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Castles, Cliffs, and a Horse Named Peppy (Our European Adventure: Day 2&3)

Friday June 14th, 2019:

Upon meeting our Airbnb host Carmel the evening before, she gave us a rundown of the house she’d so graciously rented to us for the next two nights. She also gave us a guidebook of the area and pointed out some of her favorite things that we might want to add to our itinerary.

Waking the next morning, feeling only slightly disoriented by the fact that we were on vacation in Europe and not at home getting ready for work, our group made breakfast in the kitchen. Carmel provided us with a wide variety of snacks, including waffles (that weren’t frozen?), fresh fruit, and something called “breakfast pudding” that none of us were brave enough to take out of the refrigerator.

Our first stop of the morning was Belvedere House Gardens & Park—a Mullingar locale that none of us had heard of but came highly recommended by Carmel.

The morning offered slightly cloudy skies and a chill in the air none of us were quite ready for, but we bundled up and headed out, my dad and Uncle Bruce taking the wheel and bravely setting off the on “wrong” side of road once again.

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Being a Friday morning, Belvedere House was not overly crowded, and we were able to saunter and explore at our own pace, flipping the hoods of our raincoats off and on as the rain came in spurts.

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We took a tour of the house, marveling at its architecture and grandeur, walked the grounds, and strolled through the fairy garden.

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Overall it was a very charming and welcome start to our day, and the perfect pit stop en route to the day’s main attraction: the Cliffs of Moher.

You know, these old things.

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We spent a good two hours here, blessed with a sunny sky and only periodic gusts of high wind that made my dad close his eyes and ask us to please stand at least 4 miles from the edge.

Among the many (hundreds?) (thousands?) of pictures we took, my sister and I made sure to get another hair by the Cliffs shot, paying homage to those we took a few years ago.

And I got to recreate one my of my favorite shots from our trip—this time with my brother in tow.

Quick sidenote: Can we talk about how tiny my hands look compared to his?

From the Cliffs of Moher, we headed to Galway, my cousin Taryn’s favorite city from her stay in Ireland, and she took us to her favorite pizza place (Mizzoni’s) and her favorite bar (The Skeff).

As we hung out and listened to live music from Vicaria Band, my sister and I introduced the gang to our favorite Irish born drink: Jameson and ginger ale, which aided in our table’s karaoke performances of Britney Spears, Tina Turner and Darius Rucker (among others).

The drive back to Mullingar, while a little long and dark, again provided us a place to call home and the group of us sat around the living room, sipping on nightcaps and laughing our way through the memories of the day. This was our last night in Mullingar, but Carmel and Fintan promised to send us off with a bang, and at 9:00 a.m. the next morning, that bang arrived in style.

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Saturday June 15th, 2019:

BANG.

Okay, so it wasn’t really a bang. It was more of a knock. Two or three of them. And then a call into the house: “Peppy and I are ready for ya!”

As you might (never) have guessed, Peppy was a horse, and Fintan ushered us outside to meet him, and take us on ride in the Peppy-drawn carriage.

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Pro tip: if you are ever given the opportunity to go on a carriage ride through the Irish countryside, say yes. There is truly no better way to start your morning.

After each family got a ride, we loaded back into our cars, waved goodbye to Carmel and Fintan (and Peppy) and got on the road to Cork.

Just under three hours later, we pulled into the parking lot at Blarney Castle.

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Now, Blarney Castle was a favorite from our last trip, mostly because of how beautiful both the castle and the grounds are, but also because of the undeniably funand for some, understandably terrifyingprospect of kissing the Blarney Stone to receive the “gift of the gab”. For a full recap of what that means, you can check out this post, but to keep it brief: you lie on the ground, have an Irish man help you more or less hang off a ledge at the top of the castle, and then kiss a thousand year old rock.

Legend says that after you kiss the rock you will be blessed with eloquent speaking abilities, though for anyone afraid of either heights or, more commonly I assume, being held over a ledge one hundred feet in the air, the sheer anticipation of kissing the rock can bring out profanity as eloquent as anything I’ve ever heard.

