advice

If You’re Going to Post, Post What’s True

As a creature of habit, my routine in the morning is almost identical every single day of the workweek. Among pressing snooze a few times, listening to a podcast, and making a (usually empty) promise to myself that we’ll nap later, checking Timehop—an app that connects to your social media accounts and shows you posts you made on that day in years past—is a staple.

Even though the Facebook posts, Instagram pictures and tweets can sometimes be unbearably cringy, I like to check in on the person I was however many years ago, and observe how much I’ve grown since then.

But among the goofy, the melodramatic, and the sometimes indecipherable posts, I sometimes find ones that make me downright frown. Because even now, after all these years, I can still feel the inauthenticity. It only takes a second to read the words or scan the picture to remember that the only reason I posted that was to impress/amuse/appease someone else.

On the one hand, I don’t want to be too hard on myself. We all go through periods of growth. Seasons when we’re trying on different versions of ourselves to see which one fits. Thus, reading those posts that definitely aren’t me could be viewed as little more than skimming digital records of that growing process. But it also makes me sad to see how much I valued the opinions and acceptance of others over presenting a truthful version of myself.

These days, I do my best to present nothing but the truth. Not only for the benefit of my present self (and anyone who might view what I post) but also for my future self, who, upon skimming Timehop one or two or five years from now can look back and be proud that I was confident enough to be my true self. After all, as much fun as it is to receive love and praise and “likes” for something we post, none of that will mean much if you know that what you posted is an ingenuine representation of who you are and what you’re feeling.

Think of social media like a scrapbook or a journal, minus the fear of it getting lost or worn with time. Once you put something on the Internet, it’s there forever. Which is kind of scary, but also kind of cool if you use it to your advantage. Technology is scrapbooking our memories for us, storing them for future “awww’s” and “eww’s” and “OH MY GOSH’s.”

Don’t get me wrong; posting to social media is a choice. The world will only see what you want it to see, but with that being said, why choose to only show the world a lie? What good does that do anyone, especially your future self who might want to look back and connect.

At the end of the day, I’m not here to judge you or anything you do or do not want to post to social media, and I expect you’d give me the same courtesy. But over the years, I’ve found that if you are going to post something, it’s always better to post what’s true. It’s better for you, it’s better for those around you, and it’s better for the world as a whole. We don’t get anywhere when we lie to each other, and we only go backwards when we lie to ourselves.

What I Learned from My First Stagecoach Festival

This past weekend I went to the Stagecoach Country Music Festival for the first time. Leading up to it, I didn’t know what to expect. Stagecoach is held in the same venue as Coachella, which I’d actually been to before to watch my brother play lacrosse, but even so, I really had no idea what I was walking in to.

Now that I’m back (and still alive!) I thought I’d analyze what my friends and I did right/wrong, in order to better prepare us (or you!) for future trips.

.

What We Did Right: We stayed offsite

After we bought our tickets, our #1 priority was to find the best/most affordable/most convenient lodging. As it turned out, this was a very intense and stressful process, because everyone else who just bought their tickets was doing the exact same thing. But we ended up getting a great place on Airbnb about 20 minutes from the venue and it was great to get away from all the madness each night.

.

What We Did Wrong: Parked at the venue

One of the downsides of staying upwards of 20 minutes away is the need to, you know, get to the venue. On Friday night we decided to drive straight there and park in the lot. It was a relatively smooth process on the way in, but it took us a solid hour to get out of the parking lot after the show, 45 minutes of which we didn’t even move. (Note: a friend of mine who’s been to Coachella suggests that if you leave about 10-20 minutes early at the end of the night, getting out of the parking lot is not too bad!)

.

What We Did Right: Parked at a friend’s house

After Friday night, we asked some friends of ours who were staying at a house in walking distance from the venue if we could park in their driveway. The walk from their house to the venue ended up being the same distance and took the same amount of time as parking in the parking lot did (about 30 minutes) but once we arrived back at our car that night, we were out of their neighborhood and on the freeway back to our house in approximately five minutes. Granted, this isn’t a luxury that everyone has when they go to Stagecoach, but if you do stay offsite and know people staying closer, it’s worth the ask.

