writing

I Hope 30 Loves You as Much as I Do

In the fall of my sophomore year of high school, I showed up to the annual softball tryouts as a “returner.” Having made the team as a freshman, my spot was already reserved, so I was just there to volunteer my time, meet prospective players, and, along with my teammates, be the butt of the playful jokes the coaches made to lighten the mood.

I was far more relaxed than I’d been the previous year, but I was still very quiet and shy. I was the most teenager. With awkward style, awkward body awareness and a tendency to blush at even the slightest bit of attention. But I was friendly and polite, and excited to meet the new girls.

Among those girls, was Allison Roecker.

As quickly as I met Allison, she was my friend. One day we’d never heard of each other, and the next we were chatting daily on AIM. Then we were texting, sleeping over at each other’s houses, sending longwinded personal emails, writing notes during class, and staying up late talking about things like death, love and the future. Soon enough I wasn’t calling her Allison, but Alleeson (because I wanted her to have double e’s like me) and Alfred von Roecker for reasons lost to history.

High school, for me, was tough. It was scary, and there was a lot happening behind the scenes. To compensate, I dove into schticks. I let myself be defined by foods I liked, jokes I told, and characteristics that I played up and hid behind in the hopes that no one would see how lost and confused I was. How scared and vulnerable and sad. And a lot of people leaned in to those schticks. They believed they were me, they took and/or got what they wanted off the surface and didn’t take the time to dig deeper. But not Allison.

From day one, Allison created a safe place for me to be me. Whoever that might be at the time. And 15 years later, that safe place still exists and is stronger than ever.

Sometimes, when we get together for drinks or dinner or just an evening spent talking on the couch, I catch myself sharing and sharing, talking about myself as if I haven’t told anyone anything in days or months or years. I bring up questions and worries and I let them settle in the room, where they don’t feel intrusive or burdening, but safe and accepted. And I always walk away feeling lighter, more understood, more seen and heard than I do almost anywhere and with anyone else.

We bring it up often. How it would seem that we were destined for each other. Our friendship has scaled great distances, multiple moves, heartbreak, tragedy, success, failure and absolute joy. But as far as our friendship dates back, I can’t for the life of me remember how exactly it started.

I often wonder what we said to each other in the moment that we met. Did we shake hands, hug, or smile politely as we stood in a circle stretching during warm up? What did we do to begin a friendship that would withstand time, distance and the chaos of growing up? How casually did we introduce ourselves, not knowing that we’d help each other get to know ourselves in the years to come?

However it went down, I’m just glad it did. Because I don’t know where I’d be without her.

Tomorrow, Allison turns 30, joining me in a club that at times feels weird to be a part of.

In a way, it feels like we were just on that softball field, passing inside jokes back and forth in the outfield, laughing so hard it hurt at 2 o’clock in the morning, and singing our hearts out on the highway after I got my driver’s license. But then I think of everything we’ve been through, everything we’ve learned, everything we’ve tried and failed and everything we’ve achieved, and I think, I can’t wait to see what’s next.

So, Allison, while 30 might seem scary (though it’s not too bad, I promise!) just know that you have nothing to worry about. Because I met you when you were only halfway to 30, and you changed my life forever. So I can only imagine where you’ll go, where we’ll go, from here.

Happy birthday! I love you!

The One Question I Keep Asking Myself

When I was little, I was often asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.

When I was in high school, I was often asked what I was going to study in college.

When I was in college, I was often asked what my plans were after graduation.

When I reached my mid-twenties, I was often asked when I was going to get married.

And now that I sit at almost 31, unmarried and with no kids, I know I still have a lot of questions to come.

