motivation

How to Make 2020 Memorable (In A Good Way)

This past weekend I was sitting on the beach with some family, listening to music and watching the sunset, when my cousin Amanda posed a question.

I know that 2020 hasn’t been great, but I think we should each try and think of something that we’d like to do by the end of the year to make our year positive and memorable.

We each took the question in, and then went back to the music. We hummed and danced and occasionally used anything close by as a microphone, all while letting that question twist and turn in our minds.

I had a particularly hard time coming up with an answer, which surprised me, especially because I am such a goal oriented person. But even when ideas and answers were brought up—like seeing a drive in movie or going to the Grand Canyon—my mind still drew a blank.

At one point, I lay my head back on my towel and looked up at the sky.

“Look!” I said, pointing up at the now dark, starry sky, “I think that’s the big dipper!”

The group looked and excitedly agreed and then eventually fell back into swing with the music, this time with the intent to “get our cardio in,” which mostly meant jumping up and down in time with the music, running around our spot on the beach—which was by that time was completely dark and empty except for us and our little electric lantern—spinning with our arms out and our heads tilted up towards the sky, anything that made us feel good, got our hearts racing a little faster, and gave us an excuse to eat an ice cream cone later.

On the drive home (which did include an ice cream cone) I still thought about the question. I was the only one to not give an answer. But when I got home and I relived the afternoon and evening in my head, and I looked at the pictures we’d taken of the sunset and the videos of us singing and dancing around our speaker, I realized why I had struggled so much.

This year has been tough for all of us—in ways we all understand and in ways only you and me can understand. I have had obstacles and hardships you haven’t and vice versa. This year will forever be memorable, but it is not over yet, and sometimes I feel like I’m in survival mode, hiding and waiting until it is.

But just as I wrote in this blog post a little while back, and just as Amanda brought up on the beach, there are still ways we can make this year good. There are still things we can gain from 2020 that we might not have had the time, energy, or inspiration to in any other year.

So I encourage you (and me, because I still haven’t thought of an answer) to think about a way you’d like to make 2020 memorable. It doesn’t have to be big or extravagant or expensive, it just has to be something that gives you that good feeling—like sitting on the beach with people you love and singing Celine Dion into a shoe microphone.

The goodness of 2020 is still up for grabs, and I think it’s about time we went out and found it.

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If you have any ideas for how you want to make your 2020 memorable, please leave them in the comments! We could all use some inspiration. white-smiling-face_263a

Thank You For Your Magic

I am currently reading “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle and I just wanted to share this little blurp from the book that inspired me:

 

“Each of us was born to bring forth something that has never existed: a way of being, a family, an idea, art, a community—something brand-new. We are here to fully introduce ourselves, to impose ourselves and ideas and thoughts and dreams onto the world, leaving it changed forever by who we are and what we bring forth from our depths.”

 

It’s easy to get caught up in all the things we think and believe we aren’t, but it’s important to remember all of the wonderful, unique things that we are. We are each so important to the world and waste so much time thinking otherwise. So today, rather than leaning on those self criticisms and the constant nit picking of what is wrong with you or your life, take a second to appreciate what a special thing you bring to the world just by being. Take a second to revel in how lucky the world is to have you and how much it needs you and all of the magic you bring to each and every day.

 

Thank you for your magic, I know it helps me, and I hope mine helps you.heavy-black-heart_2764

Getting Over the Big Bump

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hate Will Never be a Prize

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

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

The same cannot be said in every day life.

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

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

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

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

Be patient.

Be open.

Be helpful.

Be kind.

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

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

It’s Not “My Year” but it’s Something

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s find out what that something is.

29 Good Things that Happened in February

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

Let’s dive right in

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1) Following their Super Bowl win, Chief’s lineman Derrick Nnadi paid it forward

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2) These plane passengers threw an impromptu baby shower for a family who was flying home with a newly adopted baby.

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3) This dog made a big jump.

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4) This man built houses for feral cats to keep them warm in the winter.

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5) J-Lo & Shakira crushed the Super Bowl halftime show.

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6) This man got an incredible gift.

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7) 30,000 pounds of leftover food from the Super Bowl was donated to shelters.