.

What We Did Right: Brought bandanas

One item we constantly heard as a recommended bring was a bandana, and even though we weren’t exactly sure why, we all showed up on Friday with one packed in each of our bags. This would prove to be on of our greatest choices because not only does the wind pick up after sundown, blowing dust all up in your business, but the walk back to your car/house/camp/etc. is essentially one big parade of dust. I couldn’t recommend them more.

.

What We Did Wrong: Left our chairs at home

Overall, the first day was really one big learning experience. In preparing for the trip we had bought cheap chairs but weren’t sure whether they’d be too bulky/nerdy to carry around. So on the first day the four of us only brought a few towels and a blanket to sit on. On our walk into the venue, we quickly realized that EVERYONE brings chairs. And after spending the afternoon and evening sitting on the hard ground, we found out why. Needless to say, we proudly carried our chairs in on Saturday and Sunday.

.

What We Did Right: Brought sunscreen

I get it. Applying and reapplying sunscreen isn’t something you want as your number one priority when you’re at a music festival and you’re trying to look cute and have fun and forget all your worries and all of that. But as the sun set on Friday and we took a look around at some of the people who didn’t take the time to apply (or reapply), it was clear they were going to be hurting for the next two days.

.

What We Did Wrong: Didn’t bring blankets and (good enough) sweatshirts

As it turns out, when the sun goes down in the desert and the wind picks up, it can get freaking cold! Saturday was especially cold and had all of us curled up and shivering. So we made a note for next time to not only bring blankets, but maybe even a pair of pants and a bigger jacket. It might seem ridiculous when you’re walking in at 3:30pm and it’s 100 degrees outside, but you have the option to either rent a locker, or if you’re with a big group, you can set up camp by the main stage and rotate getting up for food/drinks/exploring.

.

What We Did Right: Sang and danced as much as possible

One of the best parts about any concert or sporting event is collectively enjoying something with a bunch of strangers. It’s a very uniting feeling. And even though it might seem weird to sing at the top of your lungs and dance your damn heart out in front of all these strangers, it’s really the only way to go. Lose your inhibitions, have a drink and just dance! It’s fun, it’s freeing, and at night it’s the only thing that keeps you warm!

.

Overall, I would definitely go again. Even with the slight bit of chaos it took to figure everything out, I had a great time and was so glad I went. For anyone thinking of going next year, I’d say go for it! Even if you’re not a big festival person, it’s worth going once to try it out, especially if you go with a group of people who are looking to experience it the same way you are. Plus, you really can’t beat live music. Especially live country music in the (almost) summer time. It feels good down to your bones!

You Won’t Win Unless You’re Willing to Lose

In October of 2017, as he was training for the 2018 Winter Olympics, Shaun White had a horrible crash that resulted in 62 stitches in his face. In an interview a few months later, he was asked whether the crash gave him doubts about his ability or willingness to continue, especially in pursuit of a spot on the Olympic team. He nodded his head, saying that while he looked in the mirror at his nearly unrecognizable face, he realized that by agreeing to continue, agreeing to step back out there and try again, he was more or less accepting that this could happen all over again.

At first, this statement seemed obvious to me. Being a complete outsider to the sport, the corresponding danger is constantly at the forefront of my attention. I mean, they are literally throwing themselves through the air, flipping and spinning and twisting at high speeds, all the while hoping they’ll land flat on a thin piece of fiberglass. With that in mind, of course it could happen again, Shaun! Honestly it seems like it should happen more.

But as the weeks went on and the Olympics came and went, the quote sat with me, churning around in my brain the way all lessons waiting to be learned tend to. Eventually I started thinking about the risks I take in my own life. Both small and big. I thought about my writing, both on this blog and outside it in pursuit of other projects, accolades, etc. Every time I write a blog post, I accept the fact that people might not like it, or that it might not do well. Every time I submit a piece to a contest or a magazine or a publisher, I accept the fact that it might lose or get rejected. Every time I try to succeed, I accept the fact I can fail.

