Because you don’t always need Google Maps

There are certain pieces of technology that I honestly don’t know how I lived without many moons ago.

Especially Google Maps.

I have to admit that I’m not always the most directionally savvy person. I’d like to think that I’ve gotten significantly better over the years, but I think that a lot of that has to do with getting lost while running (you can learn your way around roads pretty easily if you get turned around in them a few times) and the prevalence of Google Maps (which is truly a Godsend).

Lately, though, I’ve relied on Google Maps less and less. I’ve lived in Orange County for a little more than a year now, and I can finally navigate my way around the area without using Siri’s voice (or whoever’s voice talks on Google Maps) for guidance. If you’re thinking that I should have been able to do that sooner than a year or so in, well I challenge you to move out here on your own and magically know which route is best and fastest and will get you exactly where you need to go at the time you need to be there. If you’re able to do that, please be my best friend, and I will learn your ways.

It felt nice to finish the proposal. Plus, I knew froyo was in my future.

Last week, I was in Salt Lake City for most of the week for work, and I’m certainly not very familiar with the area (except for where the nearest Chick-fil-A and froyo place were from the hotel). On our final day there, my coworker and I had some time to kill before we needed to be at the airport, so I just started driving us around the area in our rental car (after we got froyo, of course) so that we could enjoy all of the scenery that we hadn’t gotten to see while we were holed up in a conference room all week without much exposure to daylight. (It was rainy and kind of miserable outside, so we weren’t really missing out on much, anyway.)

I wasn’t using Google Maps for any of this—I was simply driving wherever I thought looked interesting. At some point, though, I said aloud that it would be really cool if I eventually got us to the airport without any help from the voice on the phone. Sure, there were road signs for me to follow, but it was still something that was going to be a bit more challenging than usual.

I’m proud to admit that I not only got us to the airport, but I also got us to the rental car return place without any use of Google Maps. ALL OF THE EMOJI PRAISE HANDS!

The following night, my good friend Amanda and I drove down to San Diego to see a John Crist comedy show—he’s hilarious, by the way—and something interesting happened on the drive back to the OC. First of all, it started pouring rain IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. We aren’t used to that out here. But the actual interesting event on that drive was the highway patrol car that pulled out in front of us and started swerving back and forth across all of the lanes. Apparently this is a thing.

Thankfully, Amanda knew what was happening, because I had zero clue. The cops do this to slow down traffic either simply to prevent congestion or to protect the cars from something up ahead, such as a wreck or stalled vehicle. The whole time it’s happening, you’re required to stay behind the patrol car and not pass it until its flashing lights are off and it’s driving normally in one lane again. Even though it’s super confusing and frustrating, it’s actually for the safety of everyone.

And, as Amanda pointed out, sometimes you simply need to be slowed down in life in order to avoid something that could be a bit detrimental for you.

Amanda’s really wise. I hop in donation bins. It’s a balanced friendship.

There are many occasions when it’s really good to be able to do things all by yourself—like make it to the airport rental car place without Google Maps or carry all of your groceries from your car in one trip (I have this down to an art). Independence is a good quality. But there are times when that independence isn’t necessarily going to benefit you, especially if you’re stubborn about it (like I can often be), and you need people like the highway patrol officers to help you slow down a bit to keep you from potential harm.

I tend to go pretty hard in sports and in life, and it’s only been recently that I’ve realized (well, with the help of Amanda bringing it to my attention) just how rarely I consider my well-being or put it before much of anything else. It’s definitely one of those self-improvement areas I need to work on some more. After all, flag football usually shouldn’t be a sport in which you get more than one concussion.

I love people, and I love reminding them that they matter and are valued and loved. But shouldn’t I be treating myself the same way? If I’m called to love others as I love myself but am not actually showing myself the love and grace I aim to extend to others, that’s not a good thing. Whether physically or at the heart level, it’s important to take care of yourself.

I guess sometimes it’s OK—and probably actually more than OK—to slow down a little and even to let someone else remind you to slow down. You might not always require Google Maps to get you where you need to be, but you might need a little extra help to ensure that you get there in one piece, even if that means that it takes a little longer than you anticipated.

Because you’re worth the extra time, and you’re worth the extra love and grace that you can give yourself.

Because you deserve to give yourself some grace

The great Taylor Swift said something to me (well, and the entire crowd at her concert in Pasadena) the other night that was a great reminder of something I needed to hear: Being vulnerable and real about who we are is a good thing.

For me, that means accepting my failures and not necessarily looking at all of them as failures.

If you know me or have read anything I’ve written on here, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I make a lot of mistakes. Sure, that’s true for many of us, but I feel like I mess up with a lot of silly things way more often than anyone should. Needless to say, I’m very flawed.

And apparently I’m not getting rid of that trend anytime soon.

I’ve had my RAV4 for almost nine years now, and I thought I knew what I was doing driving it. I mean, I used to have a bus license, and I’ve been driving by myself now for almost 18 years, so I was pretty sure I had it all down.

Sadly, I was mistaken.

It turns out that, for almost nine years, I wasn’t using the correct lights at night. I thought that if you clicked the lights two turns forward, you were using the brights. So I always just clicked the turner once forward. Sometimes my friends would make comments like “Are you sure your lights are on?” when they were with me in the car, but I assured them that they just looked dim but were actually on.

I was recently in a rental car and trying to figure out how to turn on the lights, so I pulled the manual out of the glove compartment, and it said something about turning the thing twice for normal lights and then pushing the lights lever forward to turn on the brights. When I turned on those lights, some lights that had been off in my brain for almost nine years finally turned on, and I had an epiphany: OMG, what if my car works the same way?

