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Just a Little Valentine’s Day Reminder

Today is just a day.

And no matter if you love it, hate it, celebrate it, skip it, or just now remembered it’s anything more than a Thursday, I hope you know that you are loved.

You are loved.

You are important.

You are worth appreciating.

So no matter how you spend today, tomorrow, and every day after, if it makes you feel like the diamond crusted, chocolate covered, rose petaled, champagne fountained person you deserve to be, you’re doing it right.

Look Up and Look Around

I am currently training for the LA marathon. This means that three times a week I’m outside running, telling my body that all the pain and exhaustion will be worth it when we get that medal at the finish line—and the free banana shortly afterward.

This past Saturday I ran 17.5 miles, the second longest run in my entire training plan. (The longest being 20) For the first 13 miles or so, I was doing pretty well. My legs, while tired, still had some juice in them and I was determined to check this milestone off my list. But as I started those last four miles, it seemed like each step got harder and harder. My knees began to ache and my ankles threatened to quit on me. This was the longest I had ever run in my entire life, and to know that even when (or if) I finished, come marathon day I’d have to come up with the strength to run nine more miles—a marathon is 26.2 miles—my body was just about ready to call it.

Around mile 16 or so, my mind was really starting to get shaky and my legs were even worse. Continuing to run almost felt like punishment, but I knew quitting would feel far worse. That’s when I hit a red light and had to pace around the sidewalk—legs wobbly as ever—while I waited for my signal to continue. I put my hands on my head and took some deep breaths, hoping to relieve some of the stiffness in my back, and then I looked up. The sky was a piercing blue with big, beautiful, puffy clouds. I watched them swirl around above me, and it gave me a warm feeling in my stomach.

When the light turned green and I started running again, I focused on the clouds, and for a little while my knees didn’t ache as much and my feet didn’t sting; my back felt looser and my legs felt a tiny bit stronger.

By the time I made it back to my house however, I was sure my legs were going to fall right out from under me. I walked through the door like a baby giraffe and stumbled my way through a shower and the making of my usual after-run protein shake.

My body was spent.

But even as I limped around for the rest of that day and the next, I still thought about that patch of sky. While it hadn’t taken away the pain I was feeling, it reminded me that it wasn’t the only thing that day—that moment—had to offer.

There are many instances in which I’ve let a dark time or a difficult situation block out all the light around me. Sometimes it’s hard to remember there’s a blue sky up there. Especially when so many other days are grey, cloudy and rainy.

But alas, there are always good things. There is always something just out of your line of sight that is there to give you hope and inspiration. There is always something to push you that last mile.

In the next month, I’m sure I’ll spend more than a few days wondering, what the hell am I doing? Namely when I pass the 20-mile mark at the marathon and have to run SIX. MORE. MILES. But I’m going to take that patch of blue sky with me through the whole race and the days, months and years that follow. I’m going to look up, even when my head wants to hang down, and I’m going to look around, even when it seems safer to keep my eyes forward. Because as sure as there will be dark, there will also be light, and I’m going to try harder to find it. Even when it feels like my knees might spontaneously combust—or you know, the day to day life equivalent to that feeling.

The Spicy Chip Chronicles (Which Ones Stand Out Among the Rest?)

Have you ever had a craving for Hot Cheetos (or their spicy chip counterparts)?

Have you ever had this craving late at night?

Have you ever had this craving and made the trip to the grocery store, only to get there and be completely overwhelmed with options?

Unless you are like me—who only likes regular Cheetos so none of this is an issue—or you hate Cheetos all together—in which case, how dare you—you probably answered yes to at least one of these questions.

Don’t worry, we are here to help you. And by “we”, I mostly mean my roommates, Natalee and Rachel, who have “sacrificed” their time, energy and tastebuds to help you make one of life’s toughest choices.

They have taken this task seriously. Approaching each bag with as little bias as possible, and soaking in not only the taste, but the experience each chip provides its eater. For they know that the spice inclined snacker is not the average snacker.  They are a specific brand of snacking prowess, strict with their expectations and frank with their opinions.

So, without further ado, here are some opinions on the spicy chips of the world, to give you an idea of what you can expect from them, and whether or not they can cure your hangry helplessness on those late night (or early morning or whenever) snack runs.

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Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Puffs

cheetos-puffs-flamin-hot

Rachel: I don’t think the spicyness is meant for this kind of chip. Do you know what I mean?

Natalee: *crunches and nods*

Rachel: Although they do take a little more work. It’s a crunch you can kind of…shovel.

Natalee: I agree. Not the best but puffs = portion control. So there’s that.

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flaminhotlimonCrunchy Flamin’ Hot Limon Cheetos

Rachel: I’ve tried these before and they are are probably my favorite, but they definitely make me feel the worst.

Natalee: Yeah, but the lime elevates it.

