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My Favorite Ornaments on My Tree (List-cember #1)

Hello and happy December List-cember to you! I have made it a tradition on my blog that in December every post is centered around lists, and here we are again, in year five!

You can check out some of the previous List-cember posts here, otherwise let’s get started!

If I’m being honest, alongside my sister, I broke every rule this year. We watched our first Christmas movie before Halloween and had our Christmas decorations up by the first week of November—but can you blame us? There’s just something special about Christmas time and all the goodness that comes with it, and this year we were in a hurry to get to all that good stuff.

Usually during List-cember I give out “superlatives” to the many ornaments in my life, but this year, after having spent so many months isolated from family, friends and all things “normal”, I just wanted to highlight some of my favorites.  These are the ornaments that make me smile and give me hope that good years with good memories and even more good ornaments to commemorate them are ahead of us.

1) The Burrito

Ornaments are meant to highlight people and things that you love, right? Well one thing my family can agree on—almost every time we order-in for dinner—is burritos. My sister likes to joke (even though she’s serious) that she has Chipotle on speed dial, but our burrito backlog goes far beyond the local chain. So for a time of year when so many other foods and food groups reign supreme, I love having an ode to burritos up there on our tree, reminding us that yes, you should order-in tonight, you deserve it.  

2) The Fireplace

Some of my favorite ornaments on my parents’ tree are those with family names handwritten on snowmen, stockings, Santa hats, etc., so when I saw this ornament a couple years ago, I couldn’t resist bringing it home and making one of my own. And with our roommate Rachel moved out into a new house now, this ornament is even more special, as it now commemorates the time we all lived together, which is full of so many happy memories.

3) Yoga Santa

I love me some yoga, and I got even more into it this year during quarantine. Yoga Santa reminds me to relax, and to stop stressing—because compared to a guy who has to deliver presents to the entire world in one night, how big could my problems really be?

4) New York

Last year my family took a trip to New York for a whirlwind weekend to see the New York Giants play. It was only a few months before the world took a turn for the ‘rona and is one of the last times I remember being out and about without a mask on. So while I look at this ornament longingly for a time before 2020, I also look at it with the hope that one day this will all be behind us.

5) The Shark

My roommates and I nabbed this guy when I signed us up for a bar crawl a few years back. He came in our gigantic fishbowl of a drink and, me being the sentimental being that I am, stuck him in my purse to keep forever. For reasons lost to time (and alcohol) we named him “Timothy Bruce Henry” and he might be the only homemade shark ornament I’ll ever encounter.

6) Candy Cane

These are a staple on my grandma and grandpa’s tree that were handmade by my grandma herself. And not to paint myself as a thief, but (along with shark) I also stole this. But it was from my grandparents’ house and they have lots of extras and definitely would have freely given it to me if I asked—so it’s only, like, half stolen.

7) Michael Strahan

As a Giants fan you can’t not like Michael Strahan. And as a loyal Giants fan, you can’t not look at this ornament and feel desperately nostalgic for a time when you were a Superbowl champion. *sigh*

8) Jameson Distillery

For the longest time it was my sister’s dream to go to Ireland, and in 2016, we were able to make that happen. Then, in June of last year, we were able to go back—and even visit London and Paris too!—to show our family the place we’d fallen in love with, which made it all the more incredible. This ornament is from one of our favorite places, and where, without shame, we all got a little buzzed at 10:00 a.m. on a weekday morning.  

9) Turtledove

Similar to the candy cane, this ornament has special meaning as it came from my grammie and papa’s tree. You’ll be happy to know I didn’t steal this one, though I might say I did, just to up my street cred. Because as we all know, stolen turtledove ornaments are worth infinite street cred.

10) Cheeseburger Topper

While tradition is key during this time of year and one might expect to see a star or an angel at the top of the tree, we consistently and unabashedly put this cheeseburger with legs on top. I can’t tell you why or when it started, only that it is strange and glorious and weirdly normal at this point. It makes me smile every time I see it, and especially every time someone comes over and takes brief moment to pause and ask, tentatively, “is that–is that a cheeseburger?

Let Us All Give Thanks to Our Grey Sweatshirt

If you look at almost any picture of me from high school, I am wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt.

