motivation

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation September Challenge

Hello and Happy September!

Hopefully you are at home or on vacation or somewhere other than work right now, blissfully living out your three day weekend and pretending that it’s going to last forever. (Fingers crossed it does.)

Personally I think September is the best month of the year, not only because I was born in it, but because it marks the start of fall—or, in Southern California, the beginning of summer part 2.

In the past, I’ve done of a few things to commemorate my birthday, and this year I’ve found something really fun. I recently came across a charity called Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. It was started by a little girl named Alex who was diagnosed with childhood cancer just after her first birthday. When she was four, she setup a lemonade stand with the mission to raise money to find a cure. Now, her legacy lives on with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation or ALSF.

For the month of September the ALSF is holding a fundraiser called the Million Mile Challenge where they are encouraging people to run, walk or bike as many miles as they can throughout the month while raising money and awareness for the charity.

I, along with some family and friends have put together a team and will be participating in the challenge. I think it will be such a fun and inspiring way to motivate us to get out and exercise while bringing awareness to such a great cause.

If you are interested in joining the challenge, you can register here.

Or, if you feel inspired to donate to our team, that would be amazing and you can do that here.

With all that being said, I hope you have a wonderful rest of your (hopefully) long weekend, pour yourself a glass of lemonade and take a nap. You’ve earned it.

As for me, I’ve got to get moving! I’ve got miles to log!

BAWAGA: A New Mindset

I talk a lot about inspiration on this blog. Whether it be my own ideas, lessons I’ve learned from others, or words and phrases I’ve picked up anywhere and everywhere else. I’ve talked about mantras and mottos that carry me through rougher days (i.e. It’s Not Time to Worry Yet and Just Live the Day) and I’ve talked about mindsets that motivate me to push myself forward (i.e. Shout Your Strong and Opening the BIFC Door)

Today, I bring you yet another mindset, that comes straight from the first baseline of Dodger Stadium.

It was a hot afternoon in May and a small group of us were there to see the Dodgers play the Mets. Seated in field level seats right next to the foul pole, we were very close to Dodgers’ right fielder, Cody Bellinger, who, in case you haven’t heard, is having the season of his life.

“He’s such a badass,” my sister said as he warmed up after hitting another homerun.

“You might even say he’s…a badass with a great ass.

Badass with a great ass. (BAWAGA, if you will)

Obvious thirst aside, this stuck with me. Not necessarily as a quality we should give to others (sorry, Cody), but as a mindset we should take on for ourselves.

Let’s face it, sometimes it’s hard to like—let alone love—ourselves all at once. For me personally, I have moments of love, sparks of that hey, I dig that about myself, but very rarely (if ever) am I walking around thinking, “man I love my brain and my spirit and my body, I am just the total package.”

But what if I did? What if we did?

What if we pursued that total self-acceptance on a daily basis? What if we woke up thinking and believing, I am a badass with a great ass, I can do anything and then went about our day? How would that change the way we viewed our world? How would it change the way we treated others? How would it change the way we approached obstacles?

For athletes like Cody Bellinger, they need to take the field with a BAWAGA mindset, even on days when they don’t feel like it. If they don’t, they leave room for both doubt and the confidence of all of the other players to stand in front of them. And when all of that is blurring your vision, it’s impossible to play to the best of your ability because you don’t believe it exists.

The same goes for us regular (non-professional baseball playing, MLB record breaking) humans. We all have the ability to “play” at our best ability, but first we need to believe that our best exists. We need to go into each day with positivity and motivation and we need to look in the mirror with love and admiration. We need to appreciate all sides of ourselves—including the backside ayyyy—and remind ourselves that we can do anything. Why? Because we’re badasses. And not only that, we’re badasses with great asses.

Is it corny? Yes.

Is it cringy?  A little.

But does it secretly motivate me to go out there and kick some ass? Sure does.

10 Easy Ways to Learn Something New Every Day

If you are like me, you love learning. You love dropping fun facts and (as subtly as possible) saying look what I can do! And while 12 years of grade school might have given us somewhat of a distaste for the long winded, multiple choice kind of learning, these days it doesn’t take much for us to learn something new. Oftentimes it will just find us in the middle of an average day and that little light will go on in our heads saying, hey, I didn’t know that!

Call me a nerd but that is a rush.