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To come down from the excitement/danger/fun/terror (depending on the person) we walked around the grounds, once again surprised by how beautiful everything is, though slowly getting used to the fact that Ireland is simply, consistently, even reliably beautiful. (Hear that, Irish tourism department? Reliably Beautiful. Call me.)

Our hotel for the night was the River Lee in Cork. While it was tough finding accommodations that fit a group of nine, or even a family of more than three, the River Lee was beautiful and we settled in nicely to three rooms, each with three single beds. (I found a great deal on Orbitz.com!)

We also enjoyed—once could argue too much—the hotel restaurant, where we spent a large chunk of time eating and eating and drinking and eating before heading out in search of one (or three) Irish pubs, where we spent the rest of the night drinking and drinking and laughing and dancing and singing our hearts out.

One request, Ireland pubs: play more Whitney Houston.

Other than that, you’re perfect.

Uh, Hey, We’re in Ireland! (Our European Adventure: Day 1)

June 13th, 2019:

So there we were. Overstuffed backpacks making our shoulders ache, wheeled suitcases constantly hitting bumps and threatening to topple over, and ankles far too bare for the unexpected wind that welcomed us into the Dublin morning. After 13 hours of travel, my family had landed in Ireland and were making our way to our European rental car, which promised a complete shattering of muscle memory.

Our plan was to make our way around Ireland in four days, and had decided to forego a bus and a designated schedule in favor of a terrifying adventure on the wrong side of the rode, a passionate new dedication and reliance on the design of Apple Maps, and the freedom to stop for pee breaks whenever we wanted. The pro and con list really could have been a novel in itself.

So there we were, in our just big enough car for a family of five with five suitcases, five backpacks and a lot of emotional baggage provoked by sleep deprivation. But alas, my dad started the car—from passenger seat, so it seemed—and we skittered into the streets of Dublin, each of us wondering if this was such a good idea.

Now, for any of you who have read my blog before, you might know that my sister and I went to Ireland a few years ago. And if pictures from that trip are any indication, we were disgusted to be back. I mean, imagine having to look at this for a SECOND time.

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Aside from simply wanting to visit this friendly, welcoming and beautiful country again, our main reason for making Ireland our first destination was to show my mom, dad, and brother the country that had stolen our hearts. We wanted them to see what our (pristinely executed) slideshow from three years ago couldn’t. And although we showed them ridiculously unmoving, definitely not borderline spiritual photos like this:

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…they still agreed to come along.

Our first stop after landing was the Guinness Storehouse, (pro tip: buy your tickets online in advanced to save money, skip the line and get a free pint!) where my sister, Natalee, and I had previously become “certified Guinness pourers.” We were excited for our family to achieve this status so we could finally stop looking down on them.

Our reservation was for 4:30 p.m., and although we landed late and took a few (or six) wrong turns trying to navigate our way through the city streets, we were still running a little early by the time we parked in a nearby parking structure and made our way to the front door. So to kill time we headed to Harkin’s, a pub in walking distance from the Storehouse, and dove headfirst into some burgers, beers, and Irish coffees.

As we ate, we met up with the other half of our adventure crew: the Stevens. My cousin Taryn had just finished up a three-week study abroad stint in Ireland and was the catalyst for our entire vacation/hijacking of her family’s vacation. What started as a “wouldn’t it be crazy to meet you in Ireland?” was suddenly a very real, “uh, hey, we’re in IRELAND!”

Once we finished our meal, we made our first walk as the newly imposing yet undeniably fabulous group of nine. We took our tour of the Storehouse, were all successfully certified (and recertified) and shared our first (and free!) pints of Guinness.

To my absolute unsurprise I still hated it.

Back at our car, we were met with our first dose of pure luck and (undoubtedly) heaven sent Irish hospitality. Being from Southern California, you’d think we’d be better equipped at reading street signs and might notice that our parking structure closed at 7:00 p.m. To our great fortune however, even though it was nearing 8:00 p.m., a security guard just so happened so be walking by and was able to unlock the gate, saving us a €100 retrieval fee, and a whole lot of over exhausted family angst. Slainte, you broad, Irish angel.

