inspiration

Embrace the Change, Even if it’s a Rental

For the past week or so I’ve been driving a rental car. I was in a minor accident at the end of October and so my car—who some of you might know I call Jeffrey—is currently in the shop getting himself a new passenger’s side door and an overall spiff up.

In the meantime, I’m driving a white Kia which, when it’s parked in the garage next to my roommate’s white Acura, has officially been dubbed half of the “white car crew”—because we try to make everything a little exciting.

The Kia, which I’ve named “Ren” (for rental) is vastly different than Jeff, and in the last week of driving him around, I’ve really been able to pinpoint the distinctions.

For starters, Ren is a 2017 Kia Optima while Jeff is a 2007 Saturn Ion, so obviously I’ve taken a huge jump forward in terms of technology. There’s Bluetooth, a backup camera, automatic headlights, shortcut buttons on the steering wheel, and automatic windows. (Swoon)

But even with all of these positives, I spend most of my time picking out things I don’t like about the car. Things I’ve grown comfortable with in my own car, that I miss and would rather not lose, even if it’s only for a few weeks.

The other day, as I was sitting at a stoplight, I was turning my steering wheel back and forth, a habit I’d picked up while driving Jeff because the steering wheel squeaks. Ren’s steering wheel however, does not. It’s silent and smooth and doesn’t have the cracked exterior I pick at when I’m nervous.

This got me thinking.

We’re always looking for the bigger and the better, right? We dream and we look forward, craving the possibilities of the future, rarely looking back at the comforts of the past. I likely wouldn’t have noticed many of the oddities I’ve found that I like about Jeff until I was put in a situation like this where I’m in a completely new car with completely new oddities. The same goes for a new job, a new house, a new relationship, etc.

No matter how much we might be looking for a change in a particular situation, we are always going to have parts of our old situation that we will miss if/when we finally do make that change.

One day I’ll get a new car and all the things I love about Jeff will be gone. I’ll have to break in the driver’s seat and get the mirrors right. I’ll have to find the perfect air temperature and restock the backseat and the trunk with the odds and ends I always like to keep with me.

When that day comes, I will undoubtedly be sad. Sure, I’ll be excited to have a new car, but I’m sure I’ll spend many an afternoon drive thinking about things I liked about my old car. But just as I’ve tried to tell myself now, in the wake of this rental: I can’t dwell on it.

When we make these big changes, either by our choice or by the choices of those around us, we are forced to deal with the ripples. Maybe that new job won’t have your favorite restaurant next door or that tradition you have with your coworkers. Maybe your new relationship won’t have the same dynamic or will take longer to find a new normal. Maybe your new car won’t have a squeaky (yet weirdly comforting) steering wheel.

We are always going to find things to miss about what we had, and that’s okay. At the end of the day, there is a reason you wanted to make this change or why this change found you. And even if the change is only temporary, like this rental car, it would be a waste to spend our days comparing and complaining.

Embrace where you are, what you have and who you’re with right now. Find out what you like and don’t like about what’s right in front of you, not in comparison to what’s behind you.

For me, I can’t wait to get my car back, but I’m thankful I’ve been provided a car to drive in the meantime. And as long as I have it, I solemnly swear to cherish these automatic windows.

31 Good Things that Happened in October

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

Let’s dive right in!

1) The first thing this man heard after receiving his cochlear implant was his partner proposing

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2) This artist gave new meaning to Humpty Dumpty’s “great fall”

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3) Mark Ruffalo explained empathy

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4) This comic illustrated what it’s like to have a dog

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5) This little guy looked at his mom with loving eyes

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6) This daughter wrote her mother a letter to remind her that she is enough

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7) This teacher added some fun to her paper grading

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8) This cat walked the red carpet at the premiere of its new Netflix show

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9) This dog got his picture taken for the yearbook

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10) This artist collected sayings from different cultures and illustrated them

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11) These writers shared why they write

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12) This Kindergarten class learned to sign “happy birthday” for their hard of hearing custodian

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13) These teenagers invented a helpful way to prevent ice cream drippage

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14) This wife saved her husband shortly before giving birth

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15) This girl raised money to buy her best friend new shoes

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16) This wild magpie became the best pet a family could have asked for

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17) This girl found a way to make an amazing change in the world

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18) This photographer took an incredible engagement photo of a couple he didn’t even know…

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19) …and then he found them!