It was nothing special. Just a plain, thin, cotton hoodie that was probably from Target, and did absolutely nothing for my figure or for fashion. But somehow, for some reason, I wore it every. single. day. Even when it got frayed and old. Even when there was a slight toothpaste stain on the pocket. Even when it had been washed so many times and the inside had been so stripped that it was barely comfortable.

I wore it and I loved it and I hid all of my insecurities beneath its thinning, grey fabric.

You might have had something similar in your own life. A pair of jeans, a headband, bright eye shadow, a daring haircut, shoes you wore with every outfit, a jacket you wore far past its prime, an accessory that people knew you by, etc., and if you’re like me, pictures of this thing might make you cringe now. They might make you wonder, WHY? Why did I think that was a good idea?

But then if you look deeper at those pictures, and at yourself, and at all the things they can only show you, you might feel a little different. You might remember what you were going through, what you were worried about, what felt like the biggest deal in the world. You might see the insecurities trying to be hidden, the confusion of self identity, the immaturity, the loneliness, the trial and error of being genuine, the safety net that this thing provided, and how, for some reason, the day, the outfit, the moment, the you at that time just didn’t seem right unless you were wearing or carrying or within reach of this one thing.

I don’t have that sweatshirt anymore. But sometimes I look for it when I’m shuffling through the hoodies in my closet for something to cozy up in. And while I’m glad I grew up, grew into myself, grew out of the part of my life where I’d rather cover up and hide than be seen and known, I’m thankful to have had that sweatshirt to give me time to get here.

So today, on a day when we often talk about all things we’re thankful for, I wanted to say thank you to you, grey sweatshirt, for all that you did for me in those hard four years of high school (and probably a few too many after.)

Thank you for acting as my security blanket. As something that I could put on and not think about, even when I felt so insecure in my skin that I wished I was invisible or thought I wasn’t worth looking at.

Thank you for staying together, for surviving the hundreds of washes, both late at night and early in the morning; and for those times I probably washed you on the wrong setting and rolled you around in the drier over and over when I was too lazy to take my clothes out and fold them.

Thanks for giving me time to develop my own sense of style. For allowing me to buffer inside your thin cotton lining and hide inside your loose-fitting hood.

In many ways, I am as far removed from that hoodie as I am from who I was in high school. I have grown and changed so much since then. I have learned to appreciate myself, learned about myself, learned to accept where I’ve come from and how to work towards where I want to go. But I could never have gotten here if I hadn’t started there. None of us could.

So let’s all give thanks to the awkwardness, the confusion, the struggle, the WHY, and the things that helped us get from there to here. It might not be easy over here on the other side of those struggles, but it’s comforting to realize how far we’ve come, and inspiring to think about how much more we have ahead.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

In Case You’re Looking for a New Thanksgiving Staple

When I was little, my maternal grandparents used to host Thanksgiving every year. And just like any other holiday, I would arrive looking for a few key staples: the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the pre-meal black olives that I would place on my fingers and pretend I got a manicure, and the cheese filled celery sticks that I would lick the cheese out of and throw the celery away.

When I got older and my parents starting hosting Thanksgiving, I wanted to find my own staple to bring to the table. Something that people could look forward to and rely on me for, and something that I could pass down to my kids when my mom passes the turkey down to me, so I can undoubtedly take on the job as if I am precisely diffusing a bomb for five hours. 

One year, I decided this staple might be rolls. As the turkey cooled for carving and the final touches were being put on the side dishes, I volunteered to butter and bake the rolls, which to some members of my family are arguably the most important part of the meal. I thought it was a can’t lose move. But it turns out, when you reach in to grab your cooked rolls and accidentally light your oven mitt on fire, filling the whole kitchen with smoke and a burnt smell that begins to overtake every other pleasant smell, just as your guests start to arrive, you put yourself in a can lose situation.

So I ditched the rolls. Or rather, gave them back to my aunt, who’d failed to ruin them or set off a smoke alarm even once. Show off.

Then, after a solid year of pouting and self-deprecation, another year of Internet research, and then a tentative shopping trip for cheeses I’d never heard of, I found my side dish. My staple. My claim to Thanksgiving table fame.

This Martha Stewart Macaroni & Cheese recipe.

