motivation

31 Good Things that Happened in March

It has been a WHILE. The last time I posted one of these was in July of last year!

I’ll admit, they can be hard to keep up with. So at first I just put it off for one month, but then I put it off for…a lot of months.

But I thought this was the best time to bring it back because today is one of the best days of the year!

It’s my mom’s birthday!! Which is one of the goodest of good things if I do say so myself.

So happy birthday mom! I hope these things bring a smile to my face because you always bring one to mine! Love you ❤


1) This Ukrainian restaurant became a place for people to unite under the desire for peace and to fundraise for those in need abroad.

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2) This cheerleader saved the day at a March Madness game

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3) Firefighters in Colorado rescued this dog from an icy pond

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4) This injured bald eagle learned to fly again

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5) Scientists discovered a ship that sank over 100 years ago

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6) The crowd at this basketball game went quiet so that this girl could make a basket

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7) The winners of the World Nature Photography Awards were announced

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8) And so were the Sony World Photography awards

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9) This mom got her kids in the car so they could visit their truck driver dad who was passing through town

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10) This reddit user shared a heartwarming story:

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11) This 11 year old Ukrainian boy arrived safely Slovakia.

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12) This grandfather & granddaughter graduated college side by side.

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13) This:

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14) These Florida deputies saved a woman from her burning car.

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15) This California elementary school set up a hotline that you can call if you need encouragement or advice.

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16) These friends reunited:

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17) This dad heard his daughter say I love you for the first time:

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18) Troy Kotsur became the first deaf man to win an Academy Award, and CODA (the movie he won it for) took home the award for Best Picture.

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19) This incredible rock art:

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20) This division of charity: water called “Tiny Heroes” inspired kids to help get clean water to people all over the world.

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21) The US transferred Ukrainian cancer patients to St. Jude’s.

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22) This man was reunited with his family after being kidnapped 30 years earlier.

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23) This book was created to help Ukrainian refugees feel at home.

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24) This:

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25) Guide Dogs for the Blind celebrated their 80th anniversary.

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26) This boy ran home from work.

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27) This cleaned beach allowed for a huge sea turtle hatch:

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28) This brother helped his sister out:

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29) This man broke a tomato growing record.

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30) This boy got a wagon!

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31) And finally, this quiz was created to help you find the plant friend best suited to you.

Let me know what you get! 🙂


I can’t wait to see what April brings!

You can view the last edition of this series here.

Work For and From the Inside

About a week ago my mom, sister and I went to get massages.

We’d each received a gift certificate for Christmas and were finally able to make (and keep) an appointment, since the first couple were cancelled due to one of us having COVID.

We were very excited, as we’d booked—for the first time ever—ninety-minute massages. And with a myriad of different stressors weighing on us from the past month or so, we were ready (and desperate) to *relax*.

I had even asked for the deep tissue massage, which, if you happened to read this post regarding my feelings on my first ever massage, will let you know 1) how much of the massage Kool-Aid I’ve drank over the last few years, and 2) how much I wanted the stress more or less beaten out of me. I wanted that stress to run for its life. I wanted a stress exorcism.

When the masseuse asked if there were any areas to focus on, I said: neck, shoulders and back.

They have forever been where I hold everything. From the annoyance of that bad driver I encountered on the freeway yesterday, to that mean thing a girl said to me in high school 15 years ago. It’s also where, for a long time, my muscles were working overtime to keep my head on my shoulders due to my bad posture—that I’ve since put in a lot of energy (and a lot of money at the chiropractor) to correct.

Needless to say, I love having my neck, shoulders and back massaged. It feels like ironing a wrinkly shirt. And since it had been a while since my last massage, I was sure there were going to be quite a few wrinkles to tend to.

To my surprise, as I lay face down on the table and the masseuse dug into what seemed like the very core of my spine, assumedly finding evidence that I still hadn’t fully forgiven someone who wronged me in the seventh grade, he asked, “do you ever do any kind of stretching or foam rolling?”

I tried to nod, but then remembered my face was framed by the pillow, making my neck borderline immovable.

“Yes,” I said. “I foam roll my back a few times a week”—something that was recommended by my chiropractor—“and I try to do yoga two or three times a week.”

He made a quick “mhm” noise, and I assumed it was partnered with a nod.

“I can tell,” he said. “While you have tension in your back, there are no knots at all. So your efforts are paying off.”

I lay there, letting his words repeat in my head.

I thought about all the anxiety I felt going into our day at the spa. I always got nervous knowing I’d have to spend time in my bathing suit—or naked, under the sheets of the massage table—overly critical of my body and how it compared to others.

I thought of all the times I’d done yoga, or gone for a run or a walk, hoping that the efforts I was putting in would garner positive results that I could see in the mirror.

I thought of all the times I’d hidden my body behind baggy clothes, anxious hands, or the body of someone else.

And then I thought about how my body, my muscles, and my bones themselves might be benefiting from my exercise, my (mostly) healthy diet, my efforts to meditate, and to express myself both emotionally, physically, and creatively.

