advice

March & April Favorites

Spring is in full bloom here at home, which means that all of the birds are happily chirping, the plants are happily glowing a vibrant green, and the flowers are happily blooming in every color you can think of.

Seems like the perfect time to talk about some favorites.

.

Podcasts

I have been absolutely binging Terrible, Thanks for Asking. This might be a little bit strange to hear if you a) know the podcast or b) look it up on this recommendation, because many of the episodes are emotional and, at times, devastating. But I am so drawn to the stories and emotions that this podcast inspires, and I just can’t get enough of it. I am addicted to the feelings it draws out of me, if that makes sense. They are creative feelings, they are empathetic feelings, they are feelings that say, hey, you’re alive, and I just love it.

.

Books

I have a few recommendations based on what you might be looking for here

If you are looking for a romantic comedy, I’d say The Hating Game. This book was cute, strange (in a good way), funny and easy to read. It starts with: “I have a theory. Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them” and then follows two characters who toe this line—and cross it.

If you are looking for something you cannot put down, I’d say Verity. I’d heard a lot of rumblings about this book and wanted to read it for myself. After starting, it took about five minutes for me to a) need to know everything that was going to happen, and b) need to have someone to discuss every second of the book with—a task I quickly gave to my mom, who said, “omg let me know what happens,” and allowed me to update her on the drama/horror/shock as I went along. The basic plot is that a woman is hired to finish writing a series of books since the author (named Verity) has been in an accident and is unable to continue writing. The woman then moves into Verity’s house (alongside Verity’s husband and son) so that she can immerse herself in Verity’s notes, outlines, etc. and she finds FAR more than she anticipated.

If you are looking for an inspirational read to change your perspective, I’d say The Gift of Forgiveness. This is a collection of stories that highlight forgiveness and the sometimes unbelievable/unbearable circumstances where people have found themselves in need of forgiving. At the beginning of every chapter I said, “no way,” in regards to the possibility/necessity of forgiveness and was continuously blown away by the human capacity to do so.

.

Movies

I didn’t hear a lot about Everything, Everywhere, All At Once before it hit theaters, but after it did, all I heard was that it was fantastic. And I agree. It is nearly impossible for me to explain to you what happens. But I can honestly say that you’ve never seen anything like it, and that you will experience seemingly every emotion while watching it. Just watch it. It’s incredible.

Also, Father Stu. If you want a reason why you should look up this movie, here is the opening line on the Wikipedia page dedicated to the subject of this true story: “Stuart Long was an American boxer and Catholic priest.” This was an incredible story, that had humor and heart, and took turns I definitely didn’t anticipate. What an inspiring man and a truly meaningful life.  

.

TV Shows

Pam & Tommy follows the beginning (and initial end) of the relationship between Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, and the theft and release of their sex tape. It is honestly devastating to watch, both because of the invasion of privacy, and the way in which Pamela Anderson was treated afterwards by the media and the lawyers that were supposed to be helping her. Both Lily James and Sebastian Stan put on incredible performances and the makeup team should win an award. (find it on Hulu)

The Girl from Plainville is based on the true story from a few years back where a girl was taken to trial for allegedly encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide. It is a heavy subject and is hard to watch at times. But I feel like it addresses an important subject and, at least for me, is a reminder of how precious life is— how precious each individual is—and how much is lost, both for a family and for the world, when someone takes their own life. (find it on Hulu)

.

Music

Humble Quest by Maren Morris

Raised by Hailey Whitters

Where We Started by Thomas Rhett

.

Two Dots

I’m not really one for playing games on my phone, but Two Dots has sucked me in. I couldn’t tell you how/when I found it, but it is such a simple concept and has been an easy thing to play while I’m decompressing after a long day at work. Plus, it’s free, so we love that. (find it here)

.

Alabaster Co Meditations

I have wanted to get into a consistent meditation routine for a while now but have had trouble finding meditations that draw me in and keep me focused. So I was very excited to find these guided Christian meditations on YouTube that are all brief and easy to follow. I like to do them after I finish doing yoga or when I just need to refresh my mind after work. (find them here)


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

See my previous favorites post here.

How to Pray for Other People When You Don’t Know What to Say

Prayer, to me, is very special, but it’s also something that I’m still learning a lot about.

I am not that comfortable with praying in front of other people, and so I mostly do it in private. Sometimes I will pray aloud and other times I like to write out my prayers, both in a journal and in word documents on the computer—sometimes I feel like I can better get my thoughts out that way.

