writing

Embrace Your Multitudes

I just finished watching The Bear on Hulu. While I haven’t counted, I’m probably a season or two behind on at least 15-20 other shows. My wishlist on the library app is 150 books deep. My bucket list has 64 items and only six are crossed off.

When I get an idea for an essay or a blog, I write it down in a moleskin notebook I carry around in my purse. Sometimes I write paragraphs, sometimes I write miscellaneous words, knowing that I’ll understand what I mean later.

When I wake up in the morning, I have a thousand things running around in my head. What I want to do, what I should do, what I could do, what I’ve been needing to do for too long. Little sparks of inspiration and courage flash through my mind, telling me, maybe this is the day we try this or maybe we’re brave enough to start taking steps toward that. And waves of anxiety interrupt those thoughts, saying I don’t think we can do this and we’ll never be good enough for that.

I know my hopes, I know my dreams. I know where I want to be in five years. I know where I want to be in forty. Or at least I think I do. I know what I want based on all the things I know right know.

Some of what I think, I write about. Some of what I think, I share with friends, family or even acquaintances and strangers. But a lot of what I think, a lot of what I know, a lot of what I imagine, is just mine. It lives in my head and it stays there.

A big part of my world is just my mind. It’s the colors it knows, the sounds and the smells. It’s the feelings it feels—sometimes different than the people around me. It’s the way I want to be seen and the way I’m afraid I might be seen. It’s all the things I’ve collected, all the things I’ve explored, and all the things I’m waiting to discover. Everything is a layer, a piece, a portion, a reason, a quirk, a characteristic of me. And no one else has all the same parts.

No one else knows what I’m thinking about when I’m staring off into space. No one knows the exact shade of blue I see when I look up at the sky. No one knows what the sun feels like when it hits my skin. No one knows all the stories I want to write. No one knows all the doors and corners and gardens and gravestones that live inside me.

Last week, there was a terrible car accident in Southern California. A drunk driver sped down a side street, ran a red light and crashed into multiple vehicles, one of which exploded on impact.

In a blink, lives were lost. In a blink, a person, a collection of colors and sounds and smells, of doors and corners and gardens, of layers and pieces and portions was gone—and not just one.

I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Haven’t stopped imagining what it would be like to be gone in an instant—never even knowing I was leaving.

Sometimes after car accidents like this I try to take comfort in hearing that someone was “killed on impact”, because it meant they felt no pain. But it’s overwhelming—incomprehensible, really—to grasp the weight of a loss that happens in an instant.

All those things that live inside a mind, all the hopes and dreams, all the plans not yet shared, all the one-word notes that won’t make sense to anyone else. Gone.

I’m not one to always treat myself nicely. I don’t spend enough time appreciating the value of being alive—of being me and being alive. But there’s something so strange about knowing that it can all be gone. That sometimes people are just gone. That every day, the world loses unique, creative, inspiring, one of a kind, irreplaceable people. And we never get to know all the things they knew. Never get to see all their colors.

There are so many things happening inside me—inside all of us—all the time, all at once. We are so much. We are so many. We are each an entire universe. And I think sometimes we forget.

We don’t know how long we will be here. How much time we have to share our universe with the world. But we do have a choice each day to appreciate the tremendousness of our lives. To realize how much exists in us, how many colors and corners. To see our abundance and that in those around us.

So today I’m just trying to appreciate it all. Everything that I am, as imperfect as that may be. And I hope you’ll do the same.

Embrace your multitudes. The world is lucky to have you.

You Might be the Answer

It’s always easy to imagine that when you meet someone new or put yourself out there, things aren’t going to work out. It’s easy to imagine being rejected, which is why we often don’t want to put ourselves in that position to begin with.

Saying the wrong thing, tripping over your own feet, doing something awkward with your hands or your face, not remembering a single word, or worrying that nothing about you—no part of your life—makes you worthy enough for someone’s attention, affection or love. It’s easy to imagine all the bad things. Because it’s easy to assume they’re all true. After all, they have proven so, haven’t they? We all have that list of moments that live on in our minds, reminding us of the times we were less than perfect or the farthest thing from it.