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In the planning of this trip, we had a lot of conversations as to how we wanted to get around Ireland, where we wanted to stay, etc. My sister and I had previously taken a clockwise route around the country, making pit stops in five main cities (Dublin, Cork, Gallway, Londonderry and Belfast) and so initially I assumed we’d do the same thing. However, in looking up lodging, I found that that route was going to be pricey. So, instead we opted to pick a city in the middle of the country to act as our home base—at least for the first couple days.

Which is how we wound up at the gate of this Airbnb in Mullingar.

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photo credit: Airbnb (check out the profile and rates for this place here. It’s way more affordable than it looks!)

Though it was a bit of a trek, the hosts, Carmel and Fintan, were incredibly charming and made us feel so at home that we were able to unload, unpack and crash—hard.

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As I lay there in the moments before falling asleep, with the Irish countryside sitting right outside my window, the trip became both real and completely unfathomable all at the same time. I knew we’d made it, to both this country, this house and this adventure, but I also wondered if I’d wake up the next morning and it would all be a dream.

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

The Last Thing on My Phone (Part 2)

By now you probably know that I am a very curious person who loves gathering information. You also probably know that I’m a little nosey—because what curious person isn’t? So when I found this series on YouTube, I could hardly resist.

It’s been almost a year since we did our first deep dive into our phones, so I figured it was about time we checked back in.

Here were the results:

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1) What is the last photo you took?

Rachel: Mine is of this color coordinated clothing rack:IMG_5236

Natalee: Mine is of this creature on my plant. Look at this creepy crawly:

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Me: Mine is of this clock from our friend Taylor’s house. I just really liked it…

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2) What is the last thing you Googled?

Natalee: “Hitchhiker’s to the galaxy plot.” I need to know it for work so I cheated.

Rachel: “Aladdin.” I was looking at showtimes.

*collective pause to discuss the new Aladdin movie*

Kim: “Rompers for men.” I couldn’t remember what they were called. (They are called “Romp-hims” by the way.)

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3) What is your last text?

Rachel: Oh, this was funny. It was texted to me to describe the way I talk about things. It says, “I didn’t hate it, so there’s that. ‘The Rachel Liner Story.'”

Natalee: It was to the family group chat talking about all the things we are looking forward to on our trip and I said, “Amen to all of that!”

Kim: Mine is also about our trip. I said to dad, “Beer is on the agenda!”

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4) How many alarms do you have set?

Rachel: I only have three but I just reset them.

Me: Oh, I have a lot. I think even more than last time. I have eight.

Natalee: I have six. They range from 5:45 a.m. to 6:20 p.m. Not sure what that 6:20 p.m. one is from but I’m guessing it was probably a nap.

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5) What are your most frequently used emojis?

Rachel: These are my top used: heavy-black-heart_2764face-throwing-a-kiss_1f618thumbs-up-sign_emoji-modifier-fitzpatrick-type-1-2_1f44d-1f3fb_1f3fbsmiling-face-with-smiling-eyes_1f60a but I also really love this one: woman-shrugging-type-3_1f937-1f3fc-200d-2640-fe0f

Me: thumbs-up-sign_1f44dheavy-black-heart_2764face-with-tears-of-joy_1f602smiling-face-with-heart-shaped-eyes_1f60dsmiling-face-with-smiling-eyes_1f60a Yeah, that’s me in a nutshell.

Natalee: face-with-tears-of-joy_1f602white-smiling-face_263ayellow-heart_1f49bflushed-face_1f633woman-facepalming-type-3_1f926-1f3fc-200d-2640-fe0f This is my favorite though: face-with-rolling-eyes_1f644 It’s the best one ever made.

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6) What is your last voicemail?

Me: Mine is from [my best friend] Allison. She was just calling to chat but spent a good portion of the message complimenting my voice on the voicemail so that was sweet.

Natalee: See if you can guess mine.

