2016 olympics

July/August 2016 Favorites

So remember that blog I posted a couple months ago about a few of my favorite things for the entire first half of 2016, the title of which—2016 Favorites (So Far)—suggested that I might post a “part 2” at the end of 2016? Well I’m finding that impossible.

You see, posting that blog seems to have opened up some sort of sharing door (sharing window?) (sharing sun roof?) that my body refuses to shut and I constantly find myself wanting to talk about how great things are! Which, seeing how easy it would be to discuss how much things suck, I feel as though doing the latter is a far better use of my time. Thus, behold a second—and let’s be honest, nowhere near the last—edition of Favorites.

 

Cooking!

I know, I’m as surprised as you are. But after months of buying random ingredient-ish things from the grocery store and being consistently disappointed they didn’t conjugate in the pantry to form a heart healthy, hip friendly and Heaven flavored meal, I decided it was time to change my methods. So last month, after my sister and I got back from our vacation in Ireland and were looking for a way to shift our diet away from beer and café pastries, we started scouring cookbooks and Pinterest for relatively easy-to-make and cheap-to-buy-for recipes and made grocery lists.

Yes. Actual lists. Like adults with their shit together type of lists. It was magical.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes that I followed. All of which were delicious and none of which required a degree in Culinary Latin to decipher the instructions or a black belt in Kitchen Jiu Jitsu to put together.

(All images property of the brilliant recipe creators themselves)

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The Fundamentals of Caring

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I had heard very little about this movie before watching it, not reviews from the critics, not gif filled articles on the Internet, nothing. All I knew was that it was on the front page of Netflix and starred a few people I admired (Paul Rudd & Selena Gomez). That being said, I absolutely LOVED this movie with my whole heart. It made me feel all the feels. All of them. And after it was over I immediately wanted to watch it again, which I did. There’s really not much else I can say except stop whatever you are doing, no matter how time sensitive or crucial to the survival of mankind and watch this movie because it’s great. (Find it here)


 

Stranger Things

Staying on the topic of Netflix for a minute, I give you Stranger Things, the object of my obsession for the last few weeks. There is no way for me to describe to you what this show is about, as the plot is so twisted and incredible that attempting to do so would ruin it. So just take my word on this and watch it because it BLEW. MY. MIND. (Find it here)

Also, for any of you that have already seen it, I give you this meme:

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#ElevenWillAlwaysBeMyWomanCrushWednesday


 

Bitmojis

Meet Kimoji, the bitmoji version of me:

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She laughs,

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She cries,

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She surfs,

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She poses for the cover of People magazine.

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She does it all. Including most of the talking in my text message conversations. Earlier this month, my entire family made a ‘moji and since then we rarely have a discussion without one of them making an appearance. It’s glorious. You have no idea how much time we’re saving by using our Bitmojis to express emotions that would have otherwise required minutes of thumbwork. Honestly I would go on record to say that Bitmojis are probably saving us from carpal tunnel. (Find the app here)


 

The Olympics

I mean, how could they not be? They are arguably (though whoever wants to actually argue with me will undoubtedly lose) the greatest thing you could ever watch on television and on August 5th they finally arrived! It could never be overstated how much my family and I love the Olympics, and if you need any proof, refer to our DVR that is probably about as tired as a toddler without a nap. We spent an insane amount of hours absorbing every minute of every sport we could feast our eyes on, and expended buckets of energy screaming at the competing athletes, even though we were well aware they couldn’t hear us. And while I’m incredibly bummed they are already over, it’s important to focus on the positives…ONLY 526 DAYS UNTIL THE 2018 WINTER OLYMPICS!

Alright that’s it from me (for now). Have anything you’ve been loving lately? Let me know! My Amazon cart is always open…

See the previous favorites post here.

The Olympics & the Human Spirit

Even with the Olympics almost a week gone, I’m still finding it difficult to adjust to life without them.

For 17 straight days my family had recorded and watched as much Olympic coverage as we possibly could and somehow it still feels like we should have watched more.

