motivation

You Won’t Win Unless You’re Willing to Lose

In October of 2017, as he was training for the 2018 Winter Olympics, Shaun White had a horrible crash that resulted in 62 stitches in his face. In an interview a few months later, he was asked whether the crash gave him doubts about his ability or willingness to continue, especially in pursuit of a spot on the Olympic team. He nodded his head, saying that while he looked in the mirror at his nearly unrecognizable face, he realized that by agreeing to continue, agreeing to step back out there and try again, he was more or less accepting that this could happen all over again.

At first, this statement seemed obvious to me. Being a complete outsider to the sport, the corresponding danger is constantly at the forefront of my attention. I mean, they are literally throwing themselves through the air, flipping and spinning and twisting at high speeds, all the while hoping they’ll land flat on a thin piece of fiberglass. With that in mind, of course it could happen again, Shaun! Honestly it seems like it should happen more.

But as the weeks went on and the Olympics came and went, the quote sat with me, churning around in my brain the way all lessons waiting to be learned tend to. Eventually I started thinking about the risks I take in my own life. Both small and big. I thought about my writing, both on this blog and outside it in pursuit of other projects, accolades, etc. Every time I write a blog post, I accept the fact that people might not like it, or that it might not do well. Every time I submit a piece to a contest or a magazine or a publisher, I accept the fact that it might lose or get rejected. Every time I try to succeed, I accept the fact I can fail.

After a while, I realized this mindset can apply to almost every aspect of our lives.

In relationships, every time you make yourself vulnerable you accept the fact that you could get hurt.

In finances, every time you make an investment you accept the fact that it could fall through.

Plans can fail. Accidents can happen. Hearts can break.

In this world, there is a lot to be afraid of, there is a lot that can go wrong, and there are a lot of opportunities to fail. But every day we get up, every day we step outside, every time we accept those fears and try again, we give ourselves the change to succeed, to win.

On February 14th, after spending months both recovering from his injury and working his way back into the physical and mental shape needed to make the Olympic team, Shaun White won the gold medal in the Snowboard Halfpipe event, making him the most decorated snowboarder of all time.

In many ways it was expected, hoped for, anticipated, both by Shaun White and the millions of people tuning in to the competition. But the only guarantee would have come from him not trying, not taking that risk, not stepping back into the sport all those months ago. The same goes for anything you hope for, I dream of, we all aim to accomplish. So even though failure is hard, vulnerability is terrifying and losing sucks, it’s worth the risk. Not only because it brings you one step closer to success, but because it makes you stronger, braver and smarter than you were before. And although it might not feel like it, trying and failing will always show more courage than avoiding failure all together. So take the risk, make the try and see where it takes you.

Just Keep Dribbling

There is a boy in my neighborhood, probably about 12 or 13 years old, who is constantly dribbling a basketball on the sidewalk in front of his house. When I get home from work, he’s out there. When I go to the gym, he’s out there. When I sit on my couch trying to find inspiration for a blog post, he’s out there, just like he is right now. Dribbling and dribbling and dribbling.

Now, I don’t know what this boy’s dreams are. I don’t know if he wants basketball to be his life, or if maybe it already is. I don’t know if he wants to play in the NBA or if dribbling on his front porch is just how he blows off steam. But when I hear him out there, I smile, because I recognize the habit or the vice or the passion or whatever basketball is to him. For me, it’s been writing, it’s been photography, it’s been books, it’s been sports, and a number of other things.

These passions, these vices, these dreams all start small. They all start with just a dribble. And in order to make them real, to turn them into something tangible and successful and satisfying, we have to keep dribbling. Even when the days start to go by faster, even when our schedules start to get fuller, even when our bodies start to grow tired.

In my life, there are things I want to accomplish. Tons of things. Heck, I even have lists of them on the Internet. But while some of these things may seem impossible, some of them may seem far-fetched or unlikely or incredibly difficult, some of them might even be things I’ll change my mind on in a few years, what’s important is that I’m trying. Day in, day out, I’m trying. I’m working. To make myself better. To make myself stronger. To remind myself that no matter what life throws at me, I can keep working.

When I see that boy outside his house, I wonder what he’s working towards. If it’s basketball, I wonder if there are days when he sits inside with the ball in his lap, telling himself to just give up. Then I think about the things I’m working towards, some of which I’ve grown frustrated with the lack of progress on, and I ask myself if it’s because they’re not meant to be, or if I’ve just spent too many days indoors with the ball in my lap.

