advice

May/June Favorites

Everybodddayyyy

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Rock your bodayyyy

(Yeahhh)

Everyboddayyy

Rock your bodayy right

Favorites are back ALRIGHT

So yeah, I saw the Backstreet Boys in Vegas this month, and yeah, it’s still on my mind, because yeah, it was INCREDIBLE. If there was a slot in the favorites for “favorite concert I saw that made me feel 13 again,” the BSB would definitely have nabbed that spot. Actually, let’s go ahead and make that a slot just this once. Consider yourselves “favorited” boys!

Now, on to the rest of the favorites:

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Modern Love Podcast

modern love podcastSince the quest to run 1000 miles rages on, I’m always looking for new listening material, and these past two months I’ve been loving the podcast-ed version of The New York Times column “Modern Love.” Each episode contains a previously published story, read aloud by a wide variety of personalities (one of my favorites was Titus Burgess from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and accented with sound effects and music, to really bring the words to life. I consistently find myself captivated by the stories, and look forward to the new episode each week.

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Think Thin Protein Bars

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Another side effect of running is being hungry ALL. THE. TIME. Honestly, I feel like an adolescent boy, minus the growth spurts and incredible metabolism. That being said, I’ve been on the lookout for healthy(ish) snacks that can tide me over between meals so I don’t eat my way through my entire budget. Enter these protein bars, which seem to do the trick in satisfying my hunger, without providing the lasting guilt or tasting like total garbage. So far, I’ve tried the Brownie Crunch, Cinnamon Bun White Chocolate, and Cupcake Batter flavors and I’ve liked them all!

 

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Stitch Fix

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Call me a sucker if you want, but Stitch Fix has been FLOODING my Facebook feed for months now with ads for their cute clothes, and after putting up a steady resistance, I finally caved. I clicked the link that had been shouting at me to “try now!” and I went through the comprehensive “style quiz” and I gave them all my info, then I waited pretty (im)patiently for my first box to arrive. I’m not going to lie to you, it was pretty exciting when it did. Unlike the sporadic string of Amazon packages that usually grace my porch, this was a mystery box of goodness! You see, the way it works is once you go through the “style quiz”, a stylist reviews your answers and then sends you 5 handpicked items they think you’ll like. You then try them on/do a quick fashion show, etc, and decide what you want to keep and what you want to return. For the things you want to return, they send you a prepaid envelope, so all you have to do is slide the clothes/accessories in, seal it and send it back. From my first box, I kept two shirts, one of which I never would have tried on in a store and one that looks like it could have been made especially for me.

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Harry Styles by Harry Styles & Evolve by Imagine Dragons

Both of these albums have had me feeling all the feels and frequently texting my sister “YES, ALL THE YES” at various times of the day. They are very different in sound but both more than worth the listen.

Let’s turn it over to iTune for bimonthly dose of adjectives:

Harry Styles by Harry Styles: “magisterial Bowie-meets-Elton calling card,” “swampy bass and carnal choruses”

Evolve by Imagine Dragons: “the band trades is signature angst for light rhythmic textures and fluid vocals about rebuilding.”

Yup, EXACTLY what I was thinking.

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Brain on Fire by Susannah Calahan & This is Really Happening by Erin Chack

download (3)Again, these two choices have vastly different vibes about them, but they are both phenomenal. I borrowed Brain on Fire from a friend and was addicted by about page 4. It’s a memoir written by a 20 something year old woman who, while living a perfectly normal, healthy life, finds herself slipping into complete psychosis for no understandable reason. I read the entire thing in one day and have recommended it to almost every human I’ve spoken to since.

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This is Really Happening is a collection of essays written by Buzzfeed writer, Erin Chack, who I hadn’t heard of until I saw her book announcement on Twitter. Needless to say, I fell in love with her instantly after that and put the book in my Amazon cart that afternoon. This is Really Happening is a super easy read that made me laugh and cry and want to get a book of my own on the market. So, fingers crossed you’ll find me emulated a book birth in the future.

 

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Kendall Jenner Ab Workout

Who even am I, right? I know. But I can’t help it! Ever since I saw the workout in this Cosmo article online, I’ve made it a part of my gym routine. Full disclosure: It’s hard as hell. BUT doing it has made me feel much stronger, and I’m pretty sure I have, like, 1 1/2 abs now, so, watch out world!

