personal

Why Finding Your Own Voice Can Help Everyone

Not too long ago, I did a thorough cleaning of my house in which I gave away things I didn’t use, threw away things that were broken, and, more than anything, found things I forgot I had. One such thing was a book called “Music Listography,” which I’m pretty sure I impulse bought from Target, and seeing as its copyright is from 2009, it’s safe to say I bought it a while ago.

The point of the book is to flip through the pages and fill in the music related prompts with lists of songs, bands, concerts, albums, etc, until you have a kind of music autobiography (or listography) of your life. It’s a cool idea, and the creator, Lisa Nola, has a whole series of “listography” books to help you create a simplified, listified story of your life.

Looking at it now, I have no doubt why I bought. And to be honest, there is a part of me tempted to add the rest of the series to my Amazon cart as I write this. For as a writer, it is not only important, but vital to me to constantly get to know myself—what I like, what I dislike, what I’m working towards, and what I believe in—because it helps me continue to write, which in turn helps me understand myself, the world around me, and where I fit in it.

Perhaps one of the most important things we can do with our lives is understand it. Not understand the who’s and how’s of everything and everyone around us, but the what’s and why’s of our own personalities, beliefs, behaviors, and dreams. It is important to know where we stand, and to discern and feel confident about our opinions, from music to politics to religion, and everywhere in between.

We are all born into different families and different circumstances, in different environments with different obstacles. That gives us each a unique perspective. We all have our own reasons to believe in what we believe in, and different motivations to fight for what we fight for. So it is crucial to get to know ourselves and accept ourselves, so that we may be better equipped to know and accept others. In knowing where we stand and what we believe, we are given the opportunity to talk to other people from a place of confidence and grace, rather than fear and defensiveness. It also gives us the opportunity to see a new side of things, to explore a new avenue of thinking, and perhaps even change our mind.

So as our world continues to demand change, I have made it a mission of mine to learn all that I can about the world I live in, about all the sides of it that I know and all the sides I don’t. I’m looking at different perspectives, listening to different stories, and hearing different voices. In doing so, I am getting a better idea of who I am, what I believe and how my unique voice can help advocate for this much needed change.

The day I bought that “Music Listography” book I know it was from a place of longing. I wanted to fill the book out, but I wanted to do it in a way that would be impressive to others. While I was curious about “who I was” I was more concerned with whether that person was cool. Today, as I flip through the pages, I have a much clearer idea of how I would actually fill them out, and I might even go through and cross out the answers that were so clearly reaching. For now I know the music that moves me, and I know the reasons why. And though a small part of me will always want to be “cool” I don’t want it at the expense of being honest—not just in the context of this book but in every aspect of my life.

I truly want to know and be known, so I will keep learning, keep growing, and keep listening. I will keep asking questions, not only to get an answer, but to hear the many answers until I find one that aligns with who I am and what I believe in. I will share the things that give me comfort in the hopes it can comfort others, and I will share the things that make me uncomfortable to find out why, and to see if I can help change them.

I also think it’s important to note that we all fight on different stages and at different volumes. So as we work to figure out who we are and where we stand, let us also discover how we were made to stand. It might not be in the same place, in the same spotlight, or in the same style as those we know—even those we share beliefs with. And that is okay. We all have a unique voice and a unique way to share it, and so long as we keep working to find that voice, find the honesty in it, the fight behind it, and how we can best use it, we will find our way to not only stand, but create lasting change.

An Ode to Tuna Noodles

Dear Tuna Noodles,

Thank you, for being you. Thank you for your egg noodles. Thank you for your tuna. Thank you for your cream of mushroom soup. But most of all, thank you for your 100% not organic or diet friendly or doctor recommended Velveeta cheese.

Thank you for all of the evenings that you cooked in the oven at my grandparents’ house, in my childhood homes, and in friends’ kitchens. Thank you for your heaping portions on the plastic plates that my cousins and I decorated and my grandparents kept on a shelf just for us; and for those on the spring pallet glass plates that my parents still have in their cupboard to this day; and even for those in deep set bowls that somehow still managed to encourage a second and third helping.

