life

I Got My Wisdom Teeth Out (Again)

Fun fact about me: I have wonky teeth.

I wore braces throughout most of high school, and then after getting them off, I had one tooth go so rogue that I had to put them back on for a year in college.

When I was about 15 years old, I went in to get my wisdom teeth removed. While I had four, the dentist decided it was best to only remove the bottom two, because they were drilling a hole in the roof of my mouth to pull one of my teeth down from somewhere I can only describe as oblivion. (That’s another story.)

At the time, I can imagine they thought they were saving me from total mouth trauma, but I kind of wish they would have just gone for it. If they had, maybe I wouldn’t have found myself back at the dentist, almost 15 years later, hearing that my top two wisdom teeth were coming in (sideways, I might add) and that I needed to get them removed as soon as possible.

Sitting in the chair before the surgery this past Tuesday, I was nervous, but trying my best to look calm. I clutched onto my sweatshirt, which I’d been required to take off so they could put a blood pressure monitor on one arm and an IV in the other. The nurse told me I could keep the sweatshirt on my lap, so that after I woke up I could slip it right back on.

“Okay,” I said, trying my best to sound nonchalant. She seemed convinced, that is until she put a heart rate monitor on my pointer finger and it alerted the entire room that my pulse was over 100. Still, I took some deep breaths and tried to smile.

WHAT IF I DIE IN THIS CHAIR? my darkest fears wondered.

“Yes, I had a good holiday,” I said aloud to the nurse.

The doctor then told me he was going to give me the medicine that would put me to sleep, and that I would probably feel lightheaded and a little groggy. I nodded, blinked a few times at the bright light above me, and then looked down at my watch, curious how close we were to the 1:30 p.m. start time, so I could see how long the surgery took to finish. My fingers fumbled with my watch a few times, but when I was finally able to read it, I saw the time said 2:20 p.m.

I also noticed I was now in a wheelchair.

And my sweatshirt was back on.

And my mom was there.

Oh, so…I guess we’re done?

Speaking to her the day after my appointment, my mom said I looked calm, peaceful even. She said I wasn’t pale, and aside from the swollen cheeks and mounds of gauze in my mouth, my coloring and overall demeanor suggested that I was doing remarkably well.

On the drive home, we stopped at McDonald’s to get me a vanilla shake (and a spoon) so I could put something in my stomach before I started taking my medication. Going through the drive thru, I widely praised my mother’s sense of direction for choosing a McDonald’s so close to the pharmacy. I also gave her a recap of what had happened, most of which surrounded the mystery of how my sweatshirt was put back on without my noticing.

“Also,” I said, disappointed and full of sass, “I can’t believe the nurse didn’t go over the post-op instructions with me.” Because even high on laughing gas and pain medication, my priorities were rules.

“She did,” my mom said, “I think you were just distracted and you didn’t hear her.”

When we pulled into the parking lot at the pharmacy, I was holding my vanilla shake.

“I’ll be right back,” my mom said, and then I nodded, watched her walk inside, and then sat there, staring forward for about 10 minutes.

Now, I don’t remember seeing anyone else in that parking lot, but I can tell you that if someone saw me, sitting stiffly and staring unflinchingly, all while holding a vanilla shake in her left hand like a prisoner, I can imagine they probably kept walking, quickly.

While sitting there, I texted my sister: “I am out and alive and everything is moving in slow motion. Also I have a vanilla shake.” 

A summary in its purest form.

Shortly after, I arrived home, where my sister was waiting with ice packs, water, and Top Ramen. After a few hours, I asked if I looked swollen.

“Only a little,” she said, maybe truthfully, maybe kindly, but then she added, “When you first got home you were very swollen.” Which only brought new life to my vanilla clad serial killer persona in the pharmacy parking lot.

As of now, I am still a little swollen, and still eat a little bit like the squirrel I appear to be, but I am on the mend. I am spending my days mostly on the couch, watching murder documentaries and a series on YouTube where celebrities get interviewed while eating hot wings, and I spend my nights dreaming about crunchy foods and the ability to open my mouth past the halfway point. By this time next week, I imagine I will be back to nearly tip top shape, though I can’t say if I’ll ever figure out who put my sweatshirt back on.

A Nostalgic Lesson on Failure

It took my sister and I all of two days after Disney+ came out to give in and subscribe.

For some people, the draw was the backlog of Marvel movies and shows like The Mandalorian, for us it was easy access to Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century.

Because let’s face it, when it comes to movies made for television (and sweet sweet nostalgia) Disney Channel Original Movies are master class. The stories are simple (and at times ridiculous) but they are wholesome and weirdly empowering and full of iconic one-liners that I will quote until my dying day.

Aside from DCOM’s, Disney+ (who, regardless of how this blog may seem, is not sponsoring me) has also given us access to a variety of other Disney movies, most of which I’d completely forgotten exist.

Take Ice Princess, for example. It stars Michelle Trachtenberg (a.k.a Harriet the Spy), who plays a brainiac that takes up ice skating for a physics project, and ends up eventually pursuing it as a career, all while falling in love with a Zamboni driver named Teddy. This predictable yet undeniably adorable film is what brings me here today.