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This Terrible Morning

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Oh, yes. This is a self plug and I’m not sorry about it. I recently announced a fun side project called “This Terrible Morning” which hopes to be a collaborative blog all about how terribly ridiculous mornings have a tendency to be. Fun fact: it officially launched TODAY! So make sure you go check out the first post. It’s a piece by me, written about the morning that gave me the idea for This Terrible Morning in the first place. Also, if you have a terrible morning you’d like to share in story/picture/poem/song/any form, please do! I’d love for you to join in on all the terrible fun.

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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.

Summer 2017 Charity Walks

Have you ever been driving around running errands, minding your own business, and wanted to stop by your favorite donut shop, when suddenly you come across a big orange construction sign saying, ROAD CLOSED, and you feel like your whole day is ruined. Then, to make matters worse, you find out the reason the road is closed is because there are hundreds (or thousands) of people participating in a Walk/Run event that benefits a super amazing charity, so you drive home and feel doubly bad 1) because you didn’t participate in such a great event and 2) because even though it’s clearly an important event that will benefit many, you’re still pretty upset your route was blocked and you didn’t get a donut.

I’ll admit it, I have.

HOWEVER, I’ve also been amongst the crowds, running and/or walking for a great charity that I care about, and I can honestly say it is way more satisfying than any donut. (Which is saying something, because, you know, #donutsarelife)

With the arrival of summer right around the corner, we’re in for a season of beautiful mornings, perfect for both donuts and charity walks—and if you are living life to fullest: both—and since one of the hardest parts about signing up for a walk/run is knowing which ones are available to sign up for, I figured I’d do the work for you.

WARNING: this does take away the “I had no idea this was happening!” excuse you might have planned to use to not sign up. Sorry about that.

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Relay for Life

Who you’re walking for: American Cancer Society

Distance: varies

Find more information here

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Light the Night

Who you’re walking for: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Distance: About 3 miles

Find more information here

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Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Who you’re walking for: Alzheimer’s Association

Distance: 2-3 miles

Find more information here

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AIDs Walk

Who you’re walking for: multiple AID’s related charities

Distance: 6.2 miles (a 10k course)

Find more information here

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Strut Your Mutt

Who you’re walking for: Best Friends Animal Society

Distance: varies

Find more information here

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March of Dimes

Who you’re walking for: March of Dimes Foundation

Distance: About 3 miles

Find more information here

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Walk for Wishes

Who you’re walking for: The Make A Wish Foundation

Distance: 3.1 miles (5k course)

Find more information here

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Walk MS

Who you’re walking for: National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Distance: 1-3 miles

Find more information here

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Buddy Walk

Who you’re walking for: National Down Syndrome Society

Distance: varies based on location

Find more information here

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Race

Breast Cancer 3-day

Who you’re walking for: Susan G Komen for the Cure

Distance: 60 miles over 3 days

Find more information here

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I’d recommend any and all of these and any others you can find. There’s truly no greater feeling than helping someone, and being a part of events like these where you can see and feel the direct impact of the difference you are making is unbelievable.

So I challenge you this summer to get out there and be a part of something bigger. Walk, run, sit down and cry, I’ve done all three at a variety of different races and I’m a better person because of it.

Also, be sure to check out this website to find more charity walks near you, and if you know of any other upcoming runs/walks that benefit great charities, please share them below!

How to Go to a Concert

This past weekend my roommates and I went to KROQ’s 25th annual Weenie Roast & Fiesta. It’s an all day celebration of food, friends and amazing music. This year’s lineup included The Revivalists, New Politics, Judah & the Lion, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, DREAMCAR, Lana Del Rey, Paramore, 311, Cage the Elephant, Imagine Dragons, Incubus, and Lorde.

To be brief: we went, we saw, we danced, we sang and we didn’t get sunburned, so it’s safe to say we conquered! And since the coming summer offers plenty of concerts and festivals alike, I thought I’d give you some tips, based both on what we did right, what we did wrong, and what we’ll do better on next time.

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1) Hydrate!