But one thing I don’t think we wonder about enough, one thing we might never even consider, is that maybe we’re not time bombs. Maybe we’re not mistakes waiting to happen or dark clouds on our way to ruin someone’s day. Maybe, just maybe, we’re the answer.

Maybe someone out there, in the far future or on this very day, is looking for you. Hoping for you. Maybe the exact thing they need to hear is something you’re going to say. Maybe the smile or hug or text message or gift or shoulder to lean on is going to come from you. Maybe the answer to the prayer someone has been praying over and over and over is you.

Not because you are perfect or because everything went according to plan. Not because you never made a mistake or wore the exact right outfit or knew exactly what to say, when to say it and who to say it to. Not because you were cool or pretty or skinny or in shape. Not because you have everything together or nothing left to figure out. You’re the answer just because you’re you.

Isn’t a wonderful thing to consider that just by being you, day in and day out, you have the potential to make someone’s life better? You open the door for someone’s dreams to come true. You give someone that deep breath, that belly laugh, that safe place, that moment of connection, those butterflies in their stomach, that feeling of refreshment—of love, of peace.

Imagine that today, you are the answer to the question someone’s been asking, or perhaps the answer someone doesn’t even know they’re looking for. And all you have to do is be yourself.

Try letting those thoughts be louder than the ones telling you you’re doing it all wrong. They have just as much of a right to be heard. And they have just as much of a chance of being true.

200 Time Time Capsule Blog #9

Has it really been 200 days already!?

In one sense, I feel like YES, January was 45 years ago, so much has happened since then, omg.

But in another sense I’m like, WOAH, it feels like yesterday.

Either way, we are back for another time capsule.

I always love getting these ~letters from the past~.

At the beginning of this one, I wrote, “Wishing you well on these next 200 days. Do your best and give yourself grace.”

That’s so nice, past me. I think I’ve done that, but there’s always room to do better. In these next 200 days, may we all strive for better.

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1) What day is it?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): January 5th, 2022

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2) Describe yourself today

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): I feel calm. Which is kind of funny because looking at my crazy schedule for the next 6 months, there is NO reason to be calm. But I have been really prioritizing doing things that make me feel good (going on walks, doing yoga, cooking dinner, reading my Bible, working on my counted cross stitch, calling friends on the phone, going to bed early, etc.) and it has made me feel really good. It makes me excited for the year to come because I feel like I can always come back to this place if I get stressed. Aside from that, I’m in jeans and a sweater, in full New Year mode, wanting to learn and achieve everything all at once and practically bursting at the seams from the anticipation of what might come next. And yet, calm.

The funny thing about this is that around this same time, I was talking to my friend Nicole on the phone and I said, “I feel like everything is about to change. I don’t know in what way but I just feel like a lot of change is coming.” A few weeks later, our apartment flooded, and then over the next couple months we moved out, my sister got engaged and then married, and now I’m living with my parents while I look for a place of my own. So while I can’t say I’m still completely holding on to that “calm” I am optimistic about what’s coming next.

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3) What did you do today?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): I feel like I always start these with “I worked.” She is so brave and hardworking, folks. But alas, I did work today, and I have plans of going for a run in this strangely wonderful 70 degree weather, then I’m going to do some writing, have some leftover roasted cauliflower tacos (yum!) and hangout (from afar) with my sister, who currently has COVID and is locked in her room, so we text and play iPhone games throughout the day. I might encourage us to get ice cream too since that is an *obvious* COVID cure.

Cannot confirm whether or not I went for that run, but a week later, once my sister was COVID free, we went out for ice cream. Two days later, I tested positive and was down for a week. I lost all of my running stamina and haven’t found the motivation to get it back. 🤷

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4) What’s your favorite song right now?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): Oooh. This is usually an easy one for me, because I’m almost always in the process of overplaying a song, but I don’t have a particular favorite right now. Maybe “Oh My God” by Adele, or one of Leon’s new songs like “Soaked” or “Fade into a Dream.”