At the end of the day, it’s all about taking those small steps. As hard is it is to believe, they do add up and they will pay off. We just have to keep dribbling. And dribbling. And dribbling.

2017 Goals Final Check-In

So I’ve decided to use this week as a kind of “wrap up” for 2017. Monday was the last episode (in 2017) of All the Good Things, and today we take a final look at my 2017 goals. Let’s see how I did:

1) See Star Wars

COMPLETED

That’s right folks, I can finally unlock a new level of society because I have officially seen all the Star Wars films. Well, at least all of them except the new one. But to be fair, that one wasn’t on the list because I didn’t know it was coming out. So as of now I’m counting myself among the I’ve-been-too-busy-with-the-holidays-to-see-the-new-one-yet breed, which is exactly where I want to be.

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2) See 5 WLRA’s

COMPLETED

WRLA (pronounced wool-rah) is my nickname for the World’s Largest Roadside Attractions, which I became addicted to sometime last year. It is among my life goals to see them all, and so I’m chipping them off slowly. This year I shot for five, and ended up seeing the fifth one just under the wire. My sister and I drove out to see the World’s Largest Donut on New Year’s Eve Eve. The other four I saw this year were the World’s Largest Paper Cup, Fishing Fly, Thermometer and Monk.

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3) Try this jean rug DIY

COMPLETED

I did most of the prep for this project back in September, but didn’t actually sew it together until this past weekend. On one hand I could say I’m glad I was ahead of the game (at one point) because when I finally sat down to sew it together, all the pieces were already cut. But on other hand, I wish I would have just taken the time to sew it together back then, it might have been a tinge less stressful. Regardless, I’m very proud of the end result. It’s nowhere near perfect, but it’s something I actually sewed with my own two hands and, like, HOW COOL IS THAT?!

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4) Run 1,000 miles

COMPLETED

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It’s almost unfathomable that I can write “complete” on this goal, but it is, in fact, COMPLETE! I, Kimberlee K, ran 1000 miles in 2017. EEEK. You can read all about this ridiculously crazy feat here.

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5) Complete The Ultimate Fit Bit Week

COMPLETED

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At the beginning of the year I decided to make my own Fitbit achievement known as “The Ultimate Fit Bit Week.” Essentially I wanted to see if I could meet every goal (i.e. steps taken, calories burned, active minutes, etc.) every single day for an entire week. Let me tell you, it was not easy, but it’s one of those things that I can now say that I did, which is cool. You can read about it here. Also, if you’re reading this, Fitbit, make sure you name this challenge after me if you ever make it, you know, a thing.

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6) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

COMPLETED

As I’ve said in previous check-ins, this was one of my favorite goals of the year, which made it a no brainer to add it to my list of goals for 2018. I’d highly encourage anyone and everyone to volunteer if they get a chance. It’s truly one of the most rewarding experiences!

These were my five for this year:

  • Food Forward (5/21/17)
  • Children’s Hunger Fund (6/24/17)
  • My Stuff Bags (8/10/17)
  • Food Forward (8/26/17)
  • Children’s Hunger Fund (10/7/17)

You can find opportunities to volunteer here.

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7) Go to a sporting event of “every” kind (i.e. baseball, football, hockey, basketball, & soccer)

60% COMPLETED

When the year started, the NFL, NBA and NHL were all in the tail end of their regular seasons and moving into the playoffs, thus making tickets to the games way out of my price range. So, since I knew baseball would be an easy one to check off (because I’m a huge Dodger fan), and soccer season was just about to start, I decided to channel my energy into those and put the other three checkpoints on hold until the end of the year (a.k.a the beginning of a new season). In the end, while I was lucky enough to be invited to a hockey game (in a suite!! Thanks, Sam!) I never found my way to a basketball or football game this year. But don’t fret! At the end of the day, not going to a basketball or football game doesn’t make my year a “failure” or this goal a wash. And it would be a waste to get caught up in the parameters of the goal and obsess over the failures rather than celebrate the successes. For among the casual weeknight Dodger games I got to attend this year, I also got to see Game 6 of the World Series, and got my family out to see an LA Galaxy soccer game, which we probably never would have done otherwise. When I think about it like that, I’d say it’s a pretty successful goal.