Those efforts might not show in the mirror. They might not match up to some kind of image I have in my head of what a body is “supposed” to look like. But they do change the way my body feels. They do the work on the inside of my body.

We are told so often to focus on physical results and to hit monetary goals, when so much benefit can come from doing work for and from the inside first. I know what it feels like when I eat healthy, when I exercise, when I don’t slouch, when I can relax into deep, honest conversations with those I trust. These things make me feel light, they bring an ease to my days, and, apparently, give me the iron to take to that wrinkly shirt.

After the massage, I lay on one of the daybeds beside my mom, reading a book and listening to the sound of falling water. Then I took a long, hot shower and blow dried my hair. On the way home, we picked up dinner from one of my favorite places and then sat on the couch and watched a movie.

It was a great day, not because things looked perfect on the outside, but because they felt good from the inside.

A Small Prayer for You in the (Not So) New Year

We are ten days into this new year, which is about the time when the “new” starts to wear off.

We are back into our routines, back into the stress the holidays (ideally) took us away from, back into the hustle, bustle, and (at times) chaos.

For some of us, we might even already feel discouraged. Maybe you already quit on your new years resolutions, or maybe you never got around to setting any. Maybe you feel the exact same way you did on December 31st and you feel a little gypped.

The new year always promises transformation and possibility—a solution to all of the problems we feel so stuck in. We want the new year to change us, to make us better, to make us feel good enough. Which is why we set goals and resolutions, why we make plans (or cancel them), and why start good habits and quit bad ones. We want to be changed, and for everything we don’t like about ourselves to vanish at midnight.

But when the sun comes up on New Year’s Day and we don’t immediately see that positive change on the horizon, it’s easy to count ourselves out (and put ourselves down) and to mark the new year as a wash.

So if you happen to be someone who is feeling let down by the new year, who put all of their hope in the potential it promised, but now feels just as discouraged as you were before; if you are someone who still doesn’t feel good enough and who doesn’t know how to pick yourself up and find the goodness that might exist in these next 11 months, I want to offer you this small prayer today.

It comes from author Macrina Wiederkehr. It says:

“Oh God, help me to believe the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is.”

There are always positive changes to be made. We can all grow, we can all learn, and we can all become better versions of ourselves as the years go by. But today, I pray that you are reminded of all the wonderful things that you already are. And I hope you don’t deflect them. I hope you absorb them. I hope they fill you up. And I hope they inspire you to look forward.

I’m so glad you’re here, and I hope you are too!

It might not be New Year’s anymore, but there’s still a lot of year left to live.

Here’s hoping it treats you well and you treat yourself well in return. May we all treat each other well this year, and encourage one another to believe in the beautiful things that exist in all of us.

5 Things We Don’t Have to Do (List-cember #9)

I feel like a lot of end of year posts tell of things you did, and New Year’s posts tell of things you want to do or think you should. But for this last List-cember post, I wanted to share five things we don’t have to do—even though the world suggests we should.

There are so many good things in this world. So many good people, good hearts, good intentions and good words, but they are so often shoved into the background by greed, selfishness, jealousy, pride and fear—many of which are celebrated or encouraged—intentionally or not—by and on social media.

So, as we reflect on the year we’ve just finished and look forward into the year we have ahead, let’s try and remember that we don’t have to do these things, even if they seem easy, popular or what everyone else is doing.

Also, please hear me when I say that I don’t write this post from a motherly, all knowing, “perfect” perspective. I am just as guilty of these things as anyone else, and I write this as a letter to myself as well as anyone else who might come across it.

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1) Take things personally

Have you ever been driving on the freeway and wanted to change lanes but the person next to you is either going too slow, too fast, or for whatever reason, just won’t let you over, so you are FUMING, spewing words of hate at this person for being a terrible, selfish driver? Have you ever done so without turning on your blinker, thus not giving the person next to you any reason to know anything about your desire/need to change lanes, thus making them not a selfish, clueless idiot, but just an uninformed driver who is simply trying to get to their destination just like you?

I saw a post on Twitter a while back where a girl shared that one of the most valuable things her therapist ever told her was: “Not everything is about you.” While this seemed obvious at first, I realized how often I too assume this—as a driver or otherwise. Not necessarily in a selfish way, but in an anxious one that suggests, somehow, that everything everyone is doing is targeted at me—whether that be in a positive or negative way.

This is not necessarily surprising, as digital media has made us all believe we are the center of the universe. Algorithms are designed to cater to our needs and technology has been created to satisfy our every whim within seconds. As a result, I think we tend to forget that we aren’t the center of the universe. That there are opinions, perspectives and values that are different than ours—will always be different than ours—and those differences aren’t an attack on us, but rather a truth for someone else.

Don’t get me wrong, our values are important. Removing toxic people and things from your life is important. Unfollowing and/or muting friends and family members that only bring you frustration is important. Fighting for what you believe in is important. But encouraging progress and community by holding room for healthy conversations between opposing perspectives, rather than submitting to the taught behavior of blocking and ignoring all opinions and people that don’t agree with or celebrate you, is one of the most important things we can do right now.

