listcember

17 (More) Things that Inspired Me This Year (List-cember #2)

About halfway through the year I posted this blog that listed a bunch of things that had inspired me so far in 2018. I felt bad holding them hostage until December when they might be just the burst of inspiration someone was looking for in July.

Now, as we’re (already!!) making our way through December, I’m hoping this list will give you all warm fuzzies and encouragement you need to close out this year and welcome the New Year.

2019 is going to full of good things, y’all. I promise.

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1) Girl, Wash Your Face

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  • “Comparison is the death of joy, and the only person you need to be better than is the one you were yesterday.”
  • “The only thing worse than giving up is wishing that you hadn’t.”
  • “There are hundreds of ways to lose yourself, but the easiest of them all is refusing to acknowledge who you truly are in the first place.”

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2) This little act of kindness

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3) The Monday Club

This is a newsletter I subscribed to about halfway through this year. It comes every Monday with inspiring words that aim to get your week off to a good start. This is a snippet from one of my favorite ones:

“When your dreams go unfulfilled because you didn’t start the work, the world won’t even know how to be heartbroken by the loss of things that would have made them better people. That’s the thing about the things you don’t do: you carry the loss.”

(find it here)

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4) The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

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  • Be brave. Be amazing. Be worthy. And every single time you get the chance? Stand up in front of people. Let them see you. Speak. Be heard.
  • Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.

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5) This documentary

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6) The School of Greatness Podcast

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My favorite line (from Episode 721):

“Fear can be:  Fear Everything and Run or Face Everything and Rise”

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7) Teen Vogue’s “Compliment Battles”

It’s just such a wholesome segment. We should all compliment each other more.

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8) My Life (So Far) in Song by Sara Bareilles

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I highly recommend this book, especially the audiobook. Each chapter starts with Sara Bareilles (BEAUTIFULLY) singing a portion of one of her songs and then she talks about how that song applies to a specific part of her life.

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9) #Last90DaysChallenge

I talked a little about this challenge in the most recent edition of My Google Search History. The challenge was started by Rachel Hollis (see inspiring thing #1) and it essentially dares you to be as aggressively passionate and optimistic about the last 90 days of the year as you normally would about the first 30 days of a new year. I love the concept and it has help me scare off that “I’ll start that next year” mindset that always tends to sneak in during this time of year.

(find it here)

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10) This milkshake from the Ventura County Fair that showed me no culinary dream is too small

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11) Tuesdays with Morrie

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Read. This. Book. It will make you smile, it will make you cry, it will make you think.

I could have highlighted, underlined and dog-eared the entire thing.

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12) “Don’t let anyone rent space in your head or heart unless they’re a good tenant.” – Anna Faris Unqualified

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13) Francesca Battistelli’s album Own It

I love the ENTIRE thing.

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14) This:

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15) The White Helmets

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16) Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, who inspired me to write this blog post.

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17) And finally, this:

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Inspiration is all around us, all the time. Sometimes it gets hidden by frustration and discouragement, but if we look closely, there’s always something there to make us smile, or laugh, or cry (in a good way) or just feel.

Keep your eyes open for all the magic around you and I promise I’ll do the same. heavy-black-heart_2764

 


 

Find more List-cember posts here

20 Popular Christmas Decorations: Ranked (List-cember #1)

It’s officially December! Which means it’s also officially List-cember!

In case you have no idea what that means, List-cember is an annual blogging tradition I have where all the posts in December are centered around lists!

It’s fun. It’s organized. It’s has pictures. I love it!

Let’s jump right in.

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For the true purists out there who wait alllll the way until December 1st to embrace the Christmas spirit, I can imagine you spent your weekend pulling down boxes and putting up decorations.

My roommates and I decorated a little early these year. We didn’t even wait until Thanksgiving…but SHH don’t tell my mom, she didn’t raise me like that.

After decorating our house, and then my grandpa’s house, and then my parents’ house, you could say I’m well-versed in the world of decorations, though I’ve never really taken the time to choose a favorite. I usually just say, “pretty!” over and over again until everything is hung up.

So this year I decided dig deep into my psyche and figure out which decorations are the best decorations. Because nothing says “holiday spirit” like pitting inanimate objects against each other, am I right?

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20) Nutcracker Dolls

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Let’s be real, these things are creepy. Are they traditional? Sure. But are they comforting to look at when it’s cold outside and you’re snuggling up with a mug of hot chocolate? Absolutely not.

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19) Elf on a Shelf

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These also fall into the creepy category for me. I know it’s a tradition in some families and I mean no disrespect, but as an adult who already has a hard enough time pretending she’s not scared to be home alone, the concept of having a doll watch me and wander around my house at night while I’m sleeping is a hard pass.

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18) Lawn Inflatables

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Photo credit: Walmart

I’ll admit, these are fun to look at for like, a minute, but then they just turn into hazards. With the wind and rain (and snow for you non-Southern Californians), these guys are just waiting for the right gust to send them soaring through the neighborhood.