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8) Try every class at the gym

VETOED

The lack of progress on this one began with a lack of facilities, due to water damage at my local gym. It was back up and running in April, but then April turned into May and then June and then July, leading me to believe that procrastination had taken over. While that was definitely part of it, the truth was, I was scared. By July I had hit the 500-mile mark of my running goal, making the finish line something I could actually picture, and I was scared to do anything that might prevent me from reaching it. So around October, I more or less forfeited—or rather vetoed—this goal for 2017 and decided to add it as a bonus goal for this coming year. I still want to get a taste of what my gym membership is getting me and I figure it will be a good way to stay in shape.

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9) Do The Princess Diaries painting

COMPLETED

You remember this iconic scene from classic RomCom The Princess Diaries, right?

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I mean I think it’s safe to say we were all jealous of that mother/daughter arts and crafts session. Lucky for me, I have an amazing group of friends and family that dove headfirst into this project for my 27th birthday.

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You can read about that day here.

Also, I recently got a chance to hang the end results up on my wall and it makes me smile every time I pass by.

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

COMPLETED

This was another goal that I was super excited about and it did not disappoint. I’ve always wanted to take more advantage of my access to downtown Los Angeles, and I feel like this search for the “best of” restaurants in my five favorite food groups (i.e. pizza, burgers, ice cream, donuts and sandwiches) helped me scratch the surface.

Here are my five finds:

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11) Watch every film that has ever won Best Picture

98.88% COMPLETED

As of my last check-in, I had 60 movies to watch before the end of the year. When the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, I only had one. Before you “awww”, know that this was intentional, as I realized (too late) that the last movie on the list was the final film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I haven’t seen the first two…

…DON’T GIVE ME THAT LOOK. I realize this is another cardinal sin of cinema and I’m going to make right, okay? I’m adding this trilogy as another bonus goal for 2018.

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12) Learn to Longboard

VETOED

Similar to goal #8, I more or less quit on this goal after I became knee deep in my running. It just seemed too likely that I’d fall off my longboard and tweak an ankle (or worse) and I wasn’t willing to give up the progress I’d made. So, again, this was postponed. Hopefully I’ll find the courage to *shred* in 2k18.

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13) Learn to do a headband braid

COMPLETED (I GUESS)

Have you ever adopted a new hobby and put in a bunch of time to get better at it, only to realize that your skill level is and always will be pretty basic. Yeah, well that’s how I feel about the headband braid. After spending the year watching a bunch of different tutorial videos and knotting my hair a bunch of different ways, I more or less accepted that I’m just not good at headband braids. I get the basic concept, but my end result always looks like I let a little kid play hair salon. SO, I’m forfeiting my pursuit of the perfect braid. The way I see it, at least I can say I tried, and at least I have a handful of friends that are willing to do my hair.

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

COMPLETED

This was another highlight of my year. After hitting the 100,000 mile mark, my family and I loaded up into Jeffrey—wearing sparkly hats and homemade glasses no less—and took a ridiculous amount of pictures and Boomerangs to commemorate the occasion.

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You can read all about Jeffrey’s (my car) big milestone here.

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15) Do a bar/pub crawl

COMPLETED

As if it were destined for my attendance, when I Googled “bar crawls” in October, I found 12 Bars of Charity, which divides its attendees into “teams” and gives them t-shirts to showcase the charity they choose to support. My friends and I were on the “black team” which supported the Boys & Girls club. And while we only made it to three of the twelve bars—because we spent too much time talking at each one shrug_1f937.png—we still had a great time, and talked about going again next year to go to the bars we missed. (Though at this rate it will take us 4 years to see them all)

If you’re interested, 12 Bars of Charity has events all over the country. Check here to see if there’s one near you.

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16) Sing Karaoke

COMPLETED

Much to the surprise of my pre-2017 self, karaoke became somewhat of a staple for my year. My friends and I found a favorite place and made many an appearance on a Saturday night. I found that it is one of the best ways to blow off steam and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

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17) Complete Project Lightbulb

COMPLETED

Project Lightbulb is the nickname I gave my family’s dream vacation to Iceland. And while it became clear that this goal would be impossible to complete this year, I decided that as long as we made steps towards planning and booking it—a.k.a inching it to a reality—I’d call it a win. That being said, this year we did take steps in the right direction by officially opening a savings account so we can slowly save up enough money to make this thing happen! Iceland here we come!

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And that, as they say, is that! I completed 14 of my 17 goals, which is an accomplishment in itself, and what I didn’t finish, I plan on carrying over into this new year.

But the ultimate win here is the I CAN that comes alongside the setting and completing of goals, no matter what those goals may be. This list of 17 goals inspired me to get completely out of my comfort zone, which led me on new adventures I never would have experienced otherwise. I can only hope that the goals I set for 2018 can do the same.

