writing

A Celebratory Massage (Adventures at the Spa: Part 4)

My sister just passed her comprehensive exams for grad school, making her a certified Speech-Language Pathologist.

*pause for much deserved applause*

To celebrate her accomplishment and combat the years of hard work leading up to it, as well as the weeks and weeks of stress she went through studying for the exam, I booked massage appointments for her, my mom and I.

If you’ve been around this blog for a little while, you might know that I have had an aversion/borderline fear of massages in the past, which is why on our previous trip to the spa I opted for being swaddled in a cocoon—which you can read about here. This time around however, I was determined to go all in.

Seeing as this year has been chockFULL of calendar events, and I had been sipping on secondhand stress for my sister, I was actually in a place where a massage sounded useful. Necessary, even. So as we sat at the spa that afternoon, clad in our luxurious white robes, and already relaxed after having spent a couple hours checking out the sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi, I was only slightly nervous. And when my name was called and I was led back to the room and asked to disrobe by my very nice masseuse, Rochelle, I only awkwardly giggled once.

Then it began.

After lying on my stomach and tucking myself under the sheet, Rochelle walked back into the room and promptly pulled the sheet all the way over my head. This immediately made me feel like a corpse, which wasn’t exactly relaxing, but then I thought, is there anything more relaxing than being dead? So I went full rigor mortis and let her go to work.

Looking back at my first massage, I compared the work of the masseuse to that of a baker kneading bread. I remembered this as Rochelle started massaging my back, and I had a sudden realization that I was the bread. And when I accepted that, I realized the true key to surviving and thriving your way through a massage.

Be dead. Be bread. Get read.

That is: allow yourself to melt into the table and, for lack of a better word, DIE. Then embrace your temporary identity as a batch of dough needing…kneading. And then let the masseuse read you, i.e. go hunting for everywhere you’ve been hiding and holding stress, anxiety, and those cringy, awkward moments you’ve been trying to forget about.

Be dead. Be bread. Get read.

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Following this mantra, it was no time at all before Rochelle was telling me our 50 minutes were up. As a testament to her work, when I stood up, my legs felt like jello and my hair was sticking out in seemingly every direction. And since I was still naked, I realized I was the perfect embodiment of a troll doll.

But alas, with a smile on my face, my rubber band back in my hair, and my robe securely fastened, I walked back into the waiting room a new woman. I was relaxed, I was moisturized, and I was now a massage person.

Trust Me, it Works

When I was six years old, my parents gave me a Nintendo 64 for Christmas. And for many many weekend mornings after that, I would wake up early, sneak into the living room, and play Zelda: Ocarina of Time alongside my brother and sister for as long as our parents would let us hog the television.

Now, if you’ve ever played Nintendo 64, you’ll know that it takes a very delicate touch to get a game to work. Unlike many video games today that don’t even require discs, N64 games were thick, plastic bricks that you had to blow into the bottom of before you pushed them into the top of the console at just the right pressure. If it didn’t work the first time, you would pull the game back out, blow on the bottom again, this time in a harmonica like fashion, and then place the game back into the console, perhaps with only two fingers or with a series of delicate taps. Even at age 6, I quickly learned the series of techniques that worked for my particular console, and will utilize them in exact order, even to this day, without fail.

It’s funny how we can become inadvertently trained to operate things in a specific way without ever realizing that it’s peculiar, ridiculous or borderline ritualistic.

For example, my back door has a tricky doorknob. In order to lock both the knob and the pad lock, you have to shut the door, then pull and twist the knob, not so much that it reopens the door, but enough to engage whatever didn’t engage when you initially shut it.

To get my phone to play music in my car, I plug the auxiliary cord into the bottom, unlock my phone, then press play, pause and then play again.

I once had a hairdryer that only worked if you held it at a certain angle, so I would rotate my head in accordance with the limits of the hairdryer, which was great for stretching my neck, but terrible for giving me any kind of acceptable hair style.