Even so, sometimes I feel like I’m not saying everything I want to—everything I need to. And when it comes to praying for other people, I have often felt completely unqualified. I have heard prayers (spoken both over me and others) that seem to have just the right words. They hit all the right marks, speak to all the important issues, and leave everyone feeling filled up with hope.

So even though I’ve grown comfortable with my own style of prayer, I have wanted to improve upon my prayers for others. And lately, I have come across a lot of people to pray for. People I know directly, people I know through others, and people I have seen on tv or read about online. There has seemingly been this big sign everywhere I look saying: PRAY FOR THEM! And so naturally I have been throwing my arms up in the air and saying, “I DON’T KNOW HOW.”

In the past, I might have just let the prayer requests pass me by. But this year I have felt the pull to pray stronger than ever before.

So, I started making a list.

Whenever someone asked for prayer, or when I saw a friend or acquaintance or complete stranger that I thought needed prayer, I would put their name on a list on my iPhone, and then, occasionally, I’d glance at it.

This counts, I thought to myself.

I was intentionally keeping their names at the front of my mind, I was making God a checklist that he could run down, and thus, I was praying for people.

While I don’t necessarily think this is incorrect, I quickly began to feel like it wasn’t enough. I was being called to do more. To pray more.

So, I started reading their names out loud.

I would say a name and then mention the reasons that person needed prayer. But then, like before, I felt self-conscious that I wasn’t saying enough or that I wasn’t praying the “right” prayer.

But then I realized that God already knows the right prayer. He knows exactly what that person needs, and he knows exactly why I put their name on my list. I don’t have to know or say the “perfect” prayer for it to be a meaningful one. And I can’t let the fear of not saying the “right” words keep me from saying any at all.

So, I wrote “the name prayer.”

It is not the only prayer I pray, but it is one that I pray often. It helps me stick to a prayer routine, and it cuts out a lot of the self-consciousness that I’ve previously felt while trying to pray for other people. When I find a moment of stillness and silence—which for me is often right before bed—I will read this prayer aloud, followed by the names on my list.

.

Dear God,

I lift up each person on this list. They are all on here for different reasons and all need different prayers. So I pray that as I say their names you would hear the prayer they need. I pray that you would comfort those who need comforting, heal those who need healing, and draw close those who feel lost. I pray that you meet each and every person where they are, where they need you most, and that you would fill them with hope and surround them with love.

.

If you need prayer today, I’d be happy to pray for you. You don’t have to explain why, or know how to express the exact prayer you need, just simply leave a comment with your name and I will add you to my list.

And if you are looking for an easy way to start praying for other people, this might be a great place to start. Open a note on your iPhone and make a list, look (and listen) for people who need prayer, and simply speak their name alongside this prayer. God will know what they need. God will do the rest. ❤

Let’s Have a Funeral

I think it’s natural to do a lot of reflecting on your younger self. To try and connect to the person you were as a kid, as an adolescent, as a young adult, etc. It’s always interesting to recall the things you hoped for and dreamed about, and to notice the differences in what you expected to happen in your life and what did happen.

I think about my younger self all the time. I think about that high school girl, assuming she had it all figured out, convinced she knew the exact timeline of her life to come. Little did she know, things would go differently than she planned. Much differently.

The funny thing is, if she somehow contacted me now to ask questions about our future, I wouldn’t tell her that it’s bad. I wouldn’t tell her to be devastated for the way things have gone. I wouldn’t tell her that every hard thing we’ve walked through, everything that didn’t go our way, everything that we’d dreamed up that didn’t come true (either yet or at all), doesn’t make this future unsatisfying. It just makes it different.

Still, on my bad days I think about the things that didn’t (or haven’t) happened. I think about the ways my younger self might be bummed. And I think about the things that make me bummed. This future, while hopeful and wonderful in its own way, is different than what I imagined. And sometimes I like to harp on the things that could have gone differently, and on the things that might exist (or still exist) if they had.

But the truth of the matter is, they didn’t.

Things did not go the way I planned.

But things happened. So many things. Good and bad. And I became a better, stronger, more vibrant, confident and understanding person. If I’m being honest with myself, had I gotten what I wanted, when I wanted, I probably would have been lost along the way. And THAT (unlike some of my dreams that can still come true) might have been something I lost forever.

SO, I’m hosting a funeral. And it’s open.

You might have heard of an “open house” before, but this is an “open funeral.”

And by that I mean, anyone is welcome to join—to cohost their own.

Do you have any old daydreams that your mind likes to bring up whenever you’re feeling low?

Do you have any old pictures of your life that like to stand in front of your line of sight, tainting everything you have and making you focus only on what you don’t?

Are you ready to let go of your past expectations and embrace your current reality?

I am.