Rachel: It gives it depth.

Natalee: It’s not your average spice or crunch.

*both nod and crunch, satisfied*

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Crunchy Cheddar Jalapeño Cheetos

Natalee: *embodying the heart eye emoji* We all know how I feel about jalapeño.

cheetos-crunchy-jalapeno-cheddar

Rachel: *takes a bite* Mmm! I like these better than regular Cheetos.

Natalee: They’re not all that spicy though. Kind of misleading.

Rachel: It kind of tastes like Lawry’s Seasoning Salt on Cheetos. I like them!

Natalee: I would consistently choose Hot Cheetos over these, but in a time of need I could still pound this bag.

Rachel: And always these over regular.

Natalee: Puffs or these?

Rachel: These.

Natalee: Yeah, crunch is really an important factor. So yeah, those weren’t bad.

Rachel: I enjoyed those.

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Crunchy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

Note: the bag we purchased featured a promotion for the Cheetos “Win What You See” competition which encouraged customers to send in pictures and descriptions of their oddest shaped Cheetos in order to win prizes inspired by what they see.cheetos-crunchy-flamin-hot

Natalee: Ah, old faithful.

*both grab large handfuls and begin holding individual Cheetos up at eye level to examine their shape*

Natalee: I just love hot Cheetos. Oh! I found a bird.

Rachel: Would you really want to win a vacation based on the shape of your Cheeto?

Natalee: Absolutely not. Honestly, just give me a free bag of Cheetos. *eats bird*

Rachel: I don’t think we really said anything about these but these are just my favorite.

Natalee: Yup.

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Lays Chile Limonimage

Rachel: Ew. I don’t like the taste. It’s acidic but not in a good, vinegary way. It tastes like it’s sour.

*Natalee twists her face, nodding.*

Rachel: It tastes like the smell of something bad in fridge

Natalee: Yeah, it’s the flavor of staleness. Just plain bottom of the barrel.

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XXXTRA flamin Hot

cheetos-crunchy-xxtra-flamin-hot

Note: Our friend Will, a fellow spicy snack connoisseur, was in attendance for this tasting.

Rachel: Oh, these definitely smell much hotter than the original.

*walks into kitchen to grab bag of original Flamin’ Hot Cheetos*

*Natalee, Rachel, and Will each take turns smelling the different bags*

Will: They do smell hotter.

*collectively agree to taste the original to remember the “spice level.”*

Natalee: *crunching* You have to eat at least 10 regular hot Cheetos before they start to live up to their name.

*everyone nods in agreement*

Rachel: Okay, now for these ones. Grab a real chunky one.

Natalee: Let’s all take two.

Rachel: Oh, it’s spicy at the end!

Will: I think it’s more flavorful.

Natalee: Yeah, it’s more flavorful than it is spicy. *exhales* Woah, it is spicy at the end though.

*group applauds*

Natalee: Can you imagine these with lime?

Will: Holy shit, yeah, with lime. Talk about bang for your buck.

Natalee: It’s also another good one for portion control. If I needed something spicy I’d probably eat only, like, seven of these instead of 25 original ones.

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Since there is no shortage of spicy chips hitting shelves these days, you can consider this episode one of an ongoing snack series. If you have any suggestions for the tasters, please pass them along, their taste buds are always willing and ready!

10 Instagram Accounts that Brighten My Day

Social media can be a scary place. Mean things are said, misunderstandings are had, and entire concerts are documented with scratchy, unpleasing footage.

Sometimes we compare ourselves to those we see online and sink into wormholes of frustration, shame, and disappointment. And other times we laugh at pictures of dogs wearing hats.

For me, it’s all about finding a balance. Some days I need to see that person striving higher because it makes me want to do the same. Some days I want to read posts that make me cry because it reminds me there is goodness and hope in the world. And some days I just like to spy on people and look at pictures of food and crafts.

Over the years I’ve gone through phases of following and unfollowing different accounts trying to find this balance, and as of right now, I think I’m really nailing it.

So you if you’re looking for new accounts to make you smile, or if you’re just curious/nosy (I am both) here are ten Instagram accounts that brighten my day.

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1) @foodnetwork

I mean, pictures of beautiful, delectable food throughout the day? Is there a downside**?

**Possible downside: hanger (anger induced by hunger)

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2) @jennifer.garner

I’ll be honest, I’m not always up to sitting still and watching videos when I’m scrolling through Instagram. Sometimes I just want to take a quick trip, you know? But whenever Jennifer Garner posts a video, I. Strap. In. She is so adorable and hilarious and real, and I wish she would invite me over to make brownies on a Saturday morning.