To put on my favorite pair of jeans, I squat down into a catcher-like stance, and then jump up, repeating until they wiggle their way up into place. If I choose these jeans when I’m getting ready in a hurry, this process could almost be considered a round of cardio.

We all have a part of our house or our work that we’ll walk towards or lean against in order to get the best Wi-Fi signal, we’ve all had that phone or television that still worked if you banged the side of it, and we’ve all had a window that you have to prop open with a cup, aptly named the “window cup”, when you’re looking to let in a cool fall breeze.

Okay, that last one might just be my roommates and I. But you know what I mean.

Somehow, some way, we fall into these routines and methods that we only realize are strange when we have to explain them out loud to somebody else. And even then, even after we hear it back and think maybe we should, I don’t know, get a new hairdryer, we just shrug it off and move on, because starting a new routine, even if it might be easier, sounds way more complicated than just keeping with what’s familiar.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to turn my ceiling fan on level two, because on level one it clicks, and then I’m going to tip toe my way to the bathroom, using precise footing across the floor so it doesn’t creak, because it’s late and I don’t wake up my roommates.

It’s not weird, it’s polite.

Say it & Keep it

It’s not always easy to say what’s on your mind.

Personally, I thrive at having entire conversations in my head. I can work things out, make plans for later, overthink something from 10 years ago, and make myself laugh—sometimes accidentally out loud.

There are times however, when I’ll be with a person or group of people, and I’ll find myself walking away from a conversation or situation where I wish I would have said something. Maybe it was a compliment I wanted to give, a joke I wanted tell, a story I wished I had the courage to share, or simply a hello, how are you?  But for whatever reason, it just sits there on the end of my tongue and doesn’t budge.

So, I’ve been trying to do better.

The way I see it, if you have good intentions, and especially good jokes, you should do your best to share them with other people. You should share you with other people. Even though sometimes it’s scary, and sometimes your friend just went to the bathroom and left you at this table with a bunch of random people you don’t know and you wish you could hide under your chair until they get back.

I’m not saying you have to make awkward, miserable small talk, or say things you don’t mean, but if you find a compliment forming or a relatable story coming to mind, go for it.

Say it.

Make your mark on a conversation, or on that stranger whose ______ you really like.

Say what you’re thinking, even if it’s just hello. You never know what kind of internal dialogue someone else is having, and you never know how much you can put their mind at ease. Maybe you can make them laugh or tell them something they’ve never heard before or simply make them feel noticed. Maybe you can inspire them to try something new or be inspired yourself. Maybe you’ll make a new friend who might feel just as uncomfortable as you are in a certain situation, and who might even offer you contraband snacks. You never know.

On the opposite side of this whole situation, it’s also not always easy to receive compliments.

Personally, I thrive at deflecting, rejecting and passing them along so I don’t have to bear the weight for even a second. Compliments make me uncomfortable, and sometimes overwhelmed. My toes curl up inside my shoes and I usually change the subject as fast as I can.

But again, I’m trying to do better.

For as uncomfortable as compliments might be in the moment, they’re not going to hurt in the long run. Like on those days when you feel like a troll who doesn’t dare leave the house looking like such a disaster, or when you feel rejected or sad or alone. It’s times like these when we could use a compliment or two, some motivation and encouragement that we are more than we are making ourselves out to be, and deserve more than we’ve led ourselves to believe.

So, when someone tells you look nice, or when they compliment a project you’re working on or a blog you posted or a meal you made, keep it. When someone thanks you for being a good friend or for a good gift or for a great day, keep it. Keep those compliments and tuck them away for later. For when you need them most.

Say the good things and keep the good things. You deserve them, someone else might need them, and sometimes there might be snacks. It’s a win win win as far as I’m concerned.

