advice

Take a Step Back

To kick off the new year, my church participated in a 21 day fast. In lieu of certain food groups, I opted to delete social media from my phone, as I felt that it was one thing stealing more of my attention than necessary. And while I expected a bit of habitual reaching for my phone, and the mindless skimming through apps in search of Instagram, Twitter or the like, I did not expect the real, physical withdrawal I felt.

While at first I thought it was just frustration, FOMO, this sense that I must be missing out on something big, I soon began to realize I was actually feeling a little afraid. Unbeknownst to me, social media had become a bit of a crutch—a coping mechanism that I’d been using for whenever I was sad, angry, lonely, jealous, or confused. If I felt a feeling I didn’t like, I’d take a scroll through social media to find a new one. And now that I didn’t have that option, many of the feelings and thoughts I’d been avoiding were all demanding to be felt.

I lay awake almost every night of the first week, unable to fall asleep, unable to quiet my brain the way social media had been doing. It had become such a habit to scroll through whichever app until I got tired, never sure what I was looking for, but always hopeful it might be in the next post, or the next. But it never seemed to be there.

Having time away from social media, I’ve given myself space to think, space to wonder, and space to just listen.

Reaching for my phone is still a habit. I still catch myself tapping at the screen, hoping something pops up that might make a bad moment better or a long day easier, but I am also doing better at looking for things offline that can help. I’m reading more, I’m praying more, I’m being more creative. I’m feeling all of the feelings that come naturally each day, and I’m allowing them to pass through me rather than attempting to shut them out.

I will admit, I thought this fast would be harder for me than it was. And after those first few nights, I was convinced I would never make it. But having come to the end of the 21 days, and not feeling even an inkling of the relief or freedom that I thought I would, I realize how crucial this fast was for me—even when I was someone who would have considered herself not to be addicted to social media.

And so, I’d encourage anyone to take a step back. Just to see if there’s anything you might be missing. Take a step back and feel the feelings that you might be avoiding. Take a step back and listen for the things that have always been inside you but have been muted by the endless scrolling. Take a step back and breathe. Exist in the real world and simply in the real. You don’t have to leave social media behind forever, but it’s important to remind ourselves that social media is a place to visit, not a place to live. Take a step back, log off and look around. There’s a lot more for us out here than there is in there, and out here it will last a lot longer.

Elton John’s Only Question Worth Asking

I recently read Elton John’s book Me, and it was a wild ride.

I’d highly recommend reading it in any way you prefer, but I’d especially recommend the audiobook as it was a fantastic listen that featured both Elton John himself, and Taron Egerton, who played Elton John in the biopic Rocketman.

One thing that has particularly stuck with me in the days and weeks after finishing the book is the very last sentence of the epilogue. After telling the incredible story of his life that is full of very high highs and very low lows, Elton John speaks wisely about the hard fact that all he’d gone through—even the things he regrets—got him where he is today. And while he’s wondered whether or not he’d go back and change things if he could, he says, “there’s really no point in asking, ‘what if?’ The only question worth asking is, ‘what’s next?’”

I know I live in the what if far too often—even when I’m not aware I’m doing it. There are things I regret, things I wish I could change, conversations I wish went differently, moments that still make me sad, mad, and embarrassed. But the fact of the matter is, all of those things made (and make) me who I am. They are the reasons the people in my life love me, and the reasons I’m learning to love myself.  They are what will make my life my life.

So let’s stop asking what if and start getting excited for what’s next. Let’s look forward to the possibility that comes with growth, for the understanding that comes with failure, and for the levity and humor that (eventually) come with embarrassment. Let’s look forward and stop looking back.

5 Things to Wish for at Midnight (List-cember #9)

Well my friends, we have made it! Against all odds, we have made it to the last day of 2020. The final hours of a trying, brutal, relentless year that none of us saw coming. And now we are going to start something new. It might not look new, it might not look easy, and unlike many New Year’s Eves, the strike of midnight might not look exactly magical. But I don’t think that should sway us from counting down, setting goals, or making wishes for a fresh start.

