motivation

I Love Me (Part 3)

A few years ago, I was inspired by a fellow blogger to start a series that encourages friends and family to write down things they love about themselves.

We often find it too easy to criticize or put ourselves down, whether it be in an attempt to be funny or relatable, or as a side effect of comparison. On the flip side, we rarely, if ever, actively look for things we love about ourselves, and if we do, it is even more taboo to state those things out loud (or write them down for others to read.)

But I’ve now made it a tradition to ask friends and family to take this challenge. To sit down, bask in all of their wonderful, and then share it with others. So, in this third installment of the I Love Me series, allow me to introduce you to some incredible women.


Kristine

I love the way I love others. I always try to please/help everyone and put others before myself.

I love that I am athletic and competitive, but also a good sport.

I love my confidence and my ability not to care what others think, even when I’m my own worst critic. I love that I can laugh at myself.

I love that I am weird and I can embrace my weird wherever I go.

I love that I am hardworking. I am ready to take on any challenge and I am always ready to go above and beyond in anything that I do.


Sammie

I love how much I care for others and animals. I have so much compassion and empathy for others.

I love that I am discerning. I make careful choices and do what’s best for me and those around me. I always try to do the right thing.

I love how authentic I am. I am the same me with everyone around. I love that I don’t compromise myself, my wants, or needs for anyone else.

I love how loyal I am. I’m the friend you call at 3:00 a.m. to drive you to the airport or ask to say let’s bury a body. I am consistent and committed to those I love, even my long-distance friends. I am always ready to pick up where we left off.

I love that I am a nerd. I love learning new things. I love videogames, fantasy and sci-fi. If we could sit on the couch and watch Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter all weekend I’d be in my happy place.

I love how strong I am. I am strong mentally (or stubborn lol), physically (despite my size), and emotionally (I can handle far more than I think I’m capable of.)

I love who I am overall. My demeanor, my mannerisms, and my values. I know it’s not all me: it’s my family, my friends, and my experiences I’ve picked up along the way. You can’t figure me out with one glance and I think that’s special. I love that I’m unique. I love the things that have contributed to the me I am today—good or bad.

I want to love more things about myself, but I don’t feel I am there yet and that’s okay. I am a work in progress, and working on loving myself in all aspects. But for now, it’s good enough. I am good enough, and I love that for me.


Ashlynn

I love my sense of humor and that my husband always gets my jokes.

I love that I get to care for a little man and be his guide for the future.

I love that I am becoming a morning person slowly but surely.

I love that I get to help people everyday.

I love that I learned to make the recipes my mother-in-law shared with me.

I love that I can find something in common with anyone.

I love my sense of style (which I learned from the most stylish person I know who I am lucky enough to call mom)


Mel

I love my smile. I feel like a smile can truly make a difference in a person’s day and I am eager to share mine with the world!

I love that I am adventurous! I find great joy in my time spent outdoors every week and live a happier, healthier life because of it! I love that I am (relatively) unafraid and am willing to challenge myself.

I love that I am a caregiver. I love that I can have an impact on a person’s wellbeing through my work and that I can be the healer and ally that they need through their rehabilitation.

I love my sincerity. I love that I am genuine in my relationships and make an honest effort to grow in friendship with both friends and family.

I love my relationship with God. It is forever growing and changing, but I love that I now spend quiet time each day reflecting and praying to Him.


Kelsi

I love that I’m passionate about the things I care most about.

I love that I am discerning and have chosen a solid support group of friends.

I love that I’ve given myself permission to not always be good at things but to do them simply because they bring me joy such as painting, embroidery, and planting.

I love that I can recognize my own wrong doings and ask others for forgiveness.

I love that I cheer on people while they accomplish their dreams. It brings me such happiness to see people doing their thing.


You can read the last edition of this series here.

The Pants Can’t Do Everything

Confession: I like online shopping.

The ease. The convenience. The ability to make fun mail arrive on my doorstep. It is wonderful.