Quite frankly, I’m tired of my mind telling me that because x, y and z didn’t go as I planned: I’m not happy. Or that I’m a failure. Or that I’ve missed the window to find all the good things.

I’m tired of living in the imagined life I could have had, and I’m ready to live the life I’m in.

I’m ready to let that old daydream go. It was a good guess, a beautiful idea, but it’s not what happened. And the sooner I embrace that, the sooner I can find the beautiful here where I truly am.

Do you have any daydreams you’re ready to lay to rest? Do you have any old blueprints for your life that you’re ready to pull off the wall?

Let them go.

They’re not doing you any favors.

Who you are and where you are might not be what you expected, but then, life might have thrown you curveballs you never could have predicted.

Lay the old plans to rest, throw them six feet down. Say a few words and then let them go.

Don’t be afraid to be happy in this new reality, and don’t be afraid to guess again—to daydream again and again.

A Repost for My Fellow Tough Eggs

I don’t have a new post for this week. But I have recently been reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, and so this post from a few years back has been on my mind.

Re-reading it was a good reminder that being an introvert does not mean you are an incomplete extrovert. It doesn’t mean that you are less interesting or less important of a person. The world is made of both introverts and extroverts, so it is not our job to try and become something we’re not. It’s our goal to become and to appreciate exactly who we are.

Some of us are tough eggs. And that’s okay.

The world needs tough eggs.


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

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

Anyone else with me on this?

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

I do.

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

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

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


Be yourself.

And take these quotes from Quiet into consideration:

“Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured.”

“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”

“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers — of persistence, concentration, and insight — to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems. make art, think deeply.”

You can find the original post here.

Work For and From the Inside

About a week ago my mom, sister and I went to get massages.

We’d each received a gift certificate for Christmas and were finally able to make (and keep) an appointment, since the first couple were cancelled due to one of us having COVID.

We were very excited, as we’d booked—for the first time ever—ninety-minute massages. And with a myriad of different stressors weighing on us from the past month or so, we were ready (and desperate) to *relax*.

I had even asked for the deep tissue massage, which, if you happened to read this post regarding my feelings on my first ever massage, will let you know 1) how much of the massage Kool-Aid I’ve drank over the last few years, and 2) how much I wanted the stress more or less beaten out of me. I wanted that stress to run for its life. I wanted a stress exorcism.

When the masseuse asked if there were any areas to focus on, I said: neck, shoulders and back.

They have forever been where I hold everything. From the annoyance of that bad driver I encountered on the freeway yesterday, to that mean thing a girl said to me in high school 15 years ago. It’s also where, for a long time, my muscles were working overtime to keep my head on my shoulders due to my bad posture—that I’ve since put in a lot of energy (and a lot of money at the chiropractor) to correct.

Needless to say, I love having my neck, shoulders and back massaged. It feels like ironing a wrinkly shirt. And since it had been a while since my last massage, I was sure there were going to be quite a few wrinkles to tend to.

To my surprise, as I lay face down on the table and the masseuse dug into what seemed like the very core of my spine, assumedly finding evidence that I still hadn’t fully forgiven someone who wronged me in the seventh grade, he asked, “do you ever do any kind of stretching or foam rolling?”

I tried to nod, but then remembered my face was framed by the pillow, making my neck borderline immovable.

“Yes,” I said. “I foam roll my back a few times a week”—something that was recommended by my chiropractor—“and I try to do yoga two or three times a week.”

He made a quick “mhm” noise, and I assumed it was partnered with a nod.

“I can tell,” he said. “While you have tension in your back, there are no knots at all. So your efforts are paying off.”

I lay there, letting his words repeat in my head.

I thought about all the anxiety I felt going into our day at the spa. I always got nervous knowing I’d have to spend time in my bathing suit—or naked, under the sheets of the massage table—overly critical of my body and how it compared to others.

I thought of all the times I’d done yoga, or gone for a run or a walk, hoping that the efforts I was putting in would garner positive results that I could see in the mirror.

I thought of all the times I’d hidden my body behind baggy clothes, anxious hands, or the body of someone else.

And then I thought about how my body, my muscles, and my bones themselves might be benefiting from my exercise, my (mostly) healthy diet, my efforts to meditate, and to express myself both emotionally, physically, and creatively.

Those efforts might not show in the mirror. They might not match up to some kind of image I have in my head of what a body is “supposed” to look like. But they do change the way my body feels. They do the work on the inside of my body.

We are told so often to focus on physical results and to hit monetary goals, when so much benefit can come from doing work for and from the inside first. I know what it feels like when I eat healthy, when I exercise, when I don’t slouch, when I can relax into deep, honest conversations with those I trust. These things make me feel light, they bring an ease to my days, and, apparently, give me the iron to take to that wrinkly shirt.