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17) Nativity Scene

This is probably asking for trouble, seeing as this showcases (at least what I believe to be) the actual purpose of Christmas. It’s main reason for being so low on the list is its breakability. Some years the pieces simply weren’t wrapped good enough, so when you pull them down in the fall the stable’s roof is falling apart or the donkey is missing a leg. There’s also the chance you’ll have someone like me put in charge of setting it up, who takes advantage of that responsibility by making everyone look as if they are worshipping one of my baby pictures.

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16) Poinsettias

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Photo credit: The Home Depot

Bottom line: no one pronounces these the same and it’s frustrating and confusing.

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15) Scented Candles

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Photo credit: Yankee Candle

I have what my family calls a “pregnant nose”, meaning it’s as sensitive to smells in its everyday life as an average nose would only be during months of, you know, baby growing. So stepping into houses during the holiday season and being assaulted by smells of Cinnamon or Holiday Frost or Wooded Cottage or Rudolph’s Kitchen is just a bit much for me.

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14) Garland

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One of the decoration staples in my parents’ house is a long strand of garland that sits on top of the fireplace. I think it looks great, but it’s heavy duty and has a mind of its own and sometimes decides to jump off the ledge for no apparent reason, taking anything and everything else on the ledge with it. Points deducted, my friend.

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13) Mistletoe

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To be honest, I rarely see mistletoe outside of Hallmark movies. And while I love a cheesy well well well looks like you have to kiss and fall in love movie moment, I can’t say I’ve seen or would overly enjoy being placed in that situation in real life.

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12) Snowmen

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Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Frosty. But I feel like snowmen are quite possibly the most overdone decoration of the holiday season. People make snowmen out of EVERYTHING. Sometimes a jar just wants to be a jar, you know?

Also, I’m bitter because I hardly ever get to see snow…

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11) Wreath

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I feel bad for placing these so low on the list because I genuinely love wreaths and think they add so much holiday spirit. But man, are they a HASSLE. (At least in my experience.) They always make the door hard to close and then if you have a screen door it just kind of leans there, awkwardly open. I don’t know, unless you hang them inside or have giant front doors that make average sized humans feel small to walk through, I think they might be more trouble than they’re worth.

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10) Bells

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I love the sound of bells, both the ding and jingle type—because that’s how they’re categorized right? I mean, have you ever watched people play the hand bells? It’s incredible. So really my only reason to mark them down is that I think they shouldn’t be restricted to holiday months. #justiceforbells

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9) Angels

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I think angels take the place of Santa in our eyes when we grow up. They become the source of Christmas miracles after we’re told that a grown man doesn’t actually climb down our chimney and leave us gifts. I like this transition, since I sincerely believe in angels and their capability to perform miracles, and I like that the Christmas season displays them in abundance.

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8) Advent Calendars

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When my siblings and I were little, our aunts used to put together advent calendars to open during the month of December. They wrapped little gifts in tissue paper and tied them to pretty gold rope that we hung up in the living room. The three of us then took turns opening gifts each day. It was fun and magical and remains to be one of my favorite Christmas memories growing up.

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7) Santa

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If you ever want to see a fantastic collection of Santas, you need not look any farther than my grandpa’s house. He has a western Santa that moves his hips like Luke Bryan, he has one that raps, he has one that is attached to a serving tray that is always filled with chocolates. So honestly, I’m here for whatever portrayal you’re willing to give me.

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6) Tree Topper

I think this would have less of a special place in my heart if my roommates and I didn’t have the greatest topper of all time.

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Yes, that’s right, folks, it is a cheeseburger with legs and it cannot and will not…be topped.

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5) Snow Globes

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My sister collects snow globes, something she got from my parents who also have more than a few to display every holiday season. To me, snow globes are one of those undeniably charming things, always ready to give you a little taste of magic whenever you pick one up and shake it.

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4) Christmas Lights

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There’s nothing like a decoration that brings literal light into the world! Last year my sister and I spent an entire evening driving aimlessly around our neighborhood looking at lights. They never fail to make me smile.

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3) Christmas Tree

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Come on, you know this guy has to be near the top. There’s almost nothing more Christmassy than a tree—unless maybe…

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2) Ornaments

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…THE ORNAMENTS YOU HANG ON ITS MAJESTIC BRANCHES. Y’all know I love ornaments and may or may not be surprised that they didn’t top out this list. I mean, ornaments can be anything (as demonstrated by my family’s ever growing collection) and they are some of the best memory keepers. That being said, the only thing that could have possibly beaten them out for the top spot are…

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1) Stockings

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I don’t know if you can tell, but one of these stockings is homemade.

It’s also our favorite stocking.

Stockings are just so homey and I love seeing them hanging above the fireplace, showcasing all of the members of a family—be that human and/or animal members. And in my opinion, finding the smallest little gift in your stocking, even if it’s just candy or a fuzzy pair of socks, can be more magical than opening the biggest present under the tree.

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However you decorate your house during the holiday season, I hope it makes you smile and brings you all the joy that this month is made of.

Merry Christmas and Happy List-cember everyone!

 


 

You can check out last year’s List-cember posts here.

How I Ran 1000 Miles in One Year (List-cember #8)

Of all the goals I set for 2017, the one that most worried me—both in questioning my sanity for setting it, and questioning my ability to complete it—was to run 1000 miles.