But sometimes I use shopping—or perhaps, the items I shop for—in a way that I shouldn’t. I pretend that shopping will solve my problems or make me feel better when it won’t. I try to shop my way to somewhere, something or someone, hoping a certain pair of pants, sweater, t-shirt, jean jacket, pair of shoes, book, journal, coffee mug or eyeshadow palette will do all the leg work for me.

Do you know what I mean?

Sometimes I feel down or lonely or out of sorts and I will have a certain struggle on my mind, but rather than actively working through that struggle, rather than talking to a friend, exercising, journaling, meditating, going for a walk, reading my bible, or just sitting in the struggle as it works itself out, I will shop.

I will look at prayer journals, assuming that if I buy that journal, I will become a better, more productive prayer and I will strengthen my relationship with God.

I will look at running shorts and assume that if I can find them in my size, I will improve my mile time and get in incredible shape and finally be proud and comfortable in my body.

I will look at shoes and imagine myself strutting confidently, my introversion thrown out the window. I will look at t-shirts and imagine myself casual and cool, someone people admire and envy and wish they could be like. I will look at makeup and imagine I am as beautiful as all the girls I see in the magazines. I will look at blazers and imagine myself at the top of the corporate ladder, financially stable, with the ability to travel anywhere at any time.

I rely on objects to make me a different person, rather than giving myself time to grow into the person that I actually am. And oftentimes the girl I’m picturing in all of these fantasies, the girl who stars in all of the daydreams that convince me to add to cart, is not me at all. She is a version of me that I’ve convinced myself is “the right” version. The version that the media has deemed pretty, successful, worthy, etc. So when the packages arrive full of clothes and things that are supposed to fit her, they don’t fit me. I don’t like the way they look or maybe a part of me is just disappointed that my daydream didn’t come true. That even though I have these new shoes, I’m still unhappy or lonely. Or even though I bought that eyeshadow palette, that relationship didn’t pan out the way I hoped it would. Even though I bought this or subscribed to that, I am still me, in the same place, with all the same struggles.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with shopping. There’s nothing wrong with buying something that you want, that makes you feel good and inspires you to go out there, try new things and better yourself. There’s also nothing wrong with manifestation. With buying something that can help you picture a specific dream and can help motivate you to chase it.

What I’m doing is shopping in place of feeling. In place of listening to what I really need and want—even though in the moment it might seem like what I both want and need is that pair of leggings THAT ARE ON SALE.  I want to stop shopping under the assumption that buying something is the same as doing something or trying something.

Buying running shorts won’t make me a better runner. Running will.

Buying a journal won’t create a daily journaling habit for me. Journaling daily will.

I have to put in the work to make what I buy capable of fulfilling what I dreamt it could.

I have to be the person in the shoes or the pants or the dress and I have to appreciate how I wear them, not wish they turned me into someone else.

I have to live my own life, my things can’t do that for me.

So maybe I don’t need those pants today. Maybe I just need to take a deep breath and figure out what it is I really want—and then go out and get it.

Trust that the Ground is There

There have been a couple blog posts in the past where I mentioned not only my love for yoga, but especially Yoga with Adriene hosted by Adriene Mishler on both YouTube and her website Find What Feels Good—both of which I would recommend.

In taking her classes for the last year and a half or so, I have learned so much about breath, about my body and about yoga that have helped me feel inspired, empowered and calm in some very not so calm times.

One phrase that has stuck with me since the moment I first heard it, and has grown deeper and deeper in my mind ever since is: trust that the ground is there.

There have been many classes and videos I have watched of Adriene’s where she says this. Oftentimes it will come when our feet are stepped wide and we are moving into a new posture that requires our feet to be together.

“If you can,” Adriene will say, “don’t look down at your feet. Trust that the ground is there and step your feet together.”

At first, this seemed kind of funny to me. I mean, of course the ground is there. I could feel it underneath my feet. But then, when I heard her say this in the context of more complex poses, and I feared I might fall, I noticed my instinct to look down. To look at my feet to help me center myself and stay balanced. Because seeing the ground, seeing where I was standing, what I was doing, and checking back in with my foundation, helped me feel safe.