Nothing really beats the Olympics for me. What could be better than a front row seat to peoples’ dreams coming true? What television show or movie premiere could outdo the moment when a lifetime’s worth of hard work pays off? What song could possibly outsing a country’s national anthem declaring the honor being brought back home?

But while the quest for success and glory can be easily found in the eyes of an Olympian, and it is a commanding force in why we are drawn to watch them seek it, I try to stay focused on the true lesson every athlete teaches us, regardless of whether they walk away with a medal or not. For at the heart of every Olympian, underneath all of the smiles and frustration and muscles and bruises, is the simple and unbounded will to try.

In the minutes leading up to Opening Ceremonies, an NBC segment on the hosting country stated that throughout the 2016 Olympic Games “celebration [would] seek to prevail. Celebration of the brilliance, the magnificence, and the miracle of the human spirit.” Upon my initial listen to these words, it was easy to relate them to the physical aspects that would be on display. The athletes coming to Rio had put their bodies through more than many of us could ever imagine and I was ready to watch as they used them as vessels to make history. But as the days went on and I watched event after event, qualifier after qualifier after semifinal after final after medal ceremony, I realized there is always so much more to the brilliance of the Olympic Games than the achievements made in physical fitness.

During a qualifying race for the Women’s 5000m, American Abbey D’Agostino and New Zealander Nikki Hamblin collided and fell on the track. Once D’Agostino was back up, she noticed Hamblin was still on the ground, but instead of continuing she made efforts to help her up, telling her that no matter what, they had to finish. As the two of them started to run again however, it became clear to D’Agostino that she herself had suffered serious injuries to her leg—later to be diagnosed as a complete tear of her right ACL, a meniscus tear, and a strained MCL—and it became difficult for her to continue. Hamblin reached for her, touching D’Agostino’s shoulder with an encouraging, reciprocating kindness, but D’Agostino wavered and eventually sat back down shaking her head. Hamblin reached for her again, still waiting, still offering to help D’Agostino do exactly what she said needed to be done when she first offered Hamblin her hands. But as the severity of her injury set in, D’Agostino told Hamblin to go on without her.

As I watched Hamblin began to run again, it became clear to me that I didn’t care whether or not D’Agostino finished the race. For me, she’d already won, as she allowed us the privilege of witnessing what the Opening Ceremonies perfectly described as the miracle of the human spirit.

The way I saw it, when Abbey D’Agostino stepped onto the track that day, she was an Olympian. She’d put in the work, the time, the sacrifice, and she’d finally reached a platform worthy of all that. I’m sure she’d dreamed about that race. About how it would start, how she would feel, where she would finish. She probably pictured herself winning and losing a thousand times over. And though she met all the physical qualifications of an Olympian, had all of the magnificence and brilliance needed to get her across that finish line, it was her spirit that would make her a hero. Not only in her ability to put aside the podium and the hardware to help someone who, at the base of their Olympic existence, was just another human being who needed help, but for her ability to keep trying. For after her knee had given out and she told Hamblin to continue on without her, D’Agostino was left sitting on the track alone and barely able to walk. But in the true spirit of the Olympics, and in an epic celebration of every wonder associated with the brilliance and magnificence present at each and every Games, Abbey D’Agostino got up and finished.

It is stories like these that keep me coming back every two years to tune in and witness the magic that is the Olympic Games. For it is always a place where differences are put aside, people are seen as people and respect is the native language.

So as I let this chapter of Olympic history come to a close, I try not to look too far ahead at the next one, as I want to take a second to really appreciate what I’ve learned here and how I can let it guide me forward. That way, when I’m sitting in front of my TV two years from now, ready for more magic, more history, more wonder, I can look back and celebrate all the brilliance and magnificence that I found in my own life between Games. I can celebrate all the steps I took and sacrifices I made to make my own dreams come true. And I can know that like the Olympians I’ll see walking in to Opening Ceremonies wearing their country’s colors, I did everything I could to get where I wanted to be. That no matter what obstacles I faced or how many times I fell, I kept on trying.