I will admit, it’s not a walk in the park. And while I’ve gotten into a good rhythm over the years, I still usually sit down at the Thanksgiving table looking slightly weathered and a little sweatier than I’d prefer, but it’s always worth it. So if you’re looking for something to spice up your Thanksgiving, your Christmas, or even just your Tuesday, might I recommend this recipe. It’s DELICIOUS.

Plus, if you make it enough, people start to forget that Martha Stewart created it and start calling it “your macaroni”, allowing you to feel like an innovative culinary queen (or king.) And that, my friends, is a can’t lose situation.

Also, pro-tip: grate your cheese before you start.  

The Solvang Postcard

In the fall of my senior year of college—which as I type this I realize was nine years ago, YIKES—I studied abroad in Australia. While there, one of my absolute favorite things was to write and receive letters from friends and family back home.

I love mail in general, but being a whole continent away and receiving things from the people I loved back home not only made the first few weeks easier to adjust, but made the remaining five months all the more fun. I was practically a regular at the post office, and there was an entire drawer of my desk filled with envelopes, stamps, and handwritten letters that I still have to this day.

One that stood out was a postcard from my grandpa. “You’re not the only world traveler!” the note on the back started, “Grandma and I went to Denmark. Played golf & ate at Anderson’s Split Pea Soup Restaurant. Quite a trip – took 1hr & 15min each way. Saw lots of Danish shops & houses. Took 3 days so we were exhausted when we got home. Love you bunches – Gma & Gpa”

Maybe it was the startling opening of my grandparents being in “Denmark”, maybe it was the note explaining it had taken them one hour and 15 minutes to get there—from California—or maybe it was just because I hadn’t head of Solvang before, but I never forgot this postcard. It made me smile thinking about my grandma and grandpa on vacation, golfing and exploring this strange and—judging by the pictures on the front of the postcard—very cute town.

A few years later, after my grandma passed away, this postcard became even more sentimental. I felt like it was a tangible memory from their marriage and of the life they lived together—a little piece that they wanted to share with me, that I could have forever. And so just as I kept the postcard, I kept a constant curiosity about Solvang—wondering what it would feel like to stand where they stood all those years ago. And this past weekend, I finally got the chance.

To celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday, our family of five spent the weekend in Solvang. We walked around and saw all the Danish shops and houses, we ate split pea soup at Anderson’s, and though we didn’t play golf, we did go wine tasting and feed some ostriches. (Yes, you read that right.)

We did Solvang our way, just as my grandma and grandpa had done it their way. And even though our trips were almost a decade apart, I still felt like they were right there with me. I still looked for the two of them walking down the street up ahead of me, and imagined them sharing split pea soup in the booth next to us.

Being where they had been made the postcard come to life, and caused it to hit me in a different way. It made me sad knowing that when my grandpa wrote that note to me, none of us had any idea we’d be losing grandma less than a year later. It made me wonder and worry about what might be coming in this decade to follow my own trip to Solvang. But then, it also made me think again about their trip. About the forethought they had to grab a postcard for me, one of their 11 grandkids and 3 great-grandchildren (at the time), and about how much that said about them and the love they had for each and everyone of us. It made me happy to think that they went on this trip and so many others, building their lives together and sharing it with us.

On our last day in Solvang, I grabbed a small, souvenir windmill that is now sitting on my desk. Maybe one day someone will ask me about it and I will pull out the postcard to explain where it all started. Maybe that will inspire another generation to take that trip, and as they walk down the streets and eat split pea soup they’ll look for me just as I looked for my grandma and grandpa, and just like that we’ll all be together again.

200 Day Time Capsule Blog #6

It should come as a surprise to no one that this time capsule is a little grim, mostly because it’s been 200 days and things are not exactly radically better than they were for our last letter.

I started the letter with, “I can only hope things are good, because they are a little rough right now.”

Oh, past Kim. You poor, naive thing. You just had no idea, did you?

.

1) What day is it?

My answer from the last time capsule (4/28/20): Tuesday April 28th, 2020

2) What’s the weather like outside?

My answer from the last time capsule (4/28/20): At this very moment it is 73 degrees, but it is expected to get up to 91 today. So apparently we are diving headfirst into the heat. RIP to the reasonable DWP bills. 

RIP indeed. Don’t worry though, you’re having a super fun Southern California November, where it’s 43 degrees in the morning and 85 degrees by noon. You are handling it great and have only worried a few people by continually asking for “rainy, cold weather I can be sad to.”