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

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): I just watched Red Notice on Netflix last night, which was pretty good. I’m excited about so many movies coming out this year!! This month alone I’m hoping to see West Side StoryLicorice Pizza, Redeeming Love and Belfast in theaters. 

I saw all but Belfast in theaters (and have yet to see it now that I think about it!) and have been so excited to see a bunch more movies in theaters since. I missed the movies so much during lockdown and I’m trying my best to get there as often as possible.

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

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): I texted my sister “Omg SO close to a bullseye” because we’re playing darts on iPhone games. Haha!

These proved to be a lifesaver, both when she had COVID and when I did. I think we tried every game there was, and we weren’t all that good at them lol.

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7) What is your biggest goal right now?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): Hmm, I don’t know if there is one that stands out above the others. I have my usual list of 17, and then I’ve created a small list of side goals for myself that are just self-care items that I’ve wanted to make habits of for a while, but nothing stands out as “THE ONE.” So maybe I’d just say that my biggest goal is to continue pursuing my best self. My most honest, genuine, and happy self. 

I think I’ve done pretty well at continuing to pursue this. And I think part of living a good life is always pursuing this, as our “best” self will look and feel different as we grow and change. My best self now is probably already different than my best self then.

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8) What are you most excited about?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): There is a TON to be excited about this year. Some friends are getting married, some trips and concerts are on the calendar. But I think the thing I’m MOST excited about would probably be our trip to Nashville coming up in March!

Spoiler alert: Nashville was incredible!

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9) What are you most worried about?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): That we’ll find ourselves in the same place come this next time capsule (or even next January). I am just so tired of seeing the same arguments, the same news headlines, the same negative, fear based announcements that send the public into a constant tailspin. I really want to have hope that we are headed towards something better and brighter, but a part of me is afraid we won’t make any progress any time soon. 

I’m keeping this worry in my prayers. I like to believe we’re always making progress somewhere, but in some cases I think it’s a one step forward, two steps back type of deal. Nonetheless, I do believe there always room for progress, and there are always people working to make it happen.

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10) What’s the best thing you’ve eaten in the last 200 days?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): My mom’s Thanksgiving stuffing and/or the 5000 Christmas desserts that I ate for the entire month of December (and most of January).

The summer months in Southern California have not packed their usual grueling, boiling, sweaty punch this year, but I’m already craving those cool(ish) fall months that lead into the holiday season and the DESSERTS. Or maybe I’m just craving a cookie. I can’t be sure.


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: Tuesday, February 14, 2023!!

As usual, I will excitedly await the arrival of this next time capsule and the future it lives in, but I won’t rush towards it. Here’s hoping there’s lots to enjoy between now and then.

Sending you well wishes. Do your best and give yourself grace ❤️

A Denim Eulogy

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to mourn the loss of a dear friend.

Finding friendship is special, but experiencing true friendship is rare. I feel thankful to have experienced both.

A true friend is someone who is there for you on your good days and bad days. Someone that makes you feel like yourself, even when the rest of your world might be up in flames. A true friend asks nothing more from you than who you are—who you REALLY are—and tells you that person is more than enough.

I hope that many of you know (and have) the kind of friend I’m talking about. I hope that you are keeping them close, appreciating each and every day that you have with them while you still can. Because time moves fast. And you never know when life is going to throw you a curveball you didn’t expect. You never know when your favorite jeans are going to rip.

Yes. That’s right. I stand here today, emotional and broken, knowing that no matter what I do, no matter what I say, my favorite jeans are gone. They have ripped. Not just your innocent, across the knee but we can make it trendy kind of rip. But the terminal, upper thigh, if I stretch or bend with too much enthusiasm things could get *spicy* kind of rip.