Take a minute. Turn on your blinker and look out for others’. Remember that the things people say and the opinions they hold are built on more than just impulsivity. We are all products of our unique upbringings, and our values are defined by our core experiences. Your way of living is not the only way. So while you shouldn’t turn a blind eye to those blatantly trying to belittle or destroy your or others’ way of life, you also shouldn’t always assume that someone else’s way of life is a direct attack, slight, or even remotely related to or taking concern with yours. It is not always about you, or me, or any single person. Life was given to and made for all of us, and we can all make the world a better place by sharing our unique perspectives and listening to those of others.

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2) Have the last word

The idea of the “clap back”—of having a good retort to an insult or sarcastic comment—has become very popular online. People love to see the drama, to see the perfectly worded arguments and digital slaps to the face. I get it. I’ve tuned in to the drama and I understand wanting to be the smartest, wittiest or toughest. It can give you confidence, it can make you feel like the bigger person. But a lot of the time, it just drags you down.

Sometimes you might say something you don’t mean, just because you were trying so hard not to be the person who was left speechless or proved wrong. Sometimes you set yourself up for more hurt than the comment is worth. Sometimes you forget you can just let things go.

You can let the argument end, you can release the negativity associated with the situation. You can be the better person and realize that, maybe it doesn’t serve you to continue to try say the most hurtful, most clever, or most sarcastic thing. A lot can be said with silence. With not giving in to the invitation to fight or tear down.

Plus, the thing about drama is there will always be more, and people will always move on to the next big thing. But you, me, we are all left with the consequences of our actions, of our “last words.” So maybe sometimes we don’t throw that final punch, maybe we react with kindness, or maybe we say nothing at all.  

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3) Lean on drama for conversation

I am someone who at times is self-conscious about lulls in conversations. I often feel very responsible for keeping conversations going and read awkward silences as a fault or failure of mine. As a result, sometimes when I can’t think of anything else to say, my mind will reach for details that I’ve seen online or heard in passing conversation. Rumors beg to be spread in those moments, it’s what keeps them alive. But maybe next time you catch yourself without an obvious next topic of conversation, you don’t turn to the gossip and drama of other people’s lives. Maybe you just relax into a moment of thought. Maybe you get a little vulnerable and share something about your own life that you’ve never shared before. Maybe we stop spreading (or starting) negativity or judgement just to protect ourselves from discomfort or awkwardness.

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4) Make sense to everyone

2021 was a big year of getting to know myself. I spent a lot of time alone, a lot of time experiencing my own company and everything that entails. I got to know what I like and don’t like without the context, and thus the opinions or judgements of other people. Sometimes it was magical, sometimes it was terrifying and lonely. Because when you really get to know yourself, you learn who you truly are, and in understanding and accepting that person, it becomes harder and harder to present anyone else to others. And sometimes, when you present your truest self to others, it doesn’t make sense to them.

But that’s okay.

Your likes, dislikes, values, opinions, quirks and choices will not always make sense to everyone—and sometimes won’t make sense to anyone but you. But you are the only person living your life, so when it comes down to it, the only person you should make sense to is you.

The term “relatable” has become so enamored and sought after. We want other people to relate to and understand us, especially in our most vulnerable places. But it often takes someone stepping outside the box of relatability to share something actually relatable—even if it’s only to a select few people.

So let’s stop worrying about making sense to every person we meet—or every person we love. Let’s just learn who we are in our most honest states, and start introducing those people to the world.

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5) Witch Hunt

I get that the world has a lot of flaws, and I agree that some of them are unforgivable. I believe that there are people who abuse their power, manipulate others, commit unimaginable crimes, and treat people as less than human. There are people who need to be taken down, laws that need to be changed, directions and attitudes in the public that need to be adjusted and corrected. But waiting in the wings, listening with ears that only aim to cancel and condemn, and borderline hoping that someone makes a mistake solely so you can put them in their place—namely on video or in the spotlight of the social media comment section—does not actually do the world any good.

We live in a world that thrives off of cancel culture. Everyone claims to be furthering a greater cause, when most people are really just screaming at each other from opposing sides of an argument. We’ve stopped looking for ways to connect with each other and instead obsess over ways to destroy each other. We dig into each other’s pasts, unwilling to take notice of whether previous opinions, comments or mistakes have led us to become better, more productive, more educated human beings. We negate all progress and feed only on persecution, convinced that the destruction of bad people will result in the flourishment of good people. But we forget how much life goes into forming an opinion or person, and how far a simple redirection can go. How far a story can go. How far our vulnerability, our willingness to explain where we stand and why we stand there, can go.

So don’t write people off after one mistake. Don’t witch hunt. Don’t feed off of the failure of others. Communicate, encourage, and redirect. Prioritize community over cancellation.

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Happy New Year, y’all. May we take extra time and care to make this year as bright as possible, for as many as possible.

Wishing only good things for you, see you in 2022!


Check out more List-cember posts here.