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8) These girl scouts set up shop outside a weed dispensary and sold hundreds of boxes

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9) This man showcased his INCREDIBLE talent.

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10) This huge Wolverine fan met Hugh Jackman.

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11) This woman found her dog after three years (by seeing his picture on a beer can mentioned in last month’s post!)

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12) This boy rescued his sister and the family dog from a fire.

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13) Once Upon A Time in Hollywood’s Julia Butters showed up to the Oscars prepared.

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14) This woman donated her kidney to her mentor, and then he gave her a beauty salon to thank her.

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15) Denmark turned a mountain of trash into a ski hill.

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16) This baby cracked up.

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17) Delta pledged to become the first carbon neutral airline.

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18) This dog went sledding.

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19) LeBron paid tribute to Kobe.

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20) Rick Moranis announced he is rebooting Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

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21) This astronaut was reunited with her dog after 328 days.

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22) Dunkaroos announced a comeback.

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23) This Zamboni driver subbed as an emergency goalie and got his first NHL win.

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24) This veterinarian walked around and treated homeless people’s animals for free.

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25) This friend went above and beyond:

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26) These plane passengers waited patiently to help a dad make his twins’ father-daughter dance.

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27) This:

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28) This straight-A student gave up their bonus points to help lower scoring students.

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29) And finally, this 100 year old woman, born on leap day, celebrated her 25th official birthday.

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

I can’t wait to see what March brings!

You can view the last edition of this series here.

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I Say Sh*t 17 Times in this Post, But it’s Upbeat, I Promise

I recently read the book Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan, which chronicles her year of saying “yes” to things in order to help her step out of her introvert comfort zone. It was a hilarious and relatable book that was full of valuable lessons, but one in particular stood out to me.

As the author puts it: “Being shit at being shit is just shit.”

Or, put more PG: being bad at being bad is just bad.

(Personally, I like the shitty version, but that’s just me.)

Jessica Pan writes this when referring to the tendency of someone who is placed out of their comfort zone to put in minimum effort in order to protect themselves from further embarrassment.

I know I’m guilty of it.

It’s hard to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. It’s hard to step out of your comfort zone and be yourself. Sometimes it feels easier to make it all a big joke, that way, if you fail, you’ll know you weren’t really trying in the first place.

But then again, we also learn, from an outsider’s perspective, that when we see people putting in that minimal effort, it doesn’t make them look “cool”, it doesn’t even protect them from embarrassment. In fact, we notice that lack of effort more than any failure, and it looks far worse.

Because there’s a difference between trying and failing and failing to try.

There’s a difference between “being shit” and being shit at being shit.

And, as previously stated, being shit at being shit is just shit.

So, the lesson here is: just be shit, you know?

Be bad at something.

But don’t be bad at being bad. Strive to be great at it.

Try your hardest and fail your hardest. But try. And don’t try halfway.

Don’t laugh it off or shrug it away. Don’t shrink yourself down. Go out there and suck to your full potential. Because that is what makes you cool. That is what moves you forward. That is what ultimately protects you and fights for you because it gets you out of your head, into the new, and onto the next.

You have to go through the shit to get to the good stuff. And sometimes going through shit requires you yourself to be that shit, and it’s learning to let yourself be the shit at being shit that ultimately gets you through the shit, you know what I mean?

31 Good Things that Happened in January

I usually put the same intro before my monthly “good things” posts, but this one felt a little different. January was rough. And it seemed to last way longer than 31 days. But even amongst all the bad, as always, there were good things. And even though I might have dragged my feet a little bit to collect them, they were still there, and they still filled my heart with all that good stuff.

So here’s to January, the marathon that it was, and here’s to February, who we hope jumps at the chance to be far better.

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1) Reese Witherspoon was surprised with a package from Jay-Z and Beyonce.

View this post on Instagram

Thank you, @Beyonce for the #IvyPark swag!

A post shared by Reese Witherspoon (@reesewitherspoon) on

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2) This duck played the drums.

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3) New Zealand supermarkets launched “food in the nude”, which eliminates plastic packaging from all fruits and vegetables.

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4) The city of Vienna started an incentive program that rewards commuters who take public transportation with concert and museum tickets.

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5) This dog finally caught his ball

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6) Exciting new technology was introduced at CES 2020.

