advice

Just Live the Day

A little while back I read The Grapes of Wrath, and like in many of the classics, I found a great nugget of advice. It was simple, easy advice, which to me meant it would be almost impossible to follow, but it’s stuck with me over the last few months and I wanted to share it with you.

To quote it directly from the book, I believe it is Ma who says, “Jus’ live the day. Don’ worry yaself.”

Just live the day.

As in, be here now.

Live this day. Right now.

Don’t live in the regrets of yesterday. Don’t live in the fears of tomorrow. Live this day. No matter where you are.

No matter if that means you need to go out and attack it, or if it means you need to stay home and rest.

Let this day serve you. Let it show you what it’s made of. Let it inspire you, let it heal you, let it show you joy you never imagined.

Find the wonders of this day, and don’t waste them thinking about a day you can’t get back or a day you can’t even reach yet.

This day is only going to happen once, so live in it and take it for all it’s worth.

Jus’ live the day. Don’ worry yaself.

To My Fellow Tough Eggs

Often when I meet someone new, or when I see someone for the first time in a long time, or sometimes for no reason at all, I feel very shy and quiet and unable to start, continue, or enjoy a conversation.

I put a lot of pressure on myself, demanding, THIS IS ON YOU, and making myself believe that whenever a conversation goes stale, or when someone opts to sit or stand with someone else, or when the stranger I meet at the supermarket doesn’t immediately fall in love with me like the movies told me they would, it’s because I’m boring or unlikeable or pathetic—or a healthy combination of all three.

Anyone else with me on this?

Anyone else wish they had that magic they see in other people? That ability to talk about anything and everything to anyone and everyone. That something that draws people to them without even meaning to. That ease.

I do.

And while I think it’s something I’ll always strive for, and as much as I believe that you can challenge yourself and grow and acclimate and learn, there comes a point when we have to realize that we are not required to be that kind of person.

We don’t have to be the person that knows exactly what to say all the time. We don’t have to talk to anyone and everyone about anything and everything. Some of us are simply tougher eggs to crack and you have to give us a little more time.

So, to my fellow tough eggs, let me just say that I am with you. You are not alone in feeling like you should do more, be more. You are not the only one sitting there internally screaming, “SAY SOMETHING.” You are not boring or uninteresting or pathetic. You just need time. And anyone worth having in your life will give you that time. So be patient with yourself.

Strain then Stir (Episode 7): Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings Hungry for More (Part 2)

I’m not sure how many of you watch Game of Thrones, and I’m not sure how many of you watched it last night, but if you have and you did, there is obviously A LOT to talk about. I won’t be talking about it here however, because I’m not a spoiler-er and I don’t want to ruin anyone’s day, so instead I’m going to talk about food.

Food is safe, right? Food is comforting. Food is our friend. Let’s talk about food.

Checking in from last time, I am currently cooking my way through Chrissy Teigen’s second cookbook, Cravings: Hungry for More, and it has yet to disappoint!

Over the last couple months, I’ve really felt like I’ve not only learned new recipes, but I’ve learned new skillzz that I can take with me into many recipes to come.

These have been some of my favorites recently:

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Vegetable Noodles

This might have been totally obvious to everyone except me, but I had no idea you could turn veggies into noodles using a vegetable peeler. I thought you had to have one of those fancy spiralizer things or, I don’t know, some other extravagant cooking tool. So imagine my surprise and delight to find the secret to one of the most delicious and healthy things I’ve eaten lately was sitting in my cluttery utensil drawer all along!

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Blueberry Cream Cheese Pancakes

When I was training for my marathon, most of my Saturday mornings were spent logging lots of miles. I dreamed about the day when I could sleep in and make a big breakfast. This past weekend, I finally got to fulfill that dream and I spent all morning dancing around the kitchen in my sweatpants, whipping up these practically perfect in every way pancakes. Fun fact: The recipe calls for buttermilk and I forgot to buy it, so I Googled substitution options and found that if you mix 1 cup of milk (even dairy free!) with 1 tablespoon of vinegar and then let it sit for 5 minutes, you have yourself a buttermilk substitute!

