advice

Things to Do with Alexa in Quarantine

Since we live in a time that is full of technological companions (e.g. Alexa, Siri, Google Home, etc.) and many of us might be finding ourselves with little more than their company these days, I think it’s about time we start utilizing them to their full potential.

This past weekend, as my sister and I were sitting on the couch eating donuts we ordered from our local shop, we decided to talk to Alexa. After buying our Amazon Echo about three years ago, I started getting weekly emails from Amazon that provide a list of fun prompts that you can give Alexa, but I’ve more or less ignored them—until now.

Note: if you have a Google Home, check out both this article and this one for prompts. If you have Siri, check out both this article and this one, and if you have neither, I’d recommend Facetime, Zoom, or, if all else fails, this:

No judgment, times are weird.

Anyway, here are some of our favorite things you can do with Alexa:

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Play Jeopardy

Say: “Alexa, play Jeopardy.”

Each day you are given 12 trivia questions that you have to answer Jeopardy style (what is, where is, who is, etc.) Weekdays you are given extra questions from the same categories showcased in that day’s televised episode, and then Saturdays are College Jeopardy and Sundays (my favorite!) are Sports Jeopardy.

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Play Puzzle of the Day

Say: “Alexa, open Puzzle of the day.”

This is a crossword puzzle that you play in the style of a word game since you don’t have a paper in front of you. Alexa gives you a clue and the number of letters in the answer, and then you try to guess it. If you have trouble, you are able to ask for a letter, but you lose points by doing so—which may not matter to you, or may matter more than anything. I land somewhere in the middle.

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Make Fart Noises

Say: “Alexa, make a fart noise.”

I will just leave this one here.

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Look up the Spelling and/or Definition of a word

Say: “Alexa, spell ______” or “Alexa, what is the definition of _______”

Sure, I could Google it, but she does it faster, and asking almost makes me feel like I’m back in high school with no responsibilities or pandemics to speak of.

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Set a Reminder

Say: “Alexa, remind me to______.”

If you’re working from home, it might be hard to find a good routine, which makes it easy to forget to do things like drink enough water, or take necessary medications, or stop looking at Instagram. That’s where Alexa can come in as an accountability partner. Set reminders, as many as you want, about anything you want. Maybe it’s to put on pants, maybe it’s to refill your water bottle, maybe it’s to go outside, maybe it’s to move to a different section of the couch so you can blob evenly. Whatever you need, she’s there to remind you.

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Use Announce and/or Simon Says

Both of these functions make Alexa repeat something that is being said.

If you say, “Alexa, announce it is time for lunch,” she will play back a recording of you saying, “it’s time for lunch.”

But if you say, “Alexa, simon says it’s time for lunch,” Alexa will say, “it’s time for lunch.”

So it’s really your preference on that one. If you’ve ever wanted to actually hear yourself talk to yourself, now is your chance. Or if you’re someone who lives alone and needs a voice other than your own to whip you into shape, Alexa can do that for you. Again, no judgment.

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Learn Something Weird

Say, “Alexa, tell me something weird.”

Then strap in.

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Hear a 20-second song

Say, “Alexa, sing a song for twenty seconds.”

It has been a widely spread recommendation to (constantly) wash your hands for (at least) twenty seconds. In an effort to make that easier, people have been on the hunt for songs and choruses of songs that are approximately that long so we can get a better idea of the timing. But please look no further than your Alexa, who will sing you a song that (at least when I’ve asked) rhymes and lasts exactly 20 seconds. Also, good luck not having that song stuck in your head.

10 Brackets to Fill Out During Quarantine

In a traditional year, with traditional social interaction, March is usually month full of sports, gambling, and most notably, brackets.

According to this article, the American Gaming Association estimated that a total of 149 million brackets were filled out for the 2019 March Madness tournament, which totaled about $4.6 million dollars in bracket based wagers.

Needless to say, there is a bracket sized hole in many lives this March. The good news is, the people of the internet are here to help. And there is something for everyone!

So, should you find yourself in need to kill some (or lots) of time, why not take a deep dive into opinions you might not even have known you have?

Happy bracketing!

Download Bracket here.

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My Quest to Find a Morning Routine (Part 1)

I am not a morning person.

Well, I shouldn’t say that. I am not a weekday morning person. I am a weekend morning person—but that’s only because I often get to wake up without an alarm and do anything I want with my day.

Those weekdays though. They are brutal.