*plays message*

“Hey noodlepop!—

Me: —Kristine [Natalee’s best friend.] Not a lot of other people -are out there calling you noodlepop. (For reference, Kristine calls me “Kim-age” so it’s safe to say her nicknames are supreme.)

Rachel: Oh wait, I have a really good one. It’s from this guy offering to lower the payment on my student loans. I mean, what kind of scam does Jonathan think I’m gonna fall for?

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7) What is the last selfie you took?

Me: The last picture I took with me actually holding the phone and volunteering for my photo to be taken was this one of Mel and I. Aren’t we pretty?

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Natalee: Mine is with Amanda. We were a little day drunk and so we thought, “hey, let’s day a picture of us being day drunk” and, well, we look pretty day drunk.

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Rachel: I’m not really in this one but I did take it and it’s when Dylan and I were with the rhinos.

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8) What is the last app you downloaded?

Natalee: Mine is a little basic, but it’s Instastories because for a minute there I was considering making my Instagram stories a little fancier but I haven’t used it yet.

Rachel: The McDonald’s app. I got it to try and collect on those chicken nuggets we won at the Dodger game [at every home game fans in attendance win free chicken nuggets if the Dodgers score six runs or more] Also pro-tip, I don’t think you even have to be at the game to get those nuggets. They just show up in the app… It’s a big deal and no one’s talking about.

Me: Happify. I downloaded it yesterday because I saw it mentioned in an article online, but I don’t really know what it does yet.

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9) What is the last podcast you listened to?

Rachel: Blackout. It’s with Rami Malek. I’ve only listened to the first couple but it’s pretty good.

Natalee: SLP’s Wine and Cheese. It’s where I listen to SLP’s (speech language pathologist—my sister’s future job title) talk about their caseload and drink wine at the end of a long week.

Me: Case Closed. It’s that podcast about solved murder cases that I got into. The second season has been way better than the first. The first season was just about a bad criminal. I mean, if you’re going to murder someone and try to cover it up, at least do a good job.

Rachel: Amen.

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10) What is the last note you made?

Natalee: “Angelina’s across from the Louvre known for drinking chocolate.” It’s a suggestion I got from a friend about something we should do while we’re in Paris.

Me: Mine is a suggested packing list for dad—with witty commentary.

Rachel: Mine was my target list and the best part about looking at it again right now is that I totally forgot I bought these chai teas, but they are definitely in the fridge downstairs and I’m very excited about it.

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So in case you’re ever wondering if these posts are important, or if you’re curious about taking a little dive into your own phone, remember, there might be a chai tea in your fridge that you totally forgot about, so take the dive. It’s worth it.

2019 Goals Check-In

Hey y’all, happy June!

I’m really at a loss for words that we’re halfway through the year already—but then again, it seems like New Year’s Day was approximately 600 years ago.

So.

That’s where I’m at with 2019.

But I set some excited goals for this year and I thought it was about time I checked in with where I’m at.

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1) Journal daily

Progress: 44% (161 days/365)

I have really loved this goal thus far. Journaling is one of those things that I’ve always wanted to do but never took the time to start. Now that I have however, I wonder where I used put all those thoughts at the end of the day. If you’re someone who has trouble falling asleep at night, or who tends to bottle things up inside, I highly recommend giving journaling a try. I personally like ruled Moleskine notebooks, but if you are someone who likes prompts to get you started, I’d recommend looking up “guided journals”. There are a bunch available on Amazon.

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2) Take a cooking class

Progress: 0%

This is on my to-do list to research. Anyone have any recommendations for classes in the LA area?

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3) Cook my way through a cookbook

Progress: 19% (19 recipes/103)

I chose Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings: Hungry for More as my designated cookbook for this goal and I am SO happy I did. Every single thing I’ve made so far (which I mention here and here) has been absolutely delicious. Highly recommend! (you can grab the cookbook here)

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4) Try the best drink from every state

Progress: 2.00% (1 drink/50)

Yeah so I’ve tried a whopping ONE drink from this list, mostly because I almost always order the same drink whenever I go to a bar, but also because I’m not sure how many of these drinks are actually served in standard bars and I’m embarrassed to ask. For the most part I think I will have to buy the ingredients and make them at home, so I will have to enlist the help of my mixology experienced (or just curious and adventurous) friends.

