, and always sets Twitter on fire after a particularly hard one. Well, after Wordle, came a world of other “rdle’s” that tried to generate the same kind of hype. And in my case, they did. I like to do the Wordle first, then I play Quordle, which asks you to guess four five letter words simultaneously, and then I play Heardle, which asks you to guess a song based on the first 15 seconds. I usually try to do these each day, but I have also noticed that I come and go in streaks. I will do them every day for a week and then completely forget they exist for two weeks. But hey, it’s all about balance. And I like that there is an online code of sorts—you never reveal the answer (especially to the Wordle) so no one accidentally runs into a spoiler before they’ve had time to do it.

You can find Wordle here. Quordle here. And Heardle here.


Have any newsletters that you would recommend?

You can also check out my initial list of recommendations here.