After a while however, when I would gain confidence in a pose, or practice consistently at the transitions between them, this need to look down went away. I felt stronger, more balanced, and I didn’t have to double check that my feet were sturdy, or that the ground was holding me up. I could just keep moving, having faith in my foundation and pursuing my next challenge.

In thinking about this outside of yoga, I noticed that there are so many habits I’ve formed in the hopes of holding my balance or keeping myself “safe”—whether it be from getting hurt, being rejected, embarrassing myself, standing out, or just making a mistake. I’ll stay quiet when I have something to say, I’ll stay home instead of going out, I’ll hide behind friends and family, and I’ll agree with opinions that don’t necessarily align with mine.

I will look down rather than look forward. I will hide in the safety of invisibility rather than allow my self-confidence and self-awareness to grow, because sometimes I still feel like I need to ask for permission or reassurance that who I am is okay; that I’m worthy of acceptance, success, love, etc; or that I can say no (or yes) to things without feeling lame or uncool or a burden on others’ fun/lives.

I am still learning to trust my foundation. That the ground is there. And that I can walk into each day knowing that I’ve put in a lot of work to discover who I am, why I’m here and what I’m capable of.

And while sometimes I still might fall—I might make a mistake or say the wrong thing or get hurt—the ground will catch me, and I can get up and try again. So I will continue to take steps forward, to try on new postures and poses without looking down, all the while growing and finding more balance on the ground I’m standing on.

Take time to find faith in your foundation. It is no easy feat to build, but it will only get stronger with time. Take deep breaths and, when you can, try not to look down. The ground is always there, and it will catch you if you fall.  In the meantime, let it build you up.

The One Question I Keep Asking Myself

When I was little, I was often asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.

When I was in high school, I was often asked what I was going to study in college.

When I was in college, I was often asked what my plans were after graduation.

When I reached my mid-twenties, I was often asked when I was going to get married.

And now that I sit at almost 31, unmarried and with no kids, I know I still have a lot of questions to come.

I used to believe that once I got the answer to these questions, I would have lived (or be living) a successful life. But then, as each question slowly got answered, I was disappointed to find that another one was always waiting right behind it. And each one got bigger and scarier and more life defining.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the intention behind these questions. They are shortcuts into getting to know someone. They are milestones that connect people. But I have also felt the pressure of these questions. Of entering a conversation and immediately feeling uncomfortable, praying that I won’t be asked the questions I don’t have an answer to yet, because they make me feel like less of an adult, or even, less of a person. I feel like a failure for not having reached some of the major milestones that my friends, family or some random stranger has, and I spiral into self-doubt and self-hatred, wishing I could change parts of my life that have made me intrinsically me.

And so, I have tried to start asking myself better questions. Mainly one in particular.

For me, right now, I am single and entering into the second year of my thirties. I am a rarity among my friend group, with no boyfriend, fiancé or husband, and no kids. I have worked the same job for over a decade that is not related to the field I studied in college, and I don’t really have a long term “career” path in mind. But that doesn’t make me a failure. It doesn’t make me less of an adult or less of a woman or less of a person. It just makes my path different than theirs.

So, a question I’ve tried to start asking myself is: what can I learn here?

Because one day, I won’t be single. One day I will have kids. One day I will have a new job. One day I will live in a new place. One day my life will look completely different than it does today, and yet, people will still have their questions, I will still have my fears, and there will still be reasons for me to wonder if I’m doing any of this right.

But right now, I’m here. And I believe I’m here for a reason. There are still things for me to learn, people for me to meet, ideas to form, conversations to be had, moments to be experienced and choices to be made. And so I focus on the question that has to do with where I am, not where people want me to go, or where everyone else seems to be.

What can I learn here? I ask.

And in asking, I find myself trying. I find myself searching my surroundings, noticing slow magic, and finding joy in small things that otherwise would have been missed.

What can I learn here? I ask.

And in asking I find potential. I learn more about myself, about what I like to do, what I want to do, and what I’m capable of doing.

What can I learn here? I ask.

And in asking I find peace. Memories long buried turn over in my head, unfelt feelings rise to the surface and new understandings dawn.