As someone who has hated running for the majority of her life, it was definitely what you would call a wild card. Most people I told thought I was crazy and the rest thought I was actually insane. I would have been right there with them if I hadn’t climbed Mt. Whitney a few years ago and gotten a big ole’ taste of “I CAN.” That experience inspired me to run my first 5k, two 10k’s and three half marathons, and ultimately led me to setting this goal for this year.

So, with the BIFC door wide open, I laced up my shoes and went on my first run. It was only three miles, but it was hard and I had to stop multiple times to catch my breath. Fast forward 369 days and 226 runs later, I finished my 1000th mile, winded only from all the celebratory screams I made throughout the final five miles.

Now that I’m finished, I’ve had multiple people ask me how I did it. And while a truthful summary would be: “I have no idea,” I broke it down to a few key aids. So, in case you’re among the curious or perhaps inspired to try this goal yourself, here are seven things that helped me run 1000 miles:

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1) Be Crazy

I’ve kind of already said this, but it’s worth mentioning twice that to achieve a goal like this, you need to become slightly insane. You have to be willing to put yourself out of your comfort zone over and over and make sacrifices over and over. Over the course of this year, I ran on almost every surface: asphalt, grass, dirt and concrete; I ran indoors, outdoors, and sometimes a combination of both in one day; I ran early in the morning and late at night, wearing jackets in 40 degrees, wearing shorts in 90 degrees and wearing hoods and hats in the wind and rain. My schedule was dictated by running, whether it was an average workday, a weekend or even a vacation day, and I had absolutely no time to get sick. When I look back at it now, I want to laugh because I really was, by all accounts, crazy. But then again, I know if I hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have finished.

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2) Listen to Those Around You

After the first few months of running, my friends and family started to realize that I was actually serious about this goal. As a result, it became a very popular topic of conversation. When we would get together, they would always check in on my progress. Near the end of the year, when I reached the 900 mile mark, I started posting Instagram videos to track my last 100 miles and a number of people messaged me with both encouragement and graciousness, saying that my quest for crazy was inspiring them. It was an important reminder of how my actions, even though they felt small and meaningless in the grand scheme of things, could not only affect but also inspire others. This was a huge motivating factor for me. I wanted to inspire them as much as I wanted to inspire myself.

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3) Don’t Listen to Those Around You

Amongst all the encouragement, there was also a lot of implied doubt and protective paranoia. My friends and family didn’t want to see me fail. They didn’t want to find me at the end of the year burdened with discouragement. Not to mention, this year happened to be a very busy one for me, so there were many points when I found myself far behind the pace I needed to finish on time. At one point in August, I was almost 60 miles behind, which equates to almost 22 days off pace. “Are you—do you think you’ll be able to finish?” people would say. And while I knew it was rooted in genuine worry, there were parts of me that absorbed the negative connotations—They don’t think you can do it. You’re way too far behind. You should just quit—so I had to learn to block that out. Because in the end I was the one who knew if I could do it. I was the one who had to decide if I could make up the ground I had lost. I was the one who knew I wouldn’t and couldn’t quit.

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4) Be Consistently Patient

Before I started this goal, I had this vision that once I made it through the first month I’d be in incredible shape and I’d never get winded or have leg cramps or feel like I was going to pass out—which is how I’ve felt for most of my running career. To my unfortunate surprise however, even in these last few months I still had days when I’d leave my house to run a route I’d run countless times before, only to find myself so short of breath I thought I might pass out. “HOW CAN THIS BE HAPPENING?!” I would think as I slowed myself to a walk. On these days I’d get so down on myself, and I’d wonder why I ever thought I could do something like this. But then I’d wake up the next day and feel so good on my run that I’d go two or three miles more than I intended. Thus, I had to learn that running will always be a learning curve, and I can’t let a few bad days get me down.

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5) Expect Injuries and Work Through Them

I have never been someone you would consider “injury prone.” I’d like to say it’s because I’m lucky/indestructible, but the truth is, I’ve never really pushed my body to its limits before. And while I have a high tolerance for pain, I just wasn’t a “work through the pain” type of person. For this goal however, “if it hurts, stop” wasn’t really an option. I strained the Iliotibial Band in my left leg, I got shin splints in my left leg, I had two toes on my right foot split open, and I worked through sore muscles in seemingly every part of my body. And while every single one of these SUCKED, none of them took me out of the game. I iced when I needed to, I took days off when I needed to, and most importantly, I got right back out there.

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6) Feed Your Senses

Before the start of the year, I spent a lot of time formulating the perfect running playlist. I scrolled through my entire iTunes library and I did a good amount of Googling to find songs that would (ideally) make me forget how hard running is. A few months into the goal however, I was already sick of this playlist. And not only that, I was sick of the routes I was running. I was getting bored of the songs and the scenery, which made it exponentially harder to motivate myself to run. So, I spiced up my routes. I took turns I never made before, and ran familiar routes backwards. As for ear food, I started alternating in podcasts. It was a nice break from hearing the same songs over and over, and I was surprised how easy it was to get sucked into other people’s conversations. If you’re looking for suggestions, some of my favorite podcasts were: Serial, Happy Sad Confused and Modern Love. Also, during the summer, I spent an entire month on the treadmill, binge watching Prison Break, so if you’re an indoor runner looking for some eye candy, Wentworth Miller is there for you. As far as songs go, I made this playlist, aptly titled, “These Songs Helped Me Run 1000 Miles” which you are welcome to listen to whether you’re running 1000 miles, 1 mile, or are just needing some pumped up tunes to drive to.