I love that feeling so much that I actively try to learn something new every day—as many times a day as possible. Any little tidbit of new information I can find, I grab it and hold on tight, and then wait for the perfect opportunity to say, “did you know…” to my friends and family.

So, if you can relate to any of that, or if you’re just curious what kind of information I’m consuming on a daily basis in an attempt to turn my brain into its own Mary Poppins’ bag, here are 10 easy ways to learn something new every day:

 

1) Subscribe to a podcast

I went on my podcast app and counted, I am subscribed to 32 podcasts. THIRTY-TWO. Is this extreme? Am I an addict? Don’t answer that. I love all of my podcasts and I listen to (not all of) them every day. They cover just about every topic in the book, making it easy and fun to learn about a little bit of everything. Some of my favorites include: Ear Hustle, Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet, and Heavyweight

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2) Click on the Google logo

You know how Google often has those decorative versions of their logo on their homepage? Did you know that if you click on those you can learn about the historical icon or event they are honoring? Talk about easy access to fun facts.

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3) Subscribe to an e-newsletter

There is so much information on the Internet, both good and bad, so it’s nice to have someone else wade through it and give you the highlights. I’ve bounced around between newsletters, trying to find one that best fits what I’m looking for and right now my favorite is Next Draft. An email is sent every weekday after lunch and it is organized into ten bullet points of both important current information and interesting articles you might not have read otherwise.

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4) Watch a documentary (on Netflix, Hulu, or even YouTube)

I know, I know, we all have good intentions when we scroll through and add documentaries to our queues, and we all promise to watch them next time because we’re just not in the mood right now. But I encourage you to take a chance on one when you’re looking for something to watch. There is so much good stuff out there! Some of my favorites include: Evil Genius on Netflix, Three Identical Strangers on Hulu, and You’re Not Allowed to Die Here on YouTube.

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5) Go outside

I know this sounds obvious, but there’s no denying it. Our houses and apartments and dorms are wonderful and cozy and safe but there is so much to see and learn when we get outside! Just the other day a group of friends and I walked out to look at the moon and someone held their hand up and said, “did you know that if you can cup the moon in your right hand it’s a waxing moon and if you can cup it with your left it’s a waning moon.” No, I did not know that. But will I now drop it in any conversation about the moon? You’re damn right I will.

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6) Look up a new recipe

One of my favorite things to do is cook, and I love looking up recipes that I can put together with things I find in my fridge. Lucky for us, the Internet is CHOCK-FULL of recipes thanks to all of the wonderful food bloggers of the world. From breakfasts to desserts to gluten free tea party recipes, there is something for every occasion, just waiting for you to dive in.

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7) Download a language learning app

Learning a new language, or at the very least becoming familiar with key words in another language can be so valuable, both in every day life and when you travel. There are tons of apps out there that can teach you practically any language you can think of. My favorite is Duolingo, because it’s free, easy, and fun to use. Plus, an adorable owl named Duo sends me cute reminders to do my daily Spanish homework and it excites me.

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8) Take a different way home

If you do a lot of driving for work, either as part of your job or just in commuting to and from, try a new route. Turn one street early, or get off on a different exit. Expand that mental map and see where different roads lead, you never know what you’ll find along the way!

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9) Ask questions

Whenever you think to yourself, “I wonder how…” or “what is that?” or “when was..” pursue those answers. I can’t tell you how often I ask a question out loud and then immediately Google it. Even if they are little, seemingly meaningless answers they are something and you never know when you might need that something in the future.

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10) Listen

This doesn’t just call for putting on your listening ears, as my mom would say. This calls for using all of your senses. Put your phone down. Pick your head up. Look around, listen up and interact with the environment around you.

2019 Goals Check-In

Hey y’all, happy June!

I’m really at a loss for words that we’re halfway through the year already—but then again, it seems like New Year’s Day was approximately 600 years ago.

So.

That’s where I’m at with 2019.

But I set some excited goals for this year and I thought it was about time I checked in with where I’m at.

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1) Journal daily

Progress: 44% (161 days/365)

I have really loved this goal thus far. Journaling is one of those things that I’ve always wanted to do but never took the time to start. Now that I have however, I wonder where I used put all those thoughts at the end of the day. If you’re someone who has trouble falling asleep at night, or who tends to bottle things up inside, I highly recommend giving journaling a try. I personally like ruled Moleskine notebooks, but if you are someone who likes prompts to get you started, I’d recommend looking up “guided journals”. There are a bunch available on Amazon.

