inspiration

Tips for Training for a Marathon

This past Sunday I ran the LA Marathon, a feat I never thought possible for myself, and one I will forever be PSYCHED about.

I wrote a blog about the experience, but I wanted to write another one for anyone who might be considering running a marathon, be it this year, next year or whenever. These are the things I learned both going into the race and on the day itself and I hope they can help you!

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1) Follow a training plan or join a group

Before I started training, the only thing I really knew about marathons was that I eventually had to run 26.2 miles. But as far as breaking it down to manageable increments, I had no idea. I didn’t want to undershoot it and leave me unprepared, or overshoot it and leave me exhausted. So, I enlisted the help of the internet and found this training plan that I followed (as well as I could) and I arrived on race day feeling very prepared.

If you are someone who has trouble getting motivated to follow a plan like this on your own, there are a ton of organizations out there that will give you a community to both encourage you and hold you accountable. If you are in the LA area, check out the LA Leggers, Students Run LA, Movement and LA Road Runners.

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2) Train hills

The LA Marathon is known for its hilly course and let me tell you: the rumors are true!  I was very grateful to have paid extra care in training with hills because I didn’t have any issue with them, but I could tell there were a bunch of runners who weren’t prepared for that element of the course and it zapped their energy.

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3) Mix up your routes

Training for a marathon is a long process. I probably did about 60 training runs, which is actually less than my training plan suggested, but was the best I could do in accordance with my schedule. After the first month or so, I had a list of routes I was familiar with and I would rotate them around. For the most part this was totally fine, but when I started having trouble with my IT Band, I read that one common cause of the tightness is running on the same side of the road too often. Since sidewalks are slanted (even if we don’t notice) we will unknowingly distribute our weight to keep ourselves balanced, which in turn can put extra strain on certain muscles. To prevent this, try to run a variety of routes and sometimes run those routes backwards, or on the opposite side of the street.

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4) Figure out your perfect training diet

There are a lot of articles out there that will tell you the “perfect” thing to eat before and after runs, and many of them contradict themselves. The reason is all of our bodies are different, and as such require different things to perform at the best of their ability. For me, I liked to eat pasta the night before a big run, a protein bar or some toast the morning of, and then a fruit smoothie with some protein powder after. I stayed away from dairy and sugar and I drank lots of water for days leading up to the run and afterward.

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5) Don’t skimp on post run care

Trust me when I say that I know the first thing you want to do after a long run is just sit on the couch. I also think it’s important to note that for the first two months of my training I did. It wasn’t until I started getting to the longer training runs that I realized that just wasn’t going to cut it. I was getting really sore and feeling worn down and frustrated. So, I did research on good post-run routines and then I stuck to them. After every run I made sure to stretch. And then I made myself a protein smoothie, drank water, took a cold shower (it’s as awful as it sounds but it seriously helps with sore muscles, I promise!) and then I relaxed on the couch. If my muscles were still sore, I iced them and took Advil.

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6) Find somewhere to put your phone

I personally do not like wearing any accessories when I run. Not even a fanny pack or those bands that strap on your arm to hold your phone. I am just so particular about the way things feel and I have never been able to find a happy medium for how tight or loose those are. SO, I wore a pair of leggings with pockets down the sides. This allowed me to keep energy gels, snacks, my phone, anything I might need during my run without having to hold them, because as I learned the hard way, anything gets heavy in your hand after an hour or so of running.

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7) Keep yourself hydrated

This was another one I learned the hard way. On my first 15-mile training run, I thought I could just go for it like I’d done on all the runs in the past, assuming that having water waiting for me at the end would be enough. It was not enough. I got so dehydrated and  I was all but convinced I was going to pass out on my walk back to my house. After that, I started planning out my runs in loops. I left a water bottle outside my front door that I would loop back to every five miles or so, and I kept energy gels in my pockets that I would take every hour and a half or so. (If you are a runner that is comfortable running with a water backpack or a water bottle this probably won’t apply to you, but it worked for me and might be something to consider.)

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8) Bring chapstick

When you are out there running for long periods of time, your lips get very dry. I constantly forgot to put on chapstick and I paid for it, both with cracked, dry lips, and sunburned lips. So, if you can, apply a bunch before your run. Also, I’d recommend bringing some with you on race day since you’re going to be out in the sun for so long. There are people who stand on the sidelines with poster boards covered in Vaseline, but I thought that was…kind of gross? It’s really a personal opinion here, if you have no qualms about germs/sweaty hands/melty Vaseline, then go ham on those poster boards. I kept some Chapstick in my pocket and took each poster I saw as a reminder to apply.

