inspiration

A Weekend of Happy Moments

I had a good weekend.

I wanted to write about it from start to finish, but the more I thought about it, the more I just wanted to highlight the moments that made it especially good. Because sometimes it’s not always the big moments, the obvious moments, the moments everyone can see from the outside. Sometimes it’s the smallest moments, the ones you may not even notice until they’re over. Lucky for me, I had a combination of both this weekend—big moments and small—and I want to share some of them.

Friday 4:30 p.m.

My mom and I, dressed in robes, walked into a quiet room where a few day beds faced a waterfall display. There was no music playing, no surrounding conversations, just the sound of water quietly running. We each had a cup of lemon water that we set on the end tables next to our respective day beds, and we took out our Kindles to read for a little while. Our bodies were fully relaxed, having just been treated to 90-minute massages, and we seemed to melt into those day beds, our robes tied loosely around our waists and our minds able to escape into our books. A half hour slipped by, then an hour, and we lay there, content and relaxed.

Friday 9:00 p.m.

I was curled under a blanket in my parents’ living room, watching West Side Story with my parents, my aunt and uncle, and my grandpa. My grandpa and I have always bonded over our love of musicals, and so we’d wanted to watch the new adaptation of West Side Story together. The moment Tony and Maria first see each other at the dance, my 92-year-old grandpa said, wistfully, “this is called love at first sight.

Saturday 9:30 a.m.

It was 75 degrees outside and perfectly clear in Camarillo, and I was picking lemons on an expansive property that looked out over the city. I was part of a group of volunteers picking fruit for Food Forward, and I was filling a bucket with lemons and carrying it up the hill in order to fill the boxes we’d be donating to food shelters. The sun was out, and the lemon trees were blossoming, making the air the perfect blend of floral and citrus. I was sweating, and, at times, panting, as I carried that bucket (20 pounds when full) up the hill over and over, but I knew I was doing good work, and I was happy to be meeting new people.

Saturday 11:30 a.m.

I stopped at Jamba Juice—my tradition after completing a volunteer shift—and got small smoothie and an apple cinnamon pretzel. One of my favorite country songs (“Raised on it” by Sam Hunt) came on the radio, and I took a sip of my smoothie, said, “this is DELICIOUS” out loud, then blasted the song and sang every word.

Saturday 2:50 p.m.

I was standing on the shore of my favorite lake, having driven up to spend the weekend at my family’s cabin. My dad was on the phone with my sister, asking if she could see him, me and my mom from the boat she was fishing on with her boyfriend, Will. They were a good way away from us, and I was waving my arms and dancing, hoping to both get her attention and make her laugh. We were letting her know that we had arrived at the lake, so that they could make their way over to “pick us up.” Little did she know, a small group of friends and family were standing behind a tree, waiting for the signal to come down and watch as Will got down on one knee in the boat and asked her to marry him.

Saturday 3:00 p.m.

She said yes!

Saturday 4:00 p.m.

I was sitting on the boat (named “Tiny Guy”)—which my sister received as present from Will last year—for the very first time. Will was driving, Natalee was sitting beside me, and Will’s mom was sitting behind me. We were making our way from the shore where we’d all gathered after the proposal to the dock, and we couldn’t help but comment on the perfection of the day. The sun was bright and warm, and the sky was perfectly clear—not a cloud in sight. I’d been on that lake so many times growing up, always with my sister right beside me, fishing and singing and creating inside jokes that we still quote to this day, and now there I was, seeing her future unfold in the brightest way, surrounded by new family, with new memories awaiting us in the days ahead.

Sunday 2:30 p.m.

I was sitting on a recliner in the living room, trying to throw a bottle cap into a glass vase. After spending the morning and early afternoon lounging around, I proposed the game to my sister’s now fiancé Will. “How much would you give me if I made a bottle cap in that vase?” To be fair, the vase, set atop the fireplace mantle, already had about ten bottle caps in it, and I was wondering how impressed he would be if I could add to the collection from my chair. What unfolded was nearly 30 minutes of the three of us trying to make the bottle cap in the vase, and cheering as if we’d just won the World Series whenever one of us did.

Sunday 3:50 p.m.

I was sitting on a bench eating a sandwich, looking out at the lake. We’d picked up the sandwiches from the local market, and then parked our car in a shady spot on the highway before walking down the small hill to get to the lake. It was a little breezy, but the sun was still out and a few boats were making laps around the lake. We sat, sometimes talking, sometimes just taking bite after bite, soaking in the mountain air and the easy happiness that the weekend seemed to be made of.

Sunday 6:45 p.m.

I was in my car, singing my heart out on my drive home. The sun was only just starting to set since daylight saving time had given us back our evenings, and it was turning the sky pink. Every part of the weekend had gone right, from start to finish, and I was both ecstatic and exhausted. But the sunset seemed to promise only more good things, only more good moments. So I kept driving, kept singing, and made sure to take a few pictures once I pulled into the driveway at home.

It was the prettiest farewell to the happiest of weekends.

January & February Favorites

Ahhh, I love a first favorites post of the year.

Come January, I am always in a hurry to find new favorite things. To dive into new books, new music, new movies, and new podcasts. I’m always anxious to find things that expand my mind, make my life a little better and brighter, and, maybe, just the slightest bit easier.