I used to believe that once I got the answer to these questions, I would have lived (or be living) a successful life. But then, as each question slowly got answered, I was disappointed to find that another one was always waiting right behind it. And each one got bigger and scarier and more life defining.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the intention behind these questions. They are shortcuts into getting to know someone. They are milestones that connect people. But I have also felt the pressure of these questions. Of entering a conversation and immediately feeling uncomfortable, praying that I won’t be asked the questions I don’t have an answer to yet, because they make me feel like less of an adult, or even, less of a person. I feel like a failure for not having reached some of the major milestones that my friends, family or some random stranger has, and I spiral into self-doubt and self-hatred, wishing I could change parts of my life that have made me intrinsically me.

And so, I have tried to start asking myself better questions. Mainly one in particular.

For me, right now, I am single and entering into the second year of my thirties. I am a rarity among my friend group, with no boyfriend, fiancé or husband, and no kids. I have worked the same job for over a decade that is not related to the field I studied in college, and I don’t really have a long term “career” path in mind. But that doesn’t make me a failure. It doesn’t make me less of an adult or less of a woman or less of a person. It just makes my path different than theirs.

So, a question I’ve tried to start asking myself is: what can I learn here?

Because one day, I won’t be single. One day I will have kids. One day I will have a new job. One day I will live in a new place. One day my life will look completely different than it does today, and yet, people will still have their questions, I will still have my fears, and there will still be reasons for me to wonder if I’m doing any of this right.

But right now, I’m here. And I believe I’m here for a reason. There are still things for me to learn, people for me to meet, ideas to form, conversations to be had, moments to be experienced and choices to be made. And so I focus on the question that has to do with where I am, not where people want me to go, or where everyone else seems to be.

What can I learn here? I ask.

And in asking, I find myself trying. I find myself searching my surroundings, noticing slow magic, and finding joy in small things that otherwise would have been missed.

What can I learn here? I ask.

And in asking I find potential. I learn more about myself, about what I like to do, what I want to do, and what I’m capable of doing.

What can I learn here? I ask.

And in asking I find peace. Memories long buried turn over in my head, unfelt feelings rise to the surface and new understandings dawn.

When I ask myself what more there is for me to find and learn exactly where I am, I better appreciate that place—this place—rather than wish it into the past in favor of checking off an item on a list, or staying on track with lives and paths that aren’t mine.

There will always be questions, and that’s okay. If there are more questions to ask, that means there is more life to live. But I’m trying to stay focused on one question, as it’s the only one that keeps me present and moves me forward at the same time.

What can I learn here? I ask, and the answers abound.

Our Olympic Moment

Yesterday marked the end of the 2020/2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. While I am sad to see them go, I’m sure my sleep schedule is very grateful. There were a lot of nights spent staying up late on the couch, watching hours and hours of recorded events, cheering—sometimes screaming—on not only Team USA, but all of the Olympians that worked so hard to get there.

I lived for the stories of where and what brought a particular athlete to the Olympics, and the delight their families took in watching them compete—even if they had to do it from home. There is something so special about the Olympics. It brings people together all over the world to appreciate and celebrate sports, and the amazing things the human body and human spirit can accomplish.

The Tokyo Olympics introduced four new sports this year: surfing, skateboarding, karate and sport climbing. Of these, my family, and especially my brother, was most excited to watch sport climbing. As an avid and gifted climber himself, it was clear how thrilled he was to not only watch the best of the best compete, but to see his passion celebrated at an elite level and introduced to people all over the world.

The schedule of events was a little hard to follow from California, as Tokyo is 16 hours ahead. Thus, I filled my DVR, taping anything and everything I could find, and would sift through my recordings at the end of each day. But when it came time for the sport climbing to start (which was Tuesday morning PST) my brother made it clear that he wanted to watch at least one of the finals live. On Tuesday 8/3, the men competed in the qualifying round and the women followed on Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, the men competed in the final round, with the women to follow on Friday. So, with Saturday as a recovery cushion, we decided to watch the women’s sport climbing final on Friday morning. Mind you, they started at 1:30 am.

So, at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday night, my sister, Natalee, and I drove to our parents’ house, where we got comfortable on the couch and caught up on the primetime coverage from that day. Then my brother, Troy, and I ensured that everything was set up to watch the climbing before we all set an alarm for 1:20 a.m. and went to sleep.