One morning on my drive to work I felt an unfamiliar breeze, so I looked down and there she was. A patch of my bare thigh. Pale and heartbroken. Knowing full well we should not be making eye contact. She knew what it meant. We both knew.

Which is why, even though the risk was high, even though my job requires me to sit and stand frequently, climb stairs, and often squat down to reach drawers of various file cabinets; even though my outfit could become one which made me skitter away to my car and drive home, perhaps with one butt cheek singing in the wind; EVEN THOUGH I am lucky enough to own other pairs of jeans that are not ripped and, perhaps more importantly, not six years old, and thus not as thin as a piece of paper, I continued my drive to work. I let my jeans have one last ride. I let them see the world one last time.

Now, it would be easy to say that I could just throw these jeans away and move on. They were cheap, they were not made to last, they arguably should have been thrown away two years ago when I realized they provided little to no warmth during the winter months. But, as many women might know, buying jeans is a nightmare. If you were to ask me what size jeans I wear, firstly I would slap you in the face, but then I would tell you I didn’t know. Because who could know when every single store tells you different?

But in a world full of uncertainty, inconsistency and injustice, THESE JEANS WERE THERE FOR ME. They protected me—not from the cold, or really from the sun, as I received many a splotchy sunburn on my knees during our friendship—but from shame and discomfort. These jeans welcomed me every time I put them on, with the waistband landing at exactly the right spot on my hips, and the length neither being too long or too short. These jeans worked with boots, sandals, heels, and the occasional UGG. These jeans took me to work and to nights out on the town. These jeans never judged me, never reminded me that I had eaten a cookie every day of the holiday season, and never went rogue in the washer and came out a different color, size or shape.

These jeans were reliable, they were comfortable, and they were loyal.

So thank you, jeans, for being you, and for letting me be me. Thank you for holding on as long as you could, and thank you for not splitting down the middle at work and making my shift R-rated.  You will be greatly missed, always remembered, and forever loved. RIP.

My Night Brain

I have always been more of a night owl than an early bird. When I was a teenager, there was rarely a night I was asleep before midnight. I liked the freedom of nighttime. It made me feel *dangerous* even though all I was doing was religiously watching romantic comedies and designing my Myspace profile.

As I’ve gotten older, my desire to stay up late has waned. I look forward to sleep, and I start to panic when the clock ticks into the wee hours of the morning, leaving me with a smaller and smaller window to get that sleep. Also, since I am VERY cool, I tend to get nauseous if I stay up too late. It’s that weird middle ground of my body saying, I am absolutely done eating for today, but it’s also been too long since we ate so maybe we’re starving? Idk your call but I feel like we should start freaking out.

When I get in bed, I’ll either scroll around on my phone or read a book until I am on the verge of sleep, and then I will turn over, hopeful that I won’t wake up again until morning. And I will do everything in my power to make that happen. I’ll stop drinking water an hour or two before bed to ensure I don’t wake up to pee, I’ll try and make my room the perfect temperature with just the right amount of air flow so I won’t wake up cold or overheated or feeling like I’m suffocating, I try to exercise every day to burn extra energy—like an adult might have a child do so they’ll crash sooner rather than later. I like to go to bed exhausted, and I like to sleep hard.

The truth is, I am doing everything in my power to avoid my night brain. My night brain is a bitch. My night brain knows exactly what to say to scare me, make me feel worthless, and spiral me into an endless stream of thought that will keep me awake for hours. My night brain waits patiently under the veil of sleep, hoping, praying something will wake me up, so she can put on a performance sure to rattle me to my bones.

It goes something like this.

2:30 a.m. I roll over in my bed and inexplicably open my eyes—awake.

Night brain: *smirk*

Me: Hmm. That’s weird. It’s not nearly time to wake up, let’s roll over and go to back to sleep. Maybe we’ll have a super cute dream!

Night brain: Or maybe you’re awake for a reason. Maybe someone is about to break into the house and attack you.

Me: I—what? Why would you even say that?

Night brain: It happens all the time. You listen to true crime. You know.

