journal

The Year of Surrender

If you have been around my blog for a little while, you might know that each January I seek a faith-based word to focus on for the year. In the past four years, I’ve gotten trust, give, patience, and then for 2018, I got surrender.

51k1v-ci0sl._sx357_bo1,204,203,200_To kick off the year, I bought this book on Amazon. It has one devotional to read for each day of the year, and I figured surrendering 5-10 minutes a day to read them was a good place to start.

I had tried this a couple years ago, not with a devotional, but with prayer each night before I went to bed. After hearing so often at church how important it was to set aside time with God, I decided I’d get down on my knees every night before bed and pray.

Initially I was very nervous. Praying out loud, to me, has always felt a little bit like public speaking—which I hate. I always get self-conscious that I’m not saying the right thing or that I’m not saying enough. Sometimes when we pray in groups at church I spend so much time worrying about what I’m going to say that I miss everything everyone else says.

After a while though, I got the hang of it. Each night I’d kneel down on a blanket and just talk candidly. Most of the time I legitimately started off just by saying, “hey,” like I would if I were talking to a friend, and then I’d just tell Him what was on my mind. When I would close out prayer—I’m not sure why or when I started saying it—I would always ask that He hold my hand.

Just hold my hand, please. Hold my hand and lead me.

I so desperately wanted—and still want—direction of where I should take my life, and I think I just liked the image of being led that way. It made me feel safe, the way a child might feel when their parent takes their hand to cross the street or when a friend takes your hand to guide you through a crowded room. It lets you know that even amongst the chaos, you have someone with you, guiding you forward, and I sought that kind of direction from God.

So as I started this year of “surrender”, I again approached it with that mindset.

I am here, I thought. Show me the magic of this word. Lead me.

As the year went on, I had my share of encouragements and reminders. When my mind would start to slip, surrender would make its way into my sights.

One particularly stressful afternoon, this song popped up on my Spotify:

And there was never a shortage of blog posts, podcasts, Bible verses, etc. that kept finding ways to remind me to let it go. Let it all go.

But perhaps the biggest encouragement, the biggest reminder that not only was letting go okay, but that it was necessary, refreshing, unburdening, and most of all safe, was found in my daily devotional. For amongst the passages—most of which I marked up, circling and underlining and making notes in the margins—I found one phrase over and over:

“I am holding your hand.”

I didn’t just find it once. I found it 32 times.

My own words. My own request. My own prayer handed right back to me over and over again.

I am holding your hand, it said.

And it was in reading those words over and over that I realized what it would truly mean to surrender.

I pictured myself walking up to the front door of my house with my arms riddled in grocery bags (because #onetrip). With the keys in my purse and the doorknob unable to unlock and open itself, I would most definitely have to set a bag or two down. I would have to empty my hand to get what I needed.

All these years, though I asked, pleaded for God to take my hand and lead me, and grew frustrated when I didn’t feel that presence, that hand, it wasn’t because he wasn’t by my side reaching out, it was because my hands were full. Full of everything else I was worried about or focused on. Even though I wanted to take his hand, I wasn’t willing to first let go of the things I was holding onto.

And so, 2018 saw me finally start to loosen my grip. No longer am I trying to win any awards for carrying the most weight all at once. No longer am I trying to balance one grocery bag on my knee and the other on my elbow as I try to reach in my purse to grab the keys. I’m setting the bags down, one by one, and I’m freeing that hand, because I know that His hand is right there, waiting for me to take it.

Dear Baby,

I know we just met, but I thought I’d go ahead and tell you that I love you.

It’s funny, love isn’t always an easy thing. Sometimes it’s messy and hard and confusing, but when it comes to you it’s as simple as can be. I thought it would only be this easy when I became a mother. I thought it would take me all those years and then nine more months to finally have that moment when I can love something, someone so instantly, and yet there I was yesterday, holding someone else’s baby, holding you, and I felt it.

I can probably blame your mom for that. I’ve known her a long time. We all have. And by the time you can read this, I hope you’ll know good and well who we are.

We’re a group that’s been through a lot together. Some good times, some bad, but mostly good. We love each other, and now we love you.

I tell you this to let you know now, and to remind you every day here after, that you’re not alone. You have so many people behind you, rooting for you, and admiring you.

We’re a unique tribe. We laugh hard, mostly at our own jokes, and then at the jokes we make off of each other’s jokes and so on and so on. We come in all shapes and sizes, with our own trail of fails and successes behind us. We all try our hardest and we have all been the one needing a shoulder to lean on. But that’s what makes us great. We care. We listen. We love. And just by being here, baby, you’re one of us.

We’re here for you. We are here for you and your mom and your aunt, and everyone else that makes up this big circle of ours that we call a family.

So dive in, baby. Dive into this thing we call life.

We’re so happy to have you in our world, and we can’t wait to see you build yours.

 

 

 

 

 

Also, about the jokes…

At least give us a courtesy laugh.

It would mean a lot.

 

2018 Goals Final Wrap Up

Last week I released my list of goals for 2019, but before I can truly dive into those new ones, let’s see how I did on my goals for 2018.

