lifestyle

Just a Little Valentine’s Day Reminder

Today is just a day.

And no matter if you love it, hate it, celebrate it, skip it, or just now remembered it’s anything more than a Thursday, I hope you know that you are loved.

You are loved.

You are important.

You are worth appreciating.

So no matter how you spend today, tomorrow, and every day after, if it makes you feel like the diamond crusted, chocolate covered, rose petaled, champagne fountained person you deserve to be, you’re doing it right.

10 Things I Wasn’t Doing 10 Years Ago

If you are even a minor participant in the social media universe, you have probably seen the recent #10YearChallenge trend going around where people post one photo of themselves from 2009 and one from 2019 to see how much they have changed.

I have not participated, both out of pure laziness and the fact that I have looked exactly the same since birth. If you think I’m being dramatic, please refer to the woman who recently recognized me from Kindergarten because I “look exactly the same!”

While my face may look the same however, there is still a lot that has changed. And so in order to slightly participate, I thought I’d look at the non-physical changes that 10 years has brought me.

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1) Living on my Own

While still living with my parents 10 years ago, I assumed moving out would be just like Friends—we all thought that, right? And since I commuted to college classes from home, I didn’t have any reason to believe it would be anything otherwise. A few years later however, I would study abroad in Australia for five months and I’d learn a lot about living away from home, namely that it can be just like Friends—minus the huge apartment in New York for dirt cheap rent thing—if you live with the right people. Today I live with two great roommates whom I love and adore, and though I might be bias, I firmly believe we’d make a great cast of our own sitcom.

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2) Paying Rent

Ahh yes, the only downside of living on your own are all the bills that come with it. 10 years ago I was spending all of my money on concerts, dessert, and shoes that I was probably never going to wear but thought I should buy just in case. Today I have student loan payments, bills and rent due every month. I’ve learned how to manage my money and don’t make nearly as many impulse shoe purchases, though I never say no to a good dessert splurge.

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3) Running

If you followed any of my 1000-mile running journey last year, you might know that for most of my life I was not a runner. I was thoroughly convinced that I didn’t have the lung capacity to do it, when in reality I just didn’t have the patience or motivation to actually give it a fair shot. Today I am in my fourth month of training for the LA marathon—a sentence that is slightly jarring to write—and I consider running to be one of my favorite kinds of exercise.

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4) Cooking

Ten years ago, I was very much afraid of cooking. Growing up, I had a series of mishaps in the kitchen and so I buried my fear of continued failure underneath a solid layer of self-deprecation. I was constantly bringing up the time I set the oven mitt on fire on Thanksgiving, telling people I couldn’t be trusted in the kitchen. After I moved out on my own however, I had to learn how to cook because I like eating and the survival benefits that come with it. Today I cook myself dinner almost every single night and I even have a series on my blog where I share cooking tips and recipes I’ve been loving recently.

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5) Blow-Drying My Hair

19 year old me would be SHOCKED to find out that 28 year old me not only owns a blow dryer, but also uses it on a daily basis. I’ve always had thick, brown hair that has a mind of its own, and until I cut 13 inches off about three years ago, I always let it air dry with a little bit of mousse, before eventually braiding it or putting it up in a bun. Today I almost always blow-dry my hair and I even—dare I say it—like how it looks. Oh, 19-year-old Kim, we could have never imagined such a hair-acle. (Hair miracle. I’m making it a thing.)

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6) Reading

If I were to venture a guess, I’d say I probably read about three books in 2009 and that’s a high estimate. Growing up, I hated reading books, especially those assigned in school. These days I am always reading a book, usually more than one at a time, and I even made it a goal of mine before I turn 30 to read every book on Time’s list of the 100 greatest books of all time—which are essentially all the school assigned books I avoided back then. Go figure.

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7) Going it Alone

While I’ve always been a shy person, I used to blatantly hide out from the world behind friends, family, television and movies. I would never even think about trying something new if I didn’t have someone by my side at all times. Today I go to museums on my own, I see movies on my own, I volunteer on my own. In general, I’ve realized that I am fully capable of taking on the world on my own. That doesn’t mean I don’t like having friends and family by my side, but that I feel confident either way.

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8) Blogging

While it doesn’t feel like I’ve been blogging for ten years, it’s weird to think of a time before my blog. I mean, where was I putting all of those thoughts that were running around my head? They’ve always been there, so what the heck was I doing with them back then?!