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20) David Schwimmer made light of claims that this criminal looked just like him

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21) This girl took her mom to Sesame Street

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22) This woman donated 1 1/2 tons of vegetables to families in need

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23) This brother supported his sister

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24) These Muslim Americans raised more than $120,000 for those affected by the Pittsburgh shooting

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25) This mother had a conversation with her daughter

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26) This article highlighted all the things going right in the world

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27) Nike surprised this runner with a contract

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28) This grandpa went all out for Halloween

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29) As did this dog

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30) And you gotta hand it to this pilot for his sense of humor

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31) And finally, this reminder was posted to be thankful for the little thingsIMG_5667

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

I can’t wait to see what November brings!

You can view last month’s post here.

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Stay Loyal to Your Team, Stay Loyal to Your Dream

On this blog I often talk a lot about dreams. I wonder and I hope and I try to be honest about what I’m doing to try and make mine come true, in the hopes that it can inspire you to do the same. Sometimes I talk about baseball, and my boys in blue, and how their dreams tend to mix with some of my dreams, especially in October.

Last night, I watched Game 5 of the World Series, and unfortunately saw the Dodgers lose to the Boston Red Sox. It was hard, the way it always is when you know the season is officially over, but also in that deeper, tougher way that you can only experience when your season ends in the World Series and it’s not with a trophy in your hands. My mom, sister and I watched from home and my dad watched from a seat in the stands, and we all slumped our shoulders and sighed when the last out was made.

Not this year.

It’s a phrase I’ve become rather familiar with, both in baseball, since the Dodgers haven’t won the World Series since 1988—two years before I was born—and in life, because there are a number of dreams that haven’t necessarily come true yet.

Not this year. Not this job. Not this time. I’m sorry, but no.

The difference is, it’s easy to take the loss in baseball. Well, not easy, but easier. When the game ends and you watch the other team run into each others arms and hold the trophy up  over their heads, you sulk and you sigh and you wish things were different, but eventually you move on. And as the months go by and April comes into focus, you put on your hat and your jersey and you show up to your first game with a new attitude, a new set of possibilities and a new determination to win.

You stay loyal, no matter what. No matter how bad last season was. No matter how far from the finish line you stood when the last out was made. You take a seat in the stands and you say, “let’s try again.”

But how often do we bring that same positive mindset into our own lives? How loyal are we to our own reset buttons? How quick are we to bounce back and try again after our own losses and failures?

At the beginning of every season, every team in the MLB has a 1/30 chance to win the World Series. And after 175 (or so) games, that crazy, farfetched whisper of a possibility becomes a reality for one team.

The dream you’re striving for, the dream that I’m striving for, while they might have better or worse odds, still have that one chance. And unlike being a fan, we have the power to take it. We’re not sitting in the stands, complaining about what we would have done different, we’re in the game, responsible for our own successes and failures, and even more, responsible for gathering up the nerve to come back and say, “let’s try again.”

I’ll always root (root root) for the Dodgers. I’ll always show up in April, no matter how heartbreaking October was, and I assume you’d do the same for your team. But we need to start employing that loyalty in our own lives, for our own dreams. We need to take all that passion and frustration and undeniable determination and make things happen.

I’m looking at you, and I’m looking at me, and I’m looking at you, Dodgers. We may not have won this round, but there’s always a new one on the horizon. Maybe it’s in April, maybe it’s tomorrow, maybe it’s in a few years from now. We just have to keep working, keep trying, keep putting ourselves in the game, and one day, that trophy will be ours.

Three Things to Remember Before Voting This November

With only a few weeks until a very important election in November, our TV’s, neighborhood billboards and social media feeds have started to flood with ads and requests for our votes. I’ve even received a few text messages from various candidates and causes hoping they can count on my support come November 8th.

