inspiration

Just Keep Dribbling

There is a boy in my neighborhood, probably about 12 or 13 years old, who is constantly dribbling a basketball on the sidewalk in front of his house. When I get home from work, he’s out there. When I go to the gym, he’s out there. When I sit on my couch trying to find inspiration for a blog post, he’s out there, just like he is right now. Dribbling and dribbling and dribbling.

Now, I don’t know what this boy’s dreams are. I don’t know if he wants basketball to be his life, or if maybe it already is. I don’t know if he wants to play in the NBA or if dribbling on his front porch is just how he blows off steam. But when I hear him out there, I smile, because I recognize the habit or the vice or the passion or whatever basketball is to him. For me, it’s been writing, it’s been photography, it’s been books, it’s been sports, and a number of other things.

These passions, these vices, these dreams all start small. They all start with just a dribble. And in order to make them real, to turn them into something tangible and successful and satisfying, we have to keep dribbling. Even when the days start to go by faster, even when our schedules start to get fuller, even when our bodies start to grow tired.

In my life, there are things I want to accomplish. Tons of things. Heck, I even have lists of them on the Internet. But while some of these things may seem impossible, some of them may seem far-fetched or unlikely or incredibly difficult, some of them might even be things I’ll change my mind on in a few years, what’s important is that I’m trying. Day in, day out, I’m trying. I’m working. To make myself better. To make myself stronger. To remind myself that no matter what life throws at me, I can keep working.

When I see that boy outside his house, I wonder what he’s working towards. If it’s basketball, I wonder if there are days when he sits inside with the ball in his lap, telling himself to just give up. Then I think about the things I’m working towards, some of which I’ve grown frustrated with the lack of progress on, and I ask myself if it’s because they’re not meant to be, or if I’ve just spent too many days indoors with the ball in my lap.

At the end of the day, it’s all about taking those small steps. As hard is it is to believe, they do add up and they will pay off. We just have to keep dribbling. And dribbling. And dribbling.

2017 Goals Final Check-In

So I’ve decided to use this week as a kind of “wrap up” for 2017. Monday was the last episode (in 2017) of All the Good Things, and today we take a final look at my 2017 goals. Let’s see how I did:

1) See Star Wars

COMPLETED

That’s right folks, I can finally unlock a new level of society because I have officially seen all the Star Wars films. Well, at least all of them except the new one. But to be fair, that one wasn’t on the list because I didn’t know it was coming out. So as of now I’m counting myself among the I’ve-been-too-busy-with-the-holidays-to-see-the-new-one-yet breed, which is exactly where I want to be.

.

2) See 5 WLRA’s

COMPLETED

WRLA (pronounced wool-rah) is my nickname for the World’s Largest Roadside Attractions, which I became addicted to sometime last year. It is among my life goals to see them all, and so I’m chipping them off slowly. This year I shot for five, and ended up seeing the fifth one just under the wire. My sister and I drove out to see the World’s Largest Donut on New Year’s Eve Eve. The other four I saw this year were the World’s Largest Paper Cup, Fishing Fly, Thermometer and Monk.

.

3) Try this jean rug DIY

COMPLETED

I did most of the prep for this project back in September, but didn’t actually sew it together until this past weekend. On one hand I could say I’m glad I was ahead of the game (at one point) because when I finally sat down to sew it together, all the pieces were already cut. But on other hand, I wish I would have just taken the time to sew it together back then, it might have been a tinge less stressful. Regardless, I’m very proud of the end result. It’s nowhere near perfect, but it’s something I actually sewed with my own two hands and, like, HOW COOL IS THAT?!

.

4) Run 1,000 miles

COMPLETED

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 11.29.28 PM

It’s almost unfathomable that I can write “complete” on this goal, but it is, in fact, COMPLETE! I, Kimberlee K, ran 1000 miles in 2017. EEEK. You can read all about this ridiculously crazy feat here.

.

5) Complete The Ultimate Fit Bit Week

COMPLETED

fit bit week

At the beginning of the year I decided to make my own Fitbit achievement known as “The Ultimate Fit Bit Week.” Essentially I wanted to see if I could meet every goal (i.e. steps taken, calories burned, active minutes, etc.) every single day for an entire week. Let me tell you, it was not easy, but it’s one of those things that I can now say that I did, which is cool. You can read about it here. Also, if you’re reading this, Fitbit, make sure you name this challenge after me if you ever make it, you know, a thing.

.

6) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

COMPLETED

As I’ve said in previous check-ins, this was one of my favorite goals of the year, which made it a no brainer to add it to my list of goals for 2018. I’d highly encourage anyone and everyone to volunteer if they get a chance. It’s truly one of the most rewarding experiences!

These were my five for this year:

  • Food Forward (5/21/17)
  • Children’s Hunger Fund (6/24/17)
  • My Stuff Bags (8/10/17)
  • Food Forward (8/26/17)
  • Children’s Hunger Fund (10/7/17)

You can find opportunities to volunteer here.

.

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

60% COMPLETED

When the year started, the NFL, NBA and NHL were all in the tail end of their regular seasons and moving into the playoffs, thus making tickets to the games way out of my price range. So, since I knew baseball would be an easy one to check off (because I’m a huge Dodger fan), and soccer season was just about to start, I decided to channel my energy into those and put the other three checkpoints on hold until the end of the year (a.k.a the beginning of a new season). In the end, while I was lucky enough to be invited to a hockey game (in a suite!! Thanks, Sam!) I never found my way to a basketball or football game this year. But don’t fret! At the end of the day, not going to a basketball or football game doesn’t make my year a “failure” or this goal a wash. And it would be a waste to get caught up in the parameters of the goal and obsess over the failures rather than celebrate the successes. For among the casual weeknight Dodger games I got to attend this year, I also got to see Game 6 of the World Series, and got my family out to see an LA Galaxy soccer game, which we probably never would have done otherwise. When I think about it like that, I’d say it’s a pretty successful goal.