After the massage, I lay on one of the daybeds beside my mom, reading a book and listening to the sound of falling water. Then I took a long, hot shower and blow dried my hair. On the way home, we picked up dinner from one of my favorite places and then sat on the couch and watched a movie.

It was a great day, not because things looked perfect on the outside, but because they felt good from the inside.

January & February Favorites

Ahhh, I love a first favorites post of the year.

Come January, I am always in a hurry to find new favorite things. To dive into new books, new music, new movies, and new podcasts. I’m always anxious to find things that expand my mind, make my life a little better and brighter, and, maybe, just the slightest bit easier.

And to be honest, I have been on a roll.

Let’s get right into it.


Podcasts

I got COVID at the beginning of the year and spent a solid week feeling like moving from room to room was the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest. So, I spent a lot of time trying not to move, and I was always on the hunt for things that helped make the time go by. Podcast but Outside was one of my favorite finds. It is a podcast that has both a video and audio version—but honestly you are MISSING OUT if you listen to the audio version—and it made me genuinely laugh out loud. The concept is simple: the two hosts set up on the street and interview whoever might walk by, and the results are consistently interesting and often hilarious. (find it on YouTube or your preferred podcast app)

A little while back I recommended the Tangle newsletter, because it gives you an unbiased look at the news. And while I still stand by the newsletter, I am someone who tends to fall behind on newsletters, so I was very excited to learn that they made a podcast version of it. Each episode is a nice, clean read of the newsletter, and is usually about 20 minutes long. It’s an easy listen and I look forward to every episode. (find it on your preferred podcast app)


Books

I fell in love with both Beach Read and its author, Emily Henry, almost immediately. Beach Read is a refreshing, fun book that made me laugh out loud, and made me feel seen, as its main characters are both writers, and the writing process (and its occasional corresponding misery) is described in detail. I knew I wanted to read People We Meet on Vacation before I was even done with Beach Read and I anxiously await the arrival of her newest book, Book Lovers, in May. Consider this “favorite” both the books and Emily Henry herself.  

The Night the Lights Went Out is WILD. Not only is it a great read—eye opening, shocking, charming and even funny—but it makes you realize how much you have to be grateful for in the day to day. Even on your worst days. I for one have taken advantage (for about 30 years) of how lucky I am to taste things, smell things, to be independent and healthy. Life can throw you a lot of curveballs and the human spirit is resilient enough to (eventually) find wonder in many of them, but this book made me take a deep breath and focus on all that I have, all that I’m able to do, and remember that at any moment that can change.


Movies

First and foremost, you’ve got to watch The Alpinist. This one is in the same vein as Free Solo and The Dawn Wall. I watched it twice in the span of a week, once by myself and once with my mom, because I needed to have someone to talk about it with. I’ll admit, you feel pretty much every emotion, big and small, happy and sad, but you leave feeling so…content. It reminded me that we are all here to live different lives with different purposes, and it’s important that we all find our own and pursue it, even if it might not make sense to everyone else.  (find it on Netflix)

Next up, The Tender Bar. This movie is adapted from the memoir of the same name and it is one of those that makes you think: I want to write a memoir. I want to find all the moments that made my life my life, in all its ups and downs. It had a familiar quality in that it was a reminder that we are all trying our best—trying to figure out what on earth we’re doing. I found myself rooting for the main character in the same way I’d hope other people are rooting for me. (find it on Amazon Prime)

I Want You Back is a romantic comedy that, if I’m honest, I initially watched because it has my girl Gina Rodriguez in it, but it quickly became more than that. It is different and fun, and it made me laugh and smile and aww. It’s a good old fashioned rom-com that I feel like we don’t have nearly enough of anymore. Definitely recommend! (find it on Amazon Prime)


TV Shows

I had been recommended The Man in High Castle a few different times over the years, so when I was in between shows at the end of last year, I decided to finally give it a watch. The premise is that Germany won World War 2, and the United States becomes more or less extinct in the face of the German and Japanese empires. It is pretty much terrifying, but it is a captivating, and surprisingly patriotic watch, as a resistance of Americans fight to get their country back. Strap in though, it’s a wild ride! (find it on Amazon Prime)

One thing that I love about my Netflix algorithm right now is that it is consistently recommending me international shows that I might not have otherwise known about. I recently watched a movie in Spanish, then I saved a Polish movie to My List, and then I watched the Italian born series Baby. I watched it subtitled and really enjoyed it. The show is based on the true story of two Italian high school girls that got involved in the country’s prostitution ring. It was a dramatic and interesting watch! (find it on Netflix)


Music

the debut farewell album by avenue beat

Sidelines by Wild Rivers

Circles by LEON


Cauliflower Tacos

If you are looking for a new dinner recipe to spice up your life, and you want to make something that gives you that feeling of, damn, I am a mf-ing chef, try this Cauliflower Taco recipe. I actively called my friends into the dining room to show off what I made, and I was SO proud of myself. Plus, it was absolutely delicious. (find it here)

.

