internet

31 Good Things that Happened in January

Hello and welcome back to another year of All the Good Things, a monthly series where I highlight all the good things (get it?) that happen in each 30-day (or so) span. It’s a reminder that amongst all the well known bad, there is a lot of undercover good happening in our world.

Let’s dive right in!

.

1) This woman hilariously rejected the idea of New Years Resolutions

.

2) This girl let Beyonce welcome her into the new year

.

3) This woman paid tribute to her pregnancy cravings

screen-shot-2018-01-11-at-5-31-07-pm-1515710036

.

4) This guy made a memorable appearance on TV

.

5) Demi Lovato set a great goal for the new year

.

6) This woman won money on HQ trivia

.

7) This boyfriend came up with an amazing gift idea

drawings

.

8) This t-rex shoveled snow

.

9) This girl left some amazing advice behind

.

10) This man made do with what he had to make his dog happy

.

11) The Times Up Movement took the world by storm

TimesUpLogo_Large

.

12) Oprah gave a powerful speech at the Golden Globes

.

13) This woman repaired a butterfly’s broken wing

butterfly

.

14) This man saw his wife’s new haircut

.

15) This hippo created her first painting

.

16) This girl showed off her skills on the subway

.

17) Sterling K. Brown gave a great speech after his SAG award win

.

18) This late wife played one last trick on her husband

.

19) This girl used her tragedy to try and make a positive difference

.

20) This girl made a valid plea

.

21) Beck released a music video with the cutest cast ever

 

.

22) This horse worked up some courage

.

23) Vikings fans donated over $200k to the Saints’ punter’s charity

no-nfcsaintsvikings-011518-052-jpg1

.

24) Olympian Michael Phelps started teaching his son the ropes

.

25) This girl apologized to someone she used to bully

.

26) Reddit encouraged people to share kind things strangers have done for them

.

27) This grandma got the royal treatment from her sisters

.

28) This 3rd grader got the welcome party she deserved after missing 15 months of school for cancer treatment

welcome-back-bridget-today-inline-3-180109_ff03fd8fa0cc46256b957b68052df4fc.today-inline-large

.

29) This girl woke up to an amazing surprise from a stranger

.

30) This dad made a YouTube tutorial

.

31) These twin brothers weathered the flu together

.

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

I can’t wait to see what February brings!

If you missed any of the “All the Good Things” posts from 2017, you can check them out here.

tree

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

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

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

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

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

1) Christmas Lights

bob-ricca-122708

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

.

2) Ornaments

IMG_3040

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

 .

3) Paper Chains

OriginalPhoto-535535405.974492

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

.

4) Snow Globes

n-451271

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

.

5) Christmas Music

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

.

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

31 Good Things That Happened in October

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

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

You can find last month’s here.

Happy October to you!

.

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

.

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

.

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

.

4) As did Maren Morris & Vince Gil

.

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

.

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

.

7) Everything went pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

12203157_G

.

8) This football team continued an amazing tradition

.

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

.

10) This dog was recsued from a well

.

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

.

12) This girl sang her new rescue dog a lullaby

.

13) Burger King released a creative anti-bullying ad

.

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

.

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

.

16) This therapy dog contined bringing joy to veterans

5NDBZ6UFJIZCFELBYQXYH6CN7Y

.

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

.

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

.

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

45A278F600000578-5017015-Couple_goals_This_couple_has_frequented_this_make_up_store_so_hu-m-22_1508953885440

.

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

59f8c8021800003400d5a5a2

.

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

 

.

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

.

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

.

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

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

.

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

.

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

IMG_5643-1024x768

.

27) This nurse sang to her dying patient

.

28) This little girl laid down the law

.

29) Season 2 of Stranger Things was released!

stranger-things-poster

.

30) This couple brainstormed their Halloween costumes…

.

31) …And then this weatherman won Halloween

.