.

8) Try every class at the gym

VETOED

The lack of progress on this one began with a lack of facilities, due to water damage at my local gym. It was back up and running in April, but then April turned into May and then June and then July, leading me to believe that procrastination had taken over. While that was definitely part of it, the truth was, I was scared. By July I had hit the 500-mile mark of my running goal, making the finish line something I could actually picture, and I was scared to do anything that might prevent me from reaching it. So around October, I more or less forfeited—or rather vetoed—this goal for 2017 and decided to add it as a bonus goal for this coming year. I still want to get a taste of what my gym membership is getting me and I figure it will be a good way to stay in shape.

.

9) Do The Princess Diaries painting

COMPLETED

You remember this iconic scene from classic RomCom The Princess Diaries, right?

mia1

I mean I think it’s safe to say we were all jealous of that mother/daughter arts and crafts session. Lucky for me, I have an amazing group of friends and family that dove headfirst into this project for my 27th birthday.

giphy (18)

You can read about that day here.

Also, I recently got a chance to hang the end results up on my wall and it makes me smile every time I pass by.

IMG_2993

.

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

COMPLETED

This was another goal that I was super excited about and it did not disappoint. I’ve always wanted to take more advantage of my access to downtown Los Angeles, and I feel like this search for the “best of” restaurants in my five favorite food groups (i.e. pizza, burgers, ice cream, donuts and sandwiches) helped me scratch the surface.

Here are my five finds:

.

11) Watch every film that has ever won Best Picture

98.88% COMPLETED

As of my last check-in, I had 60 movies to watch before the end of the year. When the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, I only had one. Before you “awww”, know that this was intentional, as I realized (too late) that the last movie on the list was the final film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I haven’t seen the first two…

…DON’T GIVE ME THAT LOOK. I realize this is another cardinal sin of cinema and I’m going to make right, okay? I’m adding this trilogy as another bonus goal for 2018.

.

12) Learn to Longboard

VETOED

Similar to goal #8, I more or less quit on this goal after I became knee deep in my running. It just seemed too likely that I’d fall off my longboard and tweak an ankle (or worse) and I wasn’t willing to give up the progress I’d made. So, again, this was postponed. Hopefully I’ll find the courage to *shred* in 2k18.

.

13) Learn to do a headband braid

COMPLETED (I GUESS)

Have you ever adopted a new hobby and put in a bunch of time to get better at it, only to realize that your skill level is and always will be pretty basic. Yeah, well that’s how I feel about the headband braid. After spending the year watching a bunch of different tutorial videos and knotting my hair a bunch of different ways, I more or less accepted that I’m just not good at headband braids. I get the basic concept, but my end result always looks like I let a little kid play hair salon. SO, I’m forfeiting my pursuit of the perfect braid. The way I see it, at least I can say I tried, and at least I have a handful of friends that are willing to do my hair.

.

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

COMPLETED

This was another highlight of my year. After hitting the 100,000 mile mark, my family and I loaded up into Jeffrey—wearing sparkly hats and homemade glasses no less—and took a ridiculous amount of pictures and Boomerangs to commemorate the occasion.

ezgif.com-video-to-gif

You can read all about Jeffrey’s (my car) big milestone here.

.

15) Do a bar/pub crawl

COMPLETED

As if it were destined for my attendance, when I Googled “bar crawls” in October, I found 12 Bars of Charity, which divides its attendees into “teams” and gives them t-shirts to showcase the charity they choose to support. My friends and I were on the “black team” which supported the Boys & Girls club. And while we only made it to three of the twelve bars—because we spent too much time talking at each one shrug_1f937.png—we still had a great time, and talked about going again next year to go to the bars we missed. (Though at this rate it will take us 4 years to see them all)

If you’re interested, 12 Bars of Charity has events all over the country. Check here to see if there’s one near you.

.

16) Sing Karaoke

COMPLETED

Much to the surprise of my pre-2017 self, karaoke became somewhat of a staple for my year. My friends and I found a favorite place and made many an appearance on a Saturday night. I found that it is one of the best ways to blow off steam and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

.

17) Complete Project Lightbulb

COMPLETED

Project Lightbulb is the nickname I gave my family’s dream vacation to Iceland. And while it became clear that this goal would be impossible to complete this year, I decided that as long as we made steps towards planning and booking it—a.k.a inching it to a reality—I’d call it a win. That being said, this year we did take steps in the right direction by officially opening a savings account so we can slowly save up enough money to make this thing happen! Iceland here we come!

.

And that, as they say, is that! I completed 14 of my 17 goals, which is an accomplishment in itself, and what I didn’t finish, I plan on carrying over into this new year.

But the ultimate win here is the I CAN that comes alongside the setting and completing of goals, no matter what those goals may be. This list of 17 goals inspired me to get completely out of my comfort zone, which led me on new adventures I never would have experienced otherwise. I can only hope that the goals I set for 2018 can do the same.

If you are someone who is looking for some inspiration in your life, I highly encourage you to set goals. Whether big or small, artistic, athletic or otherwise, write them down, put them out into the universe, and then go for them! You might surprise yourself how much you can accomplish.

Happy New Year!

17 Goals for 2018 (List-cember #9)

If you followed along with my blog this past year, you’ll know that I set 17 goals for 2017.  A brief summary of the experience would be: it almost brought me to my death, but a more in depth summary can be found in my final goal update which I will be posting next week.

Even though this year’s goals proved to be tough however, that didn’t stop me from creating 17 more goals for myself for 2018. (Note: I know 18 for 2018 would have rolled off the tongue better, but 17 is still my lucky number and I don’t want to be on the hook for 45 in 2045, you know?)

I’d like to think these goals are a little less intense, though somehow, I also thought the list I made last December wasn’t totally ulcer inducing, so I’m thinking maybe I just shouldn’t be trusted. Regardless, I am back with a new list of goals for a brand new year.

