life

30 Good Things that Happened in June

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

Let’s dive right in.

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1) This boy with cerebral palsy completed a marathon, one half mile at a time.

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2) Shutterfly brought these illustrations done by kids to thank essential workers to Times Square.

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3) The winners of the International Photography Awards were announced.

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4) This girl shared an emotional story from a day at work:

@kaykosplay

and THAT is on why cosplay is important #wonderwoman

♬ original sound – kaykosplay

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5) This pair found a safe way to salsa dance:

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6) This man built a hummingbird feeder helmet.

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7) The MLB reached an agreement with the players to officially start the 2020 season:

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8) A group of strangers worked together to lift a van off a woman injured in a car crash.

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9) This girl gave her step dad an incredible gift:

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10) This man built a drive in theater to visit with friends.

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11) This man turned clouds into animals:

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12) This group of girls raised over $100,000 to support local black owned businesses by selling friendship bracelets.

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13) This boy help a woman up the stairs:

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14) This woman donated a kidney to a man who already has her late husband’s pancreas.

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15) This dog apologized:

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16) This girl showed off her incredible talent.

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17) Dolly Parton & Nina West launched a charity collection to benefit LGBTQ+ youth and children’s literacy.

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18) This family rescued a bear cub that had a jar stuck on its head.

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19) This guy proved himself right

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20) 8 years after being shot for going to school, Malala Yousafzai graduated from Oxford University.

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21) Father’s Day:

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22) These garbage men were surprised with a ‘thank you’ party by members of their community.

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23) After a picture of this 11 year old aspiring rapper went viral, kind strangers from around the world started hooking him up with equipment to help his dream become a reality.

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24) This teacher took a student to lunch and bought him a car after no one showed up to celebrate his graduation.

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25) This girl was unexpectedly joined in her singing of the national anthem:

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26) This girl won 1st prize for a video she made to inspire the class of 2020.

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27) This article highlight eight good habits people have learned while in quarantine.

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28) This boy got a big surprise.

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29) This deaf dog’s “pack” acted as his “protection ears”.

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30) And finally, this girl cleared up some political questions:

@chevy2funnyy

Political questions ft @arielle_brii 🤕😂

♬ original sound – chevy2funnyy

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

I can’t wait to see what August brings!

You can view the last edition of this series here.

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May/June Favorites

Hello friends! We are back with another addition of favorites, and we’ve got some good stuff!

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Podcasts

It has been a dark time without sports, and I have particularly missed baseball, but Off Air with Joe & Orel has helped fill the void. If you are a Dodger fan who has both missed the boys in blue and is excited they are finally coming back this week, this is the podcast for you!

Also, a big goal of mine for this year has been to get to know myself and find a better foundation in my values, beliefs, opinions, etc. To do that, I have made an effort to better educate myself on the different stories, perspectives and opinions of others. Over the last couple months, there has been a surge of resources, both in the news, on social media, and among friends and family and 1619 was definitely a standout. It is a well made, very thought provoking podcast that follows the start of slavery after the first ship carrying African slaves landed in Virginia in the year 1619.

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Books

While I don’t always have the patience for suspenseful books (because I just want to know what happens NOW) The Woman in the Window was worth the read and especially worth the wait. It follows Anna, a psychologist who is currently unemployed and living alone due to a mysterious onset of agoraphobia. I listened to the audiobook  and I definitely had a few moments where I stopped dead in my tracks and gasped out loud.

Speaking of reasons to gasp, I am now listening to a book about dead bodies. Stiff is a book I started a while back and LOVED but never got the chance to finish. It is a very scientific read, but also finds a way to be quite funny as you learn about the lives (?) and history of cadavers, as well as the decomposition process as a whole. I will admit, it is not a book for everyone, but I think it’s absolutely fascinating.