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1) Do a handstand

COMPLETED

While I can’t say I can walk to work in full handstand while carrying my purse with my feet, I have come SO FAR from the beginning of the year.

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2) Take a kickboxing class

COMPLETED

Guys. Seriously, take a kickboxing class. I mean, I figured I’d like it. Love it, even. But I didn’t realize it would be therapeutic. I genuinely worked through some things while I was punching and kicking that damn bag. So it’s safe to say that I will definitely make my way back to some classes in 2019.

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3) Visit (at least) 20 museums in Los Angeles

WILL CONTINUE IN 2019

I only ended up making it to museums this year, which is a bummer, but not that surprising when I look back at how busy my 2018 was. Instead of just letting it go however, I decided to make finishing this goal one of my goals for 2019. Hopefully this year I’ll find some more spare weekends to get out and see some ‘seums.

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4) Get CPR certified

COMPLETED

That’s right, folks! According to the certificate that was emailed to me by the Red Cross, I am officially CPR and First Aid certified! I can officially save your life (if you’re having a minor crisis that was covered by the training)!!

If you’re interested in getting certified, you can find more information here. 

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5) Shoot (at least) 1 roll of film per month

(ESSENTIALLY) COMPLETED

I fell off a little at the end, but I shot 13 total rolls of film this year so I’m calling it good. I absolutely love that I set this goal and the pictures turned out SO COOL. Here are a few of my favorites:

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6) Complete the 104 things to Photograph book

NOT QUITE

Yeahhhhhh. I just didn’t get around to this one, to be honest. I thought it would tie in really well with my film goal, but I just didn’t put in the effort to take pictures that corresponded to the prompts in the book. As of now, I could probably fill half of it, and while I will continue to fill it, I just couldn’t do it in one year.

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7) Visit the sea glass beach in Fort Bragg, CA

FULLY PLANNED 

I have worked out all the details needed to take this trip, and my roommates and I have thrown out potential dates. So while we didn’t take this trip in 2018, I think we will definitely make time for it in 2019.

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8) Go to the dentist

COMPLETED

Yes, I went to the dentist. No, it was not fun.

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9) Watch 20 documentaries

COMPLETED

This was another goal that I loved more than I thought I would. There are SO MANY documentaries out there that cover SO MANY different topics. And since I’m already someone that loves dropping fun facts, watching these documentaries this year gave me more material than I knew what to do with!

If you’re interested, these are the ones that I watched. I put my favorites in bold!

  1. Happy (Netflix)
  2. The Mortified Guide (Netflix)
  3. The Mortified Sessions (Netflix)
  4. Minimalism (Netflix)
  5. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Amazon)
  6. Three Identical Strangers (Amazon)
  7. Amanda Knox (Netflix)
  8. Icarus (Netflix)
  9. Evil Genius (Netflix)
  10. The White Helmets (Netflix)
  11. Tiny Shoulders (Hulu)
  12. Conor McGregor: Notorious (Netflix)
  13. The Mind of Jake Paul (YouTube)
  14. Zion (Netflix)
  15. Seeing Allred (Netflix)
  16. Ballet Now (Hulu)
  17. Becoming Bond (Hulu)
  18. The Barkley Marathons (Amazon)
  19. Blue Planet 2 (Netflix)
  20. Batman & Bill (Hulu)

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10) Perfect an omelet

DIDN’T REALLY WANT TO ANYMORE?

Yeah, I don’t really know what to say about this one. I mean, I had every intention of learning to make an omelette and I constantly mentioned buying a new pan that would help me do so, but then I just kind of…didn’t want an omelet? I don’t know. I guess I was really craving them in 2017, craving them enough to make perfecting them a goal for 2018, but here in 2019, I just want hard boiled eggs in my lunch box and fried eggs on my burgers. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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11) See (at least) one movie in theaters per month

ONLY MISSED DECEMBER

Similar to the film goal, I did fall short at the end on this one, but I think I more than made up for it the rest of the year.

Here are all the movies I saw in theaters this year. And again, my favorites are in bold! 🙂

  1. I, Tonya
  2. Call Me By Your Name
  3. Maze Runner: The Death Cure
  4. 50 Shades Freed
  5. Red Sparrow
  6. I Can Only Imagine
  7. A Quiet Place
  8. Book Club
  9. Incredibles 2
  10. Won’t You Be My Neighbor
  11. Three Identical Strangers
  12. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again
  13. Eighth Grade
  14. Skate Kitchen
  15. Crazy Rich Asians
  16. A Star is Born
  17. Bohemian Rhapsody

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12) Read 20 books off the Time’s 100 List

COMPLETED

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it one thousand times: AUDIOBOOKS. They are the only reason I made it through this goal, and since finishing Time’s list is on my 30 Before 30 list, I’m sure they’ll be the driving force behind completing that as well. #teamaudiobooks

  1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  2. Dear God, it’s Me Margaret
  3. On the Road
  4. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
  5. Lord of the Flies
  6. To the Lighthouse
  7. The Day of the Locust
  8. The Great Gatsby
  9. To Kill a Mockingbird
  10. Never Let Me Go
  11. Revolutionary Road
  12. The Painted Bird
  13. Red Harvest
  14. The Big Sleep
  15. Mrs. Dalloway
  16. The Moviegoer
  17. Housekeeping
  18. A Clockwork Orange
  19. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
  20. 1984

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13) Pay off credit card

MAKING PROGRESS

About halfway through the year I had to pull the plug on this one because I just didn’t have the resources to continue, but I’ve since got back on track and am making progress slowly but surely!