The Tuesdays of 2021 (List-cember #8)

At the beginning of this year, one of my goals was to take a picture on every Tuesday of 2021.

Now, I will admit right off the bat that I didn’t remember to take a photo every Tuesday, but of the 52, I only missed six. So I’d say that’s pretty good.

Looking back at them now, they give a funny documentation of the year. Tuesdays are consistently a work day for me, and as such, I often treat them as merely the day after Monday. So it was interesting to see how all of my “day after Monday’s” treated me.

I’m not going to include all 52 here, but I did pick a favorite (or two) from each month.

Here were my Tuesdays of 2021.

Note: Just so you don’t think that I’ve gone mad, each number corresponds to the number Tuesday of the year (i.e. 1-52) not the chronological order of the list.


1) January 5, 2021

I have to start with the first Tuesday of the year!

I bought this journal as part of my ~new year~ spending—the kind you do while you are determined to make this year the best. The funny thing is, after I took this picture, I opened the journal and found I was in the completely wrong headspace to start it. I audibly huffed when I found the introduction to be too long, thus making me wait TOO LONG to write out all the wonderful, inspiring things that were supposed to put me at ease. Needless to say, I did not start using this journal on this Tuesday.

2) January 12, 2021

One of my best friends and I took up pickleball last year and we made it a priority to keep meeting once a week (or so) in order to get better. Coincidentally, my mom’s best friend has a pickleball court in her backyard, so the four of us became a pickleball club and our meetings became one of the highlights of my week.

3) January 19, 2021

The third Tuesday of the year was my sister’s birthday, and what better way to start the celebrations than to stand in line and get a COVID test?! The rest of the day involved carne asada tacos and donuts, and we both received negative results from our tests, so it was a win, win, win.

6) February 9, 2021

This photo was taken on the side of the road as I figured out what to do. The morning started innocent enough. I made my lunch, buttered and (blueberry) jammed a toasted English muffin, and then set off to work. But on the way there, I took a sharp turn with my English muffin in hand and a blueberry rolled off the muffin, down my hand, under my sleeve, and up my forearm, leaving a trail of jelly in its wake. Having zero napkins, I then had to dunk my jelly-stained paper towel into my hydro flask full of water, so I could wipe down my arm and continue my drive. It was a hilarious story to share after the fact, but a disastrous thing to experience 7:30 a.m.

12) March 23, 2021

We can go out to dinner again! My sister and I met our old roommate and good friend Rachel at Granville.  We sat in their open-roofed back room, which was extra magical because it hid us from the wind and let us look up at the (albeit minimal) Southern California stars. We also ordered the “banana brulee’d brownie” which was bougie and delicious.

16) April 20, 2021

This was taken at our (now old) condo and would prove to be the last picture I took there. I drove by one day after work to take the barrels out and check the mail for a final time. Then I did a little walk around to say thank you for the five years we got to live there, and wish it well for the next tenants who were going to move in.

19) May 11, 2021

This Tuesday was unfortunately a smoggy day for me. It was one of those when I just felt sad and lonely and down. I was so desperate for it to be over, especially because we had tickets to the Dodger game the next day—the first time since October 2019—and I was borderline emotional about it.

Spoiler alert: it was worth the wait.

26) June 29, 2021 (no picture)

It’s never not going to be wonderful to hang out on my best friend’s couch, eat food and vent, so I’m glad this day fell on a Tuesday so I could write it down and remember it. On today’s menu, we had Trader Joe’s butternut squash ravioli & air fried cauliflower. Plus, we watched Tell Me Who I Am on Netflix which is an incredible (and heavy) documentary that should definitely be watched with a friend.

29) July 20, 2021

“I feel vacation hungover”

This message from my sister was the most accurate description of this Tuesday, as we’d just spent five days in beautiful Utah, and then used our Monday to make the 11 hour drive home. So my big plans after work this Tuesday was to sit down, pout about being home, and then go to bed early. With that being said, please enjoy this photo I took two days earlier, as I looked at it fondly, trying to rewind myself back into that moment rather than do work.

30) July 27, 2021

As you may or may not know, my family LOVES the Olympics. And every Olympic year (both summer and winter) I make a spreadsheet to track the events and the medal count. Yes, this is nerdy, and yes, it is wonderful. I will hear no other opinions at this time. Quickly after the start of the Tokyo Olympics, I realized the time difference would provide an extra degree of difficulty. Thus, while I watched events that took place on Tuesday in Tokyo they were already competing in events on Wednesday in Tokyo. It was tough, it was confusing, but it was worth absolutely every second.

31) August 3, 2021

The mask mandate is back in California. After spending most of 2020 avoiding the gym (even after it reopened, because doing cardio in a mask seemed impossible) I arrived to find those familiar signs posted back in the window. I tried to power through and did 20 minutes on the Stairmaster in a mask. It was awful.

37) September 14, 2021

The first week of September marked the first week of the Proverbs 31 bible study I signed up for. I was very hopeful that I would stay on task and complete it, as I have a tendency to go full boar into things and then fall behind. However, I was very excited to find myself here on week 2, caught up with the reading, and genuinely excited about the live group study that happens on Zoom at 5:00pm.