In fact, I feel it is more important than ever to make those wishes this year, not only for ourselves but for the world as a whole. So as those final seconds start to countdown on the clock, here are five things we can all wish for:

1) Unity

One of the most common phrases we heard throughout 2020 was “we’re all in this together.” And while there were many instances where I saw this to be true, there seemed to be many more where it was clear that it wasn’t. This year brought a lot of panic, a lot of fear, a lot of hard, and a lot of new into focus, so it was understandable the way tensions rose. But never have I seen such clear division, constant hate, and widespread loneliness caused by fear of saying the wrong thing, holding the wrong opinion or having a moment’s hesitation. I think there are a lot of positive changes being made in the world, and there are a lot of long overdue conversations taking place, but I also feel like there is a lot of impulsive cancellation and condemnation rather than encouraged understanding and hopeful redemption. Let’s hope for real unity in the year(s) to come. Unity that is built on differences and two sided conversations. Unity that is not eradicated by conflict but made stronger because of it. Let’s truly find a way to be “in this together” and rebuild a better world.

2) Innovation

Even with all the restrictions in place this year, there was still a heft amount of innovation. Doctors found ways to treat and help countless patients. Families found ways to celebrate special occasions with Zoom, drive by parades, and handwritten letters. Online campaigns brought attention, help and joy to those in need with fundraising, collaborative projects and acts of kindness. I remember very early on a girl made the news by designing clear masks that made it possible for the deaf and hard of hearing to better communicate. People found ways to make life easier, more efficient, and sometimes even more fun while the world moved slowly and frightfully into the ever-winding turns and peaks of COVID-19. Let’s hope that this new year will only bring more innovation and more ideas that have never seen the light of day. Let’s hope we all find ourselves sitting, awed, and saying, “wow, I never thought of that!”

3) Creativity

When I think of creativity, especially this year, I think of someone like Taylor Swift, who leaned into the confines of quarantine and wrote two albums. Granted, this is some next level kind of creativity, and not one that we should all measure ourselves against. It is hard to be creative in a time when you can’t travel, can’t see friends and family, can’t do much more than stay inside your own home. But there are moments we all experience, little ideas, in any and all genres, that poke at the back of our minds and say, try this. Sometimes those ideas are only for us, sometimes they find a home outside ourselves and make the world a better place. So let’s hope that creativity is stirred and that we are brave enough to answer the call. Let’s hope that creativity runs wild in this new year and that we see great, new, wonderful things.

4) Kindness

I often find myself saying (or thinking to myself), “it is so easy to be kind.” And while this is true, it is not always easy to want to be kind—especially when the world is seemingly falling apart around you. Still, kindness can go a long way. It can mean everything to the right person in the right moment. So let’s hope that more people (including ourselves) find that want to be kind in the new year. Let’s hope that when we reach those crossroads—perhaps on a daily basis—we try harder to take that extra second to be kind.

5) Patience

What we might need more than anything in this new year is patience. While there is a lot of positive progress being made, the world is not going to go back to normal overnight, or any time in the immediate future. And even though sometimes it seems impossible to live in this version of our world for another year, another few months, or sometimes even just one more day, we need to find it within us to be patient. Be patient with the doctors who are trying their best day in and day out, be patient with the first responders and frontline workers who put themselves as risk each and every day, be patient with your friends and family who might have different fears or opinions than you, be patient with yourself and the ups and downs of emotions that don’t seem to quit. Be patient with 2021, it is a new year, with new possibilities and each day has the chance to be something special.

Happy New Year!


Check out more List-cember posts here.

17 Goals for 2021 (List-cember #8)

In 2017, I made my first list of 17 goals. They were bold—crazy even—and they were hard, but they also pushed me to do things I never thought I’d do. Since then, I’ve figured out a rhythm to goal setting. I’ve made sure to set goals that I want to accomplish rather than those I think will impress people, and I’ve set goals that are a good balance of challenging and achievable, rather than outlandish and impossible. After all, it’s easy to make big proclamations about all that you’re going to do after that New Year’s clock strikes midnight, but it’s very difficult to stick to those promises in the 365 days that follow.

Plus, some years you set goals and then a global pandemic happens, making most of them literally impossible. So you gotta work with what you’ve got. And you’ve gotta give yourself goals for you—goals that will inspire you, challenge you, and/or just make you proud you put your mind to something.

With that being said, these are the goals I’m setting for 2021:

1) Volunteer 5 times

This is a staple on my list of goals and one that I always look forward to. With COVID restrictions still in place, I might have to get creative with this one, but no matter what’s going on in the world, there is always a way to lend a helping hand, so hopefully I can find where I am best able to serve.

