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The Summer Smells

I have a very good (and very sensitive) sense of smell. There have been times my mom has referred to my nose as “a pregnant nose” because of my inane ability to pick up even the smallest scents, and my inability to go down certain aisles in the grocery store (I’m looking at you laundry detergent) because of the scents being too strong.

I am also good at identifying smells. I like to pinpoint it down to the finest detail. For example, I might say something like, “does it smell like blue raspberry jolly ranchers in here to you?” or “why does this soup smell like Christmas?”

Scents are big memory keepers for me. And sometimes when I smell something familiar it stops me in my tracks, and I am taken back to wherever or with whomever the scent pertains to. And while most of the scents outside, and even inside right now, are sadly riddled with smoke, there have still been summer smells that have brought back some good (and minorly traumatic) memories:

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1) Wet grass

The other day I walked across a wet lawn and I was immediately taken back to an early morning soccer game. I could hear the rustling of kids and parents trying to find which field they had to be on, and I could feel the damp blades of grass being kicked up with each passing pair of feet. I hated playing soccer, but I loved putting on my uniform and cleats and feeling official. I also loved the coupon for a free snack bar Popsicle we got at the end of every game.

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2) Chlorine

Whenever I smell chlorine I think of myself as a 10 (and then 11, 12, and 13) year old girl trying to learn how to dive off a family friend’s diving board, and never quite figuring out how. I can feel the water in my nose, hear the splash of other kids doing cannonballs, see the fluttering toes of my sister doing a handstand in the shallow end, and hear the encouraging words from my parents and their friends asking me to try again. Which I did, again, and again, and again, to no avail.

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3) Barbecues

There are few things that give me an immediate, cozy, summery feeling than the smell of a backyard barbecue. When I was little and my family would go over to friends’ houses to swim or have game nights, there was always something on the grill. And being a girl with mostly simple pleasures when it comes to food—especially when I was young—I love a homemade cheeseburger that you awkwardly eat off a paper plate in your lap, while trying to keep track of your fork so you can eventually transition into your helping of macaroni salad, all the while ensuring you leave enough room in your stomach to have a homemade cookie later.

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4) Sunscreen

I have competing memories when it comes to sunscreen. On the one hand, there is the beach. There are the long days spent swimming in the ocean, trying my hand at boogie boarding and getting womped by the waves enough times to retire from boogie boarding at age 12. There is the sound the ice chest made when you dragged it through the sand and the wonder at how good the snacks inside the ice chest tasted after you’d be out in the sun for a few hours. There are sandcastles and digging for sand crabs, and there are sandy walks to the showers and drives home with wet hair. On the other hand, there is pure trauma. When I was around seven or eight, I got sunburned on my shoulders so bad that they bubbled and blistered; when I was 17, I got sunburned on the back of my calves so bad that they peeled for an entire month afterward; and my personal favorite, when I was 13 I went water skiing and didn’t put any sunscreen down the center part of my hair and burned my scalp, making it look like I had thick, mutant dandruff for weeks to follow. So while sunscreen smells like fun in the sun and overall sun safety, it also smells like a lesson I learned the hard way—more than once.

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5) A summer night

This smell is hard to describe but without a doubt one of my favorite smells in the whole world. It’s that combination of the warm weather, the slight cool breeze that starts to sneak in the screen door after dusk, and the hint of water from the neighbors’ sprinklers that just kicked on. Plus there’s the wide open night sky, the quiet swishes of the ceiling fan, the distant chatter of neighbors sitting on their back patios, and, when you’re little, the knowledge that you don’t have any homework to do. To this day summer nights feel so light and free, even when I know I have to get up for work, or take my trash barrels out, or do my laundry, just as I would at any other time of year. Summer nights just have that magic about them that makes you feel like you might end up anywhere. Maybe you buy a spontaneous ticket to a baseball game, maybe you drive down to the beach just to watch the sunset, maybe you see a movie and then walk down the street eating a double scoop ice cream cone.

