inspiration

Summer 2017 Charity Walks

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

I’ll admit it, I have.

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

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

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

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Relay for Life

Who you’re walking for: American Cancer Society

Distance: varies

Find more information here

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Light the Night

Who you’re walking for: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Distance: About 3 miles

Find more information here

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Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Who you’re walking for: Alzheimer’s Association

Distance: 2-3 miles

Find more information here

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AIDs Walk

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

Distance: 6.2 miles (a 10k course)

Find more information here

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Strut Your Mutt

Who you’re walking for: Best Friends Animal Society

Distance: varies

Find more information here

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March of Dimes

Who you’re walking for: March of Dimes Foundation

Distance: About 3 miles

Find more information here

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Walk for Wishes

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

Distance: 3.1 miles (5k course)

Find more information here

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Walk MS

Who you’re walking for: National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Distance: 1-3 miles

Find more information here

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Buddy Walk

Who you’re walking for: National Down Syndrome Society

Distance: varies based on location

Find more information here

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Breast Cancer 3-day

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

Distance: 60 miles over 3 days

Find more information here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calling All Humans, I Want Your Garbage

Calling all humans, I want your garbage.

No, not your actual garbage. Not your literal, tangible, probably rank garbage. I’m talking about your figurative garbage. More specifically: your morning garbage.

(How many times do I have to say garbage before it becomes a drinking game?) 

We’ve all had bad mornings. The nuclear, should have stayed in bed, can this seriously be happening type mornings. The garbage mornings, if you will. And since we’ve all had these, I thought there should be a place to talk about them. To laugh at them. To prove they are actually a thing that happened, even if it may seem impossible.

So, I’ve started This Terrible Morning. A blog dedicated to the horrible, awful and hilarious mornings that tend to haunt us every once in a while.

This is where your garbage comes in.

I want your stories, your pictures, your sarcastic turn of phrases. All of it. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a writer or a comedian or a photographer. The only credentials you need are an honest voice, a great story, and the willingness to share it.

So if you’ve ever had one of those mornings that started with a (maybe literal) bang and ended in a (hopefully figurative) fire, please do me and the Internet the honor of sharing it! And if you’re someone who secretly enjoys reading about those fires, please do me and the people brave enough to share theirs the honor of subscribing!

You can find the blog at www.thisterriblemorning.com

You can submit your stories/pictures/etc. to thisterriblemorning@gmail.com

31 Good Things That Happened in May

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 May to you!

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1) Since she couldn’t accept his invitation to prom, Emma Stone sent this teen and his date a corsage.

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2) This dad got an amazing birthday surprise

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3) This music video took us back to the 90s

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4) This author announced her new book in the best way

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5)  This guy made a fool of himself for a good cause

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6) Nicki Minaj helped a bunch of students pay for college

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7) This little girl had something to brag about

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8) After realizing he made a mistake, Chris Pratt made up for it in a great way

Instagram does this thing where it mutes all the videos it shows and forces you to turn on the volume in order to hear them. (maybe because most people are watching those videos at work when they should be working and don't want to get caught. I know that's when I do it. 😬) So when I made a video recently with subtitles, and requested that people turn up the volume and not just "read the subtitles" it was so people wouldn't scroll past the video on mute, thus watching and digesting the information in the video. HOWEVER, I realize now doing so was incredibly insensitive to the many folks out there who depend on subtitles. More than 38 million Americans live with some sort of hearing disability. So I want to apologize. I have people in my life who are hearing-impaired, and the last thing in the world I would want to do is offend them or anybody who suffers from hearing loss or any other disability. So truly from the bottom of my heart I apologize. Thanks for pointing this out to me. In the future I'll try to be a little less ignorant about it. Now… I know some of you are going to say, "Hey! Chris only apologized because his publicist made him!" Well. That is not the case. As always I control my social media. Nobody else. And I am doing this because I'm actually really sorry. Apologies are powerful. I don't dole them out Willy-Nilly. This is one of those moments where I screwed up and here's me begging your pardon. I hope you accept my apology. And on that note. Why doesn't Instagram have some kind of technology to automatically add subtitles to its videos? Or at least the option. I did a little exploring and it seems lacking in that area. Shouldn't there be an option for closed captioning or something? I've made them lord knows how much money with my videos and pictures. Essentially sharing myself for free. I know they profit. So… GET ON IT INSTAGRAM!!! Put closed captioning on your app. #CCinstaNow

A post shared by chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) on

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9) This wedding photographer captured some real love

Tonight I was photographing Adrian & Roslyn at sunset. I was setting up those grand sunset scenes… you know the ones… the little people in a big scene… I love those kinda shots… but tonight that just didn't seem enough. Just as the light became amazing I scrapped everything I knew and I walked up to them and said, "guys, stop posing. Just enjoy your first sunset together as husband and wife". They then held each other in the most beautiful way… It was so much more beautiful than anything I could ever set up. Then I said to Adrian, "I have a question for you, but I want you to tell the answer to Roslyn and not me." I continued, "Out of the billions of people on the planet, you've chosen to spend the rest of your life with Roslyn. Can you tell her why?" In a matter of moments I could start seeing Roslyn's eyes glisten, then the most beautiful tears streamed down her face. Then I found myself crying. Oh Love, You are oh so precious.

A post shared by James Day (@jamesdayweddings) on

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10) This guy got into college!

