inspirational blog

I’m Still Trying to Land My Own Jump

The other day I was scrolling through Facebook when I came across a video of a skateboarder trying to land a super complicated trick. Massively complicated for someone like me. Impossible, really. But for this guy, it was something he knew he could do eventually. It was something he could work towards little by little.

The caption of the video described the trick as a “triple set with a massive laser flip,” which undoubtedly means…something.

The video fades in on the guy, Christian Flores, standing on his skateboard, his voice coming through the speakers saying, “Everyone has their own project that they’re doing mostly for themselves, you know?” He’s standing next to a double door entrance of a medical building, on a small patch of cement that leads down three small sets of stairs. The camera is pointed straight at the building and Christian is in the far left corner of the frame. With a quick pump of the leg, he rolls towards the edge of the stairs and comes to a quick stop so he can look down at the jump he’s going to make, visualizing every movement required in landing the trick successfully. He then goes off camera to give himself more room to pick up speed, before soaring back into frame and hurling himself into the air. When he lands, the board is upside down under his feet and he rolls on his back across the asphalt. It looks like it hurts, like maybe he should be broken in more ways than one, but he pops right up, grabs his board and runs back up the stairs.

For the next few minutes, the video shows a montage of what should have been (at least I think) the last day of Christian’s life. He skids and slides and crashes and rolls and booms and bangs and oww and how much milk did this kid drink that his bones are not in a pile right now?

The caption of the video states that throughout the trying process—which took over two years—Christian did endure a few broken ribs, but that’s a laughable amount of damage compared to what should have happened. If I tried a trick like this, I think the acting doctor would end up laughing, but in more of a, “great news, you didn’t break this rib!” type of way. But as much as I’d like to go on and on about how broken this guy should be, how beaten down and discouraged and exhausted, there comes a time when you have to respect that the guy just knew how to fall. Being a skateboarder, he was used to it. And being a good skateboarder, he didn’t let it bother him. With each crash he popped right back up and ran up the stairs. Again. And again. And again.

Not being a skateboarder myself, it’s hard to understand how he kept getting up. But I suppose his wanting to land that trick (regardless of the consequences that came with it) is just a physical representation of any of us being knocked down en route to accomplishing something we’re passionate about.

There are clips of him rolling around in obvious pain, tears rolling down his face, and anger radiating out of his bones. There are countless moments when you almost want him to stop, for fear he really might hurt himself. But there’s no stopping him. He keeps getting up.

The funny part about the whole thing is that it’s just a trick. All of this falling and nearly dying and hours of frustration, it’s all for a silly skateboarding trick. But then again, is that really all it is?

Like any muscle, perseverance takes time to build up and make strong. We’re not born with blind determination, we have to work for it. We have to want it. And so even though this want of his may have seemed like small potatoes to someone trying to start their own company or run a marathon or write a book, the drive to do any and all of these starts in the same place. Who knows where his determination could take him after this trick? Who knows what his mind would set itself on next? What counts is that he knows he can get himself anywhere he needs to be, because he knows he’s willing to put himself through hell to get there.

At about the four minute mark, we see him propel himself into the air for what seems to be the hundredth time. He floats up off the stairs and his feet leave the board. His arms go up in the air to keep his balance and his eyes focus down on where he needs to land—which he does. With both feet cleanly on the board, he rolls down the asphalt for a few dozen feet, then comes to a stop, throws his skateboard and shirt into the air, and walks over to hug his friends.

As the video closes, Christian says he is proud to have accomplished his goal and happy that it is done, but even so, he is already looking for something bigger. My response to this was a solid two minutes of letting my jaw hang open, and then I wrote this blog. It’s just a short, silly blog, nothing more. But then again, maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s part of something bigger.

30 Things I Want to Do Before I’m 30

Yesterday I turned 27 years old which was you know, cool. Though it kind of felt like 26, to be honest. That is, except for the fact that I’ve officially entered my “late twenties.”

YIKES.

What is life?!

