life

30 Good Things that Happened in November

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

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

You can find last month’s here.

Happy November to you!

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1) The Dodgers took out a full-page ad in the Houston newspaper to congratulate the Astros on their World Series win

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2) These childhood sweethearts got engaged

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3) Lin Manuel Miranda’s son saw the first act of Hamilton

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4) These sisters perfectly showcased what it’s like being sisters

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5) This dog liked his new carpet

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6) This stepson gave his stepdad an amazing surprise

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7) Actress Gabby Sidibe responded to a nasty Instagram comment in the best way

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8) This police trio got warmed up

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9) This homeless man got the ultimate payback after a helping a woman with his last $20

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10) This boy gave out some great encouragement at the New York Marathon

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11) These passengers turned a delayed flight into a party.

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12) This 102 year old man met the nephew he never knew he had

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13) This cartoonist created a series that reminds us to be thankful

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14) This boy saw clearly for the first time

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15) Australia voted YES

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16) This Australian man proposed to his boyfriend using his water polo team

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17) This mom wrote a beautiful letter to her nurse

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18) This cop went above and beyond the call of duty

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19) This man danced his heart out

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20) This chef offered some help to a customer

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21) The lead singer of Imagine Dragons posted this great reminder

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22) This boy got some camera time during his mom’s yoga video

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23) Thanksgiving

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24) After accidentally inviting the wrong teen to Thanksgiving last year, this grandma invited him—and he accepted—to spend the holiday with her family anyways. This year, she invited him again and he brought his girlfriend.

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25) This man spent his Black Friday paying it forward

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26) This puppy made a new best friend

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27) This girl got flowers from her dad

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28) These Indian women who are victims of acid attacks walked in a fashion show

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29) This woman became the first contest with Down Syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota pageant

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30) This woman got an amazing surprise from her grandmother

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

I can’t wait to see what December brings!

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You’re Free to be Great, So Go for It

This past week I officially hit the 900 mile mark of my 1000 mile running goal for the year. It’s been a trying 11 months to get here, and I have a feeling this final month will take everything I have to finish. My body is tired. It’s been sore and achy and fatigued more days than it hasn’t. And yet, I still feel strong. I feel like I can do anything.

Over the course of this year, I’ve looked for and found a variety of different things to listen to/watch while I’m running, the most prominent being my ever changing playlist on my phone, aptly titled “Running.” Consistently among my favorites on the playlist is “The Greatest” by Sia.

The song starts as follows:

Uh-oh I’m running out of breath, but I’ve got stamina.

Uh-oh I’m running now I close my eyes, well I got stamina.

And uh-oh, I see another mountain to climb

But I got stamina

For obvious reasons, this first verse makes sense on a running playlist. I mean what else besides stamina—and the slightest bit of insanity—do you need to get yourself running? To add to that, in the next part she sings:

Don’t give up

I won’t give up

Don’t give up, no, no, no

Which again, is exactly the kind of mindset you need to have while running.

The part that really hooks me though, is the chorus:

I’m free to be the greatest, I’m alive

I’m free to be the greatest here tonight, the greatest

The greatest, the greatest alive

The greatest, the greatest alive

I tell ya, whenever that chorus kicks in while I’m running, I break out into a sprint. Because aside from being the kind of inspirational “go team” type of sentiment that I need when I’m exercising, it fills me with motivation that I can take further.

I’m free to be the greatest, she says, I’m alive.

In other words: I’m free to be the greatest I can be, in anything I choose to try, because I have the great privilege of being alive. I firmly believe that the idea behind these words is what gets me out there running every day. It’s what put the idea in my head that I could run 1000 miles in the first place. For there’s truly nothing greater than making your dreams a reality and your doubts fiction.

So, I encourage you to chase them with everything you’ve got. Because as of today, as of this moment, you are completely free to be the greatest you can be, so you might as well go for it.

 

If the Timehop App Knew Too Much

Alongside hitting snooze upwards of three times, my morning routine usually consists of checking the Timehop app on my phone. For those of you unfamiliar, Timehop connects to your social media accounts and tells you what you have posted on that day, however many years ago. In my case, Timehop usually reminds me of bad jokes I’ve made—though to be fair, I usually still laugh at them.