In light of this and all the talk surrounding the anticipated and encouraged outcomes, I think there a few crucial things to remember when you vote, either in person or by mail in ballot.

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1) There is more than one opinion

Social media, namely sites like Twitter, are hubs for conversations on controversial topics. And with algorithms tracking popular topics and their corresponding responses, people are quick to notice the opinions gaining the most favor—a.k.a favorites and retweets. Depending on who you might follow on Twitter (or other social media sites), your feed might become full of these retweets/reposts, so much so that it might seem as if it is the only available to have. It’s important to remember that this is not the case. Every issue has multiple sides and arguments that favor each, so do your research and pursue these sides. It’s the only way you can properly determine where you stand.

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2) You are allowed to hold any opinion you choose

In doing research on the sides of an argument, it’s important to realize that as much as supporters and opposers would like you to believe, there is not one right opinion. Opinions are based on personal values and circumstances, so what might seem clear cut for one person, might not make any sense to another. Figure out where your values align and base your opinions and ultimate votes on those discoveries. Outside opinions are great for research and understanding but they should not dictate your individual vote.

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3) Vote your own vote

I’ve seen a number of celebrities and famous personalities make a special effort to encourage people to vote this year, which is great. Voting is a privilege, one that is so often taken for granted, and as role models in our society, I think it’s so valuable for them to present voting not only as important, but exciting and cool. I myself have a number of people I look up to that constantly post encouragements to make my voice heard, and it stirs something inside me. But here’s the thing, we need to let their encouragements stop once we get to the poles. We cannot cast ballots based on who we think we should vote for and we should never vote to impress celebrities or to further their opinions. This goes back to #1: figure out your own values, and where you stand on issues, because that is the only way to make your vote count.

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The most important thing to remember this election season is to vote. Don’t make an excuse, don’t be lazy, and don’t throw away your chance to make your voice heard. Your vote matters, your opinion matters, and we are blessed to live in a country that allows both of those to be heard. So go out and be part of something bigger than you. It’s important. Plus, you get a sticker.

Strain then Stir (Episode 5): Becoming a Member of the Squash Squad

Honest question: did you know there is more than one kind of squash?

Did you know there are more than ten different types of squash?

Yeah, well, I definitely DID NOT.

But I’m learning. And if I’m learning, than I think you should be learning—if only because squash is a delicious subject that you (and your taste buds) should know more about.

First off, let’s meet the squash family as a whole:

There’s:

  • Butternut Squash (a.k.a B’Nut)
  • Kabocha Squash (a.k.a Kabby)
  • Spaghetti Squash (a.k.a SpaSqua)
  • Acorn Squash (a.k.a Ace)
  • Sweet Dumpling Squash (a.k.a Sweetie D)
  • Sugar Pumpkin (a.k.a Sugar P)
  • Red Kuri Squash (a.k.a Big Red)
  • Delicata Squash (a.k.a DC)
  • Carnival Squash (a.k.a Carnee)
  • Buttercup Squash (a.k.a Baby B)
  • Blue Hubbard Squash (a.k.a Blubby)
  • Banana Squash (a.k.a Lil Nana)

I haven’t met the whole fam yet. In fact, I’ve really only dipped my toe into the squash squad. But if things keep going the way they’re going, I think I’m on track to be invited to Thanksgiving next year.

On that note, let me formally introduce you to the squash I already scheme with. The gourds I’m already getting down with. The—okay no, I think two was enough.

Note: All squash pictures (squash snapshots? squashots?) featured below belong to Food Network. I got them from this article, where you can find more recipes and information about the squash fam—though no cool nicknames!

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First up, Spaghetti Squash.

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SpaSqua was a love of my life I didn’t know existed for far too long. I’ve mentioned him in a previous post, but I feel it’s only fair to bring him back up—because WOW. I even have a folder on my computer marked “Spaghetti Squash recipes” that I fully intend on trying the minute I get my hands on another SpaSqua. In the meantime, here’s old faithful that first proved to me the spaghetti squash’s flavorful worth.