Note: I took a break from writing this blog post to figure that out, then I came back and SPOILER: I still have no idea.

But anyways, yes, I’m officially 27 years old now, and as one of my friends pointed out to me yesterday: 30 is right around the corner. And while I could (and might, occasionally) spend the next three years freaking out about that, I also thought I’d put the milestone to use and make it a deadline for some long terms goals I have bouncing around in my mind.

Thus, I bring you 30 Things I’d Like to Do Before I’m 30:

  1. Pay off my student loans
    • Two down, three to go!
  2. Get a book published
    • If you ever see my name on a book cover, please buy a copy (or 10)!
  3. Pay off current credit card
  4. Open a new credit card & start earning airline miles
  5. Donate blood
  6. Hike the Narrows
    • I found out about this a few years back and have never been able to put aside the time to do it, hopefully this will be a good motivating factor!
    • In case you’re curious, read about it here.
  7. Hike Half Dome
    • This is another hike high on my list that I feel like I just need to make happen
    • Read about it here.
  8. Hike Mt. Langley
    • About three years ago, I was given the option to climb either Mt. Langley or Mt. Whitney and I went the route of Mt. Whitney. The experience ended up changing my life (you can read all about it here) and so I figure it’s only necessary to finally make the time to climb the other.
  9. Learn to play the ukulele
    • When I was in high school I was given a ukulele for my birthday by a close friend and after all this time, I’ve only ever taught myself “Happy Birthday,” and I’ve even forgotten that by now. So, neighbors, forgive me as I struggle my way to success on this one.
  10. Go to Harry Potter World in Orlando
    • I don’t really feel like this needs further explanation…I mean…it’s Harry Potter World! *packs wand*
  11. Take a cooking class
  12. Take a Yes Man trip
    • In case you haven’t seen the Jim Carrey film this is referring to, there is a scene when the two main characters walk up to the counter at an airport and book the first flight out without question. Me, being a fervent planner, will need to mentally prepare to be this spontaneous, but I think it will be a great adventure.
  13. Make my family tree
    • I’ve never gone into it that much, but my family is BIG, and I think it’s about time I pieced it all together and see where I fit into this crazy, beautiful, chaotic picture.
  14. See a Broadway play
    • Fingers crossed Lin Manuel Miranda’s next smash hit is running in New York by the time I save up enough money to get there.
  15. Go out for a really expensive dinner
    • “Yes, I would like another glass of wine AND a dessert menu, thank you.”
  16. Go camping
    • The only time I’ve ever gone camping was while we were climbing Mt. Whitney, which I feel was a very extreme, sink or swim, type of situation, so I’m hoping for something a little more relaxed than that.
  17. Stay at a 5-star hotel
    • “Yes, front desk? Do you have any extra robes?”
  18. Buy a bunch of plants and keep them alive
    • The second part of this goal being KEY.
  19. Go to a bottomless mimosa brunch
    • See, I’ve gone to brunch, but I’ve never gone to an almost too long brunch that involves your closest friends, story after story after story, and too many mimosa refills to count, culminating in a much needed taxi ride home and a good long nap to commemorate a Sunday well spent. Is this a weird thing to aspire too? Yes. Am I ashamed of it? Not even a little bit.
  20. Go on an LA staycation
    • I’m arguably the worst LA resident there is. Since I’m so jaded by the constant traffic, I almost never go downtown and do the touristy things someone who has lived here all their life should have done countless times and should have knowledge of when out of town visitors come seeking knowledge. So, I consider this both a goal for me and a service to everyone who has ever asked me for directions or vacation tips and was met with little more than a shrug and a smile.
  21. Know at least 20 recipes by heart
  22. Read every book on Time’s 100 greatest books of all time
  23. Fall in Love
    • I mean this in a lot of ways. I think we have the opportunity to fall in love over and over again in our lives, be it with experiences, things, or people, however, we are only able to do so if we open ourselves up to the possibility. So, I want to encourage myself to do just that.
  24. Make a time capsule to open when I’m 40
    • *pictures Crossroads*
  25. Learn to drive a stick shift
    • I once watched an episode of The Amazing Race where a team got eliminated because neither member knew how to drive a stick shift. While I don’t foresee myself in a situation like this, I’m not taking any chanced.
  26. Go curling
    • This one is for me, but also for my mom, who is one of the biggest curling fans I know. I can barely stand to watch it on television, but I’m up for trying it out in person.
  27. Stomp grapes and make wine
    • Just so I can offer someone a glass and, while pouring it, say, “You know my feet have touched every ounce of this.”
  28. Blow glass
    • To be honest this just looks AWESOME, and I could always use an extra trinket to add to my desk.
  29. Go to a championship game (World Series, Stanley Cup, etc.)
    • Of course, I’d prefer them to involve one of my teams (a.k.a the LA Dodgers, LA Kings, NY Giants, etc.) but I’d be happy with a ticket regardless, and I’d probably end up crying from the excitement in the atmosphere regardless.
  30. Run a marathon (maybe)
    • I say maybe because I’ve been running ALL. DAMN. YEAR. to try and complete the 1000 mile goal I set for myself, and committing to something of this magnitude sounds exhausting. However, I’ve always thought it would be an amazing accomplishment and have never truly ruled it out.