Even when I put in the effort to get a good night’s sleep beforehand, when my work alarm goes off, I feel like death—often provoking me to press snooze. And while yes, I know it’s been scientifically proven that pressing snooze is not good for you and ultimately makes you feel more tired, I do it anyway. And when I wake up 15 minutes later feeling 100% more tired than I did before, I press snooze again, and again, until I have left exactly enough time (as long as there are no missteps or tangents) for me to get ready, make my lunch and get to work on time.

It’s a viscous cycle, my friends. One that I’ve been wanting to break for a long time now.

And so, finally, that is what I am setting out to do.

For the month of March, I’ve decided that I am going to try to find a morning routine that will encourage me to break my snoozing habit and start each morning on a better note. I want to find the energy for weekdays that I have on weekends when I wake up with the sun and blast old Marah Carey songs on Spotify. I want Saturday morning Kim to become every day Kim. It is a lofty goal, but I am willing to try.

Before I dive in, I thought it would be helpful to write out the “routine” I have now, so I can get a realistic idea of if/how much time I have to fit in anything new, or if perhaps my real goal should simply be to figure out how I can do what I already do, without pressing snooze and forcing myself to get ready at a near jogging pace.

So, as of now, this is what my average morning routine looks like:

-6:30 a.m. Work alarm goes off.

-Snooze alarm (twice) until 6:55 a.m. (Oops.)

-Make bed

-Brush teeth.

-Wash Face.

-Apply Moisturizer.

-Turn on a podcast.

-Get dressed (I’m just realizing I always put my socks on first, is that weird?)

-Put on makeup and try my best with my hair

-7:20 a.m. (on a GOOD DAY) Head downstairs to make lunch, fill water bottle, take vitamins and grab a breakfast to go.

-7:30 a.m. Leave for work.

Okay, so it’s clear that I consistently leave myself time to do the necessities and absolutely nothing else. Thus, if I even want to have a chance at adding anything new (or making any corrections) I first need to stop snoozing my alarm. This comes as no real surprise, but I was also secretly hoping I would determine I was perfect and call it a day.

I have often tried to correct my snoozing habit by grabbing my phone to scroll through social media (while still laying down), thinking it will wake me up. But this almost always puts me back to sleep—phone in hand—until my alarm goes off again. For the last few months however, I have been using Downtime on my phone (which I mentioned in this favorites post) and that keeps almost all of my apps locked until 7:20 a.m. As a result, with little ability to check anything except my email and the weather, I just hit snooze and go right back to sleep. Then, when I ultimately wake up late, I feel frustrated with myself, and when I follow that up with 30 minutes of frantically getting ready, I don’t really give myself a fair shot at starting the day off right.

Which brings me to the Internet.

I currently have about 10 windows open, each primed with tips on how to perfect your morning routine. In skimming through them, I’ve found that most recommend a combination of the following:

-Eat a good breakfast

-Exercise

-Meditate

-Recite affirmations and/or set intentions

-Connect to gratitude

-Read and/or journal

Of these, I only consistently (read: ever) do two.

I love this overnight oat recipe and almost always have a few made ahead in my refrigerator—making the “grab breakfast on the go” portion of my morning much easier. I also always turn on a podcast to listen to while I’m getting ready. But while the other suggestions are wonderful, and undoubtedly beneficial to some, to be honest, most of them don’t interest me.

To quickly run through them: I personally prefer to exercise in the afternoon and journal/gratitude check at night, I would 100% fall asleep while meditating and/or reading first thing after I woke up, and though intentions and affirmations are wonderful, my brain (especially my weekday brain) needs time to warm up.

Some other suggestions included having a cup of coffee or tea (neither of which I drink) and talking to a friend or loved one (which I sometimes actively avoid first thing in the morning.) So while I’m looking for some advice, I’m also trying to be realistic about what would benefit me and what wouldn’t.

I’m also trying to avoid giving myself a to-do list. As a lover of lists, I know the pressure I would put on myself to complete one, and the regret and devastation I would feel each morning when I didn’t get it done. So instead of giving myself a list of chores to complete, I am really trying to hone in on the word routine. I want to find a routine that feels natural, that flows, makes me feel good, and doesn’t make me yell threatening things at other morning drivers—or, ideally, makes me do this less.