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2) Take a cooking class

Progress: 0%

This is on my to-do list to research. Anyone have any recommendations for classes in the LA area?

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3) Cook my way through a cookbook

Progress: 19% (19 recipes/103)

I chose Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings: Hungry for More as my designated cookbook for this goal and I am SO happy I did. Every single thing I’ve made so far (which I mention here and here) has been absolutely delicious. Highly recommend! (you can grab the cookbook here)

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4) Try the best drink from every state

Progress: 2.00% (1 drink/50)

Yeah so I’ve tried a whopping ONE drink from this list, mostly because I almost always order the same drink whenever I go to a bar, but also because I’m not sure how many of these drinks are actually served in standard bars and I’m embarrassed to ask. For the most part I think I will have to buy the ingredients and make them at home, so I will have to enlist the help of my mixology experienced (or just curious and adventurous) friends.

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5) Watch a sunset and a sunrise at the beach

Progress: 0%

I’ve been waiting on the summer weather for this one and it looks like it’s finally starting to arrive! So in the next few months you can find me on the beach, I’ll be the one doused in sunscreen and wondering when it’s okay to put on my jacket.

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6) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

Progress: 60% (3/5)

I really tried to get on this one early this year because I want to actually lean in to that at least for once. As of now I’ve volunteered with Food Forward three times, both picking and gleaning fruits and vegetables from local farmer’s markets, and in doing so I’ve been a part of collecting and donating almost 4,000 pounds of fresh produce that was donated to hunger relief agencies. Isn’t that amazing?!

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7) See 3 WRLA’s

Progress: 33%

While on a recent trip to visit family in Arkansas, my mom, sister and I took a side trip to Berryville to see the World’s Largest Razorback. It’s about as epically weird and wonderful as you can imagine and I’m so happy my family supports this quest of mine.

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8) Pay off 1 of my 2 remaining student loans

Progress: 90%

This month I will make my final payment on my second to last loan! That’s right baby! I will officially be down to ONE. STUDENT. LOAN. Ayyyyyyy! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, y’all.

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9) Amazon Wish List splurge

Progress: 0%

I have this one listed at 0% done, though I could probably put it at around 80% because I have an entire Amazon wish list dedicated to this cause. All I need to do now is add those bad boys to my cart and order them with that sweet sweet Prime shipping. Stay tuned.

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10) Stomp grapes and make wine

Progress: 100% (ish)

This is one of those goals that I thought sounded like a fun, quirky and unique idea at first, but now has me kind of wavering, and wondering, do I really want to do that? Until I decide, I’m marking it as complete because I did go wine tasting for the first time this past weekend and that’s in the wine goal family (which is a thing?) so….

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11) Make my family tree

Progress: 25%

I officially have an account on Ancestry.com and have begun my hunting, but I have a BAF (you know, a BIG ASS FAMILY) and so it’s going to take a little while.

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12) Hike the Narrows

Progress: 100% (ish)

Yeah so I’m just breaking all the rules this year but I’m kind of into it. I gave this one an “ish” because a few years back I made “Project Lightbulb” (which was the name I gave to a family trip to Iceland) one of my goals for the year but we weren’t able to complete it. This year however, we gathered our savings, did all the research and are taking (in literally two days) a trip to Europe. Sure, that’s still not Iceland, and sure, it’s also not the Narrows, but it’s still a family bucket list vacation and I’ll take a box check where I can get one.

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13) Do (at least one) unassisted pull-up

Progress: she’s working on it

I have no way to really track a percentage of progress on this one but I am working on it little by little. A couple weeks ago I went rock climbing with my family and it was the first time I noticed I was actually getting stronger. If I remember it correctly, I believe at one point I turned to our guide, flexed my arms and said, “I have medium guns right now, not the big ones just yet.” So I guess that’s my progress: medium guns.

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14) Get 100 rejections

Progress: 3% (3/100)

This one has been a big struggle for me actually. Blame it on the journaling or the full calendar or the final season of Game of Thrones, but my mind has been all over the place and I’ve had trouble finding the time/effort to write, meaning I’ve had almost nothing to submit, and thus nothing to get rejected. It is my goal however, to rope this in for the second half of the year.