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7) Keep Track

As some of you may know already, I’m an avid spreadsheet maker. Thus, when the opportunity arose to track my running progress, I went all out. Here is a screen shot of my year of running, the yellow being days I went on a run, the blue being days I went on two runs—one outside in the early morning and one on the treadmill in the afternoon to try and work around the triple digit degree days in the summer.

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This spreadsheet proved to be both motivated and discouraging as it showed me both my progress and how far behind I was. In the end however, it gave me one less stress, as I never had to worry about losing track of where I was on this quest.

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There are probably a bunch of other things that helped me, both big and small, some I might not even realize. For example, to everyone that ever asked me, “How’s your running going,” you are one of those things! As of now, I’m very proud of myself, and even more, I’m excited to see what the future holds. Inspiration and adrenaline are as addicting as they come, and now that I’ve unlocked another level of “I can” in myself, I’m already craving what’s next.

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A mantra I gave myself this year was, “if it’s still only a daydream, the answer is no, but if you’re out there trying and failing, the answer is not yet.” I’ve wanted to be a runner for a long time, but until this year, was never able to break the barriers that surrounded that goal. Now I’m ready to see what else I’m capable of, and turn another “no” into a “not yet.”

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.

2017 Ornament Superlatives (List-cember #2)

Last year I introduced you to a few of my family’s noteworthy Christmas ornaments by handing out superlatives reminiscent of a high school yearbook. And since I went over to decorate my parents’ house last night, I thought it was only fitting to introduce you to a few more.

Thus, here is the second installment of Ornament Superlatives, enjoy!

(Also, in case you missed it, you can check out the first installment here.)

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Most Likely to be Missing a Piece

(or be some sort of break dancing angel baby)

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Most Likely to Have Eaten a Compromised Cookie

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Most Likely to Peek-At-Choo Gifts Under the Tree

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Most Likely to Have Just Found Out it’s an Ornament

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Most Likely to Have Glued a Beard on His Face to Try and Blend In

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Most Likely to be an Extra from Santa’s Vogue Photoshoot

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Most Likely to be Santa’s Mode of Travel When the Reindeer Get Old and Tired

(Hint: Foot Propeller)

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Most Likely to Give You Nightmares

(Note: This dethrones last year’s previous winner)

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Most Likely to Have Previously Topped a Cupcake

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ALSO: Most Likely to Make You Want a Cupcake

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Most Likely to Make You Wonder What a Llama Has to do with Christmas, then Make You Wish You Had a Christmas Llama of Your Own

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My Top 10 Christmas Movies (List-cember #1)

Hello and welcome back to the second annual List-cember!

In case you missed it last year, I dedicated my December to posts centered around lists. Some were Christmas themed, some weren’t, some will be returning for a second edition this year, some won’t. Regardless, I’m excited to bring you the second installment! I hope you enjoy and I hope you give me opinions on things you’d include if you wrote one of these lists. I’m all about the input, people, give it to me!

To kick us off, I’ve got somewhat of a controversial topic: Christmas movies. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about people during Christmas time, it’s their devotion to watching what they consider THE BEST Christmas movies. And if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about these kind of movie watchers it’s their tendency to debate over why they think their Christmas movies are THE BEST. Now, I’m not here to debate, really, I’m more just standing here with my list and a white flag saying, “these are my opinions, and I totally respect yours.” But if you have a Christmas movie you love that I didn’t include, please let me know. Because if there’s one undeniable fact about Christmas movies, it’s that you can never watch too many.

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10) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

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I’ve really only seen this movie a handful of times, but it’s one of those that I constantly forget how funny it is until I watch it again. It’s Chevy Chase in his prime and it’s one of my dad’s favorite movies, which makes it that much better.

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9) The Year Without a Santa Clause

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This is a classic from the 70s where Santa wakes up with a cold after Thanksgiving and decides not to deliver presents that Christmas. Instead he sends out two of his elves to figure out if anyone still cares about Christmas or even believes in Santa anymore. I realize that the way I’m describing it makes it sound totally depressing but it’s not. (At least not all of it.) It’s got cute characters and catchy songs that I’ve been singing my entire life, so if you haven’t seen this one, I highly recommend you check it out!

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8) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

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This is another classic that’s undeniably adorable. We all know the story of Rudolph and how he saved the day—or rather, Christmas Eve night—but this gives us some backstory on the little guy, including his friendship with an elf named Hermey and his run in with the Abominable Snow Monster of the North (no relation to King of the North, Jon Snow.) Fun fact: There is a point in the movie when Rudolph yells, “I’m cuuuuuute!” and my family quotes this approximately 30 times a year.