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5) Watch a sunset and a sunrise at the beach

Progress: 0%

I’ve been waiting on the summer weather for this one and it looks like it’s finally starting to arrive! So in the next few months you can find me on the beach, I’ll be the one doused in sunscreen and wondering when it’s okay to put on my jacket.

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6) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

Progress: 60% (3/5)

I really tried to get on this one early this year because I want to actually lean in to that at least for once. As of now I’ve volunteered with Food Forward three times, both picking and gleaning fruits and vegetables from local farmer’s markets, and in doing so I’ve been a part of collecting and donating almost 4,000 pounds of fresh produce that was donated to hunger relief agencies. Isn’t that amazing?!

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7) See 3 WRLA’s

Progress: 33%

While on a recent trip to visit family in Arkansas, my mom, sister and I took a side trip to Berryville to see the World’s Largest Razorback. It’s about as epically weird and wonderful as you can imagine and I’m so happy my family supports this quest of mine.

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8) Pay off 1 of my 2 remaining student loans

Progress: 90%

This month I will make my final payment on my second to last loan! That’s right baby! I will officially be down to ONE. STUDENT. LOAN. Ayyyyyyy! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, y’all.

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9) Amazon Wish List splurge

Progress: 0%

I have this one listed at 0% done, though I could probably put it at around 80% because I have an entire Amazon wish list dedicated to this cause. All I need to do now is add those bad boys to my cart and order them with that sweet sweet Prime shipping. Stay tuned.

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10) Stomp grapes and make wine

Progress: 100% (ish)

This is one of those goals that I thought sounded like a fun, quirky and unique idea at first, but now has me kind of wavering, and wondering, do I really want to do that? Until I decide, I’m marking it as complete because I did go wine tasting for the first time this past weekend and that’s in the wine goal family (which is a thing?) so….

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11) Make my family tree

Progress: 25%

I officially have an account on Ancestry.com and have begun my hunting, but I have a BAF (you know, a BIG ASS FAMILY) and so it’s going to take a little while.

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12) Hike the Narrows

Progress: 100% (ish)

Yeah so I’m just breaking all the rules this year but I’m kind of into it. I gave this one an “ish” because a few years back I made “Project Lightbulb” (which was the name I gave to a family trip to Iceland) one of my goals for the year but we weren’t able to complete it. This year however, we gathered our savings, did all the research and are taking (in literally two days) a trip to Europe. Sure, that’s still not Iceland, and sure, it’s also not the Narrows, but it’s still a family bucket list vacation and I’ll take a box check where I can get one.

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13) Do (at least one) unassisted pull-up

Progress: she’s working on it

I have no way to really track a percentage of progress on this one but I am working on it little by little. A couple weeks ago I went rock climbing with my family and it was the first time I noticed I was actually getting stronger. If I remember it correctly, I believe at one point I turned to our guide, flexed my arms and said, “I have medium guns right now, not the big ones just yet.” So I guess that’s my progress: medium guns.

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14) Get 100 rejections

Progress: 3% (3/100)

This one has been a big struggle for me actually. Blame it on the journaling or the full calendar or the final season of Game of Thrones, but my mind has been all over the place and I’ve had trouble finding the time/effort to write, meaning I’ve had almost nothing to submit, and thus nothing to get rejected. It is my goal however, to rope this in for the second half of the year.

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15) Learn Spanish

Progress: 20%

Surprise! This goal wasn’t even on my original list. (I told you I was breaking all the rules this year.) Goal #15 used to be “learn a song on my ukulele” but again, after some contemplation, I realized that maybe I don’t even want to do that. And you know what, y’all, there is no reason to pursue a goal that you don’t even want to accomplish. So I dumped it. Tossed it to the side like every single mushroom any restaurant has dared put on my plate. Then I downloaded Duolingo and I started learning Spanish, and I’m having a great time! I mean, lo estoy pasando muy bien!