With that in mind, rather than trying to convert my routine into one that is identical to those that are “scientifically backed” or “used by successful billionaires” I only wrote down ideas (especially from this article) that interested me, and I’m going to see if/how they can fit into my already established “routine”.

Here are a few ideas that I liked:

Dream journal: I am prone to strange and vivid dreams, and I have often wanted to keep better track of them, both because I’m curious and because maybe I should be studied.

Stretch: I often feel stiff once I get to work, and then I spend the day sitting at my computer, making me feel more stiff. So I’m thinking a low-key stretch routine that I can do in my pajamas might help start me the day on the right foot.

Review your schedule/to-do list for the day: For this one, it is recommended to write out a schedule or ideal to-list for your day the night before and then review it when you wake up. I like this idea because it takes a little while for my brain to warm up in the morning, and oftentimes I’ll find myself scrambling through my mind for things I may have forgotten. This could serve as my own personal recap, similar to the way television shows replay scenes from the previous week’s episode. Previously on Kim’s thought process…

Do a crossword puzzle: The New York Times app has a small, daily crossword puzzle that I like but often forget about, and I think it could be a good way to get my brain working—as long as I sit up to do it.

Try SmartWake: I often wear my FitBit Versa to bed, and it has a setting called SmartWake that you can turn on with any alarm. Once set, it will wake you up between sleep cycles within a half hour of your desired wake up time, making it less likely for you to wake up groggy and tired.

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So, this is my jumping off point.

Over the next month, I will try out these ideas/strategies and see if/how they affect my morning routine. I will also continue to do research to see what other ideas are out there.

Here’s hoping one of them can get me up without hitting snooze and, finally, let me (at least kind of) take my time in the morning.

I’ll keep you posted.

January/February Favorites

Hey y’all, it’s that time again!

I’ve had my hunting eyes extra open for the past few months because I’ve been really feeling the need to find more new in my life, you know?

Here’s what I’ve found:

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Podcasts

Kicking us off with a dark one, I found Truth and Lies: Jeffrey Epstein on the podcast charts and was equal parts curious and horrified, so I gave it a listen. It is a very well made show, and even though the subject matter is awful and skin crawling, I can’t stop listening and I look forward to a new episode each week.

One of my good friends turned me on to Pretty Big Deal with Ashley Graham and I’m so thankful that she did. (Thanks, Sam!) I didn’t know a lot about Ashley Graham before listening, but I’ve more or less fallen in love with her and most of her guests. Not only are the interviews fun, interesting, and inspiring, but they are all well under an hour which honestly sealed the deal for me.

And finally, Straight Up with Trent Shelton! I first heard about Trent Shelton through Rachel Hollis’ podcast, Rise. He is a very positive and inspirational guy so when he announced he was releasing a podcast of his own I knew I had to listen. The first episode alone was enough to get me hooked—especially when I found myself feverishly scribbling down notes on the advice he was giving. Highly recommend!

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Books

Reading has taken somewhat of a backseat in my life lately, as I’ve been too distracted to actually finish a book, making it hard to find a “favorite” or two. But in the month or so I was finally able to find a couple that I both loved and wanted to finish. The first is Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan. It is a memoir that follows the author (self-described as a shy introvert or “shintrovert”) as she goes on a year long quest to say “yes” to things that scare her but also have the potential to challenge and encourage her to grow. As an introvert myself, I related hard, and I laughed through the whole thing. (I also wrote this curse word filled blog post about it.)

On the sadder side of things, Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano. This book follows the journey of 12 year old Edward, who is the sole survivor of a plane crash that kills 191 people, including his parents and 15 year old brother. A review of the book written by author J. Courtney Sullivan stated that the book “will break your heart and put it back together again” and I can honestly say that is exactly what it did.

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TV Shows

If you have been hearing any or all of the hype surrounding Cheer, know that it is for good reason and it is MORE than worth the watch. Having exactly zero experience in cheerleading other than watching Bring it On many times, I was unsure of whether the subject matter would catch my attention as much as it had everyone else’s. But over the six episode season, the conversations between me, my cousins and my sister grew so passionate that one might assume our souls had been dedicated to cheerleading at birth. Not only is it a fascinating and exciting sport, but the team the documentary follows is undeniably loveable, making the journey of the season both wonderful and incredibly stressful.