This summer, obviously, is a little different than most, and for many it is impossibly tough and completely void of those special nostalgic smells. If that’s you, I hope this post can find you and not only remind you of some good things, but encourage you toward the good things awaiting you on the other side of this hard season.

For Anyone Else Who is Opening and Closing and Scrolling and Sighing

I wrote this a little while back, but it has been resonating with me lately so I wanted to share.


 

It’s 7:00 p.m.

I’m alone, my roommates aren’t home from work yet, and I’m lying on my bed with a towel in my hair. I unlock my phone and I open Instagram. I scroll and scroll and scroll, and then I close it. I open Twitter, and I scroll and scroll and scroll and then I close it. I open YouTube and I watch a few videos with my head resting on a pillow, my hair making it damp through the towel and my feet kicking off the end of my bed.

I drop my phone on my bed and I walk into the bathroom. I take the towel off and hang it up, then run a brush and some product through my hair. I walk back to my bed and pick up my phone. A red notification shows up on Facebook. It’s a friend request from someone I don’t know, so I block it, and then I take a few seconds to scroll. At some point I lay back down on my stomach and I open Instagram. I scroll and scroll and scroll and then I close it. I open Twitter, and I scroll and scroll and scroll and then I close it.

I sigh.

I walk downstairs. While I make dinner, I leave my phone on the table so I won’t look at it. I open my computer and open Hulu, with subtitles, so I can watch an episode of something while I cook. Ten minutes later, a notification goes off on my phone. I look over at it on the table, and then I turn back to the stove and my computer. I finish cooking and set my dishes in the sink to do later. With a spoon I scoop myself a healthy serving onto a plate, then I grab a fork, a glass of water, and my phone en route to the couch, where I turn on the TV.

My food is hot. I put a pillow on my lap and I blow softly on the plate while unlocking my phone and opening Instagram. Hardly anything new has been posted, so I go to the discover page and I scroll and scroll and scroll until I learn more about a stranger’s life than I have ever known about some of my friends. When I realize I haven’t turned on the television, I put my phone down and scoot it away from me on the end table, and then I start eating.

When I finish eating, I put my plate on the end table and I clutch onto the pillow in my lap while I watch television. I like this show, but at some point I’m looking at my phone again. I don’t know what I’m looking for, but it feels like I should keep looking. When I don’t find anything, I put my phone down again and I go into the kitchen to wash the dishes.

I want to write tonight. To be productive. Maybe go to bed early so I’ll feel better tomorrow. I walk upstairs and sit down at my desk. I throw my phone on my bed so I won’t look at it, but then I walk over and pick it up because I decide I want to listen to music. Just music, I tell myself. But when I hit a snag in what I’m writing, I’m back on my phone, scrolling and scrolling and scrolling.

It’s 9:00 p.m. now and there is still nobody home. I’m tired. I want to say it’s because I went to the gym earlier, but it’s not my muscles that hurt. I want to say it’s because I woke up early for work, but I’ve been doing that for years. I lean back in my chair and let the exhaustion set in while I continue scrolling. When I find a tweet someone wrote about feeling tired, I feel understood, and I feel better.

For a second.

I throw my phone back on my bed. I need to write. If I write I can move forward, and if I move forward I will feel happy. But I’m too tired today. Today I need a break. I get up and walk over to my bed. Reaching for the remote on my bedside table with one hand, I pull my phone towards me with the other. With my index finger, I tap the screen, looking for notifications, texts, missed calls, anything, but there’s nothing there, so I flip it over. I pick a movie and I lay back on my pillow. I pick up my phone and I turn it in my hands. It’s just a fidget, but when I happen to turn it in a way that makes the screen light up, I glance down at it—just to check.

It’s 10:30 p.m. now and there is still no one home. One roommate said she’s working late, and the other texted to say she’s grabbing drinks with a coworker. So for now, maybe even for tonight, I’m alone. It’s just me. And it’s quiet. I pick up my phone and I scroll and scroll and scroll, but nothing helps. There’s nothing there. Or if there is, I can’t find it. Should I keep looking? Should I follow new people or unfollow those I’m no longer closer to? Should I post something? Should I take something down? Is there anything I can do to break this silence? Anything to make me a little more visible?