After a while, I realized this mindset can apply to almost every aspect of our lives.

In relationships, every time you make yourself vulnerable you accept the fact that you could get hurt.

In finances, every time you make an investment you accept the fact that it could fall through.

Plans can fail. Accidents can happen. Hearts can break.

In this world, there is a lot to be afraid of, there is a lot that can go wrong, and there are a lot of opportunities to fail. But every day we get up, every day we step outside, every time we accept those fears and try again, we give ourselves the change to succeed, to win.

On February 14th, after spending months both recovering from his injury and working his way back into the physical and mental shape needed to make the Olympic team, Shaun White won the gold medal in the Snowboard Halfpipe event, making him the most decorated snowboarder of all time.

In many ways it was expected, hoped for, anticipated, both by Shaun White and the millions of people tuning in to the competition. But the only guarantee would have come from him not trying, not taking that risk, not stepping back into the sport all those months ago. The same goes for anything you hope for, I dream of, we all aim to accomplish. So even though failure is hard, vulnerability is terrifying and losing sucks, it’s worth the risk. Not only because it brings you one step closer to success, but because it makes you stronger, braver and smarter than you were before. And although it might not feel like it, trying and failing will always show more courage than avoiding failure all together. So take the risk, make the try and see where it takes you.

We Are All Complex Characters

In a world bustling with digital content, especially sitcoms and dramas available on both mainstream television and a number of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, etc., it’s safe to say we’ve been introduced to a wide variety of characters in recent years. Some we can relate to, some we can’t; some we love, some we hate. Regardless, we feel like we get a sense of who these characters are, and depending on how long we binge their show on the couch, we sometimes even forget they’re not actually a part of our lives.

I have this problem constantly. When I watch a show I get completely attached to the characters and I talk about them as if they’re my friends or family rather than fictional characters created for entertainment purposes. It’s even worse when I read books.

One thing, perhaps, that makes these characters so real, is a show or book’s ability to give us a nearly 360-degree view of who they are and why they are the way that they are. We can sympathize with decisions they make because we know what’s going on in every facet of their life. And we can root for them because we know the inner workings of their hopes and dreams.

In real life, it’s often hard to remember that we and the people around us are just as three dimensional as fictional characters. We are what they are based on! We, like them,  are all complex and constantly changing and adapting, sometimes to seemingly unbelievable circumstances. We all have individual whys that define who we are and what we do, even if not everyone will be able to see them, or if we are never able to fully identify them within ourselves.

As we go through our day-to-day lives, we will often come into contact with people who rub us the wrong way. And while it’s important to stand up for ourselves and stand firm in what we believe in, I also think it’s important to remember that we don’t know anyone’s “whole story.” We don’t have the 360-degree view. We don’t know how their morning went or how their yesterday treated them and they are equally as ignorant to our lives. So before we jump to conclusions, it couldn’t hurt to give them a little patience.

The truth is, we are all complex characters plodding through our own unique, sometimes over dramatic sitcoms. Some episodes will be good, some will be bad. And just like any multi-season series, you can’t start in the middle and assume you know everything. You have to appreciate that just like you, they’ve probably gone through a lot to get where they are and still have a long road to get where they’re going, and we could all use a little help along the way.

Dear Radio DJs

First off, props!

I know it must be tough sitting in a booth all day, rambling mostly to yourself, but in a way that other people can appreciate and (mostly) not want to stab you for. Also, how do you gab on and on about a product you are sponsored by or a music festival you are hosting, but time it so at the exact moment you finish, the opening line of a song starts? Seriously, it’s really impressive.

All that being said however, let’s get down to the meat of this letter, the wiki wiki (oops, wrong kind of DJ) reason I’m writing you today: I want need you to take me on a better journey.

Hear me out.

Have you ever been in a really great mood? We’re talking nothing is going wrong, I’m crushing life, haters come at me and I will literally kill you with my kindness type of day?

I hope so.