The Art of Noticing Newsletter

And finally, I am a sucker for a good newsletter. I love the weekly pick me ups and the variety that exist if you keep your eye out. I have no idea where I found The Art of Noticing newsletter, but it is one I never miss. It always opens my eyes to something I can notice in the world around me, and it has a fun ongoing series called “Missing Words”, where people point out words that don’t exist but should. For example: “that feeling in the half second between when you’ve stubbed your toe and the pain arrives.” Check it out here, there is both a free version and a paid version. I am currently subscribed to the free version, but I have no doubt it would be worth the subscription!


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

See my previous favorites post here.

My Nighttime Routine

Remember a while back when I was determined to find a morning routine?

And remember how after a few tries I figured out that my mornings do kind of have a routine, but that routine is simply organized chaos?

I kind of gave up on the idea of trying to squeeze things into my mornings, especially my weekday mornings, because I think I’m always going to be someone who gets done what needs to get done, and leaves room for nothing else. And that’s okay. As the poet Ke$ha once said, “we R who we R.”

However, I have not completely given up on the idea of a routine.  In fact, over the last few months, I’ve found great comfort in sticking to a nighttime routine.

When I was little (and honestly, still quite often today) I had a lot of trouble falling and staying asleep. I often had a lot of anxiety around the concept of sleep, and of the responsibilities that awaited me when I woke up. I also tended to be just plain scared of the dark, as it’s unsettling and, seemingly, unsafe.

Needless to say, I like to get in bed, fall asleep, and stay asleep until the sun comes up. And finding a routine that invites in that deep sleep has been very helpful for me.

So, if you are someone looking to add some routine to your evenings, or just need something else to focus on other than the impending workday, I thought I’d share some of the staples in my nighttime routine.

Note: While sometimes I do these in a kind of “order” it is neither rigid nor consistent. These act more like items on a checklist rather than blocks of a schedule.


1) Skin care

I’m not here to tell you to do 78 steps of skincare. I’m not even here to tell you to do five. I just know that finding a routine and doing it consistently has made my skin happy for the first time in *literally* 15 years. I used to always skip a step here or there, saying that I was too tired or that I didn’t really need to do them all because I assumed, I don’t know, I could overcome breakout prone skin with shear will. It was only about a year or two ago when I decided, okay, I will do every single step, every single day, and see if I can stop breaking out like I’m still 16 years old. And even though it took a little bit for my skin to adjust, once it did, it was like, FINALLY, GIRL, I’ve been waiting for this! My skin still isn’t “perfect”, but I feel like it’s no longer mad at me, and as a result, I no longer dream about peeling it off my face. So that’s nice.

.

2) Go through my to-do list

When I was doing research on how to find a revitalizing morning routine, I constantly saw things like “set intentions” or “go through your to-do list” as an important item. It is supposed to put you in the right mindset for the day, putting your priorities in the right place and jumpstarting your motivation. But for me, my biggest goal in the morning is finding a way to get up. I don’t have time (or energy) to go through my to-do list because what I’d like to do is go back to sleep. However, I have found that going through my to-do list at night allows me to plan out my next day, making me feel like I’m a little more ready for it. I check off what I got done and I review what’s still left to accomplish, and I start brainstorming how I can be productive the next day. It’s nothing too intense. In fact, I mostly just scroll through the list, make a few mental notes here and there, and then move on. It’s a way for me to center and quiet my mind, preventing it from spinning off in a million different directions and causing me to panic.

.

3) Duolingo

I’ve been taking Spanish on Duolingo for a few years now and I have been very excited with my progress. Within the app, your “daily goal” is completed when you do about two lessons, and this takes maybe 10 minutes. I tend to do my Spanish when I get in bed and I start to have that internal argument about whether or not I should stay on my phone. I get a weird kind of separation anxiety about putting my phone down and not getting to see or know anything else until the next morning. But often when I give in a little, I take full advantage, staying on my phone for way too long. So, I’ve been using Duolingo as a kind of farewell to screen time. Once I finish my Spanish, I am finished with my phone for the day.

.