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3) @alexameadeart

I LOVE this girl’s art. She paints onto her subjects and the setting around them to create the illusion of a painting on an easel.  I think it is absolutely amazing and every time she posts a new photo I just stare at it in amazement. Fun fact: she did the artwork for the ~pool~ scene in Ariana Grande’s “God is a Woman” music video.

View this post on Instagram

Life turned art @rosaacosta

A post shared by Alexa Meade (@alexameadeart) on

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4) @tanksgoodnews

In my opinion, this is a must follow. It is an account dedicated entirely sharing good news, some of which I’ve highlighted in my All the Good Things posts, and it never fails to makes me smile/openly sob in the middle of the day.

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5) @junkbanter

Is this the second account I’m recommending that focuses on food? Yes. But this one is all about junk food, so it’s different and still very important. I will often screenshot pictures of the newest treats hitting the shelves and send them to my roommates so that we can keep an eye out the next time we’re at the grocery store.

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6) @historyphotographed

I’ve always been a bit of a history buff and this account constantly provides me with doses of nostalgia…even though many of the pictures were taken before I was born. Does that make sense?

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7) @kristinmadeinc

This is a company run by Kristin Johns, a YouTuber I’ve long loved and admired. She is so upbeat and inspiring and is honestly what the social media world needs more of. On this account she posts recipes, lifestyle tips, and a plethora of photos that make me sigh the man I wish I could do that sigh. But in a positive way…you know?

PS- I made these cookies and they are INCREDIBLE. Highly recommend.

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8) @ashlynsailsbury

Similar to Jennifer Garner, I always sit back and absorb whatever Ashlyn (who is Kristin Johns’ sister) has to say because she and her family—which includes Owen the Baby, a three year old who will melt your heart—are incredibly adorable and charming, but also because they live in Copenhagen and I just genuinely love learning about their life there.

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9) @alpacasofinstagram

Need. I. Say. More?!?!

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10) @unspirational

I love me a good inspirational quote, but these anti-quotes just make me laugh. And sometimes sarcasm and dark humor does more for me than uplifting words after a long day of work, you know?

View this post on Instagram

SHRUG EMOJI

A post shared by Unspirational (@unspirational) on

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Have any Instagram accounts you love and would recommend?

10 Mottos I Live By

At the beginning of a new year it’s easy to catch the inspirational bug and set goals, make changes, book vacations—anything that can help you make the next 12 months bigger and better than the last.

I jump on this train. Come January I always make a list of goals I hope to accomplish in the next year and I’m usually on the hunt for upcoming concerts and weekend getaways I can add to my calendar before the days start filling up and flying by.

For me, when the holidays are long over and I’m back in the regular swing of things, I tend to let the inspiration fade and the stress, discouragement and exhaustion of the day to day take over.

One thing that helps me combat that however, is latching onto mottos and inspirational words that I can use as weapons, shields, and fuel to propel me forward.

So, if you’re someone like me who sometimes needs that extra something to lean on, I collected a few of my favorite mottos, all of which I’ve reached for at one time or another. I hope they can give you the boost of inspiration or comfort or whatever you might be needing, and that they can encourage you to always strive for the bigger and better, no matter what time of year it is.

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1) “Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business.” – Rachel Hollis

What it means to me: Stop wasting time worrying about what other people will think of you and everything you might do or think about doing. People are going to judge you whether you live your life your way or their way, so you might as well live it your way.

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2) “Have courage and be kind.” – Cinderella

What it means to me: When things get overwhelming, go back to the basics. Be brave and be nice and something good will form on the horizon.

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3) “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

What it means to me: There is always going to be goodness in the world, so no matter how dark things look, if you keep moving forward, you will find the light again.

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4) “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

What it means to me: You are important. You matter. And while sometimes people won’t see that, won’t appreciate that and will hurt you, it is your choice what to do with that hurt. You do not have to dim yourself because someone else can’t see your light.

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5) “It’s not time to worry yet.” – To Kill a Mockingbird

What it means to me: I wrote a whole blog post on this one.

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6) “Today is the only day. Yesterday is gone.” – John Wooden

What it means to me: Your past shaped you, but it is not where you are. Be here, in the day you have been given today, because all the days before this one are already over and you can’t change them.

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7) “Do no harm, take no shit.” – Yoga Girl

What it means to me: Don’t walk on people and don’t let them walk on you.

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8) “You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis

What it means to me: It is never too late to try something new. You are allowed to dream more than one dream, and you’re allowed to dream a dream completely and totally different than everyone else’s.

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9) “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” – Dolly Parton

What it means to me: Don’t wait for someone to tell you who you are, or keep your fingers crossed that the answer might fall into your lap. Learn about yourself. Passionately. Figure out who you are, what you love, what you hope to do with your life and do it without regret.

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10) “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” – George Addair

What it means to me: Fear is a door, not a wall. If you have the courage to push through it, it is an opportunity to take you somewhere and give you something you’ve never had before.