Thank you for being easy to make, for giving me something I could cook with my grandma and my mom, and by myself when I studied abroad and wanted a taste of home. Thank you for the memories you unlock with every bite—be it a weeknight conversation at my grandparent’s long, padded dinner table, a lazy Friday night sat on my parents’ kitchen stool with the broken leg, or a living room crowded with family, pets, and TV trays set up in front of a Dodger game.

Thank you for teaching me what comfort food is, and for giving me a recipe to share at every bridal shower I will ever attend. Thank you for giving me something to fall back on and to build up from. I’ve come a long way in my cooking, and I can only hope I have a long way to go, but you will always be my first love. So thank you for all the love. And again, for the Velveeta.

It’s Not “My Year” but it’s Something

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s find out what that something is.

A Little Prayer for You (And Me)

Praying has never been my strong suit.

Ever since I was little I have been taught the value, importance, and power in praying, but I have never been a “good” (eloquent, confident, etc.) prayer, especially out loud or in front of other people.

But lately I have been feeling like I want to pray, for those who have faith, for those who don’t, for those who have a different faith or any degree of spirituality, anyone and everyone who might be reading this, or even those who aren’t.

Ironically, after starting this post about a week ago and then getting too nervous to post it, the pastor of my church gave a sermon all about praying. I was caught off guard listening to him, noting how some points he made seemed to directly address the fears I was having, but I was also encouraged to take a step out of my comfort zone, which brings me here today. So, if you, or anyone you know might need prayer, this is for you, and for me, and for all of us trying to find our way through this trying time.

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Dear God,

I know these last few months have been difficult for most of us, some of us more than others. And I know that I am among so many when I say that I am not just scared of what is happening now, but what could happen, tomorrow or the next day or the next—all the days ahead of us that seem so scary and unknown. There is still so much we have to learn, so far we have to go until we can regain a sense of normalcy, and the imposed limitations have begun to feel suffocating. And so, I pray that we can find a sense of peace. A calmness that doesn’t blind us or numb us to the challenges ahead, but keeps us encouraged to work through them and help one another along the way.

I pray for a peace that abides on the frontlines, bringing confidence and endurance to our nurses, doctors, and frontline workers, helping them find strength and encouragement in their work.

I pray for a peace that reaches those struggling with anxiety, depression, addiction, or any number of mental health struggles that may be exacerbated by this pandemic and its side effects.

I pray for a peace that can overshadow the panic and fears associated with losing a job or being unable to do one’s job efficiently, and can provide courage to those who need to ask for help.

I pray for a peace that can heal the hearts of those who have lost a loved one or who don’t get to see their loved ones for fear of putting them at risk.

I pray for a peace that can keep us united, even as we step further into the unknown. And I pray that we can find compassion and strength alongside each other rather than at odds with one another.

I pray for a peace that can illuminate good moments of mundane days. Whether it be a phone call, a successful pastry bake in the kitchen, a sunset, a smile, or a cool breeze.

I pray for a peace that can give us each a long, deep breath, and encourage us to keep going, along with a confidence that there is not only goodness to be found up ahead, but even right here, where we are.

Amen.

March/April Favorites

Hello there! We are back with another edition of favorites.

I’ll warn you ahead of time, we are ALL OVER the map this month, but I feel like that makes sense.

I’ve been in the mood for a little bit of everything (read: ANYTHING) and so I’ve found a little bit of everything.

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Podcasts

Just like last episode, I’m kicking us off with a dark one. The Dating Game Killer is the true story of serial killer Rodney Alcala, who is currently on death row, and actually made an appearance on the The Dating Game in the 70’s. It is a wild ride.

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum: Everyday Decisions with Jo Firestone. I mentioned a specific episode of this podcast in this post, but I would highly recommend this podcast as a whole. In each episode, comedian Jo Firestone talks to one of her friends, asking them to recount what they did the previous day, from the moment they woke up to the moment they went to sleep. Not only is it fun to hear how people spend their days—because hello, I am nosy—but I also just love the simplistic conversation starter that can ultimately tell you a lot about the person you’re talking to.