Let’s dive right in!

1) Do a handstand in yoga

Handstand

When we were little, my sister and I both took dance lessons. I took tap, she took jazz/hip hop. As a result, I got really good with my feet and she got good at everything else. She could do the splits, she could do cartwheels, she could do handstands, she could even do these things called coffee grinders, which you’ll have to Google because I can’t demonstrate. Years later, when we both got into yoga and saw people doing headstands and handstands and a numerous other “stands” that seemed physically impossible, my sister was much more of a go-getter. In her mind, she figured she’d get it eventually. In my mind, I figured I’d eventually break in half.  However, in the spirit of doing things I never thought I could do (like run 1000 miles in one year, which I did this year and you can read about here) I’ve decided to get back into yoga (which I’m not mad about) and finally go for a handstand. I’m not talking up for two seconds and then falling over. I want an arms extended, blood rushing to the brain, awkwardly long high five to the ground type of handstand.

.

2) Take a kickboxing class

In a similar pursuit of strength and overall badassery, I want to take a kickboxing class this year. Because as much as I love yoga, and will love getting back into it, sometimes I just want a workout that involves hitting things, you know?

.

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

zak-ferris-19902

So my original goal here was going to be “visit ALL the museums in Los Angeles” but that was before I found out there are 50! I’m not saying it would be impossible to visit all 50, but you figure, that’s about four museums per month and that’s only if I stuck to it, which let’s face it, I’d more than likely fall behind and wind up in November with 45 museums left to see and no time to see them. So, in the spirit of setting obtainable goals, I’m shooting for 20.

.

4) Get CPR Certified

For a long time my mom, aunt and sister worked at a preschool which required them to be CPR certified. Every two years they would take a class to get educated on the newest skills/tactics associated with CPR so they would be best prepared in case an emergency situation came about. Since I never went with them, we always decided that should any combination of us be together in an emergency situation, they would do all the hard work and I’d call 911. They even taught me the script associated with the person who calls 911, because yes, that’s a thing. (MY JOB IS IMPORTANT TOO, OKAY?) But while having this “job” gave me a small sense of purpose, it also left me feeling helpless and overall useless should I not be with them in the case of a CPR emergency. So, this year I’m upping my usefulness. Watch out world, a double threat is headed your way. (In case you’re interested, you can find information on how you can get CPR certified here)

.

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

Another thing you might not know about me is I love taking pictures. I actually majored in photography in college and probably spent 80% of my time in the photo lab developing film and printing pictures. It was my happy place. Since then however, I’ve shot almost zero film. With all the advances in the iPhone cameras and the implied need for instant results, I’ve been more or less consumed by all things digital. So this year I’m hoping to go back to my roots a little bit. I want to shoot at least one roll of film per month. I have a collection of old cameras I want to shoot them on and then hopefully develop and share the results. I’m also not barring the possibility of shooting with a disposable camera. I just want to get back to appreciating picture taking and not caring about getting a perfect result right away.

.

6) Complete the 104 things to Photograph book

41gjzdI7vUL

On the same token as shooting with film, I thought this book would be a really cool way to get my creative juices flowing. Similar to an outline of an assignment I might have gotten back in college, I’m hoping the freedom to photograph the listed image in my own way will give me all those inspirational feels. (If you’re interested, you can find the book here)

.

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

sea-glass-beach-

I’ve always wanted to visit a sea glass beach and I’m lucky to live relatively close to one. This year I’m hoping to finally pay it a visit and hopefully take home a souvenir or two. Stay tuned. (Find other sea glass beaches here)

.

8) Go to the dentist

I’m almost ashamed of this one, but I figure this is the best way to hold myself accountable. Let’s just say it’s been a while since I paid my neighborhood dentist a visit and I feel like I should probably get over there before my teeth start falling out.

.

9) Watch 20 documentaries on Netflix

If there’s one thing I consistently miss the mark on, it’s keeping up with new additions to Netflix. Granted, they seemingly add about 300 things every month, but I still manage to be a solid two or three months (MINIMUM) behind even the most popular contributions. Among those I am always behind on are documentaries, which are arguably the most beneficial pieces of work available. Not only do they educate you, but they expand your mind and help you get to know yourself and your opinions a little bit better. This past year I watched a grand total of two documentaries: Lady Gaga: Five Foot Two and Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, both of which I loved. I’m hoping that this coming year I’ll find some more good ones based on all kinds of subject matter. If you have any suggestions, let me know!

.

10) Perfect an omelet

basic-french-omelet-930x550

You know that whole cooking initiative I started a few months back where I decided that I wanted to make myself a better cook/overall human being? Do you remember episode two where I talked about learning how to best utilize leftovers? (If you do, great! If not, you can check it out here.)  Well, of all the 2nd or 3rd day uses for leftovers, omelets are probably one of my favorites. Similar to pizza, you can pretty much throw anything inside an omelet. The only problem I have is I SUCK at making omelets. I never get the flip right and it always tears apart and so my “kitchen sink omelets” are always more of a “leftover ingredient smorgasbord with a side of ripped eggs.” Let’s improve that.

.

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

One of my goals for 2017 was to watch every movie that won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and while I could go on and on about those movies, I could sum up the experience simply by saying that I LOVE movies. This isn’t necessarily a new discovery about myself, however, in watching all of those amazing films, I realized how many I let slip through my fingers while they were in theaters. So, in an attempt to stay more in the know, I’m making it a goal to see at least one movie in theaters per month, because other than lying in bed on a Saturday morning, there’s really no better way to see them.

.

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

t100_novels_tout1

As you may recall, on my 27th birthday I posted a list of 30 things I want to accomplish before I’m 30—because yes, I’m a crazy person with multiple to-do lists. On that list was “read every book on Time’s 100 List.” This goal is kind of already a stretch to begin with, but in the interest of trying, I’m breaking it up into segments. We’ll see how far I get.