4) Journal

One of the best ways I have found to quiet a pacing mind is to put all of those paces on paper. Sometimes I don’t know how hard I’m thinking or overthinking until I start to write about it, and then all of sudden I’ve filled pages and pages with thoughts and feelings. Journaling for me is like having a long, deep talk with a friend right before bed. You can get everything out, take that deep sigh of relief, and then relax.

.

5) Read

The very last thing I do at night is read. After I’ve turned off all the lights, I lay down with my Kindle and tuck in with the latest chapter of whatever book I’m reading. Depending on the night, I will sometimes do this with my phone, because at this point, I am looking for that final distraction, that something to help me think about anything other than the spirals in my mind. More often than not however, my phone offers both a distraction from what I’m thinking about and a bridge to all new reasons to panic. With social media, I never know what I’m going to scroll by, so at times it feels like I’m waiting for a bomb to drop, for something to pop up that sets my brain on fire—which I usually try to put out by continuing to scroll, as if I’ll find something to undo it. Reading however, both relaxes and engages my mind. It asks me to pay attention to one story, and that story slowly invites in sleep. I always sleep better when I read before bed, and it’s nice not waking up with a headache or that feeling that, you know, I stared at a tiny screen three inches from my face for two hours in the dark.

.

In a way, I have tried to make these things somewhat Pavlovian, tricking my mind into thinking that, once we go through this routine, we must sleep. We have to sleep, because there is nothing else to do.  I have come a long way since I was little and am much better equipped to manage my emotions and calm myself down, but some nights the panic is hard to escape, and it can compound with the fear of being overtired the next day, making it a viscous spiral. Having a routine makes me feel more in control, which gives me a sense of peace.

We all want to get a good night’s sleep, and this is how I believe I set myself up to do just that.


Do you have anything you do as part of your nighttime routine?

A Small Prayer for You in the (Not So) New Year

We are ten days into this new year, which is about the time when the “new” starts to wear off.

We are back into our routines, back into the stress the holidays (ideally) took us away from, back into the hustle, bustle, and (at times) chaos.

For some of us, we might even already feel discouraged. Maybe you already quit on your new years resolutions, or maybe you never got around to setting any. Maybe you feel the exact same way you did on December 31st and you feel a little gypped.

The new year always promises transformation and possibility—a solution to all of the problems we feel so stuck in. We want the new year to change us, to make us better, to make us feel good enough. Which is why we set goals and resolutions, why we make plans (or cancel them), and why start good habits and quit bad ones. We want to be changed, and for everything we don’t like about ourselves to vanish at midnight.

But when the sun comes up on New Year’s Day and we don’t immediately see that positive change on the horizon, it’s easy to count ourselves out (and put ourselves down) and to mark the new year as a wash.

So if you happen to be someone who is feeling let down by the new year, who put all of their hope in the potential it promised, but now feels just as discouraged as you were before; if you are someone who still doesn’t feel good enough and who doesn’t know how to pick yourself up and find the goodness that might exist in these next 11 months, I want to offer you this small prayer today.

It comes from author Macrina Wiederkehr. It says:

“Oh God, help me to believe the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is.”

There are always positive changes to be made. We can all grow, we can all learn, and we can all become better versions of ourselves as the years go by. But today, I pray that you are reminded of all the wonderful things that you already are. And I hope you don’t deflect them. I hope you absorb them. I hope they fill you up. And I hope they inspire you to look forward.

I’m so glad you’re here, and I hope you are too!

It might not be New Year’s anymore, but there’s still a lot of year left to live.

Here’s hoping it treats you well and you treat yourself well in return. May we all treat each other well this year, and encourage one another to believe in the beautiful things that exist in all of us.

5 Things We Don’t Have to Do (List-cember #9)

I feel like a lot of end of year posts tell of things you did, and New Year’s posts tell of things you want to do or think you should. But for this last List-cember post, I wanted to share five things we don’t have to do—even though the world suggests we should.

There are so many good things in this world. So many good people, good hearts, good intentions and good words, but they are so often shoved into the background by greed, selfishness, jealousy, pride and fear—many of which are celebrated or encouraged—intentionally or not—by and on social media.

So, as we reflect on the year we’ve just finished and look forward into the year we have ahead, let’s try and remember that we don’t have to do these things, even if they seem easy, popular or what everyone else is doing.

Also, please hear me when I say that I don’t write this post from a motherly, all knowing, “perfect” perspective. I am just as guilty of these things as anyone else, and I write this as a letter to myself as well as anyone else who might come across it.

.