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TV Shows

Depending on what you’re in the mood for, I’d first and foremost recommend Dark, which is a sci-fi show on Netflix that I’d love to explain and summarize for you but it is one of those shows that you just have to watch to understand. I was hooked after one episode and was constantly sending my brother (who recommended it to me) texts loaded with caps lock and explanation points as I watched the story unfold. Note: it is in German, but you can choose to watch it with subtitles or dubbed in English. Personally, I preferred the subtitles because I liked being able to hear the actors’ real voices. (You can find it on Netflix.)

Next, Normal People. Based on the book by Sally Rooney, this show follows the story of Connell and Marianne, who fall in love in high school, but have a lot of growing up to do  before they can find truly find their way to each other. It is beautiful and sad and a little frustrating at times, but so so good. Plus, I love any show that takes me to Ireland. (You can find it on Hulu.)

On the lighthearted, funny, and undeniably witty side: Never Have I Ever. I was pretty much sold on this show the minute I saw Mindy Kaling’s name on it, and it did not disappoint. The episodes are short and charming and often made me laugh out loud, I look forward to (and hope for!) another season. (You can find it on Netflix.)

And finally, my biggest commitment of the last couple months: The Last Kingdom. This was another recommendation by my brother, who has slowly become my Netflix guru. I was unsure at first if I could get into a show about Vikings in the middle ages, but by season three I was calling my brother, complaining that one of the characters didn’t even get to “die a warrior’s death.” So. It’s safe to say, I got into it. (You can find it on Netflix.)

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Music

I have mostly been in the mood for some slow, calming music these last couple months, but I have also had bursts of wanting to dance around to some fun, summery goodness. That being said, these are some albums that have given me both.

Lady Like by Ingrid Andress

Go Somewhere by John Splithoff

Patrick Droney by Patrick Droney

Golden Hour by Kygo

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Aveda Shampoo

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I have long been at war with my hair and I had reached a point where I thought it was as good/clean/healthy/etc. as it was going to get, but this shampoo from Aveda has changed the game for me! It popped up as a recommendation for me after looking for shampoos that can help with the ever fun combination of a dry scalp and oily roots and it has truly made all the difference! Pro tip: wash your hair twice.  (You can find it here.)

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The Daily Page Planner

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If you are someone who 1) loves being organized and 2) often has trouble staying organized, this planner is for you. It was recommended to me by someone I follow on Instagram and it is truly a treat. It helps you track your goals for the day, your water intake, your meal planning, and pretty much anything else you just want to write down and get out of your head. I like to sit down each morning and do it as I eat my breakfast, and even if I don’t get to check every box throughout the day, it is a great resource to better organize the jumbled mess that is my mind. (You can find it here.)

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Tangle Newsletter

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This is perhaps one of my favorites of my favorites because it is something that I have been looking for for a very long time. I have subscribed and then unsubscribed to a number of e-newsletters, constantly discouraged by the one sided nature of the content or overwhelmed by my lack of understanding of the content. While I want to stay informed and aware of where I stand on important issues, I find it hard to form a valid opinion when someone is essentially telling me that if I don’t agree with every aspect of their opinion I am a terrible person. Thus, I bring you Tangle, a bipartisan newsletter that gives a good roundup of important facts and figures, and then focuses in on one important issue each day and breaks down the opposing arguments.  I am currently subscribed to the free newsletter, which sends you an email every Monday-Thursday, but there is more content available with a paid subscription.  (You can find it here.)

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Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know!

See my previous favorites post here.

Getting Over the Big Bump

Up until I was nine years old, my family lived in a blue house, in a neighborhood close to our church. My dad had bought the house with a few of his friends before he met my mom, and so by the time they got married and I came along, we were very much part of the neighborhood. Our next door neighbor, Frank, always had the best Halloween candy set aside for my siblings and I, and our neighbors down the street would smile and wave when they saw us heading out on an afternoon walk—my sister and I on our bikes, and my mom walking (and eventually pushing a stroller with our brother) close behind us.

Fun fact about me: I am not a strong bike rider.

