blogging

If You’re Willing to Start from the Ground, You Can Build Anything

Can I have a show of hands for anyone who has been personally victimized by country duo, Dan & Shay’s song “From the Ground Up?”

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Right, okay, that’s what I thought. Let it be known that my hand it also up.

In case you’re unfamiliar with this song, have a listen:

Or, if you want the short version: it’s a painfully adorable ballad about finding true love and building a life with someone.

The first verse of the song starts like this:

Grandma and grandpa painted a picture of sixty-five years
And one little house
More than a memory
More than saying I do
Kiss you goodnight’s and I love you’s
 

And then the chorus goes like this:

And we’ll build this love from the ground up
Now ’til forever it’s all of me, all of you
Just take my hand
And I’ll be the man your dad hoped that I’d be

It’s the kind of song that gives you all the feels and makes you yell at the ceiling of your car in the middle of traffic—or at least that’s what it does to me.

When I was little, I dreamed about finding the one. The person all the Disney movies and romantic comedies promised me. The person that would make everything make sense. Now, as I grew up, I figured out that you don’t actually need someone else to make your life make sense. I figured out you can do that all on your own. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t wish for someone to stand beside. Someone to laugh and cry and get all crotchety with. Someone who, when this song comes on the radio in the middle of dead stop traffic, you realize is so noticeably absent that it provokes you to yell at the aforementioned ceiling. BUT I DIGRESS.

The key point to note in this song is that the singer proposes he and his true love build their life together from the ground up. When he brings up the love story of his grandparents, he isn’t saying, “we have that,” or “it will be easy to have that,” rather he’s saying, “if we work hard, we could have that.”

In our lives, we will wish for a lot of things that will require us to build from the ground up. Be it a love story, a career, a legacy or a home. But no matter what we’re building or the various tools we’ll need to do so, every bout of architecture starts with a Day One. A commitment to the desire. And one of the marvels about life is that we often don’t know when that Day One will be.

You never know when you’re going to find your true passion. You never know when you’re going to meet that person the romantic comedies promised you. But isn’t it a wonder to know that every day you wake up with an open heart, every day you meet someone new or try something you never thought you would, it could be the start of something that changes your life forever?

So even though there may be songs or movies or coworkers or couples walking down the street that sometimes make you want to jealous road rage your way off the (literal or metaphorical) freeway, it’s important we don’t take advantage of these days. We never know what they might be teaching us, or the Day Ones they might be leading us towards.

And hey, you never know, Day 1 could be today.

Strain then Stir: A New Cooking Segment (Kind of)

Hello friends, my name is Kim, and I am a terrible cook. Okay, not terrible. Not great, though. A hard average if I’m being honest. A passing grade but not one to hang on the fridge, if you catch my drift.

I’m also a rather monotonous cook. I have a schedule, a limited bank account and only a handful of recipes I can make from memory, so I often make the same things over and over and over again.

And while I’m someone that thrives on routines, I’ve started to feel like a robot. Like I’m eating what I’m eating only because it’s what I usually eat when I usually eat it. As a result, I’m never really excited about eating because it feels more like something to check off my to-do list rather than something to enjoy or cherish.

On my recent trip to Hawaii, each meal felt like a celebration and an expression of passion. Every meal was healthy and delicious and unique and vibrant. It was the kind of food that makes you feel good while you’re eating it and after you eat it, which was new for me.

When I got back home, I was desperate to continue this I can enjoy all kinds of foods in all kinds of ways and don’t have to eat so much that I feel disgusting all the time lifestyle, and so, like any average yet determined cook/honest yet sarcastic writer would (and should) do, I’ve decided to document this journey.

DISCLAIMER/INTENSE REMINDER: I am not a chef, thus this segment is not going to be your run of the mill cooking blog. There will not be pretty, studio-esque pictures. There will not be sage advice. There will not be perfection. There will tales of disaster and frequent admissions of “oops.” There will be a lot of recapping of panicked Googling and pictures of the too many dishes I dirtied while trying to be professional. There may even be some utensil related injuries. Basically, this will be a series of me trying to cook and then writing about what went wrong—because trust me, something always goes wrong—and then hoping that you can relate, laugh, and (somehow) be inspired to cook as well.