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11) This man embodied perseverance

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12) These moms wrote encouraging letters to other moms

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13) This little girl snuck her pet cow inside the house

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14) This little girl took a picture with a potato

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15) Mother’s Day b1923d25f9b3a9e78692230f1935b976

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16) This mom and son inspired everyone with their graduation photo

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17) Oreo opened the best contest EVER

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18) This deployed soldier got to be a part of his wife’s pregnancy shoot

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19) In the wake of something unimaginably terrible, kindness, love and bravery showed up again

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20) …and again

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21) …and again

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22) This little boy wrote a touching letter to Nintendo about his favorite game

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23) This dog taught his brother how to sit.

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24) This guy continued to make progress

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25) This service dog snagged a spot in his owner’s school yearbook

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26) This guy showed off his talent

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27) Kaley Cuoco adopted a dwarf mini horse named Shmushy

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28) Memorial Day honored life’s true superheroes

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29) This 92 year old Marine Corp sergeant achieved one of his biggest goals

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30) This girl got an amazing surprise

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31) Jennifer Lopez & James Corden took some dance lessons

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

I can’t wait to see what June brings!

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Music Can Still Heal, Love Can Still Prevail

In yesterday’s blog post I talked about KROQ’s Weenie Roast & Fiesta, the concert I attended over the weekend. I talked about all of the different aspects of a concert or music festival and some tips on how to maximize your experience. Then, last night, I got word of the horrific attack in Manchester at an Ariana Grande concert, which killed 22 people and injured over 50. I had no words.

This morning, as I pored over a number of news articles and blog posts responding to the attack, I couldn’t help but tear up. I had just been a concert goer. I had just spent an evening with my own favorite artists, singing and dancing and being carefree. There was an eerie air above my head. I felt almost guilty.

Then, I remembered something.

At Weenie Roast on Saturday, in the 8 o’clock hour, Imagine Dragons was onstage, performing my favorite set of the day. After about their 3rd song Dan Reynolds, the lead singer, took a few moments to speak on hate. He mentioned a problem one of his young daughters was having at school with another student. She’d been pushed down and told her pigtails were stupid and came home crying. He was heartbroken and angry that she had experienced hate for the first time, and was solemn knowing she’d only experience more as her life went on. But then, he shifted gears. He looked out at the crowd and smiled. We were all quiet and flushed from the long, hot day, and he told us we were beautiful. That we were every color and size and shape and ethnicity. And we were all there, together, letting music heal us.

“Because that’s what music does,” he said, “music heals us. It saves us from ourselves and from the world. It brings us together.”

We all applauded, but not the kind that feels obligated or appropriate, the kind that happens naturally, because we understand, because we agreed. He then bowed his head and thanked us all for being there and encouraged us to take the love and acceptance we shared in the space of music and spread it out amongst the world.

This tragedy in Manchester is unfathomable. It has harmed the world and its people in more ways than one. But one thing it didn’t do, it couldn’t do; one thing that terrorism can never accomplish, is destroying our ability to heal. To love. To persevere.

So, as we walk slowly in the wake of such darkness, we must remember that we are all carrying light, and as we continue to let it shine, we are winning. As we continue to let ourselves heal and be healed, we are winning. And if continue to fight hate with love, we will win.

Dear High School Students,

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

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

But that was only the half of it.

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

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

Maslow’s Hierarchy of What Other People Think We Need

Like the skills required to dissect a frog, there are many lessons from my K-12 education that I’ve found a way to forget. However, there are also those I can’t help but remember: Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, the symbol for silver on the periodic table, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Often showcased in a pyramidal diagram, Maslow’s theory recognizes the 5 essential needs of the individual, starting at the bottom with the most essential: physiological (i.e. food and water), and working its way up to safety (i.e. health and home), love/belonging (i.e. friendship and intimacy), esteem (i.e. acceptance and self-respect), and self-actualization (i.e. the understanding and achieving of one’s full potential). The needs are ranked on importance, assuming an individual cannot obtain higher, more complex needs before first satisfying the most basic. For example, an individual with a consistent supply of food and water would focus on their need for health and home, and only after those needs were met would they worry about friendship and intimacy. Simply put: One only feels the need for something when they have the time and resources to realize they need it.

Learning about Maslow’s theory in high school fascinated me. It made such sense and seemed so obvious. However, I quickly came to learn how far people tend to stray from its logicality.

After I graduated college, every conversation I had was based on my future plans. Did I have a husband yet? Did I have a career path? Was I going to become successful?

There I was a well-fed, well housed, and well-loved human being, proud of myself for pursuing and completing a formal degree and beginning to consider my full potential. I was reaching the peak of Maslow’s pyramid, drowning in the plenty, and yet my peers only identified what I lacked. Granted, there is a large difference between motivation and criticism, and I know that many questions came with good intentions and genuine support. They wanted me to be hungry for more, and I was, I just didn’t know quite what I was craving.

In today’s society, with the constant presence of social media, the discovery of what one lacks is an everyday occurrence. Be it a job, a significant other, or a bikini body, individuals yearn for what they lack without realizing the wealth in what they have that allows them to do so.

We all impose our own hierarchies, both in our lives and those of others around us, setting standards for what we believe a person needs in order to be x. (x being successful, happy, of value, etc.) But who can truly determine a level of success and happiness besides the person in question? Who is a better gage of our wealth than we who live off of its riches?

Maslow’s theory works under the simple assumption that we are all humans with needs and some of us will thrive where others lack. And while time and self-growth will continue to morph our own hierarchies, it is important to look back at Maslow’s original 5, appreciating the most basic and essential needs we have met that allow us to focus on the deeper and more complex. For with a basis of gratefulness, we can create a healthy hunger for progression, not only in our own hierarchy but also in those around us.