The day I learned to ride a bike (without training wheels) is a notorious one in my family, as it involved hours of me trying and failing to balance on two wheels in the cul de sac in front of my aunt’s house. There were tears, scraped knees, explosive frustration and unwavering determination. Eventually I got there, but I have never considered myself a “confident” bicyclist, even to this day.

Nonetheless, I loved riding my bike on our afternoon walks. I liked pretending I was on a safari and that I could spot wild animals running beside me. Sometimes I liked to pretend that I was being chased or that I was in the last seconds of a race I needed to win. But then, once we took a left turn onto the louder, busier street, I would see it.

Always big, though, once I got my training wheels off, it appeared nearly mountainous, there was bump in the road, mostly likely caused by an earthquake, where two chunks of sidewalk collided and raised. We called it “the big bump.”

Pre cul de sac stick-to-itiveness, I would go over this bump with my training wheels without hesitation or fear, but once I began riding on two wheels, it became an ongoing obstacle. I was suddenly very aware of how it changed the balance of my bike and could ultimately cause me to fall and get hurt. And even though we would do that walk often and I longed to approach the big bump without worry, when we made that turn and I saw it come into focus, my hands would grip tighter on the handles and my visions of being on a safari or in the middle of a race would vanish.

To my credit, I always went over the bump. And to my knowledge, I never fell. There were times when I severely slowed my pace, and there were times when I completely stopped and walked my bike over it, but I always went over it.

These days I rarely ride bikes, and when I do I rarely seek out “big bumps,” but I still find similar obstacles in my day-to-day life. Some I expect, dread even, and some come out of nowhere, but they both give me that same sense of fear I felt as a kid. And while sometimes I can connect to that girl who spent hours trying and failing and willing herself to succeed, other times I find myself looking out at that (now figurative) “big bump” and turning myself around.

I’m still scared. Scared to get hurt, scared to be thrown off balance and lose control. Scared to get stuck, scared to hold people back, and scared to get left behind. I’m scared of the consequences of going over the “big bumps,” which are no longer just scraped knees or a broken bone. Plus, what might look like a big bump to me, might not look so daunting to others and sometimes it’s hard to reconcile that what’s holding you back gave your peers no grief at all. But as scary as the big bumps seem, and no matter how often I might find them in my path, I owe it to myself to keep going over them.

When I was little, each time I made it over the big bump, I felt a swell of pride, and a small burst of confidence that next time I might go over it a little bit easier. And even though I might not be that seven-year-old girl anymore, I still have her grit, I still have her determination, and I still have people behind me willing to help me over whatever bump may enter my path.

So I’m going to keep moving, keep riding, keep walking, keeping making my way over those big bumps, because I know there are good things waiting for me on the other side.

Two Things Yoga Has Taught Me This Year

A couple months ago I mentioned that I’d gotten into a yoga series called Home on the YouTube channel Yoga with Adrienne. Since then I’ve made it into a habit to do yoga almost every day and it has done wonders for me.

As of right now, with some restrictions still in place, I am still doing yoga at home. And while I look forward to being able to get back to in-person yoga classes, with all of the resources available online, I’m not really in any hurry. Plus, taking yoga classes at home—especially on YouTube—has been far easier to work into my everyday schedule. It doesn’t matter if I get off work a little late, or if I don’t have time in the morning, the classes are available at any time, and the only way to miss them is to…not do them. That being said however, it has helped me greatly to work them into a routine, and so every day, right around the 5 o’clock hour, I roll out my yoga mat and open my computer.

When I was doing Yoga with Adrienne’s Home series, I would always head straight to whichever numbered session was next, but right now I’m working through her June calendar, which is a 30 day series that pairs together her past videos around a common theme of courage. The classes in this series range from about 15 minutes to a full hour (the longer sessions usually falling on the weekends) and they have been a little more challenging. I am glad that I started with Home, as it is a very calming, introductory series, and it focuses a lot on finding peace, de-stressing, and breathing—which is exactly what I was looking for amongst, you know, the pandemic and all. But the courage series is much more about finding strength and challenging yourself.