Earlier in the day, I had taken an hour nap in preparation for what I knew would be a late night, and that, in combination with the excitement of the women’s final (which featured American Brooke Raboutou) buzzing in my mind, made it difficult for me to fall asleep. I lay there on the living room couch, perpendicular to my sister who slept in the recliner, still but not sleeping. Come about 1:15 a.m. though, just before Troy walked back into the living room from his bedroom, I could feel the pull of deep sleep just beyond my reach. But I pushed it away, sat up, and turned on the television. My brother took his place next to me, his hands anxious and ready to mime the holds he might use to complete the climbs; my mom wiped her eyes and stood up, and then walked into the kitchen and turned on the oven—she was making 1:30 a.m. cinnamon rolls; and my sister sat her seat up straight and clapped her hands.

We were ready.

The first round of competition was speed climbing. Eight women, strong and incredibly talented, powered up the rock wall, racing in pairs. We were excited, but very aware of the time of night, so our cheers were kept to whispers, but they remained passionate.

The second round of competition was bouldering. Inside this second discipline, there were three boulder problems the climbers had to solve, and they were each given four minutes for each try. I’ll admit, by the third round, which started at about 3:45 a.m., we were all starting to fade. We always perked up and came to attention when Brooke was climbing, but we were all long past our prime of pulling all-nighters, so as the sunrise snuck closer, our bodies couldn’t help but ask, wtf are you doing?!

By the time the bouldering ended, it was about 4:20 a.m. and the final round of competition didn’t start until 5:10 a.m. So, we turned off all the lights, returned to our designated snoozing spots, and knocked out. This time however, when my brother came in after his alarm went off, I felt confused. I felt upside down. My body was begging, pleading to stay asleep. But we sat back up, reasoning that the summer Olympics only happen once every four years, and this was the first year rock climbing had ever been a part of it. Plus, there’s no telling where life will lead us before the 2024 games in Paris. So while we were tired, we were together and that was reason enough to sit back up, turn the television back on, and head into the final round of competition: lead climbing.

In the end, American climber, Brooke Raboutou, didn’t metal, but, like all of the women competing, she put on an incredible show of talent and determination. I gained so much respect for climbers and their ability to push their body to its absolutely limit. To hold on by literal fingertips and to try again and again and again.

As the sun peaked over the horizon, my sister and I got back in our car and headed home. It was about 6:00 a.m. and the morning commuters were already on the road. Once home, we would collapse back in our beds for a couple hours and then go to work. And even though my eight-hour workday felt like a 90-hour work week, even though at one point I got emotional over a FedEx label, even though I had to go for a three mile walk at 7:00pm just to stay awake long enough to not ruin my chances at a good night’s sleep, it was all worth it.

In a way, I felt like it was our Olympic moment of the games, and it is something I will always remember.

See you next time, Olympians, and as always, you are amazing.

A Name for Smoggy Days

Yesterday was a smoggy day.

Sure, in Los Angeles, it’s smoggy most days. But that’s not the smog I’m talking about.

Some days I wake up feeling low. Sad. Or what I like to describe as “heavy.” It’s when every worry, insecurity, and regret seem to be sitting on top of me, making it hard to think straight, feel comfortable, or find motivation. There is a haze that blocks the blue sky. And it’s hard to breathe the fresh air that was there yesterday.

I’ve long looked for something to call these days. Because often when they pop up, I don’t know how to explain them to others. I sit quietly, talk politely, walk slowly, and fidget nervously, all while fighting through the chaos and lies that are spiraling in my mind. On particularly bad ones, I feel fragile. As if I might burst into tears at any given moment. And I don’t know how to explain that it’s not you, it’s me. I’m playing offense and defense in a battle that is taking place inside my head, and I’m not sure if I want help, privacy, attention or solace.