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16) Finish my museum goal

Progress: 50% (10 museums/20)

For Mother’s Day my sister and I took our mom to the Huntington Library for some tea (which I highly recommend, by the way!) and a walk around the gardens. About midway through our stroll through the one of the exhibits in the library, I remembered that it was on my list of museums and I took a few seconds to jump up and down excitedly. This is the only progress I’ve made on this carry over goal from last year, but it put me at the 50% mark so I’m calling it a win.

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17) Run a Marathon done! read about it here

Progress: 100%

To be honest I’m still in shock that I can write completed next to this goal, but it gives me such a big boost of pride that I think I’ll say it louder for the people in the back: COMPLETED, BABY. You can read all about it here.

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When we add that all together, my total progress is about 40%, which I’m proud of! Not only because I’m on track (for once) but because this is the first year I’ve made adjustments to my goals when I realized my interest in accomplishing them had changed.

For the last few years I’ve felt locked into the goals I set at the beginning of the year, sometimes to the point of hating certain goals, which made accomplishing them far less exciting. It became more about getting it over with, which is not what a goal should be. So I’m proud of myself for loosening the reins a bit and remembering that the whole point of setting these goals is to try new things and explore new challenges—it’s brought the fun back into it for me, and it makes me excited for the rest of this year and the ones to come.

If you set goals this year, I hope things are going well for you, and if you didn’t, it’s never too late to start! 🙂

Just Live the Day

A little while back I read The Grapes of Wrath, and like in many of the classics, I found a great nugget of advice. It was simple, easy advice, which to me meant it would be almost impossible to follow, but it’s stuck with me over the last few months and I wanted to share it with you.

To quote it directly from the book, I believe it is Ma who says, “Jus’ live the day. Don’ worry yaself.”

Just live the day.

As in, be here now.

Live this day. Right now.

Don’t live in the regrets of yesterday. Don’t live in the fears of tomorrow. Live this day. No matter where you are.

No matter if that means you need to go out and attack it, or if it means you need to stay home and rest.

Let this day serve you. Let it show you what it’s made of. Let it inspire you, let it heal you, let it show you joy you never imagined.

Find the wonders of this day, and don’t waste them thinking about a day you can’t get back or a day you can’t even reach yet.

This day is only going to happen once, so live in it and take it for all it’s worth.

Jus’ live the day. Don’ worry yaself.

To My Fellow Tough Eggs

Often when I meet someone new, or when I see someone for the first time in a long time, or sometimes for no reason at all, I feel very shy and quiet and unable to start, continue, or enjoy a conversation.

I put a lot of pressure on myself, demanding, THIS IS ON YOU, and making myself believe that whenever a conversation goes stale, or when someone opts to sit or stand with someone else, or when the stranger I meet at the supermarket doesn’t immediately fall in love with me like the movies told me they would, it’s because I’m boring or unlikeable or pathetic—or a healthy combination of all three.

Anyone else with me on this?

Anyone else wish they had that magic they see in other people? That ability to talk about anything and everything to anyone and everyone. That something that draws people to them without even meaning to. That ease.

I do.

And while I think it’s something I’ll always strive for, and as much as I believe that you can challenge yourself and grow and acclimate and learn, there comes a point when we have to realize that we are not required to be that kind of person.

We don’t have to be the person that knows exactly what to say all the time. We don’t have to talk to anyone and everyone about anything and everything. Some of us are simply tougher eggs to crack and you have to give us a little more time.

So, to my fellow tough eggs, let me just say that I am with you. You are not alone in feeling like you should do more, be more. You are not the only one sitting there internally screaming, “SAY SOMETHING.” You are not boring or uninteresting or pathetic. You just need time. And anyone worth having in your life will give you that time. So be patient with yourself.