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15) Learn Spanish

Progress: 20%

Surprise! This goal wasn’t even on my original list. (I told you I was breaking all the rules this year.) Goal #15 used to be “learn a song on my ukulele” but again, after some contemplation, I realized that maybe I don’t even want to do that. And you know what, y’all, there is no reason to pursue a goal that you don’t even want to accomplish. So I dumped it. Tossed it to the side like every single mushroom any restaurant has dared put on my plate. Then I downloaded Duolingo and I started learning Spanish, and I’m having a great time! I mean, lo estoy pasando muy bien!

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16) Finish my museum goal

Progress: 50% (10 museums/20)

For Mother’s Day my sister and I took our mom to the Huntington Library for some tea (which I highly recommend, by the way!) and a walk around the gardens. About midway through our stroll through the one of the exhibits in the library, I remembered that it was on my list of museums and I took a few seconds to jump up and down excitedly. This is the only progress I’ve made on this carry over goal from last year, but it put me at the 50% mark so I’m calling it a win.

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17) Run a Marathon done! read about it here

Progress: 100%

To be honest I’m still in shock that I can write completed next to this goal, but it gives me such a big boost of pride that I think I’ll say it louder for the people in the back: COMPLETED, BABY. You can read all about it here.

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When we add that all together, my total progress is about 40%, which I’m proud of! Not only because I’m on track (for once) but because this is the first year I’ve made adjustments to my goals when I realized my interest in accomplishing them had changed.

For the last few years I’ve felt locked into the goals I set at the beginning of the year, sometimes to the point of hating certain goals, which made accomplishing them far less exciting. It became more about getting it over with, which is not what a goal should be. So I’m proud of myself for loosening the reins a bit and remembering that the whole point of setting these goals is to try new things and explore new challenges—it’s brought the fun back into it for me, and it makes me excited for the rest of this year and the ones to come.

If you set goals this year, I hope things are going well for you, and if you didn’t, it’s never too late to start! 🙂

To My Fellow Tough Eggs

Often when I meet someone new, or when I see someone for the first time in a long time, or sometimes for no reason at all, I feel very shy and quiet and unable to start, continue, or enjoy a conversation.

I put a lot of pressure on myself, demanding, THIS IS ON YOU, and making myself believe that whenever a conversation goes stale, or when someone opts to sit or stand with someone else, or when the stranger I meet at the supermarket doesn’t immediately fall in love with me like the movies told me they would, it’s because I’m boring or unlikeable or pathetic—or a healthy combination of all three.

Anyone else with me on this?

Anyone else wish they had that magic they see in other people? That ability to talk about anything and everything to anyone and everyone. That something that draws people to them without even meaning to. That ease.

I do.

And while I think it’s something I’ll always strive for, and as much as I believe that you can challenge yourself and grow and acclimate and learn, there comes a point when we have to realize that we are not required to be that kind of person.

We don’t have to be the person that knows exactly what to say all the time. We don’t have to talk to anyone and everyone about anything and everything. Some of us are simply tougher eggs to crack and you have to give us a little more time.

So, to my fellow tough eggs, let me just say that I am with you. You are not alone in feeling like you should do more, be more. You are not the only one sitting there internally screaming, “SAY SOMETHING.” You are not boring or uninteresting or pathetic. You just need time. And anyone worth having in your life will give you that time. So be patient with yourself.

31 Good Things that Happened in May

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) This man adopted a deaf puppy and taught it sign language

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2) This little guy hijacked a school performance in the best way

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3) History was made when this drone delivered an organ in a successful transplant

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4) This 🙂

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5) This celebrity chef offered to hire a cafeteria worker that was fired for giving a student free food

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6) This boy wrote his teacher a touching note

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7) This man paid off an entire graduating class’ student loan debt

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8) This little girl saved her friend from choking one day after learning the Heimlich maneuver

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9) This huge child exploitation bust resulted in arrests and rescues

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10) This whale returned a phone that was dropped in the water

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11) This lawsuit win for a small Amazonian tribe saved hundreds of acres of rainforest

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12) This cellist received over $100,000 in donations to help him go to college

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13) Parkland High School dedicated a page in their yearbook for therapy dogs

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14) Adam Sandler hosted SNL for the first time in 24 years and paid tribute to Chris Farley

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15) This man took a sloth back home

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16) This former janitor earned a nursing degree from the school he used to clean

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17) This guy fell…artistically

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18) This man shared a magical story about his time working at Disney

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19) This artist created animal beds out of used street tires

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20) This woman, known as “waving granny”, got a heartfelt goodbye from the kids she used to wave to every day.