When I ask myself what more there is for me to find and learn exactly where I am, I better appreciate that place—this place—rather than wish it into the past in favor of checking off an item on a list, or staying on track with lives and paths that aren’t mine.

There will always be questions, and that’s okay. If there are more questions to ask, that means there is more life to live. But I’m trying to stay focused on one question, as it’s the only one that keeps me present and moves me forward at the same time.

What can I learn here? I ask, and the answers abound.

A Name for Smoggy Days

Yesterday was a smoggy day.

Sure, in Los Angeles, it’s smoggy most days. But that’s not the smog I’m talking about.

Some days I wake up feeling low. Sad. Or what I like to describe as “heavy.” It’s when every worry, insecurity, and regret seem to be sitting on top of me, making it hard to think straight, feel comfortable, or find motivation. There is a haze that blocks the blue sky. And it’s hard to breathe the fresh air that was there yesterday.

I’ve long looked for something to call these days. Because often when they pop up, I don’t know how to explain them to others. I sit quietly, talk politely, walk slowly, and fidget nervously, all while fighting through the chaos and lies that are spiraling in my mind. On particularly bad ones, I feel fragile. As if I might burst into tears at any given moment. And I don’t know how to explain that it’s not you, it’s me. I’m playing offense and defense in a battle that is taking place inside my head, and I’m not sure if I want help, privacy, attention or solace.

When I was in high school, I remember having a handful of smoggy days that I didn’t really understand. My mind was in overdrive and I wanted validation. I wanted to be told I was wonderful and beautiful and absolutely crazy to be thinking these negative thoughts. But when I reached out to a friend, spitting self-deprecating venom, fishing begging for compliments and expecting them, I got nothing. I got crickets. I got, “I don’t know what to say when you’re like this.”

I don’t mention this to blame them, because they were just as young and lost as I was. But I remember the guilt that was born in that moment.

The guilt that comes in with the smog. The shame that sits on top of everything else. Telling me that I should be embarrassed for feeling so low. For bringing people down. For not being my best. It tells me to get over it. And it promises that if I don’t I will push everyone away.

And so the smog suffocates. And for a little while, it wins.

For a little while I am low. I am sad. I am quiet. I am scared. I am not myself.

But then the wind comes.

A friend. A movie. A book. A butterfly. A sunset. A tall tree. A child’s laugh. A kind word. A joke that lands in just the right place. A hug. A moment alone. An unexpected deep breath. A combination of a lot of little things. And eventually, a breeze picks up. And then a gust. And soon the smog is blown away and I can see the sky again. I can breathe the fresh air.  

It doesn’t last forever. Eventually the smog settles back in and piles back up. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that the more I talk about it, the more opportunities I give to that wind, the more public I make these battles that thrive in private, the better I set myself up to win.

And I’m hoping the same can go for you.

We all have smoggy days. Maybe even smoggy seasons. And sometimes we just need a name for it all.

We might not know what we need from others. We might not want extra attention or to give a longwinded explanation of everything we’re thinking about. Sometimes we just need a name. Something that can explain where we are when we aren’t ourselves.

So if you’re looking for a name, have mine. And remember, it’s okay to have smoggy days. It’s okay to not be your best. It’s okay if you get knocked down. As long as you get back up and keep fighting.

Open a window and let that breeze in. Take a good look at the blue sky. Take a deep breath of that fresh air. You are okay.

30 Good Things that Happened in June

Hello and welcome back to another edition of All the Good Things. It’s been a couple months, but we’re back!

Let’s dive right in.

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1) Days after getting married, this woman donated a kidney to her new husband’s ex-wife

2) This boy got an incredible souvenir:

3) This 94 year old woman received her high school diploma.

4) This duo had a jam session:

5) This 7 year old boy swam to shore to save his father and sister.

6) This:

7) Born with no arms, this archer is aiming for gold at the Paralympics.

8) This fun article pointed out words that are their own opposites.

9) This two year old became the youngest member of Mensa.

10) This bench is helping tackle depression.

11) Demetri Martin rethought the term OK:

12) This girl honored her parents in her graduation photo shoot.