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Do you have any mottos you live by?

10 Things I Wasn’t Doing 10 Years Ago

If you are even a minor participant in the social media universe, you have probably seen the recent #10YearChallenge trend going around where people post one photo of themselves from 2009 and one from 2019 to see how much they have changed.

I have not participated, both out of pure laziness and the fact that I have looked exactly the same since birth. If you think I’m being dramatic, please refer to the woman who recently recognized me from Kindergarten because I “look exactly the same!”

While my face may look the same however, there is still a lot that has changed. And so in order to slightly participate, I thought I’d look at the non-physical changes that 10 years has brought me.

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1) Living on my Own

While still living with my parents 10 years ago, I assumed moving out would be just like Friends—we all thought that, right? And since I commuted to college classes from home, I didn’t have any reason to believe it would be anything otherwise. A few years later however, I would study abroad in Australia for five months and I’d learn a lot about living away from home, namely that it can be just like Friends—minus the huge apartment in New York for dirt cheap rent thing—if you live with the right people. Today I live with two great roommates whom I love and adore, and though I might be bias, I firmly believe we’d make a great cast of our own sitcom.

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2) Paying Rent

Ahh yes, the only downside of living on your own are all the bills that come with it. 10 years ago I was spending all of my money on concerts, dessert, and shoes that I was probably never going to wear but thought I should buy just in case. Today I have student loan payments, bills and rent due every month. I’ve learned how to manage my money and don’t make nearly as many impulse shoe purchases, though I never say no to a good dessert splurge.

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3) Running

If you followed any of my 1000-mile running journey last year, you might know that for most of my life I was not a runner. I was thoroughly convinced that I didn’t have the lung capacity to do it, when in reality I just didn’t have the patience or motivation to actually give it a fair shot. Today I am in my fourth month of training for the LA marathon—a sentence that is slightly jarring to write—and I consider running to be one of my favorite kinds of exercise.

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4) Cooking

Ten years ago, I was very much afraid of cooking. Growing up, I had a series of mishaps in the kitchen and so I buried my fear of continued failure underneath a solid layer of self-deprecation. I was constantly bringing up the time I set the oven mitt on fire on Thanksgiving, telling people I couldn’t be trusted in the kitchen. After I moved out on my own however, I had to learn how to cook because I like eating and the survival benefits that come with it. Today I cook myself dinner almost every single night and I even have a series on my blog where I share cooking tips and recipes I’ve been loving recently.

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5) Blow-Drying My Hair

19 year old me would be SHOCKED to find out that 28 year old me not only owns a blow dryer, but also uses it on a daily basis. I’ve always had thick, brown hair that has a mind of its own, and until I cut 13 inches off about three years ago, I always let it air dry with a little bit of mousse, before eventually braiding it or putting it up in a bun. Today I almost always blow-dry my hair and I even—dare I say it—like how it looks. Oh, 19-year-old Kim, we could have never imagined such a hair-acle. (Hair miracle. I’m making it a thing.)

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6) Reading

If I were to venture a guess, I’d say I probably read about three books in 2009 and that’s a high estimate. Growing up, I hated reading books, especially those assigned in school. These days I am always reading a book, usually more than one at a time, and I even made it a goal of mine before I turn 30 to read every book on Time’s list of the 100 greatest books of all time—which are essentially all the school assigned books I avoided back then. Go figure.

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7) Going it Alone

While I’ve always been a shy person, I used to blatantly hide out from the world behind friends, family, television and movies. I would never even think about trying something new if I didn’t have someone by my side at all times. Today I go to museums on my own, I see movies on my own, I volunteer on my own. In general, I’ve realized that I am fully capable of taking on the world on my own. That doesn’t mean I don’t like having friends and family by my side, but that I feel confident either way.

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8) Blogging

While it doesn’t feel like I’ve been blogging for ten years, it’s weird to think of a time before my blog. I mean, where was I putting all of those thoughts that were running around my head? They’ve always been there, so what the heck was I doing with them back then?!

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9) Getting Published

In 2009, I was just starting to realize that writing felt good, but I didn’t have any plans to show my work to other people, let alone submit it for publication. As of today however, I have been published almost 20 times, both online and in print, and have been paid for my writing.

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10) Being Myself

When I look back at photos and videos of me in 2009, I can almost feel how uncomfortable I was in my own skin. Sure, I was just out of high school with absolutely nothing figured out, as we all are, but the insecurities are almost palpable. That’s not to say I won’t feel the exact same way in ten years when I look back at my 2019 self and all the insecurities she’s desperately trying to hide, but I can confidently say that I’ve come a long way. In the past 10 years I’ve learned A LOT about myself and how I fit into the world and I can only hope I keep learning as the years go on.