If you are someone who is looking for some inspiration in your life, I highly encourage you to set goals. Whether big or small, artistic, athletic or otherwise, write them down, put them out into the universe, and then go for them! You might surprise yourself how much you can accomplish.

Happy New Year!

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

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

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

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

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

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1) Be Crazy

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

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2) Listen to Those Around You

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

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3) Don’t Listen to Those Around You

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

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4) Be Consistently Patient

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

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5) Expect Injuries and Work Through Them

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

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6) Feed Your Senses

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

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7) Keep Track

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

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

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

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

You’re Free to be Great, So Go for It

This past week I officially hit the 900 mile mark of my 1000 mile running goal for the year. It’s been a trying 11 months to get here, and I have a feeling this final month will take everything I have to finish. My body is tired. It’s been sore and achy and fatigued more days than it hasn’t. And yet, I still feel strong. I feel like I can do anything.

Over the course of this year, I’ve looked for and found a variety of different things to listen to/watch while I’m running, the most prominent being my ever changing playlist on my phone, aptly titled “Running.” Consistently among my favorites on the playlist is “The Greatest” by Sia.

The song starts as follows:

Uh-oh I’m running out of breath, but I’ve got stamina.

Uh-oh I’m running now I close my eyes, well I got stamina.

And uh-oh, I see another mountain to climb

But I got stamina

For obvious reasons, this first verse makes sense on a running playlist. I mean what else besides stamina—and the slightest bit of insanity—do you need to get yourself running? To add to that, in the next part she sings:

Don’t give up

I won’t give up

Don’t give up, no, no, no

Which again, is exactly the kind of mindset you need to have while running.

The part that really hooks me though, is the chorus:

I’m free to be the greatest, I’m alive

I’m free to be the greatest here tonight, the greatest

The greatest, the greatest alive

The greatest, the greatest alive

I tell ya, whenever that chorus kicks in while I’m running, I break out into a sprint. Because aside from being the kind of inspirational “go team” type of sentiment that I need when I’m exercising, it fills me with motivation that I can take further.

I’m free to be the greatest, she says, I’m alive.

In other words: I’m free to be the greatest I can be, in anything I choose to try, because I have the great privilege of being alive. I firmly believe that the idea behind these words is what gets me out there running every day. It’s what put the idea in my head that I could run 1000 miles in the first place. For there’s truly nothing greater than making your dreams a reality and your doubts fiction.

So, I encourage you to chase them with everything you’ve got. Because as of today, as of this moment, you are completely free to be the greatest you can be, so you might as well go for it.

 

2017 Goals Check-In #3

You know that old “glass half full/half empty” argument that determines whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist? Well I was recently thinking about 2017, and the fact that it’s now ¾ of the way over, and I was thinking that we can look at it two ways:

1) We let it fill us: We started with an empty glass and allowed all the lessons we learned and experiences we had to slowly fill our cup.

2) We let it drain us: We started with a full glass and then watched as the stress and anxieties of the year slowly emptied our cup, leaving us with almost nothing left.

But while it’s easy to identify which is optimistic vs. pessimistic on paper, it’s harder to admit, or even more, to correct how we’ve been thinking about our year. For me personally, I set a lofty list of goals this year, and there have been many times when I’ve sat down on my couch exhausted, loathing every single one of them. And while I think it’s perfectly normal and necessary to have those moments once in a while, it would be a shame to let them overshadow all the good ones. That being said, let us focus on the good moments. The badass moments that continue to bring us closer to the goals we’ve set for ourselves. I wish you luck on yours, here’s how I’m doing on mine:

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1) See Star Wars

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 3/8 (37.50%)

Current Progress: 3/8 (37.50%)

In a way I feel like my lack of progress here is a strategy of sorts. With the new Star Wars movie coming out in 2 months, I have the opportunity to walk into the theater having just seen the last few movies. So this excuses me from waiting so long to watch the rest of them, right? RIGHT?

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2) See 5 WLRA’s

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 3/5 (60%)

Current Progress: 4/5 (80%)

At the end of August my family drove up north to drop my brother off at college. And since my eyes are alwaaays open for WRLAs, I quickly figured out that the World’s Largest Monk was only 20 minutes away from his school. Thankfully, my family understands and supports my crazy mind, so after a somewhat emotional weekend, we pulled off the freeway to check this one off the list.