I’m a firm believer that inspiration can come from anywhere, and I’m not too proud to admit that I found it while watching this movie with my sister at 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

About halfway through the movie, as Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg) starts to take ice skating seriously (the decision of which creates backlash from almost everyone around her, most prominently her mom) she confronts controversial ex-skater Tina Harwood (played by Kim Cattrall) and asks her to be her coach. When Tina bluntly states that she doesn’t think Casey has what it takes, Casey replies, “If I fail, I fail, but it will be because I wasn’t good enough, not because I didn’t have the guts.”

This line struck a chord in me, and I immediately wrote it down.

As hard as it is to admit, we are not destined to succeed in everything we do, and we are not always going to be the best, even when we give it absolutely everything we have. But sometimes it’s not about being the best, it’s not about winning, it’s not even about getting exactly what you want. It’s about knowing you did everything you could, gave everything you had, and didn’t let your fears hold you back. It’s about having the guts to try, and when things don’t work out, to try again, maybe in a different way, or maybe on a completely different path.

I know I’ve both put off and completely given up pursuing certain projects or passions solely because I was scared I would fail. But at the end of the day, failing is never going to be the worst thing you can do, and it is never going to hurt more than never knowing what you could do.

So today I’d just like to encourage you to go for it. To try and then to try again. Your win is out there, and it’s waiting for you on the other side of fear. So give it your all, and see where it takes you.

The Year of Shine

As a final wrap up of 2019, I wanted to share with you my word of the year.

Since 2015, I have found a faith-based word to focus on each year. In these last five years (!!) I have had: trust, give, patience, surrender, and then for this year I got shine. Every word has found its way to me differently, but shine was perhaps the most direct.

In November of 2018, I was at the wedding of a family friend, and my mom, sister and I were on the dance floor—our usual wedding reception hangout. In between songs, the bride herself walked up to me and put her hand on my shoulder.

“You have a light in you, you know that?”

Me, being bad at receiving compliments, smiled, but was already plotting a way to deny, deflect and run away. But she didn’t back down.

“You have a light in you, something special, and you need to let people see you shine.”

I remember wondering if she could possibly be talking about me, or if maybe it was dark and she’d had champagne like the rest of us, and had meant to say this to one of her friends, or my sister, or someone, anyone else. But she looked at me, and she squeezed my shoulder, willing me to hear her and believe her.

“Okay,” I said, and the word stuck with me.

By the time I rang in 2019, I was sure it was my word, and as usual, I was terrified.

For starters, the dictionary defines shine as: to emit rays of light, or to be eminent, conspicuous or distinguished. So I thought, GREAT, I just have to be wonderfully successful, seen, heard, inspiring and bright. Sounds horrifying. And hard.

For the first couple months, all I could do was put pressure on myself.

You need to shine you need to shine you need to shine.

You need to be BIG! You need to be LOUD! You need to let people see you and hear you. You need to be great.

Then, in March, after six months of training, I ran the LA Marathon. And when I crossed that finish line, I thought, THIS IS IT! This is me, shining. I’m doing it, baby! But then the high wore off and my routine went back to normal, and I felt as dull and unremarkable as ever.

I kept trying to think of new ways I could impress people. New things I could do that would mark me as successful and inspiring and unique and special. I was trying desperately to shine my light, but was doing so in ways that sometimes felt inauthentic or even uncomfortable. Ironically (or not at all), this is when my definition of inspiring, successful, unique, special and shine, began to change. And it started with something I hated most: quitting.

Out of nowhere, I started quitting.

I took a look at the list of goals I’d set for the year and I started crossing things off and making changes. I pulled the bookmarks out of books I was “going to finish,” and I waved the white flag on projects I’d lost interest in. I got rid of clothes and shoes that didn’t fit right but I’d kept because I thought I should wear them, and I stopped buying makeup products “everyone was using” that I didn’t like the look of on me. It was a Marie Kondo approach: anything that didn’t spark joy (or was necessary for survival and wellbeing) was out. And though it felt scary, bad even, like I was letting people down or giving up or being lazy, I knew it was something I had to do.

For so long I have tried to figure out who I am, what I represent and what I want to do with my life. I have tried to find that unique light inside myself, but have often done so with the hope/need of others’ approval. I have based a lot of my self worth in the opinions of others, and I have let my own opinion and self-confidence be swayed in their wake.

This submissive and self-conscious mentality is something I’ve always been aware of, but it is also something I believed I needed to embrace in order to be loved and accepted. When I realized the error in this thinking, and I began to let things go that “didn’t spark joy,” I found that what was left were actually the things that, in my own way, made me shine.

And it is there, in that understanding, that I found my reason for receiving this word. It is there that I found the hope in it rather than just the pressure.