When I was in high school, I remember having a handful of smoggy days that I didn’t really understand. My mind was in overdrive and I wanted validation. I wanted to be told I was wonderful and beautiful and absolutely crazy to be thinking these negative thoughts. But when I reached out to a friend, spitting self-deprecating venom, fishing begging for compliments and expecting them, I got nothing. I got crickets. I got, “I don’t know what to say when you’re like this.”

I don’t mention this to blame them, because they were just as young and lost as I was. But I remember the guilt that was born in that moment.

The guilt that comes in with the smog. The shame that sits on top of everything else. Telling me that I should be embarrassed for feeling so low. For bringing people down. For not being my best. It tells me to get over it. And it promises that if I don’t I will push everyone away.

And so the smog suffocates. And for a little while, it wins.

For a little while I am low. I am sad. I am quiet. I am scared. I am not myself.

But then the wind comes.

A friend. A movie. A book. A butterfly. A sunset. A tall tree. A child’s laugh. A kind word. A joke that lands in just the right place. A hug. A moment alone. An unexpected deep breath. A combination of a lot of little things. And eventually, a breeze picks up. And then a gust. And soon the smog is blown away and I can see the sky again. I can breathe the fresh air.  

It doesn’t last forever. Eventually the smog settles back in and piles back up. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that the more I talk about it, the more opportunities I give to that wind, the more public I make these battles that thrive in private, the better I set myself up to win.

And I’m hoping the same can go for you.

We all have smoggy days. Maybe even smoggy seasons. And sometimes we just need a name for it all.

We might not know what we need from others. We might not want extra attention or to give a longwinded explanation of everything we’re thinking about. Sometimes we just need a name. Something that can explain where we are when we aren’t ourselves.

So if you’re looking for a name, have mine. And remember, it’s okay to have smoggy days. It’s okay to not be your best. It’s okay if you get knocked down. As long as you get back up and keep fighting.

Open a window and let that breeze in. Take a good look at the blue sky. Take a deep breath of that fresh air. You are okay.

30 Good Things that Happened in June

Hello and welcome back to another edition of All the Good Things. It’s been a couple months, but we’re back!

Let’s dive right in.

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1) Days after getting married, this woman donated a kidney to her new husband’s ex-wife

2) This boy got an incredible souvenir:

3) This 94 year old woman received her high school diploma.

4) This duo had a jam session:

5) This 7 year old boy swam to shore to save his father and sister.

6) This:

7) Born with no arms, this archer is aiming for gold at the Paralympics.

8) This fun article pointed out words that are their own opposites.

9) This two year old became the youngest member of Mensa.

10) This bench is helping tackle depression.

11) Demetri Martin rethought the term OK:

12) This girl honored her parents in her graduation photo shoot.

13) These boys made a woman’s day.

14) Scientists claimed this straw is an instant cure for hiccups.

15) After having the tractor he rebuilt with his dad stolen, the Tempe police helped this boy get a new one:

16) This dog was named Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show.

17) This boy tried to sell his Pokémon cards to help pay his dog’s vet bills, but when people heard, they jumped in to help.

18) This woman found her long lost dog at a shelter.

19) This boy served as his speech therapist’s best man at her wedding.

20) This:

21) This reporter found the missing child he was sent to cover the disappearance of.

22) This photographer unexpectedly captured a couple’s proposal and then found them on Twitter.

23) This boat captain found a message in a bottle from the 1920’s and then returned it to the author’s daughter.

24) The world’s most premature baby celebrated his first birthday.

25) Jimmy Fallon & Lin Manuel Miranda celebrated the return of Broadway:

26) This girl got to meet her favorite baseball player: Joey Votto.

27) This Harvard-Bound senior gave her $40,000 scholarship to someone else.

28) In preparation for the Olympics, this article detailed events that no longer exist.

29) This girl set the new Guinness World Record for folding 1000 paper cranes.

30) And finally, this baby had a good dream about his mama:

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

I can’t wait to see what July brings!

You can view the last edition of this series here.