That’s what it is, I’m just not loud enough. If I was louder, people would hear me, they would see me, they would talk to me. I should post something. A picture or a blog or a tweet. Something funny. Something sweet. Something that makes people think or laugh or just simply answer. I should post something.

I scroll.

It’s 11:00 p.m. My eyes are heavy now and my stomach hurts. The house is quiet. My room is quiet. But my head is so loud. My phone is on the charger and I’m wondering whether or not I’m upset. Am I mad at my roommates? Am I mad at myself? Am I mad at all? Maybe I’m sad. Maybe I’m lonely. Or maybe I’m just tired. That’s it. I’m tired. I should go to bed.

I scroll.

Tomorrow I’ll do better, I think to myself. Tomorrow I won’t look at my phone. Maybe I’ll even leave it at home. No, what if I have an emergency? What if I need to call someone? What if someone sends me a text or a Snapchat or tags me in an Instagram photo or mentions me on Facebook or follows me on Twitter or posts a good YouTube video. Not that I care about that stuff. People know where to reach me. They could call my work if it was really an emergency. Plus, if I leave my phone at home, I bet by the time I get off work I’ll have so many notifications. And when I tell everyone I left my phone at home and just saw this, they’ll think I’m cool and casual and don’t need my phone—like the rest of the world. Which I don’t. I barely even look at my phone.

I turn my phone on silent. I don’t need all of the upcoming notifications keeping me awake. I turn over, then wonder if people are texting me. Namely that guy I like. I’m sure he’s apologizing for waiting so long to text me back. My friends from high school and college are probably sending me quick messages to let me know how much I mean to them. And my sister might have posted something about me on Instagram that people will think is funny and endearing and make them wish they were in my inner circle of friends. People are probably commenting on my blog, letting me know how much it means to them. I bet my follower count is increasing by the minute.

I roll over and pick up my phone. Nothing.

Right.

I don’t care.

I was just curious what time it was.

I turn back over and close my eyes. I’m glad I’m not one of those people who think their worth can be found in their phone. I bet they’re miserable.

Two Things Yoga Has Taught Me This Year

A couple months ago I mentioned that I’d gotten into a yoga series called Home on the YouTube channel Yoga with Adrienne. Since then I’ve made it into a habit to do yoga almost every day and it has done wonders for me.

As of right now, with some restrictions still in place, I am still doing yoga at home. And while I look forward to being able to get back to in-person yoga classes, with all of the resources available online, I’m not really in any hurry. Plus, taking yoga classes at home—especially on YouTube—has been far easier to work into my everyday schedule. It doesn’t matter if I get off work a little late, or if I don’t have time in the morning, the classes are available at any time, and the only way to miss them is to…not do them. That being said however, it has helped me greatly to work them into a routine, and so every day, right around the 5 o’clock hour, I roll out my yoga mat and open my computer.

When I was doing Yoga with Adrienne’s Home series, I would always head straight to whichever numbered session was next, but right now I’m working through her June calendar, which is a 30 day series that pairs together her past videos around a common theme of courage. The classes in this series range from about 15 minutes to a full hour (the longer sessions usually falling on the weekends) and they have been a little more challenging. I am glad that I started with Home, as it is a very calming, introductory series, and it focuses a lot on finding peace, de-stressing, and breathing—which is exactly what I was looking for amongst, you know, the pandemic and all. But the courage series is much more about finding strength and challenging yourself.

Now, I know that people can be on the fence about yoga, that some people don’t think it’s a good workout, some people find it boring, and others think it’s too hard, or too intimidating. I also know that in the community of people who do yoga, there a wide variety of reasons why people like it. And while I could probably research and organize and present you with all the reasons why you should give it a shot, I’m just going to tell you the two main things that working through these two yoga series have helped me with:

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1) Breathing

I am telling you, breathing is underrated. Yes, we do it all the time without even thinking about it, but when you actually take the time to take deep breaths, it does wonders. I have felt less stressed, less anxious, and overall more peaceful, not only in my mind but in my body, my eating habits, and my day to day choices. There is a specific move that I learned in one of the Home sessions that has been my go to whenever I’m feeling stressed, angry, overwhelmed, or even just hunched over my computer too much, and in case you’re interested, it is as follows:

  • Sit up straight
  • Inhale and lift your shoulders up high towards your ears
  • Push your shoulders back as if you’re trying to make your shoulders blades touch
  • Then exhale your shoulders down.