And finally, in a spectrum all its own: Dolly Parton’s America. My sister is a big Dolly Parton fan, so when I found this one I was primarily excited to show it to her. But after listening to the first episode, I was hooked. It is such a fun listen that gives you a good look into an icon—highly recommend!

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Books

When looking for a new book, sometimes I’ll know exactly what I’m looking for and other times I don’t have a clue. On one of the latter days, I came across Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic by Michael McCreary, which was the “recommendation of the month” by the library and I’m so glad it was! This book is so funny, and full of great information, making it a great resource for both atypical and neurotypical people.

Next, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto. I have long been on the hunt for a “favorite author” and this book by Mitch Albom pretty much sealed the deal for me. Not only is it an amazing, rich, beautifully written novel typical of Albom (see The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Tuesdays with Morrie, etc.), it is honestly one of the best books I have ever read. It follows the life of Francisco “Frankie” Presto, a prestigious musician whose life—chaotic and difficult as it was—was also full of goodness, wonder, and most of all, purpose.

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TV Shows

I was very very late to the party in watching Schitt’s Creek, but I’m just glad I’m finally here. The show follows The Roses, an extremely wealthy family who, after losing almost everything, move to a small town called “Schitt’s Creek”, which John Rose, the father of the family, had previously purchased as a joke.  This show is so funny and such a highlight to my day whenever I turn it on. (Find it on Netflix.)

Next up, Hunters! This one is definitely heavy, as it is set in the 70’s, 30 years after the Holocaust, and follows a group of Nazi hunters seeking justice for those lost. It is SO. GOOD. Very dark, at times very gory, but very good. The moment I finished season one (which, OH MY GOSH) I immediately started my impatient wait for season two.  (Find it on Amazon Prime)

Did someone say, John Krasinski? Hopefully, because that man is crushing this quarantine thing. But in other awesome things he is a part of: Jack Ryan. This is another show I was behind on, but I quickly caught up. (Find it on Amazon Prime)

And finally, Outer Banks. It is rare that you find that a show that you cannot stop watching and actively look forward to finishing your trivial responsibilities (like work, showering, etc.) so you can watch it again, but this was one of those shows for me. I just had to know what was going to happen. And while it’s hard to describe without giving anything away, one of the best descriptions I’ve heard is that it is what you would get if The OC and The Goonies had a baby. So, if that love child catches your attention, I’d give it a go. (Find it on Netflix.)

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Movies

I saw Emma in theaters (bless) with my best friend, on a Friday night at the beginning of March, which honestly seems like A LIFETIME ago. Nonetheless, I loved this movie and was delighted to learn that the book it is based on was also the inspiration for the 1995 classic Clueless.

A few weeks ago, my family sat down together for a movie night and watched last year’s Academy Award nominated Knives Out. It is the ultimate whodunnit movie that is smart, fun, and honestly kept me guessing the whole way through. It’s one of those that will be especially fun to watch a second time through to see where they dropped all the hints.

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Music

In the music world, I have been shuffling through all kinds of playlists and albums, but these are a few that I keep going back to:

The Dream by Hailey Whitters

kelsea by Kelsea Ballerini

Heartbreak Weather by Niall Horan

We Were Thunder by Lilla Vargen

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Thin Fitbit Wristband

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At the beginning of this month, my Fitbit band got a rip in it, sending me on a frantic search for a new one so I could continue to track my lack of steps. I found these on Amazon, and really like the way they look and feel. Not only are they great quality, but I personally feel like they are a better fit for my wrist than the traditional thick band.  Plus, these come in a four pack, so you have have backups and/or options if you like to change up your look. (find them here)

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This Arm Workout

For the most part, my quarantine exercise routine has consisted of yoga, Dance Church and neighborhood walks, which it has been great, but I have also been on the lookout for something new. Enter this arm workout. It may be short, it may involve no equipment, but man does it BURN.

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Sweet Tea & Bourbon

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I made it a goal of mine a year ago to try every drink on this list of “Most Iconic Drinks in Every State”, and since we’ve had a little extra time, my sister and I have been working our way through it one by one. Among those we’ve tried so far, the Sweet Tea & Bourbon from South Carolina is definitely our favorite. It is made with one-part bourbon, four parts sweet tea, and then (if you are interested) mint and lemon for garnish. It is so delicious and refreshing, perfect for these hot days. (photo credit: Sugar & Charm, check out this post of theirs that also gives you a recipe for homemade sweet tea!)