Me: Yes, but everything is locked. I am safe. I am fine.

Night brain: The same thing countless people have thought before they were attacked.

Me: Okay, you know what? No. I’m not hearing this. I’m falling back asleep.

Night brain: ……..

Me: *drifts*

Night brain: So you know how sometimes you feel entirely unlovable? Do you think that’s because you are?

Me: *closed eye, eye roll* Can you just…

Night brain: You don’t make enough money.

Me: What?

Night brain: Shouldn’t you be exercising more?

Me: I exercise enough, thanks.

Night brain: What about that pimple on your chin? Aren’t you too old to get breakouts? Aren’t you worried that you’re, like, hideous?

Me: *sighs and rolls over*

Night brain: Have you considered that maybe one day you’ll be completely alone? Or that everyone secretly hates you? Maybe none of the relationships you have with people are genuine. Maybe everyone wishes you would move to Antarctica and only send the occasional picture with a penguin.

Me: Now you’re just being ridiculous. I know full well that my family—

Night Brain: —ARE WE NAUSEOUS?  

Me: What? No?

Night Brain: WE MIGHT BE NAUSEOUS. You’re going to throw up! You’re going to throw up!

Me: I’m NOT going to throw up………………..am I?

Night Brain: Do you remember that time you embarrassed yourself in front of the entire high school baseball team and they all whispered behind your back for weeks?

Me: *grits teeth* ……yes, though I’m not sure why that’s relevant here.

Night Brain: When do you think your biological clock will, like, stop ticking? Soon?

Me: I—

Night Brain: Do you worry that most people find you boring? Or are you comfortable with that being who you are?

Night Brain: Why did you wear your hair like that in the ninth grade?

Night Brain: Remember all those horrific Facebook statuses you posted?

Night Brain: Have you considered that maybe you waste all of your time and are not doing anything useful?

Me: *turns over, this time aggressively, as if my night brain is a loud snorer beside me that I’m trying to quiet down*

Night Brain: *long sigh* I just wish you were worth anyone’s time. Or that you never owned those hot pink capri pants. Or that you wouldn’t have IM-ed the boy you liked “haha idk wbu?” in the 10th grade like a Frat Guy on a dating app.

Me: ENOUGH. It is 3:30 a.m. now. We have been at this for an hour. I am fine. I am safe. I am loved. I have plenty of genuine friends. I do regret speaking in IM abbreviations and sounding like a cave man, and I can still hear the whispers of the baseball boys behind my back. I don’t regret the capri pants because they were comfy as hell but I can’t explain to you why I wore my hair like that, it was ridiculous.

Night brain: Isn’t it wild that ANYONE you come across could be the person that kills you?

Me: OMG STOP.

Typically, it takes some deep breathing or the creation of an entirely fake (but happy!) scenario in my head to quiet my night brain down. Sometimes I have to start my nighttime routine over, picking up my Kindle or phone and waiting until I get tired again. And sometimes I get up to pee, in the hopes that somehow my night brain will also get flushed down the toilet.

At some point, I fall back asleep, and then, mercifully, the sun comes back up, officially exiling my night brain to its (literal) dark corners.  But I know she’s always there, waiting, and so I always spend the next day doing whatever I can to keep her quiet.

My Sister Got Married, Obviously

On Saturday, my sister Natalee got married in a very small ceremony in our parents’ backyard.

After getting engaged in March, Natalee and her fiancé, Will, booked a wedding venue for March 2023 that will host about 250 guests when the time comes. But after some thought, they decided they wanted to exchange their vows in front of immediate family and start their married life a little earlier.

So, we planned a wedding.  We planned it over text messages, shared iPhone notes and pen drawings on computer paper, and when the day came, everyone knew what to do and where they were needed most.

On Saturday morning, I sat beside Natalee on the couch eating a cinnamon roll. There had been some stressful days leading up to the day, and there had been details both big and small that we’d meticulously, and sometimes literally ironed out, but on the morning of the actual wedding, I felt calm.