Have you ever been having this type of day and then turned on the radio to have your jam come on, making it an even better day?!

Again, I hope so.

Have you ever been having a great day, then heard your jam on the radio, and then anxiously waited out the moments of radio silence to see what magic melody was going to play next, only to have it be the most depressing song of all time? We’re talking a song that makes you question the definition of life and wonder if you’ve ever experienced a happiness as real as the sadness provoked by its lyrics.

Do you see the problem here?

Do you see how your body was given no time to prepare for such a cosmic mood shift?

It’s like when you think jumping in a hot shower after being out in the snow will be a great idea, but for the first five minutes you just stand there with your entire body stinging as it tries to thaw out.

All I’m saying is, ease me into the depression or joy or love or anger you want to share, then ease me back out. Don’t just give me an ice cream cone and then rip it out of my hand and throw it into a river.

Other than that though, keep doing what you’re doing. I love (most of) your work.

Sincerely, A Girl Whose Emotions Are Clearly Too Affected By Music

 

Just Keep Dribbling

There is a boy in my neighborhood, probably about 12 or 13 years old, who is constantly dribbling a basketball on the sidewalk in front of his house. When I get home from work, he’s out there. When I go to the gym, he’s out there. When I sit on my couch trying to find inspiration for a blog post, he’s out there, just like he is right now. Dribbling and dribbling and dribbling.

Now, I don’t know what this boy’s dreams are. I don’t know if he wants basketball to be his life, or if maybe it already is. I don’t know if he wants to play in the NBA or if dribbling on his front porch is just how he blows off steam. But when I hear him out there, I smile, because I recognize the habit or the vice or the passion or whatever basketball is to him. For me, it’s been writing, it’s been photography, it’s been books, it’s been sports, and a number of other things.

These passions, these vices, these dreams all start small. They all start with just a dribble. And in order to make them real, to turn them into something tangible and successful and satisfying, we have to keep dribbling. Even when the days start to go by faster, even when our schedules start to get fuller, even when our bodies start to grow tired.

In my life, there are things I want to accomplish. Tons of things. Heck, I even have lists of them on the Internet. But while some of these things may seem impossible, some of them may seem far-fetched or unlikely or incredibly difficult, some of them might even be things I’ll change my mind on in a few years, what’s important is that I’m trying. Day in, day out, I’m trying. I’m working. To make myself better. To make myself stronger. To remind myself that no matter what life throws at me, I can keep working.

When I see that boy outside his house, I wonder what he’s working towards. If it’s basketball, I wonder if there are days when he sits inside with the ball in his lap, telling himself to just give up. Then I think about the things I’m working towards, some of which I’ve grown frustrated with the lack of progress on, and I ask myself if it’s because they’re not meant to be, or if I’ve just spent too many days indoors with the ball in my lap.

At the end of the day, it’s all about taking those small steps. As hard is it is to believe, they do add up and they will pay off. We just have to keep dribbling. And dribbling. And dribbling.

How I Ran 1000 Miles in One Year (List-cember #8)

Of all the goals I set for 2017, the one that most worried me—both in questioning my sanity for setting it, and questioning my ability to complete it—was to run 1000 miles.

As someone who has hated running for the majority of her life, it was definitely what you would call a wild card. Most people I told thought I was crazy and the rest thought I was actually insane. I would have been right there with them if I hadn’t climbed Mt. Whitney a few years ago and gotten a big ole’ taste of “I CAN.” That experience inspired me to run my first 5k, two 10k’s and three half marathons, and ultimately led me to setting this goal for this year.

So, with the BIFC door wide open, I laced up my shoes and went on my first run. It was only three miles, but it was hard and I had to stop multiple times to catch my breath. Fast forward 369 days and 226 runs later, I finished my 1000th mile, winded only from all the celebratory screams I made throughout the final five miles.

Now that I’m finished, I’ve had multiple people ask me how I did it. And while a truthful summary would be: “I have no idea,” I broke it down to a few key aids. So, in case you’re among the curious or perhaps inspired to try this goal yourself, here are seven things that helped me run 1000 miles:

.