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7) To Grandmother’s House We Go

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If you were anything like me as a kid, you were OBSESSED with the Olsen twins, so it’s really no surprise that the girls’ Christmas film holds a firm place in my top 10. In this story, the girls overhear their mom saying she needs a vacation, so they sneak onto a UPS truck in the hopes it will take them to their grandmother’s house. Mind you, the girls are only about six years old, so this causes some panic among multiple parties, but it’s undeniably cute and makes me smile every time.

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6) The Grinch

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I can already cross this one off my “to-watch” list this year because my roommates and I watched it while decorating our house the other day. It had actually been a few years since I watched it and I forgot how good Jim Carrey is in it.

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5) It’s a Wonderful Life

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This is one of those movies that always makes you think a little bit more about how lucky you are to have what you have, especially during the holiday season when the general mindset is focused what you want. I think it’s an important one to watch each year, if only to hear Jimmy Stewart yell, “MARRRYY.”

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4) A Christmas Story

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I take it back, this is probably my dad’s favorite Christmas movie. We’ve undoubtedly watched this movie upwards of 20 times in my life and we still laugh at all the same parts. Recently, I got a flat tire and I thought of the scene when Ralphie drops his infamous F-bomb, and while I’ve never had much of a dirty mouth, it still made me very grateful my mom rarely bought bars of soap. Fun fact: my family actually owns two bb-guns like the one shown in the movie and we break them out every Christmas to shoot old ornaments. Additional fun fact: no eyes have been shot out…so far.

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3) Love Actually

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I’ve been trying to stop myself from getting cheesy and saying I actually love this movie, but, well, anyways. I do love this movie and I watch it every year while I wrap presents. It makes me laugh, it makes me cry and it gives me all the warm fuzzies. Also, Hugh Grant’s dancing scene is one of my favorite things that’s ever happened in a movie.

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2) Elf

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At this point, it has to be almost impossible to make a Christmas movie that can hold up among the oldies, but Will Ferrell managed to do it a few years back—woah, I just googled it, and this actually came out 14 years ago, yikes—and I think it will forever be regarded as one of the best Christmas movies ever made.

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1) The Family Stone

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I know, I know, this one has got to be a little bit of a surprise for most people. As far as I know, my family is the only one that consistently watches this EVERY year, sometimes more than once during the Christmas season alone. But it is undeniably my favorite Christmas movie and probably one of my favorite movies of all time. I don’t even know what it is about it, maybe it’s just the place it holds in my family’s heart. But we laugh and laugh and cry and cry every year as if we’ve never seen it before and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

November/December 2016 Favorites (List-cember #10)

So yes, technically December is over, which suggests that List-Cember should follow suit. But, alas, I bring you another list.

How could I not though? This one is a tradition! Plus, this will put List-Cember at an even 10 posts, which is incredibly satisfying.

Let’s begin.

 

Elevate

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My cousins can vouch for me on this one, this app is AWESOME. It’s a brain training app made up of a bunch of little mini games that test your grammar, math, and writing. Or, you know, the catchier version of that: your reading, writing and arithmetic. Each game gives you a score and then shows you where you rank among the other users, and the hope is, after some practice, you can…elevate your mind…get it? Long story short, it’s essentially the love child of Candy Crush and School House Rock and you should download it immediately. (Find it here)


 

Swiss Miss Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate

If you’re a winter wimp like I am, once the temperature drops below 55 degrees it’s officially freezing. And while jackets and blankets can help, there’s nothing quite like a steaming cup of hot chocolate. It doesn’t only warm your hands when you hold it, it also warms your bones as you drink it! This brand has been my favorite over the last two months, the Dark Chocolate holding the biggest piece of my heart, though it also comes in Milk Chocolate, French Vanilla, and Caramel Cream, which are also delicious. (Find it here)


 

Snickerdoodle Mug Cake

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Sticking with the theme of staying warm and satisfying your taste buds, this mug cake is THE BUSINESS. There’s no other way to say it. Well, I mean, besides THE BOMB DOT COM, or the GMCOAT (greatest mug cake of all time), but I digress. You can find the recipe here.


 

Bruno Mars – 24k Magic

If by chance you’ve seen a girl driving up and down the California highways constantly putting her pinky ring up to the mooooon, it was probably me listening to Bruno Mars’ newest album, 24k Magic. There have been times when I’ve actively had to tell myself to stop listening to it. Not because I didn’t want to hear it, but because I don’t ever want to get sick of it. Thankfully, that seems highly unlikely, if not almost completely impossible at this point. (Find it here)


 

All things Lauren Graham


It’s kind of impossible not to love Lauren Graham, and this year was resounding proof of that. With the return of Gilmore Girls making me feel all the feels I’ve missed feeling, and the release of her book Talking As Fast As I Can making me smile all the smiles I can’t help but smiling, I’ve gotten a healthy dose of LG and I ain’t complainin’ about it. (Find it here)


 

List-cember

Sorry, not sorry on this one. I just had so much fun writing these and I’m genuinely sad they’re over. Good news is, I don’t think this is the last we’ll see of List-cember. Consider this the preview at the end of the credits that kind of hints at something, but for the most part keeps the sequel pretty vague, leaving you with a kind of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ expression as you leave the theater. So um, you’re welcome.