I know this may sound like a cliché mom lesson, but you can never underestimate the value of some high quality H20. When you’re going to be in the sun all day and you’re going to want to drink a beer and dance and let some troubles of a long week melt away, you’re going to need some water to have your back. It will keep you healthy, it will keep you moving, it will keep you—quite literally—alive. You don’t want to be the person that passes out from dehydration and requires the hot EMT to wheel you away in pity, you want to be the one getting free cardio jumping up and down to your favorite band and catching the lead singer’s guitar pick so you can tell the story for the rest of time.

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2) Wear Sunscreen

Long story short: I sunburn like it’s my job. And during the summer my nose, shoulders and thighs fall victim to the sun like Kel does orange soda.

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So lather it up. Lather, lather, and repeat. That way you’ll be able to wake up the next morning without feeling like someone snuck into your room overnight and lit you on fire.

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3) Dress Smart

I get it. You just bought a new dress, or jacket, or pair of shoes. They’re unique and adorable and have strategically placed cutouts, and you want to show them off. Don’t let me stop you. But please take into account a few factors from this poem:

It’s going to be hot as hell.

You’re going to sweat something swell.

And think of how long you’ll be there, please consider that as well.

Because I get it: fashion

You’re living your passion

But just think of your skin and how it will be…rashin’

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4) Be Patient

One of the best parts of any concert or festival is the food and drinks. At Weenie Roast, the object of my sister’s affection was tacos. Unfortunately, the restaurant hired to provide such had, shall we say, sub-par service. They were severely understaffed and intensely overwhelmed by the demand, causing the line to move incredibly slow. It took some serious strategy for us to get what we so desired to eat while not missing any artists we so desired to hear. And while the tacos and carne asada fries ended up being INCREDIBLE, it was hard not to feel justifiably frustrated by the whole thing. That being said however, it’s important to remember that the vendors at these kinds of events do not show up with the intent to ruin your day. They’re not behind the counter plotting, mischievously calculating how they can make your experience worse than you hoped. So be patient. Don’t yell, don’t heckle, don’t assume you’re more important than anyone else. Because we all want tacos, and if we’re patient, they will come.

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4) Sing

Key point to remember: you paid money to come see your favorite artists. So don’t do yourself the disservice of submitting to your inhibitions. Sing you heart out. Loudly and terribly. It’s worth it.

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(actual footage of my friends and I this weekend)

This goes hand in hand with #4. Move! Move yourself in every direction, whichever direction your body wishes. I don’t care if people are watching. I don’t care if people are laughing. The way I see it, if people are wasting their time watching/judging me have the time of my life, there’s only one loser in that situation, and it’s not the person whipping their hair back and forth to an Imagine Dragons song.

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6) Keep an Open Mind

There were 12 artists at Weenie Roast, which meant there were a number of songs played that I didn’t know. And while not every artist was necessarily someone I’d listen to on a regular basis, it was still a treat to see someone in their element, doing something that they love. So don’t count out the bands you don’t know. Don’t shut down and tune out until an artist you do know comes on stage. Give the new guys a chance, they might just blow your mind!

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7) Listen to the Lyrics

One of the best parts of seeing someone live is getting to experience them as people, not just sounds on the radio. It helps you connect to the artists as just that: artists. Music is one of the most beautiful mediums artists have to express themselves and sometimes even the simplest lyric can change your outlook on life. During Incubus’ set, I found myself overwhelmingly inspired by a lyric that I’ve heard upwards of a thousand times over the years:

Whatever tomorrow brings I’ll be there, with open arms and open eyes, yeah.

It’s from “Drive”, one of the band’s most well known songs, and as he sang it, I couldn’t help but get goosebumps. He’s making a promise to life. To be ready for the tomorrow it brings, even if that includes hardships. He’s promising to live for tomorrow, because appreciates the value of getting the chance to live it. The lyric stuck with me for the rest of the show and still sits with me now as I write this. It makes me excited about tomorrow and reminds me to appreciate it, now matter what it may bring.

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8) Go!

I know the excuses: it will be hot, it will be long, it will be dusty, it will be crowded. And while I have agreed with all of these at some point, and have used (and will continue to use) them willingly, I can’t deny the magic in going. Sometimes you just need to get out there and dance and sing and laugh and eat terribly good food. So go for it! You won’t regret it.