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Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know!

See my previous favorites post here.

My Quest to Find a Morning Routine (Part 2)

Just about two months ago I posted a blog explaining my want/need for a better morning routine, namely on weekdays. I have long been a chronic snooze pusher, and am often completing my morning responsibilities at somewhat of a jogging pace, and so I thought it was about time to do something about it.

To prepare, I did some research and found a handful of recommendations I could try and add to my routine in order to make it more productive, more efficient, and perhaps even *gasp* more enjoyable?

The suggestions were as follows:

1) Stop pressing snooze/try using “SmartWake” on Fitbit

2) Dream Journal

3) Stretch

4) Review your schedule/to-do list for the day

5) Do a crossword puzzle

So, let’s see how we’re doing.

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1) Stop pressing snooze/try using “SmartWake”

I won’t waste any time in telling you that I have absolutely not stopped pressing snooze. Which is a grim opener, I realize. I did turn on the SmartWake feature on my Fitbit, which is supposed to track your heart rate and use it to wake you up between sleep cycles by vibrating on your wrist. This is a very strange sensation, and it constantly confuses me. And while it was supposed to act as a bridge to no longer pressing snooze, it has instead become a bit of a crutch, in that if my alarm goes off before my SmartWake, I decide I can probably go back to sleep.

It should be noted however, that in the last week or so I changed my alarm tone from the obnoxious pre-loaded selection that came on my phone, to a song I actually like called “Tilted” by Christine & the Queens.  It has a slow, breezy start, and it wakes me up gradually rather than shockingly, and since I changed it I have not only pressed snooze less, but I find that I wake up feeling far less attacked, and thus, slightly more ready to start my day. So that’s something.

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2) Dream Journal

To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever looked at a pen, let alone a journal in the opening minutes of my morning. In fact, if someone arrived at the side of my bed and demanded I write down what I dreamt about or face the pain of death, I’m honestly not sure if my morning motor skills would provide me the ability to stay alive.

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3) Stretch

I have been trying to do one big stretch as a way not only to start my morning, but tell myself that we are getting up now. I will admit though, this demand from myself usually makes me annoyed at myself.

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4) Review your schedule/to-do list for the day

I still like this idea, and I have been doing it as a part of my morning, but not necessarily the first part, and that’s okay with me. I am someone who will continue to remember things I want/need to do as I move around—it’s what makes me such a tornado when I clean. So I like getting to my to-do list after I’ve been up and moving for a while. Oftentimes once I get to work I will pull out my notebook and jot down some ideas for things I want to get done once I am off, and that has been working for me.

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5) Do a crossword puzzle

This one is just a no. I love crossword puzzles and I love the fantasy that I could sit up, stretch, let out a yawn and then crank out the LA Times daily crossword before I get ready, but that’s just never going to happen. I can add this one to my afternoon to-do list, and see if maybe I can get it done before/while I cook dinner, but it’s just not going to happen in the morning.

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So all in all, while I can’t say I have a solid morning routine, I have definitely taken some strides—my favorite being the alarm tone change. My brother is the one who suggested the change, explaining that his friend makes it a point to set his alarm to a song he likes because “it’s like your theme song and it’s what starts every new episode”—which slightly blew my mind and ultimately made me change it immediately.

200 Day Time Capsule Blog #5

I am usually prone to forgetting about the arrival of this letter arriving in my inbox, but about a week ago I remembered that it was getting close and I laughed out loud. While my last time capsule post was in October, I didn’t actually write my next letter until Januaryroughly two months before all hell broke loose. So it’s safe to say my answers and predictions are going to be slightly, if not horrifically, off.

But they should be interesting nonetheless.

To start things off, it’s clear that I was feeling a little feisty in January, because I start the letter with, “It’s a new decade bitch, make it shine.”

Okay, girl.

How about we relax?

Let’s see what else past me had to say.

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1) What day is it?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/14/20): January 14th, 2020 (YIKES, I’m so behind.)