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14) See 3 WRLA’s

COMPLETED

While on a trip to Seattle and Canada in March, I was able to complete this goal, seeing the World’s Largest Cowboy Hat & Boots in Seattle, WA, the World’s Largest Paper Airplane in Mukilteo, WA, and the World’s Largest Tin Solider in New Westminster, BC, Canada!

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15) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

COMPLETED

After what seemed like a promising start, I once again found myself scrambling a little bit at the end. I did get my five slots in, but it wasn’t without a little sweat and frantic planning. The main charities I volunteered for this year were Food Forward and Children’s Hunger Fund. Check them out!

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16) Donate Blood

COMPLETED

Yes, I did it! Was it my favorite thing ever? No. But will I do it again because it’s an easy way to help out? Definitely!

Find out more about donating blood here. 

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17) Do the 1 second/day video challenge

COMPLETED!

This was probably the most stressful goal for me because I was constantly having to remember to film a second for each day, but I genuinely love how it turned out. Shout out to everyone in the video! You are all reasons why this video/year turned out great because you were part of some of my favorite moments of 2018 🙂

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Overall, I’d say this was a very successful year! It was a little crazy, a little blurry, and a little bit overwhelming, but I’m very thankful for all that it had to offer.

Now we’re off into the mysterious world of 2019!

I hope it treats you well and that you feel inspired to go for it! Whatever it may be for you. ❤

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You can read more about the goals I set for 2019 here.

And if you’re looking for inspiration on goals you should set this year, check out this post!

 

17 Goals for 2019 (List-cember #8)

For the past two years I’ve made concrete lists of 17 goals that I hope to accomplish in the following year. The first year was cute, it was 17 Goals in 2017, but then I stuck to 17 (because it’s my favorite number) in 2018 and I’m going to continue sticking to it…

I’m sorry.

I’m know it’s not as catchy.

I also know I apologized for this last year, so I apologize for apologizing…again.

ANYWAYS.

Here were are, a mere six days away from the new year and I’m putting another 17 goals out into the universe. I’m sure they’ll frustrate me and stress me out and make me wonder what in the hell I was ever thinking, but then at the same time they’ll inspire me and excite me and encourage me to continue to make crazy lists of goals because I really can achieve anything I put my mind to.

Let’s see what we have in store for 2019.

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1) Journal daily

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This past year, in the month leading up to my birthday I gave myself a list of challenges in an attempt to give 28 a solid start. One of my favorite parts was the daily writing challenge. I liked having to write about something each day, even if it was just describing my favorite season or listing things that make me laugh. It got me writing, which always seems to sort my brain out, no matter how jumbled it might be at the end of a long day. So, in 2019, I’m going to journal every day. I’m going to buy myself a new moleskin notebook and write 2019 on the front and I’m going to write at least a few words it in every day. Not only will it keep me writing, but it will also be a way to preserve everything that happens in the next year, which I have a funny feeling is going to be a good one.

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2) Take a cooking class

This one is on my 30 Before 30 list and after what I would consider a successful year of trying new recipes (lots of which I’ve shared in my Strain then Stir series) I’m feeling inspired to go out and take a class. I don’t really have a preference for the genre of food or the type of class, I just want to learn something new and expand my cooking skills.

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3) Cook my way through a cookbook

Piggy-backing off of that last one, I think it would be a fun challenge to actually cook my way through one of the (too many) cookbooks I own. I’m such a flip and pick kind of cookbook reader and I think I miss some recipes that I’d really like if I gave them a chance.

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4) Try the best drink from every state

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A while back I watched this YouTube video that showcased the best drinks from each of the 50 states. While I wasn’t surprised that I hadn’t tried a lot of them, I was surprised that I’d never even heard of most of them. When my friends and I go out, I am a big sipper. I like to try what everyone’s drinking before I eventually order my favorite drink: a Dirty Shirley. I think this challenge will both feed my curiosity and force me to branch out a little. Who knows, I might even find my new favorite drink in there somewhere.

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5) Watch a sunset and a sunrise at the beach

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This one is almost embarrassing to include on the list because as someone who lives 30 minutes from the beach (when there’s minimal traffic) in a city that has incredible weather year round, there’s really no excuse for me not to go more often than I do. If I’m being 100% honest, I think I might have gone three times this year? And that’s a hard might. So, in 2019 I’m going to do better. I’m going to see (at least!) one sunset and one sunrise at the beach, both of which will involve me taking lots of pictures and pretending that I’m not cold. Can’t wait!

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6) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

This one has become a staple and I love it! I still haven’t found a way not to procrastinate until the last minute to finish it…but it love it!