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9) Be patient

Training is a long journey. Give yourself time to improve and don’t get down on yourself if that process is slow. Just keep getting out there and keep moving forward.

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10) Listen to your body

There is a fine line between pushing yourself and hurting yourself. Aches and pains are a part of the process, but they shouldn’t all be brushed off as collateral. You know your body, so when it tells you something is wrong, pay attention.

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11) Go for it

Get pumped. Go all in. Believe you can do it and listen to the people around you who believe it too. Let that positivity fuel you. YOU CAN DO THIS!

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12) Push through the wall

In the blog I wrote about my own marathon experience, I talked about hitting the infamous “wall”. It was around mile 21 and I wholeheartedly considered quitting. My self-esteem had plummeted and my body was so tired I wanted to cry, so the thought of having to go five more miles seemed impossible. Prepare yourself for the possibility of this feeling. It is hell, but it is what makes a marathon a marathon. Take a break, breathe in and out, picture yourself at the finish line, and put encouraging words on repeat. I probably muttered, “I can do this” one hundred times after I passed the mile 21 marker, trying to muster up some inspiration from deep inside myself. And though it hurt like hell and seemed like an absolutely ridiculous idea, I started running again, and with each step I let those words sing louder than the doubt. I can do this I can do this I can do this I can do this.

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13) Be proud of yourself

Two days after I ran the marathon, I ordered myself a cake and had the bakery attach at note on top that said: “Never stop believing in yourself.”

There is no shame in being proud of yourself. There is no reason not to celebrate your own accomplishments. You are a badass and it’s most important that you know that. Once you do, you’ll be unstoppable!

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YOU. CAN. DO. THIS.

You can do anything.

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If you’d like some information on marathons happening this year, check out this article.

I Ran A Damn Marathon

Two years ago, just after my 27th birthday, I made this list to give myself 30 things to strive for before I turned 30. The very last item on that list, was an ellipses-ed, maybe, kinda, but I don’t know item: Run a Marathon.

I didn’t want to commit to the task, but I also wanted to keep it in mind. I love challenging myself, and I especially love proving I can do things I never would have believed I could, so I put it on the list and let the curiosity fester.

Then, in September of last year, the curiosity bubbled over.

I did some research and I looked up training plans, and I decided to commit to this one, which would have me marathon ready in six months. I would start my training in October, making it so I finished training just before the 2019 LA Marathon.

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The training was tough, and long, and sometimes just plain frustrating, but I got through it, and this past Saturday, as I sat eating my now traditional pre-run pasta dinner, I hoped it had been enough. Then my alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. the next morning, and there was no more wondering, there was no more waiting, it. was. time.

The starting line was at Dodger Stadium and the start time was 6:55 a.m. So after pinning on my bib, jumping around and stretching, and hugging my family goodbye, I got in line, loaded up my playlist, got herded into the corrals, and then…the gun went off.

I was in the zone y’all.

The first mile flew by and when I saw that first mile marker, I lifted my hands up the air, confident, excited and ready. Only 25.2 more to go!

It wasn’t going to be easy. This was a marathon after all, and everyone running that race was running against something that had nothing to do with the course. For me, besides the emotional obstacles of doubt and contemplating my potential insanity and all that fun stuff, I had recently been struggling with the IT band on my right leg.

It began in the last few weeks of training, and though I’d been as diligent as I could to ice it, rest it and pray sweet blessings over it, the muscle still, for lack of a better word, twanged. And unfortunately, after that first strong mile, I felt that twang.

Okay, I thought. We’re okay. We can do this. PLEASE, LORD, HELP. We can do this.

For the next 10 miles or so, I did do it. I powered through. The uphills were tough and the downhills were worse, but I breathed and I focused and I powered through.

We can rest later, I said, talking to my IT band like a person, just keep your shit together for ONE. MORE. DAY.

Thankfully (I guess), by mile 15, the arch of my left foot started to ache, which more or less cancelled out the pain in my leg, giving me a nice, uniform discomfort that was manageable.

And so came mile 16, and then 17, 18 and 19, and just as I approached the mile marker for mile 20, I slapped my hand on a sign being held by a little boy on the sideline that said “tap here for a power up!”