Speaking of wonderful, stressful and…murder. You. I didn’t jump on the train for this one until just before the premiere of season two, but let’s just say I quickly caught up. It is a very conflicting show, in that the bad guy is put in the shoes of what should be the protagonist, making his bad choices and horrifying actions confusing. But this confusion is actually what makes the show so good. You’re rooting for the guy, but you’re also hoping he gets what’s coming to him. I personally liked season two even better than season one, and it was just renewed for a season three so there is more to come! Can’t wait!

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Music

I have perhaps done the most newness hunting in music. After receiving my Spotify Wrapped for 2019, I was anxious to dive in and start my 2020 journey. Thus, diving I have done. Here are some of my favorite finds:

Rare by Selena Gomez

Ocean by Lady Antebellum

Blood Harmony by FINNEAS

Léon by Léon

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Downtime

In mid-January I decided to make an effort to stop looking at my phone before bed, both to fall asleep faster and sleep better. To help with that, I turned on the Downtime feature on my iPhone that allows you to lock your apps at the time of your choosing. You can customize which apps won’t lock (i.e. the phone & text apps in case of emergency) and how long you want to keep them locked. For me, every day at 10:20 p.m., all but a few apps (including phone, messages, notes, weather, and camera) lock, meaning all access (unless I physically choose to unlock it) and notifications from all other apps are unavailable until the next morning at 7:20 a.m. It sounds intense when I spell it out, but it has honestly been WONDERFUL.

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Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm

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For a long time my go-to makeup remover was First Aid Beauty’s Coconut Micellar Makeup Melter, but I was very sad to find out that it was recently discontinued. In my search to find a new staple, I came across Clinique’s Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, which came very highly reviewed, and even better, was trusted to do its job without causing acne prone skin to break out. I have been using it for a month now and can confirm it both works and is safe for sensitive skin! It is also very affordable and lasts a long time. (find it here)

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Powerbeats 3

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I don’t think there was any real doubt that these bad boys would live up to their hype. But when I got them for Christmas I did find myself the slightest bit nervous that I wouldn’t like them as much as my tried and true iPhone headphones. But having used these for both cardio and strength training, I can confidently say that they stay in place and give you great sound quality. Love them! (find them here)

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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.

10 Newsletters to Consider Adding to Your Inbox

If you’re like me, one of the first things you do when you wake up is check your email. Even though it’s probably going to be full of advertisements. Maybe a coupon for your favorite online retailer that you definitely shouldn’t click on but you do anyway. That one email from a company you’ve never heard of and are concerned as to how and why they are emailing you about a trip to the Bahamas that is definitely a scam waiting to happen. And then there’s the work emails that you’d rather not read because then the work day is actually starting.

Our inboxes have become just like our mailboxes: full of (mostly) junk. Sometimes so much junk that it’s hard to differentiate the non junk amongst it all, and you end up missing that meeting that was definitely mandatory and started 20 minutes ago.

But much like our closets in the spring, our inboxes can be cleaned, organized, and filled only with things we love (or need). So, in case you’re looking for a tune up, I’ve gathered some of my favorite newsletters that all brighten my day in one way or another.

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For the Religious/Spiritual Person

1) The Monday Club

Frequency: Once a week (Every Monday)

Sign up here.

Created by blogger and author, Hannah Brencher, this dose of inspiration always starts my week off on a good note. I love that each message clearly comes from the heart, not solely to teach you, but to relate to you and remind you that you are not alone in your struggles.

2) Cathe Laurie Devotional

Frequency: Once a week (Every Wednesday)

Sign up here.

I tend to struggle with devotionals that are very wordy and longwinded, but Cathe’s are always quick, meaningful, and to the point.

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For Anyone Who Loves Good News

3) Goodnewsletter

Frequency: Every other week.

Sign up here.

You know I’m always looking for good things to add to my monthly “All the Good Things” post, and this is one of the many sources I use to help me find those bursts of good. I also love that each email includes a “do good” brand that highlights a company making positive change.

Note: they also do print version called the Goodnewspaper that you can sign up for here.

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For the Foodies

4) Food Network Recipe of the Day

Frequency: Every day (usually in the morning)

Sign up here.

This is as inspiring as it is mouthwatering, and honestly seeing it in my inbox right after morning break is borderline torture. But I’ve found a ton of good recipes, both that I’ve made and that I’ve saved so I can request people make them for me—like these brownies.

5) Postmates

Frequency: Seemingly every minute of the day

Sign up here.