Dear High School Students,

Hi, it’s me, an adult—or so they tell me. I’m 10 years removed from where you are right now. When I look at you I feel like we’re a million miles apart and yet, at the same time, we’re also five minutes away. When I look at you I can see me and where I was when I was where you are. I was lost and confused and goofy and scared and optimistic and curious and quiet. I didn’t have a clue who I really was or who I wanted to be. I just knew I hoped the future brought good things. Fun things. Things that lived up to all the things everyone told me to work for.

Did I find those things? I think so. Yes. And also, no. I think I found some, missed some, and have yet to discover some even exist. In many ways I feel like I’m you again. Like I was never not you. And I suppose that’s true. I supposed I’ve always been me, no matter where I was or who I was trying to be. It’s been me, in this body, in this life, wandering her way through the world, and this past Monday I happened to land in your auditorium for your spring showcase, with the hopes of seeing my little brother be courageous. Which he was. He acted and sang and even swayed a little, and I smiled from ear to ear with pride and love.

But that was only the half of it.

You see, he had two performances. Two amongst twenty. And as I waited for number one and then number two, I got to see you, all of you, being courageous. You were funny and honest and sad and scary and beautiful and touching and raw. You made it look easy, even though I know better than to believe that. I know some of you spent hours debating what you would wear. I know it seemed nothing looked right or fit right. I know you probably paced back and forth wondering why you couldn’t be more comfortable in your skin or why you couldn’t be as easy going as some of your friends. I know you might have tried to talk yourself out of coming, and that you were nervous you wouldn’t be funny enough, talented enough. You were worried you wouldn’t be honest enough, or worse, too honest.

But you showed up. You showed up and sang songs and acted out scenes and performed monologues. You shared little pieces of yourselves, even if they were hidden behind familiar stories or catchy hooks. You stood up on stage and said, “here I am” and I just want you to know that I saw you. You. I didn’t see the flaws in your outfit you kept fidgeting with backstage. I didn’t see the hair out of place that almost brought you to tears. I didn’t see you as a number on a scale or a statistic in a textbook. I saw you and I just wanted to thank you. Thank you for letting me and the rest of the world see you. And thank you for the inspiration to let the world see me.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of What Other People Think We Need

Like the skills required to dissect a frog, there are many lessons from my K-12 education that I’ve found a way to forget. However, there are also those I can’t help but remember: Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, the symbol for silver on the periodic table, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Often showcased in a pyramidal diagram, Maslow’s theory recognizes the 5 essential needs of the individual, starting at the bottom with the most essential: physiological (i.e. food and water), and working its way up to safety (i.e. health and home), love/belonging (i.e. friendship and intimacy), esteem (i.e. acceptance and self-respect), and self-actualization (i.e. the understanding and achieving of one’s full potential). The needs are ranked on importance, assuming an individual cannot obtain higher, more complex needs before first satisfying the most basic. For example, an individual with a consistent supply of food and water would focus on their need for health and home, and only after those needs were met would they worry about friendship and intimacy. Simply put: One only feels the need for something when they have the time and resources to realize they need it.

Learning about Maslow’s theory in high school fascinated me. It made such sense and seemed so obvious. However, I quickly came to learn how far people tend to stray from its logicality.

After I graduated college, every conversation I had was based on my future plans. Did I have a husband yet? Did I have a career path? Was I going to become successful?

There I was a well-fed, well housed, and well-loved human being, proud of myself for pursuing and completing a formal degree and beginning to consider my full potential. I was reaching the peak of Maslow’s pyramid, drowning in the plenty, and yet my peers only identified what I lacked. Granted, there is a large difference between motivation and criticism, and I know that many questions came with good intentions and genuine support. They wanted me to be hungry for more, and I was, I just didn’t know quite what I was craving.

In today’s society, with the constant presence of social media, the discovery of what one lacks is an everyday occurrence. Be it a job, a significant other, or a bikini body, individuals yearn for what they lack without realizing the wealth in what they have that allows them to do so.

We all impose our own hierarchies, both in our lives and those of others around us, setting standards for what we believe a person needs in order to be x. (x being successful, happy, of value, etc.) But who can truly determine a level of success and happiness besides the person in question? Who is a better gage of our wealth than we who live off of its riches?