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7) See 3 WRLA’s

This one is another staple, but this year might be a little more challenging than others. Since I’ve seen most of the ones close to me, I’ll have to do some driving/flying to see those farther away. Luckily, I’ve managed to hook a few people with the wonderful weirdness of WRLA’s and I think they might be up for accompanying me 🙂

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8) Pay off 1 of my 2 remaining student loans

I am currently on track to pay off one of my last two student loans in June of 2019 and MAN, AM I EXCITED. Unless something drastic happens, this should be an easy goal to complete, but I’m putting it on the list because it will feel so. damn. good. to cross it off.

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9) Amazon Wish List splurge

Another piggy back goal. I’ve said for a while now that when I pay off all of my loans I am going to go through my Amazon Wish List and just go ape sh*t on it to celebrate. But while I’m on track to pay off one loan next year, my final one will probably take another year and a half to pay off. So, I’m going to do a mini splurge. Say 5-10 things that have been on my list and in and out of my cart forever. I think it will be just the push I need to get through my final year of loan payments.

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10) Stomp grapes and make wine

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This is another goal on my 30 Before 30 list, and I’m very anxious (and kind of grossed out?) to try it. My cousin and I were recently talking about planning a trip to Northern California to visit wine country and I think this would be something fun to do in between all the wine drinking. I mean, we gotta get some exercise in, might as well make it useful.

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11) Make my family tree

I’ve wanted to do this FOREVER. I come from a great, big, wonderful and loud family and I’d love to learn about all the great, wonderful and loud ancestors before me. I’m then hoping to turn the information I find into a book of some sort. Stay tuned!

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12) Hike the Narrows

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I found this Zion National Park hike a few years back and immediately put it on my family’s to-do list. Since then, I’ve seen a bunch of my friends do it, all of them coming back with rave reviews, so this year, I’m thinking it’s our turn.

Family! Let’s do it!

 

(If you’re interested, you can find information about this hike here.)

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

I go to the gym a few times a week and one of my go-to exercises is the assisted pull-up. Essentially I use a machine that puts some of my body weight against me but not all of it, as I bend and straighten my arms in a pull-up motion. Slowly but surely over the last year I’ve made progress, but I’ve still got a little ways to go until I could do one completely unassisted. All I’m looking for is one at this point, then I can go from there.

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14) Get 100 rejections

In the middle of 2018, I read an article that encouraged writers to garner as many rejections as they can, explaining that if they are constantly putting their work out there to get rejected, they are also bound to find their work accepted at least a few times as well. This past year, aside from my blog, I put my writing on the back burner a little bit because I was so busy, so I’m hoping this goal will help fuel my fire to fail and thus (hopefully) succeed in 2019.

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15) Learn a song on my ukulele

A while back I got a ukulele as a birthday gift. I was so excited and immediately looked up videos on YouTube to teach myself how to play. I think I may have learned “Happy Birthday” but I was not very good and have since forgotten every single note. So this year I think I might take an online class or two and see if I can’t learn a song. Sure, it might be “Happy Birthday” again, but it’s the effort that counts, right?

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16) Finish my museum goal

One of my goals in 2018 was to go to 20 museums in Los Angeles. While I started off strong, the year quickly turned into one giant, busy, blurry tornado. Almost every single weekend was booked solid and it seemed like each time I would blink, a few weeks had passed by. On the rare occasion I did have an open weekend, I just wanted to stay home, so my museum goal kind of got pushed aside, which I was bummed about because I genuinely loved every museum I went to and was always researching which one to go to next. So, in 2019 I’m going to continue on the eight that I went to in 2018 and hopefully hit the 20 mark.

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17) Run a Marathon

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YIKES. It looks so scary typing it out like that. But yep, I am officially going to try and run the LA Marathon in March of next year. I’ve been training for about three months now and am so far on track to not totally and completely die come marathon day, so things are looking up. Please pray for my legs entire body as I continue to pursue this goal, and if you happen to think of me on March 24, send good vibes!

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Alright, there they are!

17 new goals.

Do I regret them yet? No.

Am I slightly terrified? Yes. But that’s kind of just my natural state of being.

Do you have any specific goals for the upcoming year? If you want to but don’t know where to start, check out this post and this post that will give you some ideas.

We’re all in this together!

Happy New Year, everyone! 🙂

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Check out my 2018 goals here.

Check out my 2017 goals here. 

6 New Things I Tried this Year that You Should Try Too (List-cember #4)

Alongside my list of goals this year, I really tried to let my curious eyes wander. Over the last few years there have been things that I thought, “I’ll try that one of these days” but never did, and so I decided this year was as good as any to finally change that.

They are mostly small things. I didn’t jump out of any planes or shave my head or anything. But I made small little discoveries that made my day to day a little brighter and I’m hoping they can do the same for you! 🙂

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1) E-Library Card

Are you one of those people who can drop money on books even though you’re pinching pennies to make rent and pay other bills? I know you can’t see it, but my hand is raised—HIGH. Thankfully, the library is here to help. I mean, it’s always been here, but I had no idea there was an online library that will lend you books straight to your Kindle.  It’s so easy! It’s so wonderful! It’s so free! I highly recommend looking into it.