1) Be Crazy

I’ve kind of already said this, but it’s worth mentioning twice that to achieve a goal like this, you need to become slightly insane. You have to be willing to put yourself out of your comfort zone over and over and make sacrifices over and over. Over the course of this year, I ran on almost every surface: asphalt, grass, dirt and concrete; I ran indoors, outdoors, and sometimes a combination of both in one day; I ran early in the morning and late at night, wearing jackets in 40 degrees, wearing shorts in 90 degrees and wearing hoods and hats in the wind and rain. My schedule was dictated by running, whether it was an average workday, a weekend or even a vacation day, and I had absolutely no time to get sick. When I look back at it now, I want to laugh because I really was, by all accounts, crazy. But then again, I know if I hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have finished.

.

2) Listen to Those Around You

After the first few months of running, my friends and family started to realize that I was actually serious about this goal. As a result, it became a very popular topic of conversation. When we would get together, they would always check in on my progress. Near the end of the year, when I reached the 900 mile mark, I started posting Instagram videos to track my last 100 miles and a number of people messaged me with both encouragement and graciousness, saying that my quest for crazy was inspiring them. It was an important reminder of how my actions, even though they felt small and meaningless in the grand scheme of things, could not only affect but also inspire others. This was a huge motivating factor for me. I wanted to inspire them as much as I wanted to inspire myself.

.

3) Don’t Listen to Those Around You

Amongst all the encouragement, there was also a lot of implied doubt and protective paranoia. My friends and family didn’t want to see me fail. They didn’t want to find me at the end of the year burdened with discouragement. Not to mention, this year happened to be a very busy one for me, so there were many points when I found myself far behind the pace I needed to finish on time. At one point in August, I was almost 60 miles behind, which equates to almost 22 days off pace. “Are you—do you think you’ll be able to finish?” people would say. And while I knew it was rooted in genuine worry, there were parts of me that absorbed the negative connotations—They don’t think you can do it. You’re way too far behind. You should just quit—so I had to learn to block that out. Because in the end I was the one who knew if I could do it. I was the one who had to decide if I could make up the ground I had lost. I was the one who knew I wouldn’t and couldn’t quit.

.

4) Be Consistently Patient

Before I started this goal, I had this vision that once I made it through the first month I’d be in incredible shape and I’d never get winded or have leg cramps or feel like I was going to pass out—which is how I’ve felt for most of my running career. To my unfortunate surprise however, even in these last few months I still had days when I’d leave my house to run a route I’d run countless times before, only to find myself so short of breath I thought I might pass out. “HOW CAN THIS BE HAPPENING?!” I would think as I slowed myself to a walk. On these days I’d get so down on myself, and I’d wonder why I ever thought I could do something like this. But then I’d wake up the next day and feel so good on my run that I’d go two or three miles more than I intended. Thus, I had to learn that running will always be a learning curve, and I can’t let a few bad days get me down.

.

5) Expect Injuries and Work Through Them

I have never been someone you would consider “injury prone.” I’d like to say it’s because I’m lucky/indestructible, but the truth is, I’ve never really pushed my body to its limits before. And while I have a high tolerance for pain, I just wasn’t a “work through the pain” type of person. For this goal however, “if it hurts, stop” wasn’t really an option. I strained the Iliotibial Band in my left leg, I got shin splints in my left leg, I had two toes on my right foot split open, and I worked through sore muscles in seemingly every part of my body. And while every single one of these SUCKED, none of them took me out of the game. I iced when I needed to, I took days off when I needed to, and most importantly, I got right back out there.

.