Only 6.2 miles left! I thought. We do this all the time. We got this.

That’s when I hit the wall.

Not a physical, actual wall. No, the infamous, figurative marathon wall. It’s the point when your strength suddenly plummets, the trail suddenly stretches, and time suddenly slows way down.

I came around a corner to the hill that led to the mile 21 marker and I suddenly just felt done.

By this point both of my legs were aching, the bottoms of my feet felt like I was running on broken glass, and my knees were just plain tired of being knees. I stopped running for the first time and I wobbled my way up that hill, feeling as broken and discouraged as I did during my first training run for my very first 5k all those years ago.

Mile 22 wasn’t any easier.

I took turns running and walking, neither one feeling particularly easier than the other, and I stopped making eye contact with fans cheering on the sidelines. What if I can’t make it?

Just then, a text came in from a friend who was tracking my progress online: “Keep it up Kim! Almost there!” I thought briefly about curling into a ball and crying, but instead I decided to start running again. It was a slower pace than I’d kept my first 20 miles, but it was something.

I jogged and I breathed and I tried to stay focused on the songs playing in my headphones, assuming that if self confidence could take me 80% of the way, an up-tempo song with some inspiring attitude could take me the other 20.

Then I saw mile 23. And 24. And then, finally, mile 25.

“Only one mile left!!” someone on the sidelines yelled into a megaphone.

I took a deep breath and I buckled down. My entire body hurt but I didn’t care. I could f*cking do this and I was going to prove it.

I came down the last hill and saw the ocean, and then the road wrapped around and there was the finish line. It was a straight shot. A far, long, seemingly ENDLESS straight shot. But it was there, and each step got me closer, until suddenly my feet were on the final platform and the finish line was moving into my rearview.

I had done it. I RAN A DAMN MARATHON. And the moment I saw my family and they ran out from behind the sideline to give me a hug, I burst into tears.

This was undoubtedly the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was also the most rewarding. At the end of mile 20, as I came around the corner under an overpass and looked ahead at the mile 21 marker at the top of the hill, I wanted to quit.

There’s just no way I can make it. I’m in over my head. I can’t do this.

But the moment those words crossed my mind, I was determined to shut them out. To prove them wrong. So I took this picture:

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I wanted to remember this spot. This moment when I could have let doubt and discouragement win. So that when I crossed that finish line, when I got my medal and my free banana, I could always remember that I kept going. That instead of quitting, I went 5 more miles.

We can do anything we put our mind to.

Go the extra five miles. You can do it.

200 Day Time Capsule Blog #3

Hello, fellow survivors of the future. We’ve once again made it through another 200 days, and this time (at least for me) they’ve flown by!

I was genuinely shocked when I saw an email ~*from the past*~ sitting in my inbox this past Tuesday. I had totally forgot, which made it that much more exciting.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out this post, which talks about the first time capsule blog I did, and gives you information on how you can join in.

For now, let’s see what past Kim was up to back in August.

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1) What day is it?

My answer from the last time capsule (8/29/18): Wednesday August 29, 2018

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2) What’s the weather like outside?

My answer from the last time capsule (8/29/18): It’s been really nice the last couple of days. The summer is slightly giving way, so the temps stay around the high 80’s during the day and then dip into the high 60’s at night which is exciting! I honestly can’t wait until fall. I’ve been looking at my sweaters longingly and I can’t wait cozy up.

Note to past Kim: You had absolutely no idea of the fall/winter that was in store you for and the rest of the country, girl. PEOPLES’ HAIR FROZE. IT WAS UNSAFE TO BREATHE OUTSIDE. Things were nuts. Soak this upcoming spring and summer IN. Who knows what’s in store next year. 

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3) What did you do today?

My answer from the last time capsule (8/29/18): So far today all I’ve done is work. We are currently going through an audit and even though I’m not a big part of it, it still makes me nervous. I hope everything is going good! Later today, I have plans on going to the gym and running on the treadmill. And while it’s not set in stone yet, I’ve been considering picking back up on the running and trying to complete a marathon next year. It’s a daunting thought, but I really think I want to go for it. I guess we’ll see what happens.

Note to past Kim: This one actually gave me chills because we DID sign up and train for a marathon and it’s THIS SUNDAY. Can you even believe that? You are such a badass. 

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4) What’s your favorite song right now?