13) These boys made a woman’s day.

14) Scientists claimed this straw is an instant cure for hiccups.

15) After having the tractor he rebuilt with his dad stolen, the Tempe police helped this boy get a new one:

16) This dog was named Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show.

17) This boy tried to sell his Pokémon cards to help pay his dog’s vet bills, but when people heard, they jumped in to help.

18) This woman found her long lost dog at a shelter.

19) This boy served as his speech therapist’s best man at her wedding.

20) This:

21) This reporter found the missing child he was sent to cover the disappearance of.

22) This photographer unexpectedly captured a couple’s proposal and then found them on Twitter.

23) This boat captain found a message in a bottle from the 1920’s and then returned it to the author’s daughter.

24) The world’s most premature baby celebrated his first birthday.

25) Jimmy Fallon & Lin Manuel Miranda celebrated the return of Broadway:

26) This girl got to meet her favorite baseball player: Joey Votto.

27) This Harvard-Bound senior gave her $40,000 scholarship to someone else.

28) In preparation for the Olympics, this article detailed events that no longer exist.

29) This girl set the new Guinness World Record for folding 1000 paper cranes.

30) And finally, this baby had a good dream about his mama:

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

I can’t wait to see what July brings!

You can view the last edition of this series here.

Look for the Happy Middles

The other day I was listening to a podcast that discussed the cliché: happiness is a journey, not a destination. It got me thinking about movies and books and their tendency to have “happy endings”—a direct contradiction of this cliché.

Oftentimes we are given a main character, and a single obstacle, choice, or relationship that is holding them back. We follow their journey to make things right, sometimes laughing or crying along the way, and then we listen to the music swell, and watch them (sometimes) metaphorically ride off into the sunset, satisfied, accomplished and happy. The screen fades to black and we sit in the goodness of the ending, holding onto it for as long as we can, feeling hopeful and inspired that our own happy ending is on its way.

I have seen this my entire life.

In high school, I watched romantic comedies every single night. They were literally the last thing I thought about before I fell asleep. As a result, I believed that while life was an obstacle course with twists and turns, tears and pain, it always had a happy ending—a place where you would be free from those things.

I believed that about finishing college; about having a lavish and successful career; about falling in love, getting married and having kids; about getting in shape, being skinny, having straight teeth, clear skin and self-confidence. Once I had what I wanted, I thought, then everything would be fine. I wouldn’t have bad days. I wouldn’t feel sad. I wouldn’t feel pain, be scared or get lonely.

But the truth is, there is no such thing as happy endings—at least not in the middle of your life. There are openings and closings of chapters. Beginnings and endings to seasons. Reset buttons, changes of direction, path defining questions and answers. But there is no mid-life finish-line or series finale sunset that you walk towards, leaving behind everything hard or painful, to live our the rest of your days in blissful, unbreakable happiness.

And that’s good.

Because then what would we do? Stop learning? Stop growing? Stop creating?

Imagine how much unhappier a place the world would be if we all stopped searching for and creating new kinds of happiness.

This is why I think we have to stop looking for happy endings and start appreciating the happy middles.

Happy middles (n): happy moments that happen in the great, vast middle of your life. (i.e., the accomplishments, inspiration, wonder, love, friendship, joy, kindness, compassion, etc. that make days better. That make happiness feel a place you’ve been and will be again soon.)

Happy endings in movies are actually happy middles. (Or, depending on the movie, maybe sad middles, hard middles, devastating middles.) They are moments that would stand out in the lives of those characters as they moved fictionally forward. They showcase moments and experiences we’ve had in our own lives, that prepare us for what is ahead—whether good or bad.

Happy middles don’t have to be big. They don’t have to be dramatic or grandiose or come with a pay raise, trophy, or engagement ring. Happy middles can be slow, consistent, and simple. They can be obvious or undetectable. They can be absolutely anything at all.

If happiness is a journey, happy middles are the pit stops. The points of interest. The places where you refuel and refresh before getting back on the road.