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

I can’t wait to see what November brings!

tree

 

If I Were on Carpool Karaoke

Unlike most guests, I obviously wouldn’t have a successful discography to sing along to as James Corden and I drove around downtown Los Angeles, thus making the call from The Late Late Show rather surprising. Had they heard my music turned up to a volume that blocked out my voice, thus leading me (and possibly them) to believe I sounded exactly like the artist actually singing? Had they caught me on one of those days when I forgot there were other people on the freeway and I thrust my body around behind the steering wheel, wobbling my car between the dotted lines? Had they somehow managed to get their hands on old family videos where my sister and I wrote songs while we were out on the lake fishing, our most prominent hit being, “My Butt is Sore”?

Why did they want me here? I would wonder to myself as I stood on the sidewalk outside CBS studios, and then I’d open the passenger’s side door of a silver SUV and James Corden would say, “I just really need some help getting to work.”

Once I was in the car, he would ask if he could turn on some music and I’d nod. In a perfect world, he’d play “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston first. It’s my ultimate jam, my #1 song requested at every wedding I’ve ever attended, and the true key to receiving my trust for this musical journey we were about to embark on.

We would jam our faces off and I’d probably ruin any hairstyle the team at CBS had given me before we left. I’d also undoubtedly be sweating by the end, and I’d zone out for a few minutes post-Whitney, wondering if I’d worn a post-Whitney worthy, sweat disguising t-shirt. What am I even wearing? I’d ask myself. Am I wearing anything?! I’d look down at my body, ensuring it was in fact clothed, and when James saw the wave of panic followed by an immediate wave of relief wash over me, he’d ask if I was okay.

“Oh yeah,” I’d say, “I’m fine, I was just making sure I was wearing clothes.”

Not knowing what to do with this response, he’d smile politely, make a turn to shorten our originally planned route, and turn the radio back up.

The second song would be another well-known anthem or perhaps a legendary ballad. Something everyone should know in the hopes of distracting the audience that I—someone nobody knows—am in the passenger’s seat, rather than the likes of Bruno Mars, Adele, or Harry Styles.

I’d do my best to sing along, keeping my volume a few notches below James, who actually can sing. About halfway through the song, I’d start to worry I was getting carsick, and even if I wasn’t, I would worry that I might become carsick. And since I still wasn’t used to the fact that I wasn’t alone in my car making deliveries for work, but was instead sitting alongside James Corden being recorded by 6 different cameras, I’d zone out on this thought for a while. Am I going to puke? I’d wonder. Or am I only making myself think I’m going to puke. Did Harry Styles think he was going to puke? I bet Bruno Mars NEVER pukes. You can’t get vomit on silk. The dry cleaning bill would be outrageous.  

“Do you mind if we play a little game?” James would say once we were finished with the third song. “Sure!” I’d reply enthusiastically, my posture growing worse and worse as I got more comfortable.

James would propose a speed round of song identification in which a snippet of a popular song would play and the first person to guess it would receive a point. I would nod politely at the rules, camouflaging the competitive side of myself that was screaming WE MUST WIN THIS OR OUR LIFE MEANS NOTHING.

By the fourth round of the game, we’d be tied, and my heart would be pounding. Again, I’d completely lose sight of the fact that I was being recorded for television and focus only on the game…and this incredibly slow driver that will not get out of the way!

“EXCUSE ME,” I would say to the navy blue Prius in front of us as my LA traffic demons rose to the surface, “WE HAVE PLACES TO BE.”

James would smile, remaining professional, and I’d start to come back to him, only to have the Prius turn on their reverse lights IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET!

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” I’d yell. “GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER!”

I’d then return to James, having completely blacked out until the Prius was out of the way, unaware of anything that might have come out of my mouth.

“Shall we continue?” I’d say sweetly.

“We shall,” he’d say, and then I’d mysteriously win the game.