43) October 26, 2021

Tennessee was the third stop on our trip and we were staying at the DreamMore Dollywood Resort. Needless to say, it was a dream. On this Tuesday, we had massages in the morning, then went on a jeep tour of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the afternoon. It was easily one of, if not the, best Tuesday of the year.

48) November 30, 2021

Every year, my mom, sister and I (and sometimes my dad and brother) watch The Family Stone. It is our favorite Christmas movie and easily one of our favorite movies of all time. We can quote the entire thing, and often talk through most of it, laughing and crying at the same parts every year. It is one of our most cherished Christmas traditions, which is why we made a family calendar event to ensure we stuck to it. We also ordered California Chicken Café for dinner and it was amazing.

51) December 21, 2021

I donated blood today! After a pretty average day at work, I drove to the Red Cross donation center in Woodland Hills and donated blood with no problem. I even got a free t-shirt! Also, a nice man thanked me for donating, saying, “thank you for doing this. It is a very special thing to do.” Then I came home and Natalee and I watched Love Actually.

52) December 28, 2021

And now here we are! The final Tuesday of 2021. I am currently sitting on the couch, cozied up under a blanket, with the week off of work and no plans for the day. Our Christmas decorations are still up, our counter is stocked with delicious desserts, and I am feeling so incredibly blessed by the gracious gifts I received from friends and family, and the wonderful time I got to spend with those I love over the weekend. I have an optimistic spirit about the year to come and I hope it brings many more memorable Tuesdays both to me and you!


Only one list-cember post to go! See you on Thursday!

Check out more List-cember posts here.

17 Goals for 2022 (List-cember #7)

I’m finding it harder and harder to believe that it is going to be 2022. Not because I want to stay in 2021—heavens no—but it just seems like it was 2019 yesterday and now it’s going to be 2022.

Like, what?

Time is flying, and I hope it’s flying towards something good. Something really good.

I feel like we could all use a dose of the really good this year, don’t you think?

I’m trying to set myself up for some really good with some *resists the urge to say really good again* goals.

If you’ve been here for a little while, you might recognize some of these goals. Sprinkled amongst the new ones are some classics, some spin offs, and some whose incomplete status has been haunting me for a while now.

So, with that being said, here are my 17 goals for 2022:

Also, if you happen to be new here, I set 17 because that’s my favorite number, not because I am a monster who avoids whole numbers.


1) 100 days of yoga

Kicking it off with a good old fashioned 100, I thought I’d set this yoga goal. I always feel better when I do yoga regularly. My body feels less stiff and my mind feels less jumbled and chaotic. So, I thought I’d add a little extra inspiration to stay consistent.


2) Celebrate lillördag (little Saturday)

Over the summer I came across this post, that asks the question are you celebrating lillördag yet? In case you are curious (like I immediately was), lillördag is Swedish for “little Saturday” and the celebration of lillördag is the practice of treating a weekday like you would a Saturday (i.e. going out to dinner, seeing a movie, splurging on dessert, etc.) I love this idea of bringing some weekend spirit into your weekdays, so I’m going to add this celebration to my weekly routine. Typically, lillördag is celebrated on Wednesdays, as it’s the halfway point, so I’ll use that as a guideline but not a hard boundary.


3) Donate blood once per season

I have really come a long way with this goal and I’m proud of that. In 2018, one of my goals was to try to donate blood once, and now I’m striving to do it four times in the same calendar year! Hopefully I can make it a seasonal tradition and donate many times in the future!


4) Volunteer somewhere new

For the past few years I’ve had “volunteer (at least) 5 times” as a recurring goal on this list. While I’ve been able to complete it each year, I have (mostly) done so with the same two organizations. There’s nothing wrong with that, but in the interest of learning and growing, I’m going to challenge myself to volunteer somewhere completely new this year! I am already anxious about it!


5) Visit a new city and/or state

I have had issues in the past setting goals to visit specific places, as plans can get crazy and schedules can get crazier. So rather than lock myself in to one specific destination, I just want to challenge myself to see a new place. I have a couple of plans that might help with this, but I’m excited to see what spontaneity the year holds!


6) Take two more writing classes

Due to lack of time and bigger commitments, I had to take a break from my UCLA Extension writing classes, which made me sad. But I’m hoping to get back in there this year. I only need a few more classes to earn my creative writing certificate, so hopefully by this time next year I’ll be (at least) two classes closer to that!


7) Read five more books on this list

I mentioned this list of inspirational books in my 2021 Goals Wrap Up post. The article it originated from has since been taken down, but I kept the list and want to keep working my way through it. Let’s read five more!


8) Wear everything in my closet

I feel like every time I clean out my closet I always leave things behind that I’m never going to wear. I will take my time and try things on to make sure they still fit, I will give everything the full Marie Kondo treatment and demand to know if each item still “sparks joy”—but there are always stowaways that continue to sit there, unworn. So this year I’m marking 12/31/22 as the deadline. If something in my closet has not been worn by then (give or take a snow jacket I have by necessity but rarely use in Southern California), I am giving it away to find a new home. 