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2) What’s the weather like outside?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/14/20): It’s sunny, but a little on the chilly side (for Southern Californians at least). I’ve been living in my sweaters for the last month and it has been bliss.

Ding dong, the heat’s back. Your jackets have now been put away—save for the couple you still wear in the office at work because the air conditioning has started cranking full blast and turning you into a popsicle.

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3) What did you do today?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/14/20): Today all I have done is work so far. But in a few hours I am headed to the dentist to get my wisdom teeth out. Bleh. I’m excited to receive this in the future when it’s all over and done with.

You survived, girl! It was a rough couple days of recovery, but overall not that bad. That is…except for the ongoing mystery of who the hell put your sweatshirt back on. 

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4) What’s your favorite song right now?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/14/20): Pretty much anything by Maggie Rogers.

Still true. Maggie is a queen and her music is a lifeline I often turn to when I’m in need of a pick me up. Some of my favorites are “Burning”, “Love You for a Long Time”, and “Fallingwater.”

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5) What’s the most recent movie you’ve seen?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/14/20): I saw Little Women on New Years Eve and it instantly became one of my favorite movies ever. Loved it.

This was such a good day! My best friend and I went to breakfast at one our favorite neighborhood restaurants, and then hit the movies for a $9 morning showing because we have reached a point in our lives when saving $10 feels like winning the lottery. 

Also, after the movie ended and the lights went up we slumped down in our seats and sat, with still damp tears on our face, unable to come up with coherent sentences to express how much we loved it. So needless to say, I recommend it.

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6) Who did you text last and what did you say?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/14/20): I texted my sister “I’ve gotten three emails from that gym I noticed while we were driving yesterday,” to let her know that technology is officially taking over.

Later that day I got home and said, out loud, in the earshot of my phone and my Alexa that I was “NOT INTERESTED IN THAT GYM” and then the emails stopped. Maybe it was a coincidence. Maybe it was 100%, definitely the robots listening. You decide. 

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7) What is your biggest goal right now?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/14/20): To finish writing a book.

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8) What are you most excited about?

I kept in my answer from last time just because I thought it was necessary to break down how hilariously sad both of them are. First we have this answer from March of last year, when I was excited about the start of the 2019 baseball season.

My answer from the last time capsule (3/25/19): There are a lot of exciting things on the calendar for this year, but I think right now I’m most excited about Opening Day. It’s this Thursday and it’s the very first time Natalee and I have ever gone. I’m so excited!

-Then we have my response:

Note to past Kim: Good news, girl, the Dodgers set a record for most games won in franchise history! Also, we made the playoffs and are currently fighting our way through the NLDS. I can only hope the next time I hear from you we will have won the World Series, but for now, one step at a time. 

2 things:

1) GIRL, that playoff run was ROUGH.

BUT.

2) GIRL, the Astros AND the Red Sox were accused of cheating in the two previous World Series. Also this video was born, so there was still some fun to be had:

Now, on to my answer from January.

My answer from the last time capsule (1/14/20): I’m excited about the potential of this year. If that makes sense. I have a lot of fun things planned on the calendar and I think a lot of good things are on the horizon and so I am feeling excited and optimistic about the potential this year (and hopefully this decade) has for me and those around me.

And again I say, GIRL. 

You poor thing. 

Everything on the calendar is cancelled. This year is a disaster. The grocery stores are empty and people are literally selling toilet paper like drugs on the dark web. I’d like to say that the decade can truly only improve from here, but I’m not looking to jinx us. 

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9) What are you most worried about?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/14/20): To find myself at the end of this year (and ESPECIALLY) this decade in the exact same place.

Right, right, I get that, but how about the fact that we’ve been mandated, for seven weeks, to stay in one place, at all times, every day?

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10) Tell yourself a really bad joke.

My answer from the last time capsule (1/14/20): Absolutely not.

Way to stick it to the man yourself two years ago. 

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You can check out this page to see the growing archive of all of my time capsule answers. And don’t forget to check out this post to find out how you can create your own time capsule.

Our next delivery date is: Friday November 13th, 2020

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Here’s hoping that when I read my next letter we’ll be on the other side (or at least our way to the other side) of all of this, and we’ll all be back at our favorite restaurants, finishing breakfast and heading out to catch those morning movie showings.