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7) The manager of Athletes Village for the 2020 Olympics revealed the bed frames are made of sturdy cardboard, making them recyclable after the Olympics and Paralympic Games.

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8) This family created an epic obstacle course.

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9) This teacher in India started taking students to school so they wouldn’t drop out.

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10) This woman received a hug from a grateful kangaroo.

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11) American Girl launched the first doll to ever represent girls with hearing loss.

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12) This father and son shared their tradition of taking the homeless out to lunch each week.

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13) This man believed.

 

14) Researchers in South Africa announced they have created a second embryo of a nearly extinct species of rhino.

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15) These boys played ping pong.

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16) These volunteers drove people to work in rough weather conditions.

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17) This man rode over 1,400 miles to thank a family whose son’s heart saved his life.

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18) These American firefighters were applauded as they arrived in Australia to help fight the wildfires.

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19) This man bought a Super Bowl ad to thank the company that saved his dog’s life.

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20) This family moved into their new home.

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21) These students pooled their money to replace their teacher’s stolen shoes.

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22) This man (as well as hundreds of thousands of others) shared his story about the positive impact Kobe made in his life.

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23) This boy rode a unicorn.

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24) This brewery put local shelter dogs on beer cans to help them get adopted.

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25) This cat…spoke?

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26) This boy made clay koalas to raise money for Australia and has so far raised over $100,000.

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27) Alyssa Nakken became the first female in history to be hired as coach on a major league baseball staff.

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28) This adorable boy known as @theshirleytempleking won the hearts of Instagram

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29) This man found an old VHS tape of a baby taking its first steps, then tracked down the family it belonged to.

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30) This man used his coffee to rescue three frozen kittens.

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31) And finally, this blogger/author tweeted a very important reminder.

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You can view the last edition of this series here.

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For My Fellow Worms

While going through some of the old documents on my computer, I came across this little story. I think it was my hope that one day it would become a children’s book, but that never transpired, and now it’s just been sitting in folder oblivion for a few years, so I thought I would share it here.

I think we can all relate to Wally in one way or another heavy-black-heart_2764

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Wally the worm woke up with the squirm and wiggled his way down the road

He passed the tall flowers and birds taking showers, to find his friend Marvin the toad.

“Oh Marvin,” said Wally, “What a glum day this is.

I’d hoped that last night, the stars heard my wish.

I wanted to wake up a big hungry bear,

or maybe a lion with long fluffy hair.

Perhaps a green crocodile with big shiny teeth,

or even a monkey that climbs trees with his feet.

But this morning I found I was still just me,

I guess a little brown worm is all I’ve ever be.”

 

“What’s wrong with that?” said Marvin with a “RIBBIT.”

Wally sighed and said, “You just don’t get it.

Toads like you can catch flies on their tongue,

and hop high between lily pads for just a bit of fun.

But all I’ll ever do is wiggle and squirm,

digging in the dirt, just a tiny little worm.”

 

Then Marvin and Wally went down to the river,

to see their friend Sammy, a bushy tailed beaver.

“Good Morning!” said Sammy with a big toothy smile.

“Hello!” said Marvin, “Haven’t seen you in a while.”

“I’ve been working so hard on my dam made of wood,

it’s almost finished now, do you think it looks good?”

With one look at the dam, Wally said “Wow.

I wish I could do that, but I don’t know how.

Maybe tonight I’ll wish to be a beaver too,

so I can build something beautiful, and do things like you.”

Sammy smiled, but then shook her head,

“Don’t wish to be me, be you instead!”

 

Wally sighed and Marvin said, “RIBBIT”.

“Oh Sammy,” said Wally, “You just don’t get it.

Beavers like you can build things brand new,

and birds in the trees sing beautiful tunes.  

Peacocks have feathers prettier than gold,

and tigers have stripes and a roar oh so bold.  

You all have something that makes me say ‘wow’

and all I can do is squirm on the ground.  

Maybe tonight I’ll wish I was a giraffe standing tall,

or an ocean blue whale, the biggest beast of them all.

And then tomorrow I’ll wake up something better than me,

so you’ll finally say ‘wow’ when it’s me that you see.”

 

Then Wally and Marvin wished Sammy farewell

and walked down the road ‘til they saw an anthill. 