9) Try a no-spend week

I like to think I’m pretty responsible with my money, but I also impulse buy sweatshirts in the middle of the summer, so I’m not perfect. I have seen the concept of a no-spend week around for a while now, but have never purposefully set out to do one. I think it should be relatively easy, but it also might be sneaky hard in ways I don’t anticipate. We’ll see.  


10) Find the best pizza in my neighborhood

A few years ago, I set a goal to the find the best pizza, ice cream, donuts, burgers and milkshakes in Los Angeles. It was a fun quest that my stomach greatly enjoyed, and so I’m calling it back this year but only in one category. My sister and I recently moved to a new city that has at least three pizza places within a mile, and many more within 5-10 miles, so I’m going to try and crown THE BEST pizza in my neighborhood. Stay tuned.


11) Open my Etsy shop

One of my quarantine projects (and goals for 2021) was to finish the Dodger Stadium cross-stitch that I designed. I have been making cross stitch patterns for a few years now, so I thought it might be fun to make them available on Etsy in case anyone is looking for some inspiration. 😊


12) Get published

This was on my list of goals for 2021, and while I didn’t complete it, I did get a lot of writing done. So, I’m adding it to this year’s list to encourage me to keep writing consistently, and to submit some of my already written pieces for publication. We’ll see what happens!


13) Go to one movie per month

This was on my list of goals for 2018 but I’m bringing it back because I want to support my local movie theater. The convenience of having movies released on streaming services that I already pay for is undeniable, but there is something so special about seeing a movie in theaters. So this year, I want to make it a point to see at least one movie in theaters per month.


14) Go to 5 museums

This is another throwback from my 2018 goals! (Can you tell that unresolved goals tend to haunt me?) In 2018, I set a goal to visit 20 museums in Los Angeles, but I only made it to eight. Throughout both 2020 and 2021, I think I went to one, which is ridiculous considering how much I enjoy them. So, for 2022, I’m hoping to inspire more museum trips. I’m aiming for five, but I’m hoping they will inspire even more!


15) Make a gift

For my Christmas shopping this year, I tried to shy away from Amazon as much as I could, opting instead for local businesses and artisans on Etsy. This year, I want one gift I give to be something that I make, be it a birthday gift, a Christmas present, or something just because.


16) Cook my way through a cookbook

This is my fourth and final throwback goal! This one comes from 2019, where I tried to cook my way through Chrissy Teigen’s “Cravings: Hungry for More” cookbook. In the end, I both fell out of consistently looking up recipes to make, and I ran into a bunch that I knew I never wanted to make. Still, I loved having a go-to guide for dinners and lunches, and I loved learning new recipes throughout the year. So, I want to try this one again. Cookbook TBD.


17) Places I Sat this Year Photo project

It has been a tradition in my goals to put some kind of creative project in the final spot. This year I’m going to play off of the “Pull Up a Seat” challenge and document “The Places I Sat this Year.” How often do we catch ourselves saying, “I just want to sit down”? When we are sitting down, we are giving our legs a rest, we are relaxing, we are eating, we are traveling, we are, at times, sleeping. We do so much sitting, but I feel like we often don’t pay real attention (or commit to memory) where we’ve spent time sitting. And I mean that both from the perspective of what kind of chair or “seat” you choose to sit in, or the view from said seat. I feel like this project can run in a handful of directions, so I’m excited to see how it turns out!


I’m excited for another year of goals, another year of possibilities, and another year of hard left turns (hopefully towards something *say it with me!!* really good) that I never saw coming.

Wishing you luck with any and all goals and/or resolutions you might be setting for the new year!


Check out more List-cember posts here.

2021 Goals Wrap Up (List-cember #6)

As always, the goals I set for this year took me a on a ride.

I am forever learning to go with the flow when things don’t quite go as I plan, and to tweak goals when appropriate.

I am also still learning and growing every year, which I love!

This is how my goals went this year:

1) Volunteer 5 timescompleted!

I mentioned in my Things I Tried this Year post that I took on a new role at Food Forward this year, which opened me up to volunteer more than I usually could. I also started actively volunteering at my church each month, and the combination of the two not only helped me reach this goal, but double it!

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2) Watch the sunrise completed-ish!

Early in the year my sister and I went to our first big wedding since COVID. (I wrote about it here.) We were both bridesmaids and so the weekend consisted of a handful of bridesmaid duties, including getting up super early the day of the wedding to get our hair and makeup done. My goals were fresh on my mind and my sister knew them too, so as we got in our car on the morning of the wedding, looking disheveled and tired, we noticed that the sun had only recently poked its head above the horizon.

“I think this counts as watching the sunrise,” my sister said, drinking her coffee.

“I think so too.”

In the moment, I assumed I’d plan another day where I would intentionally and officially watch the sunrise, but sleep won that argument for 40 straight weeks. Oops.