Meet Jimmy June, My Tin Can Robot

When I was 10 years old, my family and I drove to Arkansas to visit my great aunt. About ten years later, my mom, sister and I flew out to visit again, and then when my cousin and her husband moved out there, we tried to make our visits more regular.

Four or five years ago, my great aunt was moved into an assisted living facility where she would live for the remainder of her life, and so when we went to visit, we could no longer stay at her house. As a result, we often stayed with Jim and June, close friends of both my great aunt and my late grandparents—who we called Grammie and Papa.

When my great aunt got sick and eventually reached a point where she didn’t recognize us, and would often sleep through most of our visits, Jim and June (and my cousins! 😊) were the reason that our trips were still full of light and laughter. They are the reason why, when people ask about my favorite places in the world, I immediately think of their living room, curled up in one of their chairs, watching the sun set off the front porch. I think of simple drives to the store, or sitting down at one of their favorite restaurants, always giggling and talking and feeling happy and relaxed for what always seemed like the first time in a long time.

On one trip, while walking into a restaurant just before the sun started to set, I saw this tin can robot hanging on a hook and I immediately fell in love with it.

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“Do you think I could make this?” I asked my sister as I snapped a picture of it.

She and my mom agreed that I could try, and we decided to start saving cans as soon as we got home.

In the first or second week of this quarantine, I found that stack of cans, patiently waiting to be upcycled.  It was almost 11:00 p.m. but I couldn’t help it, I sat down, spread them out, and got to work. While the state of the world would prevent us from traveling anywhere anyway, we had recently found out that Jim and June moved to Texas to be closer to their family. It was the right move, a move that we supported and encouraged in our last few visits, but it made me sad to think that I would no longer find myself in that Arkansas house, walking around their property on a humid summer afternoon to go see the neighbor’s horses, or continually trying to photograph the house in a way that would show people the way it made me feel. And so, I decided it was about time I made my robot—to re-find that feeling.

While the original is screwed together with nuts and bolts, I worked with what I had (and avoided any trips to the hospital due to possible clumsiness with the drill) and I hot-glued him together. I also found some washers I could use for eyes, and an extra allen wrench to give him a smile.

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Call me crazy, but I have now fallen in love with two tin can robots in my life.

One is probably still hanging outside that restaurant we visited on almost every trip, where the five of us always ordered the same thing and talked about what we were going to have for dessert before we even finished our meal. And one is now sitting, smiling, in my house, reminding me about every time we pulled into that driveway, primed to hear stories about the neighborhood cats, and every time we pulled out of that driveway, praying there would be a next time.

I still hope there will be. Maybe this time in Texas.

Until then, I have this robot, who I named “Jimmy June” to remind me of who I consider to be my third set of grandparents, and of all the times we spent sitting on the couch, watching the sky go purple in a thunderstorm, and drinking margaritas until all hours of the night, giggling and plotting what mischief we could get into the next day.

In Case You’re Looking for Some Happy

These days I think we should all be on the lookout for things that bring us joy, peace, happiness, or just a break from everything else, and then share those things with our friends, family, or online acquaintances, so that they too can get a little piece of that peace, you know?

So, if you’re in the market for some happy, here are a few places I’ve found some.

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My Puzzle

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Yes, that puzzle that I wrote a fake article about last week. Sure, it brings me moments of great frustration and devastation, but for the most part I absolutely love sitting on the couch on putting it together. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something, and it lets me think about nothing for a while.

I’m not sure if my specific puzzle is still available for purchase, but there is an entire section on Amazon of the same brand and they all look great!

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Spring

My sister and I have been trying to go on walks at least once a week, especially now that the weather has been warmer. We’ve walked a different route each time, discovering different parts of our neighborhood and finding all of the pretty houses, gardens, and trees they have to offer. I’ve taken pictures on every walk we’ve gone on and forwarded our findings to our family, these are a few of my favorites:

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This Podcast

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I would recommend this podcast in general because the concept is so simple and so enjoyable to listen to, but this episode in particular is a true DELIGHT. It involves comedian and host Jo Firestone calling her grandparents and asking them to tell her about their day from start to finish, and it is just so wonderful and wholesome and I loved every minute of it.