.

13) Pay off my credit card

Another goal on my 30 Before 30 list is to pay off my current credit card and open a new one that can start earning me airline miles. So I figure I might as well get a jump start on that goal and get this thing good and paid.

.

14) See 3 WRLA’s

Ah yes, an old friend! As mentioned in this post a while back, a WRLA (pronounced wool-rha) is short for “World’s Largest Roadside Attraction” and I hope to one day see them all. Last year I made it a goal to see five on the list, and this year I’m shooting for three. I figure since I’ve already seen most of the WRLA’s closest to me, I’m going to have to do a little traveling to find the others which might be a little more difficult. (You can find a complete list WRLA’s here)

.

15) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

Another old friend! This exact goal was on the list last year and I’m planning to keep it on my list every year! It just feels so good to donate your time to something that matters and I think we could all stand to lend a helping hand these days. (Find places you can volunteer here)

.

16) Donate Blood

This has been on my to-do list for a very long time, but has always been put on hold due to fear. I’m not the best with needles, so the prospect of signing up for a voluntary appointment with one isn’t exactly at the top of my list. This year, however, I’m going to give it a shot. (HA) Worst case scenario: I pass out and embarrass myself in front of a few overworked nurses and then never have to do it again. Best case scenario: everything goes smoothly and I can start donating on a regular basis. (For information on how you can donate blood here)

.

17) Do the 1 second per day video challenge

Being an avid watcher of YouTube, I’ve seen a handful of people make these videos where they record snippets of their day, every day, for an entire year, then compile it into a video at the end, showing one second from every day. They always make me smile and I think it will be a good challenge! Here is an example of one:

.

There you have it! 17 new goals for a new year. I’m already excited and nervous!

Do you have any specific goals for the upcoming year? Let me know! We’re all in this together!

How I Ran 1000 Miles in One Year (List-cember #8)

Of all the goals I set for 2017, the one that most worried me—both in questioning my sanity for setting it, and questioning my ability to complete it—was to run 1000 miles.

As someone who has hated running for the majority of her life, it was definitely what you would call a wild card. Most people I told thought I was crazy and the rest thought I was actually insane. I would have been right there with them if I hadn’t climbed Mt. Whitney a few years ago and gotten a big ole’ taste of “I CAN.” That experience inspired me to run my first 5k, two 10k’s and three half marathons, and ultimately led me to setting this goal for this year.

So, with the BIFC door wide open, I laced up my shoes and went on my first run. It was only three miles, but it was hard and I had to stop multiple times to catch my breath. Fast forward 369 days and 226 runs later, I finished my 1000th mile, winded only from all the celebratory screams I made throughout the final five miles.

Now that I’m finished, I’ve had multiple people ask me how I did it. And while a truthful summary would be: “I have no idea,” I broke it down to a few key aids. So, in case you’re among the curious or perhaps inspired to try this goal yourself, here are seven things that helped me run 1000 miles:

.

1) Be Crazy

I’ve kind of already said this, but it’s worth mentioning twice that to achieve a goal like this, you need to become slightly insane. You have to be willing to put yourself out of your comfort zone over and over and make sacrifices over and over. Over the course of this year, I ran on almost every surface: asphalt, grass, dirt and concrete; I ran indoors, outdoors, and sometimes a combination of both in one day; I ran early in the morning and late at night, wearing jackets in 40 degrees, wearing shorts in 90 degrees and wearing hoods and hats in the wind and rain. My schedule was dictated by running, whether it was an average workday, a weekend or even a vacation day, and I had absolutely no time to get sick. When I look back at it now, I want to laugh because I really was, by all accounts, crazy. But then again, I know if I hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have finished.

.

2) Listen to Those Around You

After the first few months of running, my friends and family started to realize that I was actually serious about this goal. As a result, it became a very popular topic of conversation. When we would get together, they would always check in on my progress. Near the end of the year, when I reached the 900 mile mark, I started posting Instagram videos to track my last 100 miles and a number of people messaged me with both encouragement and graciousness, saying that my quest for crazy was inspiring them. It was an important reminder of how my actions, even though they felt small and meaningless in the grand scheme of things, could not only affect but also inspire others. This was a huge motivating factor for me. I wanted to inspire them as much as I wanted to inspire myself.

.

3) Don’t Listen to Those Around You

Amongst all the encouragement, there was also a lot of implied doubt and protective paranoia. My friends and family didn’t want to see me fail. They didn’t want to find me at the end of the year burdened with discouragement. Not to mention, this year happened to be a very busy one for me, so there were many points when I found myself far behind the pace I needed to finish on time. At one point in August, I was almost 60 miles behind, which equates to almost 22 days off pace. “Are you—do you think you’ll be able to finish?” people would say. And while I knew it was rooted in genuine worry, there were parts of me that absorbed the negative connotations—They don’t think you can do it. You’re way too far behind. You should just quit—so I had to learn to block that out. Because in the end I was the one who knew if I could do it. I was the one who had to decide if I could make up the ground I had lost. I was the one who knew I wouldn’t and couldn’t quit.

.

4) Be Consistently Patient

Before I started this goal, I had this vision that once I made it through the first month I’d be in incredible shape and I’d never get winded or have leg cramps or feel like I was going to pass out—which is how I’ve felt for most of my running career. To my unfortunate surprise however, even in these last few months I still had days when I’d leave my house to run a route I’d run countless times before, only to find myself so short of breath I thought I might pass out. “HOW CAN THIS BE HAPPENING?!” I would think as I slowed myself to a walk. On these days I’d get so down on myself, and I’d wonder why I ever thought I could do something like this. But then I’d wake up the next day and feel so good on my run that I’d go two or three miles more than I intended. Thus, I had to learn that running will always be a learning curve, and I can’t let a few bad days get me down.