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3) Raise my VO2 Max score to 40completed!

To the distinguished court of “pics or it didn’t happen”, I’d like to call to the stand, my sister, Natalee, who can testify on my behalf that I did in fact raise my score to 40 in the summer of 2021. No, I did not take a picture, and yes, I did stop running about the time of my birthday and so my cardiovascular level, and thus my VO2 max score, has gone down to a 38 in the meantime BUT IT DID HAPPEN. I was a 40 for like, two whole months. Thank you, your honors, I rest.

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4) Get published

I think if I didn’t get so much writing done this year, I’d be more bummed about not being published, but I really did make great progress on so many projects. I wrote pieces that I’ve wanted to write for a long time, both for UCLA Extension classes and for myself, and I completed a big writing project that I can hopefully tell you about soon! Overall, I’m just really proud of how much time and effort I put into my writing this year, so I think that’s good enough.

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5) Donate blood or plasmacompleted!

The process of figuring out when and how it is best for me to give blood has been a journey (one that suggests I stick to donating only blood for now) but I did give blood twice this year and I’m going again tomorrow! So I’m very excited about that and I hope to keep giving in 2022!

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6) Reduce screen time to four hours (or less) day(barely) completed!

I initially set this goal to be three hours or less, but I changed it to four about halfway through the year. While I set this goal both to bring awareness to how much I’m on my phone, and to break the habit of reaching for my phone whenever I’m bored, mad, sad, etc., I started to become a little too obsessed with how much time I was on my phone rather than what I was using my phone for. After doing a little research into my screentime, I found that on a good week, when I don’t lean on social media or stare mindlessly at my phone rather than go to sleep, my screentime is about 3 ½ hours per day. It was hard for me to get it below that because I’m busy and like to check in with friends, take pictures, scribble out notes, scroll through new music, etc.  So for me, staying below four hours is both an attainable and maintainable goal both for now and the future.

Fun fact: My average screen time for 2021 was about 3.99 hours a day. So I made it by the actual skin of my teeth.

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7) Finish writing prompt book

I simply did not do this. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I remember being in a pretty good routine for the first few months and then I completely fell off. I just didn’t want to. But the point of this goal was to get me writing, which I did plenty of otherwise, so I’m not particularly bummed about this one.

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8) See one WLRAcompleted!

In case you missed our Epic October Trip, while in North Carolina visiting some family we did in fact check off one of the World’s Largest Roadside Attractions: The World’s Largest Chest of Drawers. It was gigantic, it was ridiculous, it was fantastic. I loved it.

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9) Read 5 books on this list

If you didn’t see the initial link for this list (which was in a post that is unfortunately gone now) I typed up the list and you can find it here. It is a list of 75 inspirational books, and I’m going to keep working my way through it in the years to come. This year, I read: The Noticer by Andy Andrews, The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, and Story of My Life by Helen Keller, which were all fantastic. My favorite of the bunch was probably The Noticer and I would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for some fresh inspiration. Obviously, I didn’t reach the goal of five, but what can you do?

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10) Try 1 new recipe every month

I’m not really sure what happened with this one but come September I just kind of…stopped. I think it’s just because I got busy (and have remained busy, and will remain busy until roughly 2025) so when I was at home to make dinner, I just stuck with some of my reliable favorites rather than risking something new. I’m hoping to do more cooking next year though!

These are the recipes I tried this year:

January: Honey Garlic Pork Chops

February: Crispy Sheet Pan Gnocchi

March: Naan Pizza

April: Apple Spinach Salad

May: Seared Ahi Tuna Steaks

June: Honey Garlic Chicken Skillet

July: One Pan Italian Sausage & Veggies

August: Cheesy Cauliflower Pizza

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11) See all the movies nominated for best picture

Again, I started out so strong. When the nominees were released I watched half of them in a month. But then, I just…stopped. The ones I missed are still on my long list to watch, but the nominees for next year are right around the corner so I can’t make any promises. Of the nominees, I watched: Nomadland (which won!), Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal (which was by far my favorite), and The Trial of the Chicago 7.

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12) Finish my Dodger stadium cross stitchcompleted!

There came a point where I thought that I might be stitching grass for the rest of my life, but I did eventually finish, and I am so happy with the way it turned out! I got it framed at Michael’s and it now hangs on my wall as a testament to both 2020—which is when I started the cross stitch as my quarantine project—and to my grandma, who taught me how to cross stitch when I was seven ❤

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13) Learn to curl my hair

I asked for a straightener for last Christmas because I heard you can use it to curl short hair. I had such high hopes for this hack and for me not having to bug my sister to curl my hair whenever I want to look fancy. But she is so close—she is literally across the hall—and she is so free and all I have to do is sit there, so I remained curl un-educated. I did use the straightener to straighten my hair though, so it’s not like I completely neglected the straightener—just this goal.

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14) Try acupuncture

I was feeling really good going into this post but now I kind of feel like I did nothing? I opted out of trying acupuncture because I started going to the chiropractor regularly. Again, I’m not bummed, I stand by my choice, but I keep throwing up goose eggs on these goals and I’ll admit, it stings.