As we handmade the flower arrangements and fought with the wooden arch in the backyard; when our hair appointments ran long and then I stood out in the 90 degree heat sprinkling rose petals on the grass; as I watched my baby sister put on her wedding dress and get her picture taken with her bouquet, and then heard Elvis play over the speaker as she walked down the aisle with my dad; as she stood up on the wooden platform and held hands with the man of her dreams, and then turned to face us as our pastor introduced, for the first time, husband and wife, I felt calm.

Have you ever had that self-conscious feeling that you should be more emotional? When you think to yourself, shouldn’t I be crying right now? I didn’t even have that feeling. I just floated through the day, without a tear shed, or a shuddering breath taken. I was just happy. I was just calm. My one consuming thought of the day was: well, obviously.

When Will and Natalee first started dating, when she was nervous to tell him how she felt, I thought, he feels the same way, obviously.

When Will celebrated Christmas with our family for the first time and said he felt right at home, I thought, because you are, obviously.

And when Natalee came walking down the aisle, looking at Will, smiling ear to ear, I thought, this is how it was always meant to be, obviously.

There has never been a doubt in my mind. I’ve had a front seat to their relationship from the very beginning and seen how happy they make each other. Will appreciates and loves my sister for everything that she is and in every way she deserves, and Natalee does the same for him.

So even though I felt all of those feelings that might make me emotional. Even though I had all those words buzzing around inside me, the ones I’d barely be able to share as I held my sister’s hands and told her how much she deserves a love like this—how much she always has—or as I sat down next to Will for hours, trying to explain all the ways I love, appreciate, and value him, and how happy I am to start calling him my brother. Even though our backyard ceremony was designed to be a one-way ticket to Sob City, to me it felt more like a place to relax. Because it felt like the only place in the world there was.

There aren’t a lot of “obvious” days. Most of the time, we don’t know what’s going to happen or when. We don’t know where we’ll be or who we’ll be with and we don’t know what we’ll say or do. But on that day, everything was as it should be. Everything was right. There was no reason to worry, no questions left to ask. That day, that marriage, that moment, it was obvious.

Your Kindness is Never Small

Sometimes when I think about how big the world is and how many people are in it, and then how big the universe is and how much left there is to discover, I feel very small. I am just one person, in one place on one planet, in one galaxy in the universe. And when I focus too hard on being that small, it’s easy to feel powerless and inconsequential, as if what I do on a day-to-day basis doesn’t have a huge impact on everything else.

When I think this way, it’s hard to find inspiration to do good things, to show kindness, to dig deep and find empathy, or to reach out to someone who needs help. When you feel small, it’s easy to want to live small. It’s easy to let opportunities for kindness and compassion pass us by. Because what’s the point?

Thankfully, there is always a point. Always a purpose.

And I got a good reminder of that in a recent episode of the podcast, My Unsung Hero.

In the episode titled: Brenda Arnold’s Story, Brenda tells us about a time in the 1980’s when she went to visit her sister in Germany. She arrived on a weekday morning, and got to her sister’s house only to realize that she was at work. Without a cellphone or any knowledge about where she was, Brenda realized she was stuck. She sat down on the front porch, figuring she’d just have to wait there until her sister got home that evening.

As she sat, a few people walked by, asking her questions in German. She shook her head, as she didn’t know any of the language, and continued to sit there, nervous. Then a woman approached her, first speaking in German, but when Brenda again shook her head the woman changed course and asked, in English, if she was alright. Brenda was relieved and explained to the woman her situation.

“Oh no!” the woman said, “Well, would you like to come home with me? I’ll fix you something to eat.”

Brenda was taken aback by her kindness, but graciously accepted.

As they walked, the woman told Brenda that her husband had fought in World War II, and was captured and held in Louisiana as a POW for two years. While there, he was put to work on a farm but was treated very well and given plenty to eat. So when he came home, he told his wife that whenever they came into contact with an American, they would be kind to them.