As far as names go, I’ve decided to fondly refer to this new segment as “Strain Then Stir,” which recalls one of my most shining moments in the kitchen that you can read about here.

The first post will be up tomorrow, and will continue on a monthly basis until I either: 1) become a world famous chef with her own show on Food Network or 2) burn the house down, throw in the towel and shift my marital focus to a world famous chef with their own show on Food Network. Only time will tell.

How to Survive an Alison’s Adventure (Day 1&2)

Day 1

With a bang my eyes were open, the wheels were on the ground, and the lights in the cabin were on. It was 9:15 pm on a Thursday and my dad, my sister and I had just landed in Hawaii.

We walked through the terminal, eyes red and hair knotted, looking at all the families set to board the plane we’d just exited. Their vacations were over and you could see it on their faces. Sunburned noses and ocean dipped hair; frowns for what they would miss and smiles for what they’d just experienced. In a small way I envied them, for they’d already gone on their adventure. They were long passed all the anxiety and anticipation that sat so prominent in my stomach.

I took small steps towards the parking lot where our ride awaited us. My mind flashed through everything that could go wrong while my heart reasoned everything that could go right. But as we stood on the curb and a man named Henry pulled the car around to pick us up, I reminded myself that an adventure is all about the combination of both.

 


 

Day 2

The ceiling creaked above me and I jolted awake. FullSizeRender 358 The sun was peaking in through the curtains and the tropics were alive with noise. I took in everything I could make sense of. The bed I laid in last night after arriving; the bedside table I set my phone on just before I fell asleep; the bamboo floor I was guided along by flashlight; the door that my aunt and uncle hugged me at before wishing me goodnight. Last night wasn’t just a dream, this adventure had truly begun.

The ceiling creaked again as morning conversation began to fill the floor above me. I wiggled myself out of bed, took a few necessary Snapchats, and took a good look at myself in the bamboo-framed mirror that hung in the bathroom.

“Here we go,” I said quietly, “you can do this.”

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The weeks leading up to the trip had been mostly filled with anxiety. I’m a stickler for schedules and I thrive on details and organization. I also had a lot going on; commitments and responsibilities I felt uncomfortable putting on hold. But as the trip began to take shape, quickly morphing from a dream to an idea to a reality, I realized I had to leave both quandaries behind. So, as I slipped into the flip-flops I left outside the door and made my way down the sandy path that looped around to the “lanai” or living room, I took a deep breath, knowing I was heading straight into the mouth of the unknown.

“Good morning,” I said timidly. Heads turned and smiled shyly. Some I recognized, some I didn’t. I walked with an outstretched hand around the room, officially meeting the people I’d spend the next seven days with.

“Are you ready for your first adventure?” David, Alison’s dad, said to us. We all nodded, some more confidently than others, then we retreated back to our rooms to change.

“This way,” David said when we were all ready. He led us out the front gate and down to the lava rock that lined the coast. “Watch your step.”

For the next 40 minutes or so, we made our way along the rocks. Some slippery, some dry, some soft and warm and some tough and dangerous. David explained the two different types of lava, “pahoehoe” which was smooth, and “aa” which was rough and jagged.

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“You know how aa got its name, right? It’s because when you walk on it with bare feet you go ‘ah! ah!’” (This was a joke, but it made it very easy to identify the difference between the two)

The walk was beautiful. Though I’d forgotten my camera, I took in the views with wonder and awe. A few times I had to stop and just absorb it all as I couldn’t help the overwhelming, “we are so not in Kansas anymore” moments that kept coming with every turn.

When we came to a stop, my dad immediately leaned in to me. “Oh boy,” he said, his voice laced with nerves. I looked up at him with confused eyes. “I think I know what we’re doing here,” he said with a deep breath. I shook my head, but before I could ask, Alison was standing in front of us with a bright smile.

“Alright, guys!” she said. I took a big gulp of my water and sat down to listen. “In life,” she continued, “we are often required to take risks to get what we want and to make our dreams come true. Sometimes we just have to jump.”

She gestured her head over to the cliff that lie about 50 feet from us, then waggled her eyebrows. I sat, silent and stunned, then looked over the edge.
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Yeah, no.

No. No. No.

I see what you did there, but no.

I will not be jumping off any cliffs. I will not be plummeting to my death today. I appreciate the life lesson and physical manifestation of bravery, but no. I’m going to sit right here, I’ll see you all when(/if) you get back.