Maslow’s theory works under the simple assumption that we are all humans with needs and some of us will thrive where others lack. And while time and self-growth will continue to morph our own hierarchies, it is important to look back at Maslow’s original 5, appreciating the most basic and essential needs we have met that allow us to focus on the deeper and more complex. For with a basis of gratefulness, we can create a healthy hunger for progression, not only in our own hierarchy but also in those around us.

 

Snacks to Pack for a Road Trip

So I’ve been talking to a lot of different friends recently, and they’ve been telling me about all of the exciting trips they have coming up in the summer months. And while I’m jealous, and the tiniest bit bitter, I’m also genuinely excited for them, and would love to help out on arguably the most important part of any trip: snacks.

You see, my sister and I just recently went on a long road trip, and in order to survive it, it was vital that I excelled in snack shopping. The way I saw it, we were going to be spending most of our time in the car, and often wouldn’t have a grocery store cookie/cracker/chip aisle at our beck and call, so we needed to more or less turn our backseat into a mobile Am/Pm.

It was also important to note the snack ratio. We figured there was no way around eating junk food. And since we’d be out on the road, almost completely devoid of human contact, we should have at least some of our favorite comfort snacks on hand, if only to be reminded of a time when the world around us was more than just dirt, cows and random building-ish structures that almost certainly contained a dead body (or 10). However, as much as we would have liked to deny it, we knew there would undoubtedly come a time when our bodies would want something else. Like fruit, or vegetables, or something that isn’t made out of grease and dentist tears.

Thus we have the ratio.

While shopping for our trip, I tried my best to find a balance of delicious and healthy (and the rare combo of both), so as to keep my sister and I both alive and satisfied—at least until we could find a Subway or a Chipotle.

These are the snacks I packed for us:
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Overall, it ended up being a pretty good combination. We finished everything except the carrots and the craisins, and never got into any hangry screaming matches that included insults like “next time you hand me a carrot I’m Thelma & Louise-ing this bitch” or “I’d rather eat that dead possum we just saw on the side of the road than look at you again,” so I’d chalk that up to a win.

To you and all my friends heading out on trips this summer, I wish you good luck, great memories & happy snacking!

My 100th “No”

Being a writer, I am constantly submitting posts, short stories and even the occasional poem in the hopes of getting published. And being an insanely organized writer, I keep track of everything I submit in a spreadsheet. When I submit something, I’ll update the spreadsheet with a new entry including the date, the place I submitted it to, the approximate window of response time, and the reply (yes or no). I also have a formula set up in the “yes or no” column to tally up each answer. (Yes, I’m a nerd)

As of yesterday, I just received my 100th “no.” And while I realize this isn’t something I should necessarily announce, let alone celebrate, I can’t help but feel a little proud. You see, a while back I was listening to a motivational speaker, and they encouraged the audience to “fail hard.” They said that if you throw yourself into challenges, try your absolute hardest, and then end up failing, you’re doing something right. Naturally, this struck me as odd. How can I be doing something right if I’m failing? My competitive brain just didn’t understand this. You either win or lose and it’s always better to win.

But failing isn’t always losing, they explained. Failing is more often the act of crossing off a path that doesn’t lead to success. And with that in mind, it’s crucial to fail as hard as we can, so we don’t waste time wondering if there was something more we could have done, or if there was one more turn we could have made that could have wrapped us around to the right path. If we are failing hard, it means we are trying hard. It means we are leaving no doubts behind and thus leaving no reason to go down that path again. By failing hard we are slowly succeeding.

Amongst my 100 no’s, I’ve also received 14 yes’s. Fourteen. Meaning my ratio here is 14/114, making my rate of success 12%. Last time I checked, no one is proud of a 12%. But alas, I am! Because I know that 88% failure is what has given me that 12% success.

A couple weeks ago a mentor at church was telling me about an article she read that emphasized how important it is for us to receive the “discipline of failure.” When she mentioned the phrase, I audibly gasped. I understood it instantly, because it’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the last three years. My failures (my no’s), all 100 of them, have made me a better writer. They are the reason I work so hard to receive those yes’s. So even though this “milestone” might seem like something to be ashamed of, it actually makes me extremely proud. I’m proud of myself for failing so hard, and I promise to continue failing for the rest of my life. It’s the only way I’ll ever be able to succeed.