31 Good Things that Happened in October

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

Let’s dive right in

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1) This man walked 800 miles to raise awareness for veteran suicide

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2) This mom created a custom skateboard for her son

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3) These girl scouts made “bee hotels” to fight the depopulation of bees

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4) This little guy wrote a note to his coach

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5) Kellogg’s released a limited edition cereal box to help tackle LGBTQ bullying

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6) Michael Jordan opened the first of two clinics to help those with little or no health insurance

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7) This dog got adopted

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8) This group of people jumped into action when they saw their longtime friend had become homeless

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9) This heat seeking drone found a missing boy

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10) This little one hosted a dance class

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11) Former NFL player DeAngelo Williams paid for 500 mammograms to honor his mother who died of breast cancer

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12) This dog (accidentally) helped his owner unlock his car

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13) The city of Las Vegas allowed people to pay for parking tickets with food donations to help people in need during the holidays.

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14) This boy caught an incredible fish

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15) This bus driver saved her third life

hero bus driver

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16) These kids surprised their classmate with toys after he lost everything in a house fire

classmates

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17) The New Jersey Devils had “Kids Day”

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18) This cheerleader jumped off a homecoming float to save a choking boy

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19) Alaska held fat bear week

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20) Lyft launched this program

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21) This veteran got his dogs back

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22) These kids helped the police find a missing elderly woman in their neighborhood

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23) This man showed incredible forgiveness

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24) This girl made a skirt out of rejection letters

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25) This prank was pulled:

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26) This man had “Jesus Saves” printed on his race bib and then had his life saved by a man named…Jesus.

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27) These sisters were reunited after a long school day

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28) And these sisters were reunited after decades

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29) This boy made a wheelchair out of Legos

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30) Poppy got into the Halloween spirit

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31) And then Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake won Halloween

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

I can’t wait to see what November brings!

You can view the last edition of this series here.

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You Already Know What You’re Going to Do

I was watching a television show the other day and at one point in the episode one of the characters went to therapy. During the session, the therapist looked at the character and said, “You already know what you’re going to do. You’ve already made up your mind and you know what you’re going to do.”

This stuck with me—even after I binged a few more episodes.

It made me think of those mornings you wake up in a bad mood or with a bad outlook, and you more or less decide that you’re going to have a bad day.

Or when you are obligated to go somewhere but you’d rather stay home because you won’t know anyone or will know too many people, etc., and so you decide that it’s going to be awful.

Or, on the other side of things, when you are so excited about something and are so determined for it to be as wonderful as you hope, that you can look past almost anything in order for it to live up to your expectations.

There are many days and even moments when we decide how the future will play out far before it ever happens. I think we do it as both a defense mechanism, to protect us from being disappointed, or sometimes just because we don’t have the energy to change our way of thinking. It’s hard to wake up in a bad mood and then convince yourself that your day will turn around and be great. It’s way easier to settle into that grouchiness and ride it out until tomorrow (or beyond.)

The same goes with taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone. I think with most things that scare us, especially things we’ve never done before, we have a tendency to believe that the end result is going to be bad or humiliating or irredeemable, and so we talk ourselves out of the risk all together. Sometimes, even with the best intentions, we set goals that we know we are going to quit, either because they’re too big, too hard or too scary.

But then, sometimes we find something that makes us keep going. We find something inside us that gives us an extra push, an extra burst of courage and suddenly we are farther than we thought we could be.

This is why I think the therapist’s words stuck with me. Because on the one hand, I agree. I have seen firsthand my half-hearted attempts to try something new that I never actually wanted to try, or to do something brave that I’ve already decided I’m too scared to achieve, or to set a goal that I know I’m not motivated enough to complete. I’ve gone into situations, desperate for them to work out, and all but convinced they are the end all be all try for me to move forward with my life, all the while knowing that I don’t have the passion, motivation, or courage to carry them through to the end.

BUT.

I have also gone into situations with the same fears, obstacles and doubts, and I have found the will to overcome them. Even on days I woke up feeling foolish for even trying, even on nights I lie awake wondering how I could ever achieve what I’d set out to do, even when it would seem that I already made up my mind and I already knew what I was going to do. Somehow I did the exact opposite. And you have to.