Next to it they saw a long line of ants,

marching and carrying heavy packs on their backs.

Led by Sgt. Pepper, carrying a load thrice her size,

Marvin and Wally watched the ants in surprise.

They marched and they marched and Wally said, “Wow.

So small and so strong, but I wonder, how?

If I were an ant, I too could be strong.

I could be part of their team and march all night long.

No one would see me as just a lousy worm,

but a hard-working insect, with respect that I’d earned.”

 

Suddenly Marvin and Wally heard a voice from up high,

and a tall beautiful sunflower looked down with brown eyes.

“Oh Wally,” said the flower, “Don’t you know what you are?”

“Yes,” Wally answered, “A tiny worm, nothing more.”

 

The sunflower sighed and Marvin said, “RIBBIT”

“Oh Wally,” she said, “You just don’t get it.

You watch us flowers grow tall in the spring,

and you see our colors blossom as the birds in trees sing.

It’s because of you this forest is so green and lush.

Without little worms like you, we’d be nothing but mush.

When you dig in the dirt, it helps our seeds grow,

you make the dirt healthy for us, didn’t you know?

We all have a “wow” and they don’t look the same,

but they all have an important place and a name.

So don’t wish on stars for sharp teeth or long hair.

Don’t hope for long legs or the strength of a bear.

Everyone has a wow that is theirs alone,

so please take the time to appreciate your own.

 

Wally was speechless and Marvin said, “RIBBIT”,

then Wally squirmed and said, “Now I get it.

It doesn’t matter the size or shape I am,

it doesn’t matter I can’t hop high or build a dam.

I have my own wow in my tiny little me,

and that is all I’ll ever need to be.

So when the stars come out and the sun goes home,

I’ll be grateful for the wows I have of my own.

I’ll go to sleep with a yawn, a wiggle, and a squirm,

hoping tomorrow I wake up me, a perfect little worm.”

A Nostalgic Lesson on Failure

It took my sister and I all of two days after Disney+ came out to give in and subscribe.

For some people, the draw was the backlog of Marvel movies and shows like The Mandalorian, for us it was easy access to Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century.

Because let’s face it, when it comes to movies made for television (and sweet sweet nostalgia) Disney Channel Original Movies are master class. The stories are simple (and at times ridiculous) but they are wholesome and weirdly empowering and full of iconic one-liners that I will quote until my dying day.

Aside from DCOM’s, Disney+ (who, regardless of how this blog may seem, is not sponsoring me) has also given us access to a variety of other Disney movies, most of which I’d completely forgotten exist.

Take Ice Princess, for example. It stars Michelle Trachtenberg (a.k.a Harriet the Spy), who plays a brainiac that takes up ice skating for a physics project, and ends up eventually pursuing it as a career, all while falling in love with a Zamboni driver named Teddy. This predictable yet undeniably adorable film is what brings me here today.

I’m a firm believer that inspiration can come from anywhere, and I’m not too proud to admit that I found it while watching this movie with my sister at 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

About halfway through the movie, as Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg) starts to take ice skating seriously (the decision of which creates backlash from almost everyone around her, most prominently her mom) she confronts controversial ex-skater Tina Harwood (played by Kim Cattrall) and asks her to be her coach. When Tina bluntly states that she doesn’t think Casey has what it takes, Casey replies, “If I fail, I fail, but it will be because I wasn’t good enough, not because I didn’t have the guts.”

This line struck a chord in me, and I immediately wrote it down.

As hard as it is to admit, we are not destined to succeed in everything we do, and we are not always going to be the best, even when we give it absolutely everything we have. But sometimes it’s not about being the best, it’s not about winning, it’s not even about getting exactly what you want. It’s about knowing you did everything you could, gave everything you had, and didn’t let your fears hold you back. It’s about having the guts to try, and when things don’t work out, to try again, maybe in a different way, or maybe on a completely different path.

I know I’ve both put off and completely given up pursuing certain projects or passions solely because I was scared I would fail. But at the end of the day, failing is never going to be the worst thing you can do, and it is never going to hurt more than never knowing what you could do.

So today I’d just like to encourage you to go for it. To try and then to try again. Your win is out there, and it’s waiting for you on the other side of fear. So give it your all, and see where it takes you.