And to be honest, I have been on a roll.

Let’s get right into it.


Podcasts

I got COVID at the beginning of the year and spent a solid week feeling like moving from room to room was the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest. So, I spent a lot of time trying not to move, and I was always on the hunt for things that helped make the time go by. Podcast but Outside was one of my favorite finds. It is a podcast that has both a video and audio version—but honestly you are MISSING OUT if you listen to the audio version—and it made me genuinely laugh out loud. The concept is simple: the two hosts set up on the street and interview whoever might walk by, and the results are consistently interesting and often hilarious. (find it on YouTube or your preferred podcast app)

A little while back I recommended the Tangle newsletter, because it gives you an unbiased look at the news. And while I still stand by the newsletter, I am someone who tends to fall behind on newsletters, so I was very excited to learn that they made a podcast version of it. Each episode is a nice, clean read of the newsletter, and is usually about 20 minutes long. It’s an easy listen and I look forward to every episode. (find it on your preferred podcast app)


Books

I fell in love with both Beach Read and its author, Emily Henry, almost immediately. Beach Read is a refreshing, fun book that made me laugh out loud, and made me feel seen, as its main characters are both writers, and the writing process (and its occasional corresponding misery) is described in detail. I knew I wanted to read People We Meet on Vacation before I was even done with Beach Read and I anxiously await the arrival of her newest book, Book Lovers, in May. Consider this “favorite” both the books and Emily Henry herself.  

The Night the Lights Went Out is WILD. Not only is it a great read—eye opening, shocking, charming and even funny—but it makes you realize how much you have to be grateful for in the day to day. Even on your worst days. I for one have taken advantage (for about 30 years) of how lucky I am to taste things, smell things, to be independent and healthy. Life can throw you a lot of curveballs and the human spirit is resilient enough to (eventually) find wonder in many of them, but this book made me take a deep breath and focus on all that I have, all that I’m able to do, and remember that at any moment that can change.


Movies

First and foremost, you’ve got to watch The Alpinist. This one is in the same vein as Free Solo and The Dawn Wall. I watched it twice in the span of a week, once by myself and once with my mom, because I needed to have someone to talk about it with. I’ll admit, you feel pretty much every emotion, big and small, happy and sad, but you leave feeling so…content. It reminded me that we are all here to live different lives with different purposes, and it’s important that we all find our own and pursue it, even if it might not make sense to everyone else.  (find it on Netflix)

Next up, The Tender Bar. This movie is adapted from the memoir of the same name and it is one of those that makes you think: I want to write a memoir. I want to find all the moments that made my life my life, in all its ups and downs. It had a familiar quality in that it was a reminder that we are all trying our best—trying to figure out what on earth we’re doing. I found myself rooting for the main character in the same way I’d hope other people are rooting for me. (find it on Amazon Prime)

I Want You Back is a romantic comedy that, if I’m honest, I initially watched because it has my girl Gina Rodriguez in it, but it quickly became more than that. It is different and fun, and it made me laugh and smile and aww. It’s a good old fashioned rom-com that I feel like we don’t have nearly enough of anymore. Definitely recommend! (find it on Amazon Prime)


TV Shows

I had been recommended The Man in High Castle a few different times over the years, so when I was in between shows at the end of last year, I decided to finally give it a watch. The premise is that Germany won World War 2, and the United States becomes more or less extinct in the face of the German and Japanese empires. It is pretty much terrifying, but it is a captivating, and surprisingly patriotic watch, as a resistance of Americans fight to get their country back. Strap in though, it’s a wild ride! (find it on Amazon Prime)

One thing that I love about my Netflix algorithm right now is that it is consistently recommending me international shows that I might not have otherwise known about. I recently watched a movie in Spanish, then I saved a Polish movie to My List, and then I watched the Italian born series Baby. I watched it subtitled and really enjoyed it. The show is based on the true story of two Italian high school girls that got involved in the country’s prostitution ring. It was a dramatic and interesting watch! (find it on Netflix)


Music

the debut farewell album by avenue beat

Sidelines by Wild Rivers

Circles by LEON


Cauliflower Tacos

If you are looking for a new dinner recipe to spice up your life, and you want to make something that gives you that feeling of, damn, I am a mf-ing chef, try this Cauliflower Taco recipe. I actively called my friends into the dining room to show off what I made, and I was SO proud of myself. Plus, it was absolutely delicious. (find it here)

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The Art of Noticing Newsletter

And finally, I am a sucker for a good newsletter. I love the weekly pick me ups and the variety that exist if you keep your eye out. I have no idea where I found The Art of Noticing newsletter, but it is one I never miss. It always opens my eyes to something I can notice in the world around me, and it has a fun ongoing series called “Missing Words”, where people point out words that don’t exist but should. For example: “that feeling in the half second between when you’ve stubbed your toe and the pain arrives.” Check it out here, there is both a free version and a paid version. I am currently subscribed to the free version, but I have no doubt it would be worth the subscription!


Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know!

See my previous favorites post here.

My Nighttime Routine

Remember a while back when I was determined to find a morning routine?

And remember how after a few tries I figured out that my mornings do kind of have a routine, but that routine is simply organized chaos?