We have all been made to shine. We have been given unique talents, dreams, desires, and destinations, all to mold us into the wonderfully different people that we are. We do not need to be the biggest or the loudest or the most successful to shine, we need only be our most authentic selves. And when we do things that make us happy, make us feel whole, give us a reason to laugh or smile or scream in excitement, that is when we shine the brightest.

Standing on the dance floor of that wedding, I had no idea why God would put someone in front of me and ask me, outright, to shine. I couldn’t figure out why He needed me to be big and brave and loud and remarkable, and I was afraid that if I couldn’t be, I’d be the disappointment I’d always feared. But as I’ve made my way through this year, I’ve found that what He was really asking of me was simply to love the person He made me to be. To reconnect with the goodness that is mine, the uniqueness that is mine, the shine that is mine, and to let go of the fears, expectations and opinions that have been controlling me for too long.

And so, as I step into this new year, I will shine my light, in exactly the way I was made to shine it, and I hope I can encourage you to do the same.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

31 Good Things that Happened in December

Hello and welcome back to another edition of All the Good Things, the final edition of 2019!

2019 was a year full of good things, even though sometimes the good seemed hard to find under the bad. I can only hope that 2020 is filled with just as much, if not more good, and that this upcoming decade magnifies that good to the highest degree.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday and I wish you a very Happy New Year!

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1) After being unable to make her friends wedding because of a final exam, this woman showed up to her test in her bridesmaid dress

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2) This boy brought his entire Kindergarten class to see him get adopted

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3) This woman gave paintings to people who donated $25 or more to charity

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4) This girl collected books and donated them to jail inmates

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5) This veteran was surprised with a service dog

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6) This police officer donated part of her liver to a complete stranger, and then helped pay for the surgery.

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7) This giant 3D printer printed houses for the world’s first 3D-printed neighborhood.

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8) Joe Burrow’s Heisman acceptance speech sparked over $370,000 in donations for families below the poverty line in his hometown

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9) Newton High School won a state championship on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting.

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10) This man got a Christmas surprise

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11) Fallon Sherlock became the first female darts player to beat a man at the PDC World Championship

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12) This boy sat and talked to a police officer he saw eating alone.

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13) To honor her years of constant giving, Bill Gates surprised this woman with a very special gift.

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14) This dog smiled for a picture

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15) At ages 88 and 102, these men just released their first album

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16) Mental Floss made this video full of fun facts:

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17) And The Ringer made a list of all the best sports moments in 2019

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18) A team of volunteers got this dog back home

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19) Scientists used speakers to make a dying coral reef sound healthy in order to attract fish and repopulate it.

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20) This 4 year old girl saved her mom’s life

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21) This plumber offered free work to elderly and disabled people

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22) This man paid off the power bills of 36 families who were in danger of losing their power during the holiday season

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23) This Christmas light display inspired a young, nonverbal, autistic girl to speak for the first time

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24) This man recycled old Christmas trees into canes for veterans

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25) This grandmother received an incredible gift

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26) This grandfather bought a bus so he can take all of his grandkids to school

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27) This man gave up his seat

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28) This 5 year old paid off her fellow classmates’ lunch debt by selling cookies and hot cocoa

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29) This man showed how he made the most of his decade

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30) This boy got a surprise visit from his best friend

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31) And finally We Rate Dogs gave us the best 2019 recap we could ever ask for

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

I can’t wait to see what January (and 2020!) brings!

You can view the last edition of this series here.

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My Favorite Moments of 2019 (List-cember #9)

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it approximately 600,000 times: this year was busy!

But within the confines of our crazy calendar, there were so many good moments. And I don’t just mean big, fancy moments. Some of my favorite parts of this year were the small but meaningful bursts of joy. The cozy, perfect moments that I’ll undoubtedly be thinking about when that ball drops tomorrow at midnight.

For me, these were those moments:

1) Meeting Lyra

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I have long been afraid of holding babies. They are just so fragile and so perfect and so little, and the thought of holding something so important in my hands (especially when it is not even my something) has always terrified me. But in January of this year, one of my lifelong friends had a baby, and she encouraged me to overcome that fear when met her little one for the first time in the hospital. That moment inspired me to write this blog post and I will remember it forever.

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2) A Ball at Spring Training

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My family went to Spring Training in March for the first time this year (which you can read about here.) and easily one of my favorite parts of the trip and of the year was when my friend Mel, after trying for innings on end, got a baseball from one of the players. Not only was it a joyous celebration of perseverance, but the resulting footage includes a look of fuming jealousy from her neighboring fan, which makes for an all around perfect video.

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3) Finishing the Marathon

There are many moments of the marathon that I would deem “defining,” but perhaps my favorite was crossing that finish line and seeing my 6 foot 2 brother standing among the crowd. I was so proud and relieved to be finished, and seeing a familiar face to welcome me to the otherside of that journey was truly great.

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4) Mom Scores a Goal

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Some of the best memories I have of my family are the slow, ordinary days where we are just spending time together, which is why this moment from May stands out. My mom, sister and I had gone to visit my cousin Brittney and her family in Arkansas, and we spent one afternoon sitting outside, drawing in sidewalk chalk, and playing soccer. At one point we set up a challenge between my mom and my little cousin Landon. While Landon won in the end, the crowd (of me, Natalee, Brittney, and baby Nora) went wild for this goal scored by my mom.