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Goat Cheese Nicoise

One of the biggest surprises about this cookbook for me is how much I’ve loved the salads. I would in no way consider myself a “salad person” but there has yet to be one that I haven’t loved, and this was no exception. I even went so far as to leave the lettuce completely out of the recipe because who needs lettuce when you have green beans and potatoes and goat cheese and tuna steak.

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Spicy Honey Butter Carrot Coins

I mean, the name of these should let you know that Chrissy is not messing around. She’s making carrots taste like a damn DESSERT. I could’ve have licked the pan. (I might have licked the pan)

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So yeah, it’s safe to say that I’ll recommend this book every chance I’ll get because wow, yum, hey-o and YES.

Do you have any recipes or cookbooks you’ve been loving lately?

March/April Favorites

Y’all, my senses are overwhelmed.

I’ve found so many good things lately!

So much so that I don’t even have time for one of these strange/slightly awkward/overall pointless introductions.

Although I guess I just did one.

Tricked you.

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Podcasts

As you might suspect, My Dad Wrote a Porno is somewhat of a scandalous podcast, but it is absolutely hilarious. It follows a man—alongside his two friends—reading his dad’s erotic novel aloud. It is as funny as it is mortifying and the secondhand cringe is real, but if you are looking for something to listen to that will make you laugh out loud, I highly recommend this one. (find it here)

On an ENTIRELY different level. Homecoming is a fiction podcast that was recently made into a series on Amazon Prime. It follows the story of a woman who has lost her memory, but seems to have ties to a very private/sketchy organization known as “Homecoming”. I was hooked through both seasons and can’t wait for the next one. (find it here)

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Books

I could probably just list “Mitch Albom” as one of my favorites for the past few months because I’ve been reading his books like crazy, but The Next Person You Meet in Heaven was especially good because it continued on the story of The Five People You Meet in Heaven which I’ve loved for a long time. As with most of his books, it’s a quick but powerful read and I absolutely loved it. (find it here)

Salt to the Sea was the second book I read from Ruta Sepetys (the first being Between the Shades of Grey) and I was once again taken by her ability to make historical fiction so captivating, heartbreaking and moving. (find it here)

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Movies

Set in the 1970’s, following the movement of Martin Luther King Jr., The Best of Enemies is such a good and important story to be told, and I’m so glad it is being told now, in a time when so many people are divided.

Breakthrough is an absolutely wild story of a boy who falls through an iced over lake and is pronounced dead, only to have him spontaneously generate a pulse after his mother arrives at the hospital and prays over him. It is true account of a real life miracle and it was absolutely moving. (find it in theaters now!)

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TV Shows

Game of Thrones. OBVIOUSLY. (find it on HBO)

I feel like On My Block doesn’t get as much recognition as it should, but I’ve loved both of the first two seasons and hope it continues to generate attention and appreciation for the genuine, funny and real life stories it tells in every episode. (find it on Netflix)

Whether or not you know the story behind The Act, you need to watch it. (find it on Hulu)

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Music

As always, I’m just going to list what I’ve been listening to, but let the iTunes writers describe it to you because they have fun adjectives and big words.

Maren Morris, GIRL: “Her free spirited sophomore effort continues to push the limits of contemporary country-pop, infusing it with energy and texture from hip hop, R&B and psychedelic rock.”

Billie Eilish, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO: “a melancholy investigation of all the dark and mysterious places that linger in the back of our minds.”

Gone West, Tides-EP: This country band is still kind of under the radar so they don’t have a fancy write up on iTunes, but I genuinely love this EP and highly recommend it if you are looking for an easy listen.

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Skin Food

My skin has been having a bit of a hissy fit lately and so I’ve gone into full mother-of-a-screaming-toddler-in-a-mall mode, desperately trying to find something, anything to calm it down. With some research, I came across these two products, both of which have very high reviews. As of today, I’m about a week into using both and I have definitely seen improvements. Both products promise the long lasting benefits, so it is still a wait and see type of game, but I do feel like a bit more of an adult having a more defined nightly skin routine. (find the Rosehip Oil here, and Keeva Organic Face Cream here)

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Fig Jam

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To finish us off for today, I’d like to bring up one of the more obscure loves of my life: fig jam! This elusive little guy is hard to find, so hard that I only got my hands on two jars because my aunt snagged them for me at her local health food store. But trust me when I say that it is worth it because it is delicious. (my aunt found it at Sprouts 🙂

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

See my previous favorites post here.