.

5) Expect Injuries and Work Through Them

I have never been someone you would consider “injury prone.” I’d like to say it’s because I’m lucky/indestructible, but the truth is, I’ve never really pushed my body to its limits before. And while I have a high tolerance for pain, I just wasn’t a “work through the pain” type of person. For this goal however, “if it hurts, stop” wasn’t really an option. I strained the Iliotibial Band in my left leg, I got shin splints in my left leg, I had two toes on my right foot split open, and I worked through sore muscles in seemingly every part of my body. And while every single one of these SUCKED, none of them took me out of the game. I iced when I needed to, I took days off when I needed to, and most importantly, I got right back out there.

.

6) Feed Your Senses

Before the start of the year, I spent a lot of time formulating the perfect running playlist. I scrolled through my entire iTunes library and I did a good amount of Googling to find songs that would (ideally) make me forget how hard running is. A few months into the goal however, I was already sick of this playlist. And not only that, I was sick of the routes I was running. I was getting bored of the songs and the scenery, which made it exponentially harder to motivate myself to run. So, I spiced up my routes. I took turns I never made before, and ran familiar routes backwards. As for ear food, I started alternating in podcasts. It was a nice break from hearing the same songs over and over, and I was surprised how easy it was to get sucked into other people’s conversations. If you’re looking for suggestions, some of my favorite podcasts were: Serial, Happy Sad Confused and Modern Love. Also, during the summer, I spent an entire month on the treadmill, binge watching Prison Break, so if you’re an indoor runner looking for some eye candy, Wentworth Miller is there for you. As far as songs go, I made this playlist, aptly titled, “These Songs Helped Me Run 1000 Miles” which you are welcome to listen to whether you’re running 1000 miles, 1 mile, or are just needing some pumped up tunes to drive to.

.

7) Keep Track

As some of you may know already, I’m an avid spreadsheet maker. Thus, when the opportunity arose to track my running progress, I went all out. Here is a screen shot of my year of running, the yellow being days I went on a run, the blue being days I went on two runs—one outside in the early morning and one on the treadmill in the afternoon to try and work around the triple digit degree days in the summer.

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 11.29.28 PM

This spreadsheet proved to be both motivated and discouraging as it showed me both my progress and how far behind I was. In the end however, it gave me one less stress, as I never had to worry about losing track of where I was on this quest.

.

There are probably a bunch of other things that helped me, both big and small, some I might not even realize. For example, to everyone that ever asked me, “How’s your running going,” you are one of those things! As of now, I’m very proud of myself, and even more, I’m excited to see what the future holds. Inspiration and adrenaline are as addicting as they come, and now that I’ve unlocked another level of “I can” in myself, I’m already craving what’s next.

IMG_3169

A mantra I gave myself this year was, “if it’s still only a daydream, the answer is no, but if you’re out there trying and failing, the answer is not yet.” I’ve wanted to be a runner for a long time, but until this year, was never able to break the barriers that surrounded that goal. Now I’m ready to see what else I’m capable of, and turn another “no” into a “not yet.”

How to Keep Your Christmas Decorations Up All Year Round (List-cember #7)

My least favorite part of Christmas is the moment it ends. Right after that clock strikes midnight, everything is over. All the planning, all the stress and anxiety, (probably) all the Christmas cookies. Like the day itself, they vanish into thin air, leaving only the memories behind.

Tonight, as I wrapped presents for my family and friends, I sat on my couch, basking in the season. I took a good look around my house, marveling at all the decorations we’ve hung up, dreading the day we’ll have to take them down and leave the walls plain again.

Decorations have always been one of my favorite parts of Christmas. I love the lights and the sparkles and all the red. I love the pride people take in filling their houses/cars/desks/etc. with Christmas spirit and the tradition of strangers coming together to marvel at that pride. It makes me wish Christmas lasted all year long. Though I suppose that would take away the novelty of it all, wouldn’t it? Then again, should we really need to consider pride, spirit and community a novelty? Shouldn’t these actually last all year long?

This got me thinking. What if when we took down our decorations, we took what they represent with us? For example:

1) Christmas Lights

bob-ricca-122708

These quite simply make people look and awe. Whether it be with their colors, their arrangement, or their uniqueness. In many ways, even though we look at Christmas lights our whole lives, every year it feels like we’re seeing them for the first time. This is the same way I feel about people when they show unwarranted kindness or unthinkable bravery. It’s not that I forget these qualities exist, it’s just a pleasant and inspiring surprise when I come across them. So in this upcoming year, what if we made an effort to be these displays of light? I think it’s safe to say, especially in today’s society, the world could always use some more light.

.

2) Ornaments

IMG_3040

I love ornaments. (So much so that I hand out superlatives every year.) I love that—at least the way my family does it—they are all unique and have a different story and memory associated with them, and that after all this time we still tell them. Pictures have this same quality. Unfortunately in this digital age we so often exile photos to the Internet and never think of them again. We need to print more pictures. We need to put them on display and remember the memories they capture. That way, in the moments we’re feeling low or nostalgic, we don’t have to scroll through our phones and try to dodge the pressures of comparison, we can simply look up at our wall or on our desk or bedside table and remember a moment that meant a lot to us.

 .

3) Paper Chains

OriginalPhoto-535535405.974492

By now this might be a rather outdated decoration, but I still love me some paper chains. More than anything, they remind me that I can make things with my hands and they don’t have to be perfect. These days with the constant access to websites and services that will do practically everything for you, it’s easy to forget that we have hands of our own built for crafting. Then again, with all the Pinterest wizards dominating the Internet, it’s easy to get discouraged when we try. But, like a paper chain, things we make by hand, whether it be home improvement projects, gifts, or a hot meal from scratch, it feels good to sit back and realize that you made it; that you put in the time and did it yourself.

.