Spaghetti Squash

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On my to-do list:

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Next, Acorn Squash

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Ace was a squash I never thought I’d ever meet, but now that I have, I hope we never grow apart. Like any squash, I had to research what Ace was all about. How do I cut her? How do I cook her? How do I help her reach her maximum YUM? Enter this recipe stage right, which made all of my dreams come true. I made it without ground beef—because I forgot to buy it—but it was still delicious and filling and hey I feel healthy and not gross after I finished it. And I mean, what else can you ask for?

Stuffed Acorn Squash

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On my to-do list:

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And finally, Butternut Squash!

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I think it’s safe to say B’nut got his name because of his similarity in shape to a p’nut peanut. It’s also safe to say their similarities stop there—except if you count that they both have a hard exterior and a delicious surprise in the center, but other than that, they’re really totally different. After sifting through a bunch of different B’nut recipes, I ended up deciding on this pancake recipe, because I was in a breakfast for dinner type of mood, and I was pleasantly surprised at how moist and delicious they were! The recipe was super easy to follow, especially after I followed this advice on how to get a quick and easy “butternut squash mash” for the batter, and I personally thought the pancakes were great with honey on top.

Butternut Squash Pancakes

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On my to-do list:

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Y’all, just trust me on this: your world is better with squash in it. With allll the squash in it. And with fall officially here, it’s the perfect time to meet a squash you never met before. Tell them Kim sent you—some of them will know me.


 

Read the previous episode of Strain then Stir here.

2018 Goals Check-In #3

Dear Fall,

Where are you? It’s October, which means we’re starting the last quarter of the year, but I’m still kind of sweating so…what’s the deal? I mean, I’m just ready for some sweater weather, you know?

Speaking of none of that, let’s check in on some goals.

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1) Do a handstand in yoga

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 33.33%

Current Progress: 33.33%

I’ve been a bit up and down with this goal, especially in these last few months because things got so insanely busy. But as stated before, my biggest obstacle here is myself. I’ve just got to start trying. Wish me luck!

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2) Take a kickboxing class

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

I really didn’t expect for this goal to be one I put off for so long, but here I am in the (almost) middle of October and I’ve yet to throw a punch (or kick) at anything. (Or anyone) (Anyone in a kickboxing class that is.) (Not that I’ve punched or kicked anyone outside of a class) (How many side conversation parentheses is too many?)

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3) Visit (at least) 20 museums in Los Angeles

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 4/20 (5%)

Current Progress: 7/20 (35%)

While I haven’t made as much progress as I’d like on this one, I’ve loved every single museum I’ve gone to so far. These past few months I went to the Annenberg Space for Photography, the La Brea Tar Pits and LACMA, which had ACTUAL PICASSO PAINTINGS, Y’ALL. *heavy art nerd breathing*

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4) Get CPR certified

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Things fell through on this one a little bit, as the class I planned on taking ended up being on a day that was packed with too many other things. But I’m getting myself signed up for a new one, and before you know it, I’ll be ready to save your life at the drop of hat.

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5) Shoot (at least) 1 roll of film per month

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 6/12 (50%)

Current Progress: 9/12 (75%)

Seeing as I majored in photography, it shouldn’t come as a surprise for me to love this goal, but it kind of does. After I graduated, taking pictures became more stressful and robotic than it was fun, which kind of made it lose its spark for me. But having my film camera back in my hand has made me feel like I’m back in college again, shooting too many rolls of film and spending too many hours in the darkroom getting them developed.

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6) Complete the 104 things to Photograph book

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 23/104 (22.12%)

Current Progress: 52/104 (50%)

I think this one is going to end up being somewhat of a big reveal at the end of the year because I still haven’t gotten my film developed or gone through the book to really study what I have and haven’t taken a picture of yet. I think we can safely estimate that I’m (at least) half way through, but I really have no idea. #lessthanidealupdate

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7) Visit the sea glass beach in Fort Bragg, CA

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

I’ve done my research on the what’s and how’s of getting to this glass beach and it is my hope to get a weekend getaway with my roommates on the calendar before the end of the year. But I’m also going to count is as a win if I can get it officially on the calendar for next year, as long as it’s on there by the end of this year…you know?