2) Watch the sunrise

I have watched many a sunset in my life, but far too few sunrises. And if I’m asking myself for one. One early morning. One day out of 365. One drive before dawn to a good spot where I can watch a new day begin, I think I can handle it.

3) Raise my VO2 Max score to 40

In late October, I came across a statistic on my FitBit called “VO2 Max”, which is essentially how efficiently your body uses oxygen during exercise. At the time, my score was a 35, which was marked as “average” for a woman my age. And even though I’d never previously heard of this measure of health, or had anyone telling me I needed to improve it, I instantly decided that I could no longer live a satisfying life unless my score was in the “good” range—which is a minimum of 36.5. As of now, my score is a 37, making me cleanly and wholly in the “good” range, so naturally I am now striving for the “great” range. Great is marked by a minimum score of 40.7, but for this year I’m going to start with a goal of 40.

4) Get published

Last year I made it a goal to take a writing class, and in looking for a class to take I found an entire Creative Writing Capstone through UCLA Extension that I am now in the process of completing. In doing so, my writing brain has been kicked in to overdrive and I have started to write about things I may have never had the courage or drive to write about before. So it is my hope that I can continue to write, submit and have something published in the next year.

5) Donate blood or plasma

This is another goal that I’m going to try to make an annual thing—even if it’s a little nerve-wracking and involves needles—because it’s an easy way to help those in need, and you get free snacks at the end. I’m not sure what the world of donations will look like in 2021, so I’m leaving the goal at a single donation, but if I’m brave enough, I’m going to try and do more!

6) Reduce screen time to 3 hours/day (or less)

If you have an iPhone, you might get those weekly reports on the average amount of time you spent on your phone each day. I will admit, in quarantine, my numbers skyrocketed, and I have been trying desperately to bring that number down ever since. So for this year, I want my weekly report to average 3 hours or less every week. Preferably less and less as the weeks go on.

7) Finish this writing prompt book

In September, I bought this little book of writing prompts as a fun way to get my creative mind working. For a little while, I got into a good routine of doing a handful of prompts per day, but I have since fallen off that schedule, and admittedly haven’t opened the book for a couple of months. So I’m hoping that this year I can get back into it and even finish it. Who knows, maybe one of the prompts will inspire a future blog post. (find the book here)

8) See one WLRA

A couple years back I made this list of the World’s Largest Roadside Attractions and I set out to see as many as I could. I have crossed out a good handful since then and I am hoping to cross off another one this year.

9) Read 5 books on this list

After I came across this list of inspirational books I decided to make reading through the list an item on my bucket list. So, in order to start working towards that goal, I’m setting out to read five of those books this year.

10) Cook 1 new recipe every month

I am a big creature of habit. And while a few years ago I got really into cookbooks and trying new recipes, most of the time I make what I know and what I love, or what I know I’ll love. So I’m hoping to branch out a bit this year. Nothing too crazy, just one recipe I’ve never tried each month.

11) See all the movies nominated for Best Picture (and maybe even predict the winner!)

It has always been a goal of mine to see every movie nominated for Best Picture before the Academy Awards, but somehow I have never managed to accomplish this. I want to feel like I have a real opinion on the matter, rather than just rooting for the one movie I happened to see. So, this year, the moment that list comes out, I’m filling the gap between what I have and haven’t seen and I am making a prediction!

12) Finish my Dodger Stadium cross stitch

One of my favorite quarantine projects has been a counted cross-stitch of Dodger Stadium that I designed myself. Some weeks I work on it a lot, others I forget it exists. As of now I’d say I’m about 70% done with it, but I have a feeling that last 30% might take me a long time. So while I think this is an easy goal, it’s also one that I want to hold myself accountable for. I want to get this project finished and show it off!

13) Learn to curl my hair

I am embarrassingly uneducated in all things hair. About five years ago I cut my hair short for the first time since I was a kid, and it was at that time that I first learned to properly blow-dry my hair. And as of now, that’s about all I know how to do. So, with a new straightener in tow that I got for Christmas—one that I allegedly can use to curl my hair as well—I am aiming to get a little more educated in the hairstyling department, and more or less emerge as a hair goddess.

14) Try acupuncture

My mom tried acupuncture for the first time this year and has become a firm believer. I followed her lead this past year on trying out the chiropractor, so I’m going to continue following in her footsteps and give acupuncture a go!