I’d say on average, I do this about five times a day.

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2) Feeling in control

Exercise as a whole has always been appealing to me because it makes me feel strong. I have gone through good and bad phases with exercising solely to try and attain a certain body shape, but I have seen a marked difference in my mindset when I do yoga. These past few months, as I’ve taken class after class, I’ve started to notice how much more in tune I am with my body, from my skin to my muscles to my joints to my bones. In practicing each day, I have realized that when an instructor says to shift my hip back or to straighten through the crown of my head so my spine can be in a straight line, I can consciously make that small adjustment, and I can feel the difference when I do. That alone makes me feel powerful. It makes me feel like I am the one in control of my body, which I don’t know if I’ve ever felt before.

I think I always believed that once I liked the way my body looked, or once I could do hundreds of sit-ups or pull ups or whichever physical feat was on my mind at the time, then I would finally feel like I was in control. But I’ve found that in slowly gaining an understanding of the body and all the intricacies that make it move, I have also found a sense of control. On top of that, in focusing on the way all the parts of my body work together, I have found myself less focused on specific areas that I don’t like or want to change. I have found an appreciation for what my body can do and what it can learn, and I believe this will help me going forward in any kind of exercise I might do.

So, if you are on the fence about yoga, I’d say give it a go. It can be a workout, a relaxation technique, or just an excuse to make you breathe—sometimes it can be all three at once. Don’t demand too much of yourself, don’t worry about your starting point, and don’t be afraid to be still. In the same vein, don’t be afraid to push yourself, to fall or to step out of your comfort zone (I’m looking at you, “lion’s breath” and “happy baby” pose).

If you want to check out the Home series, you can find it here.

And if you want to check out the June “Courage” calendar, you can find it here. (The video for each day of the series is linked in the calendar.)

Why Finding Your Own Voice Can Help Everyone

Not too long ago, I did a thorough cleaning of my house in which I gave away things I didn’t use, threw away things that were broken, and, more than anything, found things I forgot I had. One such thing was a book called “Music Listography,” which I’m pretty sure I impulse bought from Target, and seeing as its copyright is from 2009, it’s safe to say I bought it a while ago.

The point of the book is to flip through the pages and fill in the music related prompts with lists of songs, bands, concerts, albums, etc, until you have a kind of music autobiography (or listography) of your life. It’s a cool idea, and the creator, Lisa Nola, has a whole series of “listography” books to help you create a simplified, listified story of your life.

Looking at it now, I have no doubt why I bought. And to be honest, there is a part of me tempted to add the rest of the series to my Amazon cart as I write this. For as a writer, it is not only important, but vital to me to constantly get to know myself—what I like, what I dislike, what I’m working towards, and what I believe in—because it helps me continue to write, which in turn helps me understand myself, the world around me, and where I fit in it.

Perhaps one of the most important things we can do with our lives is understand it. Not understand the who’s and how’s of everything and everyone around us, but the what’s and why’s of our own personalities, beliefs, behaviors, and dreams. It is important to know where we stand, and to discern and feel confident about our opinions, from music to politics to religion, and everywhere in between.

We are all born into different families and different circumstances, in different environments with different obstacles. That gives us each a unique perspective. We all have our own reasons to believe in what we believe in, and different motivations to fight for what we fight for. So it is crucial to get to know ourselves and accept ourselves, so that we may be better equipped to know and accept others. In knowing where we stand and what we believe, we are given the opportunity to talk to other people from a place of confidence and grace, rather than fear and defensiveness. It also gives us the opportunity to see a new side of things, to explore a new avenue of thinking, and perhaps even change our mind.