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5) A Circular Celebration

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In June my family got the opportunity to go to Europe, and among the many jaw dropping, awe inspiring moments of that trip, was this one. My cousin Taryn (which, if you didn’t read the blog I wrote about our trip, is the whole reason we went) finished writing a long tedious essay that would complete her study abroad program, and we did what any family would do when they’re in England and about to head to dinner but need to take a moment or two to celebrate this accomplishment: we formed a circle around her and and jumped up and down, chanting, “We are proud of you, say we are proud of you! Hey! Hey! Hey!”

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6) That Eiffel Tower Sparkle

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Upon arriving in Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time, my most prominent and low key embarrassing thought was, “oh my gosh, the Eiffel Tower is actually real.” It’s not that I thought we’d been lied to all this time, but the realization that I was really, truly seeing it in person was so unbelievable that I was having trouble accepting it all as reality. This shock and awe only multiplied as we sat on the grass in front of the tower and watched as the sun set, the tower glowed gold, and then started to sparkle.

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7) Axe throwing in Vegas

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For my brother’s 21st birthday, a group of us went to Vegas with a list of things we were looking to accomplish in order to properly celebrate his milestone. Among the items on that list was throwing axes. After almost an hour of learning and practicing, we decided  to document our newfound skills, and showcase our ability to hit the target. What makes this moment one of my favorites, is that the video recording is almost four minutes long, (three of which we fail miserably) but when we finally do all hit the target at once, we all threw our arms up and yelled, “first try!”

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8) You’ve Got Ice Cream

About two years ago, on a visit to Arkansas with my mom and sister, I discovered the magic of Blue Bell ice cream. Upon arriving home however, I was very disappointed to discover that it is not sold in California. But for my 29th birthday, I was floored to find a box from Blue Bell waiting for me. My parents had all of my favorite flavors (including the holy grail, Salted Caramel Cookie) shipped to me and it. was. EPIC.

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9) Pop the champagne

Last year my cousin Cory married my now cousin Amanda, and this year they were able to purchase their first house! I was so happy and honored to be there when they popped champagne in their living room, that at the time had little more than a table and some folding chairs, but is now a beautiful, cozy home.

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10) The Dodgers Take Game 3

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For a Dodger fan, the 2019 playoffs were rough to say the least. But before we had our hearts broken, we had our hopes up, and on the night of Game 3, me, my sister, my cousin Taryn, and my best friend Allison were walking into a concert at the Honda Center as the Dodgers entered the 7th inning. As we made our way to our seats, I was streaming the game through the TBS app on my phone, which I’d downloaded while waiting in line, and we asked multiple employees if they could turn on the game, all of whom turned us down. So as we went to the 8th inning and then the 9th, the four of us stood out in the hallway, crowded around my phone to watch us close out a victory.

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11) The Frozen North Lake

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In November, my family made one of our annual trips to Bishop to squeeze in a weekend of fishing before the season closed. On the Saturday of the weekend we were there, we parked our car and hiked in to one of our favorite fishing spots, only to find the lake frozen solid. While this obviously prevented us from fishing, it did little to deter our fun. We spent a solid half hour throwing loose pieces of ice onto the lake and watching them shatter and glide across its surface.

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12) Sending “The Hulk”

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On the same trip to Bishop, my brother, who is an avid rock climber, had his sights on a boulder at Happy Boulders known as “The Hulk.” After spending a few hours attempting the climb on Friday, he was determined to return, so on Sunday afternoon, me, him and my sister headed back to Happy Boulders on our way home, where we watched him try time and time again until he finally reached the top!

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13) Eli’s Last Game

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To cap off the year, at the beginning of this month my family took a whirlwind trip to New York to see our favorite football team (the New York Giants) play for the very first time at their home stadium. We went the week they played the Dolphins, which wound up being one of only 4 games we won this season, and on top of that, it was our longtime quarterback, Eli Manning’s, probable last game with the team. We couldn’t have picked a better game!

Note: Please leave all Giants hate at the door, thank you.

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14) Coming June 2020

At our annual family Cookie Baking day, my cousins Spenser and Ashlynn gave my grandpa (and all of us, really) a very special gift: the news that we have a new member coming in June 2020! On Christmas Day we found out that the little one is a boy, and while we already know his name, I’ve taken to calling him Meatball for now.

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15) Meeting Luca

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Since I started this list with a baby, it seems only logical for me to end this list with a baby! And in true bookend fashion, I got to meet one of my best friends’ new baby, Luca, just this past week, and even though he is handsome and perfect and practically impossible not to want to hold, it was still a big deal for me to do so without fear. And as I looked down at him and his big curious eyes, I couldn’t help but feel every good moment of the year capsize in this one moment. It was a busy year, but it was a good one. I got to do so many great things and love and be loved on by so many great people. I’m very thankful for the life I live and I feel so honored for the opportunity to live it.