15) Read 12 books of the Bible

I often get overwhelmed by daily devotionals or reading plans, because I always fall behind, and then I fall so far behind that I give up and stop reading all together—which is very much not the point. So my sister suggested this goal, which I like because it gives me room to read more if I’m in a good groove, and it gives me room to catch up if I fall behind.

16) Keep my plant alive

One of the cutest gifts I got for Christmas was a little succulent in a ceramic dinosaur plant pot that my sister gave me. If you know anything about me, I deeply struggle with keeping plants alive, so she got me this in the hopes that I might, you know, not kill it. And I am so dedicated to this new plant child—that I have named “Bronto”, like brontosaurus—that I have made his well being one of my goals for this year. #prayersforBronto (find the plant pot here)

17) The Tuesdays of 2021

My final goal of the year is a little photography project. In years past I have done a one photo per day project and I have done a one second per day project. And while they were both fun and turned out really cool, they were also stressful and hard to remember to do every. single. day. So this year, I thought, why not choose one day a week to take a picture or record a short video? And why not make it a random day like Tuesday? There are 52 Tuesdays in 2021, most of which might otherwise have been relatively forgettable, but this year I’m going to have a little memory of each and every one, and to be honest, I’m already excited to see them!

Did you set any goals for 2021?


You can also check out my previous lists of goals here: 2020201920182017

My 2020 Rec Roundup (List-cember #3)

One of my favorite things to do at the end of the year is to look at everyone’s “best of” lists. I love recommendation lists and you will find my notebook, my phone, and sometimes even my hands covered in scribbled notes of things to check out. So, since I know I will be actively consuming these lists, I think it’s only fair to contribute one of my own.

Here are my favorite things from 2020:

Note: these aren’t necessarily things that came out in 2020, but they are things that I found this year and loved.

Books

  • Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
  • Sorry I’m Late I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan
  • Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic by Michael McCreary
  • The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
  • The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
  • This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay
  • A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost
  • Black Widow by Leslie Gray Streeter
  • A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
  • Fortitude by Dan Crenshaw

Podcasts

  • Pretty Big Deal w/ Ashley Graham
  • Truth & Lies: Jeffrey Epstein
  • Straight Up w/ Trent Shelton
  • Dolly Parton’s America
  • Everyday Decisions w/ Jo Firestone
  • Off Air with Joe & Orel
  • 1619
  • The Next Right Thing
  • Human Seeking Human
  • Song Exploder

Movies

  • Little Women
  • 1917
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Emma
  • Brittany Runs a Marathon
  • Home Again
  • Troop Zero
  • Swiss Army Man
  • Peanut Butter Falcon
  • Knives Out

TV Shows

  • Schitt’s Creek
  • Hunters
  • Outer Banks
  • Dark
  • Never Have I Ever
  • Normal People
  • Emily in Paris
  • Pen15
  • Peaky Blinders
  • The Queen’s Gambit

Music

  • Rare by Selena Gomez
  • Ocean by Lady Antebellum
  • Apart by Léon
  • Lady Like by Ingrid Andress
  • Go Somewhere by John Splithoff
  • State of the Heart by Patrick Droney
  • Kelsea by Kelsea Ballerini
  • folklore by Taylor Swift
  • The Otherside by Cam
  • Sad Hunk by Bahamas

Misc

Take the Day off Cleansing Balm: This is hands down the best makeup remover I’ve ever used. Not only does it get allll of my makeup off, it doesn’t irritate my skin, and it lasts for a long time. (find it here.)

Aveda Shampoo: I feel like I’ve been looking for “the right” shampoo for my hair for a long time and to my absolute delight, I finally found it in this one. This was an intensely impulsive purchase that was brought on by quarantine boredom, but it has been a lifesaver! Pro-tip: if you try it and like the shampoo, just get jumbo size bottle, it’s worth it. (find it here.)

Tangle: This bi-partisan newsletter was a valuable find for me, especially this year when there were so many important conversations being had. I liked being given both sides of an argument rather than trying to weed out the truth between all the screaming and arguing that took place on opposing sides. (find it here.)

AirPods: I would have never guessed that I’d be finishing out the year recommended AirPods as one of my favorite things but I would be lying if I said I haven’t used them absolutely every day since I bought them. These have especially been a lifesaver for listening to music at work, doing chores, talking on the phone, etc., because I no longer have to worry about the cords of my old headphones. (find them here.)


Check out more List-cember posts here.

And you can check out last year’s Rec Roundup here.