So as our world continues to demand change, I have made it a mission of mine to learn all that I can about the world I live in, about all the sides of it that I know and all the sides I don’t. I’m looking at different perspectives, listening to different stories, and hearing different voices. In doing so, I am getting a better idea of who I am, what I believe and how my unique voice can help advocate for this much needed change.

The day I bought that “Music Listography” book I know it was from a place of longing. I wanted to fill the book out, but I wanted to do it in a way that would be impressive to others. While I was curious about “who I was” I was more concerned with whether that person was cool. Today, as I flip through the pages, I have a much clearer idea of how I would actually fill them out, and I might even go through and cross out the answers that were so clearly reaching. For now I know the music that moves me, and I know the reasons why. And though a small part of me will always want to be “cool” I don’t want it at the expense of being honest—not just in the context of this book but in every aspect of my life.

I truly want to know and be known, so I will keep learning, keep growing, and keep listening. I will keep asking questions, not only to get an answer, but to hear the many answers until I find one that aligns with who I am and what I believe in. I will share the things that give me comfort in the hopes it can comfort others, and I will share the things that make me uncomfortable to find out why, and to see if I can help change them.

I also think it’s important to note that we all fight on different stages and at different volumes. So as we work to figure out who we are and where we stand, let us also discover how we were made to stand. It might not be in the same place, in the same spotlight, or in the same style as those we know—even those we share beliefs with. And that is okay. We all have a unique voice and a unique way to share it, and so long as we keep working to find that voice, find the honesty in it, the fight behind it, and how we can best use it, we will find our way to not only stand, but create lasting change.

A Little Miyagi Reminder

To continue off of Monday’s post a little…

My mom recently sent me a video of my brother from a few years back when he was speaking at our church. I wrote about it shortly after it happened in this post, but it struck a chord with me as I watched it again and thought it was worth bringing back up.

In his message, my brother talks about The Karate Kid—the original, not the remake, he makes sure to specify—and about the familiar scenes of Mr. Miyagi “training Daniel to fight” by making him wax the car, paint the fence and scrub the floor. And about how, when Daniel blows his top and demands Mr. Miyagi actually teach him how to fight, he realizes, he already had.

Applying this lesson to present day, for a few months now our lives have felt like they were essentially on hold. Many goals we had set for ourselves, dreams we were working towards and plans we had in motion were brought almost to a complete halt. And for many of us, this has not only been discouraging, but at times completely defeating.

I know I feel like I’ve lost a lot of momentum in certain areas of my life, and maybe even taken a few fearful steps backwards when I’d previously been trying to courageously move forward. Sometimes I worry that these months of doing what feels like nothing, learning what feels like nothing, and going what feels like nowhere, have put me on a path I can’t recover from. Like I’ve wasted my time, lost my way, and won’t find my way back in time do what I need to do in order to live a good and successful life.

But then, what if the things I’m doing or places I’m going or things I’m learning, maybe in books, movies, television shows, crafts, yoga, walks around the neighborhood, quiet mornings to myself, YouTube videos, late night talks with my sister, long, honest text conversations with close friends, anything and everything that I’ve been doing over these last few months—maybe it is those things that are shaping me and molding me and teaching me everything I need to know in order to move forward. In order to find that momentum again—maybe in a direction I wouldn’t have gone before, with a perspective I’ve never had before.

There are struggles to be had, both now and in the months to come, but there are benefits to that struggle. There are things we will learn that will help us become who we were meant to be and live the lives we were meant to live.

We are all being Miyagi-ed, even if we can’t see it yet.

My Quest to Find a Morning Routine (Part 2)

Just about two months ago I posted a blog explaining my want/need for a better morning routine, namely on weekdays. I have long been a chronic snooze pusher, and am often completing my morning responsibilities at somewhat of a jogging pace, and so I thought it was about time to do something about it.

To prepare, I did some research and found a handful of recommendations I could try and add to my routine in order to make it more productive, more efficient, and perhaps even *gasp* more enjoyable?

The suggestions were as follows:

1) Stop pressing snooze/try using “SmartWake” on Fitbit

2) Dream Journal

3) Stretch

4) Review your schedule/to-do list for the day

5) Do a crossword puzzle

So, let’s see how we’re doing.