We are a resilient bunch, us humans. And while our minds our powerful tools, they aren’t fortune tellers. Our fears can’t predict the future. Our doubts can’t predict the future. But our hope and determination can change it. So, when we are able, let’s not settle into autopilot, let’s dare to work against our assumptions. Let’s reach down deep and find that extra something and go places we never thought we could.

Leaning into FEAR

I was going through my notebook the other day and I found a quote I wrote down a while back. I mentioned it in this post almost a year ago, but it hit me hard when I saw it again and I wanted to share it.

It is from The School of Greatness podcast, episode 721.

“FEAR can be:

Fear Everything And Run,

or Face Everything And Rise.”

I’ve always been a bit of a fearer. I’m afraid of, well, most things, and I have found it very easy over the course of my life to run from those which are particularly scary.

It’s easy to run. Fun too. Running keeps you safe. It carries you away from all that can hurt you, thus ensuring that you can’t be hurt. But running is also quite tiring. It’s exhausting, really. And it gets old. Especially if you’re running in circles.

I don’t know where you are in your life, today or this week or in general, and I don’t know what kind of FEAR you are leaning into. But I want to encourage you, and me, the group of us together really, to stop running. And I don’t mean that solely in the sense that we should stop avoiding hard things or fearing good and vulnerable things. I just think we could all benefit from receiving the permission to stop moving.

We don’t always have to be doing something or achieving something or reaching and reaching and reaching. I think those things are important, and I think setting goals and working towards them is one of the most rewarding things you can do. But it’s not the only thing.

We are still important if we are sitting still. We still hold value if we aren’t setting new records and reaching new heights. We matter, no matter what.

I remember when I first heard this quote I took it as motivation to keep moving up. To rise. To be bigger and better. But I think I underestimated how far you can move forward simply by standing still. For to rise is not simply to ascend, it is also to acknowledge the steps that helped you do so. It is to face the things, good and bad, that have formed you into the person you are, and to accept them as part of your story.

I am who I am because of my story, and you are you because of yours. So let’s appreciate those stories for all that they are, and rise.

200 Day Time Capsule Blog #4

It’s always exciting when I lose track of the 200 day count (which is every single time) and am completely surprised by my letter arriving in my inbox. Some might call this “being disorganized” or “in need of a proper blogging calendar” but I call it WOOO MAIL TIME!

This email from the past came from the day after I ran my marathon, which may or may not be completely obvious by the answers I gave.

Let’s dive right in!

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1) What day is it?

My answer from the last time capsule (3/25/19): Monday March 25, 2019

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2) What’s the weather like outside?

My answer from the last time capsule (3/25/19): It was 50 degrees when I left the house, but it’s forecasted to be 80 later today! Summer here we come.

Note to past Kim: Ah yes, the beginning of summer enthusiasm. It’s always so pure. Now it’s October and still 90 degrees and I get emotional whenever I look at my sweaters. 

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3) What did you do today?

My answer from the last time capsule (3/25/19): It is currently 8:29 a.m. and I am sitting at my desk. All I’ve done today is moan and groan and limp around because my legs and hurting after yesterday’s MARATHON. I repeat, I ran a marathon yesterday. What is life? I can’t believe it.

Note to past Kim: Honestly, neither can I. But don’t worry, past Kim, I’ve made sure to drop, “I ran a marathon” in more than a few conversations over the last 200 days. I also recently looked at an email advertising an upcoming marathon and said, “run 26.2 miles in a matter of hours? Did it,” before immediately deleting it. 

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4) What’s your favorite song right now?

My answer from the last time capsule (3/25/19): Probably Sucker Punch by Sigrid and The Bones by Maren Morris.

Note to past Kim: It’s weird to comment on your favorite songs of the past, isn’t it? I mean, are they still good? Obviously. Have I probably played some of them too many times? Obviously. 

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

My answer from the last time capsule (3/25/19): Natalee and I watched Pitch Perfect 3 for the first time last night.