So Brenda, who had come to Germany almost forty years after this man had come back from the war, reaped the benefit of this kindness. And not just any kindness, but kindness shown to him during an incredibly dark time in history. Kindness that was rare and perhaps unheard of in the throes of war.

And then, that kindness, shown to Brenda forty years ago, inspired me when I heard it on a podcast.

So that one act of kindness, 80 years ago, continues to stretch it arms and dig its roots. It mattered then and it still mattered. Everything we do, every small act of kindness matters.

The world is big, yes, the universe is nearly inconceivable, yes, but you are never small. Your life is never small. Your kindness is never small.

Merry (Half) Christmas!

Every year, come December, a large portion of the world is set ablaze by the joy and terror of Christmas shopping.

We make our lists, we check them 45 times, and then we often procrastinate until the last minute.

Christmas shopping is about finding special gifts for special someones, or perhaps buying gifts for people who you had no idea were going to buy you a gift, and now you feel like a jerk.

Ahhhhh, the magic of Christmas.

All that being said, you may have noticed that today is NOT Christmas. It’s not even almost Christmas—which department stores start to celebrate about mid-September these days.

BUT, it is almost half Christmas.

That’s right folks, this Saturday, June 25th, is indeed half Christmas, which is a very special holiday in my house.

Half Christmas, as we celebrate it, is when you buy a few gifts for yourself.  

Christmas shopping can be stressful. It’s hard to find the perfect gift and it’s even harder to find it on sale, in stock, and available within an appropriate shipping window. And even when we find the right gift, it’s hard to know if it fully expresses how special someone is to us or how thankful we are to have them in our lives.

Half Christmas shopping is the opposite.

It is never hard for me to pick out a few gifts for myself. I know what I like, I know what I’ve had my eye on, and I know I can return something *without* guilt if it doesn’t turn out the way I hoped.

Half Christmas is about me. It’s about you. It’s about thanking yourself, treating yourself, and celebrating yourself for all the hard work you do.

So it is my hope that you celebrate this year.

Buy that thing you’ve been wanting. Splurge a little. Get yourself something shiny or soft or pretty or powerful. Buy something that makes you want to call your friends and family and say, “look what I got!”

In case you are curious, here are a few things I’ve been considering for my half Christmas.

These shoes from Adidas (which are on major sale!)

These sunglasses from Sunski.

This book about Lost Objects.

And this shear bag (since they are required now at many sports stadiums and concert arenas).

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I am wishing you a very merry half Christmas!

Get something fun! You deserve it 😎

My Weekend Without Context

I went to visit one of my best friends in San Diego last weekend. It was relaxing, fun, cozy, and very much needed, but when I sat down to write about it, I was having trouble figuring out how.

Our days were full, maybe not from going this way and that, but from talking, laughing, and just enjoying each other’s company, so while I couldn’t write one of my usual *travel* type blogs about it, I still felt like it was one I wanted to document. One I felt like you could relate to, or benefit from, even if you weren’t there.

That’s when I realized that I didn’t need to give you specific details, or even context, in order for you to understand or experience it. Because when I thought about the weekend, I saw it in a string of moments that we might all know. Moments that make you sigh wistfully, nod enthusiastically, and say, “YES” understandingly.

So I hope that as I walk you through my weekend in a rather unconventional way, your senses can be awakened, and a few ideas might come to mind, making you think, man, I should do that.

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When the ETA on your GPS goes down by an HOUR.

The full body stretch after you arrive at your destination.

A shy smile from a little kid.

A hug from a friend you missed.

A comfy couch.

The perfect sandwich.

Easy conversation that can start anywhere.

Detailed daydreaming about future vacations.

Having lots of time to sit down and relax.

Looking at a friend and saying, “I do that TOO!”

The smell of a barbeque.

The feeling of a smile pulling across your lips.

A satisfied sigh at the dinner table.

Turning off all the lights to watch a movie.

Fresh popcorn out of the microwave.

Licking salt off your fingertips.