Sometimes when I read through an old status or tweet or Instagram picture, I’m reminded of more than just the post itself. I have flashbacks of the days and moments surrounding the post, getting a little glimpse into where I was when I posted it. This got me thinking: wouldn’t it be something if Timehop somehow tapped into those moments in time, both the good and the bad?

It would probably look something like this:

6 years ago today you said “you too” when the theater ticket taker said, “enjoy the movie.”

4 years ago today you woke up and felt inexplicably different about the relationship you were in.

2 years ago today you spent the entire day on the couch for no reason.

1 year ago today you ate 15 Oreos for breakfast and couldn’t eat anything for the rest of the day.

7 years ago today you fell in surface love with a person you saw on the freeway and spent a solid 10 minutes picturing what your future together would be like.

3 years ago today you looked in the mirror and liked what you saw for the first time in a long time.

5 years ago today you ate expired food from your fridge.

5 seconds ago today you were still wondering if it had any lasting effects.

14 years ago today you saw your favorite movie for the first time.

10 years ago today you made awkward small talk with a person who would become your best friend.

 

To be honest, I’m not sure if I’d like a deeper digging Timehop. I like the freedom of being able to block things out here and there. But I suppose the important thing to remember, both about the real Timehop, and the nosy, fictional one I’ve imagined, is that it can remind us of all the moments that have lead us to where we are now, and the ones currently leading us somewhere in the future. Today will be full of those moments, as will tomorrow. They won’t all be easy, but they’ll be necessary to help us get where we’re destined to go.

Thank You, Dodgers. Thank You, Baseball.

When I was little my grandparents had season tickets to Dodger Stadium. There were four tickets, two for my grandma and grandpa, and then two for the lucky duo they brought with them. Oftentimes I went with my cousin, Spenser, or my sister, Natalee. Other times the tickets were given to my parents and my whole family would go.

We’d always get there early to watch batting practice, and then we’d grab a Dodger Dog right before game time so it could digest before we got chocolate malts in the 6th inning. I loved sitting next to my grandma and keeping score inside the program and always tried to catch the beach balls bouncing around the crowd so I could hand them off to our favorite usher, Ilene, to make her job a little easier. The sounds of the stadium, of Vinny, of Nancy Bea on the organ, all became lyrics to a song I could sing in my sleep.

As I grew up, my grandparents eventually gave up the season tickets, but this did little to lessen my passion for the game or the team I grew up watching. If anything, it deepened. With a better sense of baseball and all it entailed, I started to really get to know the boys in blue, no matter what variety a season would present them in. I began keeping track of stats, giving commentary on recommended lineups, and most importantly, dreaming of the World Series.

In my 27 years as a Dodger fan, there have been many seasons when I’ve had that feeling. The one that keeps quiet in public, but at home whispers, maybe. Maybe this is the year. Maybe this is the team. But year after year, at some point that maybe would turn into a no. It always hurt, but come April, the hurt was always replaced by possibility, by a new maybe.

This year, I got that feeling. Even at the first night game I attended in April, I felt like there was something special about this team. That night I scanned my ticket and grabbed a Dodger Dog and a beer and took my seat, anxious for another April, hopeful for another October. Six months later, I was scanning another ticket, taking another seat, and ordering another Dodger Dog, but this time it was Game 6 of the World Series.

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For weeks I had rushed home from work and drove over to my parents’ house to watch the Dodgers climb their way to the Fall Classic, and suddenly I was there, in the flesh. My sister and I walked up the stairs in a sea of blue. Friends and family hugged and strangers high fived and everyone smiled in anxious anticipation.

When we won the game 4 hours later, the stadium erupted. Friends and family and neighbors and strangers and hugged and high fived and cheered and teared up. The crowd moved in waves of blue and white, singing and chanting and smiling. I thought of my grandma and grandpa and the first game I could remember attending and I felt that same feeling of pure magic.