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9) Getting Published

In 2009, I was just starting to realize that writing felt good, but I didn’t have any plans to show my work to other people, let alone submit it for publication. As of today however, I have been published almost 20 times, both online and in print, and have been paid for my writing.

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10) Being Myself

When I look back at photos and videos of me in 2009, I can almost feel how uncomfortable I was in my own skin. Sure, I was just out of high school with absolutely nothing figured out, as we all are, but the insecurities are almost palpable. That’s not to say I won’t feel the exact same way in ten years when I look back at my 2019 self and all the insecurities she’s desperately trying to hide, but I can confidently say that I’ve come a long way. In the past 10 years I’ve learned A LOT about myself and how I fit into the world and I can only hope I keep learning as the years go on.

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I think the most important thing we can all take away from the 10 Year Challenge, whether you participate or not, is that we are still here. Each day, each year we are changing and learning and trying our best, and all that matters is that we keep trying our best.

A lot can happen in 10 years. Let’s hope we all have (at least) ten more.

Playlist of My Life

Hello and welcome back to another edition of: Kim turns her favorite YouTube videos into blogs but she always credits back the original creators so please don’t be mad at me I love you, bye. (Title Pending)

During one YouTube deep dive or another I came across a series on Teen Vogue’s channel called “Playlist of My Life”, where different people list songs that hold specific significance in their lives. I was instantly hooked. A series that lets you learn about people you admire and gives you music recommendations at the same time? Count me in!

After watching a good handful of the videos, I decided I wanted to come up with my own list—which was a lot harder than I thought it would be. But alas, after an intense session of analyzing both my iTunes and Spotify accounts, I got a list of about 40 songs, which I then widdled down to my traditional 17 which I want to share with you today:

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1) Audience of One by Big Daddy Weave

This is my favorite worship song of all time. It is one of the first songs I felt I really understood and so it holds a special place in my heart.

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2) I Was Here by Lady Antebellum

This song more or less describes what I hope to do with my life. The first time I heard it, I just remember nodding, thinking, “Yeah! Me too!” in the most gloriously corny way possible.

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3) Roses by The Chainsmokers

This song reminds me of my sister and always makes me feel happy inside. The simplest kind of happy. Which I wrote about in this blog post a couple years back.

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4) Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton

This is one of my favorite songs of all time that just knocks me to my knees because DAMN. I mean…DAMN. The way he sings the line “I’ve looked for love in all the same old places, found the bottom of the bottle’s always drYYYyyy” might be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard.

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5) I Hope by The Dixie Chicks

When my mom, sister and I discovered this song a while back, we kind of took to using it as our collective therapy song. We’ve played it many a time when we (or someone we know) need to take a breath, and though I can’t really explain why it works, it just does.

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6) All Over Now by Eric Hutchinson

This is another one that I turn to almost every time I need a song to help me out. Which is kind of funny because it’s definitely not an uplifting song, but for whatever reason it calms me down and gives me that little nudge I need to keep pushing forward.

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7) Sugar We’re Going Down by Fall Out Boy

Ahhh, 9th grade. This was the very first song I ever put on my blue iPod Mini and boy did I think I was the coolest. This song also makes me think of my Papa who, alongside my Grammie, gave me the iPod mini for my birthday, and a few weeks afterward called my house (my landline!) to ask me if I liked my “new blue radio.” This song always brings that memory to mind and puts a smile on my face.

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8) Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand

The very first time I heard this song I was in 8th grade, riding in a car with some of my classmates. It came on the radio and the girl next to me said, “Who is this?” I had absolutely no idea, but the girl in the front seat knew immediately. For whatever reason, this sparked an interest in me to be “the knower” from then on, a mission I still carry out to this day.

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9) More than Anyone by Gavin DeGraw

This has long been one of my favorite songs of all time. It’s just such a beautiful and romantic song and I can’t help it, I’m a sucker. Also, I first heard it on One Tree Hill, one of my favorite TV shows growing up and it had a special meaning for a few of the characters so…I’m a sucker x2.

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10) Poprocks & Coke by Green Day

This song reminds me of my best friend in high school who first pulled me out of my shell and introduced me to what I thought at the time was “edgy music.” I remember being the textbook 2000’s teenager with my headphones on listening to Green Day, Simple Plan and every other emo-centric band at the time, internally insisting that no one knew what it was like to be me.