5 More Things I Do Incorrectly

Coming up on a year ago now I posted this blog, listing 10 things that I do (at least seemingly) incorrectly. Since then, I have (not surprisingly) discovered a few more things that I do, if we want to put it nicer this time, differently.

Anyone with me out there?

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1) Chewing Gum

One of the best features a stick of gum can have is long lasting flavor, right? Isn’t that what we all want? Isn’t that why there are undoubtedly people who are working as gum scientists, trying to make the dream of the everlasting gobstopper come true? Well if it is and if there are, it’s a wasted effort on me. I’d say on average, the max time I chew gum is about 10 minutes. If I chew it longer, it’s either because I’m on a plane and I’m trying to make my ears pop, or I’m falling asleep at my desk or in the waiting room at the DMV and I’m desperately trying to keep myself awake by chewing—which only works moderately well, by the way. For the most part, I really don’t like gum. It’s weird and I hate the sound it makes when you chew it and after I’ve used it to freshen my breath, I’m done with it and want to spit it out as fast as possible.

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2) Make Pancakes

I’m sorry but I simply don’t have the patience for flipping. The mixing and the whisking and the ladling onto the griddle? Great. But the waiting for the top to bubble or the edges to brown or the pancake gods to send a sign, only to flip the pancake over and have it either still completely raw or burned to a crisp? THE WORST.

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3) Posing for Pictures

What do I do with my arms? Or my legs for the matter? Why does my face keep doing that? And why does one of my eyebrows jump higher than the other one when I smile too big? Wait, why are we taking more than one photo? I only had the one pose in mind and it was mediocre at best. How does everyone else have backup poses?! Annnnd great, I look like a moron.

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4) Hitting Snooze

This one is phrased wrong in that I’m actually superb at hitting snooze. I could have a graduate degree in snoozing. It’s not hitting snooze that I’m bad at. And even though I’d like to get up on time and not have to run around my house like a crazy person for once, and even though I’ve read all the articles on how bad pressing snooze it for you, I CAN’T STOP. This past week I’ve made an effort to only press snooze twice (per day) and I’ve considered that a success.

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5) Taking Pills

I really truly thought at some point I would graduate into a full blown adult that could swallow pills without any issue, but no. I still to this day have to cut pills in half and take them with Gatorade or juice or pudding and I still sometimes have to throw them away and start over. Thank heaven for gummy vitamins.

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So there they are, red strikes on my life report card. I’d like to think that admitting them gives me a green check in the bigger picture, but I’m not sure if life runs on the same grading scale as a kindergarten class.

Just please, give me a gold star and let me be on my way.

A Lesson from Claire Wineland: Love Your Life Your Way

Last month my sister and I went to see the movie Five Feet Apart in theaters. It follows two people with cystic fibrosis, who fall in love but are forced to keep their distance from one another.

The director of the film, Justin Baldoni, recently posted a video on his Instagram (that you can find here) where he introduced his main inspiration for the film: Claire Wineland. She lived her entire life with cystic fibrosis before passing away at the age of 21. In the video (taken in 2015), Claire gives a short speech, and it’s immediately clear why she changed so many peoples’ lives, and why her legacy is sure to live on.

She said:

I’m 18 years old and I have something called cystic fibrosis. I do only have a few years left to live. I mean, that’s how the doctors see it. Let’s get the whole like death thing out on the table, right?

Like all of us could get hit by a meteorite, so let’s stop thinking about the death part of it because that doesn’t matter to me. We have no control over it. But we do have control over whether or not we are proud of our lives. I mean, that’s something we have complete say over.

I am genuinely proud of my life. I am so proud to be alive. I’m not saying I don’t feel pain. I’m not saying I don’t feel sadness and suffering, and loneliness, because that’s what it means to be a human being. But I’m saying that that pain and that loneliness and that sadness is beautiful.

We live in a society that benefits off of us continuously looking for happiness and dreams and goals out here. Right? If we say, “No. We are not going to go looking out there for a happiness. We are alive and that is all we need.” We are beating the system. Right? And we’re living lives that we’re proud of. We’re living lives that make us happy!