Here’s to the last three years of my twenties! May they be just as crazy and confusing and stressful and wonderful as the first seven. And for those of you also approaching the milestone of 30, those who are still a ways from it, and those who are a ways past it, may you always know that you have the power to do anything you set your mind do. Age really is just a number, and you can kickass no matter what that number may be.

31 Good Things That Happened in August

I have good news and good news. I have only good news!

As mentioned in this blog post, at the end of every month I’m going to highlight all the good things that happened in that 30-day (or so) span, to give ourselves a break from the well known bad.

You can find last month’s here.

Happy August to you!

.

1) This baby and this dog made us all jealous with their friendship

.

2) This girl turned her skin disease into art

IMG_2767

.

3) This boy scored a touchdown

.

4) These couples played a life size version of Hungry Hungry Hippos at a marriage retreat

.

5) Phil Lewis a.k.a Mr. Moseby from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody got to reminisce

suite life

.

PRNDL

.

6) This man proved that size truly does not define strength

.

7) Taylor Swift went to court to stand up for sexual assault victims everywhere

.

8) This father and son connected

.

9) This daughter was reminded how much mother’s care

PRNDL

.

10) David Beckham showcased a dad’s love by staying up late building a Disney Lego castleFullSizeRender

.

11) After sending a text to the wrong number, this guy got an amazing response

.

12) This woman adopted a dog who has waited patiently for a home

dog adoption

.

13) Delish introduced us to s’mores sushi

.

14) This girl posted an amazing Tinder bio

tinder bio

.

15) This girl continued to inspire the world with her story

tinder bio

.

cancer free

.

16) This bird found a new passion

.

17) These Tough Mudder competitors displayed the true definition of a team

.

18) This woman showed us her incredible dog

.

19) These boys gave their grandpa one last gift (via Love What Matters)

21151531_1642942375728154_2131001840488141544_n

“My grandfather was in the hospital last week and while admitted he was having intermittent episodes of confusion. Some of it was related to his mild dementia and some of it was the pain medicine. At one point, he asked, ‘Have they given me the go ahead to play?’ I said, ‘The go ahead to play?’ He said, ‘Yes, did the doctor give me my permit to play?’ I said, ‘Play what??’ He said, (in a somewhat annoyed tone) ‘Lindsay, I want to play ball with the boys.’ He was referring to my two sons. They are 11 and 8. Choking back tears, I just smiled and said, ‘Of course you can play.’ Now, here we are exactly one week later. My grandfather was cremated this morning at 10am. All on their own my sweet boys decided to put this in the casket with him. It says “Come play anytime. Love, Chase and Trav.”

.