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1) Stop pressing snooze/try using “SmartWake”

I won’t waste any time in telling you that I have absolutely not stopped pressing snooze. Which is a grim opener, I realize. I did turn on the SmartWake feature on my Fitbit, which is supposed to track your heart rate and use it to wake you up between sleep cycles by vibrating on your wrist. This is a very strange sensation, and it constantly confuses me. And while it was supposed to act as a bridge to no longer pressing snooze, it has instead become a bit of a crutch, in that if my alarm goes off before my SmartWake, I decide I can probably go back to sleep.

It should be noted however, that in the last week or so I changed my alarm tone from the obnoxious pre-loaded selection that came on my phone, to a song I actually like called “Tilted” by Christine & the Queens.  It has a slow, breezy start, and it wakes me up gradually rather than shockingly, and since I changed it I have not only pressed snooze less, but I find that I wake up feeling far less attacked, and thus, slightly more ready to start my day. So that’s something.

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2) Dream Journal

To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever looked at a pen, let alone a journal in the opening minutes of my morning. In fact, if someone arrived at the side of my bed and demanded I write down what I dreamt about or face the pain of death, I’m honestly not sure if my morning motor skills would provide me the ability to stay alive.

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3) Stretch

I have been trying to do one big stretch as a way not only to start my morning, but tell myself that we are getting up now. I will admit though, this demand from myself usually makes me annoyed at myself.

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4) Review your schedule/to-do list for the day

I still like this idea, and I have been doing it as a part of my morning, but not necessarily the first part, and that’s okay with me. I am someone who will continue to remember things I want/need to do as I move around—it’s what makes me such a tornado when I clean. So I like getting to my to-do list after I’ve been up and moving for a while. Oftentimes once I get to work I will pull out my notebook and jot down some ideas for things I want to get done once I am off, and that has been working for me.

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5) Do a crossword puzzle

This one is just a no. I love crossword puzzles and I love the fantasy that I could sit up, stretch, let out a yawn and then crank out the LA Times daily crossword before I get ready, but that’s just never going to happen. I can add this one to my afternoon to-do list, and see if maybe I can get it done before/while I cook dinner, but it’s just not going to happen in the morning.

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So all in all, while I can’t say I have a solid morning routine, I have definitely taken some strides—my favorite being the alarm tone change. My brother is the one who suggested the change, explaining that his friend makes it a point to set his alarm to a song he likes because “it’s like your theme song and it’s what starts every new episode”—which slightly blew my mind and ultimately made me change it immediately.

Places I Miss

Among the many positive messages posted to provide encouragement and comfort throughout this tough and confusing time, one of my favorites that I’ve seen was a reminder that it is okay to grieve.

Looking at the world as a whole, it would seem there are thousands of reasons not only to grieve, but to set aside your own personal grievances, complaints, etc. Because with pain and suffering happening on such a grand scale, it might seem like having your own personal grievances makes you selfish or ungrateful.

I thought it was so important for people to be reminded that they are allowed to grieve the things they are missing in their own lives. Things like vacations, weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, concerts, sporting events, etc. It is okay to be sad that those things aren’t happening. It is okay to be mad or heartbroken that they are being postponed or canceled or brushed over. It is okay to wish things were different, that things were back to normal, that you could leave your house, see your friends and hug your family. It is okay to feel sad, angry, hurt and lonely—that doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a human.

For me, I miss baseball and Dodger Stadium. I miss sitting next to my sister in whatever seats we found a good deal on, drinking a beer, eating a hot dog and trying to talk ourselves out of ordering deep fried Oreos, even though we know we probably will anyway.

I miss going to the movies. I miss ordering popcorn, guessing how many previews are going to play before the movie, and then finishing my popcorn before we find out.

I miss sitting on the couch at my grandpa’s house. I miss eating lunch and catching up with him on our favorite television shows. I miss watching the golfers go by off his back porch and then coming inside and reaching into the dessert drawer in his dresser for a mini Hershey bar for me, and a mini Twizzler for my dad and my sister.