You have to look at all of it. All of the pain, all of the loneliness, all of the beauty, all of the friendship and the family, and the sickness and the health. You have to lay it all in front of you and you have to say, “Okay. That is what I have and it is all wonderful. What can I make with it?”

Woah, right?

It really made me stop and think.

So often I am someone that puts an immense amount of pressure on myself to live a life that other people can be proud of. Sure, I take pride in what I do, but when I’m lying awake at night stressing, it is because I’m worried I’m not doing enough, not being enough. I’m worried people are judging me or pitying me or just wondering what the hell is she doing?

When we focus on the eyes of others, it’s hard to accept “all of it”. It’s hard to see all of the pain and sadness and beauty and family and friendship and sickness and health, and consider it “wonderful”. We can see the wonder in some of it, sure, namely the parts that might impress or connect us to others, but it’s hard to see all of it as the wonderful combination that makes us, us. It’s hard to realize that our unique combination of all of those elements is what makes our lives beautiful and special and important.

So today, I am going to take a look around, and I encourage you to do the same. Look at all of it. Everything you’ve been given, and find the meaning in it. Find the wonder. Stop living your life by other peoples’ standards and start living a life that you are proud of.

If I Had a Nickel…

So I know it’s usually a joke or a cliché or whatever you want to call it, but the other day I sat down and really considered how rich I could be if I ever did get a nickel or a quarter or, can you imagine, a dollar for every time I did or said and saw _______.

As I thought about it, these were the real moneymakers I came up with:

  1. Cursed in the car
  2. Ate a sandwich
  3. Said, “it’s freezing in here.”
  4. Made a pun
  5. Cried during a commercial
  6. Went to a dodger game
  7. Pressed snooze on my alarm
  8. Watched an episode of Friends
  9. Went to Target
  10. Made myself laugh
  11. Said, “you scared me.”
  12. Cringed at something I said years ago
  13. Cooked macaroni and cheese for dinner
  14. Did a crossword puzzle
  15. Went for a run
  16. Said, “Dude.”
  17. Talked to my dogs
  18. Googled something I was curious about mid-conversation
  19. Wore converse tennis shoes
  20. Rewatched a movie I’ve already seen rather than watch something new—especially something that I’ve been telling people “I don’t have time to watch.” (Sorry)

While there’s no way to know how much money I’d have if I could actually translate all of these into cold hard cash, I can only assume that if I did, I’d be writing this from a huge recliner with a built in refrigerator, wearing a robe made of clouds, while calling my personal driver to pick me up to take me to the airport to board a first class flight to an exotic destination with my family.

Or maybe I just wouldn’t have a credit card bill and I’d totally buy the brand name cotton balls instead of the knockoffs.

Honestly either future looks great.

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What are some things that would make you fictional nickel rich?

And what would you do with all that money if you could somehow get your hands on it?

I’d totally give the number of my cloud robe maker.

Give Thursday a Chance

So it’s Thursday.

Which means it’s almost Friday.

Which means it’s practically the end of the entire week.

Which means there’s no point in starting anything now.

Right?

All those goals you’ve been meaning to start pursuing.

That something new you’ve been wanting to try.

Those chores you’ve been needing to get done.

There’s no reason to do them today.

It’s Thursday.

You might as well call this week a wash and just start again on Monday.

Right?

As much as I want to say yes, and as much as I want to put everything I want to do aside and just worry about it tomorrow or, you know, next week, that really wouldn’t do me or you or any of us any good.

Mondays are great for motivational purposes. They are great for easy calendar tracking purposes. They are great in theory. But really think about a Monday. Think about how when you actually get to a Monday, it’s hard and awful and has too many responsibilities to begin with.

Monday’s can suck.

So…why not Thursday?

Why not Friday?

Why not Tuesday evening at 6:00 p.m.?

There’s no reason to wait to start doing the things that will make you happy or organized or less stressed or successful. Every day holds the possibilities we give to Monday and every day can be as looked forward to as Friday.

So why can’t Thursday be your day?

Give Thursday a chance.

Start today.