Now, I know that people can be on the fence about yoga, that some people don’t think it’s a good workout, some people find it boring, and others think it’s too hard, or too intimidating. I also know that in the community of people who do yoga, there a wide variety of reasons why people like it. And while I could probably research and organize and present you with all the reasons why you should give it a shot, I’m just going to tell you the two main things that working through these two yoga series have helped me with:

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1) Breathing

I am telling you, breathing is underrated. Yes, we do it all the time without even thinking about it, but when you actually take the time to take deep breaths, it does wonders. I have felt less stressed, less anxious, and overall more peaceful, not only in my mind but in my body, my eating habits, and my day to day choices. There is a specific move that I learned in one of the Home sessions that has been my go to whenever I’m feeling stressed, angry, overwhelmed, or even just hunched over my computer too much, and in case you’re interested, it is as follows:

  • Sit up straight
  • Inhale and lift your shoulders up high towards your ears
  • Push your shoulders back as if you’re trying to make your shoulders blades touch
  • Then exhale your shoulders down.

I’d say on average, I do this about five times a day.

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2) Feeling in control

Exercise as a whole has always been appealing to me because it makes me feel strong. I have gone through good and bad phases with exercising solely to try and attain a certain body shape, but I have seen a marked difference in my mindset when I do yoga. These past few months, as I’ve taken class after class, I’ve started to notice how much more in tune I am with my body, from my skin to my muscles to my joints to my bones. In practicing each day, I have realized that when an instructor says to shift my hip back or to straighten through the crown of my head so my spine can be in a straight line, I can consciously make that small adjustment, and I can feel the difference when I do. That alone makes me feel powerful. It makes me feel like I am the one in control of my body, which I don’t know if I’ve ever felt before.

I think I always believed that once I liked the way my body looked, or once I could do hundreds of sit-ups or pull ups or whichever physical feat was on my mind at the time, then I would finally feel like I was in control. But I’ve found that in slowly gaining an understanding of the body and all the intricacies that make it move, I have also found a sense of control. On top of that, in focusing on the way all the parts of my body work together, I have found myself less focused on specific areas that I don’t like or want to change. I have found an appreciation for what my body can do and what it can learn, and I believe this will help me going forward in any kind of exercise I might do.

So, if you are on the fence about yoga, I’d say give it a go. It can be a workout, a relaxation technique, or just an excuse to make you breathe—sometimes it can be all three at once. Don’t demand too much of yourself, don’t worry about your starting point, and don’t be afraid to be still. In the same vein, don’t be afraid to push yourself, to fall or to step out of your comfort zone (I’m looking at you, “lion’s breath” and “happy baby” pose).

If you want to check out the Home series, you can find it here.

And if you want to check out the June “Courage” calendar, you can find it here. (The video for each day of the series is linked in the calendar.)

Why Finding Your Own Voice Can Help Everyone

Not too long ago, I did a thorough cleaning of my house in which I gave away things I didn’t use, threw away things that were broken, and, more than anything, found things I forgot I had. One such thing was a book called “Music Listography,” which I’m pretty sure I impulse bought from Target, and seeing as its copyright is from 2009, it’s safe to say I bought it a while ago.

The point of the book is to flip through the pages and fill in the music related prompts with lists of songs, bands, concerts, albums, etc, until you have a kind of music autobiography (or listography) of your life. It’s a cool idea, and the creator, Lisa Nola, has a whole series of “listography” books to help you create a simplified, listified story of your life.

Looking at it now, I have no doubt why I bought. And to be honest, there is a part of me tempted to add the rest of the series to my Amazon cart as I write this. For as a writer, it is not only important, but vital to me to constantly get to know myself—what I like, what I dislike, what I’m working towards, and what I believe in—because it helps me continue to write, which in turn helps me understand myself, the world around me, and where I fit in it.

Perhaps one of the most important things we can do with our lives is understand it. Not understand the who’s and how’s of everything and everyone around us, but the what’s and why’s of our own personalities, beliefs, behaviors, and dreams. It is important to know where we stand, and to discern and feel confident about our opinions, from music to politics to religion, and everywhere in between.