I’m not going to lie, Postmates borderline harasses you with their email updates. And as someone who is actively trying to save money, this is NOT HELPFUL. However, on the days when I do cave and want to order in, it’s nice to know I have a coupon waiting for me.

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For Anyone Looking to be In the Know

6) Next Draft

Frequency: Every weekday

Sign up here.

I have gone through a number of different newsletters that gather up daily news updates, but this is by far my favorite. It is a good combination of news, from politics to sports to tech to humor. There’s a little bit of everything, which I like because depending on the day, I never know what I’m in the mood for.

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For the Wordies

8) Merriam Webster Word of the Day

Frequency: Every day

Sign up here.

As a writer, it’s probably no surprise that I love words. And so it’s definitely no surprise that I’d be subscribed to a newsletter that teaches you a new one every day. I might not commit them all to memory, but I like to know what’s out there.

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For the Writers

9) Submittable

Frequency: Once a week

Sign up here.

I mentioned this newsletter in this post I wrote about resources for bloggers. This is probably one of my longest standing subscriptions and I still enjoy it and get a lot out of it. Each email gives you a list of noteworthy articles, followed by a number of submission (and sometimes even job) opportunities.

10) Opportunities of the week

Frequency: Once a week

Sign up here.

This is my newest find, but I’m very excited about its potential. I’ve been looking more into freelancing, and I’ve read a number of articles full of resources on how to get started. One of them led me to this newsletter that is a packed with opportunities for writers of all types. The newsletter does cost money, and offers tiers of membership between $1-$3 per month, but there is also the opportunity to become a sponsored member where another member of the community can offer to pay for your slot.

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Have any newsletters that you would recommend?

I Say Sh*t 17 Times in this Post, But it’s Upbeat, I Promise

I recently read the book Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan, which chronicles her year of saying “yes” to things in order to help her step out of her introvert comfort zone. It was a hilarious and relatable book that was full of valuable lessons, but one in particular stood out to me.

As the author puts it: “Being shit at being shit is just shit.”

Or, put more PG: being bad at being bad is just bad.

(Personally, I like the shitty version, but that’s just me.)

Jessica Pan writes this when referring to the tendency of someone who is placed out of their comfort zone to put in minimum effort in order to protect themselves from further embarrassment.

I know I’m guilty of it.

It’s hard to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. It’s hard to step out of your comfort zone and be yourself. Sometimes it feels easier to make it all a big joke, that way, if you fail, you’ll know you weren’t really trying in the first place.

But then again, we also learn, from an outsider’s perspective, that when we see people putting in that minimal effort, it doesn’t make them look “cool”, it doesn’t even protect them from embarrassment. In fact, we notice that lack of effort more than any failure, and it looks far worse.

Because there’s a difference between trying and failing and failing to try.

There’s a difference between “being shit” and being shit at being shit.

And, as previously stated, being shit at being shit is just shit.

So, the lesson here is: just be shit, you know?

Be bad at something.

But don’t be bad at being bad. Strive to be great at it.

Try your hardest and fail your hardest. But try. And don’t try halfway.

Don’t laugh it off or shrug it away. Don’t shrink yourself down. Go out there and suck to your full potential. Because that is what makes you cool. That is what moves you forward. That is what ultimately protects you and fights for you because it gets you out of your head, into the new, and onto the next.

You have to go through the shit to get to the good stuff. And sometimes going through shit requires you yourself to be that shit, and it’s learning to let yourself be the shit at being shit that ultimately gets you through the shit, you know what I mean?

For My Fellow Worms

While going through some of the old documents on my computer, I came across this little story. I think it was my hope that one day it would become a children’s book, but that never transpired, and now it’s just been sitting in folder oblivion for a few years, so I thought I would share it here.

I think we can all relate to Wally in one way or another heavy-black-heart_2764

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Wally the worm woke up with the squirm and wiggled his way down the road

He passed the tall flowers and birds taking showers, to find his friend Marvin the toad.

“Oh Marvin,” said Wally, “What a glum day this is.

I’d hoped that last night, the stars heard my wish.

I wanted to wake up a big hungry bear,

or maybe a lion with long fluffy hair.

Perhaps a green crocodile with big shiny teeth,

or even a monkey that climbs trees with his feet.

But this morning I found I was still just me,

I guess a little brown worm is all I’ve ever be.”

 

“What’s wrong with that?” said Marvin with a “RIBBIT.”

Wally sighed and said, “You just don’t get it.