I kind of gave up on the idea of trying to squeeze things into my mornings, especially my weekday mornings, because I think I’m always going to be someone who gets done what needs to get done, and leaves room for nothing else. And that’s okay. As the poet Ke$ha once said, “we R who we R.”

However, I have not completely given up on the idea of a routine.  In fact, over the last few months, I’ve found great comfort in sticking to a nighttime routine.

When I was little (and honestly, still quite often today) I had a lot of trouble falling and staying asleep. I often had a lot of anxiety around the concept of sleep, and of the responsibilities that awaited me when I woke up. I also tended to be just plain scared of the dark, as it’s unsettling and, seemingly, unsafe.

Needless to say, I like to get in bed, fall asleep, and stay asleep until the sun comes up. And finding a routine that invites in that deep sleep has been very helpful for me.

So, if you are someone looking to add some routine to your evenings, or just need something else to focus on other than the impending workday, I thought I’d share some of the staples in my nighttime routine.

Note: While sometimes I do these in a kind of “order” it is neither rigid nor consistent. These act more like items on a checklist rather than blocks of a schedule.


1) Skin care

I’m not here to tell you to do 78 steps of skincare. I’m not even here to tell you to do five. I just know that finding a routine and doing it consistently has made my skin happy for the first time in *literally* 15 years. I used to always skip a step here or there, saying that I was too tired or that I didn’t really need to do them all because I assumed, I don’t know, I could overcome breakout prone skin with shear will. It was only about a year or two ago when I decided, okay, I will do every single step, every single day, and see if I can stop breaking out like I’m still 16 years old. And even though it took a little bit for my skin to adjust, once it did, it was like, FINALLY, GIRL, I’ve been waiting for this! My skin still isn’t “perfect”, but I feel like it’s no longer mad at me, and as a result, I no longer dream about peeling it off my face. So that’s nice.

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2) Go through my to-do list

When I was doing research on how to find a revitalizing morning routine, I constantly saw things like “set intentions” or “go through your to-do list” as an important item. It is supposed to put you in the right mindset for the day, putting your priorities in the right place and jumpstarting your motivation. But for me, my biggest goal in the morning is finding a way to get up. I don’t have time (or energy) to go through my to-do list because what I’d like to do is go back to sleep. However, I have found that going through my to-do list at night allows me to plan out my next day, making me feel like I’m a little more ready for it. I check off what I got done and I review what’s still left to accomplish, and I start brainstorming how I can be productive the next day. It’s nothing too intense. In fact, I mostly just scroll through the list, make a few mental notes here and there, and then move on. It’s a way for me to center and quiet my mind, preventing it from spinning off in a million different directions and causing me to panic.

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3) Duolingo

I’ve been taking Spanish on Duolingo for a few years now and I have been very excited with my progress. Within the app, your “daily goal” is completed when you do about two lessons, and this takes maybe 10 minutes. I tend to do my Spanish when I get in bed and I start to have that internal argument about whether or not I should stay on my phone. I get a weird kind of separation anxiety about putting my phone down and not getting to see or know anything else until the next morning. But often when I give in a little, I take full advantage, staying on my phone for way too long. So, I’ve been using Duolingo as a kind of farewell to screen time. Once I finish my Spanish, I am finished with my phone for the day.

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4) Journal

One of the best ways I have found to quiet a pacing mind is to put all of those paces on paper. Sometimes I don’t know how hard I’m thinking or overthinking until I start to write about it, and then all of sudden I’ve filled pages and pages with thoughts and feelings. Journaling for me is like having a long, deep talk with a friend right before bed. You can get everything out, take that deep sigh of relief, and then relax.

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5) Read

The very last thing I do at night is read. After I’ve turned off all the lights, I lay down with my Kindle and tuck in with the latest chapter of whatever book I’m reading. Depending on the night, I will sometimes do this with my phone, because at this point, I am looking for that final distraction, that something to help me think about anything other than the spirals in my mind. More often than not however, my phone offers both a distraction from what I’m thinking about and a bridge to all new reasons to panic. With social media, I never know what I’m going to scroll by, so at times it feels like I’m waiting for a bomb to drop, for something to pop up that sets my brain on fire—which I usually try to put out by continuing to scroll, as if I’ll find something to undo it. Reading however, both relaxes and engages my mind. It asks me to pay attention to one story, and that story slowly invites in sleep. I always sleep better when I read before bed, and it’s nice not waking up with a headache or that feeling that, you know, I stared at a tiny screen three inches from my face for two hours in the dark.

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In a way, I have tried to make these things somewhat Pavlovian, tricking my mind into thinking that, once we go through this routine, we must sleep. We have to sleep, because there is nothing else to do.  I have come a long way since I was little and am much better equipped to manage my emotions and calm myself down, but some nights the panic is hard to escape, and it can compound with the fear of being overtired the next day, making it a viscous spiral. Having a routine makes me feel more in control, which gives me a sense of peace.

We all want to get a good night’s sleep, and this is how I believe I set myself up to do just that.


Do you have anything you do as part of your nighttime routine?

We’re Going Out Tonight

As I took my seat in the audience, I took a slow look at the people around me. There were conversations happening everywhere. Some serious, some lighthearted, some loud, and some whispered. Hands joined in greetings and introductions, and arms pulled shoulders into happy hugs. The stage was set, the show was getting ready to start, and the seats were filling up by the minute.