A Lesson from Claire Wineland: Love Your Life Your Way

Last month my sister and I went to see the movie Five Feet Apart in theaters. It follows two people with cystic fibrosis, who fall in love but are forced to keep their distance from one another.

The director of the film, Justin Baldoni, recently posted a video on his Instagram (that you can find here) where he introduced his main inspiration for the film: Claire Wineland. She lived her entire life with cystic fibrosis before passing away at the age of 21. In the video (taken in 2015), Claire gives a short speech, and it’s immediately clear why she changed so many peoples’ lives, and why her legacy is sure to live on.

She said:

I’m 18 years old and I have something called cystic fibrosis. I do only have a few years left to live. I mean, that’s how the doctors see it. Let’s get the whole like death thing out on the table, right?

Like all of us could get hit by a meteorite, so let’s stop thinking about the death part of it because that doesn’t matter to me. We have no control over it. But we do have control over whether or not we are proud of our lives. I mean, that’s something we have complete say over.

I am genuinely proud of my life. I am so proud to be alive. I’m not saying I don’t feel pain. I’m not saying I don’t feel sadness and suffering, and loneliness, because that’s what it means to be a human being. But I’m saying that that pain and that loneliness and that sadness is beautiful.

We live in a society that benefits off of us continuously looking for happiness and dreams and goals out here. Right? If we say, “No. We are not going to go looking out there for a happiness. We are alive and that is all we need.” We are beating the system. Right? And we’re living lives that we’re proud of. We’re living lives that make us happy!

You have to look at all of it. All of the pain, all of the loneliness, all of the beauty, all of the friendship and the family, and the sickness and the health. You have to lay it all in front of you and you have to say, “Okay. That is what I have and it is all wonderful. What can I make with it?”

Woah, right?

It really made me stop and think.

So often I am someone that puts an immense amount of pressure on myself to live a life that other people can be proud of. Sure, I take pride in what I do, but when I’m lying awake at night stressing, it is because I’m worried I’m not doing enough, not being enough. I’m worried people are judging me or pitying me or just wondering what the hell is she doing?

When we focus on the eyes of others, it’s hard to accept “all of it”. It’s hard to see all of the pain and sadness and beauty and family and friendship and sickness and health, and consider it “wonderful”. We can see the wonder in some of it, sure, namely the parts that might impress or connect us to others, but it’s hard to see all of it as the wonderful combination that makes us, us. It’s hard to realize that our unique combination of all of those elements is what makes our lives beautiful and special and important.

So today, I am going to take a look around, and I encourage you to do the same. Look at all of it. Everything you’ve been given, and find the meaning in it. Find the wonder. Stop living your life by other peoples’ standards and start living a life that you are proud of.

Give Thursday a Chance

So it’s Thursday.

Which means it’s almost Friday.

Which means it’s practically the end of the entire week.

Which means there’s no point in starting anything now.

Right?

All those goals you’ve been meaning to start pursuing.

That something new you’ve been wanting to try.

Those chores you’ve been needing to get done.

There’s no reason to do them today.

It’s Thursday.

You might as well call this week a wash and just start again on Monday.

Right?

As much as I want to say yes, and as much as I want to put everything I want to do aside and just worry about it tomorrow or, you know, next week, that really wouldn’t do me or you or any of us any good.

Mondays are great for motivational purposes. They are great for easy calendar tracking purposes. They are great in theory. But really think about a Monday. Think about how when you actually get to a Monday, it’s hard and awful and has too many responsibilities to begin with.

Monday’s can suck.

So…why not Thursday?

Why not Friday?

Why not Tuesday evening at 6:00 p.m.?

There’s no reason to wait to start doing the things that will make you happy or organized or less stressed or successful. Every day holds the possibilities we give to Monday and every day can be as looked forward to as Friday.

So why can’t Thursday be your day?

Give Thursday a chance.

Start today.

There is More than Red

I recently listened to the audiobook of “You’re A Badass” by Jen Sincero and immediately after finishing it, I went out and bought a hard copy because I wanted to be able to highlight it and make notes and read it over and over and until the binding is good and tired. It is packed with good reminders designed to get you up and out of whatever funk you might find yourself in, so you can get out there and kick some (mostly your own) ass.