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I think the most important thing we can all take away from the 10 Year Challenge, whether you participate or not, is that we are still here. Each day, each year we are changing and learning and trying our best, and all that matters is that we keep trying our best.

A lot can happen in 10 years. Let’s hope we all have (at least) ten more.

Learning Internet Slang (Part 2)

Back in June, I posted this blog where I had my sister, Natalee, and my parents guess the definitions of some popular slang words. It was an educational experience for all. So much so that I thought we should do it again.

Gotta keep up with the times, you know?

Here’s how they did:

1) Sus

Urban Dictionary Definition: short for suspect; suspicious

Natalee’s Guess: I think it means, that’s what’s up. Like, you wanna tell me I have tacos tonight? Sus.

Dad’s Guess: Short for suspect, like when a kid is talking in code and says, “I think my parents sus me.”

Mom’s Guess: I went for: “seems you suck.” S.U.S.

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2) Shoot your shot

Urban Dictionary Definition: to take a chance no matter if your fail or not, especially regarding someone you’re interested in.

Natalee’s Guess: Go for it, bro. Shoot your shot. Live your life. Get your dreams.

Dad’s Guess: Hit me with your best shot. Whatever you throw at me, I can take it.

Mom’s Guess: Tell me your opinion, let me know what you think.

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3) Tea

Urban Dictionary Definition: gossip or personal information; the scoop; news.

Natalee’s Guess: gossip. Like, that’s the tea. That’s the word on the street.

Dad’s Guess: Awake.  Like I’m still on the tea. Or if you were drunk you’d say,  “I can’t drive, I’m still on the tea.”

Mom’s Guess: I think it’s like saying, “got it.” We’re gonna go down to the shore and fish? TEA.

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4) Receipts

Urban Dictionary Definition: evidence or proof, often in the form of screenshots.

Natalee’s Guess: I’ve heard this and I know Taylor Swift talked about this but I don’t actually know what it means. In the song she sings they got their receipts and reasons” so I’m going to say facts, but not actual facts. Evidence.

Dad’s Guess: I think it means I understand. If someone told you they weren’t interested, you would say I totally understand, receipts.

Mom’s Guess: Taking it all in. Receipts. Got it.

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5) Bae

Urban Dictionary Definition: abbreviation for “before anyone else”; baby; sweetie.

Natalee’s Guess: I know what this one stands for but I said before anything else, because I like to associate it with more than humans. For example, Laycee (our family dog) is my bae.

Dad’s Guess: Boyfriend or husband. I would be mom’s bae.

Mom’s Guess: It means before all others, right? Bae? Wait. No. Before…all…wait I have to know it now. Before anyone else! That’s it!

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6) Thirst Trap

Urban Dictionary Definition: a sexy photograph or flirty message posted on social media with the intent of causing others to publicly profess their attention.

Natalee’s Guess: When you’re trying to get at someone. Like posting a dirty picture to get someone to pay attention to you. 

Dad’s Guess: A bar. Like if you were driving around you might say I’m going to stop at the first thirst trap I see.

Mom’s Guess: I said the same thing: a bar!

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7) Throwing shade

Urban Dictionary Definition: to diss someone without actually saying their name but making it obvious who you are talking about.

Natalee’s Guess: Insulting someone. I’m coming for you because I don’t like you. You have a dumb face. OOH, shade was thrown.

Dad’s Guess: Talking shit behind someone’s back. As in, why is Natalee throwing so much shade at me?

Mom’s Guess: Talking crap.

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8) Yeet

Urban Dictionary Definition: an exclamation used to express excitement; a word one may scream while propelling an object through the air at alarming speeds and heights.

Natalee’s Guess: I’m sorry, what? I have no idea. Maybe drugs? Like, “hey you got any yeet on ya? Can I score some yeet?”

Dad’s Guess: Yeah, I’m stumped on this one. Is it when you eat when you’re not hungry? I’ve been yeeting all day for no reason.

Mom’s Guess: A teenager that’s trouble. That one’s a yeet.

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9) Gucci

Urban Dictionary Definition: a versatile slang term based on the luxury fashion brand meaning okay/good/great/awesome/fresh/etc.

Natalee’s Guess: It’s all good. What’s Gucci? What’s good? What’s cracking?

Dad’s Guess: If you’re wearing it and it’s Gucci, it’s expensive. This belt is totally Gucci.

Mom’s Guess: I thought similar to dad. If you’re talking about somebody and say “oh, she’s Gucci,” it means she’s rich.

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10) Finna

Urban Dictionary Definition: abbreviation for “fixing to”. Normally means “going to”.

Natalee’s Guess: Trying to. Like I’m finna get full on tacos tonight.

Dad’s Guess: You completed your task, whatever it might have been. If you wanted to get drunk and you did, you’d say, I’m finna drunk. 