This year’s List-cember featured:

  1. My Top 5 Christmas Playlist Staples
  2. Top 10 Christmas Seasonal ProductsTop 10 Christmas Seasonal Products
  3. 2016 Ornament Superlatives
  4. Cool Things My Friends Did This Year
  5. 10 Great Things That Happened While I Wrote This Blog Post
  6. 10 Christmas Gifts I Loved/Hated (As Told by Old Photos)
  7. Last Minute Christmas Shopping Tips
  8. 5 Steps to Setting Goals for the New Year
  9. 17 Goals for 2017

 

2017

In case you missed my last post, I’m extremely excited about 2017, for a variety of different reasons, and November and December have acted as somewhat of a curtain slowly opening to its premiere. Here’s hoping it’s the best year yet!


 

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

See the previous favorites post here.

17 Goals for 2017 (List-Cember #9)

For as long as I can remember, my favorite number has been 17. I don’t know why or when it started, it’s just always been that way. Over the years however, it proved again and again be a perfect fit. For example: there are 17 letters in my full name.

As you can imagine, the prospect of becoming 17 was a big deal to me. For years leading up to the event I constantly told everyone that it was destined to be the “best. year. ever.”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t. I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say it was a very hard year. One I would never wish to repeat and one I don’t often talk about.

BUT, seeing as the New Year is almost upon us and it just so happens to be 2017, I’m hoping it will be redemption for the disaster that was 2007. And to aid the cause, I’m making a point to set fun, challenging and achievable goals for myself. How many goals you might ask?

You didn’t really have to ask, did you?

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1) See Star Wars

I’m putting this first so it is read for what it is: a confession. I admit it, I HAVEN’T SEE STAR WARS! None of them. Zero. Zilch. All I know is that Luke meets his dad and Hayden Christensen has a ponytail. So, this year I’m finally going to do it. I’m going to watch them all, straight up through Rogue One, and then I will finally feel like an accepted member of society (and hopefully receive less dirty looks.)

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2) See 5 WLRA’s

If you’ll recall this post from September, I recently became obsessed with the World’s Largest Roadside Attractions, and set a goal for myself to see every single one in the USA. For this year, I’m shooting for five. I don’t know which ones they’ll be or if I’ll be able to see more than that, but I’m setting five as my minimum. One for each finger.

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3) Try this jean rug DIYdiy-rug-with-upcycled-old-denim-ohohblog-17

I’m big into crafts (a huge understatement) and I tend to have the “I could just make that” mentality whenever I think something is too expensive. Does this often go wrong? Yes. But that didn’t stop me from bookmarking this DIY rug whilst I was searching around for a cheap one on Amazon.

Note: the key word in this one is try. I’m not going to win any awards, but damn if I’m not going to go as Project Runway as possible on this bad boy.

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4) Run 1,000 miles

WOAH. I know, it sounds like a lot. But if I was ever going to set a goal like this, 2017 is the year to do it. I have it in my plans to run a couple half marathons, as well as a 2 day, 12 person relay race this year, and in order to survive any and all of these, I’m going to need to train. I figure adding this extra goal will only make training that more enticing.

Fun fact: I already started this one last week. You can call this cheating if you want, actually no, no you can’t. See Rule 5 for why.  

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5) Complete The Ultimate Fit Bit Week

To the best of my knowledge, this isn’t actually a thing. If it is, correct me, but if it isn’t, I will now explain the parameters of The Ultimate Fit Bit Week a.k.a TUFBW (obviously pronounced, “tuff-boo”). Essentially, a TUFBW is reaching nearly every goal Fit Bit sets for you in a day, for an entire 7 days. (I don’t count getting a star in sleep because for the most part that’s out of your control.)

I’m talking all these guys are green every day: fullsizerender-8

The steps per hour rainbow is filled every day:

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And by the end of the week this man is running inside a blue pentagon of victory:

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I’ve never even come close to doing this, and aside from running 1000 miles, this will probably be the hardest goal I’ve set. What can I say? TUFBW’s are tough, Boo.

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6) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

I absolutely love volunteering but am ashamed to say I did so exactly zero times in 2016! Yikes! This must change immediately. Let’s stick with 5 again as a minimum. One for each finger on the other hand.

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7) Go to a sporting event of every kind

Well, probably not every kind. That would prove to be impossible. I’m thinking more of the top five: Baseball, Football, Hockey, Basketball & Soccer. One for each toe.

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8) Try every class at the gym

I don’t do nearly enough to take advantage of my gym membership, which constantly leaves me rolling my eyes when the monthly payment charges my card. So, this year I aim to participate in such grand fashion that I can call the guy at the desk Bob, even though that’s not his name, but it will be an inside joke between us because we see each other so often.

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9) Do The Princess Diaries painting

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Need I say more? I think we can collectively agree we’ve all wanted to do this for 15 years now and it’s about time we took the plunge. Also, I may or may not wear a tiara while doing it.