6) Feed Your Senses

Before the start of the year, I spent a lot of time formulating the perfect running playlist. I scrolled through my entire iTunes library and I did a good amount of Googling to find songs that would (ideally) make me forget how hard running is. A few months into the goal however, I was already sick of this playlist. And not only that, I was sick of the routes I was running. I was getting bored of the songs and the scenery, which made it exponentially harder to motivate myself to run. So, I spiced up my routes. I took turns I never made before, and ran familiar routes backwards. As for ear food, I started alternating in podcasts. It was a nice break from hearing the same songs over and over, and I was surprised how easy it was to get sucked into other people’s conversations. If you’re looking for suggestions, some of my favorite podcasts were: Serial, Happy Sad Confused and Modern Love. Also, during the summer, I spent an entire month on the treadmill, binge watching Prison Break, so if you’re an indoor runner looking for some eye candy, Wentworth Miller is there for you. As far as songs go, I made this playlist, aptly titled, “These Songs Helped Me Run 1000 Miles” which you are welcome to listen to whether you’re running 1000 miles, 1 mile, or are just needing some pumped up tunes to drive to.

.

7) Keep Track

As some of you may know already, I’m an avid spreadsheet maker. Thus, when the opportunity arose to track my running progress, I went all out. Here is a screen shot of my year of running, the yellow being days I went on a run, the blue being days I went on two runs—one outside in the early morning and one on the treadmill in the afternoon to try and work around the triple digit degree days in the summer.

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 11.29.28 PM

This spreadsheet proved to be both motivated and discouraging as it showed me both my progress and how far behind I was. In the end however, it gave me one less stress, as I never had to worry about losing track of where I was on this quest.

.

There are probably a bunch of other things that helped me, both big and small, some I might not even realize. For example, to everyone that ever asked me, “How’s your running going,” you are one of those things! As of now, I’m very proud of myself, and even more, I’m excited to see what the future holds. Inspiration and adrenaline are as addicting as they come, and now that I’ve unlocked another level of “I can” in myself, I’m already craving what’s next.

IMG_3169

A mantra I gave myself this year was, “if it’s still only a daydream, the answer is no, but if you’re out there trying and failing, the answer is not yet.” I’ve wanted to be a runner for a long time, but until this year, was never able to break the barriers that surrounded that goal. Now I’m ready to see what else I’m capable of, and turn another “no” into a “not yet.”

How to Keep Your Christmas Decorations Up All Year Round (List-cember #7)

My least favorite part of Christmas is the moment it ends. Right after that clock strikes midnight, everything is over. All the planning, all the stress and anxiety, (probably) all the Christmas cookies. Like the day itself, they vanish into thin air, leaving only the memories behind.

Tonight, as I wrapped presents for my family and friends, I sat on my couch, basking in the season. I took a good look around my house, marveling at all the decorations we’ve hung up, dreading the day we’ll have to take them down and leave the walls plain again.

Decorations have always been one of my favorite parts of Christmas. I love the lights and the sparkles and all the red. I love the pride people take in filling their houses/cars/desks/etc. with Christmas spirit and the tradition of strangers coming together to marvel at that pride. It makes me wish Christmas lasted all year long. Though I suppose that would take away the novelty of it all, wouldn’t it? Then again, should we really need to consider pride, spirit and community a novelty? Shouldn’t these actually last all year long?

This got me thinking. What if when we took down our decorations, we took what they represent with us? For example:

1) Christmas Lights

bob-ricca-122708

These quite simply make people look and awe. Whether it be with their colors, their arrangement, or their uniqueness. In many ways, even though we look at Christmas lights our whole lives, every year it feels like we’re seeing them for the first time. This is the same way I feel about people when they show unwarranted kindness or unthinkable bravery. It’s not that I forget these qualities exist, it’s just a pleasant and inspiring surprise when I come across them. So in this upcoming year, what if we made an effort to be these displays of light? I think it’s safe to say, especially in today’s society, the world could always use some more light.

.

2) Ornaments

IMG_3040

I love ornaments. (So much so that I hand out superlatives every year.) I love that—at least the way my family does it—they are all unique and have a different story and memory associated with them, and that after all this time we still tell them. Pictures have this same quality. Unfortunately in this digital age we so often exile photos to the Internet and never think of them again. We need to print more pictures. We need to put them on display and remember the memories they capture. That way, in the moments we’re feeling low or nostalgic, we don’t have to scroll through our phones and try to dodge the pressures of comparison, we can simply look up at our wall or on our desk or bedside table and remember a moment that meant a lot to us.