Toads like you can catch flies on their tongue,

and hop high between lily pads for just a bit of fun.

But all I’ll ever do is wiggle and squirm,

digging in the dirt, just a tiny little worm.”

 

Then Marvin and Wally went down to the river,

to see their friend Sammy, a bushy tailed beaver.

“Good Morning!” said Sammy with a big toothy smile.

“Hello!” said Marvin, “Haven’t seen you in a while.”

“I’ve been working so hard on my dam made of wood,

it’s almost finished now, do you think it looks good?”

With one look at the dam, Wally said “Wow.

I wish I could do that, but I don’t know how.

Maybe tonight I’ll wish to be a beaver too,

so I can build something beautiful, and do things like you.”

Sammy smiled, but then shook her head,

“Don’t wish to be me, be you instead!”

 

Wally sighed and Marvin said, “RIBBIT”.

“Oh Sammy,” said Wally, “You just don’t get it.

Beavers like you can build things brand new,

and birds in the trees sing beautiful tunes.  

Peacocks have feathers prettier than gold,

and tigers have stripes and a roar oh so bold.  

You all have something that makes me say ‘wow’

and all I can do is squirm on the ground.  

Maybe tonight I’ll wish I was a giraffe standing tall,

or an ocean blue whale, the biggest beast of them all.

And then tomorrow I’ll wake up something better than me,

so you’ll finally say ‘wow’ when it’s me that you see.”

 

Then Wally and Marvin wished Sammy farewell

and walked down the road ‘til they saw an anthill. 

Next to it they saw a long line of ants,

marching and carrying heavy packs on their backs.

Led by Sgt. Pepper, carrying a load thrice her size,

Marvin and Wally watched the ants in surprise.

They marched and they marched and Wally said, “Wow.

So small and so strong, but I wonder, how?

If I were an ant, I too could be strong.

I could be part of their team and march all night long.

No one would see me as just a lousy worm,

but a hard-working insect, with respect that I’d earned.”

 

Suddenly Marvin and Wally heard a voice from up high,

and a tall beautiful sunflower looked down with brown eyes.

“Oh Wally,” said the flower, “Don’t you know what you are?”

“Yes,” Wally answered, “A tiny worm, nothing more.”

 

The sunflower sighed and Marvin said, “RIBBIT”

“Oh Wally,” she said, “You just don’t get it.

You watch us flowers grow tall in the spring,

and you see our colors blossom as the birds in trees sing.

It’s because of you this forest is so green and lush.

Without little worms like you, we’d be nothing but mush.

When you dig in the dirt, it helps our seeds grow,

you make the dirt healthy for us, didn’t you know?

We all have a “wow” and they don’t look the same,

but they all have an important place and a name.

So don’t wish on stars for sharp teeth or long hair.

Don’t hope for long legs or the strength of a bear.

Everyone has a wow that is theirs alone,

so please take the time to appreciate your own.

 

Wally was speechless and Marvin said, “RIBBIT”,

then Wally squirmed and said, “Now I get it.

It doesn’t matter the size or shape I am,

it doesn’t matter I can’t hop high or build a dam.

I have my own wow in my tiny little me,

and that is all I’ll ever need to be.

So when the stars come out and the sun goes home,

I’ll be grateful for the wows I have of my own.

I’ll go to sleep with a yawn, a wiggle, and a squirm,

hoping tomorrow I wake up me, a perfect little worm.”

A Nostalgic Lesson on Failure

It took my sister and I all of two days after Disney+ came out to give in and subscribe.

For some people, the draw was the backlog of Marvel movies and shows like The Mandalorian, for us it was easy access to Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century.

Because let’s face it, when it comes to movies made for television (and sweet sweet nostalgia) Disney Channel Original Movies are master class. The stories are simple (and at times ridiculous) but they are wholesome and weirdly empowering and full of iconic one-liners that I will quote until my dying day.

Aside from DCOM’s, Disney+ (who, regardless of how this blog may seem, is not sponsoring me) has also given us access to a variety of other Disney movies, most of which I’d completely forgotten exist.

Take Ice Princess, for example. It stars Michelle Trachtenberg (a.k.a Harriet the Spy), who plays a brainiac that takes up ice skating for a physics project, and ends up eventually pursuing it as a career, all while falling in love with a Zamboni driver named Teddy. This predictable yet undeniably adorable film is what brings me here today.