So if you’re going through a tough season, keep going, there’s a happy middle waiting for you right around the corner.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, bogged down, and/or discouraged with where you are in your life compared to where those around you seem to be, take heart in knowing that we are all in the middle. No one has it all figured out, no one has crossed that fictional finish-line where everything becomes perfect or easy. We are all on our own path, finding our own happy middles, and your next one might be right in front of you!

All that being said, I can’t and won’t stand here and say that I don’t love me a cute, romantic, emotional, happy ending, because I do and always will. But the way I see it, I’ve got a lot of life left to live, so I’m keeping my eyes on the middle(s) and all the goodness they have to offer.  Here’s hoping one is just up ahead.

Just What I Needed

Last year, right after I turned 30, I was at the dentist.

Having just finished a cleaning, I was sat up straight in the chair, my ponytail flattened and messy, and my eyes—which I close during every appointment—still adjusting to the bright light of the room.   The dental hygienist was talking positively about my teeth, telling me I brushed well, could floss better, but had no cavities, and thus I felt like a successful adult.

She asked me how old I was, and her eyes lit up when I told her.

“I just turned 40,” she said, “and I’m looking forward to see what these next ten years bring me, but I couldn’t be more excited for you. My thirties were the best years of my life so far.”

I flinched at this.

For ten years people had said to me, “Your twenties are your best years! Don’t waste them!” over and over again, and I had spent night after night lying in bed, feeling guilty, wondering, “Am I wasting them?”

But the truth was, my twenties were hard. They were confusing and at times sad and heartbreaking and isolating and overall just one big WHAT AM I EVEN DOING?!

Part of me was relieved to hear that, in this humble woman’s opinion, I had another shot at “my best years.” But I also worried that the your-thirties-are-the-best-time-of-your-life crowd was about to come out of the woodworks, and I was going to spend another decade lying awake at night wondering why I can’t do anything right.

But then, as if she could see the curiosity (and perhaps fear) wash over me, she turned towards me—or rather, wheeled her dentist stool in front of me—and elaborated.

She told me her thirties were good to her because she felt she was finally good to herself. She said everyone talks about the “carefree fun” of your twenties, but no one talks about the self-acceptance and understanding that can come in your thirties.

She said I would finally start to see myself and, in turn, stop hearing everyone else.

“Their opinions will matter less, even if it doesn’t feel like it right away. That doesn’t mean you won’t care what other people think, but you will start to get a feeling of what feels right to you. And even though it might not be what everyone else is doing or what is ‘cool’ or ‘right’ or ‘normal’, you begin to appreciate what is honest to you more than striving for everyone else’s acceptance and affection.”

I have thought about this conversation often. It has comforted me on hard days, encouraged me on good days, and given me an underlying sense of peace that reminds me to relax and settle in for the ride.

Let’s be honest, there is no set standard for “the best years of your life.” There is no reason it has to be your 20’s, 30’s or 40’s. There is no reason they have to come in ten-year increments or happen in succession. Your best days and best years are defined by you and you alone.

So let’s take each day as it comes. Take each decade as it comes. Live honestly—even if that means making mistakes—and find your way forward. Let’s get excited about what’s ahead and appreciate what we’ve learned so far.  

And never be afraid to encourage someone—even if they’re at the dentist. You never know how bad they might need it.

It’s My First Try

It goes without saying that we face a lot of pressure every day. Pressure to do or say the right thing. Pressure to look a certain way or be interested or educated in certain things. Pressure to be in the same stage of life as our friends or to forego our comfort level in order to satisfy the expectations of others. Pressure to be in control or have everything figured out.

I know I am constantly looking over my shoulder, wondering who might be pointing out everything I’m doing wrong or everything I could be doing better. I care a lot about what other people think, and I often worry that if I let them down or don’t live up to an expectation they might have in their head, I’ll get left behind.

Oftentimes before I go to sleep, I’ll go over conversations or interactions I had—sometimes that day, sometimes 15 years ago—and wonder what I could have done differently. How I could have gotten a bigger laugh or how I could have been more impressive or more interesting. I criticize the things I feel I got wrong and I agonize over the things I’m sure people are judging me for.