On the final lap of our drive, I would get quiet as I started to overthink everything that may have happened during the car ride. Was I funny? Was I crazy? Should I have just stayed in my car? Do they regret inviting me on this show? Do I regret coming? Where even are we?

Just then, “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding would come on. It’s another one of my favorites. A wave of calm would wash over me as James and I sang along, and soon I’d be consumed by the song, rolling the window down and holding my hand out to feel the outlandishly hot air characteristic of a Los Angeles autumn.

As we pulled back onto the CBS lot, we’d be whistling to the end of the song. (Him more than me, I’ve never been quite able to whistle correctly.) And as the song came to a close, I’d realize why musicians—and other celebrities if you count the Apple Music extension of the series—sign up to do this. It’s the same reason why (most) people that sit in traffic don’t kill each other. It’s the same reason why, in this fictional story, the CBS producers recruit me: Music can bring out the best in people, and can bring even the strangest of stranger together.

So as Otis Redding faded out and James Corden put the car in park, I’d smile, knowing that yes, while I was probably a crazy person sure set the gif-ing Internet on fire, I was also just a person, sitting alongside another person who appreciates music. And even though there were a bunch of cameras on us and I had sweat under my arms and was still a little nervous I was secretly carsick, we had shared a moment. An experience that no one could ever take away. And that’s really what music is all about.

 


 

Also check out: If I Were on the Bachelor, If I Were on Dancing with the Stars

Swipe-tember: What I Learned from Spending a Month on Dating Apps

After recently turning 27 I had the normal rush of emotions, as well as a few new, introduced-in-the-late-twenties specific ones. For example: ARE MY EGGS DYING?

This was more or less a ticking time bomb. With friends in every direction getting married and having babies and then more babies, as I sit on my couch watching Food Network eating another re-microwaved meal for one, I was destined to start hearing the clock tick. And if that didn’t do it, the now normal tendency of family, friends, and acquaintances alike to graze over the “are you seeing anyone?” territory as often as they can, just in case a two week period we go without seeing each other might provide me a husband and vicious fertility, surely would.

I consider myself to be kind of old fashioned. With a string of well-set examples in my family, I fully believe there is someone wandering around the world that is meant for me. It’s also fair to say that while I’m not against dating apps, I often doubt their credibility, mostly because I assume everyone on the Internet is a serial killer. Amongst this paranoia however, also lies curiosity. Multiple friends have asked me why I won’t give dating apps a try, and while the “everyone’s a catfish waiting in the wings to kill me” excuse usually ends the conversation, there have been a few that remain persistent, quoting some form of the “don’t knock it til you try it” variety.

So, I decided to try it. “One month”, I said. “I’ll log on and sell out for one month, just to see what it’s all about.” Thus, on September 1st I downloaded Bumble, giving life to an experiment I was calling “Swipe-tember.”

While creating my profile, I felt like I was back in 9th grade creating a Myspace. Back then, besides AIM, Myspace was the best way to showcase who you were both to strangers and, more commonly, the classmates you saw all day, every day. Being an awkward kid with wiry braces and low self esteem, I was desperate to create an impressive profile, so I dove headfirst into the world of coding, providing myself the skills to add music, graphics, and a well written, well organized, yet fittingly brief autobiography.

On Bumble, while I had less creative freedom in terms of profile design, I had just as much responsibility to present an impressive introduction. This time around however, I felt the responsibility was reversed. No longer did I have as much interest in presenting what I felt was expected or desired, as I did to express an honest depiction of the person doing the presenting.

High school, college, and the corresponding years of self-discovery had provided me with a much more balanced sense of who I was, what I wanted and what I deserved. I had no interest in creating a veiled version of myself, only to meet an Internet stranger in person using a matador style “ta-da!” with who I really was. If I was actually going to do this, even if I didn’t necessarily expect or intend to go on many (if any) dates, I was going to be up front about it. So when it came to profile pictures, I chose a handful that represented the different parts of my personality i.e. a travel hungry, family oriented, Los Angeles Dodger loving fisherman.