I fiddled with my rings, two on each hand. I don’t get to wear them as often as I’d like because I work with too many metals and chemicals that might damage them. So when I do put them on, it means I’m going somewhere special, somewhere fun, somewhere I want to feel the slightest bit fancy.

I put on my favorite pair of jeans and a fun top, a pair of white sneakers and my jean jacket. Standing in front of the mirror while I got ready, I put on mascara and some eyeshadow, and brushed product in my hair to give it a little oomph. I felt comfortable, I felt cute, I felt like myself, which is my favorite feeling—especially since it hasn’t always been the most common.

Getting ready can be a miserable process. Sometimes you walk into your closet and it feels as if all you own is a series of different colored grocery bags, and when you put them on you feel like the trash that people throw into those grocery bags in an effort to upcycle. I have been brought to tears by everything from the seam of a sock to the tag on a t-shirt. I have participated in the cliché throwing of outfit after outfit onto my bed, and I have dramatically slid down the front of my dresser, with my shirt half on and my pants unbuttoned, hoping that by the time I hit the floor the world might spontaneously combust so I won’t have to finish getting dressed.

If I manage to get through that step though, all new obstacles await me in the bathroom. With the slightest error, my go-to makeup routine can become a session of torture. Sometimes I’ll put on the finishing touches and think, cool, I’ve turned a goblin into an oily goblin with eyeshadow. Other times I will look at my concealer brush as if it has betrayed me by not turning me into an entirely different person, and I apply so much powder in an attempt to hide my blemishes that I look like I fell asleep in a bowl of flour—then I’m mad about that and so I start over.

And sometimes, I’ll get all the way ready, feeling pretty good, or, at the very least, not pretty bad, and then I’ll walk out, either in public amongst strangers, or just into my living room amongst friends and family, and think, awesome, everyone looks great and I look like I rolled in the gutter and then put lipstick on.

I’ll admit, sometimes the mere prospect of getting ready can sway me from wanting to leave my house. The threat of feeling those negative feelings about myself or of comparing myself to others can prevent me from wanting to go anywhere at all. Because at home, in my space, amongst my things and my people, I know I can be exactly who I am, exactly the way I look, with no judgement. And when I step outside, I expose myself to a lot of eyes and opinions that I am sometimes not ready for.

But I’m starting to learn that while yes, some days are just going to be tough, sometimes getting ready is going to feel less desirable than getting the stomach flu—with the finished product feeling just as nauseating—the more you start to appreciate, understand and know who you are on the inside, the more you are able to honestly, accurately and comfortably present that person on the outside.

As I sat down in the audience on Saturday night, I felt like myself. I knew why I’d chosen that outfit and why I’d put on my makeup and my rings, and I wasn’t looking around the room for reasons why those choices were wrong or inferior.  I knew what made me feel confident to go out, and I loved seeing what everyone else chose.

Looking around, I saw a snakeskin blazer and black boots, a grey sweater with a small, hand embroidered flower on the back, a fedora, a black breton with lace detail, a shiny silk shirt tucked into a pleated skirt, a Tommy Hilfiger jacket, straight hair, curly hair, hair that was gelled back, suits, blue jeans, high heels, sneakers, necklaces, earrings, bedazzled masks and headbands. There were patterns and solid colors, and textures of all kinds.

In a room full of about 100 people, not one looked the same. But each of us had stood in front of the mirror, maybe agonizingly, maybe casually, maybe for hours, maybe for a few minutes. We all stood in front of the mirror and said, “okay, we’re going out tonight.” Maybe not everyone felt as confident as they’d like to, and maybe a few people walked in with that familiar feeling of, why does everyone look great except me? But as I looked at the people around me, I was just happy to see us all out. Happy to see us all expressing ourselves and our styles, all different and all wonderful.

We’d all overcome the biggest obstacle to getting ready—ourselves—and now we were all there, ready to have a good night. The lights went down, the show started, and I smiled, comfortable.

Two Different Days

On Saturday morning I got up early to drive to San Diego. Coming from Los Angeles, the drive is about 150 miles and can be two hours. But if you leave at the wrong time of day, it can get longer and longer (and longer). So when I head that direction, I do my best to outsmart the traffic. I left at about 8:30 a.m., and had an estimated arrival time of 11:00am, so I turned on a playlist and got comfortable.  

About 30 minutes into my drive, a motorcycle came up on my left, followed by about 50 more motorcycles. While it’s not strange to see crews of motorcycles cruising down the freeway, especially when the weather is nice, I was surprised when they kept coming and coming. Then, at the back, I saw a police officer. As an instinct, I sat up straight and checked my speed, but the officer paid me no mind, driving right by me, closely following the motorcycles. I continued driving, and then I noticed three cars in front of the motorcycles, all with their flashers on. In front of them, was a hearse.  

The parade of cars and motorcycles moved like a flock of birds. When the leader changed lanes, the line followed suit in a smooth transition. Hand signals were passed down the line like falling dominoes, and everyone stayed close together.

I couldn’t help but watch.