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3) Try this jean rug DIY

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 25%

Current Progress: 75%

I officially have all the pieces cut and they are patiently waiting to be sewed together. In other words, I’ve done everything I can do before all that’s left for me to do is use my sewing machine…

I’m still slightly terrified, and I’m minorly convinced this is where I’ll ruin the rug, but hey, the goal specifically states to try, right? It doesn’t say make an award winning rug sure to be included in the National History Museum upon your death. So I’m going to give it my best shot. Stay tuned.

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4) Run 1,000 miles

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 474.01 miles (47.42%)

Current Progress: 743.23 miles (74.32%)

GUYS. I’M KIND OF TIRED OF RUNNING. Do I love the way it makes me feel? Yes. Am I continually proud of myself for pursuing this goal? Yes. But am I ready for it to be over? YES. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent calculating miles and scheduling routes. And while it’s obviously paid off, as I’m only about 250 miles away from the Promised Land, I’M READY TO BE IN THE FREAKING PROMISED LAND, OKAY? Wish me and my legs luck as we run these last few hundred miles.

5) Complete The Ultimate Fit Bit Week

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 100%!

This. Was. A. TASK. Read about it here.

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6) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 2/5 (40%)

Current Progress: 5/5 (100%)!

In case anyone is curious, these are the places I volunteered to fulfill this requirement:

While I’m so glad I was able to complete the (minimum) requirement for this goal, I also find it funny that I did so in 5 months. I totally slacked the first half of the year, and I can’t help but think if I had gotten on the ball sooner, I’d have double the volunteer shifts under my belt. This past weekend, as my mom and I were volunteering at Children’s Hunger Fund, I realized how much of a privilege it is to volunteer and I really want to make a better effort to do it as often as I can.

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7) Go to a sporting event of “every” kind (i.e. baseball, football, hockey, basketball, & soccer)

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 1/5 (20%)

Current Progress: 2/5 (40%)

With football officially kicked off, hockey season fully underway, and basketball season only a few weeks out, I have no excuse not to get my butt to a game! If you see a brunette holding a hot dog with way too much ketchup and mustard, animatedly screaming at a group of grown men chasing a ball/puck, there’s probably a 5% chance it’s not me.

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8) Try every class at the gym

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

I know, I know. I’ve given excuse after excuse after excuse on this one, but this is the last one, I promise! For the past few months I’ve been consistently behind on my running goal, making that my #1 priority. As a result, I haven’t had time/energy/will to make it to the gym and have my ass further kicked by physical activity. However, I’m finally gaining some ground and will most likely start showing my (probably panicked) face at the gym again this month.

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9) Do The Princess Diaries painting

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 100%!

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I’m not sure how many 26 year olds would ask to spend their 27th birthday throwing darts at water balloons full of paint, but I’m glad I’m one of them, and I highly recommend you look into it as well, no matter what number awaits you at your next birthday. You can read all about how we did it here.

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

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 4/5 (80%)

I’d like to officially issue a THANK YOU to my roommates for helping me out with this goal because without them, I have no doubts I’d still be sitting on a goose egg. In the last few months, we’ve tried LA’s best pizza (Pizzeria Mozza), sandwich (Mendocino Farms), ice cream (Salt & Straw) and burger, the quest for the burger probably being the most fun. We went to the first inaugural Battle of the Burgers, which was an event that brought 11 of LA’s best burger vendors to a park downtown and charged $20 for three beers, a burger from each place, and a yellow ticket to vote on your favorite, thus making it the BEST DAY EVER. My roommates voted for Grill ‘Em All, I voted for Everson Royce Bar, and the winner—who we had all counted as our 2nd place choice—was Beacon Echo Park. If you’re in the LA area, check them out!

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11) Watch every film that has ever won Best Picture

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 11/89 (12.36%)

Current Progress: 28 (31.46%)

This is a slowly but surely, turtle and hare type situation. The turtle being me and the hare being time. I fully realize that my needing to watch 60 movies in 3 months, all of which are riddled with holidays, seems like kind of a shot in the dark, but I have a feeling my competitive spirit will find a way to get this thing done. In the meantime, I’m receiving a mean movie education (or movie-cation for all my Pitch Perfect peeps), and have been talking everyone’s ear off in the process. My top 5 favorite movies that I’ve watched so far (not including the handful I’d seen prior to this year) are: Gentleman’s Agreement, Annie Hall, Rain Man, Driving Miss Daisy, and Slumdog Millionaire.