My answer from the last time capsule (8/29/18): Honestly I have a couple favorites right now, so I would say it’s between: “You Should See Me in a Crown” by Billie Eilish, “Live a Little” by Fool and “Breathin'” by Ariana Grande.

Note to past Kim: Still true. Still jammin’.

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5) What’s the most recent movie you’ve seen?

My answer from the last time capsule (8/29/18): Just yesterday I drove over to the Burbank Town Center after work to see Skate Kitchen, which I loved. It’s an indie movie that one review described as “Lady Bird with skateboards” which is honestly pretty accurate and probably part of the reason why I loved it so much. It was one of those movies that made me think, which made me want to write stories that make people think.

Note to past Kim: Keep writing those stories, girl. You’ve got good ones in you. Give them the time to come out. 

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6) Who did you text last and what did you say?

My answer from the last time capsule (8/29/18): I texted my sister asking which celebrities I should use for the “Where’s the Groom?” game I’m putting together for my soon to be (official) cousin Amanda’s bridal shower in September. I’m already excited to read this letter in the future because it means that the wedding finally came and I can’t wait to know how fun it was.

Note to past Kim: Good news, the wedding was everything and more. My feet might still be a little sore from all the dancing we did that night.

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7) What is your biggest goal right now?

My answer from the last time capsule (8/29/18): To keep moving forward. I have this feeling in my gut that I’m right around the corner from something. I don’t know what it is or if it’s going to involve my personal or professional life or both, but I feel like I’m right on the cusp of something, so my goal is to keep working towards it.

Note to past Kim: Good news: We still have that feeling, meaning there’s gotta be something truly great around that corner. Bad news: We still have that feeling, meaning we haven’t come around that corner just yet, but we’re hangin’ in there!

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8) What are you most excited about?

My answer from the last time capsule (8/29/18): Cory and Amanda’s wedding. Hands down.

Note to current Cory & Amanda: Your wedding was everything and more! 🙂

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9) What are you most worried about?

My answer from the last time capsule (8/29/18): In one part of my brain I’m worried that I’m not doing anything with my life and that I’m just wandering around with no idea where I’m supposed to be. And then the rest of my brain is worried about mostly everything else. So to be honest, my answer would be: most things. *nervous smile and shrug*

Note to past Kim: Is there a way to send a hug to your past self? Or should I just hug us now? Let’s just give hugs all around. We’re doing our best. We’re figuring it out.  

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10) Tell yourself a really bad joke.

My answer from the last time capsule (8/29/18): I can’t think of a joke at the moment, but hey, future Kim, if you’re having a down day, go rewatch Demetri Martin’s new (though I guess it won’t be new in the future) standup special. It will make you smile, I promise.

Note to past Kim: Thanks, girl. PS- future you has gotten real comfortable talking to yourself via blog. Some might say too comfortable, but we say it’s just right. 

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You can check out this page to see the growing archive of all of my time capsule answers. And don’t forget to check out this post to find out how you can create your own time capsule.

Our next delivery date is: October 7th, 2019

Until then, have a wonderful day and I’ll see you in the future!

 


 

Check out the previous 200 Day Time Capsule Blog here.

28 Good Things that Happened in February

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) This couple invited women to wear their old wedding dresses to their wedding

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2) This soldier surprised his dad

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3) Mattel introduced dolls with wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs

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4) These people pranked their dads in the best way

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5) Elton John did a duet with the actor set to portray him in the upcoming biopic

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6) This mom sent a video to her daughter

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7) This boy’s embroidery became an internet favorite

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8) This boy showed how strong he is

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9) Selma Blair walked rocked the red carpet at the Oscars, her first public appearance after her MS diagnosis

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10) These people described their age in one word

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11) This police officer left his pregnant waitress an incredible tip

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12) Kacey Musgraves honored Selena with a performance in Houston

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13) Research showed that the sea turtle population has increased by 980%

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14) This little girl got an amazing Valentine’s Day surprise

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15) This man discovered a life hack and decided to forego moving into a nursing home and instead live in a series of Holiday Inns

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16) This community learned sign language to support their newest member

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17) This boy’s hilarious Valentine box stole people’s hearts

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18) Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper performed together at the Oscars

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19) This:

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20) This little girl was moved to tears by the song her mom wrote just for her

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21) This dog took care of his fellow animals

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22) These people shared stories of the nicest thing that’s ever been done for them

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23) Alicia Keys played two pianos at the Grammys

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24) After winning Best Actress at the Oscars, Olivia Coleman gave the most incredible speech

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25) This boy took his first flight

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26) This man shared an important note on knowing your worth

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27) This little girl received thousands of pictures of dogs

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28) This girl wrote an amazing poem

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

I can’t wait to see what March brings!