I miss going over to my friends’ houses and sitting on the couch and then the floor and then at the dining room table as we talk and plan and laugh. I miss us deliberating over what we should do for dinner and taking pictures when one of the kids does something funny or cute.

I miss sitting behind the menu at a restaurant, taking in each and every option before I decide 1) what I want to eat most and 2) what I can order that I can make the least amount of changes to because I’m brutally self-conscious about coming off as a picky eater. I also miss saying, “it doesn’t hurt to look” when offered the dessert menu, and then ordering something—and finishing it—even when taking another bite of anything seems impossible.

These are only a few of the places I miss, but they are places I can’t wait to see again once this is all over. They are places that, when I find myself there again, I will take a moment not only to appreciate them, but to thank those who worked tirelessly to help get me back there.

Thank you to everyone on the front lines of this pandemic, to everyone working round the clock to heal the sick, calm the fearful, and keep the peace. We will forever be in your debt, and I hope we can continue to motivate you, thank you, and appreciate you throughout the remainder of this pandemic and long after.

Thank you.

10 Things I Love About Baseball

We are about two weeks into Spring Training, and about two weeks away from the start of the regular season, which has my baseball loving heart soaring. I am once again approaching my happy place: when the notifications on my phone are primarily game scores and player updates, when evening plans can easily be made when my team has a home game, and when frustration with work, life, etc. can be expressed through angrily shouting at poor decisions made by a manager, and terrible calls made by an umpire.

Baseball is BACK, my friends, and since I wrote this post a couple years ago listing my favorite things about football, I thought it was about time I did the same for my favorite sport.

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1) The Season(s)

Since baseball starts in the spring and ends in the fall, the weather is usually pretty glorious, no matter where you might be watching. Sure, it rains sometimes and occasionally gets cold when the sun goes down, but for the better part of the season, baseball gives you the best weather, and calls for the most casual, comfortable clothes in your closet.

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2) The Environment

On average, a baseball game is a minimum of three hours. For some people, this is too long, but for me, it is perfect. Baseball gives you time to relax. To both watch and chat with friends. To eat and drink and laugh and sit in complete, unawkward silence as you listen the sounds of the game, as well as contribute a few of your own. Depending on your home stadium (and how often you go) you are likely to learn a series of “clapping cheers” that the sound booth will cue multiple times throughout the game. Having gone to games since I was little, I was unaware how brainwashed trained I was until I brought a friend to a game who was unfamiliar with baseball, and she asked how she was supposed to know when to clap. I looked at her, bewildered, unaware that it was something I had learned rather than something I was born knowing.

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3) The Food

Again, the specifics on what you will find depends on where you are and what stadium you are visiting, but no matter what, baseball brings out some of the best food in the world.

*pauses for backlash*

*pauses again to signify that I have no interest in arguing this point*

If you don’t believe me, believe Humphrey.

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4) Collective Cheering & Booing

One thing I think we can all agree on is that we, as a world, need to be more united. On grand scale issues, yes, on humanitarian issues, of course, but it can start with the small things. That being said, if you are looking for unity, you’d be hard pressed to find a greater display than that from passionate baseball fans disagreeing with a call that could cost their team the game, or rising to their feet in an effort to cheer their team to victory.

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5) Web Gems

During the season, many sports news outlets create weekly top 10 countdowns of amazing plays, called “web gems.” This is where you see the best of the best in catches, throws, and plays—where fans can agree that this is why they are paying them the big bucks. Do we drastically underestimate how hard the rest of the game is, and thus how impossible these web gems actually are? 100%. But do we give ourselves a break because we have high expectations and can barely afford to buy a second beer? Also, 100%.

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6) Bloopers

On the other side of things, there are also roundups of goofy mistakes made by the players, be it a fall, a drastic miscommunication, or a ball lost in the sun. Personally, I think these demonstrate what most of the population would look like if we tried to play baseball at a professional level, which is why we find these bloopers funny and even endearing, because it’s a reminder that these elite athletes are still human.