If you’re in the LA area, you can get your own e-library card here!

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2) Audiobooks

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I never thought I’d be someone who could listen to a book rather than read it, but this year I decided to try them. Turns out, they’re the perfect driving companion, and getting ready in the morning companion, and during the slow hours of the work day companion. All I’m saying is, audiobooks are your friend and you should give them a shot. If you’re into classics, I recommend To Kill a Mockingbird read by Sissy Spacek, and if you’re into memoirs, I recommend Drew Barrymore’s Wildflower.

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3) Spiffing up my Inbox

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My email inbox goes through phases of being organized and a complete disaster, but this year I noticed how unexciting it was regardless. I was never excited to get any emails because they were always work related, bill related, or complete spam. SO, this year I decided to spiff it up a bit.

I subscribed to newsletters:

  • The Skimm: A daily newsletter that gives you the bullet points of important events happening around the world.
  • Goodnewsletter: A weekly newsletter full of only good news, and you know I’m all about good news!
  • The Rise Newsletter: Another weekly newsletter run by Rachel Hollis (author of Girl, Wash Your Face) that gives you little doses of inspiration to help you to take on the week!

And some weekly devotionals:

  •  The Monday Club: Probably my favorite find of this year. It arrives every Monday morning with some encouraging words to help start your week off right.
  • The Cathe Laurie Devotional: A weekly Bible study that gives you a specific goal to focus on for the week.

I would recommend any and all of these. They brightened up my inbox throughout the year with doses of inspiration and positivity.

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4) Birchbox

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I would definitely consider myself to be an amateur in the makeup department, but like any other department of my life, I’m curious and anxious to be better. So, I enlisted Birchbox to help me level up. I was probably subscribed for about six months, and while it was very exciting to get a package—that only cost me $10!—every month with new things to try, I just couldn’t keep up. I ended up having a big pile of samples sitting on my bathroom counter that made me anxious and sad and annoyed whenever I looked at it. I might pop back in once in a while to get a few more things to try—or just to get another one of their incredible boxes, which I plan on using to wrap gifts this holiday season—but for now I’m on pause.

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5) Imperfect Produce

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This is probably my favorite thing that I found this year. I’ll be honest, I was definitely a victim of consistent marketing on this one. THE FACEBOOK ADS GOT TO ME. But hey, it’s a super easy (and cheap) way to get fresh produce, and I’ve used each box I’ve gotten to inspire to look up new recipes with food I might not otherwise have tried. I highly recommend giving it a shot if they deliver in your area!

If you are interested in trying it, you can sign up here and get $10 of your first box—which is amazing because an average box for me costs about $12.

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6) Rev Captioning

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With student loan payments, bills, rent, and my failure to win the lottery this year, there were definitely times when I was sweating my finances. I thought about getting a second job, but was struggling with having to give up my free time. When I get home from my current job, I like to relax, but I also like to exercise, write and work on my goals for the year. So, I started looking around for options that could fit in to my schedule, which led me to Rev. It is a captioning service that pays you to either transcribe or caption videos. The application process is a little tough (I went through it twice before being hired) but once you’re in, you get to make your own schedule and work as much or as little as you like. You don’t necessarily rake in the money, but if you are consistent about it, you can give your bank account at least a little buffer.

Check it out here

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Overall, I’d definitely say that my curiosity paid off this year and I’m excited to see where it takes me next year! Do you have anything you tried this year that you loved?

 

2018 Goals Check-In #3

Dear Fall,

Where are you? It’s October, which means we’re starting the last quarter of the year, but I’m still kind of sweating so…what’s the deal? I mean, I’m just ready for some sweater weather, you know?

Speaking of none of that, let’s check in on some goals.

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1) Do a handstand in yoga

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 33.33%

Current Progress: 33.33%

I’ve been a bit up and down with this goal, especially in these last few months because things got so insanely busy. But as stated before, my biggest obstacle here is myself. I’ve just got to start trying. Wish me luck!

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2) Take a kickboxing class

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

I really didn’t expect for this goal to be one I put off for so long, but here I am in the (almost) middle of October and I’ve yet to throw a punch (or kick) at anything. (Or anyone) (Anyone in a kickboxing class that is.) (Not that I’ve punched or kicked anyone outside of a class) (How many side conversation parentheses is too many?)

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3) Visit (at least) 20 museums in Los Angeles

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 4/20 (5%)

Current Progress: 7/20 (35%)

While I haven’t made as much progress as I’d like on this one, I’ve loved every single museum I’ve gone to so far. These past few months I went to the Annenberg Space for Photography, the La Brea Tar Pits and LACMA, which had ACTUAL PICASSO PAINTINGS, Y’ALL. *heavy art nerd breathing*

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4) Get CPR certified

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Things fell through on this one a little bit, as the class I planned on taking ended up being on a day that was packed with too many other things. But I’m getting myself signed up for a new one, and before you know it, I’ll be ready to save your life at the drop of hat.