You can view last month’s post here.

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A Reminder from Awards Season: Try

Fun fact about me: I LOVE awards season.

The Emmys. The Grammys. The Oscars.

I’m here for it all.

I love seeing deserving people get recognized and dreams coming true. And I love listening to the speeches of ordinary people, just like you and me, proving that big dreams are not crazy and pursued passions do not go unrewarded.

Last night was no exception.

As I sat there watching the Oscars, listening to so many winners—especially first time winners—remind the dreamers at home who might be thinking I could never, that you can, I felt that familiar tinge of inspiration.

It’s not crazy to try.

It is never ever crazy to dream.

Because it can be you.

Whatever the equivalent of that Oscar stage is in your dream, it can be you standing up there. It can be you accepting that award and paying it forward to everyone at home thinking they never could.

So don’t be afraid to soak up the inspiration. And don’t count yourself out of conversations about someday. There is no dream you don’t deserve.

Try.

5 Skills You Didn’t Realize Were Skills

Have you ever had a day where you feel like you aren’t good at anything? Like you have no skills worthy of ribbons or awards or even a gasp of awed recognition? Like maybe you can’t even open a door correctly?

I have those days. I think we all do. And why wouldn’t we when there are singers and actors and athletes and those balloon animal artists that walk around restaurants doing their thing, making you think man, I wish I could do that.

The good news is, we can do things, my friends. In fact, we do amazing things all the time without even noticing them.

For example:

1) Carrying Laundry

Do you remember when you were little and your mom would ask you to get the laundry out of the dryer, and how when you pulled it out a towel wrapped around your legs and tripped you and then you dropped a sock and bent down to pick it up, only to drop another one and then another one, until eventually there was more laundry on the floor than in your hands and so you threw it all down in frustration? Just look at how far we’ve come. Now we know exactly how to angle our body; curving our arms and arching our back to ensure that no piece of clothing is left behind.

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2) Driving

For this one, I know we obviously spent time intentionally learning this skill. But I just felt it was necessary to mention it because it is kind of crazy that we casually operate two ton vehicles on a daily basis. Most of the time while listening to music, eating, and trying to do our eye makeup in the mirror on the way to work.

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3) Technology

When I was in 5th grade, my family had a white landline telephone that had huge blue buttons and a speakerphone, which I thought was THE COOLEST. Then when I was in 7th grade, my mom got the first cellphone in our house, which had an antenna that you pulled out of the top, which I also thought was THE COOLEST. And now I have an iPhone a.k.a a tiny, portable computer, that I get angry at when the AirDrop feature can’t receive pictures from other iPhones in the blink of an eye, or when the Bluetooth doesn’t sync to a portable speaker or when the Wifi I’m connected to won’t stream movies and television shows. WHAT EVEN IS THE WORLD WE LIVE IN?! When did we learn what all of this was—let alone how to work it all?! Our fifth grade selves would be freaking out.

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4) Cracking our bones

This one goes out to all of our younger selves who only woke up sore when we accidentally fell asleep with our head propped up against a wall with one leg tucked under us and the other one stretched out in mid side-split. Now we wake up, lean forward, twist our legs to the side, point an arm at a specific part of the ceiling and roll our head back along our shoulders, knowing that afterwards, our bodies will be ready (ish) for the day.

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5) People

It’s a part of growing up to learn the way other people work and to be able to identify whether they are worth our time or not. And while there are always going to be times when we are blindsided by an undercover a-hole, it’s still worth mentioning how far we’ve come in the people department. All that advice we can give our friends? It comes from years of learning, sometimes—at least I like to believe—for the very serendipitous reason to tell that friend exactly what they need to hear in that moment.

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These are only five things, y’all.

FIVE.

I know—or at least I assume—that you thought of more while you were reading this. Like hey, you’re right, Kim, I hadn’t even realized how fast I can put my hair in a ponytail. Or that I know the exact amount of meats, cheeses and veggies are required to make the perfect sandwich. Or that I know how to twist, lift and shove that closet door open, even when I’m in a time crunch and don’t have a second to spare.