“Okay, Kim, you’re next!”

“Go Kim!”

“You got this!”

The voices were coming from all around me. Some behind me, others in the water below me. I smiled shyly, politely declining…but then at some point I stood up, and at another I took off my bathing suit cover and shoes. Suddenly I was looking down at my sister in the water, my toes curled at the edge, eyes shifting in and out of focus. I had know idea how many feet lay between me and the water, the only measurement I could figure was that I was high.

I took a deep breath.

“Ready?” David said, his eye on the water, watching for the perfect moment. “Go!”

Without giving myself any more time to think, I jumped. A few seconds later, I was in the water, alive, refreshed, courageous. I looked up at the cliff, then I looked down at my tattoo and smiled. Who knew you could climb a mountain by jumping off a cliff?

After a quick climb up and a slow walk back, we took a seat on the beach, did a few “get to know you” exercises, then arrived back at the house to enjoy a nice breakfast together. Later that day we met back in the lanai to do some yoga, then walked back out along the lava rocks to watch the sunset.

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And as our first full day in Hawaii came to a close, I took a long, deep breath. For even though the nerves still sat beneath the surface of my skin, I had a new kind of bravery that was beginning to take shape. If I knew I could jump, maybe I could do anything.

2018 Olympics Time Capsule Blog

As I have mentioned before (possibly more times than I’ve realized), I love the Olympics.

LOVE.

So much so that once every two years I repeatedly say, “no, I can’t hang out today—or any day for the next two weeks—because I’m inside watching every single minute of Olympic coverage I can absorb.” (Undoubtedly while wearing something patriotic and tossing around the idea of body paint.) So when I realized that the 2018 Olympics are now only about 200 days away—which is considered close in my die-hard fan book—you can imagine I was more than a little excited.

As I was writing this blog post, I was constantly looking up how many hours, minutes, and seconds were left until Opening Ceremonies, and nerded out each time another minute ticked off the clock. I could picture myself there, flashing forward through all these upcoming days, to being on my couch, wearing my favorite USA hat, cheering for my fellow countrymen.

I. was. ready.

But then I started thinking.

You see, I have this thing about time. And I say thing because I’ve never really figured out another way to describe it. I just seem to notice how fast it moves. You know how parents always say, “it’ll be here before you know it?” I think about that all. the. time. Both for things I’m looking forward to, and for things I can’t wait to be over.

Just think, I’ll tell myself, before you know it, you’ll be in a different moment, passed this one, and you’ll wonder where all the time went.

And it’s always true.

I guess what I’m saying is, I’ve learned to respect time.

What does this have to do with the Olympics? Well, I figured since they are so close, yet so far, yet going to be here in a blink, I thought I’d show you just how fast time moves, in quite arguably the best way possible: A time capsule…blog! A blog time capsule! A time blog-sule! Whatever a cool word for it could be!

How will we do this, you ask? We can’t really bury a blog and then dig it up later. Are we actually going to time travel? Is this the part where Doc comes out and we all get to wear puffy red vests and Nike sneakers and defy science?

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Unfortunately, no. BUT, we are going to talk to our future selves, using the super cool *internet machine.*

You see, there is this website called FutureMe.Org, which I found a while back when I was preparing to study abroad in Australia. It allows you to write a letter to your future self, available to be received on any day you choose. Before my semester in Australia, I asked my future self questions about the trip, made predictions on how I was feeling afterwards, and told myself a really terrible joke that still made me laugh 5 months later. Cool, right?

*assumes everyone nods in amazement*

Okay, so, this is how our time blog-sule will work:

  1. Go to FutureMe.org
  2. Fill in your email address & put “2018 Olympics Time Blog-sule!” (because we don’t shy away from cheese here) as the subject line.
  3. Copy and paste the questions below into “Your Letter”
    1. What day is it?
    2. What’s the weather like outside?
    3. What did you do today?
    4. What’s your favorite song right now?
    5. What’s the most recent movie you’ve seen?
    6. Who did you last text and what did you say?
    7. What is your biggest goal right now?
    8. What are you most excited about?
    9. What are you most worried about?
    10. Tell yourself a really bad joke.
  4. Answer each question
  5. Set your “Deliver on” date to February 8th, 2018 (that’s the day before Opening Ceremonies)
  6. Click “Send to the Future!”