20) The solar eclipse brought some wonder to the world…

.

21) …and served up some grade-A puns

moon blocks sun

.

22) Neighbors and strangers alike came together to help one another

.

23) JJ Watt, defensive end for the Houston Texans, started a campaign to raise $200,000 for victims of hurricane Harvey…and has currently raised almost 10 million dollars!! (You can donate here)

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 7.23.37 AM

.

24) John Cena was surprised by a few of his fans

.

25) Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo donated money to a cause close to his heart

.

26) Rapper Logic released and performed his new song “1-800-273-6255”—the number for the National Suicide Prevention Line—on the VMA’s, and the organization saw a huge influx in calls. (via Buzzfeed)

logic

.

27) This couple achieved their dream of visiting every Cracker Barrel in the US

.

28) This cartoonist captured what it’s like for parents to watch their kids grow up fast (via Huffington Post)

599c4eae1e00003c00c5ec73

.

29) This sister shared some serious love

.

30) This mom & son started school (via Huffington Post)

599b20091f00003d001aa31b

.

31) This important reminder was shared

good internet

.

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

I can’t wait to see what September brings!

tree

5 Lessons I Learned from Hamilton & Lin-Manuel Miranda

Yesterday I saw Hamilton at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles and it’s safe to say my jaw has yet to stop hanging open. It lived up to all the hype and was somehow able to be better than I expected. For amongst the talent of the actors and actresses, the incredible music provided by the orchestra and the simple yet beautiful choreography and set design, the pure genius of the lyrics is what truly left me speechless. And while I could probably write an entire essay about the lessons I learned from the historical content of the play, I think that’s something you can only appreciate if you have the pleasure of seeing it in person. I did however walk away with a handful of lessons about the play itself, where it came from, what inspired it, and how it came to a city near me.

1) Consume Everything

Lin-Manuel Miranda first got the inspiration for Hamilton after picking up a copy of Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton titled, Alexander Hamilton. After reading it, he started to envision the story being told as a musical. Now, clearly this idea turned out, you know, decent. But just think what would have happened if Lin-Manuel Miranda never picked up a copy of that book. Or rather, think what wouldn’t have happened. All those critical accolades, all those sold out Broadway shows, even this very blog post wouldn’t exist if he hadn’t grabbed a copy of ole A. Ham at the airport. That being said, it’s important to consume as much of anything and everything as we can. You never know where you’re going to find a new inspiration or a new passion that could completely change your life. So read books, see movies, get out in the world and take in what it has to offer, then (preferably) write a kickass musical about what you find so I can have something to do on Tuesday nights.

.

2) Pursue the Crazy

“Honestly, Lin, a musical about Alexander Hamilton?” I have no proof of anyone ever saying this to him, but I think it’s safe to assume that at least one person was on team doubt during this endeavor. But Lin-Manuel Miranda had an idea, a vision, and he pursued it, no matter how many people gave him the “Honestly, Lin” speech. And in the end, it didn’t matter how many people told him he was crazy, because that quickly became far outnumbered by the people telling him he was a genius, and probably overshadowed by a vast number of people asking him to sign their baby. Regardless, Team Doubt is looking pretty bad these days.

.

3) Be Bold

In my post-show stalking of Lin-Manuel Miranda, I also learned that his first performance of what would eventually become the opening number of Hamilton, was at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music and the Spoken Word. You know, a casual venue…where he had been invited to perform a different song! At the time he was starring in the Broadway show In the Heights—which he also wrote the music and lyrics for, isn’t it a shame this guy has no talent?—and was invited to perform music from that show, but instead he showed up with a song about Alexander Hamilton, thus treating the White House stage as the birthing room for what would go on to become one of the most successful shows in Broadway history. The man doesn’t go halfway, people.

.