4) Snow Globes

n-451271

My sister collects Christmas snow globes and is always one to walk over and shake them in a store. I think they give her, and me, and most of the general population a minute or two just to breathe. With a few shakes we stand and watch the snow or glitter fall, listening to the song that winds down, and for a moment we’re transported somewhere far away. While this might be harder to do in the general chaos of life, we can always take a second to stop and breathe; to take in the sights and sounds and smells around us and just be in that moment, completely as it is, just as we would until the song ended and we put the snow globe back on the shelf.

.

5) Christmas Music

I know, I know, this isn’t technically a decoration. But when you consider that Christmas music is playing from every speaker, everywhere you go, for almost two straight months, it kind of turns into one. Call it an atmosphere decoration if you will. Granted, this “atmosphere decoration” technically exists all year round, chameleoning to fit the designated atmosphere (i.e. “elevator music”). But there seems to be this general agreement that in November and December you only listen to Christmas music and in January-October you listen to everything but. As I elaborated in this post however, I say listen to whatever you want, whenever you want. Decorate your atmosphere with music that makes you feel good no matter what time of year it is and no matter what anyone else thinks.

.

So, as you start to de-decorate your house in the coming weeks, try to remember what it is about the decorations that draw you to them. Is it the light? Is it the color? Is it the associated memories? Then go out and find it in the confines of an average day, or create it yourself. Magic is not dictated by a calendar, and neither is goodness or glitter for that matter. So spread it around and soak it in, no matter the season.

25 Things that Inspired Me this Year (List-cember #4)

You know those moments when you hear/read/see/taste/experience something that gives you butterflies and fills you up with something you can’t quite explain, except for the fact that you not only want to feel more of it, but you want to pass that feeling on to others?

One of the greatest gifts in life is that you can experience these moments, even in the darkest of times in the most unexpected of places. What’s even better is that we all have the opportunity to encompass that light, even if this simply means passing on the light given to you by someone (or something) else. So, in the spirit of passing the torch, here are 25 things that inspired me this year. From quotes to songs to photos to videos to small ideas to big accomplishments and the like. Anything that gave me that light or opened that new door in my mind.

.

1) All the Good Things

This is a segment on my blog that I do at the end of each month, highlighting the good things that happened amongst the easier to find/well known bad. I am proud of this segment, but the reason I’m including it on this list is because of all the brave, kindhearted individuals that keep it going each month. Thank you for your continuing kindness and love, the world always needs it!

.

2) This moment:IMG_3084

.

3) Hard Love by Needtobreathe

“There’s a reason why the road is long, it takes some time to make your courage strong.”

.

4) “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller

.

5) Booksgiving

This an event held in February by The Bloggess, which encourages readers to gift each other books. This year I received When Breathe Becomes Air, which ended up being one of my favorite books of the year.

.

6) “You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.” – Paul Kalanithi, When Breathe Becomes Air

.

7) Eva Igo on World of Dance 

.

8) We Are the Kingdom by Francesca Battistelli

“Not to gain the world but make a difference.”

.

9) How to Be a Bawse by Lilly Singh

51lfwdPbHxL._SY346_

Honestly, I could probably just say ALL OF IT, but here are some of my favorite reasons why:

Take the first page, for example:

51293869696__C4D0CD31-9A93-498A-95E3-638B416A8D89

And then insights like THESE:

  • “Not being able to control people and situations doesn’t make you powerless; it just means you have to exercise your power in a different way.”
  • “Think of discomfort as currency—it’s the price you pay to learn some pretty crucial things.”
  • “There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs. An escalator can go out of service at any time, but the stairs are always there.”
  • “Don’t let disappointment blind you to potential.”
  • “You are a product of your environment, so decide wisely what kind of factory you want to be built in.”
  • “If you stay true to your values only when things are going well, then those aren’t values; they’re hobbies.”

.

10) The #MeToo movement and it’s recognition by TIME

time-person-of-year-silence-breakers-arm-anonymous-2017

.

11) This artist who utilized ripped paper as a medium:

IMG_3081

IMG_3082

.

12) And this artist who did the same with legos

Screen Shot 2017-12-10 at 11.46.58 PM

Screen Shot 2017-12-10 at 11.48.35 PM

.

13) “We can be truly successful only at something we’re willing to fail at. If we’re unwilling to fail, then we’re unwilling to succeed.” – Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

.

14) Happy People by Little Big Town

“If you wanna know the secret, can’t buy it gotta make it. You ain’t ever gonna be it by taking someone else’s away.”

.

15) Will Darbyshire

.

16) “Don’t fear being afraid.” – Connor Franta, Note to Self

.

17) My adventure with Alison Teal

IMG_1655

It put me wayyy out of my comfort zone, but I’m thankful for every second of it. You can read about it here.

.

17) This piece of advice:

IMG_3077

.

18) Which goes right alongside this one:

IMG_3072

.

19) Rudy Mancuso

.

20) “Sometimes you just have to pick a direction and make mistakes. Then you use what you learn from your failure to pick new, better directions so you can make more mistakes and keep learning.” – Matthew Quick, Every Exquisite Thing

.

21) Whatever it Takes by Imagine Dragons

“I do whatever it takes, ’cause I love how it feels when I break the chains”

.

22) Move Beyond Tour

In June of this year, my mom, sister and I attended Move Beyond, a show put on by Julianne and Derek Hough, and I was absolutely floored. I actually wrote a blog post about it that I never published, but to give you an idea of how much the inspiration was bubbling inside me after seeing the show, here’s an excerpt:

When the three of us walked out of the theater that night, I had no doubts of what Move Beyond meant, and understood it was different for everyone. For me, it was a request—or rather, a demand—to move beyond the walls of the day to day. To move beyond the bounds of my limits. To move beyond the minimum, the maximum and the unthinkable. To become someone beyond who I’d imagined. To love, and create and discover beyond the realm of possibility. It was an encouragement to do more, to be more. It was proof that you can move beyond anything, if only you have the courage.