 .

3) Paper Chains

OriginalPhoto-535535405.974492

By now this might be a rather outdated decoration, but I still love me some paper chains. More than anything, they remind me that I can make things with my hands and they don’t have to be perfect. These days with the constant access to websites and services that will do practically everything for you, it’s easy to forget that we have hands of our own built for crafting. Then again, with all the Pinterest wizards dominating the Internet, it’s easy to get discouraged when we try. But, like a paper chain, things we make by hand, whether it be home improvement projects, gifts, or a hot meal from scratch, it feels good to sit back and realize that you made it; that you put in the time and did it yourself.

.

4) Snow Globes

n-451271

My sister collects Christmas snow globes and is always one to walk over and shake them in a store. I think they give her, and me, and most of the general population a minute or two just to breathe. With a few shakes we stand and watch the snow or glitter fall, listening to the song that winds down, and for a moment we’re transported somewhere far away. While this might be harder to do in the general chaos of life, we can always take a second to stop and breathe; to take in the sights and sounds and smells around us and just be in that moment, completely as it is, just as we would until the song ended and we put the snow globe back on the shelf.

.

5) Christmas Music

I know, I know, this isn’t technically a decoration. But when you consider that Christmas music is playing from every speaker, everywhere you go, for almost two straight months, it kind of turns into one. Call it an atmosphere decoration if you will. Granted, this “atmosphere decoration” technically exists all year round, chameleoning to fit the designated atmosphere (i.e. “elevator music”). But there seems to be this general agreement that in November and December you only listen to Christmas music and in January-October you listen to everything but. As I elaborated in this post however, I say listen to whatever you want, whenever you want. Decorate your atmosphere with music that makes you feel good no matter what time of year it is and no matter what anyone else thinks.

.

So, as you start to de-decorate your house in the coming weeks, try to remember what it is about the decorations that draw you to them. Is it the light? Is it the color? Is it the associated memories? Then go out and find it in the confines of an average day, or create it yourself. Magic is not dictated by a calendar, and neither is goodness or glitter for that matter. So spread it around and soak it in, no matter the season.

How to Start Your 2018 Off Right (Before it Starts) (List-cember #6)

With the New Year RAPIDLY approaching I have been going through my usual routine—which mostly consists of muted panicking. January 1st comes with a lot of nerves and pressure, as well as excitement and freedom. And while it’s important and fun to embrace the New Year after the clock strikes midnight, there are also a few things things you can do beforehand that can make that tick tock more relaxing than taxing. Wink_Emoji_grande

.

1) Unsubscribe

If you spend a lot of time online, whether it be for work or leisure, or if you’ve done a lot of your Christmas shopping from the comfort of an internet window, chances are you’ve found yourself subscribed to a lot of newsletters/company coupon strands that you have no interest in. And while it’s easy to just delete these and move on with your day, there is real benefit in taking a few extra seconds and unsubscribing. Not only will it declutter your email, but it will also remove the temptation that comes with all those FLASH SALE emails. Trust me on this one, just scroll to the bottom of the email, click unsubscribe and regain some of your freedom.

.

2) Clean!

I am very much like my mom in that few things leave me quite as satisfied as a clean house. And with the holidays in full swing I have some upcoming days off, so I’ll most likely spend a good chunk of those days doing all the cleaning I’ve been procrastinating on. But what if I did it early? What if I put aside some extra time on these days leading up to the off days, so that when the off days arrive I can spend far more time sitting on the couch in my sweatpants? Call me crazy but more time in sweatpants = a more satisfying holiday = a better attitude upon returning to work after the holidays = a better employee = endless raises, etc. etc. I’m just spitballing here.

.

3) Trash/Donate

This can more or less go alongside cleaning, as it’s possible it might happen organically if you get into one of those intense cleaning modes. But don’t just clean everything, go through it. Go through your closet and your bookshelves and your desk. Clean out your refrigerator and your garage and your car. Then trash the broken and old and donate what’s ready to be loved by someone else.