3) What did you do today?

My answer from the last time capsule (4/28/20): Well, it’s only 10:00 a.m. so I haven’t done much, and to be honest, with quarantine still going strong I probably won’t do a ton later. But I have been trying my best to keep busy with creative projects. Right now I’m working on a rally towel blanket and a cross stitch for [my cousins] Spenser, Ashlynn and (upcoming) baby Easton. I can’t believe that when I get this letter back he will be here, in the world! Can’t wait to meet you, little guy. 

Baby Easton is indeed here and is one of the best and cutest things to have arrived in 2020. You should also know, past Kim, that you haven’t made any more progress on that blanket but you did make a robot out of soup cans, so that’s something.

4) What’s your favorite song right now?

My answer from the last time capsule (4/28/20): Holding Out for the One by Tennille Townes and Hard to Forget by Sam Hunt, but I’ve also been listening to a lot of Lilla Vargen & Lady A.

I suppose another good thing about 2020 is we’ve had a lot of time to find a lot of new music. As you were writing this letter you were about to hit the jackpot on some good music finds.

5) What’s the most recent movie you’ve seen?

My answer from the last time capsule (4/28/20): My family and I watched Knives Out about a week ago and it was SO GOOD, and then Natalee and I have been on a Disney kick. I think the most recent one we watched was The Princess & the Frog which I’d never seen but thought it was so cute! Also, how dare Disney make me get so attached to a bug. 

We’ve never fully recovered from Disney making us get attached to a bug.

6) Who did you last text and what did you say?

My answer from the last time capsule (4/28/20): I texted my brother about a German movie on Netflix called “Isi & Ossi” that he should watch, especially because he just recommended the show “Dark” to me, which is also in German and, according to him, will “BLOW MY MIND.” I am currently 15 minutes in to Season 1, Episode 1, and am already invested, so we’ll see how well I’m able to control my binge instincts.

It’s safe to say you threw all binge control out the window and went into Dark very HARD. Seriously, you wouldn’t stop talking about it for weeks. It was fantastic.

7) What is your biggest goal right now?

My answer from the last time capsule (4/28/20): Hmm. That’s a little difficult because the world is kind of on hold right now. But I suppose I’m just trying to keep busy, stay motivated, and write. 

We love an attainable goal unaffected by COVID restrictions! We are still doing just that. 🙌

8) What are you most excited about?

My answer from the last time capsule (4/28/20): Meeting baby Easton. ❤

Still true. And soon this will finally happen!!

9) What are you most worried about?

My answer from the last time capsule (4/28/20): Oh boy, there is a lot of worry on my plate right now. Most of which I don’t like talking about because I don’t want to make it anymore real than it already is. To be honest I’m very scared of what lies ahead, but I’m trying to stay positive and pray in the hopes that there is good. 

I recently came across this article that I bookmarked a while back and there is a quote in there that a girl shared from her therapist that says, “you don’t have to feel hopeful about the future, it’s enough just to be curious about what is coming.” I think this year has made a lot of us lose hope and expect the worst, but I’m trying to think of this quote in the context that while there still might be some bad up ahead, I’m curious to see what good comes alongside it.

10) Tell yourself a really bad joke.

My answer from the last time capsule (4/28/20): Read the room, girl. 

I’d like to officially change this question since I sincerely hate it every time it comes up. I’m thinking, “what is the best thing you’ve eaten in the last 200 days?” Because who doesn’t like reliving something delicious?


You can check out this page to see the growing archive of all of my time capsule answers. And don’t forget to check out this post to find out how you can create your own time capsule.

Our next delivery date is: Friday June 4th, 2021


Stay curious, there is good ahead!

For Anyone Else Who Has Bumped Their Head

2020 has been full of big, hard things.

But sometimes it’s the small, hard things, the trivial things, that make a particular moment, morning, or even a whole day feel like a real personal attack. 

For me, these are some of those things:

1) When you accidentally touch a button or a zipper on an article of clothing fresh out of the drier and feel as though a few layers of skin on your fingertips are fried off.

2) When you somehow only kick one of your toes into a table leg.

3) When you are told, “you look tired,” after getting up, getting dressed and going out to face the day.

4) When you arrive home only to realize you forgot the one thing you actually needed from the store.

