happy new year

5 Things We Don’t Have to Do (List-cember #9)

I feel like a lot of end of year posts tell of things you did, and New Year’s posts tell of things you want to do or think you should. But for this last List-cember post, I wanted to share five things we don’t have to do—even though the world suggests we should.

There are so many good things in this world. So many good people, good hearts, good intentions and good words, but they are so often shoved into the background by greed, selfishness, jealousy, pride and fear—many of which are celebrated or encouraged—intentionally or not—by and on social media.

So, as we reflect on the year we’ve just finished and look forward into the year we have ahead, let’s try and remember that we don’t have to do these things, even if they seem easy, popular or what everyone else is doing.

Also, please hear me when I say that I don’t write this post from a motherly, all knowing, “perfect” perspective. I am just as guilty of these things as anyone else, and I write this as a letter to myself as well as anyone else who might come across it.

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1) Take things personally

Have you ever been driving on the freeway and wanted to change lanes but the person next to you is either going too slow, too fast, or for whatever reason, just won’t let you over, so you are FUMING, spewing words of hate at this person for being a terrible, selfish driver? Have you ever done so without turning on your blinker, thus not giving the person next to you any reason to know anything about your desire/need to change lanes, thus making them not a selfish, clueless idiot, but just an uninformed driver who is simply trying to get to their destination just like you?

I saw a post on Twitter a while back where a girl shared that one of the most valuable things her therapist ever told her was: “Not everything is about you.” While this seemed obvious at first, I realized how often I too assume this—as a driver or otherwise. Not necessarily in a selfish way, but in an anxious one that suggests, somehow, that everything everyone is doing is targeted at me—whether that be in a positive or negative way.

This is not necessarily surprising, as digital media has made us all believe we are the center of the universe. Algorithms are designed to cater to our needs and technology has been created to satisfy our every whim within seconds. As a result, I think we tend to forget that we aren’t the center of the universe. That there are opinions, perspectives and values that are different than ours—will always be different than ours—and those differences aren’t an attack on us, but rather a truth for someone else.

Don’t get me wrong, our values are important. Removing toxic people and things from your life is important. Unfollowing and/or muting friends and family members that only bring you frustration is important. Fighting for what you believe in is important. But encouraging progress and community by holding room for healthy conversations between opposing perspectives, rather than submitting to the taught behavior of blocking and ignoring all opinions and people that don’t agree with or celebrate you, is one of the most important things we can do right now.

Take a minute. Turn on your blinker and look out for others’. Remember that the things people say and the opinions they hold are built on more than just impulsivity. We are all products of our unique upbringings, and our values are defined by our core experiences. Your way of living is not the only way. So while you shouldn’t turn a blind eye to those blatantly trying to belittle or destroy your or others’ way of life, you also shouldn’t always assume that someone else’s way of life is a direct attack, slight, or even remotely related to or taking concern with yours. It is not always about you, or me, or any single person. Life was given to and made for all of us, and we can all make the world a better place by sharing our unique perspectives and listening to those of others.

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2) Have the last word

The idea of the “clap back”—of having a good retort to an insult or sarcastic comment—has become very popular online. People love to see the drama, to see the perfectly worded arguments and digital slaps to the face. I get it. I’ve tuned in to the drama and I understand wanting to be the smartest, wittiest or toughest. It can give you confidence, it can make you feel like the bigger person. But a lot of the time, it just drags you down.

Sometimes you might say something you don’t mean, just because you were trying so hard not to be the person who was left speechless or proved wrong. Sometimes you set yourself up for more hurt than the comment is worth. Sometimes you forget you can just let things go.

You can let the argument end, you can release the negativity associated with the situation. You can be the better person and realize that, maybe it doesn’t serve you to continue to try say the most hurtful, most clever, or most sarcastic thing. A lot can be said with silence. With not giving in to the invitation to fight or tear down.

Plus, the thing about drama is there will always be more, and people will always move on to the next big thing. But you, me, we are all left with the consequences of our actions, of our “last words.” So maybe sometimes we don’t throw that final punch, maybe we react with kindness, or maybe we say nothing at all.  