.

23) This:IMG_3067

.

24) Seeing this dream be manifested*:

IMG_3070

*Note: the first tweet was posted in January of 2014. This year he’s nominated for five Grammy’s. 

.

25) And finally this:

Which quite honestly, still leaves me speechless.

img_3069.jpg

.

There is always inspiration to be found, and I’m thankful for the bright lights that have proven that to me this year and in years’ past. Thank you for filling me up when I’m feeling empty and opening doors I didn’t even realize were there. Here’s to a continuing cycle of inspiration, kindness and love!

 

 

 

30 Good Things that Happened in November

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 November to you!

.

1) The Dodgers took out a full-page ad in the Houston newspaper to congratulate the Astros on their World Series win

.

2) These childhood sweethearts got engaged

.

3) Lin Manuel Miranda’s son saw the first act of Hamilton

.

4) These sisters perfectly showcased what it’s like being sisters

sister

.

5) This dog liked his new carpet

.

6) This stepson gave his stepdad an amazing surprise

.

7) Actress Gabby Sidibe responded to a nasty Instagram comment in the best way

gabby

.

8) This police trio got warmed up

.

9) This homeless man got the ultimate payback after a helping a woman with his last $20

mc-1511359203-x1a095i2y2-snap-image

.

10) This boy gave out some great encouragement at the New York Marathon

.

11) These passengers turned a delayed flight into a party.

newfoundland-kitchen-party-toronto-airport-pearson

.

12) This 102 year old man met the nephew he never knew he had

.

13) This cartoonist created a series that reminds us to be thankful

5-065296304774640d2caa605c68d2b913

.

14) This boy saw clearly for the first time

.

15) Australia voted YES

australia-same-sex_647_111617090922

.

16) This Australian man proposed to his boyfriend using his water polo team

polo3333-a8a51ad05ff194d0397fe1df0ef12355

.

17) This mom wrote a beautiful letter to her nurse

5a0f069e150000260085898a

.

18) This cop went above and beyond the call of duty

.

19) This man danced his heart out

.

20) This chef offered some help to a customer

.

21) The lead singer of Imagine Dragons posted this great reminder

.

22) This boy got some camera time during his mom’s yoga video

.

23) Thanksgiving

.

24) After accidentally inviting the wrong teen to Thanksgiving last year, this grandma invited him—and he accepted—to spend the holiday with her family anyways. This year, she invited him again and he brought his girlfriend.

.

25) This man spent his Black Friday paying it forward

.

26) This puppy made a new best friend

.

27) This girl got flowers from her dad

.

28) These Indian women who are victims of acid attacks walked in a fashion show

5a1c5948150000a74d85a034

.

29) This woman became the first contest with Down Syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota pageant

171127-woman-down-syndrome-minnesota-feature

.

30) This woman got an amazing surprise from her grandmother

.

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

I can’t wait to see what December brings!

tree

You’re Free to be Great, So Go for It

This past week I officially hit the 900 mile mark of my 1000 mile running goal for the year. It’s been a trying 11 months to get here, and I have a feeling this final month will take everything I have to finish. My body is tired. It’s been sore and achy and fatigued more days than it hasn’t. And yet, I still feel strong. I feel like I can do anything.

Over the course of this year, I’ve looked for and found a variety of different things to listen to/watch while I’m running, the most prominent being my ever changing playlist on my phone, aptly titled “Running.” Consistently among my favorites on the playlist is “The Greatest” by Sia.

The song starts as follows:

Uh-oh I’m running out of breath, but I’ve got stamina.

Uh-oh I’m running now I close my eyes, well I got stamina.

And uh-oh, I see another mountain to climb

But I got stamina

For obvious reasons, this first verse makes sense on a running playlist. I mean what else besides stamina—and the slightest bit of insanity—do you need to get yourself running? To add to that, in the next part she sings:

Don’t give up

I won’t give up

Don’t give up, no, no, no

Which again, is exactly the kind of mindset you need to have while running.

The part that really hooks me though, is the chorus:

I’m free to be the greatest, I’m alive

I’m free to be the greatest here tonight, the greatest

The greatest, the greatest alive

The greatest, the greatest alive

I tell ya, whenever that chorus kicks in while I’m running, I break out into a sprint. Because aside from being the kind of inspirational “go team” type of sentiment that I need when I’m exercising, it fills me with motivation that I can take further.

I’m free to be the greatest, she says, I’m alive.

In other words: I’m free to be the greatest I can be, in anything I choose to try, because I have the great privilege of being alive. I firmly believe that the idea behind these words is what gets me out there running every day. It’s what put the idea in my head that I could run 1000 miles in the first place. For there’s truly nothing greater than making your dreams a reality and your doubts fiction.

So, I encourage you to chase them with everything you’ve got. Because as of today, as of this moment, you are completely free to be the greatest you can be, so you might as well go for it.

 

5 Square Pegs I’m Thankful For

It’s Thanksgiving time again, which means we have reached that point in the year where there is an entire day dedicated to something we should all strive to do a little more of: be grateful. I personally feel like I could talk for hours about all that I am thankful for, but that’s not to brag, it’s more to criticize myself for all the moments I let trivial things make me forget.

This year has been a trying one for our world. Fear and hate have tried their best to dictate who we are and what we do. But among this darkness has also been the constant presence of love. There are people helping people and loving people and saving people. There is still an ever presence of light that is trying it’s best to bleed out the dark.

Here on my blog, I’ve been doing my best to highlight the good things that have been happening amongst the bad in a monthly segment called “All the Good Things.” It’s a list of positive minded and/or inspiring actions/events that happen during a specific month, the length being equal to the number of days in that month. Come December, I’ll have done 11 “episodes” which equivalate to 334 good things that have happened so far this year! (And that’s only the ones I included on the list!) For me, making this list each month has given me a constant source of hope and positivity. It’s inspiring to know how many good hearts are out there in the world!