5) When you bump your head on absolutely anything.

6) When you get stuck in traffic when you have to pee (or worse).

7) When you put your phone (or anything) on the charger when you go to sleep, only to wake up and realize you didn’t plug the charger in.

8) When you accidentally chew a pill you were supposed to swallow.

9) When you run out of things to say with someone you just met and end up just staring at each other with no way to escape and no memory of anything humans talk about.

10) When you step in a puddle…IN SOCKS.

11) When you drop something and then catch it with cat like reflexes, only to realize that no one saw it happen and that even if you told someone they would just give you a polite, “wow,” because that’s the best they can do, even though you know you deserve applause, ovations, and maybe even a contract with the NFL.

12) When you reach the point of chewing gum where it tastes like wet cardboard and then realize you have nothing or nowhere to spit it out.

13) When you take a big first sip of hot chocolate and burn your tongue, ruining both the hot chocolate and everything else you’ll eat and drink for the remainder of the day.

14) When you break something the day you bought it.

15) When you have a spotlight shine directly into the center of your eyeball, making it feel as though it pierced your brain.

16) When you get stabbed in the roof of your mouth by a tortilla chip.

17) When you are gifted a piece of clothing that you hate, but have to pretend you love it because you can tell by the look on the other person’s face that they really hope you love it, and then have to wear it once or twice afterward even though it makes you feel like a potato.

18) When you are carrying a bag or a purse on your shoulder and the strap gets hooked on a pole, car mirror, etc. and pulls you backwards so hard and unexpectedly that you fall down.

19) When you get into a car on a windy day and accidentally shut your hair in the door.

20) When you go to a restaurant solely to order that one thing, only to find out they took that one thing off the menu.

If you or any of your loved ones have been personally victimized by any of these moments, I am truly sorry. We will get through this.  

Keep Hold of Your Elephant

I recently read former SEAL and current Congressman Dan Crenshaw’s book, Fortitude, which talks a lot about how to live a more balanced and controlled emotional life, especially in this age of “outrage culture.” In one chapter, I found a metaphor that really stuck with me and I wanted to share.

It comes from psychologist Dr. Jonathan Haidt, who described the human mind as a rider on an elephant. The conscious or logical mind is represented by the rider, and the unconscious or emotional mind is represented by the elephant. By all accounts, it would seem that the rider is (and should be) in control, but in certain situations, that elephant can pull and steer the rider in a direction they didn’t expect to go, and that won’t benefit them in the way they hope.

I loved this visual, partially because elephants are my favorite animal, but mostly because I felt like I’ve experienced this pull or sudden loss of logical mindedness in favor of a larger, more overpowering emotional response. And the harder I’ve tried to pull back and fight against that emotional reaction, the harder it’s fought its own fight, leaving me either frozen and at war with myself, or headed in a direction I don’t want to go. So the advice here is to realize that you are still in control. Your logical mind will always be that rider that can calm the elephant and steer her forward. But it is up to that logical mind to decipher—not ignore or belittle or wish away—whichever emotional reaction is trying to lead, and weed out what is true about it and what is not. What will benefit you (i.e. dealing with grief, mourning failure or rejection, etc.) and what won’t (i.e. worrying about things you can’t control, spiraling into self hate, tossing blame/anger onto other people).

In today’s society, we are told to react instantly. To immediately know our opinion, and, especially, to immediately be offended, angry, hurt, afraid, ecstatic, etc. I know I’ve felt the pressure to know exactly how I feel in only a matter of seconds—even if I’m not exactly familiar with what I’m seeing or talking about, and even if I don’t have all the facts or context that might help me form my own opinion. I know I’ve reacted to things based solely on the pressure to react, and the fear that if I didn’t, I’d be rejected, cast out, or left behind. I’ve looked on from my metaphorical elephant as a herd went running in one direction, and worried about the fact that we were still standing here, processing.

But the point is: that is okay. It is okay to process. It is okay to take your time. It is okay to go in the direction of the rest of the herd and it is okay to go in your own direction, as long as the rider is in control.

Don’t let hate steer you.

Don’t let fear steer you.

Don’t let doubt or greed or jealousy steer you.

Feel your feelings, listen to your feelings and then take the time to figure out which are telling you the truth and which are lying to you. Lead that elephant forward and do it on your own terms.