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3) Lean on drama for conversation

I am someone who at times is self-conscious about lulls in conversations. I often feel very responsible for keeping conversations going and read awkward silences as a fault or failure of mine. As a result, sometimes when I can’t think of anything else to say, my mind will reach for details that I’ve seen online or heard in passing conversation. Rumors beg to be spread in those moments, it’s what keeps them alive. But maybe next time you catch yourself without an obvious next topic of conversation, you don’t turn to the gossip and drama of other people’s lives. Maybe you just relax into a moment of thought. Maybe you get a little vulnerable and share something about your own life that you’ve never shared before. Maybe we stop spreading (or starting) negativity or judgement just to protect ourselves from discomfort or awkwardness.

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4) Make sense to everyone

2021 was a big year of getting to know myself. I spent a lot of time alone, a lot of time experiencing my own company and everything that entails. I got to know what I like and don’t like without the context, and thus the opinions or judgements of other people. Sometimes it was magical, sometimes it was terrifying and lonely. Because when you really get to know yourself, you learn who you truly are, and in understanding and accepting that person, it becomes harder and harder to present anyone else to others. And sometimes, when you present your truest self to others, it doesn’t make sense to them.

But that’s okay.

Your likes, dislikes, values, opinions, quirks and choices will not always make sense to everyone—and sometimes won’t make sense to anyone but you. But you are the only person living your life, so when it comes down to it, the only person you should make sense to is you.

The term “relatable” has become so enamored and sought after. We want other people to relate to and understand us, especially in our most vulnerable places. But it often takes someone stepping outside the box of relatability to share something actually relatable—even if it’s only to a select few people.

So let’s stop worrying about making sense to every person we meet—or every person we love. Let’s just learn who we are in our most honest states, and start introducing those people to the world.

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5) Witch Hunt

I get that the world has a lot of flaws, and I agree that some of them are unforgivable. I believe that there are people who abuse their power, manipulate others, commit unimaginable crimes, and treat people as less than human. There are people who need to be taken down, laws that need to be changed, directions and attitudes in the public that need to be adjusted and corrected. But waiting in the wings, listening with ears that only aim to cancel and condemn, and borderline hoping that someone makes a mistake solely so you can put them in their place—namely on video or in the spotlight of the social media comment section—does not actually do the world any good.

We live in a world that thrives off of cancel culture. Everyone claims to be furthering a greater cause, when most people are really just screaming at each other from opposing sides of an argument. We’ve stopped looking for ways to connect with each other and instead obsess over ways to destroy each other. We dig into each other’s pasts, unwilling to take notice of whether previous opinions, comments or mistakes have led us to become better, more productive, more educated human beings. We negate all progress and feed only on persecution, convinced that the destruction of bad people will result in the flourishment of good people. But we forget how much life goes into forming an opinion or person, and how far a simple redirection can go. How far a story can go. How far our vulnerability, our willingness to explain where we stand and why we stand there, can go.

So don’t write people off after one mistake. Don’t witch hunt. Don’t feed off of the failure of others. Communicate, encourage, and redirect. Prioritize community over cancellation.

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Happy New Year, y’all. May we take extra time and care to make this year as bright as possible, for as many as possible.

Wishing only good things for you, see you in 2022!


Check out more List-cember posts here.

My Favorite Moments of 2019 (List-cember #9)

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it approximately 600,000 times: this year was busy!

But within the confines of our crazy calendar, there were so many good moments. And I don’t just mean big, fancy moments. Some of my favorite parts of this year were the small but meaningful bursts of joy. The cozy, perfect moments that I’ll undoubtedly be thinking about when that ball drops tomorrow at midnight.

For me, these were those moments:

1) Meeting Lyra

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I have long been afraid of holding babies. They are just so fragile and so perfect and so little, and the thought of holding something so important in my hands (especially when it is not even my something) has always terrified me. But in January of this year, one of my lifelong friends had a baby, and she encouraged me to overcome that fear when met her little one for the first time in the hospital. That moment inspired me to write this blog post and I will remember it forever.