The playlist on my radio faded into the background and I drove on autopilot, fascinated. I examined the motorcycle riders, noticing how some wore matching leather jackets emblazoned with the name of their crew; some bikes had two people on them, one driver and one passenger holding on tight; hair flowed out from underneath helmets and tattoos were dark on forearms.

The hearse looked both like the toughest car and the most fragile. It was hard not to feel the weight of the vehicle, knowing it carried a body–a person. And everyone that followed in line cared about that person. Even though I had no personal connection to these people, and had no knowledge of the deceased, I still recognized the sting and humanness of loss.

I’d stood in those shoes many times before. I’d walked out of churches or across the grounds of cemeteries; I’d driven home from funerals and celebrations of life, drenched in the pain of grief. On those days, I often wondered what it might be like to be someone else, disconnected from the feeling I felt, living a different day, making different memories.

But on that day, I was the someone else. The sun was warm and welcoming, and I was excited to make the drive down to San Diego to visit one of my best friends and her family. I knew my weekend was going to be full of good conversation, good company and an undeniable lightness that comes with pure, unconditional friendship.

They, on the other hand, would feel differently. Their day would perhaps be quite heavy, quite hard, quite slow. They’d lost someone and their world looked a little different now. I knew how they felt, and I was sorry they had to feel it.

A hand went up in the front of the pack and pointed to the right, towards a sign for an upcoming exit. It started a ripple effect, sending hands up and to the right, down the line until it reached the last rider and the policeman following close behind. They moved smoothly into the next lane and then the next, and then took the off ramp. I drove past them, continuing on my way, and slowly turned my music back up, coming back into myself and my drive.  

I thought of them often throughout the weekend, wondering who they’d lost, how they were doing, and what had brought them all together in the first place. They were all living different lives and walking down different paths that could have taken them in a thousand different directions. But on that day, and perhaps many before it, they were all together. And on that morning, I was riding along with them, empathizing with their loss, admiring their community, and hoping for good things in the future.

We were all just people moving from one place to the next, but at the same time, we were so much more than that. We were the directions we were going and the places we’d come from. We were every morning that had led us to that one, and every morning that would come after. We were a collection of all the people we loved and all the people we’d lost. We were stories, actively being written, side by side. Perhaps we’d never cross paths again, but the fact that we had was a humbling reminder of how many lives are being lived in a single day.

Two hours later, I turned off my car and knocked on the door of my friend Nicole’s house. She greeted me with a warm smile and her two-year-old son looked up at me shyly.

“Hi Kim,” he said, before stuffing a bite of muffin in his mouth. I took a seat next to him, thankful this was my day, knowing not everyone was so lucky.

Walking

Yesterday, I went on a walk.

After being down with COVID for about a week, my stamina had slowly (oh. so. slowly.) started to come back, allowing me to do things like stand up, make dinner without feeling like I was going to pass out, and even do small bouts of yoga that were mostly just breathing and remembering that I wasn’t a blob.

So, on my best day yet, I decided to walk.

Recreational walking was not my thing for a long time. I thought, if I am not a dog mother, giving her child exercise, or a human mother, pushing a stroller while my infant sleeps, then why would I walk places when I could, you know, run?

Running always seemed more logical to me. You can burn more calories, increase your cardiovascular strength, and lose weight all in way less time than walking. Plus, you feel like a badass, and with enough training you can even do crazy things like run marathons.

But then the pandemic hit, and my sister, who was confined to working from home entirely on zoom, began walking in order to maintain her sanity, and I started to get curious. I started walking through the wealthy parts of our neighborhood and admiring the houses. I liked to imagine what it would be like to live inside. I even found a few favorites that I purposefully routed my walks around, just so I could be nosey on a regular basis.

Then, when we moved out of our home of six years and into an apartment closer to the city, I fell in love with walking. Not only did it help me familiarize myself with the new neighborhood, allowing me to map it out in my head, but it allowed me, once again, to snoop. To look at all the different styles of houses that are home to countless different lives.

Walking has become one of my favorite things to do—exercise or not. Whenever I’ve had a long day, I like to go for a walk to clear my head. And when I have an open morning on the weekend, I like to go for long walks, turning down every street I come across just to see where it leads. When I start walking, I don’t want to stop, I just want to stay in that flow state where all that exists is me, my music, and the beautiful things I can find along the way.

One of my favorite things about my neighborhood is the trees. The streets are lined with tall trees that cast wonderful shadows on the walls, gates, and sidewalks, and I often find myself looking up more than straight-ahead. I can’t get enough of the way the leaves look fluttering in the breeze with the sky as their backdrop, or the way the bark curves and clothes the trunks, in all kinds of textures and patterns. Not to mention, flowers of all kinds bloom in fenced in gardens or from bushes reaching out into the street, and mailboxes come in all shapes and sizes, some even hand painted.

Walking around my neighborhood has made me feel like part of the neighborhood. I have become familiar with some neighbors—and even more familiar with their dogs—that make their daily loops. I have started to choose which direction I walk based on what time of day it is because I like the way the sun changes the tone of different buildings, or the way the breeze blows down different streets. I know which hills are steep and which roads are flat, and I know which intersections are always crowded and where the sidewalks widen and end.