Sure, it’s silly stuff. But the point of all of this is to remember that we’re all learning, every day, and we’re all growing. Even though it might not feel like it, we are figuring this life thing out piece by piece, in our own way.

Plus, we can’t all be out there making scarily accurate balloon versions of Disney princesses. That would be chaos.

Just a Little Valentine’s Day Reminder

Today is just a day.

And no matter if you love it, hate it, celebrate it, skip it, or just now remembered it’s anything more than a Thursday, I hope you know that you are loved.

You are loved.

You are important.

You are worth appreciating.

So no matter how you spend today, tomorrow, and every day after, if it makes you feel like the diamond crusted, chocolate covered, rose petaled, champagne fountained person you deserve to be, you’re doing it right.

Look Up and Look Around

I am currently training for the LA marathon. This means that three times a week I’m outside running, telling my body that all the pain and exhaustion will be worth it when we get that medal at the finish line—and the free banana shortly afterward.

This past Saturday I ran 17.5 miles, the second longest run in my entire training plan. (The longest being 20) For the first 13 miles or so, I was doing pretty well. My legs, while tired, still had some juice in them and I was determined to check this milestone off my list. But as I started those last four miles, it seemed like each step got harder and harder. My knees began to ache and my ankles threatened to quit on me. This was the longest I had ever run in my entire life, and to know that even when (or if) I finished, come marathon day I’d have to come up with the strength to run nine more miles—a marathon is 26.2 miles—my body was just about ready to call it.

Around mile 16 or so, my mind was really starting to get shaky and my legs were even worse. Continuing to run almost felt like punishment, but I knew quitting would feel far worse. That’s when I hit a red light and had to pace around the sidewalk—legs wobbly as ever—while I waited for my signal to continue. I put my hands on my head and took some deep breaths, hoping to relieve some of the stiffness in my back, and then I looked up. The sky was a piercing blue with big, beautiful, puffy clouds. I watched them swirl around above me, and it gave me a warm feeling in my stomach.

When the light turned green and I started running again, I focused on the clouds, and for a little while my knees didn’t ache as much and my feet didn’t sting; my back felt looser and my legs felt a tiny bit stronger.

By the time I made it back to my house however, I was sure my legs were going to fall right out from under me. I walked through the door like a baby giraffe and stumbled my way through a shower and the making of my usual after-run protein shake.

My body was spent.

But even as I limped around for the rest of that day and the next, I still thought about that patch of sky. While it hadn’t taken away the pain I was feeling, it reminded me that it wasn’t the only thing that day—that moment—had to offer.

There are many instances in which I’ve let a dark time or a difficult situation block out all the light around me. Sometimes it’s hard to remember there’s a blue sky up there. Especially when so many other days are grey, cloudy and rainy.

But alas, there are always good things. There is always something just out of your line of sight that is there to give you hope and inspiration. There is always something to push you that last mile.

In the next month, I’m sure I’ll spend more than a few days wondering, what the hell am I doing? Namely when I pass the 20-mile mark at the marathon and have to run SIX. MORE. MILES. But I’m going to take that patch of blue sky with me through the whole race and the days, months and years that follow. I’m going to look up, even when my head wants to hang down, and I’m going to look around, even when it seems safer to keep my eyes forward. Because as sure as there will be dark, there will also be light, and I’m going to try harder to find it. Even when it feels like my knees might spontaneously combust—or you know, the day to day life equivalent to that feeling.

10 Instagram Accounts that Brighten My Day

Social media can be a scary place. Mean things are said, misunderstandings are had, and entire concerts are documented with scratchy, unpleasing footage.

Sometimes we compare ourselves to those we see online and sink into wormholes of frustration, shame, and disappointment. And other times we laugh at pictures of dogs wearing hats.

For me, it’s all about finding a balance. Some days I need to see that person striving higher because it makes me want to do the same. Some days I want to read posts that make me cry because it reminds me there is goodness and hope in the world. And some days I just like to spy on people and look at pictures of food and crafts.

Over the years I’ve gone through phases of following and unfollowing different accounts trying to find this balance, and as of right now, I think I’m really nailing it.

So you if you’re looking for new accounts to make you smile, or if you’re just curious/nosy (I am both) here are ten Instagram accounts that brighten my day.

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1) @foodnetwork

I mean, pictures of beautiful, delectable food throughout the day? Is there a downside**?