I put myself in last place, pointing out all the ways in which I’m behind or worse or failing, desperately wondering how I can catch up—to friends, family and complete strangers—and I grow tired and frustrated when I don’t see any progress.

Recently however, I have been trying to focus on a new mantra.

You know that old cliché about how we’re all running our own race? Well, what I’m trying to remember is that we’re all running our own race for the first time. In other words, this is everyone’s first try.

This life, this day, each and every second, is new to all of us. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We have no idea what to expect. And there is no do over button. We all get one shot at each day and some of them are going to be bad. Some moments are going to make us feel like we want to crawl into a hole. Some mornings are going to go completely wrong and some nights will end with us in tears. And even though it might seem like everyone around us is doing this life thing way better than us. Like they were given the cheat codes or the answer key, or were simply born better prepared to seize the day, we are all in fact on our first try.

This is my first try at being me. This is my first try at being 30. This is my first try at today.

And while it might not be perfect—in fact I can almost guarantee it won’t be—it will be something.

It will teach me something.

It will show me something.

It will lead me somewhere—even if I don’t know it yet.

And at the end of the day, I’ll just be glad I got the opportunity to try. And tomorrow, I’ll try again.

Zion & the 15 Freeway

Great news! If you’re reading this, it means I made it home.

Why is this great news? Well, because as I write this, it seems doubtful.

At this very moment in time, I’m sitting on the 15 freeway, with my sister behind the wheel, heading home from a wonderful weekend spent in Southern Utah.

As routes home go, there aren’t many options to Southern California from that direction, which means we have no choice but to drive through the Sunday Las Vegas traffic—on a two lane highway that has now come to a complete stop.

To give you the whole picture, I drove the first three hours, driving approximately 200 miles, and it has since been two hours of my sister driving, and we’ve gone about 20 miles. We still have 4 hours to go. So things are pretty bleak.

On the bright side, I’ve had time to reflect on our trip. Sitting still and looking out at the desert will do that to you. And right off the bat, I have this feeling of disbelief, of doubt that I had just come from here:

That this morning my alarm went off at 6:00 am so we could take an early a shuttle into Zion National Park to climb Angel’s Landing.

That a handful of hours ago I had my hiking boots on, taking deep breaths and choosing careful steps as I held on to a chain that lined that trail near the top, as it narrowed and got more dangerous, and then I summited and got to look out at this:

And now I’m here. On the freeway. Crawling.

But then I look at the cars around me—and oh, there are so many of them—and I can’t help but feel the same way I did looking at all the people walking up the trails beside me. Whether they were going up or coming down, having just finished, just started, or reconsidering going all the way to the top, they were all carrying their own story, and their own motivations for doing this hike, on this Sunday, at this point in their lives.

Sitting in traffic, it’s easy to forget that everyone around you is trying to get somewhere—maybe home—just like you. And they’re all carrying a story or a handful or worries or a reason that they have to be sitting in this traffic, at this time, on this day.

Now, I’m not trying to make traffic sound like this deep, magical place. I’ll be the first to say that on most days, everyone preventing me from driving my desired speed is in my way and ruining my life. But having spent the weekend exploring a National park—that was full of people from all over the world, hiking, biking, camping and taking pictures of everything, knowing they’d never quite be able to do it justice, but wanting to try their best so that they could remember this, or at least prove that they were here, that this trip, this place, was real, and the world was a little bigger and a little better than it had been before they came here—I’m having one of those moments when you look at the world a little differently. When you remember that we’re all out here trying our best, trying to live our lives right and to enjoy them while we’re lucky enough to live them.

I may be stuck on the freeway but so are a lot of other people. And we’re all hoping it will clear up soon. Because it’s Sunday, and I know I like being home on Sunday nights. I like to settle in and prepare for a new week that might offer a whole new adventure. So I’ll be patient. I’ll look at my pictures from this weekend, be grateful that I got to experience it, and, after a little while, I’ll be home. And I hope everyone else will too. And maybe one day we’ll see each other on the trails, or in some other part of the world that we can’t believe is real, that we can’t believe we are lucky enough to see, and that we would sit in traffic over and over again to be able to experience.