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8) Go to the dentist

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 100%

Yes, I went to the dentist. No, it was not fun.

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9) Watch 20 documentaries on Netflix

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 4/20 (20%)

Current Progress: 10/20 (50%)

I honestly wish I would have set this goal a long time ago. There are so many good/crazy/emotional/incredible stories being told out there and I’m happy I’m finally getting around to hearing them! Some of my favorites that I’ve watched recently are Icarus and The White Helmets. (Both are on Netflix!)

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10) Perfect an omelet

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

An omelet? No. A fried egg? A hard boiled egg? Yes! I’m moving up in the egg world, guys, I just don’t have a pan non-sticky enough to make an omelet yet. But I have heard something about making an omelet in a bag? Stay tuned.

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11) See (at least) one movie in theaters per month

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 6/12 (50%)

Current Progress: 9/12 (75%)

There’s been a few last minute (i.e. September 30th) movie watching over the last few months, but I still have yet to miss one! Here’s a list of all the ones I’ve seen so far:

  1. I, Tonya
  2. Call Me By Your Name
  3. Maze Runner: The Death Cure
  4. 50 Shades Freed
  5. Red Sparrow
  6. I Can Only Imagine
  7. A Quiet Place
  8. Book Club
  9. Incredibles 2
  10. Won’t You Be My Neighbor
  11. Three Identical Strangers
  12. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again
  13. Eighth Grade
  14. Skate Kitchen
  15. Crazy Rich Asians
  16. A Star is Born

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12) Read 20 books off the Time’s 100 List

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 6/20 (30%)

Current Progress: 12/20 (60%)

PSA: If you ever plan on setting a goal like this, invest some time in audiobooks! I’ve gotten through a good handful of books in the last few months because I’ve been listening to them. It’s made the stories more engaging and really helped me appreciate/understand them more than I would have just trying to sit down and read them on my own. My favorite one I’ve listened to so far is To Kill a Mockingbird.

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13) Pay off credit card

Current Progress: Progress

Yeah so, let’s just say progress has slowed on this one. It hasn’t stopped, which is what counts. But these past few months have held *expenses* and I’ve had to crutch a little. I’m not worried about it though, I’ll get there.

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14) See 3 WRLA’s – COMPLETED!

While on a trip to Seattle and Canada this past March, I was unexpectedly able to complete this goal, seeing the World’s Largest Cowboy Hat & Boots in Seattle, WA, the World’s Largest Paper Airplane in Mukilteo, WA, and the World’s Largest Tin Solider in New Westminster, BC, Canada!

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15) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 2/5 (40%)

Current Progress: 4/5 (80%)

Gonna give myself a pat on the back for not putting this one off until the last minute like last year! I’ve got my fifth volunteer slot lined up for this month, so I might even get in a few extra dates before the end of the year. *pats back to the tune of the Cha Cha Slide*

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16) Donate Blood

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 100% (not really)

Current Progress: 100% (for real!)

After getting a no go due to low iron the first time I tried to donate blood I made an effort to add iron rich foods to my diet (for example: spinach, which I put in breakfast smoothies) and I decided to try again. This time, I did it! Was it my favorite thing ever? No. But will I do it again because it’s an easy way to help out? Definitely!

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17) Do the 1 second/day video challenge

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 185/365 (50.68%)

Current Progress: 283/365 (77.53%)

Every time I update my collection of one-second clips, I get so excited to see the final product! But while I’ve peeped the progress, I won’t be giving any spoilers until the year’s over. Stay tuned! 🙂

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When we add that all together, my total progress is about 52%. Again, I’m a little behind, but I’m ready to give these last few months all I’ve got!

If you set goals this year, I hope things are going well for you, and if you didn’t, it’s never too late to start! 🙂

Throw Away Your Old Car Keys

I recently listened to Bryan Cranston’s memoir, Life in Parts, on audiobook. Not only does he have an incredible reading voice, but his stories are fun and fascinating and consistently engaging. I loved the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for an easy read (or listen).