1) Take things personally

Have you ever been driving on the freeway and wanted to change lanes but the person next to you is either going too slow, too fast, or for whatever reason, just won’t let you over, so you are FUMING, spewing words of hate at this person for being a terrible, selfish driver? Have you ever done so without turning on your blinker, thus not giving the person next to you any reason to know anything about your desire/need to change lanes, thus making them not a selfish, clueless idiot, but just an uninformed driver who is simply trying to get to their destination just like you?

I saw a post on Twitter a while back where a girl shared that one of the most valuable things her therapist ever told her was: “Not everything is about you.” While this seemed obvious at first, I realized how often I too assume this—as a driver or otherwise. Not necessarily in a selfish way, but in an anxious one that suggests, somehow, that everything everyone is doing is targeted at me—whether that be in a positive or negative way.

This is not necessarily surprising, as digital media has made us all believe we are the center of the universe. Algorithms are designed to cater to our needs and technology has been created to satisfy our every whim within seconds. As a result, I think we tend to forget that we aren’t the center of the universe. That there are opinions, perspectives and values that are different than ours—will always be different than ours—and those differences aren’t an attack on us, but rather a truth for someone else.

Don’t get me wrong, our values are important. Removing toxic people and things from your life is important. Unfollowing and/or muting friends and family members that only bring you frustration is important. Fighting for what you believe in is important. But encouraging progress and community by holding room for healthy conversations between opposing perspectives, rather than submitting to the taught behavior of blocking and ignoring all opinions and people that don’t agree with or celebrate you, is one of the most important things we can do right now.

Take a minute. Turn on your blinker and look out for others’. Remember that the things people say and the opinions they hold are built on more than just impulsivity. We are all products of our unique upbringings, and our values are defined by our core experiences. Your way of living is not the only way. So while you shouldn’t turn a blind eye to those blatantly trying to belittle or destroy your or others’ way of life, you also shouldn’t always assume that someone else’s way of life is a direct attack, slight, or even remotely related to or taking concern with yours. It is not always about you, or me, or any single person. Life was given to and made for all of us, and we can all make the world a better place by sharing our unique perspectives and listening to those of others.

.

2) Have the last word

The idea of the “clap back”—of having a good retort to an insult or sarcastic comment—has become very popular online. People love to see the drama, to see the perfectly worded arguments and digital slaps to the face. I get it. I’ve tuned in to the drama and I understand wanting to be the smartest, wittiest or toughest. It can give you confidence, it can make you feel like the bigger person. But a lot of the time, it just drags you down.

Sometimes you might say something you don’t mean, just because you were trying so hard not to be the person who was left speechless or proved wrong. Sometimes you set yourself up for more hurt than the comment is worth. Sometimes you forget you can just let things go.

You can let the argument end, you can release the negativity associated with the situation. You can be the better person and realize that, maybe it doesn’t serve you to continue to try say the most hurtful, most clever, or most sarcastic thing. A lot can be said with silence. With not giving in to the invitation to fight or tear down.

Plus, the thing about drama is there will always be more, and people will always move on to the next big thing. But you, me, we are all left with the consequences of our actions, of our “last words.” So maybe sometimes we don’t throw that final punch, maybe we react with kindness, or maybe we say nothing at all.  

.

3) Lean on drama for conversation

I am someone who at times is self-conscious about lulls in conversations. I often feel very responsible for keeping conversations going and read awkward silences as a fault or failure of mine. As a result, sometimes when I can’t think of anything else to say, my mind will reach for details that I’ve seen online or heard in passing conversation. Rumors beg to be spread in those moments, it’s what keeps them alive. But maybe next time you catch yourself without an obvious next topic of conversation, you don’t turn to the gossip and drama of other people’s lives. Maybe you just relax into a moment of thought. Maybe you get a little vulnerable and share something about your own life that you’ve never shared before. Maybe we stop spreading (or starting) negativity or judgement just to protect ourselves from discomfort or awkwardness.

.

4) Make sense to everyone

2021 was a big year of getting to know myself. I spent a lot of time alone, a lot of time experiencing my own company and everything that entails. I got to know what I like and don’t like without the context, and thus the opinions or judgements of other people. Sometimes it was magical, sometimes it was terrifying and lonely. Because when you really get to know yourself, you learn who you truly are, and in understanding and accepting that person, it becomes harder and harder to present anyone else to others. And sometimes, when you present your truest self to others, it doesn’t make sense to them.

But that’s okay.

Your likes, dislikes, values, opinions, quirks and choices will not always make sense to everyone—and sometimes won’t make sense to anyone but you. But you are the only person living your life, so when it comes down to it, the only person you should make sense to is you.