Look for the Happy Middles

The other day I was listening to a podcast that discussed the cliché: happiness is a journey, not a destination. It got me thinking about movies and books and their tendency to have “happy endings”—a direct contradiction of this cliché.

Oftentimes we are given a main character, and a single obstacle, choice, or relationship that is holding them back. We follow their journey to make things right, sometimes laughing or crying along the way, and then we listen to the music swell, and watch them (sometimes) metaphorically ride off into the sunset, satisfied, accomplished and happy. The screen fades to black and we sit in the goodness of the ending, holding onto it for as long as we can, feeling hopeful and inspired that our own happy ending is on its way.

I have seen this my entire life.

In high school, I watched romantic comedies every single night. They were literally the last thing I thought about before I fell asleep. As a result, I believed that while life was an obstacle course with twists and turns, tears and pain, it always had a happy ending—a place where you would be free from those things.

I believed that about finishing college; about having a lavish and successful career; about falling in love, getting married and having kids; about getting in shape, being skinny, having straight teeth, clear skin and self-confidence. Once I had what I wanted, I thought, then everything would be fine. I wouldn’t have bad days. I wouldn’t feel sad. I wouldn’t feel pain, be scared or get lonely.

But the truth is, there is no such thing as happy endings—at least not in the middle of your life. There are openings and closings of chapters. Beginnings and endings to seasons. Reset buttons, changes of direction, path defining questions and answers. But there is no mid-life finish-line or series finale sunset that you walk towards, leaving behind everything hard or painful, to live our the rest of your days in blissful, unbreakable happiness.

And that’s good.

Because then what would we do? Stop learning? Stop growing? Stop creating?

Imagine how much unhappier a place the world would be if we all stopped searching for and creating new kinds of happiness.

This is why I think we have to stop looking for happy endings and start appreciating the happy middles.

Happy middles (n): happy moments that happen in the great, vast middle of your life. (i.e., the accomplishments, inspiration, wonder, love, friendship, joy, kindness, compassion, etc. that make days better. That make happiness feel a place you’ve been and will be again soon.)

Happy endings in movies are actually happy middles. (Or, depending on the movie, maybe sad middles, hard middles, devastating middles.) They are moments that would stand out in the lives of those characters as they moved fictionally forward. They showcase moments and experiences we’ve had in our own lives, that prepare us for what is ahead—whether good or bad.

Happy middles don’t have to be big. They don’t have to be dramatic or grandiose or come with a pay raise, trophy, or engagement ring. Happy middles can be slow, consistent, and simple. They can be obvious or undetectable. They can be absolutely anything at all.

If happiness is a journey, happy middles are the pit stops. The points of interest. The places where you refuel and refresh before getting back on the road.

So if you’re going through a tough season, keep going, there’s a happy middle waiting for you right around the corner.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, bogged down, and/or discouraged with where you are in your life compared to where those around you seem to be, take heart in knowing that we are all in the middle. No one has it all figured out, no one has crossed that fictional finish-line where everything becomes perfect or easy. We are all on our own path, finding our own happy middles, and your next one might be right in front of you!

All that being said, I can’t and won’t stand here and say that I don’t love me a cute, romantic, emotional, happy ending, because I do and always will. But the way I see it, I’ve got a lot of life left to live, so I’m keeping my eyes on the middle(s) and all the goodness they have to offer.  Here’s hoping one is just up ahead.

Just What I Needed

Last year, right after I turned 30, I was at the dentist.

Having just finished a cleaning, I was sat up straight in the chair, my ponytail flattened and messy, and my eyes—which I close during every appointment—still adjusting to the bright light of the room.   The dental hygienist was talking positively about my teeth, telling me I brushed well, could floss better, but had no cavities, and thus I felt like a successful adult.

She asked me how old I was, and her eyes lit up when I told her.

“I just turned 40,” she said, “and I’m looking forward to see what these next ten years bring me, but I couldn’t be more excited for you. My thirties were the best years of my life so far.”

I flinched at this.