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21) Quarterback Russell Wilson bought his mom a house

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22) These parents celebrated becoming empty nesters in the best way

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23) This 93 year old woman earned a college degree

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24) These guys put a camera on a sushi conveyor belt and got a fun result

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25) This woman threw out a hilariously memorable first pitch at the White Sox game.

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26) This woman received a photo of her cat from a neighbor

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27) Memorial Day

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28) Jennifer Garner gave an amazing commencement speech

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29) These kids sang their hearts out

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30) These dogs became best friends

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31) And THIS:

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

I can’t wait to see what June brings!

You can view last month’s post here.

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A Lesson from Claire Wineland: Love Your Life Your Way

Last month my sister and I went to see the movie Five Feet Apart in theaters. It follows two people with cystic fibrosis, who fall in love but are forced to keep their distance from one another.

The director of the film, Justin Baldoni, recently posted a video on his Instagram (that you can find here) where he introduced his main inspiration for the film: Claire Wineland. She lived her entire life with cystic fibrosis before passing away at the age of 21. In the video (taken in 2015), Claire gives a short speech, and it’s immediately clear why she changed so many peoples’ lives, and why her legacy is sure to live on.

She said:

I’m 18 years old and I have something called cystic fibrosis. I do only have a few years left to live. I mean, that’s how the doctors see it. Let’s get the whole like death thing out on the table, right?

Like all of us could get hit by a meteorite, so let’s stop thinking about the death part of it because that doesn’t matter to me. We have no control over it. But we do have control over whether or not we are proud of our lives. I mean, that’s something we have complete say over.

I am genuinely proud of my life. I am so proud to be alive. I’m not saying I don’t feel pain. I’m not saying I don’t feel sadness and suffering, and loneliness, because that’s what it means to be a human being. But I’m saying that that pain and that loneliness and that sadness is beautiful.

We live in a society that benefits off of us continuously looking for happiness and dreams and goals out here. Right? If we say, “No. We are not going to go looking out there for a happiness. We are alive and that is all we need.” We are beating the system. Right? And we’re living lives that we’re proud of. We’re living lives that make us happy!

You have to look at all of it. All of the pain, all of the loneliness, all of the beauty, all of the friendship and the family, and the sickness and the health. You have to lay it all in front of you and you have to say, “Okay. That is what I have and it is all wonderful. What can I make with it?”

Woah, right?

It really made me stop and think.

So often I am someone that puts an immense amount of pressure on myself to live a life that other people can be proud of. Sure, I take pride in what I do, but when I’m lying awake at night stressing, it is because I’m worried I’m not doing enough, not being enough. I’m worried people are judging me or pitying me or just wondering what the hell is she doing?

When we focus on the eyes of others, it’s hard to accept “all of it”. It’s hard to see all of the pain and sadness and beauty and family and friendship and sickness and health, and consider it “wonderful”. We can see the wonder in some of it, sure, namely the parts that might impress or connect us to others, but it’s hard to see all of it as the wonderful combination that makes us, us. It’s hard to realize that our unique combination of all of those elements is what makes our lives beautiful and special and important.

So today, I am going to take a look around, and I encourage you to do the same. Look at all of it. Everything you’ve been given, and find the meaning in it. Find the wonder. Stop living your life by other peoples’ standards and start living a life that you are proud of.

Give Thursday a Chance

So it’s Thursday.

Which means it’s almost Friday.

Which means it’s practically the end of the entire week.

Which means there’s no point in starting anything now.

Right?

All those goals you’ve been meaning to start pursuing.

That something new you’ve been wanting to try.

Those chores you’ve been needing to get done.

There’s no reason to do them today.

It’s Thursday.

You might as well call this week a wash and just start again on Monday.

Right?

As much as I want to say yes, and as much as I want to put everything I want to do aside and just worry about it tomorrow or, you know, next week, that really wouldn’t do me or you or any of us any good.

Mondays are great for motivational purposes. They are great for easy calendar tracking purposes. They are great in theory. But really think about a Monday. Think about how when you actually get to a Monday, it’s hard and awful and has too many responsibilities to begin with.