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11) Growing Up by The Maine

The Maine was one of my favorite bands in both high school and college and me and my best friend at the time probably saw them in concert upwards of eight times. This song sticks out to me because I think it kind of encapsulates their music and how it made me feel at the time.

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12) Electric Feel by MGMT

This song makes me think of my first car, Jeffrey. Growing up I was always the one driving my friends and I around and this song reminds me of late summer nights, with the volume up and us laughing and dancing our hearts out.

*flute solo*

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13) Washed by the Water by Needtobreathe

Needtobreathe is my favorite band of all time and I found their music by accident one day when I was on iTunes. This was the first song I ever heard of theirs and I immediately fell in love. 10 or so years later, it’s still my favorite song of theirs, and one of the best things you can ever hear live, if I do say so myself.

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14) Don’t Know Why by Norah Jones

I’m starting to notice that I have a habit of using terribly sad songs to make me feel better… Is that weird? I feel like it’s weird. This song, to me, is like butter. It instantly relaxes me and makes me feel like everything is going to be okay. Maybe it’s the piano, maybe it’s Norah Jones’ voice, maybe it’s just remnant angst I’m still harboring, whatever the reason, this song just does it all for me.

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15) It’s Gonna Be Me by *NSYNC

I mean, I couldn’t be born in the 90’s and not have an *NSYNC song, right?

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16) Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding

Great news! This song is as happy and carefree as it seems! I’m not all sad!

Get it?

Like I’m not all bad but with…sad…

Okay, maybe I am a little sad.

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17) I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston

If you know me, you know that I love this song with my whole heart. If you ever invite me to your wedding or any party that involves a DJ and dancing of any kind, I will request this song and I will find my way to the center of the dance floor and sing it at the top of my lungs.

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So that’s me in 17 songs. At least so far.

What songs would make up a playlist of your life?

Start with Sweeping the Floor

Lately I’ve been feeling a little disoriented. There are so many things on my mind that I’d like to get accomplished and so many steps forward that I’m feeling motivated to take, that my brain has become somewhat of a chaotic mess, wondering where to even start.

Amongst this chaos, even going so far as to walk hand in hand with it most of the time, is exhaustion and frustration. I’ll get home from work with a laundry list of to-dos and my mind spirals, convinced it can’t do any of it, so I’ll end up stressing the hours away until I fall into bed, incredibly disappointed that I didn’t get anything done.

“I didn’t even sweep the floor,” I’ll think.

For among all the big goals I have, there are also little chores around the house that I want to get done. I want to clean my bathroom and do my laundry. I want to organize my desk and change the batteries in my clock. I want to sweep the floor. Having these chores done puts my mind at ease and makes room for other problems to be solved. 

Yesterday, while feeling a particularly cloudy shade of bleh, I got home from work wanting to go for a run, but didn’t feel like I had it in me.

Then you should probably sit down and write, I thought.

Or finish that project siting on your desk.

Or run through the to-do list you have written in your notebook.

Or research future blog posts

Or!

Or!

Or!

 Instead, I took a nap. My head was pounding and with a busy few weeks ahead, it felt like the healthiest thing to do.

When I woke up, I didn’t feel like writing, or working on unfinished projects, or going through to-do lists. But after eating dinner I did have a burst of inspiration to sweep the floor. Which then led to me cleaning my bathroom, doing some laundry and organizing my desk.

I ended up having a very productive evening. And even though I might not have gotten to all (or most) of the things on my to-do list, I got to some, which sometimes is all you can ask for from yourself.

When given the chance, our minds will choose a path to weed through the chaos, and when they do, the best thing to do is follow it. Trying to swim against the current and force yourself to work on projects that your brain isn’t ready for will often result in more days filled with stilted productivity. So go with the flow, and take things one at a time. Get done what you can get done and don’t beat yourself up with timelines and expectations.

At the end of the day, the hardest thing to do is move forward, and sometimes taking the smallest steps to prove yourself wrong will make all the difference. Those steps will get you moving, giving you the momentum you need to take the big ones. Plus, at the end of a long day, when your mind starts to swirl its way into an insomniac stress ball, you can quiet it.

At least I swept the floor.