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

It is so often that I see Los Angeles in the “best of” talks when it comes to eateries. And while I’m not one to try the “experimental” restaurants, I can’t help but have an appetite for something labeled “the best.” That being said, I’m going to stick to the five most important food groups: Pizza, Burgers, Ice Cream, Donuts, and Sandwiches.  I’m going to scour the Internet and find what LA (or surrounding area) restaurant is considered “the best” in each of these categories and pay them a visit.

(Any and all suggestions are welcome)

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11) Watch every film that has ever won Best Picture

A few years ago I made a list of every film that has ever been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, in the hopes that one day I’d eventually have a proper movie education or, what Jesse from Pitch Perfect would define as a proper “movie-cation.” Mind you, as of 2016, that list is 528 films deep, so that goal is no joke. For this year, I’m just aiming to see those that won. So far, of the 88 (soon to be 89), I’ve already seen 7! So uhh…yeah, almost there.

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12) Learn to Longboard

This year on Christmas morning, after my family had finished opening all of our presents, my dad pulled an A Christmas Story and said, “I think there’s one more gift for you, Kim, over in the corner there.” “Is it a rifle?” I asked, referencing the movie. “No, but I think it’s something on your bucket list.” I furrowed my brow in confusion, tiptoed over to the corner of the room, lifted the beach towel as instructed, and then screamed in excitement. Because yes, learning to skateboard has always been on my bucket list, and now suddenly there was a longboard in my house with my name (figuratively) on it. Cue goal 12*.

*Let it be noted that I will unabashedly wear a helmet and elbow pads throughout the learning process, and will undoubtedly bruise my entire body. However, it will all be worth it. Look for me on the beach boardwalk, hair blowing in the wind, or at the grocery store on a milk run, no bag required.

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13) Learn how to do a headband braid

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I suck at doing my hair. My friend and old roommate Kristine, however, is AMAZING at hair. And when we lived together I’d often turn to her to braid my hair when it was lashing out at me. My favorite was the headband braid. It got my hair out of my face and overall made me look pretty put together (I think). This year I’ll learn to do it on my own.

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

I would like to think this is an inevitable achievement this year because I’m already at 96,950, but I’m sticking it on here because it just wouldn’t be my lucky year if me and Jeffrey (my car) couldn’t celebrate 100,000 miles together.

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15) Do a bar/pub crawl

I’ve never actually done one and I just think that walking, talking, and drinking beer with good people sounds like a grand old time.

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16) Sing Karaoke

This could probably go hand in hand with the last one, especially since I’d have a little extra courage to do so. Now all I have to do is figure out what my go-to song will be.

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17) Complete Project Lightbulb

For my dad’s birthday in November, my family and I typed up a mock itinerary of a trip we hope to take to Iceland—the codename for which was “Project Lightbulb”. My dad has always wanted to see the Northern Lights, so we finally took those first steps towards making it happen. And since life often tries to get in the way of plans like these, I’m making it a priority to take this trip, or at least have it completely planned and booked, this year!

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So yeah, 2017 is going to be no joke. I can’t wait!

If you’re interested in following along, I’m going to post my progress here as well as on my Instagram. With any luck, a year from now I’ll be writing about what a badass I was during 2017. I’ll have showered my list with checkmarks and will be typing with that proud, sassy tone I usually get when I do my laundry before running out of underwear. Here’s hoping!

Miss a List-cember post? Find them all here.

5 Steps to Setting Goals for the New Year (List-cember #8)

Can you believe we’re already in the last week of December?! Every year it seems like the day after Thanksgiving we start powering forward towards Christmas, putting every drop of our energy into all that it entails, and then suddenly it’s over and we’re sitting on December 26th like, “what do you mean the year is over in 5 days?”

To make matters more stressful, with the end of one year comes the beginning of a new year, and all the pressure associated with that. How can I make the coming year better than the last? What can I change? What can I cut out? What dance move do I need to learn?

It’s a lot to think about.

So, for this second to last installment of List-cember, I give you the 5 steps to setting goals for the New Year.

 

1) Set Goals, Not Resolutions

At the beginning of this year, I wrote this post after being inspired by another blogger to no longer make New Years Resolutions. In her post, she explained why it is important to instead set goals, as they are specific and concrete (i.e. read 30 books) while resolutions are much more vague (i.e. read more). The article really struck a chord in me and immediately after reading it, I wrote a list of goals for the year. As it turned out, the blogger was right. Having my goals spelled out in front of me made it easier to achieve them. I had numbers and dates involved and that gave me much-needed deadlines. It also prevented me from finding loopholes. With “read more” I could have rationalized any number as the “more”, while “read 30 books” (which by the way was actually on my list) is pretty bulletproof. (Ps- I did end up reading 30 books)

 

2) Pick absolutely anything

Your goals are just that, your goals. Don’t let anyone else tell you what they should be and don’t be ashamed of anything you want to throw on that list.

 

3) Don’t be so serious

Piggy backing off of #2, goals don’t always have to be these deep, philosophical creatures. When I was trying to get ideas for my list, I started sifting around for inspiration and kept finding these vague, heavy statements like “love more” or “attract more positivity”. And while those are great, and in some cases very necessary for someone looking for a fresh start, I didn’t feel like I really connected to any of them. At first this worried me. Does this mean my list is stupid? No! It just means the list is mine.