One particular story that stuck out in my mind was that of the passing of his aunt Sunday and uncle Eddie, and the process of his family going through their belongings afterwards. He noted how they found a box marked “keys to the old cars”, which turned out to be exactly that: keys for cars they previously owned.

As someone who is very sentimental, I can understand the act of keeping things that hold a special place in your heart. But as Cranston went onto explain, this box was one of many. The couple were definitely hoarders, finding value in keeping absolutely everything. As someone who hates clutter, I can’t really relate to this notion.

Or at least I thought I couldn’t.

Cranston noted, “None of the keys fit the car in the garage or the abandoned vehicles parked on the dead grass in the backyard. So. They kept keys to cars they hadn’t owned in years.”

That’s when I thought to myself: isn’t that kind of like holding on to grudges/pain/anger/etc. from the past?

When I thought about it like that, I realized we all probably have a “keys to the old cars box.” We are all holding onto things that will never do us any good. We are all keeping keys that belong to cars we’ve long stopped driving.

For me personally, I know I tend to hold onto things because in a way it makes me feel safe. Tangible things, like pictures or ticket stubs or knick knacks, make me feel like I’m keeping good memories safe, preserving everything I loved about that day or days in a single object that I can always go back to. Going off of this, my mind likes to pretend that holding onto anger and sadness and pain has the same benefit. It promises that remembering these things, these moments that still sting, will help keep me safe in the future. They will keep me from getting hurt or from failing or from making a fool out of myself. They will help me trust the right people and love the right people and stay away from the wrong people.

While this is good, as it’s important to constantly learn and grow and mature, there comes a point when this “protection” becomes clutter. Learning from failures is different than holding onto them. And working through pain is different than pushing it aside. For Cranston’s aunt and uncle, they were always going to have the memories of those old cars, even after they left their driveway. So while those keys might have promised to further those memories, in reality they were just reminders of the past taking up space in the present. And the same goes for all that anger and pain and sadness that is bogging us down.

It’s never easy to let go, but it’s necessary. I know for me, it might take a while. It might even be a one key at a time process, but that’s okay. As the saying goes, “the first step is admitting you have a box of old car keys.” After that, it’s just making room for the good things.

30 Good Things that Happened in September

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

Let’s dive right in!

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1) These kids got ready for Halloween with some incredible costumes

 

 

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2) These people shared hilarious stories about what they believed as kids

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3) John Legend EGOT-ed!

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4) This kangaroo took its first hops

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5) This man walked 6 miles to see his wife

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6) This dog got his (pretend) medicine

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7) These strangers helped each other

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8) Missy Elliot sang backup

 

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9) This Cosby show actor turned ridicule into inspiration

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10) Actress Nina Dobrev got a surprise visit from her former Vampire Diaries costar

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11) By going undercover, this boss was able to save one of his employees from homelessness

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12) This husband reminded his wife of the real reasons he loves her body

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13) These parents become grandparents

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14) The finalists for the Comedy Wildlife Photography competition were revealed

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15) This 9 year old found a cure for loneliness at recess

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16) This boy thanked a helpful police officer

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17) After hearing the Harry Potter books helped saved this prematurely born baby’s life, author JK Rowling took it one step further

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18) This dog had a birthday party

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19) These students raised money to send their always upbeat janitor on the vacation he deserved

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20) Jimmy Fallon and Shawn Mendes tested their knowledge of song lyrics

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21) This little sister tried to ease her brother’s bad days

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22) This man saved over 60 animals during Hurricane Florence

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23) And these people lined up to foster affected animals

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24) Ellen helped this boy pay it forward

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25) These paralyzed patients walked again

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26) Fans of YouTuber Jenna Marbles helped give her an amazing birthday gift

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27) Stranger Things favorite, David Harbour, officiated a fan’s wedding

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28) This girl spotted her dad

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29) This girl kept trying

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30) And this 2 year old boy with terminal cancer was given an early Christmas present by his neighborhood

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

I can’t wait to see what October brings!