The next day, as I sat on my parents’ couch, watching the last few outs of Game 7 tick off the scoreboard, submitting my Dodgers to a season just shy of the ultimate finish line, I tried my best to remain solely heartbroken. The loss hurt, but there was something else stirring inside me that I couldn’t quite shake.

As I watched the sea of blue and white (and orange) file up the rows and out to the parking lot, I saw families and friends like mine feeling the same heartbreak we felt in our living room. And suddenly I realized how many other living rooms and bars and hotel lobbies and restaurants held other families and friends either mourning or celebrating. This game, these teams, my team, had brought us all together. And with all the bad going on in the world, we were able to find something to root for.

When my sister and I stepped inside the gates for Game 6, I felt the weight of where we were, but in many ways felt the same way I always do when I walk up the stairs to Blue Heaven: at home. I heard the same sounds, smelled the same smells and looked down at the same view.

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After Game 7, when the confetti started flying and it wasn’t the color I was hoping for, my stomach sank. After the most exciting season of my life, this year’s maybe had officially turned into a no.

When I got home that night, I got a text from a friend, “see you next season.” And even though the wound was still fresh, I couldn’t help but smile. “Always,” I thought, “there’s always next season.” And I know come April I’ll be there, with a ticket, a Dodger Dog, and a maybe.

31 Good Things That Happened in October

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

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

You can find last month’s here.

Happy October to you!

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

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

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

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4) As did Maren Morris & Vince Gil

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

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

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7) Everything went pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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8) This football team continued an amazing tradition

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

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10) This dog was recsued from a well

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

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12) This girl sang her new rescue dog a lullaby

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13) Burger King released a creative anti-bullying ad

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

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

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16) This therapy dog contined bringing joy to veterans

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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27) This nurse sang to her dying patient

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28) This little girl laid down the law

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29) Season 2 of Stranger Things was released!

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30) This couple brainstormed their Halloween costumes…

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31) …And then this weatherman won Halloween

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

I can’t wait to see what November brings!

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September/October Favorites

I always have trouble knowing exactly how to start these blog posts because I feel like the meat of the post is in the favorites, you know? So if I spend all this time in the intro trying to get you excited for the favorites, I’m just wasting your time because every single extra word I type with my unpainted fingernailed fingertips is one extra word you have to read before you can get to the part of this post that actually matters. So really, the introduction is just rude. Because a part of you feels like you should read it, just in case you miss something wildly important, but then the other part of you just wants to skip it and read on, because clearly nothing important is going to be said in this intro, is it? But the curiosity still lingers, so you read the whole thing, and then you get to the end and realize you totally could have skipped it.

Sorry.


 

Insanely Chill w/ Cody Ko Podcast

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Unlike some of the other podcasts I’ve recommended in previous favorites posts, this one doesn’t necessarily have a specific theme. Cody Ko started on Vine and then shifted over to YouTube and in the last year made his way into the world of podcasting. Insanely Chill is essentially a space where he just talks about whatever is on his mind. I like it because each episode is like one long conversation with a friend, except that friend is doing all the talking, but somehow it’s okay because that friend is pretty funny and clearly needs to vent about a few things. So you listen, and even though you don’t get a single word in edgewise, you enjoy yourself and then sign yourself up to have these conversations once a week.  (Find it here)


 

The Hollars

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Have you ever watched a movie and had it be exactly what you needed to watch in that moment of your life? Well in the middle of September, while my best friend and I were on vacation in Denver, we turned on The Hollars in our hotel room after a long day of exploring and it could not have been a more perfect choice. It is John Krasinski’s directorial debut and it makes me hope with all my heart he has more projects in the works. It makes you feel all the feels and I can’t recommend it enough. (Find it here)


 

Gaga: Five Foot Two

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I’ve always been a Lady Gaga fan, but after watching her Netflix documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two, that respect and admiration tripled. It follows her journey to record her fifth studio album, Joanne, her struggles with fibromyalgia, and her performance at the 2016 Super Bowl Halftime show. My favorite line from the documentary is said in regards to Lady Gaga’s newfound maturity as an artist, but I think can relate to everyone: “I’m a woman struggling now,” she says, “rather than a girl.” (Find it on Netflix)