On my walk yesterday, I felt blissfully happy. Not only because I was so incredibly grateful to be out bed, out of my apartment and on the other side of COVID, but because it was sunny and warm, and I had no responsibilities waiting for me at home, so I knew I could take my time and go wherever I wanted. Walking made me feel human again, it made me feel alive.  I couldn’t help but smile the whole time, admiring all the colors and feeling the heat on my skin.

Turns out, walking was a well-kept secret. One often buried under pride and stereotypes. But it does more for me than most anything else. It reminds me that I am here, among so many wonderful things—and I often take pictures of my shoes to prove it.

I am here and today was a good day.

A Small Prayer for You in the (Not So) New Year

We are ten days into this new year, which is about the time when the “new” starts to wear off.

We are back into our routines, back into the stress the holidays (ideally) took us away from, back into the hustle, bustle, and (at times) chaos.

For some of us, we might even already feel discouraged. Maybe you already quit on your new years resolutions, or maybe you never got around to setting any. Maybe you feel the exact same way you did on December 31st and you feel a little gypped.

The new year always promises transformation and possibility—a solution to all of the problems we feel so stuck in. We want the new year to change us, to make us better, to make us feel good enough. Which is why we set goals and resolutions, why we make plans (or cancel them), and why start good habits and quit bad ones. We want to be changed, and for everything we don’t like about ourselves to vanish at midnight.

But when the sun comes up on New Year’s Day and we don’t immediately see that positive change on the horizon, it’s easy to count ourselves out (and put ourselves down) and to mark the new year as a wash.

So if you happen to be someone who is feeling let down by the new year, who put all of their hope in the potential it promised, but now feels just as discouraged as you were before; if you are someone who still doesn’t feel good enough and who doesn’t know how to pick yourself up and find the goodness that might exist in these next 11 months, I want to offer you this small prayer today.

It comes from author Macrina Wiederkehr. It says:

“Oh God, help me to believe the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is.”

There are always positive changes to be made. We can all grow, we can all learn, and we can all become better versions of ourselves as the years go by. But today, I pray that you are reminded of all the wonderful things that you already are. And I hope you don’t deflect them. I hope you absorb them. I hope they fill you up. And I hope they inspire you to look forward.

I’m so glad you’re here, and I hope you are too!

It might not be New Year’s anymore, but there’s still a lot of year left to live.

Here’s hoping it treats you well and you treat yourself well in return. May we all treat each other well this year, and encourage one another to believe in the beautiful things that exist in all of us.

200 Day Time Capsule Blog #8

Hello and Happy New Year!

I know there is a lot of negativity circulating about the new year, as people are both bitter about the happenings of 2021, and nervous we will get more of the same in 2022.

I get it. And I’m not going to tell anyone how to feel about it.

But I personally am still trying to go in with an optimistic outlook, and I pray that we find some goodness in these next 365 days.

That being said, I can’t help but poke fun at my June 2021 self, who wrote this in the introduction to my last time capsule blog post:

“Tomorrow, June 15th, is the day when things are making a big push towards “normal.” Baseball stadiums are opening to full capacity, mask mandates are disappearing, people are OPENLY HUGGING.

It’s emotional, y’all.

I’m curious what “the new normal” will look like 200 days from this fateful one.

I guess we’ll find out.”

I hate to break it to you babe, but find out we have and…it’s not what you (or anyone) hoped.

We are still out here shoving q-tips up our noses, cancelling events and wondering if a scratchy throat means we have to quarantine for a week or if maybe we just had the heater up too high last night.

Things are not back to normal and never really will be, but I do believe we are moving towards a brighter future. Towards days that don’t revolve around COVID tests and vaccination arguments. Towards days when we can travel and spend time together without restriction or panic.

So I hope that we can all find a little more hope this year. That we can write down predictions for where we’ll be in the next 200 days and find ourselves somewhere better than we were before.

Until then, let’s see where I was in June 2021:


1) What day is it?

My answer from the last time capsule (6/14/21): June 14, 2021

One day before my cousin’s first birthday! Happy (almost seven months later) birthday Easton!


2) Describe yourself today.

My answer from the last time capsule (6/14/21): I am a combination of things. It’s one of those days where there are a lot of emotions competing beneath the surface and I’m not sure which one is the most true to how I’m feeling, or perhaps which one is winning. So I’m writing a lot today, trying to figure it out. I’m also wearing my favorite t-shirt, some comfy jeans, and a hairdo that is brought to you exclusively by dry shampoo. 

Confused, emotional, uninterested in washing my hair, and yet still honest, vulnerable and dressed comfortably. We love a conundrum.


3) What did you do today?

My answer from the last time capsule (6/14/21): So far I have come to work and posted a blog. Later on I’m going to see my best friend and watch In the Heights (for the second time). Lin Manual Miranda, you talented, talented man. How dare you. 

Can confirm I watched this a second time and it made me openly cry for the second (or, okay, fourth, fifth and sixth time).


4) What’s your favorite song right now?

My answer from the last time capsule (6/14/21): “Headspace” by Riley Clemmons. I’m really loving her whole album, Godsend, I think it showed up just in time for me!

I still believe that! Especially since my Spotify Wrapped showed Riley Clemmons as one of my top artists of the year, and “Headspace” as one of my top five songs.