Note to past Kim: I honestly have no recollection of this. All I remember the night after the marathon was ordering my favorite burrito for dinner and then ordering myself a cake to celebrate because #selfcare.

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

My answer from the last time capsule (3/25/19):  I texted my sister “lol I can only hope that’s what they think”, which was in response to her sympathizing with me feeling self conscious limping to my car this morning and having all of our neighbors look at me very concernedly. She said they are probably thinking I “worked way harder than them this weekend”, but they were more looking at me like they were wondering if they should call the police or take me to the hospital. Not to worry neighbors, just ran a casual marathon yesterday and now my body is broken.

Note to past Kim: I remember this well. I looked like a baby deer for about three days and it was no joke. 

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7) What is your biggest goal right now?

My answer from the last time capsule (3/25/19): To find something new to challenge myself with. I always forget how much proving your own self doubt wrong can make you feel invincible and so I want to find my next big challenge and then conquer it.

Note to past Kim: On it!

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8) What are you most excited about?

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!

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. 

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9) What are you most worried about?

My answer from the last time capsule (3/25/19): This answer seems to stay the same for me, but I keep finding different ways to describe it. I’m most worried about not doing enough to make my life successful, primarily in the eyes of others. I’m working really hard to shift that fear so that I am the one whose opinion matters most, but I have been feeling the weight of other people’s expectations recently.

Note to past Kim: We’re working on it, girl, we’re working on it. 

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10) Tell yourself a really bad joke.

My answer from the last time capsule (3/25/19): I don’t even like this question anymore.

Note to past Kim: Agreed. 

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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: April 24th, 2020

I repeat 2020! A new decade! Exclamation point!

See you there.

 


 

Check out the previous 200 Day Time Capsule Blog here.

From One to Ninety (And Beyond)

It was 12:30 p.m. and I was sitting at a table, breaking a cookie into a bite-sized pieces as I sang happy birthday to the man of the hour. With big eyes, he looked out at all of us, not sure what to think or what to do. His mom held a candle in her hand, the small flame flickering in the afternoon breeze, and she and his dad stood in front of him, encouraging him with puffed cheeks to blow. Instead he reached for the candle, noticing when we laughed, and again when his mom blew out the candle for him and we clapped. Then his eyes shifted to the cake before him and he dug in.

At 4:30 p.m. I was sitting on a couch, spooning my way through a hot fudge sundae as I talked baseball with the man of the hour. He donned a Dodger hat, and the rest of us wore jerseys, shirts, and hats to match as we all watched our favorite team play their final game of the regular season. A cool breeze snuck in the back door, making it easy for us to sit close to one another as we whispered stories or shared them with the whole room, the light and easy conversation the kind that Sunday dreams are made of. Then, with timers set and everyone in their place, we took a group picture to commemorate the day.

It was a one-year-old birthday party and a 90-year-old birthday party, back to back. My sister and I attended both, with a minor costume change in between.

As we celebrated Berkley, we watched as he pointed at balloons and curiously poked his bare feet into the grass in the backyard. We told him all the reasons there were to celebrate and looked into his beautiful eyes, excited for all that they were destined to see.

As we celebrated our grandpa, we barbequed Dodger dogs and passed around Cracker Jacks, recreating one home inside another. We glanced from cousin to aunt to sister to parent, thankful for all that my grandma and grandpa have built, and hopeful that it will only continue to grow. We hugged my grandpa, knowing 90 is not nearly as easy as one or 20 or 40 or even 89, and we looked into his beautiful eyes knowing that they’d seen so much.

I myself have had 29 birthday parties. Some have been small, some have been slightly bigger than small. Some years I feel pressure to do something special, something exciting, while other years I’m perfectly content doing absolutely nothing. All that I hope for, all that we can ever hope for, is exactly what I found at both of these birthday parties: love.

For birthdays mark both an end and a beginning, and we want that transition to be shared with people, in places, surrounded by all that we love. Over time, those people, places and things may change, but if we’re lucky, we’ll always have that love. From the time we’re only one year old and we aren’t even sure what love is, to when we’re 90 years old and we know that love is all there is.