10 Things I Do Incorrectly

Ever since the day we were born, we’ve been taught to do things a certain way—or at least the way our family (and those around us) deem acceptable. Then, as we make our way out into the world and see other people doing things in completely different ways, we have one of two reactions:

  1. We are intrigued and overall impressed, thus we adopt this new method.
  2. We are horrified.

I’m not afraid to admit I have habits that (I guess) might horrify people. Not in a clinical way or one that would warrant an arrest or anything. But some that would definitely provoke a dirty look or at the very least a pity nod and a side glance to someone equally as upset.

Don’t get me wrong, this post is not a promise to change any of them. It’s also not an apology. I’m just pointing them out to let you know that I know, and also to let you know what I know in case you’re wondering if anyone else does what you do, you know?

For example:

1) Tie My Shoes

I was never able to figure out how to work the loop, swoop and pull method, so I’m still rocking the bunny ears. Honestly, I prefer this method. I think it allows a tighter (a.k.a more efficient) tie.

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2) Follow Washing Instructions

As a persistent rule follower this is a little out of character for me, but I get so aggravated that some clothes require this and some require that. I do stick to the basics: colors vs. whites, but when it comes to machine wash vs. hand wash, I’m more than likely to go survival of the fittest on you and cross my fingers you make it out of the washer and drier. If you do, I dub thee worthy of my closet.

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3) I Cut the Crusts off My Sandwiches

I’m sorry but crusts are gross and I will never apologize for this. The only thing I’ll admit is a little weird is that crusts don’t bother me when the bread is toasted. But I feel like that’s because it’s a more consistent texture…or something.

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4) Handwriting

My handwriting is an absolute disaster. It’s a strange combination of cursive, chicken scratch and both lower and upper case letters. It’s a shame too, because I actually love writing and receiving letters. But when I look at the way I write, it’s not a big mystery why I’ve never been able to keep a consistent pen pal.

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5) I’m Right-Handed and Left-Handed

(Not really) speaking of hands, mine are moody. While my right is dominant in most everything in my daily life, I’ve always batted left-handed. As a result, I also golfed left-handed, however, I recently learned that I have a better right-handed golf swing. So basically my body is having a constant identity crisis.

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6) I Hate Peanut Butter & Coffee

I feel as though both of these preferences have been regarded as sins at some point during my life, and while I’d like to apologize (I guess) for being unable to relate/obsess/meme with you, there’s really not a whole lot I can do about this.

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7) Dream

This is one of those things where I know I don’t really have any control over it, but I still feel like I’m doing something wrong. I just have weird dreams. And not the “haha how funny” kind of dreams, I’m talking mouth agape, friends concerned and inquiring about professional opinions type of weird. I’ve written about some of them (which you can read here and here) but they just seem to keep on coming. Just the other night I had a dream about peeling the top layer of skin off of my face. Mind you I had this dream after a relaxing evening of watching a romantic comedy and coloring.

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8) I Occasionally Misuse “Literally”

I understand this is a terrible (literary) crime, especially since I like to consider myself someone with a relatively good handle on the English language. But I can’t help it! Sometimes I find myself in the middle of a story where the punch line feels so unbelievable that the person I’m talking to couldn’t possibly believe how serious I am. So I’ll say, “LITERALLY,” before the big reveal, that way they know I’m not screwing around. And even though it doesn’t make sense, and there are people who would say, “oh yeah, and what would it have been like figuratively,” the way I see it, it’s their choice to be a jerk. All I was trying to do was get them as excited about hearing my story as I was telling it, and I wanted the ending to literally blow their mind. Into a million pieces. Yes, I wanted my story to be so good it murdered them.

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9) Tanning

I understand that I have pale skin. I also understand that tanning is terrible for your skin, which is why I don’t often do it. But can someone explain to me why, when we spend a few hours in the sun, I come home 98% pale, with blotchy sunburns on my knees and a tan line from my FitBit, and my sister comes back a golden brown sun goddess? Something about that just doesn’t seem right.

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10) I Scrunch

This is more of a shrugged acceptance rather than a confident statement, as I don’t know if there is actually a designated “right way.” The other day I was watching a video on YouTube where someone mentioned they “scrunch” their toilet paper rather than “fold” it when they wipe, and there was an uproar among the adjacent parties. Words like “monster” and “animal” were used. Meanwhile, there I am, knowing full well I’ve scrunched my whole life, wondering if I’m some sort of deranged psychopath and don’t even know it? To settle this, please feel free to add your two cents here:

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In the end, some of these things are biological and some could be addressed in a nature vs. nurture argument, but most of these things are just because…me. I don’t want to apologize because I don’t think I should have to change, but I also don’t want to say I don’t want to change because my analytical side likes to weigh the pros and cons of both sides.