One of my favorite chapters started with the author asking you to look around whatever space you are currently in and pick out everything that is red.

Give it a try.

Focus on those things, memorize them, repeat them over and over again in your mind.

Now close your eyes.

Well. Okay. So this exercise might work better if you were listening to it. Otherwise you’ll just be sitting there with your eyes closed, repeating “ketchup bottle” over and over, with no idea what to do next. Since I was listening to the audiobook, I did not come across this logistical issue.

I APOLOGIZE.

The point of the exercise is to close your eyes, and after spending all that time focusing and memorizing the red, she then asks you to point out everything in your space that is yellow.

Huh? I thought.

Was this a trick?

I just wrote an entire rhyming poem called “Red in my Head” and now you’re going to pull something like THIS, Sincero? I do not approve.

But then she pulls a fast one on you.

She points out that if we are singularly focused in our lives, constantly looking only for the red, than we’re not going to notice the yellow, or the blue or the green. And Lord knows there is some green to be seen after all of this rain.

I listened to this chapter of the book about the same time I wrote this blog, and while they touch on the same thing, they stuck out in different ways. While my reminder to “look up” was a reminder that there are always good things amongst the bad, this “find the yellow” exercise was a good reminder that there is just more.

The world is full of so much more than what we might be struggling with in a particularly difficult moment or season. This doesn’t and shouldn’t belittle what we’re going through now, but it can act as a reminder that there are so many more moments out there for us if we have the courage, patience and perseverance to work through this one. There is so much yellow, y’all! So much blue! So many stars and stripes and polka dots. There is more. So take a deep breath, blink a few times, and let all those other colors come into focus.

Tips for Training for a Marathon

This past Sunday I ran the LA Marathon, a feat I never thought possible for myself, and one I will forever be PSYCHED about.

I wrote a blog about the experience, but I wanted to write another one for anyone who might be considering running a marathon, be it this year, next year or whenever. These are the things I learned both going into the race and on the day itself and I hope they can help you!

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1) Follow a training plan or join a group

Before I started training, the only thing I really knew about marathons was that I eventually had to run 26.2 miles. But as far as breaking it down to manageable increments, I had no idea. I didn’t want to undershoot it and leave me unprepared, or overshoot it and leave me exhausted. So, I enlisted the help of the internet and found this training plan that I followed (as well as I could) and I arrived on race day feeling very prepared.

If you are someone who has trouble getting motivated to follow a plan like this on your own, there are a ton of organizations out there that will give you a community to both encourage you and hold you accountable. If you are in the LA area, check out the LA Leggers, Students Run LA, Movement and LA Road Runners.

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2) Train hills

The LA Marathon is known for its hilly course and let me tell you: the rumors are true!  I was very grateful to have paid extra care in training with hills because I didn’t have any issue with them, but I could tell there were a bunch of runners who weren’t prepared for that element of the course and it zapped their energy.

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3) Mix up your routes

Training for a marathon is a long process. I probably did about 60 training runs, which is actually less than my training plan suggested, but was the best I could do in accordance with my schedule. After the first month or so, I had a list of routes I was familiar with and I would rotate them around. For the most part this was totally fine, but when I started having trouble with my IT Band, I read that one common cause of the tightness is running on the same side of the road too often. Since sidewalks are slanted (even if we don’t notice) we will unknowingly distribute our weight to keep ourselves balanced, which in turn can put extra strain on certain muscles. To prevent this, try to run a variety of routes and sometimes run those routes backwards, or on the opposite side of the street.

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4) Figure out your perfect training diet

There are a lot of articles out there that will tell you the “perfect” thing to eat before and after runs, and many of them contradict themselves. The reason is all of our bodies are different, and as such require different things to perform at the best of their ability. For me, I liked to eat pasta the night before a big run, a protein bar or some toast the morning of, and then a fruit smoothie with some protein powder after. I stayed away from dairy and sugar and I drank lots of water for days leading up to the run and afterward.