 


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The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wells

Throughout this entire book I was torn between wanting to binge it and needing to put it down. Written by Jeannette Wells, it is the story of her unorthodox (to say the least) upbringing. It is a hard story, but an important one. It’s a good reminder of how many different lives are being lived around you. (Find it here)

 

 

How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky9780147515995

Watsky is one of those people who I’ve seen around but never really known a lot about. Thankfully I picked up How to Ruin Everything at a bookstore in Colorado, thus introducing me to the world of Watsky. The bio on his website describes him as “a rapper, writer and performer from San Francisco now living in Los Angeles. A versatile lyricist who switches between silly and serious, technically complex and simply heartfelt,” which I think is a completely accurate description of his book as well. How to Ruin Everything had me laughing out loud, contemplating life and underlining phrases I hope I’m clever enough to emulate in my future writing. I’d recommend looking into all of his projects, including this book. (Find it here)

 

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The Sun & Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

I read Rupi’s first book, Milk and Honey, last year and was instantly hooked and The Sun & Her Flowers continues with that addicting, must read quality. So, if you’re in the market for some poetry, I’d recommend Rupi one thousand times over. She is one of those people who can find words to express emotions, leaving you feeling like there is someone out there in the world who gets it, you know?  (Find it here)

 

 


 

Music

I’ve have been absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of good music the last two months have brought. It seems like every week there has been a new song or album that I am playing on repeat.

My music library has been looking like this:

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(the hamburgers, of course, being high quality musack)

I could recommend so much, but here are a few of my favorites:

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Kesha, Rainbow

For the most part I’m hit and miss with Kesha’s music, but this album got me! It’s such a good combination of mature and silly and it does a great job at showcasing how talented she’s always been behind all the glitter. (Find it here)

 

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Jessie Ware, Glasshouse

A few years ago I was obsessed with Jessie Ware’s album, Tough Love, so when I saw she had a new album coming out I was pumped and immediately preordered it. It did not disappoint. (Find it here)

 

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JP Cooper, Raised Under Grey Skies

I was first introduced to JP Cooper when he was featured on The Shed Sessions, a series on the Jacksgap Youtube channel. Since then I’ve checked in with him over the years, and was excited to see him release his first full length album. It’s absolutely beautiful. (Find it here)

 

268x0wDemi Lovato, Tell Me You Love Me

I’ve been waiting patiently for an album of Demi’s to perfectly showcase her voice and DAMN, if this doesn’t do it. I’ve been playing this album on repeat, loud, so I can pretend I’m hitting all the notes she does. (Find it here)

 

download (4)Hoodie Allen, The Hype

Similar to Watsky, Hoodie Allen is someone that I’ve always heard about but never really dove into. That being said, I decided to shuffle his Spotify station while I was on a run one day and immediately came home and snatched up some music, including his brand new album, The Hype(Find it here)

 


 

Pecans

If you’ll recall from my last favorites post, I introduced my new obsession with Honey Vanilla Bourbon Pecans. Well let me tell you, these past two months, I have dove head first into the world of pecans. I’m serious. For the longest time I just assumed I didn’t like them and then I actually tried them this year and spoiler alert: pecans are freaking delicious. Everywhere I go I try pecan flavored things because I feel like I’ve wasted so much time eating non-pecan flavored things. Among everything I’ve tried while out and about, these are two of my favorite pecan flavored products I’ve found in the grocery store.

I’m in so deep guys. If things carry on this way, come 6 months from now I’m going to be that person on social media using tags like #justpecanthings or #allpecansallday. Pray for me.


 

Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know! My Amazon cart is always open…

See my previous favorites post here.

How Your Kids Awakened the Future Mom in Me

I’m not a parent, but I used to play one in the morning. Five days a week I would drive over to a family friend’s house to pick up their 10-year-old twins and take them to school.