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12) Learn to Longboard

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

The only excuse I have for not making progress on this one is I’m a little scared I’ll more or less break my body. (You know, casual fears.) However, just as my DIY rug doesn’t have to be worthy of museum display, my skateboarding skills don’t have to resemble those you might find on Tony Hawk Pro-Skater. SO, I’m going to suck it up and do it. Stay tuned.

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13) Learn to do a headband braid

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 20%

Current Progress: 40%

To be honest, I’m not even sure how I’m gaging my progress on this one. At the end of the year, it’s either a can or can’t do it type of situation. Sure, I know more about it than when I started, but is that exactly 40% more? Who knows? What I do know is I could use a few alternative hairstyles, especially with all of the holiday family pictures headed my way, so hopefully I’ll find that missing 60% in the next few months.

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

COMPLETED

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Read all about Jeffrey’s (my car) big milestone here.

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15) Do a bar/pub crawl

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Yeahhhhhhh, about this one. I kind of keep forgetting about it. Good news is, the upcoming months should feature a handful of themed bar crawls I can check out. Look for me in a tacky sweater tavern or a pumpkin spiced lounge or a ghoul-ful pub. Or, if none of those exist, look for me opening a tacky sweater tavern, a pumpkin spiced lounge or a ghoul-ful pub.

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16) Sing Karaoke

COMPLETED

Much to the surprise of my pre-2017 self, I’ve actually done karaoke 4 separate times now, all of which have been about 100 times more fun than I ever thought karaoke could be. That being said, while I’d never pressure anyone into doing something they didn’t want to do, I highly recommend you give karaoke a shot. There are few things more freeing than belting out a Backstreet Boys song, knowing you’re hitting exactly zero notes, and yet not caring one bit.

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17) Complete Project Lightbulb

1st & 2nd Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 25%

After it became clear that this goal would be impossible to complete this year, I decided that as long as we made steps towards planning and booking it for next year, I’d call it a win. That being said, we finally made our first step in that direction, as we opened a savings account where we can slowly save up enough money to make this thing happen! Iceland here we come!

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As a whole, I’m just under 58% finished, which again, I’m deciding to take on a half-full mindset about. There’s no use in letting what I haven’t done take the focus away from what I have. I will continue to work my butt off and hopefully come the end of December, I’ll be sitting behind this computer writing up the 4th and final update, feeling filled up with pride for the crazy, hard, and amazing year that was 2017. See you then!

2017 Goals Check-In (#2)

The fact that we are already one week into July has me feeling a little bit like this:

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This always seems to happen. One minute you’re ringing in the New Year, the next you’re…ringing in the New Year. Everything—except lines at the DMV, clocks in an office building, and lethargic pedestrians—moves so fast! This year especially seems to be moving quick because I have so many goals I’m trying to keep track of.

Let me tell ya, if you ever want to live a year in fast forward, set a list of specific goals for yourself and watch the time fly by. Sure, it’s a little bit frightening, but it’s also exciting, because alongside all that time travel is a growing list of accomplishments.

Full disclosure: since my last goal update post I did make a spreadsheet to better aid me in my quest of tracking my progress. In other words, over the last three months I’ve leveled up in nerd. #noshame

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1) See Star Wars

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 37.50%

That’s right, I’m down to the .5%, people! You thought I was kidding about the whole spreadsheet thing, didn’t you? You should know me better than that by now. Anyways, yes, I have watched the first three Star Wars movies—and by first three I mean Episodes 4, 5 & 6, because I was told to watch them in order of release date, not episode number—and you can read all about that experience here, here, and here. Did I like them, you ask? Well, let’s just say there’s a C3P0 keychain in my Amazon cart and a Death Star waffle maker on my wish list.

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2) See 5 WLRA’s

1st Quarter Progress: 3/5 (60%)

Current Progress: 3/5 (60%)

I was pleasantly surprised by how well I attacked this quest at the beginning of the year. My sister and I actually worked two WRLA’s into our previously planned road trip earlier this year which ended up being 100% worth it. As of now, I have a few oversized sites in mind to top off this year and am currently in the process of making that happen.

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3) Try this jean rug DIY

1st Quarter Progress: 25%

Current Progress: 25%

This has been kind of a daunting task all its own because, seeing as it’s a project that involves sewing, I have to, you know, learn to sew. And while sewing has been on my to-do list for quite some time—my family was even so generous as to buy me a sewing machine for my birthday last year—I’m still rather terrified I’ll end up sewing my lip to something. HOWEVER, this shall not deter me.