So, to you on your birthday (whenever that may be) I wish you love. For your first birthday, Berkley, I offer you love. And for your 90th birthday, grandpa, I thank you for love. For you’ve given it to me, to all of us, and each and every year, we watch it grow.

Notes I Found on My iPhone

Creativity and inspiration (to write, in my case) can sometimes be slippery fish. Sometimes you’ll put in all the effort to be productive—you’ll clear time, sit down at your computer, stretch your fingers and say, “okay! I’m ready! Bring me the words!” and then, nothing. That cursor will blink and blink and your document will stare it’s blinding white screen back at you until your eyes hurt but still: nothing.

This is why I almost never leave the house without a notebook. It’s my way of keeping track of ideas the moment they come (which too often is while I’m driving) so I can come back to them later—hopefully with the same enthusiasm I had while scribbling them down at a red light.

When I don’t have my notebook, I’ll type up notes on my phone. But more often than not, I forget these notes exist, so by the time I come back around to them, I’ve lost all connection to the random jumble of a thought, and it’s become far less inspirational or witty than it is strange and confusing.

Seeing as it has been a solid two years since I’d last gone through my notes, I thought there was a pretty good chance to find some of these lost souls and boy did I. Here are just a handful of the 60 notes that were sitting idly on my iPhone:

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This abandoned story idea that sounds like bad spin-off of The Hangover series:

“Story about someone finding a cash out receipt and the journey to cash it”

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This proposed menu my roommates and I made for a new holiday were going to celebrate:

Post Thanksgiving Friends-Giving

-Macaroni & Cheese + Hot Dogs

-Pigs in a blanket

-Hot Cheetos

-Tater Tots

-Pancakes

-Snowcones

-Rice Krispie Treats

-Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets

-Ring Pops

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These noted conversation points I took down during a bar crawl:

Can you slurp potatoes?

Bananas?

Doubtful.

Whose ears are bigger?

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This apparently important moment that took place at the International House of Pancakes:

Natallee: IHOP = the POPOT

The place of pancakes of truth

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This list of companies I wanted to give me money/free stuff:

People I wouldn’t mind sponsoring me

  • Target
  • Amazon
  • Popsicles
  • Boom chicka pop

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This, which I assume was supposed to be a list of fears I had regarding therapy:

Dumb questions I’d probably ask if I ever went to therapy

  1.  My left shoe always comes untied, do you think that means something?

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This recipe:

Paprika Chicken with Crispy Chickpeas & Tomatoes

12oz tomatoes

8 cloves garlic, smashed in their skins

1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed

3 tbsp olive oil, divided

Kosher salt & pepper

4 6oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tsp paprika

Heat oven to 425F. On rimmed baking sheet, toss tomatoes, garlic & chickpeas with 2 tbsp oil & 1/4 tsp each salt & pepper. Roast 10 min. Heat remaining tbsp oil in large skillet on medium. Season chicken with paprika & 1/2 tsp salt & pepper and cook until golden brown on one side 5-6 min. Flip and cook 1 min more. Transfer to baking sheet with tomatoes & chickpeas and roast until cooked through, 6 min more. Before serving, discard garlic skins.

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This list of movies I was told I HAD TO SEE (which I’ve made almost no progress on):

Primal Fear

Identity

5th Element

Snatch

The room

What If

Comet

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Overall, while these are funny, weird and slightly confusing, they’re not all that surprising, 1) because this is exactly what my brain sounds when it thinks it’s on to something and 2) because I have 5 moleskine notebooks full of thoughts exactly like this and I don’t foresee that ending anytime soon.

So if you happen to drive up next to me at a red light and see me scribbling something down in a notebook, just let it happen. Also, maybe say a prayer that that idea grows up into something great one day.

A Lesson from Claire Wineland: Love Your Life Your Way

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

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

She said:

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

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

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

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

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

Woah, right?

It really made me stop and think.

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

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

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