I’m a firm believer that inspiration can come from anywhere, and I’m not too proud to admit that I found it while watching this movie with my sister at 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

About halfway through the movie, as Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg) starts to take ice skating seriously (the decision of which creates backlash from almost everyone around her, most prominently her mom) she confronts controversial ex-skater Tina Harwood (played by Kim Cattrall) and asks her to be her coach. When Tina bluntly states that she doesn’t think Casey has what it takes, Casey replies, “If I fail, I fail, but it will be because I wasn’t good enough, not because I didn’t have the guts.”

This line struck a chord in me, and I immediately wrote it down.

As hard as it is to admit, we are not destined to succeed in everything we do, and we are not always going to be the best, even when we give it absolutely everything we have. But sometimes it’s not about being the best, it’s not about winning, it’s not even about getting exactly what you want. It’s about knowing you did everything you could, gave everything you had, and didn’t let your fears hold you back. It’s about having the guts to try, and when things don’t work out, to try again, maybe in a different way, or maybe on a completely different path.

I know I’ve both put off and completely given up pursuing certain projects or passions solely because I was scared I would fail. But at the end of the day, failing is never going to be the worst thing you can do, and it is never going to hurt more than never knowing what you could do.

So today I’d just like to encourage you to go for it. To try and then to try again. Your win is out there, and it’s waiting for you on the other side of fear. So give it your all, and see where it takes you.

My 2019 Rec Roundup (List-cember #5)

Nothing has ever qualified me to tell you what the best books, movies, music, etc., of the year are, but that has never stopped me from giving you what I believe to be a highly educated opinion.

I mean, who needs all the fancy words and validating credentials when I can just tell you, hey, this didn’t suck and I think you should check it out. 

So that’s what I’m here to do today.

Here are all of my top recommendations from 2019, just in case you’re looking for something good to kickoff your 2020.

Books

  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (Historical Fiction)
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Fiction)
  • For One More Day by Mitch Albom (Fiction)
  • Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis (Self Help)
  • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Mystery/Thriller)
  • Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Historical Fiction)
  • My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (Mystery/Thriller)
  • Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens (Fiction)
  • Beautiful on the Outside by Adam Rippon (Memoir)
  • Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness (Memoir)

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Podcasts

  • ESPN 30 for 30
  • Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet
  • Dr. Death
  • Duolingo Spanish Podcast
  • The Trypod
  • The Clearing
  • My Dad Wrote a Porno
  • The Dropout
  • How I Built This
  • Homecoming

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Movies

  • Free Solo
  • The Dawn Wall
  • Booksmart
  • Unicorn Store
  • Someone Great
  • Frozen 2
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

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TV Shows

  • Fleabag (Amazon Prime)
  • Single Parents (ABC)
  • The Politician (Netflix)
  • The Act (Hulu)
  • Killing Eve (AMC)
  • Modern Love (Amazon Prime)
  • Dead to Me (Netflix)
  • Euphoria (HBO)
  • Four Weddings & a Funeral (Hulu)
  • When They See Us (Netflix)

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Music

  • Heard it in a Past Life by Maggie Rogers
  • GIRL by Maren Morris
  • When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go by Billie Eilish
  • Daylight by Grace Potter
  • Lover by Taylor Swift
  • Cheap Queen by King Princess
  • The Highwomen by The Highwomen
  • Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent by Lewis Capaldi
  • Free Yourself Up by Lake Street Dive
  • Happiness Begins by Jonas Brothers

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Misc

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Hippeas:  THESE. ARE. SO. GOOD. I truly cannot stress this enough. Their one and only flaw is that they come in relatively small bags UNLESS you want to brave Costco for the monster bags. I personally am not always in the mood to brave Costco, which is why I found…

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…White Cheddar Cheetos Puffs! These are the perfect sister snack to Hippeas and are also delicious. Who knew I had such a thing for white cheddar this year?

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Duolingo: I downloaded this app to learn Spanish and have genuinely loved using it! They are always adding new challenges and new ways to learn and I look forward to going on each day.

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Birkenstocks: I waited a long time and listened to a lot of hype about these before I finally pulled the trigger but I am so glad I did. Believe everything you hear. These are wonderful and I will miss wearing them in the winter months. (find this pair here)

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Old Navy Leggings: I am constantly on the hunt for good leggings that aren’t one million dollars, which according to most retailers, is a big ask. But I bought a pair of leggings from Old Navy early in the year and loved them so much that I bought 4 more pairs. They are so comfortable and just the right amount of thick, AND, most importantly, they have side pockets, which is the real game changer. (find this pair here)


Check out more List-cember posts here. 