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15) Read 12 books of the Bible

I actually did better on this one than I thought I would. I wanted to read the Bible more and so I thought I’d cheat by making it a goal to read 12 books (or one book per month) because a good chunk of me is logically minded and I love checking off a goal. I did struggle however, finding a time to read. In the mornings I am running on routine alone and in the evenings I’m too tired to really focus, so it took a concerted effort both to open my bible rather than look at my phone (or read a different book) and to do it consistently. So I made it a point to do specific studies or to participate in guided readings of certain books, that way I could stay on task and actually absorb the text rather than just read it. In the end, I read eight books: Genesis, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Ruth, Esther, and 1 John.

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16) Keep my plant alive(can barely be considered) completed!

This was perhaps the biggest roller coaster of all. My sister gifted me a plant last Christmas that I was SO excited to receive and determined to care for and keep alive. Unfortunately, by April, that plant was dead. In May, I went to Ojai and bought a new plant because it was too beautiful not to buy, and once again set out on a plant mom journey. But by July, that plant was also dead. Clearly I have “the touch” but in my case, the touch is death. Finally, in August, I was gifted another plant—a ZZ plant which, and I quote, “tolerates neglect.” Now, neglect has never been my problem, I am more of a helicopter plant mom, but it was nice to be given guidelines to leave this plant ALONE. So I do. And it is still thriving. I think it’s even grown! So, with a live plant closing out my year, I think I’m going to count this goal as a success. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

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17) Tuesday’s of 2021 projectcompleted!

This was a fun project and I kept up with it pretty well. The goal was to take a picture every single Tuesday of the year so that I could have a kind of Tuesday scrapbook. You will be able to hear more about this particular goal on Tuesday 12/28 a.k.a the final Tuesday of the year, but overall I say I both completed the goal and liked it!

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And that wraps up my goals for 2021!

I won some, I lost some. I completed some, I neglected some. But overall, they got me through the year and taught me a lot.

I’ve got 17 new goals for 2022 on the docket. Come back on Thursday to find out what they are!


Did you set any goals this year?

Check out more List-cember posts here.

17 Things that Inspired Me This Year (List-cember #5)

Inspiration is my drug of choice. You’re allowed to roll your eyes at that, but there is truly nothing that drives and excites me more than those feelings of “how did she do that?!” or “I never thought about it that way!” or “I want to try that!!” or “WOW!” So I make it a point to save, follow and emulate things that inspire me so that the effect is not a one-time thing, but a constant, ongoing experience.

This year, these are the things that inspired me:

1) This blog post about popcorn

2) Zion

Which we visited in April and I wrote this blog post about.

3) These Podcast Episodes

  • A Slight Change of Plans, Episode #1, A Black Musician Takes on the KKK
  • Heavyweight, Episode #36, Brandon
  • Proverbs 31 Podcast, Episode: 3 Questions to Ask when Faith Feels Impossible

4) Jay Lee Painting on Youtube

5) “Never underestimate the big importance of small things” – from The Midnight Library

And honestly the whole book, which inspired me to write this post.

6) Graves into Gardens by Elevation Worship

7) Paulie’s Push

I read this man’s story here and then started following his journey on Instagram (@pauliespush) and loved every step of it!

8) The Mile an Hour project

9) The Balanced Life Pilates

I came across this organization when they did their free 5-Day Refresh + Reset Pilates challenge (which I think is only available through their website now) and decided to give it a try. I had never done pilates before but I liked that these workouts were designed to be short and concise, so you can easily integrate them into your daily routine. They were great for beginners and I felt like I was able to keep up without wondering if I was going to die. Which is always nice. Going forward, I’m going to try out more of their content on YouTube and then decide whether I might give their subscription service a try too!

10) This:

11) This article written about the best life lessons people learned in 2020

12) Headspace by Riley Clemmons

13) @ememem.flacking on Instagram

Who adds some wonder to cracks in the sidewalk 🙂

14) CODA

This movie inspired me in the way that I was truly awestruck by how beautiful sign language is. It is a full body kind of communication and I am so drawn to that. It is one of my life goals to learn ASL and this movie added an exclamation point to that hope!

15) Be Like Benji

One of the best parts about Yoga with Adriene’s videos (besides the yoga, of course) is the cameo her dog Benji makes—which is usually him napping in the corner of the screen. This animated video put out by her team teaches the value of “box breath”, which can help with stress and anxiety, and is just about the most precious thing ever. The full video is available on her website fwfg.com, but even the trailer can bring you some calm.

16) This post:

17) The Olympics

I am never not inspired by the incredible stories that come out of the Olympics, and the 2020/2021 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo seemed particularly special, as it was a time for the world to join together and marvel at the incredibly resilient athletes. My family and I even had our own “Olympic” moment this year, and it’s one I’ll never forget.


Did anything particularly inspire you this year? Let me know!

Check out more List-cember posts here.

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.