Speaking of good hearts. Last year for Thanksgiving, I wrote a post about 8 badass women I was (and still am) thankful for. Starting with my girl, Gina Rodriguez, the list showcased 8 women who had truly inspired me that year with their character, courageousness and all around badass-ery. This year I have a new list, and while they are not all women, they are all people who I’ve looked up to this year . For amongst all the repetition and imitation found in this age of social media, these 5 people are paving their own way with passion, innovation, inspiration and kindness. These are the square pegs challenging all the round holes—don’t make it weird. They are the ones standing out for good reason, showing the true benefit of being yourself and standing up for what you believe in.

.

1) Ellen DeGeneres

ellen-degeneres

If you’re ever looking for a smile or a safe place to laugh, Ellen is your go-to girl. With her unwavering positivity and message of kindness, she is a constant source of joy for anyone and everyone, especially those who watch her show. I am constantly inspired by the goodness she brings to television and social media and I can only hope to be part of projects with such a positive impact one day.

.

2) Malala

images_malala-y

Honestly, I don’t even think there are words I can say that could possibly describe the magic that is Malala. But maybe that’s the point. After all, it is not only her voice but her actions and her unshakable bravery that make her someone I continue to look up to. If you don’t know her story, I highly you suggest you look it up in its entirety, but here’s a sneak peek:

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 5.50.31 PM

.

3) Gal Gadot

Build Presents The Cast Of "Wonder Woman"

A small part of me wishes Wonder Woman would have come out last year so that Gal Gadot could have been properly featured on my list of badass women, but the rest of me is glad it came out this year, because she is the superhero we all needed. It’s no secret she’s a badass, but it’s also no secret that she’s humble and kind and an incredible role model for young (and old and any age really) girls and boys alike.

.

4) Chance the Rapper

Chance-the-rapper-on-gma-aug-2016-billboard-1548

I don’t like being behind the times, so when I started hearing everyone talk about Chance the Rapper’s album Coloring Book, and then realized I could only listen to it on Spotify, I almost immediately handed over my $7/month so I could see what this guy was all about. After doing so, let me just say that regardless of whether or not you like his music—which I do—you can never be too late to the party that is Chance the Rapper. Bottom line, he’s just a great person that is so full of life and love that it makes you want to be full of life and love.

.

5) Lin-Manuel Miranda

112616-people-lin-manuel_miranda-jpeg-30412_6bca945092445d03bae13e2e4a3a95c9.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

A few months back I had the opportunity to see Hamilton when it came to LA, which was everything I wanted/hoped it would be times 1000. Afterwards, I more or less love-ranted my way into a blog post called “5 Lessons I Learned from Hamilton & Lin-Manuel Miranda,” which says pretty much everything I want to say here, save for a few more thank you’s. As someone who’s constantly exhausted by what I find on social media, Lin-Manuel Miranda is always a breath of fresh air.

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 6.02.47 PM

Sometimes I have to remind myself that these tweets are not written directly to me. But then again, maybe they are. Maybe they are exactly what I need to read in order to get me where I need to go, which in a perfect world, is a place where I can write something that is exactly what someone needs to read in order to get them where they need to go. I’m all for this assembly line of inspiration, kindness and productivity, Lin. Let’s keep it moving!

.

Thank you to all these square pegs and to the many more that are out there making a positive difference in the world. I have so many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and you are all among them!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

31 Good Things That Happened in October

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 October to you!

.

1) Ellen kicked off October with her own list of good things

.

2) The cast of Mean Girls turned the attention to those who need it

.

3) Eric Church wrote a song in light of the Vegas shooting

.

4) As did Maren Morris & Vince Gil

.

5) This little girl started reading Harry Potter for the first time

.

6) This high school runner gave up his race to carry his teammate across the finish line

.

7) Everything went pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

12203157_G

.

8) This football team continued an amazing tradition

.

9) We finally found out what Nickelodeon slime was made out of

.

10) This dog was recsued from a well

.

11) This little guy got to be a pilot for a day

.

12) This girl sang her new rescue dog a lullaby

.

13) Burger King released a creative anti-bullying ad

.

14) This woman got pulled over for “suspected DUI” but quickly found out it was part of something much bigger

.

15) Contestants on Miss Peru, took a stand against gender violence. 

.

16) This therapy dog contined bringing joy to veterans

5NDBZ6UFJIZCFELBYQXYH6CN7Y

.

17) The #MeToo campaign on social media brought light to millions of victims of sexual assault and formed a united front determined to finally put an end to it.

.

18) This dad helped his son get through his first round of shots (and vice versa)

.

19) This man took makeup lessons so he can help his wife who is going blind

45A278F600000578-5017015-Couple_goals_This_couple_has_frequented_this_make_up_store_so_hu-m-22_1508953885440

.

20) This dad turned his son’s wheelchair into a Game of Thrones dragon

59f8c8021800003400d5a5a2

.

21) This high school football player with cerebral palsy scored an 80 yard touchdown

 

.

22) Hailey, a girl from a previous good things post, threw out the first pitch at the World Series

.

23) This boy met his little brother for the first time

.

24) This police officer helped an 8 year old boy celebrate his birthday after no one picked him up from school.

screen-shot-2017-10-25-at-5-45-36-pm

.

25) The man behind “Haircuts for the Homeless” was gifted a barbershop by a stranger

.

26) This 82 year old man hiked the entire (2,190 mile) Appalachian Trail

IMG_5643-1024x768

.

27) This nurse sang to her dying patient

.

28) This little girl laid down the law

.

29) Season 2 of Stranger Things was released!

stranger-things-poster

.

30) This couple brainstormed their Halloween costumes…

.

31) …And then this weatherman won Halloween

.

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

I can’t wait to see what November brings!

tree