Here’s to 2020, I hope it’s full of wonderful moments, big, small and everything in between. Happy New Year!

17 Goals for 2020 (List-cember #8)

It’s that time of year again, y’all.

I’m going to be honest, this list was not easy to make this year.

My 2019 was absolutely CRAZY in terms of busyness, so a lot of my goals were left unattended and it made me very discouraged. For a hot second I thought about not setting any goals at all, but then I was tempted by the mistress of a new decade and here we are.

In the past, I’ve picked goals based on their grandeur and their promise of a big, impressive challenge, however, I’ve worked hard on learning to pick things that I like, that I want to do, and that can challenge me in ways I want to be challenged.

So, with that being said, I am very excited to share my goals for the new year, the new decade! May we all make 2020 our bitch.

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1) Kick a field goal

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I have exactly zero talent in anything relating to football (except watching it) but I’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to kick a field goal. So, this year, I plan on 1) buying a football, and 2) trying my hand foot at field goals.

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2) Learn Spanish

I replaced one of my original goals for 2019 mid year with “learn Spanish,” and since I am in no way a linguistic prodigy, I am not yet fluent in the language, thus I’m keeping it on here. And since there’s no way to really gage how far along in a language you are, I’m going to base my progress on the app I’ve been using to learn it. Duolingo divides languages into sections and as of now I’m at the end of Section 1, so my goal by the end of 2020 is to finish Section 3. Deséame suerte!

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3) Do a pull up

This is another repeat from last year because damn it, I’ve made progress but not enough. Upper body strength has just never been my strong suit, but I’m working on it!

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4) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

This is a regular on my list of goals and it never fails to be one of my favorites.

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5) Write positive Yelp reviews

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I didn’t put a concrete number on this one like I usually do, but that’s only because it’s hard to know how many new places you’ll visit in a year, you know? But I wanted to put in on this list because I feel like there aren’t enough good reviews on the internet. People are quick to log on and write horrible, scathing reviews, but often forget to share their positive experiences. So I’m hoping to find good things and write good reviews about those good things, so that other people can find those good things.

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6) Donate plasma

A couple years ago I made it a goal of mine to donate blood, and while it took me two tries to do it, I was so glad I did! This year, I’m hoping to donate plasma, which can be in just as high of demand as blood. Check out where you can donate plasma here.

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7) 30 Cleaning Challenge

I have been in desperate need of a deep clean in my life, and I think this challenge is just the place to start. I don’t plan on doing the challenge in order or all at once, I’m just using it as a checklist/baseline for the massive clean I’m going to do around my house. Call me a nerd, but I am PUMPED.

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You can download the PDF here.

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8) Savings Challenge

This one makes me a little less pumped, only because it’s been pretty fun spending money I don’t have for the last couple years. But I would really love to get back into the habit of saving, and build up an account that I can use for splurging, rather than just closing my eyes, hitting purchase and crossing my fingers that the stars align and all my bills get paid. I’ve seen a bunch of different challenges out there, and while I don’t think I’m going to stick to any by the letter, I’m going to use this one as a baseline.

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9) Purchase one charity t-shirt per month

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A few years ago I wrote a blog post all about t-shirts you can buy that will benefit great charities. I love a t-shirt with a cause, and so I decided a cool way to donate money to charity each month would be to buy a t-shirt from a specific charity. The way I see it, you donate money to a charity, you get a great t-shirt, which then gives visibility to that charity! It’s a win win win. I can’t wait! (Find this t-shirt here)

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10) Pay it forward

Have you ever had someone in front of you pay for your food/coffee/etc? I have had someone do it for me once, but I have never done it myself. So this year I’m hoping to give it a try. Personally I don’t think I’d be brave enough to do it in front of anyone, but I’d love to hop in a drive thru, pay for the person behind me, and then sneak away so the receiving party could be surprised.

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11) Take a self defense class

I think this is important for anyone, but I feel particularly drawn to it as a woman. What can I say, I want to feel safe, I want to feel tough(er), and I want to give off that BDE. You know, badass defense energy.

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12) Go to (at least) 5 concerts

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Last year I was lucky enough to go to a handful of amazing concerts and it reminded me why I love them so much. There are few things better than live music, and so I want to make it more of a priority to see it. As of now, I’m happy to report I already have 3 on the calendar! 🙂

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13) Take a writing class

I love blogging and it has always been my dream to write a book, but since it was a passion I found after college, I never took a class that might help hone my skills and better my ability to express myself through writing. So I’m hoping to find a class online that is both fun and challenging—something that can move me forward in this field of mine.

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14) Go to 5 breweries

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Being a beer drinker, raised by a beer drinker, who loves trying and drinking new beer, I find it surprising how few breweries I’ve been to in my lifetime. This year I’m hoping to change that, both by visiting breweries in my state, and possibly a few others. We’ll see what we find.

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15) Go to a comedy show

This is another one that seems crazy to be so inexperienced in when I live in a state that is home to so many great comedy houses. There’s something special about setting out on your evening with the intention of laughing. And with so many great comedians out there right now, I’d love to spend a good amount of time doing just that.