For ten years people had said to me, “Your twenties are your best years! Don’t waste them!” over and over again, and I had spent night after night lying in bed, feeling guilty, wondering, “Am I wasting them?”

But the truth was, my twenties were hard. They were confusing and at times sad and heartbreaking and isolating and overall just one big WHAT AM I EVEN DOING?!

Part of me was relieved to hear that, in this humble woman’s opinion, I had another shot at “my best years.” But I also worried that the your-thirties-are-the-best-time-of-your-life crowd was about to come out of the woodworks, and I was going to spend another decade lying awake at night wondering why I can’t do anything right.

But then, as if she could see the curiosity (and perhaps fear) wash over me, she turned towards me—or rather, wheeled her dentist stool in front of me—and elaborated.

She told me her thirties were good to her because she felt she was finally good to herself. She said everyone talks about the “carefree fun” of your twenties, but no one talks about the self-acceptance and understanding that can come in your thirties.

She said I would finally start to see myself and, in turn, stop hearing everyone else.

“Their opinions will matter less, even if it doesn’t feel like it right away. That doesn’t mean you won’t care what other people think, but you will start to get a feeling of what feels right to you. And even though it might not be what everyone else is doing or what is ‘cool’ or ‘right’ or ‘normal’, you begin to appreciate what is honest to you more than striving for everyone else’s acceptance and affection.”

I have thought about this conversation often. It has comforted me on hard days, encouraged me on good days, and given me an underlying sense of peace that reminds me to relax and settle in for the ride.

Let’s be honest, there is no set standard for “the best years of your life.” There is no reason it has to be your 20’s, 30’s or 40’s. There is no reason they have to come in ten-year increments or happen in succession. Your best days and best years are defined by you and you alone.

So let’s take each day as it comes. Take each decade as it comes. Live honestly—even if that means making mistakes—and find your way forward. Let’s get excited about what’s ahead and appreciate what we’ve learned so far.  

And never be afraid to encourage someone—even if they’re at the dentist. You never know how bad they might need it.

O-Hi It’s My Trauma

Midway through February I was sitting at my desk, looking up at my Wanderlust calendar, wanting to go somewhere. The vaccine had just started circulating and I wanted to put something on the calendar that might help expedite our wait for the new normal.

Three months later, my sister, my best friend Allison, and I were in the car on our way to Ojai, at last fulfilling that calendar entry, all three of us now vaccinated, restrictions being lifted or laxed quickly, and an undeniable hope that we might actually see the other side of all of this starting to spread.

We had no real plan for the weekend. We were driving up Saturday afternoon and I’d made a reservation at the Topa Mountain Winery for 5:00pm, but we’d left everything else up in the air—as we tend to do.

After checking into our hotel at 3:00pm, we went to the store to pick up some snacks and drinks to have in the hotel room—feeling confident we would want late night salt and sugar—and then fancied up a little before heading out. 

The weather in Ojai left a little heat to be desired, with temperatures staying in the 50s and 60s and the sun only making a brief appearance. But once we settled in at the winery, we didn’t really mind. We each ordered a wine flight, and then decided to split a carafe of the Pixie Cooler (a mix of pixie tangerine juice & sparkling wine, I believe), as well as a box of crackers, which were listed as “palette cleansers”, but we ordered for the sole purpose of snacks. 

When our flights arrived, we raised our first glass—a Rosé—and then rated it based on the scales provided. We chatted. We each had a few crackers. We took a sip of our water. And then we moved on to the next one. A white blend. And so the routine continued.

But then, somewhere between the red blend and the Syrah we started…crying.

Somewhere between the red blend and the Syrah, we were waist deep in conversations we’d never had. Admitting things and sharing stories we’d never told. First putting our sunglasses on to hide the tears, and then putting hands on each other’s shoulders to invite them to fall.  The crackers were finished. The water was emptied. The flights were finished. And then the pixie cooler was brought out and sipped slowly as the stories kept coming, the sun started setting, and the tables around us cleared out.