We are all born into different families and different circumstances, in different environments with different obstacles. That gives us each a unique perspective. We all have our own reasons to believe in what we believe in, and different motivations to fight for what we fight for. So it is crucial to get to know ourselves and accept ourselves, so that we may be better equipped to know and accept others. In knowing where we stand and what we believe, we are given the opportunity to talk to other people from a place of confidence and grace, rather than fear and defensiveness. It also gives us the opportunity to see a new side of things, to explore a new avenue of thinking, and perhaps even change our mind.

So as our world continues to demand change, I have made it a mission of mine to learn all that I can about the world I live in, about all the sides of it that I know and all the sides I don’t. I’m looking at different perspectives, listening to different stories, and hearing different voices. In doing so, I am getting a better idea of who I am, what I believe and how my unique voice can help advocate for this much needed change.

The day I bought that “Music Listography” book I know it was from a place of longing. I wanted to fill the book out, but I wanted to do it in a way that would be impressive to others. While I was curious about “who I was” I was more concerned with whether that person was cool. Today, as I flip through the pages, I have a much clearer idea of how I would actually fill them out, and I might even go through and cross out the answers that were so clearly reaching. For now I know the music that moves me, and I know the reasons why. And though a small part of me will always want to be “cool” I don’t want it at the expense of being honest—not just in the context of this book but in every aspect of my life.

I truly want to know and be known, so I will keep learning, keep growing, and keep listening. I will keep asking questions, not only to get an answer, but to hear the many answers until I find one that aligns with who I am and what I believe in. I will share the things that give me comfort in the hopes it can comfort others, and I will share the things that make me uncomfortable to find out why, and to see if I can help change them.

I also think it’s important to note that we all fight on different stages and at different volumes. So as we work to figure out who we are and where we stand, let us also discover how we were made to stand. It might not be in the same place, in the same spotlight, or in the same style as those we know—even those we share beliefs with. And that is okay. We all have a unique voice and a unique way to share it, and so long as we keep working to find that voice, find the honesty in it, the fight behind it, and how we can best use it, we will find our way to not only stand, but create lasting change.

Hate Will Never be a Prize

In a standard marathon, there are thousands of participants, from thousands of backgrounds, with thousands of stories to tell. In the early mornings of race day, they gather at the starting line, grouped together by their approximate pace, each person stretching, praying, pacing, dancing—anything that will prepare them for the journey they are about to embark on.

When I ran my marathon last year, I was surprised by the immediate kinship I felt with everyone around me at the starting line, even though we didn’t talk to one another, or even make more than a few seconds of eye contact. I felt bonded to them, like we were going into battle—because in a way, we were—and it’s easy to feel connected to people when you are working toward the same goal, and headed toward the same finish line.

The same cannot be said in every day life.

Oftentimes when you come into contact with someone in the day to day, you don’t know the path they are on, where they’ve come from, what they’ve experienced, or where they are hoping to go. For some, this is inviting, it’s an opportunity to meet someone new. For others this is intimidating, and a reason to feel self-conscious. And for too many, this is an excuse to jump to conclusions, pass judgment, and, ultimately, hate.

In a marathon setting, if your initial reaction towards one of your fellow runners was hate, it could keep you from making an ally that could inspire you, motivate you, and help you when things got hard. It could slow your progress, steal your focus, weaken your performance, and ultimately, ruin your race. And in real life, it will do the exact same thing.

We are not all running the same race, on the same course, at the same pace, with the same finish line, but we are all trying our best to keep moving. And when we hate, we give unwarranted obstacles not only to ourselves, but our fellow runners. We slow the progress of everyone when we decide we are more important, more valuable, or more worthy of getting to where we want to go than our fellow runners. We slow the progress of everyone when we don’t recognize our fellow runners as fellow individuals, fellow personalities, and fellow human beings, rather than a prejudged series of colors, shapes, sizes, uniforms or beliefs.