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4) Run 1,000 miles

1st Quarter Progress: 233.84 miles (23%)

Current Progress: 474.1 miles (47.42%)

After taking an entire week off during my vacation in March, I arrived home to find myself terrifyingly far behind schedule. To make matters worse, in that short amount of time, I somehow managed to fall slightly out of shape, so my first run back was frustratingly hard. As a result, I spent many a late night thinking about quitting. A part of me wondered if maybe I should just call it a wash and try again another year. But the other part of me—the competitive, can’t stop, won’t stop part of me—said “hell no.” So, after gaining very little ground in April, I welcomed May with open and determined arms. I was going to catch up and I was going to start immediately. That month, I ran 22 out 31 days, totaling just under 100 miles. It was by far the hardest month so far, but at the same time, the most beneficial. I’m more motivated than ever to accomplish this crazy goal I’ve set and have found myself more courageous and daring in my running than ever before. Plus, with the 500-mile mark right around the corner, I can already taste that Heisman.

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5) Complete The Ultimate Fit Bit Week

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Yeah, nope. Still haven’t gotten around to this one.

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6) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 40%

With the arrival of summer, and the beginning of a new outreach at my church, I was able to find a couple great opportunities to volunteer over the past couple months and already have a few more penciled in for the next couple months, which makes my heart happy. I always forget how rewarding volunteering is until I get back in the groove of it, then I want to volunteer everywhere all at once! In case you’re interested, the organizations I’ve worked with so far are Children’s Hunger Fund and Food Forward. I believe Food Forward only has locations in California, but Children’s Hunger Fund has a few branches across the country, so if you can find one near you, I highly recommend looking up opportunities to volunteer. Also, if you have any places you love to volunteer, I’d love to hear about them!

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7) Go to a sporting event of “every” kind (i.e. baseball, football, hockey, basketball, & soccer)

1st Quarter Progress: 1/5 (20%)

Current Progress: 1/5 (20%)

As I stated in the first progress post, I haven’t really had the opportunity to make progress on this one because most of the sports are out of season. However, I do have a soccer game on the calendar for July and football, hockey, and basketball will all be back in the fall.

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8) Try every class at the gym

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Good news! My gym has finally resumed its workout classes. Thus, I can finally start making some progress on this goal a.k.a probably writing posts about how hard/painful the workout classes are. Stay tuned for whiny rants about how my fingers feel like they’re made of glass and how my legs have forgotten how to be legs.

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9) Do The Princess Diaries painting

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Yeah, so, another goal full of goose eggs for me here. However, while I’ve made no progress on the actual painting, I have garnered some interest from friends who want to participate. So, if you happen to see a group of people throwing darts at easels, don’t worry, it’s just me and my friends achieving.

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

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Honestly, I have no explanation for why I’ve made no progress on this one. I mean, it’s a goal that involves FOOD. *shakes head in shame*

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11) Watch every film that has ever won Best Picture

1st Quarter Progress: 6/89 (6%)

Current Progress: 11/89 (12.36%)

Fun fact: Netflix DVD (who is not sponsoring me, but totally should) has pretty much every movie ever, so to make progress on this goal, I recently upgraded my subscription and it’s been great. My mailbox has been pleasantly surprised to receive little red envelopes containing musicals and romantic drama-dies from the 40s and I look forward to working my way up to present day Oscar winners.

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12) Learn to Longboard

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

The to-do list on this one remains firm:

1) Buy a helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads

2) Wear aforementioned safety apparel with pride

3) Lose all inhibitions.

When I’ve managed to do all three, I’ll have some progress (and probably bruises) to update you on.

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13) Learn to do a headband braid

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 40%

I’ve watched this tutorial on YouTube a few times and have been working to improve my skills gradually. I expect it will still take me a solid while to get it, but at least I understand the concept now. I used to think it was 100% impossible unless you had three arms.

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

1st Quarter Progress: 99,720 miles (99%)

Current Progress: 100%

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THAT’S RIGHT! For those of you keeping track at home, you can officially check off #14. I wrote a whole post about my car, Jeffrey’s, big day which you can read here.

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15) Do a bar/pub crawl

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

There appears to be an inkling of a plan for this one to happen around my birthday. Stay tuned.

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16) Sing Karaoke

Current Progress: Complete!