Note: It will ask you to verify your email before it “officially” sends, so after you click “Send to the Future!” go to your email and click the verification link to make sure your letter officially enters the internet machine!

Note #2: After you click that link, it will take you to a page that tries to get you to donate money. You do not have to donate money. If you want to, you can, I’m sure the lovely people at FutureMe would appreciate your generosity, but otherwise just click strategically tiny “no thanks” link right below the payment options. 

I sent in my blog-sule yesterday and honestly CANNOT wait. I am such a nerd for this kind of stuff. Just think of all the things that are going to happen that we don’t know yet! Won’t it be weird to look back knowing there was a time before they happened?

*pauses writing blog post to have a 15 minute mind blown zone out session*

Once I get my email (in the future!) I’ll write a reaction post, and hopefully get to hear about some of yours, and then we can all collectively exclamation point about how fast everything went and how everything is the same and different at the same time and oh my gosh is it the future yet?

2017 Goals Check In (#2)

The fact that we are already one week into July has me feeling a little bit like this:

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This always seems to happen. One minute you’re ringing in the New Year, the next you’re…ringing in the New Year. Everything—except lines at the DMV, clocks in an office building, and lethargic pedestrians—moves so fast! This year especially seems to be moving quick because I have so many goals I’m trying to keep track of.

Let me tell ya, if you ever want to live a year in fast forward, set a list of specific goals for yourself and watch the time fly by. Sure, it’s a little bit frightening, but it’s also exciting, because alongside all that time travel is a growing list of accomplishments.

Full disclosure: since my last goal update post I did make a spreadsheet to better aid me in my quest of tracking my progress. In other words, over the last three months I’ve leveled up in nerd. #noshame

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1) See Star Wars

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 37.50%

That’s right, I’m down to the .5%, people! You thought I was kidding about the whole spreadsheet thing, didn’t you? You should know me better than that by now. Anyways, yes, I have watched the first three Star Wars movies—and by first three I mean Episodes 4, 5 & 6, because I was told to watch them in order of release date, not episode number—and you can read all about that experience here, here, and here. Did I like them, you ask? Well, let’s just say there’s a C3P0 keychain in my Amazon cart and a Death Star waffle maker on my wish list.

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2) See 5 WLRA’s

1st Quarter Progress: 3/5 (60%)

Current Progress: 3/5 (60%)

I was pleasantly surprised by how well I attacked this quest at the beginning of the year. My sister and I actually worked two WRLA’s into our previously planned road trip earlier this year which ended up being 100% worth it. As of now, I have a few oversized sites in mind to top off this year and am currently in the process of making that happen.

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3) Try this jean rug DIY

1st Quarter Progress: 20%

Current Progress: 20%

This has been kind of a daunting task all its own because, seeing as it’s a project that involves sewing, I have to, you know, learn to sew. And while sewing has been on my to-do list for quite some time—my family was even so generous as to buy me a sewing machine for my birthday last year—I’m still rather terrified I’ll end up sewing my lip to something. HOWEVER, this shall not deter me.

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4) Run 1,000 miles

1st Quarter Progress: 233.84 miles (23%)

Current Progress: 474.1 miles (47.42%)

After taking an entire week off during my vacation in March, I arrived home to find myself terrifyingly far behind schedule. To make matters worse, in that short amount of time, I somehow managed to fall slightly out of shape, so my first run back was frustratingly hard. As a result, I spent many a late night thinking about quitting. A part of me wondered if maybe I should just call it a wash and try again another year. But the other part of me—the competitive, can’t stop, won’t stop part of me—said “hell no.” So, after gaining very little ground in April, I welcomed May with open and determined arms. I was going to catch up and I was going to start immediately. That month, I ran 22 out 31 days, totaling just under 100 miles. It was by far the hardest month so far, but at the same time, the most beneficial. I’m more motivated than ever to accomplish this crazy goal I’ve set and have found myself more courageous and daring in my running than ever before. Plus, with the 500-mile mark right around the corner, I can already taste that Heisman.

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5) Complete The Ultimate Fit Bit Week

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Yeah, nope. Still haven’t gotten around to this one.