Mom’s Guess: She’s finna. As in, she’s fake, she’s plastic, she’s not real.  

TBTS (Throwback Thursday Stories): That Time I Almost Died after Watching The Bachelorette

I know a lot of stories start with the old, “it was just your average day,” but believe me when I say this really was just an average day. I did exactly what I would do every other weekday: got up, went to work, counted the minutes until lunch, planned all the productive things I would do once I got home, and then got home and sat on the couch.

For dinner, I decided to try a recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo I found online and while I ate I sat at the table exchanging stories with my sister about our respective Tuesdays. She told me about an upcoming exam, I told her about a customer at work, and we made predictions about that night’s upcoming episode of Jojo Fletcher’s season of The Bachelorette.

At one point in the conversation, she paused.

“Mom says we need to throw out our flour,” she said, looking at her phone.

“Why?”

“I guess some people are having issues with E-coli.”

“Yikes.”

I walked into the kitchen and snatched the half empty bag of flour from the top shelf of the pantry and dropped it into the trash. Better safe than sorry.

Now, if you’ve ever watched an episode of The Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise, you’ll know that alcohol is almost necessary to make it through the two-hour broadcast. So when my sister stood up a few minutes after we started and said, “I need some whiskey,” I wasn’t surprised. Though when she said, “do you want some?” and I said, “Yes!” I think we both should have sensed* that it was the beginning of the end.

*Let it be noted that my sister is an avid whiskey drinker. The kind that really appreciates the spirit for all it’s worth…and doesn’t chug it down the way I do with a glass of wine while watching this ridiculous television show.

So there we were, an hour into the episode, shoulder deep in awkward silences and painfully stilted small talk. I was on my second (or third?) glass of whiskey, cringing my skin off and talking a little louder than usual, when all of a sudden a sip hit my stomach and the warning sirens went off.

YOU DONE DID IT NOW, GIRL.

“I need to pee,” I said, panicked.

I got up, my body feeling like it was 4000 pounds, the bathroom feeling like it was four miles away, and the ground feeling as stable as a tightrope during an earthquake. When I finally sat down on the toilet, I wondered if I’d ever get back up, which made me emotional and I cried a little. Then I remembered I had to pee, which reminded me I’d have to get up afterward and the cycle went on and on. All in all, I thought I was in there for about 45 minutes, but when I got back to the living room I realized it had been only been around four.

I waddled into the kitchen and grabbed my water bottle, praying I could chug my way to safety, then waddled back to my seat in the living room.

“Ready?” my sister asked.

“Yup.”

After that, I can remember very little of what happened during the episode and even less of what my sister and I may have talked about. In somewhat miraculous fashion however, I was able to maintain a sober-enough composure to not only convince my sister I was fine before she went to bed, but also make it up 10 stairs to my bedroom. Unfortunately, this would be my last accomplishment worth celebrating for the night.

Upon arriving to my bed, I knew something was wrong. While it was a hot summer night, I felt like I was sweating far more than usual. I cranked the fan up to high and stripped down to my underwear, then turned off the light in the hopes that I could crash fast and sleep it off.

No such luck.

The moment I closed my eyes, I felt like the room was spinning one way and I was spinning the other. I opened my eyes, wondering if I was on the ceiling or the floor, then turned the light on to see if focusing on something would help. When this didn’t work, I tried taking deep breaths and when this didn’t work, I slumped into the bathroom, accepting my doom.

Over the next two hours, I threw up 11 times.

ELEVEN.

Around the fifth time, as I lay my face against the toilet seat, working my way through every prayer and promise I could think of to try and make it all stop, I thought of the text my mom sent earlier…and then of the flour I’d added to the blender to make my Alfredo sauce.

I closed my eyes and spun and then I opened them and the drunk tears came pouring out.

“I’m dying,” I said out loud to myself, “I have E-coli and I’m dying.”

I thought about calling for my sister and telling her to call 911—and to start taking down the notes for my last will and testament—but I couldn’t move. When I tried to, I threw up.

To make matters worse, the next time I opened my eyes and looked down in the toilet, everything was bright red.

Is—is that…blood?

It wasn’t blood.

It was Fruit Punch Crystal Light, which I’d mixed in with my water that afternoon—the same water I started chugging after my (first) emotional trip to the bathroom when I realized I’d passed the point of no return. I would figure this out around the tenth time I threw up but until then I would give an Academy Award worthy performance of pathetic.

I collapsed, face first, onto the toilet seat and I cried. I thought of my family and how I’d let them down by not keeping myself up to date with current food safety alerts. I thought of Gold Medal Flour and how my parents would surely Erin Brockovich their way to a settlement for my untimely demise. I thought of the future children I’d never have and of all the mourning faces present at my funeral. I hoped they served cake at the reception, and then I threw up thinking about it.