4) Do it Your Way

“A musical about a key segment of American history, great! Wait—what do you mean it features a lot of hip hop music?” Again, I have no proof of this conversation taking place because I wasn’t in the room when it happened, but I’m just spitballing here. Lin-Manuel Miranda could have showed up with a very proper, classical musical with beautiful gowns and elaborate choreography and a few tangent storylines that were only included as people pleasers. Instead, he created this musical mastermind of a history lesson that somehow makes you want to dance and go back to 11th grade to pay closer attention at the same time. There is no recipe written anywhere that told him this would work, but he believed in it, and sometimes that’s the hardest part of any pursuit.

.

5) Go Out and Do It!

Whatever it is. Whatever idea you have bouncing around in your head. Whatever you find yourself daydreaming about during the workday. Go after it! Write it down. Start taking the small steps. Put a plan into motion. Because just as Hamilton probably wouldn’t have existed if Lin-Manuel Miranda hadn’t grabbed that copy of Alexander Hamilton at the airport, it also wouldn’t exist if he didn’t dig deeper into the inspiration he found in its pages. So stop throwing away your shot. Stop letting those ideas and dreams simmer out. Believe in them, chase them, write a historical hip-hop monologue about them, you never know where it might take you.

giphy (16)

If You’re Willing to Start from the Ground, You Can Build Anything

Can I have a show of hands for anyone who has been personally victimized by country duo, Dan & Shay’s song “From the Ground Up?”

giphy (15)

Right, okay, that’s what I thought. Let it be known that my hand it also up.

In case you’re unfamiliar with this song, have a listen:

Or, if you want the short version: it’s a painfully adorable ballad about finding true love and building a life with someone.

The first verse of the song starts like this:

Grandma and grandpa painted a picture of sixty-five years
And one little house
More than a memory
More than saying I do
Kiss you goodnight’s and I love you’s
 

And then the chorus goes like this:

And we’ll build this love from the ground up
Now ’til forever it’s all of me, all of you
Just take my hand
And I’ll be the man your dad hoped that I’d be

It’s the kind of song that gives you all the feels and makes you yell at the ceiling of your car in the middle of traffic—or at least that’s what it does to me.

When I was little, I dreamed about finding the one. The person all the Disney movies and romantic comedies promised me. The person that would make everything make sense. Now, as I grew up, I figured out that you don’t actually need someone else to make your life make sense. I figured out you can do that all on your own. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t wish for someone to stand beside. Someone to laugh and cry and get all crotchety with. Someone who, when this song comes on the radio in the middle of dead stop traffic, you realize is so noticeably absent that it provokes you to yell at the aforementioned ceiling. BUT I DIGRESS.

The key point to note in this song is that the singer proposes he and his true love build their life together from the ground up. When he brings up the love story of his grandparents, he isn’t saying, “we have that,” or “it will be easy to have that,” rather he’s saying, “if we work hard, we could have that.”

In our lives, we will wish for a lot of things that will require us to build from the ground up. Be it a love story, a career, a legacy or a home. But no matter what we’re building or the various tools we’ll need to do so, every bout of architecture starts with a Day One. A commitment to the desire. And one of the marvels about life is that we often don’t know when that Day One will be.

You never know when you’re going to find your true passion. You never know when you’re going to meet that person the romantic comedies promised you. But isn’t it a wonder to know that every day you wake up with an open heart, every day you meet someone new or try something you never thought you would, it could be the start of something that changes your life forever?

So even though there may be songs or movies or coworkers or couples walking down the street that sometimes make you want to jealous road rage your way off the (literal or metaphorical) freeway, it’s important we don’t take advantage of these days. We never know what they might be teaching us, or the Day Ones they might be leading us towards.

And hey, you never know, Day 1 could be today.

Calling All Humans, I Want Your Garbage

Calling all humans, I want your garbage.

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

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

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

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

This is where your garbage comes in.

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

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

You can find the blog at www.thisterriblemorning.com

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

Dear High School Students,

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

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

But that was only the half of it.