Cuddling up with a blanket.

Falling asleep hard and fast.

Waking up to the sun rather than an alarm.

Fresh fruit on a slow morning.

A deep belly baby laugh

A breeze on a hot day.

Cold beer.

Finding a seat in the shade.

Hot French fries.

Comfortable quiet.

A long relaxing breath.

Binge watching a tv show that makes you smile.

A sunset hike on the beach.

Pasta.

A fluffy pillow.

An easy Sunday morning.

A bright blue sky.

Inside jokes.

Cozy hugs.

Promises of “see you soon!”

Good music.

An easy drive.

Home.

Take a Nap on the Floor

Yesterday, as I drove home from church, I began to map out the rest of my Sunday in my head.

It was 11:45 a.m. and I was trying to plan my day out by the hour. I thought about going for a walk, or even a run. I wanted to get some chores done, to write for a few hours, to try on the dresses I bought and decide which ones I need to take back, to finish a report, to start doing peer reviews in my writing class, to plan the next big vacation I want to take, to buy a friend’s birthday gift, to book flights for an upcoming wedding—and about 10 more things.

If I did all these things, I thought, it would be a successful Sunday, and I would feel good.

But even as I planned, I knew I already didn’t feel good. I’d had trouble falling asleep the night before and woke up feeling anxious. And with this to-do list buzzing through my head, I felt, for the most part, like I wanted to burst into tears.

I am someone who has often believed that being productive makes me a better person. That living “right”—exercising, eating healthy, achieving things in a timely and efficient manner, checking off life events in time with everyone else—means I am living a successful life. And on the flip side of that, when I am not getting things done, when I’m not doing everything “right”, I feel like a failure, or like I’ve wasted time/days/etc.  I am quick to beat myself up over not getting things done or doing things right, and I am quick to assume that other people are judging me just as hard.

For example, I have an alarm set on my phone on weekends—weekends. This is partially because I like to get up at a decent hour and have time to take the morning slow and fully embrace my day off. But up until recently, I never fully admitted to myself that this alarm was also to ensure that I would not sleep in late and be deemed as lazy by other people.

This is a habit I am trying to break, it is a mindset I am trying to unlearn, it is an alarm I’m trying to turn off. I like to call this process untangling knots, and this is one that’s been double and triple tied for a long time. Having an unproductive day feels like making a mistake, being lazy feels like making a mistake, and I don’t give myself a lot of grace when it comes to “making mistakes.”

But yesterday, after I got home from church, and as I sat on the couch, feeling anxious and overwhelmed, I decided to do yoga.

My body was tired, my mind was tired. I had so much I wanted to do, so much on my mind, so much that was saying “if you don’t do this, you will WASTE your day!” But I rolled out my mat.

At the end, as I lay in savasana—which is just lying flat on your back with your eyes closed—I got tired. I told myself I should get up, I should get things done, I needed to get a move on my to-list or risk wasting the entire day. But instead, I grabbed a pillow and went to sleep, right there, on the floor. And when I woke up, I felt so much better.

Afterward, I walked into the living room and sat on the couch and watched the Dodger game. I did my daily bible study and then wrote this blog post. I ate dinner and then made banana bread.

A lot of my to-do list went unfinished, but I still felt good because I did things that served my soul. Things that helped me slow down and rest. Things that make the more traditionally productive days possible.

There are times when we need to buckle down and get things done. There are times when we can push ourselves to do things we never thought we could do. But what I’m trying to remind myself, is that the value of a day is not based on its productivity. My value is not based on my productivity. And neither is yours. Some days we can muster up the strength to check every single thing off our to-do list, and other days we might need to put the whole list aside and rest.

Both days are important. Both days will add value to your life. It is okay to make mistakes, it is okay to take days off, it is okay to sleep in on the weekends (or whenever your schedule allows.)

The only way to waste a day is to spend it in the past, regretting what you could have done, rather than spending it in the present, taking advantage of what you can do—even if that’s taking a nap on the floor.