Eventually I fell asleep. And with my knees on the tile, my head on the toilet seat, and the bowl full of whiskey and Crystal light, I definitely must have looked dead. And sad. And PSA worthy.

Yes, that Tuesday night I was the don’t end up like this girl, girl.

The next morning, when my work alarm went off at 6:30 a.m., I opened my eyes to the memories of what had occurred merely hours previous. I had a lot of thoughts rushing around, most of which were curse words, and I wobbled back into the bathroom to brush my teeth, wash my face and kick off another “average” day.

When I got to work, I googled the E. Coli outbreak and discovered that it didn’t apply to our flour, so I lay my head on my desk, hungover and ashamed.

I hadn’t eaten contaminated flour.

I hadn’t thrown up blood.

I’d just gotten drunk on whiskey and secondhand cringe and I’d paid the price.

Eleven times.

Needless to say, I now drink wine when I watch The Bachelorette—or, currently, The Bachelor—and during those particularly hard episodes, I color.

We live and we learn.

Playlist of My Life

Hello and welcome back to another edition of: Kim turns her favorite YouTube videos into blogs but she always credits back the original creators so please don’t be mad at me I love you, bye. (Title Pending)

During one YouTube deep dive or another I came across a series on Teen Vogue’s channel called “Playlist of My Life”, where different people list songs that hold specific significance in their lives. I was instantly hooked. A series that lets you learn about people you admire and gives you music recommendations at the same time? Count me in!

After watching a good handful of the videos, I decided I wanted to come up with my own list—which was a lot harder than I thought it would be. But alas, after an intense session of analyzing both my iTunes and Spotify accounts, I got a list of about 40 songs, which I then widdled down to my traditional 17 which I want to share with you today:

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1) Audience of One by Big Daddy Weave

This is my favorite worship song of all time. It is one of the first songs I felt I really understood and so it holds a special place in my heart.

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2) I Was Here by Lady Antebellum

This song more or less describes what I hope to do with my life. The first time I heard it, I just remember nodding, thinking, “Yeah! Me too!” in the most gloriously corny way possible.

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3) Roses by The Chainsmokers

This song reminds me of my sister and always makes me feel happy inside. The simplest kind of happy. Which I wrote about in this blog post a couple years back.

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4) Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton

This is one of my favorite songs of all time that just knocks me to my knees because DAMN. I mean…DAMN. The way he sings the line “I’ve looked for love in all the same old places, found the bottom of the bottle’s always drYYYyyy” might be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard.

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5) I Hope by The Dixie Chicks

When my mom, sister and I discovered this song a while back, we kind of took to using it as our collective therapy song. We’ve played it many a time when we (or someone we know) need to take a breath, and though I can’t really explain why it works, it just does.

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6) All Over Now by Eric Hutchinson

This is another one that I turn to almost every time I need a song to help me out. Which is kind of funny because it’s definitely not an uplifting song, but for whatever reason it calms me down and gives me that little nudge I need to keep pushing forward.

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7) Sugar We’re Going Down by Fall Out Boy

Ahhh, 9th grade. This was the very first song I ever put on my blue iPod Mini and boy did I think I was the coolest. This song also makes me think of my Papa who, alongside my Grammie, gave me the iPod mini for my birthday, and a few weeks afterward called my house (my landline!) to ask me if I liked my “new blue radio.” This song always brings that memory to mind and puts a smile on my face.

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8) Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand

The very first time I heard this song I was in 8th grade, riding in a car with some of my classmates. It came on the radio and the girl next to me said, “Who is this?” I had absolutely no idea, but the girl in the front seat knew immediately. For whatever reason, this sparked an interest in me to be “the knower” from then on, a mission I still carry out to this day.

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9) More than Anyone by Gavin DeGraw

This has long been one of my favorite songs of all time. It’s just such a beautiful and romantic song and I can’t help it, I’m a sucker. Also, I first heard it on One Tree Hill, one of my favorite TV shows growing up and it had a special meaning for a few of the characters so…I’m a sucker x2.

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10) Poprocks & Coke by Green Day

This song reminds me of my best friend in high school who first pulled me out of my shell and introduced me to what I thought at the time was “edgy music.” I remember being the textbook 2000’s teenager with my headphones on listening to Green Day, Simple Plan and every other emo-centric band at the time, internally insisting that no one knew what it was like to be me.

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11) Growing Up by The Maine

The Maine was one of my favorite bands in both high school and college and me and my best friend at the time probably saw them in concert upwards of eight times. This song sticks out to me because I think it kind of encapsulates their music and how it made me feel at the time.

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12) Electric Feel by MGMT

This song makes me think of my first car, Jeffrey. Growing up I was always the one driving my friends and I around and this song reminds me of late summer nights, with the volume up and us laughing and dancing our hearts out.