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

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

Maslow’s Hierarchy of What Other People Think We Need

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My 100th “No”

Being a writer, I am constantly submitting posts, short stories and even the occasional poem in the hopes of getting published. And being an insanely organized writer, I keep track of everything I submit in a spreadsheet. When I submit something, I’ll update the spreadsheet with a new entry including the date, the place I submitted it to, the approximate window of response time, and the reply (yes or no). I also have a formula set up in the “yes or no” column to tally up each answer. (Yes, I’m a nerd)

As of yesterday, I just received my 100th “no.” And while I realize this isn’t something I should necessarily announce, let alone celebrate, I can’t help but feel a little proud. You see, a while back I was listening to a motivational speaker, and they encouraged the audience to “fail hard.” They said that if you throw yourself into challenges, try your absolute hardest, and then end up failing, you’re doing something right. Naturally, this struck me as odd. How can I be doing something right if I’m failing? My competitive brain just didn’t understand this. You either win or lose and it’s always better to win.

But failing isn’t always losing, they explained. Failing is more often the act of crossing off a path that doesn’t lead to success. And with that in mind, it’s crucial to fail as hard as we can, so we don’t waste time wondering if there was something more we could have done, or if there was one more turn we could have made that could have wrapped us around to the right path. If we are failing hard, it means we are trying hard. It means we are leaving no doubts behind and thus leaving no reason to go down that path again. By failing hard we are slowly succeeding.

Amongst my 100 no’s, I’ve also received 14 yes’s. Fourteen. Meaning my ratio here is 14/114, making my rate of success 12%. Last time I checked, no one is proud of a 12%. But alas, I am! Because I know that 88% failure is what has given me that 12% success.

A couple weeks ago a mentor at church was telling me about an article she read that emphasized how important it is for us to receive the “discipline of failure.” When she mentioned the phrase, I audibly gasped. I understood it instantly, because it’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the last three years. My failures (my no’s), all 100 of them, have made me a better writer. They are the reason I work so hard to receive those yes’s. So even though this “milestone” might seem like something to be ashamed of, it actually makes me extremely proud. I’m proud of myself for failing so hard, and I promise to continue failing for the rest of my life. It’s the only way I’ll ever be able to succeed.

Give Up Your Guilty Pleasures

When I was in high school, I spent a lot of time running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I wanted to be liked and accepted and I thought the only way to achieve that was to like and accept the “right” things. Be it the clothes I should wear, the movies I should like, the music I should listen to. I had no idea who I was, so I hoped everyone else would tell me.

But even as I started to learn the game, I was still well aware I was cheating. I didn’t wear everything I was supposed to wear, and even when I did, I wore it a bit differently. I didn’t like all the movies I was supposed to like, and I listened to a lot of music that lay far outside the lines which were drawn. Everybody has those quirks though. Those little secrets we keep from the masses. We call them guilty pleasures.

Like most teenagers, I lived off of guilty pleasures. After a long day of playing the game, I’d come home, relieved I could finally relax. My family didn’t care what I wore or what I liked, they loved me regardless. And although it took me sometime, I grew to learn than anyone worth having in your life would hold the same opinion. As a result, guilty pleasures began to lose value.

A few years ago, I heard a quote from Foo Fighters’ front man Dave Grohl:

“I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you f*cking like something, like it. That’s what’s wrong with our generation: that residual punk rock guilt, like, “You’re not supposed to like that. That’s not f*cking cool.” Don’t f*cking think it’s not cool to like Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” It is cool to like Britney Spears’ “Toxic”! Why the f*ck not? F*ck you! That’s who I am, damn it! That whole guilty pleasure thing is full of f*cking shit.”

Sure, it featured a few more f-bombs than the average life lesson, but it sunk in all the same. When we give into the game of guilty pleasures, we essentially admit to being ashamed of a part of ourselves. In doing so, we prevent ourselves from ever truly becoming ourselves. And to quote Dave Grohl, that’s not f*cking cool.

So I say ditch the guilty pleasures. Like what you like, without shame. It’s what makes you who are. And the world needs who you are. It’s what keeps it interesting.