.

4) Change Your Alarm

I admit it. I am a huge “hit snooze-er” when it comes to my alarm in the mornings. Over the last few months, I don’t think there’s been a single day that I didn’t do it at least once. That being said however, it has been brought to my attention that you actually wake up more tired when you hit snooze. Not to mention you (or maybe just I) usually end up hitting snooze a few more times than you (I) should, so you (I) end up rushing around the house trying to get to work on time. SO, in the interest of being honest with myself (i.e. accepting the fact that I’ll probably never kick the habit of hitting snooze) but still hoping to make an improvement, I am going to set a second, different, alarm that gives a “HEY KIM, YOU CAN’T CLICK SNOOZE ANYMORE” type of signal. That way I can at least keep track of where I am in snooze time, and will have to try a little harder to oversleep.

.

5) Stock Up

You know how lines at department stores and grocery stores tend to grow at the speed of Pinnocchio’s nose around the holidays? You know how spending time in those lines is arguably one of the worst ways to spend your holidays? Right, so let’s do our best to avoid that. Let’s stock up on the necessities: toilet paper, laundry soap, Oreos, etc. This will save us from the early morning/late night “can you go to the store real quick, pleeeeease” arguments and include us in more of the “how many marshmallows should we put in our hot chocolate?” debates.

.

6) Set Goals

More than anything, a new year gives us a fresh start. We get a new calendar year, with holidays waiting to be celebrated and seasons to waiting to take shape. It’s hard not to feel inspired to make some changes. So I encourage you, go with that inspiration! Make a list! Be daring, be creative and be specific. It’s so easy to make vague resolutions that are ultimately unsatisfying because they have no framework. Use numbers, details, and blueprints. Give your self time limits and then go for it!

(Also, if you’re interested, you can check out this post for some tips on setting goals, and this post to see the 17 goals I set for myself this year)

.

I wish you a wonderful end to your 2017 and an inspirational start to your 2018!

You’re Free to be Great, So Go for It

This past week I officially hit the 900 mile mark of my 1000 mile running goal for the year. It’s been a trying 11 months to get here, and I have a feeling this final month will take everything I have to finish. My body is tired. It’s been sore and achy and fatigued more days than it hasn’t. And yet, I still feel strong. I feel like I can do anything.

Over the course of this year, I’ve looked for and found a variety of different things to listen to/watch while I’m running, the most prominent being my ever changing playlist on my phone, aptly titled “Running.” Consistently among my favorites on the playlist is “The Greatest” by Sia.

The song starts as follows:

Uh-oh I’m running out of breath, but I’ve got stamina.

Uh-oh I’m running now I close my eyes, well I got stamina.

And uh-oh, I see another mountain to climb

But I got stamina

For obvious reasons, this first verse makes sense on a running playlist. I mean what else besides stamina—and the slightest bit of insanity—do you need to get yourself running? To add to that, in the next part she sings:

Don’t give up

I won’t give up

Don’t give up, no, no, no

Which again, is exactly the kind of mindset you need to have while running.

The part that really hooks me though, is the chorus:

I’m free to be the greatest, I’m alive

I’m free to be the greatest here tonight, the greatest

The greatest, the greatest alive

The greatest, the greatest alive

I tell ya, whenever that chorus kicks in while I’m running, I break out into a sprint. Because aside from being the kind of inspirational “go team” type of sentiment that I need when I’m exercising, it fills me with motivation that I can take further.

I’m free to be the greatest, she says, I’m alive.

In other words: I’m free to be the greatest I can be, in anything I choose to try, because I have the great privilege of being alive. I firmly believe that the idea behind these words is what gets me out there running every day. It’s what put the idea in my head that I could run 1000 miles in the first place. For there’s truly nothing greater than making your dreams a reality and your doubts fiction.

So, I encourage you to chase them with everything you’ve got. Because as of today, as of this moment, you are completely free to be the greatest you can be, so you might as well go for it.