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5) Shoot (at least) 1 roll of film per month

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 6/12 (50%)

Current Progress: 9/12 (75%)

Seeing as I majored in photography, it shouldn’t come as a surprise for me to love this goal, but it kind of does. After I graduated, taking pictures became more stressful and robotic than it was fun, which kind of made it lose its spark for me. But having my film camera back in my hand has made me feel like I’m back in college again, shooting too many rolls of film and spending too many hours in the darkroom getting them developed.

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6) Complete the 104 things to Photograph book

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 23/104 (22.12%)

Current Progress: 52/104 (50%)

I think this one is going to end up being somewhat of a big reveal at the end of the year because I still haven’t gotten my film developed or gone through the book to really study what I have and haven’t taken a picture of yet. I think we can safely estimate that I’m (at least) half way through, but I really have no idea. #lessthanidealupdate

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7) Visit the sea glass beach in Fort Bragg, CA

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

I’ve done my research on the what’s and how’s of getting to this glass beach and it is my hope to get a weekend getaway with my roommates on the calendar before the end of the year. But I’m also going to count is as a win if I can get it officially on the calendar for next year, as long as it’s on there by the end of this year…you know?

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8) Go to the dentist

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 100%

Yes, I went to the dentist. No, it was not fun.

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9) Watch 20 documentaries on Netflix

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 4/20 (20%)

Current Progress: 10/20 (50%)

I honestly wish I would have set this goal a long time ago. There are so many good/crazy/emotional/incredible stories being told out there and I’m happy I’m finally getting around to hearing them! Some of my favorites that I’ve watched recently are Icarus and The White Helmets. (Both are on Netflix!)

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10) Perfect an omelet

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

An omelet? No. A fried egg? A hard boiled egg? Yes! I’m moving up in the egg world, guys, I just don’t have a pan non-sticky enough to make an omelet yet. But I have heard something about making an omelet in a bag? Stay tuned.

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11) See (at least) one movie in theaters per month

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 6/12 (50%)

Current Progress: 9/12 (75%)

There’s been a few last minute (i.e. September 30th) movie watching over the last few months, but I still have yet to miss one! Here’s a list of all the ones I’ve seen so far:

  1. I, Tonya
  2. Call Me By Your Name
  3. Maze Runner: The Death Cure
  4. 50 Shades Freed
  5. Red Sparrow
  6. I Can Only Imagine
  7. A Quiet Place
  8. Book Club
  9. Incredibles 2
  10. Won’t You Be My Neighbor
  11. Three Identical Strangers
  12. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again
  13. Eighth Grade
  14. Skate Kitchen
  15. Crazy Rich Asians
  16. A Star is Born

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12) Read 20 books off the Time’s 100 List

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 6/20 (30%)

Current Progress: 12/20 (60%)

PSA: If you ever plan on setting a goal like this, invest some time in audiobooks! I’ve gotten through a good handful of books in the last few months because I’ve been listening to them. It’s made the stories more engaging and really helped me appreciate/understand them more than I would have just trying to sit down and read them on my own. My favorite one I’ve listened to so far is To Kill a Mockingbird.

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13) Pay off credit card

Current Progress: Progress

Yeah so, let’s just say progress has slowed on this one. It hasn’t stopped, which is what counts. But these past few months have held *expenses* and I’ve had to crutch a little. I’m not worried about it though, I’ll get there.

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14) See 3 WRLA’s – COMPLETED!

While on a trip to Seattle and Canada this past March, I was unexpectedly able to complete this goal, seeing the World’s Largest Cowboy Hat & Boots in Seattle, WA, the World’s Largest Paper Airplane in Mukilteo, WA, and the World’s Largest Tin Solider in New Westminster, BC, Canada!

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15) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 2/5 (40%)

Current Progress: 4/5 (80%)

Gonna give myself a pat on the back for not putting this one off until the last minute like last year! I’ve got my fifth volunteer slot lined up for this month, so I might even get in a few extra dates before the end of the year. *pats back to the tune of the Cha Cha Slide*

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16) Donate Blood

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 100% (not really)

Current Progress: 100% (for real!)

After getting a no go due to low iron the first time I tried to donate blood I made an effort to add iron rich foods to my diet (for example: spinach, which I put in breakfast smoothies) and I decided to try again. This time, I did it! Was it my favorite thing ever? No. But will I do it again because it’s an easy way to help out? Definitely!

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17) Do the 1 second/day video challenge

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 185/365 (50.68%)

Current Progress: 283/365 (77.53%)

Every time I update my collection of one-second clips, I get so excited to see the final product! But while I’ve peeped the progress, I won’t be giving any spoilers until the year’s over. Stay tuned! 🙂

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When we add that all together, my total progress is about 52%. Again, I’m a little behind, but I’m ready to give these last few months all I’ve got!

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! 🙂

Throw Away Your Old Car Keys

I recently listened to Bryan Cranston’s memoir, Life in Parts, on audiobook. Not only does he have an incredible reading voice, but his stories are fun and fascinating and consistently engaging. I loved the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for an easy read (or listen).

One particular story that stuck out in my mind was that of the passing of his aunt Sunday and uncle Eddie, and the process of his family going through their belongings afterwards. He noted how they found a box marked “keys to the old cars”, which turned out to be exactly that: keys for cars they previously owned.