*flute solo*

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13) Washed by the Water by Needtobreathe

Needtobreathe is my favorite band of all time and I found their music by accident one day when I was on iTunes. This was the first song I ever heard of theirs and I immediately fell in love. 10 or so years later, it’s still my favorite song of theirs, and one of the best things you can ever hear live, if I do say so myself.

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14) Don’t Know Why by Norah Jones

I’m starting to notice that I have a habit of using terribly sad songs to make me feel better… Is that weird? I feel like it’s weird. This song, to me, is like butter. It instantly relaxes me and makes me feel like everything is going to be okay. Maybe it’s the piano, maybe it’s Norah Jones’ voice, maybe it’s just remnant angst I’m still harboring, whatever the reason, this song just does it all for me.

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15) It’s Gonna Be Me by *NSYNC

I mean, I couldn’t be born in the 90’s and not have an *NSYNC song, right?

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16) Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding

Great news! This song is as happy and carefree as it seems! I’m not all sad!

Get it?

Like I’m not all bad but with…sad…

Okay, maybe I am a little sad.

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17) I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston

If you know me, you know that I love this song with my whole heart. If you ever invite me to your wedding or any party that involves a DJ and dancing of any kind, I will request this song and I will find my way to the center of the dance floor and sing it at the top of my lungs.

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So that’s me in 17 songs. At least so far.

What songs would make up a playlist of your life?

The Year of Surrender

If you have been around my blog for a little while, you might know that each January I seek a faith-based word to focus on for the year. In the past four years, I’ve gotten trust, give, patience, and then for 2018, I got surrender.

51k1v-ci0sl._sx357_bo1,204,203,200_To kick off the year, I bought this book on Amazon. It has one devotional to read for each day of the year, and I figured surrendering 5-10 minutes a day to read them was a good place to start.

I had tried this a couple years ago, not with a devotional, but with prayer each night before I went to bed. After hearing so often at church how important it was to set aside time with God, I decided I’d get down on my knees every night before bed and pray.

Initially I was very nervous. Praying out loud, to me, has always felt a little bit like public speaking—which I hate. I always get self-conscious that I’m not saying the right thing or that I’m not saying enough. Sometimes when we pray in groups at church I spend so much time worrying about what I’m going to say that I miss everything everyone else says.

After a while though, I got the hang of it. Each night I’d kneel down on a blanket and just talk candidly. Most of the time I legitimately started off just by saying, “hey,” like I would if I were talking to a friend, and then I’d just tell Him what was on my mind. When I would close out prayer—I’m not sure why or when I started saying it—I would always ask that He hold my hand.

Just hold my hand, please. Hold my hand and lead me.

I so desperately wanted—and still want—direction of where I should take my life, and I think I just liked the image of being led that way. It made me feel safe, the way a child might feel when their parent takes their hand to cross the street or when a friend takes your hand to guide you through a crowded room. It lets you know that even amongst the chaos, you have someone with you, guiding you forward, and I sought that kind of direction from God.

So as I started this year of “surrender”, I again approached it with that mindset.

I am here, I thought. Show me the magic of this word. Lead me.

As the year went on, I had my share of encouragements and reminders. When my mind would start to slip, surrender would make its way into my sights.

One particularly stressful afternoon, this song popped up on my Spotify:

And there was never a shortage of blog posts, podcasts, Bible verses, etc. that kept finding ways to remind me to let it go. Let it all go.

But perhaps the biggest encouragement, the biggest reminder that not only was letting go okay, but that it was necessary, refreshing, unburdening, and most of all safe, was found in my daily devotional. For amongst the passages—most of which I marked up, circling and underlining and making notes in the margins—I found one phrase over and over:

“I am holding your hand.”

I didn’t just find it once. I found it 32 times.

My own words. My own request. My own prayer handed right back to me over and over again.

I am holding your hand, it said.

And it was in reading those words over and over that I realized what it would truly mean to surrender.

I pictured myself walking up to the front door of my house with my arms riddled in grocery bags (because #onetrip). With the keys in my purse and the doorknob unable to unlock and open itself, I would most definitely have to set a bag or two down. I would have to empty my hand to get what I needed.

All these years, though I asked, pleaded for God to take my hand and lead me, and grew frustrated when I didn’t feel that presence, that hand, it wasn’t because he wasn’t by my side reaching out, it was because my hands were full. Full of everything else I was worried about or focused on. Even though I wanted to take his hand, I wasn’t willing to first let go of the things I was holding onto.

And so, 2018 saw me finally start to loosen my grip. No longer am I trying to win any awards for carrying the most weight all at once. No longer am I trying to balance one grocery bag on my knee and the other on my elbow as I try to reach in my purse to grab the keys. I’m setting the bags down, one by one, and I’m freeing that hand, because I know that His hand is right there, waiting for me to take it.