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6) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 40%

With the arrival of summer, and the beginning of a new outreach at my church, I was able to find a couple great opportunities to volunteer over the past couple months and already have a few more penciled in for the next couple months, which makes my heart happy. I always forget how rewarding volunteering is until I get back in the groove of it, then I want to volunteer everywhere all at once! In case you’re interested, the organizations I’ve worked with so far are Children’s Hunger Fund and Food Forward. I believe Food Forward only has locations in California, but Children’s Hunger Fund has a few branches across the country, so if you can find one near you, I highly recommend looking up opportunities to volunteer. Also, if you have any places you love to volunteer, I’d love to hear about them!

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7) Go to a sporting event of “every” kind (i.e. baseball, football, hockey, basketball, & soccer)

1st Quarter Progress: 1/5 (20%)

Current Progress: 1/5 (20%)

As I stated in the first progress post, I haven’t really had the opportunity to make progress on this one because most of the sports are out of season. However, I do have a soccer game on the calendar for July and football, hockey, and basketball will all be back in the fall.

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8) Try every class at the gym

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Good news! My gym has finally resumed its workout classes. Thus, I can finally start making some progress on this goal a.k.a probably writing posts about how hard/painful the workout classes are. Stay tuned for whiny rants about how my fingers feel like they’re made of glass and how my legs have forgotten how to be legs.

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9) Do The Princess Diaries painting

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Yeah, so, another goal full of goose eggs for me here. However, while I’ve made no progress on the actual painting, I have garnered some interest from friends who want to participate. So, if you happen to see a group of people throwing darts at easels, don’t worry, it’s just me and my friends achieving.

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10) Find and try the “Best of” restaurants in LA

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Honestly, I have no explanation for why I’ve made no progress on this one. I mean, it’s a goal that involves FOOD. *shakes head in shame*

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11) Watch every film that has ever won Best Picture

1st Quarter Progress: 6/89 (6%)

Current Progress: 11/89 (12.36%)

Fun fact: Netflix DVD (who is not sponsoring me, but totally should) has pretty much every movie ever, so to make progress on this goal, I recently upgraded my subscription and it’s been great. My mailbox has been pleasantly surprised to receive little red envelopes containing musicals and romantic drama-dies from the 40s and I look forward to working my way up to present day Oscar winners.

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12) Learn to Longboard

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

The to-do list on this one remains firm:

1) Buy a helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads

2) Wear aforementioned safety apparel with pride

3) Lose all inhibitions.

When I’ve managed to do all three, I’ll have some progress (and probably bruises) to update you on.

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13) Learn to do a headband braid

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 40%

I’ve watched this tutorial on YouTube a few times and have been working to improve my skills gradually. I expect it will still take me a solid while to get it, but at least I understand the concept now. I used to think it was 100% impossible unless you had three arms.

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14) Reach the 100,000-mile mark on my car

1st Quarter Progress: 99,720 miles (99%)

Current Progress: 100%

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THAT’S RIGHT! For those of you keeping track at home, you can officially check off #14. I wrote a whole post about my car, Jeffrey’s, big day which you can read here.

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15) Do a bar/pub crawl

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

There appears to be an inkling of a plan for this one to happen around my birthday. Stay tuned.

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16) Sing Karaoke

Current Progress: Complete!

Much to the surprise of my pre-2017 self, I’ve actually done karaoke 3 separate times now, all of which have been about 100 times more fun than I ever thought karaoke could be. That being said, while I’d never pressure anyone into doing something they don’t want to do, I highly recommend you give karaoke a shot. There are few things more freeing than belting out a Backstreet Boys song, knowing you’re hitting exactly zero notes, and yet not caring one bit.

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17) Complete Project Lightbulb

Current Progress: Same as Quarter One.

Due to scheduling/financial conflicts, it appears as though the trip that coincides with this project will not be able to take place until next year, thus preventing the goal in its original form from being accomplished. However, I’m planning on shifting it a bit, so as not to punish myself over unforeseen circumstances.  I figure, if we get the whole trip planned to the tee, with everything set and ready to book, if not booked for 2018, I’d call that a success in its own right.

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Adding all of that together, it comes out to about 29% complete. Which is kind of disappointing to look at, especially since it’s only 10% more than the first quarter. HOWEVER, I’ve done more planning and organizing in this second quarter than I did in the first, which has put me on a much better looking path for the second half of this year. So stay tuned folks! These next few months are going to be crazy. See you in September!