I didn’t do any of the hard work. When I showed up the kids were awake and dressed and fed. Their parents greeted me kindly and I did the same, well aware I wasn’t the one tired from staying up late doing homework, wishing away bad dreams, or calming down a tantrum whose root is unidentifiable. No, I was just the one who asked the kids to put their shoes on, and reminded them to grab their backpacks and a jacket, and led us on our merry way.

The car ride was short. 10-15 minutes tops. Some drives were filled with jokes and comments and stories, some were quiet, and some were a mix of both. The front seat, back seat and trunk donned different props depending on the day. Be it a science fair presentation, a flower for the teacher, a still wet art project, birthday desserts or a bag of canned goods for donation. We tried to organize them neatly so we could all be comfortable, then we worked together to give the right what to the right who, so all of it could get to the right where.

When we got to the front of the carline, the teacher said hello and the kids said goodbye and I said I’d see them tomorrow and then I drove to work.

The next morning, we’d start all over again.

As I sat at the dining room table, keeping an eye on when the clock hit 7:35—our time to leave—I smiled at the things the twins brought to show me. They walked up and took a seat, opened a book and read me a chapter or showed off a drawing that lent itself to a lazy weekend afternoon. “You have to check this out,” they’d say, and no part of me was capable of saying “no”.

At 7:30, I’d give them their warning. “Okay guys,” I’d say, trying to find a balance between serious and calm, “we’re going to leave in about five minutes.” This usually provoked some sort of response, be it a nod, a groan, or, on good days, a fully formed, “okay.” I’d pack up my purse and walk around the house switching off lights, and they’d gather their last minute needs, which ranged anywhere from a book for the car ride to a hand-knitted scarf they just realized would make the perfect accessory.

As we walked side by side to the car, the questions began. Sometimes they were simple. A basic “would you rather” or “have you ever” or “did you know?” While other times they were harder, heavier, and more complicated. On these days I’d slow my pace, hoping age and experience would take the real answer and simplify it. Purify it. Maintain its truth while avoiding as many associated evils as possible. “Well…” I’d start, and they’d go silent, waiting for an explanation.

When we got in the car, one, two, three of us were seated, and then one, two, three of us were buckled. I’d start the engine, put us in drive and pull away from the curb. The radio is a messy combination in the morning. Loose conversation threatens to spill information not suitable for young ears, so I’d fervently skim, my own ears analyzing like a central intelligence agent.

“I like this one,” I’d hear from the backseat. I’d let go of the knob, lean back in my seat and in my rearview mirror, I’d see a head begin to bob. A small high-pitched voice would fill the air of the car and I’d smile.

One winter day, I noticed one of the twins take her jacket off in the car. This puzzled me, as I was sitting far closer to the heater and yet still shivering. But even after removing her jacket, she rolled up her sleeves.

“It’s hot in here,” she said casually, then continued telling me a story about some girls from school. When we pulled into the carline, she put her jacket back on, preparing for the cold air that waited on the other side of the door. We pulled up to the curb and the woman opened the door with a smile. A breeze seeped in, sending a shiver down my spine. “See you tomorrow,” they both said, and I smiled and waved goodbye.

The next day, I decided not to turn on the heater. When we got in and got buckled, I turned on the ignition and shivered at the cold air that snuck through the vents. I pulled my sleeves down and tucked my hands inside, gripping the cold leather steering wheel through the cotton, surprised I couldn’t see my breath.

“Did I tell you about the park we went to over the weekend?” she said from the backseat. I looked in the mirror to meet her gaze and found her sitting there, comfortable. Her jacket was still buttoned and she was leaning into the window, fogging up the surface with her breath.

By the time we got to school, I was convinced my fingers must be blue. I pulled into the carline and let the teacher open the door. The kids waved to me and I waved back with a sleeved fist. Once they were inside the gate, I pulled away and immediately cranked up the heat. After a minute or so, my fingers twitched back to life and my body relaxed.

In this renewed state of comfort, I awaited the train of thought that promised I wouldn’t put myself through that again the next day. I was miserable, wasn’t I? I was freezing. I couldn’t let this happen again. I waited patiently for the survivalist game plan to formulate, but it never came. Instead, I heard their voices echoing in my head.