Except on crusts that is. You ain’t changin’ my mind on crusts.

How to Keep Your Christmas Decorations Up All Year Round (List-cember #7)

My least favorite part of Christmas is the moment it ends. Right after that clock strikes midnight, everything is over. All the planning, all the stress and anxiety, (probably) all the Christmas cookies. Like the day itself, they vanish into thin air, leaving only the memories behind.

Tonight, as I wrapped presents for my family and friends, I sat on my couch, basking in the season. I took a good look around my house, marveling at all the decorations we’ve hung up, dreading the day we’ll have to take them down and leave the walls plain again.

Decorations have always been one of my favorite parts of Christmas. I love the lights and the sparkles and all the red. I love the pride people take in filling their houses/cars/desks/etc. with Christmas spirit and the tradition of strangers coming together to marvel at that pride. It makes me wish Christmas lasted all year long. Though I suppose that would take away the novelty of it all, wouldn’t it? Then again, should we really need to consider pride, spirit and community a novelty? Shouldn’t these actually last all year long?

This got me thinking. What if when we took down our decorations, we took what they represent with us? For example:

1) Christmas Lights

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These quite simply make people look and awe. Whether it be with their colors, their arrangement, or their uniqueness. In many ways, even though we look at Christmas lights our whole lives, every year it feels like we’re seeing them for the first time. This is the same way I feel about people when they show unwarranted kindness or unthinkable bravery. It’s not that I forget these qualities exist, it’s just a pleasant and inspiring surprise when I come across them. So in this upcoming year, what if we made an effort to be these displays of light? I think it’s safe to say, especially in today’s society, the world could always use some more light.

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2) Ornaments

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I love ornaments. (So much so that I hand out superlatives every year.) I love that—at least the way my family does it—they are all unique and have a different story and memory associated with them, and that after all this time we still tell them. Pictures have this same quality. Unfortunately in this digital age we so often exile photos to the Internet and never think of them again. We need to print more pictures. We need to put them on display and remember the memories they capture. That way, in the moments we’re feeling low or nostalgic, we don’t have to scroll through our phones and try to dodge the pressures of comparison, we can simply look up at our wall or on our desk or bedside table and remember a moment that meant a lot to us.

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3) Paper Chains

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By now this might be a rather outdated decoration, but I still love me some paper chains. More than anything, they remind me that I can make things with my hands and they don’t have to be perfect. These days with the constant access to websites and services that will do practically everything for you, it’s easy to forget that we have hands of our own built for crafting. Then again, with all the Pinterest wizards dominating the Internet, it’s easy to get discouraged when we try. But, like a paper chain, things we make by hand, whether it be home improvement projects, gifts, or a hot meal from scratch, it feels good to sit back and realize that you made it; that you put in the time and did it yourself.

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4) Snow Globes

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My sister collects Christmas snow globes and is always one to walk over and shake them in a store. I think they give her, and me, and most of the general population a minute or two just to breathe. With a few shakes we stand and watch the snow or glitter fall, listening to the song that winds down, and for a moment we’re transported somewhere far away. While this might be harder to do in the general chaos of life, we can always take a second to stop and breathe; to take in the sights and sounds and smells around us and just be in that moment, completely as it is, just as we would until the song ended and we put the snow globe back on the shelf.

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5) Christmas Music

I know, I know, this isn’t technically a decoration. But when you consider that Christmas music is playing from every speaker, everywhere you go, for almost two straight months, it kind of turns into one. Call it an atmosphere decoration if you will. Granted, this “atmosphere decoration” technically exists all year round, chameleoning to fit the designated atmosphere (i.e. “elevator music”). But there seems to be this general agreement that in November and December you only listen to Christmas music and in January-October you listen to everything but. As I elaborated in this post however, I say listen to whatever you want, whenever you want. Decorate your atmosphere with music that makes you feel good no matter what time of year it is and no matter what anyone else thinks.

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So, as you start to de-decorate your house in the coming weeks, try to remember what it is about the decorations that draw you to them. Is it the light? Is it the color? Is it the associated memories? Then go out and find it in the confines of an average day, or create it yourself. Magic is not dictated by a calendar, and neither is goodness or glitter for that matter. So spread it around and soak it in, no matter the season.