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This List of Drinks

One of my goals last year was to try every drink on this list of “most iconic drinks in every state.” Sadly, with a busy schedule and, you know, just forgetting, I ended last year having only tried ONE. However, seeing as this is the perfect time to try new things, I pulled the list back out for my sister and I to work through at home. As of now, we’ve tried the “Copperhead” from West Virginia and the “Whiskey Ditch” from Montana, and I look forward to making our way around the rest of the 50 states!

If you’re interested in trying any (or all!) of these drinks, I typed them up in a list you can check out here.

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This Yoga Series

Before all of this, I was a very consistent yoga class attendee, usually trying to make at least one class a week. So when the gyms closed and that option was taken away, I quickly began searching for alternatives. Finding this channel and specifically this 30-Day series (ironically titled “Home”) on YouTube has been such a blessing. The teacher is super sweet and encouraging, and she always has her adorable dog close by. I’ve been doing one or two “classes” per week and it has greatly helped manage my stress and anxiety, and given me a reason to move my body off the couch.

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Dance Church

Speaking of moving my body off the couch: THIS. Dance church is a one hour dance class that you can stream to your living room. And seeing as dancing spastically around my house has always been one of my favorite pastimes, adding minor choreography and dance based strength-training exercises has easily made Dance Church of my favorite parts of the week. Classes stream online every Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. (except for this week, the Wednesday class was postponed until Friday @ 5:00 p.m.) and Sundays at 10:00 a.m. Check it out here!

Places I Miss

Among the many positive messages posted to provide encouragement and comfort throughout this tough and confusing time, one of my favorites that I’ve seen was a reminder that it is okay to grieve.

Looking at the world as a whole, it would seem there are thousands of reasons not only to grieve, but to set aside your own personal grievances, complaints, etc. Because with pain and suffering happening on such a grand scale, it might seem like having your own personal grievances makes you selfish or ungrateful.

I thought it was so important for people to be reminded that they are allowed to grieve the things they are missing in their own lives. Things like vacations, weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, concerts, sporting events, etc. It is okay to be sad that those things aren’t happening. It is okay to be mad or heartbroken that they are being postponed or canceled or brushed over. It is okay to wish things were different, that things were back to normal, that you could leave your house, see your friends and hug your family. It is okay to feel sad, angry, hurt and lonely—that doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a human.

For me, I miss baseball and Dodger Stadium. I miss sitting next to my sister in whatever seats we found a good deal on, drinking a beer, eating a hot dog and trying to talk ourselves out of ordering deep fried Oreos, even though we know we probably will anyway.

I miss going to the movies. I miss ordering popcorn, guessing how many previews are going to play before the movie, and then finishing my popcorn before we find out.

I miss sitting on the couch at my grandpa’s house. I miss eating lunch and catching up with him on our favorite television shows. I miss watching the golfers go by off his back porch and then coming inside and reaching into the dessert drawer in his dresser for a mini Hershey bar for me, and a mini Twizzler for my dad and my sister.

I miss going over to my friends’ houses and sitting on the couch and then the floor and then at the dining room table as we talk and plan and laugh. I miss us deliberating over what we should do for dinner and taking pictures when one of the kids does something funny or cute.

I miss sitting behind the menu at a restaurant, taking in each and every option before I decide 1) what I want to eat most and 2) what I can order that I can make the least amount of changes to because I’m brutally self-conscious about coming off as a picky eater. I also miss saying, “it doesn’t hurt to look” when offered the dessert menu, and then ordering something—and finishing it—even when taking another bite of anything seems impossible.

These are only a few of the places I miss, but they are places I can’t wait to see again once this is all over. They are places that, when I find myself there again, I will take a moment not only to appreciate them, but to thank those who worked tirelessly to help get me back there.

Thank you to everyone on the front lines of this pandemic, to everyone working round the clock to heal the sick, calm the fearful, and keep the peace. We will forever be in your debt, and I hope we can continue to motivate you, thank you, and appreciate you throughout the remainder of this pandemic and long after.

Thank you.