Thoughts I Had While Watching Star Wars For the First Time: Episode IV

As some of you may know, one of my goals this year is to watch all of the Star Wars films for the first time.

Yes. The first time.

*pauses for impending judgment*

Recently I finished the original three films (i.e. Episodes 4, 5 & 6) and was pleasantly surprised by how good they were and ultimately shocked that I knew very few spoilers.

I watched the films with some friends who have already seen them, and even though they weren’t quite on my level—a.k.a they weren’t gasping or oohing or aww-ing because they already knew what was coming—they seemed genuinely amused by watching me experience the phenomenon for the first time.

After each film, they looked at me with questioning eyes: Sooooo?? What did you think? And while I always gave the same answer: I’m obsessed, the truth was I had a lot of thoughts. I figured most of them were thoughts everyone had while watching the movies for the first time, but others I expected were unique to me and my incredibly stalled viewing.

You figure I’ve seen mention of Star Wars my entire life, but never got any of the inside jokes. And going into Episode IV: A New Hope—because I’d been told the true way to watch the films is 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 7, Rogue One—the only thing I knew was that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. Why that was a big deal, I had no idea.

Oh, and the only reason I even knew who Luke and Darth Vader were (besides the constantly circulated memorabilia) was because of the Star Wars gummies my coworker’s 5 year old son, Maddox, used bring as part of his lunch. On days he visited, he would lay them out and name them for me: Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, C-3P0, Yoda and R2-D2, and I’d nod, ashamed I had nothing to contribute to the conversation. But alas, now I do. And since my mind can get quite chatty, I’m going to split this post into three (and eventually more) parts. First off, Episode IV: A New Hope

  • Ah! The music!
  • The moving font!
  • We’re really doing this!
  • Okay, let’s read up on this storyline. Where are we? Who are we rooting for/fighting against?
  • Got it. We’re the rebels.
  • Ah, Carrie Fisher—I mean Princess Leia—finally I’ve met you. I’m sorry it took me so long.
  • Darth Vader!
  • Is that James Earl Jones?
  • Is he Darth Vader?
  • Is he in the suit?
  • *asks friends and they shake their heads no*
  • Then who’s in the suit? Who’s doing all the physical labor inside that black monstrosity and not getting any credit? Who’s in there?
  • *friends stay quiet, insinuating I should just keep watching*
  • C-3P0! R2! I know you! I’ve seen your gummies.
  • Maddox loves you most, C3-P0, though he calls you, “see-free-pee-ohh.”
  • Luke! I just met your dad back there. But I’m not supposed to know that yet. Who’s this other guy you’re with?
  • Ben Kenobi? Wait, that sounds familiar…
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi! That’s right. I’ve heard of you too. Though I always thought your name was Obi-One. My bad, Kenobi. Can I call you Kenobi? Has anyone ever called you Kenobi Bryant?
  • Ahh yes, “The Force.” The infamous “force.” Let’s learn about it and see why everyone always says it’s with me.
  • Luke! Kenobs knows your dad! Oh…but wait he’s saying Darth Vader killed your dad. That’s a fib Ken-obgyn. Even I know that.
  • Okay, I don’t know if I 100% trust this guy.
  • Hmmm. Well played Kenobi Beef. You tell the kid a lie and then you hand him a lightsaber. I’d be tempted to believe you too. But what about those nice people you were with before, Luke?
  • Okay, never mind. Those nice people are dead.
  • Alright, I guess we’re trusting this guy. Let’s regroup and go find that princess from R2’s hologram video broadcast…thing.
  • HEYO. Who knew Harrison Ford was so handsome in the 70s?
  • And he owns The Millennium Falcon? Sorry Luke, my eyes be wanderin’.
  • Chewbacca!
  • Okay, Jabba the Hutt is disgusting.
  • Seriously, top 10 grossest dudes I’ve ever seen.
  • Woah, okay, back to the Death Star.
  • I think I saw a Death Star waffle maker once.
  • Don’t tell Darth anything Leia!
  • Oh. Okay. Darth means business. He’s all, “help me find who I’m looking for” and Leia’s like, “No,” and he’s like, “but I’ll blow up your planet!” and she’s like, “I’m loyal to the cause but protective of my people so okay, I’ll slip you the info,” and he’s all, “thanks, chickie, but I’m still blowin’ up your planet. Bye.” The dude’s dark.
  • Yeah, sorry Luke & the gang, about Princess Leia’s planet…it’s not there anymore.
  • And now you’re captured. I really should have warned you sooner. That’s my bad.
  • Okay, Obi-Wan’s going in alone. Just stay safe guys.
  • Or, you know, go in dressed as Stormtroopers to rescue the Princess.
  • Wait, isn’t Luke…like…related to Leia…or something? I feel like I heard that somewhere. I DON’T THINK YOU SHOULD GET TOO INVESTED IN THIS LUKE.
  • Okay, we got the princess—who you should probably (almost 100% definitely) not fall for, Luke—and now we’re stuck in an intergalactic garbage can. Just your average day here in space, I guess.
  • R2! C-3P0! Deactivate the auto-garbage muncher!
  • I realize that since there are two more movies after this one that it’s highly unlikely any of these three die via trashcan, but it’s still very stressful!
  • Okay, thank goodness, everyone is safe.
  • Back to Obi-Wonton dipped in soy sauce.
  • He’s fighting Darth!
  • He’s losing to Darth!
  • He’s dead!
  • Obi-Wan Kenobster is dead!
  • WHAT?!
  • Poor Luke. Aside from getting a lightsaber, this has really been a rough couple of days for the guy.
  • Oh! We have a chance to fight back!
  • Are you sure you’re ready for this Luke?
  • Wait, Harrison, you can’t leave. Don’t tell me you just leave after this movie. That can’t be a thing. No, I don’t believe it. You’re totally going to Grinch yourself a heart and join this misfit crew, aren’t you?
  • Okay, Luke, I don’t want to put any pressure on you, but all of your friends are dying and the fate of the universe is on your shoulders.
  • Obi-Wanna Zig-A-Zig-Ahh is that you? Are you communicating with Luke via The Force? Is that what’s happening? How do I subscribe to that email list? Is there an app for this yet?
  • Harrison! I mean Han! I knew you’d come back!
  • Go Luke!
  • We win!