Running a marathon takes patience. Living a life takes patience. Forming relationships takes patience. And the quickest way to derail all of these is leaning into the ignorant and lazy habit of impatience. Of believing you already know what an experience will give you before you experience it, of assuming you know all that life has to offer before you live it, and of deciding you know who a person is before they have time to show you.

Be patient.

Be open.

Be helpful.

Be kind.

Romans 12:9-10 in the Bible says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

So let us honor each individual. Let us love them for who they are and all they can offer the world. Let us hate what is wrong, but not mistake hate as a prize. For the goal is not to hate the quickest, the loudest, or the strongest, the goal is to right the wrong and starve hate all together. The goal is to not only hold tightly to the good that we know, but to reach out for the good we are working towards. The goal is for love and respect to be more prevalent and powerful than doubt and bias. The goal is for every runner to believe whole-heartedly that they deserve a place at the starting line and have the opportunity to reach their finish line. The goal is for a person to be a person, at first glance, at first instinct, no matter what, and for that person to know they are loved.

An Ode to Tuna Noodles

Dear Tuna Noodles,

Thank you, for being you. Thank you for your egg noodles. Thank you for your tuna. Thank you for your cream of mushroom soup. But most of all, thank you for your 100% not organic or diet friendly or doctor recommended Velveeta cheese.

Thank you for all of the evenings that you cooked in the oven at my grandparents’ house, in my childhood homes, and in friends’ kitchens. Thank you for your heaping portions on the plastic plates that my cousins and I decorated and my grandparents kept on a shelf just for us; and for those on the spring pallet glass plates that my parents still have in their cupboard to this day; and even for those in deep set bowls that somehow still managed to encourage a second and third helping.

Thank you for being easy to make, for giving me something I could cook with my grandma and my mom, and by myself when I studied abroad and wanted a taste of home. Thank you for the memories you unlock with every bite—be it a weeknight conversation at my grandparent’s long, padded dinner table, a lazy Friday night sat on my parents’ kitchen stool with the broken leg, or a living room crowded with family, pets, and TV trays set up in front of a Dodger game.

Thank you for teaching me what comfort food is, and for giving me a recipe to share at every bridal shower I will ever attend. Thank you for giving me something to fall back on and to build up from. I’ve come a long way in my cooking, and I can only hope I have a long way to go, but you will always be my first love. So thank you for all the love. And again, for the Velveeta.

A Little Miyagi Reminder

To continue off of Monday’s post a little…

My mom recently sent me a video of my brother from a few years back when he was speaking at our church. I wrote about it shortly after it happened in this post, but it struck a chord with me as I watched it again and thought it was worth bringing back up.

In his message, my brother talks about The Karate Kid—the original, not the remake, he makes sure to specify—and about the familiar scenes of Mr. Miyagi “training Daniel to fight” by making him wax the car, paint the fence and scrub the floor. And about how, when Daniel blows his top and demands Mr. Miyagi actually teach him how to fight, he realizes, he already had.

Applying this lesson to present day, for a few months now our lives have felt like they were essentially on hold. Many goals we had set for ourselves, dreams we were working towards and plans we had in motion were brought almost to a complete halt. And for many of us, this has not only been discouraging, but at times completely defeating.

I know I feel like I’ve lost a lot of momentum in certain areas of my life, and maybe even taken a few fearful steps backwards when I’d previously been trying to courageously move forward. Sometimes I worry that these months of doing what feels like nothing, learning what feels like nothing, and going what feels like nowhere, have put me on a path I can’t recover from. Like I’ve wasted my time, lost my way, and won’t find my way back in time do what I need to do in order to live a good and successful life.

But then, what if the things I’m doing or places I’m going or things I’m learning, maybe in books, movies, television shows, crafts, yoga, walks around the neighborhood, quiet mornings to myself, YouTube videos, late night talks with my sister, long, honest text conversations with close friends, anything and everything that I’ve been doing over these last few months—maybe it is those things that are shaping me and molding me and teaching me everything I need to know in order to move forward. In order to find that momentum again—maybe in a direction I wouldn’t have gone before, with a perspective I’ve never had before.