In Case You’re Looking for a New Thanksgiving Staple

When I was little, my maternal grandparents used to host Thanksgiving every year. And just like any other holiday, I would arrive looking for a few key staples: the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the pre-meal black olives that I would place on my fingers and pretend I got a manicure, and the cheese filled celery sticks that I would lick the cheese out of and throw the celery away.

When I got older and my parents starting hosting Thanksgiving, I wanted to find my own staple to bring to the table. Something that people could look forward to and rely on me for, and something that I could pass down to my kids when my mom passes the turkey down to me, so I can undoubtedly take on the job as if I am precisely diffusing a bomb for five hours. 

One year, I decided this staple might be rolls. As the turkey cooled for carving and the final touches were being put on the side dishes, I volunteered to butter and bake the rolls, which to some members of my family are arguably the most important part of the meal. I thought it was a can’t lose move. But it turns out, when you reach in to grab your cooked rolls and accidentally light your oven mitt on fire, filling the whole kitchen with smoke and a burnt smell that begins to overtake every other pleasant smell, just as your guests start to arrive, you put yourself in a can lose situation.

So I ditched the rolls. Or rather, gave them back to my aunt, who’d failed to ruin them or set off a smoke alarm even once. Show off.

Then, after a solid year of pouting and self-deprecation, another year of Internet research, and then a tentative shopping trip for cheeses I’d never heard of, I found my side dish. My staple. My claim to Thanksgiving table fame.

This Martha Stewart Macaroni & Cheese recipe.

I will admit, it’s not a walk in the park. And while I’ve gotten into a good rhythm over the years, I still usually sit down at the Thanksgiving table looking slightly weathered and a little sweatier than I’d prefer, but it’s always worth it. So if you’re looking for something to spice up your Thanksgiving, your Christmas, or even just your Tuesday, might I recommend this recipe. It’s DELICIOUS.

Plus, if you make it enough, people start to forget that Martha Stewart created it and start calling it “your macaroni”, allowing you to feel like an innovative culinary queen (or king.) And that, my friends, is a can’t lose situation.

Also, pro-tip: grate your cheese before you start.  

Keep Hold of Your Elephant

I recently read former SEAL and current Congressman Dan Crenshaw’s book, Fortitude, which talks a lot about how to live a more balanced and controlled emotional life, especially in this age of “outrage culture.” In one chapter, I found a metaphor that really stuck with me and I wanted to share.

It comes from psychologist Dr. Jonathan Haidt, who described the human mind as a rider on an elephant. The conscious or logical mind is represented by the rider, and the unconscious or emotional mind is represented by the elephant. By all accounts, it would seem that the rider is (and should be) in control, but in certain situations, that elephant can pull and steer the rider in a direction they didn’t expect to go, and that won’t benefit them in the way they hope.

I loved this visual, partially because elephants are my favorite animal, but mostly because I felt like I’ve experienced this pull or sudden loss of logical mindedness in favor of a larger, more overpowering emotional response. And the harder I’ve tried to pull back and fight against that emotional reaction, the harder it’s fought its own fight, leaving me either frozen and at war with myself, or headed in a direction I don’t want to go. So the advice here is to realize that you are still in control. Your logical mind will always be that rider that can calm the elephant and steer her forward. But it is up to that logical mind to decipher—not ignore or belittle or wish away—whichever emotional reaction is trying to lead, and weed out what is true about it and what is not. What will benefit you (i.e. dealing with grief, mourning failure or rejection, etc.) and what won’t (i.e. worrying about things you can’t control, spiraling into self hate, tossing blame/anger onto other people).

In today’s society, we are told to react instantly. To immediately know our opinion, and, especially, to immediately be offended, angry, hurt, afraid, ecstatic, etc. I know I’ve felt the pressure to know exactly how I feel in only a matter of seconds—even if I’m not exactly familiar with what I’m seeing or talking about, and even if I don’t have all the facts or context that might help me form my own opinion. I know I’ve reacted to things based solely on the pressure to react, and the fear that if I didn’t, I’d be rejected, cast out, or left behind. I’ve looked on from my metaphorical elephant as a herd went running in one direction, and worried about the fact that we were still standing here, processing.

But the point is: that is okay. It is okay to process. It is okay to take your time. It is okay to go in the direction of the rest of the herd and it is okay to go in your own direction, as long as the rider is in control.

Don’t let hate steer you.

Don’t let fear steer you.

Don’t let doubt or greed or jealousy steer you.