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7) Bottom of the 9th, reach for the stars, over the fence, World Series kind of thing

In the classic 1995 Olsen twin film, It Takes Two, this statement is used to describe the feeling of true love. While I adore and respect that usage, I also love its roots. Every baseball player dreams of the once in a lifetime opportunity to become a hero in the 9th inning of a World Series game. Whether that be hitting a home run, making a game winning catch/play, or striking out the last batter of the game. I love that baseball is a game that allows anyone on the team be a hero. Take Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, who hobbled to the plate—with two injured legs—to pinch hit, and ended up hitting the game winning home run.

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8) The Nicknames

Like any sport, when a player you like steps into the game, you want to cheer for them, and in cheering for them, you end up coming up with nicknames—sometimes multiple for each player. I would say, at minimum, my family and I have about three nicknames per player, which is useful, because it’s a long season, and sometimes you need to mix it up.

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9) Social Media

A newer addition to this list is the social media presence of teams—especially my team, but I realize I’m biased. I love getting a behind the scenes look at the team. It allows me to better get to know the players and borderline consider them my friends and/or family members. This does make my cheering for them and the outcome of their games much more influential on my overall happiness than it should be, but it’s fine. It’s fun. I love it. And it is glaringly obvious how attached I am to this content when the off-season comes around and my Instagram feed is a barren wasteland.

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10) Dodger Stadium

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Last and the furthest thing from least, Dodger Stadium. This is not only the home of my favorite team, but truly one of my favorite places in the world. I can’t definitively say that it is the best stadium in the world, because I haven’t been to all 30, but even if had/when I do, I know that Dodger Stadium will forever be my favorite because it is where I grew up and where my team plays.

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Go Dodgers!

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.

29 Good Things that Happened in February

Hello and welcome back to another edition of All the Good Things, a monthly series where I highlight all the good things (get it?) that happen in each 30-day (or so) span. I hope it can be a reminder that amongst all the well known bad, there is a lot of undercover good happening in our world.

Let’s dive right in

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1) Following their Super Bowl win, Chief’s lineman Derrick Nnadi paid it forward

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2) These plane passengers threw an impromptu baby shower for a family who was flying home with a newly adopted baby.

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3) This dog made a big jump.

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4) This man built houses for feral cats to keep them warm in the winter.

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5) J-Lo & Shakira crushed the Super Bowl halftime show.

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6) This man got an incredible gift.

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7) 30,000 pounds of leftover food from the Super Bowl was donated to shelters.

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8) These girl scouts set up shop outside a weed dispensary and sold hundreds of boxes

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9) This man showcased his INCREDIBLE talent.

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10) This huge Wolverine fan met Hugh Jackman.

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11) This woman found her dog after three years (by seeing his picture on a beer can mentioned in last month’s post!)

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12) This boy rescued his sister and the family dog from a fire.

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13) Once Upon A Time in Hollywood’s Julia Butters showed up to the Oscars prepared.

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14) This woman donated her kidney to her mentor, and then he gave her a beauty salon to thank her.

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15) Denmark turned a mountain of trash into a ski hill.

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16) This baby cracked up.

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17) Delta pledged to become the first carbon neutral airline.

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18) This dog went sledding.

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19) LeBron paid tribute to Kobe.

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20) Rick Moranis announced he is rebooting Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

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21) This astronaut was reunited with her dog after 328 days.

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22) Dunkaroos announced a comeback.

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23) This Zamboni driver subbed as an emergency goalie and got his first NHL win.

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24) This veterinarian walked around and treated homeless people’s animals for free.

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25) This friend went above and beyond:

View this post on Instagram

I don’t drink, but if I did, I’d want a friend like this

A post shared by Good News (@tanksgoodnews) on

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26) These plane passengers waited patiently to help a dad make his twins’ father-daughter dance.

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27) This:

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28) This straight-A student gave up their bonus points to help lower scoring students.

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29) And finally, this 100 year old woman, born on leap day, celebrated her 25th official birthday.

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Wanna know the best part? There is SO much I didn’t include.

I can’t wait to see what March brings!

You can view the last edition of this series here.

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