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16) The Emotion Scrapbook  

I feel like every year I have that one goal where my inner art major shines through, and this year, it’s this one. I have always loved pictures and the way they can capture parts of a moment or experience that you can revisit even years later. And so, to make a unique kind of scrapbook for this year, I made a list of 20 different feelings/emotions that I’m looking to capture in 2020. The idea is that when I find myself feeling one of those feelings, I want to take a picture of whatever can capture it best, so I can have a memento of it. Not all of these emotions are happy ones, but I think the list as a whole can give me a good idea of where the year took me and what it taught me, so I’m excited.

In case you’re interested, the list I’m going to work off of is as follows:

Take a picture when you’re feeling…

  1. Happy
  2. Sad
  3. Angry
  4. Peaceful
  5. Free
  6. Afraid
  7. Confident
  8. Love
  9. Relaxed
  10. Thankful
  11. Nostalgic
  12. Inspired
  13. Adventurous
  14. Stressed
  15. Bored
  16. Important
  17. Brave
  18. Optimistic
  19. Curious
  20. Determined

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17) Make a time capsule

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Since 2020 is going to be the beginning of a new decade, I thought it would be cool to make something to commemorate this decade. The last 10 years of my life have brought about a lot of change, and I would have loved to see a collection of things I valued at the beginning of 2010 compared to now. So, I’m going to find myself a box, gather up some things that I think best represent who I am and where the world is at the beginning of 2020, and then seal it, stash it, and open it at the end of 2029.

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And there they are in all their glory!

This might be the first year that I’m more excited than terrified. That has to be a good sign, right?

Don’t tell me if it’s not, I don’t need that kind of energy going into a new decade.

I hope you feel as optimistic and excited as I do about this new year, and I wish you luck on any goals you might be setting!

My Decade Recap (As Told by Old Facebook Statuses) (List-cember #7)

I have seen a bunch of posts in the last month where people recap their decade, going through the highlights of each year to cringe, reminisce, feel nostalgic and propel themselves forward into this new decade.

When I sat down to do a post of my own, I struggled with what I wanted to share/not share and how I wanted to share it. Then I saw an update from my Facebook page. “On this day 6 years ago…”

That’s when I realized that if there’s anything that can accurately recap the last 10 years, it is my Facebook statuses. 10 years ago, I was ALL ABOUT Facebook statuses. I liked trying to be witty and clever, I liked updating the Facebook universe on things they probably didn’t need to be updated on, and I often posted quotes from my favorite movies and television shows, or just funny one liners from my family and friends.

So, as we close in on 2020, on the 20’s, let’s see what my Facebook has to say about the 10’s.

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2010

I experienced loss.

2010 blue pen

And triumph.

2010 donkey kong

I set goals.

2010 goals

I had road rage.

2010 peds

And I made myself laugh.

2010 witty

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2011

I made a wish

2011 accent 1

I started my first blog when I studied abroad in Australia…

2011 first blog

…where I was able to manifest my wish.

2011 accent 2

I made important cuts

2011 ipod

I asked important questions

2011 robert pins

And I continued to have road rage.

2011 road rage

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2012

I graduated from college

2012 college

I was grateful

2012 camel

I got into hockey

2012 hockey

Like really into hockey

2012 hockey 2

I took my stance on soul patches

2012 soul patches

And yes, I continued to have road rage

2012 driving

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2013

I met Bobby

2013 bobby

I charted a new career path

2013 career

I found a new motto

2013 motto

I questioned my brother’s plan for the zombie apocalypse

2013 zombie

And I got into puns

2013 hammer

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2014

I started this blog

2014 blog

I started my presidential campaign

2014 president

2014 president 2

I beat sinus congestion

2014 sandra

And I climbed Mt. Whitney.

2014 whitney 2

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2015

I decided to start eating healthier

2015 fealth

I stood up to the man

2015 time warner

I got published

2015 writing

And I continued my relationship with puns

2015 whoop ass

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2016

I became a meme

2016 meme

I cooked

2016 dinner

I questioned parenthood

2016 siri

And I lost control

2016 target

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2017

I earned my black belt

2017 karate kim

I splurged

2017 ice cream

I introduced the world to Kevin

2017 kevin

And I got better at laundry

2017 laundry

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2018

I started exercising

2018 gym

I embraced my true self

2018 old lady

And I expressed my true fears

2018 sneeze

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2019

I let everyone know I ran the marathon…

2019 marathon

…and then did nothing else except share my blog posts and spy on people.

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Overall, I’m happy with where I came from and how I used that to get where I am now.

And even though my Facebook statuses are slim, if not completely nonexistent these days, at least I have this blog where I can do everything I was trying to do in those three sentence updates—including make myself laugh. Here’s to another 10 years.

 

My 2019 Rec Roundup (List-cember #5)

Nothing has ever qualified me to tell you what the best books, movies, music, etc., of the year are, but that has never stopped me from giving you what I believe to be a highly educated opinion.