There are struggles to be had, both now and in the months to come, but there are benefits to that struggle. There are things we will learn that will help us become who we were meant to be and live the lives we were meant to live.

We are all being Miyagi-ed, even if we can’t see it yet.

It’s Not “My Year” but it’s Something

Over the weekend I saw this post on social media and it was very encouraging to me. It talked about how so many of us spent our last few moments of 2019 praying, hoping, wishing, demanding that 2020 was going to be “our year.” It was supposed to be a year of opportunity and success. A year that would inspire us to take risks and step out of our comfort zones.

Being the start of a new decade, for many of us it also looked like a fresh start—when the tides would finally turn and bring about positive changes in our lives. I know I was among this crowd. And I know I am among so many who now feel let down. Who wish this year would just be over, or to have never happened. To be back in the naïve hope of last December, or to be crossing our fingers in the final moments of this coming December, hoping—assuming­­­—it can only get better from here.

For most of all of us, 2020 has not been “our year.” Or at least, as Alexis describes it in her post, the year we thought it would be. But that doesn’t mean it is not impactful, important, or worth seeing through.

This year has been full of challenges, restrictions, struggle, panic, fear, and heartbreak, and we have all experienced them to an extent, but those experiences are all different. We are all seeing this year with different perspectives and working through it with different strategies. In 20 years from now, we will all have different stories, different moments that stood out to us, different obstacles we had to overcome and different triumphs we made a long the way. This year will be infamous for how it affected the masses, but unique in how it affected individuals. My year is and will be different than yours, and even my mom’s, dad’s, brother’s or sister’s.

I will remember how I felt, what I was afraid of, confused by, in doubt of, or hopeful for, more than anyone around me. And I will remember my behavior, my reactions, my stresses, worries and personal discoveries more than anything I might hear from a friend or read on the news.

Whether it’s what I imagined or not, I am in “my year”—the year I anticipated all those days and hours before the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2020. And while it might not be my year to accomplish certain things or meet certain people or travel certain places, it could still be my year to learn important lessons or heal long-standing wounds. To forgive, to discover, to reprioritize, to create, to accept, to do all the things I might have continued to put off if this were just another year.

So while this year is hard—for some impossibly so—and it’s definitely not what we all hoped for, it is not over, and it still means something.

Let’s find out what that something is.

March/April Favorites

Hello there! We are back with another edition of favorites.

I’ll warn you ahead of time, we are ALL OVER the map this month, but I feel like that makes sense.

I’ve been in the mood for a little bit of everything (read: ANYTHING) and so I’ve found a little bit of everything.

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Podcasts

Just like last episode, I’m kicking us off with a dark one. The Dating Game Killer is the true story of serial killer Rodney Alcala, who is currently on death row, and actually made an appearance on the The Dating Game in the 70’s. It is a wild ride.

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum: Everyday Decisions with Jo Firestone. I mentioned a specific episode of this podcast in this post, but I would highly recommend this podcast as a whole. In each episode, comedian Jo Firestone talks to one of her friends, asking them to recount what they did the previous day, from the moment they woke up to the moment they went to sleep. Not only is it fun to hear how people spend their days—because hello, I am nosy—but I also just love the simplistic conversation starter that can ultimately tell you a lot about the person you’re talking to.

And finally, in a spectrum all its own: Dolly Parton’s America. My sister is a big Dolly Parton fan, so when I found this one I was primarily excited to show it to her. But after listening to the first episode, I was hooked. It is such a fun listen that gives you a good look into an icon—highly recommend!

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Books

When looking for a new book, sometimes I’ll know exactly what I’m looking for and other times I don’t have a clue. On one of the latter days, I came across Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic by Michael McCreary, which was the “recommendation of the month” by the library and I’m so glad it was! This book is so funny, and full of great information, making it a great resource for both atypical and neurotypical people.