And for my bio, I lasagna-ed in a few more.

IMG_2505

giphy (24)

In the end, I was happy with who I presented, because at the very least, I knew it was me, and even if this materialized into nothing more than the experiment it started as, I’d walk away regret free.

Next came the swiping.

While I knew the general principle of the act, as I’d seen friends do it to pass the time, determining fates with their thumbs, there was a different kind of pressure associated with being the one behind the screen. If I swiped right, I essentially gave someone the chance to be the love of my life, but if I swiped left, I was banishing them to the confines of an existence separate from my own for the remainder of time. (It sounds dramatic, but it’s true if you think about it.)

In determining who I would offer that fateful right swipe to, I did my best to overanalyze. I understood that it was supposed to be a glance, choose and go type of situation, but the only way I’d been convinced to join the app in the first place was to remove the association I made with people on the internet as devious catfish, thus forcing myself to see them as people, just like me, and in doing so I felt they at least deserved a glance at the entire person they chose to present.

Over the course of the month, I flipped through hundreds of profiles, “meeting” all kinds of guys. Oftentimes I’d swipe through a few batches of profiles, then close the app, only to return a few hours later to find my inbox full of matches. On Bumble, it is the girl’s “job” to make the first move, so as I would scroll through this list of strangers I’d opened the lines of communication with, I realized that I now had the responsibility of entertaining them.

No. Not responsibility. Opportunity.

More than anything, dating and meeting new people is an opportunity, and it’s important to ensure that it is beneficial to both parties. As I sat wondering what I should say to this group of strangers, I realized that unless I wanted to lead with a Google suggested witty comment or joke or internet meme, I didn’t have to. I didn’t have to do anything. And the more I thought about it, the more I started to realize the parallels between both on and offline dating. For no matter what app I was logged into or in-person conversation I was starting with a stranger, I was in control. It didn’t have to be written in the rules, it didn’t have to coincide with the narrative I thought would be most desirable. I have the power to start a conversation and I have the power to stop it. I have the opportunity to let someone get to know me and I have the right to walk away.

I’ve always been very shy when it comes to new people, and as a result have walked away from many conversations feeling like a failure. Oftentimes I’ve felt as if it were my responsibility to keep a conversation going and if I couldn’t, I assumed I wasn’t interesting or worthy of a meaningful relationship with that person.

Talking to the guys on Bumble, I realized how much I relied on them to give back what I offered them, even if that just meant politeness. I didn’t have to accept aggressive sexual innuendos or overly personal questions, and letting those conversations peter out didn’t make me less interesting or worthy of finding a meaningful connection. We were all people looking for something, and it was okay if I didn’t want the same things.

I’ll admit, it’s been a couple weeks since I logged into the app. After making a diligent effort for the first half of September, my busy schedule consumed most of my time and I often didn’t think about Bumble until right before I fell asleep. But while I didn’t put in the time and effort one might need in order to find the rare, yet meaningful connection the online world may have to offer, I’m still glad I gave it a shot. If anything, it was a great reminder that I’ve grown up a lot since high school and I am more prepared now than I ever was then to wander my way into a love story.

And while I don’t know if I’ll continue to pursue the world of online dating, I won’t count it out either, because I think the most important thing to remember when it comes to dating is to be open and honest. Open, that is, to the opportunity to find love anywhere, in a variety of different scenarios, even ones that might seem impossible. And honest in that no matter where you are or who you’re talking to, you are being yourself. Because in many cases, the people you meet on and offline are just like you. They have friends getting married and having babies, they have family members pressuring them to do the same, and they may or may not have eggs that they fear are dying. So give them a chance. Give you a chance. Take a swipe at love and see where you end up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calling All Humans, I Want Your Garbage

Calling all humans, I want your garbage.

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

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

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

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

This is where your garbage comes in.

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

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

You can find the blog at www.thisterriblemorning.com

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