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2) A Ball at Spring Training

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My family went to Spring Training in March for the first time this year (which you can read about here.) and easily one of my favorite parts of the trip and of the year was when my friend Mel, after trying for innings on end, got a baseball from one of the players. Not only was it a joyous celebration of perseverance, but the resulting footage includes a look of fuming jealousy from her neighboring fan, which makes for an all around perfect video.

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3) Finishing the Marathon

There are many moments of the marathon that I would deem “defining,” but perhaps my favorite was crossing that finish line and seeing my 6 foot 2 brother standing among the crowd. I was so proud and relieved to be finished, and seeing a familiar face to welcome me to the otherside of that journey was truly great.

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4) Mom Scores a Goal

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Some of the best memories I have of my family are the slow, ordinary days where we are just spending time together, which is why this moment from May stands out. My mom, sister and I had gone to visit my cousin Brittney and her family in Arkansas, and we spent one afternoon sitting outside, drawing in sidewalk chalk, and playing soccer. At one point we set up a challenge between my mom and my little cousin Landon. While Landon won in the end, the crowd (of me, Natalee, Brittney, and baby Nora) went wild for this goal scored by my mom.

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5) A Circular Celebration

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In June my family got the opportunity to go to Europe, and among the many jaw dropping, awe inspiring moments of that trip, was this one. My cousin Taryn (which, if you didn’t read the blog I wrote about our trip, is the whole reason we went) finished writing a long tedious essay that would complete her study abroad program, and we did what any family would do when they’re in England and about to head to dinner but need to take a moment or two to celebrate this accomplishment: we formed a circle around her and and jumped up and down, chanting, “We are proud of you, say we are proud of you! Hey! Hey! Hey!”

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6) That Eiffel Tower Sparkle

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Upon arriving in Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time, my most prominent and low key embarrassing thought was, “oh my gosh, the Eiffel Tower is actually real.” It’s not that I thought we’d been lied to all this time, but the realization that I was really, truly seeing it in person was so unbelievable that I was having trouble accepting it all as reality. This shock and awe only multiplied as we sat on the grass in front of the tower and watched as the sun set, the tower glowed gold, and then started to sparkle.

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7) Axe throwing in Vegas

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For my brother’s 21st birthday, a group of us went to Vegas with a list of things we were looking to accomplish in order to properly celebrate his milestone. Among the items on that list was throwing axes. After almost an hour of learning and practicing, we decided  to document our newfound skills, and showcase our ability to hit the target. What makes this moment one of my favorites, is that the video recording is almost four minutes long, (three of which we fail miserably) but when we finally do all hit the target at once, we all threw our arms up and yelled, “first try!”

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8) You’ve Got Ice Cream

About two years ago, on a visit to Arkansas with my mom and sister, I discovered the magic of Blue Bell ice cream. Upon arriving home however, I was very disappointed to discover that it is not sold in California. But for my 29th birthday, I was floored to find a box from Blue Bell waiting for me. My parents had all of my favorite flavors (including the holy grail, Salted Caramel Cookie) shipped to me and it. was. EPIC.

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9) Pop the champagne

Last year my cousin Cory married my now cousin Amanda, and this year they were able to purchase their first house! I was so happy and honored to be there when they popped champagne in their living room, that at the time had little more than a table and some folding chairs, but is now a beautiful, cozy home.

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10) The Dodgers Take Game 3

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For a Dodger fan, the 2019 playoffs were rough to say the least. But before we had our hearts broken, we had our hopes up, and on the night of Game 3, me, my sister, my cousin Taryn, and my best friend Allison were walking into a concert at the Honda Center as the Dodgers entered the 7th inning. As we made our way to our seats, I was streaming the game through the TBS app on my phone, which I’d downloaded while waiting in line, and we asked multiple employees if they could turn on the game, all of whom turned us down. So as we went to the 8th inning and then the 9th, the four of us stood out in the hallway, crowded around my phone to watch us close out a victory.

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11) The Frozen North Lake

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In November, my family made one of our annual trips to Bishop to squeeze in a weekend of fishing before the season closed. On the Saturday of the weekend we were there, we parked our car and hiked in to one of our favorite fishing spots, only to find the lake frozen solid. While this obviously prevented us from fishing, it did little to deter our fun. We spent a solid half hour throwing loose pieces of ice onto the lake and watching them shatter and glide across its surface.