The term “relatable” has become so enamored and sought after. We want other people to relate to and understand us, especially in our most vulnerable places. But it often takes someone stepping outside the box of relatability to share something actually relatable—even if it’s only to a select few people.

So let’s stop worrying about making sense to every person we meet—or every person we love. Let’s just learn who we are in our most honest states, and start introducing those people to the world.

.

5) Witch Hunt

I get that the world has a lot of flaws, and I agree that some of them are unforgivable. I believe that there are people who abuse their power, manipulate others, commit unimaginable crimes, and treat people as less than human. There are people who need to be taken down, laws that need to be changed, directions and attitudes in the public that need to be adjusted and corrected. But waiting in the wings, listening with ears that only aim to cancel and condemn, and borderline hoping that someone makes a mistake solely so you can put them in their place—namely on video or in the spotlight of the social media comment section—does not actually do the world any good.

We live in a world that thrives off of cancel culture. Everyone claims to be furthering a greater cause, when most people are really just screaming at each other from opposing sides of an argument. We’ve stopped looking for ways to connect with each other and instead obsess over ways to destroy each other. We dig into each other’s pasts, unwilling to take notice of whether previous opinions, comments or mistakes have led us to become better, more productive, more educated human beings. We negate all progress and feed only on persecution, convinced that the destruction of bad people will result in the flourishment of good people. But we forget how much life goes into forming an opinion or person, and how far a simple redirection can go. How far a story can go. How far our vulnerability, our willingness to explain where we stand and why we stand there, can go.

So don’t write people off after one mistake. Don’t witch hunt. Don’t feed off of the failure of others. Communicate, encourage, and redirect. Prioritize community over cancellation.

.

Happy New Year, y’all. May we take extra time and care to make this year as bright as possible, for as many as possible.

Wishing only good things for you, see you in 2022!


Check out more List-cember posts here.

17 Things that Inspired Me This Year (List-cember #5)

Inspiration is my drug of choice. You’re allowed to roll your eyes at that, but there is truly nothing that drives and excites me more than those feelings of “how did she do that?!” or “I never thought about it that way!” or “I want to try that!!” or “WOW!” So I make it a point to save, follow and emulate things that inspire me so that the effect is not a one-time thing, but a constant, ongoing experience.

This year, these are the things that inspired me:

1) This blog post about popcorn

2) Zion

Which we visited in April and I wrote this blog post about.

3) These Podcast Episodes

  • A Slight Change of Plans, Episode #1, A Black Musician Takes on the KKK
  • Heavyweight, Episode #36, Brandon
  • Proverbs 31 Podcast, Episode: 3 Questions to Ask when Faith Feels Impossible

4) Jay Lee Painting on Youtube

5) “Never underestimate the big importance of small things” – from The Midnight Library

And honestly the whole book, which inspired me to write this post.

6) Graves into Gardens by Elevation Worship

7) Paulie’s Push

I read this man’s story here and then started following his journey on Instagram (@pauliespush) and loved every step of it!

8) The Mile an Hour project

9) The Balanced Life Pilates

I came across this organization when they did their free 5-Day Refresh + Reset Pilates challenge (which I think is only available through their website now) and decided to give it a try. I had never done pilates before but I liked that these workouts were designed to be short and concise, so you can easily integrate them into your daily routine. They were great for beginners and I felt like I was able to keep up without wondering if I was going to die. Which is always nice. Going forward, I’m going to try out more of their content on YouTube and then decide whether I might give their subscription service a try too!

10) This:

11) This article written about the best life lessons people learned in 2020

12) Headspace by Riley Clemmons

13) @ememem.flacking on Instagram

Who adds some wonder to cracks in the sidewalk 🙂

14) CODA

This movie inspired me in the way that I was truly awestruck by how beautiful sign language is. It is a full body kind of communication and I am so drawn to that. It is one of my life goals to learn ASL and this movie added an exclamation point to that hope!

15) Be Like Benji

One of the best parts about Yoga with Adriene’s videos (besides the yoga, of course) is the cameo her dog Benji makes—which is usually him napping in the corner of the screen. This animated video put out by her team teaches the value of “box breath”, which can help with stress and anxiety, and is just about the most precious thing ever. The full video is available on her website fwfg.com, but even the trailer can bring you some calm.

16) This post:

17) The Olympics

I am never not inspired by the incredible stories that come out of the Olympics, and the 2020/2021 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo seemed particularly special, as it was a time for the world to join together and marvel at the incredibly resilient athletes. My family and I even had our own “Olympic” moment this year, and it’s one I’ll never forget.


Did anything particularly inspire you this year? Let me know!

Check out more List-cember posts here.