September/October Favorites

Hey y’all.

If you can believe it, we only have two months left of this crazy year. Here are some of my most recent favorite things to help you power through them.

Podcasts

If you are a music lover and, like me, constantly find yourself asking, “how did they think of that?” this is the podcast for you! Song Exploder breaks down one song each week, talking to the artists and the collaborators about what went into the production of the song, from the very first conversation about an idea, to putting the finishing touches on the final product. It is so fun and interesting and really gives you an appreciation for what goes into the music making process.

A little while back I recommended (and would still recommend) the podcast Beach Too Sandy Water Too Wet, a show that reads and pokes fun at dramatic Yelp reviews, and this new podcast is hosted by one of the hosts from that show. On Human Seeking Human, he reads personal ads from old newspapers, before online dating and dating apps became such a normal part of society. I really like the way he approaches the subject, and how it starts a conversation about the love people are looking for, which looks a little bit different for everyone.

Books

I have said countless times over the last couple years that I miss the feeling of reading The Hunger Games for the first time, as it was a series that really hooked me and had me running to the bookstore each time I finished a book and was ready for the next one. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think about Suzanne Collins’ prequel A Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, because I wasn’t sure what the story would be like without all the characters I had come to know and love. But it only took a chapter or two for me to be drawn back into the universe and hang on to the edge of my seat. For fellow Hunger Games fans, this book begins just before the start of the 10th Hunger Games and follows President Snow as a teenager. It gives such a great backstory as to why the Hunger Games become what they do 65 years later (when the original series takes place) and why the story unfolds the way that it does.

On a very different note, I had come across Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun multiple times but never read it, mostly because the misplaced “b’s” deeply upset me. But I can honestly say it is worth all the hype. It is a very sweet, inspirational book that can be as fun and cute for kids as it can be deep and meaningful for adults.

TV Shows

I would never in a million years go back to middle school, even if I had the chance, but I will make a single exception for Pen15. It follows Anna and Maya, best friends who are entering 7th grade in the year 2000, and having personally started middle school in 2001, this show is a scary accurate depiction of all those emotions, movies, music, and trends that defined those fateful years. I have never watched a show that made me feel more awkward, more uncomfortable and more understood all at the same time.  I laughed, I cried, I hid behind my hands. It is wonderful.

Movies

First off, if you are someone that is a) addicted to your phone and/or b) wants to find a way to stop looking at your phone so much, watch The Social Dilemma, which is sure to give you a wake up call and borderline frighten you—but in a good way. After watching, I turned off most of the notifications on my phone and was surprised by how much less I looked at my phone simply because I didn’t have any alerts or little red numbers demanding that I did.  

The Peanut Butter Falcon is easily one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. It is so sweet and unique and well made. It follows Zak, a boy with down syndrome, who runs away from his assisted living facility in an attempt to attend a wresting school he heard about on TV. Do yourself a favor and just watch it. It is fantastic.

Music

If I were to describe these picks in recipe form, I would say they have a big helping of groovy, a cup of soul and a dash of sad. My ideal musical meal, to be honest.

State of the Heart by Patrick Droney

Wild Wild Woman by Your Smith

Out of Body by Needtobreathe

Sad Hunk by Bahamas

Hyaluronic Toner

My skin and I have been on somewhat rocky terms the last couple months due to me trying to branch out in the skincare product world and my skin simply saying, “no.” So buying this was really a risk, but it ended up paying off. It’s a very moisturizing toner and leaves my skin feeling very soft and healthy, so hopefully she (as in my skin) will give me a bit of a break. (find it here)

AirPods

I was very strongly against AirPods for a long time, solely because I am someone who likes clothes, shoes, etc. to feel secure while I’m wearing them, thus headphones with no cords seemed completely out of my comfortability range. However, after seeing my sister get a pair and then noticing how often I get tangled up in the wires of my headphones, especially while trying to listen to music at my desk, I gave in and impulse bought a pair at Target. I am now two weeks into this purchase and I can honestly say: I get it. They are great. Plus I low-key feel like an FBI agent which is a great addition to my daydreams. (find them here, they are still on sale at Target!)

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

See my previous favorites post here.

This Post Was Brought to You By Amy Grant

The living room is empty.

My dad is at work and my mom is in the other room, maybe cleaning or reading or talking on the phone.