Summer 2017 Charity Walks

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

I’ll admit it, I have.

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

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

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

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Relay for Life

Who you’re walking for: American Cancer Society

Distance: varies

Find more information here

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Light the Night

Who you’re walking for: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Distance: About 3 miles

Find more information here

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Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Who you’re walking for: Alzheimer’s Association

Distance: 2-3 miles

Find more information here

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AIDs Walk

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

Distance: 6.2 miles (a 10k course)

Find more information here

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Strut Your Mutt

Who you’re walking for: Best Friends Animal Society

Distance: varies

Find more information here

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March of Dimes

Who you’re walking for: March of Dimes Foundation

Distance: About 3 miles

Find more information here

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Walk for Wishes

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

Distance: 3.1 miles (5k course)

Find more information here

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Walk MS

Who you’re walking for: National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Distance: 1-3 miles

Find more information here

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Buddy Walk

Who you’re walking for: National Down Syndrome Society

Distance: varies based on location

Find more information here

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Breast Cancer 3-day

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

Distance: 60 miles over 3 days

Find more information here

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

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

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

Why the Internet Can Be Good (RE: Alex Rayfiel)

The other day as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a link a friend posted that caught my eye. It had a picture of a boy named Alex, who I’d gone to high school with, attached to an article whose title didn’t quite register until after I clicked it.

When the page loaded, my face went white. Alex was sick. Recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His family had created a donation page in the hope of raising money for a radical new treatment in Israel. I read through the story his wife posted, aching for the two of them and their newly born daughter. It all sounded so completely unfair.

Now, I’d never known this guy. We’d gone to high school together for four years, and I’d seen him around from time to time, but never got to know him. In fact, I only met him once in a brief introduction from a mutual friend at our shared college. But as I read the story about the turn his life has suddenly taken, I realized I remembered him, and how, even in our lack of interaction, he’d left a mark on me.

High school is tough for everyone, often in different ways, and while I wouldn’t say I had a terrible experience, I also wouldn’t volunteer to do it all over again. I was a quiet, reserved student who stuck to what she knew and rarely felt comfortable in her own skin. That being said, Alex made me laugh.