**Possible downside: hanger (anger induced by hunger)

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2) @jennifer.garner

I’ll be honest, I’m not always up to sitting still and watching videos when I’m scrolling through Instagram. Sometimes I just want to take a quick trip, you know? But whenever Jennifer Garner posts a video, I. Strap. In. She is so adorable and hilarious and real, and I wish she would invite me over to make brownies on a Saturday morning.

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3) @alexameadeart

I LOVE this girl’s art. She paints onto her subjects and the setting around them to create the illusion of a painting on an easel.  I think it is absolutely amazing and every time she posts a new photo I just stare at it in amazement. Fun fact: she did the artwork for the ~pool~ scene in Ariana Grande’s “God is a Woman” music video.

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4) @tanksgoodnews

In my opinion, this is a must follow. It is an account dedicated entirely sharing good news, some of which I’ve highlighted in my All the Good Things posts, and it never fails to makes me smile/openly sob in the middle of the day.

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5) @junkbanter

Is this the second account I’m recommending that focuses on food? Yes. But this one is all about junk food, so it’s different and still very important. I will often screenshot pictures of the newest treats hitting the shelves and send them to my roommates so that we can keep an eye out the next time we’re at the grocery store.

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6) @historyphotographed

I’ve always been a bit of a history buff and this account constantly provides me with doses of nostalgia…even though many of the pictures were taken before I was born. Does that make sense?

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7) @kristinmadeinc

This is a company run by Kristin Johns, a YouTuber I’ve long loved and admired. She is so upbeat and inspiring and is honestly what the social media world needs more of. On this account she posts recipes, lifestyle tips, and a plethora of photos that make me sigh the man I wish I could do that sigh. But in a positive way…you know?

PS- I made these cookies and they are INCREDIBLE. Highly recommend.

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8) @ashlynsailsbury

Similar to Jennifer Garner, I always sit back and absorb whatever Ashlyn (who is Kristin Johns’ sister) has to say because she and her family—which includes Owen the Baby, a three year old who will melt your heart—are incredibly adorable and charming, but also because they live in Copenhagen and I just genuinely love learning about their life there.

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9) @alpacasofinstagram

Need. I. Say. More?!?!

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10) @unspirational

I love me a good inspirational quote, but these anti-quotes just make me laugh. And sometimes sarcasm and dark humor does more for me than uplifting words after a long day of work, you know?

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Have any Instagram accounts you love and would recommend?

31 Good Things that Happened in January

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) This baby became a hair model

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2) This boy called 911 to get help on his homework

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3) NASA found three new planets

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4) These Indian women made a human chain for equality

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5) This comedian and musician composed a would-be theme song if Wii Jogging was included in Wii Sports…

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6) …it’s actually part of a series he’s released over the last two years and they are all wonderful.

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7) This professional hockey player sent an inspirational message to a fan

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8) Roma actress, Yalitza Martinez, was nominated for her very first Academy Award

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9) This youth group cleaned up national parks during the government shutdown

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10) This man helped save a woman’s life with CPR he learned watching The Office

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11) This standup comedian starting offering daily tips to other comedians

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12) New York City banned foam containers

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13) This dad built an igloo

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14) This woman tracked down her fairy godmother

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15) These Canadian air traffic controllers sent pizza to their American counterparts

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16) Retired major league pitcher, Mariano Rivera, was voted into the Hall of Fame

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The moment that Mo made history. 🐐

A post shared by MLB ⚾ (@mlb) on

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17) This woman asked the drunk driver who hit her to help raise awareness

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18) This woman gave us all an incredible life hack

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19) Actor Jonah Hill shared an inspirational message about his new hobby

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20) This mailman helped prevent a package from being stolen

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21) A GoFundMe page for this Fyre Festival victim raised $100,000

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22) This boy made progress

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23) Actor Patton Oswalt turned an online attack into an opportunity for outreach

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24) This UCLA gymnast wowed with an amazing floor routine

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25) Marvel agreed to let this dying fan see the new Avenger’s movie early

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26) Snoop Dogg provided incredible commentary for a Los Angeles Kings game

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27) These people showed up for a veteran’s funeral

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28) This dog learned to pet a cat

 

29) This company gave tailored suits to those in need

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30) This man converted his van into a mobile library

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31) This man did yoga with his pig

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

I can’t wait to see what February brings!

You can view last month’s post here.

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