Feel your feelings, listen to your feelings and then take the time to figure out which are telling you the truth and which are lying to you. Lead that elephant forward and do it on your own terms.

September/October Favorites

Hey y’all.

If you can believe it, we only have two months left of this crazy year. Here are some of my most recent favorite things to help you power through them.

Podcasts

If you are a music lover and, like me, constantly find yourself asking, “how did they think of that?” this is the podcast for you! Song Exploder breaks down one song each week, talking to the artists and the collaborators about what went into the production of the song, from the very first conversation about an idea, to putting the finishing touches on the final product. It is so fun and interesting and really gives you an appreciation for what goes into the music making process.

A little while back I recommended (and would still recommend) the podcast Beach Too Sandy Water Too Wet, a show that reads and pokes fun at dramatic Yelp reviews, and this new podcast is hosted by one of the hosts from that show. On Human Seeking Human, he reads personal ads from old newspapers, before online dating and dating apps became such a normal part of society. I really like the way he approaches the subject, and how it starts a conversation about the love people are looking for, which looks a little bit different for everyone.

Books

I have said countless times over the last couple years that I miss the feeling of reading The Hunger Games for the first time, as it was a series that really hooked me and had me running to the bookstore each time I finished a book and was ready for the next one. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think about Suzanne Collins’ prequel A Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, because I wasn’t sure what the story would be like without all the characters I had come to know and love. But it only took a chapter or two for me to be drawn back into the universe and hang on to the edge of my seat. For fellow Hunger Games fans, this book begins just before the start of the 10th Hunger Games and follows President Snow as a teenager. It gives such a great backstory as to why the Hunger Games become what they do 65 years later (when the original series takes place) and why the story unfolds the way that it does.

On a very different note, I had come across Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun multiple times but never read it, mostly because the misplaced “b’s” deeply upset me. But I can honestly say it is worth all the hype. It is a very sweet, inspirational book that can be as fun and cute for kids as it can be deep and meaningful for adults.

TV Shows

I would never in a million years go back to middle school, even if I had the chance, but I will make a single exception for Pen15. It follows Anna and Maya, best friends who are entering 7th grade in the year 2000, and having personally started middle school in 2001, this show is a scary accurate depiction of all those emotions, movies, music, and trends that defined those fateful years. I have never watched a show that made me feel more awkward, more uncomfortable and more understood all at the same time.  I laughed, I cried, I hid behind my hands. It is wonderful.

Movies

First off, if you are someone that is a) addicted to your phone and/or b) wants to find a way to stop looking at your phone so much, watch The Social Dilemma, which is sure to give you a wake up call and borderline frighten you—but in a good way. After watching, I turned off most of the notifications on my phone and was surprised by how much less I looked at my phone simply because I didn’t have any alerts or little red numbers demanding that I did.  

The Peanut Butter Falcon is easily one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. It is so sweet and unique and well made. It follows Zak, a boy with down syndrome, who runs away from his assisted living facility in an attempt to attend a wresting school he heard about on TV. Do yourself a favor and just watch it. It is fantastic.

Music

If I were to describe these picks in recipe form, I would say they have a big helping of groovy, a cup of soul and a dash of sad. My ideal musical meal, to be honest.

State of the Heart by Patrick Droney

Wild Wild Woman by Your Smith

Out of Body by Needtobreathe

Sad Hunk by Bahamas

Hyaluronic Toner

My skin and I have been on somewhat rocky terms the last couple months due to me trying to branch out in the skincare product world and my skin simply saying, “no.” So buying this was really a risk, but it ended up paying off. It’s a very moisturizing toner and leaves my skin feeling very soft and healthy, so hopefully she (as in my skin) will give me a bit of a break. (find it here)

AirPods

I was very strongly against AirPods for a long time, solely because I am someone who likes clothes, shoes, etc. to feel secure while I’m wearing them, thus headphones with no cords seemed completely out of my comfortability range. However, after seeing my sister get a pair and then noticing how often I get tangled up in the wires of my headphones, especially while trying to listen to music at my desk, I gave in and impulse bought a pair at Target. I am now two weeks into this purchase and I can honestly say: I get it. They are great. Plus I low-key feel like an FBI agent which is a great addition to my daydreams. (find them here, they are still on sale at Target!)

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

See my previous favorites post here.

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:

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.”

.

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.”

.

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.

.

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.

.

7) Fall back asleep on second 15 every time.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.