You can view last month’s post here.

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Start with Sweeping the Floor

Lately I’ve been feeling a little disoriented. There are so many things on my mind that I’d like to get accomplished and so many steps forward that I’m feeling motivated to take, that my brain has become somewhat of a chaotic mess, wondering where to even start.

Amongst this chaos, even going so far as to walk hand in hand with it most of the time, is exhaustion and frustration. I’ll get home from work with a laundry list of to-dos and my mind spirals, convinced it can’t do any of it, so I’ll end up stressing the hours away until I fall into bed, incredibly disappointed that I didn’t get anything done.

“I didn’t even sweep the floor,” I’ll think.

For among all the big goals I have, there are also little chores around the house that I want to get done. I want to clean my bathroom and do my laundry. I want to organize my desk and change the batteries in my clock. I want to sweep the floor. Having these chores done puts my mind at ease and makes room for other problems to be solved. 

Yesterday, while feeling a particularly cloudy shade of bleh, I got home from work wanting to go for a run, but didn’t feel like I had it in me.

Then you should probably sit down and write, I thought.

Or finish that project siting on your desk.

Or run through the to-do list you have written in your notebook.

Or research future blog posts

Or!

Or!

Or!

 Instead, I took a nap. My head was pounding and with a busy few weeks ahead, it felt like the healthiest thing to do.

When I woke up, I didn’t feel like writing, or working on unfinished projects, or going through to-do lists. But after eating dinner I did have a burst of inspiration to sweep the floor. Which then led to me cleaning my bathroom, doing some laundry and organizing my desk.

I ended up having a very productive evening. And even though I might not have gotten to all (or most) of the things on my to-do list, I got to some, which sometimes is all you can ask for from yourself.

When given the chance, our minds will choose a path to weed through the chaos, and when they do, the best thing to do is follow it. Trying to swim against the current and force yourself to work on projects that your brain isn’t ready for will often result in more days filled with stilted productivity. So go with the flow, and take things one at a time. Get done what you can get done and don’t beat yourself up with timelines and expectations.

At the end of the day, the hardest thing to do is move forward, and sometimes taking the smallest steps to prove yourself wrong will make all the difference. Those steps will get you moving, giving you the momentum you need to take the big ones. Plus, at the end of a long day, when your mind starts to swirl its way into an insomniac stress ball, you can quiet it.

At least I swept the floor.

Stay at the Table, the Chips Will Come

While accepting the first award of the night this past Monday—and the first Primetime Emmy of his career—Henry Winkler quoted something he was once told by a friend in Hollywood:

“If you sit at the table long enough, the chips will come to you.”

I’ve never been much of a poker player myself, but I still liked this phrase. It’s both simple and complicated.

On the one hand, it’s saying that all you have to do is stay in the game and patience will pay off. But on the other hand, anyone who’s played or watched poker before knows that “staying in the game” isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes luck and risk, sometimes the blind and irresponsible kind, to save your spot at that table, and not every game guarantees the luck will eventually turn your way.

Sometimes it takes game after game, risk after risk, trip after trip to that table before those chips start to come your way. And even then, you’re always at the risk of losing what you won, right after you won it.

Looking up at the teleprompter, Henry Winkler said in regards to his speech, “I only have 37 seconds, but I wrote this 43 years ago.”

That’s a lot of games. A lot of lost hands. A lot of waiting and losing. A lot of unrewarded risk. And yet…

“If you stay at the table long enough, the chips come to you,” he said, “and tonight I got to clear the table.

Risk, patience, and perseverance will pay off.

Sometimes it might not be in the way you think/hope it will, and sometimes it will take way longer than you might like. But don’t let that scare or discourage you.

Stay at the table. Keep playing the game. Because those chips are most certainly coming your way.

Also, it should be noted that my very first thought after hearing Henry Winkler share this anecdote was of a kitchen table and tortilla chips…

I think the phrase works either way though, if you think about it.