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

My answer from the last time capsule (6/14/21): Funny you should ask because that answer would be: In the Heights. Please refer to question three to hear my thoughts on Lin Manuel Miranda.  

It is true that I watched In the Heights, then immediately made plans with my best friends to watch it again. Sorry not sorry.


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

My answer from the last time capsule (6/14/21): Would you believe I wasn’t sponsored by HBO Max if I told you it was a text to my best friend asking, “have you seen In the Heights?” Because 1) I’m not sponsored, and 2) I feel like this is getting out of control. 

If my hairdo was brought to you exclusively by dry shampoo, the rest of this post really does seem to be brought to you by Lin Manual Miranda’s In the Heights. Though it is slightly hilarious to mention that I haven’t seen or talked about it since June.


7) What is your biggest goal right now?

My answer from the last time capsule (6/14/21): To finish a writing project I’ve nicknamed the PWP. It is something completely out of my comfort zone and that I have been nervous to sit down and actually start, but all of the research leading up to it is finished and now there is nothing to do but write. 

And finish it you did, girl! There are still edits to be made and technicalities to be figured out, but take pride in knowing that you did sit down (over and over and over) and write that damn thing. And it was hard and incredible and hard.


8) What are you most excited about?

My answer from the last time capsule (6/14/21): I am excited for my sister and the big moves she’s making. Both in her personal and professional life. I’m also excited for some upcoming trips I’ve put on the calendar. Not to mention, another baby cousin on the way!! See you in September, little one. 

Always excited for my sister, to be honest, but I love that I immortalized that here. Also, the little one did in fact arrive (and we even have ANOTHER one on the way now!!) and she is as precious as can be! We also went on that trip—the Epic October Trip to be exact—and it was pretty much the best trip ever.


9) What are you most worried about?

My answer from the last time capsule (6/14/21): Being stuck. In my journal recently, I’ve caught myself returning to this phrase: “please unstick me from this stuck.” I feel like I’ve been in the same cycle for a long time, and I have long been ready to make some changes, but it has taken work to figure out: 1) what exactly I want those changes to be, and 2) how I want to make them happen. At the same time, change is scary, and often when I sense it is close, I get scared and scurry back into my routines. And so I think I’ve been writing down this phrase as a prayer to be, more or less, thrown into something else, because I’m worried I’ll never have the courage to completely pursue that on my own, and that I’ll be stuck forever. 

It’s so tempting to make a deflective joke here, but honestly I’m proud of myself for writing out exactly what I was feeling. It’s not something I have always been good at. But I am improving at both writing down my honest feelings, and sharing them with friends and family so that they don’t get cooped up in my head. Also, I’m very happy to say that over the last six months, I went through a lot of positive change. And while I still have the occasional smoggy day, I feel really good right now!


10) What is the best thing you’ve eaten in the last 200 days?

My answer from the last time capsule (6/14/21): Probably a Dodger dog at Dodger Stadium for the first time in 18 months. It was magical. 

In the spirit of full transparency, while the Dodger dog was delicious, it wasn’t as delicious as it could have been because it wasn’t a Farmer John hot dog. So Farmer, if you’re reading this, please come back. Consider this my Say Anything boombox moment. Dodger Stadium isn’t the same without you.


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: Monday July 25, 2022!!

As usual, I will excitedly await the arrival of this next time capsule and the future it lives in, but I won’t rush towards it. Here’s hoping there’s lots to enjoy between now and then.

Sending you well wishes and a Happy New Year!

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

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

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

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

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

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1) Take things personally

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

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

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

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

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

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2) Have the last word

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

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

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

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

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3) Lean on drama for conversation

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

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4) Make sense to everyone

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

But that’s okay.

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

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

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

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5) Witch Hunt

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

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

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

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

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


Check out more List-cember posts here.

The Tuesdays of 2021 (List-cember #8)

At the beginning of this year, one of my goals was to take a picture on every Tuesday of 2021.

Now, I will admit right off the bat that I didn’t remember to take a photo every Tuesday, but of the 52, I only missed six. So I’d say that’s pretty good.

Looking back at them now, they give a funny documentation of the year. Tuesdays are consistently a work day for me, and as such, I often treat them as merely the day after Monday. So it was interesting to see how all of my “day after Monday’s” treated me.

I’m not going to include all 52 here, but I did pick a favorite (or two) from each month.

Here were my Tuesdays of 2021.

Note: Just so you don’t think that I’ve gone mad, each number corresponds to the number Tuesday of the year (i.e. 1-52) not the chronological order of the list.


1) January 5, 2021

I have to start with the first Tuesday of the year!

I bought this journal as part of my ~new year~ spending—the kind you do while you are determined to make this year the best. The funny thing is, after I took this picture, I opened the journal and found I was in the completely wrong headspace to start it. I audibly huffed when I found the introduction to be too long, thus making me wait TOO LONG to write out all the wonderful, inspiring things that were supposed to put me at ease. Needless to say, I did not start using this journal on this Tuesday.

2) January 12, 2021

One of my best friends and I took up pickleball last year and we made it a priority to keep meeting once a week (or so) in order to get better. Coincidentally, my mom’s best friend has a pickleball court in her backyard, so the four of us became a pickleball club and our meetings became one of the highlights of my week.