Much to the surprise of my pre-2017 self, I’ve actually done karaoke 3 separate times now, all of which have been about 100 times more fun than I ever thought karaoke could be. That being said, while I’d never pressure anyone into doing something they don’t want to do, I highly recommend you give karaoke a shot. There are few things more freeing than belting out a Backstreet Boys song, knowing you’re hitting exactly zero notes, and yet not caring one bit.

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17) Complete Project Lightbulb

Current Progress: Same as Quarter One.

Due to scheduling/financial conflicts, it appears as though the trip that coincides with this project will not be able to take place until next year, thus preventing the goal in its original form from being accomplished. However, I’m planning on shifting it a bit, so as not to punish myself over unforeseen circumstances.  I figure, if we get the whole trip planned to the tee, with everything set and ready to book, if not booked for 2018, I’d call that a success in its own right.

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Adding all of that together, it comes out to about 29% complete. Which is kind of disappointing to look at, especially since it’s only 10% more than the first quarter. HOWEVER, I’ve done more planning and organizing in this second quarter than I did in the first, which has put me on a much better looking path for the second half of this year. So stay tuned folks! These next few months are going to be crazy. See you in September!

5 Easy Ways to Save the World

With Earth Day coming up this Saturday there’s going to be a lot of talk about the environment and, well, the way we as humans are essentially destroying it. These conversations can often be tense because while yes, we do love and care for the environment, not everyone is into reusable everything. But while we’re not all eco super heroes, we all have the potential to be their sidekicks, and today I have some easy ways to help you reach that potential.

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1) Take advantage of Tupperware

When my sister and I first moved into our own place, one of the first gifts we were given was a sh*tload of Tupperware from a few generous family members. And while I used the occasional box for leftovers, I was much more apt to grab a plastic bag for whatever needed storing, including the sandwich and apple slices I put in my lunch every day. Now, call it divine intervention—or laziness—but when I ran out of plastic bags, instead of going to the store, I used a Tupperware to store the sandwich, and one for the apple slices. Call it a change of heart—or recurring laziness—but I’ve yet to go back. I’ve been using Tupperware for about 2 months now in place of plastic bags, and when you run the numbers that equates to over 100 plastic bags I haven’t put in the trash. This may not seem like a lot, but you figure if everyone in my office made the same switch, we would probably save upwards of 300 bags in that same time period, and if that habit spread outward to other offices, well, you get it.

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2) Use Less Paper Towels

I’m a creature of habit, so when I use a public bathroom I will almost always grab three paper towels to dry my hands after washing. I don’t have a reason for landing on this number, I don’t have a compulsive need to maintain this number and I only recently noticed it was a consistency, so I figured it might be an easy thing to change. And while its only a small change (I take 2 now), again it all goes back to the if I do it and then someone else does it and then someone else and then someone else. Little tweaks to normal behavior can make a big difference.

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3) Carry a Reusable Water BottleThis is a two-fer because it eliminates the use of plastic water bottles, and it helps you stay hydrated. Have you ever been at a party holding a water bottle, only to put it down, walk away and try to come back to it, only to realize that 20 other people have open water bottles, so instead of doing a DNA test on each and every one, you just decide to open a new one? Very anti-eco super hero move there, my friend. When you bring your own water bottle, like this giant I haul almost everywhere with me, you never have to worry about orphaning a water bottle again. And while sure, you might get the occasional mocking of your super cool, super giant and bulky hip hydration station, you can always hit them with this awesome come back, “Yeah, this bottle isn’t the most attractive thing around, but you know what is attractive? My unstoppable, indescribable, hardworking kidneys that reap the benefits*.”

*Note: This comment might provoke more mocking than aweing, thus, a third use for your reusable water bottle is a weapon to ward off haters. Just one swift swing to the stomach should get the point across.

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4) Support the Superheroes

Like I said before, we’re not all cutout to be superheroes, but there are a handful that are. And it’s those people that are recycling and up-cycling and bicycling (probably) their hearts out. So when you see products made from recycled goods and it catches your eye, buy it! Help keep those superheroes in business! (Here’s a list of some cool places to check out!)

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5) Carpool

I think we’ve all heard this one time and time again, but I figured I’d throw it on here anyways because I firmly believe it can save the world in more ways than one. First and foremost, carpooling obviously reduces carbon emissions. Second and (still kind of) foremost, carpooling cuts down the physical number of cars on the road, thus reducing traffic, thus reducing the number of people planning to murder other people. So buddy up and carpool, you just might save a life and the environment, and five minutes on the way to work.

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Happy (almost) Earth Day everyone!