As someone who is very sentimental, I can understand the act of keeping things that hold a special place in your heart. But as Cranston went onto explain, this box was one of many. The couple were definitely hoarders, finding value in keeping absolutely everything. As someone who hates clutter, I can’t really relate to this notion.

Or at least I thought I couldn’t.

Cranston noted, “None of the keys fit the car in the garage or the abandoned vehicles parked on the dead grass in the backyard. So. They kept keys to cars they hadn’t owned in years.”

That’s when I thought to myself: isn’t that kind of like holding on to grudges/pain/anger/etc. from the past?

When I thought about it like that, I realized we all probably have a “keys to the old cars box.” We are all holding onto things that will never do us any good. We are all keeping keys that belong to cars we’ve long stopped driving.

For me personally, I know I tend to hold onto things because in a way it makes me feel safe. Tangible things, like pictures or ticket stubs or knick knacks, make me feel like I’m keeping good memories safe, preserving everything I loved about that day or days in a single object that I can always go back to. Going off of this, my mind likes to pretend that holding onto anger and sadness and pain has the same benefit. It promises that remembering these things, these moments that still sting, will help keep me safe in the future. They will keep me from getting hurt or from failing or from making a fool out of myself. They will help me trust the right people and love the right people and stay away from the wrong people.

While this is good, as it’s important to constantly learn and grow and mature, there comes a point when this “protection” becomes clutter. Learning from failures is different than holding onto them. And working through pain is different than pushing it aside. For Cranston’s aunt and uncle, they were always going to have the memories of those old cars, even after they left their driveway. So while those keys might have promised to further those memories, in reality they were just reminders of the past taking up space in the present. And the same goes for all that anger and pain and sadness that is bogging us down.

It’s never easy to let go, but it’s necessary. I know for me, it might take a while. It might even be a one key at a time process, but that’s okay. As the saying goes, “the first step is admitting you have a box of old car keys.” After that, it’s just making room for the good things.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa

It was a Saturday afternoon, right when the Camarillo breeze started to creep its way through the trees, when my dad pulled up in front of my grandpa’s house. We made sure not to park in front of the mailbox—that was one of grandma’s biggest rules—and then we open and shut our doors, carrying in some groceries, the mail and most importantly, lunch, up the pathway to the front door.

I stood on the porch, peeking through the black mesh of the screen at my grandpa sitting in his chair, as I waited for my dad, who was a few steps and a free hand behind me, to open the door. That’s when I saw a sign taped to the wall.

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“Ding dong!” I yelled.

“Well, hello there,” my grandpa said with a laugh. “I see you like my new doorbell.”

“I love it,” I said as we walked in.

He smiled.

Growing up, I was told by many people—frequently—how much they loved my grandpa.

Howard is the best.

Howard is my favorite.

Your grandpa is truly one of the best men I’ve ever known.

As I got older, these compliments were passed down to my dad.

Your dad is the best.

Your dad is my favorite.

Your dad is truly one of the best men I’ve ever known.  

And then to my brother.

Troy is just the best.

Troy is my favorite.

Troy is one of the best guys I know.

While nice to hear—albeit annoying at times because, like, don’t you know how great I am?!—it wasn’t new information for me. It was no secret I was growing up surrounded by incredibly strong, kind and caring men. To be honest, it kind of ruined me. Because if I know there are men like them around, why waste my time with anything less, you know?

My grandpa taught my dad who taught me (and my sister and my brother) how to love. How to care for people and make them feel like they matter. He taught us by reminding us that we matter.

In college, when I studied abroad in Australia, my grandpa sent me postcards and letters, giving me a sense of home when I was scared and needed it most. And to this day, whenever we get together as a family, my grandpa always goes out of his way to ask each and every one of his grandchildren (and children and great-grandchildren), “What’s new?”

When I think of my grandpa, I think of love. Of joy and fun and safety. I think of the mini donut holes he always had out on the kitchen table when my family moved in with him and my grandma.

I think of going to Dodger games, of eating hot dogs and singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, and of the time my cousin Spenser was wildly booed for popping a beach ball that was being passed around, because my grandparents knew the usher and didn’t want her to have to chase it—which he never did again, by the way.

I think of sitting around in he and my grandma’s living room with one arm leaning on a cousin, the other on an aunt or an uncle, and my legs propped up on my brother’s shoulders as we all sat close and opened presents on Christmas Day.

I think of going to the mall during the summer to walk around, just so we weren’t cooped up in the house, and how occasionally we would convince grandpa to buy us a blizzard from Dairy Queen.

I think of bowling on Thursdays, watching golf on Sundays, and eating pizza on Friday nights after sitting in the bleachers at my parents’ softball game, learning how to keep score next to my grandma. (When someone would ask who was winning, my grandpa would either say “good guys” or “bad guys”—monikers I still use to this day.)

When I think about these things, it’s no wonder why people go out of their way to tell me how great my grandpa is. But oftentimes I wonder if they really know how great.