“Would you rather,” they said. There was a single giggle that always came before the question and then a pair that came after. “Would you rather be so cold you froze your fingers off, or so hot you melted?” A smile formed on my lips. “Both,” I thought to myself, “as long as it meant you were comfortable.”

On the last day I took them to school, we went through our usual routine. I sat at the kitchen table and rounded us up at 7:30, we buckled our seatbelts and found a good song on the radio, we asked questions and answered questions and we waved goodbye. But this time there was no “see you tomorrow.” I knew that I’d go to work that day and I’d come home and I’d officially retire from being a mom in the mornings. What I didn’t know is that I’d start to dream about the days I’d be a mom in the afternoons and the evenings too. I dreamed about the days I’d be the one tired from staying up late doing homework or wishing away a bad dream or calming down a tantrum with an unidentifiable root. I dreamed about being lucky enough to have kids like yours one day, and oh what a dream that would be.

How to be Me for Halloween

With only about two weeks left until Halloween we’ve officially reached that point where you’re either going to have to suck it up and overspend on a costume at an outlet, pull a clever one together at a thrift shop, or cut holes in a trusty white sheet.

I personally am not a huge Halloween person, but I also refuse to be the party pooper in the corner that came as a disgruntled version of myself. So, I’ve got something in the works that hopefully doesn’t turn out terrible. (That’s the spirit!)

When I was brainstorming my costume this year, I scrolled through a bunch of articles online and saw a variety of clever ideas. Television characters and famous personalities, punny collaborations and comically literal depictions of pop culture. In looking through the costumes of athletes and movie stars and TV characters, I started thinking about how funny it is that we love to dress up in “costumes” that depict the casual dress of a character or real-life person. In doing so, I thought about what someone might use to fashion a costume representative of me.

This is what I came up with:

What You’ll Need

  • Black leggings
  • A t-shirt and a maroon zip up hoodie OR a crewneck sweatshirt
  • No-show socks
  • Black converse
  • A birthmark on the middle finger of your left hand
  • A Fitbit
  • A broken-in hair tie on your left wrist
  • A hydroflask water bottle
  • A medium sized purse containing a Mary Poppins assortment of practical things
  • A casual blend of awkward, anxious, and confident
  • Well timed bad jokes
  • Well timed laughter to back up the jokes

How to Pull Off the Character

  • Be nice to most everyone, but don’t be afraid to give the occasional dirty look and/or refusal of laughter to a clear cut asshole
  • Whenever there is an awkward silence, look at your nails
  • Whenever you’re trying to fill an awkward silence, overuse finger guns for no reason and then regret it for hours afterwards.
  • Try to work Chopped into almost every conversation
  • Squirm around desperately whenever given a compliment
  • Consistently be cold, regardless of the weather.
  • Constantly mention how much you’re craving ice cream
  • Cry after almost every commercial
  • Resist making any decisions regarding dinner choices
  • Follow all the rules without shame

Key Vocabulary Words/Phrases

  • “Dude”
  • “Oh my gosh!”
  • “What a day”
  • “Shitty”
  • “I’m about it”
  • “Truth”
  • “Honestly, though!”

Did I just invent some sort of psychological “know thyself” exercise? Because I feel like I just explored the inner depths of my psyche. Credit me in the textbooks, folks.

In the meantime, what would a Halloween costume of you look like? I might need some backup ideas…

If I Were on Carpool Karaoke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Shall we continue?” I’d say sweetly.

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

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

2017 Goals Check In #3

You know that old “glass half full/half empty” argument that determines whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist? Well I was recently thinking about 2017, and the fact that it’s now ¾ of the way over, and I was thinking that we can look at it two ways:

1) We let it fill us: We started with an empty glass and allowed all the lessons we learned and experiences we had to slowly fill our cup.

2) We let it drain us: We started with a full glass and then watched as the stress and anxieties of the year slowly emptied our cup, leaving us with almost nothing left.