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5) Don’t skimp on post run care

Trust me when I say that I know the first thing you want to do after a long run is just sit on the couch. I also think it’s important to note that for the first two months of my training I did. It wasn’t until I started getting to the longer training runs that I realized that just wasn’t going to cut it. I was getting really sore and feeling worn down and frustrated. So, I did research on good post-run routines and then I stuck to them. After every run I made sure to stretch. And then I made myself a protein smoothie, drank water, took a cold shower (it’s as awful as it sounds but it seriously helps with sore muscles, I promise!) and then I relaxed on the couch. If my muscles were still sore, I iced them and took Advil.

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6) Find somewhere to put your phone

I personally do not like wearing any accessories when I run. Not even a fanny pack or those bands that strap on your arm to hold your phone. I am just so particular about the way things feel and I have never been able to find a happy medium for how tight or loose those are. SO, I wore a pair of leggings with pockets down the sides. This allowed me to keep energy gels, snacks, my phone, anything I might need during my run without having to hold them, because as I learned the hard way, anything gets heavy in your hand after an hour or so of running.

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7) Keep yourself hydrated

This was another one I learned the hard way. On my first 15-mile training run, I thought I could just go for it like I’d done on all the runs in the past, assuming that having water waiting for me at the end would be enough. It was not enough. I got so dehydrated and  I was all but convinced I was going to pass out on my walk back to my house. After that, I started planning out my runs in loops. I left a water bottle outside my front door that I would loop back to every five miles or so, and I kept energy gels in my pockets that I would take every hour and a half or so. (If you are a runner that is comfortable running with a water backpack or a water bottle this probably won’t apply to you, but it worked for me and might be something to consider.)

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8) Bring chapstick

When you are out there running for long periods of time, your lips get very dry. I constantly forgot to put on chapstick and I paid for it, both with cracked, dry lips, and sunburned lips. So, if you can, apply a bunch before your run. Also, I’d recommend bringing some with you on race day since you’re going to be out in the sun for so long. There are people who stand on the sidelines with poster boards covered in Vaseline, but I thought that was…kind of gross? It’s really a personal opinion here, if you have no qualms about germs/sweaty hands/melty Vaseline, then go ham on those poster boards. I kept some Chapstick in my pocket and took each poster I saw as a reminder to apply.

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9) Be patient

Training is a long journey. Give yourself time to improve and don’t get down on yourself if that process is slow. Just keep getting out there and keep moving forward.

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10) Listen to your body

There is a fine line between pushing yourself and hurting yourself. Aches and pains are a part of the process, but they shouldn’t all be brushed off as collateral. You know your body, so when it tells you something is wrong, pay attention.

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11) Go for it

Get pumped. Go all in. Believe you can do it and listen to the people around you who believe it too. Let that positivity fuel you. YOU CAN DO THIS!

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12) Push through the wall

In the blog I wrote about my own marathon experience, I talked about hitting the infamous “wall”. It was around mile 21 and I wholeheartedly considered quitting. My self-esteem had plummeted and my body was so tired I wanted to cry, so the thought of having to go five more miles seemed impossible. Prepare yourself for the possibility of this feeling. It is hell, but it is what makes a marathon a marathon. Take a break, breathe in and out, picture yourself at the finish line, and put encouraging words on repeat. I probably muttered, “I can do this” one hundred times after I passed the mile 21 marker, trying to muster up some inspiration from deep inside myself. And though it hurt like hell and seemed like an absolutely ridiculous idea, I started running again, and with each step I let those words sing louder than the doubt. I can do this I can do this I can do this I can do this.

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13) Be proud of yourself

Two days after I ran the marathon, I ordered myself a cake and had the bakery attach at note on top that said: “Never stop believing in yourself.”

There is no shame in being proud of yourself. There is no reason not to celebrate your own accomplishments. You are a badass and it’s most important that you know that. Once you do, you’ll be unstoppable!

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YOU. CAN. DO. THIS.

You can do anything.

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If you’d like some information on marathons happening this year, check out this article.

January/February Favorites

Have we finally made it to March?!

Didn’t it seem like February lasted forever?

Or is it just me?