3) January 19, 2021

The third Tuesday of the year was my sister’s birthday, and what better way to start the celebrations than to stand in line and get a COVID test?! The rest of the day involved carne asada tacos and donuts, and we both received negative results from our tests, so it was a win, win, win.

6) February 9, 2021

This photo was taken on the side of the road as I figured out what to do. The morning started innocent enough. I made my lunch, buttered and (blueberry) jammed a toasted English muffin, and then set off to work. But on the way there, I took a sharp turn with my English muffin in hand and a blueberry rolled off the muffin, down my hand, under my sleeve, and up my forearm, leaving a trail of jelly in its wake. Having zero napkins, I then had to dunk my jelly-stained paper towel into my hydro flask full of water, so I could wipe down my arm and continue my drive. It was a hilarious story to share after the fact, but a disastrous thing to experience 7:30 a.m.

12) March 23, 2021

We can go out to dinner again! My sister and I met our old roommate and good friend Rachel at Granville.  We sat in their open-roofed back room, which was extra magical because it hid us from the wind and let us look up at the (albeit minimal) Southern California stars. We also ordered the “banana brulee’d brownie” which was bougie and delicious.

16) April 20, 2021

This was taken at our (now old) condo and would prove to be the last picture I took there. I drove by one day after work to take the barrels out and check the mail for a final time. Then I did a little walk around to say thank you for the five years we got to live there, and wish it well for the next tenants who were going to move in.

19) May 11, 2021

This Tuesday was unfortunately a smoggy day for me. It was one of those when I just felt sad and lonely and down. I was so desperate for it to be over, especially because we had tickets to the Dodger game the next day—the first time since October 2019—and I was borderline emotional about it.

Spoiler alert: it was worth the wait.

26) June 29, 2021 (no picture)

It’s never not going to be wonderful to hang out on my best friend’s couch, eat food and vent, so I’m glad this day fell on a Tuesday so I could write it down and remember it. On today’s menu, we had Trader Joe’s butternut squash ravioli & air fried cauliflower. Plus, we watched Tell Me Who I Am on Netflix which is an incredible (and heavy) documentary that should definitely be watched with a friend.

29) July 20, 2021

“I feel vacation hungover”

This message from my sister was the most accurate description of this Tuesday, as we’d just spent five days in beautiful Utah, and then used our Monday to make the 11 hour drive home. So my big plans after work this Tuesday was to sit down, pout about being home, and then go to bed early. With that being said, please enjoy this photo I took two days earlier, as I looked at it fondly, trying to rewind myself back into that moment rather than do work.

30) July 27, 2021

As you may or may not know, my family LOVES the Olympics. And every Olympic year (both summer and winter) I make a spreadsheet to track the events and the medal count. Yes, this is nerdy, and yes, it is wonderful. I will hear no other opinions at this time. Quickly after the start of the Tokyo Olympics, I realized the time difference would provide an extra degree of difficulty. Thus, while I watched events that took place on Tuesday in Tokyo they were already competing in events on Wednesday in Tokyo. It was tough, it was confusing, but it was worth absolutely every second.

31) August 3, 2021

The mask mandate is back in California. After spending most of 2020 avoiding the gym (even after it reopened, because doing cardio in a mask seemed impossible) I arrived to find those familiar signs posted back in the window. I tried to power through and did 20 minutes on the Stairmaster in a mask. It was awful.

37) September 14, 2021

The first week of September marked the first week of the Proverbs 31 bible study I signed up for. I was very hopeful that I would stay on task and complete it, as I have a tendency to go full boar into things and then fall behind. However, I was very excited to find myself here on week 2, caught up with the reading, and genuinely excited about the live group study that happens on Zoom at 5:00pm.

43) October 26, 2021

Tennessee was the third stop on our trip and we were staying at the DreamMore Dollywood Resort. Needless to say, it was a dream. On this Tuesday, we had massages in the morning, then went on a jeep tour of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the afternoon. It was easily one of, if not the, best Tuesday of the year.

48) November 30, 2021

Every year, my mom, sister and I (and sometimes my dad and brother) watch The Family Stone. It is our favorite Christmas movie and easily one of our favorite movies of all time. We can quote the entire thing, and often talk through most of it, laughing and crying at the same parts every year. It is one of our most cherished Christmas traditions, which is why we made a family calendar event to ensure we stuck to it. We also ordered California Chicken Café for dinner and it was amazing.

51) December 21, 2021

I donated blood today! After a pretty average day at work, I drove to the Red Cross donation center in Woodland Hills and donated blood with no problem. I even got a free t-shirt! Also, a nice man thanked me for donating, saying, “thank you for doing this. It is a very special thing to do.” Then I came home and Natalee and I watched Love Actually.

52) December 28, 2021

And now here we are! The final Tuesday of 2021. I am currently sitting on the couch, cozied up under a blanket, with the week off of work and no plans for the day. Our Christmas decorations are still up, our counter is stocked with delicious desserts, and I am feeling so incredibly blessed by the gracious gifts I received from friends and family, and the wonderful time I got to spend with those I love over the weekend. I have an optimistic spirit about the year to come and I hope it brings many more memorable Tuesdays both to me and you!


Only one list-cember post to go! See you on Thursday!

Check out more List-cember posts here.