But while it’s easy to identify which is optimistic vs. pessimistic on paper, it’s harder to admit, or even more, to correct how we’ve been thinking about our year. For me personally, I set a lofty list of goals this year, and there have been many times when I’ve sat down on my couch exhausted, loathing every single one of them. And while I think it’s perfectly normal and necessary to have those moments once in a while, it would be a shame to let them overshadow all the good ones. That being said, let us focus on the good moments. The badass moments that continue to bring us closer to the goals we’ve set for ourselves. I wish you luck on yours, here’s how I’m doing on mine:

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1) See Star Wars

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 3/8 (37.50%)

Current Progress: 3/8 (37.50%)

In a way I feel like my lack of progress here is a strategy of sorts. With the new Star Wars movie coming out in 2 months, I have the opportunity to walk into the theater having just seen the last few movies. So this excuses me from waiting so long to watch the rest of them, right? RIGHT?

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2) See 5 WLRA’s

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 3/5 (60%)

Current Progress: 4/5 (80%)

At the end of August my family drove up north to drop my brother off at college. And since my eyes are alwaaays open for WRLAs, I quickly figured out that the World’s Largest Monk was only 20 minutes away from his school. Thankfully, my family understands and supports my crazy mind, so after a somewhat emotional weekend, we pulled off the freeway to check this one off the list.

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3) Try this jean rug DIY

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 25%

Current Progress: 75%

I officially have all the pieces cut and they are patiently waiting to be sewed together. In other words, I’ve done everything I can do before all that’s left for me to do is use my sewing machine…

I’m still slightly terrified, and I’m minorly convinced this is where I’ll ruin the rug, but hey, the goal specifically states to try, right? It doesn’t say make an award winning rug sure to be included in the National History Museum upon your death. So I’m going to give it my best shot. Stay tuned.

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4) Run 1,000 miles

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 474.01 miles (47.42%)

Current Progress: 743.23 miles (74.32%)

GUYS. I’M KIND OF TIRED OF RUNNING. Do I love the way it makes me feel? Yes. Am I continually proud of myself for pursuing this goal? Yes. But am I ready for it to be over? YES. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent calculating miles and scheduling routes. And while it’s obviously paid off, as I’m only about 250 miles away from the Promised Land, I’M READY TO BE IN THE FREAKING PROMISED LAND, OKAY? Wish me and my legs luck as we run these last few hundred miles.

5) Complete The Ultimate Fit Bit Week

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 100%!

This. Was. A. TASK. Read about it here.

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6) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

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

Current Progress: 5/5 (100%)!

In case anyone is curious, these are the places I volunteered to fulfill this requirement:

While I’m so glad I was able to complete the (minimum) requirement for this goal, I also find it funny that I did so in 5 months. I totally slacked the first half of the year, and I can’t help but think if I had gotten on the ball sooner, I’d have double the volunteer shifts under my belt. This past weekend, as my mom and I were volunteering at Children’s Hunger Fund, I realized how much of a privilege it is to volunteer and I really want to make a better effort to do it as often as I can.

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7) Go to a sporting event of “every” kind (i.e. baseball, football, hockey, basketball, & soccer)

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

Current Progress: 2/5 (40%)

With football officially kicked off, hockey season fully underway, and basketball season only a few weeks out, I have no excuse not to get my butt to a game! If you see a brunette holding a hot dog with way too much ketchup and mustard, animatedly screaming at a group of grown men chasing a ball/puck, there’s probably a 5% chance it’s not me.

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8) Try every class at the gym

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

I know, I know. I’ve given excuse after excuse after excuse on this one, but this is the last one, I promise! For the past few months I’ve been consistently behind on my running goal, making that my #1 priority. As a result, I haven’t had time/energy/will to make it to the gym and have my ass further kicked by physical activity. However, I’m finally gaining some ground and will most likely start showing my (probably panicked) face at the gym again this month.

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9) Do The Princess Diaries painting

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 100%!

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I’m not sure how many 26 year olds would ask to spend their 27th birthday throwing darts at water balloons full of paint, but I’m glad I’m one of them, and I highly recommend you look into it as well, no matter what number awaits you at your next birthday. You can read all about how we did it here.