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12) Sending “The Hulk”

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On the same trip to Bishop, my brother, who is an avid rock climber, had his sights on a boulder at Happy Boulders known as “The Hulk.” After spending a few hours attempting the climb on Friday, he was determined to return, so on Sunday afternoon, me, him and my sister headed back to Happy Boulders on our way home, where we watched him try time and time again until he finally reached the top!

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13) Eli’s Last Game

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To cap off the year, at the beginning of this month my family took a whirlwind trip to New York to see our favorite football team (the New York Giants) play for the very first time at their home stadium. We went the week they played the Dolphins, which wound up being one of only 4 games we won this season, and on top of that, it was our longtime quarterback, Eli Manning’s, probable last game with the team. We couldn’t have picked a better game!

Note: Please leave all Giants hate at the door, thank you.

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14) Coming June 2020

At our annual family Cookie Baking day, my cousins Spenser and Ashlynn gave my grandpa (and all of us, really) a very special gift: the news that we have a new member coming in June 2020! On Christmas Day we found out that the little one is a boy, and while we already know his name, I’ve taken to calling him Meatball for now.

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15) Meeting Luca

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Since I started this list with a baby, it seems only logical for me to end this list with a baby! And in true bookend fashion, I got to meet one of my best friends’ new baby, Luca, just this past week, and even though he is handsome and perfect and practically impossible not to want to hold, it was still a big deal for me to do so without fear. And as I looked down at him and his big curious eyes, I couldn’t help but feel every good moment of the year capsize in this one moment. It was a busy year, but it was a good one. I got to do so many great things and love and be loved on by so many great people. I’m very thankful for the life I live and I feel so honored for the opportunity to live it.

Here’s to 2020, I hope it’s full of wonderful moments, big, small and everything in between. Happy New Year!

31 Good Things that Happened in December (2017)

I have good news and good news. I have only good news!

As mentioned in this blog post, at the end of every month I’m going to highlight all the good things that happened in that 30-day (or so) span, to give ourselves a break from the well known bad.

You can find last month’s here.

Happy December to you!

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1) This guy met a friend he made online

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2) After a family lost both of their dogs in the same weekend, this dog food company paid tribute

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3) These besties hung out

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4) This guy got accepted into Harvard

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5) This boy collected over 1000 toys for kids in Puerto Rico

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6) This doctor went the extra mile

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7) This girl hilariously interviewed her cat

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8) This man continued his pursuit to become the first one handed professional football player

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9) This woman helped a fellow runner finish a marathon

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10) This man made working on the Tarmac a little more exciting

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11) This dog met the Internet

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12) This:

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13) This police officer adopted a homeless mother’s opioid addicted baby

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14) This family was reunited with their dog

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15) When this little boy saw someone wrestling with his sister, he came to the rescue!

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16) This Grandma learned to use Google Home

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17) This little guy read 100 books

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18) These girls asked Santa for their dad to come home and he delivered

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19) This man left a generous tip at a restaurant

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20) This couple came full circle

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21) This boy got rewarded for his giving heart

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22) This dog got a new pair of wheels

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23) Texas Rangers’ pitcher, Cole Hamels, and his wife donated a $20,000 mansion to charity

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24) These puppies were saved from freezing to death

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25) In honor of the release of the new Star Wars film, these people gave their best Chewbacca impressions

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26) This guy took to Twitter to highlight some good things from 2017

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27) This woman got an amazing surprise on Christmas morning

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28) This Dad’s carpet Instagram went viral

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29) This dad shaved his head

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30) These flight attendants made a flight delay festive

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31) And finally, the holidays! Whichever one you celebrate, I hope it was wonderful and filled with love, family, food and everything in between.

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Can you believe 2017 is already over?! When I first posted 31 Good Things that Happened in January, I wasn’t sure if it would work out quite like I pictured, but it’s been so much more than that. Every month I was so genuinely excited to put the “All the Good Things” posts together and I’m happy that you guys have been loving the result as much as I have.

I will definitely be continuing this series going into 2018 and I can only hope that the vast number of good things happening in our world will continue to surprise and inspire us all.

Happy New Year, everyone! I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.

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