It takes a special kind of man (and a badass lady partner in crime) to raise the kind of family I grew up in. And it would be one of the greatest successes of my life to find a partner worthy of our traditions and to raise children with as much kindness and compassion as was given to me.

I can only hope that one day I have grandchildren looking at me the way we all look at you, grandpa—and I hope I’ll stick my tongue out and make them laugh the way you’ve done my whole life.

We’re so very lucky to have you by our sides—and there are a lot of us, so that’s a lot of sides, but you still manage to make each one of us feel just as important and cared for, and I pray we make you feel that way too.

Happy (one day early) birthday, Grandpa.

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P.S.- Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone I’m your favorite.

It’s Not Time to Worry Yet

If you’re anything like me, you’re a worrier. And not just your average worrier.

A professional worrier.

But who could blame us?

There’s the past, the present, the future, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of variations of those three that feature the what if’s, the could be’s and the should have been’s.

Plus, our problems aren’t the only ones to worry about. There are our family’s problems, our friends’ problems, the problems of the person we happen to come into contact with at the grocery store, and the problems of fictional characters that make us wonder if we can relate…which spiral into a set of entirely new problems.

Worrying is great.

I mean, not really, but it disguises itself as a hobby sometimes.

And while I imagine people like us will constantly find ourselves worrying (and worrying about worrying) it’s important to remember that it’s not always necessary.

(I know, easier said than done, but hear me out.)

I recently read To Kill a Mockingbird and Atticus Finch, one of the main characters, had a signature phrase that really resonated with me. He repeated this phrase multiple times throughout the book, often to calm the worries of his children, Jem and Scout.

“It’s not time to worry yet,” he would say, and even though it wasn’t an answer, it was enough. Because as much as worrying likes to pretend it offers you a path to a solution, oftentimes it does little more than guide you towards further destruction.

Worrying adds to chaos, it doesn’t end it. It doesn’t give us control, it steals it. And as easy and fun (?) as it is to worry, it’s important to remember that it really doesn’t help.

So the next time you find yourself consumed by panic, remind yourself, it’s not time to worry yet.

When it comes to the what if’s, it’s not time to worry yet.

When it comes to the could be’s, it’s not time to worry yet.

And when it comes to the should have been’s, there’s no point in worrying now.

A Few Challenges for My Birthday (Update!)

Remember a month ago when I wanted to start my 28th year off with a bang, so I decided to set a bunch of 30 Day Challenges for myself, causing most everyone (including myself) to worry that I’d gone too far and might possibly start my 28th year off feeling like a failure?

Well, I have great news: I actually did it! I checked off every single item on every single challenge, and I come to you today, newly 28, feeling like a freaking badass.

To be honest, I loved the challenges. I loved having something new to challenge myself with every day, even though some days it felt like a little too much of a challenge. And though it would have been easy to fall behind, I always took time out of my day to sit down, open my notebook and write, draw, and journal my way through each challenge I did that day.

One of the most important things I learned throughout the process is to let the challenges challenge me but not own me. There have been so many times in the past when I’ve tried to do similar 30 Day challenges and I started off strong, but then fell so far behind that I gave up. I was so determined to follow the challenges exactly to the letter that it wasn’t motivating me as much as it was discouraging me. So, for these past 30 days, I made sure to work the challenges into my life, rather than completely alter my life and turn the challenges into work.

Here are a few highlights:

Happiness Challenge


Do you collect anything?

Come to think of it, I collect a lot of things. I’m very sentimental to begin with, so I don’t like to throw things away and I often upcycle them into new DIY projects. In terms of consistent collecting however, I would say: postcards, sand, t-shirts, ticket stubs, and old cameras.


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What is something you wish you were good at?

Singing. I love singing so much, especially in my car. I think it’s such a freeing feeling and I can understand why people who are talented singers fight so hard to make it their career. 


 

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What is your favorite quote or a quote that means a lot to you?

I’m a big lover of quotes and words in general. I love the way people can spin them in a way that can change your perspective on things. If I were to choose a quote that sticks out in my mind it would be this one from Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said , people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It’s a good reminder that you don’t have to say the perfect thing or do the perfect thing all the time. As long as you lead with kindness and love, that is what will leave a lasting impression.


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Why did you start blogging and what is the origin behind your blog’s name?

I started blogging mostly because I had no other choice. I’d always loved writing and then when I went to Australia I started a travel blog where I mostly just rambled my way through my study abroad term. Once I got back, I missed writing and posting blogs, so I started a new blog, only this time it would be about anything and everything that came to mind. As for my blog name, it’s pretty simple, as it’s just my name minus the hard to pronounce part of my last name:

KimberleeKoehn


FitBit Challenge

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If you ever find yourself looking for a challenge, I’d recommend any of these. (You can find blank copies of all of the challenges on my original blog post here)

Overall, I think the challenges served exactly the purpose I hoped they would, as I feel both accomplished and excited about the year to come. I also got to know a little more about myself (and my lack of ability to draw a dog, the result of which I didn’t include here, for everyone’s sake) which I think is important. It’s always good to check in with who the heck you are every once in a while. And as of now, I’m really liking that person.