Next, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto. I have long been on the hunt for a “favorite author” and this book by Mitch Albom pretty much sealed the deal for me. Not only is it an amazing, rich, beautifully written novel typical of Albom (see The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Tuesdays with Morrie, etc.), it is honestly one of the best books I have ever read. It follows the life of Francisco “Frankie” Presto, a prestigious musician whose life—chaotic and difficult as it was—was also full of goodness, wonder, and most of all, purpose.

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TV Shows

I was very very late to the party in watching Schitt’s Creek, but I’m just glad I’m finally here. The show follows The Roses, an extremely wealthy family who, after losing almost everything, move to a small town called “Schitt’s Creek”, which John Rose, the father of the family, had previously purchased as a joke.  This show is so funny and such a highlight to my day whenever I turn it on. (Find it on Netflix.)

Next up, Hunters! This one is definitely heavy, as it is set in the 70’s, 30 years after the Holocaust, and follows a group of Nazi hunters seeking justice for those lost. It is SO. GOOD. Very dark, at times very gory, but very good. The moment I finished season one (which, OH MY GOSH) I immediately started my impatient wait for season two.  (Find it on Amazon Prime)

Did someone say, John Krasinski? Hopefully, because that man is crushing this quarantine thing. But in other awesome things he is a part of: Jack Ryan. This is another show I was behind on, but I quickly caught up. (Find it on Amazon Prime)

And finally, Outer Banks. It is rare that you find that a show that you cannot stop watching and actively look forward to finishing your trivial responsibilities (like work, showering, etc.) so you can watch it again, but this was one of those shows for me. I just had to know what was going to happen. And while it’s hard to describe without giving anything away, one of the best descriptions I’ve heard is that it is what you would get if The OC and The Goonies had a baby. So, if that love child catches your attention, I’d give it a go. (Find it on Netflix.)

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Movies

I saw Emma in theaters (bless) with my best friend, on a Friday night at the beginning of March, which honestly seems like A LIFETIME ago. Nonetheless, I loved this movie and was delighted to learn that the book it is based on was also the inspiration for the 1995 classic Clueless.

A few weeks ago, my family sat down together for a movie night and watched last year’s Academy Award nominated Knives Out. It is the ultimate whodunnit movie that is smart, fun, and honestly kept me guessing the whole way through. It’s one of those that will be especially fun to watch a second time through to see where they dropped all the hints.

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Music

In the music world, I have been shuffling through all kinds of playlists and albums, but these are a few that I keep going back to:

The Dream by Hailey Whitters

kelsea by Kelsea Ballerini

Heartbreak Weather by Niall Horan

We Were Thunder by Lilla Vargen

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Thin Fitbit Wristband

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At the beginning of this month, my Fitbit band got a rip in it, sending me on a frantic search for a new one so I could continue to track my lack of steps. I found these on Amazon, and really like the way they look and feel. Not only are they great quality, but I personally feel like they are a better fit for my wrist than the traditional thick band.  Plus, these come in a four pack, so you have have backups and/or options if you like to change up your look. (find them here)

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This Arm Workout

For the most part, my quarantine exercise routine has consisted of yoga, Dance Church and neighborhood walks, which it has been great, but I have also been on the lookout for something new. Enter this arm workout. It may be short, it may involve no equipment, but man does it BURN.

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Sweet Tea & Bourbon

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I made it a goal of mine a year ago to try every drink on this list of “Most Iconic Drinks in Every State”, and since we’ve had a little extra time, my sister and I have been working our way through it one by one. Among those we’ve tried so far, the Sweet Tea & Bourbon from South Carolina is definitely our favorite. It is made with one-part bourbon, four parts sweet tea, and then (if you are interested) mint and lemon for garnish. It is so delicious and refreshing, perfect for these hot days. (photo credit: Sugar & Charm, check out this post of theirs that also gives you a recipe for homemade sweet tea!)

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Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know!

See my previous favorites post here.