You probably already knew the answer to that one.

Sure enough, I tested it out the next time I was in my car, and then I checked my car’s own manual. Yep, I’d been driving at night without my actual lights FOR ALMOST NINE YEARS. To answer the question you might be wondering, I have no idea how I was never pulled over for this.

But I felt like such a fool.

I lost cornhole, but I got a nice sunset, so I guess you could say that’s a win for life.

Last Friday, I went to a bonfire with some friends, and four of us were in a pretty intense game of cornhole. If you don’t know this about me already, I should tell you that I’m rather competitive—and that might be an understatement. The game came down to a final toss that I had to throw. If I got the bag in the hole, we’d tie it up and move on to a tiebreaker. Anything less would result in a crushing defeat. There were already two bags on the board that were slightly blocking the hole, so that complicated my tactics. I got ready and focused mentally, and then I launched it into the air.

You know when the basketball leaves your hands, and you know it’s going in the hoop, and it’s such a beautiful feeling? Yeah, I had the opposite of that feeling. I botched it. We lost.

And I felt like such a failure.

I don’t know why I’m so hard on myself sometimes, but it’s something I’ve been trying to work on. I love people, and I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better over the years about giving people grace and loving them in spite of their faults and mistakes, but it’s more of a struggle for me to show that same grace and love to myself. I don’t really care if other people think I’m flawed or weird or bad at something or whatever, but I have a lot of trouble when I feel like I’ve messed up big time and disappointed myself.

To be honest, I think that’s one of the big reasons why I’ve struggled so much in the past with feeling rejected by guys. I constantly wondered if there was something wrong with me that made me not appealing to them, and over time, that became more of a me thing than a them thing—if all of them weren’t interested, then that must mean there was something about me that was off or not enough (which is a lie I hope none of you let enter your head).

And that made me feel like a complete disappointment to myself.

What I’ve learned, though, is that my flaws are part of who I am. And your flaws are part of who you are. Sure, there are some real flaws that definitely need to be addressed and overcome, but many of the “flaws” we see in ourselves aren’t actually flaws to anyone but ourselves. I’m not a car expert. I’m not a cornhole champ. I’m not the girl who turns all of the heads and gets all of the guys.

But I’m me, and that’s good enough for me.

Are you hard on yourself, too? Or are you good at giving yourself grace?

Because it really does make more sense

Sometimes Disney is pretty spot-on with its lessons and the songs that go along with them.

Cue High School Musical’s “We’re All in This Together.”

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a completely imperfect person. I try to be nice and loving to people, but there are certainly times I fail. It’s not easy to be a good person all of the time—impatience, frustration, selfishness and so many things on our agendas often get in the way.

But every once in a while, we need the reminder of how important it is to show people that they matter.

If I’m being perfectly honest, life hasn’t been very easy lately. I’ve been dealing with some different things, and it feels like the troubles (you know, like an inflamed kidney) keep piling on. I’ve been trying to stay positive and hopeful, but some days feel more defeating than others. So, creating a mess on top of the mess I’ve been isn’t exactly ideal.

But it happened, anyway.

I was at Target the other day, and there was a shirt hanging on one of the higher racks against the wall that I needed (yes, it was a necessity) to get down. The shirts were all out of size order, so the size I needed was more in the middle. I’m not sure how the ensuing event occurred, but it did. I was struggling to get the shirt down because of a slight height disadvantage, and I became annoyed and tried yanking the dang thing.

Insert mess.

In doing so, I managed to knock off pretty much the entire front half of that rack, and the shirts spewed all over the place at my feet. I stared at the daunting task before me of putting them all back on the rack I could barely reach (I swear this Target put them higher than most), and I tried not to be upset about it.

But I wanted to cry—I felt like there are so many messes I’m having trouble picking up, and I can’t seem to reach being able to fix them, anyway.

Before an impending breakdown happened, a woman came up beside me and bent down to start helping me hang the shirts back up. She wasn’t wearing khaki pants and a red shirt, so I knew she wasn’t a Target employee. I told her she didn’t have to do that, but she said, “I know. I want to.”

dodgeball
When I was a teacher, my dodgeball team and I worked together to dominate the students.

We completed the cleanup together, and I thanked her for helping me. I don’t know if she could tell I was on the verge of tears for things far bigger than some shirts on the ground, but she said something that stuck with me.

“You’re here. I’m here. Working together just made more sense to me. I wasn’t about to sit back and watch you clean that up alone or pretend I didn’t see it.”

Working together made more sense to me.

I wish more people had that mindset. There’s a lot going on in our world—and in our nation alone—currently, and I think we sometimes forget the importance of showing people love and grace and letting them know they matter. The woman in Target showed me that at a time when I needed it most. Chances are we’re all going through our own stuff, and we could all use a little bit of grace from one another.

Working together makes more sense.

Remember VHS tapes? Way back in the day, there would often be a little sticker on the VHS tape you rented that said, “Be kind. Please rewind.” It was there to remind you to rewind the tape after you watched it so that it would be ready for the next person. It was a reminder of a simple act of kindness and consideration—helping someone else simply for the purpose of helping someone else.

Maybe we need more sticker reminders. Maybe those “I voted” stickers really translate to “I voted, and I still love you if you didn’t vote or if you voted for someone I didn’t.” But that’s too many words for one small sticker, so it was kept short for space purposes. I’m going to believe it actually means the longer version, though.

Because working together makes more sense.