Before we knew it, we were three of only six people left at the winery and we took a picture to both commemorate the conversations, and laugh at the fact that we’d come to look cute and drink wine, and we’d ended up spending two hours smudging our mascara and unpacking emotional baggage that had long been sealed shut.

From the winery, we went to dinner, where looked at the menu, unable to explain what had just happened. We laughed and talked about what greasy goodness was going to soak up all of our emotions…before we dove right back in.

And then we were there again.

Let me tell you, it is something special to put all your secrets on the table, at a place called The Deer Lodge, while binge eating sweet potato fries and forgetting that absolutely anyone else exists.

I’ve often whispered secrets, desperate for no one else to hear. I’ve emailed or texted them, written them down in a journal, hidden them in blog posts or fictional stories, and buried them as deep as they can go. But it’s quite a thing to hear them out loud. To watch them lose their power right before your eyes, or to hear yourself say things that remind you you’re stronger and smarter than you once were. To hear you stand up for yourself, and to let your friends poke holes in the lies you’ve long believed. To just let go of the weight you’ve been carrying around, convinced you had to bear it all on your own.

The next day we woke up and went out to breakfast, the conversation lighter, but not awkward, strained or regretful. We walked to a popular bookstore (Bart’s Books) and popped in and out of local shops, all while knowing that something had changed. That we were lucky. That in all the craziness that has been this year, last year, and all the years before, we’d stuck together, and we’d arrived together, here, this weekend, to let each other be heard and known and understood and undeniably accepted for who we are and where we’ve come from.

All those months ago, we wanted a weekend getaway. But we got so much more than that.

It’s My First Try

It goes without saying that we face a lot of pressure every day. Pressure to do or say the right thing. Pressure to look a certain way or be interested or educated in certain things. Pressure to be in the same stage of life as our friends or to forego our comfort level in order to satisfy the expectations of others. Pressure to be in control or have everything figured out.

I know I am constantly looking over my shoulder, wondering who might be pointing out everything I’m doing wrong or everything I could be doing better. I care a lot about what other people think, and I often worry that if I let them down or don’t live up to an expectation they might have in their head, I’ll get left behind.

Oftentimes before I go to sleep, I’ll go over conversations or interactions I had—sometimes that day, sometimes 15 years ago—and wonder what I could have done differently. How I could have gotten a bigger laugh or how I could have been more impressive or more interesting. I criticize the things I feel I got wrong and I agonize over the things I’m sure people are judging me for.

I put myself in last place, pointing out all the ways in which I’m behind or worse or failing, desperately wondering how I can catch up—to friends, family and complete strangers—and I grow tired and frustrated when I don’t see any progress.

Recently however, I have been trying to focus on a new mantra.

You know that old cliché about how we’re all running our own race? Well, what I’m trying to remember is that we’re all running our own race for the first time. In other words, this is everyone’s first try.

This life, this day, each and every second, is new to all of us. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We have no idea what to expect. And there is no do over button. We all get one shot at each day and some of them are going to be bad. Some moments are going to make us feel like we want to crawl into a hole. Some mornings are going to go completely wrong and some nights will end with us in tears. And even though it might seem like everyone around us is doing this life thing way better than us. Like they were given the cheat codes or the answer key, or were simply born better prepared to seize the day, we are all in fact on our first try.

This is my first try at being me. This is my first try at being 30. This is my first try at today.

And while it might not be perfect—in fact I can almost guarantee it won’t be—it will be something.

It will teach me something.

It will show me something.

It will lead me somewhere—even if I don’t know it yet.

And at the end of the day, I’ll just be glad I got the opportunity to try. And tomorrow, I’ll try again.

March & April Favorites

I’m having one of those days where I want to say, I can’t believe it’s going to be May already. But then I feel like I could also ask, is it only May? But also, what day is it? You know?

It’s been a wild couple of months.

Luckily, I have found some good things to keep me company/keep me sane, whichever way you want to look at it.