I am eight years old, and I am in the mood to dance.

I sift through the CDs on the shelf, press the power button on the stereo, and open the tray of the seven disk CD player that I have already flagged as something I need in my own house when I grow up.

Amy Grant’s The Collection goes in the disc one spot. I turn off shuffle.

I hear the CD start to spin and I wait, wiggling my toes on the large oval rug where I usually spend my Saturday mornings hunched over my favorite yellow controller playing Zelda on the N64. The moment the music starts, I skip to track seven. Then I scoot back to the center of the room and place my hands in front of my face—my fingers spread wide.

The opening notes start and I wait, holding my pose, until Amy Grant starts to sing Emmaaaannnn-uel, upon which I start moving my hands up and down and around my face, assuming I look as poised and mysterious as the high level contemporary dancers at my dance studio—while in reality I probably looked like I was trying to swat a fly away from my face in slow motion.

When the chorus hits, I throw my hands in the air and jump around, singing my heart out, free, though never distracted enough to miss the next round of Emaaannnn-uel’s and their corresponding hand choreography.

When the song ends, I consider starting it again, but then skip forward to track 11, like always. There is no choreography to this song, just slow swaying around the room. I hold my hands out in front of me as if I’m dancing with someone, and move from the living room to the dining room and back, unaware (and unfazed) that a good portion of the song is in Hebrew.

As the last few notes fade out, I return to the rug, preparing for my big finish. I Have Decided comes blasting through the speakers and I begin to march around, agreeing with Amy with animated fingers that point to the ceiling. I close my eyes and wave my fists, willing her words, her decisions to be true for me too, and it makes me feel grown up. At the end of the song, I walk over and turn down the music, then lay down on our green couch.

The next song starts and I bob my head but I don’t stand up. I turn over on my side and look at the doorway leading to the hall. I know that if I turn left through that door I’ll find my baby brother’s room and the room I share with my sister, and if I turn right I’ll find my mom and dad’s room, where I’d spent last Sunday night sleeping on the floor because I had a nightmare. But I don’t move, I just lay there for a while, bobbing my head without a care in the world, already wanting to start the CD—or my version of it—over again.

I Need to Get New Running Shoes

I am just about ready to retire my running shoes, but just like an old pair of jeans or a sweatshirt that is broken in just right, they are making it hard for me to officially let them go.

I am someone who, when I find something—especially shoes—that fit me just right, I will only part with them if they physically fall apart, are taken away from me by a concerned friend or family member, or if, in their demise, they stop fitting just right.

I like for clothes and shoes to feel like a part of my body, like something I don’t even notice I’m wearing, and might even force me to glance down and ensure I got dressed that morning.

Which is perhaps why I have hoodies hanging in my closet that are so offensively thin and worn out, but I still can’t manage to get rid of them because I’ve upcycled them into “summer sweatshirts” that I can wear when the temperature dare dips below 75. And it’s definitely why, even though the recommended replacement rate of running shoes is four to six months, I am going on year two, with this blog being my biggest step towards considering to consider getting a new pair.

But I can’t help it. They’ve been through a lot with me.

They’ve been up and down and around the streets of my neighborhood, running and jogging and walking, panting and gasping and fist pumping and dancing.

They helped me train for and finish the LA Marathon.

They’ve gone from machine to machine at the gym, trying to make me look like I know what I’m doing.

They’ve hiked up dirt trails and squeaked on tile floors and dried out missteps in rainy day puddles on back porches.

They’ve been covered in wet grass, slipped in wet mud, and run through the rinse cycle more than once.

While the laces are tired, they still let me triple knot them tightly, and while the tread is fading, I still run up gravely hills without fear.

The thought of having to break in a new pair of shoes, to listen to them squeak out the fresh and take the time to wiggle in the comfortable, is enough to make me (literally) run these shoes into the ground. But then I suppose a new pair of shoes offers a new set of miles, a clean slate of adventures, and a fresh round of compliments that I haven’t heard since I got rid of my last pair of shoes.

So maybe I’m writing this to hold myself accountable. Maybe I’m writing this as a breakup letter to my shoes. Maybe I’m wearing those shoes right now. Maybe I’m going to go on one last run—or five. But I’m definitely going to get some new shoes. I definitely need to get some new shoes. And I will.

Soon.