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10) Find and try the “Best of” restaurants in LA

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 4/5 (80%)

I’d like to officially issue a THANK YOU to my roommates for helping me out with this goal because without them, I have no doubts I’d still be sitting on a goose egg. In the last few months, we’ve tried LA’s best pizza (Pizzeria Mozza), sandwich (Mendocino Farms), ice cream (Salt & Straw) and burger, the quest for the burger probably being the most fun. We went to the first inaugural Battle of the Burgers, which was an event that brought 11 of LA’s best burger vendors to a park downtown and charged $20 for three beers, a burger from each place, and a yellow ticket to vote on your favorite, thus making it the BEST DAY EVER. My roommates voted for Grill ‘Em All, I voted for Everson Royce Bar, and the winner—who we had all counted as our 2nd place choice—was Beacon Echo Park. If you’re in the LA area, check them out!

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11) Watch every film that has ever won Best Picture

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 11/89 (12.36%)

Current Progress: 28 (31.46%)

This is a slowly but surely, turtle and hare type situation. The turtle being me and the hare being time. I fully realize that my needing to watch 60 movies in 3 months, all of which are riddled with holidays, seems like kind of a shot in the dark, but I have a feeling my competitive spirit will find a way to get this thing done. In the meantime, I’m receiving a mean movie education (or movie-cation for all my Pitch Perfect peeps), and have been talking everyone’s ear off in the process. My top 5 favorite movies that I’ve watched so far (not including the handful I’d seen prior to this year) are: Gentleman’s Agreement, Annie Hall, Rain Man, Driving Miss Daisy, and Slumdog Millionaire.

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12) Learn to Longboard

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

The only excuse I have for not making progress on this one is I’m a little scared I’ll more or less break my body. (You know, casual fears.) However, just as my DIY rug doesn’t have to be worthy of museum display, my skateboarding skills don’t have to resemble those you might find on Tony Hawk Pro-Skater. SO, I’m going to suck it up and do it. Stay tuned.

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13) Learn to do a headband braid

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 20%

Current Progress: 40%

To be honest, I’m not even sure how I’m gaging my progress on this one. At the end of the year, it’s either a can or can’t do it type of situation. Sure, I know more about it than when I started, but is that exactly 40% more? Who knows? What I do know is I could use a few alternative hairstyles, especially with all of the holiday family pictures headed my way, so hopefully I’ll find that missing 60% in the next few months.

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14) Reach the 100,000-mile mark on my car

COMPLETED

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Read all about Jeffrey’s (my car) big milestone here.

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15) Do a bar/pub crawl

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Yeahhhhhhh, about this one. I kind of keep forgetting about it. Good news is, the upcoming months should feature a handful of themed bar crawls I can check out. Look for me in a tacky sweater tavern or a pumpkin spiced lounge or a ghoul-ful pub. Or, if none of those exist, look for me opening a tacky sweater tavern, a pumpkin spiced lounge or a ghoul-ful pub.

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16) Sing Karaoke

COMPLETED

Much to the surprise of my pre-2017 self, I’ve actually done karaoke 4 separate times now, all of which have been about 100 times more fun than I ever thought karaoke could be. That being said, while I’d never pressure anyone into doing something they didn’t want to do, I highly recommend you give karaoke a shot. There are few things more freeing than belting out a Backstreet Boys song, knowing you’re hitting exactly zero notes, and yet not caring one bit.

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17) Complete Project Lightbulb

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 25%

After it became clear that this goal would be impossible to complete this year, I decided that as long as we made steps towards planning and booking it for next year, I’d call it a win. That being said, we finally made our first step in that direction, as we opened a savings account where we can slowly save up enough money to make this thing happen! Iceland here we come!

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As a whole, I’m just under 58% finished, which again, I’m deciding to take on a half-full mindset about. There’s no use in letting what I haven’t done take the focus away from what I have. I will continue to work my butt off and hopefully come the end of December, I’ll be sitting behind this computer writing up the 4th and final update, feeling filled up with pride for the crazy, hard, and amazing year that was 2017. See you then!