Here are my favorites from March & April.


Podcasts

I had heard a lot of rumblings about Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard but never looked it up because I’d burned myself out on interview podcasts. I got tired of hearing people ask the same questions to the same people. Plus interviews during COVID that took place over the phone, giving no one face to face cues, so everyone was interrupting each other, saying, “no, you go ahead” “no, no, you go ahead,” made me want to die. Luckily, this podcast has none of that, and Dax Shepard does a great job at not only asking fun, interesting questions, but he has all kinds of guests from all different walks of life, making every episode different. I will say though, there are a lot of episodes. Like, multiple per week. So unless you listen to every single one right when it comes out, you just have to accept that you’re going to be behind. Which was initially hard for me to cope with. But now I kind of like knowing that I always have a good handful of episodes to choose from.

I also started listening to The Basement Yard, which is now my third or fourth podcast that centers around two guy best friends just chatting away. I don’t know about you, but I feel like there is something magical and hilarious about two guys that are best friends through and through and can talk for hours about absolutely anything, all the while cracking each other up. This podcast has made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt and I have been recommending it like crazy.


Books

I wrote a blog post back in March about how much I loved and appreciated the perspective I got from The Midnight Library, but I think it would be a disservice not to send another round of encouragement to read this book. With all of the solitude we’ve experienced over the last year, giving us far too much time to be with our own thoughts, I have no doubt we’ve all wondered about those what if’s in our life. This was a great reminder that the choices we make, while not always perfect, get us to where we’re meant to go—even if it’s not where we expect.

This book was something brand new for me. I had never heard of blogger and comic artist Allie Brosh before reading Solutions & Other Problems but I’m so glad I have been introduced! She is so funny and creative and this book was a delight to read. She pairs stories with drawings and the combinations are truly hilarious.


TV Shows

Homecoming is a show based on a podcast that I actually recommended all the way back in this favorites post. I have been wanting to watch this show since it came out—which was a cool three years ago—but hey, better late than never. I thought they did a great job at adapting the podcast to a series and I arguably felt more stressed watching than I did listening because I got to add faces to names and thus instantly care about everyone involved. (find it on Amazon Prime)

Next up was Barry. And wow. I have always loved Bill Hader, but this was just fantastic. It is funny and smart and incredibly unique. It follows Barry, a marine turned hitman who accidentally falls in love with acting. It’s wonderful. (find it on HBO Max)

And finally, Upload. This one explores a high-tech future where, after we die, we can be uploaded to an artificial version of heaven. In this afterlife, you are still able to communicate with your friends and family on earth, and more or less go about your (after)life, walking, talking, eating, etc. It was creative and funny and not as dark/sci-fi as it might sound. (find it on Amazon Prime)


Movies

One of my goals for the year was to see all the Academy Award Best Picture nominees and (ideally) be able to accurately pick the winner. Full disclosure, I didn’t watch them all before the Oscars. I just didn’t have time. I did see Nomadland which ended up winning, and don’t get me wrong, it was a great movie, but I was pulling for Sound of Metal. It follows a drummer (and recovering addict) who loses his hearing and goes to a rehab facility for the deaf and hard of hearing to cope. It was easily the best movie I’ve watched all year.

I also saw Promising Young Woman which was fantastic in its own right. It tells the story of a woman who is on a mission to right the wrong that caused her to lose her best friend. It is a very timely film that manages to be both heartbreaking and funny.


Music

Obviously by Lake Street Dive

All In by John Splithoff

Songs to Break Up To by Wild Rivers


Third Love Bras

When I tell you that I would bow down to these bras…

I have been long on the hunt for comfortable bras that are pretty, not $1000, and can actually fit me like a glove. In the past I’ve been frustrated with cups that leave uncomfortable space, or straps that are either too loose or too tight, and I tell you, with no ulterior motive, that these. are. it. I threw every other bra I owned away and I have never been happier. (find them here)


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

See my previous favorites post here.