Either way, I’m excited we’re finally here. It means we’re one step closer to spring, baseball season, a general thawing of my limbs. Let’s just say, I’ve been looking forward to March and it has taken its sweet time to get here. However, there have been a handful of things that made the wait a little more bearable:

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Podcasts

Y’ALL. Whether you are a regular podcast listener or have never listened to a single minute of one, I promise you will get sucked into the chaos of Dr. Death. While I’ve recommended it to pretty much everyone, I consistently have a hard time truly explaining it. To give you the bullet points: it follows the story of a man who may or may not be IS DEFINITELY a sociopath, and also happens to be the worst neurosurgeon ever. The. Things. That. He. Did. Oh. My. Gosh. Listen. (find it here)

On completely different level, Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet just makes me laugh. In each episode the brother and sister duo pick a theme such as “libraries in Los Angeles” and then do dramatic readings of the most ridiculous one-star reviews they can find. I laugh every episode. (find it here)

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Movies

If you watched the Oscars, you might have seen Free Solo win Best Documentary which, after seeing it, I can officially say it 1000% deserved. It follows professional climber Alex Honnold as he sets out to free solo (a.k.a climb with no ropes) El Capitan. You know, the casual 3,000 foot rock in the heart of Yosemite Valley. The cinematography is just out of this world, as is the stress you feel while watching. (find it here)

Since my brother is a rock climber, both Free Solo and The Dawn Wall are high on his recommended list, so the other night he came over and we watched both. I’d like to say this one is less stressful, but it’s not. You are immediately captivated by the spirit of climber Tommy Caldwell as he sets out to climb “The Dawn Wall” a section of El Capitan that has never been climbed before. I tell ya, these guys will inspire the heck out of you, but they also might very well give you an ulcer. (find it on here)

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GU Energy Gels

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For the past few months I’ve been training for the LA Marathon and I have absolutely no idea what I would do without these on my longer runs. They are super lightweight so I can keep them in my pockets, and they give me just the energy boost I need to keep running. Not to mention, every flavor I’ve tried is delicious! Highly recommend! (find them here)

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Books

Little Fires Everywhere follows a mother, Mia, and her daughter, Pearl, in their move to Shaker Heights, Ohio, and their introduction to the Richardson family, which has a whole series of repercussions. It’s the kind of story that moves slow but has you hooked the whole time. I loved it! (find it here)

The Tattooist of Auschwitz gives such a unique perspective of real life Holocaust survivor Lale Sokolov, who spent most of his time in the concentration camps working as a tattooist, giving other prisoners their identification numbers upon entering. Lale falls in love with a fellow prisoner and the book follows their journey throughout their imprisonment and afterward. (find it here)

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Music

In the music world, it has been a series of badass ladies that have stolen my heart over the last couple of months. These are a few of my favorites, with the ever colorful adjectives iTunes uses to describe them

thank u, next by Ariana Grande: “This album doesn’t arrive a minute too soon. As Grande wrestles with what she wants—distance and affection, anonymity and star power, and sex without strings attached—we learn more and more about the woman she’s becoming: complex, independent, tenacious, flawed.”

Heard it in a Past Life by Maggie Rogers: “A thoughtfully sewn patchwork of anthemic synth-pop, brooding acoustic folk, and soft-lit electronica.

Inner Monologue Pt. 1 – EP by Julia Michaels: “In her second solo EP, Julia Michaels dives further into the messy space between logic and love. By tangling clashing emotions together, she captures the profound thing that’s so perplexing about being in love: it’s complicated.”

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

See my previous favorites post here.

A Reminder from Awards Season: Try

Fun fact about me: I LOVE awards season.

The Emmys. The Grammys. The Oscars.

I’m here for it all.

I love seeing deserving people get recognized and dreams coming true. And I love listening to the speeches of ordinary people, just like you and me, proving that big dreams are not crazy and pursued passions do not go unrewarded.

Last night was no exception.

As I sat there watching the Oscars, listening to so many winners—especially first time winners—remind the dreamers at home who might be thinking I could never, that you can, I felt that familiar tinge of inspiration.

It’s not crazy to try.

It is never ever crazy to dream.

Because it can be you.

Whatever the equivalent of that Oscar stage is in your dream, it can be you standing up there. It can be you accepting that award and paying it forward to everyone at home thinking they never could.

So don’t be afraid to soak up the inspiration. And don’t count yourself out of conversations about someday. There is no dream you don’t deserve.

Try.