I mean, who needs all the fancy words and validating credentials when I can just tell you, hey, this didn’t suck and I think you should check it out. 

So that’s what I’m here to do today.

Here are all of my top recommendations from 2019, just in case you’re looking for something good to kickoff your 2020.

Books

  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (Historical Fiction)
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Fiction)
  • For One More Day by Mitch Albom (Fiction)
  • Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis (Self Help)
  • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Mystery/Thriller)
  • Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Historical Fiction)
  • My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (Mystery/Thriller)
  • Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens (Fiction)
  • Beautiful on the Outside by Adam Rippon (Memoir)
  • Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness (Memoir)

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Podcasts

  • ESPN 30 for 30
  • Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet
  • Dr. Death
  • Duolingo Spanish Podcast
  • The Trypod
  • The Clearing
  • My Dad Wrote a Porno
  • The Dropout
  • How I Built This
  • Homecoming

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Movies

  • Free Solo
  • The Dawn Wall
  • Booksmart
  • Unicorn Store
  • Someone Great
  • Frozen 2
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

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TV Shows

  • Fleabag (Amazon Prime)
  • Single Parents (ABC)
  • The Politician (Netflix)
  • The Act (Hulu)
  • Killing Eve (AMC)
  • Modern Love (Amazon Prime)
  • Dead to Me (Netflix)
  • Euphoria (HBO)
  • Four Weddings & a Funeral (Hulu)
  • When They See Us (Netflix)

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Music

  • Heard it in a Past Life by Maggie Rogers
  • GIRL by Maren Morris
  • When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go by Billie Eilish
  • Daylight by Grace Potter
  • Lover by Taylor Swift
  • Cheap Queen by King Princess
  • The Highwomen by The Highwomen
  • Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent by Lewis Capaldi
  • Free Yourself Up by Lake Street Dive
  • Happiness Begins by Jonas Brothers

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Misc

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Hippeas:  THESE. ARE. SO. GOOD. I truly cannot stress this enough. Their one and only flaw is that they come in relatively small bags UNLESS you want to brave Costco for the monster bags. I personally am not always in the mood to brave Costco, which is why I found…

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…White Cheddar Cheetos Puffs! These are the perfect sister snack to Hippeas and are also delicious. Who knew I had such a thing for white cheddar this year?

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Duolingo: I downloaded this app to learn Spanish and have genuinely loved using it! They are always adding new challenges and new ways to learn and I look forward to going on each day.

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Birkenstocks: I waited a long time and listened to a lot of hype about these before I finally pulled the trigger but I am so glad I did. Believe everything you hear. These are wonderful and I will miss wearing them in the winter months. (find this pair here)

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Old Navy Leggings: I am constantly on the hunt for good leggings that aren’t one million dollars, which according to most retailers, is a big ask. But I bought a pair of leggings from Old Navy early in the year and loved them so much that I bought 4 more pairs. They are so comfortable and just the right amount of thick, AND, most importantly, they have side pockets, which is the real game changer. (find this pair here)


Check out more List-cember posts here. 

A Passive Aggressive List of All the Bad Driving Habits We Should Leave in 2019 (List-cember #4)

We are nearing the end of a decade.

Thus, when the ball drops this New Years Eve, that feeling of potential and newness will undoubtedly be a little magnified. We might be inspired to try new things, make big changes, and find exciting ways to kickstart 2020.

In that spirit, I thought I would mention something we should leave in 2019. It’s something that I think has scarred this decade (and many before it), and something I believe we can only benefit from eradicating, both from our year, our decade, and ultimately, our world.

I am of course referring to bad driving.

I personally do a lot of driving, so it could be argued that I’m hyper-sensitive/completely fed up/a borderline road rage-aholic, but I also think there are things that simply need to stop.

Maybe you’ll agree with me, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll feel personally attacked, I don’t know. Regardless, let us all take a deep, cleansing breath and DO BETTER.

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1) When changing lanes or making a turn, turn on your damn blinkers.

2) When you’ve completed said turn or lane change, turn OFF your damn blinkers.

3) Also, in regards to said turn—JUST TURN. You can do it. Just crank that wheel and step on that gas. Go!

4) Stop texting and driving. Seriously. It’s dumb, you’re not “better” at it than other people, and there is absolutely nothing important enough to put every single driver, including yourself, at risk.

5) When the light turns green, GO. As in NOW.

6) ESPECIALLY on green arrows. If you are the first car in a line of cars waiting to turn on a green arrow, the moment that light turns green I need you to drive as if the car behind you is on fire.

7) Stop at stop signs. This one seems pretty obvious but, you know, APPARENTLY IT’S NOT.

8) Merge like a gentleman. I get it. Merging sucks. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk. Just wait your turn, take your turn, and then we can all move on.

9) Drive faster. I understand there is a speed limit. I respect the speed limit. I don’t always obey it, but I respect it. You should too. And by that I mean, at least drive the speed limit. I’ve got things to do, I’m sure you’ve got things to do, so why not drive faster than the powerwalking senior who just passed us?