 

4) Find a balance between challenging and achievable

To give you a sports metaphor: think of Michael Phelps, a.k.a the greatest Olympian of all time. He set incredible goals for himself, many of which he appeared to achieve. This is because he found that balance. He was always pushing himself to do more, while still respecting what was possible. Imagine if his goal would have merely been to “make the swim team” or if it was to “win gold in every single swimming event at the Olympics.” He would have never become the champion he is today. This is why that balance is so important, it gets you in tune with what you are capable of, and even more, what you can be capable of if you put in the work.

 

5) Go for it

Once you set your goals, get after them! Don’t feel like you have to wait for anyone’s permission. Don’t even make yourself wait for January 1st! Just go for it. Achieve achieve achieve and then set more goals and start all over.just-do-it

 

What’s on your list this year?

 

Miss a List-cember post? Find them all here.

Last Minute Christmas Shopping Tips (List-cember #7)

I have always loved Christmas shopping. I love the paper, I love the bows, I even love the ribbons that take me 15 times to curl. And since it is less than 4 days until Christmas, a.k.a CRUNCH TIME, I thought it would be helpful to give you some tips on finding the best gifts.

Not to brag (and by that I mean, listen up, I’m about to brag) but I’ve finished my Christmas shopping. My presents are already wrapped and under my tree! (Brag over) I was way ahead of the game this year! (Woops, sorry, now the brag is over) But that doesn’t mean I can’t relate to the struggle and panic associated with the week of.

In years past, I’ve often found myself in the 20’s of December, pacing around the mall and/or my living room, very calmly asking myself, “WHAT THE &*%# AM I GOING TO DO?!?!?”

As fun as it is to send yourself on a downward spiral of worry and panic however, it kind of ruins the magic of the gift giving season. So whenever I reach that point in my shopping experience, I return to these steps:

 

1) Relax

Seriously, start by just breathing in and out, for as long as you like. (Or until you pass out, but that’s not recommended) Then, remember that there is no “perfect gift.” There is no be-all end-all present you have to find amongst the thousands of red tags in order to retain a healthy relationship with whomever you’re shopping for. Take careful note of the cliché, “it’s the thought that counts”, and then move to step 2.

 

2) Reminisce

I often like to shop for people one at a time. So once I’ve picked a victim loved one to start with, I’ll open up an imaginary slide projector in my mind and scroll through all of the memories and conversations I’ve shared with them over the past year, to see if anything stands out. Even if I can’t come up with anything specific, I’ll take concepts and inside jokes and look for gift ideas that relate.

 

3) Visualize

When I get an idea of something I might want to buy for that person, I visualize what their reaction will be like. Will they laugh? Will they cry? Will they roll their eyes (in a good way)? How do I hope they’ll react?

 

4) Add to Cart

I’ll admit it, I’m a big online shopper, but this step can apply to both web and in-store searching. After I find what I want, I’ll stick it in my cart and just let it rest there for a little while, giving me time to repeat steps 1-3. Now, I realize this is more difficult when you’re shopping on the last few days before Christmas or, say, Black Friday, because there are hundreds of other hungry shoppers willing to fight you for whatever the item(s) in question may be. But it’s a general rule (and by general rule I mean, THIS SHOULD BE OBVIOUS YOU CRAZED ANIMALS) that once something is in your cart, it’s yours. So for the most part, you shouldn’t have any prying hands. Just stick it in the cart, let the prospect of the purchase marinate, and do a lap.

 

5) It’s okay to crunch numbers

Anyone worth giving a gift to will not care how much you spend on it. Take note of where you are financially and don’t put yourself out just because you think you have to. If times are tough, sometimes the best gift is company. Just take the time to go see them, give them a call, write them a letter, anything that says, “I appreciate you,” because in the end, that’s the core of gift-giving.

 

6) Be proud of your gift

There have been so many times when immediately after I’ve bought something, I convince myself it’s the stupidest idea ever, especially once I see or hear about a gift being given by someone else. That’s way better than mine. It’s way more expensive. It’s way more adorable. It sparkles. Etc. Etc. Etc. But then I think about how, no matter what gift I am given, I’m always filled with gratitude, and gratitude is one of the greatest feelings in the world. So be proud of the fact that you’ve put in the time and effort to help someone you love feel it.

 

6) Go ham on wrapping

I’m a perfectionist, so I often spend a lot of time trying to make a gift look as clean and nice as possible. However, sometimes it’s best to just kitchen sink it and wrap it with whatever you can find, in any way you can muster. Some of my favorite materials I’ve used in a pinch are aluminum foil, paper towels and staples.

 

7) Be thankful for their “thank you” and don’t expect anything in return

It’s extremely easy to walk into a gift-giving situation with your ego high and your expectations higher. You are proud of the gift you’ve bought and are expecting something good in return. Truth is, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Take time to appreciate the gratitude they have for you and learn to love that more than anything they may give you in return.

 

I wish you all the luck in your last minute shopping endeavors, and more importantly, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

 

Miss a List-cember post? Find them all here.