A Passive Aggressive List of All the Bad Driving Habits We Should Leave in 2019 (List-cember #4)

We are nearing the end of a decade.

Thus, when the ball drops this New Years Eve, that feeling of potential and newness will undoubtedly be a little magnified. We might be inspired to try new things, make big changes, and find exciting ways to kickstart 2020.

In that spirit, I thought I would mention something we should leave in 2019. It’s something that I think has scarred this decade (and many before it), and something I believe we can only benefit from eradicating, both from our year, our decade, and ultimately, our world.

I am of course referring to bad driving.

I personally do a lot of driving, so it could be argued that I’m hyper-sensitive/completely fed up/a borderline road rage-aholic, but I also think there are things that simply need to stop.

Maybe you’ll agree with me, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll feel personally attacked, I don’t know. Regardless, let us all take a deep, cleansing breath and DO BETTER.

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1) When changing lanes or making a turn, turn on your damn blinkers.

2) When you’ve completed said turn or lane change, turn OFF your damn blinkers.

3) Also, in regards to said turn—JUST TURN. You can do it. Just crank that wheel and step on that gas. Go!

4) Stop texting and driving. Seriously. It’s dumb, you’re not “better” at it than other people, and there is absolutely nothing important enough to put every single driver, including yourself, at risk.

5) When the light turns green, GO. As in NOW.

6) ESPECIALLY on green arrows. If you are the first car in a line of cars waiting to turn on a green arrow, the moment that light turns green I need you to drive as if the car behind you is on fire.

7) Stop at stop signs. This one seems pretty obvious but, you know, APPARENTLY IT’S NOT.

8) Merge like a gentleman. I get it. Merging sucks. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk. Just wait your turn, take your turn, and then we can all move on.

9) Drive faster. I understand there is a speed limit. I respect the speed limit. I don’t always obey it, but I respect it. You should too. And by that I mean, at least drive the speed limit. I’ve got things to do, I’m sure you’ve got things to do, so why not drive faster than the powerwalking senior who just passed us?

10) Drive slower. I get it, time is money and traffic is awful. But weaving in and out, speeding down the shoulder or a bike lane, or just driving 30 or 40 miles an hour over the speed limit does not make you cool, or in any way make me feel like you are more important than me. Again, just respect the speed limit, and maybe the lives of your fellow drivers (and peds!)

11) Do not slam on your breaks unless it is absolutely necessary. Examples of things that are not absolutely necessary: being nosy about an accident on the side of the road, realizing you just passed a cop, seeing a billboard, trying to wake up your friend in the passenger’s seat, dropping a french fry.

12) Get over for service vehicles. When an ambulance, firetruck or police car has their sirens on, pull over. As in alllll the way over.

13) Park in between the lines. They are not suggestions, they are requirements, y’all.

14) Turn your lights on. The sun is down, you are now a ghost death machine, take a second and turn your lights on, please.

15) This might be specific to Southern California drivers, but rain is NOT a sign of the apocalypse. So while caution is recommended, a complete and total forfeit of all driving abilities is not.

16) Don’t litter. Or, written another way, stop throwing shit out the window of your car.

17) Say thank you. A wave, a nod, a grateful burst of eye contact is all I ask. Something that says, “hey, I noticed you were a decent human who let me make the driving maneuver I was hoping to make, may we both live out the rest of our day peacefully!”

18) Approach the limit line. Hey, it’s me, behind you. This light is never going to change unless you pull forward and activate the sensor. So please, for the love of everything, pull up.

19) Speaking of pulling up, if you are making a left hand turn, PULL OUT INTO THE INTERSECTION. DO NOT. I repeat. DO NOT WAIT BEHIND THE LINE UNTIL THE LIGHT TURNS RED AND THEN TURN, LEAVING THE REST OF US STUCK AT THE LIGHT.

20) Speaking of speaking of pulling up, when parallel parking, PULL. THE. HELL. UP. There is no reason for there to be half a car length in front and/or behind you. Pull up close to that car and leave room for, I don’t know, EVERYONE ELSE, who might want to park on this street.

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Wow. That felt good.

I think I just added a year or two to my life (and saved money on therapy) by getting that off my chest.


 

Check out more List-cember posts here.