He and his friends had participated in the talent show as the “Finger Flippers” which became legendary amongst our senior class. And during our senior luncheon, they created a video that discussed which of our classmates had celebrity lookalikes. I remember sitting at the back table, nervous as always, counting down the days until I graduated. I hadn’t been sat next to any of my friends, and I was internally apologizing to the people around me for not being more interesting. But then the lights went down and the video started, and I laughed through the whole thing. It was a genuine laugh, the kind that makes you feel lighter, and as I looked around the room at my classmates who felt the same, I felt included. Afterwards, when Alex and his friends mentioned they had plans to post the video to YouTube I took note, excited to have something positive to look back on in the future. I’d forgotten about the video over all these years, and only found it when I searched his name. When I watched it again however, it still gave me that good feeling.

So as I read through his story and then through some of the comments, I couldn’t help but feel drawn to donate, not only because it was the right thing to do, but because it felt like a way I could say thank you for giving me those moments of freedom all those years ago. And even more, allow me the opportunity to be a part of offering him the chance to experience a moment of freedom in the future. Be it through minor progress, or radical recovery.

This is the good part about the Internet. For amongst all the drama and fake personas, there also lie small bursts of goodness. There are chances to read stories of hope and resilience, chances to reconnect with old friends and family, and sometimes, chances to lend a hand to a near stranger. And so, Alex Rayfiel, while we may remain essentially strangers, I hope you know I’m praying for you, and that I’m grateful for what you gave me all those years ago, even if you had no idea. I wish you and your family all the best, and I hope the next time I find you in my Facebook feed, it will be to inform me that you’re on the road to recovery.

If you want to help Alex, you can find his donation page here.

Congratulations & Thanks, Little Brother

Yesterday my little brother graduated high school.

*takes a moment to process this*

At 5 o’clock, the school staff ushered us in single file. I walked passed smiling siblings and proud fathers and anxious mothers; aunts and uncles and cousins and teachers; girlfriends and boyfriends and best friends. I knew almost none of them, and yet I knew how they felt when they woke up in the morning, and I knew how they felt walking in the school gates that afternoon. We all shared the same look in our eyes. We all had those smiles that were hard to suppress. We were all so proud.

For me, it was strange more than emotional. As the ceremony started and tissues were shuffled through the audience, I couldn’t help but sit silent, thinking. How is it, I thought, How is it that the infant who used to laugh when I tickled him, the toddler who used to call me “Supergirl”, the boy who used to wake up early to watch me play video games on Saturday mornings, and the teenager who used to ask me for a ride to karate class, how is it that they’d all grown up into this man that stood before me in a cap and gown? How had they become someone I look up to, that makes me laugh, that is my own personal superhero?

As the name of each student began to be called, cheers came in bursts around the audience. Families and friends stood and shouted, hoping to showcase their pride and spread it outward. We were no different. When my brother’s name was called we waved our fists and wooed our “woos”, hoping to let my brother know we were proud of him, and to let the crowd he was ours. And as dozens of other families followed suit, I began to realize why I didn’t feel sad so much as dizzy.

Yes, it was crazy to think that my baby brother, the boy who, over the years, has led people to believe he was my son (which we took advantage of and pulled pranks), my stepbrother (which made no sense because we are essentially the same human), and—after a colossal growth spurt—my boyfriend (which, ew), this boy was graduating high school and could now legally drive, vote, and serve jury duty. Yes, this was off-putting, but not sad. For I had known the baby who grew into a boy who grew into a teenager and then into a man, and seeing him take this next step forward was like accepting an invitation to meet the man he will soon become.

So as the caps began to fly, my heart began to swell. The dizziness had been overtaken by anticipation. I walked through the crowd to find my brother and gave him a big hug, anxious to tell him of all the things I know he’s yet to accomplish. I wished him “congratulations” but what I really meant was “thank you.” Thank you for letting me be a part of your world, and thank you for offering me a front row seat to watch you conquer it. May the future only hold good things for you, crazy things, preferably things that include pizza and In N Out Burger. May you always be brave enough to be yourself and kind enough to let others do the same. May you never stop letting me call you Bub, and may we never stop taking this picture.

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Dear High School Students,

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

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

But that was only the half of it.

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

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