Monday’s can suck.

So…why not Thursday?

Why not Friday?

Why not Tuesday evening at 6:00 p.m.?

There’s no reason to wait to start doing the things that will make you happy or organized or less stressed or successful. Every day holds the possibilities we give to Monday and every day can be as looked forward to as Friday.

So why can’t Thursday be your day?

Give Thursday a chance.

Start today.

There is More than Red

I recently listened to the audiobook of “You’re A Badass” by Jen Sincero and immediately after finishing it, I went out and bought a hard copy because I wanted to be able to highlight it and make notes and read it over and over and until the binding is good and tired. It is packed with good reminders designed to get you up and out of whatever funk you might find yourself in, so you can get out there and kick some (mostly your own) ass.

One of my favorite chapters started with the author asking you to look around whatever space you are currently in and pick out everything that is red.

Give it a try.

Focus on those things, memorize them, repeat them over and over again in your mind.

Now close your eyes.

Well. Okay. So this exercise might work better if you were listening to it. Otherwise you’ll just be sitting there with your eyes closed, repeating “ketchup bottle” over and over, with no idea what to do next. Since I was listening to the audiobook, I did not come across this logistical issue.

I APOLOGIZE.

The point of the exercise is to close your eyes, and after spending all that time focusing and memorizing the red, she then asks you to point out everything in your space that is yellow.

Huh? I thought.

Was this a trick?

I just wrote an entire rhyming poem called “Red in my Head” and now you’re going to pull something like THIS, Sincero? I do not approve.

But then she pulls a fast one on you.

She points out that if we are singularly focused in our lives, constantly looking only for the red, than we’re not going to notice the yellow, or the blue or the green. And Lord knows there is some green to be seen after all of this rain.

I listened to this chapter of the book about the same time I wrote this blog, and while they touch on the same thing, they stuck out in different ways. While my reminder to “look up” was a reminder that there are always good things amongst the bad, this “find the yellow” exercise was a good reminder that there is just more.

The world is full of so much more than what we might be struggling with in a particularly difficult moment or season. This doesn’t and shouldn’t belittle what we’re going through now, but it can act as a reminder that there are so many more moments out there for us if we have the courage, patience and perseverance to work through this one. There is so much yellow, y’all! So much blue! So many stars and stripes and polka dots. There is more. So take a deep breath, blink a few times, and let all those other colors come into focus.

Tips for Training for a Marathon

This past Sunday I ran the LA Marathon, a feat I never thought possible for myself, and one I will forever be PSYCHED about.

I wrote a blog about the experience, but I wanted to write another one for anyone who might be considering running a marathon, be it this year, next year or whenever. These are the things I learned both going into the race and on the day itself and I hope they can help you!

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1) Follow a training plan or join a group

Before I started training, the only thing I really knew about marathons was that I eventually had to run 26.2 miles. But as far as breaking it down to manageable increments, I had no idea. I didn’t want to undershoot it and leave me unprepared, or overshoot it and leave me exhausted. So, I enlisted the help of the internet and found this training plan that I followed (as well as I could) and I arrived on race day feeling very prepared.

If you are someone who has trouble getting motivated to follow a plan like this on your own, there are a ton of organizations out there that will give you a community to both encourage you and hold you accountable. If you are in the LA area, check out the LA Leggers, Students Run LA, Movement and LA Road Runners.

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2) Train hills

The LA Marathon is known for its hilly course and let me tell you: the rumors are true!  I was very grateful to have paid extra care in training with hills because I didn’t have any issue with them, but I could tell there were a bunch of runners who weren’t prepared for that element of the course and it zapped their energy.

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3) Mix up your routes

Training for a marathon is a long process. I probably did about 60 training runs, which is actually less than my training plan suggested, but was the best I could do in accordance with my schedule. After the first month or so, I had a list of routes I was familiar with and I would rotate them around. For the most part this was totally fine, but when I started having trouble with my IT Band, I read that one common cause of the tightness is running on the same side of the road too often. Since sidewalks are slanted (even if we don’t notice) we will unknowingly distribute our weight to keep ourselves balanced, which in turn can put extra strain on certain muscles. To prevent this, try to run a variety of routes and sometimes run those routes backwards, or on the opposite side of the street.