10) Drive slower. I get it, time is money and traffic is awful. But weaving in and out, speeding down the shoulder or a bike lane, or just driving 30 or 40 miles an hour over the speed limit does not make you cool, or in any way make me feel like you are more important than me. Again, just respect the speed limit, and maybe the lives of your fellow drivers (and peds!)

11) Do not slam on your breaks unless it is absolutely necessary. Examples of things that are not absolutely necessary: being nosy about an accident on the side of the road, realizing you just passed a cop, seeing a billboard, trying to wake up your friend in the passenger’s seat, dropping a french fry.

12) Get over for service vehicles. When an ambulance, firetruck or police car has their sirens on, pull over. As in alllll the way over.

13) Park in between the lines. They are not suggestions, they are requirements, y’all.

14) Turn your lights on. The sun is down, you are now a ghost death machine, take a second and turn your lights on, please.

15) This might be specific to Southern California drivers, but rain is NOT a sign of the apocalypse. So while caution is recommended, a complete and total forfeit of all driving abilities is not.

16) Don’t litter. Or, written another way, stop throwing shit out the window of your car.

17) Say thank you. A wave, a nod, a grateful burst of eye contact is all I ask. Something that says, “hey, I noticed you were a decent human who let me make the driving maneuver I was hoping to make, may we both live out the rest of our day peacefully!”

18) Approach the limit line. Hey, it’s me, behind you. This light is never going to change unless you pull forward and activate the sensor. So please, for the love of everything, pull up.

19) Speaking of pulling up, if you are making a left hand turn, PULL OUT INTO THE INTERSECTION. DO NOT. I repeat. DO NOT WAIT BEHIND THE LINE UNTIL THE LIGHT TURNS RED AND THEN TURN, LEAVING THE REST OF US STUCK AT THE LIGHT.

20) Speaking of speaking of pulling up, when parallel parking, PULL. THE. HELL. UP. There is no reason for there to be half a car length in front and/or behind you. Pull up close to that car and leave room for, I don’t know, EVERYONE ELSE, who might want to park on this street.

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Wow. That felt good.

I think I just added a year or two to my life (and saved money on therapy) by getting that off my chest.


 

Check out more List-cember posts here.

10 Places to Buy Winter Clothes that Will Give Back (List-cember #2)

It’s safe to say fall is in full swing, which means the temperatures have dropped, and getting dressed in the morning now consists of tucking and buttoning and layering—and for some, layering and layering and layering.

The cool thing is, there are tons of places you can find those layers, plus accessories, shoes, and other winter survival gear that not only keep you warm, but helps those in need. And is there anything better than finding something cozy and knowing that buying it can help someone else feel cozy too? I think not.

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1) Toms

If you’ve heard of Toms, you might be most familiar with their slip on shoes, but they actually have a great selection of winter boots as well! Each pair you buy donates a pair to someone in need.

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Find this pair here.

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2) Love Your Melon

Initially started solely to provide hats for children with cancer, Love Your Melon now gives 50% of their net profits to support the Love Your Melon Fund, and the nonprofits they support in order to help children and families battling cancer.

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Find this beanie here.

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3) Twice As Warm 

Selling a range of hats, scarves, and gloves, Twice as Warm donates one winter clothing item for each item you purchase.

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Find this scarf here.

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4) Done Good

Done Good is home to tons of companies and products that support a wide variety of causes and charities. You can even search products based on the causes you are passionate about!

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Find this jacket here.

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5) Amazon Smile

We’ve all heard of Amazon and know you can find practically anything you can think of if you scroll long enough, but did you know that if you go to smile.amazon.com you can select a charity and have a portion of every purchase support that charity? You can either browse charities based on specific causes, or search for a specific charity you are passionate about. I currently have the Justin Turner Foundation selected which supports homeless veterans and children battling life-altering illnesses and diseases.

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Find this pair of gloves here.

 

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6) H&M Conscious Collection

H&M guarantees all clothing within the “Conscious Collection” are made of at least 50% sustainable materials. So if you are someone who is passionate about sustainable fashion, a.k.a fashion that is healthier and kinder to the earth, this collection is for you!

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Find this sweater here.

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7) Roma

Roma’s mission is to “give poverty the boot” and so with every purchase of a pair of boots, they donate a pair to a child in need.

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Find this pair of boots here.

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8) FAZL

FAZL sells tons of cozy socks, hats, mittens and bags, and each purchase helps provide food, shelter, education, and clothing to orphaned children in India.

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Find this pair of socks here.

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9) Happy Blankie

Not only does Happy Blankie match each purchase of a blanket by donating a second one to someone in need, they let you choose who you want that blanket to be donated to. You can choose a sick child in the hospital, a battered women’s shelter, or the child of first responder or military family.

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Find this blanket here.

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10) Tentree

Tentree’s mottos is “buy one, plant ten”, meaning for each item you buy from the Tentree store, ten trees will be planted!

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Find this pair of mittens here.


Check out more List-cember posts here.