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4) Figure out your perfect training diet

There are a lot of articles out there that will tell you the “perfect” thing to eat before and after runs, and many of them contradict themselves. The reason is all of our bodies are different, and as such require different things to perform at the best of their ability. For me, I liked to eat pasta the night before a big run, a protein bar or some toast the morning of, and then a fruit smoothie with some protein powder after. I stayed away from dairy and sugar and I drank lots of water for days leading up to the run and afterward.

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5) Don’t skimp on post run care

Trust me when I say that I know the first thing you want to do after a long run is just sit on the couch. I also think it’s important to note that for the first two months of my training I did. It wasn’t until I started getting to the longer training runs that I realized that just wasn’t going to cut it. I was getting really sore and feeling worn down and frustrated. So, I did research on good post-run routines and then I stuck to them. After every run I made sure to stretch. And then I made myself a protein smoothie, drank water, took a cold shower (it’s as awful as it sounds but it seriously helps with sore muscles, I promise!) and then I relaxed on the couch. If my muscles were still sore, I iced them and took Advil.

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6) Find somewhere to put your phone

I personally do not like wearing any accessories when I run. Not even a fanny pack or those bands that strap on your arm to hold your phone. I am just so particular about the way things feel and I have never been able to find a happy medium for how tight or loose those are. SO, I wore a pair of leggings with pockets down the sides. This allowed me to keep energy gels, snacks, my phone, anything I might need during my run without having to hold them, because as I learned the hard way, anything gets heavy in your hand after an hour or so of running.

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7) Keep yourself hydrated

This was another one I learned the hard way. On my first 15-mile training run, I thought I could just go for it like I’d done on all the runs in the past, assuming that having water waiting for me at the end would be enough. It was not enough. I got so dehydrated and  I was all but convinced I was going to pass out on my walk back to my house. After that, I started planning out my runs in loops. I left a water bottle outside my front door that I would loop back to every five miles or so, and I kept energy gels in my pockets that I would take every hour and a half or so. (If you are a runner that is comfortable running with a water backpack or a water bottle this probably won’t apply to you, but it worked for me and might be something to consider.)

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8) Bring chapstick

When you are out there running for long periods of time, your lips get very dry. I constantly forgot to put on chapstick and I paid for it, both with cracked, dry lips, and sunburned lips. So, if you can, apply a bunch before your run. Also, I’d recommend bringing some with you on race day since you’re going to be out in the sun for so long. There are people who stand on the sidelines with poster boards covered in Vaseline, but I thought that was…kind of gross? It’s really a personal opinion here, if you have no qualms about germs/sweaty hands/melty Vaseline, then go ham on those poster boards. I kept some Chapstick in my pocket and took each poster I saw as a reminder to apply.

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9) Be patient

Training is a long journey. Give yourself time to improve and don’t get down on yourself if that process is slow. Just keep getting out there and keep moving forward.

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10) Listen to your body

There is a fine line between pushing yourself and hurting yourself. Aches and pains are a part of the process, but they shouldn’t all be brushed off as collateral. You know your body, so when it tells you something is wrong, pay attention.

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11) Go for it

Get pumped. Go all in. Believe you can do it and listen to the people around you who believe it too. Let that positivity fuel you. YOU CAN DO THIS!

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12) Push through the wall

In the blog I wrote about my own marathon experience, I talked about hitting the infamous “wall”. It was around mile 21 and I wholeheartedly considered quitting. My self-esteem had plummeted and my body was so tired I wanted to cry, so the thought of having to go five more miles seemed impossible. Prepare yourself for the possibility of this feeling. It is hell, but it is what makes a marathon a marathon. Take a break, breathe in and out, picture yourself at the finish line, and put encouraging words on repeat. I probably muttered, “I can do this” one hundred times after I passed the mile 21 marker, trying to muster up some inspiration from deep inside myself. And though it hurt like hell and seemed like an absolutely ridiculous idea, I started running again, and with each step I let those words sing louder than the doubt. I can do this I can do this I can do this I can do this.

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13) Be proud of yourself

Two days after I ran the marathon, I ordered myself a cake and had the bakery attach at note on top that said: “Never stop believing in yourself.”

There is no shame in being proud of yourself. There is no reason not to celebrate your own accomplishments. You are a badass and it’s most important that you know that. Once you do, you’ll be unstoppable!

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YOU. CAN. DO. THIS.

You can do anything.

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If you’d like some information on marathons happening this year, check out this article.